A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian by Richard E. Payne

By Richard E. Payne

Christian groups flourished in the course of overdue antiquity in a Zoroastrian political method, often called the Iranian Empire, that built-in culturally and geographically disparate territories from Arabia to Afghanistan into its associations and networks. while prior reviews have appeared Christians as marginal, insular, and infrequently persecuted members during this empire, Richard Payne demonstrates their integration into elite networks, adoption of Iranian political practices and imaginaries, and participation in imperial associations. the increase of Christianity in Iran trusted the Zoroastrian conception and perform of hierarchical, differentiated inclusion, based on which Christians, Jews, and others occupied valid locations in Iranian political tradition in positions subordinate to the imperial faith. Christians, for his or her half, situated themselves in a political tradition no longer in their personal making, with recourse to their very own ideological and institutional assets, starting from the writing of saints’ lives to the judicial arbitration of bishops. In putting the social historical past of East Syrian Christians on the middle of the Iranian imperial tale, A kingdom of blend is helping clarify the persistence of a culturally different empire throughout 4 centuries.

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21 It was the Kayanians of Airyana Vaēĵah—the successors and allies of the mythical King Wishtasp, who had supported Zoroaster— who received the fullness of religion and directed its distribution to the other six kišwar on earth. The extent to which other lands and peoples gained possession of the Good Religion, whether fully or fragmentarily, depended upon the Iranians to whom Zoroaster had entrusted its principles and practices. The connection between Iranianness (ērīh) and Zoroastrianism was basic to the self-understanding of the wehdēn (adherents of the Good Religion) in late antiquity.

1 The Myth of Zoroastrian Intolerance Violence and the Terms of Christian Inclusion T H E L E G AC Y O F K E R D I R A single religious authority has shaped our understanding of how Zoroastrians regarded the adherents and institutions of other religions. The mowbed Kerdir who served three successive kings of kings in the third century—Shapur I (r. 241–70), Ohrmazd I (r. 270–71), and Wahram I (r. 1 On the stone walls of the so-called Kaaba of Zoroaster, alongside an inscription of Shapur I and beneath relief sculptures of early Sasanian rulers, he recounted his career as the supervisor of the institutionalization of Zoroastrianism throughout the nascent empire.

C H R I ST IA N A N D Z O R OA ST R IA N TEXTS AND THEIR CONTEXTS The study of Iranian society in late antiquity requires engagement with literatures of a highly sectarian nature. The vast corpora of religious texts that the various literary specialists of the Iranian world produced, ranging from the sometimes jocular reflections of the rabbis to the shrill polemics of Christians, present enormous interpretive difficulties to the historian. The major literary traditions that emerged in the Sasanian period—Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Armenian and Georgian, East Syrian Syriac, Babylonian Jewish Aramaic, and Mandaean—all require highly specialized training.

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