Christ Enters Jerusalem,
Adapted from:The Study of Spirituality. Cheslyn Jones, ed, (Oxford University Press, New York, 1986), pp. 199-216.
early date Syriac (a dialect of Aramaic) came to serve as the literary
language of the majority of Christians living in the eastern provinces of
the Roman Empire (modern south-east Turkey and Syria) and in the Persian
Empire (modern Iraq and western Iran); it continues in use up to the present
day as the liturgical language of three Oriental Orthodox Churches (Maronite,
Syrian Orthodox, Church of the East).The beginnings of Christianity in these
areas are very obscure, and Syriac writings which can safely be dated
earlier than the fourth century are rare. The golden age of Syriac
literature spans the fourth to the seventh centuries.
As far as writers on spirituality are concerned, four fairly well-defined periods can be discerned:
1. Early writers to c. 400. During this (pre-monastic) period Syriac Christianity is still only barely hellenized, and its great significance lies in the fact that it thus serves as the only extant witness to a genuinely semitic form of Christianity [Acts of Thomas, The Pearl], as yet virtually untouched by Greek thought patterns. [Aphrahat, Book of Steps] The period culminates with the writings of St Ephrem, a religious poet of outstanding importance.
2. Fifth and sixth centuries. These two centuries witnessed the ever-increasing hellenization of Syriac Christianity, and it is ironic that, at the moment when the Arab invasions cut off Syriac Christianity from the Byzantine world (early seventh century), Greek influence on Syriac writers was at its strongest. The christological controversies of these centuries effectively divided up the Syriac world into three separate ecclesiastical traditions, the Chalcedonian, the Syrian Orthodox, and the Church of the East; the former two were chiefly represented in the eastern Roman Empire, while the last was almost entirely confined to the Persian Empire. As far as spiritual literature was concerned, however, ecclesiastical boundaries had little effect on its dissemination. A number of translations of Greek spiritual writings, made during this period (notably those of the Apophthegmata, the Macarian Homilies, Evagrius and the Dionysian corpus), were to exercise a profound influence on subsequent Syriac writers of every tradition.
3. The end of Sassanid rule and the first two centuries of Islam witnessed an astonishing flowering of mystical writers in the Church of the East, and the works of one of these, Isaac of Nineveh, were subsequently translated into Greek as well as into Arabic. Isaac has proved very influential up to the present day (especially on Mount Athos and in the contemporary monastic revival in the Coptic Orthodox Church). How far these East Syrian mystics also influenced the early Sufi tradition in Islam remains unclear. There also exist fragmentary Sogdian translations of some of these writers.
4. Although a number of later works on the spiritual life in Syriac survive, very few of these have been published; one of them, the Book of the Dove, by the famous polymath Barhebraeus, exhibits the influence of Islamic mystics. During the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries European missionaries translated several classics of Western spirituality into Syriac.
Several important writers within these four periods have only recently come to be better known, and in some cases major works still remain unpublished; this applies above all to John the Solitary and John of Dalyatha.
Certain PROMINENT THEMES recur throughout much of this literature:
1. Early writers regularly see baptism as the return to Paradise and the potential recovery of the ‘robe of glory’ [The whole of salvation history is regularly expressed in terms of clothing imagery.] lost by Adam (humanity) at the fall; the recovery is only finally realized at the resurrection, though the holy can anticipate this in the present life. Eschatological Paradise is far more glorious than the primordial, since the holy will there be granted the divinity which Adam and Eve would have been given had they kept the commandment.
2. The betrothal of the Church to Christ takes place at his baptism; so too Christian baptism is understood as the betrothal of the soul to Christ the Bridegroom. This helps explain the encratite slant of early Syriac Christianity, with its emphasis on virginity and the ideal of the ihidaya (which may underlie the earliest usage of monachos), meaning single, celibate, single-minded, and especially follower of Christ the ihida, ‘OnlyBegotten’.
3. The following are very common:
--the ideal of shaphyutha, ‘limpidity, lucidity, clarity, serenity, smoothness’, etc., applied to the heart or mind.
--fire as a symbol of the divinity, and the terminology of ‘mingling, mixing’ used of the interaction between God and creation.
--the perception of an analogy between the activity of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation, the eucharistic epiclesis and mystical experience of the soul (especially from the sixth century onwards). [cf. S. Brock, “Passover, Annunciation and Epiclesis”, Novum Testamentum, 24 ( 1982)].
