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Early Christianity with Peter Eyland

 

The diffusion of Christianity on both sides of the Roman Eastern Frontier

 20th June 2003

Peter Eyland

 

Table of Contents

To account for the diffusion of Christianity through the Eastern frontier regions, an explanation will be given of the possible mechanism by which it disseminated, and also how local influences on both sides of the frontier interacted to give Christianity a unique regional character.

Early Jewish influence

The book of Acts [1] specifically mentioned people from the Roman East and the Iranian West at a Jewish festival in Jerusalem when Christianity began about 30 CE.

Although it cannot be traced in detail, the “good news” spread East of Jerusalem by such people as these along the trade routes.

Christian merchants, travellers, missionaries and pilgrims passed the message on from city to city, till it permeated through the Roman Eastern and Iranian provinces. Initially, Christian Jews handed on the tradition, and then later, non-Jewish Christians were involved. The Aramaic and Greek they spoke were widely understood throughout the region.

Josephus quotes Strabo: “these Jews have already got into all cities; and it is hard to find a place in the habitable earth that … is not possessed by them” [2] Thus Christian Jews initially had easy access to fellow Jews in many cities, both within and without the Roman Empire.

The book of Acts also showed Paul first going to Jewish synagogues [3]. Eusebius [4] has recorded the Syriac tale of Thaddaeus (or Addai), a Palestinian Jew who was “one of the Seventy”. He recorded that Addai went to Edessa and stayed with Tobias, who was also a Palestinian Jew [5]. The city of Edessa was then successfully converted to Christianity.

Barnard [6] accepted that “Addai is likely to be a historical figure”. He argued that unless there was a previously accepted figure, “Judas Thomas” would have been the obvious candidate for the founder of Christianity in Edessa. This was because Thomas was already associated with Edessa in the mid-third century and his tomb was claimed as a sacred site for pilgrimage. Since Addai had less status than Thomas, Addai’s elevation over Thomas must have been due to historical precedence.

Contrary to this, Segal [7] has argued that the story of Addai at Edessa has been taken over from a similar story told by Josephus about the success of Judaism in Adiabene.

Josephus [8] related how a travelling merchant Ananias (or Hannan) was instrumental in the conversion of Ezad (or Izates) of Spasinou Charax to Judaism. Ezad was a historical person who was a contemporary of Abgar Ukkama of Edessa.

Drijvers [9] has also argued that Edessa was not a major centre until the fourth century and Christianity came to Edessa from the East i.e. from Adiabene and the Jewish exile colony in Babylonia. Drijver’s argued that Christian Jews would have made Adiabene a priority because of the significant Jewish presence there.

From whatever direction, it is likely that Christianity was first established among Jews in Edessa.

Now because it has been represented that Roman Western Diaspora Jews, rejected the Apostle Paul and his message, (occasionally with violence it is alleged [10]) it is striking that Edessean Jews are portrayed very favourably. They are seen to be friends of the Christians. The Jews are depicted in The Teaching of Addai as sorrowing at Addai’s death [11].

Segal wrote that the Jews accepted “the Christians as allies against the dominant paganism” [12] Barnard argues that it was the cooperative influence of Jewish sectarianism that gave Syriac Christianity its characteristic ascetic bent [13]. Although there is no evidence of the same cordiality in Adiabene, there is no evidence to the contrary.

Christians in the wider Roman East showed their bond with the Jews by their use of a Syriac translation of a Palestinian Targum of the Pentateuch that has been dated no later than early in the first century CE [14]. A Jewish connection is also seen in the literature used by Eastern Christians, viz: The Teaching of Addai (Jews as main characters), the Odes of Solomon (claims Solomon’s name and reads a bit like the Psalter), and the Gospel of Thomas (Philo-Hellenistic Judaism’s allegorical interpretations).

It is likely then, that there was initially a good working relationship between Christianity and Judaism in Roman Eastern provinces and also possibly in the Iranian Western provinces.

Greek Influence

The expected presence of Greek speaking people East of Antioch is shown by the discovery of a fragment from the Greek form of a gospel harmony (called the Diatessaron [15] ). It has 16 short lines. It was found in the defensive rubble near the city wall at Dura-Europos.

The owner may have been Christian or Manichee, because as Drijvers [16] has pointed out, the Diatessaron was Mani’s Bible as well. The timing might be a little too close for a Manichee, but Mani was said to have accompanied Shapur I [17].

Clearly, there was continuous bi-lingual contact along the Silk and Frankincense trade routes between Antioch and the East, so it cannot be said (as Burkitt [18]) that there was no Greek cultural or idiomatic exchange in Edessa or the wider region.

An alphabet in Syriac Estrangelá script was found on a wall in the Dura-Europos Church, and also the inscriptions “Daouid” and “Goliod” in Greek letters, but with Syriac spelling [19]. This is suggestive of “Greek as a second language” for some.

Ross [20] wrote on Edessa: “[it] lay open to influences from all directions, and it adopted and incorporated them into a synthesis that is neither purely ’Greek’ nor purely ’Oriental’. It can only be called Edessan”. Brock [21] has noted that an increase of Greek influence can be seen peaking in the seventh century. This was found from the use of loan words in the poetry of Ephrem and Narsai.

There is only one aspect that can be said to be isolated from Greek influence and that is the anaphora of Mar Addai and Mar Mari which remained distinct from the Greek rites.

Tatian and the Evangelion daMehallete

The use of Tatian’s Four Gospel “mixture”, both in Syriac (the Evangelion daMehallete) and in Greek (the Diatessaron) shows that Tatian’s influence spread far and wide.

It was not until Rabbula (Bishop of Edessa 412 – 435 CE) that in Edessa, separate Gospels newly translated from Greek, officially replaced the Evangelion daMehallete and the Old Syriac Versions [22]. Also Theodoret (c.393 – c.460 CE) found more than 200 copies of its Greek form (the Diatessaron) in his Syrian Diocese [23].

Tatian (born c 110 –120 CE) [24] travelled to Rome from the eastern provinces [25], where he became an associate of Justin Martyr. [26] says Justin denounced second marriages as sinful (despite Paul and others to the contrary [27]), which shows Justin’s ascetic inclination and possible influence on Tatian

Tatian returned to the East about 172 CE and his Gospel harmony would have been published about this time in both Greek and Syriac. Burkitt’s claim [28] that Tatian’s first edition was in Latin does not seem to have any force. It was from this time, that Tatian, as Drijvers remarked, became one of the “most influential personalities that shaped Syriac theology” [29].This is because Syriac theology both developed under his teachings and reacted to them.

Eusebius [30] says that: “there is evidence”, that Tatian was “the author” of the Encratite movement (which preached against marriage). The Syriac sources do not mention this [31]. Eusebius seems to have got this idea from Irenaeus. However contra Eusebius, Irenaeus has the Encratites “springing” from Saturninus and Marcion, who “recently” adopted from Tatian only the belief that Adam was denied salvation [32].

Irenaeus said that Tatian was gnostic, e.g. he “romanced about invisible aeons” [33]. This assertion should perhaps be taken with caution and is possibly an overstatement about Tatian’s Logos Christology. Tatian taught that the Logos came from the will of the Father and created man with free will to share God’s situation [34].

Mankind had two spirits: yuxh/ and pneu=ma (the seat of god’s image and likeness).

Men lost pneu=ma through their missuse of freewill.

When God dwells in man there is suzugi/ (union) again. Tatian wrote that the flesh contains the yuch/ as a naoV (temple) [35] so he was not docetic about the humanity of Jesus.

