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Bardesanes

(228 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Well known as ‘Aramaic philosopher’ and astrologist, B. (AD 154-222) is the earliest known Syrian author from Edessa, where he worked at the court of  Abgar [3] VIII (177-212). Iulius Africanus (Kestoi 1,20) mentions that he met him there in the year 195. Even though B. wrote against the Marcionites ( Marcion) and the Chaldaeans, his opinions about cosmology drew the disapproval of later writers since  Ephraim. This led to the loss of his writings (both poetry as well as prose). H…

Severus

(1,402 words)

Author(s): Baltes, Matthias (Münster) | Holzhausen, Jens (Bamberg) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) | Birley, A. R. (Düsseldorf) | Portmann, Werner (Berlin) | Et al.
[German version] I Greek (Σευῆρος; Seuêros). [German version] [1] Platonist, 2nd cent.? Platonist, probably 2nd cent. AD. He wrote a monograph On the soul [1. 80, 299; 2. 409-13, 428 f., 435 f.] and a commentary on Plato’s Timaeus [1. 52, 217 f.; 2. 407-9]. He appears in these works to be an original-minded, somewhat stoicizing interpreter of Aristotle’s doctrine of categories [1. 259; 2. 413 f.; 3. 66, 288 f.], and of Plato’s theories of the soul [1. 299; 3. 56, 278 f.] and of the origin of the world [4. 116-18, 417-21]. His works …

Cyrillonas

(67 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (Diminutive form of Cyrillus). Name of an otherwise unknown author of six poems in the Syrian language; one of them is about a Hun attack on northern Mesopotamia (thus c. AD 396); the other five concern themselves with NT themes. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography D. Cerbelaud, Cyrillonas, l'agneau véritable, 1984 S. Landersdorfer, Ausgewählte Schriften der syr. Dichter, 1913, 1-54 I. Vona, I Carmi di Cirillona, 1963.

Madrasha

(70 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] ( maḏrāšā). Name for a Syrian poem form divided up into strophes that uses different patterns of isosyllabic metres (or q ālē, literally ‘melodies’ according to which they were sung). Madrasha poetry, the greatest representative of which is considered to be Ephraim the Syrian († in AD 373), could have influenced the development of the Kontakion. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 1922, 39.

Balai

(118 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Syrian poet from the first half of the 5th cent. AD, probably worked in Chalcis/Qennešrin (northern Syria). Two poems are definitely genuine, the one about the consecration of a church in Qennešrin, the other one about the death of bishop Acacius of  Beroea [3] (Aleppo) in the year AD 432. An epic poem in 12 books about the patriarch Joseph, which is also attributed to  Ephraim, could have been written by B. Many liturgical poems with verses in five syllables (‘Balai metre’) are attributed to him. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography K. V. Zettersteen, Beiträge zur …

Išōyahḇ III.

(149 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Syrian author and patriarch of the eastern Church (AD 649-659), son of land owners. He became a monk at the monastery of Beṯ ʿAbē, subsequently he became bishop of Niniveh (Mosul) in 627 and metropolite of  Arbela [1] in 639; in 649 he was finally elected patriarch. A comprehensive collection of 106 letters supplies numerous pieces of information about the eastern Church in the transition period from the Sassanid to the Arabian rule. I. implemented extensive liturgical reforms, furthermore he wrote a work about the life of the martyr Išōʿsabrān. Brock, Sebastian P. (Ox…

Estrangelā

(50 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] The term estrangelā (deriving from the Greek στρογγύλος/ strongýlos, ‘rounded’) refers to the pattern of Syriac script in the oldest manuscripts (5th-8th cents., still common up to the 13th cent. but rarely used thereafter). Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography E. Hatch, An Album of Dated Syriac Manuscripts, 1946, 24-27.

Enyana

(51 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (enyānā). One of several Syrian expressions for a liturgical answering verse; in a special sense, a poetic text as an answer during the recitation of Psalms. The expression corresponds to the Greek στιχηρόν ( stichērón), κανών ( kanṓn). Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography O. Heiming, Syr. eniane und griech. Kanones, 1932.

Narsai

(173 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Syrian poet ( c. AD 399 - c. 502) and initially head of the ‘Persian School’ in Edessa [2] (possibly until 471), then of the school of Nisibis. Of his writings only about 80 verse homilies ( Mēmrā ) with exegetic, didactic and liturgical content are extant (to date only a few of them are available in translation). One of his mēmrā has as its theme ‘the three teachers’, i.e. Diodorus [20] of Tarsus, Theodorus of Mopsuestia and Nestorius. In his exegesis and Christology, N. was strongly influenced by Theodorus. A series of dialogic poems ( Sōḡyāṯā) on Biblical figures has been…

Soghitha

(48 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (also Sogitha). A simple stanzaic form of Syriac verse, and a subcategory of the isosyllabic maḏrāšā. The soghitha normally has stanzas of four lines, each of 7 or 8 syllables. An acrostic and/or a dialogue may also be present. Madrasha Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)

Doctrina Addai

(207 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] This Syrian tale recounts Addai's legendary missionary activity in Edessa and the subsequent conversion of King Abgar ‘the Black’ ( Abgar Legend). The beginning, which has its only parallel in the Greek version by Eusebius (HE 1,13), describes Abgar's exchange of correspondence with Jesus and Addai's arrival in  Edessa (in Eusebius: Thaddaios). The Doctrina Addai however, provides additional new information, in particular about a portrait of Jesus by Ḥannan, Abgar's emissary, the precursor of the Mandylion of later tradition, and…

