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(3,232 words)

Author(s): Kuhn, Thomas Konrad | Tamcke, Martin
1. Begriff 1.1. AskeseA. (Aszese) ist ein »Grundbegriff der europ. Kulturgeschichte« [18. 287], dessen nzl. Verwendung ohne Kenntnis seiner antiken und frühma. Geschichte kaum plausibel wird. Der Begriff leitet sich von dem griech. Verb askeín (»sich in etwas üben«) ab; die damit gemeinte – häufig methodisch geprägte – »Übung« (griech. áskēsis) bezog sich auf körperliche (z. B. sportliche oder militärische) und im übertragenen Sinn auf geistig-moralische Lebensbereiche (wie Philosophie und Tugend). In diesem Kontext fehlte noch der erst später …
Date: 2019-11-19


(3,471 words)

Author(s): Kuhn, Thomas Konrad | Tamcke, Martin
1. Concept 1.1. AsceticismAsceticism is a “fundamental concept of European cultural history”, [18] whose use in the Modern Period can scarcely be said to make sense without a knowledge of its history in Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period. The term goes back to the Greek verb askeín (“to practise something”); the “practice” (Gr. áskesis) referred to was frequently defined in terms of method, and related to physical (e.g. sportive or military) as well as, by extrapolation, intellectual and moral areas of life (such as philosophy and virtue). S…
Date: 2019-10-14

Isaac of Nineveh

(207 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (7th cent.), was an outstanding representative of eastern Syrian monastic mysticism (III, 3), born in Qatar. Catholikos George II (658–680) consecrated him bishop of Nineveh in the monastery of Bet Abe. His mysticism, manifest in his interior life, was in conflict with the requirements of public episcopal action. Weary of the unrest in his diocese, after five months he withdrew into solitude and finally became a monk in the monastery at Shabor, where, blinded by study and ascetici…


(182 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (of Nisibis; c. 399, Ain Dulbe – c. 502, Nisibis). Narsai was the outstanding theologian of the Antiochene tradition in the foundational phase of the school of Nisibis. His first creative period occurred largely at the school of Edessa, of which he was head from 437. Since he embodied the pro-Antiochene party in the city, he was expelled to Persia in 457 by Nonnus of Edessa, with the deposed Ibas of Edessa. Apologetic writings in support of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsu…

Philoxenus of Mabbug

(445 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (Gk Philoxenos of Hiera­polis, Syr. Akzenaya of Mabbug; mid-5th cent., Tahal –Dec 10, 523, Gangra). As a monk Philoxenus had assumed the name Joseph and studied at the so-called Persian School in Edessa, where he opposed the dominant Diplophysite Christology and espoused a Miaphysite Christology (Monophysites). Among the Syrian monks, both Western and Eastern, he argued for adding crucified for us in the Trisagion; he championed the cause of Peter Fullo, urging the emperor Zeno to depose the Antiochene patriarch Calandio, and was thereupon…


(79 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] title in the Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenia: II) for highly educated hieromonks, formerly of high renown. A special ordination is required. A vardapet’s staff marking him as a teacher is a sign of his dignity and office. Besides teaching, his primary duty is preaching. In recent years, a special qualifying program is being required once more for ordination as a vardapet. Martin Tamcke Bibliography R. Thomson, “Vardapet in the Early Armenian Church,” Muséon 75, 1962, 367–384.

John of Lycopolis (Saint)

(175 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (c. 305, Lycopolis, Assiut – c. 394/395, Lycopolis). John withdrew to a grotto near Mount Lycos (close to his home town) as a 40-year-old and lived there as a hermit. On the basis of the miracles ¶ and prophecies attributed to him, he was widely referred to in monastic literature. The grotto became an attractive destination for many pilgrims. Syriac texts speak of an author by the same name. Martin Tamcke Bibliography Works: BHG 2189f.; BHO 514f.; BHL 4329 W. Till, Koptische Heiligen- und Märtyrerlegenden, OCA 102, 1935, 138–154 P. Peeters, “Une vie copte de St. Jean …

Russian Missions

(532 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] After the Christianization of Russia in 988, the missionary activity of the Russian church moved initially on the track it had inherited from the Byzantines (Mission: II, 4). In the 17th century, however, it recognized its obligation to evangelize the non-Christian peoples in the Russian Empire. At the same time, some missionary activity, at first unorganized, was extending beyond the Empire’s borders. A priest in the Cossack bodyguard of the Chinese emperor became the nucleus of …

Sergius of Reshaina

(202 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (died 536 Constantinople). After studying in Alexandria (esp. medicine and philosophy), Sergius worked as a leading physician and priest in Reshaina, where his contacts across theological boundaries brought him into conflict with Askolius, the local bishop. During a stay in Antioch, he gained the support of the patriarch of the imperial church and turned to Chalcedonian Christology (II, 1.b.c). At the behest of the patriarch, shortly before his death he worked with Pope Agapetus t…

