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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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Christian Law Making and Iranian Political Practice

Christian Law Making and Iranian Political Practice

The Reforms of Mar Aba

(p.93) 3. Christian Law Making and Iranian Political Practice
A State of Mixture

Richard E. Payne

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on Mar Aba, the leader of the Church of who was subjected to an inquest a year after his elevation to the bishopric of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in 540. Nobles and judicial officials summoned Mar Aba to account for his interventions in the lives of the faithful through the making of new laws regulating the behavior of worldly, or more familiarly “lay,” Christians. In particular, the interrogators were distressed over two restrictions that Mar Aba placed on the Christian faithful concerning marital practice and alimentary practice. The practices that the bishop aimed to regulate through laws—substitute successorship and the commensal consumption of meat—were fundamental institutions through which Iranian aristocrats reproduced themselves and constructed social networks. In the attempt to constrain Christians from participating in these institutions, Mar Aba betrayed their importance for East Syrian elites who were forming aristocratic houses and entering imperial networks.

Keywords:   Mar Aba, Magians, Good Religion, Zoroastrians, Christians, marital practice, alimenatary practice, meat consumption, substitute successorship

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