SYRIAN DIOCESES Ignatius Aphram Barsoum I, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Translated and with an Introduction by / Dr. Matti Moosa

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– Translator’s Introduction

– Select History of the Syrian Dioceses

Patrairch Ignatius Jirjis II.
Patriarch Ignatius Ishaq
Ignatius Shukr Allah, Patriarch of Antioch
Ignatius Jirjis III, Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch Ignatius Jirjis IV of Antioch (1768-1781)

– A Shining Page of the History of the Diocese of Diyarbakr (Amid)

– Bishops of the City of Harran

– The Prominent Syrian Philosopher Mar Yaqub (Jacob) of Edessa 633-708)

– The Syrian School of Edessa

– The Theological School of Alexandria (180-400 A.D.)

– The Theological School of Antioch, 290-430.

– The Impact of Eastern Churches on Culture Outstanding Syrians

-Mar Severus Jacob of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery
of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan (d. 1241)

– Mar Gregorius Yusuf IV, the Gurji (Georgian), Metropolitan of Jerusalem (1510-1537

– The Churches of Edessa

– St. Marutha of Takrit Maphrian of Takrit and all the East  (629-649)

– Rev. Daniel of Mardin Syrian Philosopher and Confessor of the Fourteenth Century

– On the Fact that God is One in Essence and Three Attributes

– A’yan al-Suryan (Syrian Notable Men) The Great Leader

Butrus (Peter), son of Yusuf of Homs (480 A.D.)
The Rasafi Family
The Ayar Family
The Family of Tell Mahre
Ibrahim, Son of Yeshu’, Governor of Takrit in the Middle of the 7th Century
The Gomya Family (685-804)
The Leader Marutha, son of Habib of Takrit
The Ishaquni Family
The Scribe ‘Ali Ibn al-Khammar of Baghdad (977)
Deacon Theodore, son of Marcus of Takrit (1046)
The Tayyib Family of Takrit (about 1120-1273)
The Notables of Amid
The Chief Syrian Physician Abu ‘Ali (1169)
The Shumanna Family of Takrit (1129-1170)
Iliyya (Elijah) of Edessa and Saliba of the Kemash Family
The Physician Shim’un (Simon) of Kharput (1207)
The Family of Tuma of Baghdad (1143-1277)
The Physician ‘Isa of Edessa (1245)
The Family of Tuma al-Sharqi (1050-1292)

– (Lum’a fi Tarikh al-Umma al-Suryaniyya fi al-Iraq)
A Glimpse of the History of the Syrian Nation in Iraq

The Churches of Takrit
The Churches of Mosul
The Churches of Nineveh (The Mosul Province)
The Churches of Baghdad
Its Monasteries
Its Schools
Its Learned Men
Its Physicians
Its Notables

– The Monastery of Mar Matta

– The Life-Story of Yuhanna (John) Bar Aphtonia (d.538)

-Was Ibn al-Ibri (Bar Hebraeus) of Jewish Descent?

– Famous Syrians

– The Syrian Philosopher al-Shaykh Yahya Ibn ‘Adi (d. 974)

– Under the Shadow of the Jasmine, or At the Monastery of Qinneshrin

– Men of Godliness and Action

– Mar Yuhanna (John) Metropolitan of Mardin (1125-1165)

– Document of the late Patriarch ‘Abd Allah Issued to the Shamsis, dated 1832 of the Greeks/1521 A.D.

– The weak Ignatius Patriarch of Antioch, Basilius, Maphryono of the East, and Philoxenus, Metropolitan of Amid

– Dawud (David) of Homs, also Known as the Phoenician

– Patriarch Athanasius Bar Subay’ of al-Nabk ( An Intruding Patriarch

– Ignatius Yaqub (Jacob) I ( 1512-1517)

– Basilius Sulayman, maphryono of the East (1509-1518)

– Mar Dionysius I, Tell Mahre, as Patriarch of Antioch in 818 A. D.

Translator’s Introduction

In this book, Patriarch Aphram Barsoum treats various historical topics pertaining to the Syrian Church. It includes lengthy biographies of Syrian learned men like John of Aphtonya, Jacob of Edessa, Severus Jacob of Bartulli, Gregorius Yusuf I, the Gurji, and others. Some of these biographies he later abridged and included in his book al-Lulu al-Manthur. He also discusses in details other topics known to few readers, like the Bishops of the City of Harran, Syrian Notables, History of the Syrian Nation of Iraq, and Gifted Syrians Who Excelled in Classical Arabic.
The chief subject of the book, however, is the history of Syrian dioceses. It is a pericope of a comprehensive two-volume manuscript the author began working on in the 1920s. To the best of my knowledge, after his death in 1957, the two volumes fell into the hands of the late Bishop Gregorius Bulus Behnam; at his death in 1969, they passed into the hands of Barsoum’s nephew, but what happened to them after that is unknown. Fortunately, Patriarch Barsoum had published portions of their contents in the magazines al-Hikma and al-Majalla al Patriarchiyya; the present book offers modern readers a translation of these works into English.
The history of Syrian dioceses covers the period from the time of Patriarch Ignatius Jirjis II (1687-1708) to Gregorius Anton, Metropolitan of Gargar (1768-1774). It treats the lives and activities of several patriarchs, maphryonos, and metropolitans and their dioceses. It portrays the hardships these Fathers of the Syrian Church faced in the administration of their dioceses in Syria, Iraq, and lower Turkey (Tur ‘Abdin). At a time when the Ottoman state was suffering under total corruption, ignorance, and mismanagement, these Fathers steered the course of their dioceses with spiritual zeal and sagacity. Outstanding among them was Maphryono Basilius Shim’un II of Tur ‘Abdin (1710-1740), a prominent learned man who authored several spiritual books but suffered humiliation and death at the hands of Kurdish chiefs. Amazingly, the Syrian Church survived the brutal treatment of the Kurds and Turks and the machinations of the Latin (Roman Catholic) clerics who split it in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and created the Syrian Catholic denomination.
Although the history of Syrian dioceses consists largely of biographical material, yet it contains invaluable historical information about the Syrian Church and its management. Two major themes stand out in this history:  the secession of a schismatic group into what came to be known as the Syrian Catholic Church, and the effort by the Syrian patriarchs to firmly maintain their authority and faith in Malabar in southern India. The bishops who led their dioceses to split from the church and follow Rome did so aided by the power of France and bribery. The schism not only weakened the Syrian Church but also cost it enormous amounts of money which it could ill afford. In Malabar the Syrian delegates had to face the machinations of the Roman Catholic clergy, the Nestorians, and the clergy of the Church of England, who tried to win the Syrian Church in that remote country to their fold. Yet despite the anomalous conditions of the Ottoman state, their own lack of financial resources, and the activity of some recalcitrant clergy of the Malabar Church who intended to usurp ecclesiastical power illegally, the Syrian Fathers, as Patriarch Barsoum has shown, stood firm in defending the orthodox faith and church traditions. The vicissitudes of the journey of one of these Fathers, the Maphryono Basilius Shukr Allah of Aleppo, which took him almost two years (1750-1752)  from Aleppo to Cochin, and the incredible hardships  he faced on that journey and in Malabar, stand as living proof of his vitality and determination to defend the faith. The saddest part of the history of the Syrian Dioceses is that, despite its spiritual zeal and determination, this church began to shrink even more in the period covered by this study. The Syrian Church and congregations in Bedlis and Sijistan exist no more. Gone also are the churches and dioceses of Zakho, Duhuk, and Summail in northern Iraq. Moreover, many monasteries and congregations disappeared because of Ottoman and Kurdish persecution. Patriarch Barsoum should be commended for compiling this history. Without his indefatigable effort and scholarly persistence, this history would have been lost to us.

Dr. Matti Moosa

Select History of the Syrian Dioceses

Patrairch Ignatius Jirjis II.

Ignatius Jirjis was ordained a patriarch on April 23, 1678, and passed away on June 5, 1708, being sixty years old. The period of his patriarchate was twenty-one years and forty-two days.
Patriarch Jirjis was the son of ‘Abd al-Karim, who belonged to a family which produced for the church many notable priests and high ranking clerics. Among these were his uncle the priest‘Abd al-Jalil of the Tahira Church (Virgin Mary) in Mosul, Iraq, who was still living in 1658. Other clergy members of the family included his cousin the priest ‘Abd al-Azali of Mar Tuma (St. Thomas) Church in Mosul (1694-1703), and his brother the priest Rizq Allah, son of ‘Abd al-Karim, who was known for piety; the patriarch’s nephew, the Chorepiscopus Matta, and his son Cyril Rizq Allah, bishop of Mosul (1760-1772); the  grandson of the patriarch’s uncle, Ignatius Jirjis IV, Patriarch of Antioch (1768-1781); and   his nephews (the sons of his sister), Patriarch Isaac (1709-1724), Basilius Matta II, Maphryono of the East (1713-1727), the priest Yaqub (Jacob, 1728) and Jacob’s son, Basilius Li’azar (Lazarus) IV, Maphryono of the East (1730-1759).
Patriarch Jirjis II was born in the city of Mosul in 1648. As an adult, he desired the monastic life and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Matta the ascetic. At the monastery he devoted himself to spiritual devotion and learning. He was ordained a priest in 1669 and set a good example for his brethren monks. In 1677, he was ordained a bishop for Jazirat ibn ‘Umar, known as Jazirat Qardu, by his spiritual head and guide Mar Basilius Yalda, Maphryono of the East, and assumed the name Dioscorus at his ordination. When the See of the Maphrianate became vacant after Maphryono Yalda left his position to journey to Malabar, India, to preach the Gosepl, Jirjis was ordained a maphryono by the Patriarch of Antioch, Abd al-Masih I, in 1684, and assumed the name of Basilius at his ordination. Upon the death of Patriarch Abd al-Masih I, Maphryono Basilius Jirjis was unanimously chosen to succeed him as patriarch because of his spiritual zeal, which distinguished him from his brethren bishops. His elevation to the throne of the Apostolic See took place at the Church of Arba’in (the Forty Martyrs) in Mardin on April 23, 1687.  He obtained the sultan’s decree confirming him in his new position.
Patriarch Jirjis spent twenty-one years defending the orthodox faith and protecting the interests of the holy church. [ It should be noted that throughout this monograph, by the orthodox faith the author means the faith of the Syrian Church, which rejected the formula of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Chalcedon maintained that the two natures of Christ, the divine and the human, were united in one person in the Incarnation, but still separate from each other. The Syrian Church rejected this formula of faith and maintained that, in the Incarnation, the two natures of Christ were united ineffably in One Nature, not to be separated. In other words, this church believes that Jesus Christ was eternal God before he was born of Mary, eternal God when Mary conceived him, and eternal God when she gave birth to him. It insists that by his Incarnation, this eternal God became flesh; he was no longer two, God and man separately, but One Christ united in One Nature, with the properties of both the divine and the human. Following this reasoning, the Syrian Church maintains that separating the natures of Christ after their unity means that there were two Christs, one human, the other divine, which is sheer blasphemy   It is most unfortunate that the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches to this day label those who rejected the Council of Chalcedon as “Monophysites”, that is, those who maintain that the human nature of Christ was absorbed by his divine nature to form only One Nature – the divine. Hence is the erroneous label of “Monophysitism.” Furthermore, by “holy church” the author means the Syrian Orthodox Church.Tr.] His activities in this regard are quite commendable. In the course of his patriarchate, he dismissed those who challenged the lawful leadership of the church or violated its holy canons. More than once, he retrieved the Church of the Lady (Virgin Mary) in Aleppo which was usurped by the schismatics [Syrian Catholics], who seceded from the Orthodox Church. He rebuilt the Za’faran Monastery, which was the Seat of Patriarchs, after it had been ruined and deserted since 1699. He renovated the three churches of Mardin, the churches of al-Ruha (Edessa) and the Jazira, and the churches of Mosul. He built two new churches in the cities of Hisn Mansur (Ademan) and Zakho, and took great care of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem.
Patriarch Jirjis suffered the persecution of enemies with patience until he won eternal glory, departing this life on the Friday of Gold, June 5, 1708, being sixty years old. Thirty-nine of these years were spent in the service of the Lord. He was buried at the Za’faran Monastery. After his death the Apostolic See remained vacant for eight months and three days.
Patriarch Jirjis (may God rest his soul in peace) was handsome and of pleasant and melodious voice.  He was known for his devotion. He was also endowed with an elegant Syriac handwriting. Twice he consecrated the Holy Chrism, in Aleppo in 1691, and at the Za’faran Monastery in 1699. He ordained the following twenty metropolitans and bishops.

1) Basilius Ishaq (Isaac), Maphryono of the East.
He was Severus Ishaq, son of the Maqdisi ‘Azar of Mosul, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta. Prior to becoming patriarch, he was ordained a Maphryono of the East by Patriarch Jirjis II, with the approval of the synod of metropolitans which met in the middle of April, 1687. He assumed the name of Basilius at his ordination. Basilius assisted the patriarch in ministering to the church throughout his patriarchal term. In 1709, he succeeded Patriarch Jirjis in his office. His biography shall follow later.

2) Dioscorus Saliba, bishop of the Jazira (1691-1714)
Dioscorus Saliba was born in Jazirat ibn ‘Umar. He was ordained a bishop for the Jazira by Patriarch Jirjis II, who called him Dioscorus at his ordination. His ordination took place at the Church of the Sayyida (Virgin Mary), in Aleppo in March, 1691, and not in 1692, as has been mentioned in The Order of Ordinations. He administered his diocese until 1691, and was then transferred to the diocese of Ma’dan, whose seat was at the Monastery of Mar Gurgis. We came upon a volume composed by him on the Order of Ordinations in the churches of Hisn Kifa, Man’ar and others. He was still living in 1714.  He most likely passed away shortly afterwards.

3) Gregorius Yaqub, metropolitan of Gargar (1692-1712).
Gregorius’s native city was Gargar or Jarjar. He became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Abhai, well known as the Monastery of Ladders, on the bank of the Euphrates river. Because of his excellent traits, Patriarch Jurjis ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Gargar around 1692 and called him Gregorius.  He was beloved by and dear to the patriarch, who confided in him for his virtue and zeal. He appointed him his deputy when he was absent from office traveling. In 1702, in the absence of the maphryono, the patriarch dispatched Gregorius to Mosul on some errand. At Mosul he ordained several deacons for the Tahira (Virgin Mary) Church. In 1704, Gregorius renovated the Church of Mar Behnam in the Jazira. In 1708, when the patriarch fell sick and passed away, Gregorius attended his funeral at the Za’faran Monastery. In the following year, he attended the synod which elected Patriarch Ishaq, and became the patriarch’s deputy when he journeyed to Mosul. We came upon some of his activities up to 1712, in which he passed away with commendable reward.

4) Gregorius Shim’un (Simon), metropolitan of Jerusalem (1693-1719).
Shim’un was born in the village of Salah in Tur ‘Abdin and became a monk at the Monastery of Malphono Mar Yaqub in the neighborhood of the Za’faran Monastery. Later, he joined the pupils of the Patriarchal Office. Upon the death of Gregorius Shim’un II, son of Abd al-Masih of Qusur, metropolitan of Jerusalem on April 6, 1692, Patriarch Jurjis ordained him a metropolitan at the Church of Mar Hananya in the Za’faran Monastery in 1693 and called him Gregorius Shim’un. He was the third man to be called by this name. Sometimes he visited the dioceses to collect alms in order to help his monastery pay the tribute. [This tribute was exacted either by the Ottoman government or by its walis (governors) in Mardin.Tr.] Among these was the diocese of Mosul, which he visited in 1697. At times, circumstances required him to stay in the Za’faran Monastery, the Patriarchal Seat, and administer the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem through its monks, as his deputies. In 1718, he was accompanied on his journey to Jerusalem by Dionysius Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Aleppo, who assisted him in disposing of the monasteries’ interests. He passed away in 1719, having served the episcopate for twenty-six years.

5) Severus Ibrahim, metropolitan of Edessa (1694-1698).
Severus Ibrahim was born in Edessa and became a priest-monk at a neighboring monastery. When the Episcopal Seat of Edessa became vacant with the death of Metropolitan Severus Habib of Edessa in 1694, Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a metropolitan for Edessa and called him Severus. He was mentioned in the roster of patriarchs appended to the Chronicle of Michael Rabo. [This roster was compiled by late Syrians which we found in the Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac letters) manuscripts of Sadad and the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem, from which we made our own copy.] He was also mentioned in some manuscripts of that time. Most likely the span of his service was  short, and he passed away in 1698.

6) Cyril Bishara, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Julian and Hama (1695-1721).
Cyril was the son of Bishara, son of al-‘Ashari, son of Hraim, son of Dabak  [ See our handwritten tractates and the Hama manuscripts, quire 42 , of an ancient notable family of Sadad which had many branches. Today it is known by the name of ‘Assaf, one of its ancestors.
Bishara was born in Sadad in the district of Homs, where he acquired church learning and was ordained a priest. Upon becoming a widower, he was enticed by ambition to capture the episcopate illegally. He was ordained a bishop by a trouble-making bishop called Behnam of Hbob, who resided at the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian. When Behnam was condemned and fled to Abyssinia, Bishara realized that he had made a mistake. He journeyed to see Patriarch Jirjis, offering his repentance.  After he fulfilled the rules of penance, the patriarch ordained him a lawful bishop for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Julian and Hama around 1695, and called him Cyril.
Bishara resided in Sadad, but in 1700 moved to the small monastery of Mar Mama the martyr, no longer existing. Around 1702, he resigned his position, and Bishop Zmaria was ordained in his place. Bishara was still living in 1715 or, as some say, in 1721. Shortly afterwards he passed away. Several priests came out of his family of Dabak.  [ Of these we may mention the priest Barsoum, nephew of Bishop Bishara (1711), the priest Ibrahim of Hama (1756), the Chorespicopus Abd Allah Fa’ur (11847), the priest Sulayman Iskandar of Hama (1868-1891), the monk-priest Jirjis and his cousin the monk Isaiah, a virtuous and zealous person who sometimes served as deputy of the patriarch at the Coptic  bishopric office of Alexandria, the Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sa’igh of Homs (1891), the priest Musa Jabir in Maskana (1911), the Chorespiscopus Harun (Aaron) who was ordained for Homs in 1922, and the priest Ni’mat Allah ‘Assaf of Sadad (1923.]

7) Cyril Yeshu’, metropolitan of Bedlis (1697-1729).
Cyril Yeshue’ was the son of the priest Ni’ma. He was born in Hisn Kifa and became a monk at a monastery in Tur Abdin. In 1697, Patriarch Jurjis ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Bedlis and called him Cyril. In the roster of bishops he is called Dionysius. However, the name of Cyril is more correct, as we found in a Book of Ordinations at our Library. Church chronicles make mention of him up to 1728. After serving thirty-two years as a bishop, he passed away and was buried in the city of Bedlis, where his tomb could still be seen around 1729. He was succeeded by Cyril Faraj Allah, metropolitan of Ma’dan.

1) Ishaq (Isaac) Saliba, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Abai. [This monastery, named for Abai, a Persian martyr, is near the village of Qellith, north of Mardin, Turkey.]
Metropolitan Saliba was mentioned in some copies as a native of Qellith, a big village in the district of Mardin. It is also said that he became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Matta. Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Mar Abai, the Persian martyr, around 1697 and called him Ishaq  .  He was the only metropolitan to be called by this pastoral name
The compiler of the roster of patriarchs and bishops mentioned that the governor of his country (Mardin) forced Ishaq to take part in installing Shim’un (Simon) of Ma’dan as an intruding patriarch around 1699. Immediately, however, he rushed to the lawful Patriarch (Jirjis), explaining his predicament and asking for pardon. The patriarch, who was known for indulgence, pardoned him. However, according to Maphryono Shim’un of Manim’im, the installation of the said Shim’un of Ma’dan as an intruding patriarch was done by his nephew (his sister’s son). He never mentioned Metropolitan Saliba.
Having administered his diocese in peace, Metropolitan Ishaq passed away in 1730 or shortly afterwards. He was the last metropolitan of the diocese of Mar Abai, whose remaining parts, including the town al-Sawar and the villages of Qellith, Bafawa, U’wayn, Kharuba and Ma’sarte, were added to the diocese of Mardin. Ruins of the the monasteries of this diocese can still be seen today, especially those of the Monastery of Mar Abai, its Metropolitan Seat.

9) Dionysius Yusuf, metropolitan of Ma’dan (1701-1746).
Yusuf was a monk from the town of Ma’dan. It happened that his uncle Shim’un, metropolitan of the diocese of Ma’dan, was displeased with some monks of the Za’faran Monastery who roamed through the dioceses collecting the patriarch’s tithes. He perceived that he could become independent of the Apostolic See. To achieve his aim, he sought the help of the governor of his region. Also, he installed his nephew Yusuf as metropolitan in his stead, although Yusuf was a new monk and had not yet reached the age required to be a metropolitan. Moreover, through the intervention of the governor, Shim’un installed himself as an unlawful patriarch, as was related by Maphryono Shim’un himself, which is most likely. According to another version, Ishaq Saliba, metropolitan of Mar Abai, took part in the installation of Shim’un as an unlawful patriarch. Later, however, Yusuf regretted his action and went to see Patriarch Jirjis, submitting his repentance and asking for a pardon. The patriarch pardoned him after having him observe the canons required for penance. When he observed the canons, the patriarch ordained him a lawful metropolitan and called him Dionysius. Meantime, Shim’un repented of his unlawful action and the whole matter was forgotten.
Metropolitan Yusuf administered his diocese until his death in 1746 or 1749, as has been conjectured.

10) Iyawannis, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta (1701-1713).
Iyawannis was originally Matta, the son of Maqdisi ‘Azar. He was born in Mosul and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Matta shortly before 1672. When his virtue and zeal became well known, Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a metropolitan for the Monastery of Mar Matta in 1701, and called him Iyawannis. His brother, Basilius Ishaq, Maphryono of the East, took part in his ordination. In the same year (1701), Iyawannis planted the garden of the monastery, known as Junayna .  He commemorated this event with an inscription which can still be seen on its wall. Sometimes, he administered the diocese of Mosul as a deputy of his brother up to 1712, when he became a maphryono, as shall be seen later.

11) Dionsysius Yuhanna (John), metropolitan of the Za’faran Monastery. (1702-1706).
Yuhanna was the son of Adam of Mardin. Before 1690 he became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery, where he also received the priesthood. Then he became metropolitan of the same monastery. He assumed the name Dionysius about 1702. We have traced his chronicle up to 1706. [   We said in our book Nuzhat al-Adhhan fi Tarikh Day al-Za’faran, 80, that Dionysius became metropolitan of the Za’faran Monastery from 1686 to 1702. More correct is what was said above.]

12) Yuhanna (John), bishop of the Natif (Qatra) Monastery (1704-1714).
Yuhanna’s native city was Mardin. He was mentioned in the roster of patriarchs and bishops. I found his name in the annals of the years from 1704 to 1714, during which he resided at the Monastery of the Sayyida of Natif [The Monastery of Qatra, meaning dripping water, named after the Virgin Mary, overlooking the Za’faran Monastery. Tr.]

13) Basilius Abd al-Ahad, bishop of Zarjal. (1705).
His name was mentioned in the roster of patriarchs and bishops. Most likely he was ordained a bishop for Zarjal, also known as Bushairiyya, in the province of Diyarbakr, whose Episcopate Seat was the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos.  We read an Order of Ordinations compiled by him at the Church of Mar Mama in the village of Halhal in 1705. It appears that the term of his episcopate was short, as is shown by the ordination of his successor Ibrahim.

14) Gregorius Abd al-Azali, bishop of Damascus (1706-1730).
Gregorius Abd al-Azali was born in Damascus. He was ordained a deacon by Butrus (Peter), metropolitan of Jerusalem, in 1625. He studied under Gregorius Yuhanna, son of Ghurair, bishop of Damascus, who also ordained him a priest for the Church of Mar Behnam before 1686. In 1702, he journeyed to Egypt.  After his wife died, Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a bishop for the diocese of Damascus at the Church of the Virgin in Aleppo in May, 1706, and called him Gregorius. He passed away in 1720, having served his diocese for twenty-four years. He, may God have mercy on him, was a venerable old man.

15) Basilius Ibrahim, bishop of Bushairiyya (1706-1742).
Basilius Ibrahim was born in Midyat, Tur ‘Abdin, and became a monk at a monastery of Tur ‘Abdin before 1700. He was ordained a bishop of Bushairiyya about 1706 and was named Basilius. In 1707, he resigned his position. In 1710, he took care of the planning and building of the Church of St. Shmuni the Maccabean in the village of ‘Ayn Ward. [Berlin MSS] For twenty-eight years, from 1714 to 1742, he resided at the monastery of the Patriarchal Seat (Za’faran Monastery), where he also passed away. He attended the synod which elected Patriarch Shukr Allah to the Patriarchal dignity. He is mentioned in the roster of bishops appended to the Chronicle of Patriarch Michael Rabo.

16) Athanasius Aslan, metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office and then of Amid (1707-1741).
Athanasius Aslan was the son of Abd al-Nur of Amid. His mother was Nazarkhan. He was born in Amid (Diyarbakr) in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and was called Aslan, a variation of the Turkish term Arslan, meaning lion, as he has personally related. Among his family were his two brothers, the priests Tuma (1728-1745) and Yusuf (1747), who served at the church of Amid.
Aslan became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery and was ordained a deacon shortly before 1697, and then a priest before 1705. Under Maphryono Shim’un of Manim’im of Tur ‘Abdin, he studied the rules of monasticism and Syriac literature, of which he learned a great deal. For his virtue and knowledge, Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a bishop for the Patriarchal Office at the Church of the Malphono Mar Yaqub, overlooking the Za’faran Monastery, on April 16, 1707, and called him Athanasius.  The compiler of the roster of patriarchs and bishops (appended to the Chronicle of Patriarch Michael Rabo) is incorrect saying that Athanasius was ordained a bishop for Aleppo.
Athanasius attended the synod which elected Patriarch Ignatius Ishaq. When in 1714 the Episcopal See of Amid became vacant, Patriarch Jirjis ordained Aslan a metropolitan for Amid, to succeed its Metropolitan Timothy Shukr Allah. Athanasius administered his diocese ably for twenty-seven years. He taught and counseled the parishioners until God transferred him to his eternal abode on Tuesday, December 29, 1741. Athanasius also attended the synod convened at the Za’faran Monastery to elect Patriarch Shukr Allah in 1722.
Athanasius, may God rest his soul in peace, was well versed in the Syriac language which he transcribed in an elegant hand. Among his transcriptions is the Book of Summer Husoyos (supplicatory prayers) at the Church of the Za’faran Monastery, portions of which he translated into mediocre Arabic. He also translated into mediocre Arabic the Husoyos of the Week of the White; a Commentary on the Mysteries by Moses Bar Kifa; the Book of Theology, by his teacher Maphryono Shim’un, which he completed in the middle of June, 1720;  and the Chariot of Mysteries, by the same Maphryono Shim’un, completed in 1727. Moreover, he composed homilies in a pleasant Arabic, despite its simple style.  His life was characterized by virtue and piety. From an ode composed by some of his contemporaries, it can be derived that miracles of healing the sick were depicted on his grave.

17) Julius Zmaria, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Julian (1707-1730).
Zmaria was born in Amid and became a priest of its church before 1684. When widowed, he became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery before 1699. Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a bishop for the Monastery of Mar Julian, and simultaneously ordained  Athanasius  Aslan a metropolitan, at the Church of the Monastery of Mar Yaqub on April 16, 1702. He gave Zmaria the name Julius at his ordination, and not Cyril, as indicated by the roster of bishops His name (Julius) was mentioned in The Order of Ordinations.  It seems that the providence forsook him, and he was defrocked for a few years. Later he was directed by Bishop Sarukhan to the right path, as is mentioned in the roster of bishops. In general, we have no information about the details of his life. Most likely, however, he died between 1720 and 1726.

18) Basilius Gurgis, metropolitan of Bushairiyya (1707-1748).
Gurgis (Jirjis) was the son of Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Nur, and his mother was Naslikhan. He was born in Aleppo. In some manuscripts which he transcribed, he said that Patriarch Jirjis clothed him with the monastic habit (as a novice) at the Za’faran Monastery in 1701. He studied under Basilius Ishaq, Maphryono of the East, who ordained him a deacon. He was ordained a priest by Gregorius Shim’un of Salah, metropolitan of Jerusalem, and joined the students of the Patriarchal Office..
On May 25, 1707, Patriarch Jijis ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese Bushairiyya at the Za’faran Monastery and called him Basilius at his ordination. In 1722, Basilius attended the synod which elected Patriarch Shukr Allah to the Patriarchal dignity. In this same year he renovated the Monastery of St. Mark with the assistance of the new patriarch and ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Jerusalem, and Metropolitan Jirjis of Edessa. After administering his diocese for thirty-one years, he  passed away and was buried in his own monastery. He, may God have mercy on him, had magnificent Syriac handwriting. He left at the Za’faran Monastery a Book of Liturgies which he completed in 1727.

19) Severus Iliyya (Elijah), metropolitan of Edessa (1707-1718).
Iliyya was born in Amid and became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery. He studied under Patriarch Jirjis, who trained him in the virtuous life. On May 25, 1707, the patriarch ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Edessa and called him Severus at his ordination. At that time the church of Edessa suffered from disorder because of the parishioners’ negligence and their bad treatment of the clergy. During his administration Severus restored order to the diocese. In 1716, he visited Jerusalem and ordained priests and deacons for the churches of Syria and Jerusalem with the approval of church officers. He passed away in 1718.  We have an illustrated and embellished ancient manuscript in Severus’s name, dated 1713. It was donated to us by the congregation of Edessa in 1914.

20) Dioscorus, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Musa.
Dioscorus was the last bishop who we think was ordained by Patriarch Jurjis. When the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian became vacant for a few years because Metropolitan Behnam of Hbob had fled, as has been said earlier, Patriarch Jirjis ordained him a bishop for the diocese around 1708, and called him Dioscorus  We are inclined to believe that he was born and raised in Sadad. Probably he, like some of his fellow priests, was a widower He is mentioned in the chronicles of that time up to 1721. We think that he passed away before 1720, when his successor ‘Abd al-Nur of Aleppo was ordained a metropolitan.

Patriarch Ignatius Ishaq

Ignatius Ishaq was consecrated a patriarch on February 8, 1709, and passed away on July 18, 1724, having served fourteen years, five months and twelve days. He was 77 years old.
Patriarch Ishaq was the son of Maqdisi ‘Azar.  His mother was Maryam. His family produced several priests and church officers, including his brother Basilius II Matta, Maphryono of the East (1713-1727), and the priest Yaqub (1728); his nephew Basilius Li’azar (Lazarus) IV, Maphryono of the East (1731-1759); his uncle and predecessor, Patriarch Ignatius Jijis II (1687-1708), already discussed; and his brother the priest Rizq Allah and others.
Patriarch Ishaq was born in Mosul in 1647. When he grew up, he became devoted to the pious life. He entered the monastery of Mar Matta, where he was ordained a priest by his tutor Basilius Yalda of Khudaida, Maphryono of the East, in 1669. He continued to grow in piety. He exerted a great effort in renovating the Monastery of Mar Matta in 1673. Two years later he became the monastery’s superior and did well by ministering to its monks. At the beginning of 1684, he was ordained a metropolitan for the Monastery of Mar Matta by Patriarch Ignatius Abd al-Masih I, at the Za’faran Monastery and was called Severus at his ordination. He was then elevated to the dignity of the Maphrianate of the East, and was called Basilius Ishaq, at the Great Church of Mardin. He was confirmed in his new office by the synod which met at the beginning of April, 1687. His uncle, Patriarch Jirjis II, entrusted him with the administration of the entire Holy Church (the Syrian Church). He ordained several bishops and a great number of presbyters, deacons and monks. While he was in Aleppo, Patriarch Jirjis II passed away. The fathers of the Syrian Church met, presided over by Maphryono Basilius Li’azar of Tur ‘Abdin, and unanimously chose Ishaq as a patriarch. When he learned that he had been chosen as patriarch and was granted the certificate of investiture by the Ottoman sultan, Ishaq went to Diyarbakr, where he was proclaimed a patriarch of the See of Antioch and was called Ignaius Ishaq on the festival day of St. Severus of Antioch on February 8, 1709.  He ministered to the holy church for fourteen years, five months and twelve days.
On July 20, 1723, a synod met and, with his approval, chose his disciple Dionysius Shukr Allah Sani’a as his successor. Patriarch Ishaq went to Mosul, his native city, where he passed away on Saturday July 18, 1724, and was buried in the father’s mausoleum at the Church of the Apostle Mar Tuma (St. Thomas).  He was seventy-seven years old, having spent fifty-five years in the service of God and his church..
Patriarch Ishaq was of good conduct and burning zeal for the House of God. He was of noble character and adventurous in performing outstanding deeds, as mentioned in the annals of the church. He was the right arm of his uncle and predecessor, Patriarch (Jirjis II), especially for his excellent traits and sacrifice for the cause of the Syrian Church. However, old age and sickness overwhelmed him, and moreover the hardships of traveling to the capital (Constantinople) and other places forced him to abdicate his position. He, may God have mercy on him, was well versed in the Syriac language, in which he wrote  a Compendium of Morphology.  Copies of this work have survived. Also, he consecrated the Holy Chrism at the Za’faran Monastery in 1709 and again for a second time.
During his time as maphryono and patriarch, Patriarch Ishaq ordained seventeen bishops, including three maphryonos.

First: Those whom he ordained as a Maphryono.

1) Dioscorus Shukr Allah, metropolitan of the Jazira (1687-1697).
Shukr Allah was son of the Chorepiscopus Matlub Jazri (1668-1697), whose native city was Jazirat ibn ‘Umar. He became a monk at a monastery where he studied church sciences, and had good Syriac handwriting. The book of the Order of Ordinations, known as Homologia [ Homologia  is a Greek term meaning Confession of Faith or Defens of Faith. It is usually proclaimed by the cleric at his ordination. Below, the author refers to it as Order of Ordination   For Homologia, see A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, ed, J. Payne Smith (Oxford at the Clarendon Ptress, 1903, 19 and the biography of Timothy ‘Ata Allah, bishop of Edessa. Tr.], says that Basilius Ishaq, Maphryono of the East, ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of the Jazira and called him Dionysius Shukr Allah at his ordination in 1687. He managed his diocese for almost four years and then resigned his position. He was succeeded by Bishop Dioscorus Saliba. Shukr Allah reportedly passed away in 1695 or (more likely) in 1697.

2) Timothy Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Amid (1690-1715).
Timothy Shukr Allah was a son of Yusuf, widely known as the Amidian because he was born in the village of al-Qadi in the province of Amid (Diyarbakr). He pursued holy monastic life and became renowned for his piety.  He was chosen to administer the great diocese of Diyarbakr, and was ordained its metropolitan by Patriarch Ishaq, who called him Timothy Shukr Allah, in 1690. In 1693, he visited the Monastery of the Sayyida (Virgin Mary) in Hattach. After serving his congregation for twenty-four years, he resigned his position in 1714 and was succeeded by Metropolitan Athanasius Aslan. He passed away in the next year. We found in some books he copied that he had bequeathed to the church of Amid a cross set with gems.

3) Severus Malke, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta (1694-1699).
Severus Malke was born in Mardin. His father, Yeshu’ Fanna, was a notable of that city. His family produced several priests, including Iliyya Fanna (1689), his brother the priest-monk Iliyya Fanna (1711), ‘Abd al-Ahad Fanna, abbot of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem (1718-1726), Yuhanna (1720), and ‘Abd al-Masih (1796).
Severus Malke desired the monastic life and thus dedicated himself to God. He  was ordained a priest before 1686. As he gained experience and a good name, Maphryono Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Matta and called him Severus at his ordination in 1694. In the next year he visited the town of Duhuk, which until then had been densely populated by Syrians, and ordained priests for its Church of the Sayyida (the Virgin Mary).  After serving his diocese for five years, he passed away around 1699.

4) Athanasius Murad, metropolitan of the Jazira (1695-1716).
Athanasius was Murad, son of ‘Abd al-Masih, whose mother was Alaria. In his family flourished his brother Gregorius Shim’un, the metropolitan of Jerusalem (1679-1692).  Athanasius was born in the village of Qusur, in the province of Mardin, and became a monk at the Monastery of the Lady of Natif. He studied under the Chorepsicopus Matlub Jazri and his son Dioscorus Shukr Allah, metropolitan of the Jazira, and gained a substantial knowledge of church science, for which he was called Malphono (Doctor). In 1695, Mapahryono Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan, calling him Athanasius at his ordination. In 1698, he was appointed as the successor of Dioscorus Saliba in the diocese of the Jazira and assumed the name of Dioscorus. He served the diocese for eighteen years and most likely passed away in 1716.

5) Timothy ‘Ata Allah, bishop of Edessa (1699-1707).
‘Ata Allah was born in Edessa where he was ordained a priest. When he became a widower, Maphryono Ishaq ordained him a bishop for the diocese of Edessa under the name ‘Ata Allah Timothy at the beginning of 1699, as was mentioned in the Homologia. We found his name in a manuscript at the Library of Boston, U.S.A. [These Boston MSS are now at the Harvard University Library. Tr.]  Beyond this, we have no information about him. We assume that he lived until 1707.

6) Dionysius Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Aleppo (1709-1723).
Shukr Allah was son of Maqdisi Yuhanna, son of Ni’ma Sani’a. Among his family flourished his two nephews, Cyril Gurgis, metropolitan of Amid and Mardin (1720-1749), Gregorius Barsoum, metropolitan of Jerusalem (1720-1727), and their nephew (the son of their brother) the priest Iliyya Yuhanna Sani’a (1767).
Shukr Allah was born in Mardin about 1674. As a youth, he became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery, where he also acquired a knowledge of church sciences and trained in piety. He studied under Maphryono Ishaq, who ordained him a priest, and accompanied the maphryono on his journey  to the capital. He was very active, combining the vigor of youth with the determination of mellow age.  For his excellence, the maphryono, who had obtained his investiture (from the Ottoman sultan), ordained him a metropolitan for the Aleppo diocese and called him Dionysius Shukr Allah, at the Church of the Sayyida (the Virgin Mary) of Aleppo on January, 1709. He showed a great concern for the administration of his diocese, not to mention the assistance he offered to Gregorius Shim’un, metropolitan of Jerusalem, to regulate the affairs of the Monastery of St. Mark. For this reason, he accompanied the metropolitan to the Holy City (Jerusalem) along with some of his students, namely,  the monk Wanes of Gargar and the monks Yuhanna, ‘Abd al-Nur of Amid and Ni’mat Allah on December 13, 1717. At Jerusalem the Latin (Roman Catholic) monks asked him to explain to them the belief (of the Syrian Church) in the Lord Christ. He wrote a beneficial treatise emphasizing the natural and personal union (of the two natures of Christ), a copy of which is in our possession.
As he endeavored to defend the Orthodox faith [ Of the Syrian Church.Tr.], the opponents of the faith [ The Latin Friars. Tr.] plotted to have him banished in July, 1720, by order of the (Ottoman) governor Rajab Pasha to the island of Arwad, near the city of Tarsus, where he remained for four months. He was accompanied to Arwad by the monks Yuhanna, ‘Abd al-Nur of Amid, and Musa ibn Kuhayl of Sadad. For a second time, the same opponents provoked persecution against him and plotted to have him hanged. But the Lord, who does not neglect those who fear him, saved him from adversity. This event was related by the compiler of the roster of bishops appended to the Chronicle  of Patriarch Michael Rabo, already mentioned.
Upon the abdication of Patriarch Ishaq, Dionysius Shukr Allah was chosen a patriarch in his stead on July 20, 1723. The rest of his biography will follow shortly.

7) Basilius Li’azar III, Maphryono of the East (1709-1713).
He was Iyawannis Li’azar of Mansuriyya, ordained by Patriarch ‘Abd al-Masih I as bishop for the village of Manuriyya in 1684. That same year he witnessed the consecration of the Holy Chrism at the Church of the Forty (Martyrs) in Mardin, attended by other bishops. In 1709, Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a Maphryono of the East and called him Basilius Li’azar at his ordination. He was the third maphryono to bear this name. After serving his Maphrianate See for four years, he passed away in the middle of 1713.

8) Basilius Shim’un II, Maphryono of Tur ‘Abdin (1710-1740).
Maphryono Shim’un is well known as the Toroyo (the man from Tur ‘Abdin). He was the most famous of the later fathers (of the Church) for his sanctity, devotion, and knowledge. He was born in the village of Banim’im (Manim’im) in Tur ‘Abdin about 1670. His father was Malke, son of Ayyub (Job) of Banim’im, and his mother was Sida.  He was pious since childhood. Upon growing to manhood, he renounced the world and entered a monastery in Tur ‘Abdin with a native friend named Gabriel, son of the priest Emmanuel. Shim’un carried the yoke of the Lord Jesus and devoted himself to spiritual worship. In 1690, he and his friend Gabriel assumed the monastic habit. Shim’un studied Syriac literature and some sciences under notable men of his time.
In 1695, he visited the Monastery of Mar Matta in the Mountain of al-Faf, whose superior then was Metropolitan Severus Malke.  He returned to his monastery and was ordained a priest. For a time, he lived as a solitary in the Monastery of Malphono Yaqub (Jacob), which overlooks the Za’faran Monastery. He spent time in religious struggle, vigils, fasting, prayer, and the study of Scriptures, their commentaries, and hermeneutics in depth. Also, he studied the entire field of religious sciences, from which he benefited immensely. He gained a great reputation as a virtuous man and was considered the best ascetic and learned man of his age. Indeed, no two will differ over his excellence. For his characteristics, Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a Maphryono for Tur ‘Abdin and the Jazira in 1710 at the Church of the Apostle St. Thomas, in the village of Qutrubul in the province of Amid. But no sooner had he assumed his new position than he faced hardships which disturbed his ascetic way of life. He  was forced to leave his diocese in the next year (1711) and return to his solitary life at the Monastery of Mar Yaqub as he himself has said. He spent sixteen years in devotion and keeping night vigils, prayer, and reading and writing. He presided over the synod convened at the Za’faran Monastery to elect and install Shukr Allah as patriarch on July 20, 1723. In 1727, Shim’un returned to his diocese and resided most of the time at the Monastery of Qartmin (Mar Gabriel), the Monastery of Aho, and the Monastery of Mar Barsoum of Kafar Tut in the village of Manim’im.
The heart of this father was filled with the fear of God, not to mention his remarkable knowledge of church sciences. He became well known for his apostolic zeal, for which he endured hardships as he traveled the countries, preaching, guiding, and disposing of the affairs of people.  Once, as he was preaching the true faith in Aleppo, he heard that some Latin (Roman Catholic) missionaries were deceiving the Syrian congregation with their teaching.  He was urged to write the book entitled Silah al-Din was Turs al-Yaqin (The Armor of Religion and the Shield of the Certainty of Conviction) to explain the veracity of the faith of the Syrian Church regarding the Incarnation, and to refute the new heresies. A historical tract mentions that he reconciled the unlawful patriarchate of Tur ‘Abdin with the Apostolic See following the death of Patriarch Denha in 1725, after the patriarchate of Tur ‘Abdin  had been vacant for fifteen years.
Maphryono Shim’un continued to strive for the truth until his life ended in martyrdom similar to that of John the Baptist. It happened in this manner. A Syrian man, a servant of ‘Abdal Agha (a Kurdish ruler), fell in love with and sought to marry a young woman who was his immediate relative. Since such marriage was forbidden by the laws of the holy church [ Because of the consanguineous relation of the man and the woman. Tr. ], the wicked man appealed to the wife of his lord ‘Abdal Agha for help. ‘Abdal Agha’s wife pressured her husband to intercede with the Maphryono (Shim’un) to sanction the marriage. The Maphryono rejected ‘Abdal Agha’s intercession on the ground that a marriage of this kind was a violation of church laws. ‘Abdal became furious and delivered the maphryono to Muhammad Beg Bakhti, governor of the Jazira, to have him killed. When the maphryono stood in the presence of the governor, the governor ordered an attendant to give him a cup of poison to drink.  The maphryono  held the cup in his hand and blessed it with the sign of the Holy Cross. He asked the governor three times which side of the cup he wanted him to drink from. Then he drank the poison, trusting in the armor of faith, and was not harmed by the poison. It was our blessed Lord who said, “If they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.” (Mark, 16: 18) [According to the Syriac translation, deadly poison is very effective. The Maronite Bishop Yusuf al -Dibs said in his commentary on this Gospel, “They drink deadly poison and it will not hurt them.” The Arabic translation of the cited Gospel from the Greek says, “If they drink something harmful it will not hurt them.”  Commenting on this verse, the learned Yaqub (Jacob) Bar Salibi says, “Some say that one of the seventy-two missionaries sent out by Jesus was given poison by mistake to drink. He drank it but was not hurt.” Bar Salibi goes on to say, “Some put poison in the Chalice which contained the Blood of Salvation, to be drunk by a saint. When the saint took the Chalice he was not hurt. Many saints drank poison and were not hurt.”]  When the governor saw that the maphryono had not been harmed by the poison, he was greatly astonished. He called his attendant and asked him whether he gave the maphryono real poison, and he said he did. The governor asked him to pour water in the poisoned cup and drink it. When the attendant drank the cup the poison penetrated his body, and instantly he was dead.
The governor summoned the maphryono a second time to his presence. This time he asked him to sing and dance as an act of humiliation. The maphryono excused himself but began to chant in the Kurdish language his famous compassionate ode, known as Lavij, relating the Day of Judgment, the  trial of the wicked, and their torment. When he finished, the governor and his attendants were amazed at his courage and righteousness. The governor, Muhammad Beg, did not harm him, but instead offered him gifts and sent him back home with honor.
When the maphryono returned to his monastery at the village of Banim’im, ‘Abdal Agha  learned what had happened in his meeting with the governor. He became angry but controlled himself. He asked the maphryono to permit his servant to marry his blood relative, threatening that if he refused, he would cast him into prison in chains and torture him. This happened in mid-Lent, 1740. On the Saturday of the Annunciation, known as the Great Saturday of Light, ‘Abdal Agha summoned the maphryono and ordered that he be killed. Other say that the maphryono was cast down from the roof of the monastery and died on April 5. ‘Abdal Agha then asked Metropolitan Rizq Allah of Mosul, the maphryono’s disciple, to perform the unlawful marriage. He threatened to kill him if he disobeyed. Fired up with zeal, the metropolitan began to rebuke the tyrant (‘Abdal Agha) for his iniquity, sins, and hatred of Christianity. He said to the Agha, “Do you think that I will cherish life after what has happened to my master, the martyr of truth?” The wicked ‘Abdal Agha became outraged and ordered his slaves to torture the metropolitan. The slaves cut off his head by the sword. Many say that Almighty God honored his two faithful servants by a miracle. It is said that their venerable bodies were enveloped by heavenly light which astonished those who were present.  Even the Muslim Kurds regretted what they did, but it was too late.  Consequently, the Christians of Banim’im dispersed, for fear of the tyranny of the wicked ‘Abdal. Meanwhile, the people of Basibrina and Arbo wanted to gain possession of the bodies of the two martyrs. A tense controversy arose because of this matter until the clergy advised them to cast lots on the bodies. As a result, the people of Basibrina won the body of the maphryono and buried it in the Great Church of Mar Dodo. His grave is honored to this day. The people of Arbo took possession of the body of Metropolitan Rizq Allah and buried it in their Church of Mar Dumit. Both martyred clergymen were eulogized in Syriac and Arabic odes.
Maphryono Shim’un was undoubtedly the leading personality of his time in piety, virtue and knowledge. He was well versed in spiritual sciences and proficient in the Syriac and Kurdish languages. His Arabic, however, was unpolished. For his superb knowledge, some of his contemporaries represented him with comely attributes. The maphryono wrote several books of average quality. They are as follows:

1) The Book of Theology, which he wrote in Syriac in 1719. We found a copy of it, written in his elegant handwriting, at the Monastery of Mar Awgen. It was translated into Arabic by Metropolitan Aslan in the middle of June, 1720.

2) Silah al-Din wa Turs al-Yaqin (The Armor of Religion and the Shield of the Certainty of Conviction), written in Syriac in response to the suggestion of some Syrians. It was translated into Arabic in 1723.

3) Markabat al-Asrar al-Aqliyya (The Chariot of Spiritual Mysteries), written in Syriac and translated into Arabic by his disciple, Metropolitan Aslan, in 1727. Despite the valuable information they contain, however, these books are not free from tenuous and unacceptable ideas.

4) A Syriac-Arabic Dictionary, compiled in 1728. It is a compendium of comprehensive dictionaries.

5) A book he wrote in eloquent Syriac, containing commentaries on the parable of the lost coin, the wings of the Seraphs, the Lord’s Prayer, and other Gospel parables. It also contained a refutation of the purgatory and the explanation of eschatology. It consists of 200 pages. We came upon two copies of it at the villages of Kafra and Kafarboran in Tur ‘Abdin.

6) A Book of Homilies for the Whole Year, consisting of 600 pages. It contains thirty-six homilies, extending from the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church to the Sunday of Resurrection. Despite their average quality, these homilies are spiritually effective

7) A Syriac Anthology, of average quality. It contains a variety of important topics, most of which are on Repentance, composed in different meters. Some of them are short, and others are arranged in magnificent stanzas. The best-known of his odes is a lengthy one in which he laments the condition of the [Syrian] church due to its weak faith and the corrupt conduct of its members. It begins thus: “O Lord, who through his Son created the world from nothing…”  Added to this are other odes (Zajaliyyas) characterized by strophic form in praise of the Virgin Mary.
Maphryono Shim’un, may God honor him, had an elegant Syriac script. Among his transcribed works is a Syriac copy of the Old Testament, a thick and magnificent volume, which he finished in 1718, and which is preserved at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery as No. 1; a Syriac Gospel in fine script, which he finished in 1719; The Book of Theology (already mentioned); a breviary containing the seven times of prayer for monks, a copy of which is at the Monastery of Yuhanna of Tayy; and a liturgy and other compositions.. Most of his writings are either in the possession of individuals or deposited at the Libraries of the Monasteries of St. Mark and Za’faran and other monasteries.
This venerable ascetic had many pupils who learned from him the spiritual way of life. Most famous of them were Athanasius Aslan, metropolitan of Amid (1707-1741); Basilius Denha Baltaji of ‘Arnas, who succeeded him as Maphryono of Tur ‘Abdin (1740-1780); and Metropolitan Rizq Allah of Mosul. This metropolitan, according to his own account, was born in the Qal’a district of the city of Mosul. His original name was ‘Abd al-Razzaq, son of Matta the Carpenter. He was ordained a deacon in 1718 and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Matta in 1727. Then he moved to the Monastery of Qartmin (Mar Gabriel), where he had resided at the beginning of his career. Later he moved to the Monastery of Mar Shim’un in the village of Arbo. In 1738, Maphryono Shim’un ordained him a metropolitan. He remained in the company of the maphryono until both of them were martyred in 1740, as was said earlier. We found in his handwriting several books at the Monastery of Mar Sharbil and other monasteries of Tur ‘Abdin.
Maphryono Shim’un lived for seventy years, thirty of which were spent in the priesthood.  He won the felicity of devotional life and the honor of martyrdom. May God sanctify his memory and benefit us by his supplications.

1) Yuhanna of Mardin, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Abhai (1712-1729).[Also called the Monastery of Ladders, it is on the right bank of the Euphrates, a half-hour journey from the village of Urbish, near Karkar, an ancient citadel and town near Melitene (the present Malatya, Turkey). Tr.]
Yuhanna was born in Mardin. He became a monk and a priest. In 1712, Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Mar Abhai, Gargar, and Hisn Mansur. Most likely he resigned his position in 1714. One proof of his resignation is the fact that Metropolitan Ayyub (Job), who was ordained to succeed him, mentioned his name in his Homologia. Yuhanna was still living in 1729. However, his life’s chronicle and the date of his death are unknown. He composed an ode in praise of Mar Theodore the martyr.

10) Basilius Matta II, Maphryono of the East (1713-1727).
Basilius Matta was Iyawannis Matta, son of Li’azar, a brother of Patriarch Ishaq. His biography has already been listed among the bishops ordained by Patriarch Jirjis II. When the See of the Maphrianate became vacant with the death of Maphryono Li’azar III, his brother, Patriarch Ishaq, elevated him to this dignity (of Maphryono) at the Za’faran Monastery before September, 1713, and called him Basilius Matta at his ordination. He was the second maphryono to bear this name. He administered his see for fourteen years and passed away in September, 1727. He was buried in the tomb of his brother the patriarch at the Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas) in Mosul. Basilius Matta was a venerable and pious father of the church.

11) Gregorius Ayyub (Job), metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Abhai (1714-1740).
Gregorius Ayyub was the son of Baghdasar. He was born in Amid, or in Hisn Mansur, as some say. He became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery, devoted himself to ascetic life and devotion, and was ordained a priest. After he became known for his piety, Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Abhai and called him Gregorius in December, 1714. He served his diocese for twenty-six years and then departed for eternal rest in 1740. He was buried in the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul in Hisn Mansur. In 1905, the church was renovated and the tomb of Gregorius Ayyub was set outside the nave. His congregation still discusses his piety and dignity. [The monk ‘Abd al-Ahad of Ma’sarte, may God rest his soul in peace, sacrificed his life for the renovation of this church. It happened that when he went through the diocese of Swayrik collecting money for the renovation of the church, he was forced to stay one night at a Muslim Kurdish village. When he finished supper and retired to bed, his wicked host, with like-minded companions, attacked and killed him and his attendant and looted their belongings.]

12) Timothy ‘Isa, metropolitan of the Za’faran Monastery and Mardin (1718-1743).
Timothy ’Isa was the son of Ishaq, and his mother was Maryam. He had two brothers, Yaqub and Musa, and a sister, Alaria. He was born in Mosul and studied the Syriac language and religious sciences under the priest Matta and gained knowledge of both. At the end of the biographies of Patriarchs Jirjis II and Ishaq, it is said that he was born around 1689. As he grew up, he expressed the desire to personally meet Patriarch Jirjis, with the intention of studying under him and receiving the order of priesthood. But he could not fulfill this desire because the patriarch did not come to Mosul, and Timothy could not travel to see him. After the death of Patriach Jirjis in 1708, his successor Patriarch Ishaq came to Mosul in 1709, and Timothy went to meet him. The patriarch understood Timothy’s good intentions and ordained him a deacon and then a priest. Timothy remained in the patriarch’s company. In 1708, the patriarch ordained him a metropolitan for the Za’faran Monastery and called him Timothy at his ordination, despite his objection. Timothy said, “I remained in the company of the patriarch at the Z’afaran Monastery, the Patriarchal Seat, until his death.” [Actually, he remained in the company of Patriarch Ishaq until he resigned because of old age, or he may have accompanied him to Mosul, where the patriarch died in the next year.]
In 1723, Timothy attended the synod convened at the Za’faran Monastery to choose and install Shukr Allah as patriarch. In 1725, he endeavored to buy the patriarchal residence at the church of the Arba’in (Forty Martyrs) in Mardin and reassign it as an endowment to the church, after it had been sold because of carelessness. In 1729, he exerted a great effort to build the Church of St. Theodore the martyr, the cost of whose  building amounted to eight purses. [A purse contained five hundred piasters. So the eight purses today would be worth between four hundred and five hundred gold liras.] Patriarch Shukr Allah, assisted by Timothy, consecrated this church. Also, Timothy became a superior of the Monastery of Mar Matta, near Mosul, for two years (1737-1739), and then returned to his own diocese.  In 1743, he passed away at the city of Aleppo and was buried in the Church of the Sayyida (Virgin Mary). He lived fifty-four years, twenty-five of which were spent in the service of the priesthood.
Timothy surpassed the fathers of his age with zeal, virtue and ascetic living. He was well versed in the Syriac language. He translated into mediocre Arabic eight husoyos (supplicatory prayers), as is mentioned in a prayer book at the Church of Mar Jirjis in Zahla, Lebanon, in the handwriting of  a copyist named Musa who completed it in 1723. He also composed an ode in praise of the Virgin Mary, to whom the people of Mosul ascribed victory over the tyrant Tahmasb Khan Nadir Shah. It begins thus: “The Virgin Mary defeated the Persians.” In 1730, he wrote in colloquial Arabic the biographies of Patrarichs Jirjis II and Ishaq, in response to the request of some acquaintances. This was reported by Patriarch Ishaq himself, his teachers, and his elders at the time. He compiled a commentary on the Gospel known as “Cinnabar” [The MS is in Manchester, England. Cinnabar is a Greek term for zinjafr, a sparkling crumbly metal, so called because of the red ink which it contains.] , written by the learned Yaqub (Jacob) bar Salibi, metropolitan of Amid. In addition to commenting on it, he abridged some of its expositions by Basilius Barsoum II of Ma’dan, Maphryono of the East (1454). Timothy copied this book in his elegant handwriting, assisted by one Yeshu’ of Qusur, in 1713.

13) Severus Elias, metropolitan of Edessa (1718-1738).
Severus was a native of Mardin. His father was Yuanna, of the Akhras family, from which came his brother, Metropolitan Severus ‘Abd al-Ahad, who succeeded him in the See of Edessa (1757); Cyrial Elias, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Abhai (1782-1791); and Cyril Shim’un, metropolitan of Edessa (1806-1817). He become a monk at rhe Za’faran Monastery and was ordained a priest.  He joined the office of Patriarch Ishaq, who ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Edessa and called him Severus at his ordination. He succeeded Metropolitan Severus Iliyya of Amid in 1718. Severus Elias was present at the election of Patriarch Shukr Allah in 1738. After serving his diocese for twenty years, he passed away in 1738 and was buried in the Great Church in Edessa.

14) Dioscorus Aho, metropolitan of the Jazira (1718-?).
Dioscorus Aho became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery and was ordained a priest in 1711. Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for Jazirat ibn ‘Umar and called him Dioscorus at his ordination in 1718. We have no knowledge of how many years he served or the date of his death.

15) Gregorius ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Jerusalem (1719-1731).
Gregorius ‘Abd al-Ahad was the son of the priest ‘Abd Allah of Amid. He was born in Diyarbakr and became a monk at the Monastery of the Sayyida (Virgin Mary) in Hattakh, where he was also ordained a priest.  In 1705, he became a superior of the Za’faran Monastery. After serving for fourteen years as a superior, he gained renown for his good conduct and administrative ability. Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for Jerusalem in 1719, to succeed Gregorius Shim’un, and called him Gregorius at his ordination. He was renowned for his pastoral zeal and especially for the renovation of the Monastery of St. Mark, his Metropolitan Seat. In 1726, he deputized the monk Yuhanna of Aleppo as superior of St. Mark. After serving his diocese for twelve years, he departed this life on February 13, 1731, and was buried in the Church of the Forty (Martyrs) in Mardin. The date of his death is inscribed on his tomb. He was among the metropolitans who attended the election of Shukr Allah as a patriarch

16) Iyawannis Karas, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Benam (1722-1747).
Karas was one of the most distinguished men of his time for sanctity and godliness. He was born in the village of Beth Khudaida (modern Qaraqosh) in the province of Mosul. His father was Behnam or Marbena, son of Yaghmur, and his mother was Zina. He had two brothers — the priest Yeshu’ and Saliba — and four sisters, Helena, Sida, Sultana and Qusno. One of his relatives was Quryaqos of Khudayda, who resided in Mosul and was a relative of Dionysius Behnam Samarji, metropolitan of Mosul (1867-1911).
Karas was born around 1620. As a young man he studied the Syriac language and church sciences under the priest Yalda. In 1689, he entered the Monastery of Mar Behnam near his village and devoted himself to the study of spiritual sciences and monastic life. He was ordained a deacon in 1706 and assumed the monastic habit (as a novice). Meantime, he acquired a good knowledge of the Syriac language. For his spiritual virtue and activity, Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a metropolitan for the Monastery of Mar Behnam in 1722, calling him Iyawannis Karas at his ordination In the next year, he attended the synod at the Za’faran Monastery (the Patriarchal Seat) for the election of Patriarch Shukr Allah, whom  he endorsed. He administered his diocese for twenty-five years with apostolic zeal. In 1742, he endured the horrors of the warfare of the Persian Tahmasb Khan, known as Nadir Shah, who attacked Mosul and then Baghdad. While most of the people of Khudayda (Qaraqosh) fled to Mosul for refuge, Karas remained in his village with some natives. The Syrian people deposited their belongings and firewood at the Church of the Virgin. When the Persian army arrived in the village, they cast fire into the church and destroyed it with the books and furnishings.
When the people of Mosul defeated the Persian enemy, the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I issued a decree permitting the Christians to rebuild their ruined churches. Accordingly, the Syrian people of Mosul rebuilt eight churches, including the Church of Mar Tuma (St. Thomas), by the efforts of Metropolitan Cyril Jirjis son of ‘Abd al-Jalil of Mosul; the Church of al-Tahira (The Virgin Mary) in the Qal’a district, by the effort of the notable ‘Isa the Syrian in 1744; and the outer Church of al-Tahira, near the ‘Imadi Gate. Metropolitan Karas also endeavored to rebuild the Church of Mar Sarjis and Bakus in Qaraqosh. As crops were meager in that year, and hunger and hardships followed in the aftermath of the war, the metropolitan advised the people of the village (Qaraqosh) to go out into the open country and gather dry grass and chaff. They gathered abundant amounts of chaff to fire the gypsum needed for building. Hardly had they finished the work when the chaff became exhausted. They reported the situation to Metropolitan Karas. Karas spent the night praying, weeping and asking the Lord for divine help in order to finish the building of the church. God, may He be praised, answered the metropolitan’s supplication by sending a strong wind which blew large quantities of chaff and straw from faraway places to where the church stood. In the morning the people saw what had happened and began to praise God. They gathered the straw and used it for firing the gypsum. Thus, they completed the building of the church in 1744.
Also, by the great care of Metropolitan Karas, the people of Qaraqos rebuilt the Church of the Virgin, whose beauty was marred by fire, as was said earlier. The metropolitan had already built the Churches of Mar Zaina and Mar Andrew in 1738. In 1739, he had a large cistern dug near the Church of Mar Gurgis and fortified it with bricks and stones. He prayed, and God filled the cistern with sweet water to the brim. The metropolitan donated money for this work from his own monastery. [Ba Khudayda (Beth Khudayda) is a large village near Mosul. In 1747, it had twenty-one priests and eighty deacons serving six churches. In the possession of the Syrian Orthodox were the Churches of Mar Sarjis and Bakus, and St. Shmuni the Maccabean and her martyred children, and a monastery near the village, some of whose buildings are in ruins. The Churches of the Virgin, Mar Zaina, and Mar Andrew were usurped by a seceding group (Syrian Catholics).]
This church dignitary was well known for noble character, praiseworthy deeds, and helping the needy. Quite often, he sacrificed his own money and lawful rights to assist the afflicted and the poor. He had a tremendous reputation for goodness, piety and devotion. He was an example for his parishioners, whom he taught to seek refuge in God. His reputation was so praiseworthy that after his death accounts of it survived till our time. The most exclusive account of him was revealed to us by the priest ‘Abd al-Ahad of Khudayda (1864-1910). He (may God have mercy on him) was a pious and pure soul.
Karas departed to his Lord to receive the lot of the righteous on Resurrection Day, April 20, 1747. He was buried in the tomb of the bishops at the Monastery of Mar Behnam. On his tomb was inscribed an epitaph in Syriac verse. He lived seventy-seven years, most of which spent in the service of God. We came upon many of the books copied in his own handwriting in Mosul and its environs.

17) Basilius Gurgis, ecumenical bishop (1722-1745).
Basilius Gurgis was a son of Shim’un of Edessa, nephew of the Patriarch of Antioch ‘Abd al-Masih I (1662-1686).  He was born in Edessa at the end of the seventeenth century and became a novice monk at the Za’faran Monastery, where he also was ordained a priest. He studied under Patriarch Ishaq, who, after testing his aptitude, ordained him a metropolitan in 1722. In the next year, along with other bishops, he attended the synod which elected Patriarch Shukr Allah. The new patriarch, who assigned him the diocese of Aleppo, changed his name to Dionysius, following the tradition of his predecessors, for bishops of Aleppo had used this name since the last decade of the sixteenth century. Basilius administered his diocese for eighteen years, following the path of righteousness, until he ascended the Patriarchal Throne in 1745. The rest of his account will follow shortly.

Ignatius Shukr Allah, Patriarch of Antioch

Shukr Allah ascended the patriarchal throne in July, 1722, and passed away on Sunday, September 15, 1745. His patriarchal period was twenty-three years, one month, and twenty six days. He was seventy-one years old.

Shukr Allah was son of Maqdisi Yuhanna, son of Ni’mat Allah San’ia. In his family flourished  his two nephews, Gregorius Barsoum, metropolitan of Jerusalem (1729-1737), and Cyril Gurgis, metropolitan of Mardin and then Amid (1730-1747), and their nephew the priest Iliyaa (Elijah), son of Yuhanna Sani’a, a priest of the Church of Shmuni the Maccabean in Mardin. Iliyya was ordained a deacon in June, 1746 by Patriarch Jirjis III, and a  priest by the Maphryono Gurgis III on March 7, 1764. He was still living in 1767
Patriarch Shukr Allah was born in Mardin around 1674. The account of his early life has been recorded earlier; in his youth he became a monk and was ordained a priest. He was attached to Patriarch Ishaq and accompanied him on his wearisome journeys to Constantinople and other places to obtain permission from the Ottoman sultans to rebuild the churches of Mardin in 1701. He was ordained by Patriarch Ishaq a metropolitan for the diocese of Aleppo, with the name of Dionysius. Furthermore, this earlier account included his commendable endeavor in building the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem, assisted by Metropolitan Shim’un, at the end of 1717 and the beginning of the next year. He endured hardships during his banishment to the island of Arwad for his defense of the orthodox faith in 1720. [See no. 5 of the Fifth year, 254]
His achievements as a metropolitan included regulating the table of movable and immovable feasts to determine the dates of Lent and of movable major feasts, in response to the order of Patriarch Ishaq. For this project, Shukr Allah chose an expert clergyman from his own diocese, the Chorepiscopus Economus Yuhanna, son of Maqdisi Mansur of Homs (1698-1718?). He (Shukr Allah) abridged the table in order to render it easy to use. He introduced it with a preface written in a firm style. It began thus: “Thanks be to God, who enlightened the minds of men by the soundness of faith.”  Most likely he regulated it in 1714. [A copy is at our Library attached to The Lamp of Sanctuaries (by Bar Hebraeus). Another copy is at the British Museum, MS 725.]
Upon the resignation of Patriarch Ishaq because of old age, a synod met at the Za’faran Monastery, comprised of Mar Basilius Shim’un, Maphryono of Tur ‘Abdin and the Jazira; Gregorius ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Jerusalem; Athanasius Aslan, metropolitan of Amid; Gregorius Ayyub (Job), metropolitan of the diocese of Mar Abhai (Gargar); Timothy ‘Isa, metropolitan of the Za’faran Monastery and Mardin; Severus Elias, metropolitan of Edessa; Basilus Gurgis, metropolitan of the patriarchal office; and Basilius Ibrahim, formerly bishop of Bushairiyya, and others. The bishops chose, by consent of the resigning patriarch, Dionysisus Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Aleppo, as a patriarch. Maphryono Shimu’n acted as the ordainer and master of the consecration ceremony.
Shukr Allah was ordained a Patriarch of Antioch, assuming the name Ignatius Shukr Allah, at the Church of Mar Hananya on July 20, 1722. After the ceremony ended, Iyawannis Karas, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam and Ba Khudayda (Qaraqosh), arrived and added his vote to that of the holy synod and signed the document of the election of the new patriarch. The inscription on the seal of the patriarch read thus: “Ignatius Shukr Allah, the weak, Patriarch of Antioch.”  It was followed in Arabic by the words, “My good fortune is in the hands of God, of whom I, Patriarch Shukr Allah, am only a servant, 1723.” [ We have already mentioned in the biography of Patriarch Ishaq that he resigned his position in 1723 after serving fourteen years and six months. We said this relying on the date of Patriarch Shukr Allah’s seal. However, after full scrutiny of this subject, we found that the correct date was not 1723 but 1722, and that although the date on the seal was obviously clear, it was inscribed after the issuance of the sultan’s decree of investiture. Therefore, the period of the service of Patriarch Ishaq was thirteen years, five months and twelve days.]
The new patriarch obtained the decree of investiture from Sultan Ahmad III in the year 1136 of the Islamic calendar/1723 A. D. He devoted attention to the management of the holy church with avid vigor and zeal, following in the footsteps of his predecessor. In the next year, he convened a synod at Amid to regulate the document of faith which began thus: “Praise be to God, who enhanced the position of those in charge to train his congregation.” [Manchester, MSS Mingana, 460 and 495.] The manuscripts of Edessa, which were transferred to Aleppo, contain a manifesto of the creed which he wrote in 1716, while still a bishop, to explain the veracity of the faith of the Syrian Orthodox Church, in response to the request of some Syrian notables in Jerusalem. This manifesto was endorsed by Patriarch Ishaq upon his visit to Aleppo in 1718. Patriarch Shukr Allah appointed the deacon Saliba, son of Tumajan of Edessa, as his deputy in Constantinople. Tumajan was an active man, endowed with elegant Arabic handwriting. [Deacon Tumajan was a pupil of Patriarch Shukr Allah. He was ordained a deacon before 1724 and died in 1746. We came upon two books he transcribed in Syriac and in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script), dated 1724 and 1726. One of them was dedicated to the Chorepiscopus Yeshu’ Hamzo of Qutrubul (d. 1758). Tumajan donated to the church of Edessa the magnificent Book of the Eastern Homologia  (Confession of Faith), handwritten by the deacon ‘Abd Allah of Bartulli, which he copied for the Metropolitan Gabriel of Bartulli of blessed memory.]
Patriarch Shukr Allah resided mostly in Diyarbakr. In 1723, he assisted Metropolitan Basilius Gurgis of Aleppo, of the diocese of Diyarbakr, in building the Monastery of Mar Quryaqus in Bushairiyya. In 1728, he renovated the nave and altars of the Za’faran Monastery and furnished and decorated the Patriarchal chapel. He adorned its nave and consecrated it in the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Also, he restored its vineyards and built stone hedges around them. In 1734, he devoted most of his time to the building of the Monastery of the Prophet Mar Iliyya (Elijah) near the village of Qanqart, in the province of Diyarbakr. He renovated its cells, rooms, and utilities. He devised a project to cause the water of the western spring to flow to the foot of the mountain, to make it easy for the monastery to benefit from it. He accomplished this project in one full year, 1735. [See an article we wrote later about the history of this monastery.]
In 1725, he had the rights of the Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas) at the village of Qutrubul legally registered, with the agreement of the eight priests of the church and the village notables. His intention was to settle the debts incurred by the churches at that time. He did this once more in 1729.  He summoned the priests and urged them to regulate the income of the church’s revenues yielded by endowment properties and religious services. He separated this revenue from their individual incomes.  In 1728, he revived the tithes of the Za’faran Monastery, which he received through special patriarchal plate collections by the Church of Qal’at al-Imra’a, in addition to collections and portions of the income yielded by major festivals and religious services. He also appointed a deputy to collect and regulate the fees of religious services and the yield of the endowments of its church. He then paid a pastoral visits to the diocese of Mosul, the Monastery of Mar Matta, the Monastery of Mar Behnam, and Bushairiyya.
Patriarch Shukr Allah obtained a certificate of investiture in his own name form Sultan Ahmad III. This investiture, dated 6 Rabi’ al-Akhir, 1135 of the Islamic calendar/1723 A. D., was addressed to the (Muslim) judge of Hisn Kifa, for the purpose of exempting the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos in Zarjal from fees and tithes. Also, he obtained a second certificate of investiture from the same sultan dated 24 Shawwal, 1141/June, 1739, addressed to the Wali (governor) of Damascus and its judge, to protect the Monastery of Mar Julian in the village of al-Qaryatain and stop anyone from interfering in its affairs or committing an act of aggression against it.[Source: the records of the Za’faran Monastery.]
Realizing that his flock was ignorant of the Syriac language and that certain heresies had spread within it, Patriarch Shukr Allah endeavored to enlighten the clergy and laymen by the dissemination of religious knowledge. He searched Syriac theological books and selected what he found profitable, and ordered the efficient teacher-monk ‘Abd al-Nur, son of Ni’mat Allah of Amid, to translate them into Arabic. ‘Abd al-Nur translated the books of the learned Mar Moses Bar Kifa, bishop of Baremman and Mosul (d. 903), including his treatises on the Soul, Resurrection, Paradise, and Angels, and a treatise on the Devils by the learned Iyawaanis, metropolitan of Dara (860). He spent a large amount of money to accomplish this project. The translator finished the work in 1729, and the translated books were circulated (among the Syrians). Some of them were copied by chief clerics and monks. [MSS in Diyarbakr and ‘Arans in Tur ‘Abdin] ‘Abd al-Nur also translated in 1723 the book entitled The Cause of all Causes, by an anonymous Edessan bishop. [Some writers have erroneously ascribed this book to Mar Jacob of Edessa.] Likewise, Metropolitan Athanasius Aslan of Amid copied a thick volume of the Commentary on Divine Mysteries by Bar Kifa and other learned fathers of the church in 1726.
The compiler of the roster of bishops said that Patriarch Shukr Allah encountered at Amid a Chaldean patriarch, a follower of the Latins (Roman Catholics), deceiving simple folks of the church. He opposed him and complained to the government about his actions. The government cast him into prison and then sent him into exile. Ten years later the Chaldean patriarch returned to Amid. This time, however, he abstained from adversary actions and won the patriarch’s favor. [This Chaldean patriarch, called Yusuf Marrogi, took charge of the Chaldeans in Amid in 1714. He began to sow the seeds of sedition in 1728, and for this reason he was imprisoned and then went to Rome in 1731. He returned to Amid in 1741 and passed away in 1759.]
After administering the church of God for twenty-three years and fifty-seven days, Mar Shukr Allah departed to his Lord on Sunday September 15, 1745.  His funeral service was undertaken by Metropolitan Gregorius Tuma of Jerusalem. He was buried next to the tomb of Patriarch ‘Abd al-Masih I at the mausoleum of the fathers, outside the Rum Gate west of Amid. On his grave the word of his death was inscribed in Garshuni as follows: “Patriarch Shukr Allah is transported from this world of misery to a joyful and eternal abode on September 15, 2056 of the Greeks /1745 A. D. May God have mercy on him. Amen.”
The burial in a common cemetery of these two great dignitaries, Patriarch Shukr Allah and Patriarch Jirjis III, was due to difficult circumstances, especially the tyranny of the rulers of that time. Patriarch Shukr Allah was seventy-one years old, having spent most of them in the service of God and his flock. After his death, the Apostolic See became vacant for twenty-eight days.
In his time, the king of Persia twice attacked the cities of Mosul and Mardin. The first was in 1732; the Persian army was commanded by the Vizier Turkus Khan, who devastated the populated villages and destroyed the Nestorian Monastery of Sa’id. The natives of Mosul fought back and defeated his army, which took flight. The next time, King Nadir Shah, or Tahmasb Shah, who was formerly known as Quli Khan, marched in 1734 with a great army. First, he attacked the cities of Kirkuk and Arbil, and many villages of the province of Mosul. He never hesitated to commit tyrannical acts of looting, killing and burning. When he reached Mosul, he cast many cannonballs against it, but the people, due to the excellent administration of the Wali (governor) Hajj Husayn Pasha al-Jalili of Mosul [The Jalilis have successively ruled Mosul for one hundred and fifty years. Twelve walis arose from amongst them, beginning with Isma’il Pasha and ending with Amin Pasha II (1724-1846).], resisted him heroically, a fact  that stunned the enemy and forced Tahmasb to quit attacking the city. He departed for Jazirat ibn ‘Umar and played havoc by looting, killing, and taking captives. He returned once more to Mosul, but this time failed to capture it. He fled, having lost 5400 soldiers. The natives of Mosul lost only a few men. Tahmasb signed a peace with the people of Mosul and departed.
The triumph of the people was ascribed to a great miracle by the Virgin Mary (who defended the city). For this reason the churches of Mosul were rebuilt. [The author of Qamus al-A’lam (Dictionary of Prominent Men), Vol. 6, says that Nadir Shah was the son of a shepherd from the tribe of Afshar in Khurasan. He was born in 1687 and followed his father as a shepherd. He gathered friends around him and proceeded to intercept and pillage caravans. He succeeded in capturing Khurasan and expelling the Afghanis from Isfahan and installed Tahmasb II on the throne of the Safawids, his ancestors. He became Tahmasb’s Vizier, and then removed him and installed in his place his son Abbas III. Upon Abbas’s death, Tahmasb succeeded him on the throne and called himself Nadir Shah Tahmasb. He conquered Afghanistan and Baluchistan, then marched against India and captured Delhi. He was not known for his justice or administrative ability. He died in 1747 and was succeeded by some weaklings of his posterity, namely ‘Adil Shah and Ibrahim. Finally, his family existed no more.]
Patriarch Shukr Allah had a melodious voice. He was one of the best fathers who strove to enliven the religious conscience of the Syrian Orthodox people. He was courageous and very patient in enduring harm. He benefited the church by word and deed. He composed twenty-four homilies, some of them when he was a metropolitan. He wrote them in Arabic in an unrefined style similar to that used by his contemporaries, who were not well versed in this language. He also composed some religious songs. He built the Church of Mar Theodorus in the village of Mansuriyya with the assistance of Timothy ‘Isa of Mosul, metropolitan of Mardin, and consecrated it in 1729. Further, he built other churches, including those of Saints Mar Zaina and Andrew in Qaraqosh, with the help of the priest Abd al-Masih of Khudayda in 1738; the Church of Mar Sarjis and Bachus, also in Qaraqosh, with the help of Iyawannis Karas, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam in 1744; the two Churches of al-Tahira (The Virgin Mary) and Mar Tuma (Thomas) in Mosul in 1744; the Church of Mar Saba, in the eastern part of the village of Khankah, in 1742; and the Church of Mar Gurgis, in the village of Randwan (Ridwan), in 1744 [These last two churches are located at the plain of Bahmard.]; and the Church of Mar Theodorus the martyr, in Sadad, in 1745, which was renovated in 1885. He consecrated the Holy Chrism at the monastery of the Patriarchal Seat (the Za’faran Monastery) and donated to it a Gospel in the handwriting of the priest ‘Abd al-Nur of Amid. Finally, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained seventeen chief priests, two of whom became maphryonos. They were as follows:

1) Dioscorus ‘Abd al-Nur, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Musa (1725-1731).
Dioscorus ‘Abd al-Nur was the son of Hidaya of Aleppo. He became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian in al-Nabk, where he was elevated to the office of the priesthood before 1717. He studied under Patriarch Shukr Allah when he was still a metropolitan and accompanied him on a visit to Jerusalem in 1717. When the See of the  Monastery of Mar Musa became vacant, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan and called him Dioscorus ‘Abd al-Nur at his ordination. It is also said that he called him Cyril after July, 1725. Dioscorus ‘Abd al-Nur served his diocese for seven or eight years and was still living on June 11, 1731. He may have died in that year or in 1732. We came upon some books written by him on Baptism, the Consecration of Weddings, and the Sacrament of Unction, at the church of Aleppo. They were written in his rather average handwriting, and completed in 1724.