Salvation is a search for the union that mankind had once but lost. This is done through asceticism by rejecting passions and sexuality [36]. Irenaeus said Tatian “repudiated marriage as being depravity and fornication” [37]. The language is not too different from Jerome who, wrote for example: “He who takes a wife and sows in the flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption” [38] .

Tatian was seen as a Christian in the East. This is seen from the widespead use of his Evangelion daMehallete as scripture [39] (a heretic’s work would not be accepted). His Proj E9llenaj was used as an apology for Christianity, and Eusebius included him in a list of Christian apologists who argued that: “Christ is spoken of as God” [40] . He was a strong influence towards asceticism in the Syriac Christian community, and he was an anti-Marcionite [41] .

Marcion and the East

Marcion was born c. 85 CE in the Eastern provinces, at Sinope on the Black Sea coast. His father was reputed to be a Christian bishop [42]. He appeared in Rome in 140 CE [43]. F.F. Bruce [44] has described him as docetic, gnostic, and having a “profound love for Paul”.

The docetics [45] believed that Jesus only appeared to be human. Tertullian wrote that Marcion seized on the incredibility of an incarnate God “to reject the bodily substance of Christ” [46]. Marcion omitted all birth stories and genealogies to start Luke with: “In the fifteenth year of Tiberias Caesar, Jesus [47] came down to Capernaum” [48]. Doceticism is also seen in other wording such as Jesus was “manifested in the form of a man” [49]. It was a natural conclusion from his ideas about God’s relation to Creation.

The Gnostics used intermediaries to explain how darkness and evil matter could originate from a single source of Divine Light. However Marcion was more a Theistic Dualist than a Light-Matter Gnostic dualist. Marcion taught that there was a hitherto unknown [50] Good God, who is “above”, and opposed the “Cosmocrator” (also called the “Stranger”) and his bare justice.

The Good God graciously sent Jesus to reveal that the Creator’s Laws and wars were not the true way

[51]. Salvation came by hearing the Crucified One and loving one’s enemies. It also involved rejecting the Creator’s world with its physical enticements. This led to ascetic practices. One was sexual purity (Syriac word sexual purity qaddisha ) i.e. avoiding marriage and asking the married to remain continent [52]. Another was to avoid meat and eat fish [53].

Unlike the Gnostics, Marcion did not rely on secret knowledge, but used an open selection of Christian works. He took Paul’s opposition to the Law of Moses seriously and so cut out all of the Tanakh [54]. Marcion saw it as relating the history of the Jews and so nothing to do with Christianity. He accepted as authoritative, ten suitably edited Pauline epistles [55]. He also accepted an edited Luke’s Gospel, because Luke was seen as close to Paul. To combat Marcion, the number of authoritative books was expanded [56] and an orthodox New Testament “canon” began to be crystalised.

The Western reaction did not prevent the spread and longevity of Marcionite Churches in Syria, Mesopotamia and Iran. One of the earliest dated Christian inscriptions in the East came from a Marcionite community in Lebaba, South East of Damascus [57]. It has the date 318/9 CE.

In Theodoret’s time (c. 393 – c. 460 CE) [58] Marcionite Churches in Syria were numbered in the thousands [59]. In the sixth century in Iran, Mar Aba asks a certain Joseph if he is Orthodox, Marcionite or Jewish [60], thus showing that the Marcionites were still known there and equivalent to Christians [61].

The appeal of Marcion was: a simple explanation for the evil in the world; the ability to use one’s will to see good triumph; and the way men and women were treated as equals [62]. It was decidedly more popular than other complex explanations of evil such as that of Valentinus.

Valentinus, the Gnostics and Ptolemy the Astronomer

Valentinus was a Gnostic Christian who was a contemporary of Marcion. It has been claimed that the Coptic Gnostic papyri found in 1945 CE at Nag Hammadi (Upper Egypt) was his “Gospel of Truth” [63]. It does not have much detail of Valentinus’ system. It was a declaration of the Name of the Father (previously unknown). This enabled a person to penetrate the ignorance that has separated them (and all creation) from the Father. Jesus Christ the Saviour revealed the name of the Father in a variety of ways.

Reconstruction of Valentinus’ teaching comes from the limited evidence of his opponents, i.e. Irenaeus (c. 130-200 CE), Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 CE) and Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-236 CE). Eusebius (c. 260-340 CE) put them all together [64]. Tertullian’s (c. 160-220 CE) Adversus Valentinianos seems dependent on his predecessors. It provides no new information about Valentinus himself except the curious remark that Valentinus nearly became bishop of Rome!

The remark does show that Christian Gnostics were seen to be close to Orthodoxy, and in fact Clement of Alexandria presented what he called true Christian gnosis [65]. Epiphanius also (c. 315-403 CE) gave a description of the Valentinian position under the title "Letter of Ptolemy to Flora" [66].

Briefly, Irenaeus [67] started his description with the eternal “Abyss” and co-existent “Thought” who produced “Mind” and “Truth” and then the whole Pleroma. Wisdom’s passion ultimately produced matter. Jesus was formed from all the Pleromas contributions [68]. The spiritual people are not affected by material actions (e.g. eating food sacrificed to idols), though good works are needed [69].

Bruce [70] has argued that near the beginning of the second century, there developed a conflict between the old cosmology of Genesis and the “new science” of Ptolemy (the Alexandrian Astronomer). In Genesis, there is a simple cosmology with a flat Earth, a single transparent “bowl” hebrew for bowl for the heavens and God above the “bowl”. The new Ptomemaic system had a cosmology of many rotating transparent spheres concentric with the Earth. Ptolemy explained previously inexplicable phenomena (e.g. the retrograde motion of the planets). This new science would have produced an uncertainty in the minds of Christians of how to understand Genesis in the light of this new knowledge.

The Gnostics, and Valentinus in particular, developed a re-interpretion the “old” Genesis cosmology that would satisfy the “new” Ptomemaic system. There were many “Lords” of the spheres, who were intermediaries between the unknowable supreme God (beyond the fixed stars) and mankind on Earth. The Earth was made by a Demiurge who was the God of Israel, so the “fall of Adam” was really the fall of the divine element into material flesh. Jesus descent from above and subsequent return, was to give this secret knowledge.  After baptism for cleansing came the second blessing of knowledge. This knowledge showed how “the flesh” wars with “the spirit”, and so it leads to avoiding procreation (which entrapped more of the divine). Thus knowledge showed the way home to the realm of light, and it was through spiritual resurrection rather than physical resurrection.

In the East, small groups of Valentinians were found in Mesopotamia from the end of the second century [71]. In the fourth century Ephraim deplored the presence of Valentinians in Edessa, he wrote: “Valentinus stole a flock from the church and called it by his own name”. [72] In a letter to the city of Edessa in 362 CE, Julian condemned an attack on Valentinians by Arian Christians. Ambrose (Bishop of Milan from 374 CE) [73] wrote to Theodosius: Letter XL 16. “Shall, then, the burning of the temple of the Valentinians be also avenged?”. [74]

Although it is clear that the Valentinians continued through the fourth century in the East, the complexity of its system would have only appealed to a small group of the intelligensia. More attractive to the masses were the songs composed by Bardaisan from the city of Edessa.

Bardaisan of Edessa (154 – 222 CE)

The origins of the Christian church at Edessa are obscure and full of legends (e.g. Abgar’s letter to Jesus and the coming of Addai). The ordaining of Palut in Antioch c. 200 CE seems to be historical [75], even though it is not mentioned in the Chronicle of Edessa.

