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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 aqedah), by which God put Abraham's fidelity to the test, has been dealt with in detail in the Talmud and Midrash: unlike in the Biblical version, in many accounts in the  Haggadah the test was not by God but by Sata…

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…

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.

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, Sebastian P. (Oxford) Bibliography A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 1922, 40 (reprint 1968).

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 th…

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…

Bible translations

(2,867 words)

Author(s): Marti, Heinrich (Küsnacht) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford) | Ott, Claudia (Berlin)
I. General [German version] A. Introduction The terms  Bible and translation are not clearly separable from each other since the acknowledged textual basis ( Canon) has changed in the course of time and even paraphrases are regarded as translations. Recent discoveries ( Qumran, papyri) have shown that even the texts of the source language, the so-called Masora text, and of the target language, the Septuagint (LXX; Peshitta; Vetus Latina), have undergone historical development and should be read only b…

Elias

(842 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Hadot, Pierre (Limours) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] [1] The prophet Elijah (Elijah, prophet). The biblical character of E., according to the evidence of the Deuteronomic History, appears as a prophet of the northern kingdom at the time of king Ahab (871-852 BC) (cf. the E. traditions in 1 Kgs 17-19; 21; 2 Kgs 1-2); probably because of his miraculous translation to heaven (2 Kgs 2), E. comes to play a very important role in post-biblical Judaism. Thus, even in early Judaism, the notion arose of E.'s eschatological return (cf. Mal 3,23; …

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…

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…
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