2) Dioscorus Sarukhan, ecumenical bishop and then bishop of the Monastery of Mar Musa (1727-1769).
Dioscorus Sarukhan was born in Mardin in 1659. His father was ‘Abd Yeshu’. (This is according to a copy of the Old Testament in bad Garshuni script found in a shop at the town of Zakho, Iraq, dated 1712. At that time he was a deacon and had lived 52 years. See the Za’faran MS, No. 4.]
Sarukhan acquired a smattering of church sciences and was ordained a deacon before 1702. Upon becoming a widower, he renounced the world and desired the life of piety. He entered the Za’faran Monastery and was ordained a novice monk and then a priest before 1716. He pursued a life of virtue, which led Patriarch Shukr Allah to ordain him a bishop with the name of Dioscorus Sarukhan at his ordination in 1727. He was sixty-eight years old when the signs of old age began to appear on his features. When the diocese of al-Nabk became vacant with the death of its shepherd, Metropolitan ‘Abd al-Nur of Aleppo, the patriarch entrusted Sarukhan with its administration in 1722. He managed the diocese efficiently for thirty-seven years.  He followed commendable rules of life and left a memorable legacy in the monastery, where he trained a group of monks, five of whom became metropolitans. But hardships, suffering, affliction, adversity and persecution did not deter him from putting his life into proper order, nor did they diminish his determination, even in old age . Once he was evicted from his metropolitan office for two years and resided at Sadad, but then returned to his monastery. The first thing he did was to restore Julius Zmaria to his office as bishop of the Monastery of Mar Julian, after he was deprived of his episcopacy for many years. (See Year 5, No. 3, p. 143 of this magazine.)
Dioscorus Sarukhan, may God be gracious to him, was diligent in prayer and fasting. He loathed the hoarding of money. He loved the poor and the miserable. He was compassionate toward the afflicted, the orphans, and the widows. He never sent away hungry those who came to his door. Neither did he send anyone who asked for help empty-handed. For this reason, his contemporaries described him as the refuge of the poor, the troubled, and the strangers. And when Metropolitan Cyril Jirjis, of the Monastery of Mar Julian and Homs, was transferred to the diocese of Jerusalem in 1748, his diocese was incorporated into that of Sarukhan.
Sarukhan ordained many deacons and priests, three of them for the church of Aleppo. He died on February 11, 1769, being a hundred and ten years old, forty-two of which were spent as a chief priest. He was buried at the southern part of the Church of Mar Sarjis and Bachus, with no date on his tombstone. He was elegized by his loyal student, Bishop Ibrahim al-Yaziji of Sadad, in an ode composed in the Ephramite (seven-syllabic) meter. It begins thus: “In the year 2080 of the Greeks/1769 A. D.”  To the north wing of the altar of the Church of Mar Sarkis is fixed a portrait of Sarukhan, with his name inscribed beneath it. It shows that he, may God be compassionate to him, was short of stature but handsome. He appeared to wear a turban, actually a long fez wrapped by several folds of shawl. We were told by more than one native of Sadad that the portraits of saints and fathers that adorn the Churches of Mar Sarkis and Mar Jirjis were drawn by Metropolitan Sarukhan. But we think that the artist was Bishop Ibrahim al-Yaziji, as we shall mention later in his biography. It is unlikely that a man as old as Metropolitan Sarukhan was able to draw portraits.

3) Gregorius Li’azar, metroploitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta (1728-1730).
Gregorius Li’azar was born in Mosul. His father, the priest Yaqub, and his grandfather, the Maqdisi ‘Azar, have already been mentioned. Gregorius was the nephew of Patriarch Ishaq and of Maphryono Matta II, of blessed memory. After he had received education in church sciences, his uncle Patriarch Ishaq ordained him a deacon for the Church of Mar Tuma in 1720. He then became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Matta. He was ordained a priest by his uncle the Maphryono Matta II, and then became abbot of this monastery. Upon the death of the maphryono, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained Li’azar, at the Za’faran Monastery, as metropolitan for the Monastery of Mar Matta and called him Gregorius Li’azar at his ordination on the Day of Annunciation, March 25, 1728. After he had served his diocese for two years and six months, the patriarch ordained him a Maphryono of the East, as shall be seen later.

4) Julius Barsoum, ecumenical metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office (1729-1737).
Julius Barsoum Sani’a was the nephew of Patriarch Shukr Allah. He was born in Mardin and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Hananya (Za’faran Monastery) where he acquired religious sciences. After he had served as a monk for a period of time, his uncle, the patriarch, ordained him an ecumenical metropolitan and called him Julius Barsoum in 1729.  On his insignia was inscribed the following: “Julius Barsoum, Ecumenical Metropolitan: O Eternal One, have mercy on Metropolitan Barsoum. 1729.” Upon the death of Gregorius ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Jerusalem, the patriarch chose Julius Barsoum to fill the vacant see of Jerusalem. He changed his name to Gregorius, according to the accepted tradition at that time, in the middle of 1731. He administered his diocese for two years and died in 1737. His name is inscribed on the Holy of Holies of the Monastery of St. Mark, gilded with gold which was donated by the Maqdisi Barsoum of Aleppo, the Syrian, in 1723. May God have mercy on him. [St. Mark MS 212, containing the history of the Monastery.]

5) Cyril Gurgis, ecumenical Metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office (1730-1747).
Gurgis Sani’a was a nephew of Patriarch Shukr Allah and a brother of Metropolitan Gregorius Barsoum. He was born and raised in Mardin. He desired the monastic life and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Hananya, and was ordained a priest. We found his name among the monks of the monastery in 1727. In 1730 his uncle, the patriarch, ordained him a metropolitan for the Patriarchal Office and called him Cyril Gurgis at his ordination. The patriarch entrusted him with the administration of the monastery of the Patriarchal Seat (the Za’faran Monastery) and Mardin in 1734, after transferring his predecessor Metropolitan Timothy ‘Isa to the Monastery of Mar Matta. Cyril administered his diocese for nine years, up to 1743.
We found in the Office of Ordinations at the Za’faran Monastery, MS 222, a statement that Cyril ordained seventeen priests and eighty-two deacons for the churches of the Za’faran Monastery, Mardin, and the villages of Qusur, Banabil, Ibrahimiyya and Qellith. Of these deacons, five were ordained for Mosul, and two for the churches of Edessa and Kharput from 1730 to 1745. In 1739, he had a big silver cross made for the Church of St. Asya at the village of Mansuriyya, whose priests were Safar, Isbahan and Habib. [This information is taken from a copy of the Gospel at the Church of Mansuriyya.] His insignia were inscribed only in Syriac. In October, 1745, he attended the synod convened at Diyarbakr to elect and instal Jirjis III of Edessa, a patriarch. The new patriarch transferred Cyril to the diocese of Amid, which he administered for two years. He died at Mardin in 1747.

6) Basilius Li’azar, Maphryono of the East.(1730-1759).
Basilius Liazar, already mentioned, was metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta. After he had served his diocese for two years and six months, Patriarch Shukr Allah elevated him to the office of the Maphrianate of the East and called him Basilius Li’azar. He was the fourth maphryonon with this name.  His ordination ceremony, which took place at the Za’faran Monastery in October, 1730, was attended by Julius Barsoum and Cyril Gurgis, the two metropolitans of the Patriarchal Office. The systaticon (document of election) authorized him as a Maphryono of Mosul, with its two Churches of Mar Tuma and al-Tahira (the Virgin), together with the churches of Bartulli, Ba’shiqa, Bahzani, Summail, and Zakho [The village of Summail was heavily populated by Syrians. In it, the deacon Denha, son of the priest Behnam of Bartulli, transcribed the book of grammar written in verse by the Metropolitan Yaqub Shakko (Shabbo) of Bartulli in 1677. Also at the same village, the martyr Metropolitan Rizq Allah of Mosul, while still a monk, copied  the Service Book of Passion Week for the Church of Bartulli in 1736. The church of Zakho was named after the Virgin Mary, and a deacon was ordained for it in 1783. It was mentioned by Patriarch Yunan in his letter to Metropolitan Musa of the Monastery of Mar Matta on September 16, 1817. A man told us that he saw a book of ordinations in Vienna, capital of Austria, which mentioned the churches of the villages of Summail and the Qadiyya. The people of Bartulli told us that all the Syrian natives of Summail removed to Bartulli, as did the natives of the village of Basakhraya.], except the Monasteries of Mar Matta and Mar Behnam, which were bishopric sees.  He was made a maphryono with the proviso that he should not ordain a metropolitan or clothe a monk with the monastic habit without first consulting with the patriarch. [We found this systaticon in 1911, but, like other books, it was damaged.]
Basilius proceeded to his diocese, where he resided most of the time at the Church of Mar Ahodemeh in Mosul, and sometimes at the Monastery of Mar Matta. In his time the countries of the East were afflicted with many adversities, the worst of which was the campaign of Nadir Shah Tahmasb Khan, king of the Persians, against Mosul in the summer of 1743. It ended in the triumph of the citizens of the city and the defeat of the Persian, as has been mentioned earlier. Then the churches of Mosul, namely, the Church of Mar Tuma, the Church of the Tahira (the Virgin Mary), at the Qal’a district, and the Church of the Virgin Mary outside Mosul, near the ‘Imadi Gate, were renovated in 1744 and 1745.
Contemporary historians relate that in 1756 the country of Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia) suffered severe cold weather. The River Tigris froze in the winter, and people and animals crossed over it. Furthermore, Diyarbakr suffered from hunger due to exorbitant prices (of food), and the calamity extended to Mosul. In 1757, swarms of locusts swept the crops at the beginning of the harvest and consumed both dry and green grass. As a result, cattle perished and people scattered throughout the land. .Destitute people dropped dead on the streets from starvation.  In the next year (1758), the Muslims usurped the metropolitan office at the Church of Mar Ahodemeh and converted it to a masjid, which still exists.  In 1759, the plague created havoc in Mosul and its environs and tens of thousands of people perished. In the fall of this year, Maphriyono Li’azar IV died and was buried, most likely in the grave of his uncle and predecessor Maphryono Matta II at the Church of Mar Tuma, having administered his diocese for twenty-nine years.  Neither he nor his successors ordained a bishop except for Gurgis III, in whose time there were seventeen priests in Mosul, eight of them at the Church of Mar Tuma and nine at the church of al-Tahira (the Virgin).

7) Iyawannis Tuma, ecumenical bishop, and then of Damascus (1730-1752).
Tuma, son of Denha, was born in Amid but is commonly said to have come from Tur ‘Abdin. His mother was La’la, a native of Amid. Upon becoming a widower, he became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery and devoted himself to the life of asceticism. He was ordained a priest before 1716 and acquired some knowledge of the Syriac language. He was zealous in his study of this language and expressed sorrow at the dispersion of some of its books. He was also distressed over the fact that the Syrians had relinquished Syriac for the Arabic language. He was intent on acquiring and reading Syriac books. In 1722, he kept close to the metropolitan office of Amid, and in 1727 he was appointed a superior of the Za’faran Monastery. At the end of 1730, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him an ecumenical bishop, calling him Iyawannis Tuma at his ordination. Before the following May, he assigned him the diocese of Damascus as a successor to its Bishop, ‘Abd al-Azali, and called him Gregorius. He administered his diocese properly and delivered beneficial spiritual homilies. In 1737, he attended at the Za’faran Monastery the ordination of Metropolitan Jirjis of Aleppo for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Julian. He was at Aleppo in 1749.
Iyawannis Tuma translated from Syriac into Arabic the husoyos (supplicatory prayers) for Lent; a copy of this work is at the Church of Mar Gurgis, in the handwriting of the priest Stephen Qaddah, dated 1737. Also, he wrote by hand, in common Arabic, homilies for the whole year. A complete copy of this translation is at the Library of St. Mark, MS 174. It consists of eighty-four homilies. We also found in his handwriting at the same library a translation of the Ethicon of Bar Hebraeus in Garshuni, MS 188, which he finished at the Za’faran Monastery on March 20, 1724. He also copied a Commentary on the Psalms by  Daniel of Salah which he completed on February 2, 1730.  [ Danile of Salah was a sixth-century father of the  church who may have died in 542.  See Barsoum, al-Lulu al-Manthur {Scattered Pearls}, 294-295. Tr. ] At Midyat there is a copy of Silah al-Din, by Maphryono Shim’un, which he completed at the village of Rashayya on October 20, 1731.
After administering his diocese for some twenty-one years, he passed away at Damascus. I could not find the date of his death, which probably occurred in 1753 or 1754.

8) Athanasius Tuma, metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office and later of Jerusalem (1731-1748).
Athanasius Tuma was born in Mosul. His father was Elias al-Banna (mason).  He entered the Monastery of Mar Matta and assumed the monastic habit. He studied religious sciences and was ordained a priest shortly before 1710.  He was chosen to be the abbot of the monastery for a short time. In 1717 or 1719, he resided at the Monastery of Mar Behnam and then returned to his Monastery of Mar Matta. In 1721, he joined the retinue of Patriarch Ishaq, who sent him to Bedlis to collect the patriarchal tithes. He resided for a while at the Monastery of Mar Iliyya (Elijah), in the neighborhood of Qanqart, in the province of Amid. In 1731, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him an ecumenical metropolitan for the Patriarchal Office and called him Athanasius Tuma. For a while, he resided at the Monastery of Mar Iliyyya and witnessed its renovation, which was completed in 1735 by the assiduous effort of the patriarch, as he himself related. When the See of Jerusalem became vacant with the death of Metropolitan Gregorius Sani’a in 1737, the patriarch assigned Athnasius Tuma to that see and changed his name to Gregorius. He handed him a systaticon (Document of Election or Investiture), signed by the patriarch, together with Metropolitan Timothy ‘Isa, Dionysius Gurgis, metropolitan of Aleppo, and Gregorius Ayyub (Job), metropolitan of Hisn Mansur, in 1738.  After losing his See of Jerusalem, Tuma resided at the Za’faran Monastery, as did his late predecessors. In 1745, he witnessed the death of Patriarch Shukr Allah at Amid and was in charge of his funeral. Also, he presided over the synod which elected Patriarch Jirjis III and acted as the ordainer of the new patriarch. In this year (1745), he ordained two priests, Matlub and Abd al-Ahad, for the church of Jazirat ibn ‘Umar. Three years later, in 1748, he passed away and was buried in the Church of Mar Behnam in the mausoleum of the fathers, behind the right wing of the altar. In 1910 we saw his grave, on which was inscribed in raised Garshuni script on lime, “This is the tomb of Metropolitan Tuma.”
Tuma served the priesthood ably for seventeen years. At the Monastery of Mar Matta we found (in his own handwriting) a Service Book for the Resurrection Day, Syriac Husoyos for Lent, completed in 1711; the book of The Cause of all Causes in Garshuni script, completed in 1728 in answer to the request of the monk Jirjis al-Fattal of Aleppo (this book is now in the possession of Timothy Tuma, metropolitan of Midyat) and the book of The Chariot of Mysteries, by Maphryono Shim’un which he transcribed at the Za’faran Monastery in 1729. It is now at the Library of Edinburgh College (University).

9) Gregorius Boghos (Paul), ecumenical metropolitan and then of Bushairiyya (1732-1764).
Boghos was a native of Gargar. His father was the deacon Harun (Aaron) and his mother, Gulistan (a compound name of Persian-Turkish origin meaning garden flowers). He was called by the Armenian name Boghos because of his mingling with the Armenians of his town. Actually, Boghos means Paul. As a youth he devoted himself to worship. He entered the Za’faran Monastery, where he studied spiritual science, and became a monk around 1719. He spent some time in copying books. We found in his handwriting at the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos a Service Book for the Resurrection Day, which he completed in 1722. At the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem, there is a Book of Ordinations partially copied by him and completed by Metropolitan Yuhanna in 1724. At the Library of Manchester, MS 562, there is The Book of the Questions of Saints Basilius and Gregorius and the book of The Cause of all Causes, which he completed on June 22, 1729.
In 1722, Boghos was ordained a metropolitan by Patriarch Shukr Allah and was called Gregorius at his ordination. The patriarch entrusted him with the administration of the diocese of the Bushairiyya around 1737. [We have already mentioned in the biography of Metropolitan Basilius Gurgis, predecessor of Boghos, that Basilius administered his diocese for thirty-one years and died in 1748 (Vol. 5, 144 of this magazine. More correctly, he headed the diocese for thirty years, and resigned, most likely because of old age, in 1737. He died in 1748 as related by some of his contemporaries.] He administered it for twenty-seven years and ordained for it priests and deacons.
We found in the Book of Ordinations, already mentioned, that from 1740 to 1757 Gregorius Boghos ordained for his diocese and for the diocese of Bedlis fourteen priests and sixteen deacons. Also, he transcribed a Gospel for the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos, had its covers studded with silver, and bequeathed it as an endowment to the same monastery. He died at his monastery in 1764. Among his students was the Armenian monk Shim’un, who succeeded him as metropolitan of his see.

10) Cyril Faraj Allah, metropolitan of Ma’dan (1732-1756).
Cyril was born in Edessa and received religious learning at the Za’faran Monastery, where he also assumed the monastic habit. He was ordained a deacon in 1701 and then a priest.  When Patriarch Shukr Allah became sure of his good conduct, he ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Ma’dan and called him Cyril Faraj Allah at his ordination.  In 1732 Cyril succeeded Metropolitan Cyril Yeshu’. His insignia reads: “Metropolitan Cyril Faraj Allah, 1732.”   He was transferred in 1740 to the diocese of Bedlis, where he resided until 1751. The patriarch transferred him again, to the diocese of Gargar, and changed his name to Gregorius. In September, 1756, Cyril died at Edessa after serving the priesthood for twenty-four years, and was buried in its church. Among his relatives was the priest ‘Isa of the church of Edessa, who was still living in 1759.

11) Cyril Jirjis, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Julian and Homs and later of Jerusalem (1737-1773).
Of the late metropolitans of Jerusalem, Cyril was certainly the most prominent church father for his godliness, zeal and learning. More than other fathers, he was distinguished for his deeds, far-reaching aims, and achievements. His father was Maqdisi Elian Fattal, and his grandfather was Maqdisi Yuhanna, nicknamed Ibn al-Musaddi. The Fattal family had been well known in Aleppo since the seventeenth century. Among the relatives of Cyril Jirjis were his cousin the priest Jirjis Fattal (1756) and his cousin (on his mother’s side) the priest Jirjis, son of ‘Ata Allah al-‘Aqil of Aleppo, who was a monk of the Za’faran Monastery in 1720 (according to the book The Cause of all Causes, in the possession of the metropolitan of Tur Abdin), and his nephew, the monk Elias, son of Faraj Allah of Aleppo, abbot of the Monastery of St. Mark (1754-1763). [See the Book of Psalms in Arabic at the Library of Jerusalem, MS 266.]
Jirjis was born in Aleppo in the first decade of the eighteenth century. At an early age he showed marks of intelligence and good character and acquired some learning.  Determined to abstain from the pleasures of this world, he traveled to the Za’faran Monastery, where he adopted the monastic life and assumed the monastic habit. He devoted himself to the study of church sciences and was ordained a priest. He studied under Patriarch Shukr Allah before 1728. As his virtue and knowledge became well known, the patriarch ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Julian, which included Homs, Hama Sadad, and al-Qaryatain, and called him Cyril Jirjis at his ordination. The ceremony of his ordination was attended by five bishops — Gregorius Tuma, metropolitan of Jerusalem, Dionysius Gurgis, metropolitan of Aleppo, Cyril Faraj Allah, metropolitan of Ma’dan, Dioscorus Sarukhan, bishop of al-Nabk and the Monastery of Mar Musa, and Gregorius Tuma, bishop of Damascus. His systaticon was signed on December 14, 1727. (This systaticon is still preserved at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery MS 175.)
In 1728, the superior of the Monastery of St. Mark, the monk Yuhanna of Aleppo, passed away. The patriarch deputized Cyril Jirjis to take charge of the monastery in addition to his diocese. The management of the diocese of Jerusalem at that time required special care by having a metropolitan to administer it, along with the Monastery of St. Mark, which belonged to it. The metropolitan usually visited the diocese periodically to collect alms and revenues from the religious endowments of the holy church of Zion. He also had the right to reside at the monastery. To alleviate the burden of administration, a second metropolitan for the diocese was required, one who would reside at Jerusalem and act as a deputy of the principal metropolitan. This state of affairs continued, despite  the difficulties and the multitude of economic needs of that time, for two hundred and fifty years, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the middle of the present (twentieth) century. On February 25, 1728, Cyril went to Jerusalem to take charge of the monastery, and immediately set to renovate its church and vessels. He proceeded to deliver homilies to the congregation. Moreover, he exerted great effort to regulate the revenues of the monastery and its religious endowments.
Cyril had an iron gate made for the monastery; he paid its cost from his own money in the following manner. In July, 1729, a Muslim named Khayr al-Din, son of Sheikh Hasan al-Ja’uni, came to the monastery at night asking for water. He knocked at the old wooden door, which was already falling apart, but no one responded. He started hitting the door with stones until he smashed it. Fearing that he might be reported to the judge, al-Ja’uni and the relatives who were in his company rushed to the judge on the next day, claiming that when no one opened the door for him, al-Ja’uni insulted the metropolitan, who in turn insulted him, and thus he smashed the door. Appearing before the judge and relating the event as it had happened, the metropolitan found that he was surrounded by false witnesses. The sagacious judge, however, understood the truth about the case and realized that al-Ja’uni’s claim was false. He rejected the case against the metropolitan, based on legal evidence. Meanwhile, al-Ja’uni and his relatives beseeched the metropolitan for pardon. [See the judges’ verdict at the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark, MS 371.]
In 1740, Cyril purchased with his own money half of the house located near the Monastery of St. Mark in the district of Sihyoun (Zion) which belonged to the heirs of the deacon Sim’am, son of Ibrahim, and bequeathed it as an endowment to the monastery. [ See the legal document at the library of the Monastery of St. Mark, MS 371.] In the following year he enlarged the reception hall and furnished it with three closets. He also decorated with silver the covers of three Gospels, one of which belonged to the Church of the Resurrection. It was a bequest of the late Metropolitan Athanasius Aslan of Amid. In 1745, he attended at Amid the synod which elected Patriarch Jirjis III of Edessa. In 1747, he succeeded in exempting the monastery from an unjust tax which Ahmad Hindiyya, son of Hajj Muhammad Agha, exacted from the monastery as annual tribute for the occasion of the Muslims’ feast. Evidently, Hindiyya inherited this tribute form his father, who it was said, had acquired it from two men, Abu al-Fadl and ‘Abd al-Nabi, son of sheikh Mustafa al-‘Alami, in 1729, after paying them thirty Egyptian pieces of coin.  Metropolitan Cyril Jirjis compensated Ahmad Hindiyya by paying him thirty-four zalatas (certain coins) and removed his name from the register of the feast’s tribute [ MS 204 at the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark]. Having managed the monastery for nine years and a few months, Cyril resigned his position. During this period, however, he ordained eight deacons and three priests for the church of Jerusalem and five deacons and an archdeacon for the church of Aleppo. He designated the monk Abd al-Ahad to replace him and handed him the properties of the monastery and its belongings, all of which have been recorded in a register.
After resigning his position, Metropolitan Cyril Jirjis resided for a time at the Za’faran Monastery and at Amid. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan See of Jerusalem became vacant with the death of Gregorius Tuma in 1748, and Patriarch Jirjis III transferred Cyril to that see. Immediately, he journeyed to Jerusalem and then to Egypt proper and to Upper Egypt, to visit the monastics and their monasteries and to collect alms from the orthodox believers for the renovation of the Monastery (of St. Mark) in Jerusalem. The orthodox believers received him with eagerness and honor. It happened that some schismatics, who held the doctrine that the two natures of Christ were still separated after their union in the Incarnation, challenged him. [That is, they challenged his belief, held by the Syrian and the Coptic Churches, that, in the Incarnation, the two natures of Christ became one and could no longer be separated. Tr.]. When Cyril Jirjis saw that he had to answer them, he called for meetings to debate the question with the Jesuit monk Anton in the presence of his superior, monk Paul. The meetings were held in Egypt (probably Cairo), Upper Egypt, the town of Sadafa, the native town of Sheikh ‘Izz al-Din, and at Akhmim, Jurja, and Farshout. [ Jurja is still a bishopric see. We have copied the above information from the account of Cyril himself, as shall be seen later.]
The debate at Jurja was held at the house of the Orthodox Copt Mu’allim Jirjis, who invited Cyril to dinner. Cyril debated his opponent (The Jesuit Anton) constantly from morning  to evening and explainrf the veracity of the doctrine of the One Incarnate Nature of Christ, based on the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444). Padre Anton was defeated, to the great joy of the Copts and the Syrians of Jurja.  Cyril Jurjis then returned to the residence of Anba Cyril, bishop of Jurja.  On the next day Mu’allim Nakhla, an adherent of the Latin (Roman Catholic) faith, invited him to a debate. He was attended by Coptic priests and about fifty lay men. The debaters examined copies of the letters of St. Cyril, and the debate ended with the failure of the padre.
When this magnanimous father of the church returned to Jerusalem, he rebuilt the Monastery of St. Mark, spending on the project a thousand zur mahbub [ See the History of St. Mark.  Zur mahbub is an ancient form of money put in circulation at the beginning of the seventeenth century.], an amount estimated at four or five hundred golden liras. Then he visited the Syrian lands to collect the tithes of his see and the donations of believers. He was very zealous in protecting the interests of the Holy City (Jerusalem). Meanwhile, he enlightened the Syrian people with his homilies and sound teaching. During his trips he ordained fifteen priests and sixty deacons for the churches of Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Sadad, al-Qaryatain, and Ba Khudaida (Qaraqosh) in a period of four years (1757-1761).  Among these clergy were eight priests and thirty deacons whom he ordained for the churches of Qaraqosh in one day. [ See The Order of Ordinations at the Library of the Monastery of Za’faran, MS 221.]  He stayed in Aleppo for two years (1755-1757), administering its diocese, which was then without a metropolitan (according to a Service Book in Aleppo, as related by the deacon Abd Allah al-Shidyaq). From Aleppo he journeyed to Mosul in 1761, and upon his return to his diocese, he ordained fourteen deacons for the church of Edessa in 1764. In 1768, Cyril attended the synod convened at Amid to elect Patriarch Jirjis IV, of Mosul. He was the ordainer of the new patriarch at the Za’faran Monastery.  He persevered in administering his diocese with apostolic zeal until he was called home by his Lord on May 27, 1773. He was buried in the mausoleum of the fathers at the Za’faran Monastery, as was reported by the deacon ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Azar of Aleppo, his contemporary and a native of his city. [This information is taken from the book entitled Diryaq al-Uqul (The Antidote of Minds) by the priest Abu al-Khayr Ibn Abi al-Tayyib, a twelfth-century Coptic learned man, in the handwriting of the deacon ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Azar and dated 1746.  ‘Azar recorded in it dates of the death of twenty chief priests in his own time. It is now in the possession of the ‘Azar family in Aleppo.] He was seventy years old.  He served the priesthood for thirty six years and six months. He was of commanding stature, venerable, and endowed with a melodious voice. He gained a good name and a noble remembrance among the good fathers of the church. May God be gracious to him and make the heavenly bliss his final abode.
Cyril wrote, in average quality, a book entitled Al-I’tiqad al-Sahih fi Tajassud al-Masih (The True Belief in the Incarnation of Christ). It opened with his debates with Padre Anton, from which we quoted the above account. In this book he included The Nicene Creed, An Account of the Council of Chalcedon, and Mar Dioscorus. Then he recorded his debates (with Padre Anton) and the testimonies of the earlier fathers of the church, and refuted the Council of Chalcedon and the universal authority of the pope.  The book consisted of 300 pages. He began writing it in Egypt and completed it at Aleppo. Soon copies of it were spread throughout the countries. It stands as a testimony of his profound knowledge of the Scriptures and church history. A copy of this book is at our Library, and three more copies are at the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark, MSS 147 and 148. Together with Patriarch Jirjis III, Cyril shared the expenses of the transcription of The Commentary on the Gospel by Bar Salibi, which was translated into Arabic by the monk Abd al-Nur of Amid, whom he assisted in standardizing its language in 1755.
Viscount Philip Tarrazi, in his al-Salasil al-Tarikiyya, claims that in 1769, Cyril Jirjis converted to Catholicism and resided at the Monastery of Raghm in Lebanon, where he died in 1778. Tarrazi goes on to say that Cyril abdicated his See of Jerusalem to someone called Shukr Allah Jarwa. [See Viscount Philip de Tarrazi, al-Salasil al-Taikiyya fir Asaqifat al-Abrashiyyat al-Suryaniyya (Historical Tables of the Bishops of Syrian Doceses: Beirut, al-Matba’a al-Adabbiyya, 1910), 85-87.  Since Tarrazi is a member of the Syrian Catholic sect that seceded from the mother Syrian Orthodox Church in the seventeenth century, he is, most unfortunately, prejudicial and often incorrect in the information presented in his book about the history and the fathers of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Later, he tried somehow to be more objective, probably intending to redress his former prejudices in his book, Asqaq Ma Kan An Tarikh Lubnan Wa Safha Min Akhbar al-Syrian, 3 vols. (Beirut, 1948) Tr.] What Tarrazi says, however, is groundless and derived from incorrect sources. The truth is what we have said about Cyril Jirjis in his biography. For more evidence (that he did not convert to Catholicism), we contend that:

1) We have in the patriarchal Library a systaticon of Cyril Musa, bishop of the Monastery of Musa in al-Nabk,  who was ordained in 1771, dated January 15, 1771, bearing the seal of our Cyril Jirjis, beginning in both Syriac and follows: “By God’s mercy, Jurjis, metropolitan of the noble city of Jerusalem,” followed by the comment, “When we confirmed this systaticon in 1771, which is in the hand of our brother Bishop Musa of the Monastery of Mar Musa.”

2) At the Library of the Za’faran Monastery there is a copy of the Didache [ The teaching ascribed to the Twelve Apostles. Tr.] in the Arabic MS 199, which mentions that in 1770, Maqdisi Ibrahim, son of Khawaja Shahin, donated it to the church of Amid in the time of Patriarch Ignatius Jirjis III (more correctly Jirjis IV), in the presence of Jurjis of Aleppo, metropolitan of Jerusalem, and of the Metropolitans Tuma of Qutrubul and Bishara of Bedlis.

3) At the village of Anhil in Tur ‘Abdin there is a copy of The Ethicon [ The Nomocanon of Bar Hebraeus. Tr.], in Syriac, with the following comment: “Donated by Metropolitan Jirjis of Jerusalem to his pupil the monk Iliyya (Elijah), whom he asked to celebrate thirty Masses for him. The witnesses were Rabban Ishaq of Qal’at al-Imra’a, monk of the Za’faran Monastery, Rabban ‘Abd al-Ahad of Mardin, and Rabban Tu’mah of Sadad of the monks of Mar Musa in the province of Damascus, in the middle of April, 2081 of the Greeks/1770 A. D.”

4) We read in a Service Book of Hymns for Principal Feasts at the church of Ma’sarte, a village of Mardin, in the handwriting of Mikha’il, son of Yusuf of Nabk, that he finished its transcription in the time of Patriarch Gurgis of Antioch and Gregorius Jirjis, metropolitan of Jerusalem, in 1771.

5) Naqqasha mentioned on p. 199 a letter dated November 7, 1770 by Patriarch Jirjis IV of Mosul, delivered from Mardin to the Vartabet Wanis in the Mountain of Kisrawan, in which he mentioned Metropolitan Jirjis. [The reference here is to the Syrian Catholic Metropolitan Dionysius Aphram Naqqasha’s book Kitab Inayat al-Rahman fi Hidayat al-Suryan, III (Beirut: Matba’at Sabra, 1910), 198-199, where he produced two letters of Patriarch Jirjis III (more correctly Jirjis IV), sent to the Armenian Vartabet Wanis in the Mountain of Kisrawan. We are concerned here only with the first letter, dated November 7, 1770, in which the patriarch tells Wanis, “Our brethren and children Jirjis, metropolitan of  Holy Jerusalem and … (he names other bishops) send you their greetings.”  Naqqasha’s purpose in recording these letters was to show that the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, Jirjis IV, was inclined toward Catholicism and the Catholic Church, and intended to join them. But he did not do so openly because of fear of his bishops. These two letters say nothing about whether Pariarch Jirji was inclined toward Roman Catholicism. Naqqasha, whose church seceded from the mother Syrian Orthodox Church, missed no opportunity to denigrate this church and its fathers in order to establish legitimacy for his schismatic church.  Indeed, his book is a combination of half-truths and falsehoods. It should be read with extreme caution, especially by those who have no sound knowledge of the reasons which led Naqqasha’s church to secede from the mother church. Tr.]

6) At the Church of Mar Musa in Damascus there is a Synaxarim (Lives of Holy Saints) in the handwriting of Yuhanna, metropolitan of Damascus, dated June 9, 1771, in the time of Patriarch Jirjis and Gregorius Jirjis, metropolitan of Jerusalem.

7) At the church of Qal’at al-Imra’a there is a book of liturgies in the handwriting of the deacon Yusuf, son of Dawud of Qusur, dated 2083 of the Greeks /1772 A. D., in the time of Patriarch Jirjis and Gregorius, metropolitan of Jerusalem.

8) At the Church of the Martyr Shmuni, there is a copy of The Service Book for the Week of the White (Whitsunday) whose transcription was completed by the priest Yaqub of Qutrubul on March 25, 2084 of the Greeks/1773 A. D., in the days of Patriarch Gurgis (Jirjis) and Metropolitan Jirjis.
Considering this evidence, how could Naqqasha state that our Metropolitan Cyril resided at the Monastery of Raghm in 1769 and allege that he abdicated his see and became a superior of that monastery?  How could Naqqasha further make him resign his position at the monastery and hand it over to the Chorespicopus Elias Amir Khan in 1778? Again, how could he make him die on July 24, 1777? The evidence we produced is sufficient to refute such allegations, not to mention the fact that Bishop Cyril Mansur of Jerusalem was appointed to the Monastery of St. Mark immediately after the death of Metropolitan Jirjis in 1773.

11) Cyril Gurgis (Jirjis), metropolitan of Hattack (1737-1760).
Cyril Gurgis (Jirjis) was an outstanding father of the Church known for his piety, magnanimity, and apostolic zeal. Why should not he be so, since he came from a household known for its godliness, morals, and excellent accomplishments. Among those in his family, known as the family of the priest ‘Abd al-Jalil, who achieved fame were the Patriarch Jirjis II (d.1708, and the priest Rizq Allah (1693-1703), sons of his father’s uncle, and his aunt’s son, Cyril Rizq Allah, bishop of Mosul (1749-1772), the son of the Chorespiscopus Matta.
Cyril Gurgis was born at Mosul in 1709. His father was the deacon Musa, and his mother was Sarah. Before his death, Patriarch Jijis told Cyril’s father, “God will grant you a son whom I want you to name after me (Jirjis.). I ask God to install him as a patriarch who will sit on my patriarchal throne,” and presented him with the Book of Psalms.
The patriarch’s prophecy was realized. Cyril was born and given the same name as the patriarch. He received proper upbringing and grew up to be a well-mannered and pious young man. In 1729, when he was twenty years of age, he entered the Za’faran Monastery and studied church sciences and received training in monastic living. He assumed the monastic habit and was ordained a deacon and then a priest. Because of his godliness, Patriarch Shukr Allah chose him as metropolitan for the Hattack diocese [Hattack is a fortified fortress in Diyarbakr near Miyafarqin, popularly called Antack. It was a diocesan seat until the middle of the nineteenth century.], that is, the Monastery of the Sayyida (Virgin Mary), known as the Mu’allaq Monastery, and the villages which belonged to it. They were Shimshim, Halhal, Qoum, Malaha, Hazro, Mahraniyya, and Babetne, situated in the Mountain of Takh or Hattack.  In the middle of December, 1737, he was ordained a metropolitan and assumed the name of Cyril Gurgis (Jirjis) at his ordination. Assisting the patriarch in his ordination was Dionysius Jirjis, metropolitan of Aleppo, who, together with the patriarch, signed his systaticon on December 15. The systaticon was copied in the handwriting of the Chorespiscopus ‘Abd Yeshu’, son of Ni’ma of Qusur [MS at the Za’faran.Monastery].
The patriarch detected promising signs of potential in the new metropolitan. As soon as he became a metropolitan, Cyril Gurgis devoted his energy to the administration of his diocese. For five years he preached and ordained a number of monks and priests. In December, 1742, the patriarch dispatched him on a mission to Mosul. Cyril journeyed to that city, where he remained until 1744 and undertook the renovation of the Church of Mar Tuma the Apostle, having witnessed the attack of the Persian King Nadir Shah Tahmasb against Mosul the year before (1743). He composed a zjaliyya (ode) about that event.
After Patriarch Jirjis III ascended the Patriarchal Throne, he transferred Cyril in 1747 to the Za’faran Monastery and the diocese of Mardin. Cyril devoted his energy to educating and ordaining a number of monks. He left a good impression on the monastery’s inmates. In 1752 he and his brother, the deacon Isaiah (d. 1772), donated fifteen silver candles to the monastery for the repose of the soul of their mother Sarah We found in the book The Office of Ordinations that from 1747 to 1760, Cyril ordained six monks, nineteen priests, and sixty-seven deacons for the churches attached to the Za’faran Monastery, Mardin, Diyarbakr, Nisibin, Qal’at al-Imra’a, Qusur, Mansuriyya, Banabil and Qellith [Za’faran MS 220].
When the See of the East became vacant with the death of Maphryono Basilius Li’azar IV in the fall of 1759, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained Metropolitan Cyril a Maphryono in 1760. Later he ascended the patriarchal throne, as shall be seen later.

12) Severus ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Edessa (1738-1757).
‘Abd al-Ahad was the son of MaqdisiYuhanna of the Akhras family of Mardin, which produced men who served the priesthood. He was born and grew up in Mardin. In his youth he loved the monastic life and thus entered the Za’faran Monastery, where he studied church sciences and was ordained a priest. When the See of Edessa became vacant with the death of his brother, Metropolitan Severus Elias, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan for Edessa in 1738, calling him Severus ‘Abd al-Ahad at his ordination. His insignia was inscribed with the words, “Severus ‘Abd al-Ahad, metropolitan of Edessa, who asks for the favor of the One and only One (1738)” He is mentioned in some manuscripts at the Library at Edessa, as the one who received the four offertory plates which were collected in the course of seventeen festivals over the year. He did this in accordance with the custom of his predecessor metropolitans of Edessa.
According to the deacon ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Azar of Aleppo, this church father was proficient in medical science. He was of short stature. He went on to say that Severus ‘Abd al-Ahad visited Aleppo twice, in 1743 and 1745. Then he journeyed to Amid to attend the synod which elected and installed Patriarch Gurgis (Jirjis) III.
After administering his diocese for nineteen years, Severus went to meet his Lord (passed away) on September 26, 1757, and was buried in the Church of the Two Apostles in Edessa. His name, inscribed in Garshuni, still appears on his grave.

13) Iyawannis Yuhanna, ecumenical metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office (1740-1755).
Iyawannis Yuhanna was son of the deacon Shahim, son of Shammo. He was born and raised in Amid. He was nicknamed the Araqchinchii [A Turkish term for the one who makes white linen caps worn on the head underneath the turban to absorb sweat from the head. The author of Aqrab al-Mawarid says, “The Araqjin is a head cap, and I have found no mention of it in trustworthy dictionaries.”] Yuhanna is also known as the Mawsili (he of Mosul) because his family originally came from that city. His mother was Qamar (Moon).
Yuhanna was born in Diyarbakr (Amid). He said of his family, “We were four brothers. I and my brother ‘Abd al-Karim became monks, while the other two, ‘Abd al-Masih and Jeremiah, remained laymen.” Yuhanna had two sisters, Maryam and Gawzal (Beautiful).  He entered the Za’faran Monastery shortly before 1716 and studied religious sciences and mastered the Syriac language. He was ordained a priest. At this monastery, he transcribed The Service Book of Baptism for the Church of the Forty Martyrs in 1725. Today this book is at the Church of St Shmuni.
In 1727, Yuhanna was transferred to the Monastery of Mar Matta in the Mountain of al-Faf near Mosul. But before 1732, he returned to his monastery (Za’faran) and devoted his time to copying Syriac manuscripts in his elegant handwriting. We have come upon some of these manuscripts, one of which was a Syriac and Garshuni Gospel at the Church of The Lady of Hah, completed in 1732.  Other manuscripts included a copy of the Gospel for church use, which he transcribed at the Za’faran Monastery in 1735  and was donated by Patriarch Shukr Allah to the church of Banabil; a Gospel for  the Monastery of St. Mark in Bushairiyya, which he completed in 1737; a commentary on the Old Testament in Garshuni, which he completed in 1727 at the village of Bartulli; a book of Unction, which he completed in 1739, now at the Church of St. Shmuni; and a Gospel which he transcribed in 1737 at the Monastery of Yuhanna the Ta’i in Tur ‘Abdin.
Iyawannis Yuhanna resided at the Qatra Monastery from 1737 to 1739.  In 1743, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan for the Patriarchal Office and called him Iyawannis at his ordination. I saw his insignia at the village of Basibrina in a Syriac grammar book which he completed in his elegant handwriting in 1740. It read thus: “Iyawannis Yuhanna, Ecumenical Metropolitan, 1740.”
In 1743, Yuhanna was appointed a superior of the Monastery of Mar Matta. About 1746, Patriarch Jirjis III entrusted to him the administration of the diocese of Malabar, India. [Some contemporary Malabarian writers say that Iyawannis Yuhanna was sent to Malabar in 1739, while others say he was sent in 1748 by order of the Maphryono of the East, Li’azar IV. More correct is what we have said above. It is corroborated by his contemporary Gregorius Yuhanna Shuqayr, metropolitan of Damascus, who said that Iyawannis Yuhanna arrived in Malabar on January 16, 1747.] The Syrian people of Malabar had sought the assistance of a Jewish merchant named Ezekiel, who transacted business with the Middle East, to facilitate Iyawannis Yuhanna’s journey. Ezekiel joined Yuhanna at Basra, Iraq. He boarded the ship of the Syrian Antonius, who was doing business with India. When Iyawannis arrived in Malabar, he proceeded to visit the churches, preaching, evangelizing, and guiding the people. He was extremely zealous (for the faith), but hot-tempered. Whenever he found a figurine of a saint, he shattered it and rebuked those who adored it. The figurines had been implanted by the Latin (Roman Catholic) clerics in the churches when they controlled Malabar. [Most likely, the reference here is to the Portuguese, who arrived in Malabar in the sixteenth century. Tr.] For this reason, some labeled him the iconoclast. He ordered the priests to wear black caps and suspended from performing priestly duties those who had violated the rituals, church laws, and Syriac traditions. He did this with daring fearlessness. Evidently, Tuma of Malabar, who had unlawfully positioned himself as bishop with the assistance of the notables of Malabar, was displeased because Iyawannis Yuhanna did not counsel him or the notables about his actions. The notables pleaded with Iyawannis Yuhanna and convinced him to write two letters, one to the patriarch and the other to Shukr Allah Qasabchi, metropolitan of Aleppo, to send an outstanding maphryono to Malabar. Tuma also wrote similar letters, and he and the notables sent them with the deacon Antonius, mentioned above. [ According to Malabarian writers , in addition to his hot temper,  Iyawannis Yuhanna displeasedTuma V   because he did not produce an authorization from the Patriarch of Antioch to ordain him a lawful metropolitan. See E. M. Philip, The Indian Church of St Thoams (1908, reprinted 2002, 155,  Curien, The Syrian Orthodox Church in India and its Apostolic Faith (1989), 106-107 and Mar severus Jacob Tuma (later Patriarch Jacob III),  The Syrian Church of Inida Beirut, 1951), 122-124. Tr. ]
When Maphryono Shukr Allah and Metropolitan Yuhanna of Khydaida (who were newly delegated by the patriarch) arrived in Malabar on April 23, 1751, Iyawannis went to see them. After some deliberation, they concluded that his treatment of the Syrian natives was harsh. The maphryono detained him at the citadel of Cuchin to await a ship bound for the East. When a ship became available, he sent Yuhanna back to the East at the end of 1751, in accordance with the patriarch’s order. The maphryono also sent back with him the Chorepiscopus Jirjis, son of Chorepiscopus Ni’mat Allah Tunburji of Aleppo. We found at the Library of Cambridge a liturgy transcribed in Malabar by Iyawannis dated 2090 of the Greeks/1749 A.D. [Cambridge MS 1036]
In the last quarter of 1752, the patriarch appointed Iyawannis a metropolitan for the diocese of Bedlis, which he administered for three years. He died at Bedlis in September, 1755, having served the episcopate for fifteen years. His brother Metropolitan ‘Abd al-Karim also died at Bedlis. May God have mercy on them!

14) Basilius Denha, maphryono of Tur ‘Abdin (1740-1779).
Denha was the son of Yuhanna Baltachi (Beth Balto), whose family was also called Beth Habil (Abel), and his mother was Nisa. He recorded his genealogy in a Syriac Book of husoyos for the Resurrection, which he completed in 1749. We found this book at the Monastery of Mar Sharbil in the neighborhood of Midyat. He said that his brothers were Saliba, Mirza, and Barsoum. In this family flourished Yusuf, archbishop of Tur ‘Abdin (d. 1724), Athanasius, metropolitan of the diocese of the Monastery of the Cross (1845-1873), and several presbyters, among whom were Shim’un and his son Adam, who was still living in 1912. It was the presbyter Shim’un who related to us some of his brothers’ chronicles.
Basilius Denha was born in the village of ‘Arnas in Tur ‘Abdin, and was thus called the ‘Arnasian. He was also called the Kafarzian because his family came originally from the village of Tur ‘Abdin. He grew up to cherish the monastic life and studied under Mar Shim’un, the famous Maphryono of Tur ‘Abdin, from whom he learned godly and virtuous traits. Maphryono Shim’un ordained him a deacon before 1722, robed him with the monastic habit, and then ordained him a priest before 1728. He lived at the Monastery of Mar Abhai in the village of Manim’im, where he copied a service book which we came upon at the Church of Mar Iliyya (Elijah) in the village of Baqisyan. In that year, he moved to the Monastery of Mar Shim’un, in the neighborhood of the village of Arbo, where he transcribed a commentary on the Psalms by Mar Daniel of Salah, which he completed on September 23, 1728.  With him at this monastery resided Rabban ‘Abd al-Razzaq of Mosul (the metropolitan who was martyred in 1740), and the monks Ibrahim, son of Yeshu’ of Qutrubul, Bulus of Ma’dan, and Gurgis of Mardin (MSS of Basibrina). Basilius Denha also transcribed the husoyos of the Resurrection and other festivals at the Monastery of the Cross, known as Beth El. He donated it to the Monastery of Mar Abhai, mentioned earlier. His handwriting was of average quality.
When Maphryono Shim’un, of blessed memory, was martyred, Basilius Denha witnessed his martyrdom. Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained Denha a Maphryono for the town of Hisn Kifa, Tur ‘Abdin, and the Monastery of Qartmin (the Monastery of Mar Gabriel) on Sunday, July 27, 1740, and called him Basilius Denha at his ordination. The ordination was attended by Gregorius Tuma, metropolitan of Jerusalem, and Cyril Faraj Allah, metropolitan of Bedlis. The patriarch handed him his systaticon, which we came upon at the Monastery of the Cross in 1912. It was kept by the priest Adam Baltaji, and contained the commendations and seals of the fathers.
In 1748, Basilius Denha renovated the episcopal residence of the Church of the Virgin and Mar Barsoum in the village of ‘Araban, located between the villages of Basibrina and Tamars. At that time about fourteen Syrian families lived in ‘Araban. We passed through this village in 1911 and found in it only two Syrian families and about forty Muslim families. Its church was in ruins.
In 1749, Basilius Denha lived in the cloister of Mar Barsoum, in the neighborhood of the village of Dafne, near Hisn Kifa. There he transcribed the book of the husoyos for the Resurrection, mentioned earlier. He later resided at the Monastery of the Cross, also known as the Monastery of Makhar, but was forced to leave due to a misunderstanding which occurred between him and the lord of Hisn Kifa. He left for the Monastery of St. Barbara in the village of Beirar and then moved to the Monastery of the Cross-Bethel.
Several clerics studied under Basilus Denha, including the deacons Gabriel and ‘Aziz, and the monk Yaqub, son of Sulayman of Basibrina, whom Denha ordained a bishop at the end of 1749, calling him Cyril. In 1752, this bishop ordained the priests Yeshu’ and Gurgis. In 1759 Basibrina was afflicted with famine, which swept away the priest Yaqub and eight more priests, twenty deacons, and about a thousand lay people.  [According to MSS of Basibrina, the Book of Life, and other sources] In his family flourished his nephew Julius Israel, metropolitan of the Monastery of Bethel (1779-1785). After serving the episcopate for thirty-nine years, Maphryono Denha died and was buried at the Monastery of Qartmin before September, 1779, being eighty years old. He was a righteous man. May God have mercy on him!

15) Dioscorus Shukr Allah, metropolitan of the Jazira (1743-1785).
We know nothing about his origin or upbringing prior to his becoming a bishop. Some, however, maintain that he was born in Basibrina. After spending a long time as a monk, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan for Jazirat ibn ‘Umar and called him Dioscorus in 1743 (or 1745, as some say). He was a venerable church father who administered his diocese properly for more than forty years. I have not found the date of his death, which most likely occurred in 1785. He was buried at the Church of Mar Behnam in the city of the Jazira, next to Metropolitan Dioscorus Gabriel of Bartulli (d. 1300). In his tomb was also buried Bishop Athanasius Stephan of the Jazira in 1869.
Dioscorus Shukr Allah attended the synod which elected Patriarch Jirjis IV. He was succeeded by the Metropolitan Iyawannis Sa’id of Mardin.

16) Bulus, metropolitan of Ma’dan (1745-1769).
Bulus was the son of ‘Abd al-Ahad of Ma’dan. He was born in the village of Ma’dan in the province of Sherwan. He became inclined toward the monastic life. He assumed the monastic habit and was ordained a deacon and then a priest. In 1738, he resided at the Monastery of Mar Malke in Tur ‘Abdin, and then moved in 1740 to the Monastery of Mar Shim’un near the village of Arbo, as related by his companion the monk Ibrahim of Qutrubul. In response to the request of Patriach Shukr Allah, he transcribed a copy of The Chariot of Divine Mysteries, which he completed at the Monastery of Mar Malke. This copy is now at the Monastery of Mar Matta. In 1745, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan for Ma’dan, but we could not find his ordination name.  He administered his diocese for some years, assisted toward the end of his days by Metropolitan Gregorius Behnam. He died in 1769.

17) Cyril Yuhanna, ecumenical metropolitan (1745-1771).
Cyril Yuhanna, known as the son of Koul, was born in Mardin and became a novice monk at the Za’faran Monastery, where he was ordained a priest before the year 1716. In 1745, Patriarch Shukr Allah ordained him a metropolitan and called him Cyril Yuhanna at his ordination. The next year he committed a sin and fell (from grace), and was condemned and suspended from service. [The author does not specify the sin committed by this metropolitan. It was most likely an act of adultery. Tr.]  In January, 1748, he composed an ode in which he repented and appealed to Patriarch Jirjis III for forgiveness. The patriarch accepted his penitence and absolved him. Cyril resided at the Za’faran Monastery until 1763. Then he was appointed a superior of the Monastery of Mar Yaqub (Jacob), overlooking the Za’faran Monastery. He was still living at this monastery in 1766 and 1768. Patriarch Jirjis IV mentioned him in one of his letters dated October, 1770. He died shortly after 1771. He composed a simplistic ode on repentance of his sin and another ode in praise of the Virgin Mary (according to the Collection of Odes in Mardin).

Ignatius Jirjis III, Patriarch of Antioch

Ignatius Jirjis ascended the Patriarchal Throne at the Church of Amid on Sunday October, 1745 and passed away on July 7, 1768 having served twenty-two years, eight months and twenty-five days. He was about eighty years old.
Jirjis (Gurgis) was the son of Shim’un, and a grandson of the brother of the patriarch of Antioch, ‘Abd al-Masih I (1662-1668). He was born in Edessa in the ninth decade of the seventeenth century. As a youth he became inclined toward the monastic life and entered the Za’faran Monastery, studying church sciences and acquiring training in the way of the monastics. He was ordained a priest and joined the monks of the cell of Patriarch Ishaq, where he excelled in church service and administration. Because he was efficient and venerable, Patriarch Jirjis III in 1722 ordained him a metropolitan for his Patriarchal Office (cell) and called him Basilius Gurgis at his ordination. In the middle of this year he attended the synod at the Za’faran Monastery which elected and installed Patriarch Shukr Allah. He remained at the monastery until 1727.  The patriarch appointed him to the metropolitan see of Aleppo and changed his name to Dionysius, following the tradition of the metropolitans of the diocese who assumed the same name [ See Vol. 6, 86 of this magazine]. For eighteen years he administered the diocese of Aleppo, which had a number of priests, deacons, and orthodox (Syrian) parishioners. Jirjis ordained priests and deacons. By 1739 there were twelve priests in the church of Aleppo.  In 1737, he visited the patriarch at Amid and assisted him in the ordination of Metropolitan Jirjis of Aleppo and Metropolitan Jirjis of Mosul.
When the Patriarchal See became vacant with the death of Patriarch Shukr Allah, Gregorius Tuma of Mosul, metropolitan of Jerusalem, was then in Amid.  Meanwhile, on September 18, Cyril Gurgis Sani’a, nephew of Patriarch Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Mardin, arrived in Amid. These church dignitaries met with the chorepiscopi and priests of Amid, twenty in number, and the Syrian notables and elders.They wrote a letter to Dionysisus Jirjis, metropolitan of Aleppo, signed with their seals, requesting him to proceed to Amid. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Severus Abd al-Ahad of Edessa and Cyril Jirjis, metropolitan of Homs and the Monastery of Mar Julian and the patriarch’s deputy in Jerusalem, were then in Aleppo. Metropolitan Jirjis accompanied them to Amid. They arrived in the city late in the afternoon on Friday, September 4. They held a meeting, presided over by Metropolitan Gregorius Tuma, to discuss the election of a new patriarch for the See of Antioch. Apparently, circumstances did not permit them to invite the rest of their fellow metropolitans. The Chorepiscopus ‘Abd Yeshu’ of Qusur, however, said in some of his comments that the meeting was attended by Gregorius Boghos (Paul), metropolitan of Bushairiyya, and Cyril Gewargis, metropolitan of Hattack. But what we copied from the register of Patriarch Shukr Allah contradicts what ‘Abd Yeshu’ of Qusur said. After nine days of deliberation, the bishops unanimously elected the metropolitan of Aleppo (Dionysius Jirjis) as the new patriarch, with the approval of the priests and laymen. The ordination was celebrated by Metropolitan Tuma, who invested the new patriarch with the patriarchal staff. The new patriarch was proclaimed as Ignatius Jirjis at the Church of the Virgin in Amid on Sunday, September 13, 2057 of the Greeks/1745 A. D. The ceremony was attended by a great number of chorepiscopi, priests, deacons, and laity. [The account of the ordination of Patriarch Jirjis of Edessa, as recorded in the register of Patriarch Shukr Allah, preserved in our Library.] Some sources recounted the names of twenty priests, four archdeacons, and thirty-nine deacons of Amid who attended the consecration of the new patriarch. [Amid MSS, at our Library]
The Chorepiscopus Yeshu’, mentioned earlier, composed a Syriac ode exalting the new patriarch and fixing the date of his election [As recorded in the register of Patriarch Shukr Allah]. The seal of the new patriarch, circular in shape, was inscribed as follows: “Ignatius Jirjis, Patriarch of Antioch, the year 2057 of the Greeks.” In the middle of the seal was fixed the portrait of a seated church dignitary, and beneath it the date 1745 [MSS at our Library, which includes a great collection of ancient letters]. The new patriarch obtained a decree of investiture from the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I (1143-1168 of the Islamic calendar/1730-1754 A. D.) dated Shawwal 15, 1158 of the Islamic calendar/late November, 1745 A.D.The new patriarch resided at Amid. He endorsed Saliba, son of Tumajan of Edessa, who had been the deputy of his predecessor in Constantinople, as his own deputy. He designated his nephew, the deacon Abd Emmanuel of Edessa (1749-1768), as his secretary.  He transferred Metropolitan Gurgis Sani’a from the diocese of Mardin to the diocese of Amid, Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis Abd al-Jalil, from the diocese of Hattack to the diocese of Mardin and the  Za’faran Monastery, and Metropolitan Jirjis of Aleppo from the diocese of Homs and the Monastery of Mar Julian to the diocese of Jerusalem.
The cause of his first and greatest apostolic acts was his concern for the great diocese of Malabar in India. He appointed for it the Metropolitan Shukr Allah Qasabchi of Aleppo after elevating him to the dignity of the maphrianate. He sent with him to Malabar two metropolitans and several priests and deacons, as shall be seen later in the biography of the Maphryono Shukr Allah Qasabchi. He maintained correspondance with them to ascertain how they were faring in Malabar. This was undoubtedly an important act by this great church dignitary to promote the interests of the Holy Church of Antioch.  Furthermore, Patriarch Jirjis continued the work of his predecessor by having important books translated into Arabic. The most important of these books was the Commentary on the Gospels by Mar Jabob bar Salibi. It was translated into Arabic by the monk ‘Abd al-Nur of Amid in 1755, as has been said earlier in the biography of Metropolitan Jirjis of Aleppo. In the same year, the first Arabic copy of this commentary was completed by the deacon Dawud, son of the priest Yaqub of Qusur. [Priest Yaqub, father of the deacon Dawud, said that his son Dawud died a young man on the eve of the Festival of Ascension. He was twenty-five years old.]
Under Patriarch Jirjis, the building of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem was completed, and the Church of Mar Iliyya (Eiljah), in the village of Jaftelek near Mardin, was renovated in 1762.
Between 1757 and 1759 Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia) and Syria were afflicted with a severe drought and famine, and then by exorbitant prices for provisions, followed by plague, and many people perished. Natives of Mardin related that in 1756, the pomegranate, fig, and olive trees withered. Swarms of locusts stripped the crops, and people suffered hunger. In the winter of 1757, the prices of provisions skyrocketed, and starvation became so severe that some Kurds ventured to slaughter their own relatives in order to eat their flesh (God save us from this), and were hanged by the governor. [MSS of Mardin in our own handwriting, preserved at our Library.] It seems that because of these calamities, the patriarch suffered financial problems and had to borrow seven purses to meet his needs in 1764. This debt was settled by his successor, Patriarch Jirjis IV, with his own money. [The debt amounted to 3,500 piasters, estimated at 300 gold liras.]
Patriarch Jirjis III resided at Diyarbakr throughout the period of his patriarchate. He served the Apostolic See for twenty-two years, eight months, and twenty-two days. He died at Diyarbakr on July 7, 1768, having lived eighty years, forty-six of which spent in serving the priesthood.. He was buried in the tomb of the Patriarch ‘Abd al-Masih I, his father’s uncle, in the Syrian cemetery, outside the Rum Gate. He was the third and the last patriarch to be buried there. The date of his death was not marked on his grave.
Patriarch Jirjis III, may God be gracious to him, was known for his piety and venerableness. He was endowed with a respectable appearance in his old age, as can be seen from his portrait, preserved in one of the churches. Some ascribed to him a book of homilies, but this is uncertain. He took care of the city of Mardin for which he ordained several priests and deacons in 1747. He consecrated the Chrism at the Za’faran Monastery in 1753. After his death, the Apostolic See was vacant for forty days. He ordained twelve metropolitans and bishops, including two maphryonos for the See of the East and Malabar. These were:

1) Dionysius Shukr Allah, metropolitan of Aleppo (1746-1748).
Dionysius Shukr Allah was son of the deacon Musa Qasabchi [Qasabchi is a compound term of Arabic and Turkish, meaning the one who manufactures or sells silk cloth embroidered with silver threads. According to the dictionary Taj al-Arus, qasab is a material derived from silver. The singular of qasab is qasaba. The qasab is actually a thin and smooth linen.], the son of Shim’un of Aleppo. He was born in Aleppo at the end of the first decade of the eighteenth century and raised in a household known for faith and piety. His father was a deacon who made a living by weaving silk cloth embroidered with silver and gold threads. This was an artistic craft with a booming market in Aleppo. His family excelled in this craft. His maternal grandfather was the deacon Yunan (Jonah), son of Shim’un, a priest of Aleppo. Yunan was ordained a deacon in 1703 and a priest in September, 1708 by the Maphryono of the East, Basilius Ishaq (later Patriarch Ishaq), who was still living in 1739. So too were his three uncles, Jirjis who was ordained a deacon by Gregorius Jirjis of Aleppo, metropolitan of Jerusalem, in 1757  [MSS Za’faran, the Homologia (Confession of Faith), Nos. 220 and 222) and the deacons Elias and Tuma, who were still living with their sister, mother of our Dionysius Shukr Allah in 1785, as related by Patriarch Jirjis V of Aleppo. [According to a Gospel MS we found at Homs.]
Shukr Allah received proper upbringing characterized by piety. He was of good conduct, meek and intelligent. He acquired a good mastery of church sciences and knowledge of the Syriac and Arabic languages. He became involved in spiritual life and reading of the theological writings of the fathers. He was ordained a deacon before 1728 and became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian.  Dionysius Jirjis (later Patriarch Jirjis III) added him to his staff and ordained him a priest, having great hopes for him. Joining Shukr Allah were some pious deacons inclined toward learning, who studied under him. Some of them became monks at the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian in the town of Nabk and later were ordained bishops. Among these were Gregorius Yuhanna Shuqayr, metropolitan of Damascus (d. 1783), and Dionysius ‘Abd Allah Shidyaq of Aleppo, metropolitan of Aleppo and then of Damascus (d. 1801). Shukr Allah served the priesthood with excellence.
Shukr Allah wrote in good Arabic a medium-sized book on the principles of the Christian faith entitled Tafhim al-Tadabir al-Mhuyiyya li al-Atfal al-Maishiyya (Explaining the Life-Giving Principles for Christian Children). The book consisted of an introduction and twenty-four chapters and gave an abundant exposition of the tenets of the orthodox faith which attests to his profound knowledge of religion.  We came upon three copies of it, one in Mosul, the second in ‘Aqra, and the third in Qal’at al-Imra’a.  We transcribed a copy of it in our own handwriting in 1909. It is now preserved at our Library. He also transcribed, while still a deacon, a Service Book for Lent and Passion Week  [ Sharfa Monastery MS 33-6)] When the metropolitan see of Aleppo became vacant because its metropolitan ascended the patriarchal throne in 1745, the new patriarch ordained Shukr Allah a metropolitan for Aleppo in 1746, to replace him at the great church of Amid. He called him Dionysoius Shukr Allah at his ordination. Shukr Allah proceeded to take care of his flock with his well-known piety, zeal and understanding. Aleppo did not enjoy him for too long, however, because two years later the patriarch ordained him a maphryono and dispatched him as his apostolic legate to Malabar, India together with a group of clergymen, as shall be seen later.

2) Iyawannis Yuhanna, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam and then of Malabar (1747-1773).
Iyawannis was born Yuhanna (John), son of the priest Ishaq of Ba Khudayda (Qaraqosh), and his mother was Shamma. He was born in Qaraqosh near Mosul about 1695. [It should be noted that he and Maphryono Yalda come from the same family. Tr. ]  At an early age he mastered the Syriac language and church rituals.  He and his brother Saliba chose the life of piety. Iyawannis cloistered himself at the Church of the Virgin and of Yuhanna the Bosni in his village of Qaraqosh. He prepared himself for the monastic order and spent much time reading spiritual books. He was ordained a deacon before 1721 and then moved with his brother to the Monastery of Mar Behnam, where in 1723 they received the monastic habit from Iyawannis Karas, metropolitan of the diocese, who ordained them priests. [Qaraqosh MSS. They remained at the monastery, persevering in devotion, until 1740, when they went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Upon their return, they resided at the Za’faran Monastery. [The monk Saliba spent his life at the Za’faran Monastery. He was still living in 1757.]
When the diocese of Mar Behnam became vacant with the death of Metroploitan Karas, of blessed memory, on April 20, 1747, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained the elder brother, monk Yuhanna, a metropolitan for the diocese in the middle of the year and called him Iyawannis Yuhanna at his ordination. The new metropolitan faced opposition, however, because of a controversy between him and his flock, the people of Qaraqosh. The patriarch had already sent Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis to Mosul with the sultan’s decree of investiture (of Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna) to have it registered in the courts. The governor of Mosul, the Vizier Hajj Husayn Pasha al-Jalili, thought that he should send Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis to Qaraqosh to settle the problem between the metropolitan and the congregation. He also wrote to the patriarch what he had done. When Metroplolitan Gurgis failed to reconcile the two sides, he reported the case to the Pasha (governor of Mosul), and he wrote to the patriarch about his failure to reconcile the metropolitan with his congregation. The Pasha, too, wrote to the patriarch about the same matter. The patriarch wrote to the pasha, requesting him to make an effort to keep Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna in his diocese, or else he will empower the pasha to appoint a civilian as his deputy in Qaraqosh [A copy of the patriarch’s appeal, written in Turkish in the language and style of the firmanas (sultan’s decrees), is in the register of Patriarch Shukr Allah, preserved at our Library, from which we derived the above information.] The reason for appealing to Husayn Pasha al-Jalili was that the big village of Qaraqosh had been given by the Ottoman sultan to the pasha, who collected its revenue, as a reward for defending the city of Mosul against the attack of the Persian Tahmasb Khan in 1743.
The patriarch removed Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna from his diocese. In 1748, however, he made him an honorary metropolitan of Jerusalem, changed his name to Gregorius Yuhanna, and delegated him to Malabar in India. Gregorius journeyed to Baghdad via the river route, accompanied by Yuhanna of Mosul, a monk of the Za’faran Monastery, who in 1752 had been ordained a metropolitan. [In 1752, the monk Yuhanna was ordained a metropolitan at Malankara by the Maphryono Basilius Shukr Allah, who called him Iyawannis at his ordination. See David Daniel,The Orthodox Church of India, 1 (New Delhi, 1972): 69. Tr.] The patriarch also sent to Baghdad Metropolitan Severus Yuhanna of Gargar, who was ordained a metropolitan for Malabar, together with the Chorepiscopus ‘Abd al-Nur Aslan of Amid. But they tarried in Baghdad for a while because of sickness, and then left the city.
Meantime, Gregorius and monk Yuhanna remained in Baghdad for eleven months, awaiting the arrival of Maphryono Shukr Allah, head of the Indian mission. Although they patiently endured separation from their homeland, they remained firm in their determination to fulfill the mission assigned to them for the good of the Indian country (Malabar). On March 8, 1749, Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna accompanied the maphryono and his retinue to Basra. Then they sailed to Malabar, suffering incredible perils during the voyage. Gregorius shared the maphryono’s toil and struggle. You will later see his chronicle, up to the death of the maphryono, in the biography of the latter.
Following the death of Mar Basilius (Maphryono Shukr Allah) on October 9, 1764, Gregorius Yuhanna assumed responsibility for the mission and the diocese in his place. But it happened that someone named Tuma, who styled himself as Tuma V [an unlawful metropolitan. Tr. ] rebelled against the Apostolic See and with sheer audacity ordained a young relative  to succeed him (as metropolitan) under the name of Tuma VI in 1765. Tuma V passed away in this same year, and his successor realized how precarious his position was. One Sunday, as Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna was celebrating the Eucharist at the Church of Niranam, Tuma VI entered the church unnoticed and went up to the altar. He fell at the feet of the metropolitan, kissing them and declaring his repentance. Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna stretched out his right hand, received him and pardoned him. A few days later, Gregorius Yuhanna celebrated the Holy Eucahrist with Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna. Tuma VI  was present. During the service, the metropolitan proclaimed Tuma VI as a lawful metropolitan and named him Dionysius. He handed him the pastoral staff, the cross, and the systaticon (Letter of Investiture) which Patriarch Jirjis III had given to the maphryono (Shukr Allah), to be presented to Tuma V in case he became lawfully ordained. The people of Malabar were filled with joy because of the reconciliation (of Tuma VI with the Apostolic See), which occurred on May 29, 1770. Gregorius Yuhanna, Iyawannis, and Dionysius Tuma resided in one church, ministering to the flock in unison.[ See E. M. Philip. The Indian Church of St. Thomas, 161. Tr.]
In 1773, Gregorius Yuhanna, burdened by old age and weak vision, almost lost his sight. A Malabarian monk named Curien (Quryaqos) Kattoomangat, a priest of the Church of Mulanthuruthi  who had assumed the monastic habit by the hands of Maphryono Shukr Allah and was engaged for some time in the teaching of deacons, asked the two churchmen to permit him to take Gregorius Yuhanna to another town for care and treatment. The two men appreciated his good intentions, and Curien took Gregorius Yuhanna to Cochin and from there to the town of Mattancherry. He lodged him in the house of the maphryono, where Gregorius found some rest and enjoyed agreeable weather. What Curien did, however, was not for the sake of God or out of loyalty to the metropolitan, but for sheer self-interest. Apparently this monk had evil intentions. He was sick in heart and coveted a higher office. One day he put on the vestment of a bishop and claimed that Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna had ordained him a metropolitan and called him Cyril at his ordination. When the news spread throughout the town of Mattancherry, where the deacon Addai, a member of the retinue of the maphryono, lived, Addai rushed to see Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna to ascertain the truth. The metropolitan told him that he had no knowledge of this rumor and that he had ordained no one. When Dionysius Tuma VI learned what had happened, he sent Iyawannis to Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna to find out the  truth. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna had passed away on June 27, 1773, aged eighty years, and was buried in the Church of Mulanthuruthi.  Iyawannis learned of his death while en route to see him. He was joined by a host of clergymen and laymen who journeyed to prepare the body of the metropolitan for burial. But the wicked Curien locked the door and would not let them in. Dionysius Tuma VI and those with him kept knocking at the door but received no response. They departed with great sorrow for the Church of Kandanad, about one and a half hours’ distance from Mulanthuruthi.
Meanwhile, the impudent Curien put on his chest the cross belonging to the late metropolitan, carried his staff, and seized his money and belongings. He began to behave like a lawfully ordained bishop. He found a pseudo-monk to work for him. He claimed to have ordained three young men as deacons. Dionysius and Iyawannis complained about Curien’s behavior to the kings (rajas) of Travancore and Cochin, who referred the case to the Dutch Company, which protected the Christians and handled their private cases.Curien was summoned before the Assembly of Twelve Judges, who tried him and confirmed his deception and fabrication. They handed him and their verdict over to the raja of Cochin. When the raja read the case, he became angry and handed Curien over to the Metropolitans Dionysius and Iyawannis. The metropolitans convened a great assembly of clergymen and laity and divested Curien of the office (of metropolitan), which he had usurped. They forced him to unfrock. Moreover, Dionysius reordained lawfully the three deacons whom Curien had formerly ordained. His pupil, the false monk, joined the cult of the Protesant Heldisians [  Waldensians? Tr. ], dabbled in sorcery, acted repulsively, and then died from a vicious disease. Three months later, Curien faked illness and went to British Malabar, ostensibly to seek medical treatment. The English Merchant Company ruled Malabar, where the raja of Cochin had no authority, and there were no Christians. There Curien built a church and resided in the town of Thorziyur, also called  Anjoor. Still rebellious, he continued with his former shameless conduct.
Curien continued his life of witchcraft and corruption. He installed his half-brother, Gurgis, and Ibrahim, his nephew on his mother’s side, as unlawful bishops.  They ordained false bishops who lived until the middle of the eighteenth century, when they finally died out.  In 1825, Curien’s imposture was exposed when Metropolitan Athanasius ‘Abd al-Masih of Amid got hold of the letter in which Curien alleged that Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna had ordained him a bishop. ‘Abd al-Masih discovered that the letter was a forgery and that Curien had removed the seal of Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna from one of his letters and pasted it on the fake letter, as shall be seen later in the biography of Athanasius ‘Abd al-Masih. This was confirmed by historical Syriac tracts written by two Malabarian priests, the first in 1820 and the second in 1838. [ These two tracts were written in poor Syriac by some clergymen of Malabar and transcribed by other clergymen of Malabar. Both of them are at our Library.]  Finally, the impostor Curien perished in 1802.
Some contemporary writers, including PhilipKatanar and Metropolitan Awgen (Eugene), collected the chronicles of Malabar. [Philipus was a secretary to Yusuf, the metropolitan of Malabar. He wrote The History of Mar tuma ogf iNida , published in 1907. He died in 1909.The book, still a manuscript, is preserved in our Library. Metropolitan Eugene wrote a collection in Syriac in 1932.] , [ The refrence here to E. M. Philip, The Indian Church of St. Thomas,  ( Edavazhikal; Tottayam, 1908, reptinted Mor adai Study Center, ed. Dr. Kuriakos Corepiscopopa Moolayil, Cheeranchira, Chngancheryr: Kerla, 2002}.Tr. ] They claim that Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna ordained Curien to spite Metropolitan Dionysius. He bequeathed to him the church vessels and plenty of money, specifying that they should be used to help the poor and treat the sick. [ See E. M. Pjilip, The Indian Church of St Thomas, 161-162. Tr. ] But these writers fail to corroborate their claim by citing contemporary historical sources. Indeed, ancient chronicles contradict this claim. It is well known that when a writer reports events to suit his own bias, his evidence does not stand. .
Gregorius Yuhanna was well versed in the Syriac language. We came upon five lines of verse on Repentance composed by him in the Sarugite (twelve-syllabic) meter when he was still a youth in 1719. They are as follows:

He who fixes his eyes on one goal, that of salvation Will naturally find what will sharpen his entire sensation and disposition.
In order to attain that goal, he should fasten unto it his heart and mind,
and spend everything he has for its cause. [This ode is fixed at the end of Bar Hebraeus’s Kthobo d-Zalge (The Book of Rays), a compendium of his Lamp of the Sanctuaries), at the Library of the Monastery of Mar Matta.]

3) Basilius Shukr Allah, maphryono of Malabar (1748-1764).
Basilius Shukr Allah was a prominent church dignitary in the same vein as the apostles. He was of unique spirituality and commendable character. He was one of the stars who shone in the firmament of his native city, Aleppo, and the church.
His biography, up to the time when he became head of the diocese of Aleppo in 1764, has been set forth earlier. When the knowledge of his erudition and capability spread as far as India, he was chosen by the Syrian people of India (Malabar) to become their maphryono. Patriarch Jirjs III, who better than anyone else recognized his excellence and his ability to shoulder responsibility, invited him to accept the noble office of the maphrianate and to preach orthodoxy in that remote land. Shukr Allah, known for his piety, meekness, and religious zeal, obeyed. The patriarch ordained him a maphryono for Malabar and called him Basilius Shukr Allah at his ordination at the church of Amid in August, 1748. He was assisted by Cyril Gurgis Sani’a, metropolitan of Amid. The Patriarch handed him a quantity of mirun (Holy Chrism), a staff, a Cross and a systaticon (Letter of Investiture), to be delivered to Metropolitan Tuma of Malabar. He charged Basilius to ordain Tuma as a lawful metropolitan and hand him his personal systaticon.
On August 25, the new maphryono returned to Aleppo, only to fall sick again from the ailment he had suffered two months before his ordination. Nevertheless, he went on to provide himself with the necessary religious, theological, and liturgical books and church vessels. He acquired eighteen manuscripts, all but one important. Three of them were transcribed in the Istrangelo script on vellum. We shall have more to say about them later.
Since the land route between Aleppo and Baghdad was cut off by a great number of highway robbers who intercepted travelers pillaging and killing, the maphryono waited for four months for a large caravan in order to be able to travel. Such a caravan was not available until January 7, 1750. The maphryono left Aleppo accompanied by the Chorepiscopus Jirjis, son of the Chorepiscopus Ni’mat Allah Tunburchi of Aleppo, deacon Anton, son of the priest Sim’an of Aleppo, who had come from Malabar to join the maphryono on his journey, and the maphryono’s private deacon. Leaving for Baghdad ahead of him were the priest Shukr Allah and the deacons Shukr Allah of Amid, Hidayat Allah, Musa, and Zechariah [Deacon Zechariah is mentioned in the tract of Chorepiscopus Jirjis. The other deacons are mentioned in a letter by the patriarch and some chronicles of India, which call one deacon Addai instead of Hidayat Allah. Deacon Addai was still living in 1770.], in addition to Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna of Khudayda (Qaraqosh), the monk-priest Yuhanna of Mosul, a monk of the Za’faran Monastery, and his attendant ‘Abd Allah. The patriarch sent with them forty-six manuscripts of religious and service books and church vessels, as shall be seen later.
After traveling though open and unpopulated country, suffering incredible fear of the Arabs of the Dulaym tribe, and incurring heavy expenses, Maphryono Basilius Shukr Allah and his Aleppine companions arrived in Baghdad. They were joined by the clerics who had gone ahead of them to the city. The whole group journeyed to Basra, arriving in that city on May 8. On June 24 they left Basra and, after anchoring at the ports of Bandar Bushir, Bandar Abbas, and Surat, arrived at the port of Cochin, Malabar on April 23, 1751, which was the festival day of Mar Jirjis the martyr. During the journey they suffered incredible perils from highwaymen, pirates, gales and disease. They endured these perils with remarkable Christian patience. The journey cost them about 9500 rupees, in addition to 200 rupees which deacon Anton had with him when he joined the group. At Cochin the travelers heaved a sigh of relief and enjoyed rest. The judge and the president of the Dutch Company went out to receive them. [The Portuguese were the first Franks (Europeans) to colonize India in the time of their King Emmanuel I, following the opening of the sea route to India by the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama in 1498. On the coast they set up markets which were like Portuguese colonies for the exchange of native goods. Through the Portuguese, some Latin (Roman Catholic) entered India and spread their faith by many means.  At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Dutch followed in the footsteps of the Portuguese and founded similar markets. They overwhelmed the Portuguese and evicted them from India because of the weakness of their country and established the East India Dutch Company, which consisted of businessmen and sailors. They ruled some parts of the country until the middle of the eighteenth century, when the French and then the British overwhelmed them and controlled Malabar, which had been under Dutch authority.  But the islands of Java and Sumatra, with a population of thirty million, were still under Dutch control. In 1858, the English Merchant Company surrendered its properties to the British government. As the Portuguese had propagated their Latin (Catholic) faith in their colonies, the English did likewise, propagating their Protestant faith in India from the start of the nineteenth century. As is well known, such propagation had the worst effect on the Syrian congregation of Malabar.]  At the citadel of Cochin they were greeted by soldiers in arms. Halfway on the road they were met by the Deputy Commodore. When they reached the commodore’s mansion, His Excellency was waiting for them at the gate. As the guns fired in salute he welcomed them and led them to the upper hall, where a host of prominent company officials received them and had lunch with them at the commodore’s table. They left, accompanied by the president of the company, to the house prepared for their residence. It was a nice house with a beautiful garden. His Excellency instructed the chief interpreter to take care of their expenses.
On April 24, after discussing some matters with the commodore, Maphryono Basilius wrote to Metropolitan Yuhanna and to the self-styled Metropolitan Tuma informing them of his arrival and asking them to come to the citadel (of Cochin) in order to reconcile with Tuma in the presence of the commodore. On May 2, Tuma sent to the maphryono two priests, a deacon and several Syrian notables, with a letter in which he complained against the behavior of Metropolitan Yuhanna of Amid. Tuma requested that the monk Yuhanna and the deacon Anton be sent to him, along with the church service books and the systaticon brought by the maphryono. The maphryono agreed and sent these dignitaries to Pallikari with the books but not the systaticon. On May 6, the two messengers returned, carrying a second letter from Tuma asking the maphryono to come to Kandanad because for some reason he was unable to come to the citadel. The maphryono kept waiting for Metropolitan Yuhanna of Amid, who arrived on the 14th of the month, on the eve of the Festival of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by priests and a group of laymen, most important of whom was Yaqub Yani, chief treasurer of the king. [In the original text, Yaqub is mentioned as Bazargan, meaning chief merchant or money changer. More correctly, he  was the king’s treasurer). On May 16, Seignior Ezekiel Jawhari visited the maphryono and suggested that he should write a third letter to Tuma. The maphryono wrote a letter and sent it with Yaqub Yani and the deacon Anton, but it suffered the same consequence as the earlier letters. Tuma excused himself, telling the delegation of the Chorepiscopus Jirjis that he was busy with the affairs of his congregation and therefore could not see the maphryono. The truth was that he feared to come to the citadel, lest the commodore force him to repay the money, a penalty too much for him to bear. When the commodore realized that Tuma had shamefully reneged and violated his commitment, that he displayed unexpected malice and wickedness, and that he refused to visit the maphryono though the maphryono had written to him asking him kindly to come to him, he advised the maphryono to complain against him to the Dutch Company. The maphryono did so.  On May 22, the company sent its chief interpreter and a high-ranking officer with twenty-four soldiers, accompanied by the deacon Anton, to Pallikari to bring back the defendant (Tuma). But when Tuma learned from some of his friends about the situation, he escaped to another town. When the soldiers arrived at Pallikari and found that Tuma had fled with his followers and left the house locked, the chief interpreter became angry and ordered the soldiers to break the doors of the church and loot some of its possessions. Seeing what the soldiers had done, the people became furious and requested their Indian raja to dispatch a thousand soldiers for help. The soldiers rushed to the spot, arrested the officers of the company, and informed its president of the situation. The company’s president and officials became angry and wrote to the raja, denouncing what the soldiers had done. The raja returned the looted objects to their owners. The company was almost ready to strike down the interpreter and the high ranking officer, had it not been for the intercession of the maphryono and his men.
On the fourth day after his arrival, Metropolitan Yuhanna Araqchinchi of Amid began to treat the maphryono and other fathers harshly because they had been kind to the natives who visited them. He thought that the natives should be treated cruelly and bluntly. His behavior convinced them of the reports they had already received about his rough treatment of the Syrian natives. But when Yuhanna persisted in his bad treatment of the natives despite the maphryono’s advice, the maphryono and his men complained to the governor to detain him in the citadel and then ship him back to the East, according to the patriarch’s order. Metropolitan Yuhanna was sent back home in November, the usual month for the departure of ships.
On the afternoon of July 3, the festival of St. Thomas the Apostle, the maphryono and his men left the citadel. They took leave of the commodore, who had nine guns fired in their honor. They were accompanied by two of the company’s high officials, forty soldiers, and Seignior Ezekiel. They paid a short visit to the raja of Cochin, to whom the maphryono and Metropolitan Yuhanna [Not to be confused with the Metropolitan Yuhanna Araqchinchi, mentioned earlier. TR.] presented five gold pieces worth twenty five rupees which they had received from the commodore. They spent the night at the house of Ezekiel, and on the next day, Thursday, departed Cochin for Kandanad on the company’s boat. They were accompanied by the new chief interpreter and some soldiers who had been sent by the araja. The Syrian congregation received them, and in great deference, carried the two church dignitaries in litters. They marched in a solemn procession, chanting according to their customs. The Syrian people of Kandanad asked the maphryono to provide them with a letter to Tuma in order to bring him back, and the maphryono responded to their request. But their luck was no better than that of those who tried before to summon Tuma to the maphryono’s presence. On July 18 they returned with Tuma’s reply, complaining of the soldiers and of the deacon Anton’s bad treatment of the villagers of Pallikari.
Meanwhile, on July 18, the raja of the south marched against the raja of Cochin. Seized by fright, the natives hid their belongings and had their women and children flee. Malabar was in turmoil. The maphryono and his retinue, who were at this time at Kandanad, were also seized by fear. The Chorepiscopus Jirjis of Aleppo, from whom we quoted this account, said, “For twenty years this raja (of the south) captured the lands of two rajas and caused them to flee. He seized great wealth and became abundantly rich. He lavished money on his fighting men, enticing many to join him. He was extremely cruel, burning houses and churches without mercy. He was like the Persian Tahmasb (Nadir Shah, who invaded Iraq in the time of Patriarch Shukr Allah and Maphryono Li’azar VI).  Nevertheless, he honored the maphryono and his retinue and abstained from pillaging Kandanad. This action shows that he was not totally void of honor. But the dispersion of the people and the rupture of their society prevented the maphryono from collecting money to settle the debt he had incurred.”
We find it proper to present here the account of the journey of this venerable church dignitary as he wrote it down himself in a Syriac tract whose original is preserved in Malabar. We have translated it into Arabic exactly as it was after publishing the original Syriac.

