Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in Articles, Library | Comments Off on THE GREAT PERSECUTION – SAMUEH HUGH MOFFETT

( 340 – 401 )

 “[ Shapur II ] fell into a Violent rage [ against Shim’un ], gnashed his teeth, and stuch his hands together, saying: Shimun wants to arouse his disciples and his people to rebel against my Empire.  He wants to make them slaves of Caesar who, has the same religion as they have: that is why he disobeys my orders”

– Bedjan, Acts of the Martyrs and Saints, 2:143.

Translated by W . G . Young-Hand book, 278

The Great Persecution *

Samuel Hugh Moffett

APHRAHAT’S ninth Demonstration is called “On Persecution.” It draws attention to a bitter turn of events in his lifetime that tragically affected the Persian church. The great new fact of the fourth century for the church in Persia was not the relationship of Christianity to Judaism, nor the beginnings of monasticism, nor even the emergence of a national church organization. It was the great persecution that fell upon the Christians in Persia about the year 340.

It is somewhat strange that Aphrahat scarcely mentions the two major causes of this persecution. The first was the conversion of Constantine. The fact that Rome was now Christian was never far from his thoughts, as is obvious in his veiled references to Rome in the fifth Demonstration, “On War,” written in the year that the first Christian emperor, Constantine, died. But as a Persian Christian, writing in a Persia that for centuries had been at war with Rome, he had good reason to mute any emphasis on the Christianization of the Western empire. It was clearly Rome’s Christianity, not the second cause, Persia’s Zoroastrianism, that triggered the outbreak of what is called the Great Persecution. Though the religious motives were never unrelated, the primary cause of the persecution was political. When Rome became Christian, its old enemy Persia turned anti Christian.

Up to then the situation had been reversed. For the first three hundred years after Christ it was in the West that Christians had been persecuted. In the East they were tolerated. The martyrdoms in Edessa were Roman, not Persian, and they began with the decree of a Roman emperor, Trajan (reigned 98-117), under whose authority occurred the legendary deaths of Sharbil, Babay, and Barsamya in Osrhoene. It was Rome that first made Christianity there illegal.1

Again near the end of Roman persecution, it was the decree of another emperor, Licinius, that caused the better-attested martyrdoms of Shamona, Guria, and Habib the deacon. This was about 309, just two years before Galerius, Constantine, and Licinius in 311 signed Rome’s first Edict of Toleration. In that year, says the record, Licinius “made a

persecution” in Edessa and ordered sacrifices to Jupiter. But Habib, a simple village deacon, knew his Christian duty. He went about encouraging the faithful “to stand fast in

the truth of their faith,” and when his resistance became known he gave himself UP to save his fellow villagers. He was tortured and burned for his Lord. 2

That was the last of the great Roman persecutions. Looking back two hundred years later, the Easterner Mar Jacob, bishop of Sarug (452-521), celebrated the martyrdom of Habib as the beginning of a new age. In his Oration on Habib the Martyr he wrote:

Then ceased the sacrifices and in the congregations there was peace. The sword was sheathed, nor Christians any more laid waste. With Sharbil it began, with Habib ended in our land. From that time until now, not one has it slain: since he was burned, Constantine, the chief of victors, reigns and now the Cross the emperor’s diadem surmounts. 3

Beyond Edessa to the east across the Persian border there was no such rejoicing. For two hundred and fifty years Persia had been a refuge for Christians from Roman persecution. The Parthians were too religiously tolerant to persecute, and their less tolerant Sassanian successors on the throne were too busy fighting Rome, as the History of the Church in Adiabene thankfully observed.4 Moreover, as long as Roman emperors considered Christians to be enemies of Rome, Persian emperors were inclined to regard them as friends of Persia.

