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Isaac

(725 words)

Author(s): Domhardt, Yvonne (Zürich) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
(from Hebrew Yiṣḥāq, ‘he will laugh’). [German version] [1] Son of Abraham and Sarah Son of  Abraham [1] and Sarah, half-brother of  Ishmael (Gn 17ff.), father of Esau and  Jacob and the second o the patriarchs of Israel. The main event in I.'s life is the command issued by God to his father to sacrifice him. This sacrificial binding (Hebrew

Jacob

(978 words)

Author(s): Domhardt, Yvonne (Zürich) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] [1] Son of Isaac and Rebecca According to Gn 25:26 a person ‘who holds the heel (of Esau)’; otherwise the etymology of the word is unsolved. The son of Isaac and Rebecca, third and most outstanding patriarch apart from  Abraham [1] and  Isaac, as well as the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, is named after his battle with the angel Israel (‘he who wrestles with god’). From the regal period onwards, J. also served as a metaphor for the people of Israel. J., who - according to the traditional view - embodies virtuousness, truth and fear of God on one hand, but…

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) Bibliograph…

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 pro…

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 …

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…

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…

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 C…

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)…

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…

Philoxenus

(1,694 words)

Author(s): Badian, Ernst (Cambridge, MA) | Robbins, Emmet (Toronto) | Montanari, Ornella (Bologna) | Albiani, Maria Grazia (Bologna) | Hoesch, Nicola (Munich) | Et al.
(Φιλόξενος; Philóxenos). [German version] [1] Name of several officers under Alexander the Great Several officers with the name P. are mentioned in the sources about Alexander  [4] the Great. They cannot always be distinguished with certainty. One P. was appointed by Alexander in 331 BC (incorrect [1]) ' to collect tribute on this side of the Taurus'(i.e. in Asia Minor) (Arr. An. 3,6,4). This cannot be correct. Arrian must, as often, have expressed himself imprecisely, as this duty had already been entrusted to somebody else. It can also hardly be the case that his duties related only to tribute from Caria ('
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