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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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The Church of the East and the Territorialization of Christianity

The Church of the East and the Territorialization of Christianity

Chapter:
(p.125) Five The Church of the East and the Territorialization of Christianity
Source:
Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia
Author(s):

Kyle Smith

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520289604.003.0006

This chapter examines the History of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba'e and two other texts from among the Syriac Acts of the Persian Martyrs: the Martyrdom of the Captives of Beth Zabdai and the Martyrdom of Pusai-Qarugbed. All three sources demonstrate a pronounced trend in the discourse of late fifth-and early sixth-century Syriac martyrdom narratives: the conceptualization of Persian Christians during Shapur II's reign as Roman captives. This chapter considers how and why these Syriac martyrdom narratives speak about Christians as Roman captives. It argues that these Syriac martyrdom narratives discuss “Roman captives” not only because of the Sasanian practice of taking hundreds if not thousands of prisoners of war, but also because of the history of the spread of Christianity in Persia; the two founding synods of the Church of the East, in 410 and 420; and the brief war between Rome and Persia that followed the Sasanian king Yazdgard I's death in 420.

Keywords:   martyrdom, History of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba'e, Martyrdom of the Captives of Beth Zabdai, Martyrdom of Pusai-Qarugbed, Syriac martyrdom, Persian Christians, Roman captives, Christianity, Church of the East, Yazdgard I

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