The Chronicle recorded that in 201 CE the Christian church in Edessa had flood damage to its “shrine”haikla(haikla) [76].The Chronicle also records ’s apostasy of 138 CE and that Bardaisan’s birth was on 11/7/154 CE [77]. All this indicates that Christianity was in the region from somewhere near the beginning of the second century [78].

Bardaisan’s name was incorrectly associated with the river that ran through Edessa [79]. Bardaisan was personable and charming as mentioned by Julius Africanus [80]. He is called the “father” of Christian Syriac literature and hymnology [81]. Eusebius regarded Bardaisan as “most able”, “highly skilled” and his dialogues were seen to be a “powerful defence of Christian truth” [82] i.e. against Marcion. Bardaisan was an admired and effective teacher through his 150 catchy “teaching songs” [83]. Teaching songs or madrâshe were strophic poems sung by a soloist and the choir responded at the end of each stanza with the same phrase [84]. It is the forerunner of the Byzantine kontakion.

Bardaisan’s songs were popular for a very long time. Ephrem wrote 150 years after Bardaisan’s death: “In the lairs of Bardaisan are melodies and chants. Since he saw the youth longing for sweets, with the harmony of his songs he excited the children” [85]. Ephrem perfected this artform in writing his own madrâshe to counter them but Ephrem’s criticisms seem harsh and unimaginative.

Bardaisan’s work "The Book of the Laws of the Countries," was probably first written in Syriac [86] and was transmitted via his disciple Philippus [87]. While it asserted influence from celestial bodies over material world, it also asserted that humans have free will. The positions of the planets and constellations at the moment of birth determined outward things such as the measure of wealth, power, health and length of life. The spirit that joined with the soul and body of a person at birth was entirely free because of its divine origin [88]. The charge of heresy then seems to have arisen from a misunderstanding of his “scientific” speculations [89].

Moses bar Kepha (d. 903 CE) says about him:"Bardaisan held about this world that it was composed of five entities namely Fire and Wind and Water and Light and [dead] Darkness” [90].

Burkitt’s Preface to Mitchell’s work [91] has Figure 1 (to the left) as an illustration.

“Entity” here represents the Syriac word Ithya(i.e. Ithya), which in turn corresponds to the Greek ou0si/a (being, existence). God is then a sixth Ithya and not the Creator and source of the material Universe. God is the Arranger of pre-existing things into an ordered Cosmos [92] .

There was nothing ascetic in Bardaisan’s view of life. He was more a “humanist” rather than an ascetic and enjoyed the sports of hunting and archery. He married and had a son Harmonius. He was wealthy and seen to dress luxuriously [93].

Around 435 CE Rabbula of Edessa forcibly converted the Bardaisanites and destroyed their building [94]. However Jacob of Edessa (c. 633–708 CE) still found Bardaisanites in his time [95]. They were probably not groups but individuals who had leanings to “science”. In the tenth century Ibn al-Nadim mentioned that “the adherents of Ibn Daysan” moved to Wasit and Basra in Iraq, and to Khorasan and Chinese Turkestan [96].

Bardaisan added an interest in “science” and “humanism” to Christianity in the East [97]. He may have influenced the Syriac speaking Christians towards the learning of Greek Medicine and Science and been a root cause of the later handing on of that material to Islam [98]. One person of note that Bardasian probably met was Avircius.

Aberkios (Avircius) in Mesoptamia

W.M. Ramsay discovered the epitaph of A)be/rkioj (or Avircius) which has been reconstructed in Greek by Lightfoot [100].

Two lines of interest are shown below.

Line no.

Lightfoot’s reconstruction

10

kai\ Suri/hj ped/on ei)=don kai\ a)/stea pa/nta Ni/sibin,

11 Eu)fra/thn diaba/v, pa/nta d’ e)/sxon sunomhgu/rouv,

From these lines, Avircius said that when he went across the Euphrates it seemed that he met Christianity everywhere he went.

The subject of the epitaph was probably the Avircius Marcellus that Eusebius mentioned as the recipient of an anti-Montanist letter [101]. Since Montanism appeared c. 156 CE and Avercius died well before 216 CE, it seems that Christianity was widespread in Mesopotamia near the end of the second century CE.

Drijvers [102] (from the fourth Century vita of Avircius) wrote that Avircius used Bardaisan’s work against the Marcionite position of Euxeinianos. Avircius (in the vita) also met a Barxasa/nhj who was probably Bardaisan.

The vita has Barxasa/nhj being “distinguished from all others by his wealth and descent”. Avircius does not accept a monetary reward for his work against the Marcionites and so Bardaisan initiated the process whereby Avircius received the title of i0sapo/stoloj.

This shows that Christians could travel freely and widely in Mesopotamia at the end of the second Century and meet both orthodox and heterdox Christians. One importatnt place in Mesopotamia was Dura-Europos

Dura-Europos and the domus ecclesiae [103]

The discovery of a Christian house Church in Dura-Europos, that was buried in defensive rubble around 253–256 CE, gave unexpected evidence for Christianity in Mesopotamia. A certain Dorotheos in 232/3 CE painted a side room when it was a dwelling. It was converted into a church in the early 240s as shown by a coin dated to 241 CE. The coin was found in the clay floor of the triclinium when it was amalgamated with a neighbouring room and the floors made the same height. The combined room ended up about 65 m2. A plaster socket in the floor near one end of the combined room indicates that a lectern may have stood there. There is a special room with an arcosolium (a niche with an arch) which appears to be a baptistry and also used for eucharistic purposes. The wall paintings show Jesus as the good shepherd; Jesus healing a paralytic and walking on water; the Samaritan woman at the well; Adam and Eve; David and Goliath; and the five women at the Sepulchre.

There is not much to connect Dura-Europos with Edessa. Some bronze coins were found in Dura-Europos that came from Edessa [104]. A deed of sale was also found there for a female prisoner of war purchased from an Edessene. It was dated 243 CE and is in Syriac with two lines in Greek [105].

The Dura-Europos church is the only solid evidence of Christianity in the region. Even though it was a unique discovery, it does advance the likehood that there was a significant presence of Christianity at that time in Mesopotamia.

Christians in Iran

  • Deportations of Shapur I (253 CE and 260 CE)

A major concern for the people of the time was the forced transfer of whole populations from Rome to the Sassanians and vice-versa, depending on the fortunes of war [106]. The victorious second and third campaigns of Shapur I (253 CE and 260 CE) saw mass deportations of Romans from Syria, Cilicia and Cappadocia into Iranian cities such as Sod Shapur in Mesene, Bishapur in Fars, Buzurg Shapur on the Tigris and Gundeshapur in Susiana [107].

The transported Christians (Syriac words transported Christians i.e. bny sbyt’ ) were not confined to the lower stata of Iranian society but were found in the highest levels as attendants, officials and royal physicians [108].

The Middle Persian inscription of Kirder at the Ka`ba-i Zardusht (KKZ) [109] categorised the captives as:

"The Jews (Yahud), Buddists (Shaman), Hindus (Brahman), Nazarenes [110] (Nasara i.e. native Syriac Christians), Christians (Kristiyan i.e. transported Greek Christians and possibly Marcionites), Baptists (Makdag) and Manicheans (Zandik) were smashed in the empire, their idols destroyed, and the habitations of the idols annihilated and turned into abodes and seats of the gods".

Of the many Christians involved in these transfers, the Chronicle of Se’ert [111] described how Demetrianus the bishop of Antioch, who was taken captive to Gundeshapur “died of sorrow” soon after arrival. There was no problem in electing Azdaq to fill his position, which implied that the church organisation was operating effectively. The Chronicle also mentioned how transported Christians (Syriac transported Christians i.e. bny sbyt’ ) multiplied and prospered with n [113]o taxation.

