It’s been years since I’ve read the classic Foxes Book of Martyrs. In a recent interview with Bryan Litfin the subject of this book came up and I found his response very interesting. Here’s what he said:
“Unfortunately, that famous book is not the one you want to get if you want to understand ancient martyrdom, or even the martyrdoms of its primary period (the English Reformation). The work is widely recognized by scholars as offering a very one-sided presentation of its subjects. It was written for the purpose of arguing against the Roman Catholic Church and it spares no excesses in its attempt at driving home its point. Though enormously popular ever since its publication in the 1500s, it’s basically worthless as an accurate source for the martyrs of the ancient church. All scholars know this.”
Bryan’s newest book is called After Acts (Moody Press) and it treats the lives of the apostles after what is recorded in the book of Acts. In August Baker Academic will release the second edition of his Getting to Know the Church Fathers.
Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including Early Christian Martyr Stories, and has written numerous scholarly articles and essays.