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By Richard E. Payne

Christian groups flourished in the course of past due antiquity in a Zoroastrian political procedure, referred to as the Iranian Empire, that built-in culturally and geographically disparate territories from Arabia to Afghanistan into its associations and networks. while past stories have seemed Christians as marginal, insular, and infrequently persecuted contributors during this empire, Richard Payne demonstrates their integration into elite networks, adoption of Iranian political practices and imaginaries, and participation in imperial associations. the increase of Christianity in Iran relied on the Zoroastrian conception and perform of hierarchical, differentiated inclusion, in response to which Christians, Jews, and others occupied valid locations in Iranian political tradition in positions subordinate to the imperial faith. Christians, for his or her half, located themselves in a political tradition no longer in their personal making, with recourse to their very own ideological and institutional assets, starting from the writing of saints’ lives to the judicial arbitration of bishops. In putting the social background of East Syrian Christians on the heart of the Iranian imperial tale, A kingdom of mix is helping clarify the patience of a culturally assorted empire throughout 4 centuries.

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Extra info for A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity (Transformation of the Classical Heritage, Volume 56)

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Scholars have generally privileged his voice as representative of Zoroastrian religious professionals since his inscriptions are the only extensive contemporary literary sources for their thought. But, for the reasons we have considered in the introduction, the views of Zoroastrian exegetes, scholars, and jurists that have been preserved in the ninth-century collections of Middle Persian literature should not be dismissed. They include voluminous discussions of the problem of the place of religious others in a Zoroastrian empire, with which Kerdir was perhaps the first to wrestle in writing.

These describe periods of persecution, radupye in Syriac, both before and after the recognition of the Church of the East in 410. Shapur II was believed to have persecuted Christians relentlessly from 340 to 379, the so-called Great Persecution that was paradigmatic for the framing of subsequent outbreaks of violence as time-bound, systematic radupaye. The reigns of Yazdgird I, Wahram V, Yazdgird II, Peroz, Husraw I, and Husraw II were each reported to have contained periods of persecution against the Church of the East, even though its rapidly developing institutions continued to expand unabated.

Wiessner more ambitiously identified the authors of accounts of the martyrdom of Simeon, the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, as distinct individuals with sharply divergent views on the relationship between Christianity and the empire. 57 In Wiessner’s study, hagiographical writings came not merely to represent a community but also to reshape its perspective on particular social and political dilemmas. East Syrian lives of saints were thus original compositions of ascetics, priests, and bishops trained in the hagiographical arts.

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