Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation
Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac is a series of Syriac martyrological texts composed from the fourth century into the Islamic period. They describe the martyrdom of a diversity of Christians at the hands of Sasanian kings, bureaucrats, and priests. These documents vary from purely mythological accounts to descriptions of actual events with a clear historical basis, however distorted by the hagiographer’s hand.
Series Editor: Adam H. Becker (New York University)
The History of Holy Mar Ma‘in of Sinjar tells the story of a Sasanian general during the time of Shapur II (309-79) who suffered persecution after his conversion to Christianity. In this volume, the first in this new series from Gorgias Press, Sebastian P. Brock provides the first edition ever of the Syriac text of the History of Ma‘in as well as the first full translation of it. This volume also includes a basic guide to the whole corpus of Persian Martyr Acts as well as useful indices to these numerous texts.
The Martyrdom, and the later History, of Simeon bar Sabba’e narrate the death of the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon who was killed around the year 340 C.E. at the beginning of King Shapur II’s “Great Persecution” of Christians in Sasanian Persia.
This volume contains the Syriac Life of Mar Pinhas, a purported martyr under the Sasanian Empire. This edition contains the Syriac text (first published in 1894 by Paul Bedjan), an English translation, explanatory annotations, and Addai Scher's Arabic version of the story.
The Martyrs of Mount Ber’ain is the poignant tale of three noble Iranian siblings who are martyred under Shapur II. Composed in the seventh century, it demonstrates enduring concerns of Christian self-definition in Iran, especially with respect to the Zoroastrian priesthood.
The first critical editions and English translations of the two Syriac recensions of a fascinating text which narrates the story of a young Jewish child, Asher. After converting to Christianity and taking the name ʿAḇdā da-Mšiḥā (‘slave of Christ’), he is martyred by his father. In a detailed introduction, Butts and Gross challenge the use of this text by previous scholars as evidence for historical interactions between Jews and Christians, reevaluating its purpose and situating the story in its Late Antique Babylonian context.
This volume presents five vivid tales of Christian martyrs from the fifth century. These accounts thematize the conflict between the martyrs' identity as Persian subjects loyal to the Zoroastrian king and their devotion to Christianity.
The History of Mar Behnam and Sarah tells the story of two siblings who convert to Christianity under the tutelage of Mar Mattai, a monastic leader and wonderworker from the Roman Empire. In this volume, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent and Kyle Smith provide the first critical edition and English translation of this fascinating martyrdom narrative.
In the mid-6th century, Grigor, the general of the Sasanian king’s armies and a converted from Zoroastrianism to Christianity, was put to death. This event brings about the conversion of several Zoroastrian notables such as Yazd-panāh, a judge who also died as a martyr three years later, and the courtier ʿAwira. The reign of King Khusrō I (531–579) was a key-chapter in the history of the Persian Empire, but also for the Church of the East, some members of which were involved in the Sasanian administration. These East-Syrian historical texts, which are among the few passions of this period in Syriac, have received little scholarly attention. This volume offers a critical text and commentary, as well as the first translation into English of these two martyr texts. Written by contemporaries, they provide valuable information regarding socio-religious life and the political context. They demonstrate how Persian Christians, despite sporadic persecution, were able to maintain a distinct identity while simultaneously acculturating to the norms of Iranian society.
This volume brings together the texts and translations for three Syriac martyr acts, set in Sasanian Persia during the reign of Shapur II (309-379 CE). These texts offer compelling witness to the challenges of a community’s need to honor memory and experience, and evidence towards the formation and sustenance of Christian identity in the midst of Persian society and culture.
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