Particularization from the Seventh Century Onwards

From the seventh century onwards Syriac hagiographic works continued to be produced. However, compared with the older vitae, most of the texts written in honour of medieval indigenous Syrian saints had no more than a local or temporal influence, often a very restricted one. Thus, we have clearly to distinguish between the meaning of such a text in its original historical and ecclesiastical context, and its modern meaning, which may be quite different for Syrian Christians themselves who, in most cases, will never have heard of it, and for scholars who might be extremely interested in a single surviving manuscript. The Life of Theodotos of Amida (d. 698), a wandering charismatic, is a good example of this type of text. It is an untypical vita, as it obviously goes back to the dictation of an eyewitness who lacked literary skill, so that he had to rely on a scribe in order to put down the memory of 'his' saint. The authenticity of the report, its closeness to the historical saint, as well as its provenance from a low social environment, makes it extremely interesting reading for modern scholars, and not only for those interested in social history. However, as pointed out by Andrew Palmer (1987), we should not think that Theodotos' cult was ever widespread. There are almost no copies of his Life nor does he appear in any liturgical commemorations. Even at TurcAbdin, where this late imitator of Jesus and his movement of wandering charis-matics spent the latter part of his unsettled life, and where he was buried, there are few traces today.

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