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Joshua Stylites

(113 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (‘the pillar saint’). A Syrian chronicle that contains detailed information about the local history of Edessa for the years 495-507 (e.g. about the siege of Amida), and is embedded in the chronicle of Zuqnı̄n, also known as the ‘Chronicle of  [Ps.-] Dionysius [23] of Tell-Maḥrē’. It is frequently attributed to I. Stylites. He is probably also rightly considered to be the author of the entire chronicle. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography Editions: J. B. Chabot, CSCO Scr. Syri 43 and 66, 1927 and 1949 W. Wright, 1882 (with Engl. transl.) J. Watt, The chronicle o…

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.

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…

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…

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…

Memra

(96 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] ( mēmrā). Name of a Syrian poetic form consisting of isosyllabic couplets, usually rendered in a combination of 7 + 7 or 12 + 12 syllables; the former combination is associated with the name of Ephrem the Syrian, the latter with that of Jacob [3] of Sarūḡ. Many mēmrē are homilies in verse form, a genre characteristic of Syrian literature and represented mainly through the 5th- to 6th-cent. AD authors Narsai, Jacob of Sarūḡ and Isaac [2] of Antioch. Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 1922, 40 (reprint 1968).

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, …

Maruthas

(233 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
(Μαρουθᾶς, Marouthâs; Syrian Mārūṯā). [German version] [1] Bishop of Maiperqaṭ, c. 400 Bishop of Maiperqaṭ (Martyropolis [Martyr City], in the south-east of modern Turkey, was an Imperial envoy to the Sāsānid court on at least two occasions. In AD 410 he took part in the Synod of Seleucea/ Ctesiphon, at which the ‘Church of the East’ adopted the canons of the Council of Nicaea. It is thanks to him that news of the Persian martyrs under Šābuhr II ( Sapor) reached the Roman Empire. Of the numerous works ascri…

Aphrahat

(309 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (Greek Aphraates). Syrian author, mid 4th cent. AD in the time of the Sassanid empire. He is described as a ‘Persian sage’ and/or Jacob in the earliest sources (and, therefore, was confused with Jacob, the bishop of Nisibis (died AD 338); e.g., in Gennadius, de viris illustr. I). Later tradition that he was bishop of the Mar Matthew monastery is worthless, though it appears he had some influence in the Persian church. His 23 epideictic orations ( Demonstrationes, also called ‘Epistles’) are the earliest Christian writings in the Sassanid empire. Demonstrat…
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