EARLY WRITERS TO c. 400
Two early texts are important. The Odes of Solomon (late second century?) are short lyrics in which the baptismal experience of the Odist is often identified with that of Christ. The Acts of Thomas (third century?) well illustrate the ideal of virginity; they incorporate two earlier poems, the hymn of the Bride of Light (Church), and the famous hymn of the Soul or Pearl.
Aphrahat ‘the Persian sage’ (mid fourth century) wrote twenty-three. Demonstrations on a variety of topics including Faith (no. 1), Love (2), Fasting (3), Prayer (4), ‘Members of the Covenant’ (6), Penitents (7) and Humility (9). These have a strong biblical orientation ( Aphrahat calls himself ‘a disciple of the Scriptures’). No. 4 (the earliest Christian treatise on prayer, as opposed to treatises which deal with the Lord’s Prayer) seeks to show how prayer is acceptable only if it stems from ‘purity of heart’. No. 6 deals with a distinctive feature of early Syriac Christianity: it appears that originally the term ‘covenant’ designated the entire baptized community, who had also undertaken certain ascetic vows (notably chastity) at baptism; by Aphrahat’s time, however, the ‘sons and daughters of the covenant’ (the translation ‘monks’ in Gwynn is anachronistic) represented an ascetic group within the baptized community, consisting of people who were either celibate (‘virgins’, used of both men and women) or married couples who had renounced intercourse (designated qaddishe, lit. ‘holy’, based on Exod. 19.10, 15). Dem. 6 also discusses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the problem of post-baptismal sin.
Aphrahat’s writings were known to several later Syriac writers. A complete Armenian translation (attributed to Jacob of Nisibis) exists, and individual Demonstrations were translated into Arabic, Georgian and Ethiopic.
The poet Ephrem (c. 306-73) is the finest representative of Syriac symbolic theology and its pre-monastic spirituality. Until 363, when he had to move to Edessa, he lived in Nisibis. Later tradition anachronistically portrayed him as a monk living in a cave outside Edessa, but in fact his life was spent within the urban community he served as a deacon and teacher.
His writings comprise: (1) prose works (including several biblical commentaries); [French trans. of the Commentary on the Diatessaron in SC 121.] (2) artistic prose (including a meditation on judgement, the Letter to Publius); ET in [Le Muséon, 89 ( 1976), pp. 261-305] and (3) poetry, for which he is chiefly famous. The main poems are preserved in a series of hymn cycles; several were written specifically for women to sing.
The hymns offer an essentially sacramental view of the Christian life, with great emphasis on baptism as the point of entry. Everything in Scripture and creation is capable of directing the eye of faith to Christ, himself the manifestation of God’s hiddenness. This is made possible by the inherent presence in everything of types and symbols (lit. ‘mysteries’), [In common with most Church Fathers Ephrem has a very ‘strong’ view of symbolism: what is symbolized is actually present in some sense in the symbol.] which act as pointers towards God. This anagogic process, leading the mind to a state of wonder and praise, is itself possible only because God initially descended to meet the human condition, first by allowing himself to be ‘clothed in human language’ and in symbols, and then by actually ‘clothing himself in a human body’. There is thus a state of creative tension between the utter transcendence and the total immanence of God, a state which Ephrem describes by a whole series of paradoxes. The continuing sanctifying immanence of God in the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist serves as a pattern for his immanence, equally sanctifying, in the ‘symbols’ contained in creation and Scripture. [Although expressed in a totally different way, Ephrem’s theology of names in some respects anticipates that of the Dionysian corpus.]
As an exponent of symbolic theology Ephrem abhors all literalism and definitions: these he regards as static and deadening in their effect. His is, rather, an essentially positive and dynamic vision; it is a world-view which involved him actively in the world around him (the one wellattested episode in his life concerns his efforts in his old age to distribute food to the poor during a famine).
Ephrem exercised a strong influence on later Syriac writers. Several of his works were translated into Arabic and Greek (though many of the extant Greek, Latin and Slavonic writings attributed to him are not by him).
Thirty anonymous homilies entitled the Book of Steps (or Ascents) constitute the earliest corpus of Syriac writings specifically on the spiritual life; the author probably wrote in the Persian Empire during the fourth century. Their editor held them to be Messalian, but the distinctive Messalian aberrations are absent, and it is preferable to see the work as belonging to the sort of milieu out of which Messalian tendencies grew. It has some features in common with the Macarian Homilies, but there are no direct literary connections.
