Ohio Wesleyan University professor David L. Eastman has written a new book, “The Ancient Martyrdom Accounts of Peter and Paul (Writings from the Greco-Roman World).”
“Tradition says that Peter and Paul died in Rome at the hands of the emperor Nero – Peter by being crucified upside down and Paul by decapitation,” says Eastman, associate professor of religion. “These traditions come from two texts from the late second century, the Acts of Peter and Acts of Paul.
“These are only two of the ancient accounts of their deaths,” Eastman continues, “but I discovered in my research that almost all scholars rely on these two stories to the exclusion of a number of other texts. This book brings all these stories together in a single volume for the first time.”
Eastman’s book, published this month by Atlanta-based SBL Press, includes all new translations from the original Greek, Latin and Syriac sources, with footnotes to explain interesting or obscure points along with short introductions to supply dates and important features of the text. For scholars who read the ancient languages, the original texts are included, too.
“The variety of texts reminds us that traditional stories even about important people like Peter and Paul are seldom straightforward,” Eastman says. “Different contexts motivate writers to re-tell stories with different emphases or details for their own purposes. For those with particular interest in early Christianity, I hope they will enjoy learning about the traditions of what happened to Peter and Paul after the New Testament story leaves off.”
Eastman also is the author of “Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West” and is a contributor to the Society of Biblical Literature’s Bible Odyssey website. In addition, he is book review editor for the Journal of Early Christian Studies and co-editor of the Penn State University Press book series “Inventing Christianity.”
Eastman, who joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2011, already is under contract with Oxford University Press on his next book, tentatively titled “Killing Peter and Paul: Traditions of the Apostolic Martyrdoms.” In addition, he is collaborating with another academic publisher to create a book on martyrdom and persecution in early Christianity, a topic on which he taught an Ohio Wesleyan honors course in spring 2015. As part of the course, Eastman worked with his students to create “Mapping the Martyrs,” an online resource for the study of persecution and martyrdom in the early centuries of Christianity. Learn more about the mapping project at http://mappingthemartyrs.org.
Learn more about Eastman and Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Religion at http://religion.owu.edu.