Account of the Journey to the Land of Malabar of Mar Basilius Shukr Allah, Metropolitan Mar Gregorius Yuhanna, the Chorepiscopus Jirjis, and the Monk Yuhanna, accompanied by the deacons. [This title is not original; it was added by the copyist.]

In the middle of March, 1748 [1749 in the original Syriac text], the deacon Anton arrived in the city of Aleppo, carrying letters from the Metropolitan Mar Iyawannis (Araqchinchi) of Amid [see his biography in year 6, no. 5 of this magazine] and from Mar Tuma [ Tuma of Malabar, who claimed that he had been ordained a bishop by his uncle in 1728. He died in 1765, still rebellious and unrepentant.], to Patriarch Mar Ignatius Gurgis (Jirjis) III of Antioch and to Mar Basilius. At that time I, Basilius, was sick. After reading the letters, I sent the letter of my lord Mar Ignatius to him in the city of Amid (Diyarbakr), and also wrote informing him that I had been sick for two months. Meanwhile, Deacon Anton went to see our lord the patriarch and informed him that the Syrians of Malabar were requesting a maphryono, as it is written in the letters of Mar Iyawannis and Mar Tuma. When I recovered, I journeyed to Amid to see the Patriarch Mar Ignatius. The city of Amid was about fifteen days’ distance from Aleppo. I left Aleppo on July 1, and we were attacked by highway robbers, but, by God’s help, they could not harm us. At Amid, I was ordained a maphryono. I returned to Aleppo a few days later, on August 25.
While I was sick, Patriarch Mar Ignatius sent to Malabar Mar Gregorius along with another metropolitan and a chorepiscopus. [ Gregorius was Yuhanna of Khudayda (Qaraqosh), metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam, who was removed from his diocese and sent to Malabar.  We published his biography in no. 2 of this magazine. The other metropolitan was Yuhanna of Gargar, who was ordained a metropolitan for Malabar in 1748 and then was appointed a metropolitan of Gargar. His biography will come later. The Chorespiscopus was ‘Abd al-Nur, son of Aslan of Amid. It appears from what the maphryono has said that he wrote this tract immediately after his arrival in Malabar.] They traveled via the River Tigris and reached the famous city of Babylon (Baghdad). Soon, however, the metropolitan and the chorepiscopus returned to Amid because of sickness, while Mar Gregorius remained in Baghdad awaiting my arrival. Meanwhile, I was trying to find a caravan bound for Baghdad, but could not find one because of fear of desert robbers. Thus, I remained for four months in Aleppo before I found a camel caravan going to Baghdad. I bought for three thousand rupees what was necessary for the journey and for the church, including vessels, books, and other wares.
On Sunday January 7, 1749 [ This date is incorrect, a copyist’s error. Actually it is 1750, as the Chorepiscopus Jirjis has written.], I, together with the Chorespiscopus [ He was Jirjis, the son of the Chorepiscopus Ni’mat Allah Tunburchi of Aleppo. He was ordained a priest in 1745 and left Malabar at the end of 1751 because of sickness, having spent seven months there. He wrote a thirty-page tract in Arabic describing Maphryono Shukr Allah’s journey to Malabar and the conditions of Malabar and its Syrian people. He completed this tract on November 1, of the year 2063 of the Greeks/1751 A. D. He sailed from Basra via Jedda to Abyssinia.], the deacon Aton, and my attendant, left Aleppo in the caravan traversing a desolate desert. On Sunday, January 28, we were attacked by a great number of highway robbers who fought with the men of the caravan for fifteen hours. Two Turkish men in the caravan were killed and many wounded, not to mention a number of horses and camels which perished. Afterwards, the leader of another robbers’ band saved us from those who had attacked us, and exacted from the leaders of the caravan nine thousand gold pieces, each worth three rupees. Moreover, he seized our books and belongings and asked to be paid a great amount of silver as ransom. After our incredible distress, he exacted from us 1500 rupees and released our books and belongings. We thanked God for rescuing us from death and the robbers. If God had not sent this leader of the robber band to rescue us, those robbers who attacked us first would have looted the whole caravan and all our belongings and killed us. We arrived at a town called ‘Ana [ A town overlooking the Euphrates, situated between al-Raqqa and Hit], where we spent two months. But no one dared step outside for fear of the highway robbers. [This is because of a fight between the people of ‘Aana and the Arabs of Shammar. The Chorepiscopus Jirjis said, “Our journey was delayed because of this fight, and the overflow of the Euphrates was late. We became short of money and were forced to sell some of our belongings in order to buy provisions. Also, we borrowed a hundred rupees, while the leaders of the caravan took from us fifty piasters.”  Then a customhouse official came from Baghdad and collected the customs duty from us.” ] .
At the beginning of April we sailed the River Euphrates to Hilla and then to Baghdad, having suffered great expenses. [The Chorepiscopus Jirjis said that when they reached Hilla, they were  informed that both land and river highways were cut off, and they could not continue to Basra without going first to Baghdad. So they did, and this detour cost them over a hundred rupees.] When we entered Baghdad, we met our brother Metropolitan Gregorius. But the Metropolitan (Severus) and the Chorepiscopus (‘Abd al-Nur) had already departed for Amid because of sickness. The said Mar Gregorius suffered all the adversities which plagued him, but never turned back. He remained in Baghdad for eleven months, until we met him and Rabban (monk) Yuhanna in that city. We hired a ship, and all of us came to Basra via the River Tigris, having spent about five hundred rupees.
On Tuesday, May 8, we arrived in Basra and met with the President of the (Dutch) Company, named Manhar Kenifus (sic), who rented a house for us for eighty rupees. When we asked him to reimburse us for our passage and the journey’s expenses, he said that he could not pay us from the company’s funds because he had no authorization from the company officials. Promptly, deacon Anton said to him that he had with him a letter from the respected commodore addressed to the previous president of the company, who had left Basra, instructing him to pay the expenses of the maphryono and his companions from the company’s money. Kenifus insisted that he would not pay a penny from the company’s treasury. But he said that if the maphryono and his companions agreed, he would pay them from his own pocket an amount with 20% interest (that is, 80 rupees for 100) to aid them until they reached Cochin. So we had to borrow money because the creditors in both Aleppo and Basra were pressuring us to pay our debts, or else they will not permit us to leave Basra. Furthermore, we needed a great amount of money for the passage from Basra to Cochin. The problem is that we had to journey to Malabar. So, we borrowed from Kenifus 6660 rupees plus 1334 in interest, making a total of 8000 rupees. He also took from us a promissory note for this amount. From this amount we paid him eighty rupees for the rent of the house in Basra. We hired an English ship (since no ship of the Dutch Company was available) which cost us 700 rupees, deducted from the amount we had borrowed from Kenifus. We also paid from the same amount our expenses for food in Basra and aboard the English ship. Moreover, we spent too much money because of the famine in Basra, which was so severe that wheat became extremely dear. Nevertheless, we were forced to buy necessary food provisions in Basra.
On Sunday June 24, (1750), we left Basra for the citadel of Bushir, where we were welcomed by an official of the Dutch Company. But no sooner had we departed Bushir than a southern storm raged. If it had not been for the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, we would have been drowned in the depths of the sea. From Bushir we came to the port of Bandar ‘Abbas, where the president, named Manhar  Alexander received us with a great welcome. On the day of our arrival, another ship also arrived from Batavia  Her captain told the president of the company that after ten days a ship would be coming from Batavia. The president and his men asked us to stay in Bandar ‘Abbas until its arrival. He said that as soon as this ship unloaded, he would send us aboard it to Cochin. He added that with this ship we would have an easy sail because it was large, and the ship on which we had come was too small. After all, he argued, the ship was bound for Bombay, and if we decided to continue the voyage on the ship in which we had come, we would bear heavy expenses. After hearing  these words, we remained in Bandar Abbas for twenty days until the ship finally arrived from Batavia. We were overwhelmed with joy to see her come. Some days later, the president (of the Dutch Company) unloaded the ship. In the meantime, we bought necessary provisions and sent our baggage on board. But two or three days before our departure, a rumor circulated that pirates were on their way to pillage the port of Bandar ‘Abbas. When the president of the company heard the rumor, he would not let the ship leave, and we were seized by great fear. Soon another report circulated that those pirates had killed their leader and fled. It happened then that the chieftains of Persia were fighting each other and their fighting had intensified. One of these chieftains drew near the port (Bandar ‘Abbas). The president of the company feared this chieftain and would not let us leave. But no other ship was available. Thus we remained at this port for seven months, suffering great distress, fear, various sicknesses and pain, in addition to spending a thousand rupees. The chorepiscopus fell ill and remained so until now.
On February 24, 1751 (the year 2062 of the Greeks), we left this port (Bandar ‘Abbas), with the company’s men, on board one of its ships and arrived at the port of Surat. Before the ship entered the harbor, we were attacked by two big pirate ships and twelve small ones which fought us for five hours. But the pirates could not overwhelm us and fled. On Sunday March 17, our ship docked at the harbor, and God saved us from those pirates. We remained on board and did not disembark at Surat until the president sent a boat to carry us from our ship to another one which carried us to Cochin. Before we entered the port of Cochin, however, we confronted a ferocious peril caused by a strong wind and rain. We became mightily distressed, but God saved us. Truly, our case was summarized in the words of the Prophet David , who said “.All your waves and breakers have swept over me.”  (Psalm 42: 7.)  Finally, the ship entered the harbor of the city of Cochin. The venerable commodore (of the Dutch Company) sent us a big company boat, which carried us to the port safely. We greeted him and broke bread with him on that day. We entered the port of Cochin on Tuesday April 23, which was the festival of Mar Jirjis the martyr, in the year 2062 of the Greeks/1751 A.  D.
The respected commodore had us await the arrival of Mar Iyawannis and Tuma, in order that they might reconcile and establish peace with each other. Twenty days after we entered the port, Metropolitan Iyawannis arrived, but Tuma did not. We wrote to him four friendly letters in succession, but he did not obey or come to meet with us. Metropolitan Iyawannis, however, kept quarreling with us every two or three days. He disagreed with our kind treatment of the native (Syrian) Christians and rather wanted us to treat them harshly. Every day he would antagonize those who came to visit us, beating some of them and insulting others. For this reason, we detained him at the port until a ship was available and decided to send him back to the Patriarch Mar Ignatius of Antioch. Mar Ignatius had in fact written us regarding, him saying, “If Metropolitan (Iyawannis) behaves himself, keep him, or else send him back to us.”     The Dutch Company bore the expenses of all our needs.
When the respected  commodore and the company’s officials saw that Tuma had not come to meet with us, he allowed us to travel to Kandanad, hoping that Tuma would relent, obey our summons, and present himself to us. But he did not. The total amount the company spent for us for seventy-two days totaled 429 rupees.
On Wednesday, July 3, the day of the festival of the Apostle St. Thomas, we left the port and visited the raja of Cochin. We were accompanied by the company’s men and soldiers and by the Jew Ezekiel Jawhari. [In 1751, when the maphryono and his clerics arrived in Cochin, the raja was Marthanda Varma of Travancore. This raja had conquered and annexed petty principalities, one of which was Cochin. It is most likely that the maphryono met this maharaja. Ezekiel was a Jew from Mattancherry. See F. E. Keay, A History of the Syrian Church in India, 3rd. ed. (Delhi, 1960), 62. Tr.] We met the raja and spent a short time in his presence. We presented him with five gold pieces, each one worth five rupees, which we had received from the honorable governor. We spent the night at the house of Ezekiel, and on Thursday, July 4, we arrived in Kandanad.

The following is a breakdown of our debts to the company:

We owed the company 8000 rupees which we borrowed in Basra, and 1000 rupees in Bandar ‘Abbas. The company also demanded from us the payment of 2000 rupees which Metropolitan Iyawannis had borrowed from it and given to Deacon Anton when he dispatched him to the Patriarch of Antioch. The deacon, however, spent the money on himself. The amount the company demanded from us totaled 11,454 rupees, not counting one rupee a day spent by the metropolitan.. Here ends the account of what happened to us and the debt we have incurred. [The Chorepiscopus Jirjs related that deacon Anton, who had come to Aleppo and then to Amid to seek the maphryono and his entourage in order to accompany him to Malabar, was greedy, poor in reasoning, and given to exaggerating promises. He deceived them with false hopes by overstating his ability to achieve their objectives. Jirjis criticized him severely for mismanaging their affairs and thereby causing them many problems.], [ E. M. Philip says that he had a Syriac copy of the dairy of Maphryono Basilius Shukr Allah and the account of his journey to Malabar. He translated it into English and incoeporated it in his book with slight variations. See E. M. Philip, The Indian Church of St. Thomas, 157-159, note 8  and Mar Severus Yaqub Tum, Tarikh al-Kanisa al-Suryaniyya al-Hindiyya, 132-138. Tr. ].
Following is a list of the transcribed religious books and church vessels which Patriarch Mar Ignatius Jirjis III sent to Malabar with Maphryono (Basilius Shukr Allah) and Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna in 1749. Their total number was forty-six ancient books. They include five Syriac Gospels, thirteen fanqithos (Service Books) for winter and summer seasons, four husoyos (supplicatory prayers)  for both winter and summer seasons, eight liturgies, three ancient Syriac copies of the Old Testament, The Commentary on the Gospels by Bar Salibi, the Nomocanon (Book of Directions) by Bar Hebraeus, three copies of Psalms, a copy of the Ishhim (Service Book for Weekdays), a  Funeral Service Book, the Order of Unction, church canons, and four books containing commentaries and church canons.
The church vessels included a chalice and a paten, two crosses, three staffs, two plates for collection, two bells, a censer, two pairs of fans, three brass candlesticks, three pairs of cymbals, a jar of Holy Chrism, three crosses from Jerusalem, and relics of saints and other objects.
The maphryono also brought with him three magnificent ancient manuscripts written in the Istrangelo script on vellum, and two other ancient manuscripts. The total number of manuscripts was eighteen, except for one printed book. They included a vellum copy of the Pentateuch in the Istrangelo script, a vellum copy of the Gospels in the Istrangelo script studded with silver, a copy of the Acts of the Councils in the Istrangelo script, the book of Mar Dionysius the Areopagite, an ancient Beth Gaz (Book of Church Melodies), a Commentary on the Gospels by Bar Salibi, a Commentary on Revelations in Syriac, a copy of the Psalms, the book of The Cause of all Causes, the book of Eupdox, a Service Book of Hymns for Principal Feasts, three copies of grammar, a Service Book on the Fast of Nineveh, a  Service Book of Funerals, and a printed copy of the Ishhim (Service Book for Weekdays). You may imagine that the cost of these precious ancient manuscripts exceeded the amounts spent for our passage.
When Tuma showed stubbornness, false affection, and sickness of heart and mind, the maphryono and Mar Gregorius reported his behavior to the patriarch on December 16, (1751). The patriarch replied on August 27 commending them for their struggle and patience. He comforted and encouraged them and wished them good. He revealed his displeasure about Tuma’s rebellious behavior, prevarication, and arrogance.  [ This letter of  Patriarch Jirjis III,  dated August 27, 1752, was written in Garshuni. It  was transliterated into Arabic script by the late Patirch Ephraim I, Barsoum probably  in 1909  when he was still a monk at the Za’faran Monastery.  Written in colloquial Arabic , the copy is in my possession. Tr. ]  When two years had passed and the situation did not change, the patriarch issued a general proclamation in Syriac to the clergy and congregations of Malabar reprimanding Tuma for his intransigence. He declared that it was Tuma who had insisted and urgently appealed to him to dispatch Maphryono Shukr Allah alone to Malabar. Tuma had also promised to pay all the expenses of the maphryono’s passage.  But, says the patriarch, Tuma reneged on his commitment and proved that he had no sense of responsibility. He went on to say that Tuma had been rebellious and for three years made no effort to visit the maphryono and Metropolitan Yuhana. Moreover, he did not pay any amount, big or small, or allow these church dignitaries to try to reform him. The patriarch ended by saying that if Tuma did not amend his behavior he should be condemned. Meanwhile, the patriarch wrote to Seigneur Gurian Setionis (sic), the governor of the citadel of Cochin, and the administrator of Malabar, explaining Tuma’s behavior and imploring him to take good care of the two church dignitaries. He further asked him to convince Tuma and have him tried, in order to reform his behavior, and reach an agreement with the two fathers of the church. If he obeyed, the patriarch would confer on him lawful ordination. If he disobeyed, the Apostolic See would consider him an enemy. The patriarch wrote the same words to Seigneur Ezekiel. But these efforts (of the patriarch) and those of the maphryono and his men were fruitless. Tuma, that wolf of petrified heart, persisted in his whimsical actions and arrogance. Unfortunately, some contemporary historians of Malabar try to justify his misdeeds, claiming that what actually led him to prevaricate was the enormous amount of money demanded from him, which he was unable to pay. This utterly futile pretext, however, could not absolve a fraction of Tuma’s intransigence or his transcending the boundaries of religion and social decorum. Some writers falsely alleged that, soon after their arrival, the maphryono and his companions interfered in the administration of the churches without consulting with Tuma, contrary to the tradition of the bishops of Malabar. Obviously this claim, if right, still could not vindicate Tuma’s repulsive behavior, but in fact it has no truth whatever. Indeed, the seventy-two days the fathers (the maphryono and the metropolitan) and their companions spent in Cochin were only to seek relief from the awful perils which threatened their lives, and to communicate with Iyawannis and Tuma. In fact, they had no church building available to conduct religious services or ordinations. The Chorepiscopus Jirjis, as mentioned earlier, has readily related the names of the churches which were then populated and the number of houses of Syrian parishioners. Likewise, in the detailed account of his journey he said that no one came to visit or greet them in Cochin except  a few priests and laymen who happen to be living near by. In view of that, how could those biased writers ignore the great authority of the maphryono in the church of God, let alone the fact that he was a delegate of the Apostolic See? And how could they contrive excuses to vindicate a pretender who more than any other cleric needed to have the maphryono  bestow on him the lawful priestly office by the laying on of his hands. Many years had passed since Tuma and his predecessor began knocking at the door of the Apostolic See, asking for a chief priest to confer upon them the office of the episcopate. Unfortunately, their letters had been lost or had fallen into European hands, and never reached their destination. Many problems prevented the Syrians of Malabar from obtaining their desired objective. Now that this objective was to become a reality, Tuma shunned it. How can we discredit the letters of the patriarch and the accounts of Maphryono (Shukr Allah) himself and the Chorespicopus Jirjis, both of whom were eyewitnesses? How can we overlook their letters, which constitute authentic documents and solid evidence, and lean on the fragile reed of allegations by modern writers who distorted the facts to suit their purpose, which has become well known in our time? If at that time the clergy and laity of the Syrian congregation of Malabar seemed silent or indifferent to the truth, it was because of the disgraceful inertia, ignorance, and psychological attitude which characterized the society of Malabar, as has been observed by contemporary writers.
When the fathers (the maphryono and the metropolitan) saw the arrogance of Tuma and his partisans, the maphryono ordained monk Yuhanna of Mosul as metropolitan for Malabar and called him Iyawannis Yuhanna at his ordination in the church of Kandanad, at the end of 1752 or the beginning of 1753. He sent the new metropolitan to Tuma’s headquarters to administer the congregation and built with his own money a bishopric and a church at the town of Mattancherry in the province of Cochin, which had no church or bishopric. The maphryono, Metropolitan Gregorius, and the deacons resided at the bishopric he had built. He proceeded to administer the churches of Malabar with fatherly kindness, apostolic zeal, wisdom and determination. He persevered in inculcating religious learning and church discipline. An ancient historian of Malabar testified to his sagacity, wisdom, competence in religious sciences, and erudition. Many priests and deacons studied the Holy Scriptures and church rites under him. However, contemporary writers have belittled him and niggardly denied him the praise he deserves.
The maphryono and the metropolitan issued necessary rules and orders and communicated with all parts (of Malabar). They were intent on purging the orthodox faith from the tares of heresies and objectionable customs which the Syrians of Malabar were practicing. They and the deacons taught a choice group of clergy religious sciences and prepared them to assume clerical offices. They abolished the celibacy of priests. Meanwhile, Maphryono Shukr Allah consecrated the Holy Chrism.
Regarding the debt mentioned above, we have no idea how it was settled and no reliable ancient testimony concerning it. However, we have read in the writings of some contemporaries that the Dutch Company forced the government of Travancore to pressure Tuma and threaten him with banishment if he declined to pay the necessary amount. Tuma, however, paid some of the amount from the revenues of some churches; the rest he paid from the endowment of the Church of Niranam, which was sold. [F. E. Keay, A History of the Syrian Church in India, p. 62, says the Raja of Travancore, Marthanda Varma, compelled Tuma to pay the amount claimed.]
After administering those vast regions competently for thirteen years and some months, Maphryono Shukr Allah was called home by his heavenly Chief Shepherd to be given a crown worthy of a faithful steward. He passed away on October 9, 1764, and was buried in the church of Kandanad. Metropolitan Gurgis of Niranam, of blessed memory, and Philipus mentioned that the Syrians of Malabar commemorate him every year in recognition of his virtues and righteousness. So ended the life of this striving hero, the high-minded Mar Basilius Shukr Allah, who was plagued by adversities but never quit. He endured the hardships of life with contentment, fortitude, and wisdom, despite the fact that some of his endeavors were not successful. He went to his Lord with a bright face, having shown his talents. May God be gracious to him! Had we obtained more information about him, we would have adorned his biography with it. But we were able to find only the following sources and write his biography after tremendous labor and patience. [These sources are:

(1) the account in Syriac of the journey of Maphryono Shukr Allah to Malabar from 1748 to 1751;

(1) a tract in Arabic by the Chorepiscopus Jirjis Tonborchi of Aleppo about the journey of the maphryono and a description of the conditions of the Syrian church in Malabar, up to November, 1751;

(1) four letters of the Patriarch Jirjis III, preserved at the Patriarchal Library. Three of these letters are in Syriac, and one in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script) preserved in their original form, of which we have copies;

(1) two letters of Gregorius, metropolitan of Niranam and Metropolitan Eustathius Saliba, who was then a deacon, which they wrote in 1900;

(1) two anonymous historical tracts in Syriac, the first written in 1820, and the second, more correct and precise, written shortly after 1838. Both brief tracts were written in Malabar;

(6) two Syriac tracts, the first written by the Chorepiscopus Matta Konat in 1926, the second written by Timothy Awgen (Eugene), metropolitan of Kandanad, in 1932. Also, The History of the Indian Church of  St. Thomas by Philip the Syrian of Malabar, 1902, and an English source by the priest Dr. Shapur Baba, 1909.) The fact that Maphroyono Shukr Allah’s mother and uncles were still living in 1785, indicate that he, may God be gracious to him, did not live long and died before he was sixty years old.
As for the aforesaid Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna of Mosul, he was the only one ordained a bishop by Maphryono Shukr Allah. He was a deacon and then a monk at the Za’faran Monastery. He was ordained a priest by Patriarch Shukr Allah on December 15, 1724. After he became a bishop in 1752 or 1753, he competently served the Malabar church. He assisted Mar Gregorius in the ordination of Metropolitan Dionysius of Malabar on May 29, 1770. He was a great help to Mar Gregorius in the administration of the church of Malabar until his death in 1794 (or, it is sometimes said, in 1798). He served forty years as a bishop and died at the age of ninety. He was buried at the Church of Chenganur According to one source, he changed his name to Christophorus (Servant of Christ). [ E. M. Philip says that he ahs a copy of the journey of Maphryono Shukr Allah to Malabar. He translated it into English and incorporated it into his book The Indian Church of St. Thomas, under footnote 8 which extends from 157 to 159. There is also an Arbaic account of the journey and the activities of Maphryono Shukr Allah in Malabar by Mar Severus Yaqub Tuma (later Patriarch of Antioch Yaqub III), Tarikh al-Kanisa al-suryaniyya al-Hindiyya, 132-158.Tr. ]
In his historical tract sent to his acquaintances in Aleppo, the Chorepiscopus Jirjis of Aleppo, already mentioned, said that some priests and deacons of Malabar related to him that Tuma of Malabar had an uncle, a chorepiscopus who styled himself a bishop. When he died, Tuma unduly assumed his office, carried his staff, and claimed to be a bishop. By virtue of his spurious office, he ordained deacons and priests by simony (ordination for money), charging each one he ordained ten to twenty rupees. He also lent money at usury. He could not even speak Syriac. Malabarian historical sources say that he remained disobedient (to the Apostolic See of Antioch) until he died in 1765, having unlawfully ordained one of his relatives a bishop. Realizing that his ordination was unlawful, the new bishop appealed to two Antiochian dignitaries, Gregorius of Khudayda, the Apostolic Delegate, and his deputy, Iyawannis Christophorus (Yuhanna of Mosul), to legitimize his ordination. They agreed and in 1770 re-ordained him a lawful bishop with the name of Dionysius I. See the biography of Metropolitan Gregorius in the previous issue of this magazine].
The Chorepiscopus Jirjis further said that in every church there were from two to five priests and a like number of deacons. Only about fifteen priests could speak Syriac, but they were not interested in our Syriac rite .Teaching them the Syriac language was a very difficult task. Most of them despicably slandered each other. The Syrian population numbered about 12,242 households [The total number of the Syrian population at that time was 61,210 souls if we assume an average of five people to one house, or 122,420 souls with an average of ten people to each house.], living in forty-seven towns and villages, and had forty-five churches. Most of them were extremely poor. The number of the rich among them was small except in the southern part of Malabar, where some wealthy people were found. Chorespiscopus Jirjis goes on to say that the southern province has not yet subjected itself to us (the Syrian Church) in order to allow us to visit it and ascertain its conditions. The fear of God, says Jirjis, was almost unknown in the countries he and the delegates visited.
To continue the information (about the Syrian church in Malabar), we have appended a table of the names of the towns and villages where the Syrians lived, together with their numbers at the end of the year 1751.

[Pp. 125-133 contain a Syriac account of the Journey of Maphryono Shukr Allah to Malabar, which has been already translated by Patriarch Barsoum into Arabic.. I have already translated it above into English.]

Appendix to the biography of Maphryono Shukr Allah

It has been proved to us that he (Shukr Allah) was ordained a priest in 1740. We found this information at the Library of Oxford, MS 667, or a small book written in a recent hand containing the Order of Matrimony and a short account of the affairs of Malabar (not very important), transcribed by a native of Malabar. It also contains a twelve-line ode in the Sarugite (twelve-syllabic) meter, composed in average language by the Chorepiscopus Jirjis of Aleppo, already mentioned, at Kandanad on August 9, 1751. The ode is a panegyric in praise of the maphryono and an appeal to the Syrians of Malabar to adhere to him and benefit by his teaching. We also found at Cambridge Library in England MS L204, one of the precious manuscripts Patriarch Jirjis III donated to the church of Malabar through the maphryono. Entitled The Book of the Prophets, this book is written in a good coarse western Istrangelo script. It is inscribed as follows: “This book was transcribed on January 4 by the lesser monk Basil, son of Shaykh Sa’id, known as the Maqdisi, at the Monastery of St. Barbara in the Mountain of Edessa in the year 1485 of the Greeks/1174 A. D. in the time of Mar Mikha’il, patriarch of Antioch and Mar Athanasius, metropolitan of Edessa.” The patriarch here is the famous Michael Rabo (the Great, d. 1199) and the metropolitan is Athanasius Denha of Edessa, who was ordained a bishop in 1171 and died in 1191. This significant manuscript was donated by the Metropolitan Dionysius I Tuma of Malabar to the Englishman Dr. Buchanan (Claudius Buchanan, 1770-1808) in the year 1807, one year before his death.

4) Severus Yuhanna, metropolitan of Malabar and then of Gargar (1749-1768)
Severus Yuhanna was a native of Gargar (or Hisn Mansur, some say). He became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery and, after receiving religious education, was ordained a priest in 1742. For some time he was engaged in the transcription of Syriac books.  There is an Order of Baptism at the church of the village of Awius in his handwriting, finished in 1747. At the village of Swayarik there is also a copy of the Gospels in Syriac, which he transcribed for the church of the village of Wank in 1750.
Severus Yuhanna was ordained a bishop by Patriarch Jirjis III at the church of Amid in the middle of 1749. The patriarch sent him to Malabar with Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna of Khudayda (Qaraqosh) and the Chorepiscopus Abd al-Nur, son of Khawaja Aslan of Amid. (Chorepiscopus ‘Abd al-Nur donated service books and husoyos to our Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem. He was still living in 1760.) Upon arriving in Baghdad he remained in that city for a few months awaiting the arrival of Maphryono Shukr Allah. But he fell ill and returned to Amid with the chorepiscopus. He may have become the bishop of the diocese of Hattack. We found some ordinations done by him in the years 1752 and 1754 for the Churches of Qawm and Malaha of the same diocese. When the diocese of Gargar, which was then attached to Kharput and Hisn Mansur, became vacant after the transfer of Metropolitan Tuma of Qutrubul to Edessa in1758, the patriarch designated him a bishop of Gargar. He resided at Gargar until his death in the middle of 1768. He served the episcopate for nineteen years and was succeeded by Metropolitan Gregorius Anton of Edessa.

5) Cyril Rizq Allah, bishop of the Patriarchal Office and then of Mosul (1749-1772).
Cyril Rizq Allah was the son of the Chorepsicopus Matta, son of the priest Rizq Allah, son of ‘Abd al-Karim Sa’ur (sextant) of Mosul of the noble family of Patriarch Jirjis II, of blessed memory. His father, the Chorespiscopus Matta, was a priest of the Church of St. Thomas in Mosul and was still living in 1705.
Cyril Rizq Allah was born in Mosul in 1699 (as he himself said in the Jerusalem MSS).  He studied church sciences under the priest Shim’un (Simon). He was ordained a deacon in 1718, and then a priest for St. Thomas Church by the Maphryono of the East Li’azar IV, shortly before 1726. In 1742, he visited Jerusalem. As a widower he became a monk at the Za’faran Monastery. Patriarch Jirjis III ordained him a bishop for the Patriarchal Office at the church of Amid and called him Cyril Rizq Allah at his ordination in the middle of 1749.  When his cousin (his uncle’s son), Gurgis III, became Maphryono of the East in 1760 and was forced to stay at the Patriarchal Monastery (Za’faran), he appointed Cyril Rizq Allah as his deputy to the diocese of Mosul. He added to his responsibilities the  vacant dioceses of the Monastery of Mar Behnam and the Monastery of Mar Matta. This situation continued until Behnam was appointed a bishop for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Behnam in 1762, and Metropolitan Matta was appointed a bishop for the diocese of the Monastery of Mar Matta in 1770. In 1768, Cyril Rizq Allah attended the Synod of Amid which elected Patriarch Jirjis IV, and partook in the ceremony of his consecration at the Za’faran Monastery. He remained at this monastery until the following year.
While he was serving the diocese of the East for twelve years, the city of Mosul and its environs were afflicted with a horrible plague in 1772. Four thousand souls of the great village of Qaraqosh (Khudayda) perished, including seventy-two priests and deacons (according to a date etched in Syriac on a stone at the Church of Mar Gurgis in Qaraqosh). In the course of two months, four thousand parishioners of Mosul perished, including the entire group of priests. For three months, worship ceased in that church. Cyril Rizq Allah died on April 26 and was buried in the tomb of Patriarch Ishaq and the Maphryono Matta II. May God have mercy on them all! Inscribed on his tomb is the date of his death in the twelve-syllabic meter. He served his office for twenty-three years. He was, may God have mercy on him, a godly, zealous, and intelligent shepherd. He donated his Cross, on which were inscribed his name and the date of his ordination, to the Monastery of Mar Matta.
Cyril Rizq Allah composed thirty-seven succinct homilies in plain style [Manchester, Mingana MS 277, transcribed in 1796], a short tract in Syriac on the rules of Syriac morphology [Three copies of this tract are at Mosul. One of them consists of 73 pages. A 17-page copy is at Berlin.), and the Order of Funeral for Nuns (Sharfa MSS]. The manuscripts which  he transcribed in his good handwriting include Book of the Dove by Bar Hebraeus, which he started at Aleppo in 1742 and finished at Jerusalem; Book of the Councils by Severus ibn al-Muqaffa’, which he finished in 1742 (in the possession of the Chorepsicopus Bishara in Diyarbakr) when he was still a priest; a Book of Grammar or Introduction to Grammar and Semhe (The Book of Lights) by Bar Hebraeus, which he completed in 1736 (Cambridge MS 2011), and a scrapbook at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery (MS 234).

6) Athanasius ‘Abd al-Karim, metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office (1749-1755).
Athanasius ‘Abd al-Karim was the son of the deacon Shahin Shammo, known as Ibn ‘Araqchinchi of Amid. His mother was Qamar. He was a brother of Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna of Amid, whose biography has been previously cited among the bishops ordained by Patriarch Shukr Allah. He traveled to Abyssinia and then to Malabar, India. He was rough and of harsh conduct, which caused him to fail.
‘Abd al-Karim was ordained a deacon in 1716 and then entered the Za’faran Monastery, where he assumed the monastic habit. He was ordained a priest in 1727, and for some time he and his brother moved to the Monastery of Mar Matta, but ‘Abd al-Karim returned to the Za’faran Monastery. In 1749, Patriach Jirjis III ordained him a bishop at Amid for the Patriarchal Office, calling him Athanasius ‘Abd al-Karim at his ordination. When his brother returned from Malabar at the end of 1752 to become the bishop of  the diocese of Bedlis, ‘Abd al-Karim was in his company and spent the rest of his life in that diocese. He passed away in a village of Bedlis in 1755, shortly after the death of his brother [ According to the account of the deacon ‘Azar of Aleppo, mentioned earlier]. He was barely more than sixty years old. At the Monastery of St. Mark in the Bushairiyya, there is a Gospel transcribed in his handwriting and that of his brother.

7) Gregorius Tuma, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Iliyya (Elijah) in Qanqart (1750-1752).
Gregorius Tuma was born in the city of Amid. He entered the Za’faran Monastery and assumed the monastic habit. He was ordained a priest by Metropolitan Cyril Jirjis Sani’a of Mardin in 1728. On June 1, 1750, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained him a metropolitan for the Monastery of Mar Iliyya (The Prophet Elijah) in Qanqart and called him Gregorius Tuma at his ordination [MSS at our Library, and the roster of bishops, a copy of which, transcribed by one of the contemporaries, is at Sadad).] The account of this monastery and its construction has already been discussed (see above). Patriarch Jirjis III mentioned him in his letter to Maphryono Shukr Allah and Metropolitan Yuhanna, dated August 27, 1752  [ See ancient letters in our library. This letter is in my possession. Tr.]. This is all the information we have about him. Most likely he did not live long.

8) Timothy Tuma, metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office, of Gargar, of Edessa, and then of Amid (1752-1773) .
Timothy Tuma was a son of Saliba Halabiyya of Qutrubul. His mother was Maryam. He was born in Qutrubul, a village on the Tigris river opposite Amid. It was then populated by seven hundred Syrian families ministered to by eight priests. At an early age he desired the monastic life and, renouncing the world, he entered the Za’faran Monastery, where he studied religious science. On November 27, 1722, he was ordained a deacon by Timothy ‘Isa of Mosul, metropolitan of the monastery, and began to learn the Syriac language, of which he acquired a great portion. He moved to the Monastery of the Sayyida (the Virgin Mary) in Hattack and studied under its superior, Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis. The metropolitan clothed him with the monastic habit and then ordained him a priest in 1728. After his ordination he returned to the Za’faran Monastery and was engaged for some time in copying, in good hand, Syriac church books. In the middle of 1752, at the church of Amid, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained him a metropolitan for the Patriarchal Office and called him Timothy Tuma at his ordination. Gregorius Tuma, mentioned above, witnessed his ordination. Timothy resided at the church of Amid, serving the patriarch and copying books from time to time. He later resided at his native Qutrubul. Then the patriarch appointed him head of the diocese of Gargar, which became vacant with the death of Metropolitan Faraj Allah of Edessa. But Timothy did not hold on to this position. Around 1755, the patriarch transferred him to Edessa and changed his name to Severus, following the custom of the bishops of Edessa of that time, who changed their names. It is believed that he grossly misbehaved, for the patriarch condemned him for misbehavior. He suspended him from service, and then in October, 1762 condemned and banished him to the citadel of Alamiya, in the vicinity of Istanbul. Later Timothy repented and appealed to the patriarch for forgiveness. The patriarch forgave him, absolved him and restored him to his diocese.  [See the roster of bishops, already mentioned.]
In 1768, Timothy attended the Synod of Amid to elect Patriarch Jirjis IV. The new patriarch transferred him to the diocese of Amid in the latter part of that year. He assumed the name of Athanasius; the custom of changing the names (of bishops) affected him three times, which had never happened except in his case. He passed away in 1773, having served his office for twenty-one years, and was buried, as it is said, in the Church of St. Thomas at Qutrubul. His seal was inscribed as follows: “Timothy Tuma, metropolitan, 1752, the servant of God who seeks His grace.”   [ In his Collection, the priest Gabriel Doulabani quotes Dionysius ‘Abd al-Nur, metropolitan of Amid (d. 1933), who in turn quotes some elders of his time, saying that Gregorius Tuma was nicknamed Alton Dishi, meaning “he of the gold tooth,” and that he was banished because of faith. He was known for his zeal. This account, however, cannot stand scrutiny and has been refuted by his contemporaries.]
We have come upon some of the books he transcribed, including a Book of Husoyos for the Consecration of the Church and of Lent, which he completed at the Za’faran Monastery on June 20, 1749. This book was deposited at the church of the Mansuriyya. Other books include An Abridged Commentary on Psalms by the Salahi (Daniel of Salah (542), in Garshuni, which he completed on June 1, 1750 [This book is in the possession of Hanna Najmi in Diyarbakr.]; a Service Book for the Resurrection, which he finished on September 4, 1751, and which was donated by Patriarch Jirjis III to the church of Edessa; two parts of the Order of Funerals at the church of Amid, completed in the middle of October, 1752; two Service Books for the Summer, transcribed at Amid on May 24, 1755, and donated by the Chorespicopus Abd al-Nur Aslan to St. Mark Monastery in Jerusalem  [ St Mark Monastery MSS 14 and 15)] a prayer book which he copied in 1756, at the village of Bati; and a medium-sized Service Book for Lent, which he transcribed at the end of his life in 1770, in Edessa.

9- Gregorius Yuhanna, metropolitan of Damascus (1754-1783).
Gregorius Yuhanna was a most prominent church father of his time because of his zeal and determination. He was born Yuhanna Shuqayr, originally from Sadad, but is considered a man of Aleppo by birth and upbringing. Shuqayr was an ancient family of Sadad whose fame dates back to the year 1527 [ Bibliotheque Nationale, MS 289]. Its offshoots are still known in Sadad, although by a new name. Gregorius Yuhanna was thought to have been born in the first decade of the eighteenth century. He was attached to the church of Aleppo, and studied under Mapahryono Shukr Allah of Aleppo, of blessed memory. Having obtained a good part of the Syriac language and religious sciences, he was ordained a deacon before the year 1747 and then entered the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abbyssinian, where he engaged in religious devotion. He was ordained a priest by his superior, Bishop Sarukhan. Reports of his excellent character reached Patriarch Jirjis III at the time when the diocese of Damascus was saddened by the death of its Bishop Gregorius Tuma. This led the patriarch to designate him as his deputy in the diocese of Damascus in the middle of 1752. In 1754, the patriarch summoned him to Amid and ordained him a metropolitan, calling him Gregorius at his ordination. Metropolitan Timothy Tuma of Qutrubul witnessed his ordination. The patriarch, who, like his predecessor Patriarch Shukr Allah, was keen on the dissemination of learning among the clergy, noticed Gregorius’s activity, diligence, and knowledge of the Syriac language.  He entrusted him with the translation of Michael Rabo’s Chronicle from Syriac into Arabic, in order to render it more beneficial and to publicize its excellent qualities. The new metropolitan undertook the work with utmost diligence. He translated this voluminous work, which contained profane and ecclesiastical history and natural phenomena, extending from the creation to the year 1196. [In his al-Lulu al-Manthur, Patriarch Aphram Barsoum said that this history extended to the year 1193. See Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum, al-Lulu al-Manthur, trans. Matti Moosa as The Scattered Pearls (Gorgias Press, 2003), 445.] It took him a year and six months to complete the translation of the whole work in three large volumes, of which he produced a rough copy. Then he made a fair Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac script) copy of it in his average handwriting, in one thick volume consisting of 770 large-sized pages. He worked on the translation at the Church of Mar Behnam in Damascus and completed it in the middle of September of the year 2070 of the Greeks/1795 A. D. He donated the copy to the patriarch in recognition of his support and encouragement. Gregorius Yuhanna mentioned that he had made this translation form two Syriac copies in the handwriting of the deacon Barsoum and Rabban Mikha’il, both of which were made from the copy by Metropolitan Musa of Sawar. Another copy was made by Rev. Mikha’il ‘Urbishi, later a metropolitan of Gargar, which he came upon at the Monastery of Mar Abhai. As for the first copies that Gregorius Yuhanna made, we found no trace of them [Za’faran MS. The number of the MS is missing.]This translation was made in average Arabic language, of slightly archaic and plain style, similar to that of most of his contemporaries. But it displays his utmost determination, fortitude and love of knowledge. May God reward him for his contribution and shower him with his mercy. [I tend to disagree with Patriarch Aphram Barsoum regarding the style of Gregorius Yuhanna Shuqayr. I have read his translation in Garshuni at length and used it in writing my manuscript on the Crusades. Although Yuhanna’s diction and style clearly do not match Barsoum’s florid and hyperbolic language, they are simple and articulate. In general, for its simplicity and articulation, Shuqayr’s work rivals the modern translation of the same work by Mar Gregorius Saliba Shim’un, metropolitan of Mosul (Dar Mardin: Aleppo, 1996). To the modern reader, of course, Shim’un’s translation is in conformity with the language used today in the Arab world. Still, this should not diminish the value of Yuhanna Shuqyr’s translation. But both translators, lacking access to foreign sources, especially Latin and Greek, copied the names of men and events as they appear in their garbled form in the original Syriac, rendering them unintelligible. Tr.] From Yuhanna’s translation the copy of Sadad was made in 1764; and two more copies in Mosul, dated 1846 and 1870, found their way to London and Amid. It is also thought that Gregorius Yuhanna was the author of a historical tract of biographies of four patriarchs, Jirjis II, Ishaq, Shukr Allah, and Jirjis III, to which he appended the names of the bishops they ordained from 1587 to 1795.  From these were made two copies; one, dated 1887, is at present at the Vatican, and the other, dated 1899, is at St. Mark Monastery in Jerusalem. [The British Museum copy is MS 4402.Tr. ]
In 1771, Gregorius Yuhanna attended the ordination of Musa, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Musa, at the Za’faran Monastery [ According to a copy of his Systaticon at our Library. ]. In 1781, when the patriarchal see became vacant, he was unable to attend the synod for the election of a new patriarch because of old age and because the Metropolitan Mikha’il Jarwa was assaulting the Orthodox faith. Instead, Gregorius Yuhanna wrote a letter to the assembled fathers in which he incorporated the principles of the Orthodox faith. It was well received by the fathers and the faithful. After administering his diocese as a guide and preacher, and after keeping  the wolves away from it for twenty-nine years (according to a letter written in verse by Bishop Ibrahim of Sadad in July, 1772), Shuqayr passed away  in June, 1783, and was buried in the church of Damascus.
Gregorius Yuhanna composed in colloquial Arabic spiritual songs, one of which, on the Resurrection, is chanted even today in most of the Syrian churches. It begins, “The holy fasting of Christ ended in peace;” a pleasant song about the Virgin begins, “The praise of the Virgin is sweet to me.”  Still another song on Mar Musa the Abyssinian begins thus: “I begin by the name of the Almighty God.” [ According to an MS of Homs and its villages.] Of his transcribed manuscripts, we have come upon a book of homilies by Maphryono Shim’un, which he copied for Tuma, bishop of Damascus, and completed on December 16, 1747; the Ethicon, by Bar Hebraeus, in Garshuni, which he copied for the deacon ‘Aziz, son of ‘Azar Shamiyya of Aleppo, completed on August 2, 1752; a Beth Gazo (book of church melodies) which he competed on June 18, 1747 [ Sharfa MS 35] ; and a Synaxarium (The Lives of Holy Saints), by a Coptic writer, which he completed on June 9, 1771 and donated to the Church of the Virgin, Mar Qawma and Mar Dumit at the village of Rashayya. [ This Synaxarium is at the Church of Mar Musa in Damascus.]
The seal of Gregorius Yuhanna was large and circular, bearing the following inscription, “By the grace of God, his servant Gregorius Yuahanna, Metropolitan of Damascus, 1756.” He dated it two years after his ordination.

10) Gregorius Shim’un, metropolitan of Bushairayya (1760-1772).
Gregorius Shim’un, of Armenian origin, was a native of the village of Kufra, in the vicinity of Gharzan in the province of Bedlis, to which he ascribes his origin. At an early age he joined the Syrian Church and entered the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos in Bushairiyya. He studied the Syriac language under Metropolitan Gregorius Boghos (Paul), head of the said diocese (1731-1764). Metropolitan Boghos clothed him with the monastic habit and then ordained him a priest shortly before 1737. Upon the resignation of Boghos, Patriarch Jirjis III, who recognized his ability, ordained him a metropolitan for the Bushairiyya diocese at the church of Amid in 1760 and called him Gregorius Shim’un at his ordination We came upon copies of his ordination of deacons and priests for the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos and Se’ert and its villages from 1760 to 1769 [ MS at the Library of the Monastery of  St. Mark]. In 1768, he attended the synod which elected Patriarch Jirjis IV and participated in his installation. He was still living on March 11, 1771. It is believed that he died in the following year, having served his office for twelve years. He was succeeded by Iyawannis Ni’ma, or Tu’ma, of Sadad.

11) Basilius Gurgis, Maphryono of the East (1760-1768).
Basilius Gurgis, metropoiltan of Hattack, and then of the Za’faran Monastery and of Mardin, was a son of the deacon Musa, of the family of the priest ‘Abd al-Jalil of Mosul, His biography up to the year 1760 has already been discussed. When the See of the East became vacant with the death of Maphryono Basilius Li’azar IV in September, 1759, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained him a Maphryono of the East at the church of Amid in September, 1760, and called him Basilius Gurgis.  He was the third by this name and the ninetieth of the Maphriyonos of the East. His ordination was attended by Gregorius Jirjis, metropolitan of Jerusalem, Bishop Cyril Rizq Allah, and Gregorius Shim’un, metropolitan of Bushairiyya. The administration of the Patriarchal Monastery (Z a’faran Monastery) was entrusted to him because the patriarch was residing in Amid. Meanwhile, he appointed Bishop Cyril Rizq Allah, son of his aunt on his father’s side, as his deputy to administer the diocese of Mosul. Basilius Gurgis managed the diocese of Mardin with commendable ardor.
In that year, 1760, he donated from his own money to the Za’faran Monastery a pair of fans, each weighing 400 dirhams, a silver four-branched chandelier, a six-branched chandelier, and two small lamps [ MSS of the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin, and of the Za’faran Monastery)]  He ordained three bishops.  Eight years and six months later, he ascended the patriarchal throne, as shall be seen shortly..

12) Gregorius Behnam, metropolitan of Ma’dan (1761-1769).
Gregorius was a native of Ma’dan. He became a novice at the Za’faran Monastery in 1742 and then a priest. In 1761, at the church of Amid, Patriarch Jirjis III ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Ma’dan, whose seat was at the monastery of Mar Quryaqos, and called him Gregorius Behnam. We found his name in some manuscripts up to 1769, when he and nine other bishops presented themselves to Patriarch Jirjis IV on March 8 [ According to A Service Book for Major Feasts at the church of Diyarbakr]. The year of his death is unknown. But based on the ordination date of his successor Dionysius Shim’un (1779), he must have died shortly before that year, and God knows best.

13) Dionysius Mikha’il, metropolitan of Aleppo (1766-1775).
Dionysius Mikha’il was the son of deacon Ni’mat Allah, son of Mikha’il Jarawa  [ According to  a service book for feasts at the Church of St. Mark Monastery, Jerusalem MS 11]. He was born at Aleppo on January 3, 1721. He acquired a smattering of church sciences under Maphryono Basilius Shukr Allah of Aleppo, and was ordained a deacon around 1747.  In 1757, Jirjis of Aleppo, metropolitan of Jerusalem, ordained him a priest. [ According to his Homologia (Confession of Faith) at the Za’faran Monastery]. In 1758, Patriarch Jirjis III appointed him his deputy for the vacant Aleppo diocese. In 1765, he visited the patriarch at Amid and remained in that city for one year. When the congregation of Aleppo chose him as their metropolitan, the patriarch ordained him, on February 23, 1766, at the church of Amid and called him Dionysius at his ordination. His ordination was attended by Metropolitan Jirjis, already mentioned.  Inscribed on his seal was the following: “By the mercy of God, Metropolitan Mikha’il of the city of Aleppo, 1766.”
At that time, the Latin (Roman Catholic) padres were casting their nets to ensnare the simple folks of the various Eastern churches in order to adopt their doctrine. As a stratagem, they used innovative Latin ritual customs which found acceptance among many Syrians of Aleppo. Meanwhile, the French consul, Peter Depiere Derio, played a great role in assuring these people of the assistance of his government. Both the Latin padres and the French consul enticed the Syrians to install their own patriarch in Aleppo. Metropolitan Mikha’l Jarwa fell into their trap and his doctrine became corrupted because he attached himself to them. Patriarch Jirjis  wrote to him, offering him counsel and guidance. He invited him to come to the Za’faran Monastery in the hope of correcting his waywardness. Mikha’il Jarwa journeyed to the Za’faran Monastery, where he remained for a long time, but to no avail. Eventually, he fled back to Aleppo. There he stopped mere prevaricating and resorted to open perfidy. In 1774, he renounced the Holy and Orthodox (Syrian) Church, declaring that he had joined the Western Latin (Roman Catholic) faith. Most of the Syrian congregation and priests of Aleppo also joined this faith. [Rabbath, Inedits Documents, 1: 592] They did this arbitrarily and out of ignorance, having been infected by an old leaven which had been fermenting since the time of Andrew Akhijan of Mardin and Peter Bedin of Edessa in the middle of the previous (seventeenth) century. [Akhijan was a Syrian Orthodox cleric who was entrapped by Latin friars and converted to Catholicism in the seventeenth century. The Latins had him ordained as an unlawful patriarch of the schismatic group of the Syrian Church, which today is known as Syrian Catholics. Tr.] We need not mention that most Syrians then lacked religious knowledge and understanding of the Syriac language of their fathers. Thus, they became a prey to seducers.
When the patriarch saw the danger which was threatening the diocese, he traveled to Aleppo accompanied by a number of bishops and monks, arriving in the city on May 22, 1775. He gained control of the church building (which had been seized by the schismatics) and punished the bishop (Jarwa) and his faction. This cost him thirty purses, or 15,000 piasters, equivalent to 1,500 golden liras [ According to the letter of Chorepiscopus Yaqub (Jacob) of Qutrubul in refutation of Mikha’il Jarwa in 1775]. The schismatics, however, re-seized the church building, using foreign (French) influence and bribing the (Ottoman) officials. The patriarch returned to his see and suspended and anathematized the metropolitan (Jarwa). Meantime, a friend of Jarwa named Yusuf Qudsi, leader of the small schismatic faction, arrived in Aleppo denouncing and challenging Jarwa. But the French consul supported Jarwa and banished the Latin padres who opposed him. [Rabbath, Inedits Documents, 2: 592-597] Patriarch Jirjis obtained a firman (royal edict) ) from the Ottoman government to banish the culprit (Jarwa) and a number of his supporters, but Jarwa escaped, as usual, to Latakia and then to Cyprus. Finally he ended up in Egypt. At the end of 1777, the patriarch ordained Dionysius ‘Abd Allah Shidyaq of Aleppo as metropolitan for Aleppo. In 1778, Mikha’il Jarwa fled from his place of exile and returned to Aleppo after bribing the Wali (governor) with a great amount of money. Bribery was a plague of the Ottoman governors, whose state then was at its worst, having turned its judicial principles topsy-turvy.
Stiill, Mikha’l Jarwa was not satisfied with what he had done. When the patriarchal see became vacant with the death of Patriarch Jirjis IV on July 21, 1781, he became driven by ambition and ill intentions to possess it. He was encouraged by the Western (European) Roman Catholics, who enticed him to snatch the leadership of the (Syrian Orthodox) Church in any manner conceivable. He proceeded to accomplish his intention by means of bribery with the support of a few parishioners who had fallen into the same (Roman Catholic) trap, especially in the city of Mardin, where some Syrians had been secretly dancing to the (Roman Catholic) tune for sixteen years. They were instigated by those Armenians and Chaldeans who had already embraced the papal doctrine.
Jarwa arrived in Mardin in the middle of November, bearing gems and gifts for its officials in order to achieve his goal. He resided at the Church of the Forty Martyrs. He almost choked to see that the majority of the Syrians supported the patriarchal deputy, Cyril Matta, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta and Mosul. His stratagem was to offer hefty bribes to the Ottoman governors of Diyarbakr, Mardin, and Baghdad, to which Mardin was then subject. What helped him most, though, is the corruption of the Ottoman state and the degeneration of the feudalistic system. This corruption was most noticeable in Mardin, whose administration was controlled by ignorant and tyrannical Kurdish aghas (lords) who understood only the worst aspects of life. They took turns in the administration of the city for short periods, during which they satiated their greed with licit and illicit money. [In the time of the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III (1757-1773), corruption, bribery and treason reached an unimaginable level. In the reign of his successor, ‘Abd al-Hamid I (1773-1787), chaotic conditions of the state became paramount, and calamities afflicted the Ottoman state so much that it caused the sultan to die from grief. See Shakib Arslan, Appendix to the Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun, pp. 270-275.] Being corrupt and used to bribery, these governors strongly supported Jarwa in achieving his aim. But the Syrian Orthodox people, who adhered to their faith, renounced Jarwa’s schismatic dereliction. Two bishops, Cyril Matta and his brother Metropolitan Julius ‘Abd al-Ahad, superior of the Za’faran Monastery, challenged him to return to the church’s fold, but he kept persisting in this stubbornness. He became even more intransigent. What encouraged him most, however, was his reliance on a small group which was instigating him to return stealthily to Aleppo. He repaired to Aleppo to add more fuel to the fire of enmity, schism and sedition. He borrowed, as he said, a great amount of money to offer as a bribe to the Kurdish governor of Mardin, ‘Isa Beg, son of Muharram Beg Mulli. He likewise bribed the notables of the city, who supported him against his opponents (the Syrian Orthodox) and even forced them to join him. His faction offered the governor an amount of money which he sent to Sulayman Pasha al-Kabir Abu Sa’id, Wali of Baghdad, requesting him to install their man, Mikha’il Jarwa, as patriarch. They also offered Sulyman Pasha six thousand piasters to obtain a decree from the Ottoman State (Sultan) recognizing Jarwa as patriarch. Thirty days later, the Wali of Baghdad issued an order to the governor of Mardin to install Jarwa as patriarch over the Za’faran Monastery. The governor obeyed, as Jarwa himself said.
Furthermore, Jarwa ensnared two (Syrian Orthodox) bishops, Iyawannis Tu’ma or Ni’ma of Sadad, who was bishop of Midyat (1779-1780), and Athanasius Musa Sabbagh of Aleppo, who was a newcomer to the monastic order and the priesthood. He was ordained a priest-monk in 1777. He was sent by the patriarch to Azekh in the fall of 1780 to collect the patriarchal tithes and to supervise the building of its church. Sabbagh remained at Azekh until the summer of 1781. When he learned of the death of the patriarch, hoping to fulfill his ambition, he called on the Maphryono of Tur Abdin, Saliba. He coaxed the maphryono to ordain him a bishop. The maphryono agreed and ordained him a bishop, but without a diocese [ MSS of Azekh and Tur ‘Abdin]. Sabbagh turned to Jarwa, hoping to find him a position. Meantime, the governor (of Mardin) forced two more bishops, Gregorius Bishara of Bedlis, metropolitan of Jerusalem, and Cyril Ibrahim Baddi of Mardin, another new priest in the service of the Patriarchal Office, to defect. Jarwa took these bishops to the Za’faran Monastery and forced them to ordain him as patriarch, as he claimed. According to church law, no patriarch can be ordained without a synod of bishops, which must elect him to be patriarch. This usurpation of the patriarchate occurred on January 25, 1782. Jarwa returned to Mardin to force the congregation and clergy to join him. He even had his opponents thrown into prison. These sad events, however, displeased Metropolitan Matta, his brother, and the clergy of the Syrian Church. To avoid Jarwa’s machinations, the two bishops fled at night to Qal’at al-Imra’a and then to Tur ‘Abdin, accompanied by a great number of monks. They met with Barsoum of Arbo, Patriarch of Tur ‘Abdin, Maphryono Saliba, and other bishops of Tur ‘Abdin. They convened a synod and discussed the disaster inflicted on the Apostolic See by the usurper (Jarwa).  They denounced Jarwa and chose Metropolitan Cyril Matta. They took him to the Monastery of Mar Abai in Qellith and ordained him a Maphryono of the Patriarchal See. The new maphryono began his position by ordaining four bishops. On February 6, 1782, the festival of Cana of Galilee, they celebrated his consecration as Patriarch of Antioch. The new patriarch sent his brother to the Ottoman capital to obtain a royal decree of his investiture.
Meanwhile, Mikha’il Jarwa contacted the governor of Amid, ‘Abdi Pasha, who forced some of its (Syrian Orthodox) people to join Jarwa. He also arrested Jarwa’s opponents and threw them in chains into prison on February 16 and March 3. Among them were the priests Fath Allah, Yaqub Shami, and Yeshu’, son of Jabi, and others. But they were later released and returned to their (Syrian) church.  Metropolitan Bishara and Metropolitan Ibrahim managed to escape Jarwa’s coercion and joined the patriarch. Jarwa resided for six months at Mardin and then at the Za’faran Monastery. He stretched out his hand to rob the valuable vessels and manuscripts of the monastery, which he sent to Aleppo. [ I personally saw these manuscripts and checked some of them at the Sharfa Monastery in Lebanon in the summer of 1968. When I asked the monk who showed them to me to whom they had originally belonged and how they got to the Sharfa Monastery, he was timid and reluctant to give me a satisfactory answer. When I told him that Mikha’il Jarwa was the one who looted the Library of the Za’faran Monastery and its manuscripts, which ended up in the Sharfa Monastery, the host monk kept silent and said not a word. Tr. ] He resorted to trickery, bribery, and calumny to obstruct the activities of Patriarch Matta. He even succeeded in having the governor of Mardin summon the patriarch and his bishops and cast them in chains into prison. Three days later, the prison collapsed from heavy rain, and God saved the prisoners. The governor let them go free. On their way to the village of Qutrubul, whose congregation had invited them for a visit, Mikha’il Jarwa and his partisans bribed the governor of Amid, who arrested them. They were twelve in number, including the patriarch, a metropolitan, and monks. The governor was about to execute them, but they ransomed themselves for twelve purses (six thousand piasters).
Meanwhile, Metropolitan ‘Abd al-Ahad returned to Mardin carrying the sultan’s decree of the patriarch’s investiture, which caused the Syrian Orthodox people to rejoice.  Both the governor and the qadi (religious judge) of Amid had the decree officially registered, and handed over the church building (which had been seized by Jarwa) to Patriarch Matta.  The patriarch came to Mardin and was received cordially by the governor of the city, who offered him his own mule to mount as he entered the city. The patriarch entered Mardin and proceeded to the Church of the Forty Martyrs with great pomp, in which the whole city celebrated. He evicted the usurper from the church premises, and Jarwa left discomfited and humiliated. The patriarch advised Jarwa once more to desist from schism, but to no avail. Seeing that he was still insistent on his error, the patriarch had no choice but to banish him to the Khatuniyya citadel, situated on a small lake near the Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq. But Jarwa, using bribery, succeeded in changing his place of banishment to the city of Mosul, and then to Baghdad. Meanwhile, the patriarch obtained a special firman (royal decree) for his banishment and some of his partisans because he had disturbed the peace of the governors and their subjects by planting seeds of sedition among them. When Jarwa realized that he was cornered and his bribes were ineffective, he feared the consequences of his wickedness. He left Baghdad in disguise at night on a camel’s back. He passed through barren country until he reached the village of ‘Adra, near Damascus, populated by Muslims. He sent a message to the few acquaintances who had secretly kept his faith, but they refused  to receive him for fear of the governors. Being vagrant and fugitive, Jarwa found refuge in a ruined monastery belonging to the Maronites, in the village of Beit Shabab in the Kisrawan Mountain, in Lebanon. Months later, he was compelled to leave the monastery when Maronite nuns came to abide in it. The nuns had escaped the ravages of the war then going on between the Amir Yusuf al-Shihabi (1770-1790) and two other amirs of his own family who had challenged his authority. Worse still, Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar, the governor of Sidon, had occupied the country (Lebanon). So Jarwa went to stay in a small monastery newly built in the village of Shaybaniyya, called the Monastery of Mar Ephraim al-Raghm [ Built in 1709 and destroyed by fire in 1841]. The monastery was inhabited by a few adherents of his faith, including his friend Yusuf Qudsi, who it is said was a merchant. These men, however, disliked his staying at the monastery because they were aware of his case and abhorred his cunning. For four months more he stayed with a destitute peasant.  At the beginning of 1785, he rented a small house at the Sharfa of Der’un as his residence.
Jarwa realized that his nets were torn up and his endeavors in the country of Beth Nahrin met with failure.  Also, he despaired of receiving aid from the French government through his friends. France was in turmoil; the Revolution erupted in 1789, and King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were guillotined in 1793 [ Despite his intelligence, King Louis XV was lazy and profligate. In his reign (1743-1774) there was turmoil in political affairs, where women had the upper hand.  His grandson and successor, Louis XVI, was likewise of good heart and character, but of timid disposition and will. He failed to reform France which revolted against him. See Scond, The History of France, pp. 380, 386, 434.]  In his predicament, Jarwa turned to Spain. He wrote to a Spanish countess about his condition in a tear-compelling manner asking for help. The countess sent him some money which enabled him to settle his debts and buy the house he had rented. He remained in this condition until his death on September 15, 1800, having suffered for two years from serious diseases.
As for Metropolitan Ni’ma of Sadad, he spent his life attached to Jarwa. He was indolent and is not remembered for any achievement.  So was Bishop Musa of Aleppo, a liar who joined Jarwa out of ambition, hoping to receive a better position in the church. When he failed, he became embittered and turned against Jarwa. He remained at home in Aleppo, desperate and inactive, avoiding Jarwa’s partisans until his death shortly after 1818.
After the death of Mikhai’l Jarwa, his few partisans continued plotting against each other for thirty more years. Since they were only two or three bishops without dioceses, except the bishop of Qaraqosh, they sought the aid of bishops of Western (Latin) denominations to be ordained to a higher office. If it is true, as was believed then, that Jarwa spent 50,000 piasters on his schismatic manipulations, and that his schism cost the Syrian Orthodox Church 150,000 piasters, estimated at 20,000 to 25,000 golden liras, one would realize how much damage this wicked man did  the church. This is not to mention the moral and spiritual harm, which is far more serious than any other hurt he caused the church. Unfortunately, when wicked intentions possess the heart, they will corrupt it. And when ignorance controls the mind of man, it will cause him to lose his way.
We have collected the above information briefly from trustworthy eyewitnesses whose testimonies are unanimous. [ See the roster of the Syrian patriarch by Metropolitan ‘Abd Allah al-Shidyaq (d. 1801), derived from a copy in his own handwriting found at  the home of Hannush al-Khuri Yusuf in Diayarbakr; a short roster of bishops appended by a contemporary to the Chronicle of Patrarich Mikha’il Rabo, in the two copies of Sadad and Jerusalem; the comment of Deacon Mikha’il, son of Dawud of Nabk, in the Book of Husoyos for Lent in 1783, and another one by Metropolitan Elias al-Akhras (d. 1792) and others.]  It is not true, as Jarwa himself claimed, that what he did was done with meekness (Jarwa’s story in his own words), as did some of his later followers, who fabricated his life-story and lavished praise on him, describing him as the paragon of knowledge and righteousness. [ See Viscount Philip Tarrazi, al-Salasil al-Tarikhiyya fi Asaqifat al-Abrashiyyat al-Suryaniyya (Beirut, 1910), 212-228, and Dionysius Afram Naqqasha, Kitab Inayat al-Rahman fi Hidayat al-Suryan (Beirut, 1910), 186-217. In fact, the greater part of this book is about Jarwa. Both of these sources are highly biased and should be read with utmost caution. Tr.] One of them, however, refuted them, ascribing to Jarwa ignorance, cunning and machination. [The reference here is to Metropolitan Jirjis Shahin (1839-1927), a Syrian Catholic who was totally displeased with his church and its chief clerics. But he did not leave it. He wrote two monographs admitting that his own people had seceded from the Syrian Orthodox Mother Church. Specifically, he discussed Mikha’il Jarwa in his monograph entitled Kashf al-Anqiba ‘an Wujun al-Mu’allifin wa al-Mu’arrikhin al-Kadhaba (Removing the Veils from the Faces of False Writers and Historians: Beirut, 1911).  On p. 12, he says about Mikha’il Jarwa, “He, may God have mercy on him, was dumb; his speech was marked by stuttering. People did not like the way he spoke. But he was clever and cunning. Thus, when Aphram Naqqasha of Mosul said in Inayat al-Rahman, p. 330, that Patriarch (Jarwa) was eloquent, having a sweet manner of speech, that is but one of the many lies with which he embellished his book. Tr.] This view was corroborated by some of Jarwa’s letters, addressed to the distinguished Western people who supported him, which he embellished with obvious phases of pride, arrogance  and false zeal.  He did not even feel ashamed to display in them his disdainful treatment of his lord, the patriarch of Antioch, who had ordained him a metropolitan. Outwardly, he showed affection and obedience to the patriarch, but inwardly, he harbored disobedience and schism. Jarwa had a speech impediment which caused him to stammer, not to mention his ignorance of both Syirac and Arabic languages and belles-lettres.

Appendix to the Biography of Basilius Shukr Allah of Aleppo,
maphryono of Malabar


We have already published the biography of Maphryono Shukr Allah, of blessed memory,  which we gathered from different historical sources in some libraries. They include the tract written by the Chorepiscopus Jirjis Tunburji of Aleppo, in the colloquial language of Aleppo and sent to his acquaintances in that city. In this tract, Tunburji recorded in detail the account of the journey of the maphryono and his companions to Malabar (see above). Tunburji’s tract, however, is defective at the beginning. It begins with the arrival of the maphryono and his entourage at the citadel of Cochin. Recently, we found another copy of this tract, written in the hand of the author which contains the lacunas in the first one. It ends with the arrival of the travelers in Baghdad, where they remained for twelve days. However, it still lacks an account of their stay in Baghdad, prior to their arrival at the citadel of Cochin. This second copy consists of 17 small-sized pages and begins with the first chapter of the voyage.
We have also come upon a copy transcribed from a small notebook containing the account of the maphryono (of blessed memory) for a whole year, from October 1751 to October 16, 1752. It is written by Maphryono Shukr Allah himself and consists of 31 pages, 11 lines each.
Since these two sources contain accounts written with great accuracy, and elucidate what we have said earlier, and also they correct what we have quoted from other copies which we acquired through translations of Malabarian writers, we thought of publishing both accounts for more benefit. We have corrected most of the linguistic and grammatical errors in both of them while keeping the original intact as much as possible. We have commented on both for the sake of elucidation and emendation of what has already been written. Following is the first tract:

In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate

We proceed to write the account of our journey from Aleppo and what happened to us.