Two basic stages are distinguished: of the ‘upright’, and of the ‘perfect’. The upright follow the ‘small commandments’ of active charity, while the perfect keep the ‘great commandments’ of total renunciation: they ‘fast from the world’, being ‘strangers’ to it; theirs is a life of continual prayer, self-emptying, profound humility and compassion for others. The upright have received the ‘pledge’ of the Spirit, whereas the perfect have received the fulness. Progress in the spiritual life is represented by the increase of the ‘pledge of the Spirit’ until the point of plenitude is reached: this is the ‘baptism in fire and the Spirit’.
Homily 12 (ET in Murray, Symbols, pp. 264-8) offers a threefold view of the Church: worship takes place visibly at the public level, and invisibly at the altar of the heart and at the heavenly altar of the Church above; there is a progression through (but not beyond) the visible Church to the invisible Church of the heart and thence to the heavenly Church.
Among later writers Philoxenus clearly knew the Liber Graduum.
Many Greek patristic writings were translated into Syriac, and among these were four groups of texts which influenced, in varying degrees, almost all subsequent Syriac writers.
MONASTIC WRITINGS FROM EGYPT
Although Syriac Christianity had developed its own particular type of ascetic life as a form of proto-monasticism, from the late fourth century onwards this rapidly came to be overshadowed by the prestige of Egyptian monasticism. Syriac translations of the Lausiac History, the Historia Monachorum and collections of Apophthegmata were probably available by c. 500 and proved very popular. In the seventh century much of this material was incorporated into the Paradise of the Fathers, compiled by the East Syrian monk Ananisho (ET by Budge, Stories from the Holy Fathers). Other Egyptian texts translated into Syriac include the Letters of Ammonas, Lives of Antony, Pachomius, Macarius and others.
MACARIAN HOMILIES (see pp. 173-5).
Two independent translations are known. The first consists of an ill-defined group of twenty-three texts, attributed to Macarius the Egyptian and Macarius the Alexandrian, found in numerous manuscripts; the majority of these correspond to homilies or parts of homilies in one or other of the Greek collections, though some texts have no Greek parallel, or are known only from other sources. 1 The second translation, in a single Sinai manuscript, contains twenty-three texts, only six of which overlap with texts in the other translation; although almost all correspond to Greek texts, there is again no clear pattern of relationship with extant Greek collections.
Syriac and Armenian preserve several writings of Evagrius whose Greek original has been lost as a result of the condemnation of his teaching in 553 (see pp. 169-70). Of particular interest are the two Syriac versions (both late fifth century?) of the Kephalaia Gnostica: in one version (in a single manuscript) we have an unexpurgated form of Evagrius’ text, while in the other (much more influential) 2 version the more outspoken Origenist elements have been expunged. 3 The widespread influence of Evagrius’ works (in an expurgated form) on later Syriac writers has been traced by Guillaumont.
THE DIONYSIAN CORPUS
(See pp. 184-9), where the abbreviations used below are explained). Two Syriac translations survive. The first was probably made by Sergius of Reshaina (d. 536), who added his own preface; 4 the second was a revision of the first by Phocas of Edessa (late seventh century). The ordering of the texts in the two translations differs: the sixth century one has DN CH MT EH Epp., while the revision has three introductions (by the translator, John of Scythopolis, and George of Constantinople), CH EH DN MT Epp. A second edition of the revision, made by Cyriacus of Edessa in 766/7, reverts to the older order and adds Sergius’ preface. There are several Syrian Orthodox commentaries and scholia. An edition of both translations (with scholia) is being prepared at Göttingen.
Other Greek writers whose works proved influential in Syriac translation include Abba Isaiah, Mark the Monk, and Nilus. Isaiah Ascēticon survives in five Syriac recensions, and was commented on by Dadisho and an anonymous writer. A lost work by Theodore of Mopsuestia on the spiritual life influenced several East Syrian writers ( Dadisho preserves some quotations).
[FIFTH to SIXTH CENTURY] SYRIAC WRITERS
JOHN THE SOLITARY
A considerable number of writings survive attributed to ‘John the Solitary’ (ihidaya), who may have come from Apamea. This John is certainly to be distinguished from John of Lycopolis, and probably from two Johns of Apamea accused by later writers of heresy. Nothing is known of his life; he probably belongs to the first half of the fifth century.
