Book Series Contextualizing the Sacred, vol. 8

Contextualizing the Sacred in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East

Religious Identities in Local, Regional, and Imperial Settings

Rubina Raja (ed)

  • Pages: 256 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:100 b/w
  • Language(s):English, German, French
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56963-5
  • Paperback
  • Available

This edited volume consists of 15 contributions by leading scholars of religious identity and religion in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East.


« En définitive, le volume livre un éventail de propositions qui partagent le constat de la difficulté à faire parler les documents, qu’ils soient écrits ou matériels, lorsqu’il s’agit de cerner une identité religieuse ; un beau recueil de réflexions, dont les conclusions invitent systématiquement à la modestie et à la prudence. Bibliographie et riches indices (lieux, personnes, divinités, auteurs anciens et inscriptions). » (Laurent Tholbecq, dans L’antiquité classique, 87, 2018, p. 659)

“The reader is presented with a commendable range of papers that highlight both the diversity of the region’s religious identities and the variety of directions future research might take. Perhaps most importantly, the papers both individually and collectively demonstrate the merit – the necessity, even – of applying a ‘context-first approach’ to this topic, as doing so often gives us the best chance of appreciating these communities on their own terms. ( Eris B. Williams Reed in Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXVII N° 5-6, 2020, p. 440)


The study of religion and religious identities in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East has been a focus within archaeology and ancient history for centuries. Yet the transition between the Hellenistic and Roman period remains difficult to grasp from the archaeological and epigraphic evidence. This volume brings together contributions by leading scholars working on religious identity and religion in the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the Roman Near East. For this volume they have been asked to address a variety of questions concerning religion, religious development, and religious identities from the Hellenistic period to Late Antiquity. These research questions have resulted in a suite of contributions which draw upon a wide range of empirical evidence, from epigraphical material to literary and archaeological sources. In the ancient Near East we cannot speak of a common religion, nor of a common literary tradition, but when seen through the lens of contextualization, the material and textual evidence brings forward new narratives about the great variations in worship, myths, and identities, as well as the different religious systems of the region and of the people inhabiting it. The contributions offer concretized ideas about and research on various aspects of religion within a framework of very different settings, of local, regional, or imperial character.

This volume is a must for any scholar or student of the Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Roman Near East, and the contributions provide new insights into the ways in which we may approach this region, offering complex but plentiful material to be studied.


Rubina Raja, Contextualizing the Sacred in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East: Religious Identities in Local, Regional and Imperial Settings: A Quest for New Lines of Enquiry

Michał Gawlikowski, Gods and Places. Local and Oecumenical Cults in Syria of the Imperial Period

Ted Kaizer, Cult Centres and Local Mythologies in Strabo’s and Pliny’s Near East

Frank Daubner, Makedonische Götter in Syrien und Kleinasien: Erwägungen zur Identität der Siedler in hellenistischen Stadtgründungen

Rudolf Haensch, Die hohen Vertreter Roms und die lokalen Kulte: Das Beispiel der kleinasiatischen und griechischsprachigen nordafrikanischen Provinzen

Kevin Butcher, Architectural Process and the Emergent Temple

Andreas M. Kropp, Tetrarches kai archiereus. Gods and Cults of the Tetrarchs of Chalkis and their Role in Ituraean Heliopolis (Baalbek)

Susan B. Downey, Degrees of Access to Temples at Palmyra

Robert Wenning, A Survey of Nabataean Religious Identity by Temple Sanctuaries

Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy, The Sanctuary of the Qasr al-Bint in Petra: From Nabataean Cult to Roman Imperial Celebration

Klaus Stefan Freyberger, The Sanctuaries at Kanatha and Seeia: Evidence for Religiously Sanctioning the Power to Use Water

Sidsel Maria Westh-Hansen, Hellenistic Uruk Revisited: Sacred Architecture, Seleucid Policy and Cross-Cultural Interaction

Maurice Sartre, Panthéons civiques du Hauran

Annie Sartre-Fauriat, La vie religieuse sur le Trachôn à l’époque romaine – Les apports de l’épigraphie

Achim Lichtenberger, Jews and Pagans in Late Antique Judaea: The Case of the Beit Nattif Workshop

Volker Menze, Constructing Religious Identities in Times of Persecutions: Ecclesiastical Diptychs, Sacramental Communities, and St Paul