More Information
ISBN: 9781839735356
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 12
Publication Date: 14/05/2022
Pages: 214
Series: Studies in Christian History
Language: English

The Cross or Prosperity Gospel

Persecution and Martyrdom in the Early Church


Are Christians meant to experience suffering? This question has long been a contentious one within the church. Christ is risen, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, yet sickness, poverty, and persecution continue to be daily realities for Christians around the world.

In this study of martyrdom and persecution in the early church, Rev. Dr. Kwaku Boamah reminds us that there is no Christianity without a cross and that suffering has played a prominent role in church theology and tradition since the time of Christ. Examining second- and third-century apologetic texts and martyr narratives, he utilizes a systematic comparative approach to create a holistic picture of the extreme challenges facing Christians under the Roman Empire. Drawing parallels to the history of persecution and martyrdom in his homeland of Ghana, Boamah locates the experience of African Christianity firmly within the larger narrative of church history, reminding Christians that they are not alone in their suffering but are members of a global, unified whole.

Author Bios

Kwaku Boamah

KWAKU BOAMAH has a PhD in Patristics from the University of Ghana, where he lectures in Early Church History at the Department for the Study of Religions, College of Humanities, School of Arts. He also teaches at Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Ghana, and is a minister of the Methodist Church Ghana.


Kwaku Boamah’s well-researched and careful study of texts and the history of martyrdom in the African context breaks new ground in bringing home to those interested in African Christianity a dimension of the life of the church that we have often overlooked. This is educative, illuminating, and engaging in the same breath!

J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, PhD
Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Ghana

At the present time it is of vital importance to emphasize and reemphasize the impact of North African Christianity during the first five hundred years of Christian history. The period produced a munificence of great theologians and churchmen from Tertullian to Augustine. This masterly work is a must read for both those interested in the history of persecution during the period of the early Church and of the contemporary progress of Christianity on the African continent.

James C. Thomas, PhD
University of Ghana, Legon

Through a meticulous and systematic comparison of early Christian martyr texts and apologetic literature, Boamah provides a balanced appraisal of how the Christians viewed and responded to persecution. Some modern scholars have argued that it has detrimental effects for Christians to remember persecution, while some “prosperity” preachers claim that it is dangerous for Christians to acknowledge that they are suffering. Boamah’s book shows that such approaches ignore historic and contemporary realities and have negative ethical consequences.

Jakob Engberg, PhD
Aarhus University, Denmark

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Chapter One Christian Reception in Indigenous Cultures
    1. Scholarship on Persecution and Martyrdom
      1. The Roman Religiosity
      2. Nature of the Persecution and Martyrdom – Martyr Texts
      3. Studies on the Apologetic Texts
      4. Apologetic Texts and Martyr Texts
      5. Suffering in Christianity Today
    2. Period and Selected Texts Used
    3. Approaches
    4. Contributions
    5. Going Forward
  3. Chapter Two The Ghanaian Example of the Persecution and Martyrdom
    1. Emergence of Christianity in Africa
      1. Traditional African Response to Christianity
      2. European Missionaries
      3. African Agents
    2. Conclusion
  4. Chapter Three They Killed Us – Martyr Texts
    1. The Origin and Purpose of the Martyr Texts
    2. Background of Martyr Narratives
      1. Martyrdom of Polycarp
      2. Martyrdom of Justin and Companions
      3. Scillitan Martyrs
      4. Martyrdom of Perpetua
    3. Narrative and Protocol Forms Compared
      1. Narrative Martyr Texts
      2. Protocol Martyr Texts
      3. Similarities and Differences
    4. Conclusion
  5. Chapter Four “You Killed Us” – Apologetic Texts
    1. Submission Status of Apologies
    2. Purpose And Audience
    3. Background of the Apologetic Texts
      1. Justin Martyr
      2. Tatian the Assyrian
      3. Tertullian
    4. Internal Comparison of the Apologetic Texts
      1. Apologetic Texts to Authorities (Apologies)
      2. Apologies to the Public
      3. Similarities and Differences
    5. Submission Status
    6. Conclusion
  6. Chapter Five A Two Genre Sources Approaches and Reception by the Authorities – Martyr and Apologetic Texts
    1. Fusion of the Martyr and Apologetic Texts
      1. Similarities
      2. Nuances
      3. Differences
    2. Submission Status of the Apologetic Texts
    3. Conclusion
  7. Chapter Six Epilogue
    1. Purpose and Audience of the Martyr and Apologetic Texts
    2. Findings – Martyr and Apologetic Texts Compared
      1. The Usefulness of Apologetic Texts
      2. Submission Status of the Apologetic Texts
      3. The Texts and Contemporary Ghanaian Christianity
    3. Lessons for Contemporary Ghanaian Christianity
      1. Recording History
      2. Communalism/Solidarity
      3. Recount History to the Generations
      4. The Courage of the Martyrs
      5. Restrain over Reaction
    4. Commendations
    5. Future Studies
    6. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography
  9. Index