We left Aleppo on Sunday afternoon, January 7, (1750). We were seen off by the deacon Ni’mat Allah Shidyaq and his cousin Anton, the deacon Ni’mat Allah Jarwa, the deacon Anton al-Wakil, and a great number of priests, deacons and laity. We, the weak, the Maphryono Shukr Allah, son of the deacon Musa Qasabchi, the Chorepiscopus Jirjis, son of Chorepiscopus Ni’ma, and deacon Anton, son of the priest Sim’an, bade them farewell and entrusted them to God, the Benevolent: In our company  were also three attendants: deacon Musa, son of the sister of Bishop Tuma (see above the biography of  Tuma, Bishop of Damascus (d. 1750)) , deacon Hidaya, nephew of Maqdisi Elias al-Azraq (The Malabarians changed the name of Shammas Hidaya to Addai), and Shamaya, an Indian Jew who hailed from India with deacon Anton.
When those who had come to see us off left, we proceeded to a village called ‘Assan [Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu’jam al-Buldan, 6: 172, says that ‘Assan is a village in the vicinity of Aleppo, about a farsakh (four miles) distant. Could he mean Ashin, a village near Aleppo? See Chorepiscopus Barsoum Ayyub, al-Usul al-Suryaniiya fi Asma’ al-Mudun wa al-Qura al-Suryaniyya (Dar Mardin, 2000), p. 237.] The maphryono mounted a beast while we walked because beasts were not available. We arrived in the village at dinner time very tired and slept the night.  We woke up in the morning and hired eight camels for the second time because the Bedouin, Salih, had not even one camel [In Chapter 13 of his tract, the Chorepiscopus Jirjis explains the reason camels were not available: “Rizq Allah and Gabriel Chalabi, sons of Jarwa, sold pieces of cloth to Salih al-Fukayli on credit. As they had no means of getting back their money, they deserted us in order to find another source of money. They arranged a deal with Salih al-Fukayli to hire camels for us and charged us two hundred piasters. When we got to the village of ‘Assan, the common saying, ‘we have seen neither a camel nor camels,’ truly applied to our condition. So we hired camels for the second time.” This Rizq Allah is son of Mikha’il. Gabriel is the son of deacon Ni’mat Allah, son of Mikha’il Jarwa. The first Rizq Allah is the uncle of Metropolitan Mikha’il Jarwa; the second one, Gabriel, is his brother.] I, the weak Chorepiscopus Jirjis, and our father the maphryono rode in litters, while the rest rode on camels.
Those from whom we hired the camels were four men: al-Hajj Ramla, Faris, Hasan, and another Faris. We traveled for a few days until the eighth day, when we camped near al-Sukhna [Yaqut, 5: 47, identifies it as a village in the Syrian desert between Tadmur (Palmyra), ‘Urd and Arak, whose people were Arabs.] on Sunday, January 14. We remained for a day at al-Sukhna because a camel of Hajj Ibrahim ibn Waranka of Baghdad had died, and the merchandise it was carrying was left in the wilderness and had to be retrieved. This was done, and on Tuesday we proceeded to al-Tiba. Riding in camel litters caused us trouble, and we were forced to break them and toss them into the wilderness. We hired a work-horse for our father the maphryono, and I mounted the camel of the discarded litter. There were about twenty horses and mules in the caravan. On the desolate road we suffered from severe cold weather, which some Arabs said they have not seen before. From when we left Aleppo until we reached ‘Ana, there was not even a drop of rain. But when we approached al-Tiba, snow fell early for almost half an hour.
We continued our journey for days, with no highway to follow. We entered a valley called al-Ratqa and went through it for three days. As we exited the valley on Sunday January 28, it was a rather dark day, because of the fear which gripped us three times. The first time was early in the morning, the second at noontime, and the third in the evening. Our calamity was great and even mingled with death.
Our first fear, in the morning, arose because leaders of the caravan wanted to camp at a water-well called al-Mani’i. In early evening they decided to send two men to observe  the place and find out whether its people were Arabs or otherwise. When the two men departed and approached the site, they saw smoke coming out of it and turned back. As they were returning, the caravan’s leaders saw them far off and thought they were enemies. But the cavalry men in the caravan recognized them. So we had peace and continued the journey.
The reason of the second scare was the following.  After moving on until noontime, the leaders of the caravan said that Arabs (Bedouins) had already descended upon the water well and they could not get to it.  What should we do?  The caravan’s men said that the River Euphrates was nearby and we should camp at its bank. The river was about three days’ distance. So, by God’s guidance, we moved on. We had marched for hardly an hour when we met about twenty men who told us that they had been intercepted by Arabs. We wondered what to expect. Immediately, the cavalrymen and the gunmen of the caravan rushed to the vanguard and found out that the men were small in number. They asked, “Who are you?” and they said, “We are of the Dulaym Arabs.”  “And what are you doing here?” they were further asked.  They said, “We are shepherds tending the sheep of the Dulaym.” Suddenly, we were surprised by Arabs of the ‘Anaza tribe, who stole the sheep and drove us along with them. As we reached their residence, they took whatever we had and departed.” Ironically, they went on lamenting our condition, saying, “Allah has been gracious to you because we have come upon you. Listen to us and do not continue on this road. Come with us to our people, the Dulaym Arabs, and camp at the bank of the river (Euphrates). We shall prepare for you roasted sheep, yogurt, and butter. Spend the night in rest and leave in the early morning.” The hapless men of our caravan — by the way, our caravan was small — who wanted to spend a sociable night, went along with them, while we moved on, saying, “God has rescued us from the third cause of our fear.” When we got close to the residence of their people (the Dulaym Arabs) the caravan’s leaders said, “Let us camp here.” They camped at a depression surrounded by low mounds. One of the men whom we had met on the road hurried to tell the Dulaym Arabs that a small caravan had come from Aleppo with only a few armed men, and this was an opportune time to capture it. Hardly half an hour passed since we camped, when we were ferociously attacked by almost two hundred horsemen and a great number of footmen. When the caravan’s leaders saw they were being attacked, they raised their muskets and told the attacking horsemen to retreat or they would fire at them. When they did not retreat, the caravan’s men fired, killing a horse of the Dulaym Arabs. The horsemen fled, but the footmen set up barricades to shelter us because we were positioned on low ground. They too had muskets with them. When the caravan’s men saw that the footmen of the Dulaym Arabs had set up barricades, they too set up barricades from the cargo they had. Both sides began to fire. We sought protection, hiding behind the goods, and began to pray to God, weeping and crying, “O God, save us!” It seems that God’s mercy watched over us. The shots passed over our heads like a rain shower for almost four hours until sunset [We have said earlier that the men of the caravan and the Arabs (of the Dulaym) fired for about fifteen hours.  Actually, the shooting lasted four to five hours.], and behold! a group of horsemen approached us asking for peace. During the skirmish two armed men of our caravan fell dead. They were Muhammad Hitawi (of Hit) and Hajj Muhammad Basrawi (of Basra). They were the men of Arutin Jarfali of Aleppo. A camel and few horses were also lost, and a man was hit in the shoulder but recovered. The Dulaym lost one man and a few horses.  When the men came asking for peace, the firing stopped and we heaved a sigh of relief, but they went on to say, “Because you have killed one of our men and a few horses, you should pay us blood money. If you refuse, then prepare to fight.” The caravan’s leaders tried to come to terms with them. Only God knows how much we suffered that night. It was so cold that we could not pitch our tents or sleep until morning.
Let us return to our subject. In our company was an ‘Anaza companion named Ibrahim who had advised the men of the caravan not to stay with the Dulaym Arabs, but they did not listen to him. When he saw what had happened, he said to the caravan’s leaders, “Whatever happened has happened. Give me a horse to ride, and I will go to my cousin Fadil, the amir of the ‘Anaza  Arabs, and bring him to you to rescue you from these marauders.” The caravan leaders provided him with a horse, which he mounted and left. His cousin was far away from our camp, about one and a half days’ journey. Ibrahim reached his cousin in the middle of the night and brought him back to us at sunrise. When the Dulaym Arabs saw him, they began to flee into crevices in the ground. The ‘Anaza Arabs fell upon the Arabs of the Dulaym and beat them. At the same time, the men of our caravan captured two men of the Dulaym Arabs, tied them up, and demanded that they hand back whatever they looted. Evidently, they have stolen at night merchandise worth a thousand piasters.
Meanwhile, the accursed Wandal, shaykh of the Shammar Arabs, who was staying with the Arabs of Dulaym and had instigated them against us, came and implored Fadil of ‘Anaza to release the two men. The caravan leaders yielded and released them. Even if they had not released them, however, they would have given back everything their people had taken at night. Presently, Fadil asked us to load our beasts; we did so and moved on. Twenty horsemen of the ‘Anaza Arabs accompanied us until we came to a house, where we spent the night. Early in the morning of Monday, January 29, we were again on our way. Before we set out, however, Fadil of ‘Anaza demanded from us ten Venetian gold coins for each of our loads. The men of the caravan counted sixty loads and bargained to pay him only nine gold coins for each load. They guaranteed the amount they promised. As a security they gave him two loads of broadcloth and a load of paper, together with the camels that were carrying them. They were to get the loads back upon payment of the total amount. [ We have said above in describing the journey of the maphryono that the captain of the robbers received from the men of the caravan 9000 gold coins. Later, however, we discovered that this number was an error by the copyists  or the translators of the Syriac or the English text, who added a zero, so that 900 became 9000.] This Fadil was the one who looted the ‘Afrawi’s caravan. Be that as it may, Fadil departed, and the Arabs of Shammar accompanied us to ‘Ana. [Yaqut, 6: p. 101, said that according to Kulaibi, the villages of ‘Anat were called so after the names of three brothers of the people of ‘Aad who had fled and taken up residence in these isles. But the Arabs called them ‘Aanat, meanng a herd of deer. ‘Ana is a famous town situated between al-Raqqa and Hit in the province of the Jazira. It overlooks the River Euphrates near the Nura garden. It has a formidable fortress. Qa’im bi Amr Allah was taken to it when the Basasiri intended to kill him, but his murder was prevented by Maharish. Tughrul Beg then came and killed the Basasiri and restored the caliph to Baghdad. The caliph was absent from Baghdad for one year.  Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Hamadhani said that Hit and ‘Aanat belonged to the province of Anbar. When Anusherwan reigned, he learned that bands of Arabs had been raiding the region close to the Sawad (in southern Iraq) up to the Badiya (desert). He ordered the rebuilding of the walls of a town called Alus, which Sapur Dhu al-Aktaf (‘he of the shoulders’) had built and fortified with armament to protect the region.] Surely, if God had not sent us Fadil of ‘Aanaza, the Dulaym Arabs would have robbed us and taken our clothes and belongings. They would even have killed us because of the blood which was shed on both sides. Even if they had not slaughtered us, the least they could have done was to leave us naked to die from cold. Only God knows what would have happened to us. Thank God for our safety.
We entered ‘Ana at sunset on Thursday, February 1, the twenty-sixth day since we had left Aleppo.  We lodged at the house of a Muslim for two days. ‘Ana is situated on the bank of the River Euphrates and stretches for three hours’ journey. After two days we left and lodged at the house of a Jew in the eastern part of ‘Ana, which we rented for four shahis [ one shahi was equivalent almost to half a golden lira ] a day. Prices were high in ‘Ana, and two piasters a day was not enough for our keep. We observed the Fast of Nineveh and then prepared to fast for Lent, which followed a little more than two weeks later. [The Fast of Nineveh occurs on February 5, and Lent begins on the 26th of the same month.]  At ‘Ana, we received a report that Ta’aan, the shaykh of the Arabs of Shadid, had attacked the Dulaym Arabs and killed fourteen of them. He robbed them and took others captive. He left them nothing. How true in this case is the proverb, “The iniquitous will be afflicted by one more iniquitous than himself.”
Conflict arose between the people of ‘Ana and the Arabs of Shammar, who robbed some of them and captured 130 donkeys and a few cows, but killed only one man. Those who fled were safe. At ‘Ana we were also shaken with fear of the Arabs. After we had waited forty days at ‘Ana, the pasha’s deputy came and advised us to journey to Baghdad. But we (the maphryono and his companions) did not want to go to Baghdad. So the caravan departed and we remained in the town. Our delay was because the water level of the Euphrates was low.  Between ‘Ana and Hit, water wheels with locks stretched over both banks of the river. If the river did not flood, riverboats were unable to navigate. The travelers in the caravan were forced to leave, however, and we remained behind for fifteen days. All told, we stayed in ‘Ana for fifty-seven days.
On Thursday, March 29, we embarked on a riverboat whose captain was called ‘Abd Allah. We arrived at a village called Hubbayn where we anchored for three hours. We moved on to another village called al-Zawiya on the Euphrates bank, where we spent the night. On Friday March 30, we moved to a populated isle in the middle of the river called al-Haditha, and on Saturday, March 31, we passed by a populated isle called Alus [Hubbayn, today called Habbin, is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Yaqut did not mention it, nor did he mention al-Zawiya, which probably is known today as Zabda. Yaqut, 3: 235, says that al-Haditha, now known as Hadithat al-Nura, is a few miles from Anbar. It has a strong citadel in the middle of the Euphrates surrounded by water. It was built by Abu Midlaj al-Tamimi in the time of the governor of Kufa, ‘Uthman ibn Yasir, during the reign of the Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644). Alus is a town situated on the Euphrates bank near ‘Aana and al-Haditha. Yaqut, 1: 326.] Near this isle was a tributary of the Euphrates called Haqlan, as big as the Aleppo River and full of fish. The people of the area told us that fish navigate from the salty sea near Basra through al-Bira to this place. They also told us that some people of Basra caught a big fish and, having wrapped it in the middle, released it in the Euphrates. They came to this place (Haqlan) to see whether someone had caught it.
We spent Sunday night at an isle called Jubba [Yaqut, 3:42, says Jubba is a village near Hit. From it came Abu Abd Allah ibn Jamil, who composed excellent poetry and served at Diwaniyya in different capacities. He died in 616 A. H./1218 A. D.], situated in the middle of the Euphrates. It was hemmed in with palm trees. On Sunday, April 1, we moved on to Hit, where we spent the night. The next day, we left Hit and spent Tuesday on the bank of the Euphrates opposite a ruined place called Mushayhid. We departed on Tuesday and spent the night at a place called al-Miqdam (today called Khan Miqdam), where the boats usually leave for Baghdad. Miqdam is one day distant from Baghdad. As we left on Wednesday April 4, an easterly wind blew up, and we began to tie down the boat as we moved from one island toward another. The islands were not populated, and boats could not navigate agianst the eastern wind. So we spent the night at the isle in the middle of the river. On Thursday March 5, we reached a village called Musayyab (on the Euphrates bank). Two hours later came a boat loaded with salt, but the sailors could not moor it to the bank because the water level was too high. At this village there was a bridge stretching on floating boats like the bridge of Baghdad. When the ship reached the bridge, it collided with it, broke up, and sank. When we saw what had happened, our hearts trembled with fear (like that of a pigeon). At this village, those in charge collected a month’s surety of one purse (500 piasters) from boats and from ingoing and outgoing caravans. We spent that night at Musayyab. On a Friday in Lent, April 6, we left and touched upon a village called Nasiriyya (today a large city) and went from there to Hilla about noontime. [ This is the Hilla of the Banu Mazyad, built by Sayf al-Dawla Sadaqa ibn Mansur ibn Mazyad al-Asadi. It is situated west of the Euphrates, to which Sadaqa had moved in the month of Muharram, 495 A. H./1101 A. D. It was a thicket where lions sought shelter. Sadaqa arrived in it with his family and soldiers and erected magnificent houses and buildings, which his own men imitated. Thus, Hilla became the greatest of Iraq’s towns. It is situated between Kufa and Baghdad.]
At Hilla we met Deacon Zachariah [ we said earlier that the deacons Hidayat Allah and Musa went to Baghdad ahead of the maphryono. More correctly, it should be said in this context that the two deacons were attendants of the maphryono and traveled with him], the attendant of Metropolitan Yuhanna (Gregorius Yuhanna of Khudayda, or Qaraqosh ], whom the metropolitan had dispatched to take us to Baghdad because the road from Hilla to Basra was controlled by the Muntafik Arabs and no one could travel by it. On the day of our arrival in Hilla, however, some boats departed and then returned. So we stayed in the caravansary of Hajj Yusuf, where Deacon ‘Ata Allah, the brother of the Chorepiscopus ‘Abd al-‘Azim of Diyarbakr, was also staying.  [ We have not found this chorepiscopus listed among the chorepiscopi or priests of Diyarbakr, who then numbered twelve.] On Palm Sunday, April 8, our father the maphryono said the Mass in the room. The ceremony was attended by Chaldeans and Armenians and some of our own people who were in Hilla. I, the poor one, recognized some of the people who belonged to these three denominations and offered them the mysteries (Holy Communion).
On Monday of Passion Week, we left Hilla on donkeys’ backs. In the evening we rested at Khan al-Mahawil. On Tuesday we departed for a khan called Bi’r al-Nuss, and then to another khan called Azad, where we spent the night. On Wednesday morning we left and arrived in Baghdad at high noon. We met Rabban Hanna, the deacon Yaqub of Edessa, attendant of Sulayman Pasha [He is Sulayman Pasha of Tiflis, who became governor of Baghdad in 1749 after being a servant to its Wali (governor) Ahmad Pasha since 1736. He was elected to the office of deputy of the pasha. Peace prevailed under his rule, which ended in 1761.], who came to meet us. They received us with utmost honor and went to inform Metropolitan Yuhanna of our arrival. We met the metropolitan at the entrance to the bridge, and accompanied him and those who received us to a house which they had rented and furnished two or three days earlier. We changed our clothes and rested at the house that night. On Thursday morning, I, the poor, celebrated the Mass in the house of Khawaja Yusuf Tarzi Bashi (Chief Tailor). Yusuf was a Greek (Byzantine or Rum Orthodox) but very affectionate. May God protect him and protect every loving person. He is the brother-in-law of Ni’mat Allah, son of Shukri Chalabi Shatma, who had married a native woman of Baghdad
On the Saturday of Light [ The Saturday following Good Friday, so called because it is believed that divine light springs out of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem Tr.], Metropolitan Yuhanna celebrated the Mass, and on Easter Day, April 15, our father the maphryono said the Mass at the Armenian Church. We were received with utmost hospitality and honor.. The Vartabet (priest) of the Armenian Church, Vartanis, was a loving man. After the service we took breakfast with him. On Easter Day, we were visited by some people from our denomination (Syrians) and by Armenians who offered their felicitation on the Easter Feast. But Padre Emmanuel did not come to see us. [He is Emmanuel Payeh (sic), the Carmelite who was sent to Baghdad in 1728, became a bishop in 1742, and left Baghdad in 1752.] As to deacon Yaqub of Edessa, attendant to Sulayman Pasha (may God bless him), he was ready to provide us with anything we needed. On New Sunday, I, the poor, celebrated the Mass at the home of Khawaja Yusuf Tarzi Bashi, and in the evening of the festival of Mar Jirjis (St. George) heavy rain fell in Baghdad for two hours.

This following second tract was written by Maphryono Shukr Allah, may God have mercy on him.

An account of the events which happened from October, 2063 of the Greeks to October, 2064 of the Greeks/1751-1752 A.D.

After Metropolitan Yuhanna departed on the company’s ship, we first calculated the debt  he had incurred as follows: two thousand rupees owed the company spent by deacon Anton. We also paid eighty-seven rupees, the difference between the said amount and that owed to the money changer in Basra. We found that the metropolitan owed 150 rupees to the company for the cost of the provisions needed on the journey and food which he used at the citadel; 400 rupees to Musa the Jew; 160 rupees to Elikeh, son of Ezekiel, and 100 rupees to David the Jew. The whole amount of the debt incurred by the metropolitan totaled 2897 rupees. This debt was on our back (demanded from us) because we had to assure the creditors of paying it in full. As to the total number of the objects he (the metropolitan) had under his control, they were recorded by the company after his departure in a ledger which I sent to him. They included chairs, furnishings, a staff, and a church vestment worth 300 rupees. Only the amount of 2597 rupees was left for us to pay.
On October 15, we accompanied our group from Kandanad to Kothamangalam to meet with Tuma, in order to reach an agreement with him. We entered the town and sent ten men to ask him to come to us with love, but he excused himself, saying that he was afraid of the governors. We sent the men once more and assured him of the governors’ guarantee of safety. He said that he would come eight days later. These days passed, and he did not show up. We sent the men for the third time, and he said that he would come on the second day of December. When the day drew near, the faithful brought him to us with great honor. We even ordered the church bell rung, thinking that he would come to meet us at the Church of the Virgin, where we were staying. But he did not come to this church and went to lodge at a small church where Maphryono Yalda was buried. Two hours later, we dispatched Rabban Hanna, accompanied by the deacons, who greeted him and told him to meet with the maphryono. He said that he was tired and could not come. Three days later we sent to him his own priests, one of whom, Yusuf, was wicked and malicious, and the priest Peter with other priests and laymen. Priest Yusuf remonstrated with us in an affectionate manner, but we said to him, “Mar Ignatius (the Patriarch of Antioch) has already sent letters to Tuma. Is it appropriate that he declined to meet with us or show us his face although we dispatched several men to plead with him? Yusuf answered, “The metropolitan who has departed left us no trust or faith. Now, Tuma  sent us asking to see the systaticon ( document of election) which you have in your possession, in order that we may know whether you are truly Syrian fathers or not.”  Priest Butrus (Peter) said, “I am a believer and have sinned against heaven and against you. We request you, however, to read the systaticon.” I said to them, “Let us go down to the church, and there you can read the systaticon because many people want to hear it.”  The systaticon was read at the church, and an interpreter translated it into their language. We imparted to them spiritual words and said that from now on there should be no communication conducive to discord. They departed in peace and informed Tuma of our conversation. On the next day Tuma went down to the church and gathered the congregation. He began to talk willfully against us, saying that he would never comply with anything we said. The people, who feared him, could not answer back because for twenty-four years, he had been their head, supported by the government’s power.
On the next day the priests came back and said to us, “Tuma asks why you place a piece of metal at the end of your pastoral staff; why, when you celebrate weddings, you have the bride stand to the right of the bridegroom; why you hand the best man (Ishbin) a sword [We know nothing about this custom, which is not in our tradition. Perhaps it was used in those days by some people.]; why you draw a curtain at the altar; [Drawing the veil or curtain of the altar is a custom still used in the churches of Mardin, Mosul and Amid]; and why you say in the Nicene Creed, ‘He rose on the third day as he willed’ (instead of ‘according to the Scriptures’). The Fathers never taught us these six customs.” [ In the original text these traditions numbered five, not six.]
We said to them, “The fathers who came to you were like a physician who calls on the wounded patient. First he treats the wound to prevent more serious illness. When the deadly wound is cured, then he goes on to treat the scratches. When the fathers saw that you had lost the way, they treated you as they could and strongly eliminated some of your bad customs. They had your priests grow long beards, handed them the faith, and taught them the seasons of fasting and times of prayers, as much as they could. Now Tuma is our spiritual son. Let him come to us, and we will reach a concord with him concerning these customs. Our main purpose is to treat the more sinister wounds and overlook what does not lead to death.” The priest returned to Tuma and told him what we had said, but he was not convinced. He said, “I want the maphryono to write to me whether these customs are those of the Syrians. I will keep his written answer for thirty days, and then I will come to see him and make peace with him.”
The priests argued, saying that the maphryono has explained to us all these things and confirmed them. He also said if Tuma would come to see him, he would agree with him on all these matters. Tuma was still not convinced. He sent to us some of the faithful, asking us to put down in writing whether these customs were those of the Syrians. We provided him with a copy of these customs and their explanation. We said, “Come to us and try to reach an agreement with us, and everything will be done in love according to your own liking.” He did not answer. We waited patiently until the thirty days passed, during which the people shuttled between us and him, imploring him to meet with us. At times, he said he would come to meet with us at night; at other times, however, he said  he would come after a period of time. We gathered the congregation and said to them, “We have been staying here a long time while Tuma refused to show up.  Let us go to other churches to see which of them has accepted us, in order to teach them the faith. Again, the people went to Tuma and insisted that he see the maphryono. He said he would come to meet with the fathers on February 15. The people asked us to remain until that day. We did. On February 15 the people congregated at a church which belonged to Tuma. On February 16, they presented themselves to us, saying that Tuma wanted us to go to St. Thomas Church, where he would be present. He will not kiss your hand, they added, until he has discussed everything with you and submitted to you. We said that it was almost evening, and he wanted to show up and engage us in a long discussion. What harmony could be reached at night? They answered that no harmony could be reached at night. We said to them, “Let him write down just three words indicating that he is coming to meet with us and reach an agreement with us. Hasten to the church, and we will join you.” They left to discuss the matter. They returned at four o’clock at night, saying, “He (Tuma) will not write down anything. We suggest that you too should come to the church.” We said to them, “It is night, and we cannot go to the church in the dark. Wait here until the morning.” They left.
When Tuma heard that we had told the people to wait until the morning, before dawn he ordered the congregation of the two churches who supported him to leave. We got up in the morning and went to the Church of St. Thomas to conduct the morning service, thinking that he would be present. But he did not show up. We returned to the Church of the Virgin, where we had lodged first, and told the congregation that we were leaving. They said we should inform the king (the Raja) and the Dutch Commodore of our departure. We complied. The commodore was newly appointed and had no knowledge of matters between the maphryono and Tuma. But the people informed him of them. The commodore addressed a letter to us and to Tuma. The raja also wrote to us. He and the commodore said that they wanted definitely to see us make peace.
We delivered the letters to Tuma and waited three days for an answer, but received none. We called the elders and spoke to them with great affection. We implored them to ask Tuma to make peace with us, as we had been commanded by the rulers. Tuma answered, “I have already sent letters to the raja and am waiting for a reply.”  We waited three more days but he did not respond. We sent him priests, to whom he said, “I cannot make peace right now but may do that later.” We wrote once more to the king and the commodore, who became furious with Tuma. But Tuma immediately approached them and won their consent. He wrote to them, “There is no conflict between me and the maphryono. In fact, I have not heard one single bad word from him. But I want to draw near Cochin to effect peace.” The raja and the commodore sent a message asking us to come to Kandanad, and said they would also summon Tuma to find where he stood.  We went to Kandanad on Friday of Palm Week After we left, however, Tuma went on Palm Sunday to the great church where we were staying, pulled out the step of the altar, and tore up its veil. Indeed, during our stay at that church we exerted great effort in talking with the priests until they became convinced to put on the vestments Metropolitan ‘Abd al-Jalil and Maphrian Yalda had brought with them. After we left, Tuma called the priests and rebuked them for obeying us. Some of them succumbed to him, while others remained resolute. The congregation, however, did not appreciate what Tuma had done, and no one prayed with him. When he left the church, the priests restored the step of the altar to its former place, fixed the altar’s veil, and informed us of their action. We wrote advising them that none of them should provoke trouble, because Tuma was seeking a conflict and we had not come to their land to engage in conflict [ Tuma, the false leader, was not satisfied with adhering to falsehood, maliciousness, calumny and impudence; apart from his violation of religion and church laws,  he even went a step further, arguing with the meek and patient maphryono about some church customs and traditions, most of which were trivial and unworthy of discussion. But it was evidence of his bad intentions and malice.]
On Maunday Thursday, we ordained priests and a deacon, and on the next day of Easter we ordained Rabban Hanna a bishop (April 30, 1752). On Thursday, we went to meet with the new commodore. He said, “I have a letter indicating that these people (the Syrians of Malabar) always antagonized the fathers who came from Antioch.” We (the maphryono) said to him, “We have no intention of picking a fight with anyone. You are the governor who should judge justly. Tuma is the one who wrote (to the patriarch) and brought me (to Malabar) in order to confirm him as a metropolitan. Now he says that he is head of the church and needs no confirmation.”  The commodore said, “Be of good cheer, every- thing will be according to your wish.”  We went to see the king (raja), who said, “Be of good cheer.” So, we returned to Kandanad and left Metropolitan Yuhanna behind in Cochin because he had fallen ill. He received treatment for fifteen days and recovered, and we brought him to Kandanad. Meanwhile, we traveled to Mattancherry to collect church dues in order to pay our debt.  While we were there, the maharaja sent us a message, saying, “I want you to go to Pallikarri and remain there to take care of its people, or send a bishop instead of you.  We said, “We cannot leave now.” But we sent Bishop Yuhanna to that town. After all, the people of Pallikarri were of weak faith, and Tuma had his center established in it. He always instigated them against Yuhanna and made trouble for him. Indeed, Bishop Yuhanna wanted to leave their town, but we wrote him to treat the people with love until we learned what the result would be. Furthermore, the king ordered us to send a bishop to them.”  We remained in Mattancherry for a month but could collect only a small amount of money because their church had suffered heavy debt, because Metropolitan Iyawannis of Amid had stayed with them and they were burdened with his expenses. Since then, the rulers had overwhelmed them, they claimed. Realizing that they were of no use to us, we went to a church called Pakoorr (sic), named after St. Thomas. It was in ruins, and its parishioners were poor.  We spent two days there and then left for Paruni, which was divided between the Syrians and the Franks (Latins). The governor of this town was not the raja of Cochin. Our Syrian parishioners came to us, saying, “We are afraid of Tuma and the Franks. Write to the governor that you are staying in the town with his knowledge. We wrote to the governor that we wanted to stay in his land for a few days. He wrote back, “Welcome, you may stay.”  He also wrote to a lesser governor in that region under his control to visit us and take us to the church at Mallikullam, which was under his domain. This church, too, was divided between the Syrians and the Franks. We stayed fifteen days in Paruni. The congregation of this town love only by their lips, but were scared of Tuma, who might do them harm.
On the fifteenth day the Syrians of Mallkullam came, by order of the governor, and took us to their town. But a wicked Frankish priest instigated some Franks against us. Others, however, were not pleased with him. This priest said, “Either I get killed or I kill the maphryono and destroy the church building.” When we arrived in the town, his followers stood at the entrance of the church, swearing by the head of the king (the maharaja), and begging our people not to enter the church. Our people said to them, “We have come by order of the king (raja).” They pushed them aside and entered the church. As they got inside, the Latin priest and his group took hold of the Bema [ Bema is the part of the church containing the altar where the Bishop’s Throne is placed. Tr.] and said, “We will never let the maphryono ascend the Bema.”  When we saw this, we told the lesser governor who had come with us, “We will not fight anyone. If you do not want us to abide by the governor’s (raja) orders, however, we will retreat.” The lesser governor said, “I have an order to bring you here. Now, neither you nor they should get to the Bema until I have discussed the matter with the governor.” So we remained at the church, with fifty men guarding us day and night.
That wicked Latin priest was a drunkard, notorious for his objectionable deeds. His supporters shuttled back and forth to see the governor, bringing along false reports which reveal the corruption of the government. What kind of a government would these men, who had no fear of God, have? There were four or five governors in the village, each of whom was under the authority of a higher governor. But none of them took heed of the others. Finally, we stayed there for fifteen days under guard while the governor prevaricated, hoping to receive bribes from both sides. When we realized that there was no use, because Tuma kept writing to the governor and to the congregation not to receive us or allow the priest to follow the traditions of our church, we left for Kandanat. We sent a message to the commodore informing him of the situation. He replied, “I have sent a letter to the king (raja) of the south, and when I receive an answer I will let you know of its contents.”  We kept waiting, but the commodore’s reply was delayed. Meanwhile, he asked us to go to Parur, where Metropolitan Mar Gregorius ‘Abd al-Jalil had died. Their king asked us to visit him, but for only two days. After much pleading, he agreed that we could stay for ten days. But the congregation disagreed, saying, “Let him (the maphryono) stay as long as he wishes.” Their king, however, was not pleased because the Franks scared him and said, “If the maphryono comes here, you will not be able to govern. Moreover, he is demanding the money of Mar Gregorius. [Mar Gregorius ‘Abd al-Jalil of Mosul, metropolitan of Jerusalem, was dispatched to Malabar in 1665 and administered the church there with great apostolic zeal. He passed away in 1671.] So we went to stay at Mulanthuruthi, where Bishop Hidaya had died. The parishioners of this town were poor and had squandered the bishop’s money because of enmity with each other. We could hardly receive a thing from them except food.
(Here the maphryono mentions the reports of the native elders of Mulanthuruthi about the conversion of the people of Malabar to Christianity and their procrastination until the arrival of Metropolitan Abd al-Jalil, Maphryono Yalda and Bishop Hidaya in Malabar. [Both Maphryono Basilius Yalda and Bishop Iyawannid Hidayat Allah were from Ba Khudayda (Qaraqosh), near Mosul. They were among the best of our church fathers of their time. Basilius Yalda died in 1685 and Hidaya in 1693. They left a good memory in Malabar. ]The maphryono ordained for them a bishop and a chorepiscopus named Tuma, who came from a family that had held clerical positions by heredity for a long time. But since the veracity of the accounts of the native elders cannot stand up under criticism, we overlooked their publication and satisfied ourselves with reporting the events that are connected with the biography of the rebellious (and unlawful bishop) Tuma as follows:
Twelve years before Tuma’s death, a Nestorian bishop called Gabriel arrived in Malabar [ Gabriel was a Nestorian bishop of Azerbayjan. Some say he was of Persian origin. Others say he was from Nineveh (Mosul). He went to Malabar in 1709.] and began to quarrel intensely with Tuma, telling him, “You should kiss my hand because you are not a bishop.” The priests agreed with him and kept reminding Tuma that he was not a lawful bishop. After much conflict the two separated, and Gabriel went to stay in the southern part (of Malabar), while Tuma remained at Kandanad. Meanwhile, Tuma ordained a priest and, as it happened, became gravely ill in Mulanthuruthi. The congregations of thirteen churches met and moved him to Kandanad. They deliberated the situation and discovered that Gabriel was a Nestorian who had altered some church customs. They also discovered that he was trying cunningly to plant among them the seeds of the Nestorian faith. For this reason they decided to install a new leader. They had the monk Tuma, nephew of the unlawful Bishop Tuma, whom Gabriel had  vested with the monastic habit. He seemed to have been behaving properly.  When they met to select a leader, some of them chose the monk Tuma, while others chose Tuma (the unlawful and rebellious bishop), who was suffering from severe illness. They said to Tuma, “Arise. Let us convey you to the church. Your nephew, the monk Tuma, will celebrate the Mass, and you will lay your hands on him.” He said to them, “That is not right. Then the people will say that a monk has ordained him (a bishop).” [This response shows that the rebellious Tuma did not consider himself a lawful bishop..Tr.] As he uttered these words he fell into a coma. When he regained consciousness, the priests brought him the book (office of ordination). He sat upright in the chair while the monk was reading (the service of ordination) to him. But Tuma lapsed into a coma again. Instantly, one of the priests placed the miter on the head of monk Tuma [  To show that his uncle, the rebellious and unlawful Bishop Tuma, had ordained him a bishop. Tr.] Two hours later he breathed his last. Meanwhile, their learned priests arrived, one of whom was named Abraham. The monk Tuma said to them, “I want to write letters to the churches (about his ordination), but how should I sign?” They said, “Sign your name as the Chorepiscopus.” But since they had no idea what a Chorepiscopus is, they began to argue with one another. Many of them refused to kiss his hand [ To show respect for the position of bishop. Tr.]. So he appealed to the king (raja), who brought soldiers who forced them to kiss his hand.
Meanwhile, the Nestorian Gabriel sent a message to monk Tuma to come to him in order to be ordained (a lawful bishop), but he refused. Some time later, Gabriel fell sick. When the monk Tuma heard that he was sick, he went to see him. While Tuma was on his way, Gabriel died at Kottayam. At his side was the priest Matta, the teacher. Now that Gabriel was dead, Matta became afraid of Tuma. He forged a letter, presumably written by Gabriel, stating that he had bestowed the office of the episcopate on monk Tuma, and placed it in Gabriel’s hand. He handed it to the monk Tuma, saying that he had found it in Gabriel’s hand. Tuma said that he needed no confirmation (as a bishop), declaring, “I have been confirmed by two bishops who have passed away.” [Here ends the story of the elders of Mullantory.]
In May, 1752, Tuma had the audacity to ordain his sister’s grandson a deacon to succeed him. Along with him he ordained two more deacons.  One of them, named Tuma, from the southern region, had already been ordained by Metropolitan Iyawannis Yuhanna. Apparently, the first one offered (Tuma) a bribe and schemed with him to ordain him a deacon; the other gave him fifty rupees as a bribe. But the majority of the people did not accept this action (of simony, i.e., selling church offices for money). On July 1 the king sent two heathen men to warn Tuma to quit making trouble. But he bribed them and promised that on the 25th he would make peace (with the maphryono). When they delivered his answer to us, we said that we would gratefully accept whatever the king ordered.
We wish to say how crooked the government in this country was. We have been told that there were numerous kings (rulers) in Malabar. In only one province, lying a distance of three days to the east, there were seventeen kings and governors. If this was their condition, then what kind of government would theirs be? As for the officials of the (Dutch) Company, they were not the rulers of the country and had no authority except over the citadel. But they had a prestigious position with the kings, some of whom feared them while others disregard them.
The date on which Tuma promised to meet with us passed and he did not appear. So on August 3, the date of the commemoration of Bishop Hidaya at Mulanthuruthi, we sent a message to Metropolitan Yuhanna and Bishop Yuhanna to come to us. We vested the priest Gurgis with the monastic habit. This priest was a native of Mulanthuruthi and of noble descent. Like us, he had learned how to say the prayers of the religious duties (that is, the prayers chanted antiphonally by two church choirs of priests and deacons.) We found him to be qualified for the priesthood. We had hopes that, by the intercession of the Virgin, he would continue to be of virtuous conduct. May the Lord bring forth good fruit from him!
We returned to Kandanad and sent for the Syrians of Parur, where Metropolitan ‘Abd al-Jalil had died. We asked them to hand over the metropolitan’s money. They gave us some of it and said that the rest had been squandered. We asked them to hand us what was available and they said that they would do so when I (the maphryono) visited them. We wanted to pay them a visit, but the Franks (Latin clerics) instigated the king, who refused to let us go. He sent us a message saying that he would leave information for me when I decided to pay the people of Parur a visit.  With this, we forgot about this matter for the time being and waited for the Lord’s disposal.
On September 20, the commemoration of Maphryono Yalda, we dispatched the metropolitan to Kothamangalam to celebrate the commemoration of the maphryono because he was his relative (it should be added to the biography of Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna that he belonged to the family of Maphryono Yalda of the East) and should stay with them for a while. On September 27 the Deputy Commodore of Cochin, passed away.  Meanwhile, we sent Bishop Yuhanna to Cochin for treatment because he had becme sick from staying too long in Pallikari. As for Deacon Anton, he made an agreement with some acquaintances who had provided him with merchandise  (perfumes worth five hundred rupees) to take it to Basra and then return to Malabar. He collected a sum of rupees and left for Basra with the intention of bringing his family back to India.
On October 15, of the year 2064 of the Greeks/1752 A. D., I, the poor, left Kandanad and went to the south. The next day I arrived in Kottayam, which the deceased Nestorian Gabriel had made a center of his activity. The congregation received us with alacrity, but their priests were like crafty foxes. May God help us against them. We left the bishop behind in Kandanad in our stead and left the metropolitan in Kothamangalam.  Kottayam is the first city in the southern province, where we have fourteen churches. Some of the parishioners came to see us, but others did not. Most of its people are rough and extremely tight-fisted. We asked God to direct us through this impasse, saying, “We have nothing to offer you except our supplication. Stay in peace.” [I have in my possession a letter dated August 27, 2063 of the Greeks/1752 A.D., from Patriarch Jirjis III addressed to Maphryono Shukr Allah and Metropolitan Yuhanna in Cochin, in answer to the maphryono’s letter to the patriarch, dated December 16, 1751. It was originally written in Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac script), but was copied in Arabic  script by the late Patriarch Aphram I Barsoum, most likely in 1909 when he was a monk at the Za’faran Monastery. The letter is part of a scrapbook containing miscellaneous items concerning the Syrian Church compiled by Barsoum.  In his letter, the Patriarch Jirjis III says that he received a letter from deacon Ni’mat Allah Shidyaq informing him of the sickness of the Chorepiscopus Jirjis and his recovery at Basra. He goes on to encourage the maphryono and his companions to be patient in face of the oppression and antagonism of the wicked Tuma.]

Patriarch Ignatius Jirjis IV of Antioch (1768-1781)

Patriarch Jurjis IV ascended the Apostolic Throne at the Za’faran Monastery on Sunday, August 17, 1768. He passed away on July 21, 1781, having served his office for twelve years, eleven months and four days. He was seventy-two years old. After his death, the Apostolic See remained vacant for six and a half months.
Jirjis was the son of deacon Musa, of the family of the priest ‘Abd al-Jalil. He was born in Mosul in 1709 and raised in a virtuous and spiritual environment. He acquired a knowledge of Syriac and religious principles. At an early age, he shunned the world and traveled to the Za’faran Monastery in 1729, to train in monastic life and church rules. He assumed the monastic habit and was ordained a deacon and then a priest. When Patriarch Shukr Allah observed his qualities, he ordained him a metropolitan for the diocese of Hattack in the middle of December, 1737, calling him Cyril Gurgis (Jirjis) at his ordination.  Patriarch Jirjis III appointed him superior of the Za’faran Monastery and the diocese of Mardin in 1747. He ordained him a Maphryono of the East to succeed Li’azar IV, and called him Basilius Gurgis (Jirjis) at his ordination, at the beginning of March, 1760  (see above). On November 7, 1762, Maphryono Basilius journeyed to Mosul to visit the dioceses of the East. He ordained Metropolitan Behnam for the Monastery of Mar Behnam on February 9, 1763, and returned to Mardin in September. In December the patriarch entrusted him with the management of the Za’faran Monastery, and Maphryono Basilius left Bishop Rizq Allah as his deputy in Mosul. When the patriarchal throne became vacant with the death of Patriarch Jirjis III on July 7, 1768, the congregations of Amid and Mardin nominated Basilius to be his successor. The congregation of Amid informed the Vizier Husayn Pasha, Wali (governor) of Amd, of his nomination. The pasha sent one of his men to Basilius with the decree of investiture. Basilius accompanied the pasha’s messenger to Diyarbakr, arriving in the city on July 11. He presented himself to the pasha, who granted him awards. He paid the pasha five purses, the required fee (for his investiture), from his own money. Four years earlier, however, his predecessor had borrowed six purses and three hundred piasters from Hajj Ahmad Agha Chem Oghli of Amid and pawned the vessels of the church of Amid, which were deposited in two cases. Maphryono Basilius and the notables contacted the creditor, Hajj Ahmad Agha, and transferred the debt (which amounted to 6500 piasters plus interest) to his name.
Maphryono Basilius summoned the metropolitans to a synod at the Za’faran Monastery. Those who responded were Gregorius Jirjis, metropolitan of Jerusalem, who presided over the synod; Dioscorus Shukr Allah, metropolitan of the Jazira; Cyril Yuhanna ibn al-Koul; Cyril Rizq Allah, metropolitan of Mosul; Athanasius Tuma of Qutrbul, metropolitan of Amid; Gregorius Shim’un, metropolitan of Bushairiyya; Cyril Bishaa, metropolitan of the patriarchal office; and Iyawaanis Behnam, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam. They were later joined by Gregorius Anton, bishop of Gargar, Hisn Mansur and Kharaput, who had been recently ordained a bishop. Unanimously, they elected Maphryono Basilius a patriarch and consecrated him on Sunday August 17, 1768; he was called Ignatius Jirjis at his ordination. (Some say he was Jirjis III. More correctly, he was Jirjis IV.) The ceremony of his ordination was attended by a large crowd of laity, preceded by the priests of Mardin and its environs.
The new patriarch sent his brother, Deacon Isaiah, to the capital (Constantinople); Isaiah acquired an excellent royal decree for his investiture from Sultan Mustafa III in the year 1182 of the Islamic calendar/1768 A.D. He appointed as his deputy in the capital Francis Chalabi, son of Khawaja Tumajan of Mardin, the dragoman (interpreter) to the Spanish ambassador. At the beginning of 1769, he convened a synod attended by ten metropolitans and bishops to discuss church affairs. Then he journeyed to Diyarbakr, accompanied by the Metropolitans Jirjis and Bishara, to settle, with his own money, the debt owed to Hajj Ahmad. He also redeemed the pawned church vessels and restored them to the churches of their origin. He returned to the Za’faran Monastery, the Patriarchal Seat, where he remained throughout the whole period of his patriarchate.
The patriarchate of Jirjis IV was characterized by the erection of churches and monasteries. He moved the altar of the Monastery of Mar Hananya (the Za’faran Monastery) from the middle of the nave, where it was supported by a wall, to a more suitable location and embellished it with ornaments. He also had the altar that contained the patriarchal throne painted. He built a new cell for monks above the iron gate and renovated three more cells. He built a cell for the monks within the porch, which included the cell of monk ‘Abd al-Nur. In 1772, he built six more cells for monks in the lower floor within the porches, a storehouse, a reception hall whose door looked toward the door of the Great Church, and a stable in the outer yard. In March, 1775, he built a large cell for monks in front of the porch, and another porch for the cell of the metropolitan of Jerusalem. He had new buildings constructed at the Monastery of Mar Matta and renovated the churches of Zakho, Mar Yaqub, and Mardin.
At the beginning of 1771, a plague swept through Mardin for one and a half years. Many people died, including four monks, two metropolitans, the deacon Musa and his nephew Tuma, and twenty priests in Mardin and its surrounding villages. In April, 1772, the plague spread to Diyarbakr and its suburbs and as far as Mosul, where the patriarch’s brother Isaiah became its victim. The patriarch donated a pair of silver fans. The fans and a silver censor were adorned with gold in commemoration of deacon Musa. In 1773, he donated a pair of fans to the church of Amid, and he gave a big cross worth five hundred piasters to the Za’faran Monastery and a chandelier for the mausoleum of the fathers in 1774. In 1778, he donated a cross to the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin in commemoration of the two deacons Isaiah and Musa, from their own money. In 1781, he donated to the Za’faran Monastery a Garshuni copy of the History of Mikha’il al-Kabir (The Chronicle of Mar Mikha’il Rabo, or Rabo), and a cross and a staff to the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem.
At that time, an inclination toward the Western (Roman Catholic) doctrine appeared in the diocese of Aleppo, which began to secede from the Syrian Orthodox Church by the machinations of the Latin monks. Actually, such a tendency had begun in the time of the patriarch’s predecessor. It created a serious problem for the church, along with the heavy court expenses caused by litigating its case with Metropolitan Mikha’il Jarwa. Patriarch Jurjis IV, who suspected Jarwa’s intentions, summoned him and advised him to mend his ways and return to the true path. Jarwa obeyed and remained for four years at the patriarch’s residence (the Za’faran Monastery). He craftily ingratiated himself outwardly to the patriarch, while inwardly he intended to secede from the church. Before returning to Aleppo, Jarwa deceitfully convinced the patriarch to send him to Aleppo in order to restore its church and congregation. The patriarch believed him and let him go. Jarwa journeyed to Aleppo, accompanied by Bishop Ibrahim and four priests, and arrived in the city on May 23, 1775. The patriarch soon realized, however, that Jarwa was treacherous. He resorted to the Ottoman rulers to punish him. But the Ottoman rulers, who through bribery twisted justice, turned against the patriarch. They were supported by the communicants of other church denominations which had recently converted to Catholicism. The patriarch was forced to keep his peace and appoint Jarwa as his deputy. He left Aleppo on July 29, and went to Edessa. On September 16 he arrived in Mardin, having by then lost 15,500 piasters. He treated the congregation of Aleppo with wisdom, lest they openly plunge into rebellion. Time, however, revealed their evil intentions and sick hearts. They seceded from the church, except for two priests and a few parishioners who remained faithful to the Syrian Orthodox Church.
During Passion Week of 1775, the Chorepiscopus Sulayman, head of the Syrian Church in Egypt, died. The Coptic Patriarch, Anba Yuwannis XVIII, feared that the church might close down. He asked the Syrian bishop of Jerusalem to ordain Ni’mat Allah a priest for the church in Egypt. He wrote to the Syrian patriarch, urging him to assist the new priest. The patriarch did so and thanked Anba Yuwannis for his Orthodox perspicacity.  In the fifth week of the year 1780, following Lent, Patriarch Jujjis IV went to Amid in response to the invitation of its congregation. He remained in the city until September; during this time he ordained three priests for Qutrubul and then returned to Mardin. In 1779, he fixed the festival of Mar Barsoum the ascetic on the Thursday preceding Lent, and the festival of Mar Severus (of Antioch) on the Thursday following the Fast of Nineveh. The reason for this change was that the congregations of Mardin and Diyarbakr celebrated these two festivals on February 3 and 8. After fulfilling his days on earth, he went to his reward, mourned by his people. He was seventy-two years old, of which he spent twelve years, eleven months and four days as patriarch. He was buried at the Za’faran Monastery in the tomb of Patriarch Jurjis II.
Patriarch Jurjis IV (may God reward him) was one of the best patriarchs of Antioch for his astuteness and generosity to the churches. In his time flourished the Chorepiscopus Yaqub of Qutrubul, who wrote in Syriac the book entitled Zahrat al-M’arif (‘The Flower of Knowledge’). The patriarch consecrated the Holy Chrism in 1774. He ordained fifteen metropolitans and bishops, three of whom he had ordained when he was a maphryono. They are as follows:

1) Cyril Bishara, metropolitan of the Patriarchal Office (1761-1789) .
Cyril Bishara was the son of the priest Ibrahim Nahit. In his family flourished his nephew the Chorepiscopus Iliyya (Elijah), son of Yaqub Nahit. Iliyya was ordained a priest for the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin in 1800, and a chorepiscopus in 1846. He passed away shortly after 1852.
Cyril was born in the city of Bedlis. He said the following about himself: “I was raised an orphan. But God led me to the compassionate Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis (Jirjis) of Mosul, who raised me appropriately, taught me and educated me. In 1747 he vested me with the monastic habit, and in 1749 ordained me a deacon, and then a priest.”
Cyril Bishara remained in the service of Metropolitan Cyril Gurgis of Mosul, who noticed his qualities and faithfulness. When Gurgis became a maphryono, he ordained Bishara a metropolitan for his Maphrianate Office on July 29, 1761, at the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin, and called him Cyril Bishara at his ordination. Cyril became an assistant to Metropolitan Gurgis. In 1765 and 1770, he visited Bedlis to inspect the congregation in that city and ordained a few deacons.  In 1768, he attended the synod at the Za’faran Monastery which elected Jirjis IV a patriarch. In May, 1773, the patriarch entrusted him with the bishopric of Amid to succeed Metropolitan Tuma of Qutrubul. In the following year, he changed his ordination name to Gregorius and added to his diocese of Amid the diocese of Jerusalem. Metropolitan Gregorius and Bishop Mansur, superior of the Monastery of St. Mark, visited the dioceses to collect the revenues due the Patriarchal See. In 1775, Metropolitan Gregorius journeyed to Bushairiyya and Se’ert. In the following year he visited Mosul. In 1779, he traveled to his own diocese of Jerusalem, passing through Aleppo, where he collected his church dues. He arrived in Jerusalem carrying with him many new church vessels and an amount of money to meet the needs of the Monastery (of St. Mark). He made an effort to settle the debt due the Armenians. Most of his concern, however, was devoted to the needs of the monastery, which he supplied with new furnishings, and he had a silver chandelier made from the superfluous vessels at the monastery. He decided to construct a building on the endowment land which belonged to the monastery, but the iniquity (of rulers) prevented him from carrying out the project. On learning of the death of Patriarch Jirjis IV, Metropolitan Bishara hurried to Mardin, leaving Bishop Ibrahim of Sadad as superior of the monastery. On January 25, 1782, the governor of Mardin forced him to partake in the installation of Mikha’il Jarwa as an intruding patriarch. Shortly afterward, he managed to escape persecution and joined the legitimate Patriarch Ignatius Matta. Both of them suffered adversities until they were set free. In 1783 Metropolitan Ibrahim was appointed to the diocese of Amid. Bishara remained a metropolitan of Jerusalem until 1789, when he was ordained a maphryono, as shall be seen shortly.  According to an old book of Homologia (a Ccnfession of Faith) preserved in our Library, from 1761 to 1789 Bishara ordained thirty deacons, two archdeacons, ten priests, and two chorepiscopi for the Churches of Mar Yaqub in Banabil, Mar Qawma (Cosmas) in Bedlis, the Virgin in Se’ert, the Mother of God in Amid, Mar Qawma in the village of Qarabash, Mar Quryaqos in Zarjal, Mar Barsoum in Oyus, the Monastery of Mar Iliyya in Qanqart, the Virgin in Hattack, Mar Tuma in Qutrubul, the Martyr Shmuni in Malaha, Mar Peter and Paul in Edessa, the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem, the Monastery of Mar Abhai, the Mother of God in Hisn Mansur, Mar Barsoum in Gargar, and the Forty Martyrs in Mardin.

2) Iyawannis Behnam, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Behnam (1763-1776).
Iyawannis Behnam was a son of the priest Quryaqos, son of Maqdisi ‘Abd al-Ahad, whose grandfather was still living between 1702 and 1718. He was born in Mosul in the first decade of the eighteenth century. He studied Syriac and obtained knowledge of church rituals. He became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Behnam and was trained in monasticism and religious sciences. He was ordained a priest before 1740, by the laying on of hands by Iyawannis Karas, metropolitan of the diocese of Mar Behnam. In 1744, he was appointed an abbot of the Monastery of Mar Matta, and he returned to his Monastery of Mar Behnam before 1752. When Maphryono Basilius Gurgis III (later Patrirch Jirjis IV), visited Mosul, he ordained him a metropolitan for his monastery and for the village of Ba Khudayda (Qaraqosh) on February 9, 1762. His ordination was attended by Bishop Rizq Allah. Iyawannis also witnessed the installation of Maphryono Gurgis III, who had ordained him a metropolitan, as Patrarich Jirjis IV. He attended the synod which the patriarch convened at the Za’faran Monastery in 1769. After managing his diocese for thirteen yeas, nine months and fifteen days, he passed away in old age on December 4, 1776, and was buried in the fathers’ mausoleum of his monastery next to the grave of Metropolitan Karas. The date of his death was inscribed in Syriac on his tomb. Iyawannis was the last metropolitan of this diocese, for shortly after his death most of the Syrians of Qaraqosh renounced Orthodoxy (and joined the Roman Catholic Church).
He (may God have mercy on him) was an average Syriac calligrapher. Some of his copied manuscripts are preserved in Bartulli and other places. His family served the priesthood for a hundred years at the Church of the Tahira, in the Qal’a district of Mosul. In his family flourished his uncle the priest Yuhanna and his son, deacon Ishaq, who was still living in 1802, and his brother the priest Jeremiah and his son Quryaqos in 1757.

3) Gregorius Anton, bishop of Gargar (1768-1774).
Anton was a native of Edessa. As a widower, he entered the Za’faran Monastery and was ordained a priest before 1756. When the metropolitan see of Gargar became vacant with the death of Metropolitan Yuhanna of Gargar in the middle of July, 1768 (a few days after the death of Patriarch Jirjis III), Maphryono Gurgis III ordained him a bishop for Gargar, Hisn Mansur and Kharput, and called him Gregorius Anton at his ordination at the Za’faran Monastery on Saturday, August 16 of the same year, in the presence of eight members of the synod. On the next day, he participated with the bishop in installing Maphryono Gurgis III, who had ordained him a metropolitan, as patriarch, as has been said earlier. Anton attended the synod convened at the beginning of the following year to install Maphryono Gurgis III as a patriarch. We saw his systaticon, written in Turkish with Syriac letters (Garshuni), preserved by Metropolitan Timothy of Tur ‘Abdin, and dated August 19. It included the names of the towns and villages of his diocese, like Hisn Mansur, Kharput, Tiel, Oyus. Karanki, Wank, Tebisias, Hadro and Tash Ile.
Anton administered his diocese for almost six years and three months, and passed away on Tuesday November 11, 1774.  He had a son named Khajik (‘Cross’ in Armenian) who was still living in 1798. Among his relatives were the priest Ephraim, son of Maqdisi Arotin Kalour, who was ordained at the Za’faran Monastery  in 1884, and died at Jerusalem in 1924. He was a pious man. We read a letter by Patriarch Jirjis dated July 5, 1777, addressed to the congregation of Wank, in which he  mentioned that he had sent to them  the monk Yaqub of Amid to collect the tithes due the patriarchate. If they found him to be qualified, they should choose him as their metropolitan. This, however, did not happen until Elias, son of al-Akhras, was ordained a metropolitan in 1782.

A Shining Page of the History of
the Diocese of Diyarbakr (Amid)


By virtue of its history and antiquities, Amid (not Omid), which is Diyarbakr, is one of the most ancient major and famous cities of Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia). The Turks called it Qara Amid (Black Amid) because of its black stones. It is often mentioned in both Syriac and Arabic historical accounts as the City of Glory. [ See Syriac handwritten antiquities in Diyarbakr.] Yaqut al-Hamawi said, “Amid is a fortified town, built mostly with black stones. Its elevation is like a crescent, encircled by the Tigris river.”  According to the life-story of Mar (St.) Theodota, Amid became Christianized by the Apostle Addai (Thaddeus) and his disciple Aggai. Emperor Constantius II (337-361) renovated it in 349 A.D. [357, according to the Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 1: 155]. Dionysius mentioned that Emperor Heraclius (610-641) built its great cathedral, named after the Virgin Mary. It was a great and large cathedral connected with the nearby city wall. It was renovated by Abai I, metropolitan of Amid, around 765. In later times, services were confined to a small part of it which was renovated by the Maphryono Ishaq ‘Azar of Mosul in 1693, by order of Patriarch Ignatius Jirjis II of Mosul. To it was added the nave of Saint Jacob of Sarug. Among its churches was the Church of John the Baptist.
More than once, Amid was the seat of the Patriarchs of Antioch. We have a roster of its bishops from the beginning of the fourth century up to this day, the first of whom was Shim’un (Simon), who attended the Council of Nicaea (325). We spent much time and effort gathering information about this roster from over a hundred authentic sources.
The Syrian inhabitants of Amid were numerous and strong until later times. In 1746, there were twenty priests in its church. In its vicinity were many monasteries, from which sprang notable and saintly ascetics. They were so numerous that Amid was called the City of Saints. Of these saints we may mention the well known ascetic, Mar Matta, who built in the Mountain of al-Faf his famous monastery (north of Mosul) in the second half of the fourth century [ Al-Faf is a Syriac terms meaning thousands. The mountain in which the monastery was built came to be known as that of al-Faf, i.e, the Monastery of the thousands. Tr.] Among these monasteries, whose history was preserved by time, were the Monastery of Mar Yuhanna Ortoyo, the account of whose history was recorded by Mar Yuhanna of Asia (John of Ephesus); the Monastery of Zuqnin; the Monastery of Mar Z’ura, which was still inhabited in 1358; and the Monastery of Mar Iliyya (Elijah) in the village of Qanqart, known today as Qara Kilisa (Black Church). To this monastery belonged the Malphono (learned man) Ishaq of Amid, who journeyed to Rome and Constantinople in the time of Emperor Arcadius in 410, and Dodo, the monk of Amid from the village of Samqe, whom the notables of Amid delegated to inform the emperor concerning the captivity and starvation which afflicted the land. Both of these men wrote commentaries on the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, Dodo composed spiritual madrashe (metrical hymns). [The Chronicle of Zachariah Rhetor of Mytilene, 1: 103. ], [  See The Syriac Chronicle Known as That of Zachariah of Mitylene, trans. F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks (London: Methuen & Company, 1899), 17. Tr.]  Also noteworthy were Mara III, the confessor, metropolitan of Amid (534 ), the learned and famous historian Mar Yuhanna (John) of Asia or Ephesus (585), Ibrahim of Amid, who translated the anaphora (liturgy) of Mar Severus of Samosata from the Greek into Syriac (598) , Janurin the  rhetorician of Amid (665), and Atanos of Amid, a physician and compiler of a scrapbook of medicine. Those in later times were Dionysius Yusuf Gharib, metropolitan of Amid, who drew up some husoyos (1358), Metropolitan Athanasius Aslan (d. 1741) and ‘Abd al-Nur, a monk of Amid (1755), both of whom translated some books into Arabic in everyday language, and the Chorepiscopus Yaqub the Amidian of Qutrubul, author of Zahrat al-Ma’arif fi Usul al-Lugha al-Suryaniyya (The Flower of Knowledge Regarding the Principles of the Syriac Lnaguage, 1781).
Many church leaders came from Amid. They include the Patriarchs Athanasius VII, known as Abu al-Faraj (d. 1129); Ibrahim II, bar Gharib (1412), Yeshu’ II, bar Qamsha (1662), and the notable Nonus, metropolitan of Amid (504); Saint Theodota (698), Iyawannis, metropolitan of Herat in Afghanistan, Butrus (Peter), metropolitan of Arzen in the tenth century, Iyawannis Yusuf, metropolitan of Homs (1198), and four metropolitans of Jerusalem, who were Timothy II (around 1080), Abd al-Azal (1640), Gregorius ‘Abd al-Ahad (1731), and Dionysius Yaqub (1798); Gregorius Ayyub (Job), metropolitan of Gargar (1740), Gregorius Tuma, metropolitan of Damascus (1752), Iyawannis Yalda, metropolitan of Bushairiyya (1824), and Gregorius Gurgis, bishop of Amid (1866), and others. [Counting the bishops of Jerusalem mentioned by the author, there should be eight bishops, not four.]
Muslim learned men associated with Amid were Abu al-Qasim al-Hasan ibn Bishr of Amid (d. 370 A.H./ 980 A.D.), the author of al-Mu’allaf wa al-Mukhtalaf fi Asma’ al-Shu’ara’ (Agreement and Disagreement Regarding the Names of Poets and Writers) and Kitab al-Muwazana bayn Abu Tammam wa al-Buhturi (The Book of Comparison between Abu Tammam and al-Buhturi); Abu al-Makarim Muhammad ibn al-Husayn of Amid, the Baghdadian poet (d. 552 A.H./1157 A. D.); the jurist and poet Abu al-Fada’il Ali ibn al-Muzaffar ibn Ja’far al-Shafi’i (d. 608 A.H./1211 A. D.), and Sayf al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali the Taghlibite (d. 631 A.H./1233 A. D.) well known as The Amidi, a learned man and well versed in rationalistic knowledge. He authored the book of Abkar al-Afkar wa Rumuz al-Kunuz wa Daqa’iq al-Haqa’iq wa Muntaha al-Su’l fi al-Usul (Virginal Thoughts, Treasure Symbols, Particulars of Realities and Utmost Quest of Fundamentals.).
Under the authority of the Greek emperors, Amid was exposed to the raids of the Persian kings, who captured it more than once.  Emperor Justinian built its marvelous wall. The Arab Iyad ibn Ghunm conquered it in 20 A.H./640 A.D. In the ‘Abbasid period Arab princes ruled it, among them the Hamdanis, the Marwanids, and the Artukids. Later it was governed by the Mongols, and then the states of Qara Quyunlu (Black Sheep) and Aq Quyunlu (White Sheep), and the Safawi Shah Isma’il. Finally, it was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I.
We wish to provide the readers with the histories of famous Syrian bishops who flourished in this city, because the revival of the memories of worthy ancestors will quicken dormant zeal. We preferred to crown this subject with the luminous traits of the Saint and Metropolitan Theodota, which we gathered from the following sources: (1) his life-story, which we consider a unique gem so far unpublished. We found two magnificent copies of it written in the Istrangelo Syriac script, at the Libraries of the Za’faran Monastery and the church of Diyarbakr. They were transcribed by the priest and church chanter, Shim’un of Samosata, who interpolated numerous anecdotes of Theodota related by his disciple the monk-priest Yusuf, considered a fair source of Theodota’s traits; and (2) the history ascribed to Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (d. 845) which most likely belongs to a monk from the Monastery of Zuqnin.

Men of Faith and Action

– St. Theodota (Theodotus), metropolitan of Amid (698 A. D).
Theodota was a distinguished father of the church known for his piety, holiness and service to wretched mankind. He was a native of the village of ‘Anath in the Agal Mountain (Beth Igaloye) in the province of Amid. He came from the Beth Quryono family. At an early age, he became devoted to the study of the Holy Scriptures, prayer, and fasting. He endeavored to reconcile people who harbored malice and hatred. He extended help to the sick and the poor. Because he had a penchant for asceticism, he visited the monasteries of the region of Amid, among which was the Monastery of Zuqnin), where he found a pious monk named Sawera (Severus). He asked him whether he would become his companion, and Sawera agreed. Sawera took Theodota back to his own Monastery of Qinneshrin (Eagle’s Nest) where he trained him in monastic life and had him wear the monastic habit. Theodota followed in the footsteps of his master. He shunned the world and its pleasures and devoted himself to worship, in which he attained a high degree. He was extremely abstemious, going for a whole week with one meal. He always endeavored to reconcile people with each other. Whenever two men were in conflict with each other, he asked them to make peace, even if it required him to humble himself by prostrating before them. He collected clothes to cover the naked, and served the sick and the strangers who came to the monastery. Many a night he went out to the caves near the Euphrates River to seek solitude and pray.
It happened that the Patriarch of Antioch, Theodore, was then at the Monastery of Qinneshrin. When he learned about Theodota, he joined him in his retreat. After vespers, the patriarch entered the monastery to pray with the monks. Theodota, however, preferred not to enter the monastery until nightfall because he was busy caring for the sick, the needy and the widows and offering them help. Meanwhile, he resisted the wiles of Satan ferociously and triumphed over them. Quite often he would spend three days and nights fasting and praying. At the end, he received the sacraments from the blessed patriarch. Following the communion, he breakfasted on one loaf of bread. His main purpose was to ascend the ladder of virtue and devotion with humility and earnestness. When the monks discovered his spiritual qualities, they said, “A great prophet has risen amongst us.” Furthermore, God offered Theodota the gift of healing. He healed many people, including a paralytic girl and a man possessed by demons. As his healing fame spread far and wide, many notables brought him their children with them, hoping only to be blessed by his intercession.
Three days after the death of the Patriarch Mar Theodore in 667, Theodota, carrying only a copy of the Gospels, left the monastery of Qinneshrin for Jerusalem. He was intercepted by a rich man who had committed a bad act, for which he was afflicted by God with a painful disease. Saint Theodota rebuked him for his misconduct. He repented, offered his possessions to the poor, and shunned the world. God accepted his repentance, and he became a monk and attained perfection.
Theodota visited Mount Sinai Monastery and the holy sites in Jerusalem, where he restored a paralytic to health. Also, he healed the sick by putting dust he had gathered from the Sepulcher of the Savior on their wounds. He boarded a ship whose crewmen were Jews bound for Egypt. The sea raged and the passengers were stricken with fear. Theodota prayed and the billows calmed down. Because of this, the Jewish owners of the ships professed Christ. He visited the monks of the Scete (in Egypt) and remained with them for five years, performing many miracles which God had blessed him with. When his spiritual fame spread far and wide, the bishops of Egypt wanted to make him their bishop, but he declined and returned to the Monastery of Qarqafta (The Skull) in the Mountain of Mardin to continue his ascetic pursuit. As the crowd of sick people disturbed his solitude, he left for the Monastery of Zuqnin, whose monks received him with alacrity.  He roamed the country taking care of the poor and the sick and distributed alms to them. Moreover, he communicated with the lords of the Greek fortresses adjacent to the Muslim lands to ransom both Arab and Greek captives.
Upon the death of St. Tuma (Thomas), metropolitan of Amid, the patriarch and the bishops desired to install Theodota as bishop over Amid. They sent four clerics, with a message of invitation, to the Monastery of Mar Gurgis, known as the Monastery of Harbaz, where he was staying. He went with them, but on the way to the Monastery of Qinneshrin, he fled to the Arqnin Mountain and then to Claudia, where he stayed for five years. Meanwhile, Felixine, metropolitan of Samosata, sought to ordain him a priest, but failed. The governor of Samosata dispatched to those countries an unjust and uncouth man to collect taxes. Sarjis oppressed the lay people and monks and made fun of the intercession of Saint Theodota. But through Theodota’s intercession, God afflicted him with an evil spirit. He came back to his senses and desisted from oppressing the people. He restored to the poor and the monks what he had exacted from them and obediently submitted to Saint Theodota.
Theodota, may God be pleased with him, had an intuitive knowledge of the secrets of the hearts of sinners. He would confront them with their sins and have them repent and return to the right path. He and his disciple Yusuf sought to explore the problems of the native Syrians of the villages of Bilo and Philene (sic) in the country of fortresses ruled by a Greek tyrant who intended to replace the belief of these Syrians  with that of the Greeks. On the way, the tyrant was intercepted by highway robbers who mocked him. Through Theodota’s supplication, one of them became afflicted with an evil spirit.  He implored the saint to heal him, which he did. He rebuked the man for his behavior, and the man repented and converted to Christianity. Theodota then journeyed to Miyafarqin and the Sophnites’ country, to the Monastery of Mar Abai near Qellith, and to the Monastery of Qartmin, in the time of Iliyya its bishop He returned to the Monastery of Mar Abai, where he built a cell on its upper section.
At that time Athanasius, the metropolitan of Amid, reconvened a synod to elect Theodota a bishop for Amid. Accordingly, Patriarch Julian II (687-708) summoned Theodota to him. Theodota dispatched his disciple Yusuf to the patriarch, apologizing because he could not come. But the patriarch, who was in Amid at this time, sent to Theodota bishops, notables, and the periodeutes Shim’un. Theodota complied. As he drew near the city of Amid, the patriarch sent two bishops and his secretary Theodore to inform him why he had been summoned. When Theodota learned the reason, he at first declined, but the patriarch’s secretary convinced him to obey, and he did.
Meanwhile, the governor of Amid accused Theodota of spying for the Greeks (Byzantines), used harsh language with him, and even had him beaten.  But God afflicted the governor with blindness. He appealed to the saint for forgiveness. Theodota prayed for him, but on the next day the governor was removed from office.  As he departed the city, he fell off his horse on the way and died. This incident enhanced Theodota’s position among the natives so much that the majority of Christians, Muslims and heathens rushed to receive his blessing. Patriarch Julian II ordained him a bishop for Amid on Whitsunday, much to the joy of the whole city. On the next day they came to hear his sermon. He climbed the pulpit and delivered a sermon on love. When he finished, he bowed his head before them with tears, asking their forgiveness. The people wept with him and asked him to bless them, which he did. They departed with joy.
It is said that when Theodota held the staff of bishopric he would not let it touch the ground, saying that it was the Apostles’ staff, which he was unworthy to carry. He was more intent on piety and devotion. He allowed visitors to see him only once a day to dispense of their affairs. He welcomed all people, be they Syrian Orthodox, Armenians or Muslims. He received them with joy and open arms. At nightfall, he and his disciple visited the sick and the poor, who came from faraway places to see him. He instructed his disciple to give them whatever alms they have collected. Actually, all that he and his disciple possessed was a water mill and an orchard, which were the church’s endowment.
Theodota was compassionate and benevolent toward the poor and strangers. Because of his tenderness of heart, he greatly grieved for those who were taken captive.  From the pulpit he pleaded for compassion toward the captives. He asked the Christians and Muslims to donate money to ransom them and restore them to their lands. He told the archdeacon of the church to instruct the priests to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on Wednesday in churches which bore the name of the Virgin, on Friday in commemoration of the prophets, martyrs, apostles and the saintly fathers, on Saturday in commemoration of the ascetic and the deceased, and on Sunday in commemoration of the Resurrection of the Savior. He ordered the congregations to attend church and forbade the clergy from assuming worldly positions or agencies. As his fame resounded throughout and he became reputed to speak only the truth and fear no one, the governor of the East charged him with interfering in the affairs of the Christians in Amid and its suburbs. The wise and great men obeyed his rule and the city was protected from evil. Many criminals, sinners and people lost in error flocked to him from all parts, confessing their sins and asking him for guidance. Through him they repented and returned to God. When he grew old and feeble, he returned to his monastery for solace. On Easter Sunday he preached a powerful sermon about the miraculous resurrection of the Lord. He enchanted his audience with his eloquence and profound knowledge. The clergy rushed to exalt him while he descended from the Bema (bishopric seat). He invited them to a banquet and then went out to visit the parishioners. He wrote to the clergy that he was leaving for his monastery and they would probably not see him again. He instructed them to keep the Lord’s commandments. The whole city was shaken by this news.
When Theodota drew near the Monastery of Qinneshrin, the monks and the people in the vicinity received him with great joy, especially because he had been away for forty years. They rallied around him like a pole of the celestial sphere. Because of his old age and infirmity, however, he resigned his position as a bishop of Amid in the presence of Patriarch Julian II and the metropolitans. The fathers did not accept his resignation, but he would not change his mind. The clergy and notables of the city implored him with tears to stay with them. But he apologized, saying that old age prevented him from shouldering the great responsibility of his position. The monks asked him to stay in the citadel (Monastery) of Mar Tuma, and he agreed. While he stayed in the citadel, the sick kept flocking to him and disturbing his solitude. He was forced to leave the monastery, much against the insistence of the people to whom he was their shining star. He passed through Edessa and Sarug, where he was received with pomp by the bishops and notables, and even by the Greeks (Byzantines).  He blessed them and continued his journey to the Monastery of Mar Daniel Dagloi (of Jalash) at the town of Dairkeh. Then he came to the Monastery of Mar Abai, where the notables of Mardin, Dara, Tur ‘Abdin and Hisn Kifa came out to receive him. He built a monastery with the help of the governor of Dara and its congregation and deposited in it the relics of saints which he had carried along with him. He built a church in the name of the Virgin (Mary), who had appeared to him in a dream and asked him to build it. Because of old age, one side of his body ceased to function [ Most likely he had a stroke. Tr. ] He sent a message to Saint Tuma, the stylite monk at the town of Tall Mawzalt, asking him to pray for him. Tuma replied praising Theodota’a spiritual strife. [ Mar Tuma died in 1010 of the Greeks/699 A.D. In his time the cathedral of Harran was built. See The Compendium of Syriac History we published in Paris, 1918, p. 13.]      In his testament, written in his own hand, Theodota bequeathed his monastery to his disciple  the monk-priest Yusuf, instructing him either to stay at the monastery or to leave at will. In case he decided to leave, he was to bequeath it to anyone of his choice, with the condition that women should not reside in it. Theodota mentioned that he and his disciple owned no earthly possessions except for five books. He ended with his benediction. He gathered the brethren and, stretching his hands, blessed them while they shed sorrowful tears for his departure of this life. He asked them to carry him to the holy altar to bid it farewell. He handed his disciple the urn which contained the relics of the saints, for whom he appointed a day of commemoration on September 20.  He instructed him to continue in the fear of God, repentance, and repairing to the saints for refuge. He received the Holy Communion, signed the cross, and departed to his Lord on August 15, 1009 of the Greeks /698 A. D. He was buried at his monastery, of which only ruins remain today. This took place in the time of Patriarch Julian II, Gabriel, bishop of Dara, Matta, metropolitan of Amid, Sarjis, bishop of Mardin, Ahi, metropolitan of Tur Abdin, and Iliyya, bishop of Miyafarqin. These fathers and their congregations lauded him and fixed August 15 as a day for his commemoration  [ According to the Calendar of Ibn Khayrun]. His name was listed in the Book of Life together with the saints of the seventh century. [See The Book of Life in the village of Zaz, in Tur ‘Abdin. ]
According to the history ascribed to Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (Pseudo-Tell Mahre), Mar Theodota succeeded Saint Tuma, metropolitan of Amid, in 1024 of the Greeks/713 A. D., died after the year 1040 of the Greeks/ 729 A. D., and was succeeded by Mar Quzma (Cosmas) More correctly, Mar Theodota succeeded Athanasius, the metropolitan of Amid, and died in 698, as mentioned above. After his resignation, according to his life-story, he was succeeded by Metropolitan Matta. Further evidence is that Mar Tuma the stylite, mentioned above, died after Theodota in the following year (699), and that Patriarch Julian passed away in 708. May God benefit us and the sons of the holy church through his supplication.

Bishops of the City of Harran


Harran was an ancient city of the Jazira south of Edessa. Yaqut al-Hamawi said, “Harran is a great and famous city of the Jazira of ‘Aqur. It is the capital city of the lands of Mudar. Between it and Edessa is one day’s travel distance, and between it and al-Raqqa is two days’ travel distance. Harran is situated on the highway between Mosul, al-Sham (Syria), and the land of the Rum (Greeks, Byzantines). It was the abode of the Sabean Harranians, mentioned by the authors of books on sects and denominations.” [Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu’jam al-Buldan, 3: 242-243.] Today it is a small village. The learned Bar Hebraeus said, “Harran was built by Qinan, son of Arphaxad, and named after his son Haran. To Harran fled Abraham (the friend of God) with his father Terah and his brother Nahur and Lot, son of his brother Haran.  Abraham lived for fourteen years there, where his father Terah died. Jacob fled to it from his brother Esau and lived in it for twenty years, according to the Holy Bible.”  (Genesis, 31: 38)
The natives of Harran spoke classical Syriac, which is the Aramaic language. It was also the language of the natives of Edessa and outer Syria. [Bar Hebreaus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal (Compendious History of Dynasties), 17-18, 22, 24-25.] Harran was conquered in the time of the Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644) by Iyad ibn Ghunm, who attacked it before Edessa. Its notables told him that they had no objection to his taking their city. But they implored him to march against Edessa first, and whatever its inhabitants resolved to do, they would follow suit. Iyad marched against Edessa and assured its inhabitants of peace. The inhabitants of Harran agreed to make peace with Iyad. [ Mu’jam al-Buldan, 2: 342, and al-Baladhuri, Futuh al-Buldan (The Conquest of Countries: Egypt, 179 ff.)]
Harran was the residence of Marwan al-Ja’da, the last of the Umayyad caliphs. [Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal, 205.] From it flourished a group of learned men, among whom was the famous Abu al-Hasan Thabit ibn Qurra ibn Marwan the Sabean, a resident of Baghdad. Bar Hebraeus says, “He (Abu al-Hasan Thabit ibn Qurra) occupied the highest offices by the favor of the Caliph al-Mu’tadid. He was proficient in Greek, Syriac and Arabic. In Arabic alone, he wrote no less than 150 books on logic, mathematics, astrology and medicine. In Syriac, he wrote about sixteen books, the greater number of which we have come upon, including The History of Ancient Syrian Kings, i.e., the Chaldeans, and a Book on the Faith of the Sabeans, to which he appended the account of the genealogy of his forefathers. [Actually, Bar Hebreaus has much more to say about this learned Sabean and his scholarly achievement. See The Chronography of Abu’l Faraj Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. L. Wallis Budge, 1 (Oxford, 1932): 152-153. Barsoum quotes the original Syriac, 168, which is probably the text translated by Budge. Tr.] Ibn Abi Usaybi’a said, “In the time of Thabit ibn Qurra no one could mach him in the science of medicine or any other parts of philosophy. He wrote books known for their excellence. Like him, many of his posterity and relatives achieved excellence in sciences. He died in 288 A.H./900 A. D. [Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Uyun al-Anba’, 1: 216] His son, Sinan, was the physician of the Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadir.
Thabit ibn Qurrra was proficient in astronomy. He converted to Islam for fear of the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Qahir. He died in 331 A.H./942 A. D. His grandson al-Hasan Thabit was knowledgeable in the principles of medicine. He was adept in solving scientific problems. He assumed charge of the administration of the hospital in Baghdad and wrote a famous book of history. He died in 363 A.H./973 A. D. [Uyun al-Anba, 1: 216]
Learned men flourished in the family of Ibn Qurra; among them were the prominent physician Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Zahrun the Sabean of Harran (he died in Baghdad in 369 A.H./979 A.D.) and Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Sinan ‘Abu Abd Allah of Harran, known as al-Battani, who was famous in observing the stars. In fact, no one in Islam had achieved the degree of his efficiency in amending the observation of the stars and examining their movement. He was a Sabean from Harran. He died in 317 A.H./929 A.D. [Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal,  296.] Also came Abu ‘Aruba al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Ma’sahr of Harran, a leader (Imam) in knowing the Quran by heart. He wrote the history of the Jazira. He died in 318 A.H./930 A.D.; later Abu al-Hasan Ali ‘Abd al-Rahman of Harran also wrote a history of the Jazira. He was a leading Imam in knowing the Quran by heart. He died in 355 A.H./965 A.D. He was of noble character and an authority on the Quran. [Mu’jam al-Buldan, 2: 242.].
Harran, as mentioned above, was the abode of the Sabeans, who were strong heathens. Bar Hebraeus said that when Emperor Julian, known as the Apostate (361-363), decided to attack Persia, he reached Harran.  As he was about to leave the city he bowed his head down to worship its gods. But his crown fell off his head and struck his horse. The attendant of the idol told him, “The Christians who are with us have brought upon you all these calamities.” On that day he eliminated about twenty thousand of their men.  We think that some of the pagan temples of Harran survived until the twelfth century.
In his work al-Athar al-Baqiya ‘an al–Qurun al-Khalia, ed. E. Sachau (Leipzig, 1878), 104-206, the famous scholar Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni (973-1050) investigated the origin of the Sabeans. He said, “Among their antiquities is the dome on top of the mihrab (prayer niche) near the stall at the mosque of Damascus. In the time of the Greeks and the Romans, their temple was the place of pagan gods because, like them, they were pagans. Then it fell into the hands of the Jews, who turned it into a synagogue (sic).”  Then the Christians captured the temple and turned it into a church. The Muslims turned it into a masjid.
The Harranians had many temples and idols named after the sun They were of specific forms, as Abu Ma’shar of Balkh (d. 886) mentioned in his book On the Houses of Worship, like the temple of Ba’lbak dedicated to the sun. Harran, however, was dedicated to the moon. It was built in the shape of a crescent, like a shawl worn over the head and shoulders.  In its neighborhood was the village called Salamsin in Syriac. Another nearby village was called Tar’o ‘Uoz, i.e., The Gate of Venus.
It is said that the Harranians were not truly the original Sabeans but those mentioned by books as hanifs, or heathens. The Sabeans were, in fact, those children of Israel who remained in Babylon in the time of Cyrus and Artaxerxes and did not return to Jerusalem. They adopted the laws of the Magians and the religion of Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, their religion became a conglomeration of Magianism and Judaism, like that of the Samaritans of Syria. Most of them are found in Wasit and the land of Sawad in southern Iraq in the district of Ja’far, al-Jamida and the two rivers (the two branches of the Euphrates). By origin, they are traced to Anush, son of Seth. They are different from the natives of Harran, whose faith they reject. They disagree with them except in small matters. While the Sabeans in praying turn their faces toward the North Pole, the people of Harran turn theirs toward the South Pole.” Abu Ma’shar also said on p. 318, “More than other people, they were known as Harraniyya in the Abbasid state in the year 228 A.H./842 A.D., in order to be considered dhimmis who pay taxes and become protected by the Muslims. However, they were formerly called hanifs, heathens and Harranians.” [Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal, 266. Only a small number of Sabeans of Iraq remain today.]
Christianity most likely reached Harran from Edessa in the first century; however, we know of no bishop of Harran before the middle of the fourth century A.D. Among its churches were the Church of Mar Ahodemeh, which specifically belonged to the people of Takrit, who dwelt in it; the church of Mar Gurgis and the church of the Virgin in Quba, which the Muslims destroyed in 835 A.D., together with the churches of the Rum (Byzantines) and the Nestorians and the synagogue of the Jews. Later, the governor ordered them rebuilt and delivered to their owners. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 1: 505]
Three synods convened at Harran, presided over by our famous Patriarch of Antioch Mar Quryaqos of Takrit. The first convened in 793; the second, in 794, issued forty-seven canons; and the third, in 813 at Beth Batin in the province of Harran, issued forty-seven canons [The Collection of Church Canons at the churches of Diyarbakr and Basibrina]   Among our Syrian learned men of Harran were Harith, son of Sisan Sanbat of Harran, who wrote a commentary on the Gospels of Mark and John at the end of the eighth century [Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der Syrischen Literatur (Bonn, 1922), 271] and Iliyya (Elijah) of Harran, bishop of Salamya, from the Monastery of John Bar Aphtonya (The Monastery of Qinneshrin), who wrote a treatise on the Eucharist and another on the phrase, “We break the Heavenly Bread,” [Baumstark, 277], and a Diatessaron similar to that of Ammonius , i.e., the mixed Gospels (sic). This book was mentioned by the learned Jacob bar Salibi in his Commentary on the Gospels.  He said, “This book (Diatessaron) is very rare and was known only in the first decade of the ninth century.” Also Jacob bar Tshakko, metropolitan of Harran, drew up an anophora (liturgy) in 1231 [Aphram Barsoum, Nuzhat al-Adhan fi Tarikh Dayr al-Za’faran, 136]. Among the Malkites or Rum (Byzantines) who flourished in Harran were its Bishop Theodore, known as Abu Qurra, author of the Apologitical Theology in the first quarter of the ninth century [Mikha’il al-Kabir, Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 495] and Constantine, a Malkite bishop who flourished at the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eighth centuries and wrote four controversial treatises. He was succeeded by Leon, who addressed a letter to Iliyya (Elijah) our patriarch of Antioch; both of these were written in Syriac. [William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature (London, 1894), 160-161); Rubins Duval, La Literature Syriaque, 378]
Among our learned men we may mention Mar Shim’un (Simon) d- beth Zaite, bishop of Harran, the controversial writer, who shall be discussed later, and Daniel, the monk and profound writer who arranged the Biblical lections for Passion Week. He came from the village of Beth Batin, or from its monastery. (Syriac Written Antiquities)
Among the Sabean learned men attributed to Harran, other than those mentioned earlier, was Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Hilal of Harran, the Sabean author of famous letters and distinguished in his time in rhetoric. He died in 994 A.D. and was eulogized in a unique famous ode by al-Sharif al-Raddi beginning, “Have you known whom they raised on the wood (gallows)? Have you seen that the light of the assembly is put out? [Khayr al-Din al-Zirrikly, al-A’lam (Prominent Men), 1: 26] Other learned men were Qurra ibn Qamita of Harran, who drew on unprocessed birdlimed linen cloth with waterproof dyestuffs a map of the world which was appropriated by Thabit ibn Qurra of Harran [Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, 297] and Hilal ibn al-Muhsin ibn Ibrahim the Sabean of Harran (d. 1056 A.D.), who was a historian and man of letters. He continued the history of Thabit ibn Sinan. [Al-Zirrikly, al-A’lam, 2: 1126] One of the most remarkable Sabean learned men was Baba of Harran, known for his power of prescience. The learned Bar Salibi devoted a whole chapter to him, saying that Baba foretold the appearance of the Lord Christ and the destruction of the temple of idols of Harran. Baba lived before the Christian era, but his exact date is unknown. [Rahmani, Studia Syriaca, 1: 48, 70]
Ibn al-Nadim mentioned the faith of the Harranian Chaldeans, known as Sabeans. He devoted a chapter to their history and leaders copied from Ahmad ibn al-Tayyib, and the Christians Abu Yusuf Yeshu’ Qati’i and Wahb ibn Ibrahim. He also wrote in detail about the Manicheans, followers of the atheist Mani, some of whom were in Harran. This group was also mentioned in the life-story of Mar Shim’un d-Zaite. [Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, 442-472]
Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi (d. 956) mentioned the temples of the Sabeans of Harran. He said, “The Sabeans of Harran have temples named after rational concepts and stars. Among these were the Temple of the First Cause and The Temple of Reason. But I have no idea whether they meant the First Reason or the Second Reason. Others temples  were the Temple of the Virgo, The Temple of Form, and The Temple of the Soul, which were circular in shape, the hexagonal Temple of Saturn, the triangular Temple of Jupiter, the oblong Temple of Mars, the triangular Temple of Venus placed in a tetragonal frame, and  the octagonal Temple of the Moon.  What is left of their great temples at this time (that is, the year 331 A.H./943 A.D.) is a temple in the city of Harran near the gate of al-Raqqa, known as the Temple of Musallina (worship temple)  which is the Temple of ‘Azar (sic), father of the Patriarch Abraham.” [Thus also Abu al-Fida’ says that at the top of a mound in Harran stood a musalla (worship-place) exalted by the Sabeans and attributed to Abraham. Perhaps by Azar they meant Li’azar, chief servant in Abraham’s household [see Genesis, 24: 2]. Al-Mas’udi continues, “This denomination is known by the name of Harranians. The Sabeans are philosophers but actually fraudulent. Their commoners are related to them by means of causality and not wisdom. I saw above the door of their religious assembly in Harran a saying of Plato written in Syriac. It was interpreted by Malik ibn Afnun as, ‘He who knows his essence becomes divine.’” [Al-Mas’udi, Muruj al-Dhahab, 1: 378.]
The most important of these temples was the Temple of the Moon Sien, to which is attributed the city of Harran. Thus, it was called the City of Sien. In a metrical hymn, Saint Jacob of Sarug stated that Harran had been afflicted by the deception of Satan. He said, “Satan misguided Harran by worshiping the moon-god Sien.”) In his Semitic Antiquities, Pognon said that after the fall of the Assyrian state, the Manda tribe conquered Edessa and destroyed the temple of Harran. But it was rebuilt by Nabonid, King of Babylon in 536 B.C., according to an important source written in cuneiform. Pognon discovered this source in the ruins of the village Eski Harran. It was probably written by the chief priest of the temple, an old man who said, “The chief god Moon Sien favored him with a long life of one hundred and four years, and he had preserved his faculties perfectly from the time of the Assyrian King Ashur Panipal up to the ninth year of Nabonid, king of Babylon.” [Pognon, Semitic Antiquities, 13] Later the city of Harran was destroyed. The natives built a new city in the southern part of the old one and gave it the same name, but the famous Temple of the Moon was some distance away.
The Greek historian Herodian said, “When Emperor Caracalla (211-217) came to Carrhae (Harran) to visit the Temple of the Moon-god, which was far away from the city, he did not want to tie up his troops. So he took horsemen with him to visit the temple. When he was at a distance from his guards he was stabbed by Martilianus.” [Pognon, 14.] According to another version, while Caracalla was on his way to visit the temple of the Moon-god, he dismounted to relieve himself and was stabbed by a soldier and finished off by guard officers, by the instigation of Macrinus, one of his joint praetorian prefects. [See Michael Grant, The Roman Emperors, (New York, 1985), 120. Tr.] According to Patriarch Mar Mikha’il (Michael Rabo), when Emperor Julian the Apostate visited Harran in 363, he worshiped the Moon-god. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 1: 144.] This temple was still standing in 1031 A. D. Chronicling the events of that year, Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Antaki said that it had been used by the Arabs as a fortress. He went on to say, “The Arabs of the Banu Numayr captured all the fortresses of the Jazira, and each one was controlled by one of their amirs. Some noblemen captured Harran and used its youth to subdue other cities. They wronged the natives of the city, pillaging and ruining their lives, with the result that many of them fled. Also, these men captured a Sabean Temple of the Moon-god, and no other temple but this one was left for the Sabeans to use as a fortress. Many Sabeans of Harran embraced Islam for fear of the Muslims.” [Tarikh ibn Batriq, 2: 265]
In the neighborhood of Harran were monasteries, some of which achieved fame, like the Monastery of Beth Batin [Beth Batin is a Syriac term meaning between the houses or temples] in the village of the same name.  Beth Batin housed the palace of the Umayyad Caliph Marwan, which was ruined by Abd Allah ibn Ali. [Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 1: 23.] At this monastery a synod was convened in 794. From it came Patriarch Dionysius II, who was also buried in it in 909 [Michael Rabo,  Chronicle, 3: 757]; the Monastery of Tall Sefre (The Hill of Birds/Sparrows), where Patriarch Yuhanna V was ordained in 910; the great Monastery in Kafar Tibna near the gate of Harran [MS of the life-story of Mar Shim’un d- bethZaite]; and the Monastery of Mar Li’azar (Lazarus) the notable ascetic. To this monastery belongs Sergius, metropolitan of Cyrrhus in 878. [Pognon, 44.]
From Harran issued forth several bishops, among whom were Nanus of Harran, a monk of the Monastery of Qartmin (Mar Gabriel), metropolitan of al-Raqqa, about 1070 [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 764]; Emmanuel the outstanding monk, who is traced to Harran. He was the disciple of Maphryono Quryaqos. He took part in the building of the Monastery of Ibn Jaji by using stones and lime. He passed away in 1001. [Michael Rabo,  3: 553]; and Theophilact ibn Qanbara of Harran, goldsmith of the Umayyad Caliph Marwan II, who became a patriarch of the Malkite Rum by order of the caliph and persecuted the Maronites in 874. [Michael Rabo, 3: 467]
The Syrian population of Harran was large and powerful. In Harran was ordained the famous Patriarch Quaryaqos of Antioch [Michael Rabo, 2: 752], who succeeded Patriarch Yusuf in 790 [Michael Rabo, 2: 483]. Its see was considered the third among the metropolitan episcopates of Edessa. Following is a table of its bishops, collected from most reliable sources:

1) Saint Barsa (Barses), bishop of Harran (?-361)
Barsa became a bishop of Harran before 361 A.D. In that year he was transferred to Edessa by order of the Emperor Constantine II (337-340). In his time the famous school of Edessa was founded, probably in 363. St Ephraim was his acquaintance and praised him in his metrical hymns of Nisibin [See Gustav Wilhelm Hugo Bickell, Carmina Nisibina (1866). Tr. ] He also extolled his two successors, Pitus and Protogenus. When the Arian Emperor Valens (364-378) came to Edessa and persecuted its people because of their adherence to the Orthodox faith, he banished Barsa to the island of Aradus in Egypt and installed in his place an intruding Arian bishop in September, 373. But  upon learning that Barsa was very popular among the people because of the miracles, especially healing the sick, which God wrought through him, he transferred him to the city of Oxorcus, and then to the citadel of Philo on the borders of the barbarian lands. It was there that Barsa passed away in March, 378. The historian Theodoret of Cyrus said that his bed in the island of Aradus was preserved with great dignity because many sick people had recovered by lying in it. This fact was also related by Patriarch Michael Rabo, who said that the heart of this saint was filled with apostolic grace. [The Church History of Theodoret, Part 4, Chapter 14; Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 149.]