Only part of his writings has been published, but it is clear that he is an author of major importance who was much read by later writers. The main works published so far include (1) Letters to Theodoulos (ed. Rignell ), (2) Letters on True Perfection and On the Mystery of Baptism (ed. Rignell), (3) Dialogues on the Soul (ed. Dedering), (4) Dialogues with Thaumasios (ed. Strothmann), and (5) On Prayer and Inner Silence (ed. Brock). Of his unpublished works the most widely read was a letter to Hesychios on the spiritual life (ET S. Brock, Kalamazoo, Cistercian Publications, forthcoming).
The Dialogues on the Soul lay down a tripartite pattern of the spiritual life (based on 1 Cor. 3.3) that was to prove very influential: the stage of the body (pagranutha), of the soul (napshanutha), and of the spirit (ruhanutha). The letters are primarily concerned with advanced teaching on ‘the new life’ of the resurrection which the Christian should strive to anticipate in this life following the ‘resurrection’ that takes place at baptism.
Philoxenus, the ardent anti-Chalcedonian bishop of Mabbug (d. 523), stands at the point of intersection between Greek and native Syriac traditions both in matters of theology and of spirituality; in each field he produced a remarkably original synthesis. His most important writings on spirituality are (1) thirteen Discourses (concentrating on the beginnings of the ascetic life), (2) a work on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and (3) the Letter to Patricius. 1 This last is a reply to Patricius who evidently sought to achieve ‘contemplation’ and impassibility without building on the ‘lesser commandments’; there is a Greek translation, attributed to Isaac. Although the influence of Evagrian terminology is often present, Philoxenus has everywhere preserved a conceptual framework that is essentially biblical.
For Philoxenus (as for earlier. Syriac writers) baptism is the focal point, 1 being the entry into a new mode of existence, the spiritual (ruhanutha); this takes place ‘through grace’, but only comes to be realized at a subsequent point in time, when God’s grace is met by the human ‘will’. Thus Philoxenus sees the Christian as undergoing three ‘births’, natural birth, baptism ‘when someone becomes a child of God by grace’, and the third (which he sometimes calls ‘a second baptism’) ‘when someone is born of their own will out of the bodily way of life (pagranutha) into the spiritual, where self-emptying of everything is the womb that gives birth’ ( Discourse, 9; cf. Letter to Patricius, 97).
JACOB OF SERUGH
The Syrian Orthodox poet Jacob, bishop of Batnan da-Serugh (d. 521), is chiefly famous for his verse homilies where he intermingles biblical and sacramental typology in a highly creative manner. His poetry, though more diffuse than Ephrem’s, belongs to the same essentially semitic world of symbolic theology. His prose letters include several on the inner life (e.g. 7, 11, 38, 39, 42). 2
STEPHEN BAR SUDHAILI AND ‘HIEROTHEOS’
The Origenist monk Stephen of Edessa (active early sixth century) evidently taught a kind of eschatological pantheism, strongly influenced by Evagrius’ more speculative writings.
The view of some later Syriac writers that Stephen was the author of The Book of the Holy Hierotheos is probably correct. This Hierotheos purports to be the revered teacher of that name, mentioned in the Dionysian corpus. Earlier scholars who accepted this claim consequently held the work to be a forerunner of the corpus; it has subsequently been shown, however, that the work is later than, and dependent on, the Dionysian writings (though the influence of Evagrius is in fact far stronger). It is almost certainly not a translation from Greek, as its preface claims.
The book describes the ascent of the mind (following the pattern of Christ’s life), ultimately going beyond ‘union’ to ‘commingling’ with the divinity.
From within the Persian Empire comes one work which may date from the late fifth century, by ‘ Babai whom Barsauma killed’, addressed to Cyriacus; possibly the Catholicos Baboway (d. 484) is meant. The author was evidently a convert from Zoroastrianism and the work 1 consists of guidelines for the monastic life interspersed with homely examples taken from fables and proverbs, perhaps imitating the older Wisdom instruction literature.