New Testament Apocrypha

(1,541 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (NTA, from the Greek apókryphos/ ἀπόκρυφος, ‘hidden, concealed’, in Early Christian usage ‘esoteric’) refers to a complex collection of various writings outside the NT canon with Biblical figures as their subject or their fictitious authors, thus invoking the authority of these as the message's recipient, conveyer or guarantor. It would be more accurate to refer to them as ‘Early Christian Apocrypha’, since the writings frequently differ theologically from the canonic Biblical texts, …

Dionysius

(11,175 words)

Author(s): Meister, Klaus (Berlin) | Karttunen, Klaus (Helsinki) | Ameling, Walter (Jena) | Badian, Ernst (Cambridge, MA) | Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) | Et al.
(Διονύσιος; Dionýsios). Famous personalities: D. [1], the tyrant of Syracuse; the historian D. [18] of Halicarnassus. Dionysios (month),  Months, names of the. The chronicle of Ps.-D. by Tell Maḥre see D. [23]. I. Politically active personalities [German version] [1] D. I. Notorious tyrant in Syracuse c. 400 BC of Syracuse, son of Hermocritus, born in c. 430 BC, died in 367 BC. Founder of the ‘greatest and longest tyrannical rule in history’ (Diod. Sic. 13,96,4; appearance: Timaeus FGrH 566 F 29). Possessing a sophist education (Cic. Tusc. 5,63), D. had enormous ambitions a…

Sergius

(1,659 words)

Author(s): Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) | Bartels, Jens (Bonn) | Müller, Christian (Bochum) | Schmitt, Tassilo (Bielefeld) | Eck, Werner (Cologne) | Et al.
Name of an old patrician family. The tribus Sergia was named after it. The family is attested to have attained consulship in the 5th cent. BC (S. [I 5]) but did not achieve lasting importance in the historical period. The attempt of its best-known member, L.S. Catilina, to attain the consulship once more failed with the Catilinarian Conspiracy. I. Republican Period [German version] [I 1] S., M. The brother of L.S. Catilina (?) According to Plutarch (Sulla 32,3; Cicero 10,3), the brother of L.S. Catilina, killed by him in 81 and posthumously put on the proscriptions…

Martyrologium Edessenum

(66 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Early calendar of martyrs (Syrian), preserved in a MS copied in Edessa [2] in November AD 411. The main part of the text is translated from a Greek calendar showing links with Nicomedia. It is supplemented, however, by the names of Persian martyrs. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography F. Nau, Les ménologes des Évangeliaires coptes-arabes (Patrologia Orientalis 10,2), 1923, 5-26 (repr. 1973).

Mar Aba

(145 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] ( Mār Āḇā, Μὰρ Ἀβᾶ; Màr Abâ). Katholikos of Seleucea/ Ctesiphon [2] in AD 540-552. Converted from Zoroastrianism to Christianity, M. studied in Nisibis and then undertook extensive journeys in the Roman empire. In Alexandria [1] he impressed Cosmas [2] Indicopleustes with his erudition (the latter names him, in the Hellenized form of his name, Patríkios, cf. Topographia Christiana 2,2). Although he spent much of his period in office in exile or, as a confessor, in prison, he nonetheless remained extremely active in church administrati…

Onitha

(48 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] ( Onı̄ṯā). One of several Syrian terms meaning 'refrain', 'responsorium' or 'antiphon' (others include ōnāyā or Enyana). In liturgical texts of the 'Church of the East', onitha has the specific meaning of a metrical composition following a verse of a psalm. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)

Ephrem

(495 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
Syrian poet and theologian ( c. AD 306-373); his reputation was already known to Jerome in 392 (Vir. ill. 115). He spent the greater part of his life as a deacon in Nisibis; when in AD 363 the city was ceded to the Persians, he settled in Edessa, the modern Urfa. The 6th.-cent. vita is filled out with many fabulous tales. E.'s writings may be divided into three categories: verse writings, which make up the major part, artistic prose and prose. [German version] 1. Verse writings His verse writings in more than 50 metres, mostly in strophes (  madraše , hymni), survive in cycles of various lengt…

Rabbulā, Rabulas

(234 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Bishop of Edessa [2] (AD 412-435 or 436). Information on his life comes from a Syrian panegyric as well as occasional references found in other sources (e. g. the Edessa Chronicle). Born to wealthy parents in Qinnasrīn (Chalkis), R. was brought up according to Greek custom; he was introduced to Christianity by the bishops Eusebius of Qinnasrīn and Acacius [3] of Beroea (Aleppo). With the help of the latter's influence, he was elected bishop of Edessa in the year 412. He offered guidelines for the lives of clerics and monks in his Kanónes ('Rules'; preserved in Syrian). I…

Michael

(1,757 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Berger, Albrecht (Berlin) | Tinnefeld, Franz (Munich) | Albiani, Maria Grazia (Bologna) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
(Μιχαήλ/ Michaḗl; Mîkāēl). [German version] [1] Archangel Archangel, [1] One of the most prominent angels (cf. the description archistratēgós, ‘supreme commander’ of the heavenly host, Joseph of Aseneth 14,8, cf. Slavonic Hen 22,5; 33,10), one of the seven (Ethiopic Hen 20,5) or four (Ethiopic Hen 9,1; 10,11) archangels (cf. [1]). The name means ‘who is like God’ or ‘who is victorious like God’. M., who was first mentioned in the ‘Book of Watchers (Ethiopic Hen 1-36, end of the 4th/beginning of the 2nd cent. BC)…
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