2) Abgar, bishop of Harran (361-370).
Abgar succeeded Barsa. The historian Theophanes mentioned him in the course of discussing an event which took place in the time of Emperor Julian (the Apostate) at a suburb of Harran. The term of his episcopate probably lasted from 361 to 370. [Michel Lequien, Oriens Christianus (Paris, 1740), 975. This work consists of three volumes. Barsoum does not identify the volume he used.]

3) Pitus, bishop of Harran (371-381).
Pitus succeeded Abgar in the see of Harran. In 371 he signed the letter of the great Saint Basilius addressed to the bishops of the West. In the following year, he signed the synodical letter addressed to the West by Saint Malatius, patriarch of Antioch, and his thirty-two bishops. In 377 Saint Basilius wrote a letter to him. In 381 he attended the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, among whose assembled fathers he was considered most outstanding. The historian Sozomen said, “Pitus was famous for his piety and monastic way of life. Most likely he passed away in the year 381 or shortly afterwards.” [Sozomen, 6: 32;  Michael Rabo, 1: 159; Roherbacher, Church History, 7: 154; Lequien, 975; Cavalera, The Antiochian Schism,190, 209; and Letters of Mar Basilius, 255.]

4) Saint Protogenes, bishop of Harran .
Protogenes was an ascetic monk in Harran and then became a priest. When Emperor Valens banished its Metropolitan Saint Barsa, he replaced him with “an Arian wolf.”  He decided to slaughter the clerics and lay people if they adhered to the orthodox faith, but declined because of the courage of a faithful woman. Carrying her baby, she broke through the ranks of the army, defying the torments of death. Her daring attitude convinced the emperor that her remarkable behavior was sufficient evidence of the people’s unshakable orthodox faith. He commanded Modestus, governor (prefect) of the city of Harran, to persuade the clerics to submit to the authority of the intruding Arian governor. Modestus summoned the priests and deacons (eighty in number, headed by a remarkable priest named Eulogius) to a meeting, but could not change their mind. Eulogius said to Modestus, “We already have a shepherd, and his teachings alone we shall follow.” Modestus banished them to Thrace. When the news of their praiseworthy determination and remarkable fame reached the emperor, he ordered that they be sent in pairs into scattered locations. The two priests, Eulogius and Protogenes, were banished to Antanbuh in Upper Egypt, where they participated with its orthodox bishop in church services. But when they saw that the number of the faithful was small and that of the heathens large, they were greatly distressed. Eulogius shut himself up in a cell, spending time in devotional solitude and prayer day and night.
The pious Protogenes proceeded to learn the language of the city as quickly as he could. He established a school to teach the youth to read the Holy Scriptures, especially the Psalms. Gradually, he led them to knowledge of the Apostolic teachings. When it happened that one of them became sick, Eulogius held him by the hand and prayed for him, and he was healed. When the news of his healing reached the parents of the pupils, they invited him to their homes to heal their sick. Eulogius refused unless they were first baptized. Still, they hoped to receive from him the healing of body and soul. Whenever one of them accepted the divine grace, Protogenes brought him to Eulogius’s cell, asking to have him baptized. But if Eulogius complained that the people who sought his help had interrupted his prayer Protogenes would remind him that the salvation of those deceived was of still greater magnitude. Those who witnessed his miracles and guidance to the light of God marveled at Protogenes’s admission of Eulogius’s superior virtue and position. When the storm of persecution calmed down, Eulogius and Protegenes received an order to return to their country. They were bidden farewell by the bishop and the faithful in tears.
Upon their return home, the great Saint Barsa had already been translated to eternal life. Eulogius was ordained a bishop for Edessa by the laying of the hands of Eusebius, metropolitan of Samosata, in the year 379.  When the see of Harran became vacant with the death of Bishop Pitus in 381 or shortly afterward, Eulogius recommended Protogenes, his companion in the struggle, to that see. Protegenes proved to be a skillful physician in that city which was afflicted with the sores of idols. He proved to be an active element in that region, stifled by the disease of heathenism. [Theodoret, Part 4, Chapter 15; Rubens Duval, Histoire Politique, Religieuse, Et Littéraire d’Édesse (1892), 288-298; Michael Rabo, 2: 149; Lequien, 976, who added to Theodoret a Chapter 18 on monasticism. He said, “When he (Protogenes) returned home, Bishop Pitus entrusted him to work in Harran, which was filled with the thorns of heathenism. Then, Protogenes succeeded him in his see; P. Bedjan, Acta Martyriarum, 6: 368.],  [Apparently, Barsoum quoted the whole episode of Eulogius and Protogenes from the Greek version of Theodoret translated into French by Rubens Duval, taking many liberties with the text. For an English translation of the text, see Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, History of the Church (London, 1854), 172-175. The name of the translator is not given. Tr. ]
According to some sources, Eusebius, already mentioned, ordained Protogenes in 397 [Chronica Minora, 202]. But this is unlikely because Eusebius died in 379, while the See of Harran was occupied by Bishop Pitus, who attended the Council of Constantinople in 381, as was said earlier. If we allow ourselves to extract the deeds of this great bishop from his brilliant past, we will see that he had led many of the natives of Harran to the light of the Gospel, although we lack historical information about his episcopate.

5) Mar Abraham, bishop of Harran.
Abraham succeeded Protogenes in the see of Harran. He was steeped in piety, virtue and religious zeal.   His life-story was written by Theodoret of Corinth in his History of Monasticism. Theodoret said, “He (Mar Abraham) was an excellent fruit which ripened in Cyrus, where he was born and raised. He devoted himself to piety, worship, spiritual exercise, and fasting and prayer, until his body grew feeble and he became sick. When he recovered, he went to a big village in the Mountain of Lebanon which adhered to heathenism. He arrived at the village disguised as a merchant and redeemed its people for fifty dinars, which he had borrowed from his acquaintances in the city of Homs. He continued to treat the villagers with compassion, despite their roughness and callousness, and they were astonished by his patience.  They came to appreciate him and asked him to take charge of their village affairs. He did so, but only after they fulfilled his desire. The villagers built a church in a short period of time and embraced Christianity. They prevailed on him to become their presbyter, and he agreed. He took charge of them for three years, teaching them the fear of God. Later he chose a presbyter for them and returned to his own monastery. When the reputation of his virtues spread, he was made a bishop for Harran, which was drunk with the wine of idolatry and deception. As a good shepherd, he labored in his field with determination, educating the villagers and directing them to the true path.
Mar Abraham was so abstemious that he never touched bread once he became a priest, but restricted his meals to mere legumes. He spent the night hours in worship and prostrating himself in prayer, catching some sleep only while sitting in a chair. He was compassionate toward the poor and strangers, taking care of their needs. He also took care of the needs of the natives of his city, asking them to live in peace and shun malice. They responded to his counsel. When his fame spread far away, the believing Emperor Theodosius the Young invited him to the capital (Constantinople). At the capital the emperor received him with great honor. He even kissed his worn garment and wiped his eyes with it for a blessing. His prominent men knelt down to kiss Abraham’s knees, realizing that the saints of God exude the scent of piety in this life and the life to come.
Mar Abraham passed away in Constantinople. The emperor and his wife Eudoxia, men of his state, and soldiers walked in his funeral. He transported his body to Harran, where it was received with great honor by the natives of the cities through which it passed, especially great Antioch. When the procession reached the River Euphrates, a great crowd rushed to grab a piece of his garment in order to receive the blessing of his body, although the soldiers surrounded his coffin. The voices of chanters mingled with those of the lamenters. Finally the procession reached Harran, where he was buried.
This saint performed many miracles after his death. He served the priesthood for nineteen years. Most likely he passed away shortly before the Council of Ephesus convened in 341. However, God knows best.

6) Daniel I, bishop of Harran (449).
Daniel was the nephew (son of the sister) of Hiba (Ibas), metropolitan of Edessa. He was ordained by his uncle a bishop for Harran despite being unqualified for the position. He attended the synod convened in Antioch to discuss the case of Athanasius, bishop of al-Bira (modern Birajek). In 444, he attended another synod, also convened in Antioch, to investigate the case of his uncle Hiba. Because Daniel was a man of bad conduct, his clergymen complained against him to the Second Council of Ephesus, convened in 449, and proved that he was corrupt and had embezzled the money of the holy church. First, they submitted his case to Patriarch Domnus of Antioch, who referred it to his bishop and to his uncle (Hiba). They then took the case to the Emperor Theodosius II, who ordered Photius, metropolitan of Tyre, Eustathius, metropolitan of Beirut, and Oron, bishop of Amrin, to handle it.  When these bishops tried Daniel and became convinced of his crimes, which he admitted, they postponed removing him from his see because of the hallowed fasting (Lent). Also, they intended to overcome whatever doubts the heathen natives of Harran might have about the case. Meanwhile, however, Daniel resigned his position. When the Second Council of Ephesus learned about his case from these bishops, it condemned him and divested him of the dignity of the episcopate. (The Second Council of Ephesus (Oxford), 104-112.) [The author refers here to the Syriac version of this council. For the English translation, see The Second Synod Of Ephesus, trans. by The Rev. S. G. F. Perry (Dartford, Kent: Orient Press, 1881), 151-165. Tr.]

7) Yuhanna I, bishop of Harran (458).
When Daniel I was removed from office, Yuhanna succeeded him as bishop in 449. Yuhanna attended the Council of Chalcedon (451) and signed the letter of the Council of Edessa addressed to Emperor Leo I (457-474) in 458. This is all we know about him [Michael Rabo, 1: 199; Lequien, Oriens Christianus.]

8) Eustratonicus, bishop of Harran.
Eustratonicus was steward of the church of Edessa and then became a bishop of Harran. His compassion toward the poor was manifest, especially during the severe famine and plague which afflicted the city. The contemporary Edessan historian Yeshu’ the Stylite, who was copied by the author of the history ascribed to Mar Dionysius Tell Mahre, said in Chapter 1, 268, “In the year 812 of the Greeks/ 500 A.D., the starvation in Edessa and its villages became severe. The plague spread with violence in the months of November and December. Poor people slept in the porches and streets until death overtook them. Bodies were thrown into the streets to await burial by the natives. Nunus, master of the hospital, took care of burying the dead with the help of the brethren. He appointed the priest Mar Totaiel and Eustratonicus as church stewards. Later, the latter became a bishop of Harran. Eustratonicus also built an asylum in the enclosure of the church of Edessa to house the people afflicted by the plague. Every day a great number of bodies were found and buried along with the hospital’s dead patients.” This episode was quoted by Michel Lequien from Assemani’s Bibliothca Orientalis, who placed Totaiel in the year 511 A. D., erromeously calling him Tar’il. The correct name, according to the original Syriac, is the one we have given above. [Rev. J.B. Chabot, ed., The History ascribed to Dionysius Tell Mahre  (Paris, 1927), 1 (the number of the volume is not given)]. Here we learn that Eustartinicus most likely became a bishop of Harran in the first decade of the sixth century.

9) Mar Yuhanna II, bishop of Harran (519).
Mar Yuhanna II succeeded Eustratonicus. In 518 the Emperor Justin banished him along with other Orthodox bishops whose number Mar Michael Rabo estimated at fifty-five. [Michael Rabo, 2: 261-267] In the next year (519), Mar Yuhanna gained the crown of Confessors. He is commemorated in the calendar of saints on December 2. Saliba Bar Khayrun (1337) called him Iyawannis. [ Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, published by the Polish scholar Peters (Brussels, 1908), 3; Michael Rabo, 2: 174.]

10) The Anonymous Bishop of Harran.
The famous historian Mar John of Ephesus relates that when Metropolitan Paul returned to Edessa in 522, the bishop of Harran was already dead. Paul had wanted Asclipes (a presbyter of Edessa) to succeed him, but he double-crossed him and chose someone else in his place. Asclipes rebelled and went to the capital (Constantinople) to complain to the emperor against Paul. He obtained a royal decree to oust Metropolitan Paul from Edessa (because of his adherence to the doctrine formulated by the Council of Chalcedon) and become a metropolitan in his place. The name of this bishop of Harran is still unknown. (Michael Rabo, 2: 174.)

11) Sarjis (Sergius), bishop of Harran (544-578).
John of Ephesus mentions that Saint Jacob Baradaeus ordained Sarjis a bishop for Harran. He was the eighth bishop he had ordained in the middle of the sixth century, around 544. Sarjis was a pious and learned man known as Bar Karyo (the short).  John of Ephesus called him Antiphor Qronoyo (‘he of joined eyebrows’). Sarjis became a monk at the Monastery of John Bar Aphtonya, where he also studied sciences.  He was a disciple and secretary of Mar Jacob Baradaeus. He was mentioned several times in the book of evidences. According to Bar Hebraeus, Sarjis died on July 27, 578, which indicates that he administered the See of Harran for more than thirty years. He was well versed in the Greek language and logic, and considered to be in the vanguard of bishops of his time. He wrote a treatise on the Holy Chrism preserved in the London Library, and church canons which we found in the Book of Canons at Basibrina in Tur Abdin. He also translated the biography of Saint Severus of Antioch, written by John of Aphtonya, from Greek into Syriac. [ John of Ephesus, Life Stories of the Eastern Saints, 2: 241, and his History, 3: 270; Baumstark, 184; Syriac Evidences, 292; The Life-Story of Mar Severus of Antioch, ed. Kugener, 264; Micahel Rabo, 2: 288.) [On Bar Karya see Aphram Basoum, The Scattered Pearls, trans. Matti Moosa (Gorgias Press, 2003), 302. Tr. ]

12) Stephen, bishop of Harran (589).
The Anonymous Edessan said in his Chronicle, 1: 214, “At this time (about 589) Emperor Maurice ordered Stephen, bishop of Harran, to persecute the heathens, which he did. Consequently, many heathens turned to Christianity. Those who disobeyed were split by the sword into two parts, and their bodies were hung in the streets of Harran. Stephen also crucified Aphendinus, governor of Harran, who outwardly proclaimed Christianity but inwardly practiced heathenism. Apparently Aphendinus’s secretary, Eujarius, betrayed him and later became the governor of the city. Patriarch Michael Rabo says that Eujarius was an orphan born in Kolonyah in First Armenia, a village of the Province of Nicopolis. In that city he learned the Greek language and became a writer. At Harran he established contact with its governor, Aphendinus. When it became known that Aphendinus was a heathen offering sacrifices to the idols, he was killed and Eujarius was appointed governor in his place. From Eujarius came members of the Edessan family of Beth Oyor.” (Michael Rabo, 2: 388] Most likely Stephen succeeded Bishop Sarjis.

13) Shim’un (Simon) I, bishop of Harran (620).
The historian Dionysius [ Most likely Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre. Tr. ] says that Shim’un, bishop of Harran, flourished about 620 in the time of Patriarch Mar Athanasius I, known as Gamolo. (4: 5)

14) Daniel II, bishop of Harran (627).
Patriarch Mar Mikha’il said that Daniel, bishop of Harran, was among the bishops who paid a visit to Emperor Heraclius in the company of Patriarch Athanasius Gamolo in 627, to discuss unification of the churches. When the emperor did not obtain from them what he wanted, like most of the tyrant emperors, he ordered that they be persecuted. Consequently, the Malkites (followers of the emperor) through his influence usurped our churches in Harran and Edessa. (Michael Rabo, 2: 409-410)

15) Mar Isodore, bishop of Harran.
The calendar revised by the distinguished monk Saliba ibn Khayrun (1337), mentions two Bishops of Harran, the Saints Mar Isodore and Mar Dawud, commemorated on February 4. [Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 147.]  We have not found his life-story in the available sources. We conjecture that he lived in the middle of the seventh century, between 627 and 684, and God knows best. As for Mar Dawud, he will be discussed shortly.
In the middle of this century, about 37 A.H./657 A.D., ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib [The Fourth Rightly Guided Caliph, 656-661. Tr.] assaulted the citizens of Harran. The anonymous Edessan said, “When Mu’awiya and ‘Ali quarreled, ‘Ali sent a messenger to the people of Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia) asking them to assist him against his opponent. When ‘Ali reached Saffin on the bank of the Euphrates River, he contacted the inhabitants of Harran, who promised to help him against Mu’awiya. But when Mu’awiya arrived and the battle commenced, the citizens of Harran joined Mu’awiya. Mu’aiwya returned to Damascus and ‘Ali marched against Harran, killing most of its inhabitants by the sword until blood ran through the gate of the city. Therefore, many citizens of Harran joined Mu’awiya’s army when he fought Ali’s two sons. Until today the people of Harran exalt Mu’awiya’s son Yazid, the deadliest enemy of Ali.” [ The Anonymous Edessan, Chronicle, 1: 281]

16) Mar Li’azar (Lazarus), bishop of Harran.
We found the commemoration of this saint in an ancient calendar dated 1466 at the village of Banim’im in Tur ‘Abdin on August 3. Most likely, he lived in this century or the next. [Handwritten Records by us]

17) Dumit, bishop of Harran (680-684).
The name of Dumit, bishop of Harran, is mentioned among the bishops who opposed the Patriarch Severus II. Later, after four years of controversy, they reconciled with him in 684 through the effort of Yuhanna I, maphryono of Takrit, to whom the patriarch had entrusted the handling of Dumit’s case. Dumit attended the synod convened in Rish ‘Ayna (Ras al-‘Ayn) presided over by Maphriono Yuhanna. We do not know the year of his death. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 428, 440, 444]

18) Iliyya (Elijah), bishop of Harran (700).
Iliyya, known as Bar Gufne (son of the Bowl), succeeded Dumit in the see of Harran. He died  in the year 700 A.D. In his time was built our Cathedral at Harran in 699.  [ The life-story of Mar Shim’un at our Library, and a compendious ancient history which we published in Paris in C.S.C.O., 13.]

19) Mar Shim’un (Simon) II, d-beth Zayte (He of the olives), bishop of Harran (700-734).
After Iliyya, the see of Harran was occupied by Mar Shim’un d-beth Zayte, a remarkable father of his time in virtue, zeal and holiness. His biography was written by his countryman Ayyub (Job) of Habsnas. It consists of many sheets, from which we produced the following pericope:
Mar Shim’un was born in the village of Habsnas in Tur ‘Abdin around the year 655. His father’s name was Mundhir. [Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 154.] At the age of ten, he studied the Syriac language and the Holy Scriptures under a teacher of his village. His father sent him to the school of the famous Monastery of Qartmin in Tur Abdin, where he finished his studies in five years due to his exceptional intelligence. He became a leader of the church choir. Inclined as he was to the ascetic life, he devoted himself to worship and spiritual solitude on a stylite in the vicinity of the ancient town of Sarwan. At that time army commanders attacked Tur ‘Abdin and took some of its residents captive. Among them was Dawud (David), a noble youth and nephew of Mar Shim’un.  Because he was high-born, a commander took him into his service and chose him as a companion on his hunting expeditions. One day as they were hunting, Dawud, while chasing a prey, stumbled upon an ancient treasure. He kept it secret from the commander, but later revealed it to his uncle Mar Shim’un. When the commander relieved him of service, Dawud joined his uncle and learned from him the way of asceticism. From time to time he gave his uncle some of the money from the treasure, which his saintly uncle spent for the poor, the homeless, orphans and widows. With this money Shim’un bought orchards, a watermill, houses and shops which he bequeathed as an endowment to the Monastery of Qartmin. He renovated the buildings of the monastery which had been ruined by the Persians. He also bought for the monastery a farm with springs and planted on it two thousand olive trees, whose yield of oil was donated to light the candles of the churches and monasteries of Tur ‘Abdin. For this reason, he was nicknamed Mar Shim’un d-beth Zayte (Mar Shim’un of the Olives, Arabic al-Zaytuni).
Mar Shim’un appealed to the governor of Nisibin to purchase some ruins of the city. Having won his favor, Mar Shim’un built a monastery in the name of Saint Phabronya, who was martyred at Nisbin, and allotted it to nuns. [Phabroinya was martyred around the year 204. Jacob of Nosibin built a magnificent church in Nisibin and moved to it some  of her relics. See Addai Scher, Tarikh Chaldo wa athur, 2: 58.]  Next to this monastery he built a big hostel for strangers and merchants, and bequeathed to it five mills as an endowment. He also built a church in the name of the Virgin. He went on to renovate the Monasteries of Mar Dumit and Mar Elisha, and supplied them with shops, houses and public baths as an endowment. He wrote a covenant for them, confirmed by Patriarch Julian III, stating that their excess revenues should revert to the Monastery of Qartmin.
In the year 700 the bishop of Harran passed away.  The diocese needed a learned bishop well versed in the art of controversy to be its bishop, because the Umayyad jurist Muhammad ibn Marwan, governor of the Jazira, Armenia and Azerbayjan, had founded a school in Harran. Mar Shim’un was chosen to head the diocese of Harran. He was ordained a bishop on Pentecost, June 1 by the laying on of hands of Patriarch Julian III. The congregation of Harran and the monks of Edessa were delighted with his ordination because of his zeal and fame. Mar Shim’un guided many of the Mandeans, Sabeans and Jews of Harran to Christianity. Moreover, God granted him the gift of performing miracles.
Mar Shim’un administered his diocese for thirty-four years, during which he visited his monastery four times. In the course of his third visit, he went to Habsnas, his place of birth, and built the Monastery of Mar Li’azar and a stylite for hermit monks. We saw the monastery and the stylite in its yard in 1911. He also established a school at Habsnas which graduated many excellent students, teachers and commentators. In the year 707, he built at Nisibin a church in the name of the martyr St. Theodorus with money received from the Monastery of Qartmin. But the antagonistic Nestorians and Jews demolished at night whatever he built in the daytime. This forced him to rebuild the church three times. He sought the help of Jarjis, son of Li’azar of Anhil, governor of Tur ‘Abdin, who supplied him with laborers. When the building of the church was completed, Shim’un participated with Patriarch Julian III in its consecration.
In 726, Mar Shim’un attended the conference of Manazgird (Manzikert) to discuss the unification of the Syrian and Armenian Churches. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 1: 459]. An example of his accomplishments was his concern for the transcription of Holy Scriptures according to the Septuagint and the Pshitto version, as well as about eighty volumes of invaluable books. He employed competent copyists known for their excellent penmanship and linguistic adjustment ability, like Daniel of Kandarib and others. He donated these books to his monastery, together with the properties he had bought with the money that he had saved or collected from his diocese. Thus the monastery came to own a magnificent treasure due to his own effort and the care of his nephew Dawud. Furthermore, Mar Shim’un donated precious gifts to the churches of Tur ‘Abdin.
After spending the last months of his life at his monastery, God translated him to his eternal abode on Thursday, June 3, 734. Twelve bishops from the neighboring countries and a great crowd of six thousand clerics attended his funeral. He was buried in the mausoleum of the saints. Miracles were depicted on his tomb. The church commemorates him on June 3 and January 3. [See a copy of his life-story, mentioned above, and Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 1510; Chronica Minora, ed. Brooks, 235, and Pseudo-Tell Mahre, 4: 15. ]  His name was inserted in the Book of Life of Zaz in Tur ‘Abdin.
Mar Shim’un wrote controversial treatises against heretics supported by rational and traditional evidence. They include a treatise he addressed to Constantine, the Malkite (Chalcedonian) bishop of Harran.. It was mentioned by Patriarch Iliyya (Elijah) I in his letter to Leo, successor of Constantine, in which he called Shim’un a saint  [ William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 161, and by the same author, Catalogue, 607, col. 2). Tr.] while he was still alive.
Quoting Assemani, Anton Baumstark and Rubens Duval stated that Patriarch Iyawannis I (739-755) was a bishop of Harran. More correctly, he was a bishop of Hawran (Bosra), as mentioned in the Chronicles of Michael Rabo and Bar Hebraeus. According to historical context, the See of Harran was occupied by the Bishop Mar Tuma (Thomas), who died in 738.

20) Mar Tuma (Thomas, 734-738) .
Upon his death, Mar Shim’un d-beth Zayte was succeeded by his disciple Mar Tuma. Tuma was ordained a bishop by Athanasius III, patriarch of Antioch, in 734. In 736, he attended the synod convened at the Monastery of Arbin. He died in 783 and was commemorated on July 5. He was considered a righteous and saintly man. His name was recorded in the Book of Life. [Our published Compendious History, 17; Chronica Minora, 226; Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 156; and the Book of Life of Zaz.]

21) Theomrica (Theomrice), bishop of Harran (752).
According to Michael Rabo, Theomrica, bishop of Harran, attended  the Synod of Talla in 752. He was one of the bishops who joined Athanasius Sandloio (the cobbler), metropolitan of the Jazira, who opposed the Patriarch Iyawannis I but reconciled with him at the end of his life. (Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 468, 470.)

22) Ishaq, bishop of Harran (753).
Ishaq was from the Monastery of Qartmin. Gripped by greed, he indulged in alchemy, and   through it he cajoled Athanasius Sandloio, the rebellious metropolitan of the Jazira, to ordain him a bishop for Harran in 752 without the patriarch’s or the bishops’ consent. In 755, he tried to usurp the patriarchate but failed and ended up in calamity. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 471; Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 313-317; and Chronica Minora, 43.]

23) Dionysius I, bishop of Harran (758-762).
Dionysius came from the Monastery of Qartmin and became a bishop of Harran in 758. He sided with the intruding Patriarch Yuhanna al-Raqqi (of Callinicus) and attended his consecration. He journeyed to Baghdad by order of the caliph because of the troubles within the church. He died in that city in 761. According to the history ascribed to Patriarch Tell Mahre, Dionysius died in 786. More correct, however, is what we have just said.  [Pseudo-Tell Mahre, 4: 66, 68, 107; Chronica Minora, ed. Brooks, 136-137.]

24) Dionysius II, bishop of Harran.
Dionysisu II was a steward of the Monastery of Zuqnin in the neighborhood of Amid. According to Dionysius Tell Mahre, he was ordained a bishop of Harran by Patriarch Gewargi I in 762.
Tell Mahre said, “In this year (762) Dionysius, bishop of Harran, died, and he was succeeded by another Dionysius from the Monastery of Zuqnin.” The Book of Life, 4: 103 and 107, mentions that Dionysius II was commemorated on December 21. In his time there appeared a charlatan deacon named Marutha, who was imprisoned by the intruding Patriarch in Harran around 770. (Pseudo-Tell Mahre, 4: 138-146)

25) Iyawannis I, bishop of Harran (779-805).
Iyawannis succeeded Dionysius II. We found his name in the collection of correspondence by the erudite Rabban Dawud Bar Phaulos (Paul), who flourished in 799. Bar Phaulos wrote two letters to Phocas, chief priest of Harran. In one of them, he inquired about the safety of Bishop Iyawannis. He also wrote a letter to the same bishop, saying, “To the city of Harran afflicted by the sores of heathenism, and still suffering from the ancient thorns of error, tares of heresies, and hypocrisy. A city called in days of old the city of idols, but now, because of you, it is called the city of Abraham. A city which grew old with idols but now looks young by preaching Christ. A city which took off the dress of Satan and put on the dress of righteousness. A city where apostolic seedlings flourished, and waters of life overflowed and brought forth lovely trees and sweet-smelling flowers. As tares of the enemy keep growing among the wheat, the Lord sent a skillful physician like yourself to produce balms and treat sick bodies so that they might receive utmost recovery by the knowledge of the Holy Trinity.” [Za’faran Library  and our Library.]
Iyawannis was ordained by Patriarch Gewargi I. He attended the synod convened in Harran on August 15, 793 to elect Quryaqos a Patriarch of Antioch. Also, he attended another synod convened by Patriarch Quryaqos in 798 to discuss unity with Gabriel, patriarch of the Phantasiasts. Along with Gabriel, he mentioned Yusuf, bishop of Harran. (British Museum Library) Most likely, Iyawannis lived up to the middle of the first decade of the following (ninth) century. The learned Patriarch Michael Rabo of Antioch preserved for us the names of sixteen bishops of Harran from the year 805 to 1187. He (may God reward him) spared us the trouble of searching for these bishops. From his significant Chronicle we derived our information about these bishops. They are as follows:

26) Gewargi or Jirjis I.
Gewargi, or Jirjis I, succeeded Iyawanis as bishop of Harran. Ordained by Patriarch Quryaqos, he was the 68th bishop the patriarch had ordained since 805. But Gewargi resigned his office and served only for a short period. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 754.]

27) Mar Gewargi or Jirjis II (816-850).
Upon the resignation of Gewargi I, Patriarch Quryaqos ordained in his place another bishop named Jirjis, who was the 81st bishop the patriarch ordained, in the year 816. In 818, Gewargi attended the synod of al-Raqqa (Callinicus), which elected Patriarch Dionysius I and issued twelve canons. He served as a bishop for thirty-four years. According to the Calendar of Saliba ibn Khayrun, Gewargi, bishop of Harran, is commemorated on February 20. But this is uncertain. Either he is the one mentioned in this calendar, or it is his predecessor. [Michael Rabo, Ibid., 2: 574; Canons of Basibrina, a copy of which is at our Library; Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 184; and the Book of Life of Zaz.]
When the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Amin (809-813) was killed and his brother al-Ma’mun (813-833) became caliph, the two rebels, Nasr and ‘Umar, attacked the Jazira and al-Ruha (Edessa), pillaging, killing and committing all sorts of abominations. In 812, they turned to Harran and set fire to the villages, churches and monasteries. Paganism returned to Harran after it had been eliminated in the time of the Christian emperors and the Arabs. The reason was that the governor of Harran, Ibrahim the Qurashite, was bribed by the Sabeans who were hiding in Harran, the nest of paganism, and allowed them to practice their unsound rituals overtly. Around 819, the governor ordered the destruction of the sanctuary of our cathedral in Harran, the Church of the Virgin in Quba, and a section of the Church of Mar Jirjis. He also had other churches and temples belonging to the Malkite Rum, Nestorians and Jews demolished. On the next day he ordered them rebuilt; thus, they were restored in a short time
In the year 830, the Caliph al-Ma’mun came to Harran and forbade the destruction of two churches. He also ordered that no church should be demolished in any location without his order. After his death he was succeeded by his brother al-Mu’tasim. Obtaining an order from the new caliph, the Muslims of Harran waged war against the native Christians. They destroyed the Church of Mar Jirjis in Quba and the Church of Mar Ahodemeh, claiming that they had recently been built. This happened on the eve of Easter, 853. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 491-492.] Thus the word of the Prophet in Amos 8: 10, “He (the Lord) will turn your religious feasts into mourning,” was fulfilled in this context. On April 10, 844, God sent heavy rain, the like of which the elders of the city had never seen before. It swept huge rocks, and the valleys were inundated with water like lakes. Torrential streams gushed from the Mountains of Hasme and Yetheb Risha, causing the city of Harran inestimable damage. The torrential rains formed a big river which destroyed the villages. They reached Beth Quba and inundated the houses, inns, and shops, and swept people who drowned. If it had not been for the governor, who urged the people to built a huge dam, the whole city would have been destroyed. Finally, torrential waters reached al-Raqqa (Callinicus) and ended up in the River Euphrates.
These, then, are the events which happened in Harran and were recorded by Dionysius Tell Mahre as quoted by Mikha’il Rabo. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 497, 507, 529, 538.]

28) Mar Dawud (David) of Manim’im, bishop of Harran (855-880) .

Dawud ascended the See of Harran after Gewargi (Jirjis) II. He was well known as Dawud of Manim’im, after the name of his native village in Tur ‘Abdin. He was a relative of Mar Shim’un d-beth Zayte. He became a monk at the Monastery of Qartmin and was ordained a bishop by the Patriarch Yuhanna IV, being the 26th bishop the patriach had ordained. Bishop Dawud, one of the best Fathers, lived between 855 and 880.  In the Calendar (of Saliba ibn Khayrun), his commemoration is mentioned on February 4. He bequeathed his books and other precious items to his monastery (of Qartmin). They included a collection of canons copied on vellum by his nephew (son of his sister) Sawera (Severus) of Manim’im. We came upon this precious volume in 1909 at the village of Basibrina. Unfortunately, it perished in World War I [Michael Rabo, Chronicle,  2: 765; the life-story of Mar Shim’un d-beth Zayte; MSS of Tur ‘Abdin by the author (Patriarch Aphram Barsoum); Saliba Bar Khayrun, Calendar, 147.]In his lifetime, Dawud became an intruding bishop over Harran, but his leadership did not last. Bar Hebraeus says that in the year 858, Maphryono Basilius II quarreled with Patriarch Yuhanna IV. The Syrians of Takrit, who lived within the districts under the jurisdiction of the patriarch, supported the maphryono and stopped mentioning the name of the patriarch in the Eucharistic service. Maphryono Basilius II ordained bishops for Harran, al-Raqq, and Rish ‘Ayna (Ras al-‘Ayn), and suspended the bishops appointed by the patriarch, including our Dawud.  Upon the death of Maphryono Basilius, the fathers of the church met at Kafartut in 869 and issued eight canons for both the patriarch and the maphryono. They pardoned Basilius and his companions and assigned dioceses to the bishops whom he had ordained for Harran, al-Raqqa and Rish ‘Ayna. (Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 3: no page is given.)

29) Constantine, bishop of Harran.

Upon Dawud’s death, Constantine replaced him as bishop of Harran. Constantine was a monk from the Monastery of Qartmin. He was the sixteenth bishop ordained by Patriarch Ignatius II. He was ordained a bishop around 811. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 757.]

30) Yuhanna III, bishop of Harran.

Yuhanna was a monk at the Monastery of Sawera (Severus). Patriarch Dionysius II selected him and ordained him a bishop for Harran, probably in the year 900. He was the eighth bishop ordained by the patriarch. We read his name in the British Museum Syriac MS 808, dated March 10, 913. This MS contains the life-stories of Eugris (Evagrius) and other ascetics. It was copied by the priest Hasan, son of Tuma of the village of Tashb Shonitha in the province of Harran, on March 10, 1224 of the Greeks/ 913 A.D., in the time of Mar Yuhanna, Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Gabriel, patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt), and Mar Yuhanna, bishop of Harran. The MS was donated to the church by the deacon-monk Ishaq, son of Marun the stylite, from the village of Beth Sufana. Ishaq worshiped on the pillar of Beth Tubana in the village of Benisifi, in the province of Harran. [ Michael Rabo, Chronicle , 2: 757, and William Wright, British Museum Manuscripts, 815.]
At this time, Denha III, of the clergy of the Church of Mar Tuma in Harran, was ordained a Maphryono of Takrit and the East in 910. He passed away in 932.
As for Yuhanna, bishop of Harran, he most likely served the episcopate for about twenty years, from 900 to 920. But God knows best. [According to a MS of Canons in our Library copied in 1200.]

31) Ignatius I, bishop of Harran (920).

Ignatius was the thirty-fifth bishop ordained by Patriarch Yuhanna V. He came from the Monastery of the Sour Citadel (Syriac ‘Hesno Hmuso’) and succeeded Yuhanna III [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 757; William Wright, British Museum Manuscripts, 815.]

32) Philixene, bishop of Harran.

Philixene was from the Monastery of Nawawis (Tombs) in Edessa. He was ordained a bishop for Harran by Patriarch Yuhanna VI. He was the thirty-fourth bishop ordained by the patriarch. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 757, and Wright, 815.]

33) Timothy I, bishop of Harran (962).

Timothy succeeded Philixene in 962. He was ordained by Patriarch Ibrahim I at the Monastery of Tar’il, a Syriac compound name meaning the Door of God. He was the fifth bishop ordained by the patriarch. [MS of Canons at our Library, copied in 1200; Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 758-761]

34) Theodosius, bishop of Harran (984).

Theodosius became a monk at the Monastery of Beth Batin in the neighborhood of Harran. He was invited by Patriarch Yuhanna VII, who ordained him a bishop for Harran to succeed Timothy I. He was the twenty-third bishop ordained by the patriarch. He died in 984.

35) Peter, bishop of Harran (984-1028).

When the see of Harran became vacant with the death of Theodosius, Patriarch Yuhanna VII selected the monk Peter from the Great Monastery and ordained him a bishop at Mar’ash (Germanicia) around 984. He was the forty-fourth bishop ordained by the patriarch. In 985, the patriarch passed away, and on July 6, 1004, Peter presided over the synod convened at the Monastery of the Virgin in Gudfi.and consecrated Patriarch Yuhann VIII, well known as Bar ‘Abdun. Peter lived until 1028, having served the episcopate for forty-four years. This is supported by the ordination of his successor around 1028. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 761-762.]

36) Basilius I, bishop of Harran (1028-1063).

Basilius came from the Monastery of Qartmin and was ordained a bishop for Harran in 1028 by Patriarch Yuhanna VIII. He was the fortieth bishop ordained by the patriarch. In 1049, he attended the synod of Farzman to elect Patriarch Yuhanna IX. In 1058, Basilius acted as ordainer of Patriarch Athanasius V. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 761-762] He served the episcopate for more than thirty years. In his time, that is the year 1031, the Malkite historian Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Antaki said, “The Banu Numayr captured all the fortresses of the Jazira. Each one of them fell into the hands of an amir. Some of their notables, using the city’s young men, overpowered its citizens and wronged them. Because they pillaged the city most of its citizens fled. Also, the Banu Numayr captured the only existing Sabeans’ Temple of the Moon and converted it into a stable. Many Sabeans of Harran became Muslims for fear of the Banu Numayr.” [Sa’id ibn Batriq al-Antaki, History, 2: 265.]

37) Timothy II, bishop of Harran (1064-1088).

Tmothy was a clergyman of Edessa. In 1064, he was chosen to be a bishop and was ordained by Patriarch Mar Yuhanna X, being known as Bar Shushan. He was the third bishop ordained by the patriarch. Bar Shushan lived for a short time in Harran, where he ordained Athanasius a bishop for Semando and Ignatius of Harran a metropolitan for al-Raqqa. Timothy spent more than twenty years in the episcopate and, most likely, died in 1088. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 761]

38) Basilius II, bishop of Harran (1088-1120).

Basilius II became a monk at the Monastery of Shamnuk. In 1088, Patriarch Dionysius VI ordained him a bishop for Harran. He was the third bishop ordained by the patriarch. He served the episcopate more than thirty years. An event which took place in his time was as follows. In 1103 Sharaf al-Dawla came to Harran, wrested it from the hands of the judge who ruled it, and killed him. Meanwhile, the Ifranj Crusaders had arrived in Harran and had been well received by the citizens of the city, who handed them its keys. But Baldwin, lord of Edessa, refused to receive them. So the Crusaders did not enter the city.  [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 765]

39) Ignatius II, bishop of Harran (1120-1150?) .

Ignatius was first attached to the office of the Patriarch Athanasius VI, known as Abu al-Faraj, who ordained him a bishop for Harran in 1120. His name is mentioned under No. 48 of the bishops ordained by the patriarch. Like his predecessors, he served his office for a long time. He probably died in 1150. In 1133, Belek wrested Harran, Aleppo, and Tall Bashir (Turbessel) from the hands of the Muslim Arabs. When Edessa was destroyed in 1146, the Muslims of Harran and the enemies of Edessa rushed to it. They started digging up the churches and the houses of notables, saying, “Ha ha! Our eyes have seen the destruction of Edessa.” [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 765]

40) Timothy III, bishop of Harran (1150-1174?).

Trained at the Monastery of ‘Azrun, Timothy III was ordained a bishop at the monastery of Sarjisiyya by Patriach Athanasius VII around 1150. He was the twenty-seventh bishop ordained by the patriarch. He attended the synod that met at the Monastery of Mar Barsoum to elect Michael Rabo as patriarch in 1166. It is thought that he died in 1174 because Iyawannis Denha, the rebellious metropolitan of al-Raqq, tried in that year to add the dioceses of Harran, Sarug and Khabura to his jurisdiction but failed. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 708, 766, 767]

41) Ignatius III, bishop of Harran (1184-1186).

Ignatius was ordained a bishop by Patriarch Michael Rabo in 1184. He was the thirty-fifth bishop ordained by the patriarch. Shortly afterwards, the patriarch transferred him to Damascus. Because of persecution, he became a Muslim and fled to Egypt. Michael Rabo says, “When Saladin captured Jerusalem in 1187, the Christians of Damascus were subjected to insults, ridicule and humiliation which defy description.” [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 767, 724]  Michael Rabo, who died in 1199, did not ordain another bishop for this diocese. He probably entrusted it to a bishop from the neighboring dioceses because of its weakness.

42) Iyawannis II Ya’qub, metropolitan of Harran (1222-1231) and its Dependencies.

Iyawannis became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Hananya ( Za’faran Monastery) in Mardin. He was known as Bar Shakka. In 1222, he was mentioned as the metropolitan of Harran, Khabura, Nisibin and the Jazira. He drew up an anaphora identified by his name. It begins, “O Lord, the Almighty and Eternal.” In 1231, Patriarch Ignatius III detached Khabura from Ignatius’s diocese and entrusted it to Basilius, metropolitan of Miyafarqin. Ignatius was one of the bishops who signed Basilius’s systaticon (Letter of Election). He was proficient in the Syriac language, as is shown by his anaphora. We have no idea when he died. [See Aphram Barsoum, Nuzhat al-Adhhan fi Tarikh Dayr al-Za’fasran (Excursion of the Minds in the History of the Z’faran Monastery, 120, 126]

43) Ephraim, bishop of Harran (1252).

Ephraim was ordained a bishop of Harran by Patriarch Ignatius III. According to Bar Hebreaus, Ephraim was mentioned in the year 1252 when he and his congregation refused to provide an altar in any church to be used by the Armenians who had moved to Harran. [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 687.] To the best of our knowledge, Ephraim was the last bishop of that city.
In his Nahr al-Dhahab fi Tarikh Halab (The River of Gold in Relating the History of Aleppo), Kamil al-Ghazzi says that Harran was still populated in 1395. It was ruined by Tamerlane (1336-1405), who forced its inhabitants to leave. Al-Ghazzi gives a sketch of the belief of the Sabeans based on the history of Ibn al-Wardi (d. 1348), which indicates that the Sabeans were still living in his time. Al-Ghazzi said that, at present, Harran is a small village, the majority of whose inhabitants are Muslims. [Kamil al-Ghazzi, Nahr al-Dhahab fi Tarikh Halab, 1: 559.]
This is the utmost information we were able to obtain about the bishops of the city of Harran. We should add that sometimes Harran was an episcopal see of the Chaldean Nestorians. One of its bishops was Shallita, who built a monastery in its mountain in the first half of the seventh century. [See Addai Scher, Tarikh Chaldo was Athur, 261, who follows Yeshu’ Dnah, Kitab al-Iffa (The Book of Abstinence), 25.) At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the learned Muslim Imam Ahmad ibn Taymiyya (d.1327) flourished in Harran.]

The Prominent Syrian Philosopher Mar Yaqub (Jacob) of Edessa (633-708)

Jacob of Edessa was a distinguished Syrian man of letters and philosopher who penned magnificent books on theology, history, philology, philosophy and diverse sciences in the second half of the seventh century, when Syriac literature reached a golden age. He was so prolific and had such mastery of sciences that it was said that he was matchless in both East and West
This genius was most likely born around 633 A.D. His father, Ishaq, was a native of the village of ‘Ayndaba [‘Wolf’s Fountain, or Eye’] in the province of Gomya of the diocese of Antioch. Jacob was raised in this village and studied preliminary sciences and the Holy Scriptures under Quryaqos, the village’s elder. Quryaqos, being a virtuous man, influenced his pupil Jacob with his character. Thus, Jacob grew up to be as noble as his master. Jacob attended the Monastery of John Bar Aphtonya [This famous monastery, founded by John of Aphtonya (d. 539), was situated on the left bank of the Euphrates river opposite Jarablus. A center for the study of philosophy, theology, and Syriac and Greek languages for more than five centuries, it produced a group of remarkable men. Located at Qinneshrin (Syriac for ‘Eagles’ Nest’] , it was known as the Monastery of Qinneshrin in the time of Severus Sabukht [ Sabukht was metropolitan of the Monastery of Qinneshrin shortly before the Arabs’ conquest. He devoted himself to the study of philosophy, mathematics and theology. He wrote a commentary on Aristotle’s Analytica Posteriora, of which a few sections remain. He also wrote a treatise on syllogism in Aristotle’s Analytica Priora and solved some problems of Aristotle’s Rhetorica.  Moreover, he wrote a treatise on the forms of the zodiac and another on the astrolabe. Some of his writings on philosophy were published by Orientalists.],  in order to seek the solitary life and further his studies. He assumed the monastic habit, completed his studies of the Holy Scriptures, and mastered the principles of the Greek language. He then journeyed to Alexandria [The Orientalist Merx maintains that Jacob’s journey to Alexandria to study is evidence vindicating the Arabs in the burning of the Library of Alexandria. See Merx, Historia Artis Grammaticae apud Syros, in Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, ix, 35. The full title of this work and the periodical in which it was published are furnished by the translator.] We have no idea how long he stayed in Alexandria. What we know is that he went to Alexandria when learning in it was confined to Neo-Platonism. We are inclined to believe that he studied at its famous school, mother of all the schools in the East. At this school were taught medicine, geometry, astronomy, natural sciences and mathematics. Its students were proud that they were graduates of this school, as some students in our time are proud to be graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and Berlin. At about this time, however, learning in it began to decline.] to further his studies. In that city he mastered the Hebrew language as well as philosophy and sciences and then repaired to Syria, where he retired to a life of seclusion in Edessa.  His seclusion, however, did not last long. His genius could not be kept too long from the natives of Edessa, who discovered his talents. Upon the death of Tiberius, bishop of the city, the citizens unanimously chose Jacob as their bishop. In response to their quest, Patriarch Athanasius of Balad [Athanasius of Balad was Jacob’s schoolmate. He was a native of Balad and studied at the Monastery of Qinneshrin in the time of Severus Sabukht. He devoted his time to the translation of Greek philosophy into Syriac. He became a patriarch in 684 and died in 687. His translations include Porphyry’s Isagoge and another book of philosophy, as well as the works of Severus of Antioch and Gregory Nazianzen. He wrote a treatise on the Christians’ interrelations with the Muslims.], his childhood friend and schoolmate, ordained him a bishop for Edessa in 684 A.D., the same year Athansius became a patriarch. As bishop, Jacob tried unsuccessfully to restore order to the monasteries of his diocese. He faced great opposition from the monks, who were supported by Patriarch Julian, who had succeeded Athanasius in the patriarchate. Four years after he became a bishop, the monks, whom he had either suspended from service or cut off from the church for violating church canons, rebelled against him. When he could no longer endure their antagonism, he resigned his position and handed it to Patriarch Julian [  Julian was also called the Rumoyo, because in his younger days he had served with his father in the Byzantine imperial army. See William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 142, n. 2. Tr. ], who, with other bishops, thought that Jacob should be more tolerant because of their circumstances. He journeyed to the monastery where the patriarch and the bishop had assembled. Right at its door he burned a copy of the church rules, saying,” I burn with fire as superfluous and useless the canons which you trample under foot and heed not.” [See William Wright, 142. Tr.]
Jacob retired to the Monastery of Mar Jacob in Keshum (Kesum) (a town near Samosata} with his pupils Constantine and Daniel. He wrote two treatises. In the first, he rebuked the shepherds of the church for their blatant failure to observe the canons; in the second, he censured those who had violated those canons. He resided in Edessa for four years and was succeeded by the meek Bishop Habib. Since his ordination was in 684, his departure from Edessa must have been in 688.
While he was at the Monastery of Mar Jacob in Keshum, Jacob of Edessa was invited by the monks of the Monastery of Eusebuna to teach Greek. He accepted the invitation and went to the monastery, where he remained for eleven years, teaching the Psalms and commenting on the Holy Scriptures according to the Greek text. At this monastery, Jacob revived the teaching of the Greek language, which had almost died from negligence. But he found no peace at that monastery. The monks, who hated Greek, antagonized him. He left the monastery with seven pupils and went to the great Monastery of Tell’ada, where he worked for nine years on his revised version of the Old Testament.
Meanwhile, Bishop Habib had died and the congregation of Edessa requested Patriarch Julian to send them Jacob of Edessa, which he did. Jacob returned to Edessa but remained only for four months, after which he returned to the Monastery of Tell’ada to bring back his books and pupils. He died suddenly on June 5, 708, and was buried at this monastery.
Jacob of Edessa was unquestionably a prominent theologian, philosopher, historian, translator, grammarian, philologist and poet.  He mastered the Syriac, Greek and Hebrew languages. He had a great knowledge of the Greeks’ writings. He was the Syriac writer most influenced by Greek writings, a man of letters who followed the method developed by his master Severus Sabukht in the translation of philosophy. In addition to refining Syriac studies and dialectical commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Jacob wrote an important history superior to that of the famous Eusebius. Moreover, he set the rules of Syriac grammar, purged the Syriac language of foreign terms, and restored its former purity. For this reason, the classical Syriac language came to be known as Edessan Syriac. [In his Mukhtasar al-Duwal, 18, Bar Hebraeus said, “The Syriac language is classified into three forms. The most classical of them is the Aramaic, which is the language of Edessa, Harran, and outer al-Sham (Syria). The second is the language of Palestine, the language of Damascus, the Mountain of Lebanon, and the rest of inner Syria.The third and ugliest is the Chaldean Nabatean language of the Mountains of Athur (northern Iraq) and the rest of that country.”] Because of his multi-faceted knowledge and discipline, Jacob was regarded as an encyclopedia in his time. The Orientalists who wrote about Syriac literature, like Anton Baumstark, Rubens Duval, William Wright and Theodor Nöldeke, are unanimous in maintaining that Jacob of Edessa was the most famous Syriac writer who flourished in the age known in the history of Syriac literature as the Arab Age. In this age the Syriac mind ripened and found avenue for reasoning and research; it was the Golden Age of Syriac literature. In this age, the humanities were promoted by the graduates of the Schools of Edessa and Nisibin.
The fame of Jacob of Edessa, which made him the greatest writer, is predicated on three premises. The first was his extreme concern for the Bible. Like the rest of the Syriac theologians, he lent great importance to the Old Testament. The second was the numerous letters he addressed to distinguished contemporaries. William Wright says that Jacob of Edessa “was an indefatigable correspondent of many students who sought his advice and assistance from far and near.” [William Wright, 143. Tr.] The third and most important of all was his great concern for the Syriac language. As has already been said, Jacob of Edessa flourished in the second half of the seventh century, a time when the Arabs were conquering and Arabizing the countries, with the result that their language began to rival Syriac and replace it. Threatened by the Arabic language, Syriac needed rules and regulations for its preservation. Up to this time, the Syrians, as Rev Gabriel Cardahi stated in the introduction of his book al-Manahij (programs, curricula) [See Cardahi, al-Manahij, p. 9 of the Introduction] had received their language by tradition. But when the Arab conquest prevailed and it began quickly to affect the conquered countries, Syrian learned men perceived that their language was becoming corrupted owing to the mingling of Syrians with foreigners. Jacob rose to the challenge by fixing rules and regulations for the Syriac language in his Grammar,, which according to Iliyya (Elijah), bishop of Nisibin,was the first of its kind in this discipline. [He called his grammar Torus Mamlo Sorioyo (An Emendation of the Syriac Language).] He was described as the leading authority in this field. [Several Syriac writers like Yusuf Hozoyo (580), Ahodemeh (559), and Hannan Yeshu’ (650) had preceded Jacob of Edessa in composing Syriac grammars . But their grammars gained no popularity among the Syrians. Most of them were lost, except for fragments mentioned by learned men. To the contrary, the Grammar of Jacob of Edessa surpassed them all by being used in the teaching circles. It became so popular among the Syrians that they considered it the first grammar to be written, and its author the first Syriac grammarian. [Cardahi, 9.].  Jacob’s position in the Syriac language was like that of Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali (d. 688), who set the rules of Arabic grammar. If what al-Zayyat said in his book al-Adab al-Arabi (Arabic Literature) is true [Al-Zayyat said, “We think that Abu al-Aswad did not formulate grammar and diacritical points on his own; as we think, he had knowledge of the Syriac language, whose grammar had been set before that of the Arabic language, or he had connections with Syriac priests and church notables, which enabled him to write down what he has written.” See al-Zayyat, al-Adab al-Arabi, 141.], that Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali borrowed the knowledge of grammar from the Syrians, we can then properly say that Jacob of Edessa laid the first stone in the foundation of Arabic grammar.
To Jacob is ascribed the use of five diacritical points [A set of vowel signs. TR.] in the Syriac language, in the form of small Greek letters. It is said that his continuous and profound study of philological manuscripts of the Greek language, which he had mastered, inspired him to develop these points instead of the traditional dots used by the Syrians. He did this especially when he realized that the vowel sounds of the Edessan Syriac language could be replaced by Greek vowels, which are far clearer than minute dots. [See William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 152. Tr.] Since then, Western Syrians used these signs for their facility. But the Eastern Syrians (Nestorians and Chaldeans) kept using the dots as diacritical points. [These diacritical marks are an elaborate system of accentuation and interpunctions. They were in the form of dots placed above or beneath the letters to indicate the manner of pronunciation. Jacob of Edessa replaced them with five Greek vowels which are more facile and distinct than the dots. Tr. ]
Some writers have erroneously attributed the invention of the Greek vowel symbols to Theophile of Edessa (d. 785). They claim that he drew attention to them in order to establish the correct forms of Greek terms in his translation of the Iliad. [See Jurji Zaydan, Tarikh al-Tamaddun al-Islami (History of Islamic Civilization), 133, and Kitab of al-Itqan fi Sarf Lughat al-Suryan (Perfecting the Morphology of the Syrians’ Language), 20.] But scholars like Weismann, Theodor Nöldeke, William Wright, and others maintained that these vowel symbols belong to Jacob of Esessa. [See N. Weisman, Horae syriacae, 181-188; William Wright, Catalogue, 1168, and A Short History of Syriac Literature, 152, n. 1; and Nöldeke’s article on Syriac literature.] Finally, we have strong evidence that these diacritical marks were developed by Mar Jacob of Edessa. The Syriac British Museum MS 134, dating back to the time of Jacob of Edessa, who died in 708, contains the Greek vowel signs clearly fixed on Syriac terms. Thus, these signs could not have been invented by Theophile of Edessa who died almost eighty years after Jacob. If we realize that the above-mentioned British MS was transcribed in Jacob’s time, we must admit that they were his and no one else’s.
Moreover, Jacob wanted to take a further step to reform the Syriac language for which, William Wright says, “his countrymen were not prepared.” [Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 152. Tr.] He tried an experiment similar to that of the Turks who lately adopted the Latin script. [ The Turks adopted the Latin script under Mustafa Kamal (Ataturk) in 1926. Tr.]  His continuous study of Greek manuscripts indicated to him that the vowel-sounds were placed side by side with the consonants as part of the alphabet. Realizing the benefit of the simplicity and clarity of these sounds, he intended to introduce them to the Syriac language, which contains only consonants but no vowel sounds. So he developed forms for seven vowel sounds imitating those of the Greek language. [See Bar Hebraeus, Semhe (Lights), a book on grammar in our St Mark’s Library, MS 217.] He indicated the long Syriac letter olaf (A) with a vowel sound, thus adding another vowel sound to the former ones. He introduced these vowel sounds to the alphabet, to be fixed in the same lines with the consonants. However, he introduced the vowels to be used only for certain terms, which he used as examples in composing his  grammar.  This innovation, however, found no favor and ended with his death. The Syrians continued to use the five vowel sounds mentioned above. [It should be pointed out that the whole account of Jacob’s innovation and introduction of the system of vowel-sounds into the Syriac language is taken from William Wright’s A Short History of Syriac Literature, 151-153. Tr.]
It seems that the idea of introducing new letters to the Syriac alphabet had been considered by writers before Jacob of Edessa. This is indicated in Jacob’s letter to Paul of Antioch, who had asked him to reform the defects of the Syriac language.  Jacob replied, “Many before me and you have desired to do this task. But the loss of ancient manuscripts which contained these inadequate letters prevented them from undertaking such a project.”
Jacob of Edessa had a great impact on Islam. In his book Fajr al-Islam, (The Dawn of Islam), Ahmad Amin says that prominent Christian religious men gave a fatwa (formal juristic opinion) making it legal to educate Muslim children. He saw this as evidence that some Muslims had become devoted to the study of philosophy under Christian religious men after previously having been reluctant to do so. [Ahmad Amin, Fajr al-Islam, 1: 155.]William Wright assigned Jacob of Edessa a position which rivals that of St. Jerome in the Latin  world. . [ In the eyes of Christianity, St. Jerome was the link between East and West. He was born in Stridon (Dalmatia) in the year 330 and studied in Rome. He visited the East in 372 and devoted himself to worship in the wilderness situated between Antioch and the Euphrates River, during which he mastered the Hebrew language, which enabled him later to expound the Holy Bible.  In 378 Jerome was ordained a priest. Then he traveled to Constantinople, where he studied Greek literature under Gregory Nazianzen. In 382 he sailed to Rome and contacted Pope Damasus. He returned to the East once more and studied hermeneutics under the blind Didymus in Alexandria. In 386 he moved to Palestine and took up the ascetic life in Bethlehem, where he devoted his time to the study of the Holy Scriptures until his death in 420. Jerome translated the Holy Bible from the original Hebrew into Latin; he also translated into Latin the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius and many other works.”] The German Orientalist Anton Baumstark drew an analogy between Jacob and Jerome showing the similarity between the two. He said that both Jacob of Edessa and Jerome preferred to transmit their knowledge in the form of letters. Both knew Hebrew well, which undoubtedly enabled them to work on the Holy Scriptures. Both exerted utmost energy in translation and correction, and both translated the history of Eusebius. In the end, however, Baumstark preferred Jacob of Edessa to Jerome because of the diversity of his philological and philosophical writings. [Barsoum does not identify Baumstark’s work. But it is Anton Baumstark, Geschcichte der syrischen Literatur, 248. See the full statement of Baumstark in this regard in Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum, The Scattered Pearls, 2nd rev. ed., trans. Matti Moosa (Gorgias Press, 2003), 350, n. 5. Tr. ]
From his life-story we may deduce that Jacob of Edessa was a man of principles. He never wavered in telling the truth. He feared no censure and was very strict in the enforcement of church canons. We can see in his burning of a copy of the canons his great moral courage, for which he faced vehement antagonism, like many great law-abiding men in every age. Whatever is said about his strict observation of the canons, still we observe that the Syrians of Edessa regretted what they had done to him. Indeed, they recalled him to be their bishop after the death of the aged Bishop Habib. This in itself is a testimony to his great soul and superlative zeal. The German Orientalist Nöldeke says that Jacob was of commendable character, for which he faced opposition.
Because of his innovation, especially the invention of the five vowel signs and the introduction of reforms to the Syriac language, already discussed, some writers place him above the great philosopher Bar Hebraeus. They claim that the writings of Bar Hebraeus lacked originality.
Jacob of Edessa was a Syrian by doctrine, origin and tongue. But Assemani, in his Bibliotheca Orientalis, tried to make him a Roman Catholic [ i.e., Chalcedonian TR. ] in order to adorn with him an age which had no one his equal, but gave up his attempt in despair. [See Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 1: 470 and 2: 337.]
Jacob never heeded old customs and traditions except those of the Apostles. This is seen in the numerous legal opinions in his canons. His love for church order is clearly shown in his legal opinion No.95, which forbade the untrained or those with ugly voices to chant or read the Scriptures in the public meetings held in cities and villages, lest they offend the congregation. Jacob realized that only those trained and having sweet voices should chant and read because God is a God of order, and not of confusion.
The writings of Jacob of Edessa are many. Some of them are lost to us, others are still preserved in manuscript form, and still others have been published by Orientalists. They are mostly theological, philosophical, historical, linguistic and grammatical. They are classified as written or translated by him. Generally, they lack the eloquence which characterizes the writings of Ishaq (Isaac) of Antioch, Jacob of Sarug, and Philoxenus of Mabug. The author of his biography in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 15  (1911): 114,  says, “If we measure Jacob of Edessa by the standard of the knowledge of his time, we find in him the traits of a consummate theologian and learned man in the true scientific sense.”
Following are his works:

1) While staying at the Monastery of Tell’ada, Jacob revised in 705 the Syriac version of the Bible called the Pshitto (simple). He divided it into chapters, each prefaced by an introduction He appended to the text many scholia, including some translations from the Greek and Syriac. In some chapters he fixed the correct pronunciation of terms. No complete copy of this revision has come down to us; however, the Bibilotheque Nationale in Paris contains two MSS of the Pentateuch and a number of passages from Daniel. In the British Museum, MSS dated 719 and 720, that is nine years after Jacob’s death, contain Samuel 1 and 2, the beginning of Kings 1 and 2, and Isaiah.2) While staying at the Monastery of Eusebona, Jacob wrote a scholion on the Holy Bible according to the Greek text. To Nöldeke, it is a rational and logical commentary. Portions of it were published by Phillips, Wright, Schroeter and Nestle, according to the British Museum MSS. [The numbers are not given by the patriarch. They are 14, 483 and 17, 183. Tr.] The monk Sawera (Severus) mixed these commentaries with those of St. Ephraim, and they were published in St. Ephraim’s Latin copy. A MS in the Vatican Library contains these commentaries which consist of eight books of the Bible. They include the Pentateuch (the five Books of Moses), Job, Joshua, and Judges. Both Bar Salibi and Bar Hebraeus quoted Jacob’s commentaries.

1) Several tracts on the Scriptures quoted by late Syrian commentators. Portions of them were mentioned by Assemani in his Bibliotheca Orientalis.

4) A collection of legal opinions (canons) in the form of letters addressed to the presbyter Addai. They were published by Paul de Lagarde according to a Paris MS. A critical edition with German translation of the same was published by Kayser (Leipzig, 1886), according to Paris MSS 62 and 111 and three more MSS in the British Museum. In his book Hudoyo (Nomocanon), Bar Hebraeus quoted some of these canons

5) A treatise on the consanguineous degrees of relation which forbid marriage. It is mentioned by Baumstark, Duval and Wright.

6) A Chronicle in which he revised the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, beginning with the 20th year of Constantine the Great and ending with the year 692. Patriarch Michael Rabo (d.1199) made use of this revision. It was also used by Iliyya (Elijah), metropolitan of Nisibin. Of this history only defective fragments remain. They are found in the British Museum’s MS 14685. William Wright says, “The loss of Jacob’s Chronicle is greatly to be regretted.” [Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 147. Tr.] According to Baumstark, another writer extended this Chronicle to the year 710. [See Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 254. Tr.] Nöldeke wished that all of Jacob’s works had been lost except his Chronicle, of which only a few mutilated leaves have survived. According to William Wright, “Jacob’s design was to continue the Chronicle of Eusebius on the same plan.” [Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 148.Tr] Later Syrian historians made use of this Chronicle.

7) A treatise on the The First Cause, the Creator, the Eternal, the Almighty God and the Preserver of all created beings. It was mentioned by George, bishop of the Arab tribes, who continued the book of The Six Days, which is lost to us. Some thought that it is the same Syriac book entitled The Cause of All Causes, whose original title is De Causa omnium Causarum. But when Kayser published this book at Leipzig in 1889 [Kayser published it under the title Das Buch von de Erkenntniss der Wahrheit (Leipzig, 1889).  A German translation was published at Strassburg, 1893. See Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 147, n. 4. Tr], it became evident to the learned that its composition post-dated Jacob by a long time. It could not be dated before the eleventh or the twelfth century. The author of this book said about himself that he was a bishop of Edessa. Thirty years after his ordination he shunned the world and sought solitude with two or three ascetics because of what he had suffered from his congregation. Then he wrote a book for the good of mankind. He also said that, like other writers, he had used the six days of creation in the book of Genesis as a base for his accounts of the universe. These accounts contain the heavenly world, the earthly world, and people, animals, plants, and minerals. He was the encyclopedist of the Middle Ages.

8) The Enchiridion (Compendium), a tract on philosophical terms which is the best of his writings. It is preserved in the British Museum MS 21154. Another metrical version contained in two MSS at the Vatican may be of his composition.

9) In his book, A short History of Syriac Literature, William Wright is of the opinion that it is probably correct to ascribe to Jacob of Edessa the treatises contained in Vatican MSS 36 and 95. Sometimes he thought that had Jacob translated Aristotle’s Categories and Logic or Dialectics.  Finally, however, he found out that the translator was Sergius of Rish ‘Ayna (Ras al-‘Ayn), because Jacob was only a young boy when the British Museum MS was written. Furthermore, the composition is not that of Jacob of Edessa. As for the commentary on Logic, Hoffman showed that it belongs to another writer. [In his discussion of Sergius Rish ‘Ayna, or as he writes the name RasAin, William Wright says, “In the Vatican MS clviii (Catalog, III, 306, No. vi), this translation of Aristotle’s Categories is wrongly ascribed to Jacob of Edessa, who could hardly been more than a boy at the time when the MS. in the British Museum was transcribed. Besides, the version is not of his style. The Paris MS, Ancien fonds 161, naturally repeats this mistake. [Zotenberg, Catalog, 202; Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 91, n. 2. Tr]

10) Toward the end of his life Jacob wrote The Six Days of Creation. He was probably the first of the Syrians to treat this subject. It was left incomplete but later completed by his friend George, bishop of the Arab tribes. It is divided into seven discourses, beginning with a dialogue between the author and his disciple Constantine. Two copies of this work survive, one in London and the other in Lyons. It was analyzed by L’abbe Martin, who published portions of it in Paris. Hjelt published the third discourse on geography with a Latin translation; Duval says that Jacob’s geography is not an innovation as thought by Martin, but is taken from Ptolemy.

11) A Grammar of the Syriac Language, so consummate that Jacob was considered the leading authroity  on Syriac grammar. For a long time it remained the general source in this field in Syria. Bar Hebraeus made use of it in compiling his own grammar, which testifies to Jacob’s profound erudition. Only fragments of it remain at Oxford Library and the Library of the British Museum.

12) A letter to George, bishop of Sarug, on Syriac orthography, in which he discussed how diverse Syriac terms and Greek terms translated into Syriac should be written. The letter is supplemented by a tract divided into five chapters on individuals, genus, times, the signs of interpunction, and accentuation. He emphasized in it the importance of the faithfulness of copyists. It was published by George Phillips in London, 1869, and Martin in Paris in the same year. [See G. Phillips, A Letter by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Edessa, on Orthography (1869), and Martin, Jacobi epi Edesseni Epistola ad Georgium epum Sarugensum de Orhthographia Syriaca (1869); William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 151, n.2. Tr]

13) Jacob translated the Cathedral Homilies of Mar Severus of Antioch from the Greek into Syriac, a work he completed in 701. They are preserved in the Vatican MS 141 and British Museum MS 12159, dated 876 A.D. In this MS the homilies, which number 125, are divided into three volumes. [Wright, 149, says this work is of great importance.]

14) Jacob drew up an anaphora, or liturgy, beginning thus: “ O Lord, the Father of all and the Host of Hosts.” It was translated by Renaudot into Latin and published in his Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio, 2 (Paris, 1716): 371.

15) He revised the anaphora of St. James, brother of the Lord, and purged it of the errors of copyists. [A revised version of this anaphora was published with both Greek and Syriac texts by Adolph Rücker under the title, Die Jakobosanaphora, nach der Rezension des Jaqob von Edessa (Münster, 1923).Tr.]  He also translated the anaphora of Mar Ignatius the Illuminator

16) The Book of Treasures, containing the order of baptism, the solemnization of matrimony, and the consecration of water in the Epiphany.

17) He translated the Sedros (supplicatory prayers) of Mar Severus of Antioch on baptism.

18) A calendar of feasts for the cycle of the year and the hours of worship during the week.

19) A book on the interpunction and accentuation of the Holy Bible and the works of famous fathers of the church. There are two copies of this work, one at our Monastery of St. Mark MS 41, the other at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery in Mardin MS. [No number is given for this MS.]

20) A translation of the story of the Rechabites from Greek into Syriac, as narrated by Zosimus, the original of which was written in Hebrew.

21) A translation of the Octoëchus of Clement, a copy of which is at the Library of our Monastery of St. Mark, MS 135. In it is mentioned that it was translated in 678 A. D. [William Wright mentions the Octoëchus as that of Severus of Antioch. It was translated by Paul of Tella. See Wright, 135, 149.Tr]

22) A treatise on the dispensation of the Lord Christ supported by the Prophets, the Apostles, and teachers. After stating their sayings, he provided a synopsis of the biography of each of them.

23) A treatise he sent to the presbyter Tuma on the Exposition of the Holy Eucharist among the Syrians from the time of the Apostles down to his own time It was mentioned by Bar Salibi in his Commentary on the Holy Eucharist. Assemani incorporated it in his Bibliotheca Orientalis, 1: 479-486.

24) A treatise on the Holy Chrism incorporated in the homilies of the fathers for the whole year.

25) A fine copy of the Order of Funerals at the Library of St Mark in Jerusalem, MS 120, and a treatise on funerals. It begins, “Burial of the dead, emended recently and accurately by Mar Jacob of Edessa.”  More than any other, this book is characterized by its orderly arrangement. The order is preceded by hymns and followed by readings from the Scriptures, followed by husoyos (supplicatory prayers) and numerous elegies and prayers for all ranks of the clergy and lay people. It was copied in the twelfth century.

26) A revision of the translation of the Ma’nithe (Hymns) of Mar Severus of Antioch made by Paul, bishop of Edessa, when he was in Cyprus. The oldest copy of these hymns is at the Library of our Monastery of St. Mark, MS 60,copied by the priest Taban for his son the deacon Saliba in 1210 A. D.

27) He translated from Greek into Syriac a collection of canons of the ecumenical and local councils which convened in ancient times. A copy of these canons written on vellum is at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery, MSS 20 and 21. They were most likely written in his own hand, because they end with his own canons and replies to the questions addressed to him by some of his contemporaries.

28) Bar Hebraeus mentioned that Mar Jacob had translated the writings of the theologian Gregory Nazianzen. William Wright and Anton Baumstark, however, maintain that Bar Hebraeus was mistaken and that there is no evidence to support his statement. [Wright, 149; Baumstark, 252. Tr.]

29) Jacob composed metrical odes and several mymre and madrashe (metrical hymns and discourses), some of which bear his name, designed for the Passion Week. He also composed ten treatises on Palm Sunday.

30) Jacob wrote the biography of Yuhanna (John), bishop of Tella.

Mar Jacob composed many writings other than those already mentioned, in the form of correspondence. We have already mentioned his letters to Paul of Antioch and to George, bishop of Sarug. Other letters were addressed to the priest Addai on the order of baptism and the consecration of water, to the deacon Barhadhbshabbo on a criticism of the Council of Chalcedon, to Yuhanna the stylite of the Monastery of Litarba (Atharib) near Aleppo, to Eustathius of Dara, to Chrisona of Dara, to the priest Ibrahim, to the deacon Jirjis, and to Tuma the sculptor.This famous bishop (Jacob of Edessa) composed prose memre (homilies, discourses), only a few of which have come down to us. Some of these memre treat the Holy Eucharist and the use of unleavened bread. In others he criticizes those who maintain the doctrine of the Two Natures and those who violate church canons. His metrical hymns are very few. One of them treats the Trinity and the Incarnation; another which treats faith is attributed to him but actually belongs to Jacob of Sarug.
The writings of Jacob of Edessa are preserved in manuscripts scattered over famous libraries. [Quite often Jacob of Edessa is confused with other Syrian fathers of his namesake On the cover of Jacob of Edessa’s Scholia On Passages Of The Old Testament, translated  into English by George Phillips (London, 1864), the cataloger of the University of Pennsylvania Library wrote, “Jacob Barda’ya, bishop of Edessa.”  Evidently he confused Jacob of Edessa with Jacob Baradaeus, who in 544 was consecrated at Constantinople as metropolitan of Edessa and Asia by Patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria. Tr.]


The sources we used are as follows:

1) The Chronicle of Mar Michael Rabo, a thick Garsuni MS 210 (Arabic written in Syriac script) at the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem;

1) The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, MS 211 at the Library of the Monastery of St. Mark;

1) Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 1: 476-494;

1) a short biography of Mar Jacob of Edessa by the monk (later bishop) Yuhanna Dolabani;

1) Rubens Duval, Histoire des Syriaque Litterature (Paris, 1907), 374; [For an Arabic translation of this book see Rubens Duval, Tarikh al-Adab al-Suryani, trans. Rev. Louis Qassab (Syrian Catholic Metropolitan Publications: Baghdad, 1992.. Tr.]
2) William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature (Cambridge, 1894), 141-154;

7) Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn, 1922); The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15: (1911): 113-114; an article on Syriac literature by Theodor Nöldeke (Leipzig, 1906). Other sources are those of Jurji Zaydan, Tarikh al-Tamaddun al-Islami; al-Zayyat, Tarikh al-Adab al-Arabi; Isma’il Mudhhir, Tarikh al-Fikr al-Arabi; Cardahi, Kitab al-Manahij; Ahmad Amin, Fajr al-Islam; Addai Scher, Tarikh Chaldo wa Athur, Volume 2; Bishop Yusuf al-Dibs, Tarikh Suriyya; and Ibn al-Ibri (Bar Hebraeus), Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal. We have mentioned these sources in the margins.