Certain PROMINENT THEMES recur throughout much of this literature:
EAST SYRIAN WRITERS LATE SIXTH TO EIGHTH CENTURIES
The mid sixth century witnessed a monastic revival in north Mesopotamia which was to produce an extensive literature on spirituality in the Church of the East over the next couple of centuries. The earliest representatives are: (1) Abraham of Nethpar, whose works are largely unpublished; (2) Shubhalmaran ( “‘Praise to our Lord’“), Bishop of Karka d-Beit Slokh ( Kerkuk) and author of “‘The Book of Parts’“ (ET by D. Lane in preparation); (3) Babai the Great (d. 628), the East Syrian theologian par excellence, and author of a Book of Perfection (lost) and a commentary on Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnostica (ed. Frankenberg, 1912); and (4) Gregory of Cyprus, a monk from northern Mesopotamia who spent some time in Cyprus (later tradition wrongly placed him in the fourth century). Gregory is the author of seven monastic treatises and a collection of letters; the only treatise so far published is his De Theoria Sancta, which seeks to correct certain misconceptions about ‘contemplation’ and to put forward the true teaching of the ‘sages’ on the subject.
Martyrius, the author of a long work entitled The Book of Perfection, can be identified with Sahdona (which ‘ Martyrius’ translates), a bishop who was violently attacked by East Syrian writers for his ‘Chalcedonian’ theological views (he was expelled from the Persian church and took refuge near Edessa).
Throughout his book Martyrius lays emphasis on the centrality of love, on the need for purity of heart and the interiorization of the ascetic effort. It is a work of evident religious fervour, and is remarkable both for its freshness of approach and for its strongly biblical orientation; the latter is brought out by the very large number of biblical quotations and allusions (far more than in the works of his contemporaries), and by the emphasis on the heart as the focal point of the inner person, rather than the mind, as was becoming the norm under the influence of the Evagrian and Dionysian traditions.
There also survive five letters to monks, and some maxims. The fifth letter is to someone who complained that The Book of Perfection did not contain directives on the more advanced stages of contemplation; in reply Martyrius offers some advice, but it is clear that he is unwilling to tread on such delicate ground.
ISAAC OF NINEVEH
Isaac of Nineveh, or ‘the Syrian’, is the best known of Syriac writers on spirituality, and thanks to early translations into Greek and Arabic he has proved influential outside as well as within the Syrian churches. Extremely little is known of his life: he originated from Qatar ( Persian Gulf) and was consecrated Bishop of Nineveh some time between 660 and 680, only to retire after five months to live a life of solitude.
Isaac’s main surviving work is entitled The First Part of the Teaching of Mar Isaac on the Monastic Life, in 82 chapters; this is the work translated by Wensinck. The ninth-century Greek translation, made at the monastery of St Saba ( Palestine) and printed first in 1770, has a different ordering of chapters. 1
Isaac is not a systematic writer, and he draws on both the intellectualist traditions of Evagrius and Dionysius and the more experiential ones of the Macarian Homilies and the native Syriac writers. The absolute prerequisite for the spiritual life lies in renunciation of the ‘world’, by which Isaac understands the ‘self’ as much as the external world. The Christian life is essentially seen as the imitation of Christ, and, since Christ ‘clothed himself in humility’, so the Christian must ‘compel himself’ to put on profound humility, for only then will the heart become truly compassionate. Isaac probably owes much to John the Solitary, whose threefold pattern of the spiritual life he adopts and adapts: for Isaac the second stage (‘of the soul’) aims at restoring the soul to its original state of impassibility, while the third stage (‘of the spirit’) goes beyond all that human nature is capable of, and lies entirely as a gift from God; it represents a state encountered only extremely rarely, and is characterized by a movement beyond ‘pure prayer’ to one of total rest, where the will is taken over by the Spirit; it is a state which coincides with the life of the resurrection.
Isaac’s writings were widely read by members of all ecclesiastical traditions (objectionable names, such as that of Theodore of Mopsuestia,
DADISHO AND SIMEON
In his Early Christian Mystics Mingana includes works by two contemporaries of Isaac, Simeon ‘the graceful’ ( d-Taybutheh) and Dadisho of Qatar; both belong to the monastic world of northern Iraq. Simeon’s work represents the fusion of various traditions of spirituality characteristic of all East Syrian writers of the period; a notable feature is his interest in physiology and his emphasis on the interrelationship between the individual and the rest of creation. Of Dadisho’s writings his lengthy commentary on Abba Isaiah Askēticon and a treatise on solitude and prayer have been published; the latter is addressed to monks who adopt the eremitical life for certain periods, offering practical advice on how to achieve the goal of ‘pure prayer’.
