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The account begins with the story of the letter of king Abgar, who is afflicted with an incurable disease, to Jesus Christ, and the reply of the latter. Abgar is unable to travel to Jerusalem so as to not anger the Roman authorities for border contravention. It is for this reason that there is a claimed correspondence between both Abgar and Jesus. Eusebius particularly treasures this correspondence insofar as it exhibits a compassionate bond between Jesus and the pagan world. The reply, blessing the King of Edessa for believing in Jesus without having seen him, and informing him that an Apostle will be sent once Jesus goes to “[his] Father,” is carried by a royal courier Hanan, who also paints a portrait of Jesus for Abgar (Appendix 2). Following Jesus’ Ascension, Judas Thomas sends Addai [or Thaddeus], one of the seventy-two disciples and new ambassador, to Abgar. Addai duly comes to Edessa, heals the king of his ailment, and many others. He also preaches before the royal court. Addai then, at the request of Abgar, preaches to the general public of Edessa, and attacks the city’s many cults and forms of worship. All the people are converted. The pagan altars are “thrown down,” and the populace is baptized. King Abgar persuades the Roman Emperor Tiberius to destroy the Jews for having crucified the Savior. Churches are built by Addai, and sponsored by king Abgar. Deacons and priests are employed for the first time. On his death-bed Addai appoints Aggai, one of the king’s silkworkers, as his successor over all of Mesopotamia. He ordains the deacon Palut as an elder, and gives his last admonitions. Addai is honored by being buried in the sepulcher of the king’s ancestors. Many years after the death of both king Addai and king Abgar, Aggai is murdered by one of Abgar’s “rebellious sons” who had succeeded the throne. He is buried under the Church structure. His successor, Palut, is obliged to go to Serapion, Bishop of Antioch, in order to receive Episcopal Consecration, which he received from he who “himself also received the hand from Zephyrinus, Bishop of Rome, from the succession of the hand of the priesthood of Simon Cephas, which he received from Our Lord. This is the story in a nutshell, and much needs to be said about it.

From “Tales of King Abgar: a Basis to Investigate Earliest Syrian Christian Syncretism” by Emran El-Badawi

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