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The Acts of the Christian Martyrs and Court Protocols
This lecture, “The Acts of the Christian Martyrs and Court Protocols,” is by Professor Éric Rebillard (Cornell), part of the CMRS-CEGS Research Seminar graduate course for Spring 2023, Persecution and Defiance: Religious Minorities in the Roman World 200-700 CE (History201B).
It has long been assumed that acts of martyrs derived from court protocols of their trials. Not only no such official document has ever been discovered but a good case can be made that the adoption of the protocol format by acts of martyrs is a development that is posterior to the Great Persecution. Instead of assessing the authenticity of the acts upon their use of court protocols, we need to consider the use of the protocol format as an authenticating device that attest that martyr acts producers partake in the universal belief in what Cliff Ando calls “the truth value of imperial documents.”
“Persecution and Defiance: Religious Minorities in the Roman World 200-700 CE” is a Spring 2023 graduate course designated as a CMRS Center for Early Global Studies Research Seminar which provides funding for guest scholars to lecture and work closely with students. Taught by Professor Greg Woolf (History), this Research Seminar looks at the treatment of Christians, Jews, Manichaeans, heretic and pagan minorities in the later Roman empire, roughly from the second century to the seventh CE, the age when empires stretched across much of Eurasia. Most contained minority populations identifying themselves in religious terms, subject alternately to episodes of persecution and periods of fruitful cohabitation.