It was about 315 that an ill-advised letter from the Christian emperor Constantine to his Persian counterpart Shapur 11 probably triggered the beginnings of an ominous change in the Persian attitude toward Christians. Constantine believed he was writing to help his fellow believers in Persia but succeeded only in exposing them. He wrote to the young shah:

I rejoice to hear that the fairest provinces of Persia are adorned with…. Christians… Since you  are  so powerful and  pious,  I  commend  them  to  your  care, and  leave  them  in  your  protection. 5

It was enough to make any Persian ruler conditioned by three hundred years of war with Rome suspicious of the emergence of a potential fifth column. Any lingering doubts must have been dispelled when about twenty years later Constantine began to gather his forces for war in the East. Eusebius records that Roman bishops were prepared to accompany their emperor “to battle with him and for him by prayers to God from whom all victory proceeds.” 6  And across the border in Persian territory the forthright Persian preacher Aphrahat recklessly predicted on the basis of his reading of Old Testament prophecy that Rome would defeat Persia. 7

Faced with what seemed to be a double threat, a threat not only to national security but to the national religion as well, Persia’s priests and rulers cemented their alliance of state and religion in a series of periods of terror that have been called the most massive persecution of Christians in history, “unequalled for its duration, its ferocity and the number of martyrs.” 8 The description is probably true, though the traditional accounts may exaggerate the numbers and usually fail to mention that the persecution was not concentrated in one long forty-year outburst of hate but occurred in at least two shorter but no less tragic periods of madness separated by  an interval of comparative peace.

The persecutions began in 339 or 340, 9 in the reign of Shapur II, who ruled Persia for seventy years (309-379), longer than any shah before or since. It was an age of wars and persecutions, of the clash of empires and the revitalization of the Persian nation, of the Christianization of Rome and the disintegration for two generations of the Persian church.

But to look back forty years, as the third century ended and the fourth began, it had then been the Persian Empire not the Persian church that seemed about to disintegrate. In 298 the Roman Caesar, Galerius, had humiliated Narseh of Persia, Shapur II’s grandfather, in a defeat so crushing that Persia lost all of northern Mesopotamia including Nisibis and five Persian provinces east of the Tigris north of Adiabene.

Emboldened by the defeat, Arab tribes attacked Persia from the west and north. At one point the Arabs even captured the capital, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and a Mongol tribe called Khitans began to move out of central Asia across the Bactrian border into Iran. The shah was helpless. Powerful nobles disowned Narseh’s son, Hormizd II, and threw him into prison. Then, whether to preserve the dynasty or to ensure its fall, they held a crown over the womb of the deposed shah’s pregnant queen and designated the powerless embryo his heir. The baby was born a few months later and proclaimed king of kings, Shah Shapur II. Surprisingly he survived. At age sixteen he took the government into his own hands and faced down the great nobles. Before he was twenty he moved brutally against the marauding Arabs, ordering his soldiers to puncture the shoulder blades of all prisoners so that they could never take arms against him again. This gave him the name of “Shoulder-piercer.” Next he flung his armies east against the Kushans and captured Bactria. Finally, when still under thirty, he set out to avenge his grandfather’s humiliation by Rome. He was determined to win back what Persia had lost-the great border fortress of Nisibis and the five provinces across the Tigris.

In 337 Constantine the Great died in the midst of preparations for his war as protector of Christians against pagan Persia. To Shapur the time seemed favorable for counterattack. The great Constantine was dead, his empire divided among his three sons. Light Persian cavalry crossed the border before the year was over; then their main armies besieged the strong walled city of Nisibis. The siege failed and Shapur withdrew; the historian Theodoret piously recorded that the prayers of its saintly bishop, James, saved the city by calling down a plague of flies to confuse and stun the Persians. 10

It is little wonder, then, that when the persecutions began shortly thereafter, the first accusation brought against the Christians in Persia was that they were aiding and abetting the Roman enemy. “There is no secret which Simon (Bar-Sabba’e, bishop of Seleucia Ctesiphon) does not write to Caesar to reveal,” the Zoroastrians whispered into the ear of the shah. Shapur II’s response was to order a double tax on Christians and to hold the bishop responsible for collecting it. He knew they were poor and that the bishop would be hard-pressed to find the money. The shah’s order, preserved in one of the anonymous accounts of the martyrdoms, illustrates the absolute, arbitrary power of the Persian emperor:

When you receive this order of our godhead, which is contained in the enclosure herein dispatched, you will arrest Simon, the chief of the Nazarenes. You will not release him until he has signed this document and agreed to collect the payment to us of a double-tax and a double tribute for all the people of the Nazarenes who are found in the country of our godhead and who inhabit our territory. For our godhead has only the weariness of war while they have nothing but repose and pleasure. They live in our territory [but] share the sentiments of Caesar our enemy. 11