Since they could acquire land at low or no price they also went about “building churches and monastaries” [112]

Eusebius [113] wrote that bny sbyt’ even had relief from Roman persecution:

"the barbarians … received and kept in gentlest captivity those [Christians] who then fled from amongst us, and secured to them not merely safety from danger, but also the free exercise of their holy religion”.

As an example of that, a bishop from Iran was allowed to attend the Council of Nicea in 325 CE [114]. A policy of toleration was also apparently followed by Hormizd (270 – 271 CE) and probably Bahram I (271-274 CE).

Nicea

The ruins of the building at Nicea.

  • Bahram II (276-293 CE).

General toleration did not rule out occasional pogroms and events such as the execution of Candida [115]. Candida was a Christian Roman captive [116], who became a concubine of Bahram II. She was apparently condemned as a Christian by other consorts out of jealousy [117] .

There was some persecution of Christians in the 280s as the result of an edict against the Manichaeans by Kirder. There was sometimes confusion in distinguishing Manichees from Christians and many Manichees pretended to be Christians to avoid persecution [118]. Despite such opposition, the Christians became numerous enough to build two churches at Rev-Ardashir and the anaphora was conducted in both Greek and Syriac for bny sbyt’ and native Iranians [119].

  • Shapur II (309 – 379 CE) and Constantine

Constantine wrote to Shapur II sometime after 324 CE, that those who persecuted Christians came to a bad end. Speaking on their behalf he wrote:

“I commend these persons to your protection … I commit them to your care.” [120] This seems a veiled threat about how Shapur II is to treat the Christians. It is written in a condescending way, as Shapur II already possessed the Christians and did not need to accept them from Constantine. Perhaps Constantine wanted Shapur II to think twice about attacking Rome because of the Christian element in his population, but it backfired on the bny sbyt’ as they were branded with disloyalty to the state and possibly collusion with the enemy.

Persecution of Christians flared up under Shapur II with each outbreak of hostilities with Rome, (359-61 CE and 371-376 CE). Michael the Syrian [121] has Shapur II oppressing Christians because of an alleged embassy to Rome.

Sozomen [122] has recorded the denounciation of the Catholicus Symeon in 341 CE as “a friend of the Caesar of the Romans and with communicating the affairs of the Persians to him”. He and 100 others were executed.

The Acts of the Martyrs of Bezabde [123] records the death of Christians for religious reasons after Shapur II had taken Bezabde.

Bar Saba, a bny sbyt’ Christian physician was instrumental in the conversion of Shapur II’s sister, Siraram.

Shapur II sent her far away from the capital to Merv in Khorasan (modern North-Eastern Iran and Southern Turkmenistan). Siraram however, built a church there and invited Bar Saba to become bishop there [124].

When Theodosius I became the Roman emperor (379 CE) and Christianity became the official state religion, it became politic in Iran (as shown by the example of Aphrahat below) to subject bny sbyt’ to campaigns to convert them to Iran’s state religion [125].

  • Aphrahat/Aphraates (c.280-367 CE)

Aphrahat was born in the region of Adiabene. His work Demonstrations has 23 treatises, written between 337 CE and 345 CE.

Dem. VI may indicate that he was a monk. Dem. XIV may indicate that he was a bishop.

Dem. V appears to show his political disloyalty by characterising the Roman leader as “good” and the Iranian leader as “evil and arrogant”.

Demonstration V, of Wars. 1. “This reflection … concerning … the host that has assembled itself for the sword … Good has come to the people of God, and blessedness awaits that man through whom the good came … evil is stirred … by … the evil and arrogant one who glories … 24 …the Kingdom … of Esau is being kept safe … that Kingdom will not be conquered … 25 …concerning what I wrote to you about these forces that are being stirred up to war, it is not as though anything has been revealed to me…if the forces shall go up and conquer...” [126]

This was written in 337 CE [127] and seems to praise Constantine or Constantius’s preparation for war (he is the man through whom good came) on Shapur (the evil and arrogant one). Aphrahat denied prophetic insight and raised the possibility of Persian victory (“the forces”).

  • Yazdegerd I (399-420 CE)

Yazdegerd I imprisoned the Christian bishop Mar Isaac when some bishops accused him of criminal action. However Bishop Marutha from Martyropolis (a Roman ambassador) intervened and Isaac was cleared. In 409 CE Yazdegerd I, gave official tolerance to Christian worship [128], ordering altars restored and prisoners set free. (Yazdegerd I also showed his moderate views by marrying Susannah, a daughter of the Jewish Exilarch [129]

In January 410 forty bishops met with Mar Isaac at Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The Synod (Sunhados) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon established independence from Antioch, as the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon was given the title "Catholicos of the East”. The other bishops had sees at Sinjar, Arbela, Kirkuk, Hulwan and in Mesene and Khuzistan [130].

The synod approved the canons of Nicea; unified the dates of Christian festivals; and adopted the rule of one bishop per diocese consecrated by three other bishops.

The duality of languages raised concern some time later about how exactly the anaphora was to be celebrated.

The 13th canon of the Council of Ctesiphon in 410 CE has: "Now and henceforward, we will all with one accord celebrate the liturgy according to the western rite, which the Bishops Isaac and Marutha have taught us and which we have seen them celebrate here in the church of Seleucia." [131]

Unfortunately it is unclear which liturgy was intended; what divergences were happening; and what affect the decree had on subsequent events.

In Yazdegerd I’s later years, Theodoret [132] reported that the powerful Zoroastrian authorities complained that Christians were converting large numbers of Zoroastrians and at the instigation of Abdas, had destroyed Pyreum (an official state fire-temple). Yazdegerd ordered Abdas to rebuild the Pyreum. When Abdas refused he was executed and many churches were destroyed.

  • Bahram V (421-439 CE)

Theodoret wrote that Bahram V (who was reliant on Zoroastrian power) also campaigned against Christians. Theodosius II responded by invading Iran in 421-422 CE. The threat of Roman action stopped that persecution. The synod of Markabta (424 CE) under Mar Dadiso recognised that Roman intervention had helped them, but now cut off all appeals to the West. The Iranian church had now no association with the Roman Empire. This was apparently to avoid any suspicion of being allies with Rome.

  • Yazdegerd II (439-457 CE)

Despite the separation of the Iranian Church, Yazdegerd II renewed persecution of Christians. Mir-Nersh, his chief minister issued an edict against the Christians [133]. Christian envoys pleaded with Yazdegerd II and refered him to the “presents” given to Christians by Shapuh (sic) to reward the Christians’ loyalty [134]. The most severe years of persecution of Christians were between 445 and 448 CE.

  • Khusrau (Chosroes) I Anushirvan

Khusrau I’s victories brought in many thousands of Monophysite Christians, who were eventually seen as a separate Christian body, but the existing Church officials were all Diophysite following the Antiochene theology [135].

Khusrau I had Christian wives in his harem and granted asylum to the philosophers driven from Athens by Justinian [136]. In 573 CE Khusrau (Chosroes) Anushirvan captured Dara and Apamea and chose 2,000 young Christian women as a present for the Turks. On their journey to Turkey, their main concern was apparently about the food they would have to eat, (“ impure meats, and horseflesh, and things that have died or been ” [137]). They asked to wash privately in a river and then drowned themselves hoping to save their souls. The Chronicle of Se’ert [138] also mentioned the incident but incorrectly dated it to the reign of Shapur I.

