The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East In the by Ted Kaizer

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By Ted Kaizer

A 'Near jap religion', alongside the strains of 'Greek faith' or 'Roman religion', is tough to tell apart for the Classical interval, because the non secular cultures of the various towns, villages and areas that constituted the close to East within the Hellenistic and Roman classes have been, regardless of a few noticeable similarities, in particular very various from one another. This number of articles by way of students from diversified disciplines (Ancient background, Archaeology, Art-History, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Oriental reviews, Theology) contributes to our quest for figuring out the polytheistic cults of the close to East as a complete via bringing out the diversity among the several neighborhood and local varieties of worship during this a part of the area.

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Cf. 634ff. On the difficulties with regard to interpreting the notion of ‘Arab’ and ‘Arabs’ in this period, see Macdonald (2003). 24 ted kaizer the societies to which these worshippers belonged were built up, worked, and conceived themselves. By targetting different approaches to the multifarious aspects of worship of the late Hellenistic and Roman Near East, this volume does not aim solely to present a combined series of individual studies of the religious cultures of the Classical Levant. In addition to this, it is also hoped that, as a compilation of case-studies of the variety of local religious life in the region, it may serve to create and put forward certain models which can be applied to religious variety within larger boundaries elsewhere in the ancient world.

The various localities and temple complexes were all embedded in regions with quite specific geological characteristics, which had a bearing on their relevant cultural and historical developments. As a whole, the lands of the Near East have always been seen as “un pays de transit”,33 but the enormous landmass beyond the Taurus mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, intersected by the Orontes, Euphrates, Tigris, and many other rivers, was also “eine Zone naturräumlicher Vielfalt, die durch allmähliche Übergänge und kleinräumiges Wechselspiel gekennzeichnet ist:”34 Northwest Syria, the heartland of the first Near Eastern province when founded by Pompey in the 60s BC, with its hinterland known as the Limestone Massif; the Orontes valley running parallel with the Ansariyeh mountains, including its most famous top Mt Kasios; the Phoenician coast with the Beqa‘a valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, continuing into the Palestinian coast and, across the Golan, the various regions of Roman 30 Drijvers and Healey (1999) list nearly thirty mosaic inscriptions.

E. 28 Finally Edessa, the capital of the kingdom of Osrhoene in northern Mesopotamia (whose indigenous name is preserved in its present name Urfa), is a case on its own above all by virtue of its early Christian history, which made it—at least in legend—the first Christian kingdom in the world, and the centre of Eastern Syrian Christianity, with the development of a new liturgical language, Classical Syriac, the best attested member of the Aramaic family. 29 But, again, there is unique 27 For an overview, see Kaizer (2000b), with Bertolino (2004).

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