• Christology, vindication, and martyrdom in the Gospel of Mark and the Apocalypse: Two New Testament views

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2014-11-20)
      This book chapter discusses the persecution of early Christians and martyrdom in the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Revelation.
    • Early Christian voluntary martyrdom: A statement for the defence

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2013-09-02)
      Many studies of early Christian martyrdom have noted the phenomenon of voluntary martyrdom. However, most scholars, drawing on criticism of the practice found in the Martyrdom of Polycarp and Clement of Alexandria, dismiss those who provoked their own arrest and death as deviant, heretical, or numerically insignificant. This article argues instead that the earliest Christian martyrologies celebrate voluntary martyrdom as a valid mainstream Christian practice, which faced only isolated challenge in the first three centuries. Furthermore, pagan sources support the view that voluntary martyrdom was a significant historical as well as literary phenomenon. As there is no reason to conclude voluntary martyrdom was anything other than a valid subset of proto-orthodox Christian martyrdom, more attention should be paid to this phenomenon by early Christian historians.
    • Enemies of the (Church) and State: Martyrdom as a Problem for Early Christianity’

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna, 2013-01)
      This article explores the problematic nature of martyrdom in creating Christian identity in the early Church.
    • ‘Filling up the Full Measure of their Sins’: Matthew Henry on the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2019-05-30)
      This essay examines the treatment of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the 17th century Bible expositor Matthew Henry.
    • Introduction

      Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
      Introduction to the volume Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety – A Tercentenary Celebration (London: T&T Clark, 2019).
    • Levi (Son of Alphaeus)

      Middleton, Paul; The University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2018-12-07)
      A dictionary entry on Levi (son of Alphaeus)
    • Martyrdom

      Middleton, Paul; University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (Cambridge University Press, 2014-03-06)
      Dictionary article on martyrdom in Christianity
    • Martyrdom

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-05-23)
      An overview of martyrdom in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
    • Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety– A Tercentenary Celebration

      Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
      Three hundred years after his death, Matthew Henry (1662–1714) remains arguably the best known expositor of the Bible in English, due to his six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. However, Henry’s famous commentary is by no means the only expression of his engagement with the Scriptures. His many sermons and works on Christian piety — including the still popular Method for Prayer — are saturated with his peculiarly practical approach to the Bible. To mark the tercentenary of Henry’s death, Matthew A. Collins and Paul Middleton have brought together notable historians, theologians, and biblical scholars to celebrate his life and legacy. Representing the first serious examination of Henry’s body of work and approach to the Bible, Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety opens a scholarly conversation on Matthew Henry’s place in the eighteenth-century nonconformist movement, his contribution to the interpretation of the Bible, and his continued legacy in evangelical piety.
    • Noble death or death cult: Pagan criticism of early Christian martyrdom

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2015-07-09)
      Suffering and persecution forms an almost ubiquitous backdrop to most of the documents which make up the New Testament. From St Paul onwards, suffering was regarded not as an unfortunate necessity, but as a mark of true discipleship.
    • The "Noble Death" of Judas Iscariot: A Reconsideration of Suicide in the Bible and Early Christianity

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2018-08-22)
      This essay problematizes the often repeated claim that Jewish and Christian traditions have always and unambiguously opposed suicide. By examining the suicide narratives in the Hebrew Bible and late Second Temple texts, alongside early Christian martyr texts which demonstrate not only enthusiasm for death, but suicide martyrdom, I argue that many Jewish and Christian self-killings conform to Greco-Roman patterns Noble Death. Finally, I consider the death of Judas Iscariot, and having removed any a priori reason to interpret his suicide negatively, I argue Matthew’s account of his self-killing compares favourably with Luke’s narrative, in which he is the victim of divine execution. Moreover, I conclude that Matthew’s main concern is to transfer the blame for Jesus’ death from Judas to the Jewish authorities, and that he has Judas impose on himself to the appropriate and potentially expiatory penalty for his action. Thus, I conclude, even Judas’s iconic suicide can be read quite plausibly as an example of Noble Death.
    • Overcoming Satan in the Acts of the Martyrs

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Mohr Siebeck, 2016-05-01)
      This collection of essays originates from the 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity conference hosted by the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary's University, Twickenham. Featuring an international collection of senior and junior scholars, it represents the cutting edge of scholarship on portrayals of evil in the Second Temple period and the earliest centuries of Christianity. The individual essays consider the significance of »evil« as it relates to a diverse set of topics, including Qumran and its texts, images of disability in 2 Maccabees, dissociations of Jesus from evil in early Christian manuscripts, the »apocalyptic Paul,« Jesus' exorcisms, Gospel cosmologies, the epistle of James, 4 Ezra, the Ascension of Isaiah, Marcion, John Chrysostom, and the Acts of the Martyrs.
    • Revelation

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2020-02-20)
      A social identity commentary of the book of Revelation in a single volume commentary of the New Testament
    • The Scarecrow Christ: The Murder of Matthew Shepard and the Making of an American Culture Wars Martyr