Roman Syria and Mesopotamia

In Syria and Mesopotamia, persecution and martyrdom of Christians were generally not experienced until the fourth century. The reported deaths of Sharbil and his sister Babai in 104 CE [139] probably did not occur then, as they are not mentioned in the Syriac church calendar of 411 CE.

They may have occurred at some other time.
  • Diocletian (284 –305 CE)

In 303 CE one of Diocletian’s attendants put a Christian sign on animals that Diocletian was sacrificing.

Diocletian determined that the attendant’s action had nullified the sacrifice [140]. Consequently, he ordered that Christian worship was forbidden and Bibles and Churches were to be destroyed. The persecution brought about the martydom of Shmona and Guria in Edessa. Mar Jacob later composed a Homily on their deaths. Segal [141] accepted the accounts as historical.

Diocletian sent Musonius the governor of Antioch to Edessa and he ordered Shmona and Guria to renounce Christianity and to honour Jupiter by offering incense on the altar. When they declined they were each hung up by one hand and after further examination were beheaded [142]. A deacon Habib was later burnt to death under Licinius orders.

Maximian put out an edict that those “unwilling to sacrifice [to the Roman gods] were [to be] subjected to torture and harsh punishment”. The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus [143] described how by disobeying this edict Sergius was beheaded, and Baccus flogged to death, in Resafa.

Lactantius recorded the “edit of Milan” [144] in 313 CE, which gave “complete toleration” of religion. This toleration allowed new expressions of Christianity to emerge. Jerome said that Hilarion, a pupil of Anthony started the Syrian eremite customs [145], but romantic and fabuluous stories make it hard to accept more than the basics.

Sozomen’s account seems based on Jerome [146].

Ja’qob of Nisibis gives the authentic flavour of Syrian eremite tradition.

  • Ja’qob (James) of Nisibis and his successors

Theodoret of Cyrrhos [147], a contempory of Sozomen, has given a valuable description of Ja’qob as an “anchorite”, i.e. one who has retired from life.

 “Ja’qob embraced a life of solitude and silence, … [on] the peaks … he passed his days there; in spring, summer and autumn making use of the thickets for shelter with the sky above him for a roof; during the winter season he found himself a cave … he gathered wild fruits of the native trees and such plants as were edible … refusing … to make any use of fire … the coarsest goats’ hair … were … both his tunic and a simple cloak.”

Here are seen the classic Syrian anchorite elements: solitude (Syriac îhîdâiê, with consequent celibacy), wilderness life (in high places), raw food, minimal shelter and coarse clothing.

Anchorites imitated the poor, homeless, celibate Jesus [148]. The only exception to poverty was to possess books. [149]

Vööbus has argued that Syrian monasticism did not come from Anthony in Egypt, because it appeared early in Syria and spread only slowly from Egypt [150]. It is also different in character as the ideal of Syrian monasticism was self-annihilation rather than pusuit of spirituality. In this regard Manichaeism is a direct continuation of these rules.

Ja’qob’s influence was wide spread as he made his presence felt in Iran [151] and also at the Council of Nicea. As a bishop in Nisibis, his social concern became legendary [152] and his presence at the seige of Nisibis in 337 or 338 CE was said to raise morale.

Ephrem (who was a personal assistance and deacon to Mar Jacob) in his Carmina Nisibena gave the succession of bishops as Mar Ja’qob, Mar Babu, Mar Valgesh (or Vologeses) and Mar Abraham.

“You shall be a wall for us as Ja’qob, and full of tenderness as Babu, and a treasury of speech as Valgesh” [153] … You who answers to the name of Abraham, in that you are made father of many” [154] … for money she [the Church] redeemed the captives [155].

The last part of the quote is interesting in that it emphasised the Church’s social concern for prisoners of war. This is confirmed by Acta Archelai [156] that praises a certain bishop Archelaus for redeeming prisoner of war slaves.

Ephrem also praised Mar Valgesh (or Vologeses) for his military work in defending Nisibis [157].

  • Mar Augen, Julian Sabba and Asterius

Legend has it that Mar Augen (Eugenianos) introduced cenobitic monasticism (community as opposed to solitary) to the Syriac world from Egypt.Information on Mar Augen has come from the Book of Sobriety by Isho’dnah and the Chronicle of Se’ert.These works are late, when compared with the description of Mar Augin being contemporary with Ja’qob of Nisibis.

Julian Sabba (d. 367 CE) demonstrated the transition from the solitary ones (he started in a cave); to a scattered group surrounding a central meeting place (his disciples lived around his cave); to a full monastic community.

Asterius, a disciple of Julian Sabba, founded a community near Gindaros, North East of Antioch [158].

Theodoret [159] said that on the very day on which Julian (the Apostate) was slain, Julian Sabba knew about his death.

Julian the Apostate (361 –363 CE) and the Pagan revival

Socrates wrote [160]: “the Emperor [Constantius] had made the provision that [Julian] should have no pagan masters, lest he should be seduced to the pagan superstitions. For Julian was a Christian at the beginning.”

In contrast to that, Ammianus Marcellinus who had personal aquaintance with Julian wrote “from his earliest boyhood [Julian] had nursed an inclination towards the worship of the pagan gods” [161].

Thus when Ammianus wrote earlier that Julian “apostatized” from Christianity [162], it was probably a loose expression, which did not mean to imply that Julian was ever a Christian in his informed personal beliefs.

When Socrates wrote “[Julian] privately, procured [Libanius’] orations”: this makes it likely that when Julian first grew to have informed beliefs, he converted to Paganism from an inherited nominal Christianity.

Julian then had to keep his own counsel for fear of his life.

Socrates’ description of Julian’s external semblance of monastic life [163] and Ammianus’ words that Julian “pretended to adhere to the Christian religion” [164] should then be seen as what Julian did “from his earliest boyhood”.

Socrates wrote about Julian’s style after he was proclaimed Emperor:

“After this [Julian] no longer wore the mask of Christianity, but everywhere opened the pagan temples, offering sacrifice to the idols; and designating himself ‘Pontifex Maximus’, gave permission to such as would to celebrate their superstitious festivals” [165].

An inscription shows that some revival of Pagan worship occurred in Syria [166].

Julian’s antagonism to Christians was demonstrated by removing the reliques of Ja’qob of Nisibis from that city [167].

Also Ammianus wrote that Julian’s tactics of telling the Christian authorities that they should “allow every man to practice his belief … without hindrance” was designed to “intensify their divisions” [168] by promoting heresy hunting.

Julian’s promise to re-build the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would have been a win-win situation for him [169].

There would have been a great monument to perpetuate his memory and the Jews would have been invigourated at the expense of the Christians.

As an example of Jewish-Christian tension incited by Julian, Barhebraeus recorded the savage reaction of Christians in Edessa where Jews were massacred because Julian visited pagan Harran in preference to Edessa [170].

It seems that the Christians vented their anger on the basis that “the friend of my enemy is also my enemy”.

Libanius wrote that Julian’s death was not brought about by the direct action of Shapur but by Julian’s own troops [171] When Julian’s death was reported to Harran, the citizens (the “Carreni”) were so distressed at their lost protector that they killed the messenger [172]. In contrast Ephrem the Syrian wrote songs with lines such as “Praise to him who clothed [Julian’s] corpse in shame” [173]

 

Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306-9/6/373 CE)

There are a number of texts that purport to be written by Ephrem and give details of his life. An example is his Testament, which according to Voobus [174] contains an authentic kernel.