Joseph Hazzaya (‘the seer’) was born c. 710-13 of Zoroastrian parents. Taken captive as a child, he was eventually converted by the example of some local monks, and on being freed he became a monk himself. Only a few of his surviving writings have been published, notably some texts included in Early Christian Mystics (some are under the name of his brother Abdisho), and a long letter on the three stages of the spiritual life, wrongly attributed to Philoxenus.
Although he has been called ‘le théoricien par excellence de la mystique nestorienne’ (Beulay), it is clear that his writings are based on personal experience. His synthesis of the various traditions provides the following correspondences: (1) ‘stage of the body’ (the terminology derives from John the Solitary), concerned with external practices, fasts, vigils, psalmody, etc.; this belongs to, the cenobitic life and its aim is ‘purity’; it corresponds to the Evagrian praktikē and the Dionysian ‘purification’. (2) ‘Stage of the soul’, concerned with the interior virtues such as humility, patience; this stage belongs to the solitary life, and its aim is shaphyutha, ‘lucidity’, etc.; it corresponds to the Evagrian ‘natural contemplation’ and the Dionysian ‘illumination’. (3) ‘Stage of the spirit’, concerned no longer with the activities of the senses or the soul, but with those of the mind; characteristic of this stage, which represents ‘perfection’, is the vision of the formless light of the Trinity and of the risen Christ; the stage corresponds to the Evagrian theologia and the Dionysian ‘unification’.
JOHN OF DALYATHA
John of Dalyatha, or ‘the Elder’ (Saba), belonged to the monastic circles in early eighth-century northern Iraq which were misguidedly accused of Messalianism (see pp. 160, 173) by the authorities of the Church of the East, and his writings were condemned (along with those of Joseph) at a synod in 786/7. Of his surviving works the most important are the homilies and the letters (only the latter have been published). 1
John is an unsystematic writer with an intuitive approach. Although there is the usual veneer of Evagrian language, he is closest to the experiential tradition of spirituality. The mystical life is for him the fruit of baptism and the Eucharist, representing an anticipation of the resurrection (a constant theme of the native Syriac tradition). His letters for the most part deal with an advanced stage in the spiritual life, and are notable for the fervour of their expression and the vivid imagery of the spiritual senses; he frequently breaks out into prayer.
Despite their condemnation his works were widely read, and were also well known in Syrian Orthodox and Melkite circles as well. There are Arabic and (partial) Greek translations.
The later period of Syriac spirituality has been little studied and only three works are available in translation.
Chapter 8 of the Life of the East Syrian monk Joseph Busnaya (d. 9 79)) by his pupil John bar Kaldun contains an outline of Joseph’s instructions to monks, starting from the noviciate and ending with a description of the ‘three stages’ (following Joseph Hazzaya’s pattern).
Barhebraeus ( 1225/6- 1286), ‘Maphrian of the East’ (an office second only to that of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch), was a man of ecumenical vision, besides being one of the most learned writers of his time. Towards the end of his life he experienced a religious crisis, becoming aware of the contrast between his high office and the inadequacy of his spiritual life; in response he turned to ‘the writings of the initiated, Abba Evagrius and others’, and in due course wrote the Ethicon, containing directives for Christian living (lay as well as monastic), and the Book of the Dove, intended as a guide for monks who have no spiritual director. The first and second sections of the Book of the Dove deal with conduct in the monastery and in the cell, while the third concerns the higher stages of spiritual life, and the fourth (with an autobiographical preface) consists of a century of sayings to illustrate ‘a part of what the flash of lightning revealed to me in the darkness of night’. In these works Barhebraeus shows the influence of Al-Ghazali (see pp. 502-3).
From the late fifteenth century comes Mas’ud Book of the Spiritual Ship, written in verse.
Almost no Syriac writings of the Ottoman period have been published. The seventeenth to nineteenth centuries saw several translations into Syriac of Western spiritual classics, such as Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ ( 1715, printed 1857; modern Syriac translation by P. Bedjan, 1 1885), and John Bunyan Pilgrim’s Progress (modern Syriac, published by the American Presbyterian Mission, Urmi, 1848).
REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDED READING:
Asterisked works contain a helpful bibliography; for further details see I. Ortiz de Urbina , Patrologia Syriaca ( Rome, 1965), supplemented by the bibliography for 1960-70 in Parole de l’Orient, 4 ( 1973), and for 1971-1980 in Parole de l’Orient, 10 ( 1981-2).