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2020-01-31)
      In this essay, I examine the popular martyr-making process in respect of Matthew Shepard, arguing that both the making of the martyr and the reaction it provoked reflects American ‘culture wars’. Martyrology is conflict literature. However, as I have argued before, the most significant conflict in a martyrdom story is not necessarily between the martyr and the agents of execution, but the story-tellers and their opponents.9 Yet, martyrological narratives are difficult to control, as I will demonstrate from the contested nature of Shepard’s secular canonisation process. For at least some in the LGBT community, the dominant hagiography of Matthew Shepard, the gay martyr, is seen as unhelpful. Ironically, both LGBT activists and right-wing religious groups have in some ways sought to undermine Shepard’s martyr status, by focusing on his life rather than his death. Nonetheless, I argue, such efforts continue to have limited effect because in martyrologies any interest in the lives of their heroes is incidental, merely setting the scene for a significant death.
    • "Suffer Little Children": Child Sacrifice, Martyrdom, and Identity Formation in Judaism and Christianity

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (2016-12-31)
      This essay examines the contrasting ways in which the sacrifice of children is portrayed in Jewish and Christian martyrologies. In these narratives of extreme persecution and suffering, death was often seen to be the way in which religious integrity and identity was preserved. It is argued that Jewish martyr narratives—for example, the First Crusade, Masada, and the Maccabees—reflect a developed notion of collective martyrdom, such that the deaths of children, even at the hands of their parents, are a necessary component in Jewish identity formation. By contrast, early Christianity martyr texts reflect an ambivalence towards children, to the extent that they are viewed as a potential hindrance to the successful martyrdom of their Christian mothers. Children have to be abandoned for women to retain their Christian identity.
    • Suffering and the Creation of Christian Identity in the Gospel of Mark

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2014-01-02)
      This essay applies insights from Social Identity Theory on the Gospel of Mark, arguing that suffering is the primary identity marker for Christians in Mark.
    • “Unlock Paradise with your own Blood”: Martyrdom and Salvation in Islam and Christianity

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2015-12-17)
      The essay compares theologies of salvation in the martyr texts of early Christianity and Islam, demonstrating how martyrdom troubles more orthodox notions of salvation in both cases.
    • The Violence of the Lamb: Martyrs as Agents of Divine Judgement in the Book of Revelation

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2018-05-03)
      The act of martyrdom in the worldview of the Apocalypse has been considered to be an exemplification of non-violent resistance. Paul Middleton argues here, however, that it is in fact a representation of direct participation by Christians, through their martyrdom, in divine violence against those the author of Revelation portrays as God's enemies. Middleton shows that acceptance of martyrdom is to grasp the invitation to participate in the Revelation's divine violence. Martyrs follow the model laid down by the Lamb, who was not only slain, but resurrected, glorified, and who executes judgement. The world created by the Apocalypse encourages readers to conquer the Beast through martyrdom, but also through the experience of resurrection and being appointed judges. In this role, martyrs participate in the judgement of the wicked by sharing the Lamb's power to judge. Different from eschewing violence, the conceptual world of the Apocalypse portrays God, the Lamb, and the martyrs as possessing more power, might, and violent potential than the Emperor and his armies. Middleton believes that martyrdom and violence are necessary components of the worldview of Revelation.
    • Were the Early Christians Really Persecuted

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2019)
      In their writings, the Early Christians presented themselves as a suffering community, facing intolerance and misunderstanding from Jew and Gentile alike, to the extent that in Acts, the Jewish community in Rome are made to declare of early Christianity, ‘we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect’ (Acts 28.22). However, historians generally recognise that while members of the early Church undoubtedly did face some harassment, there was no empire-wide policy against Christianity until well into the third century, and even then, these were short lived. Where Christians experienced persecution, it tended to be localised, sporadic, and random, and resulted from pockets of prejudice rather than any official imperial interest in the Church. If we see those who take at face value the deutero-Pauline claim that ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3.12) as representing a ‘maximalist’ view of persecution, then, in direct contrast, what might be termed a ‘minimalist’ account is gaining popularity among scholars. Minimalists go beyond the view that Christians faced ‘periodic persecution’, and conclude that in all significant respects, the Christian narrative of persecution is a constructed myth. Moreover, they tend to turn Christian charges against their pagan neighbour of intolerance back onto the early Church, arguing that in a Roman environment of general imperial tolerance towards varieties of beliefs and practices, it was Christian intolerance and intransigence that led to their appearances before magistrates. However, this was not persecution in any meaningful sense, but prosecution. Both maximalist and minimalist accounts of early Christian experiences of suffering construct a context in which a generally tolerant group encounter an intolerant ‘other’. Depending on which approach is adopted, either Christians or Romans were the ‘victims’ of intolerance. In light of this apparent scholarly paradigm shift, I return to the basic question: were the early Christians persecuted? First I outline the formerly dominant ‘persecution paradigm’, arguing that this way of presenting Christian experience is already promoted in New Testament texts. Next, I evaluate recent revisionist ‘minimalist’ accounts, noting that the idea Christians invented—or at least exaggerated—the extent of the persecution can be found as far back as the eighteenth century. These re-evaluations offer an important and valuable corrective to the maximalist approach. However, minimalists, I argue, tend to simply replace a one-sided Christian reading of history with an equally skewed Roman perspective. Instead, I offer a reading which might be categorised as ‘modified minimalism’, in which I sidestep the persecution/prosecution dichotomy, and conclude that while it is certainly the case that Romans would have understood their (albeit limited) actions against Christians as prosecutions designed to protect the integrity of the State, Christians experienced those actions, not without reason, as persecution. I argue that Christians and Romans were indeed ‘tolerant’ of the other—just not where it mattered!