This article uses the evidence of the early Christian martyr acts to argue for the existence of a broader, provincial discourse on the importance of legal procedure in criminal trials in the Roman Empire. By focusing on moments of criminal confrontations, these texts not only attempted to explain and glorify the deaths of martyrs, but also sought to make sense of a process that was designed by the Roman state to be arbitrary and terrifying. In the course of their narratives, the martyr acts articulate a distinctly provincial understanding of imperial judicial procedures. They politicize this understanding in ways consequential for current scholarly models of the relations between the imperial government and provincial society more broadly.

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