Edessan Christianity As Fear Of Severan Retribution

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Edessan Christianity As Fear Of Severan Retribution

Post by yakovzutolmai »

I mentioned this as an afterthought in another topic, but the idea is profound enough to merit a topic heading I think. When I search for these subjects in Google, depressingly, posts I've made in this forum come up near the top of the search list. The lesson is that this genre of discussion isn't really occurring in too many places, and there's merit for just leaving an idea down "for the record". So this post is literally so that the following hypothesis, right or wrong, exists somewhere in the human digital catalog.

Edessa under Abgar the Great was a Marcionite city, which he converted to nascent catholicism, in order to avoid a perceived negative scrutiny from the Severan Emperors. This project included the invention of an independent, catholic history for Edessa. Formerly, Edessa was under the umbrella of the Adiabene kings, whose legacy territories tended toward what are labelled Marcionite beliefs. The ancestors of the Severans, the Emesene kings, were rivals of the Adiabene kings. Edessa fabricated a catholic history, as an Arab kingdom, to avoid possible scrutiny from Rome's Arab, Severan rulers, by creating distance between Edessa's history and Adiabene's.

Edessa's history is one of the earliest historical accounts of the catholic Christ. It also seems that the catholic perspective was not yet very widespread by 200 AD.

In Josephus, he writes that King Izates of Adiabene had his Arab client set against him. This is named as "Abia of Arsamus". I think Adiabene corresponded to the ancient Neo-Assyrian hegemony, quite literally, at least in the minds of Arab tribes who were still oath-bound to Assyrian royalty, and just prior to the Christian period, Adiabene saw an abortive renaissance Assyrian culture including the rebuilding of the temple of Asshur. So historians mistakenly fail to see the extent of Izates' kingdom.

Abia has the meaning of ethnarch or phylarch, and for the time of the Seleucids, one with this title was Aziz, whose children founded the Emesene dynasty whose fortress was Ar-Shmamish in Syria. Given the timing and context, I think Izates' "Abia" is clearly Sampsiceramus II.

We see Caracalla, a Severan, infamously overturn the tombs of the Adiabene royals in Arbela during his Mesopotamian campaign. There is cause to perceive animosity between the Emesenes and Adiabene.

During the prologue to Trajan's Mesopotamian campaign, the king of Edessa is busy ruling Babylon (Osroes), so he sells the throne to a cousin. I believe this act first created an independent Edessan kingdom, and even so, Trajan integrates this Edessa/Osroene into Rome where the rest of Assyria remains Parthian after Hadrian's withdrawal.

We also see the emergence of Hatra at this time, and have reason to think the Adiabene royals relocated there, safe among loyal Arab tribes. Hatrene royals bearing the names Sinatruces linking to Armenian history recalling a Babylon/Armenia ruling "Sanatruk" from Edessa.

So, Marcionite Edessa, situated between Rome and Hatra, among ceaseless caravans of Arabs, may have felt nervous as a Syrian Emesene takes the throne of Rome.

As a result, simply, Abgar wanted to create a Christian history for his kingdom and disseminate it among Arabs, making it very clear that his was not a kingdom that shared any history with the erstwhile Adiabene. Thus, should the Arab Severus, conscious of Arabian politics and religion, scrutinize Edessa's Christianity, he would find no objection.

In this way, Arab politics help nurture nascent catholicism by giving it a home which helps demonstrate its worth as a thoroughly Greco-Roman (Western) tradition which rejects the East.

Also, the project actually greatly succeeds, rewriting Edessa's history (the city appears to merely have been Adiabene's customs fort at the frontier, though it would become a seat of kings as royals wanted safe proximity to lean on ancient privileges among Arabs to assert authority within Rome's borders which Rome may or may not tolerate).

Even today, the extent and nature of Adiabene is confused by phantom Edessa's projection backward into the time of Christ.
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