Roman Edessa: Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114-242 CE

Roman Edessa: Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114-242 CE

Roman Edessa: Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114-242 CE

Roman Edessa: Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114-242 CE

Synopsis

Roman Edessa offers a comprehensive and erudite analysis of the ancient city of Edessa (modern day Urfa, Turkey), which constituted a remarkable amalgam of the East and the West. Among the areas explored are:* the cultural life and antecedents of Edessa* Edessene religion* the extent of the Hellenization at Edessa before the advent of Christianity* the myth of an exchange of letters between a King Abgar and Jesus.

Excerpt

This work arose from a dissertation submitted in 1997 at the University of California at Berkeley. Its original kernel, however, was a paper written for a seminar on Documents from Roman Syria under the direction of Professor Glen Bowersock, of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. the focus of that paper was on the Syriac parchments from Edessa found along with the Euphrates Papyri cache, and on historical conclusions that could be reached from those documents in combination with numismatic data. Although the final project has advanced far beyond those concerns, they remain at the center of this work, as will be seen. Although the intent has been to deal, as much as possible, with the evidence for early (pre-Christian) Edessa, the city's later importance as a religious and literary center demands some treatment of Edessan Christianity and culture, the arrival of the new faith and the evidence offered by early Syriac literature. It is in these areas that I feel my credentials to be most lacking, and it is only with trepidation that I offer any opinion at all on controversial topics.

Although their names are mentioned in the Acknowledgements, I would like to express here again my deepest personal gratitude to the giants of scholarship in this area, Professors Sebastian Brock, H. J. W. Drijvers, and J. B. Segal. Each of them has been most generous with suggestions and assistance, and their kindness has rescued me countless times from the brink of error. a number of crucial suggestions were provided by the publisher's anonymous referee, with the result that this work approximates much more closely to a full and balanced treatment. I am fully responsible for any errors and weaknesses that remain.

Throughout the extended period of work on this subject I have been sagely counseled, and gently prodded, by Prof. Erich S. Gruen, the mentor of mentors. Glen Bowersock, the original inspiration for

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