Colless B., ‘The place of Syrian mysticism in religious history’, Journal of Religious History, 5 ( 1968), pp. 1-15.
Smith M., Studies in Early Mysticism in the Near and Middle East. London, Sheldon, 1931.
Vööbus A., History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient. CSCO184, 197 ( 1958, 1960).
EARLY WRITERS TO c. 400
Brock S. P., “‘World and Sacrament in the writings of the Syrian Fathers’“, in Soborn ost, 6:10 ( 1974), pp. 685-96.
Brock S. P., The Holy Spirit in the Syrian Baptismal Tradition. Syrian Churches Series 9. Paderborn, Ostkirchendienst, 1979.
Brock S. P., “‘The prayer of the heart in Syriac tradition’“, in Sobornost/ECR, 4 ( 1982), pp. 131-42.
* Murray R., Symbols of Church and Kingdom. CUP, 1975.
ODES OF SOLOMON AND ACTS OF THOMAS
Charlesworth J. H., (ET) The Odes of Solomon. Oxford, Clarendon, 1973; Missoula, Scholar’s Press, 1977.
Klijn A. F. J., The Acts of Thomas. Leiden, Brill, 1962.
Brock S. P., “‘Aphrahat on Prayer’“, Annual of the Leeds University Oriental Society. Leiden, Brill, forthcoming.
Gwynn J., in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, II.13. Oxford, 1898; repr. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans (ET of Dem. 1, 5, 6, 8, 17, 21, 22).
Hausherr I., Dict. Sp. 1. 746-52.
* Brock S. P., The Harp of the Spirit. Studies Supplementary to Sobornost, 4 ( 1975).
Gwynn, J. (see above).
Morris J. B., Selected Works of St Ephrem the Syrian. Oxford, Parker, 1847 ( LF).
McVey K., ed., (ET) St Ephrem: the Hymns. CWS XLIII. (Translations of individual hymns, by R. Murray and S. P. Brock, will be found in recent numbers of ECR and Sobornost.)
* Beck E., Dict. Sp. 4. 788-800.
Brock S. P., “‘The poet as theologian’“, in Sobornost, 7:4 ( 1977), pp. 243-50.
* Brock S. P., The Luminous Eye: the Spiritual World Vision of St Ephrem. Rome, C.L.I.S., 1985.
Murray R., “‘The theory of symbolism in St Ephrem’s theology’“, in Parole de l’Orient, 6/ 7 ( 1975/6), pp. 1-20.
Latin translation in M. Kmosko, Patrologia Syriaca 3 ( 1926).
Guillaumont A., Dict. SP. 9. 749-54.
Guillaumont A., “‘Situation et signification du Liber Graduum dans la spiritualité syriaque’“, in OCA 197 ( 1974), pp. 311-22.
FIFTH TO SIXTH CENTURIES
(a) TRANSLATIONS FROM GREEK
MONASTIC WRITINGS FROM EGYPT
Budge E. A. W., Stories from the Holy Fathers. OUP, 1934.
Budge E. A. W., The Wit and Wisdom of the Christian Fathers of Egypt. OUP, 1934.
Chitty D. J., The Letters of Ammonas. Oxford, Fairacres Publication 72, 1979.
Draguet R., Les formes syriaques de la matière de l’histoire lausiaque. CSCO 389-90, 398-9 ( 1978).
Draguet R., La vie primitive de S.Antoine conservée en syriaque. CSCO417-8 ( 1980).
Strothmann W., Die syrische Überlieferung der Schriften des Makarios. Wiesbaden, 1981.
Guillaumont A., Les six centuries des ‘Kephalaia gnostica’ d’Evagre le Pontique. PO28, 1958.
* Guillaumont A., Les ‘Kephalaia gnostica’ d’Evagre le Pontique et l’histoire de l’Origénisme chez les grecs et les syriens. Paris, 1962.
Muyldemans J., Evagriana Syriaca. Louvain, 1952.
Strothmann W., Das Sakrament der Myron-Weihe in der Schrift de Eccl. Hier. des Ps. Dionysios Areopagita. Wiesbaden, 1977.
Draguet R., Les cinq recensions de l’ Ascéticon syriaque d’ Abba Isaie. CSCO 289-90, 293-4 ( 1968).
