Divine Deliverance should be required reading for anyone interested in ancient Christian martyr texts. It demands that we jettison our widely held assumptions that the martyrs were depicted as suffering and that the audience is expected to identify with their pain. Most scholarship holds that early Christian communities, reflecting the ancient cultural turn (identified by Judith Perkins) toward configuring the subject as “sufferer,” saw martyrs as sufferers whose endurance should be imitated and whose pain should, if possible, be replicated. Instead, drawing on a historically sensitive audience-response theory that provides a framework for understanding how ancient audiences engaged with texts, Cobb persuasively argues that these texts did not view suffering as...

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