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Constantine and the Captive Christians of PersiaMartyrdom and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity$
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Kyle Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520289604

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520289604.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 03 June 2020

On War and Persecution

On War and Persecution

Aphrahaṭ the Persian Sage and the Martyrdom and History of Blessed Simeon Bar Ṣabba‘e

Chapter:
(p.99) Four On War and Persecution
Source:
Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia
Author(s):

Kyle Smith

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520289604.003.0005

This chapter examines two Syriac martyrdom narratives that chronicle the death of Simeon bar Sabba'e, the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and are considered among the best Syriac sources for the history of Christianity in fourth-century Persia: the Martyrdom of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba'e and the History of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba'e. Simeon's martyr acts offer a glimpse into the hagiography and historiography of the early post-Constantinian period in Persia. These acts, two of the longest texts among the Acts of the Persian Martyrs, shed light on the circumstances that spurred Shapur II's persecution of Persian Christians. This chapter first considers a series of twenty-three argumentative homilies known as Demonstrations, written in the mid-fourth century by Aphrahat, the “Persian Sage.” It argues that Aphrahat's work is an exercise in biblical exegesis and offers little, if any, evidence for a persecution. It then compares the Martyrdom and the History and what they say about episcopal authority, Christian–Jewish relations, and the place of the Christians of Persia within a broader Christian history of suffering, persecution, and martyrdom.

Keywords:   persecution, Syriac martyrdom, Simeon bar Sabba'e, Persian Christians, Acts of the Persian Martyrs, Demonstrations, Aphrahat

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