Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity: Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter pages:123-133
This article deals with the Martyrdom of Polycarp (MP), one of the earliest and most prominent of Christian martyria. Composed in Greek in the mid-second century, this document recounts the martyrdom of Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna and a prominent early Christian leader. Apart from a very detailed and vivid presentation of Polycarp’s execution, which presumably took place no more than one year before the composition of the text, the MP provides inestimably valuable data on several critical subjects, such as the origins of Christian martyrology and the theology of martyrdom and liturgy. In addition, it offers some precious glimpses of mid-second-century Asian community life. For these reasons the MP is universally recognised as a priceless source of information for early Christian martyrdom and liturgy, as well as for formative Christianity in general. The present contribution deals with one gap that remains within the research on the Martyrdom, specifically, the Old Church Slavonic translation of the MP, a text unpublished until now and as a result not taken into account by any of the previous editions. Preliminary investigations would indicate that this Church Slavonic version provides an independent witness to the text of the Martyrdom and as a result is of precious text-critical value . The aim of this article is to bring the attention of the scholarly community to this valuable source.