Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.
From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
- Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
- Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
- Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
- Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
James (the Less)
This James was the brother of Jesus and the writer of the epistle. He seems to have been the leader of the church at Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17; 15:13-29; 1:18-24). the exact time and manner of his death is not certain, although it's believed to be about AD 66. According to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, the High Priest Ananus ordered James killed by stoning. But Hegesippus, an early Christian writer, quoted by third-century Christian historian Eusebius, says James was cast down from the Temple Tower. This version of his death further states that James was not killed by the fall, and so his head was smashed by a fuller's club, which may have been used to beat clothing, or a hammer used by blacksmiths.