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Macrina

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The example that early martyrs played in both the shaping and formation of the early church has been key. From such stories, readers have learned of the trials and tribulations of wrestling with both God and man with regards to ones faith. There are two stories of martyrdom that have played a significant role in society's understanding of this great feat, which few endure. The first, The Martyrs of Lyons, was recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea. This narrative makes reference to the persecutions of Christians in 177 A.D. The second story, The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity by Quinus Tertullianus refers to the persecution of Christians in Carthage in 203 A.D.. These two Christian narratives regarding martyrdom assist this present age in understanding how early Christians challenged the traditional ideologies of family, gender and power.

Each of these texts were composed and passed down in different ways. When Eusebius published his work in the Ecclesiastical History, it was considered to be a Passiones. One of the earliest stories available to us, The Martyrdom of Lyons, is the compellation of eyewitness accounts. Tertullians had the opportunity to utilize a different method of compilation with The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity. Tertullian makes it clear that the majority of the text comes from a self account by Perpetua herself. In addition to the words of Perpetua, Tertullian assists in portions where the text was either incomplete or lacking.

Although each text provides a dynamic approach to its collection and reproduction, further examination of the text should cause one to question the reliability of the text. For the text of Eusebius we should consider two issues. The first is that any time one deals with eyewitness accounts concerns often arise regarding a lack of key details that may be forgotten. Additionally, there is always room for exaggeration. It is important to note that during the actual martyrdom at Lyons the author had not yet been born. Records indicate that Eusebius was not born until 275 A.D., putting him nearly 100 years after the actual event. Therefore, Eusebius whole historical context of the martyrdom is based off of the documentation provided by others up until his time.

On the contrary, it is very possible that Tertullian was present during the martyrdom in Carthage. At that time he would have been in his mid twenties, making both him and Perpetua in around the same age. It should be noted that there is no documentation to support the basis of Tertullian's presence at the martyrdom of Perpetua. However if one were to assume his attendance it might be a fair assumption that Tertullian was there for the sake of entertainment as opposed to historicity. This claim is stated because Tertullian did not convert to Christianity until his mid forties.

With such facts indicated, one may not consider the texts necessarily reliable, but one may consider the texts reasonable. These two texts, as we will explore, may have some flaws but when examined in context they can offer the reader a reasonable source for understanding the journey of the main characters.

Both of these texts give us understanding about the time and culture of Christianity in the midst of the Roman Empire. At this point Christians are being persecuted at the hands of both rulers and the general public. As the rules were enforced by the Roman Empire, Christians found disagreement and began to rebel. In doing so, they had the opportunity to attempt to reconstruct the ideology of the government.

Both authors explore the concept of family. Out of this concept, these two narratives seem to share the overlapping theme of motherhood. I would argue that each author presents a different view of motherhood.

From the text Tertullian presents motherhood from a more traditional or even physical sense. From the onset of the text we are aware of motherhood when Perpetua writes, "I suckled my child, which was not enfeebled with hunger." This text informs us that Perpetua was the mother of a new born. Later on in the text we learn that Felicitas too was pregnant and that she prayed her labor to come early so that she could suffer with her peers and not allow her pregnancy to withhold her from her corporate fate. What each these mothers demonstrates to us is an obligation to the human family but more importantly an obligation to the family of Christ. Each of these women put there children aside and choose the feat of martyrdom. Some will view such action as harsh and taking the Christian life to far. Yet, what these women did for the Roman Empire and for the present day Christian Church was to probe the questions of belief at their very core, truly testing their levels of belief.

Eusibus on the other hand presents the notion of "spiritual mother" with the character of Blandina. Although the reader does not know whether or not Blandina has children of her own, she certainly serves as the "spiritual mother" for so many. From the surface, such action is seen when Blandina appears with a fifteen year old boy named Ponticus. As Blandina and Ponticus are presented before the crowd and are tortured, it is Blandina who encourages Ponticus thorough the ordeal like any mother would with her child. The text records, "encouraged by his sister so that even the heathen could see that she was confirming and strengthening him, having nobly endured every torture, gave up the ghost." The text goes on and refers to Blandina as mother, "But the blessed Blandina, last of all, having, as a noble mother, encouraged her children and sent them before her to the King." Indeed, Blandina serves her Christian community in the role of one who is caring and concerned with the well being of her family, in Christ.

The ability for these two authors to pull forth the concept of motherhood, in the physical and spiritual is profound. Making the texts even more relevant are the ways in which the text challenges the notions of mothers in society. The ability to expand the view of motherhood not only speaks to the transforming Christian doctrine but also expands the borders of our own understanding.

In a like manner, both authors continue to push, stretch and prod the faith of Christians and challengers alike. For each of the two texts it is quite evident that the authors are speaking to gender roles; or perhaps the lack there of in Christianity. It is important to note that each text attempts to redefine the varying ideas on the role and stance of Christian women in the early history of the church.

Eusibus makes the strength and determination of Blandina very evident to the reader. At first, there is a concern from the men she has been imprisoned with as to whether she will be able to endure such treatment. According to

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