Bishop Simon refused to be intimidated. He branded the tax as unjust and declared, I am no tax collector but a shepherd of the Lord’s flock.” Then the killings began. A second decree ordered the destruction of churches and the execution of clergy who refused to participate in the national worship of the sun. Bishop Simon was seized and brought before the shah who, it is said, had known him from his youth. He was offered rich gifts to make a token obeisance to the sun, and when he refused, as his accusers expected, they cunningly tempted him with the promise that if only he alone would apostasize his people would not be harmed, but that if he refused he would be condemning not just the church leaders but all Christians to destruction. At that, the Christians themselves rose up and refused to accept such deliverance as shameful. So on Good Friday, according to the tradition (but more likely on September 14), in the year 344, he was led outside the city of Susa along with a large number of Christian clergy. Five bishops and one hundred priests were beheaded before his eyes, and last of all he himself was put to death. 12

For the next two decades and more, Christians were tracked down and hunted from one end of the empire to the other. At times the pattern was general massacre. More often, as Shapur decreed, it was intensive organized elimination of the leadership of the church,the clergy. A third category of suppression was the search for that part of the Christian community that was most vulnerable to persecution, Persians who had been converted from the national religion, Zoroastrianism. As we have already seen, the faith had spread first among non-Persian elements in the population, Jews and Syrians. But by the beginning of the fourth century Iranians in increasing numbers were attracted to the Christian faith. For such converts church membership could mean the loss of everything- family, property rights, and life itself.

The Syriac Acts of the Martyrs tells the story of a boy from a noble fan-dly who became a Christian. His name was Saba Gusnazdad. He told his mother of his change of heart but did not dare to tell his father. After the father died, however, it could be hidden no longer. An uncle came to attend the family sacrifices and ceremonies that would be observed for the installation of Saba as the family head. The mother made excuses. “The boy is too young,” she kept saying. But all to no avail, and when the uncle finally discovered the real reason for the delay, he denounced the boy as a Christian and claimed the headship and family fortune for himself. 13

Converts from the national faith had no rights and in the darker years of the persecutions were often put to death. The major agents in the slaughter were the Zoroastrian clergy, the magi or mobeds, but sometimes Christians suspected the Jews and accused them of acting as informers. This anti-Jewish note in some accounts of the persecution may be a later addition to the record, but it is true that the Jewish minority suffered less than the Christians in the harassment of religious minorities, and Sozomen, the fifth-century historian, reports the tradition that in the death of Bishop Simon’s two sisters, the informers against them were Jewish. Shapur II’s queen was a Jewish proselyte, according to Sozomen, and when she fell mysteriously ill it was said that her Jewish friends persuaded her that the Christian bishop’s sisters, who were both ascetic Daughters of the Covenant and therefore considered oddly different from the pleasure-loving non-Christian Persians, had used witchcraft to cast a spell on her in retaliation for their brother Simon’s death. The magi seized the two women, sawed them in two, and superstitiously directed that the sick queen be carried in her litter between their bleeding, severed bodies to cast off the evil Christian curse. 14

The martyrdom of Simon and the years of persecution that followed wiped out the beginnings of the central national organization the Persian church had only so recently achieved. As fast as the Christians of the capital elected a new bishop after Simon, the man was seized and killed. The names of two of them have survived. A Bishop Sahdost may have succeeded Bishop Simon in the catholicate (as the position of head bishop came to be called), and Bishop Barbashmin after Sahdost’s death. Sahdost lasted not much more than a year, and Barbashmin probably not much longer. 15 Then for twenty years or more the position was left vacant. Elevation to the catholicate meant instant death.

