The Bible Museum
by on December 29, 2022

John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs emphasizes the stories of faith and courage. It talks about courageous men and women who were tortured and killed due to their faith and confessions of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior during Queen Mary’s reign. To understand why this book was read widely during the 16th and 17th centuries, you should know some key things about this book.

Purpose of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Through the simple stories of martyrs, Foxe’s book aimed to bring forward what Protestantism represented. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs also showed a strong yearning to return to Christianity’s true teachings and reject what Protestants believed to be the Catholic Church’s corrupt practices.

What Makes Foxe’s Book of Martyrs Special?

John Foxe’s study of Christian martyrs throughout history had a strong emphasis on those who had to die during the reign of “bloody” Mary. However, Foxe’s work began prior to Catholic Mary’s reign and the Protestants’ persecution. His first studies were related to the early Christian martyrs, the sufferers of the Inquisition, and the admirers of Wycliffe and Tyndale who expressed their support for the reading of the Bible in English.

During his exile in Germany as a Protestant, John Foxe continued writing, as he heard the news of the persecutions in England. The first edition (in Latin) of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs got published in 1559. However, it didn’t contain a lot of details about the latest Protestant martyrs. The stories of these martyrs were included in the much broader 1563 edition published in English. Though Foxe wasn’t a neutral writer and his historical presentation is selective and interspersed with comments, there’s no denying that he had access to the evidence from very current trials and eyewitness accounts, which makes his work usually reliable.

Final Words

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs depicts stories of heroic courage and amazing faith in God that enabled men, women, and children to tolerate persecutions and often, terrible deaths. As this book was extensively read during the 16th and 17th centuries, it significantly influenced popular opinion pertaining to Catholicism over the following centuries.

Often called the most vital Christian work ever printed outside of the Bible, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is worth possessing. However, the original printings of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs cost a lot, which could be difficult for many to buy. You can get a facsimile reproduction of this masterpiece instead at almost 99% less.

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Scott Smith
Great book!
January 18, 2023