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Book Cover for: Martyrs Mirror: A Social History, David L. Weaver-Zercher

Martyrs Mirror: A Social History

David L. Weaver-Zercher

Approximately 2,500 Anabaptists were martyred in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe. Their surviving brethren compiled stories of those who suffered and died for the faith into martyr books. The most historically and culturally significant of these, The Bloody Theater--more commonly known as Martyrs Mirror--was assembled by the Dutch Mennonite minister Thieleman van Braght and published in 1660. Today, next to the Bible, it is the single most important text to Anabaptists--Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. In some Anabaptist communities, it is passed to new generations as a wedding or graduation gift.

David L. Weaver-Zercher combines the fascinating history of Martyrs Mirror with a detailed analysis of Anabaptist life, religion, and martyrdom. He traces the publication, use, and dissemination of this key martyrology across nearly four centuries and explains why it holds sacred status in contemporary Amish and Mennonite households. Even today, the words and deeds of these martyred Christians are referenced in sermons, Sunday school lessons, and history books.

Weaver-Zercher argues that Martyrs Mirror was designed to teach believers how to live a proper Christian life. In van Braght's view, accounts of the martyrs helped to remind readers of the things that mattered, thus inspiring them to greater faithfulness. Martyrs Mirror remains a tool of revival, offering new life to the communities and people who read it by revitalizing Anabaptist ideals and values. Meticulously researched and illustrated with sketches from early publications of Martyrs Mirror, Weaver-Zercher's ambitious history weaves together the existing scholarship on this iconic text in an accessible and engaging way.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publish Date: Mar 1st, 2016
  • Pages: 440
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.10in - 6.10in - 1.40in - 1.60lb
  • EAN: 9781421418827
  • Categories: HistoryChristianity - MennoniteChristianity - Amish

About the Author

Weaver-Zercher, David L.: - David Weaver-Zercher is an associate professor of American religious history at Messiah College and author of The Amish in the American Imagination, also published by Johns Hopkins.
Praise for this book
Shows how a single text can take on different meanings, infusing a cultural identity in an increasingly disparate and diasporic global community. The book is richly researched, it marks an ambitious project, and it offers new insight into the very foundation of Mennonite history.
--Royden Loewen, University of Winnipeg, American Historical Review
Expansive and thought-provoking. . .The book's percipient and fascinating analysis of the origins of anabaptism in Europe, including Mennonite and Amish sects, highlights sectarian differences within the Protestant Reformation and how questions of political power shaped and sustained those differences. . .Martyrs Mirror: A Social History is a significant entry in religious scholarship that deepens our understanding of anabaptism and Christianity in general.
--Foreword Reviews
Required reading for those interested in religious history.
--Choice reviews
Waever-Zercher is to be congratulated for his contribution to Anabaptist and Mennonite history, but also for his excellent example of work in book culture, in a fashion both enlightening and engaging.
--Journal of Mennonite Studies
. . . an enduring classic . . .
--Mennonite Quarterly Review