Inflaming the anti-Roman political motivation of the government’s role in the persecutions was a deep undercurrent of Zoroastrian fanaticism and hatred of other religions. The zealots’ hatred and the type of charges they customarily hurled against Christians can be seen in the following passage from one of the Acts of the Martyrs that quotes a royal decree:

The Christians destroy our holy teachings, and teach men to serve one God, and not to honor the sun or fire. They teach them, too, to defile water by their abolutions; to refrain from marriage and the procreation of children; and to refuse to go out to war with the Shah-in-Shah. They have no scruple about the slaughter and eating of animals; they bury the corpses of men in the earth; and attribute the origin of snakes and creeping things to a good God. They despise many servants of the King, and teach witchcraft. 16

Sometime before the death of Shapur II in 379 the intensity of the persecution slackened. Tradition calls it a forty-year persecution, lasting from 339 to 379 and ending only with Shapur’s death, but the worst seems to have been over at least a decade before his death. Perhaps it was the great Persian victory and the crushing defeat and death of the invading Roman emperor Julian in 363 that brought a period of peace to the church in Persia. Julian “the Apostate,” who had renounced the Christianity of his uncle, Constantine the Great, became emperor in 361. He had already defeated the barbarians along the Rhine. Now, dreaming of becoming a second Alexander, he marched east with a great army down the Euphrates toward Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Outside the capital he easily defeated a Persian army and sent it reeling to safety within the city walls. Roman victory seemed imminent but the impression was illusory.

Julian’s Armenian allies deserted him. As Christians they were not inclined to die for an apostate emperor. His Arab supporters had also left him, offended by his Roman pride and stingy pay. Moreover, on the course of their march the Romans had tried and failed to reduce by siege a whole string of Persian walled fortresses. So instead of besieging Seleucia-Ctesiphon Julian decided to consolidate his resources by a temporary withdrawal. It was a retreat into disaster, a march toward the “appointment at Samarra” that was his death.Shapur’s Persians poured out of their citadels to harass the line of march; Roman supplies ran out, and at Samarra, about one hundred miles north of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, Julian was caught by surprise in a minor skirmish and struck by a javelin. The Christian historians Theodoret and Sozomen record the tradition that as he lay dying, he threw some of his own blood at the sky, crying, “0 Galilean, thou hast conquered.” 17

Shapur forced a hard peace on the shocked, defeated Romans. He won back all that his grandfather Narseh had lost: the five provinces beyond the Tigris and, highest prize of all, the famous walled city of Nisibis. Multitudes of prisoners from the recaptured border territories were uprooted and resettled farther east in Persia, especially in Isfahan and Susiana. They included almost a hundred thousand Christian families, according to Moses of Chorene, adding not only to the numbers of Christians in Persia, but also perhaps bringing liturgical manuscripts and their sacred books. Voobus believes that it was through this influx of refugees and captives that the four separate Gospels of the Western canon came into circulation in Persia and gradually replaced Tatian’s harmony of the Gospels, the Diatessaron.18

It was at this time that Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373), who had helped to rally the defenders of Nisibis against an earlier Persian assault, chose to leave with the departing Romans. The city had been Roman all his life and Christian Roman at that. It had been captured by Rome less than ten years before he was born, and he was five or six when Constantine the Great became a Christian. So Ephrem was almost sixty when the treaty of 363 gave the border fortress back to Persia, and as a famed and open opponent of the return of pagan rule he had little choice but to take advantage of the peace treaty’s guarantee of safe passage across the border into Roman territory for all the city’s Christians. The Great Persecution was still raging in the empire of the shah so Ephrern went west and the Church of the East lost its best-known theologian, Bible expositor, and hymn writer. He spent the last ten years of his life in Edessa. as a refugee. Tradition relates that he lived in a cave and earned a living for a while as a bath attendant. He steadfastly refused all offers of high position but probably taught for a while at the famous School of Edessa and wrote prolifically and testily on everything from the heresies of Bardaisan, Marcion, and Mani to the scientific theories of his day. Though he thundered against heretics and unbelievers, Ephrem had a tender heart for the poor. A disastrous fan-dne swept Edessa and peasants were dying in the streets. Only Ephrem was concerned enough and trusted enough to shame the rich citizens of the town into giving up some of their hoarded wealth for relief of the destitute. He is credited with the founding of one of the first Christian hospitals in the East, a hasty, rough construction but a building with three hundred beds. When he died he asked to be buried not with the bishops and the rich, but with the poor. 19

