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Religion Forum: Dr. Sarah Rollens (Rhodes College)

Lectures: Dr. Sarah Rollens (Rhodes College) will present a public lecture: 'The Beginnings of Prestigious Suffering in Early Christianity'

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Religion Forum Lecture Series

Dr. Sarah Rollens (Rhodes College)

"The Beginnings of Prestigious Suffering in Early Christianity”
Thursday, October 18
4:00 pm ~ Bryant 209

The modern Catholic Church recognizes hundreds of martyrs who suffered or died for their loyalty to Christ. By the third century C.E., there had already emerged in the Roman Empire a distinct genre of stories about remarkable martyrs, which valorized the suffering of early devotees. However, the notion that suffering was a valuable, hence desirable, part of Christian identity can be found much earlier in the letters of Paul. The letters of Paul make up some of the earliest writings in the New Testament, and already by the time they were penned, suffering was being treated as an experience that one should seek out. This presentation will examine the “discourse of suffering” in Paul’s letters and identify the purchase that such currency could gain early Christ followers. Thus, rather than being an invention of later martyr accounts, the prestige of suffering characterized early Christian literature from nearly the beginning of the Jesus movement.

Sarah Rollens is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College. She has been teaching at Rhodes since 2015, and before that, she taught for two years at the University of Alabama. Her research concerns the social history of early Christianity in the first and second centuries. Her first monograph analyzed the Sayings Source Q and the rural Jesus movement in Roman Galilee, and she is currently writing a second book on language of violence in early Christian texts.

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