Books: Self-Made Martyr

MY LIFE FOR MY SHEEP (341 pp.)—Alfred Duggan—Coward-McCann ($5).

Martyrs are rarely popular. Their persecutors, haunted by persistent ghosts, find them stronger in death than in life. Their fellow believers, faced by heroic example, find them reproaching a safe and compromising existence. By the 18th century, the whole business of martyrdom was widely considered to be fanatical and rather ill-mannered. A gibbous Gibbon age that saw the fall of the Roman Empire as caused by Christianity was apt to feel that the early Christian martyrs were really the spiritual aggressors who provoked legitimate...

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