The conflicting traditions and histories of those troubled times make it impossible to date the ending of the great terror. It is believed that some time after the defeat of Julian, when fear of a Roman invasion subsided, Shapur II may have issued a decree of toleration in some limited form for Christians, 20 and when he died in 379 a weaker succession of Persian kings became more concerned about the rising rival power of their feudal underlords and the appearance on the northern borders of hordes of White Huns (Hephthalites) pouring out of central Asia than with continuing the war against Rome or the persecution of Christians. There are reports of outbreaks of violence under his immediate successor, Ardashir II, but that shah ruled only three years, and oppression diminished again under Shapur III (383-388), who concluded another peace with Rome. 21

It is possible that it was in this period of comparative quiet, either before or after the death of Shapur the Great (Shapur II), that the Persian church managed to restore for a time the succession to the episcopate in the capital, Seleucia-Ctesiphon. There are shadowy references to the election of a head of the church, Bishop Tomarsa (or Tamuza), and of a Bishop Qayuma after him, to end the vacancy in leadership that followed the martyrdom of Bishop Barbashmin.  Then, according to the records of the Synod of Dadyeshu in 424, there followed another long and paralyzing vacancy in national leadership, which was later called the catholicate. But neither the facts nor the dates are clear.22

The persecutions, it would seem, had never really ended. Like smouldering coals, hatreds and fanaticism were always just beneath the surface of the volatile social order, as Wigram describes it, flaring up from time to time, then “flickering out” again, but persisting up into the first years of the fifth century. 23 It is said that in Bishop Qayuma’s time the persecutions were still so intense that when he was asked as an old man of eighty to accept the perilous position of leader of the church, he accepted only because, as he said, “I am going to die soon anyway, and I had rather die a martyr than of old age.” 24

When at last the years of suffering ended around the year 401, the historian Sozomen, who lived near enough to that time of tribulation to remember the tales of those who had experienced it, wrote that the multitude of martyrs had been beyond enumeration. 25 One estimate is that as many as 190,000 Persian Christians died in the teffor. It was worse than anything suffered in the West under Rome, yet the number of apostasies seemed to be fewer in Persia than in the West, which is a remarkable tribute to the steady courage of Asia’s early Christians. 26


1. Tradition places these first martyrdoms in the reign of Trajan, but some scholars believe that if they were historical at all they occurred in the great Roman persecutions of 250. See chap. 3, pp. 71f.

2. The Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon, in William Cureton, ed., Ancient Syriac Documents (London, 1864; reprint, Amsterdam: Oriental Press, 1967), 72-85.

3. Oration on Habib the Martyr, in Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents, 95f.

4. A. Nfingana, Sources Syriaques, vol. 1 (Leipzig: Harrasowitz, 1907), 106, 109.

5. Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 1. 24. Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History gives an inaccurate summary of the same letter and dates it wrongly.

6. Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 4:56.

7. Aphrahat, Demonstrations 5. esp. 5, 6, 24. See chap. 6, pp. 127f.

8. L. C. Casartelli, “Sassanians,” Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics11:203.

9. The traditional date is 340, but the Persian and Roman calendars overlap near the beginning or end of the year.

10. Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 2. 26.

11. Cited by J. Labourt, Le Christianisme dans l’Empire Perse sous le dynastie Sassanide, 224-632 (Paris: Lecoffre, 1904), 45f.

12. Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 2. 9-10; and Labourt, Le Christianisme, 46- 68. The primary source is the Life of St. Simon Barsabai (in Syriac), ed. P.. Bedjan, in Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, vol. 2, Martyres Chaldaei et Persae (Paris and Leipzig, 1891), 130ff. The quotations are from p. 136. See also P. Peeters, “La date du martyre de S. Symeon, archeveque de Seleucia Ctesiphon,” in Analecta Bollandiana vol. 61 (Bruxelles, 1938), 118ff.

13. A. Voobus, History of Asceticism, vol. 1, CSCO, vol. 184, subsidia t. 14 (Louvain, 1958), 223f., citing Bedjan, Acta Martyrum, 2:642ff.

14. Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 2. 12. On the role of the Jews, see A. Fortescue, The Lesser Eastern Churches (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1913), 46n.

