The Subversive Role of Visions in Early Christian Martyrs
Zaida Maldonado Pérez

 

Paperback Edition: ISBN 978-1609470111   Retail: $29.00

 

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During the persecution of the early church, the stories of the witness of the martyrs— later known as the Acts of the Martyrs--became a critical part of the church’s reading and devotional material. Why? This book argues that the reading of the Acts, and especially their visions, did more than just encourage the persecuted church; they reveal a nuanced view of God, the world, power, and powerlessness, death and life that at times subverts what may have been construed as normal or dominant by either church or the Greco-Roman society. This nuanced view may in fact reflect an underlying grass-roots or “popular theology” not readily available to the reader
through other early church literature. The author refers to this act of upsetting, undercutting or reversing "things as they are" for the sake of things "as they should be" as the subversive dimensions of the visions of the martyrs.
The argument for the subversive dimensions of these visions also has implications for today’s church. While we are fascinated by the witness of these Christians—true and legendary alike—we also tend to dismiss it as models of extraordinary sacrifice which we are not all called to imitate, or as instruments used to support church authority. This book honors this witness as well as the challenges these visions may suggest for personal and ecclesial praxis in today’s world.

 

About the Author:

Zaida Maldonado Pérez is Dean of the School of Urban Ministries on the Florida Dunnam campus of Asbury Theological Seminary and professor of church history and theology. A native of Puerto Rico, Zaida earned an M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in historical theology from Saint Louis University. Prior to joining the Asbury faculty, she taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, and was Director of the Hispanic Theological Initiative, a program of the Pew Charitable Trusts, housed at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is co-author with Justo L. González of An Introduction to Christian Theology and has written on various subjects including the Trinity, the legacy of the early church for evangélica/os and, the recruiting and retaining of Latino/a seminarians. Her ministry experience includes conferencing, preaching and teaching in Spanish and English-speaking communities. She is a member of the United Church of Christ, is married to Chaplain CDR Luis A. Pérez, and has two grown children, Jazzlin Ruth and Alexander Luis.

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