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Diplomacy And Identity Among Jews And Christians

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Chapter Summary

Sometime around the year 177CE, a man named Athenagoras composed a defence of Christianity that he addressed to Roman emperors. In his Embassy for Christians, the persona that Athenagoras constructs for himself in the text is quite clearly meant to be that of an ambassador. In many respects the Jews were typical of groups that had diplomatic relations with the emperor. The Judaeans, like other peoples drawn gradually into the ambit of Rome, regularly sent embassies to the Senate and to individual Roman commanders in order to win general goodwill and obtain specific benefits. The chapter also considers four points of correspondence between the 'diplomatic' writings of Christian authors and traditional forms of diplomacy in the Roman world: the status of the ambassador, the demonstration of loyalty, the appeal to the emperor's virtues, and the citation of favourable precedents.

Keywords: ambassador; Athenagoras; Christian people; Judaean communities; Roman world; traditional diplomacy



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