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The Abgar Legend

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Chapter Summary

Central to the early history of the Image of Edessa is the legend of Abgar. In this chapter, the author states that the story of Abgar sending a messenger to Christ and receiving an image of whatever description in return is not based on historical fact. The Decree of Gelasius declared the two letters (the one Abgar sent to Jesus and the reply) apocryphal towards the end of the fifth century, and both Augustine and Jerome state that Jesus left nothing in writing. The earliest surviving written account of the Abgar legend dates from the beginning of the fourth century, in Eusebius Ecclesiastical History. Less than a hundred years later, the Image appears in the Syriac work known as the Doctrine of Addai, which in its present form would appear to date from about AD 400. The chapter talks about Egeria, Procopius and Evagrius.

Keywords: Abgar; Abgar legend; Christ; Decree of Gelasius; Egeria; Eusebius of Caesarea; Evagrius; Image of Edessa; Procopius



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