This work will focus on martyrdom as it is perceived in the death of Socrates, and in the religions of Judaism and Islam. Specifically, this work will examine what constitutes martyrdom, as well as explore the distinctions created by perception in reference to martyrdom and suicide, and the role that perception plays in acceptance or denial ofmartyrdom when it is classified as a violent or non-violent act. Voluntary deaths are examined using five characteristics ofdeaths characterized as martyrdom, as established by Arthur Droge and James Tabor's, A Noble Death, in order to qualify the death as a martyrdom. These five characteristics are: 1. The death reflects the situation of opposition and persecution. 2. The choice to die, which these individuals make, is viewed as necessary, noble, and heroic. 3. These individuals are often eager to die; indeed, in several cases they end up directly killing themselves. 4. There is often the idea ofvicarious benefit resulting from their suffering and death. 5. The expectation ofvindication and reward beyond death, more often than not, is a prime motivation for the choice ofdeath. Chapter One, "Socrates: A Noble Man, A Noble Death," examines the events leading up to his death, and the controversy surrounding Socrates, his trial, and his death. Chapter Two, "Kiddush Hashem: Martyrdom in Judaism," examines the acceptance ofdeath in the Hebrew Bible, as well as the development ofmartyrdom in the Hebrew Bible. It examines several accounts ofJewish martyrdom in the Apocrypha, and concludes with a discussion o f several controversial contemporary Jewish martyrs. Chapter Three, "Islam: Slain in the Path of God," examines martyrdom in early Islam, revivalist thought in Islam, and martyrdom in contemporary Islam.


Kammer, III, Charles L.


Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 2004 William M. Laukitis