The Life of Polycarp’s Death
Monday, May 24, 2021
8:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time
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Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig
Perhaps the most evocative, and garbled martyr stories of early Christ people and/or early Christians are the ones about Polycarp. We will throw ourselves into the several available versions of the “Martyrdom of Polycarp” in order to see how the stories elaborate themselves and their meanings of ‘his’ ‘martyrdom.’ Most stories of Polycarp have him being killed by Roman rulers in his old age, after having been a successful leader of a Christ group of the second century in Smyrna. Although much of the literature has anchored his actual life as well as an alleged orthodoxy in the second century, many scholars now place the earliest stories about him no earlier than the third century.
We will delight in the contradictions and possibilities of meaning in the way this alleged life-long Christ leader takes on humor, grotesque pain, and revisions of what the death of Jesus might and might not mean. Authors refuse to let him be just one thing. Join us in letting first-, second-, and third-century Polycarps claim an open-ended version of dying and living. Enjoy too your choice of which versions to read in preparation. Look up “Martyrdom of Polycarp,” and we’ll compare our findings.