The Chronicle of Seert
Free

The Chronicle of Seert

By Philip Wood
Free
Book Description

This book is a study of the cultural and political history of Christian Iraq, the Church of the East, the so–called ‘Nestorians’. This history is seen through the Chronicle of Seert, a medieval Arabic Chronicle that reuses sources written several centuries earlier. This monograph aims to isolate different layers of composition and looks for trends in the choice of material and the agenda of their historians. Each layer of the text provides insight into the social construction of ‘orthodox belief’ in Iraq and the church as an institution. A central narrative is the growing power of the bishops (catholicoi) of the Sasanian capital of Ctesiphon, their apostolic heritage, and their alliance with the Persian shahs. The monograph also considers the relationship of the catholicoi with monastic and scholarly centres and with Christian communities of the West. In each of these cases, the material that the Chronicle includes shows us how independent historical traditions were annexed by a narrative focused on Ctesiphon and its bishops. The monograph begins in the fifth century, when a series of abortive alliances between church and shah generated small-scale persecutions. It continues this story into the sixth and early seventh, when the church witnessed considerable growth in numbers and prestige. At each stage, we can see Christians rewriting the past to accommodate a new political and social situation, turning a murky past into a glorious golden age. The book concludes with a final chapter on the church under Muslim rule, when the Chronicle was compiled.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Notes on Transliteration and Terminology
  • Map
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • The Chronicle of Seert
  • Approaching the Chronicle
  • Trusting the Chronicle
  • The Texture of the Chronicle
  • Structures of the Sasanian State
  • Religion and the Sasanian State
  • Geography of a Christian Minority
  • Babylonia
  • Khuzistan
  • Assyria
  • 1. Collaborators and Dissidents: Writing the Hagiographies of the Fifth-century Persecutions
    • The 410 Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon
    • The War of 421 and the New Persecutions
    • The Martyrs of Yazdegard and Vahram
    • Abgar’s Cycle: Loyalty and Persecution
    • The Vandals Remembered
    • Conclusions
  • 2. The Martyrs and the Catholicos: The Acts of the Symeon and Their Reinvention
    • The Relic Cult and the Invention of History
    • Symeon bar Sebbae: Martyr for a Christian People
    • Developing the Acts of Symeon: Authority and the Catholicos
    • The Acts of Symeon and the Control of History
    • Conclusions
  • 3. The Patriarchal Histories: Genesis of a Centralizing Narrative
    • The Medieval Compilations: Bar Hebraeus, Mari, and Amr
    • The Medieval Compilations: The Chronicle of Seert and the Haddad Chronicle
    • Acacius’ History
    • The Fifth Century in the Acacian History
    • The School of Abda
    • Miles and Papas: The Council of Dadisho
    • Miles and Papas: The Reconstructions of the Histories
    • Papas and Demetrianus: Histories of Exile and the Rights of Gundishapur
    • Conclusions
  • 4. The Church and the World
    • Clerical Reform: Acacius and Barsauma
    • Clerical Reform: Narsai, Elishe, and the History of a Crisis
    • The School of Nisibis: Barsauma, Acacius, and Christology
    • The School of Nisibis: Nisibene Theology in Ctesiphon
    • The Church and the Shahs: Seeking Favour
    • Conclusions
  • 5. Roman Ecclesiastical History in the Sasanian World: Reception, Adaptation, and Reaction
    • The Expansion in History-writing
    • The Identity of the Ecclesiastical Historians
    • A New Roman Past
    • The Dyophysite Fathers and the Reception of the Fifth-century Histories
    • Ishoyahb I and the Incorporation of Roman Ecclesiastical History
    • Nisibis and the Dyophysite History of Barhadbeshaba
    • Chalcedon in the Church of the East
    • The Anti-Chalcedon Tradition
    • A Nestorian Church
    • Conclusions
  • 6. Beyond Ctesiphon: Monasteries and Aristocrats in the Christian Histories
    • Abrahamic Monasticism at Izla
    • Monasticism after the Henanian Crisis
    • The Hagiographic Collections: The Book of Chastity
    • The Book of the Governors
    • Authority and Conflict in the Accounts of Babai the Great
    • Monastic Hagiography in the Chronicle of Seert: The Catholicoi and the Jacobites
    • Monastic Foundations and Iranian Aristocracy
    • Local Hagiographies and Iranian Patrons
    • Iranian Histories and Christian Authors: The Acts of Mar Qardagh
    • Iranian Histories in the Chronicle of Seert
    • Conclusions
  • 7. The Last Great War of Antiquity: The Reaction of Christian Iraq
    • The Great War between Rome and Persia
    • Historiography of the Great War
    • Narrative Families in the History of the Great War
    • Khusrau and the Christians
    • The Life of Sabrisho
    • Numan and Sabrisho
    • The Election of Sabrisho
    • Christians in a Time of War: The Invasion of Dara
    • Christians in a Time of War: Khusrau and the Miaphysites
    • Gregory of Nisibis
    • Gregory and the Sack of Nisibis
    • The Election of Gregory of Pherat (605–9)
    • Rivals and Successors: Christian Political Ideas after 612
    • The Fall of Jerusalem in the Khuzistan Chronicle
    • The Fall of Jerusalem in Antiochos Strategos
    • The Murder of Khusrau
    • The Reign of Shahrbaraz
    • Conclusions
  • 8. The Church of Baghdad: A New Past for Christian Iraq
    • An Indian Summer
    • The Catholicoi and the Arabs
    • Writing Christian History under Arab Rule
    • Tales of Constantine
    • An Expanding Church
    • A New History of Monasticism: The Nestorians in the West
    • Remembering Muhammad: Taxation and Narratives of Surrender
    • Remembering Muhammad: The Histories of Najran
    • Remembering Muhammad: Christians, Jews, and Muslims
    • Conclusions
  • Conclusions
  • Episcopal and Regnal Lists
  • Synods of the Church of the East
  • History-writing in the Church of the East
  • Contents of the Chronicle of Seert
  • Bibliography
  • Index
    • A
    • B
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • H
    • I
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • M
    • N
    • P
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • T
    • U
    • V
    • W
    • X
    • Y
    • Z
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