THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP

by GERALD BRAY in Vol. 1 No. 1-2 / Fall 2015



The story of Polycarp presents the challenge of steering a via media between hagiographical and demythologizing interpretations. The article explains the problems with regard to dating his martyrdom and the method of separating out the anachronistic and hagiographical details within the account. There is nothing in the Martyrdom that could not have been written in the mid-second century, and there is no compelling reason why it must be dated considerably later than the events it describes. At a time when the church was growing, Polycarp’s fate was not just a story but also a sign and a pastoral encouragement.

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