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1/ Fun fact from today’s Islamic History lecture @UniofOxford: the Khazars, a nomadic people from the S. Russian steppe, converted to #Judaism in ca. 9th. Here, a Khazar coin based on an Islamic model swaps “#Muhammad is the Messenger of God” for “#Moses is the Messenger of God”!
2/ Specifically, the Khazar king and his court are said to have converted. This model of top-down religious change happened all over the late antique and medieval worlds, but is most commonly associated with #Christianity and #Islam (not #Judaism!)
3/ The other great example of state conversion to #Judaism is the kingdom of Himyar in S. Arabia. The conversion was so thorough that after 380, pagan inscriptions disappear, replaced by inscriptions with Hebrew/Aramaic words (shalom, amen, kanisat) & names (Isaac, Judah, Joseph)
4/ The other late antique religion with a very modest track record of imperial support was #Manichaeism. Its founder, the prophet Mani (d. 276), was patronized by the #Sassanian king Shapur I, but he ran afoul of the Zoroastrian priestly establishment and was executed
5/ Therafter, #Manichaeism was persecuted throughout the #Sasanian and #Roman empires (and later in the #Abbasid caliphate). In 762, though, the #Uighurs of W. China converted to #Manichaeism, finally gaining it a state sponsor (below, a Manichaean wall painting from Turfan)
6/ Thanks to @caitlinrgreen for the Khazar coin. Thanks to Christian Robin for the Himyarite inscriptions (see link below). Thanks to @iranicaonline for the Manichean painting oxfordscholarship.com/mobile/view/10…
Thank you to @barbarikon, who rightly points out that the Khazar coin includes both the phrase “Muhammad rasul Allah” at the top and “Musa rasul Allah” at the bottom
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