There is also Ephrem’s vita in Syriac, which depicts him as “small, his face perpetually sad … bald and beardless” [175].

He was born near Nisibis, “in the way of truth” [176] and became an anchorite in adolescence after baptism [177]. Ephrem became a deacon [178] and was a disciple of Ja’qob of Nisibis [179]. Ephrem rejoiced at Julian’s death, but mourned over Nisibis’ cession to Shapur [180].

Even though Ephrem acknowledged that Shapur showed tolerance [181] he left Nisibis for Edessa and was credited with the foundation of the catechetical school at Edessa.

Ephrem was admired as an ascetic and highly influential as a teacher. He wrote numerous works such as “Against the heretics” of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan. He combatted Bardaisan’s songs by perfecting that art. His works were translated into Greek. His example of study, writing literature and teaching was a great stimulus and guide for the monastic movement [182].

One person was moved to go to Mesopotamia because of the numbers of “holy monks” there was Egeria.

Egeria (381 or 384 CE) [183]

Egeria was a pilgrim who came from the far West of the Empire, near the “ocean”, to visit the Sinai, Jerusalem and Edessa.

At Edessa she visited the tomb of Thomas and got a fuller rendering of the letter of Abgar [184].

At Carrhae she visited the site of Abraham’s house and was delighted to meet the “holy and truly dedicated monks of Mesopotamia” [185].

She remarked that absolutely no Christians lived in Carrhae as the monks lived out in the desert.

Egeria was advised that she could not travel further East to Nisibis and Ur because of the Persians [186]. It was remarkable that at this time, a Christian woman could so easily travel throughout the Roman Empire to see Christian historical sites.

Conclusion

Christianity spread East of Jerusalem along the trade routes. It is likely that Christian Jews first established Christianity among fellow Jews in the East. In Edessa (from whatever direction Christianity came) Christians and Jews initially had good relationships and this may be reflected generally in the East.

There was continuous bi-lingual contact and cultural exchange along the trade routes between Greek Antioch and the East. Tatian was a part of that exchange. His Gospel harmony was used widely and remained in circulation for a long time. He introduced an ascetic element into Christianity. Marcion was another ascetic. He took Paul’s opposition to the Law of Moses seriously and announced the Good god above the Creator god. Marcion rejected the Creator’s world with its physical enticements and established a canon of authorised books. The Marcionites were still in Iran as an alternate Christianity in the sixth-century.

The “new science” of Ptolemy led Valentinus to re-interpret Christianity in the light of new scientific paradigms and advanced the ascetic trend. Bardaisan also generated interest in “science” but his “humanism” was not ascetic. His teaching songs became very popular and through them his influence lasted through to the tenth-century in Iran.

Avircius’ epitaph and the Christian house church at Dura-Europos showed that Christians could travel freely and widely in Mesopotamia near the end of the second Century and meet both orthodox and heterdox Christians. The deportations of Shapur et al created new centres for Christianity in Iran that flourished despite occasional pogroms. The fifth-century (Iranian) Church of the East dissociated itself from the Roman Empire for secular political reasons.

In Syria and Mesopotamia, Christianity expanded and persecution was not generally experienced until the fourth century.By that time the monastic movement had created an ascetic tradition of study, writing literature and teaching.

By these means and through people such as these Christianity diffused on both sides of the Roman Eastern frontier.

.

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[1] Acts 2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia

[2]Josephus, Antiquities, 14. 7. 2

[3] Acts 13:5,14; 14:1; 17:1,2,10 etc.

However this schema can only be accepted with caution

[4] Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin, 1965, trans. by G.A. Williamson, p.67 (I, 13)

[5] Burkitt, F.C., Early Eastern Christianity, St Margaret’s Lectures on the Syriac Speaking Church, J. Murray, London, 1904, p.16.

Also Barnard, L.W. “The Origins and Emergence of the Church in Edessa during the first two centuries A.D.”, Vigiliae Christianae (22), North Holland, Amsterdam, 1968, p.162, citing The Teaching of Addai, p.5, 6

[6] Barnard, op sit, p.162. Vööbus, A., History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, CSCO vol 184 subs 14, Louvain, 1958, p.6-7, also accepted Addai’s historicity, however he relies on the problematic Chronicle of Arbel.

[7] Segal, J.B., Edessa ‘The Blessed City’, Clarendon, Oxford, 1970, p.67-69

[8] Josephus, Antiquities, 20, 2, 3

[9] Drijvers, Bardaisan of Edessa, p.215

[10] Acts 13:45; 14:2,19

[11] In The Teaching of Addai, p.46 f, cited in Barnard, op sit, p.163

[12] Segal, op sit, p.42

[13] Barnard, op sit, p.163. He discusses Aphraates on celibate baptismal requirements; the bar (and bat) Q’yama on abandoning the world; and compares the situation shown in the Manual of Discipline.

[14] Isenberg, S.R., “The Jewish-Palestinian Origins of the Peshitta to the Pentateuch”, Journal of Biblical Literature, (90), Society of Biblical Literature, Philadelphia, 1971, p.69 –81.

[15] Diatessaron, “through four” is used in music to denote a four-part harmony. See Bruce, F.F., op sit, p. 286

[16] Drijvers, H.J.W. East of Antioch, p.17

[17] Alexander Lycopolitanus, contra Manichaei opiniones disputatio, cited in Dodgeon M.H. and Lieu S.N.C., “The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars”, Routledge, London, 1991, p.65

[18] The earlier view of isolation by Burkitt, F.C., Urchristentum im Orient, was cited by Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, Studies in Early Syriac Christianity, Variorium Reprints, London 1984, p.3

[19] Millar, Fergus, The Roman Near East, 31 BC – AD 337, Harvard, Cambridge, 1993, p.471

[20] Ross, Steven K., Roman Edessa. Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114-242 CE, London/New York, Routledge, 2001, last words of Chapter 6.

[21] Brock, S., Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, ARAM Fourteenth Conference, Antioch and Edessa, Rhodes House, University of Oxford, 12-14 July 1999 found at syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye

[22] The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, Ed. Parry, K etc, Blackwell, Oxford, 2001, p.399 “Rabbula”

[23] Theodoret, Haeret. Fab. I 20, cited in Stevenson, Creeds, Councils and Controversies, p.308

[24] The Blackwell Dictionary, op sit, p.478

[25] Tatian wrote he was from “the land of the Assyrioi” which is imprecise (possibly Adiabene). Clement of Alexandria said with similar imprecision that Tatian was a Su/roj. Epiphanius deduced that Tatian was a native of Mesopotamia (Haer, xlvi.). Millar (op sit, p.460) describes Epiphanius as “unreliable and fanciful”.

[26] Lea, H.C., The History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, Russell & Russell, New York, 1957, p17

[27] 1 Corinthians 7:28, see also Hebrews 13:34 and 1 Timothy 4:3

[28] Burkitt, F.C., “The Church in the East”, Cambridge Ancient History, Vol 12, p.494-5, cited by Lieu, S.N.C., lecture notes for AHST250/350, p.VIII.1

[29] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.3

[30] Eusebius, op sit, p.190 (IV, 29, 7)

[31] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.7

[32] Irenaeus Against Heresies 1, 28, 1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.97-98

[33] Irenaeus op sit, 1,28,1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.97-98

[34] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.8

[35] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.8

[36] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.8

[37] Irenaeus op sit, 1,28,1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.97-98

[38] Jerome, Com. in Ep. ad Gal

[39]Ephrem the Syrian used Tatian’s Diatessaron. This is supported by the fact that his commentary begins with John 1.1, has no allusion to the genealogies, and continually alternates between gospels.

