Today’s blog post shares a recording of the Institute’s most recent Alumni Lecture, given via Zoom on November 13th, 2020 by Dr. Diane Shane Fruchtman (Assistant Professor of Religion at Rutgers University). The lecture is titled “Augustine and the Life of Martyrdom.”
In his sermons, Augustine of Hippo forcefully argued that martyrdom did not require death and that, instead, martyrdom could be a lived reality for any Christian who consistently prioritized their faith. In her talk last November, Dr. Fruchtman explored the “life of martyrdom” that Augustine enjoined, and examined some of the rhetorical techniques that he employed to induce that life of martyrdom in his audiences.
This life of martyrdom, she explains, may have been “the opposite of a spectacular martyrdom,” but was no less impactful for those who lived it. Dr. Fruchtman encourages historians to attend to this lived martyrdom because through it, she explains, “historians can acquire not only a clearer picture of the type of Christian spirituality that Augustine was hoping to instill…but we can also gain a clearer sense of what types of spirituality were imaginatively possible in his milieu. Whether or not his parishioners adopted the life of martyrdom that Augustine advocated, the existence and persistence of this homiletic ideal of living martyrdom can help us more vividly understand the horizons of late ancient experience of Christianity.”