The Syrian School of Edessa

[This is the significant lecture Metropolitan Aphram Barsoum delivered at the annual homecoming of the School of Homs on July 26, 1929. He opened the lecture by welcoming in French His Highness the Administrative Commissioner and Army General. We are publishing this lecture to thank His Grace for his minute investigation of Syriac history and literature.  Editor of al- Hikma.]

Al-Ruha (Orhoi in Syriac, and Edessa in Greek) is one of the most ancient and glorious cities of the East. It has the most comprehensive history and grandeur of the great Syrian nation in the past, albeit weak at present. It is the first city that hastened to accept the Christian message, and without doubt, considered the most magnificent city in Aramaic history.
Edessa was the capital of the kingdom of the Abgarite kings, who ruled for four centuries. This kingdom was established in 132 B. C. by the Syrian King Ario II (Ario means ‘lion’ in Syriac) and ended in 244 A.D., in the time of Abgar XI, having lasted for 376 years. It is said that Ibrahim al-Khalil (Patriarch Abraham of the Old Testament) camped in it. There is still a water fountain within its confines called The Fountain of the Merciful
Edessa’s Aramaic language was the classical Syriac, sometimes called Edessan Syriac. We believe that its inhabitants adopted Christianity in the first century, although some Orientalists say it was in the second century. Churches and monasteries spread throughout it and in the mountain overlooking it, which came to be known as Toro Qadisho (the Holy Mountain). According to the anonymous Edessan chronicler, in the time of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II (d. 450) in the second half of the fifth century, the monks of this mountain numbered 90,000. In his Chronicle, Patriarch Michael Rabo mentioned the names of fifteen churches in Edessa which were ruined in the time of the Arabs before the twelfth century. One of these churches, Hagia Sophia, was of utmost splendor. In my own history I mentioned the names of 120 metropolitans and bishops of the See of Edessa, which shows the growth of Christianity and Syriac culture in this city.
Most of all, Edessa became famous for its school, and I would like to address the audience with its history.
I would like to begin with St. Ephraim of Nisibin, a shining moon which appeared in the firmament of the Syrian nation in the fourth century A.D., also described as the Sun of the Syrians. He was famous for his knowledge, purity, and good character. He taught at the School of Nisibin for more than thirty years until it was captured by the Persians. He and the staff moved to Edessa in 363 and established a school surpassing that of Nisibin. St. Ephraim was the center of this blessed movement and the pivot of its activity. At the School of Edessa were taught many disciplines of knowledge, including theology, philosophy, the Scriptures, philology, and literature in both Syriac and Greek. The citizens of Edessa supported the school, and as a result students flocked to it from the farthest corners of the East. Most of the students, however, came from Beth Nahrin (Mesopotomia), a region dense with cities, towns and villages, most of which today are sadly in ruins. After 136 years of active operation, the School of Edessa was closed in 489 A.D. by the order of Emperor Zeno (474-475, 476-491) to avoid doctrinal disputes. The school graduated learned men in theology and philosophy whose writings immensely benefitted Christianity and mankind.
In addition to St. Ephraim, the wonderful teacher of the church, who expounded the Holy Scripture in classical Syriac and composed 12,000 metrical hymns, we may mention his pupils, the most famous of whom were Aba, who interpreted the Holy Gospel; Simon, who is said to have written the biography of his master; Apolona, who composed church hymns and refuted Marcion and other heresiarchs; Zenobius, who refuted Marcion; St. Ephraim’s nephew Absmayya (slave of heaven), who composed metrical odes on the Huns’ attack of the Byzantines’ land; and Isaac of Amid, a pupil of Zenobius, who composed metrical odes on penance, the Virgin and martyrs.
At that time (the fifth century) schism rocked the school. Some students adopted the controversial theological teachings of the Syrian Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. The students were divided into two groups, one supporting Nestorius, the other against him retaining their orthodox faith.  Among those who adopted the teaching of Nestorius were Hiba (Ibas), metropolitan of Edessa, who played a great role at that time (he was well versed in Syriac and Greek and produced translated works, discourses, and spiritual hymns); Accacius, Catholicos of Ctesiphon; Barsauma, metropolitan of Nisibin, whose actions history condemns; Ma’na, bishop of Ardashir; Yuhanna, bishop of Kirkuk; Paul, bishop of Karkh Ledan; Ibrahim, bishop of Madi; and Mikha, bishop of Lashum. Some of them made translations form the Greek into Syriac. The most famous of them was the priest Narsai, who, together with Barsauma, established the famous School of Nisibin, which survived more than three centauries. Narsai taught ar this school for more than forty years and produced excellent writings.
The students who maintained the doctrine of the church included Saint Philoxenus (Syriac Akhsnoyo, stranger), metropolitan of Mabug (d. 523). He was learned, a master of the Syriac language, and penned excellent books on asceticism and theology. To the Syrians, he was the martyr of the faith. In addition there were Philoxenus’s brother Addai; Phapha, bishop of Beth Laphat; Bahadhbshabba of Qardu; and Benjamin the Aramean, and hundreds of lay students whose name are not known to us.
In his book Histoire Politique, Religieuse, Littéraire d’Edessa (Paris, 1890), 161, Rubens Duval says
t he School of Edessa concentrated on Greek studies, then considered a branch of theology.  He further says that in this (the fourth) century, the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea were translated into Syriac. The English Orientalist William Wright rightly observed that most ancient manuscripts are Syriac of Edessan origin. MSS 411 at the British Museum contains the discourses of Recognitions attributed to St. Clement; the discourses of Titus, bishop of Bostra, against the Manicheans and Eusebius’s History of the Martyrs of Palestine.  A MS dated 462 A. D., at the Library of Petersburg, contains the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. It appears that these works were translated into Syriac during the lifetime of their authors (Eusebius and Titus), or perhaps shortly after their death. Just imagine, how magnificent was this learning movement and the effort of the learned men of Edessa at that time! [The entire passage about William Wright is actually taken from Duval, 162. Tr.]
After it was closed down, the School of Edessa reopened in Nisibin and came to be known as the School of Nisibin, as was said earlier. The School of Edessa existed for one and a quarter centuries and produced men whose light was a guide for people. It is therefore imperative for the Syrian people today to consider these men as guides and endeavor to revive learning institutions, education, culture, and the study of our holy and elegant Syriac language. After all, it was the language of the civilized East and Syria in past generations. They could accomplish this task because we are living in an age when the means of obtaining knowledge are within the reach of those who seek them. May the benevolent God help you in achieving this aim.

[Al-Hikma, 3rd. Year (December, 1929), pp. 457-460]

The Lectures Delivered by Mar Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum, Syrian Patriarch of Antioch  and All the East, at the American University of Beirut on May 1, 2, and 4, 1933.

The First Lecture

Gentlemen! You all know that our beloved East is the cradle of our Christian religion, the emanation of the light of our faith, and the home of our prophets and apostles. The light first shone in Jerusalem and then spread into Palestine, Syria, Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia), Persia, Rome, Egypt, Anatolia, Rumelia, Greece and Armenia, and other countries. Since its inception, Christianity had many mortal enemies, especially pagans. A group of them battled it by using science and philosophy, and for this reason, the protectors of this religion perceived the need to inject philosophy into it and use scientific terms to express the true essence of things. In doing thus, they deviated from the simplicity of the Gospel in their method of investigation, but not in matters concerning the principles of their faith.  What they intended was to reconcile reason with faith or science with religion. Thus they used rational proofs, while still confident in the strength of the Christian truth, which is supported by human reason. Hence came the establishment of the two schools of Alexandria and Antioch. The first adopted the philosophy of Plato, based on symbols; the second, the philosophy of Aristotle based on evidence and logic.

The Theological School of Alexandria (180-400 A.D.)

We have no idea who founded this school. History says that Pantaneus, a Sicilian priest who had preached the Christian faith in India, returned to Alexandria and became a principal and teacher of the School of Alexandria, which produced the presbyter Clement.
Clement was a heathen convert who had studied under different tutors but was not satisfied with their teachings. Finally he found Pantaneus, whom he succeeded in the chair of instruction. Clement was well versed in the Holy Bible and the canonical and apocryphal books. He was also knowledgeable in Greek philosophy and its learned men and poets. Because of the persecution which afflicted Egypt in 202 A. D., Clement went to Caesarea of Cappadocia to strengthen the believers and manage their affairs following the imprisonment of their Bishop Alexandrus. He died between 212 and 215.
Clement was succeeded by his pupil the Egyptian Origen, son of Leonides the martyr. Origen reopened the school, whose students had been scattered because of the persecution. He exposed himself to the assaults of fanatic pagans, but urged the students to resist and receive martyrdom. After teaching for twelve years he journeyed to Rome and Palestine, but he returned to Alexandria in 218 or 219. He remained in the city teaching and writing until 230, when he visited other countries and was ordained a presbyter by the bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, who admired him. But his Bishop, Demetrius of Alexandra, suspended him from the priesthood. After spending his life serving the church and enduring agony inflicted by the persecutors, he died forlorn at Tyre in the year 253.
Origen was a unique learned man of his time. He was proficient in dialectics, literature, and philosophy. His voluminous works included commentaries on the Scriptures, theology and apologetics.  One of his contributions was the collection of six translations of the Holy Bible in one copy, known as the Hexapla. A great number of students studied under him, among them the celebrated Gregory Thaumaturgus, Phermlianus, bishop of Caesarea, and Dionysius of Alexandria. But he presented unfamiliar teachings, which caused the church to condemn him.
After Origen, Heraclas and Dionysius of Alexandria succeeded their master, and they both became Bishops of Alexandria. Later Dionysius was succeeded by Theognostus and then by Pierius, the noble ascetic and preacher, who followed in the footsteps of his master .He was called by some ‘the Second Origen’. He lived too long and saw the great persecution. He may have ended his life as a martyr.
Dionysius of Alexandria was meek, amiable, and peaceloving. He penned important works, most of which are lost to us, except for fragments mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History. The writings of his successors Theognostus and Pierius are likewise lost to us.
Among the famous students and learned men of the School of Alexandria was St. Pamphilius, the martyr of Beirut (309). He was the teacher of Eusebius of Caesarea, the celebrated father of ecclesiastical history
In the second half of the fourth century, St. Athanasius entrusted the presidency of the school to the virtuous Didymus the Blind (398). Didymus combined the sciences of theology and philosophy, together with geometry and mathematics. He lived 85 years. Many church learned men studied under him. He was succeeded by Rodon, who transferred the school to Pamphilia when it was shut down after 220 years of active operation. It graduated a select group of church learned men and saints. This school was the pride of Christendom in Alexandria, the city of knowledge and philosophy at that time.

The Theological School of Antioch, 290-430.

[This part of the first lecture on the School of Antioch was published as an article by the author when he was still a metropolitan, under the title The Theological School of Antioch, al-Hikma, 4, No. 5 (Jerusalem, May, 1930), 258-269. I followed the text of the article, incorporating in it some changes the author made in his lecture.]

1) Foreword
Great Antioch, capital of the East and its beautiful bride, was a city famous for its religious and profane history. Because of its advantageous geographical location, the two civilizations of the Greeks and and the Roman converged. The city claimed magnificent theaters, streets, squares, temples, arches, gardens, and cathedrals. Surely those were her golden days and historical glory.
Roman soldiers were stationed at Antioch to guard the borders of the empire. Thus, it became the second capital after Rome. The Emperors Galus [perhaps Galerius (305-311], Constans (337-350) and Julian the Apostate (361-363) chose to reside in it in their desire to protect the borders of the empire. In Antioch, too, the Apostles raised the banner of the Holy Gospel, before which fell the banners of Daphne, Apollo and Venus. They proclaimed the sublime principles of Christianity, which annihilated the abominations of paganism. Thus, Antioch became the first center of Christianity and the institute of its prominent religious men, who crowned her with the diadem of glory and adorned her with the precious necklace of dignity. Following is a shining page of the history of the School of Antioch:

2) The Remarkable Scholarly Characteristics of the School of Antioch
Beside the characteristics already mentioned, Antioch was a remarkable intellectual center. Its schools, especially the theological department, rivaled those of Athens, Alexandria and Tarsus. Thus, amid the church affairs which happened in Antioch, the hardships that Christianity suffered from paganism and the Arian and Apollinarian controversies, the harsh policy of the emperors against orthodoxy, the intensified activity of the episcopal parties between 330 and 415, and the desperate vigorous action of paganism before it breathed its last, we find a group of clergy distinguished for remarkable intelligence and comprehensive knowledge. They devoted themselves to the study of the Scriptures and its interpretation in their own way, and they wrote books to avert the attacks of opponents. It was this choice group of learned men who established the School of Antioch. [It should be pointed out that the Theological School of Antioch was preceded by a school which taught Greek science, particularly logic. Its principal was the presbyter Malchion, a man of remarkable knowledge, as Eusebius related in his History, Book 7, Chapter 29. See also Duschesne, Early History of the Christian Church, 1: 472.]
The School of Antioch was characterized by the literal method of interpreting the Scriptures.  Earlier,  however, the School of Alexandria had followed the allegorical method of the interpretation of the Scriptures in the time of Clement of Alexandria (d. 211) and Origen, the genius of Christendom (d. 254 or 255).. This method of interpretation came to Christianity from paganism and Judaism. These two learned men, Clement and Origen, exaggerated the allegorical method of interpretation. Origen can be excused because of his noble aim and sublime purpose. His intention was to entice the pagans and Jews to Christianity and to defend the Holy Bible. In Antioch emerged an opposite movement (of the literal, rational interpretation of the Scripture). There is no doubt that at the outset the School of Antioch supported the orthodox faith. Later, however, some distorted teachings found their way into it and caused its quick fall.
Contemporary historians divide the history of this school into three periods, as follows:

3) The Period of Establishment (290-370)
The establishment of the School of Antioch was ascribed to the presbyters Lucian (Lucius) and Dorotheus. Both were distinguished learned men, well versed in the knowledge of the Holy Bible and the Hebrew language. In his Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, Chapter 32, Eusebius said that he had heard with delight Dorotheus expounding the Scriptures in a correct manner. [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Christian Frederick Cruse (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House (1962), 310, said, “Him (Dorotheus) we have heard in the church expounding the Scriptures with great judgment.”]
Lucian, it is said, was born in Samosata and received ecclesiastical instruction in Edessa. For his profound learning and writings, some scholars consider him the principal of the School of Antioch; he holds the same position as that of Origen in the School of Alexandria. We read in the letter of Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, to his namesake Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, that Lucian was a loyal disciple and friend of Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, even after Paul was condemned and removed from his see  [The History of Theodoret of Cyrus, Book 1, Chapter 3. This letter is, in fact, a refutation of the heresy of Arius. Alexander said,“ You have been taught of God, cannot be ignorant that the heresy (of Arius) against the religion of the Church which has just arisen, is the same as that propagated by Ebion and Artemas, and that it resembles that of Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, who was excommunicated by a council of all the bishops. Lucius (Lucian), his successor, remained during three years out of communion with three bishops. See Theodoret, History of the Church From A.D.322 to the death of Theodore of Mopsuestia, A.D. 427, bound together with the History of Evagrius (London, 1854), 21. The name of the translator is not given.Tr.]
For this reason the church deprived him of religious communion in the time of the Antiochene Bishops Domnus, Timaeus, and Cyril. Lucian, however, sought the favor of Cyril, who restored him to his episcopal dignity in the church of Antioch. He maintained his position until his martyrdom with his companion, Presbyter Dorotheus, at Nicomedia (Izmid) in the time of Emperor Maximian (286-305, 307-8). He died on January 7, 312, and was buried in Heliniopolis. On his commemoration day he was eulogized by John Chrysostoma at the Church of Antioch in the year 387.
St Jerome and Sueda say that Lucian emended the Septuagint and that his version was used by all the churches from Antioch to Constantinople. Some scholars maintain that he corrected the Hexapla [so called because its translation was based on six sources. The first Greek Hexapla was made by Origen]. From his place of imprisonment in Nicomedia, Lucian addressed letters to his disciples, delivered by the hand of his dear pupil Anton of Tarsus.
Many pupils studied under Lucian, but only a few are known to us. Most famous of them were Eusebius, tutor of Emepror Julian, later bishop of Nicomedia; Asterius, bishop of Cappadocia, who wrote many commentaries on the Old Testament that have not come down to us; Maris, bishop of Chalcedon (modern Qadi Koy); Theognius, bishop of Nicaea; Leontius, bishop of Antioch; Eunemius, bishop of Cyzicus; Theodorus, bishop of Heraclea; and the Presbyter Arius himself. It is remarkable that the leaders of Arianism and their orthodox opponents associate themselves with this saintly learned man. The Arian historian Philostorgius (d. 425?) added to these Minophant, Numenius, and Anton of Tarsus, already mentioned.
By far the most distinguished and certainly the most eloquent of Lucian’s pupils was Eusebius of Homs. Eusebius received literary and religious instruction on the Old Testament at Edessa. He studied under Lucian and later under Eusebius of Caesarea and Patropolis, bishop of Scythopolis. He studied philosophy in Alexandria in the year 332. He became a bishop of Homs and departed this life in 395.
Eusebius of Homs was a proficient writer with a smooth style He was also an eloquent orator.  Jerome mentioned him in his De Viris Illustribus (Book of Illustrious Men), or Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers (Bethlehem, 392), Chapter 9. He wrote a commentary in ten books on Genesis and St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He composed short controversial discourses on the Gospels in refutation of heathens, Jews and Novatians. It is to be regretted that most of his writings were lost to us. Emperor Constantius II (337-361) respected him greatly and quite often took him along in his travels. He also delegated him as his envoy on some errands.
If the martyrs Lucian and Dorotheus, along with Eusebius of Homs, are considered  pillars of the School of Antioch and its torches during the period of its establishment, so too is St. Eustathius (d. 337) [The date of Eustathius’s death is the subject of controversy among modern scholars. See R. V. Sellers, Eustathius of Antioch And His Place In the Early History Of Christian Doctrine (Cambridge, at the University Press, 1928), 53-56. Tr.],  the famous bishop of Antioch who was unjustly deposed by the Arians in 330 and banished to Trajanopolis. He was by no means inferior to them. Other illustrious Antiochene church leaders were Malatius of Antioch (360-381) and Flavian I of Antioch (381-404). Ancient writers praised Eustathius and acknowledged his eminent rank. Jerome called him the Sounding Trumpet against Arius. Theodoret called him Advocate of the Truth. Of his writings we have his book The Spirit of Prophecy, a refutation of Origen and the allegorical interpretation method of the School of Alexandria. [The reference here is probably to Eustathius’s De Engastrimytho contra Origenum and its analysis. See Sellers, Eustathius of Antioch, 75-81. Sellers’ analysis of all the works of Eustathius covers entire Chapter IV, 60-81. Tr.] Fragments of his commentary on a few Biblical passages in refutation of the Arian heresy have come down to us.

4) The Period of Renown (370-430)
This period begins with Flavian I, bishop of Antioch, but its achievement should be attributed to Deodore, bishop of Tarsus, and his teachings.
Deodore was born (most likely in Tarsus, or, it was said, in Antioch) in the first half of the fourth century. He studied in Tarsus, Athens and Antioch. He also studied under Eusebius of Homs and followed his method. Then he established a school in Antioch, where students of religious learning attended his circle.  Meanwhile, he and a friend called Carpetrius added to the school a monastery, which combined learning with asceticism. Deodore exceeded all his companions in the mortification of the flesh to the extent of emaciation. He became overzealous for the Church of Antioch.
As the Arian disputes heated up, Deodore repaired to the Great Church in Antioch with Flavian and a group of loyal orthodox companions. Both became the leaders of this small group, which intended to protect the church from the heretical teachings of Aetius (d. 367) and the apostasy of Emperor Julian (d. 363). This was a great undertaking, especially since Deodore and Flavain were still laymen who had not yet assumed an episcopal office. When St. Malatius was banished, Deodore, in recognition of his good deeds, continued to defend the faithful. And when he returned from exile, Malatius ordained him a priest in the year 362. Then he elevated him to the episcopate of Tarsus as a reward for his loyalty, virtue and adherence to the lawful bishops. Deodore attended the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 and was highly favored by the Emperor Theodosius II. The emperor designated him and Palagius, bishop of Laodicea, as authorities of Orthodoxy in the East because of his confidence in their loyalty and steadfastness. Deodore died in 391 or 394.
One of his closest friends was Evagrius, the beloved of Jerome. The most famous of his students was St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), the distinguished man of eloquence, author and chief orator of Christendom. Another student was Theodore of Mopsuestia, who came from a wealthy family in Antioch. He was younger than Chrysostom and was his companion in the study of rhetoric under the orator Libanius. Theodore retired to Deodore’s monastery and studied the Scriptures under him. He was ordained a presbyter around 383 and then a bishop of Mopsuestia (Massisa) in Cilicia in 392. He was a faithful friend of Chrysostom during his calamity. He died in 428.
Theodore of Mopsuestia wrote commentaries on the Scriptures, some of which contained unfamiliar doctrines. These led learned churchmen to criticize him, although they recognized his excellence in refuting the heresies of Arius and Apollinarius. Theodore also penned many writings on Christian dogma, the most famous of which was his book on the Incarnation. He was a man of broad knowledge, sharp intellect, apposite commentary and deep criticism. Nestorius became immersed in his ocean of knowledge collecting from it silt and pearls. This caused learned men to consider him the founder of the Nestorian heresy.
As to Deodore, the renovator of the method of the rational interpretation of the Scriptures at the School of Antioch, he penned many books pertaining to dogma and controversy. He wrote commentaries on the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the two Books of Kings. Also, he wrote on problems in the two Books of Chronicles, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, the Prophecies, the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the first Letter of John, and a treatise on the difference between the speculative and the symbolic. Of all these writings, only a few fragments have come down to us. The historian Socrates described Deodore’s method of interpreting the Scriptures by saying, “His method inclines toward the literal rather than the allegorical.” So also said Nicephorus.
Deodore used the chronological historical method to a great extent. In his controversial writings he went to the extreme, distinguishing between the divine and the human elements in the Lord Christ. By this method he opened the path of error to his pupil Theodore of Mopsuesta and the Nestorian heresy. This heresy was condemned by St. Cyril of Alexandria, who exposed its fallacies in three treatises. Nothing seemed to redeem him, not even his good fight in defending the orthodox Nicene faith, nor his commendable attacks against Arianism and pagan apostasy.
Other than Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia, those who gained fame in the School of Antioch included Polycronius, bishop of Apamea (Qal’at al-Madiq), a brother of Theodore (410-430) and the renowned Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus (near Aleppo), a student of Theodore of Mopsuestia and follower of his doctrine. Theodoret expounded the Scriptures based on previous commentators. His commentaries, however, lack originality. He penned doctrinal and controversial writings, homilies, letters, and three histories, i.e.,  a Church History from 322 to 428, A History of Illustrious Monks of the East, and a Compendious History of Heresies completed in 453. He died in 458.  Other illustrious men were the monk Isodore of Farama or Pelusium (d. 434), who studied under Chrysostom and abridged his writings, and Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (428-450), a pupil of Theodore of Mopsuestia. He was the promoter of the heresy which carried his name.

5) The Period of Decline (after the year 430)
The Nestorian heresy caused the decline and destruction of the School of Antioch.
Its Nestorian students moved to Edessa, where they established a new school. Their adverse teaching got out of control, causing the destruction of the new school. They moved to Nisibin where they established their famous school in 489 A.D.
During this period, orthodox learned men attempted to augment the heritage of former Antiochene learned men, but failed because of unfavorable circumstances. Thus, their writings were devoid of depth and originality. They fell short in comprehending the rational meaning of the Scriptures because most of them had no knowledge of Hebrew. Following are the most well-known writers of this period:
Anba Marcus, the Egyptian monk (d. 410), who wrote nine treatises on asceticism and doctrine which have come down to us; St. Nilus, the monk of Sinai (390-430), who wrote discourses on Christian and monastic virtues, and about a thousand dogmatic, exegetical and literary treatises; Victor, the Antiochene presbyter who wrote commentaries on the Gospel of Mark and the Prophet Jeremiah; and Cassianus (d. 435), abbot of the Monastery of Victor at Marseilles, who wrote a book on the Incarnation in refutation of Nestorius, all of whom studied under John Chrysostom; Hadrian, the monk-priest (at the beginning of the fifth century)  who wrote an introduction to the Scriptures; Proclus (434-446), bishop of Constantinople, who composed twenty-five homilies and a liturgy translated into Syriac; and Basilius, presbyter of Antioch, who was chosen a bishop for Arinopolis (Cilicia) at the end of the fifth century.

6) The Principles and Method of Teaching of the School of Antioch
We may deduce from the above that the School of Antioch, or the ecclesiastical and literary academy, was established to counteract the allegorical method of interpretation of the School of Alexandria. The Schools of Alexandria and Antioch developed different philosophical methods, meant to solve the eternal problem of accommodating reason with faith or science with religion. To do this, the School of Alexandria employed the philosophy of Plato, whereas the School of Antioch employed the philosophy of Aristotle. Origen followed Plato, thinking that he could find in the entire Holy Bible tripartite meanings, i.e. literal, psychic and spiritual, but failed. In most cases, he concentrated on the literal interpretation, which kills, and the spiritual, which gives life. His tripartite method turned into a dual one which kept the literal meaning for simple folks and the spiritual for the learned.
On the contrary, learned men of the School of Antioch maintained that every verse of the Bible has a literal connotation which can be either real or symbolic. They realized that with a profound knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and using philological and historical interpretation, they could fathom the true meaning of parables and metaphors. They attributed to each verse one literal meaning and asked the interpreter to dive deep in order to find the pearls but not the shells, and to detect no contradiction in the Biblical passages. But they did not neglect the allegorical meaning, if need be, as in the case of the homilies of John Chrysostom and the writings of Theodret.
The two schools produced famous learned men with massive writings, although the Church could not favor either of them. Whenever the School of Antioch was mentioned, the universal church could not forget Arianism and Nestorianism, which brutally tore it apart.  This was the case despite the fact that this school enriched the whole church with its contribution to theology, the Holy Scriptures, and its exposition of the shortcomings of the allegorical method of Origen. Furthermore, the universal church adopted the right method of interpretation, which, if followed by the theologian, will lead him to the true path.
The School of Antioch possessed a great excellence in expounding the Scriptures and in inventing the rationalistic method of interpreting the dogma. By this method, it attempted to achieve the understanding of the dogma through rationalistic means. But by following this method, it opened a great door for scientific dialectics and prepared the way for the councils to determine their acts. Thus, it had both good and bad qualities. Its merits have been discussed above. Its bad aspects were its audacity and its deviation from the exemplary pathway of moderation. Indeed, through Theodore of Mopseustia, it went astray, adopting erroneous ideas concerning Redemption, Free Will, Original Sin and Grace. Thus, Theodore’s principles opened the way for later heresies which were condemned by the church. He was the first to proclaim the doctrine of Two Natures and Two Hypostases in the Lord Christ. He further claimed that the union of the Two Natures of Christ was a mere moral one. He also advanced an unfamiliar idea concerning evil and called for a general renewal which one day would encompass all sinners. Finally, like Origen and other like learned men, he taught that punishment in Hell is temporary.

7) Founders of the School of Antioch and Those Associated with it
We will close our subject with a table of names of the founders of the school and its learned men.
Its two founders were the two martyr presbyters Lucian (d. 312) and St. Theodore (d. 312).

Its learned men were:

1) Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia and then Constantinople (d. 341)
2) St. Eustathius, bishop of Antioch (324-337)
3) Mari, bishop of Chalcedon (Qadi Koy), who was still living in 343
4) Theognius, bishop of Nicaea
5) Asterius, bishop of Cappadocia
6) Arius, the notorious heresiarch presbyter (d. 336)
7) Leontius, bishop of Antioch (344-375)
8) Marcelus, bishop of Ancyra (d. 347)
9) Theodore, bishop of Heraclea (d. 355)
10) Eusebius, bishop of Homs (341-359)
11) Eudoxius, bishop of Mar’ash (Gemanicia), then Antioch and Constantinople (d.369)
12) Eunemius, bishop of Cyzicus (361-383)
13) St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem (d. 386) [Tixeron says that Cyril belonged to the School of Alexandria rather than the School of Antioch. See Tixeron, History of Dogma, 2: 10.]
14) Malatius, bishop of Antioch (d. 381)
15) Deodore, bishop of Tarsus (d. 391 or 394)
16) Evagrius, bishop of Antioch (388-395)
17) Flavian I, bishop of Antioch (381-404)
18) St. John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople (d. 407)
19) Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia (392-428)
20) Polycroninus, bishop of Apmea (410-430)
21) Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (428-450)
22) Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus (423-458)
23) Anba Marcus, the Egyptian monk (d. 410)
24) Adrian, the monk-priest
25) St. Nilus, monk of Sinai (d. 430)
26) Anba Isodorus of Farama (Pelusium) (d. 434)
27) Proclus, bishop of Constantinople (434-446)
28) Abbot Cassianus (d. 435)
29) Victor, the Antiochene presbyter
30) Basil, bishop of Arinopolis

8) Conclusion
This is what I could obtain in my research on the Theological School of Antioch. It is  derived from trustworthy historians and writers like Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History; Louis Pierot, Commentary on Theodore of Mopseustia; Tixeron, Compendium of the Patrologia; Pattifol, Greek Literature; Duschesne, Early History of the Christian Church; Armoni, “The School of Antioch” in The Theological Dictionary. In addition, I have utilized information I came upon while reading ecclesiastical histories. I caused such information to be published in al-Hikma periodical. May God, through it, benefit its readers and make it successful.

The Impact of Eastern Churches on Culture

The Second Lecture

[Before moving to the Second Lecture, Barsoum added the following introduction to his article published in al-Majalla al-Partiarchiyya (June, 1933), 89, already mentioned.]

Yesterday we mentioned that the School of Antioch was established as a necessary means to combat the allegorical method of interpretation adopted by the School of Alexandria. Let us explain a little about the methods of the two schools, i.e., the literal and the allegorical.
The purpose of the two schools was the study of the Holy Bible and its interpretation. The School of Alexandria sought in it three meanings: the literal, the spiritual and the allegorical. This was deep and difficult. The School of Antioch adopted the literal meaning. Whenever possible, however, it plunged deep to seek the allegorical or symbolic meaning according to the different books of the Scriptures.
Students of both Schools of Alexandria and Antioch exaggerated the two methods (allegorical and literal) of interpretation, which gave rise to diverse heresies. Moreover, there were many ethnic, linguistic, political and demographic reasons for the appearance of many doctrines in the same church. This resulted in the division of the church into many denominations and patriarchal sees from the middle of the sixth century until the end of the seventh century. Each of these churches developed its own interpretation of the union of the divinity of Christ with his humanity, although all of them agreed on one essential point by recognizing that Christ was a perfect man and God. Such doctrines, however, provoked endless controversies which affected Byzantine policy. As a result, there emerged the Greek (Rum Orthodox), Syrian, Coptic, Abyssinian, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean Churches.
This brief introduction is sufficient. We shall now move to the specific topic, that is,

The Impact of the Eastern Churches on Culture

1) Impact of the Syrian Church on Culture
Biblical and theological sciences, which were the fundamental principles of the theological Schools of Alexandria and Antioch, seemed unsatisfying. When Christianity spread, however, some of its men climbed the different steps of learning. Literary and philosophical pursuits became widespread, with the purpose of elucidating the fundamental truths of astronomy, medicine, music, physiology, zoology, botany, grammar, philology, history and other disciplines. Hardly any Christian nation had distinguished writers who had left their mark on world culture. What is most admirable is that most of the scientists were leading Christians, especially those of the upper class, i.e., the episcopate. For the Church of the Lord Christ does not disdain scientific truths. This scientific pursuit had a commendable impact on the culture of the Eastern Churches.
Let us begin with the impact of the Syrian Church on culture. We mean by the Syrian Church the Aramaic nations who share a common language, whether of Eastern or Western dialects. The Syrians lived in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia), Persia and Arabia. Through time and political, doctrinal and even local circumstances, the Aramaic nation splintered into Syrians and Chaldeans (Nestorians) and Maronites, and as of late, Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Catholics. [Patriarch Barsoum is incorrect in indicating that, as a splinter of the Aramaic nation, the Syrian Orthodox Church is known by this name in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic group which seceded from it as late as the seventeenth century.  As an established church scholar and Patriarch of the Syrian Church of Antioch, he should have been well aware that since the fifth century, especially in the aftermath of the doctrinal division caused by the Council of Chalcedom (451), his own Syrian Church insisted with vigor on being Orthodox (Syriac, Thresai Shubho). As Patriarch of Antioch, he seems to be trying to be diplomatic and not to offend other Syrian Churches, namely the seceding Syrian Catholic Church.]
This great church, whose communicants were first to embrace Christianity and offered many martyrs in defense of its faith, was also engaged in the pursuit of different sciences. For twelve centuries, considered to be its golden age, it produced distinguished scholars devoted to the study of the Holy Bible and its translations. They determined with precision its text and its commentaries.  Most famous of the Syriac translations of the Bible is the Pshitto (simple), followed by the Septuagint, translated and revised in 615 by Paul of Tella, bishop of Tell Mawzalt in Beth Nahrin.  As to the the New Testament, it was collected in one volume, known as the Diatessaron, by the Assyrian, Tatian of Adiabene, pupil of the martyr philosopher Justin.  It was translated into Syriac in 217 A.D. This translation is not extant but has survived in Arabic translation. A copy of the four separate Gospels was known by the Syrian church in the year 200 A.D. It is fortunate that an ancient copy of the same, dating back to 411 A.D., is preserved in the British Museum Library.
About the year 505 or 508 A.D., the Chorepiscopus Polycarp rendered a literal translation of the books of the Old and New Testaments through the efforts of Mar Philoxenus of Mabug, to whom it was ascribed. It has been lost to us except for a few fragments. In 616, this translation was revised and amended by Tuma (Thomas) of Harkel (Heraclea), bishop of Mabug. In the middle of the sixth century, the Chaldean (Nestorian) Catholicos, Mar Aba, produced a specific translation of the Old Testament from Greek into Syriac. Jacob of Edessa was by far the most distinguished Syrian scholar who adjusted and vowelized the Holy Bible. Following in his footsteps were the monks of the famous Monastery of Qarqafta (the Skull) in Beth Nahrin.

1) Commentaries on the Holy Bible

If all the Syriac commentaries on the Bible were preserved intact, they would have filled a whole library. Unfortunately, many of them were lost to us. The first to expound the Scriptures was Ephraim the Syrian of Nisibin (d. 373), of whose commentary only fragments have come down to us. Other commentators were Philoxenus of Mabug (523); Daniel of Salah, metropolitan of Tell Mawzalt, who expounded the Psalms in three volumes in 524, of which one intact copy came down to us; John, abbot of the Monastery of Qinneshrin, who expounded the Song of Songs; Marutha of Takrit (649), who commented on the Bible; Jacob of Edessa (708), who wrote a commentary on the Scripture; George, bishop of the Arab tribes, and Jirjis I, our Patriarch of Antioch (790), who wrote a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew; Li’azar bar Qandasa, who wrote a commentary on the Gospels of Mark and John and some epistles of St. Paul; Moses bar Kifa, bishop of Baremman and Mosul (903), who expounded in several volumes the Two Testaments; and Gregorius Bar Hebraeus (1286), who wrote a commentary on the Bible in his Awsar Roze (Storehouse of Secrets), both of which have survived.
Of the Eastern Syrians who interpreted the entire Bible or portions of it, we may mention the Catholicos Dad Yeshu’ (457), Hiba (Ibas), metropolitan of Edessa (457), the famous Narsai (507), Hannana of Adiabene, a teacher of the School of Nisibin, the Patriarch Mar Aba I (540-552), Theodore Marwazi (540), Barhadhbishabba (beginning of the seventh century), Theodore bar Kuni (beginning of the seventh century), and Yeshu’ Dad Mawazi, bishop of Haditha (850), who wrote a commentary on the two Testaments.
The contribution of the Syrians to the interpretation of the Bible did not stop at this point; it extended to the translation of the commentaries of the Greek fathers into Syriac.  It is rather tedious to cite the commentaries of the Greek fathers because of short space. In fact, we have even abstained from mentioning the apocryphal books which Syrian scholars translated or wrote, since they constitute an endless series.

2) Theology
If the Syrian fathers were engaged in the translation of the Holy Bible, it should not seem surprising that they have also concentrated in depth on theology. Among the renowned Western Syrian  theologian were Aphrahat the Persian (245), Mar Ephraim the Syrian, Ishaq (Isaac) of Antioch, Jacob of Sarug (521), Philoxenus of Mabug, Jacob of Edessa, Patriarch Qyriaqos (818), Iyawannis of Dara, Moses bar Kifa (903), Yahya ibn ‘Adi, ‘Isa ibn Zur’a, Dionysius bar Salibi, author of the great book on theology, and Bar Hebraeus, who wrote a magnificent volume entitled Mnorath Qudshe (Lamp of the Sanctuaries). The most distinguished Eastern  (Chaldean, Nestorian) writers were Narsai, Babai, the eloquent Iliyya III, Abu Halim (1094), and Abd Yeshu’ of Suba (Subawi, 1318).
Many of our Syrian scholars translated the most important works of early theologians like Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, and the great theologian-disputant Severus of Antioch, author of many magnificent books. Among the excellent translators were Paul of Callinicus, Paul of Edessa, Athanasius of Balad, and Jacob of Edessa. In addition, Syrian scholars drew up liturgies, as a part of theology, and composed many ritual and prayer books in a plain and appropriate prose and verse style. Others wrote on monasticism, including Philexine of Mabug, author of The Way of the Perfect, Abu Ghalib, metropolitan of Jihan, Mas’ud of Zaz, who wrote The Spiritual Ship (1512), and the Chaldeans (Nestorians) Isaac of Nineveh, Yuhanna (the spiritual elder), and Sahduna.

3) Jurisprudence
In the field of jurisprudence, the Syrians used the laws of the Greek (Byzantine) emperors, the canons of the councils and the writings of the fathers as a foundation. They added to them whatever their wisdom and prudence dictated to them. Of these we may mention Jacob of Edessa, Yuhanna of Atharb, Bar Hebraeus (who won the admiration of scholars in our time for his precision and broad knowledge), and  ‘Abd Yeshu’ of Suba in his Collection of Canons.

4) History
For ten centuries, Syrian scholars were engaged in writing the civil and ecclesiastical history of the church. They began with the life-stories of martyr victims of the persecution of the Roman emperors, Persian kings, and other rulers. To these they added the accounts of ascetics, saints and the founders of monasteries and schools. They distinguished themselves in writing profane and church histories after translating the histories of Eusebius into the Syriac language. Orientalists recognized the contribution of the historians of the Syrian church and the books they penned or translated, which have been preserved to this day. Thank God, many of these works, which constitute about forty thick volumes, have been already published   Concerning the writing of history, the Syrian Church stands out more than other Eastern brethren churches.
The authors of the life-stories of ascetics and saints were numerous. The most renowned writers of civil and ecclesiastical histories were Yeshu’ the Stylite, author of the Annals; John of Amid, better known as John of Ephesus or Asia (585), named thus after his episcopal see, who wrote an Ecclesiastical History and The Life-Stories of Eastern Saints; Zachariah, known as Rhetor (of Mitylene), who wrote a chronicle in two volumes; the Chaldean (Nestorian) Mshiha Zkha; Jacob of Edessa; the Maronite Theophile, son of Tuma (785), who translated the Iliad into Syriac, which is lost to us; Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre; Iliyya bar Shinaya, metropolitan of Nisibin; Mari ibn Sulayman and ‘Amr ibn Matta of Tirhan, both of whom wrote in Arabic; Patriarch Mikha’il Rabo, who wrote a magnificent history, considered the most comprehensive Syriac history, extending from the creation until 1196; the Anonymous Edessan; the most learned Abu al-Faraj the Maphryono; Bar Hebraeus, author of profane and ecclesiastical histories in Syriac and Arabic; Yeshu’ Dnah of Basra, who wrote The Book of Chastity; and Tumas of Marga, who wrote The Book of Governors.

5) Philosophy and Natural Sciences
The Syrians’ translation of Greek philosophy into their Aramaic language is a known fact. It is recognized by Western scholars who admired this great service to mankind. More than others, the Syrians had the sagacity to engage in this branch of knowledge. Their social advancement and natural talents helped them to appreciate logical principles, while competing with other faiths prompted them to learn Greek philosophy. Thus, the period which preceded the Arab conquest (seventh century) was an epoch of great contribution of the Syrians to civilization. The Greek philosophy they translated they offered to the Arabs. In turn, the Arabs transmitted it to the West by way of southern Europe (Andalusia), which undoubtedly became the foundation of the present Arab Nahda (Awakening). In this sense, they benefited their language by expanding its precepts, enlarging its dictionaries, and enriching its contents. Thus, Syrian scholars studied philosophy and composed many philosophical books. Most famous of the Syrian writers in this field were the philosopher Bar Daysan of Edessa (222), who wrote The Book of the Law of the Countries, Sergius of R ish ‘Ayna (538), Ahodemeh, metropolitan of Takrit (575), Severus Sabukht, Athanasius of Balad, Jacob of Edessa, Gewargi (George), bishop of the Arab tribes, Theodore Marwazi, Paul the Persian, Moses bar Kifa, Yahya ibn ‘Adi, al-Hasan ibn al-Khamar, Abu Ali ibn Zur’a, Bishr ibn Matta, Abd al-Masih al-Kindi, Jacob of Bartulli, the anonymous author of The Book of the Cause of All Causes (twelfth century), and Bar Hebraeus, author of many magnificent works on philosophy including The Book of the Pupils of the Eyes, The Book of the Speech of Wisdom, The Book of Mercantura Mercanturarum, The Cream of Wisdom, and On the Human Soul, not to mention the translation of the Isagoge of Porphyry and the works of Aristotle, a great portion of which had been translated by Sergius of Rish ‘Ayna.

4) Astronomy
The Syrians also treated astronomy. Some of their works have come down to us. Most famous of the writers in this field were Severus Sabukht, bishop of Qinneshrin (665), Gewargi (George), bishop of the Arab tribes (725), Jacob of Edessa, Moses bar Kifa, Emmanuel bar Shahore, Jacob of Bartulli, Bar Hebaeus, who wrote The Ascent of the Mind with astronomical illustrations, and the author who wrote a commentary on the Megistê of Ptolemy.
The Syrians who wrote on mathematics were Severus Sabukht of Qinneshrin, author of The Book on the Astrolabe, and Bar Hebraeus, who taught this science at Maragha (Azerbayjan), following the method of Euclid. Furthermore, cosmography and physiology can be found in the commentaries of Jacob of Edessa and Moses bar Kifa, and The Treasures by Jacob of Bartulli.

5) Medicine
For ten centuries Syrian scholars composed numerous books on medicine. Of the Western Syrians who wrote about medicine, only forty-five are known to us. Those who flourished among the Eastern Syrians (Chaldeans) were many more in number. We will mention only the most famous of them. They are Sergius of Rish ‘Ayna, Shim’un (Simon) Taybutha, the Patriarch Theodosius, Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Jirjis and his grandson Gabriel of the Bakht Yeshu’ family, Yuhanna (John) ibn Masawayh, Abu al-Faraj of Yabrud, Abu Nasr of Takrit and his brother al-Fadl ibn Jarir, Abu al-Khayr ibn al-Masihi, Abu Sahl ‘Isa ibn Yahya al-Jurjani, Hibat Allah ibn al-Tilmidh, Yahya ibn Sa’id, known as al-Masihi, Gabriel of Edessa, Abu al-Karam Sa’id ibn Tuma, the Syrian Vizier of Baghdad, and the learned Bar Hebareus. All of these were distinguished in the medical sciences.
Syrians such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Yuhanna ibn Masawayh occupied prominent places in the court of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and among other Arab rulers. Most of them, however, wrote in Arabic or translated into this language Greek medical books such as the book of Galen, translated by Sergius of Rish ‘Ayna. Bar Hebraeus composed The Book of Dioscurides and wrote a commentary on the Medical Questions by Hunayn.

7) Grammar, Philology and Literature
The Syrians could have not undertaken these diverse sciences without first perfecting their own language by compiling dictionaries, adjusting its grammatical and philological rules, and adorning it with precise prose and verse styles. The most famous practitioners in this field were Yusuf of Ahwaz, Jacob of Edessa, Anton of Takrit, author of the book on Rhetoric, al-Hasan ibn Bahlul (963), who compiled a dictionary, Iliyya of Nisibin, the grammarian Yuhanna ibn Zu’bi, Jacob of Bartulli, author of the Dialogue in the form of questions and answers, Bar Hebraeus who wrote the Book of the Sparks, and Abd Yeshu’ of Suba, who wrote the anthology entitled The Paradise of Eden.
In essence, the Syrians served all the disciplines of human knowledge. We would not be exaggerating if we say that their learned men numbered almost four hundred, and that nothing impeded their cultural endeavors except the many wars and calamities which afflicted their countries in later times, as is well known. However, they did not lack men who followed in the footsteps of their predecessors. Most famous of these men were the Maronite Patriarch Istephan al-Duwayhi (d. 1704) and the erudite Yusuf Sim’an Assemani (1768), that great man who equaled the learned men of the Golden Age by his knowledge and erudition. For his magnificent writings, especially the Bibliotheca Orientalis, utilized by Orientalists and Eastern writers, he is to be considered the pride of the Syrian Maronite denomination. Also there is the erudite Master Butrus al-Bustani, who was a Maronite by origin but a Protestant by denomination (1882). He is one of the pillars of the Arabic Nahda. Butrus is the author of the dictionary Muhit al-Muhit and the remarkable Da’irat al-Ma’arif (Encyclopedia). Among other writers we may mention the Maronite Metropolitan Yusuf al-Dibs (1907), author of the History of Syria, the Maronite Sa’id al-Shartuni, author of the dictionary Aqrab al-Mawarid, the Syrian philologist Yaqub of Qutrubul (1781), author of Zahrat al-Ma’arif, and the renowned Syrian Catholic Metropolitan Yusuf Dawud (1890), who mastered the Syriac language and literature. He translated the Holy Bible into Arabic and adjusted the language of church books. Finally, we should not fail to mention the Catholic Chaldean Metropolitan Tuma Odo (1918), author of the Great Dictionary. With this we close our second lecture.

The Third Lecture

In the second lecture I related briefly the remarkable impact of the Syrian Church on culture. If I had had the opportunity to expand on the subject, I would have delivered three lectures instead of one. Suffice it to say that the leading men of this church undertook the study of the Scriptures, theology, philosophy, natural science, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, philology, poetry, history and jurisprudence. Fortunately, time has left for us a good corpus of their writings. Everyone conversant with the history of this church and of Christianity is aware of the cultural upheaval in our Eastern lands and the many schools and institutions of learning therein. Among these were the schools of Seleucia (Iraq), and those founded in the Monasteries of Qinneshrin, Eusebuna and Ta’ada in north Syria, where Jacob of Edessa taught. Specifically, I would like to mention the two famous Syrian Schools of Edessa and Nisibin. The first flourished for 126 years from 363 to 489; there philosophy, theology, the Scriptures, and philology were taught in both Syriac and Greek. Both of these schools produced many learned men whose output provoked the intellect of Eastern men and benefited them tremendously. The School of Edessa began with St. Ephraim and ended with Master Narsai.
The School of Nisibin survived more than a hundred fifty years and graduated hundreds of learned men who excelled in the Syriac language and religious sciences. They disseminated Christianity in Asia Minor. It was the first theological academy, attended at the peak of its fame by some thousand students, and administered by distinct rules and regulations, with the principal at the top. The school’s fame extended as far as Africa and Italy, a fact which astonished the minister of the court of Emperor Justinian.
The School of Nisibin was founded by the famous erudite Narsai and Barsawma, metropolitan of Nisibin. It was administered by men distinguished for their religious writings, especially their commentaries on the Scriptures. Most notable of these men were Ibrahim of the Rabban family, who administered the school for sixty years and expanded its buildings, and Hannana of Adiabene, whose ideas provoked sedition among the students, causing its decline in the middle of the sixth century. The most notable of its principals were Yusuf (Joseph) of Ahwaz, who wrote a book on Aramaic grammar; the Catholicos Aba the great; and the historian Barhadhbshabba Arbaia, bishop of Hulwan, who wrote a magnificent monograph entitled On the Establishment of Schools. The reader should, then, contemplate the contribution of these two Schools (of Edessa and Nisibin) on culture for four hundred years. [For an extensive account of the founding of the Schools of Edessa and Nisibin and their rules and administration, see Nina Pigoulevskaya, Thaqafat al-Suryan fi al-Qurun al-Wusta (Culture of the Syrians in the Middle Ages), translated from the Russian into Arabic by Dr.  Khalaf al-Jarad (Damascus, 1990), Chapter 1, pp. 51-157. Tr]
In this third lecture we would like to mention the impact of the rest of the Eastern Churches on culture.

1) The Greek or Rum Orthodox Church
This communicants of this church, out of which splintered lately the Catholic Malkite Church, lived in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Greece and other lands, and used the Greek language in its worship. Some of those who lived in Syria used Syriac but then, together with those in Palestine, they changed to Arabic at the beginning of the seventeenth century. This great and noble church, which embraced Christianity at its inception, adorned the history of the universal church with many martyrs and different disciplines of knowledge. We know that Greek was the language of the great host of learned Christians of different ethnic origins in the first few centuries of Christianity. Even after the division of the church into several groups on account of doctrine, they continued to study Greek in order to plow deep into the Scriptures and kindred disciplines.  What I know concerning our Syrian Church is that our scholars persevered in the study of Greek until the eleventh century. If Greece was the cradle of philosophy in the pagan age, why should not the Greeks’ posterity, who embraced Christianity, follow in the footstep of their predecessors? And why, like them, should they not benefit the world with their immortal writings?
Indeed, the history of Christian literature deserves prolonged research because of the contribution of this church and its fathers to Christendom and to mankind. Who has never heard of the philosopher Justin and of Eusebius, the great authority in history, Gregory Nazianzen, Basilius of Caesarea, John Chrysostom of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, Theodoret of Cyrus, Severus of Antioch, John of Damascus, and Photius of Constantinople?  Men of this church worked on the Holy Bible and its translations, theology, philosophy, agronomy, physiology and medicine. They also distinguished themselves in church history, literature, and profane and religious jurisprudence. No doubt  for twelve centuries they were encouraged by the emperors. Ultimately, the capital, Constantinople, became the center of civil laws in addition to the ecclesiastical laws enacted by the councils convened by order of the (Byzantine) crown. This crown [the author means the Byzantine emperors] commiserated with Christianity and was benevolent to the Eastern countries.
The Schools of Alexandria and Antioch, already discussed, were Greek, the same as the famous School of Athens. In the fields of theology and Biblical exegesis, Basilius, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom were the torches of Christendom. In history the name of Eusebius of Caesarea is unique. He was first to write the history of the church, the biography of Constantine the Great, and the history of the martyrs of Palestine. If space does not allow us to discuss the different sciences treated by the Greek (Byzantine) scholars, we find it proper to relate the following, albeit brief.
We would like to say that the most famous of the learned men of this nation (Greek or Rum Orthodox) were Eusebius of Homs (359); Titus of Bostra (375), the disputant; Theodoret of Tarsus, the theologian and exegete; Theodore of Mopsuestia, already mentioned in the course of discussing the School of Antioch; the historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Evagrius (593); the Byzantine disputant-theologian Leontius (about 543); John of Damascus (760), who put theology in order and wrote the Fountain of Knowledge; Theophanes (818), the historian who continued the history of Sangelos; Photius (891), the punctilious learned man who mastered the works of scholars and cultivated them with great meticulousness in his famous Bibliotheca, which is a testimony to his sound judgment and farsightedness; Simon, known as the modern theologian (tenth century); Simon the logothete, author of the hagiography of saints (tenth century); the renowned philologist Sueda; Michael Basilius (the Stammerer, 1106), the philosopher-theologian, who wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs; Theophelact the Bulgarian (1112), who wrote a commentary on the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament; Aphtimus Zegaphenus (after 1118),  who penned The Doctrinal Armor of Faith; Nikon, author of the Tepicon; Constantine Herminopolis, a distinguished author in church and civil laws (twelfth century); Eustathius, metropolitan of Salonika, who expounded Homer; Patriarch Theodore Balsamon, the exegete of Greek and Church laws, and his counterpart, John Tronarus (thirteenth century); the theologian Gennadius Scholarius (1469); the historian Dosethaus of Jerusalem (1707), who wrote the biographies of the patriarchs of Jerusalem; Malatius, metropolitan of Athens, who wrote a church history; and Euphganius the Bulgarian (1806), who translated into Greek many writings on philosophy, logic and the purity of language.
Most famous of those who wrote in Arabic were the theologian-disputant Theodor Abu Qurra (not Qara, as some have erroneously maintained), bishop of Harran (beginning of the ninth century); Qusta ibn Luqa (Luke) of Ba’albak, the philosopher, physician, and astronomer who was proficient in geometry and mathematics and eloquent in the Greek, Syriac and Arabic languages. Qusta wrote many books on physics, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, medicine and geoponics (tenth century); Sa’id ibn Batriq (940), the historian, and his kinsman,Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Antaki, both of whose histories have come down to us; Abd Allah ibn al-Fadl, the theologian and efficient translator from the Greek into Syriac; the Fayik (sic), author of the book al-Hawi (The Comprehensive) [I was unable to identify the term Fayik, which the author used in this context, but al-Hawi is an Arabic translation of the monastic and ascetic works of Nikon, a monk (pre-thirteenthcentury) from the Monastery of The Mother of God of the Pomegranate in the Black Mountain (Amanus) near Antioch. See Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christlischen Arabischen Literature, 2: 64-69. Tr.]; Ibn Sharara of Aleppo [He lived about 1084. His full name is Abu al-Khayr al-Mubarak ibn Sharara al-Halabi] the historian; Muwaffaq al-Din Yaqub ibn al-Quff of Karak, the distinguished writer in Arabic, and his son the physician Abu al-Faraj (1286) whose book al-Usul fi Sharh al-Fusul (The Fundamentals In Impaling the Particulars) has come down to us; the monk Bulus (Paul) of Antioch, bishop of Sidon; and Abu al-Hasan ibn Butlan, the physician of Baghdad (1054).
Among the later authors were Patriarch Aphtimus Karma (1636), who translated prayers from the Greek and Syriac into Arabic; Patriarch Makarius ibn al-Za’im (1672), author of the journey to Russia and other works; The Rum Catholic Patriarch Maximus Mazlum (1856),  who wrote on church history; The Rum Catholic al-Shaykh Nasif al-Yaziji (1870), the famous poet and philologist and a pillar of the Arabic Nahda (Renaissance), author of Majma’ al-Bahrayn (The Confluence of the Two Seas), and his son Ibrahim al-Yaziji (1906), the great authority on the Arabic language and author of Nuj’at al-Ra’id  (The Quest for Food by the Explorer).

2) The Coptic Church
The Coptic Church is the church of Egypt and the See of Alexandria, to which belong Nubia, Sudan and Ethiopia. It is famous for its religious men, martyrs, monasteries and ascetics. It contributed to Christendom notable men who combined virtue with theology and philosophy. In the early centuries of Christianity, these men wrote in Greek like the great scholar Origen, alreday mentioned, Dionysius of Alexandria, Anatolius and Stephen, both of whom occupied the See of Latakia (Laodicea) in succession in the third century. Anatolius was proficient in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, physics and rhetorics; Stephen was proficient in philosophy and Greek literature. Besides these were the learned and virtuous St. Athanasius, a prominent theologian and the leading authority of Christianity and pillar of Orthodoxy, Patriarch Cyril the theologian, who raised high the banner of ancient faith, and Didymus the blind, discussed earlier.
After the Arab conquest of Egypt the learned men of this church wrote in Coptic and then in Arabic. Famous among those who flourished in the middle of the seventh century were Bishop John of Niku, the efficient writer and meticulous historian who wrote the History of Egypt in the Coptic language; Severus ibn al-Muqaffa’, bishop of the Ashmunin (987), the disputant who wrote the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria; the priest al-Rashid Abu al-Khayr ibn al-Tayyib, author of Diryaq (Tiriaq) al-Uqul fi Ilm al-Usul (Knowledge of the Fundamentals), which he wrote in 1072; Anba Mikha’il (Michael), bishop of Dimyat who compiled the Collection of Canons (twelfth century); and the three sons of the Assal, who flourished at the beginning of the thirteenth century and excelled in religious sciences, history, mathematics, jurisprudence, physics and the Coptic, Syriac and Arabic languages. They were al-Shaykh al-Mu’taman Abu Ishaq, author of Usul al-Din [the full title of the book is Usul al-Din was Masmu’ Mahsul al-Yaqin (Collection of Fundamental Principles of Religion and What is Known about the Total Result of Pure Understanding)], considered the most comprehensive work on theology, and al-Sullam al-Muqaffa was al-Dhahab al-Musaffa, which is a Coptic-Arabic dictionary, and homilies for major feasts; al-Shaykh As’ad Abu al-Faraj Hibat Allah, reviser of the Arabic translation of the four Gospels; and al-Shaykh al-Safi Abu al-Fada’il, author of al-Majmu’ al-Safawi (Collection of Canons), and al-Radd ala sl-Muda’in Tahrif al-Injil (Refutation of Those Who Claim the Distortion of the Gospel); Butrus (Peter) Abu Shakir al-Rahib (1260), author of Kitab al-Shifa’ fima Ishtahar min Lahut al-Masih wa Ikhtaf (The Book of Satisfaction of What Is Well Known or Not About the Divinity of Christ) and Tarikh Misr (The History of Egypt); and ‘Ilm al-Riyasa (The Science of Leadership); Ibrahim ibn Katib Qaysar, author of Kitab al-Tanbsira (The Book of Enlightenment), which is an introduction to the grammar of the Coptic language, and an exegete of the Book of Revelation; the priest Butrus al-Sadamanti, the theologian who authored Kitab al-Tashih fi Alam al-Masih (The Book of the Revision of the Passions of Christ); al-Shaykh al-Makin Jirjis ibn al-Amid (1273),  the Syrian by origin who continued the History of al-Tabari; Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar (1363), author of Misbah al-Zulma (The Lamp of Darkness) and al-Sullam al-Kabir fi Mufradat al-Lugha al-Qibtiyyawa wa Sharhiha bi al-Arabiyya (The Great Ladder in Compiling Terms in the Coptic Lnaguage and Their Explanation in Arabic); the deacon-monk Gabriel al-Misri, who translated the history of John Niku from Arabic into Ethiopian (the beginning of the seventeenth century); and in a later generation Neomanus Philothaus(1904), author of al-Khulasa al-Qanuniyya fi al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyys (Compendium of Laws of Personal Status).

3) The Armenian Church
The Armenians lived in the country of Armenia, the Caucasus, and Cilicia (Kilikia). They took pride in their native kings, who promulgated Christianity. The Armenian Church offered many martyrs in testimony of the truth of Christianity and their adherence to it. Lately, the Catholic Armenian Church seceded from the mother church.
No sooner did the Armenian Church embrace Christianity than it became devoted to learning in its own tongue. At the beginning it used the Syriac or the Greek alphabet. But in the first half of the fifth century flourished the Catholicos Sahak the Great (429) and Mesrop (440), who were proficient in the Armenian, Syriac and Greek languages. Mesrop invented the Armenian alphabet with the help of Master Daniel the Syrian. He translated the Old Testament from Syriac into Armenian and produced many students, the most famous of whom was Iznik, the translator from Syriac and Greek into Armenian.  He was the best Armenian author and wrote a book refuting the heresies after the year 449. Other scholars were Bishop Elisha’, the Master (480), author of the history of Vartan and the Armenians and their defense against the Persians; David the Armenian, who translated works by Plato and Aristotle and wrote philosophical treatises; the eloquent Lazarus Barbi, who wrote the history of Armenia from 388 to 485; the Catholicos Ohannes I Mandaguni, to whom are ascribed homilies, prayers and liturgies (about 490); Moses Khorene, author of the ancient history of Armenia, which contained more folklore and poetry than historical information (the eighth or ninth century); the Catholicos Ohannes III, the great philosopher who wrote against heresies and compiled a corpus of canons (728). Our Patriarch Athanasius III signed with him a document of union in 726, and donated to him a monastery where both Syrian and Armenian monks would study theology and the Syriac and Armenian languages; Ohannes V, Pathmaban, author of a priceless history (931); the Catholicos Nersis Shinorhali (1172), composer of exquisite Armenian songs and prayers; the erudite Gregor Taniv (1410), who revived the theological school by his own endeavor; Patriarch Malachai Ormanian, who wrote the history of the Armenians in 1918; and the Armenian Catholic monks known as the Makhtiars, who began to develop different sciences in Vienna and Venice at the end of the eighteenth century and are still progressing.
What should be noted with pride and indicates the dissemination of culture in this dear East is that when the great Abbasid state rested after its conquests and devoted its energy to the opening of centers of knowledge beginning in the time of Harun al-Rashid, it sought the help of many Christian Syrians, Chaldeans (Nestorians), and Greeks (Rum Orthodox) to translate into Arabic books in different branches of learning. Thus, it enriched the Arab countries with magnificent scholarly treasures, and for this, they gained great sympathy from those generous caliphs. The most famous of those translators were the Chaldeans Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Matta ibn Yunus. Among our learned men (Syrian Orthodox) were Yahya ibn Adi, Abu Ali Isa ibn Zur’a, Ishaq ibn Zur’a, and al-Hasan ibn al-Khammar. Those of the Rum Orthodox were Yuhanna ibn al-Batriq, Stephen ibn Basil, and Qusta ibn Luqa. Thus the Christians collaborated with their Muslim brethren to disseminate culture in this beloved homeland. No doubt a number of prominent Muslim learned men flourished like Ibn Sina and his like, whose contribution is evident in their study of Greek philosophy, as attested by Bar Hebraeus. This is not all, for when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell (1453), many Greek (Byzantine) learned men fled to Europe, taking with them their sciences and learning. Europe received them with open arms. They had a great impact on the scientific Renaissance of Europe, as you all well know.
We should not forget the influence of Christianity on culture, or the tremendous activities of monks who copied precious ancient manuscripts. Fortunately, most of the copyists had elegant handwriting and were meticulous in adjusting and emending the copies, thus benefitting mankind. Because of short space, we apologize for not discussing what is left of the impact of the numerous learned men on culture in the previous (nineteenth) century. We close with a word about journalism, whose contribution all of us acknowledge, and about Christian journalists who had the excellence and who were pioneers in this field. [Rizq Allah Hassun of Aleppo was the owner of the Mir’at al-Ahwal, the first newspaper in 1854.] It is sufficient to mention only two eminent learned men, the famous writer Jurji Zaydan (1914), owner of al-Hilal periodical, and Dr. Yaqub Sarruf (1927), owner of al-Muqtataf periodical.

Ladies and gentlemen!  You can see from this brief subject that Christianity  left no branch of learning untreated. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, during the early generations, our learned ancestors cooperated with Muslim learned men to disseminate knowledge and education. They respected each other and studied under each other, as did the members of the different Christian doctrinal groups who preceded them. We exhort the esteemed men of this homeland to relinquish schismatic partisanship and exchange love and cooperation, be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Druze, in order to achieve happiness. Selfishness should not prevent us from admitting the truth and recognizing the achievements of those whom God has endowed with knowledge and noble character, even though they do not share our religion, ideas and political orientation. Doing otherwise is absolutely wrong.  After all, it is not within man’s capacity to extinguish a light which God has turned on. As the poet al-Mutanabbi said, “They want to extinguish glory while God has lighted it up, and want to denigrate excellence, while God is the bestower.”
The wise man is he who fears his Lord, obeys his religion, loves his neighbor, and gives everyone his due, purifies himself from malice and hatred, adorns himself with noble character and embellishes it with knowledge, rejects conflict, and adheres to harmony.
In conclusion, I would like to extend thanks to the American University and its principal, deans and faculty. I would also like to thank Dr. Dawud Hamada for his noble and honorable endeavor in allowing me to deliver these lectures. To the ladies and gentlemen and all the audience, I offer thanks for their noble response in attending these lectures. First and foremost, however, thanks be to God, and salutations to the flourishing institutions of learning.

(Al-Majalla al-Patriarchiyya, No. 3 (June, 1933), 77-110.)

Gifted Syrians Who Excelled in Classical Arabic

By the title of this article we do not mean the gifted men of the Syrian nation who flourished in Arab lands. They were, after all, genuine Arabs by genus and language. Some of them did master Syriac, which is their religious language. But they were so proficient in Arabic that in the fifth decade of the seventh century the Patriarch of Antioch, Yuhanna (John) III (631-649), summoned them to translate the Gospels from Syriac into Arabic, in response to a request of the Amir ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, mentioned by Michael Rabo (d. 1199) and Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286). [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 3: 422, and Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 275] What we mean by the title is those genuine Syrians by genus and language who mastered the Arabic language, although it was not their mother tongue, and wrote books and composed poetry in it. In his book Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal, 195, Bar Hebraeus says, “The Umayyad Caliph al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (705-715), forbade Christians to write in Greek and made them use Arabic.” And when Arabic spread throughout the Eastern countries, it replaced both the Syriac and the Greek languages, which were confined to the rural areas, mountains, churches and monasteries. Syrians began to learn Arabic, and many of them mastered it.
The Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun (813-833), who was interested in Greek philosophy, asked the Byzantines what books of Greek philosophy were available.They sent him a number of these books. He ordered proficient Syrian translators to translate them (into Arabic), and they did. These Syrian translators were well versed in Syriac, Greek and Arabic. Their contribution to Arabic sciences is acknowledged by students of Arabic sciences and literature. The most famous of those who wrote in classical Arabic are the following:
1) Habib ibn Khadama or Ra’ita, a Syrian from Takrit who flourished in the third decade of the ninth century (828). He was well versed in philosophy and theology. In an assembly, he debated Abu Qurra, Malkite bishop of Harran, and the Nestorian Metropolitan ‘Abd Yeshu’. I found at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris four treatises by him on the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Trisagion, which he dispatched to the Patrician Abu al-Abbas ibn Sanbat, defending his religion and doctrine. Habib was mentioned by the Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (d. 845), and by the fourteen-century Coptic writer Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar, who ascribed to him the episcopate of Takrit, a rather tenuous claim.
2) Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, a Syrian of Baghdad who was proficient in Arabic, Christian knowledge, and ancient sciences. He was a contemporary of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun, already mentioned. He wrote a famous treatise against the objections (to Christianity) of Ibn Isma’il al-Hashimi. He should not be confused with the Arab philosopher Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi who died around 866.
3) Yahya ibn ‘Adi, Abu Zakariyya, a Syrian from Takrit and resident of Baghdad. He was a distinguished logician and first-rate learned man of his time and excellent translator, attested to by the numerous books he translated from Syriac into Arabic. Historians praised him and mentioned seventy discourses by him. Among these is his book Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (The Training of Characters), which we published in Chicago in 1928. He also wrote treatises on the Unity of God, the Trinity and the Incarnation, published by Augustine Périer. [See Augustin Périer, Yahya Ben ‘Adi: un philosophe arabe chrétien du X siècle (Paris, 1920) and, by the same author, Petits traités apologétiques de Yahya ibn ‘Adi (Paris, 1920), and Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christlichen Arabischen Literatur, 2 (Vatican City, 1947): 239, 241.Tr] Other treatises were published by Rev. Cheikho in al-Mashriq. One of those who lauded Yahya ibn ‘Adi was Shihab al-Din al-‘Umari, who said in his Masalik al-Absar, 336, “Yahya ibn ‘Adi, the philosopher logician, whose extensive knowledge was like rain and whose pen was like lightning, was a distinguished learned man among his own people (Syrians) and a teacher of those who flocked to learn from him. He was well versed in logic, which is only a part of his diverse knowledge and a particular segment of his overall knowledge. Together with his literary erudition, however, his brilliant knowledge completed his virtues and rendered his crescent a full moon while other full moons were waning.” Yahya died in 974.
4) Abu Zakariyya Denha the Syrian. Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi, 155, mentioned him, saying, “He was a disputant and speculative thinker. I had many debates with him on the Trinity and other subjects at the Qati’a district in Baghdad and in Takrit at the Green Church in the year 925. Al-Mas’udi mentioned a history he had written on the Byzantine emperors and philosophers and their biographies. [See Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi, al-Tanbih wa al-Isharaf, ed. J. de Geoje (1894), 155, and Graf, Geschichte der Christlichen Arabischen Literatur, 2: 250-251. Tr]
5) Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Bachus, the philosopher and author of many important books on wisdom. He was a famous physician. He translated many books into Arabic in a commendable style. He lived in the tenth century.
6) Bachus’s son Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn Bakus. Like his father, he was a famous physician and translator.
7) Abu Ali ‘Isa ibn Zur’a the Syrian philosopher, a native of Baghdad (943-1008). He was a distinguished translator from Syriac and Greek into Arabic and a remarkable philosopher. He adhered to Yahya ibn ‘Adi for a time and learned greatly from him. He authored books, treatises and translations, about twenty-four in number. Among these are a compendium of Aristotle’s book on the inhabited parts of the earth, and a book on the mind. From the Syriac he translated Aristotle’s Historia Animalium and De Sophistica and The Benefits of Organs of Animals, according to the commentary by Yahya al-Nahawi (John Grammaticus), and several theological and doctrinal treatises in defense of Christianity, including his own ideas to refute its opponents.
8) Abu al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Siwar, well known as Ibn al-Khammar the Syrian of Baghdad, was a great philosopher and learned man. He studied under Yahya ibn ‘Adi and others. He was characterized by keen intelligence, prudence and broad knowledge of ancient scholars. He translated excellently many books from Syriac into Arabic. In medicine he followed the methods of Hippocrates, Galen, and other similar prominent men. He authored several books on different kinds of knowledge, including a three-part book on Harmony between the Ideas of Philosophers and Those of Christians; a book on Friends and Friendship; and a book on Metaphysical Changes in the sky as a result of the steam of water, which are the formation of the halo, the rainbow and fog. He also translated from the Syriac into Arabic the Metaphysics (of Aristotle), the Questions of Theophrastus, and a history on The Life-Story of the Philosopher.
Ibn al-Khammar was born in 942 A. D., but his date of death is not known to us. In his book al-Muqabasat (Acquisition of Knowledge), Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi mentioned the three prominent scholars, Yahya ibn ‘Adi, Ibn Zur’a, and Ibn al-Khammar. He quoted them.and related in his Muqabasa Seventeen, a selection of items by Ibn al-Khammar which are characterized by eloquence and symmetrical like strung pearls.
9) Abu al-Faraj Jirjis ibn Yuhanna al-Yabrudi the Syrian, who was well versed in logic, philosophy and medicine. In early life he worked in farming, but then he went to Damascus and studied medicine. He moved to Baghdad and worked under the philosopher Abu al-Tayyib until he mastered the medical craft, logic, and philosophy. He wrote many books on medicine on which he had minute discussions. He died at Damascus in 1035 A.D.
10) Ishaq ibn Zur’a the Syrian, who translated from Syriac into Arabic the treatise of the Greek orator Demosthenes on politics. He died in 1056 A.D.
11) Abu Sa’d al-Fadl ibn Jarir (not Hariri or Harir, as some have erroneously asserted) of Takrit. He had extensive knowledge of sciences and expertise in medicine. His writings included a treatise on the names of diseases, a book called al-Fa’iq on history, and a good book on oblations. He died in the middle of the eleventh century.
12) Abu Nasr Yahya ibn Jarir of Takrit, a brother of Abu Sa’d al-Fadl. He was equal to his brother in science and medicine. His writings are mentioned by Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, including a treatise on the benefits of physical exercise and how it should be used. He has a good book on the principles of Christianity titled al Misbah al-Murshid (The Guiding Torch). He was still living in 1079 A. D. [See Graf, 259-262.]
13) Theodore ibn Wahbun, the intruder patriarch. He was well versed in Syriac, Greek, Armenian and Arabic, in which he wrote a book mentioned by Bar Hebraeus. He died in 1193 A.D.
14) Abu al-Karam Sa’id ibn Tuma, known as Amin al-Dawla the Syrian, from Baghdad. He was a distinguished physician, renowned for his many cures. He was a decent human being who helped many people in need. At first he was a physician to Najm al-Dawla Abu al-Yumn Najah al-Sharabi. Later he became his Vizier and secretary. He had an audience with the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir, who favored him and entrusted to him several administrative governmental offices. He was always at the caliph’s service. He advanced in ranks until he became the caliph’s Vizier. He was assassinated in 1223 A.D.  by two traitors who were crucified for their crime   He left three sons, all of whom occupied high positions in the state. They were Shams al-Dawla, Fakhr al-Dawla, and Taj al-Dawla.
15) Mar Yuhanna ibn al-Ma’dani, patriarch of Antioch, a Syrian most distinguished for his knowledge, erudition and virtue. He studied Arabic in Baghdad and mastered it He composed in Arabic rhymed church hymns and translated several Arabic odes into Syriac in an elegant and perfect style. Among these is his translation of Ibn Sina’s ode on the soul, which begins, “It descended upon you from on high,” which shows his ability in this language. He died in 1263.
16) Mar Gregorius Bar Hebraeus, maphryono of the East, known as Abu al-Faraj al-Malalti (of Melitene). He is the crown of our learned men, the pride of our philosophers, the splendor of our nation and the choicest of our masters in theology, philosophy, mathematics, natural sciences, astronomy, medicine, geometry, jurisprudence, history, language, grammar, poetry and literature. He was a distinguished learned man of the East. He mastered the Syriac, Arabic, and Persian languages, and translated from the classical Arabic into classical Syriac Ibn Sina’s book Kitab al-Isharat was al-Tanbihat (The Book of Indications and Prognostications) with great precision. He has two important treatises On the Human Soul. His book Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Dwual (Compendious History of Dynasties) is a clear evidence of his excellent style. He passed away in 1286.
17) The monk Daniel of Mardin, known as Ibn al-Hattab. He studied Arabic in Egypt and mastered it.  He wrote a book entitled Usul al-Din (The Principles of Religion), and al-Mukhtasar fi al-Fiqh al-Biya’i (Compendium of Church Jurisprudence). He was still living in 1382.
The above are the learned men of our forefathers, the Western Syrians, by genus and doctrine.  There are, however, other learned men of the Eastern Syrians who, like us, are of the same genus and language but differ from us by doctrine. They have mastered and wrote in Arabic. They are as follows:
1) Yuhanna ibn Masawayh, physician of the Abbasid caliphs Harun al-Rashid, al-Mamun, al-Amin, al-Mu’tasim, al-Wathiq and al-Mutawakkil. Al-Rashid entrusted him with the translation of ancient medical books. His output numbered twenty-eight books, according to Jamal al-Din al-Qifti. He died in 857.
2) Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-‘Ibadi, the physician. He was proficient in writing books and in medical treatment. He was an expert in ocular medicine (ophthalmology). He was among the translators from Syriac into Arabic. He was proficient in the Arabic, Syriac, Greek and Persian languages. In addition, he was a poet and eloquent orator. He studied under al-Khalil ibn Ahmad {Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad (712-778) was a famed grammarian and philologist.] and mastered the Arabic language. He introduced al-Khalil’s book al-Ayn [An Arabic dictionary] into Baghdad. He wrote many books on medicine, including Tadbir al-Naqihin (Care of the Convalescents}, al-Adwiya al-Mushila (Purgative Drugs), and al-Aghdhiya ala Tadbir al-Sihha (A Dietary Program to Improve Health).  He also skillfully abridged some books by Hippocrates and Galen and explained their difficulties. He died in 873.
3) Hubaysh ibn al-Hasan al-A’sam, Hunayn’s nephew (son of Hunayn’s sister) and pupil. He was an adept translator from Greek and Syriac into Arabic.  He was honored and respected by Hunayn, who admired his translation. In addition to his translations into Arabic, he wrote Kitab al-Ziyada fi Masa’il Hunayn (A Book Augmenting the Propositions of Hunayn.)
4) Abu Yaqub Ishaq ibn Hunayn. Like his father, he was an efficient translator and had profound knowledge of languages. Although he was well versed in mathematics, his translations of medical books are few in comparison to the books of Aristotle and commentaries on them which he translated into Arabic. His output includes a Book on Pharmaceutical Drugs, a Compendium of Euclid, a Book on Isagoge, and a Book on the Writings and Axioms of Philosophers. He died in 910.
5) Matta (Matthew) ibn Yunus al-Qana’ I, who studied under two of our monks, Rapha’il and Benyamin (Benjamin). He was the chief logician of his time, with a profound knowledge of translation from Syriac into Arabic. He died in Baghdad in 939.
6) Abu Sahl ‘Isa ibn Yahya al-Masihi al-Jurjani. He was a proficient physician in theory and practice. He was also a logician and a masterful writer of Arabic with elegant handwriting in that language. His writings include The Wisdom of God in Creating Man, written with great philological and grammatical precision; The Book of Hundred, a kunnash (scrapbook) of medicine, A Compendium of the Majesty, and a Book on Natural Sciences. Ibn Abi Usaybi’a says that he heard the erudite Muhadhdhib al-Din ibn Ali say, “I found no Christian physician, ancient or modern, more eloquent and of precise style and profound content than the writings of Abu Sahl al-Masihi.” It is said that he taught medicine to Ibn Sina. He died in the time of the Catholicos Mari, between 987 and 1001, at the age of 45.
7) Jibra’il (Gabriel) ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Bakhtyeshu’. He was a distinguished learned man and proficient in medicine, on which he wrote many significant books. Every member of his family was unique in his own time. Among his writings are a large kunnash of medicine entitled al-Kafi (The Sufficient); a small kunnash of medical tractates; a discourse against the Jews, and a discourse on why wine, a forbidden drink, is used in the Eucharist. He died in 1005 at the age of 85.
8) The priest-philosopher Abu al-Faraj Abd Allah, secretary of the catholicos and a teacher of medicine at the ‘Adudi Bimaristan (hospital). He was well versed in the books of pioneer writers and diligent in research and investigation. He was greatly interested in the ancient commentaries on logic and different philosophies, especially the works of Aristotle and Galen on medicine. He wrote extensive commentaries on the books he had read. He also wrote a commentary on the Holy Gospel. He died in1043.
9) Abu al-Hasan ibn Bahlul al-Awani of Tirhan, who composed a Syriac-Arabic dictionary. He translated the kunnash of Yuhana ibn Saraphion the Young. He was still living in 963.
10) Iliyya ibn al-Sani (Bar Shinaya), metropolitan of Nisibin, whose writings include History, Assemblies or Discussions, Help for the Dispelling of Sorrow, Proof of the Justification of the Faith, and a Syriac-Arabic dictionary. He was unique in his time in knowledge, eloquence and excellence. He died in 1046.
11) Abu Sa’id ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Jibra’il (Gabriel), of the Bakhtyeshu’ family. He was distinguished in medicine and well versed in the knowledge of the Christians and their doctrines. He had many writings including The Continuity of Perpetuating Procreation, The Nature of Animals, Their Characteristics and Benefits (zoology), The Outstanding Traits of Physicians, and The Medical Orchard (published in Cairo, 1928). He died shortly after 1058.
12) Hibat Allah ibn al-Tilmidh the physician. At the beginning of his career he served a number of Abbasid caliphs who offered him distinguished positions. He was an amiable old man endowed with a strong will and sharp wit. He used splendid terms in composing poetry. Generally, his compositions contain no more than two or three stichs. He was well acquainted with Syriac and Persian, but more a master of the Arabic language. His output includes Pharmaceutics, a Compendium of al-Hawi (the Comprehensive) by Abu Bakr al-Razi (on medicine), marginal notes on the Canon (on medicine) by Ibn Sina, marginal notes on al-Masihi’s Book of the Hundred, commenting on it; a tract entitled al-Maqala al-Aminiyya fi al-Adwiya al-Bimaristaniyya; and a thick volume containing correspondence.  He died in 1164.
13) Abu Halim Iliiya III, the Catholicos known as Ibn al-Hadithi, a unique learned man of his time and a prominent Chaldean. He was of good conduct and devoted to charitable work. He was well versed in Syriac and Arabic grammar and philology. He had numerous writings, including homilies for major feasts and consolation homilies, distinguished for their eloquent and perfect style. He died in 1190.
14) Abu al-Abbas Yahya Sa’id ibn Mari, known as al-Masihi of Basra. He was well versed in the sciences of antique scholars, and in Arabic and poetry. He made a living by practicing medicine. He composed sixty maqamas [ Maqama is a genre of Arabic rhythmic prose. See Matti Moosa, The Origins of Modern Arabic Fiction. 2nd ed. (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997), 121-123. Tr] imitating those of al-Hariri [al-Qasim ibn Ali (1045-1122)] which included exquisite anecdotes. Jamal al-Din al-Qifti says that Abu al-Abbas al-Masihi had a genuine knowledge of literature. Yaqut al-Hamawi also mentioned him in his al-Arib ila Ma’rifat al-Adib (‘Showing the Intelligent Path to the Man of Letters), saying that a group of notable writers like Imad al-Din al-Isfahani mentioned al-Masihi and reproduced few lines of his poetry. He died in 1193.
15) Abu al-Husayn Sa’id ibn Hibat Allah al-Khutayri, the physician and author of the book entitled al-Safwa (The Choicest). He served the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir and became his closest associate. He had a comprehensive knowledge of medicine and logic and kindred philosophies. He died in 1194.
16) The Archdeacon Abu al-Khayr ibn ‘Isa ibn al-Masihi, distinguished in medicine. He abridged the principal items of the book al-Qanun (The Canon) and called it al-I’qtidab (The Abridged). Later he abridged that work and called it Intikhab al-I’tidab (Selections of the Abridged). Both he and the aforementioned Abu al-Hasan Sa’id were brothers of the Catholicos Sabar Yeshu’ V, well known as Ibn al-Masihi (1226-1256).
17) Yeshu’ Yahb ibn Malkon Dunaysari, metropolitan of Nisibin. He was proficient in both Syriac and Arabic and wrote eloquent rhymed homilies in Arabic. He was still living in 1230.18) Abd Yeshu’ ibn Mubarak, well known as the Subawi, metropolitan of Nisibin, was the most famous of the Eastern Syrians. He was exemplary in knowledge, intelligence and industry. His avid concern for the Syriac language urged him to write his famous book Firdaws Adan (The Paradise of Eden), in which he collected linguistic metaphors in imitation of al-Hariri, but was short of reaching his level. He also wrote in Arabic Fara’id al-Fawa’id fi ‘Usul al-Din wa al-Aqa’id (Precious Gems of Useful Lessons Concerning the Principle of Religion and Beliefs). His translation of the Gospel into rhymed prose is rather short of being satisfactory. He died in 1318.
This is what we were able to derive from al-Mas’udi, al-Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim, Uyun al-Anba’ of Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Akhbar al-Hukama of Jamal al-Din al-Qifti, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal of Bar Hebraeus, the comments on al-Muqabasat of Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi, and manuscripts in the Libraries of Paris, Rome and others.
This is only a synopsis of our history I produced with the intention of motivating us to follow in the footstep of bygone Syrian writers in studying the noble and exquisite Arabic language as they did. May God benefit us with their knowledge and guide us to follow their course.