[40] Eusebius cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.235 (V, 28, 4).

[41] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.7

[42] Frend, W.H.C., The Early Church, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1965, p.66

[43] Bruce, F.F., The Spreading Flame, Paternoster, Plymouth, 1958, p.228

[44] Bruce, F.F., op sit, p.251

[45] From the Greek doke/w>, which expresses how something shows itself phenomenally

[46] Tertullian, Against Marcion, III, 8, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.101

[47]Iesu Iesu instead of Isho Isho

[48] Cited by Bruce, F.F., op sit, p.251

[49] Irenaeus, op sit, 1, XXVII, 1-2 “in hominis forma manifestatum”, cited in Gwatkin, H.M., Early Church History to AD 313, Macmillan, London, 1914, p.96-99

[50] Ephrem the Syrian describes him as “the Stranger” in Discourses to Hypatius, III Marcion p.li.

He was also the “unknown God” of Acts 17:23 according to Frend, op sit, p.67

[51] Irenaeus, op sit, 1, XXVII, 1-2, cited in Gwatkin, H.M., op sit, p99

[52] Frend, op sit, p.68

[53] Vööbus, op sit, part I, 2, 2

[54] The Jewish Bible is called the Tanakh, from the initials of the Hebrew words for its three parts called the Law, the Prophets and the Writings

[55] Frend, op sit, p.67

[56] Hebrews (e.g. 13:4) and the Pastorals (1 Tim 4:3, 5:14) were useful

[57] O.G.I. 608, cited in Frend, op sit, p.68 and also S.N.C. Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.4 for the text.

[58] Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.407

[59] S.N.C. Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.4 cites Theodoret Ep. 113

[60] Bauer, W., Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, German original, copyright J.C.B.Mohr, Tübingen, 1934, English Translation by Robert A. Kraft, Gerhard Kroedel, etc., Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1971 p.22 citing P. Bedjan (ed.), Histoire de Mar Jabalaha, de trois autres patriarches, d’un pretre et deux laiques nestoriens 2 (Paris, 1895), 206-274

[61] This has a parallel in modern Israel where a person may be asked if they are Orthodox, Catholic or Christian, i.e. Greek Othodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant Christian.

[62] Vööbus, op sit, part I, 2, 2

[63] So named by Irenaeus in Adv. Haer. III.11.9. The Coptic text is found in NHC I, 3; XII, 2. The English translation in NHL 1977, p.37-49

[64] Eusebius op sit, p.163-4 (IV, 10-11)

[65] Bruce, op sit, p.250

[66] Epipanius, Haer, 33.3-7, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.91

[67] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1, 1, 1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius t, p.85

[68] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1, 1, 1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.89

[69] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1, 1, 1, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.90

[70] Bruce, op sit, p.246-248

[71] Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII,7

[72] Beck E., Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen contra Haereses, CSCO, vols. 169-170, Louvain, 1957, XXII: 3.

[73] Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.397

[74] Theodosius Letter XL 16 cited from biblestudy.churches.net/CCEL/FATHERS2/NPNF210/NPNF2151.HTM

[75] The Teaching of Addai, p.50, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.152. The ecclesiastical dependance on Antioch is also reflected in Christian Edessa being later characterised as having “Antiochene theology”.

[76] The Chronicle of Edessa (composed c 540 CE) found in Assemani J.S., Bibliotheca Orientalis, Rome, 1719-1728, I. p.389f, cited in Segal, op sit, p.24.

[77] Drijvers, H.J.W., East of Antioch, p.4

[78] Contra Burkitt, who wrote that the legend reflected the conversion of Abgar VII (sic), 177-222 (sic) CE. See Burkitt, F.C., Early Christianity outside the Roman Empire: Two lectures Delivered at Trinity College, Dublin. Cambridge UP, 1899, p.45-67

[79] Drijvers, H.J.W. Bardaisan of Edessa, p.217, wrote that the tradition that Bardaisan was born on the bank of the Daisan (i.e. “son of the Daisan”) is dubious as it is unknown to Ephrem, so the meaning of the second part of his name is unclear. In the sixth century the river was diverted from flowing through the city by a new channel cut across the northern border of the city

[80] Julius Africanus (c. 160-240 CE) came with Septimius Severus’ expedition to Osrhoene in 195 CE.

He mentions that he had met Bar Daysan at Edessa in his kestoi/ or Embroideries

[81] Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.398

[82] Eusebius, op sit, p.191 (IV, 30)

[83] There are three main forms of Syriac poetry (1) the memra, (2) the Madrasha and (3) the sogitha. Wellesz, E., “Early Christian Music”, New Oxford History of Music, Vol II, ed., Hughes, Oxford, London, 1967, p.8,

[84] Wellesz, op sit, p.8, 9

[85] Beck, op sit, Ephrem Madrash 1:17

[86] Drijvers, H.J.W. Bardaisan of Edessa, p.64, 67

[87] A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature, eds. Wace, H., & Piercy, W. C., John Murray, London, 1911, article under Bardaisan

[88] Drijvers, H.J.W. Bardaisan of Edessa, p.219

[89] See Nau M., Une Biographie inédite de Bardesane l’astrologue, Paris, 1897; Bardesane l’astrologue: Le Livre des lois des pays, Paris, 1899; “Bardesane l’astrologue”, Journal Asiatique, juillet-août 1899, p. 129

[90] Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.154 However opinion seems divided on whether Darkness is an entity in itself, see Drijvers, Bardaisan of Edessa, p.220

[91] Mitchell C.W., S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations Of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, William Clowes & Sons, London and Beccles, 1921.

[92] This idea, in modern times, is based on an interpretation of Genesis 1:2 as “the Earth became formless…”

[93] Beck, op sit, Ephrem, Madrash 1:12

[94] Drijvers, H.J.W. Bardaisan of Edessa, p.226

[95] Segal, op sit, p.36

[96] Segal, op sit, p.36

[97] Drijvers, H.J.W. Bardaisan of Edessa, p.228

[98] See Whipple, A.G., The Role of the Nestorians and Muslims in the History of Medicine, 1967, p.14-19 and also O’Leary, D., How Greek Science Passed on to the Arabs, London, 1948, p47-52

[99] Ramsay, W. M., Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, Clarendon, Oxford, 1986, I, p.722-30, II. p.657. Also Grabka, G., “Eucharistic Belief Manifest In the Epitaphs of Abercius and Pectorius”, The American Ecclesiastical Review, October 1954

[100] Lightfoot, J.B., The Apostolic Fathers, Macmillan, London 1889, 1890, pt. II, vol. I, p. 496

[101] Eusebius, op sit, p.217-9 (V, 16-17)

[102] Drijvers, H.J.W., Bardaisan of Edessa, Royal VanGorcum, Assen, 1966, p.63, 170

[103] Kraeling, C.F., in Well, C.B. ed., The Excavations at Dura-Europos, Final report VIII, Pt 2, New York, 1967, p.102-6

[104] Edwell, P., SSEC coference talk in May 2003 at Macquarie University

[105] Drijvers, H.J.W., Old-Syriac (Edessean) Inscriptions, Brill, Leiden, 1972, p.54-57

[106] Lieu, S.N.C., "Captives, Refugees and Exiles: a Study of Cross-Frontier Civilian Movements and Contacts between Rome and Iran from Valerian to Jovian," in P. Freeman & D. Kennedy (eds.), The Defence of the Roman and Byzantine East, part 2, Oxford, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1986, pp. 475-508.

