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Was Edessa or Adiabene the Gateway for the Christianization of Mesopotamia?

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Chapter Summary

The early history of Christianity in the Near East is shrouded in mystery, and the scholars still debate whether Edessa or Adiabene was the gateway through which Christianity spread out in Mesopotamia and Persia. Understandably, scholars favoured one city over the other in attempting to reconstruct the early history of Christianity in Mesopotamia, but it seems that neither side has enough literary and/or archaeological evidence in support of their choices. The earliest Syriac Christian sources date to the Parthian period and derive from an extensive region extending from Southern Mesopotamia to Northern Syria up to the Upper Euphrates. It was Edessa that became most prominent among all other Christian cities in Mesopotamia, tracing its Christian origins not merely to the apostolic age through Thomas the Apostle, who is said to have sent Addai to Abgar's city, but directly to Jesus through the imagined letters exchanged between him and Abgar.

Keywords: Abgar's city; Adiabene; Christianization of Mesopotamia; Edessa; Gateway; Northern Syria; Persia; Thomas; Upper Euphrates



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