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A State of MixtureChristians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity$
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Richard E. Payne

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286191

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286191.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A State of Mixture

Richard E. Payne

University of California Press

This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to recover the social and political circumstances of worldly Christians and the perspectives of the Zoroastrian elites whose positions were always supreme in Iranian political culture. It substitutes a triangular relationship among ecclesiastical leaders, Christian secular elites, and Zoroastrian authorities in place of the binaries that East Syrian texts rhetorically constructed. The goal is not to unmask the agendas of East Syrian authors and leaders but rather to demonstrate the interplay of their literary constructions with the shifting social and political structures and relationships in their communities. The remainder of the chapter discusses the empire known in Middle Persian as Ērānšahr, “the Iranian Empire,” the most enduring and territorially extensive imperial system in the ancient Near East; the Church of the East and its institutions; and Christian and Zoroastrian texts and their contexts.

Keywords:   Christians, Zoroastrian elites, Iran, Iranian political culture, Iranian Empire, Ērānšahr, Zoroastrianism, Church of the East

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