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The Persian Persecution: Martyrdom, Politics, and Religious Identity in Late Ancient Syriac Christianity

dc.contributor.advisor Van Rompay, Lucas
dc.contributor.advisor Clark, Elizabeth Smith, Kyle Richard 2011-05-20T19:35:17Z 2016-05-08T04:30:04Z 2011
dc.description.abstract <p>According to the Syriac <italic>Acts of the Persian Martyrs</italic>, the Sasanian king Shapur II began persecuting Christians in Persia soon after Constantine's death in 337 CE. Previous studies of the <italic>Acts</italic> (and related material) set Shapur's persecution within the context of Constantine's support for Christianity in the Roman Empire. Religious allegiances are said to have been further amplified during the Roman-Persian war over Rome's Mesopotamian provinces that followed Constantine's death. According to most interpretations, by the mid-fourth century <italic>Christianitas</italic> had become coextensive with <italic>Romanitas</italic>: Persian Christians were persecuted because they worshipped Caesar's god and, thereby, allied themselves with Rome. </p><p>By contrast, this dissertation reconsiders Christian historical narratives, the rhetorical and identity-shaping nature of the martyrological genre, and assumptions about the clear divisions of religious groups in late antiquity. Although the notion of Christianity as a "Roman" religion can be found in some of the historiography of persecution in Persia, our knowledge about Christians in fourth-century Persia is a harmonized event history woven from a tapestry of vague and conflicting sources that often exhibit later religious, political, and hagiographical agendas. </p><p> </p><p>To demonstrate how Shapur's persecution came to be interpreted as the result of religious changes within the Roman Empire, the dissertation first reconsiders how Constantine is imagined as a patron of the Christians of Persia in Syriac and Greek sources. The second part looks at the ways by which constructed imperial ideals territorialized "religion" in the post-Constantinian era. Finally, the third part presents the first English translations of the <italic>Martyrdom and History of Simeon bar Sabba'e</italic>, a fourth-century Persian bishop whose martyr acts are central to the historiography of the period.</p>
dc.subject Religious History
dc.subject Ancient History
dc.subject Middle Eastern History
dc.subject constantine
dc.subject identity
dc.subject martyrdom
dc.subject persecution
dc.subject persian
dc.subject syriac
dc.title The Persian Persecution: Martyrdom, Politics, and Religious Identity in Late Ancient Syriac Christianity
dc.type Dissertation
dc.department Religion
duke.embargo.months 60

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