The History of the 'Slave of Christ': From Jewish Child to Christian Martyr

TitleThe History of the 'Slave of Christ': From Jewish Child to Christian Martyr
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsButts, AM, Gross, S
Series TitlePersian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation
Series Volume6
Number of Pages269
PublisherGorgias Press
Publication Languageeng., syr.
ISBN Number9781463205737
KeywordsHagiography, Syriac Sasanian Sources

The History of the ‘Slave of Christ’: From Jewish Child to Christian Martyr offers the first critical editions and English translations of the two Syriac recensions of this fascinating text, which narrates the story of a young Jewish child, Asher, who after converting to Christianity and taking the name ʿAḇdā da-Mšiḥā (‘slave of Christ’) is martyred by his father Levi in a scene reminiscent of Abraham’s offering of Isaac in Genesis 22. In a detailed introduction, the authors argue that the text is a fictional story composed during the early Islamic period (ca. 650–850) probably in Shigar (modern Sinjār). Building upon methodology from the study of western Christian and Jewish texts, they further contend that the story’s author constructs an imagined Jew based on the Hebrew Bible, thereby challenging the way that previous scholars have used this text as straightforward evidence for historical interactions between Jews and Christians in Babylonia at this time. This ultimately allows the authors to reevaluate the purpose of the text and to situate it in its Late Antique Babylonian context.

Aaron M. Butts is an assistant professor, focusing on the Christian Near East, in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America.

Simcha Gross is a Ph.D. candidate, concentrating in Ancient Judaism and Syriac Christianity, in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University.

Citation Key7036