The Church of the East and the Hagiography of the Persian Martyrs

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:
The Church of the East and the Hagiography of the Persian Martyrs

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This chapter offers a general introduction to the Church of the East in the era of Khusro II. Taking as its foundation the synod of 605, it surveys the institutional structure and geographic range of the Sasanian Empire's Christian community on the eve of the Islamic conquest. The East-Syrian church of this generation was no longer the scattered and persecuted sect it had been during the reign of Shapur II (307–379). Under the late Sasanian monarchy, Christians formed a large and influential component of Sasanian society, with powerful allies at court. Bishops and monks moved freely throughout the empire. The chapter considers all six of the metropolitan provinces of Mesopotamia and the earliest two highland provinces of western Iran. It also introduces, and explores in more detail, the region of Adiabene and its capital, Arbela, where Christianity was firmly established by the early third century c.e. (and possibly earlier). The final part of the chapter turns from Sasanian geography to the Qardagh legend's historical and literary context.

Keywords: Khusro II; Sasanian Empire; Christian community; Islamic conquest; Mesopotamia; western Iran; Adiabene; Qardagh legend

Chapter.  18926 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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