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Sasanian PersiaBetween Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia$
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Eberhard Sauer

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401012

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401012.001.0001

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Minority Religions in the Sasanian Empire: Suppression, Integration and Relations with Rome

Minority Religions in the Sasanian Empire: Suppression, Integration and Relations with Rome

Chapter:
(p.181) 8 Minority Religions in the Sasanian Empire: Suppression, Integration and Relations with Rome
Source:
Sasanian Persia
Author(s):

Lee E. Patterson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401012.003.0008

Gauging the importance of religion to the exercise of political will in the Sasanian world requires enormous care. It is all too easy to take the Great Kings at their word as they championed the doctrines of Zoroastrianism in their political pronouncements, especially as some of them also persecuted Christianity. Whether or not such sentiments were genuine, a closer analysis of the evidence suggests a more pragmatic royal use of religion. The political realities on the ground were more often the deciding factor in how the kings related to the religious sectors of Sasanian society. This state of affairs sometimes set the kings against the Zoroastrian clerics, whose agendas were not always in alignment, and it explains why Christian persecutions were usually motivated more by politics than doctrine. Moreover, this dynamic also explains the prominence of the Christian church in the later Sasanian period as kings employed it as a base of support, much as they had the Zoroastrian hierarchy.

Keywords:   Christianity in Persia, Religious history, Sasanian religious policy, Zoroastrianism

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