Outstanding Syrians

Mar Severus Jacob of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery
of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan (d. 1241)

[See Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 2: 109; Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 2: 237-242; William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 260-263; Duval, La Littérature Syriacque, 405; Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 311; an article by the Orientalist Martin Sprengling, “Anton Rhetor on Versification” in Semitic Languages and Literature (Chicago, 1946); and Ishaq Armala, Ogrotho d-Rabban Yeshu’ Bar Kilo (The Letters of Rabban (doctor) Yeshu’, son of Kilo), 87.]

This learned father of the Church, Mar Severus Jacob, was the son of ‘Isa, son of Marcus of Shakko [The orientalists Wright, Nau, Sprengling and Baumstark are unanimous about the correctness of this agnomen, which appears in the original Syriac as Shakko or Shako. But Rev. Ishaq Armala, following some orientalists, strangely writes it as Shaqqo (with the letter qaf), although the orientalists have no letter qaf in their languages. The contemporary of Jacob, the learned Bar Hebraeus, writes it as Shakko. This translator would like to add that careful scrutiny of the name in the original Syriac shows that the agnomen looks more like ‘Shabbo’ than ‘Shakko’. The reason is that the letters k and b are very similar in Syriac, and the name Shabbo is more popular among the Syriac-speaking people of Bartulli than Shakko.]  of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan. He was a unique learned man of Bartulli and its shining star. He was born in Bartulli, a viilage near Mosul and is traced to it. [Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1232), Mu’jam al-Buldan, 2: 128, said, “Bartullai (modern Bartulli) is a village but looks like a town, east of Mosul in the province of Nineveh. It is known for its plentiful resources and markets, for buying and selling, whose revenue is estimated at twenty thousand copper dinars. The majority of its inhabitants are Christians, although among them were Muslims who have a masjid of prayer, and other worshipful people and ascetics. Bartulli is famed for its legumes and vegetables, especially lettuce, which is of exemplary quality. The natives drink well water.”  I say that this, then, is what Bartulli was like in the thirteenth century. North of it stood the Monastery of the Forty Martyrs, which was still inhabited in 1750 A.D.  At the prime of its glory in the thirteenth century, Bartulli claimed a host of men of letters and Church fathers, one of whom was our Severus. Other prominent Syrians who wrote in Syriac were Abu Nasr of Bartulli, abbot of the Monastery of Mar Matta and author of husoyos (1290); the deacon and physician Behnam Habbo Kanni (1292); Dioscorus Gabriel, bishop of the Jazira, who composed the biography of Bar Hebraeus and his brother in metrical form (1300). Bartulli elicited the care of the Maphryonos of the East. Maphrian Ignatius Li’azar (1164) built in it a prayer hall and a cell; Maphryono Gregorius Yaqub (1215) built a cell; and Mar Gregorius Bar Hebraeus built a monastery in the name of Yuhanna bar Nagre (martyred at the end of the fourth century, as mentioned in the life-story of Mar Gabriel of Bartulli). At Bartulli resided the Maphryono Dionysius Saliba (1231) and Maphryono Gregorius Matta I (1345). In it died Maphryono Barsoum al-Safi (1307), brother of Bar Hebraeus. Among those ascribed to Bartulli were the aforementioned Maphryono Matta I Ignatius, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta (1269); Abd Allah, metropolitan of the Jazira (1326); the poet and writer Patriarch Behnam Habbo Kanni, a native of Bartulli but of Hidl by upbringing (1445); and  Patriarch Yuhanna ibn Shila (1493), a native of Bartulli but of Mardin by upbringing. In addition, there was a group of proficient calligraphers whose magnificent copies of manuscripts have come down to us. They include the monk Mubarak (1220), the priest Shim’un (1251), and others. In our own time flourished the excellent poet Yaqub Saka who died on April 5, 1931. Today the people of Bartulli speak a rather corrupt Syriac.]  Jacob entered the Monastery of Mar Matta, where he studied religious sciences and was ordained a a monk-priest. He studied grammar and logic under the monk Yuhanna bar Zu’bi at the Monastery of Sabar Yeshu’ Baquqa near Arbil. Yuhanna was skilled in Syriac grammar and literature. [Baumstark, 310, says Bar Zu’bi wrote two books on grammar, one in prose and the other in metrical form.] He completed his study of dialectics and philosophy in Arabic under Shaykh Kamal al-Din ibn Yunus, the philosopher of Mosul. [Shaykh Kamal al-Din Musa ibn Yunus, the Shafi’i jurist, was a unique learned man of his age. He excelled in mathematics, natural science, and dialectics. Many men studied under him. In his history al-Mukhtasar fi Tarikh al-Bashar, (Constantinople), 177, Abu al-Fida’ said, “the Dhimmis (Jews and Christians) studied the Torah (Old Testament) and the Gospel under him. He was a prominent teacher in Mosul. He was born in 1156 and died in 1241.” This is the same year in which Jacob of Bartulli passed away. Some questioned the veracity of his religion, while others said, “Mosul should claim pride over all other abodes and places, even over the Tigris and the Euphrates, whose waters quench the thirsty and heal the sick with terminal disease. Practically, they pour forth sweet water, whereas that one (Kamal al-Din ibn Yunus) pours forth knowledge.” Among our Syrian learned men who studied under him was Theodore (Thadri) of Antioch, the physician. See Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal, 477. [The correct page reference is 273.  See Matti Moosa, “Theodore al-Antaki: ‘Alim wa Faylasuf Suryani min al-Qarn al-Thalith Ashar fi Balat al-Imberator Frederick al-Thani,” Beirut Times (Los Angeles, No. 355, June 17-24, and No. 356, June 24-July 1, 1993). Tr]
When Jacob’s fame spread, the learned the Maphryono of the East, Mar Yuhanna al-Ma’dani (later patriarch), ordained him a bishop for his Monastery of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan in the year 1232 and called him Severus at his ordination. Assemani and those who quote him, like Nau (see a tract on Jacob of Bartulli’s Treasures in al-Majalla al-Usub’iyya (1896), 286), Gabriel Cardahi (Kitab al-Manahij: Rome), and the priest Jirjis a-Ruzzi. (Al-Kitab, (Beirut), 2), say that Jacob of Bartulli was Jacob, bishop of Takrit. He was not the bishop of Bartulli, as Metropolitan Yusuf Dawud erroneously maintained. [Yusuf Dawud, al-Lum’a al-Shahiyy, 2 (Mosul): 280] In fact, Takrit was the seat of the Maphryonos of the East. But Bartulli was never an episcopal seat. [See William Wright, A Short Histroy of Syriac Literature, 261, n. 1, and the article by Dr. Sprengling, 169. ]  Bar Hebraeus has saved us the trouble of investigating this subject, saying, “At this time flourished Bishop Severus Jacob bar Shakko, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta. He was intelligent, quick-witted and self-taught… When his fame reached the aged Patriarch Mar Ignatius III, he longed to see him. He sent him a message asking him to come to him. When he (Jacob) proceeded on his trip, he was overcome by illness on the way and, instead, went to Mosul, where he passed away. His body was transported to the Monastery of Mar Matta and buried in 1241 A.D.  His collection of books was added to the library of the governor of Mosul. [This was Badr al-Din Lulu, governor of Mosul (1218-1260).] Bar Hebraeus also mentioned him in his book d-Semhe (The Book of Lights). [See Kthobo d-Semhe, ed. Axel Moberg (Leipzig), Book 2, Chapter 5, 100] which mentions “Jacob, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Matta.”  His name was likewise mentioned at the end of The Treasures, copied in 1613: “Here ends The Treasures, compiled by Jacob, bishop of Azerbayjan and the Monastery of Mar Matta, known as bar (son of) Isa, bar Marcus. A similar appellation is also found in The Treasures at Cambridge Library MS 1997: “Mar Jaco, may God rest his soul in peace, was a theologian distinguished in philology, philosophy and natural sciences.” Definitely, a man whose knowledge and erudition are thus described by Bar Hebraeus must undoubtedly have been an ornament of his time. Following are his writings:

1) The Dialogue, written in the form of questions and answers. Mentioned by Bar Hebraeus, it is a thick volume in two parts consisting of 800 pages. Divided into six treatises, it treats a variety of sciences, grammar, rhetoric, poetry, the Syriac language, dialectics and philosophy. The section on philosophy is divided into five topics, including literature, physiology, mathematics and theology. The section on mathematics deals with arithmetic, music, surveying, and astronomy in the form of questions and answers. He wrote it in response to the request of a friend, the monk ‘Isa. In part I of his grammar, he added a second section composed in the twelve-syllabic meter, knowing that man is quicker to memorize verse. Titled Harmonization of Melodies, this section begins, “To proceed, we offer glory to the one God.” In essence it is a refutation of Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Yeshu’ Yahb bar Malkun, the Chaldean (Nestorian) metropolitan of Nisibin, in his book The Trap of the Diacritical Marks of the People of Nisibin.  He criticized them for following in their own Syriac language the grammatical methods of Arab grammarians. In the section on Rhetoric, he relied heavily on Anton of Takrit, whose method he followed. [See our article “Mar Anton of Takrit,” al-Hikma, 5: 98.] He mentioned and commended Dawud (David) bar Phaulos (Paul). He included in this part different excellent preambles and tracts for the benefit of writers. In the part on Language and its Proliferation [in which he mentioned the priest Abdox, the philologist of Melitene], Jacob censured the Syrians for neglecting their own language by not setting adjustments and rules for it as the Greeks and the Arabs did to their languages. Indeed, they did not even care how to speak Syriac but preferred to it Greek, Persian, and then Arabic, which spread among them. They inserted into Syriac many foreign terms and neglected the original Syriac so much that these terms, despite their use by ancient Syriac writers, were lost and kept only in the Arabic language. Also, Jacob mentioned the vicissitudes which befell the Syriac language and the objection of the new generation to it.
Upon contemplating this part of the book, one will perceive that Jacob of Bartulli was truly a master of the different variants of the Syriac language. What makes this part even more important is the section on poetry, of which only two treatises came down to us , one on Anton the miracle of Takrit, and the other by Jacob himself.
The Dialogue also contains segments of Homer’s Iliad, translated by the Syrian Maronite Theophilo, son of Tuma of Edessa (d. 785). They were collected and published by Paul de Lagarde (See the Academic magazine (October 1, 1871).) Indeed, if this scholar (Jacob) had not written anything except this book, it would be sufficient testimony of his excellence. Fortunately, many copies have been preserved intact at London, Berlin, Oxford, Göttingen, Boston and Jerusalem Libraries. There is a copy at our Syrian Library of St. Mark, transcribed by Mar Jirjis Kassab, metropolitan of Jerusalem (1896). There is also a copy at our Library, copied from another copy at the Za’faran Monastery, dated 1623.
Parts of Jacob’s metrical grammar were published by the Orientalist Merx together with the diacrtitical marks, according to the method of Mar Jacob of Edessa. The priest Martin translated into French and published eleven chapters of Book Two. [See L’Abbe Martin, “De la Métrique chez les Syriéns,” Abhandlungen für die Kunde Morgenlandes, vii, No. 2 (Leipzig, 1879)]. Parts of the sections on mathematics, music, survey and astronomy were translated into German by Julius Roska and published in Leipzig (1986).] Also, the venerable Chorepiscopus Ishaq Armala published letters nos. 22, 23 and 24 in thirty pages with utmost exactitude. [See Ishaq Armala, Ogrotho (Letters of) Rabban Yeshu’ bar Kilo (Beirut, 1928), 90-130.]

1) The Book of Treasures, written in response to the request of the monk Matta shortly before Jacob became a bishop. He completed it on May 10, 1231. It is a concise theological and philosophical volume consisting of four parts. Part one, divided into thirteen chapters, treats theology, the Trinity, and the Oneness of God. Part two, in forty-one chapters, treats the Incarnation, a refutation of heresies, and Jews and Muslims who object to the passion of our Lord Christ. It also treats the mysteries of the church, their categories and rituals, and the affirmation of the true Christian religion. Part three, in nineteen chapters, discusses Divine Providence, good and evil, fate and destiny, and a refutation of Manichaeism and predestination. Part four, in forty chapters, treats angels, devils, creation of the world, astronomy, minerals, natural sciences, division of the earth, man, the human soul, Paradise, the Resurrection, and eternal punishment. The author devoted the last section of the book to the exposition of the true faith of the Holy Syrian Church. In his discussion he quoted Aristotle, the Saints Basil and Gregory, St. Ephraim, St. Jacob of Sarug, and the Syrian doctors of the Church, namely,  Mar Iyawannis of Dara, Moses bar Kifa, and Rabban Dawud bar Phaulos. Only once did he mention Theodore of Mopsuestia. In his article mentioned above, Rev. F. Nau described this book and summarized its chapters on astronomy and natural sciences. This fact indicates that despite its small size, the book is useful on cosmogony and cosmography, characterized by depth and precision in its exposition of these two sciences among the Syrians. Copies of this book are preserved in the Libraries of the Za’faran Monastery, the Monastery of Mar Matta, the Monastery of Sharfa, and the Libraries of the Vatican, London, Paris, Cambridge and Mosul. Our copy is made from this latter one.

3) Two metrical letters in the seven-syllabic meter (peculiar to St. Ephraim), appended to his book The Treasures, in praise of the two physicians Fakhr al-Dawla Mari and Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir, sons of Amin al-Dawla Abu al-Karam Sa’id, son of Tuma, the Syrian physician of Baghdad and secretary to the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir (d. 1223). They are embellished with metaphorical terms, while the rhymes end with the letter ‘F’, denoting the name of Fakhr al-Dawla, and the letter ‘T’, denoting the name of Taj al-Dawla. He instructed these two dignitaries to take care of a priest and teacher named Matta. In one of these letters he alluded to the Catholicos Mar Yuhanna al-Ma’dani. The first letter begins thus, and the second…

1) An Exposition of Church Offices, Prayers and Mysteries, which he mentioned in his Book of Treasures, Part two, Chapters 31, 39, and 40.  He described this book as being large and treating the Church, its rituals and mysteries.

1) The Book of the Explicit Truth, dealing with the truth about Christianity, and a commentary on the Nicene Creed in refutation of the opponents’ claims about Christianity, in response to the request of some friends. This book is also mentioned in his Treasures, Part Two, Chapter 41. Some scholars have erroneously maintained that this is a creed of faith, which it is not.

1) A Book of Church Music, mentioned in his Treasures, Part Two, Chapter 39. He said that he wrote this book to investigate Church chorals, their different kinds, composers and the time of their introduction to the Syrian Church. The loss of this unique and significant book is to be greatly regretted. Indeed, no other Eastern or Western Syrian has written a book like it. This is not to mention that we are in a dire need of such a discipline.

1) The Book of Rhymed Prose, which he called in Greek Helibaus (Helicus) and in Syriac mamlo morgadhnoyo, similar to the genre of poetry. [See al-Hasan ibn Bahlul, Dictionary, 2 (Paris): 622.] Jacob mentioned this book in his Dialogue, Part Three, Question 10.

1) Twenty-two letters arranged according to the Syriac alphabet, in which he discussed the rhymed terms at length. He mentioned these letters in the Third Treatise, Question 10 of his Dialogue. These three aforementioned books were overlooked by the Orientalists Wright, Duval, Baumstark and others.

9- An anaphora (liturgy) beginning, “Lord God, owner of the glorious name.”  It was mentioned by the Maronite Patriarch Istephan al-Duwayhi (d. 1704) [Al-Duwayhi, Manarat al-Aqdas (Lamp of the Sanctuaries), 2: 116], under the name Jacob Severus of Origan (sic). More correctly, it should be Severus Jacob, bishop of the Monastery of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan. It is not unlikely that al-Duwahi saw this liturgy, although it is not included within the eighty Syriac liturgies we possess.
Attributed to this erudite man is a testimony usually read to the priests and deacons at their ordinations. Although it clearly bears the name of Jacob, bishop of Miyafarqin, who lived in the mid-tenth century, three hundred years before our Jacob of Bartulli, yet Assemani and those who quoted him without investigation erroneously attributed it to him. Indeed, I have in my Library an ancient copy of this testimony ascribed to Jacob of Miyafarqin. It was copied at the end of the twelfth century or in the first quarter of the following century.
Jacob of Bartulli may have written other works besides those already mentioned. At the end of his Treasures he says, “I have written this and also other books, letters and commentaries. I used to write little by little day and night, despite my engagement in serving the congregation, not to mention coping with adverse circumstances and lack of love of the brethren monks. Quite often, my innermost feeling would tell me to keep silent because of despair and my failure to find a prudent person desirous to listen to the book of God (the Bible)…  But I have written what I have written in response to the questions of theologians who urged me to write. Still, I have many more ideas and reflections which have not yet emerged from the realm of the mind to the realm of action.”
In the introduction to his Dialogue on philosophy, Jacob wrote, “In this book I have confined myself to the explanation of the ideas and doctrines of philosophers. If I live long enough, God willing, I will, in a special book, refute what should be refuted of their ideas.”
The style of Mar Jacob is smooth and simple, but it is marred by Greek terms which had become rife in our Syriac language even before his time. What is important is that those of his writings which have been preserved are a great manifestation of his ability in the fields of literature and sciences, and mastery of the noble Syriac language. However, he did not excel in poetry as he did in prose. May God be praised for granting him a clear mind and sublime soul, which raised him to the ranks of prominent Syrian men and the notables of all ages.

Mar Gregorius Yusuf IV, the Gurji (Georgian),
Metropolitan of Jerusalem (1510-1537)


Among the bishops who succeeded the Apostle St. James, brother of the Lord, in the holy See of Jerusalem were hierarchs famous in the early and later ages, whose virtuous conduct, noble deeds, and magnificent achievements are immortalized in the pages of history. Among these prominent men of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Jerusalem was Mar Gregorius Yusuf, well known as the Gurji, metropolitan of Jerusalem, who flourished in the first half of the sixteenth century. We provide here for the readers of our Patriarchal Magazine, published in the Monastery of St. Mark, his activities and biography, gathered by us with much labor from the Libraries of St. Mark, Za’faran, Amid, and Europe. Most of these manuscripts were copied in the handwriting of the Gurji himself with his comments.
Metropolitan Yusuf ‘Abd Allah, known as al-Gurji, was born in Aleppo to a Georgian family, as he himself has said. Most likely he lost his parents at a young age and was sent to the Monastery of Mar Hananya, known as the Za’faran Monastery, near the city of Mardin. At this monastery Yusuf received great affection from the noble Patriarch Ignatius, well known as Ibn Shay’ Allah, and his mother Maryam. The patriarch took care of his education and upbringing, body and soul, which Yusuf acknowledges in some of his comments. (This information is found in a valuable manuscript at the Library of the Church of Diyarbakr.) Under the patriarch and Father Yaqub al-Muzawwaq (see the Service Book at the same library) he studied religious sciences and the Syriac language. He was ordained a deacon in 1490 and then a priest in 1495.  He devoted his time to the worship of God and learning. For a time he resided at the Monastery of Azazel, overlooking the Za’faran Monastery. He then moved for a time to Hisn Kifa and Tur Abdin, and then to Diyarbakr because of the turbulent conditions of the country at the beginning of the sixteenth century.  At time passed on, he gained fame for his knowledge and nobility, which made his teacher, Metropolitan Yaqub of Diyarbakr, commend him and call him the Pride of the Syrian Church. As a gift, he presented him with a copy of Bar Hebraeus’s Book of Hewath Hekhemtho (The Cream of Wisdom) in 1506.
As he gained more experience and wisdom, when the See of Jerusalem became vacant with the death of Metropolitan Dioscocrus Yaqub Halis of Yabrud, Patriarch Yeshu’ I in 1510 ordained him a metropolitan of Jerusalem and its dependencies, the dioceses of Damascus, Aleppo and Hama, and called him Gregorius. At this time, the Syrian dioceses in Syria had been weakened because of the turbulent conditions in the East, and some of them were without bishops. As a result, from the middle of the fifteenth century to the middle of the following century, the patriarch added the diocese of Damascus to that of Jerusalem. For this reason, the patriarch entrusted Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji with the administration of the diocese of Jerusalem, Damascus, and its dependencies the dioceses of Aleppo, Hama, Tripoli, Kafar Hawwar, ‘Ayn Halya, al-Hadath and a part of the diocese of Sadad. [Syriac MSS at Constantinople]
When Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji returned to Damascus, he retrieved the books of the monastery which his predecessor had pawned. In 1516, he visited the monasteries of the Scete in Egypt, especially the Monastery of the Syrians, in the wilderness of Shehat.
At that time the political atmosphere was bleak and the Mamluk state, which ruled Syria and Palestine, was breathing its last; these countries were lost to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who defeated al-Malik al-Sharaf Qansawh at the battle of Marj Dabiq in 1516. The Gurji, being prudent and farsighted, was indefatigable in protecting his congregations and the Church endowments. He obtained an ordinance from the victorious Ottoman Sultan Selim I, in 1517/Rabi’ al-Awwal 923 A.H., and a second ordinance from Abu al-Lutf Muhammad ibn al-Farfur, Chief Judge of Syria, dated Rajab 20, 924 A.H./1518 A.D. [Wali al-Din ibn Farfur became judge of Damascus for the first time in 924 A.H./1518 A.D. He was succeeded by Abd Allah ibn Muflih al-Rumi in 927 A.H./1523 A.D. He is the second Chief Judge of Damascus in the Ottoman period. He was appointed a judge for the second time in 929 A.H./1522 A.D., and a for a third time in 930 A. H./1523 A.D., and remained in this position until 940 A.H./1533 A.D. We derived this information from the Book of Akhbar al-Duwal wa Athar al-‘Awwal (Chronicles of States and Relics of Bygone Generations) by Ahmad al-Qarmani (d. 1091 A.H./1610 A.D.), according to a manuscript copy owned by Nuri Agha Zaydan. The printed copy (Baghdad, 1282 A.H./1865 A.D.) does not contain this chapter.] to affirm his authority, and to end the state of injustice and the imposition of fines on the Syrians and their kindred Maronites and Nestorians [ The royal decree dated Rabi’ al-Awwal, 923 A.H./1517 A.D., is preserved at our Library of St Mark, No. 14.]
In this year (1518), Metropolitan Gurji ordained Barsoum al-Sa’idi and Yusuf priests for the Church of Sadad. On June 20, 1519, he ordained Musa Attash of Hadath a priest of Hadath at the Church of Mar Simon the Stylite in the village of Hadath, between Sadad and Hawwarin, whose ruins can still be seen. Then he visited his congregation in Sadad, half of which (probably the western part) belonged to his diocese, as has already been said. It happened that a matrimony case, perhaps in violation of canon laws, was sanctioned by Metropolitan Dioscorus Isa ibn Huriyya (Daww) of the Nabk, the Monastery of Mar Musa, and the other half of Sadad. Al-Gurji, being prudent, did not like his counterpart’s decision and left for Aleppo. On his part, Metropolitan Isa rushed to Damascus, having bribed the Chief of the Princes, al-Ghazzali, governor of the city, obtained a decree from him, and usurped the diocese. [He is Janburdi al-Ghazzali, a Circassian prince who, when he was defeated at Ghazza, joined the Ottoman Sultan Selim I. He killed Tuman, the last Circassian Mamluk sultan, and or this the Ottoman Sultan appointed him governor of Damascus in 922. Soon, however, he declared his iindependence, which caused the sultan to dispatch Farhad Pasha to fight him. Farhad captured him and killed him in 927 A.H./1528 A.D. (See Qamus al-A’lam (Dictionary of Men), Volume 3. ) ] Al-Gurji endeavored to retrieve the diocese by obtaining a decree now preserved at the Library of St. Mark, No. 33. The majority of the congregation of Sadad joined the diocese of Homs and Mar Elian under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Cyril Yaqub.
On January 28, 1523, al-Gurji attended the synod convened by Patriarch Ignatius Abd Allah I at the Za’faran Monastery. The bishops who attended the synod were Basilius Habib, Maphryono of the East, Philoxinus Saliba, metropolitan of Cyprus, Timothy, bishop of the Patriarchal Office, and Severus Bishara, metropolitan of Gargar. They issued statutes allowing marriage to the fifth degree according to the changing circumstances. Al-Gurji copied the Patriarch Proclamation in his own handwriting. [See a copy of the Gospels at the bishopric of Homs.]
In 1526, the Christian denominations of Syrians, Rum, Copts, Armenians, Maronites and Nestorians of the city of Jerusalem, met and delegated Yusuf al-Gurji to see the governor of Damascus and ask him to be kind to their congregations and relieve them from paying fines. They realized that al-Gurji was well suited for this mission because of his prudence and popularity and the respect he enjoyed among the governors. Al-Gurji’s mission was successful, as he obtained a decree from the Wali (governor) Lutfi Pasha.  On September 14, 1526, he visited the town of Sadad and had the endowments of the Church of Sergius Bakus, in the western district, officially registered.
Sometimes he visited the Syrian dioceses to collect the Jerusalem tithes and to take care of the endowments of the Patriarchal See. Accordingly, in 1529-1530, he visited Diyarbakr; in 1534, he visited Aleppo; on March 11, 1535, he visited Tur ‘Abdin. In 1532/939 A. H., he journeyed to Damascus and obtained a decree from its Wali (governor) Mustafa Pasha Aflaq and its judge Shams al-Din. In this same year he bought the ‘Adas Monastery near Bab al-‘Amud in Jerusalem from a Muslim named Yusuf ibn Mar’i for 4500 Ottoman liras and a purse of Ottoman silver money, and called it the Jerusalem Patriarchal Gregorian Monastery. He had legal documents registered in the name of the monastery, still preserved as Numbers 95, 96, and 97. Because of this monastery, the martyred Metropolitan Gregorius Yuhanna of Gargar was killed in February, 1587. Meanwhile, the Muslims usurped the monastery and converted it into a masjid. As time passed, however, it became ruined and neglected until some Rum (Orthodox) monks bought it and renovated it in 1907.
Al-Gurji, may God be pleased with him and make Paradise his final abode, always endeavored to amend the affairs of his big diocese despite the difficulties he confronted. We came upon a passage in which he complained against time and people, saying, “Time became corrupt, men went astray, their intentions turned disgraceful, and laws were rendered dormant.”
In 1537, he passed away in the city of Aleppo and his virtuous body was buried in the Church of the Virgin, as was told by Patriarch Dawud Shah II. He administered his diocese for twenty-seven years and went to his Lord praised by his contemporaries, who lamented his loss because of his knowledge and virtue. After his death, his see remained vacant for three years. Finally, it was occupied by his successor, Metropolitan Mar Gregorius Yuhanna of Mardin. One of his students, the priest Awhad, son of Mawhub, son of Zayn al-Din, studied under him when al-Gurji resided for a while in the house of his father in 1503.
Al-Gurji was proficient in the Syriac language, which he wrote in an elegant hand. He drew up eloquent husoyos (supplicatory prayers), a few of which I found in the Church of Amid (Diyarbakr). Also, he composed graceful pieces of rhymed verse on the path of the perfect who had knowledge of God, which indicates his sound taste. However, these verses were not free from involved style, a blight which permeated the writings of later Syrians.
Furthermore, on June 13, 1533, al-Gurji amended the prayers usually recited as monks wear the habit of St. Antonius, known as the Hide Habit, after collating them with two Coptic and Ethiopian copies. We have also found by him manuscripts, most significant of which is a book containing service ordinations of all church ranks. It was copied by the monk Abu al-Faraj of Amid, who in turn had copied it in 1531 from a revised copy in the handwriting of the Patriarch Mar Mikha’il al-Kabir (Michael Rabo, d. 1199). This copy is preserved at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery, no. 220. It is an amended copy worthy of consideration. In it, Patriarch Dawud Shah set the date of the death of Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji as follows, “Transferred to the world of lights and joy is the mentioned Mar Gregorius Yusuf Gurji of Jerusalem, who copied this book in the year 1848 of the Greeks/ 1537 A.D., and was buried at the Church of The Mother of God in Aleppo. Any brother who might see this precious treasure should pray for the late writer, and for its owner Patriarch Dawud, in the year 1888 of the Greeks/1577 A. D. Thanks be to God.”
Following is the table of the royal decrees Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji obtained:
1) An order of Farhad (Farhat) Pasha to the judge of Jerusalem, dated the end of Rajab, 927 A.H./1520 A.D; 2) A decree from Farhad Pasha, dated Jumada al-Awwal 1, 929 A.H./1522 A.D.; 3) An order  of Pir Muhammad ibn al-Hajj Ali al-Mawla in Jerusalem, dated Rajab, 938 A.H./1531 A.D., to allow the Syrians to follow their custom of visiting the holy places of the Church of Resurrection, the tomb of Lady Maryam, Tur Sina, and the birthplace of ‘Isa (Jesus) in Bethlehem and others of their shrines; 4) An order of the aforementioned Muhammad ibn al-Hajj Ali, dated 6 Dhu al-Qa’da, 939 A.H./1532 A.D., confirming the orders of former sultans as follows, “The Selimi order  (order of Sultan Selim I), the Sulaymani decree (Sultan Sulayman the law-giver), and the noble ordinances of the former King al-Malik al-Zahir Chaqmaq, King al-Ashraf Qaytabay, and al-Malik al-Ashraf Qansawh al-Ghawri, decreeing that the Syrians should pay only one-tenth of the fees imposed on the Armenians; that upon entering the Church of the Resurrection, the hermit monks should be exempted from fees; that the Syrian monks in Jaffa, the Gate of the Church of Resurrection, should also be exempt from fees; that the Syrians have the right to renovate their churches and homes if need be, and that no one should act against their religious endowments, monasteries and churches; 5) A decree of Lutfi Pasha, Wali of Damascus, dated Safar, 933 A.H./1526 A.D., to the judge of Jerusalem, instructing him that Metropolitan Yusuf has been authorized to protect the Syrians, the Rum, and the rest of the Christian denominations; 6) A decree from the same Wali of Damascus, dated 933 A.H./1536 A.D., giving orders to prevent  Arabs’ aggression against the different Christian denominations; 7) A similar decree, dated Sha’ban, 933 A.H./1526 A.D.; 8) An order of al-Hajj Ahmad Chalabi, dated 17 Rabi’ al-Awwal, 941 A.H./1524 A.D., to the judge of Jerusalem, to forbid increasing visitation taxes; 9) An order of the Wali of Damascus, Mustafa Aflaq, known as Abd al-Sahfi, to the governor of Jerusalem to forbid increasing the visitation taxes, in the month of Dhu al-Hijja, 937 A.H./1530 A.D.; 10) A decree dated 17 Sha’ban, 921 A.H./1515 A.D., confirming the authority of Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji over the Christians of Syria, Jerusalem, ‘Ayn Halya and ‘Ayn Hura.
On Sha’ban 17, 917 A.H./1511 A.D., in the time of Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji, the monk-priest Daniel, son of Yuhanna, the Syrian, donated a house to our Monastery of St. Mark in the Sihyawn district close to the said monastery.
This is perhaps all the material I could obtain about Metropolitan Yusuf Gurji. Whatever I missed is much larger than what I have written. May God have mercy on him and greatly reward him.

The Churches of Edessa

Al-Ruha (Edessa) is among the most ancient cities in the East, and most eminent by glory and culture. It is, indeed, the precious pearl of the countries of the Syrians. It is distinguished by its churches, monasteries, and cultural traits, and by its learned men and schools.  In his Mu’ajm al-Buldan (The Dictionary of Countries), 4: 340, Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 626 A.H./1228 A.D.) said that al-Ruha is a city in the Jazira between Mosul and Syria. The Christian Yahya ibn Jarir (Yahya ibn Jarir, known as Abu Nasr of Takrit, is one of our learned men who was still living in 1070. This passage was copied by Yaqut al-Hamawi from Yahya’s book al-Murshid.] said that the name of al-Ruha in Greek is Edessa. It was built by King Seleucus in the sixth year following the death of Alexander [Since Alexander died in 323 B.C., Edessa was built in 317 B.C.] In his book Kharidat al-‘Aja’ib wa Faridat al-Ghara’ib, ‘Umar ibn al-Wardi (d. 749 A.H./1348 A.D.) said, “Al-Ruha is a great ancient city. It was so densely populated that its buildings almost reached to Harran. Its inhabitants are mostly Christian. It accommodated more than two hundred churches and monasteries. The Christians have no city greater than this. Its Great Church housed the kerchief of Christ, with which he rubbed his face and on which it was etched. The king of the Rum (Byzantine emperor) send a messenger to the caliph asking for this kerchief, and offered to free a great number of (Muslim) captives as a ransom. The king of the Rum received the kerchief and released the captives.”
We read in an ancient Beth Gazo (treasure of church melodies) copied in the thirteenth century a verse whose composer described the monasteries and churches of Edessa, especially the Monastery of the Easterners (Syrians) according to the melody of “This is the pleasing fast of the First Born.” It runs as follows:

O Edessa! You are beautiful by your wall, and by the splendor of your orchards and the large number of your churches. Gorgeous is your lofty mountain and the
monasteries in it. Charming and joyous is the surging of the River Daysan. In you there are altars abounding in forgiveness and temples teeming with saints. In you abides the Monastery of the East (Eastern Serbians).  O nursery of brilliant men! You are magnificent on account of your prophets. You are glorified by the Apostles. Blessed is Abgar who built you.”

Following are the names of the churches of Edessa, according to the history of the Anonymous Edessan (Paris, 1915), 1(Chapter 43): 179:
1) The Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas) the Apostle containing his remains, which were transferred from India. It is a magnificent church located in southwest Edessa.
2) The Church of the Twelve Apostles, built by Hiba (Ibas), bishop of Edessa, in 457 A.D. It is one of the most magnificent and beautiful churches in the whole world.
3) The Church of Mar Sergius the martyr. It was built by Hiba, bishop of Edessa, in 435 at the Eastern Gate of the city.
4) The Church of St. John the Baptist, built in 457 by Bishop Nuna (Nonnus) to the west of the city on marvelous foundations of red marble
5) The Church of Mar Stephen, built by St. Rabula, metropolitan of Edessa, in 411.
6) The church of Mar Sergius, to the east of Edessa and south of the Church of the Apostles. It was built according to the model of the Church of St. Tuma (Thomas).
7) A beautiful church built in the name of St. Theodore the martyr in the citadel of the city.
8) A beautiful church of the same saint in the western mountain on the road to Sarug.
9) The Church of the Edessan Confessors Gurya, Shamuna and Habib  is the most beautiful of all the churches. It was built on the Watchers’ Hill, on whose side there was a great monastery.
10) A second church of the aforesaid Confessors near the Northern Gate of the city.
11) The Church of Quryaqos the martyr to the north of the Church of the Confessors.
12) The Church of Mar Yaqob (Jacob) the martyr, built in the village of Karmush, near Edessa, in the time of Emperor Julian (the Apostate).
13) The Church of St. Thomas the martyr, outside the city to its western side. It is a magnificent church.
14) The Church of Mar Dumyanus (Damian), built on a mound near Edessa.
15) The Church of Mar Daniel or Mar Dumit, built in the time of Walgush, metropolitan of Edessa in 387. It was mentioned by Michael Rabo in his Chronicle, 130.
16) The Church of the Mother of God, built in the mountain south of the Monastery of Mar Yaqub (Jacob).
17) The great Church of Hagia Sophia, whose construction was begun by Bishop Quna at the beginning of the fourth century. It was completed by Bishop Shaprut (Sha’ad) and decorated by Bishop Ithalalaha, metropolitan of Edessa in the time of Constantine the Great. It is one of the most splendid and magnificent churches of the world. Its interior was embellished with gold and white glass. Kings donated to it precious works of art. The Arabs regarded it one of the wonders of the world. (Abu al-Fath Nasir al-Mutarrizi (d. 610 A.H./1213 A.D.), in his Commentary on Maqamat al-Hariri (Cairo), 234, said, “Al-Ruha is a city in the Jazira a few miles distant from Harran. The Church of Edessa is one of the wonders of the world.”)
18) The Church of the Cross, in the center of the city, to which the skull of Mar Theodore was transferred, and which was later named after hm.
19) The Church of the Mother of God, to the west of Edessa.
20) The Church of the Virgin, north of the Church of Mar Stephen.
21) The Church of Mar Jirjis, in the southern part of Edessa.
22) The Church of Mar Angel Michael, in the southern part of Edessa.
23) The Church of St. Ephraim, built in the western part of Edessa opposite the Mu’in Gate, on a hill which contains the grave of St. Ephraim. It was mentioned by the Anonymous Edessan in 1144. (Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 2: Chapter 411, 119)
24) The Church of St. John, built by the Franks in a pleasing style. It has about a hundred windows. In it repose the relics of Mar Addai and King Abgar. (Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 2: Chapter 422, 132.)

The following are the most famous monasteries of Edessa:
1) The Monastery of the Mother of God.
2) The Monastery of the Easterners at the foot of the mountain.
3) The Monastery of St. Barbara.
4) Another Monastery of St. Barbara.
5) The Monastery of the Domes, at the foot of the mountain to the south of the temple of Mar Cosmas.
6) The Monastery of the Bishop, named after the Mother of God.
7) Monastery of the Beloved John of the Apocalypse.
8) The Monastery of the Porch, built on top of the mountain, so called because of a porch especially built for the priors. The Anonymous Edessan said that in one year 12,000 were baptized in it at Epiphany. At that time, 90,000 monks lived in the mountain.  (Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 1: 182.)
9) The Monastery of Nawawis (Monastery of the Tombs, and not of the Souls, as Rev. Ishaq Armala erroneously maintained in Majallat al-Athar (Archeology Magazine), 3: 178), built within the mountain. Formerly, it was a great pagans’ temple; a pagan idol still stands at this monastery
10) The Monastery of White, mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi, who called it, “… Dayr al-Abyad (The White Monastery), built in a mountain overlooking Edessa. The pealing of its bell could be heard in the city. The spot on which it is built overlooks Harran.” (Al-Hamawi,Mu’jam al-Buldan, 4: 121.)
The total number of churches and monasteries mentioned in historical sources is 43, other than those whose names I have inadvertently omitted. In his Syriac Chronicle, 3: 356 (730 of the published copy), Michael Rabo said that in the time of the Arabs, fifteen churches were ruined. They are:
1) The Great Church of Hagia Sophia.
2) The Church of the Apostles.
3) The Church of St. Thomas.
4) The Church of St. Michael.
5) The Church of St. Cosmas, the Church of the Kerchief.
6) The Church of St. Jirjis.
7) The Church of the Savior, the Church of Abgar.
8) The Church of the Virgin (the suspended).
9) The Church of the Virgin.
10) The Church of the Virgin.
11) The Church of the Forty Martyrs.
12) A second Church of the Forty Martyrs.
13) The Church of the Confessors at the Sa’at Gate.
14) The Church of St. Stephen
15) The Church of St Theodore, facing the Citadel.

Add to these the Church of St. John, which was burned and ruined about 1186, as the Anonymous Edessan related on the same page. Relating the events of the years of 1020, the Anonymous Edessan said, “Fearing that Shibl al-Dawla, lord of Mosul, might attack Edessa, Sulayman, governor of Edessa, wanted to surrender the city to his Rumi (Greek) Malik, but the Rumi entered the city by a trick.  As he had not sufficient troops to guard the city, he fortified himself in the citadel awaiting the arrival of reinforcements. The Christians, fearing for their lives, gathered in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia as the Muslim soldiers arrived from every direction. They slaughtered all the men by the sword and took women and children captive. Meanwhile, Shibl al-Dawla came with his men and saw the city in ruins. He set the temples (churches) and palaces on fire and departed. Thus, the Church of the Virgin, which had been renovated by Athanasius bar Gumya, and the Church of St. Theodore, were burned down. Meanwhile, the noble patrician Abu Ka’b came and rebuilt the city. He gathered people to inhabit it and took charge of their needs.”
Regarding the conquest of Edessa by Imad al-Din Zangi in 1144, the Anonymous Edessan said, “Zangi, accompanied by his notable men, his military commanders, the notables of the countries, and his counselors and retinue, came and destroyed Edessa. They destroyed the Church of the Confessors outside the city and built the wall with its stones. They built the palace of the king near the Church of Mar Yuhanna (a place of precious artifacts); the Franks (Crusaders) altered its roof and restored its bricks. The church contained about a hundred windows and the mausoleum of the bishops of the Franks, among whom was Bishop Papios, who was killed during the conquest of Edessa. The church also contained the silver coffin with the remains of St. Addai the Apostle and King Abgar, whose holy bones were scattered when the city was conquered.  The believers gathered parts of their remains and placed them in an urn in the Church of Mar Theodore of the Syrians. Moreover, the Muslims took the Church of St. John, the Church of St. Stephen, and the Church of the Apostle Thomas, where the Franks had prayed. They converted the Church of St Thomas into a stable for animals and the Church of St Stephen into a grain barn. They destroyed the Church of the Confessors, which had been built a hundred years earlier. They also destroyed the Church of St. Theodore and the Church of the Angel Michael south of the city, and rebuilt with their stones the torndown segment of the city wall and the high citadel. They renovated the Muslims’ masjid, which the Franks had used as the residence of their bishops.” (Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, 2: 132-134)
Of the events of the year 1174, the Anonymous Edessan related the destruction of the Great Church of Edessa. He says, “At this time the Muslims began to demolish the Great Church of Edessa, known as Hagia Sophia, whose south and west wings and altar were still standing. They razed that wonderful edifice to the ground and used the stones to built the wall of the citadel. Most of these stones, however, they transferred to the Muslims’ masjid in Harran. The Great Church of the Apostle was still standing, not touched by harmed. When its north part fell down, however, the Muslims began to demolish it and move the stones to the citadel. They did the same to the Church of the Forty Martyrs, near which was a Muslims’ masjid.”
This is what the authoritative Anonymous Edessan said. What we say is that in later times, nothing was left of these churches and monasteries in Edessa except the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul and the Church of Mar Jirjis. They were still in the hands of our Syrian congregation until the latest exodus of the Syrians from Edessa in February, 1924. To God belong sovereign powers, first and last.

St. Marutha of Takrit
Maphrian of Takrit and all the East  (629-649)

St. Marutha was born in the village of Shawarzaq, in the province of Banuhadra (modern Duhuk, in the province of Mosul) of virtuous and rich parents. His father was the chief of his village.
Marutha, well known as the Takritian, was a prominent father of the church and a distinguished notable Syrian. He was a great asset to the church and the East. As a young man he entered the Monastery of Mar Samuel al-Jabali (Toroyo) in the neighborhood of his village, where he studied the Scripture under its monks. Then he moved to the schools which the believing Syrians had recently established in those neighborhoods, among which were Beth Qiqi, Beth Tarli, Beth Tell Salmo, and Beth Bnai Shawarzaq.  Having completed his studies, he desired the monastic life and entered the Monastery of Nardus. This monastery was built in the name of Mar Li’azar (Lazarus), the martyr of the orthodox faith, during the persecution waged by Barsawma of Nisibin. Nardus was the best monastery of those regains and was inhabited by seventy monks. Its abbot was Mar Jusi, whom God honored with the ability to work miracles both in his lifetime and after his death. In this monastery Marutha assumed the monastic habit and became a priest. Because of his excellent conduct and knowledge of the Holy Bible, he was appointed a teacher and expositor. Sometimes the Bishop Mar Zakka entrusted him with the administration of business in his stead. But as Marutha was seeking more knowledge about the church to satisfy his ambitious soul, he moved to the Monastery of Mar Zakka in al-Raqqa (Callinicus), where he remained for ten years studying the writings of the doctors of the church, especially, those of Gregory the Theologian (Gregory Nazianzen) under Master Theodore, the distinguished teacher at the monastery. He studied the commentaries on the works of Gregory until he became well versed in philosophy and church sciences.
Marutha then moved to the ascetic centers in the neighborhood of the Blessed City of Edessa and concentrated on the perfection of calligraphy, as is evident from his transcribed manuscripts. His journey took him to the Monastery of Beth Raqum, where he studied under the famous Rabban Tuma the blind. With him were two venerable companions, Shim’un Gobadyo and Mar Aho.
After he gained fame, the congregants of the diocese of Banuhadra chose him to be their bishop. They wrote him letters and sent him messengers for this purpose. But he declined because of sheer humility and piety. Evidently he had learned from Gregory Nazianzen that the eminence of the priesthood was commensurate to its perils and burdens. But when the people of Banuhadra repeated their request, he repaired to his country to teach. He joined the famous Monastery of Mar Matta and taught its monks theology and commentaries on the Scriptures. He instituted for them church rules and canons profitable for spiritual conduct and service.
Marutha then moved to the Monastery of Shirin in al-Mada’in (Seleucia-Ctesiphon), capital of the Persian kingdom. Seeing that the believers received the Holy Eucharist and also offered it to the heretics, he forbade them to do so and amended their custom. He instituted for them church canons and urged them to read the Holy Scriptures, which benefitted the congregation and the monks. When the Metropolitan of the East, Shamu’il (614-624), who was famous for excellence and wisdom, wanted to entrust him with the bishopric of Takrit, he refused. Because of political turmoil, however, especially when the Emperor Heraclius fought the Persians and controlled part of their kingdom in 627, Marutha went on strengthening the believers. Then, he went to reside in the Monastery of Rabban Shapur in ‘Aqula (modern Kufa in southern Iraq).
In the year 629, Patriarch Athanasius Gamolo sent his disciple the monk-priest Yuhanna to the King of Persia on a private mission. After completing his mission, Yuhanna went to the Monastery of Mar Matta in the time of Christophorus, metropolitan of the monastery, and Addai its abbot. Observing their piety and sanctity, he asked the monks to unite themselves with the Patriarch of Antioch, as had been their ancient custom. They agreed. Metropolitan Christophorus gathered a number of bishops in the region near the monastery and commissioned them to meet with the patriarch. They were Gewargi, bishop of Sinjar, Daniel, bishop of Banuhadra, Gregory, bishop of Baremman, and Yazibnah, bishop of Sharzul (Shahrzur). They took with them men of good repute, among whom  were Marutha, Ithalalha and Aho. When they met with the patriarch, they united and subjected themselves to him. With his permission and consent, they chose the monk Marutha, whom the patriarch ordained as the chief priest of Takrit. He granted Marutha authority over all the bishops and churches of the East.  He also ordained Ithalalha a bishop for the diocese of Gomal and Marga, and Aho a bishop for the lower diocese of Fershabur. The patriarch sent his Apostolic Proclamation to the abbot and monks of the Monastery of Mar Matta, in which he granted them some privileges.
Having occupied his Apostolic see, Marutha adorned it with genuine knowledge and issued for it holy canons. In the beginning he was not well received by the congregation of Takrit, who opposed him. But he succeeded in attracting them and winning their obedience by his virtuous conduct, wise treatment, famous knowledge, love and devotion.
Marutha’s pupil, successor and biographer, the Maphryono Mar Denha, said, “All that we see of the magnificent order and excellent setup, the manner in which the priests and deacons serve, their chanting, the adornment of holy altars, and the magnificent and precious vessels which they contain, the piety of the congregation of Takrit and obedience to its spiritual and worldly leaders, their love of the poor and strangers, is a credit to Mar Marutha and his superb endeavors. To him also goes the credit of making Takrit a capital city and mother of all the churches of the East, where bishops gathered and enjoyed the hospitality of the Syrian natives.”
Mar Marutha invited the bishop to a convention at the Monastery of Mar Matta, where they placed twelve dioceses under the authority of the Maphryono or Catholicos of Takrit. These dioceses were:1) Ba’arbaya, 2) Sinjar, 3) Ma’althaya, 4)  Arzen, 5) Gomal, 6) Baremman, 7) Karma, 8) Jazirat Qardu, 9)Banuhadra, 10) Fershapur, 11) Sharzul, and 12) The Taghlibite Arab tribe. They also offered the metropolitan of Mar Matta the diocese of Nineveh, to which Marutha later added three more, the dioceses of Sijistan, heart, and Azerbayjan. Meanwhile, a great part of the Syrian congregation of Edessa immigrated to Persia because of warfare.Mar Marutha built the Monastery of Mar Sarjis in ‘Ayn Jaj for monks, and another for nuns in the name of the Virgin in Beth Ibro. He also built in Takrit the church of the citadel, assisted in his endeavors by the Syrian dignitaries and Ibrahim bar Yeshu’, the chief administrator of the City of Takrit.
In Marutha’s time the Arabs captured Persia. When they besieged the city of Takrit, Marutha, by his wisdom and discretion, opened its citadel for them, thus saving the people from bloodshed and the woes of war.
After administering his diocese for twenty years, Marutha was transported to eternal life at the age of 80, on May 2, 649. He was buried in the Great Church which he had built in the citadel. May God reward him and benefit us by his righteous supplication. Recognizing his virtues, the holy church added his name to the synaxarium and instituted his commemoration on May 1 and 10, as has been said in the calendars of Jacob of Edessa and Ibn Khayrun.
The writings of Marutha include a commentary on the Gospels, a liturgy, a letter to the Patriarch Yuhanna III of the Sderos on the persecution waged by Barsoum of Nisibin, and homilies of major feasts. Among his works are a homily on the New or Low Sunday, and a refutation of the Nestorian Catholicos. Marutha also instituted the Lent of Nineveh, as was mentioned by the learned Dionysius Bar Salibi in his book Oro’utho (Disputations).
We have derived this information from Marutha’s biography by his pupil Mar Denha, published in 1905, from the histories of Mar Michael Rabo and Bar Hebraeus, and from the histories of Syriac literature by Duval, Wright and Baumstark.

[Barsoum appended to this biography a short article he wrote on May 6, 1927, entitled “’Ala Difaf al-Rafidayan, aw Dhikra al-Qiiddis Marutha al-Takriti.” (On the Banks of the Two Rivers (the Tigris and the Euphrates), or Commemoration of Saint Marutha of Takrit). I have refrained from translating it because it contains no new or important information about Marutha.]

[Patriarchal Magazine, Nos. 4-5 (July and August, 1933)]

Rev. Daniel of Mardin
Syrian Philosopher and Confessor of the Fourteenth Century.
Born in 1337, he was still living in 1382.

An excellent product of the city of Mardin [On Mardin and its dioceses, see Patriarch Aphram Barsoum, Nuzhat al-Adhhan fi Tarikh Dayr al-Za’faran, Chapter 20, 159. Tr] and a prominent Syrian who exerted a great effort and fortitude to acquire knowledge was al-Shaykh Daniel, the monk of Mardin, known as Ibn al-Hattab, who flourished in the fourteenth century. (Some contemporary writers, including Rev. Paul Sbat, erroneously thought his name was Ibn al-Hattab.  More correctly, his name in Syriac is Hattab, not al-Hattab. [See Sbat, Mabahith Falsafiyya Diniyya li Ba’d ‘Ulama al-Nasrniyya, 184, and the anthology of Patriarch Nuh the Syrian, still in manuscript form.] Following is his biography collected from trustworthy sources in his own handwriting, and from other authorities:
Daniel was born at Mardin in August, 1327. [Daniel said about himself that he was born in August, 1327; thus it was related to me by some elders.] He became a monk at the Monastery of the Virgin, known as the Natif [Qatra, or water drop. Tr], overlooking the Za’faran Monastery, in the mountain adjacent to Mardin. He became a priest before 1356 after studying Syriac and religious sciences. His ambition, however, was to study philosophy. But after discovering that there was no school in his native city teaching philosophy, he traveled to Egypt, where he found what he was seeking. He remained in Egypt for seventeen years, studying sciences and mastering the Arabic language. Then he returned to his native country in 1373 having acquired a great portion of knowledge in philosophy, and having attained the epithet of Philosopher.
In 1382, he wrote a book entitled Usul al-Din was Shifa’ Qulub al-Mu’minin (Principles of Religion and the Healing of the Hearts of Believers) in confirmation of Christianity and the Syrian Orthodox dogma. Because some of its chapters contained a refutation of Islam, some Muslim learned men took the book to the religious judge and then to the Artukid King al-Tahir ‘Isa, lord of Mardin (1376-1406), who threw Daniel into prison. Then he was adjudged in the presence of Muslim judges and jurists, who sentenced him to be whipped. He received 498 lashes without moaning, but, by God’s help, kept patient although al-Tahir coaxed him to convert to Islam. He remained adamant in proclaiming his Christian faith. When al-Tahir failed to have him embrace Islam, he had his nose pierced and threaded with a fine rope and dragged through the streets of Mardin. The humiliation and pain he suffered were beyond description. He was then returned to jail, where he remained for twenty-four days, and then moved to the prison of the blood for three days. Fearing for his life, the believers ransomed him for 12,000 dirhams and thus saved him from those iniquitous men. His torture and imprisonment began on May 25, 1382. We cannot find any evidence of his activity after that date. Most likely he remained at his monastery engaged in writing until God transferred him to His abode of dignity, to crown him with the crown stored for His faithful servants.
Daniel left the following writings:
1) Usul al-Din, already mentioned.
2) A summary of church canons in seventeen parts, abridged from Bar Hebraeus’s Hodoyo (Nomocanon), with useful marginal notes in Arabic. In 1928, we came upon a copy of this work in Berlin.
3) The Ethikon
4) The Treasure of Mysteries
5) An abridgement of Bar Hebraeus’s Semhe (Grammar)
6) An abridgement of the Isagoge.
These books were mentioned in the commentaries of the fifteenth-century monk David of Homs. They were incorporated by Assemani in his Bibliotheca Orientalis. Most likely Daniel abridged some of Bar Hebraeus’s terms and gave them different names. They are lost to us. I also found some meager compositions of Syriac verse by him.
Daniel, whose spirit was subject to that of God, had an elegant Syriac and Arabic handwriting. We would like to provide the readers with two chapters of his book Usul al-Din wa Shifa’ Qulub al-Mu’mimin:

Chapter Six

On the Fact that God is One in Essence and Three Attributes

We say that every creature is either living and rational or not living or rational. Or, he is living but not rational. It is well known that the living-rational is nobler than the other two categories.  So, if the living-rational is the most noble, it is imperative that God be the living-rational. But God’s life and rationality do not emanate from a source other than Himself because they are the cause of both. All the perfections which God possesses should also be owned by His essence. And everything which is a part of that essence should exist by the existence of the essence. Therefore the existence, life and rationality of God do exist by the existence of His essence. Thus, if it is evident that God is ever-existent, it is imperative not to believe that His essence has a beginning and end. It is also imperative that all that He possesses in His essence is eternal. It follows that His rationality and life are, like Him, eternal. They are eternal as His essence is eternal. If this is proven to be correct, then we can say that the essence is the attribute of the Fatherhood of God, rationality is the attribute of the Filiation (of the son), and life is the attribute of the Holy Spirit. This is the same which pertains to the Trinity, i.e., the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God indivisible in any way, real or imaginary, because He is always existent. He is one. These attributes are beyond the comprehension of the mentally simple. How, then, can these abstract and most noble divisions (of Father, Son and Holy Spirit), be comprehended? They can because they are associated only with the properties, meaning that the property of the Father is Fatherhood, the property of the Son is Filiation, and the property of the Holy Spirit is eternal Emanation. This is not the same as human birth, which requires separation [of the son from the father .Tr] At any rate, it is eternal, everlasting. It makes necessary the truthfulness of faith in the usual manner. All of these are peculiar to properties of animals whether mute or not. An example is that which can be perceived by the eye, like the emanation of radiance from fire, and the emanation of heat from its essence. Whenever there is fire, these two properties exist. But to the eye, fire appears as if it were the cause of radiance and heat. Thus, it is inappropriate and incredible to say that these are three fires. No, they are but one fire with three properties. But if we say that each of the properties is fire, this can be true only because fire exists in conjunction with the other two properties, light and heat. These three, fire, light and heat, are but one essence. The same is true with the soul, speech and reason. These three are one essence with three properties. Again, the same thing is true with the sun, fire, light and heat. They are one essence and three properties. The same truth we have advanced earlier is applied to one of the persons of the Trinity. God the Father is one person of the Trinity in conjunction with other two persons, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whatever attributes one of them possesses apply to the other two, and whatever all of them possess applies to all of them, whatever the case may be, except what is particular to that person because particularity is outside the realm of the unity of nature and essence. But the particular cannot at all be transformed or mixed. Thus, the Father begat, the Son was born, and the Spirit was emanated. These three are but One God. May His glorious name be praised.

Chapter Seven

Refutation of the Jews and others, and the establishment of the evidence against those who say to us, “If you say that each one of the persons of the Trinity is God, you are forced to say that they are three gods.”
In refutation of this claim, we have already shown that the essence (of the three) is one, but the properties are three. Each person of the Trinity should be mentioned in conjunction with the others to except what is peculiar to each one of them. It should not be said (that there are) three essences or substances or three gods, because the number of properties does not require the multiplicity of essences. Otherwise, we should say there are three fires and three suns, which is impossible. But if it is asked how birth can occur without marriage, or according to other conditions peculiar to human beings, we say that such matters do not apply to Almighty God. In fact, the act of birth applies only to the reasonable and simple, and to the complex and perceptible. But this latter does not apply to God, for the case of God is like the radiance which emanates from light, rays which emanate from the sun, and speech which emanates from the soul. They always exist in the essence and never leave it. But if men object that one who is born is other than the father, and that we are forced to admit the existence of two (father and son), we say enough of this falsification and sophistry. We have already shown that the difference of properties is not intrinsic to the essence, substance and being. We appeal to the Holy Scriptures to prove the mystery of the Holy Trinity. An example is that which the Prophet Moses said, “The spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” [Genesis 1: 2] and what the Prophet David said, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” [Psalms, 33: 6.] Consider also what Isaiah, son of Amos, said when he heard the angels praise God, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” three times, indicating the mystery of the Trinity. The noble son of David (Solomon) says, “What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!” [Proverbs, 30: 4] Finally, the Savior charged his disciples, saying, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” [Matthew, 28: 19.]

[Patriarchal Magazine 1, No. 8 (November, 1933)]

A’yan al-Suryan (Syrian Notable Men)

As faithful clerics and religious men of different ranks have shone in the firmament, for whose prominence the Syrian church can vie with other nations, so also flourished distinguished learned laymen and leaders who have taken long strides in noble traits.  Among these, who have been immortalized in history, were Butrus (Peter), son of Yusuf of Homs; Iyawannis al-Rasafi; the Family of Ayyar; the Family of Gomya; the Family of Tell Mahre; the Family of ‘Arabi, son of Cosmas of Edessa; the leader Ibrahim, son of Yeshu’; the leader Marutha, son of Habib; the deacon Theodore, son of Marcus; the Family of the Banu ‘Imran of Takrit; the writer Ali ibn al-Khammar; the Family of Tuma; the chief clerk Sulayman ibn al-Jamal of Baghdad; and the chief physician Abu Ali and the physicians Isa and Shim’un. All of them contributed precious treasures to the church and immortalized for themselves a name more commendable than earthly possessions.
We found it appropriate to revive their memories and present their worthy activities to our blessed church communicants, hoping that they may follow in their footstep. For what good is wealth squandered on worthless enterprises? The prudent man is he who realizes that those who acquired wealth and squandered it on worthless pursuits are engulfed by oblivion; they are losers. Our people should not imitate them, but follow in the footsteps of the admirable ones and, like them, do what is good and commendable.
Thus, we have gathered this information from ancient and modern sources, from manuscripts and published books, and decided to publish it in our magazine. This is without mentioning that a great deal of information about notable Syrians has been lost because they were not written about, or because of grievous circumstances which befell this nation, as is known.

1) The Great Leader Butrus (Peter), son of Yusuf of Homs (480 A.D.)

We are told by the author of the biography of young Mar Basus, his sister Susan, and their tutors Mar Stephen and Mar Longia the Persians, who were martyred on May 11, 388 A.D., the following. He said,
“In 478 A.D., almost ninety years after the martyrdom of these saints, Rev. Dawud (David) of Tur Abdin, a monk from their monastery, desired to perform the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He took a relic of Saint Basus as a token of love and trust. When he arrived in the city of Homs, adverse circumstances prevented him from continuing the journey. He resided for a long time at the Church of the Mother of God, then under the jurisdiction of the great leader Butrus, son of Yusuf. (This church is known today as the Church of the Lady of the Zunnar (Sash), which was renovated by Patriarch Peter IV in 852, while he was still a metropolitan.] Butrus, being a devout and God-fearing believer, befriended the monk and invited him to his home. As affection grew between the two, Butrus revealed to the monk the painful time he was going through because of an incurable illness of his childless wife, which had weakened her sight. He complained that he had visited many monasteries, churches, and shrines of saints, seeking healing for his wife, but with no result. Praying to God, the monk touched the eyes of Butrus’s wife with the relic of Saint Basus, and she was immediately healed.  She became extremely happy and glorified God for her healing. The news of the miracle spread throughout the city and its suburbs, and the people rushed to receive the blessing and healing of the relic.
“When circumstances improved, the monk decided to continue the journey to Jerusalem.  But before he left, Butrus asked him to leave the blessed relic with him, in order that he might set it in the Church of the Mother of God. He promised to offer half of his possessions to God if He, through the intercession of the martyr Saint (Basus), would give him a son to be his heir. He further pledged that should this come to pass, he would build a great monastery. The monk agreed to leave the saint’s relic with him and continued his journey to Jerusalem and to the wilderness of the Scete in Egypt. After one year and three months he returned to Homs and found that Butrus had been blessed with twins, a boy and a girl. He was pleased, and he baptized them and named them Basus and Susan.
“On his part, Butrus built a great monastery, richly furnished. He offered it as a patrimony a number of villages to meet the needs of its inmates, and charged the monk Dawud to be its prior. In a short time the monastery (of Mar Basus) gained wide fame in Syria and other countries. Students came from all over to study and learn the monastic life. At one time its monks numbered six thousand, as was said in a letter of Patriarch Mar Severus of Antioch to the monastery’s monks, their erudite learned men and renowned monastics. This historical account was first written in Homs and then transferred to Tur Abdin.” [Paul Bedjan, Sancta Martyrum, 4: 471-505]
In the corpus of the letters of Mar Severus, we found three letters: two addressed to the monks of this monastery (of Mar Basus) between 512 and 518; and the third, dated 519, addressed to its archimandrite Julian, in which he authorized Sergius and Marion, the metropolitans of Cyrus and Sura, to ordain priests and deacons for the monastery [The letters of Severus of Antioch were translated by  E. W. Brooks as The Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, Part I (London: Williams Norgate, 1903) and Part II (1904). The letter addressed to the Archimandrite of the Monastery of Basus is found in Part I, 47-55; the second, addressed to Julian the Archimandrite of the same monastery, 178-197; the third letter to Sergius, bishop of Cyrus and Marion, bishop of Sura is in Part II, 350-359. Tr] Furthermore, we found at the Library of the British Museum in MS 4587 three letters of Mar Jacob of Sarug addressed to Lazarus, the archimandrite, and to the monks of the Monastery of Mar Basus, numbered 11, 13 and 14. Letter no. 12 contains the monks’ answer to Mar Jacob. Most likely, this correspondence took place in the second decade of the sixth century. The letters show the concern of the monks regarding matters of the orthodox faith. They were published by the French Orientalist Martin. [Duval, La Littérature Syriaque, 351] We also found the names of six abbots of this great monastery from 480 to 576. They are as follows:

1) Father Dawud of Tur ‘Abdin, who became superior of the Monastery of Mar Basus in 470.
2) Father Li’azar (Lazarus), who corresponded with Mar Jacob the Malphono in 514.
3) Father Julian, with whom Patriarch Mar Severus corresponded between 519 and 538.
4) Father Eusebius, who along with five abbots of monasteries addressed a letter to Mar Theodosius, patriarch of Alexandria, following the installation of Paul II as Patriarch of Antioch. They also addressed a letter to Paul II in 542. [Documenta Syrorum (Paris, n.d.), 128.]
5) Father Mari, mentioned in the correspondence between the orthodox bishops and the archimandrites following the death of Mar Theodosius in 568. [Documenta Syrorum, 152, 162, 163, 170 and 171.]
6) Father Yuhanna the Lame, who was an archimandrite of this monastery before 576, the same year of his resignation. In his letter to Yuhanna, the monk Sergius, a recluse at the Monastery of Banaqyo, supported the Patriarch Paul, mentioned above. [Documenta Syrorum, 228 and 295.]

History also mentions three bishops who graduated from this monastery. They were:

1) Bishop Yuhanna, who was still living in 568. [Documenta Syrorum, 57, 244.]
2) Sawera (Severus), bishop of Gishro, who was ordained by the Patriarch Mar Dionysius I Tell Mahre about 840 [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 155.]
3) Demit, bishop of Qardu, who was ordained by the same Patriarch Tell Mahre around 840. He passed away in 858. [Michael Rabo, 2: 155.]
Following this date we find no mention of this famous monastery, which was located between Homs and Apamea, known as Qal’at al-Madiq.

The Rasafi Family

Al-Rasafi is an Edessan family whose ancestor was a prominent official of the Byzantine state in Edessa, and one of the richest men of the city. The Syrian historians Michael Rabo, the Anonymous Edessan and Bar Hebraeus mentioned him in their histories. They said, “When General Bahram usurped the Sassanid throne, young King Kisra II (Chosroes) Abrawiz sought asylum with the Caesar of Rum (the Byzantine emperor) in 590 A.D.  When he arrived in Edessa, the two leaders, Marina, a Rum Malkite by doctrine, and the Syrian Iyawannis Rasafi, treated him with honor. Rasafi had him stay in his own home and treated him as kings should be treated, as is reported by the Anonymous Edessan and Bar Hebraeus. It happened that one day Kisra, who toured Iyawannis’s palace, admired the beauty of its compartments and wanted to get in. When Iyawannis learned of Kisra’s desire, he arranged a sumptuous banquet to which he invited the notables of the city, as if he wanted to vie with Marina, his counterpart, and flaunt his wealth and opulence. In the banquet Iyawannis used nothing but gold and silver utensils. All the tables, trays, plates, spoons, cups, jugs and pots were made of gold and silver. Seeing these things, Kisra was astonished at the man’s wealth. He said to him that he had not seen anything like this in his kingdom. When he finished the dinner and was much pleased, he said to Rasafi, ‘You have done your utmost to honor us. However, when a Persian king condescended to enter the homes of some notables, usually the host’s wife offered him a cup to drink. When the notable Iyawannis heard this, he felt bashful and did not want to anger the man. He left the matter to his wife, trusting that she would handle it with prudence. Meanwhile, he sent a maid to inform his wife of the matter. When Iywannis’s wife heard what Kisra had said, she disdained him in her heart. Turning to him, she said, ‘O King, you are mighty, and we rejoice in your visit. But the custom of the Kingdom of the Rum (Byzantines) forbids what you have asked of honorable women.’ According to Bar Hebraeus, she said, ‘It is not the custom of the Syrians that their women partake in a banquet for men.’  Kisra became angry and swore by his gods that he would drive her away from her homeland and make her body food for worms. It happened that when Kisra captured Beth Nahrin in 607, he took Iyawaanis’s wife and a great number of other people captives to Persia. He had her tortured and denied her the use of means of cleanliness. He had her starved and thirsty until she died. Thus, Kisra abused the generosity of the Rasafi family and repaid the charity of this noble lady, the scion of free men, with evil. May God grant her mercy.“Iyawannis had passed away having no heir except his son Sergius, whom Kisra had taken captive to Persia. But he treated him kindly and had him share his table. Sergius entreated Kisra to reutrn to Edessa to take care of his property. Kisra agreed, on condition that he should return to his palace. Upon his return to Edessa Sergius found no gold, silver, possessions or servants in his possession. But he contented himself with his other great possessions — villages, orchards, mills and shops. He married, and God blessed him with children. He did not return to Kisra.” [Patriarch Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 390, 391, 408; The Anonymous Edessan, Chronicle, 1: 216, 221-224; Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, 92-93 of the Syriac text, English trans. E. A. Wallace Budge,  85-87.]
In 629, Emperor Heraclius came to Edessa and was received by the priests, monks and congregation. He was astonished at the great number of monks. He commended them and said to some of his retinue, “It is not appropriate that we should leave such a noble congregation under the authority of others.” He reconciled with the Syrian and the Greek (Byzantine) groups.  At a festival, he attended one of our churches and lavished great gifts on the congregation. When he wanted to receive the communion, however, Bishop Isaiah denied him the Holy Elements unless he condemned the Council of Chalcedon in writing. Isaiah did this because of his zeal for the faith, or because of his innocence and lack of diplomatic prudence.  The emperor became angry and expelled the bishop from the great church and handed it to his Rum (Byzantine) followers.
In Edessa, there were prominent leaders like the Rasafi family, the family of Cosmas, son of Arabi, the Ayar family, and many other notables. They enriched the church with gold and silver gifts and bequeathed to it as a patrimony orchards, mills, shops and public baths. They did not disobey the emperor, hoping that once he left for the capital (Constantinople), they and their bishop could return to their church. But the Arab conquest of Syria frustrated their hope. But the new Arab masters ordained that each denomination should keep the churches already in its possession. Thus, the Rum (Byzantines), who had usurped our cathedrals in Edessa, Harran and western Syria up to Jerusalem, claimed them as their own. No one escaped this injustice save a few churches in Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia). (Michael Rabo, 2: 408-410; the Anonymous Edessan, 1: 236-238)

The Ayar Family

The great ancestor of this family was Ayarius, who was governor of Edessa about 589. According to Patriarch Michael Rabo, Ayarius lost his parents in Colonia, a city in the province of Firsat, Armenia, near the villages of Nicopolis. At Colonia he learned Greek and became a scribe. He came to Harran and contacted its governor Euphendinus. In 589, Emperor Maurice ordered the bishop of Harran to persecute the pagans, and he did. As a reuslt many of them converted to Christianity. The emperor also ordered that Euphendinus be crucified because he confessed Christianity outwardly while rejecting it inwardly. He appointed Ayarius as governor in his place.  The family of Ayarius was distinguished for its wealth and charitable deeds. It became one of the noblest Syrian families, as has already been said. [See No. 1 of this magazine, 13. In the Chronicle of the Anonymous Edessan, the name of the head of the Ayar family is given as Anarius. In this context, however, we followed the Chronicle of Patriarch Michael Rabo.]

The Family of Tell Mahre

The genealogy of the Edessan family of Tell Mahre had been associated with that of the Rasafi family since the time of Segius, son of Iyawannis. The Tell Mahres were the most famous of the Edessan notables whose star shone in the seventh century. They donated precious gifts and properties which they assigned as a patrimony to our church, as has already been said. Sufficient glory for this family is that it produced two great men: Theodosius I, metropolitan of Edessa (813-830), and his brother Dionysius I, better known as Tell Mahre, patriarch of Antioch (818-845). Both of them were distinguished leaders of the church known for their sanctity, wisdom, sound administration and knowledge. Surely, they have adorned the history of the Syrian church with their noble characteristics. May God rest their souls in peace. [Michael Rabo, 2: 409; Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, 120; and our article on Anton of Takrit (Rhetor), 9]

(PmJ -1934 – 02- October and November (1934): 97-109.)

6) Ibrahim, Son of Yeshu’, Governor of Takrit in the Middle of the Seventh Century

In the biography of his predecessor Mar Marutha, Maphrian Denha I of the East (759), said, “When Marutha built two monasteries for the monks and nuns in the names of Mar Sergius and the Virgin, God gave him a noble and trustworthy friend, Ibrahim, son of Yeshu’, governor of Takrit, to help him accomplish his projects. Ibrahim was wise, God-fearing, and loving. So it is not improper that he should be called the “second Abraham.”  He built monasteries and churches in the city of Takrit and its suburbs, like the Monastery of the Virgin and the Great Church. Moreover, he took care of the fathers of the church and the monks. If we relate all his good works, it would constitute a voluminous account. May God render him a partner of our saints in His heavenly kingdom.” We wish he had written a detailed account of this noble man, which would have added a page to the summary of his commendable deeds.

