Though considered by devotees to be perhaps the most potent expression of religious faith, dying for one's God is also one of the most difficult concepts for modern observers of religion to understand. This is especially true in the West, where martyrdom has all but disapeared and martyrs in other cultures are often viewed skeptically and dismissed as fanatics. This book seeks to foster a greater understanding of these acts of religious devotion by explaining how martyrdom has historically been viewed in the world's major religions. It provides the first sustained, cross-cultural examination of this fascinating aspect of religious life. Spanning 4000 years of history and ranging from Saul in the Hebrew Bible to Sati immolations in present-day India, this book provides a wealth of insight into an often noted but rarely understood cultural phenomenon.

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