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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…

Simeon Stylites

(252 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] (Σιμεὼν Στυλίτης/ Simeṑn Stylítēs). Syrian ascetic and first of the stylites, b. at Sisium in Cilicia, d. AD 459. S. first became a monk at the monastery of Eusebona near Tall Āda (between Antioch [1] and Beroea [3]/Aleppo), but his ascetic practices did not endear him to the other monks, and eventually he moved to nearby Telanissus, where he took up a life on top of a pillar. This was increased in height as his extraordinary lifestyle attracted more and more visitors and pilgrims f…

Arbela Chronicle

(144 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] The Syriac Arbela Chronicle covers the period from the 1st to 6th cent. AD in the history of the Christians of Arbela (modern Irbil, Iraq). After its publication in 1907 it was welcomed as a significant source, but comparison with other sources and suspect circumstances accompanying publication (of [1]) gave rise to the suspicion that it had been compiled by the editor. This dispute remains undecided: details of the Parthian period are surely invented, but the chronicle was able t…

Edessa Chronicle

(203 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] Local Syrian chronicle, written in c. AD 540 based on Edessenic archives. The beginning as well as the end of the work consists of a description of local floods. The first one (November 201) i…

Kyrillonas

(64 words)

Estrangelā

(48 words)

Madrascha

(58 words)

Onitha

(47 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[English version] ( Onı̄ṯā). Einer von mehreren syr. Termini, die “Refrain”, “Responsorium” oder “Antiphon” bedeuten (andere sind z.B. ōnāyā oder enyānā ). In liturgischen Texten der “Kirche des Ostens” hat

Ephraem

(478 words)

Author(s): Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
Syrischer Dichter und Theologe (ca. 306-373 n.Chr.); sein Ruhm war bereits im J. 392 Hieronymus (vir. ill. 115) bekannt. Den größten Teil seines Lebens verbrachte er als Diakon in Nisibis; als die Stadt 363 n.Chr. an die Perser abgetreten wurde, ließ er sich in Edessa, heute Urfa, nieder. Die Vita aus dem 6. Jh. ist durch zahlreiche sagenhafte Erzählungen erweitert. E.s Schriften lassen sich drei Kategorien zuteilen: der Versdichtung, die den größten Teil ausmacht, der Kunstprosa und Prosa. [English version] 1. Versdichtung Seine Versdichtung in über 50 Versmaßen, zumeist in …
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