The Cult of the Martyrs in Egypt Before Constantine: the Evidence of the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah*

The Cult of the Martyrs in Egypt Before Constantine: the Evidence of the Coptic Apocalypse of... THE CULT OF THE MARTYRS IN EGYPT BEFORE CONSTANTINE: THE EVIDENCE OF THE COPTIC APOCALYPSE OF ELIJAH* BY DAVID FRANKFURTER The Christian cult of martyrs has customarily been derived from two sources: Greco-Roman mortuary practices and Jewish traditions of honoring martyrs and prophets. The history of the scholarship shows a tendency to stress alternatively one or the other of these sources.' Less often, and more recently, scholars have begun to excavate the martyr- cults' mentalite-their integration with society and culture, their expres- sions of "the holy," their crystallizations of history and legend in places and rites.2 These new questions are particularly important because of the phenomenon's novelty in the history of religions: the cult of the martyrs offers a striking example of an otherworldly sect gradually establishing its own physical world of sacred space. The martyr-cult vividly represents, in the categories of J.Z. Smith, the localization of a "utopian" kind of piety.3 3 The approach taken in this paper attemps to build upon these newer approaches to the cult of martyrs in that it derives one culture's martyr- cult (in this case, Egypt's) from the indigenous and indigenized tradi- tions of that region. The principal assumption of such http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Vigiliae Christianae Brill

The Cult of the Martyrs in Egypt Before Constantine: the Evidence of the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah*

Vigiliae Christianae, Volume 48 (1): 25 – Jan 1, 1994

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1994 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0042-6032
eISSN
1570-0720
D.O.I.
10.1163/157007294X00122
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

THE CULT OF THE MARTYRS IN EGYPT BEFORE CONSTANTINE: THE EVIDENCE OF THE COPTIC APOCALYPSE OF ELIJAH* BY DAVID FRANKFURTER The Christian cult of martyrs has customarily been derived from two sources: Greco-Roman mortuary practices and Jewish traditions of honoring martyrs and prophets. The history of the scholarship shows a tendency to stress alternatively one or the other of these sources.' Less often, and more recently, scholars have begun to excavate the martyr- cults' mentalite-their integration with society and culture, their expres- sions of "the holy," their crystallizations of history and legend in places and rites.2 These new questions are particularly important because of the phenomenon's novelty in the history of religions: the cult of the martyrs offers a striking example of an otherworldly sect gradually establishing its own physical world of sacred space. The martyr-cult vividly represents, in the categories of J.Z. Smith, the localization of a "utopian" kind of piety.3 3 The approach taken in this paper attemps to build upon these newer approaches to the cult of martyrs in that it derives one culture's martyr- cult (in this case, Egypt's) from the indigenous and indigenized tradi- tions of that region. The principal assumption of such

Journal

Vigiliae ChristianaeBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1994

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