Chapter

Christianity in Late Antique Iraq and the Legend of Mar Qardagh

Joel Thomas Walker

in The Legend of Mar Qardagh

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245785
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932197 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520245785.003.0001
Christianity in Late Antique Iraq and the Legend of Mar Qardagh

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Syriac manuscripts testify to the remarkable success of Christianity in the late antique Near East. Bishoprics loyal to the “Church of the East” once existed throughout the Sasanian Empire, from northern Iraq to eastern Iran, and from the southern Caucasus to the Persian Gulf. A remnant of this ancient church survived in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia until the massacres of the early twentieth century, and its descendants—known today as the Assyrian and Chaldean peoples—can still be found in the cities and towns of modern Iraq, as well as in a diaspora that extends across Europe, North America, and Asia. This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to offer a close study of one segment of this church's history and culture. Taking as its base the martyr literature of the Sasanian Empire, it seeks to illuminate the distinctive world of late antique Iraq and its Christian community. The chapter then discusses the three different fields of modern scholarship on the cultural world of late antique Iraq: Syriac Christianity, Sasanian–Zoroastrian studies, and the study of late antiquity. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords: Iraq; Christian community; Sasanian Empire; Syriac Christianity

Chapter.  5546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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