Chitty D. J., “‘Abba Isaiah’“, in JTS 22 ( 1971), pp. 47-72.
(b) SYRIAC WRITERS
JOHN THE SOLITARY
* Bradley B., in Dict. Sp. 8. 764-74.
* Brock S. P., “‘John the Solitary, on Prayer’“, in JTS 30 ( 1979), pp. 84-101.
Hausherr I., Jean le Solitaire, Dialogue sur l’ âme et les passions de l’ homme, in OCA 120 ( 1939).
Lavenant R., Jean d’ Apamée, Dialogues et traités. SC311 ( 1984).
Budge E. A. W., The Discourses of Philoxenus. London, Royal Society of Literature, Asher, 1894.
Lavenant R., La lettre à Patricius de Philoxène. PO 30 ( 1963).
Tanghe A., “‘Memra de Philoxène sur l’inhabitation du Saint Esprit’“, Le Muséon, 73 ( 1960), pp. 39-71
JACOB OF SERUGH
Brock S. P., ‘Jacob of Serugh on the Veil of Moses’, in Sobornost/ECR, 3:1 ( 1981), pp. 70-85.
Connolly R. H., “‘Two Homilies on the Eucharist’“, in Downside Review, 27 ( 1908), pp. 278-87; and 29 (1910), pp. 260-70.
* Graffin F., in Dict. Sp. 8. 56-60.
STEPHEN AND ‘HiEROTHEOS’
* Guillaumont A., in Diet. Sp. 4. 1481-88.
Marsh F. S., ed and trans., The Book of the Holy Hierotheos. London, Text and Translation Society, Williams & Norgate, 1927.
EAST SYRIAN WRITERS, LATE SIXTH TO EIGHTH CENTURIES
GREGORY OF CYPRUS
Hausherr I., “‘Gregorii Monachi Cyprii De Theoria Sancta’“, in OCA 110( 1937).
Kirchmeyer J., in Dict. Sp. 6. 920-22.
De A. Halleux, Martyrius (Sahdona): Oeuvres spirituelles. CSCO 200-1, 214-15, 525-5.
* Leloir L., in Dict. Sp. 10. 737-42.
ISAAC OF NINEVEH
Wensinck A. J., Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh. Amsterdam, 1923; Wiesbaden, 1969. (A new translation is to appear shortly.)
Brock S. P., “‘St Isaac of Nineveh and Syriac spirituality’“, in Sobornost, 7:2 ( 1975), pp. 79-89.
Brock S. P., “‘St Isaac of Nineveh’“, in The Way ( Jan. 1981), pp. 68-74.
* Khalifé-Hachem E., in Dict. Sp. 7. 2041-54.
Draguet R., Commentaire du livre d’ Abba Isaie par Dadisho Qatraya. CSCO 326-7 ( 1972).
Mingana A., Early Christian Mystics. Manchester, John Rylands Library Bulletin, 1927-32; Woodbrooke Studies, 7 ( 1934).
Mingana A., (see above).
Olinder G., A Letter of Philoxenus of Mabbug [in fact Joseph] sent to a Friend. Göteborg, 1950. French transl. by F. Graffin in L’Orient Syrien, 6 ( 1961), pp. 317-52, 455-86; 7 ( 1962), pp. 77-102.
* Beulay R., in Dict. Sp. 8. 1341-9.
Guillaumont A., “‘Sources de la doctrine de Joseph Hazzaya’“, in L’Orient Syrien 3, ( 1958), pp. 3-24.
Sherry E. J., “‘The life and works of Joseph Hazzaya’“, in The Seed of Wisdom: Essays in honour of T. J. Meek, ed. W. S. McCullough ( Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1964), pp. 78-91
JOHN OF DALYATHA
Beulay R., La collection des letters de Jean de Dalyatha. PO, 39 ( 1978).
* Beulay R., in Dict. Sp. 8. 449-52.
Colless B., “‘The mysticism of John Saba’“, in OCP 39 ( 1973), pp. 83-102.
Chabot J. B., in Revue de l’ Orient Chrétien, 4 ( 1890), pp. 380-415; 5 ( 1900), pp. 118-33.
Wensinck A. J., Bar Hebraeus’ Book of the Dove, together with some chapters from his Ethicon. Leiden, 1919.
Van B. L. Helmond, Mas’oud du Tour ‘Abdin, un mystique syrien du XVe siècle. Louvain, 1942.