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The Purple Crown

The Politics of Martyrdom
The Purple Crown

Series: Polyglossia: Reformation Theologies
By author: Tripp York
Product Code: 9393
ISBN: 9780836193930
Pages: 200
Binding Information: Paper
Size: 9.00 x 6.00 inches

Publication Date: 10/30/2007
Availability: In stock.

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Tripp York exhibits how Christianity’s ultimate act of witnessing, martyrdom, is an inherently political act. By refusing to accept such modern dichotomies such as mind/body, sacred/secular, and the public/private, York argues that the path of Christianity cannot but lead to a confrontation with the same powers that crucified Jesus. The martyrs as ones who die like Christ bring forth, via memory, the moment in which all the world was simultaneously exposed as fallen and redeemed. York explores this theme historically, theologically and through biography, such as in the recent martyr Oscar Romero.

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Introduction: Martyrdom, Politics, Liturgy, and Discipleship

  1. Spectacle: The Early Church
    • All the World's a Stage
    • Basic Training: Learning How to Die Well
    • A Second (Orthodox) Baptism
    • The Purple Crown
  2. Body: The Field of Combat
    • Doxological Bodies
    • No Bones About It: The Martyrdom of Polycarp
    • The Seed Blooms: Resurrection
    • The Risen One (A Reply to Caecilius)
  3. Performance: The Sixteenth-Century Debacle
    • Whose Martyrdom, Which Ecclesiology?
    • Who Do You Say I Am? (On Locating Visible Performances of the Church)
    • Apostolic Succession (A Rather Bloody One)
    • Performing Jesus
  4. City: Enduring Enoch
    • Citizens of Everywhere and Nowhere: The Lineage of Abel
    • The Fruition of Cain: The Modern Nation-State
    • Galuth: Exile as Mission
    • The New City
  5. Biography: Oscar Romero
    • Sentir con la Iglesia
    • "Be a Patriot, Kill a Priest!"
    • Entregado
    • The Purple Crown Revisited
  6. Epilogue: Gift—A Non-sacrificial Economy
    • Martyrs, Not Victims
    • A Eucharistic Economy
    • Vita autem hominis, visio Dei

"Deftly weaving historical and contemporary narratives with theological analysis, York shows how martyrs overcome the dichotomy of religion and politics, and restore hope to God's good creation. This book is clearly-written and ecumenically-minded. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the relevance of martyrdom to contemporary discipleship." —William T. Cavanaugh, University of St. Thomas

"For anyone perplexed by the logic of Christian martyrdom or uncertain about its contemporary relevance, Tripp York's The Purple Crown merits a careful reading." —John D. Roth, Goshen College


By examining how martyrdom reveals life in communion with God, I argue that it is the apex of any true theology for the world that is mission-based. My aim, therefore, is to suggest that martyrdom is a manner of missionary work that is inescapably public and political. I opt to examine blood-witnessing as an instance of "making disciples" to stress the inherently poltical nature of Christianity. For the church, historically speaking, martyrdom is the political act because it represents the ultimate imitation of Christ, signifying a life lived in obedience to, and participation in, the triune God. Martyrdom, as a doxological response to the world's rebellion against its Creator, is the liturgical culmination of a series of practices that makes possible immediation communion with the triune God. Communion cannot be private, because "communion" (like the eternal relations that constitute God's very life) depends on sociality for its intelligibilty. Participation in God will therefore bear witness to who God is through the life of the participant. Such witness, if it is witness at all, will be public—it will be political. —From the Introduction, p. 23




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