15. M. J. Higgins, “Chronology of the Fourth-Century Metropolitans of Seleucia-Ctesiphon,” Traditio 9 (1953): 45-92f., gives convincing reasons for dating the death of Bishop Simon Bar-Sabba’e at 344 and the catholicate of Sahdost as beginning in 344/45 and extending to an unknown date. He notes that all the chroniclers say that Barbashmin held office for seven years, but “they were all wrong,” he states. Labourt, Le Christianisme, 72f., dates Sahdost’s death as 342 and Barbashmin’s as 346.

16. Acts of Aqib-shima,’in Bedjan, Acta Martyrum 2:351, quoted by W. A. Wigram, History of the Assyrian Church A.D. 100-640 (London: SPCK, 1910), 64f.

17. Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 3. 20; Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 6.

18. Moses of Chorene, cited by J. Neusner, History of the lezos in Babylonia, 5 vols. (Leiden: 1966-70), 4:16ff.; and A. Voobus, Studies in the History of the Gospel Text in Syriac CSCO [1281, subsidia t. 3 (Louvain, 1951), 30. See also Ammianus Marcellinus Rerum Gestarum Libri 20. 6, 7, an important Roman source on the wars with Shapur U.

19. This Ephrem is not to be confused with another, lesser-known Ephrem who was patriarch of Alexandria in the tenth century. There is no definitive edition of his complete works, though there is an extensive eighteenth century collection of his writings by J. S. Assemani et al. (Rome, 1732-46). His hymns are carefully edited by K. McVey, with introduction, Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns (New York: Paulist, 1989). See also Selections, ed. J. Gwynn in Nicene and Post-Nicene Christian Fathers, op. cit., Ser. 11, vol. xiii, pp. 2 (1898); and 0. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, 4 (1924), 343-75. On his fife and work see J. B. Segal, Edessa, The Blessed City (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970, 87ff. and passim; and H. Waddell, The Desert Fathers (London: Constable, 1936), 189f. citing St. Basil’s Vita S. Ephraem (C. vi, Vit. Pat. 1) and Paradisus Heraclidis (C. xxviii).

20. Higgins, “Chronology,” 92.

21. Shapur III earned the reputation of being “a just and merciful man.” Wigram, History of the Assyrian Church, 83, citing al-Tabari (ed. Noldeke, p. 71).

22. Later traditions (Bar Hebraeus in 1286, and Amri about 1350) relate the episcopate of Tomarsa to the time of Shapur III, and that of Qayuma to near the end of the century. This conflicts with what would seem to be the more contemporary testimony of the Synod of Dadyeshu (Dadiso) about a twenty-three-year vacancy immediately before the catholicate of Isaac, which began in 401/2. Higgins, “Chronology,” leans toward a theory of two vacancies, one before 379, during which Tomarsa and Qayuma might have briefly held office, and a longer vacancy from 379 to 401/2. A. R. Vine, The Nestorian Churches (London: Independent Press, 1937) gives a more traditional fist adapted from Assemani, Labourt, and Kidd, as follows: Simon Bar-Sabba’e died 341; Sadhost 341-342; Barbashmin 342-346; vacancy 346- 383; Tomarsa 383-392; Cayuma 395-399; and Isaac 399-410 (“first catholicate 410”). For the records of the Synod of Dadyeshu see J. B. Chabot, Synodicon Orientale ou Recueil de Synods Nestoriens (Paris: Klincksieck, 1902), 292.

23. The major collection of sources for the Persian persecution is Bedjan, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, op. cit., published in seven volumes (1890-97), of which volume 2, subtitled Martyres Chaldaei et Persae, and volume 4, which contains additional lives of Persian saints and martyrs, are pertinent to this period. But the text is in Syriac. Some of the manuscripts edited by Bedjan may have been the source for Sozomen’s accounts. The collection is the principal source for Labourt’s history of the period in French, and for Wigram’s in English. See Wigram, History of the Assyrian Church, 76-86, esp. 82; and Labourt, Le Christianisme, 43-82.

24. Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum 2.

25. Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 2. 14. Writing about 443 Sozomen states that the names of well-known martyrs alone would make a list of sixteen thousand.

26. Casartelli, “Sassanians,” 11:203.


*  Excerpts from : A History of Christianity in Asia”.  By: Samuel Hugh Moffett. copyright @, 1998 .Reprinted by permission of Orbis Books.