In my initial entry on this series I had a look at the burial practices of the early church. Showing that up until the 4th century the normative practice was to bury the dead, this included the martyrs. In my second entry I chart how the martyrs themselves had come to be understood as a proportion of the church body set apart and famed for their spiritual potency both in battling the spiritual enemies of the church and interceding for its members whilst present on earth.
Over time this distinction contributed to the forming of spiritual hierarchy amidst the members of the church whose upper echelons was increasingly not just populated by martyrs but ascetics and others who displayed the characteristics traditionally associated with that of the martyr. To wage spiritual warfare against the enemies of the church and to intercede and guide its members.
Initially the active participation…
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