Foxe's Book of Martyrs
When one recollects that until the appearance of the Pilgrim's Progress, the common people had almost no other reading matter except the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, we can understand the deep impression that this book produced; and how...
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When one recollects that until the appearance of the Pilgrim's Progress, the common people had almost no other reading matter except the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, we can understand the deep impression that this book produced; and how it served to mould the national character. Those who could read for themselves learned the full details of all the atrocities performed on the Protestant reformers; the illiterate could see the rude illustrations of the various instruments of torture, the rack, the gridiron, the boiling oil, and then the holy ones breathing out their souls amid the flames. Take a people just awakening to a new intellectual and religious life; let several generations of them, from childhood to old age, pore over such a book, and its stories become traditions as individual and almost as potent as songs and customs on a nation's life.
For over 400 years, Foxe's Book of Martyrs has inspired generations of Christians through the stories of men and women who chose to face death rather than recant their faith in Christ. This book provides a fascinating introduction to the lives of the persecuted saints of old, beginning with Stephen and ending during the reign of Queen Mary.
After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our own time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.
John Foxe (1516-1587) was a professor at Oxford, then a minister in London before being forced to flee to Europe when Queen Mary came to power. While in Europe he wrote this classic and published it after returning to England when Queen Elizabeth took the throne.