Stephen bar Sudaili

(141 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] The only reliable dating for Stephen is found in the letter about him written by Philoxenus of Mabbug (between 512 and 518), attacking him and especially his idea of universal salvation and oneness. In light of a similar statement by the Syrian Orthodox patriarch Cyricaus (793–817), Stephen was also identified as the author of the Book of Saint Hierotheos. Cyriacus was followed by later commentators on this book, Theodosius of Antioch (887–896) and Bar Hebraeus (13th cent.). Recent studies have also showed the similarity in content between Stephen and the Book of Hiero…


(2,235 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] I. Outline of Political History The modern Republic of “Turkey” is a successor state of the Ottoman Empire (Ottomans), which ceased to exist in 1923. According to official figures, 99.8% of the population are currently Muslims (80% Sunnis, 20% Alevis). The process of Turkification began in the late 19th century. However, Western observers and authors had already been in the habit of referring to the multi-ethnic empire as “Turkey” long before this date. The founding of the empire in northwestern Anatolia under Osman I (died 1326) had been preceded by an immigra-¶ tion mo…

Oriental Orthodox National Churches

(253 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] The oriental Orthodox churches include the Coptic Orthodox Church (its pope resides in Cairo [Copts: I]), the Syrian Orthodox Church (with its own catholicosate in India; seat of the patriarch in Damascus [Syria; Malenkara Church]), the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (seat in Addis Ababa [Ethiopian Orthodox Church]), the Armenian Apostolic Church (seat of the catholicos in Etchmiadzin; for the Western Armenians in Antelias [Armenia: II]), the Indian Malenkara ¶ Church (seat of the catholicos in Kottayam), and the Malabar Independent Syrian Chur…


(327 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] The city of Nisibis, said to have been founded by Nimrod, was ceded to the Persians (Iran) by the Romans in 363ce. It was already a center of Christianity and the initial site of Ephraem the Syrian’s activity; when the city went to the Persians, Ephraem moved to Edessa, where the so-called Persian school flourished under his leadership. His students continued his theological and exegetical tradition until the time of Cyrus (or Qioras/Qiiōrē, 373–347), who translated Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of…

Mārī ibn Sulaimān

(135 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (mid-12th cent. ce), historian of the “Nestorian” Church of the East (Nestorianism) and author of the Book of the Tower, a comprehensive summa theologica in seven chapters with a historical section on the patriarchs of his church, which contains important material for the history of the relationships between the caliphs in Baghdad and the leadership of the East Syrian Church (Syria: V, 2). The chronicle extends to the time of the Catholicos/Patriarch Ebedjesus III (died Nov 25, 1148). Possibly the author was responsible only for updating the patriarchal chronicle. Mar…

Tur ʿAbdin

(326 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin | Koch, Guntram
[German Version] I. Church History The “Mountains of the Servants (of God)” in southeastern Turkey gained their fame from monasticism, which began in the 4th century with Jacob of Nisibis and Augin of Clysma. Mount Izla, in the east, was home to the monasteries of the Nestorians (Nestorianism); the so-called Great Monastery on Izla was the fountainhead of the East Syrian monastic revival in the 6th century under Abraham of Kashkar. The mountains are the heart of Syrian Orthodox monasticism (Syrian mo…

Thomas of Marga

(171 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] (c. 815, Neḥšon [Adiabene]), was an East Syrian writer (Syria: VI, 2.a) who lived as a monk at the monastery of Beth Abhe from 832. He had been secretary to the catholicos Abraham II (837–850), who then consecrated him as bishop of Marga. His Book of Governors recounts the history of the monastery of Beth Abhe (Syrian monasteries) based on the lives of its abbots, integrating important references to the history of the Apostolic Church of the East. The five books of the history of Beth Abhe are followed by one book recounting …


(8,420 words)

Author(s): Schwemer, Daniel | Feldtkeller, Andreas | Fitschen, Klaus | Tamcke, Martin | Kaufhold, Hubert | Et al.
[German Version] I. Geography Greek Συρία/ Syría is an abbreviated form of ’Ασσυρία/ Assyría (“Assyria”); Greek and Latin manuscripts often use the two terms indiscriminately. Initially Syría, corresponding to the Persian satrapy of ʿEbar-naharā, denoted the region between Egypt and Asia Minor, including the area east of the Euphrates, which was called Mesopotamia after Alexander’s campaign. After the time of the Seleucids, Syria, with the Euphrates now marking its eastern border, was divided into northern Syria Coele and southern Syria Phoenice (Phoenicia), bordering on Pa…


(149 words)

Author(s): Tamcke, Martin
[German Version] The Thondracians were an Armenian sect closely related to the Paulicians. Their name derives from the place to which Smbat Xostovanogh, a member of the sect, retreated from the persecutions of Emperor Basil I in the 9th century. Smbat is said to have ¶ claimed to be Christ. Hostile to the church and sacraments, the Thondracians aspired to a primitive Christianity for which the message that God is love was central. They found rituals worthless. Severe persecutions in the 10th and 11th centuries failed to wipe out the sect bu…