Death is an element at the center of all religious imagination. Analysts from Freud to Agamben have pondered religion's fascination with death, and religious art is saturated with images of suffering unto death. As this volume shows, religious fascination with death extends to the notion of elective death, its circumstances, the virtue of those who perform it, and how best to commemorate it.
The essays in Martyrdom, Self-Sacrifice, and Self-Immolation address the legendary foundations for those elective deaths which can be categorized as religiously sanctioned suicides. Broadly condemned as cowardice across the world's moral codes, suicide under certain circumstances-such as martyrdom, self-sacrifice, or self-immolation-carries a dynamic importance in religious legends, some tragic and others uplifting. Believers respond to such legends presumably because choosing death
is seen as heroic and redemptive for the individuals who die, for their communities, or for humanity. Envisioning suicide as virtuous clashes with popular conceptions of suicide as weak, immoral, and even criminal, but that is precisely the point. This volume offers analyses from renowned scholars with the
literary tools and historical insights to investigate the delicate issue of religiously sanctioned elective death.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 358
Weight: 648 g
Dimensions: 242 x 163 x 24 mm
Martyrdom, Self-Sacrifice and Self-Immolation is a superlative volume which belongs in personal libraries as well as institutional ones. * Margaret Cormack, Journal of Religion and Violence *
Kitts has recruited a first-rate lineup of scholars who cover a vast array of classical and contemporary texts. The volume, however, remains tightly focused and cohesive...[T]his book, with copious works cited lists for each chapter, is recommended for scholars researching the nexus of religion and voluntary death. * Christopher Denny, Reading Religion *