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Scenting SalvationAncient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination$
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Susan Ashbrook Harvey

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241473

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241473.001.0001

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The Olfactory Context

The Olfactory Context

Smelling the Early Christian World

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 The Olfactory Context
Source:
Scenting Salvation
Author(s):

Susan Ashbrook Harvey

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520241473.003.0002

The elderly bishop Polycarp was invalided in the city of Smyrna on charges of refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods around the year 155 c.e. Christian witnesses to Polycarp's execution wrote a letter reporting the event to their neighboring church in the city of Philomelium in Phrygia. A further explanatory scheme of the letter was the Smyrneans' use of familiar sensory impressions to articulate what had taken place. The witnesses told of Polycarp's arrest, his brief trial, and his execution in the public stadium of the city in the presence of the gathered populace. Their bishop's death was neither trivial nor a defeat. It has been a pure and holy sacrifice acceptable to God. Like the death of Jesus Christ to which to conform in style and manner, it heralded the promise of salvation and eternal life for all believers.

Keywords:   Polycarp, Smyrna, Roman gods, Phrygia, Smyrneans

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