[107] Ball, W., Rome in the East, the transformation of an empire, Routledge, London and New York, 2000, p.115

[108] Yahshater, E., ed. The Cambridge History of Iran, 3(1), Cambridge UP, 1983, p.570-1

[109] Boyce, M., Ed and Trans, “Zoroastrianism”, Textual Sources for the Study of Religion, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1984, p.113, also Lieu op sit, VIII, 11, KKZ partially cited in Dodgeon and Lieu, op sit, p.65

[110] At Paul’s trial before Governor Felix, (Acts 24:5) Tertullus the lawyer accused Paul of being a ring-leader of the Nazarene sect (tw=n Nazarai/wn ai9re/sewj)

[111] Chronicle of Se’ert, Patrologia Orientalis 4, p.221 – 223, cited in Dodgeon and Lieu, op sit, p.297

[112] see also Ball, op sit, p.121

[113] Eusebius, vita Constantini, Book II, Chapter LIII

[114] Ball, op sit, p.122

[115] Brock, S.P., "A Martyr at the Sasanid Court under Vahran II: Candida," Analecta Bollandiana 96,1978, p.167-181 or Brock, S.P., Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity Variorum, London, 1984, ch. 9

[116] Chronicle of Se’ert, 9, p.238

[117] Brock, S.P., Analecta Bollandiana 96,1978, p.178‑81

[118] Ball, op sit, p.122

[119] Ball, op sit, p.122

[120] Eusebius, vita Constantini, IV.8-13, cited in Dodgeon and Lieu, op sit, p.150-152

[121] Michael the Syrian, Chron VII 3, p.132, cited in Dodgeon and Lieu, op sit, p.152

[122] Sozomen, H.E. II 9.1-5; 10.1-2, cited in Stevenson, J., Creeds, Councils and Controversies, SPCK, London, 1972, p6-7

[123] “The Martyrdom of the Prisoners of War”, ed. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum II, Paris, 1890-7, p.316-324, cited in Dodgeon and Lieu, op sit, p.215-219

[124] Ball, op sit, p.122

[125] Yahshater, op sit, p.499

[126] Gwynn, J., revised Johnston in “Introductory Dissertation On Ephraim The Syrian And Aphrahat The Persian Sage”, Patrologia Syriaca, Firmin-Dido, Paris, 1893-1926, 1.184ff

[127] 648 years from Alexander

[128] Chabot, J.B., Synodicon Orientale, p.254-261, cited in Stevenson, Creed, Councils and Controversies, p.255-257

[129] Yahshater, E., op sit, p.499. It has also been seen to be part of movement towards monotheism that eventually served the cause of Islam (see Yahshater, E., op sit, p.568)

[130] Yahshater, op sit, p.499

[131] Chabot, J. B., Synodicon Orientale, ou Recueil de Synodes Nestoriens, Paris, 1902, p.266

[132] Theodoret, H.E. V 38(39) 1- 6, cited in Stevenson, Creed, Councils and Controversies, p.257

[133] Elisaeus Vartabed, History of Armenia, c.II, ap. V. Langois, Collection des Historiens de l’Armenie, II, p.190f., cited in Stevenson, Creed, Councils and Controversies, p.348

[134] Frye, R. N., The Heritage of Iran, Cardinal, London, 1976, see also Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII,11

[135] It has been reasonably argued that the Nestorian “heresy” of two sons came about from a misunderstanding of the Syriac word qnoma and was exacerbated by the political antagonism resulting from the ecclesiastical demotion of the Patriarch of Alexandria. See for example Bethune-Baker, J.F., Nestorius and his Teaching, Cambridge UP, 1908, p.217-218

[136] Herodian, History of the Empire, 5.3.5, cited in Ball, op sit, p.115, 457, n35

[137] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History 3, trans. R. Payne Smith, Oxford UP, 1860 book 6. VI.7 p.389-390.

[138] Chronicle of Se’ert 3, PO 4, p.224-25, cited in Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII,13

[139] Segal, op sit, p.82-86

[140] Millar, op sit, p.198

[141] Segal, op sit, p.83

[142] Burkitt, F.C., ed. and trans. “The martyrdom of Shmona and Guria”, sec. 1., Euphemia and the Goth with the Acts of the Martyrdom of the Confessors of Edessa Williams and Norgate, Oxford/London, 1913 or Simeon Metaphrastes, Martyrdom Of the Holy Confessors, Shamuna, Guria, and Habib, cited from The Early Church Fathers at www.ccel.org

[143] Passio antiquior SS. Sergii et Bacchi Graece, trans. by Boswell J. AB 14 , Brussels, 1895, p.373-395 also cited extensiely by Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.11

[144] Lactantius, On the death of the Persecutors, 48.2-12, cited in Stevenson, A New Eusebius, p.300-302

[145] Jerome, vita Hilarionis 2

[146] Sozomen 3.14,26-28, trans. Hartranft, p.293

[147] Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Historia Religiosa 1,2., trans. Dodgeon unpubl., cited in Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.13

[148] Murray, R. "The Features of the Earliest Christian Asceticism," in Christian Spirituality: Essays in Honour of Gordon Rupp, ed. P. Brooks, London, 1975, p. 66

[149] Vööbus, op sit, chapter12.1.a. General remarks

[150] Vööbus, op sit, chapter 5.1 Autochthonous character of Syrian monasticism.

[151] Theodoret of Cyr, op sit, II.4, II,6 cited in Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.13

[152] Theodoret of Cyr, op sit, I, 7 cited in Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.13

[153] Ephrem, Carmina Nisibena, XVII.11, in Mitchell C.W., op sit, p.187

[154] Ephrem, Carmina Nisibena, XIX.1, in Mitchell C.W., op sit, p.188

[155] Ephrem, Carmina Nisibena, XIX.16, in Mitchell C.W., op sit, p.190

[156] Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.14

[157] Ephrem, Sermones de Nicomedia, XV.145-170, cited in Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.14

[158] Lieu, Lecture Notes, p.VIII.20

[159] Theodoret III, XIX

[160] Socrates H.E. III, 1

[161] Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, trans. Hamilton, W., Penguin, London, 1986, 22.5, p.238

[162] Ammianus Marcellinus, op sit, 21.2.4, p.209

[163] Socrates H.E. III, 1 What Julian did was to “assume the external semblance”

[164] Ammianus Marcellinus, op sit, 21.2.4, p.209

[165] Socrates H.E. III, 1

[166] Littmann, E. et al. Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909, Div. III, Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Sec. A, Part. 2, Southern Hauran, Leiden, 1910, p. 108, n. 86 (= ILS 9465, Arce, n. 115, p. 111) cited in Lieu, op sit. p.VIII.20

[167] Gannadius, Liber de script. Eccl., 1, Patrologiae cursus completus, series Latina, eds. Migne, J.P.. Paris 1844-1864 , vol 58.1059, trans. Richardson, p.386

[168] Ammianus Marcellinus, op sit, 22.5, p.238

[169] Ammianus Marcellinus, op sit, 23.1, p.255

[170] Barhebraeus, World Chronicle, VII, p. 63, ed. Bedjan, trans. Budge p. 61, cited in Lieu, op sit, p.VIII.20

[171] Although Libanius wrote in, Oration 17: "some Achemenides" did it, clearly in Oration 18: "the murderer was not an enemy" and "one of those who thought that it was not good for them that Julian stayed alive", and in Oration 24: "the murderer was among ours".

[172] Zosimus, historia nova, III, 34, ed. Mendelssohn, p.156

[173] Ephrem, Hymni Contra Juli