Chapter

The Olfactory Context

Susan Ashbrook Harvey

in Scenting Salvation

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780520241473
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931015 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520241473.003.0002
The Olfactory Context

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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

Chapter.  21338 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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