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The Emergence Of Martyrs’ Shrines In Late Antique Iran: Conflict, Consensus And Communal Institutions

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Chapter Summary

Between the beginning of the fifth century and the end of the seventh, the Christian dead became ever more prominent participants in the society of Iran. The early Sasanian state's cultivation of fear within, and attempt to assert control of, an increasingly organized religious community through the public execution of its leaders, both secular and religious, had provided the Christians of the empire with countless martyrs. Martyrs' shrines provide an alternative, local perspective on the development of Christian institutions, one that foregrounds the role of local elites who could both contest and complement the communal leadership of bishops and their clerical hierarchies. The emergence of martyrs' cults aroused minimal interest, let alone intervention, on the part of the Zoroastrian religious professionals of the empire. Martyrs' shrines and their feasts gathered the dispersed populations of particular localities to commemorate the patronage and dominance of Christian elites as well as their saints.

Keywords: Christianity; Iran; Martyrs' shrines; Sasanian martyrologies; Zoroastrianism



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