By Richard E. Payne
Christian groups flourished in the course of past due antiquity in a Zoroastrian political procedure, referred to as the Iranian Empire, that built-in culturally and geographically disparate territories from Arabia to Afghanistan into its associations and networks. while past stories have looked 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 relied on the Zoroastrian thought and perform of hierarchical, differentiated inclusion, in keeping with 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, located 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 combination is helping clarify the persistence of a culturally varied empire throughout 4 centuries.
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Additional resources for A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity (Transformation of the Classical Heritage, Volume 56)
This reading of the corpus of East Syrian hagiography reveals the consistent, rather than fluctuating, use of violence against religious others by the Iranian court in particular circumstances as a means of establishing norms of interaction between Christian and Zoroastrian elites. These lines of research converge to show how the Zoroastrian institutions of the empire facilitated the expansion of Christian and Jewish communities throughout its history. Zoroastrians in late antiquity should be known for having practiced differentiated, hierarchical inclusion rather than intolerance.
In part on account of agdēn’s seemingly straightforward Avestan etymology, the use of the term has been taken to indicate the vehement antipathy of Zoroastrian authorities toward religious others. 33 This representation of Zoroastrian concepts of religious difference ignores the nuanced discussions of agdēn found in the literary sources that priestly and courtly elites produced. The idea of bad religion was the beginning, not the end, of scholarly discourse on the relationship between the wehdēn The Myth of Zoroastrian Intolerance 31 and the great mass of humans who stood outside the imperial religion yet within Iran.
58 If Peeters, Wiessner, and others intended to recover historical facts from hagiographical texts, in doing so they laid the groundwork for exploring the historical implications of the literary creativity of East Syrian authors. Introduction 19 Hagiographers were the anonymous architects of Christian communities in Iran. To speak of authors as undertaking constructive work is to evoke a generation of scholarship on religion and society in late antiquity. The argument that holy men played crucial roles in the transformation of late Roman society helped to rejuvenate the field.