7) The Gomya Family (685-804)

The Gomya (or Gomoye) family, one of the noble families of Edessa, was originally from the town of Goma near Aleppo, just as the Rasfa family was from al-Rasafa in Iraq. The central figure of the Gomya family was its ancestor, chief Athanasius, whose biography was written by Michael Rabo, Gregorius Bar Hebraeus, and the Anonymous Edessan. These historians based their account of Athanasius on the history of Mar Dionysius I, Tell Mahre, who in turn relied on the history of his maternal grandfather Daniel, son of Shamu’il (Samuel) of Tur ‘Abdin [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 447-449; Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, 112-113; the Anonymous Edessan, 1: 294-295],  a contemporary of Athanasius. Tell Mahre said,
“Athanasius was wise, prudent, of sound judgment and orthodox faith. He was well versed in natural science He was compassionate toward widows and orphans, upon whom he lavished generosity. His fame spread far and wide, reaching the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan [‘Abd al-Malik was caliph from 685 to 705. See Jamal al-Din Abu al-Mahasin Ibn Taghri Birdi (d.1419), al-Nujum al-Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa al-Qahira, 1: 171], who called him into his presence. Recognizing his aptitude, the caliph appointed him as secretary and tutor of his young brother ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Marwan, whom he had appointed governor of Egypt. The caliph granted Athanasius full charge of the distribution of the kharaj (land tax), and commissioned his sons with the administration of the country of Gonda (sic). (This information is peculiar to the Anonymous Edessan.) Athanasius displayed unusual ability and sound tactics in his performance of this duty, for which he was exalted. He gained  enormous wealth, including four thousand slaves, royal palaces, villages and orchards, not to mention enormous amounts of silver and gold. The amir (govenor) of Egypt offered him money, including the payment to his sons of one dinar imposed annually on every Egyptian soldier in the army, which numbered 30,000 men. This payment continued for twenty years.
“Athanasius sent his older son, Butrus (Peter), to Edessa to inspect his property, in which Butrus set up four hundred shops. [According to Michael Rabo and the Anonymous Edessan, they numbered three hundred shops. The Edessan further mentions inns.] From their revenue he built a magnificent church after the name of the Mother of God; it is said that he only renovated it. Also, he built in the city of al-Fustat in Egypt two large churches, several monasteries and other edifices.”
The author of the biography of the Coptic Patriarch John III of Alexandria (677-686), said, “Caliph Marwan appointed two believing orthodox and excellent secretaries for his son Abd al-Aziz, governor of Egypt, and gave them charge over all Egypt, Maryut, and Lubia (Lybia). One of them was Athanasius, who had three sons; the other was Isaac (he and his son were Copts from Shubrani). Athanasius was in charge of the treasury and of sale transactions.” [Evretts, History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria (Paris, 1904), 12, 18, 54.]
Upon ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s death, Athanasius, his sons and his household left Egypt for Damascus. It happened that Sergius, son of Mansur, a Rum Malkite [ He was father of the famous learned John of Damascus] and secretary to the caliph, slandered Athanasius to the caliph, saying, “the son of Gomya (Athanasius) has appropriated the treasures of Egypt.” But when Athanasius went to see the caliph, he received him with alacrity and said to him, “We do not accept that all this money should be the possession of a Nasrani (Christian). So share it with us.” Athanasius agreed and voluntarily gave the caliph a great amount of money, and even more. The biographer of Patriarch John, mentioned earlier, says that the caliph, contriving many pretexts, detained Athanasius and confiscated the money he had made in Egypt. But the account of the Syrian historians in this case  is more correct and trustworthy. It stands as evidence of the great wealth of this distinguished man. [Neither al-Maqrizir nor Ibn Taghri Birdi mentioned Athanasius, despite the fact that they treated the accounts of the rulers of Egypt in details. This is because the majority of Muslim chroniclers overlooked distinguished Christian leaders and learned men, with the exception of a few, like Ibn Abi Usaybi’a in his Tabaqat al-Attiba (Categories of Physicians).]
Upon his return to Edessa, Athanasius built a splendid baptistry and placed in it the portrait of the Lord Christ which King Abgar V had sent him with John, who was in charge of the royal seal. Following is the reason for the construction of the baptistry:
One year, the treasury of Edessa contained a surplus of five thousand dinars. Still, the (Syrian) people of the city did not have a sufficient amount to pay their creditor. A wicked man told Muhammad, the official tax collector, that if he confiscated the portrait of the Lord Christ, known as the Portrait of the Kerchief [thought to be the kerchief the Lord Christ wiped His face with while on His way to Golgotha to be crucified], the people would even sell themselves and their children to redeem it. When Muhammad proceeded to confiscate the portrait, the Edessans became dismayed. They told him that they would offer everything they had and even die rather than lose it. In desperation, they went to their leader Athanasius, asking him to settle their debt. They pledged to give him the portrait as security until they paid the amount Muhammad demanded. Athanasius responded with alacrity and settled the debt. What he did, however, was to employ an artist who made an exact replica of the original portrait and made it look as if it was old. Eventually, the people paid Athanasius the amount and asked him to give them back the portrait.  He handed them the copy, which they mistakenly took to be the original. A few years later he built a baptistry and a magnificent temple (church) decorated with ornaments, overlaid with marble and adorned with gold and silver [This is what Michael Rabo and the Anonymous Edessan say.  According to Bar Hebraeus, Athanasius decorated the temple with gold and silver and overlaid it with copper], in honor of the precious antique portrait, which he placed in it. He also constructed an aqueduct to bring water to it, as Bishop Amazonius [Amazonius, a Malkite bishop, was still living in the year 522 A.D. See Duval, Histoire d’Édesse, 216.]  had done to the old great church of Edessa. He lavished unlimited amounts of money on this project. Later on, he told the people of Edessa the truth of the whole matter.       Mar Mikha’il (Michael Rabo) said, “I think that since the time of the Byzantine emperors, the portrait had been in the possession of the Malkite (Chalcedonian) people of Edessa, but Athanasius took it from them.” He also said concerning the events of the year 775 A. D., “When al-Mahdi (the Abbasid) became Caliph, he ordered the destruction of the churches built in the time of bygone Muslim caliphs. He also inflicted punishment on the Manichaeans, killing a great number of them. He had Christians arrested, among whom were eight members of the Gomya family. They were slandered to him maliciously because they refused to receive him in their village. They were imprisoned and tortured. Some of them died and the rest were freed.” [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 478-479.]
Syrian historians relate concerning the events of the year 797 that the members of the Gomya family discovered the treasure which has been hidden by the wife of Iyawannis Rasafi when she was deported to Persia by King Chosroes, as was said earlier. Because the Rasafi family was connected through the female line with the Tell Mahre family, this family inherited their house. The Tell Mahre family offered this house to the Gomya family as a part of the dowry of one of their daughters. Her son, Silvestrus, inherited it and then bequeathed it to his children together with other items, including a great amount of money. The children, who squandered their inheritance in frivolous living, became overburdened by debts. They began to dig under the floor and behind the walls of their house, searching for the treasure. They had already been informed of the treasure hidden in their house, known as the Rasafi treasure. After much labor they found the treasure, which they squandered on eating and drinking, and on horses and hunting dogs. The news of their dissipation reached the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who was then at al-Raqqa. He had them arrested and sent a eunuch who confiscated all of the precious vessels which they had sold. Also, he arrested their aged mother and freedwomen and confiscated their money and expensive gold and silver vessels, including jugs and jars of silver filled with Byzantine dinars. They also contained figures of snakes and scorpions made of gold and silver. Others contained simia [ A substance believed to transform brass into gold], which the Rasafi children thought was dust. They squandered it out of ignorance and sold the vessels which contained it.
Furthermore, the eunuch detained their sister, a young virgin, on the fourth floor of a house of a Rumi (Greek, Byzantine) man. He stationed soldiers to guard her. During the night, the young woman heard the tramping of footsteps and mistakenly thought that the guards were coming to rape her. She wrapped her face with a kerchief and threw herself down through the small window to the ground and was badly injured. She died the next day. Scared, the eunuch collected whatever  money  was there and went to the caliph to tell him about the incident. Feeling sad for the young woman, the caliph relented and set her brothers free, giving them one-fifth of the money collected by the eunuch. The Anonymous Edessan sets this event in the year 804 A.D. [Michael Rabo, 2: 485; Bar Hebraeus, 130; the Anonymous Edessan, 2: 4, 6.]
The Anonymous Edessan says that the great Church of the Mother of God, built and renovated by Bar Gomya, was still standing in 1100 A.D. Priests who emigrated to Edessa were praying in it.  He also mentions a group of Syrian notables, among whom were Abu al-Yusr, son of Gaddatha, who was a chief in the city; ‘Abduh, son of Yuhanna, and his brother Ma’ruf; Farlij, Musa and Barsoum, sons of his commander; the brothers ‘Adnan and Qufer; Badrwanj, son of Khanjur; the notable merchants Saliba and Theodore, sons of the archdeacon Basil; and Barsoum, son of Shalbi, who restored the waterspring with his own money.

8) The Leader Marutha, son of Habib of Takrit

Marutha, son of Habib a distinguished Takritian, was secretary of the amir of Egypt. He had power and influence in Egypt like that of the Edessan Athanasius of Gomya. One day he went hunting with his retinue. He reached the Monastery of St. Antonius in the Scete wilderness, where he was received with great honor by the Coptic monks. He asked them if there were Syrian monks among them, saying he would like to meet them. They said that Syrian monks were scattered among many monasteries. He sent someone to gather them and bring them to him. Upon meeting them, he discovered that they had no monastery of their own in Egypt. So he bought a monastery for them from the Patriarch of Alexandria for 12,000 dinars and had the document of sale inscribed on a tablet in Syriac and Coptic, most likely in the eighth century. He called it The Syrian Monastery, the name by which it is still known to this day. (In some copies the amount is mentioned in dirhams rather than dinars, but in fact the sale was in dinars.) This tablet was discovered in the first decade of the eleventh century inside the dome which tops the door of the monastery’s church. This took place in the time of Abbot Saliba of Arzen (977-981), the aged monk Yuhanna, the aged monk-Rabban Jacob, the aged Rabban Ibrahim, the cenobite Rabban Yuhanna and his brothers Matta and Saba, the monk Gabriel, and the monk Shim’un and others. A copy of this inscription was discovered by Timothy Tuma, son of Nur al-Din of Mardin, bishop of Amid and the monastery which belongs to the Patriarchal See. In 1562, Timothy and his brother, Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Ni’mat Allah, stopped on their way to Jerusalem at the Monastery of Musa the Abyssinian in the town of Nabk in Syria, where Timothy came upon a copy of the inscription of the Monastery of the Syrians in Egypt. [Paris MS 27]
According to some sources, the cost of purchasing the monastery was donated by the Syrians of Takrit through the efforts of the great leader Marutha. This monastery was located in the Nitrun (Nitrene) Valley. The following inscription was found on its altar:

Musa, superior of this monastery, erected this holy altar in the Monastery of the Mother of God, for the honor, glory and exaltation of the Holy, Worshiped and One Essence Trinity, in the time of Patriarch Gabriel (of Alexandria, 909-920), and Patriarch Yuhanna V of Antioch (910-922), on May 5, 1225 of the Greeks/914 A.D.  May God reward and protect him and every believer who participated in the building of this holy altar and the monastery. May God forgive their sins and have mercy on their souls and the souls of their deceased ones, because they did this in His honorable name.

The following inscription was found on the door of the monastery:

Musa of Nisibin, abbot of this monastery, erected this door with his own money in 1238, in the time of the blessed Patriarchs Cosmas III of Alexandria (920-932), and Mar Basilius II of Antioch (923-935), for the glory and honor of the Holy Trinity. May God reward him and those who participated with him for the sake of His name. May God answer their requests.

Since this monastery and its monks have gained widespread fame among the Syrian monasteries, we found it appropriate to mention the names of some of its elect abbots, which we found in its important manuscripts. They are:

1) Bar ‘Idi, abbot of this monastery (851-859)
2) Yusuf I (888)
3) Yuhanna I, son of Makarius (894)
4) Musa of Nisibin (907-944). He was a diligent man who went through the Syrian countries collecting magnificent Syriac manuscripts containing rare information, which he added to the library of the monastery.  In the middle of the nineteenth century they were purchased by the British Museum and other European libraries.
5) Saliba of Arzen (977-981)6) Gabriel (tenth century?)
7) Yuhanna II (before 1006)
8) Dawud (David: 1006-1007)
9) Basil (1222)
10) The Qummus (chief priest) Yuhanna III
11) Yeshu’ of Zarjal (1254-1257)
12) Yusuf II (thirteenth century)
13) Constantine I (thirteenth century)
14) Constantine II (thirteenth century).
15) Yuhanna IV of Basibrina (fourteenth century)
16) Metropolitan Severus Quryaqos of Lebanon (1484-1529). The monks and ascetics during his leadership numbered thirty-four, among whom were Metropolitan Yuhanna and Metropolitan Khalaf, who resigned their leadership to become anchorites in this monastery.
17) Qummus Yuhanna V of Cyprus (1518)
18) Metropolitan Iyawannis Jirjis, son of Amir Shah of Wank (1633)
19) Qummus Abd al-Masih (1634)

The Monastery of the Syrians is still populated by Coptic monks.

9) The Ishaquni Family

We failed to mention the noble Ishaquni Family of Amid, which should have been placed after the biography of the leader Butrus of Homs.
Ishaquni was a remarkable family founded by the patrician (consul) Ishaq, son of Bar’i, a commander at Amid. Zachariah of Mitylene says that Isaac’s prominent position placed him above the rest of the patricians and rulers of the East. Being wealthy, he was very generous to the church of Amid. Concerning the events of the year 503 A.D., he further says, “The Persian King Kawad waged war against the city of Amid and subdued it, killing 80,000. He took from the treasury of the Church of the Forty Martyrs great quantities of church gold and silver vessels and costly garments, which the wealthy leader (consul) Ishaq, son of Bar’i, had donated to the church a short time before.” [Zachariah of Mitylene, 2: 78. According to the English translation, Zachariah said of these events, “But he (King Kawad) took a quantity of silver and gold and the holy vessels and costly garments formerly belonging to Isaac bar Bar’ai, a consul and rich man of the city, which had come to the church by inheritance a few years before.” See J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks, trans., The Syriac Chronicle Known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene (London, 1899), 158. Tr] From this account we see that Patrician Ishaq flourished in the second half of the fifth century.
Patriarch Michael Rabo mentions among a group of archimandrites and noble ascetics who, because of persecution for their adherence to the Orthodox faith, deserted their monasteries between 521 and 527, Iliyya (Elijah) archimandrite of the Monastery of Ishaquni. Most likely, the remarkable members of the Ishaquni family did built a monastery in their name, even if Elijah was not a member of the family. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 1: 266)] Among the members of this noble family was Tuma, the ascetic saint, whose life was written by the contemporary historian John of Ephesus. John was a friend of Tuma, whom he  accompanied to Antioch. He visited his hermitage in Egypt and detailed his activities. He said, “Tuma, of the famous Ishaquni family, was a handsome and charming young man. Like the children of kings, he was raised in affluence. He was very elegant and extravagant and used to wash his hands and face ten times a day. He was extremely wealthy, possessing enormous amounts of money, property, slaves and maid-servants. He attached himself to Mara III, metropolitan of Amid, who ordained him a deacon and made him his secretary. When the metropolitan was banished to Petra and then went with his entourage to Alexandria in 519, Tuma was in his company. At Alexandria, Tuma met an ascetic and wished to follow his manner of living. To do so, he dwelt in an old cistern and devoted his time to worship and spiritual exercise until his facial features changed. Upon the death of the confessor metropolitan around 530, his associates decided to transport his body to his country (Amid). They urged Tuma to return to his homeland to inspect his extensive possessions. Upon returning to Amid, he declined to enter his house but went to reside in the Monastery of Mar Yuhanna. He shunned people and devoted his time wholeheartedly to the worship of God, with much weeping and submission. He became a good example of abstinence after a life of indulgence.”
John of Ephesus goes on to say, “After Tuma divided his possessions with his virtuous sister, Cosmo, which he most likely donated to the monasteries and to the needy, he removed to his hermitage in Alexandria. Here he led an ascetic life, as he had before, for twenty-six years, until God transported him to his abode of honor in 546 A.D. Three years after his death, his intimate friend the ascetic monk Zota died. See (may God protect you) how this man, who was raised in affluence, achieved the highest degree of virtue because he preferred God’s love to the world. He won a good name and the felicity of the life to come. May God sanctify his memory. [John of Ephesus, The Life-Stories of Eastern Saints, 1: 187-213]

10) The Scribe ‘Ali Ibn al-Khammar of Baghdad (977).

Khammar was a rich Syrian family of Baghdad in the tenth century. Two of its members, the brothers ‘Ali and al-Hasan, the sons of Suwar, son of Baba, son of Behnam, widely known as Ibn al-Khammar, were distinguished for their noble origin and learning.
Aftekin, the Turkish commander and freed-slave of Mu’izz al-Dawla ibn Buwayh, chose the elder brother, ‘Ali, as his secretary and took him along when he invaded Syria. Aftekin was a prominent Turkish commander who, after the death of Subustakin in 974, became the ruler of Syria by the consent of its citizens. He terminated the khutba (Proclamation) of the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu’izz li Din Allah and proclaimed the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Taii’ li Allah (as the lawful sovereign). He defeated the Egyptian army commanded by Jawhar. At the end of August 977, the Fatimid Caliph al-‘Aziz defeated him outside Ramla and took him captive to Egypt. He treated him with charity until his death from poisoning. [Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, 1: 255-272; Ibn Taghri Birdi, al-Nujum al-Zahira, 4: 108; Muhammad Kurd Ali, Khitat al-Sham, 1: 221-222; Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, 193-194, relates how Aftekin became subject to the Byzantine Emperor John Tzimisces, who called him Alftekin.]  Al-‘Aziz also killed his secretary ‘Ali, who left behind a good name and commendable deeds. Among his remarkable achievements was the renovation of the dome of the Church of the Resurrection, the object of Christian adoration.In his continuation of the history of Sai’d ibn Batriq, the Malkite Rum historian Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Antaki said, “In the course of the leadership of Anba Tuma, the Patriarch (i.e., Tuma II, the Rum Patriarch in Jerusalem, 969-980) retrieved (sic) and restored what had been ruined in the Church of the Resurrection (This church was pillaged and its doors were set on fire by Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Sannaji, governor of Jerusalem and his men; its dome collapsed on May 23, 966.), through the efforts of a Christian Syrian scribe called ‘Ali ibn Suwar, also known as Ibn al-Khammar, who rebuilt the dome of the Church of Resurrection.  This man, Ibn Suwar, was with Aftekin, the Turk from Iraq who conquered Syria. He was a very rich man of extensive wealth. He was killed when Aftekin was defeated and fled before he had finished the rebuilding of the Church of the Resurrection. Another copy states,“Most of what had been ruined was rebuilt by a Christian scribe called Ibn Sawar” [Vol. 2: 125, 240]
Al-Hasan, known as Abu al-Khayr Ibn al-Khammar, was born in 941 or 942. He studied under the Syrian Yahya ibn ‘Adi and became a famous physician and philosopher. [Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christlichen Arabischen Literatur, 2 (Vatican City, 1947): 156, calls him a Nestorian who joined the School of Yahya ibn ‘Adi, but offers no proof. Tr.] He was of utmost intelligence, prudence and social behavior. He was mentioned at length in books of philosophy. Muslim writers mention him with great esteem. Among those who studied medicine and philosophy under him was master Abu al-Faraj ibn Hindo.
It was known that when al-Hasan was invited by a man of piety, he would go on foot to meet him. But when the sultan summoned him to his presence, he went mounted in the manner of kings and great men. He would surround himself with three hundred Turkish attendants riding excellent horses. Upon arriving in the sultan’s presence, he would kiss the ground before him with utmost reverence. This is what Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, quoting Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ridwan, wrote about him.
His important works on medicine and other sciences are mentioned positively. Fifteen of these consisted of full-length books and treatises; six others are mentioned only by name in Ibn al-Nadim’s al-Fihrist . They include three treatises on harmonizing the ideas of philosophers with those of the Christians. [Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, 270; Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Tabaqat al-Attiba’, 1: 322-332; our article “Nawabigh al-Suryan fi al-Arabiyya al-Fusha”, 5]

11- The Family of Abu ‘Imran of Takrit (991-1097).

The account of the Family of ‘Imran of Takrit, their noble origin and ancient ancestry, combining the glory of the present world with the reward of the next, constitutes a lengthy chapter in the history of our people. Suffice it to say that Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus wrote golden lines in praise of this family. No wonder that it is the pride of Takrit, the ornament of Iraq, and the crown of its notables.Concerning the events of the year 991 A.D., Bar Hebraeus said, “As the wicked governors of Takrit oppressed its Syrian Christian citizens with heavy taxes, they deserted their city and were scattered throughout the countries. But wherever they resided, they built churches and monasteries and adorned them with precious gifts. The most famous of them were three noble brothers of the Family of Abu ‘Imran who lived in Melitene. They built in that city churches and convents, and monasteries for monks in its suburbs. [When the Coptic bishop of Tennis was delegated by his Patriarch of Alexandria to Mar Yuhanna Ibn Abdun, Patriarch of Antioch, he mentioned that the Syrian Orthodox had fifty-six churches in Melitene at the beginning of the eleventh century. See Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 2: 145.] On Fridays they visited the poor from early morning to noontime to offer them help. The Byzantine Emperor Basilius II (976-1025) [ Basilius II and his brother Constantine VIII ruled after John I Tzimsces for 58 years] resented them, and because Melitene was under his authority, he forced them to mint the state’s coins for one year. They did so, but their wealth did not diminish. One day the emperor needed funds and went personally to ask them to lend him money. When they saw him, they prostrated themselves before him in utmost reverence and offered him a hundred qantars of gold, the equivalent of a million gold dinars. [The qantar was estimated at 10,000 dinars. In his Subh al-A’sha, al-Qalqashandi said that Arabic dictionaries differ regarding the worth of the qantar.] However, the emperor paid back the debt, thereby proving that he was just.
Chronicles are replete with commendable accounts of their generosity and wealth. It was said that at one time when the Turks invaded Melitene, the elder brother Shaykh Abu Salim, who was on a visit to some monasteries, fell into their hands and was taken captive. The Turks said to him that since he was rich, he should ransom himself.  Abu Salim said, “If you sell me all the captives, I will buy them.” The captors laughed and said, “How much will you pay for them?” He said, “I will pay five dinars for each one of them.” They said, “We agree.” When he was assured of their word, he sent for the money and ransomed the captives, who numbered fifteen thousand. The ransom money amounted to 75,000 dinars, which he paid for the sake of God and for obtaining His good will. May God make the kingdom of heaven his final abode! Bar Hebraeus added, “We have only recorded these ancient chronicles in order that people might know the wealth and affluence our nation had enjoyed, and to what condition it has gotten today.” [Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal {Compendious History of Dynasties}, 197-198.) What shall we ourselves say about the condition of our people today?
Bar Hebraeus also said in the annals of the year 1096, “After Gabriel, the ruthless Greek governor of Melitene, had its learned Bishop Mar Yuhanna ibn Sabuni killed unjustly, his wickedness raged even more by poisoning to death in that same year the prominent Orthodox Abu Salim, son-in-law of the Family of Abu ‘Imran. In the following year (1097), he killed three venerable Syrian merchants:  Barsoum, son of Ibn al-Rahiba, and his two sons, Basil Hawwa and the deacon Sahdo of the village of Tantini. He confiscated their possessions and the gold, silver, and furnishings of the family of Abu Mansur ibn Malka.  He demolished their houses and built with their stones the citadel and the walls of the city. Moreover, he looted the crosses, censors, Chrism jars, and church vessels of the Great Church of Melitene.” [Bar Hebraeus, 262]

12) Deacon Theodore, son of Marcus of Takrit (1046)

Hiba, or Theodore, son of Marcus, son of Yuhanna, a famous and wealthy merchant of Takrit (Hiba, Theodore in Greek, means the gift of God) flourished in the middle of the eleventh century. He lavished on the church abundant generosity. With his own money he built in Takrit a new church in the name of the Virgin and Mar Ahodemeh. In a magnificent copy of the Gospel transcribed in the Estrangelo script, the famous copyist monk Emmanuel of Basibrina of Tur ‘Abdin said that he finished its transcription at the Monastery of Qartmin on November 2, 1353 of the Greeks/1041 A.D., according to two correct copies. It was donated as a patrimony to the cathedral of Takrit known as the New Church, named after the Virgin, the Apostles, and the martyr Mar Ahodemeh by deacon Theodore, that is Hiba, son of Marcus, son of Yuhanna of Takrit, who built it with his own money in the time of the diligent shepherd the Maphryono Mar Basilius IV of Takrit and All the East in 1046. Praising Theodore, Emmanuel said, “He was the descendant of a glorious and noble house. He was known for his nobility, virtue, and zeal for religion. He was devoted to building and adorning churches.” [See St. Mark in Jerusalem, Syriac MS 1.]

13) The Tayyib Family of Takrit (about 1120-1273)

The Tayyib were a noble Syrian family of Takrit whose men were engaged in business. They moved to Egypt and mingled with Coptic families. They occupied high positions in the Egyptian government, and some of them filled prominent ranks in the church. They combined knowledge with actions and came to be known as the Family of ‘Amid (Ameed).
Jirjis al-Makin, known as Ibn al-‘Amid, said of his family, “In the time of the Caliph al-Amir bi Ahkam Allah (the Fatimid Caliph Abu ‘Ali al-Mansur ibn al-Musta’li, who became caliph on December 13, 1100 and died in October 1130), a Syrian Christian from Takrit called al-Tayyib ibn Yusuf came to Egypt with many loads of ‘Atabi clothes and lined silk garments [‘Atabi is a kind of cloth, and Abrad silk is a kind of lined cloth] manufactured in India and Yaman. He offered the best of these materials as a gift to the Caliph al-Amir bi Ahkam Allah, who appreciated his gift and rewarded him generously. The caliph summoned him to his presence and liked his expression, decorum and reasoning and ordered him to stay in Egypt. He exempted his business from taxes and offered him a village in the Houf district (The Houf is divided into eastern and western districts, yet they are connected with each other. The eastern Houf faced the area leading to al-Sham (Syria), while the western faced Dimyat (Damieta). Both contained many towns and villages. [See Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu’jam al-Buldan, 2: 267] called Bahida, near Ladmas (sic). Al-Tayyib resided in Cairo until the Caliph al-Amir died in 1130, and then moved to live in Samutiya, where he married a native woman and had a son named Qarawina (sic). Al-Tayyib died and was buried in the church of Samutiya. His son, Qarawina, grew up to become a scribe and became busy with serving the government. He fathered a son whom he named al-Tayyib after his father, and who also grew up to be a skillful scribe. He moved to Cairo, mingling with its dignitaries and entering their service. When the dignitaries witnessed his sharp intelligence, reasoning and good conduct, they employed him as the administrator of the Gharbiyya district; he moved and lived there for seven years. He gained fame and desired to engage in agriculture and raising cattle. As he gained great fame, he was forced to pay 20,000 Egyptian dinars. [Most likely this amount was exacted unjustly from him.] He had no choice but to sell his possessions of cattle and house furniture to pay that sum. He further pledged not to occupy a governmental position or teach his children to be scribes.
Qarawina had five children, four of whom became bishops (The names of these bishops, unfortunately, are not found in the history of the Coptic Church. What is unusual is that seldom did four brothers become bishops. See how righteous this family was, and how its men devoted themselves to religious service.), the youngest of whom was Abu al-Makarim, who owned cattle, farms, and over a thousand beehives. He married the sister of al-Makin Sim’an, son of Kalil Maqara (Makarius), from the family of Mikha’il (Michael) Bisho. (That is al-Ramla, in the neighborhood of Banha.) In former times Bisho was called Mikha’il in honor of a church named for the Angel Mikha’il (Michael). Thus, it came to be known as the village of Mikha’il.Al-Makin Sim’an was a skillful scribe (secretary) who occupied various positions in the Egyptian government. In the year 1173 he served in the military department of al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din Ayyub (Saladin), who granted him a fief land in Hajrawan (sic). He continued to serve the army department until the year 603 A.H./1206 A.D. He left the service of the Adiliyya government [the government of al- Malik al-Adil, Saladin’s brother] and became a monk at the Monastery of Bhannis (Yuwannis), in the Hubayb valley in the Scete desert. He became known for his strict devotion and good conduct. (Al-Makin Sim’an (Simon) was son of Kalil, son of Maqara (Makarius), son of Abu al-Faraj the Copt. He was a venerable monk who wrote a book entitled Rawdat al-Wahid was Salwat al-Farid, in twelve chapters. Copies of this book are in the libraries of the Za’faran Monastery and St. Mark Monastery in Jerusalem. It was published in Egypt in 1885.) [ Barsoum’s information about al-Makin Sim’an is not as clear as that produced by Georg Graf, who says al-Makin Sim’an served Saladin in 1173. But three years later he entered the Monastery of Bhannis, where he lived as a monk for thirty years, devoting his time to writing and the spiritual training of monks. He died in 1206. Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christlichen Arabischen Literature, 2: 336, gives the title of his book as Rawdat al-Faird was Salwat al-Wahid. Tr] He sired three children, including al-Najib Abu al-Fadl and al-‘Amid Abu al-Yasir, who served in the army department, holding the position of his uncle al-Makin Sim’an, who had become a monk. His life was like that of saintly monks who lived in the wilderness. He spent most days fasting and praying incessantly, while not neglecting to carry out his service at the army department. He never hoarded possessions, but distributed to the needy whatever exceeded his basic needs.
Abu al-Makrim was highly respected by al-Malik al-Adil Sayf al-Din Abu Bakr ibn Ayyub (Saladin’s brother) for his religious devotion and honesty. And when the treasurer, Ibn Sinat al-Dawla, fell ill and died, Abu al-Makarim spent forty-five years serving the army department until his death in 636 A.H. /1238 A.D. May God rest the souls of all of them in peace. Amen. [Quoted from a MS in our Library entitled Anis al-Jalis al-Hawi li Kull Fann Nafis by Muhammad, disciple of Shaykh al-Islam Abu al-Than Abd al-Rahim, which contains chronicles of Coptic patriarchs.]
The chronicler Jirjis al-Makin was son of Al-amid Abu al-Yasir, son of Abu al-Makarin, son of al-Tayyib. [See Bulus Sbat, 2: 152. Some writers, including Assemani, mistakenly made al-Makin the son of Abu Elias, but in fact his father was Abu al-Yasir.] He was born in 1205 A.D. in Cairo, where he studied and then served in the army department. When the governor of Syria subdued ‘Ala al-Din Taybars (sic) [In his Littérature arabe (Paris, 1902), Clement Huart gives the name as Taybars. More correctly he is Baybars, the mamluk of al-Malik al-Salih. See the Chronicle of Abu al-Fida, 3: 172], he arrested the employees of the army department, including al-Amid and his son al-Makin Jirjis. Al-Amid passed away in 1238. Baybars then released al-Makin and employed him in service at the army department. Later he became suspicious of him and had him arrested. Displeased with government service, Jirjis moved to Damascus, where al-Malik al-Nasir appointed him as his secretary. According to Bar Hebraeus, about this time (1254) the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, Dionysius VII Aaron, visited Damascus. He went to see al-Malik al-Nasir and obtained from him an investiture (royal decree) for Jirjis. Bar Hebraeus was one of the bishops who accompanied the patriarch on his visit to al-Nasir.  (Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 719)
Al-Shaykhal-Makin died in Damascus in the year 1273. He wrote a comprehensive history from the beginning of the world until his own time called al-Maj,mu’ al-Mubarak (The Blessed Collection), in two parts. Part 1 extends from the creation until the Muslim Hijra in 622 A. D; part 2 continues from the Hijra to the year 1260. He incorporated in it an abridgement of the history of Tabari. He appended to it the chronicles of the first three centuries. The book appearedin print and was translated into Latin, English and French. [Huart, 208, and al-Mashriq, Vol. 12] Jirjis assumed the nickname of al-Makin as a token of love for his father’s uncle al-Makin Sim’an ibn Kalil [For more on al-Makin and his writings see Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christliche Literatur, 2: 348-351. Tr]
Al-Makin Jirjis had a brother named al-As’ad Ibrahim who was secretary of the army department. Ascribed to him is a book called Mukhtasar al-Hawi (A Compendium of al-Hawi) [Al-Hawi treats monastic virtues and spiritual life. It is a very thick volume, written by the monk Nikon in poor Arabic. See Kitab al-Nahla (The Book of the Bee) by Makarius ibn al-Za’im (d. 1672), patriarch of the Malkite Rum (Greeks). ] The Coptic writer Ibn Kabar ascribed it to the Malkit monk Antiochus. Some contemporary Coptic writers speculate that the one who abridged it was al-Shaykh Jirjis al-Makin, who they say, ended his life as a monk in the Monastery of Bhannis (Yuwannis), or John the Short, known as the Baghl (Mule) Monastery . Most likely, however, is that his brother al-As’ad Ibrahim was the one who worked on this book;  the person who became a monk at the Bhannis Monastery was his father’s uncle, the monk Sim’an ibn Kalil, nicknamed al-Makin.  Thus, contemporary writers erroneously thought that al-Shaykh Jirjis became a monk at the end of his life. What is known about him is that he was still in the service of the government until his death at Damascus. And God knows best.), composed by Nokon, a Malkite Rum writer and abbot of the Monastery of Sim’an Thaumaturgus, who was still living in 1072. The Coptic writer Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar (1323) said in his book Misbah al-Zulma, “Some Copts abridged this book titled al-Hawi, but, actually it belongs to the Malkite Rum.”
Also gaining renown was al-Makin’s nephew (his sister’s son) Abu al-Fada’il, who headed the delegation of Damascus to Hulago in 1259. [See Habib al-Zayyat, Khabaya al-Zawaya, 8.]

14) The Notables of Amid

The Anonymous Edessan says regarding the legacies of the twelfth century, “Noble men from the city of Amid (Diyarbakr) shunned the world for the love of the life to come and became monks in the Edessan Mountain. They volunteered their work to build a convent for nuns in the northern part of the city. They entrusted the management of their possessions to the priest Abu Salim of Amid in the first decade of the twelfth century. We were unable to locate their names. May God richly reward them.”  [The Anonymous Edessan, Chronicle, 2: 200]

15) The Chief Syrian Physician Abu ‘Ali (1169)

We have also come upon the account of a venerable Syrian deacon, Abu Ali, the chief physician. He was (may God be gracious to him) virtuous. He renovated with his own money a monastery lying to the west of the city of Mardin in the name of the martyr Mar Jirjis in the year 1169. He was mentioned by the copyist of the magnificent Gospel preserved in the Za’faran Library MS 3, which belonged to the Church of the Forty Martyrs in the time of the abbot Mahbub and the priests of the church Ibrahim, Isa and Mansur. The copyist, however, did not refer to the native city of the deacon Abu Ali. Most likely he was a native of Mardin. May God have mercy on him and reward him for his good works.
Regarding the Monastery of Mar Jirjis, Severus Malke, son of Phanna, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta in 1699, said that in his time the Muslims captured it and called it Khudr al-Akhdar (sic). (See the end of the Gospel.) It remained in ruins for a long time.

16) The Shumanna Family of Takrit (1129-1170)

Shumanna was a noble family of the twelfth century which produced three prominent men. The first was Mikha’il Shumanna, governor of al-Ruha (Edessa), who occupied a place second only to its Frankish lord, Count Joscelin, since 1121. He was delegated by Joscelin to the lord of Diyarbakr on a mission concerning the journey of the Patriarch of Antioch Abu al-Faraj Athanasius VI in 1129. (See the Anonymous Edessan, Chronicle, 1: 201.)
The second was Mar Basilius Abu al-Faraj bar Theodore Shumanna, metropolitan of Kesum [an ancient city in the province of Samosata, which according to Ibn al-Shihna was a village a few miles away from al-Hadath. [ See Tarikh Halab, 226. The author does not identify this Ibn al-Shihna. He must be Abu al-Fadl Muhammad ibn Shihna (1402-1485), who wrote a continuation of Tarikh Halab (History of Aleppo) by Ibn al-Adim (d.1262). Tr] and then of Edessa. He was a nephew of the governor Mikha’il.
Mar Basilius was a distinguished church father of the twelfth century, well versed in the Syriac and Arabic languages. He suffered hard and changeable times.  He witnessed the the conquest of Edessa by Imad al-Din Zangi and its destruction, first in 1144 and later in 1146. Zangi entrusted Basilius with the administration of the city because of his wisdom and prudence. He became the highest authority in Edessa and succeeded in having many natives released from captivity. He wrote a short history of Edessa and composed three metrical odes in the Sarugite (seven-syllable) meter on the destruction of the city. He served the priesthood for thirty-nine years, from 1130 to 1169, when he passed away. May God have mercy on him. [The Anonymous Edessan, Chronicle, 2: 305-309; Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 632-639.]
The third of the Shumanna family was the physician-deacon Sahdo.  He was competent, prudent and well versed in the Syriac and Arabic languages. He was still living in 1170. [The Anonymous Edessan, 2: 209]

17) Iliyya (Elijah) of Edessa and Saliba of the Kemash Family

Among the notable Syrians whose commendable deeds are mentioned in history were the two merchants Iliyya of Edessa and Saliba of the Kemash family. They were wealthy and distinguished for their charity. The Anonymous Edessan, in the annals of the year 1146, which marked the destruction of Edessa, said, “When the Turks (the Zangids) captured and looted Edessa, they excavated under its houses, hoping to find hidden treasures dating back to ancient times, which the people of Edessa had no knowledge of. They found in the church of the Syrians precious vessels which had been donated by ancient kings and notables, and expensive curtains donated by later men. Most of these were donated by two believing Syrian dignitaries, Iliyya of Edessa and Saliba of the Kemash family who lived in Constantinople.  They made plenty of donations to churches and monasteries and to the needy. May God reward them in His kingdom. [The Anonymous Edessan, 2: 146]

18) The Physician Shim’un (Simon) of Kharput (1207)

The physician Shim’un of Kharput became well known for his piety and generosity to the Monastery of Zoniqart and its inmates in the first decade of the thirteenth century. In his Ecclesaistical History, the learned Bar Hebraeus said, “At this time (about 1207), the righteous physician Shim’un of Hisn Ziyad [ Hisn Ziyad is modern Kharput or Khartbert, situated between Malatya (Melitene) and Amid, but nearer to Melitene. See Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu’jma al-Buldan, 3: 285.] renovated the Monastery of Mar Quryaqos, known as Zoniqart, in Hisn Ziyad at the confluence of the Rivers Dhib and Arsanius. (Both are tributaries of the River Euhprates.) He adorned it with royal artifacts and gold and silver vessels. He gathered into it about sixty monks, offering them vast tracts of land and plenty of cows, sheep and bee-hives. The monks were served meals at the same table, according to the custom of other monasteries in Cilicia. They became famous for their virtuous living. Before long, however, this holy place fell into ruins, as we shall mention later.” [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 3: 285]
We read in a manuscript copied in the handwriting of the famous Zebina (a Syriac name meaning buyer), which he completed for this monastery in 1227, “This monastery was populated by eighty monks leading a communal life according to that of the holy Apostles.” He calls it “The Monastery of the Mother of God and Mar Quryaqos the martyrs.” [The Diyarbakr MSS, in our handwriting.]
One proof of the flourishing of this monastery is that the Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius III, resided in it for a long time, beginning a few years after his installation as patriarch in 1222. [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 647]The same historian described its destruction briefly, saying, “Physician Shim’un had a wicked son named Mikha’il. He was a young wastrel who encumbered the monks with his demands to the extent that they eschewed him. Sultan Rukn al-Din converted him to Islam and had him expel the monks from the monastery. Mikha’il invited a band of ruffians to torture them and drive them away. They pillaged the possessions of the monastery, including expansive church vessels and magnificent manuscripts. But they   were bought back from him by Saint Dioscorus, metropolitan of Hisn Ziyad. [The published copy of this account mentions “Dionysius, metropolitan of Hisn Ziyad.” More correctly, he was Dioscorus, who became metropolitan of Hisn Ziyad in 1248 and died shortly after 1275.] Among them was a copy of the pictorial Gospel in the handwriting of Rabban Zebina, which the metropolitan donated as a patrimony to the Syrian church of Tabriz. Divine justice punished this wicked man, however, in the same summer when he perpetrated his abominable acts. He was killed in the warfare started by the citizens of Hisn Ziyad and Sharaf al-Din ibn al-Shaykh ‘Adi in support of Rukn al-Din against Sultan ‘Izz al-Din. [Bar Hebraeus, 1: 723, 725.]

19) The Family of Tuma of Baghdad (1143-1277)

Members of this family were known for their nobility, wealth, knowledge, able administration, and high ideals. Their star shone in the twelfth century. Church history mentioned their ancestor Abu Tahir Tuma in the year 1143, in which the Maphryono Li’azar (Lazarus) of the East ordained his two sons and cousin deacons [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 3: 327]. But the founder of their business and the builder of their grandeur was the physician Amin al-Dawla Abu al-Karam ibn Sa’id ibn Yahya ibn Hibat Allah ibn Tuma the Syrian of Baghdad. He was a distinguished physician and a prominent dignitary of that city. [Ibn Abi Usaybi’a erroneously called him Abu al-Firanj. Actually, Sa’id (Syriac Soloqo) is an ancient Syriac Christian name.]
At the beginning, Sa’id was engaged in medical sciences. Because of this, he served Najm al-Dawla Abu al-Yumn Najah al-Sharabi, and later became his vizier and secretary. He was a proficient and successful physician. He entered the service of the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir (reigned 1180-1225) and participated with his physicians in diagnosing his ailments. For his honesty and able administration, the caliph entrusted him to serve in different departments. He advanced in rank to become like one of his ministers. The caliph trusted him so much that he made him the keeper of his possessions and retinue. He even deposited his money with him and delegated him to his chief minister with confidential matters. He was so completely loved and honored by the caliph (al-Nasir) that he committed to his care his sons, daughters and wives. [Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, trans. Ernest A. Wallis Budge, 1 (Oxford University Press, 1932): 385. Tr]   .
Abu al-Karam Sa’id, may God have mercy on him, was a man of high character, honesty, understanding, and liberal–mindedness, and a good intermediary in fulfilling the wants of the needy.
Toward the end of his life the Caliph al-Nasir suffered from failing sight and lapse of memory because of the many sorrows which plagued him. He was no longer able to read or write confidential reports. He brought into service a woman from Baghdad named Sitt Nasim to write his communications and documents in handwriting similar to his. She was joined in this matter by a servant (eunuch) named Taj al-Din Rashiq. Both Sitt Nasim and Rashiq wrote whatever they wished in the caliph’s name. It happened that the vizir, Mua’yyid al-Din Muhammad al-Qummi, wrote a report to the caliph. Upon receiving the caliph’s answer, he noticed a discrepancy between what he had written and the caliph’s response, which made him suspect that there was something wrong. [Ibn al-Fuwati says in his al-Hawadith al-Jami’a, 32, that the Caliph al-Mustanisr (more correctly al-Nasir] dismissed al-Qummi from his position as deputy Vizier on 17 Shawwal, 629 A.H./1232 A.D. This document was found by Rev. Louis Cheikho, who wrote an article about it in al-Mashriq (1920): 569, without revealing the name of its author. For the biography of the Vizier al-Qummi, see Ibn al-Tiqtaqa, Kitab al-Fakhri, 229. The author had a good knowledge of kings.]  He called the physician Abu al-Karam Sa’id and asked him confidentially about the matter.  Abu al-Karam informed him of the caliph’s failing sight and his lapses of memory. He told him that the woman (Sitt Nasim) and the servant (Rashiq) had been tampering with the caliph’s official correspondence. The vizir stopped handling most of the official matters sent to him.Also, Sitt Nasim and Rashiq suspected that Abu al-Karam had discovered their secret and exposed them. Rashiq plotted with two brothers, the sons of Qamar al-Din, who had been soldiers in the caliph’s service, to assassinate Abu al-Karam. One of them was still in the army service, while the other was without a job. They ambushed Abu al-Karam at night as he left the house of the vizir on his way to the caliph’s palace. They followed him to the Ghalla Gate under darkness and, pouncing on him, stabbed him with a knife, wounding him. He cried, “Seize them, they are so and so.” When the assassins heard him shout, they returned and finished him off. They also stabbed the man who had been carrying the lamp in front of him. The city and the caliph’s palace were immediately thrown into commotion. The physician (Abu al-Karam) was carried to his house and buried in it. Nine months later, his body was moved to the graveyard of his family at the Church of Mar Tuma in the Muhawwal Gate. Sentinels were stationed at his house and the house of the vizir to protect the belongings of the women and retinue, which were deposited with him.
The murderers were found and arrested by Ibrahim ibn Jamil, who dragged them to his house.  The next day they were taken to a place where they were killed by having their bellies flayed and their bodies hung over the door of the altar opposite the Ghalla Gate.  The assassination of Abu al-Karam took place on the night of 28 Jumad al-Ula, 620 of the Islamic calendar [According to Jamal al-Din al-Qifti and Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, the assassination occurred on 18 Jumada. According to Ibn al-Fuwati, 366, the Ghalla Gate is actually The Ghalla Gate of Tuma.], corresponding to the year 1233 A.D. [Bar Hebraeaus, Syriac Chronicle, 449-450. See Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, trans. Budge, 385-386. The patriarch has taken a great deal of liberty with Bar Hebraeus’s narrative. Tr]
In his Fawat al-Wafayyat, 2: 191, Ibn Shakir al-Kutubi mentioned the reason for the assassination of Abu al-Karam Sa’id. He says that a group of soldiers had gone to Abu al-Karam in matters concerning their provisions, which were under his control. He was somehow unpleasant to them, and they decided to kill him. Two of them ambushed him and stabbed him to death with knives. This is incorrect. More correct is what we have already related, based on the accounts of trustworthy historians who were contemporaries of Abu al-Karam Sa’id and those  close to his time. This is not to ignore the fact that Abu al-Karam was a man of sound administration, compromise, and sublime character.
Al-Kutubi further said the Caliph al-Naisr ordered that Abu al-Karam’s money be transferred to his own treasury, and the cloth and other property should be left for his sons. It is estimated that the transferred money amounted to 813,000 dinars. His other possessions and property were estimated at about a million dinars. (Al-Kutubi, 2: 191.]
The learned Bar Hebraeus said, “Abu al-Karam begat three distinguished sons: Shams al-Dawla Abu al-Khayr Sahl, Fakhr al-Dawla Mari, and Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir, all of whom occupied great positions in the state, especially the eldest, Shams al-Dawla.” [Bar Hebraeus, trans. Budge, 386]
In his al-Hawadith al-Jami’a wa al-Tajarib al-Nafi’a fi al-Mi’a al-Sabi’a, 198, Kamal al-Din Abd al-Razzaq ibn al-Fuwati of Baghdad said [It is a detailed book published recently in Baghdad by Mustafa Jawad (1351 A.H./1932 A.D.). From this book we learned the name of Shams al-Dawla, whose agnomen was Abu al-Khayr Sahl.) ]  Of the events of the year 642 A.H./1245 A.D.,  he said, “In this year died the physician Shams al-Dawla Abu al-Khayr Sahl, son of Tuma the Syrian Christian. He was raised in dignity, social rank, and closeness to the caliphs. He had been entrusted with the management of the money and affairs of the state from the time of al-Nasir to this day. The Caliph al-Mustanisr had been in communication with the Vizir al-Qummi (already mentioned), and then, with Ibn al-Naqid, about administering the affairs of the state. But when he (Abu al-Karam Sa’id) died, the caliph laid his hands on his possessions and treasures and transferred the precious belongings he had to the caliphate department (the caliph’s treasury). The money which he left was estimated at 600,000 dinars.  He (the caliph) arrested his two brothers and some of his companions for days, but then released them. He honored his two brothers, Fakhr al-Dawla Mari and Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir, with gifts. He entrusted Fakhr al-Dawla with the administrative responsibilities of Abu al-Karam, including the stewardship over the gates and fallow lands kept ready for planting. The caliph also appointed Taj al-Dawla as the steward of the Anbar Gate, which belonged to the daughter of the Caliph al-Mustansir bi Allah. He restored to them whatever he had taken from the possessions of their brother.”
Concerning the events of the year 634 A.H./1236 A. D., al-Fuwati said, “On 10 Jumad al-Akhira, the Caliph al-Mustansir honored his men Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Mukhtar al-‘Aari and his deputy Mari ibn Sa’id ibn Tuma the Christian, and the representatives of his Diwan (government).” (Al-Fuwati, 94)
The learned Severus Yaqub (Jacob) of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta (1232-1241), composed two metrical odes in the twelve-syllabic meter (the meter peculiar to St. Ephraim) in praise of Fakhr al-Dawla and Taj al-Dawla. [See our biography of Jacob of Bartulli, 8.]
In his Ecclesiastical History, 3: 407-409, Bar Hebraeus said, “In the year 1237, the Maphryono of the East, Mar Yuhanna Ma’dani, arrived in Baghdad. He was honored by the distinguished chief physicians, the three brothers and sons of Tuma — Shams al-Dawla, Fakhr al-Dawla and Taj al-Dawla — who were in the service of the caliph administering the affairs of his government. They were astonished at his venerable character, keen intelligence, and great learning and fortitude. They honored him and lavished on him plenty of gifts.”
The three brothers were engaged in the medical profession, which they had learned from their father, and excelled in it. Despite their high ranks, they devoted time to the service of the holy church. Fakhr al-Dawla Mari was an archdeacon, and Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir a deacon ordained by Gregorius Bar Hebraeus in 1277. [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 412. The printed copy of this history  mentions the name of Shams al-Dawla, clearly a copyist’s error, since Shams al-Dawla died in 1245.]
In his sermons the Maphryono Yuhanna al-Ma’dani recognized their lofty positions. In one of his homilies he said, “We ask the Almighty and glorious God to protect the office of the Imam (Caliph) al-Mustansir (reigned 1126-1243), make him prosper, and give him victory over his enemies.  We also ask him to exalt the state at the hand of the eminent learned Shams al-Dawla, the pride of this nation, the pillar of the Christian religion and the lord of the sons of baptism. He is supported by the providence of God and the Abbasid state. We also ask God to protect the eminent learned Fakhr al-Dawla, the lord of his people, the support of the Christian nation and the exalted archdeacon.  May the star of his glory keep shining, to brighten the nation and overwhelm his enemies.
“We ask God to protect the life of the distinguished learned Taj al-Dawla, the pride of the holy church and the Christian nation. We ask Him to make him successful, prosperous and glorious.
“Believers, who are present at this happy festival with safety and no fear, and protected by divine providence, may God bless you by the intercession of the Lady (Virgin Mary), Mother of Light, and the intercession of all the saints.” [MS of the homilies of Ibn al-Ma’dani in our Library, transcribed from an ancient copy in the possession of the late deacon Na’um Fa’iq of Amid (d. 1931)]

20) The Physician ‘Isa of Edessa (1245)

The physician ‘Isa of Edessa was known for his generosity and excellent character. Bar Hebraeus said that around the year 1245, the physician ‘Isa of Edessa the Syrian was known in Melitene. He had studied medicine under Hasnun of Edessa and then moved from Melitene to Cilicia, where he entered the service of the Armenian King Leon. At the city of Sis, he built a wonderful church in the name of the ascetic Mar Barsoum. [Bar Hebreaeus, Syriac Chronography, 479, and trans. Budge, 409-410.]
Bar Hebraeus further related about the events of the year 1266  that when the Egyptians attacked Sis, setting on fire and destroying its great church and even more churches, only two churches escaped destruction, namely, the Church of the Mother of God and the Church of St. Barsoum, because no wood was used in their construction. [Bar Hebraeus, trans. Budge, 446]

21) The Family of Tuma al-Sharqi (1050-1292)

In the thirteenth century flourished in Cilcia a Syrian family who originally came from Hisn Kifa. It was descended form its great ancestor, Tuma al-Sharqi (the Easterner), who lived in the middle of the eleventh century. A member of this family, the priest Yeshu’, mentioned his origin, saying that he was the son of deacon Yaqub (Jacob), son of Shim’un (Simon), son of Tayyib known as the Family of Tuma al-Sharqi from the town of Hisn Kifa. He went on to say that he was born in Hisn Kifa. In his youth he moved to Melitene and received a blessing by kissing the right hand of Patriarch Mikha’il Rabo. He studied under Mar Iyawannis Yeshu’, metropolitan of Ra’ban (1187-1210), and was ordained a priest by the Patriarch Mar Ignatius III, for the new cathedral he built in the city of Qal’at al-Rum (The Greeks’ Citadel) in the name of The Mother of God in 1235. [According to a book of liturgies at the library of the Patriarchate of the Syrian Catholics in Beirut.]
Tuma the Sharqi had three sons who served the priesthood. They were the priests Ibrahim, Shim’un and Yaqub. Among his grandchildren was Philoxenus Nimrud, son of the priest Ibrahim, who later became metropolitan of Melitene in 1272, and then a Patriarch of Antioch in 1283.  He died in 1292.  But the one who achieved most fame among them was the priest Shim’un, who gained wide recognition in the medical profession and played a decisive role in the Tatars’ state.
In his Syriac Chronography Bar Hebraeus said, “In those days the physician priest Shim’un (Simon) entered the service of Hulago, the Mongol king, and gained great fame and a prominent position. He was beloved by the sons of the kings and queens. He possessed royal palaces, meadows, gardens, and plantations in Maragha. His annual income was 5,000 dinars from Baghdad, Athur, Cappadocia and Maragha. Our people obtained great help and honor through him. Because of him, the church enjoyed stability and protection in every place.” [Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, trans. Budge, 437. Tr] Furthermore, Bar Hebraeus brought attention to Shim’un’s eminent position, love of knowledge and determination to revive our institutions and past glories. He praised him so much, calling him “Master  Rabban Shim’un, the King physician of the Kings of Kings, a title only used by Hulago.” [Bar Hebraeus, 437. Tr] Following Shim’un’s suggestion, Bar Hebraeus wrote his book on astronomy, entitled The Ascent of the Mind, and translated from Arabic into classical Syriac Ibn Sina’s book on logic, al-Isharat was al-Tanbihat (The Book of Indications and Prognostications)..In it he described Shim’un as “the bright sun of our nation and the shining star of the age.” [See the introduction to these two books. The first was published in Paris in 1899; the second is still in manuscript form, a copy of which is at our Library and the other is at the library of Florence. Both are magnificent books.]
However, Shim’un and his brother, the priest Jacob, are to blame for opposing the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius IV over the headship of the Monastery of Mar Barsoum, which was under the authority of the patriarch. But then they reconciled with the patriarch and submitted to him.
The Maphryono Gregorius Barsoum al-Safi, brother of Bar Hebraeus, said, “On January 14, 1289, the physician priest Shim’un passed away, having been killed on the same day in which the Amir Bugha, his sons and companions were killed.” (Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, 562.) He had two sons –Taj al-Dawla, who studied under the learned Bar Hebraeus and was mentioned in the annals of the year 1284 (Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiasrical History, 2: 457) and Emmanuel. [Oxford MSS]

(Lum’a fi Tarikh al-Umma al-Suryaniyya fi al-Iraq)
A Glimpse of the History of the Syrian Nation in Iraq

We were requested by our spiritual son, the half-deacon Ni’mat Allah Denno,  [Later archdeacon. He died in 1951. Tr] to write a brief tract on the history of our holy church in Iraq. So we derived from our histories the following chapters. Also, in response to the desire of many noble Iraqis, we decided to publish the tract in the Patriachal Magazine for the common benefit of the readers. We hope that they will gain an idea about the history of this honorable nation, follow in the footsteps of the worthy forefathers, and emulate their literary and religious achievement.
The Syrian nation prides itself on having an honorable and glorious past. It is one of the eminent nations which inhabited Iraq since ancient times and achieved great civilization. It embraced Christianity and established its priestly hierarchy in what was known as the Catholicate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (Arabic, al-Mada’in), capital of the Persian kings. It disseminated Christianity and its principles by its missionaries and monks until it became firmly established in the country. It proved its adherence to its religion by the blood of thousands of martyrs. But, when doctrinal disputes and schism plagued it in the middle of the fifth century and early sixth century, it was divided into two factions and established its hierarchy in the Maphrianate of the East in Takrit in the heart of Iraq in 559 A.D. Then it put its house in proper order in the time of the Maphryono St. Marutha, who in 628 A.D. established twelve dioceses throughout Iraq. Later he added to them three more dioceses in Persia and Afghanistan. In time, the church flourished even more and claimed as many as thirty dioceses. In the twelfth century, the See of the Maphrianate was moved to Mosul and Nineveh. From the time of the Apostle Thomas until Basilius Behnam IV (1859), there were 102 Maphryonos (Catholicoi), and 81 from the time of Mar Ahodemeh (d. 575).

Its Dioceses

1) Ba ‘Arbaya. Prior to the year 559, its first bishop was Ahodemeh and the last Metropolitan was Iyawannis Musa, who was ordained in 1378.
2) Sinjar. The episcopate of this diocese began in the middle of the third century. Its first bishop mentioned by ecclesiastical history was Qaris about 544, and the last in the middle of the fourteenth century.
3) M’altha, near Duhuk (in northern Iraq), whose bishop was mentioned in the third decade of the fifth century.
4) Arzen. Its episcopate began in the middle of the third century. The first of its bishops mentioned by history was Daniel in 410.
5) Gomel or Marga (Marj). Its first bishop was Ithalalha (God Exists) in the year 628. One of its bishops was Mar Bar Hadh Bishabba in 818.
6) Baremman, or Beth Waziq (Bawazij), on the bank of the Tigris River. Six of its bishops are known, the first of whom was Mazina in 620, and the last Mikha’il Mukhlis, who was ordained in 1287.
7) Karma, a town near Takrit. History has preserved for us the names of six of its bishops, the first of whom was Yuhanna in 700, and the last was Basilius. Its bishopric was established in 628.
8) Jazirat Qardu (Ibn ‘Umar). It took the place of the episcopate of ancient Bazabde, which dates back to the holy Apostles. History mentions Mizra, one of its bishops, in the year 120. When the Muslims rebuilt the city of Jazira, a bishopric was established in it. History mentions thirty-six metropolitans who occupied the see of this bishopric, the last of whom was Julius Behnam of ‘Aqra (d. 1927).
9) Banuhadra (present-day Duhuk, in northern Iraq). Its first bishop was Sulayman in the year 424. Zachi (593-605) was known among its other bishop. Its last bishop was Iyawannis Ayyub (Job) Malphono, who was ordained in 1284.
10) Firshapur (Piruz Shapur), or al-Anbar, or the Arabs of the Banu Nimr. Its bishopric was established in 628. Its first bishop was the venerable ascetic Aho.
11) Shahrzur. Its bishopric was established in 628. Its first bishop was Yazid, and the last Bishop Iyawannis in 800.
12) Al-Hira. Its bishopric dates back to the beginning of the fifth century. It included the Arabs of the Banu Bakr. History mentions its first Bishop Shim’un (Simon) in 424, and the last BishopYuhanna in 628.
13) ‘Ana and the Banu Taghlib. In matters of doctrine, the Banu Taghlib were Syrian Orthodox Christian Arabs. Among them flourished the famous poet al-Akhtal. [Widely known as Giyath al-Tahglibi (640-710). He was the private poet of the Umayyads, whom he defended. He is rightly considered the first to institute political poetry. Tr] Their bishop resided in the town of Deqlo (Palms). Its bishopric was founded in the seventh century. Among its bishops were Yuhanna in the year 628, ‘Uthman in 834, Marzuq and Yaqub Malphono, bishop of ‘Ana (ninth century). Its last bishop was Theodore in 910. Fourteen bishops who joined the Patriarchal See in the ninth century are known to us.
14) Nineveh and Mosul. Its first Bishop was Christophorus in the year 628. It present Bishop is Mar Athansius. [When the author wrote this article and had it published in 1936, the Bishop of Mosul was Mar Athanasius Tuma Qasir. Qasir died in 1952 and was succeeded by Mar Gregorius Bulus Behnam, who passed away in 1969. The present Bishop is Mar Gregorius Saliba Shamoun. Tr]
15) Baghdad. Its episcopate lasted about five centuries. History has preserved for us the names of nine of its metropolitans. The first metropolitan was Habib in the year 818, and the last was Timothy Yeshu’, who was ordained in 1256.
16) The Monastery of Mar Matta. This monastery was the see of an ancient bishopric. We know the names of only 38 of its metropolitans. The first was the martyr Barsohdo, around the year 480. Its present metropolitan is Dionysius Yuhanna. [Yuhanna died in 1936 and was succeeded by Metropolitan –Luqa (Luke)  Sha’ya. Tr. ]
17) Al-Kufa. It was the seat of the bishopric of the Arab tribes of the Banu Tayy, Tanukh, and ‘Uqayl. The most famous of its bishops was the most learned Jirjis (Gewargi, George), bishop of the Arab tribes, who died in 725. [For a comprehensive account of the churches and monasteries of al-Kufa, see
Muhammad Sa’id al-Touraihi, al-Diyarat wa al-Amkina al-Nasraniyya fi al-Kufa was Dawahiha (The Monasteries and Christian Places in al-Kufa and its Surroundings: Beirut, 1981). Tr.]
18) Narsibad. Of its bishops are mentioned Sharbil about the year 780 and Iliyya (Elijah) in 834.
19) Kurum, among whose bishops were Theodore in 818 and Addai in 834.
20) Qronta, situated on the Tigris River in the area surrounding Takrit near the Great Zab, a tributary of the Tigris. One of its bishops who are known to us was Ignatius in the second half of the ninth century.
21) Beth Arsham, near al-Mada’in. Its Bishop, the Malphono Mar Shim’un, achieved fame in 505-523.
22) Hassasa, an ancient town near Takrit. Its bishop Matta al-Ra’i was known in the tenth century.
23) Tirhan, a town between Takrit and al-Sin, that is, Baremman. It bishopric was established  in 628. Its bishop was Yeshu’ Rahme.
24) Balad (Aski Mosul). Its bishop was known as Musa.
25) Beth Saida, near Arbil. Its bishops were mentioned in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries . The bishopric of Arbil is very ancient.
26) Sijistan. Its bishopric was established in the middle of the seventh century. Then it was added to the Patriarchal See (in Persia). We know of twenty-one of its bishops. Its first bishop was Efrid in 424.
27) Herat (in Afghanistan). Its bishopric was established in the middle of the seventh century and then added to the Patriarchal See. Its first bishop was Yazdawi in 424. We have a table of the names of its bishops, the last of whom was Iyawannis.
28) Azerbayjan (in Persia). Among its cities are Tabriz and Urmia. The first bishop of Tabriz was known in 1272; the first bishop of Urmia was Ignatius Gabriel in 1189.
29) Bahrain, a large island in the Basra (Persian) Gulf. Its Christian inhabitants were known in the middle of the ninth century. Among its bishops were Jurji in 834 and Marcus in 1175.
30) Jolamark which belongs to the Turkish wilayat (province) of Van. It is the capital city of the Hakari district. In 752, its bishop was Yunan (Jonah).
31) The Monastery of Mar Behnam. It became an episcopal see in the sixteenth century.  We know the names of five of its bishops, beginning with Iyawannis Yeshu’ Khudaydi (of Qaraqosh, 1566-1567) and ending with Iyawannis Behnam of Mosul (d. 1776). [The Monastery of Mar Behnam was usurped by the schismatic Syrian Catholics in 1839.]

Its Known Churches

The Churches of Takrit

Takrit is an ancient city built by Shapur, son of Ardashir (241-272). It was taken peacefully by the Muslims through the effort of the Maphryono Mar Marutha. In it Christianity flourished.
Ibn Hawqal, the traveler and merchant native of Mosul (d. 981 A. D.), mentioned in his book al-Mamlik that the Syrians had twelve churches in Takrit. Most famous of them were the following:
1) The Cathedral Church of Mar Ahodeme, known as al-Bi’a al-Khadra (The Green Church).
2) The Church of the two martyrs Sergius and Bakus. It was a magnificent church built in the time of Maphryono Bar Yeshu’ (669-684).
3) The Church of Mar Gurgis the martyr, which housed the temple of Mar Barsoum. It was destroyed by the governor of Takrit in 1085.
4) The Citadel Church, built by Mar Marutha.
5) The New Church, built by the Maphryono Denha II (727).

Our histories mention the distinguished deacon Theodore (Hiba), son of Marcus of Takrit, who renovated the Great Cathedral in 1041. After the Tatars killed most of the Syrian people, the Muslims usurped it twice, in 1098 and 1258. They looted its vessels and possessions and turned it into a mosque.

The Churches of Mosul

1) The Church of Mar Theodore, known as The Church of the Cross, was still thriving in 1245.
2) The Church of Mar Zaina which is the New Church of the Takritians.  Today it is a mosque called al-Khallal in the Qal’a district of Mosul.
3) The Church of Mar Ahodemeh, known as the Old Gaddan Church, in al-Iraq Gate. It is now in our possession. In the past it belonged to the Takritians.
4) The Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas) the Apostle in the Khazraj district is still thriving. It was renovated in 1848.
5)The Church of al-Tahira (The Virgin Mary) in the Imadi Gate.
6) The Church of the Virgin in the Qal’a district. It was built in 1895.

The Churches of Nineveh (The Mosul Province)

1) We have eight churches in Qaraqosh.One of them is named for the woman martyr Saint Shmuni the Maccabean; the Church of Mar Juji, Mar Sergus and Bakus is still thriving. It is in our possession. Other churches are the Chuch of Mar Zaina, Mar Andrew, and the Virgin, which are in the hands of the Catholics (Schismatic Syrians).
2- In Bartulli are the Churches of Mar Ahodemeh and Mar Jurji, both of which are ruined. The Churches of Saint Shmuni and the Virgin are still thriving.
3) The Church of Mar Gurgis in ‘Aqra.
4) The church of Mar Jirjis in Bahzani..
5) The Church of the Virgin in Sinjar, built by the efforts of the late Abd al-‘Aziz Effendi Bethoun of Mosul in 1925.
6) The Church of the Forty Martyrs of Karmlais. It was still flourishing in the fourteenth century. The Maphrain Ibrahim II consecrated the Holy Chrism in it in 1369.
7) Maphrian Ignatius Li’azar stayed at the church of the village of Beth Taklitho in 1153.

The Churches of Baghdad

We had two churches in Baghdad, including the Church of Mar Tuma at the Muhawwal Gate in the Kharkh district. It was a cathedral, also known as the Church of Qati’at al-Daqiq (Qati’a, plural qata’i’, were plots of land in Baghdad alloted by the Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja’far al-Mansur to notables to build their houses on them.) It was adjacent to Dar al-Rum (the abode of the Greeks). Yaqut al-Hamawi said, “It is a large church, a wonderful structure and pleasant to view. People visited it because of the marvelous portraits it contained and its structure.” The Muslims burned it down in 1002, but it was rebuilt by Maphryono Ignatius in 1004. The other church we had in Baghdad is the Church of the Virgin. In 1934 a church was built in the name of St. Thomas the Apsotle.
In Arbil, we had the Church of the Citadel, or The Great Church, in the name of the Virgin. It was built in 1262 and ruined in 1375.
In BaSaida, a church was built in 1266.
In Seleucia, a church was built for our Syrian people in 609.
In Balad, we had the Church of the Mother of God.
In Takshabr (Beth Takshbar), in the vicinity of Arbil, we had the Church of Mar Daniel, which was thriving in the middle of the thriteenth century. In it flourished a distinguished malphono (doctor) named Yuhanna.
The names of the churches in other dioceses of Iraq are not known to us.

Its Monasteries

The Syrian Church had many monasteries in Iraq, inhabited by a noble group of monks and ascetics. They were also the center of learning. Many Syrians sent their children to be educated in them. From these monasteries were chosen bishops to run the dioceses. Time, however, wreaked havoc not only upon the monasteries, but also with the names of many of them. Following are the names of the monasteries mentioned by the history of the church:

1) The Monastery of Mar Matt the ascetic.
2) The Monastery of the martyr Mar Behnam, known as The Monastery of the Jubb (Cistern), near the village of Qaraqosh. It was built at the end of the fourth century and became the seat of a bishopric in the sixteenth century. It was usurped by the schismatic Syrian (Catholic) group in 1839.
3) The Upper Mar Daniel Monastery, known as the Monastery of Beetles, near the village of Basakhra (in Nineveh, the Mosul province). It was exclusively for monks. It was thriving at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It was mentioned by al-Khalidi.
4) The Lower Mar Daniel Monastery, exclusively for nuns. It is near the other monastery of Mar Daniel.
5) The Monastery of Mar Zaina, known as the Monastery of Qayyara. It was built at the end of the sixth century and housed 170 monks. It was still populated in the thirteenth century. It was mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi in 1210, and by Bar Hebraeus. It is located on the bank of the Tigris River, in what is known today as Hammam al-‘Alil.
6) The Monastery of Mar Sergius, Mar Z’ura and Mar Ba’uth, in the Atshan (Thirsty) Mountain in Sinjar. It was built by Mar Ahodemeh about 570. From it graduated the learned Mar Moses Bar Kepha .It was still populated in 1345.
7) The Monastery of ‘Ayn Qunna, in the middle of Ba’arbaya. It was built by Mar Ahodemeh and was still populated in 829.
8) The Monastery of Beth Asa near Qronta. It was mentioned in the life-story of Mar Ahodemeh. Its abbot was Yeshu’ Zkha.
9) The Monastery of Aqmariyya (Abu Marya) near Tallia’far (Tell ‘Afro, north of Mosul).
10) The Monastery of Takrit, mentioned in the life-story of Mar Ahodemeh.
11) The Monastery of J’atni in the desert. It was named for Mar Ahodemeh.
12) The Monastery of Mar Shamu’il (Samuel) the Mountaineer, on the northern bank of the Tigris River, opposite the Monastery of Mar Sergius near Balad. It housed forty monks. Mar Marutha studied in it in the sixth century.
13) The Monastery of Nardes in Duhuk, named after Mar Li’azar, who was martyred in 480. It was located near the village of Beth Maloudh. At one time it housed seventy monks. It achieved more fame than all the monasteries of the East in the sixth century.  In it the saint Maphryono Mar Marutha studied and became a monk. Among its abbots who achieved fame were Mar Jusi and Maskina.
14) The Monastery of Bir Qawm, near Balad on the bank of the Tigris River. Some maphryonos were its inmates.
15) The Monastery of Shirin in al-Mada’in (Ctesiphon, south of Baghdad), built by the Christian Queen Shirin near the royal palace in 598.
16) The Monastery of Shapur in ‘Aqula (modern al-Kufa in Iraq). It was populated in 605.
17) The Monastery of Mar Sergius, known as al-Ajjaj, betweenTakrit and Hit. It was built by Mar Marutha on the highway leading from the Tigris to the Euphrates. It was mentioned by Yaqut as ‘Ayn Gago.
18) The Convent of the Virgin for nuns in Takrit. It is also known as Beth Ibro.
19) The Monastery of the Virgin, built by the Syrian governor of Takrit, Ibrahim, son of Yeshu’, near the city in the seventh century.
20) The Monastery of Knoshia in the Mountain of Sinjar. From it graduated the Syrian Malphono Dawud, son of Bulus (David bar Paul).
21) The Monastery of ‘Aluk in Takrit, from which came the Maphryono Sergius (872-883).
22) The Monastery of Kukhta, known also as Kukhi. It was built in the name of Mar Ibrahim near the Monastery of Mar Matta. Its abbot, the philologist Athanasius, achieved fame in the eighth century. Its ruins still stand today.
23) A monastery in Sinjar, built by Saint Shim’un (Simon) d-Zaite, metropolitan of Harran (734). It was mentioned in his life-story.
24) The Monastery of Beznitho (in Nineveh, probably on the site where the village of Bahzani stands). It is an ancient monastery in which the tyrant Barsoum of Nisibin killed ninety priest-monks in 480.
25) The Monastery of Mar Gurgis the martyr, in Bartulli. It was populated in 1701.
26) The Monastery of Mar Yuhanna Nagoro (son of carpenters) and his sister Susan, the martyrs in Bartulli. It was built by the learned Maphryono Mar Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus in 1284. It was still inhabited by monks in 1593.
27) The Monastery of the Forty Martyrs, north of Bartulli. These martyrs were mentioned in the Synaxarium of saints.
28) The Convent of nuns in Khudayda (Qaraqosh, mentioned by Bar Hebraeus in his Syriac Chronography in 126 A.D.
29) The Monastery of Mar Yuhanna of Daylam, known as Naqurthaba, located between Qaraqosh and Karmlais. It was inhabited until 1734. Some of its ruins can still be seen.
30) A monastery near Jazirat Ibn ‘Umar, mentioned in the History of Maphrians in 1172.
31) The Convent of Nuns (Sisters) in Baghdad, still populated in 1002.
32) The Monastery of Beth ‘Urbo (the Raven), to the side of Takrit. Yuhanna, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta, stayed in it in 685.
We also had monasteries in al-Mada’in (Ctesiphon), capital of the Persians, among which was the Monastery of Shirin. But they were ruined after the death of Gabriel of Sinjar, chief physician of the Persian king in 610.

Its Schools

History did not specifically treat the subject of schools. What we know, however, is that the majority of monasteries taught the children of their neighboring cities and villages religious sciences and the Syriac language, which was the language of Christians. By sheer accident we came upon the names of some schools as follows:
The schools of Beth Qiqi, Beth Tarli, Tell Salmo, Beth Bnai, and Shawarzaq in the neighborhood of Banuhadra (modern Duhuk). They were founded by the Syrian people in the sixth century. (See the Biography of Mar Marutha, 65.)
The School of Beth Shahaq, a village in the province of Nineveh, where Master Sabroy founded a renowned school. His two sons, Masters Ram Yeshu’ and Gabrielle, and his grandson Master Sabar Yeshu’, benefited the Syriac language by vowelizing Syriac books at the Monastery of Mar Matta.  The philologists Yeshu’ Sabran, Athnasius Kokhto, abbot of the Monastery of Kokhto, Sawera bar Zadiqo, Iliyya Ardoyo, and the monk Ephraim and others utilized their method.
The grandfather of the famous monk David bar Paul of the Rabban family founded a great school of 318 students in Nineveh in the middle of the seventh century. Later some of them composed hymns for church festivals and wrote disputatious tracts in refutation of heresiarchs.
There was also in the Monastery of Mar Matta a school teaching theology, whose principles were
outlined by St. Marutha before he became a maphryono. Students of this monastery continued studying sciences until the end of the thirteenth century. The monastery also housed a library of magnificent books, as is shown by the letters of Timothy I, the Nestorian Catholicos (820), the letters of Master David bar Paul (780), and the manuscripts of Florence Library. One of its important books was a magnificent copy of The Six Days by the learned Jacob of Edessa, copied in 870. Today it is in the possession of the Library of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Mosul.
We regret that we do not have the names of the schools of Takrit, Baghdad, Sinjar and other major dioceses of the East, which produced learned men as shown below. In addition, we should mention the School of the Monastery of Mar Sergius in the Sinjar Mountain, also known as the Atshan (thirsty) Mountain. A sufficient proof of its excellence and fame is that it graduated the most learned Moses bar Kepha.

Its Learned Men

1) Tatian, widely known as the Assyrian. He was born a heathen but then embraced Christianity and studied Greek sciences. He also studied under St. Justinian, the philosopher, and wrote a treatise in defense of Christianity. He compiled the four Gospels into one called the Diatessaron. He contrived a new heresy, maintaining the existence of two gods, about the year 173 A.D.
2) Archelaous, the learned bishop of Kashkar, who debated the heretic Mani about 281 A.D.
3) Mar Shim’un (Simon) Bar Sabba’i (son of dyers), Catholicos of the East, who was martyred in 311. He composed discourses and hymns to be recited betwen prayers.
4) Mar Melis, bishop of Shushan, a Magian by origin. He became a Christian and then a monk, and was martyred in 341. He composed discourses and various metrical hymns.
5) Aphrahat, well known as the Persian Sage. He became a monk and then a bishop. Between 337 and 345, he wrote an important religious book called The Proofs, consisting of twenty-three discourses. It shows his profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
6) Gregorius the abbot, who was born in Ahwaz and resided for some time in the island of Cyprus. He became well known in the year 366, and wrote a thick book on monastic life in three parts.
7) Aho, Catholicos of the East (415). He wrote the stories of the martyrs in the time of Shapur II. He was virtuous and ascetic, and a lover of strangers. He was also a malphono (doctor)
8) Mar Shim’un (Simon) of Beth Arsham. He was well versed in the Holy Bible, and so skilled in the presentation of decisive proofs in the course of debates that he was nicknamed The Persian Dorusho (the Persian Disputant). He served the diocese of Beth Arsham for more than thirty years. He traversed many countries and defended the faith of the Orthodox Church, challenging the Nestorians. He died an old man in Constantinople around 540. He wrote a treatise on the history of the dissemination of Nestorianism in Persia, and another important one on the Himyarie Martyrs who were killed in Yaman. He also wrote treatises on the Christian faith.
9) Mar Akhsnoyo (Philoxenus), the famous learned man and metropolitan of Mabug. He was a master of the Syriac language and a confessor who died in 523. He was born in Beth Garmai and studied in the Monastery of Qartmin and in Edessa. He wrote significant books on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the refutation of Nestorians and Chalcedonians, and monastic living. He also wrote important correspondence, canons and a liturgy.
10) Mar Ahodemeh, the martyr and Catholicos of the East. He was the bishop of Bet ‘Arbaya (the Arab tribes). He was ordained a catholicos and died in 575. He preached Christianity to the Arab tribes and guided many members of the Tayy, Uqayl and Tanukh tribes to Christianity. He also guided to the faith a Persian prince whom he called Jirjis, and because of him he was martyred. He wrote books on logic, the composition of man, and freedom.
11) Mar Marutha, who was born in the village of Banuhadra (present Duhok). He journeyed seeking knowledge until he attained a great portion of it. He taught theology at the Monastery of Mar Matta. In 628, he became a Maphryono of Takrit and All the East. He passed away in 649, having put in order the affairs of the Eastern Syrian Church. He was a diligent father of the church, competent and a great administrator. Through his effort the citadel of Takrit was taken peacefully by the Muslim Arabs. He wrote a commentary on the Gosepl, homilies, and refutations of some Nestorian learned men.
12) Denha I, Maphryono of the East. He studied at the monastery of Mar Matta under his predecessor Mar Marutha, whom he also succeeded in his see. He died in 659. He was diligent and wrote the life-story of his predecessor.
13) The grandfather of Master David bar Paul, who became well known in the seventh century and founded a great school in Nineveh. According to his grandson, he wrote five books of disputations, in some of which he answered sixty questions addressed to him by a Nestorian teacher.
14) Aaron, known as the Persian Sage, was commended by the learned Jacob of Edessa for his excellent knowledge. He lived in the second half of the seventh century. He wrote a book.
15) Ibrahim, nicknamed Nahshirthono (al-Sayyad, the Hunter) who most likely died in 685. He drew up a liturgy. He is one of the maphryonos of the East.
16) Athanasius II, Patriarch of Antioch, nicknamed the Baladi after the town of Balad. He died in 687. He studied at the Monastery of Qinneshrin and excelled in learning. He translated from Greek into Syriac philosophical books, including the philosophy of Porphyry, the writings of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, and the letters of the Patriarch Mar Severus of Antioch. He also wrote a treatise on how Christians should deal with Muslims.
17) Gewargi, the disciple of Mar Athanasius of Balad.
18) Abu Malik Ghiyath ibn Ghawth, well known as al-Akhtal, the famous Taghlibite poet (705). 19) The Taghlibite poet al-Qattami (about 719).
20) The Family of Ram Yeshu’, Gabriel and Sabr Yeshu’ and their disciples, already discussed. They were masters of the Syriac language. They regulated with precession the language of the Holy Bible and other books of the fathers. They carried the banner of learning in their country until the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth century.
21) Iliyya (Elijah), bishop of Sinjar, who achieved fame in 755. He was a wise man and a malphono who wrote a significant commentary on the first volume of the collected works of Gregory Nazianzen.
22) Master David bar Paul, the abbot. He came from a home of learning and excellence. He was born in a village of Nineveh and flourished in the second half of the eighth century. He wrote a book on grammar and many metrical treatises on a variety of subjects.
23) Patriarch of Antioch Mar Quryaqos of Takrit (d. 817). He was a man of great determination and learning. He convened three synods to enact  canons helpful for strengthening the church. He ordained sixty-eight bishops and metropolitans. He wrote an important book in three volumes On Divine Providence and a book containing significant letters, and profound homilies and canons. He also drew up a liturgy.
24) Shim’un (Simon) II, Bar ‘Amraia of Takrit, Maphryono of the East (about 805-815). He composed a memro (metrical ode) on St. Thomas the Apostle.
25) Habib ibn Khadama Abu Ra’ita of Takrit, who was well versed in philosophy and theology. He translated books from Syriac into Arabic. He was the first Syrian to write in Arabic. Of his works only four discourses remain, on the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Trisagion in defense of his religion and doctrine. He was well recognized in 828 A.D.
26) Li’azar (Lazarus) bar Sobto (the old woman), metropolitan of Baghdad, who was still alive in the year 829. He wrote a brief exposition of the Mass and baptism, and a significant metrical ode on the Chrism. He also drew up a liturgy.
27) The monk Anton of Takrit, the eminent learned man and master of Syriac rhetoric, and the authority on the Aramaic language.  His Book on Rhetoric is unique among the Eastern and Western Syrian writers.  It is a book which dazzles the mind with its profound meanings and marvelous wording. Also, he composed an anthology of poetry embellished with similes which revealed his innovative mind and excellence in the craft of poetry.  Furthermore, Anton wrote a book on the Divine Providence, Reward and Punishment, Predestination, a treatise on the Sacrament of the Chrism, and prayers. He was a contemporary of the Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (818-845).
28) Jacob, bishop of ‘Ana, who lived in the middle of the ninth century. He was bishop of the Arab tribe of the Banu Taghlib. He was quoted by Bar Salibi in his commentary on the Gospels.
29) Yuhanna bar Jazwi, the monk from Takrit. The learned Moses bar Kifa mentioned a metrical ode by him on the censor. He was most likely a ninth-century writer.
30) Patriarch Theodosius of Antioch (887-896), who was born and raised in Takrit. He wrote an exposition of the Book of Heirothios, and another book on medicine.
31- Severus Moses Bar Kifa, metropolitan of Baremman, Beth Kyono and Mosul. He was born in Balad and flourished in the second half of the ninth century. He passed away in 903 A.D. Bar Kifa was a distinguished learned man and malphono who wrote books on theology, philosophy and exegesis, including commentaries on the Holy Bible and the Sacraments. He also wrote important books on the Soul, on the Six Days, a commentary on Aristotle’s Logic, on the Resurrection, on Paradise, another commentary on the discourses of Gregory Nazianzen, on Disputation, a church history and a three-volume work on the reasons for major festivals. He also composed liturgies and a variety of discourses.
32) Abu Zachariah Denha the Syrian, a philosopher and competent debater. Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi debated him in Baghdad and in the Green Church in Takrit in 927 A.D. He attributed to him a history, lost to us, on the Rum (Byzantines), their kings, philosophers and chronicles.
33) Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Bakus, a famous philosopher and physician. He wrote many books on philosophy and translated many others into Arabic. His translation was average. His son, Ali, practiced medicine at the Adudi Bimaristian (hospital) built by ‘Adud al-Dawla. Among Abu Ishaq’s writings were a scrapbook of medicine, a pharmaceutical book, and a treatise arguing that pure water is colder than barley water. He also wrote a treatise on smallpox.
34) Bakus’s son, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn Bakus. He was a distinguished physician who taught at the ‘Adudi hospital founded by ‘Adud al-Dawla ibn Buwayh. Abu al-Hasan was a competent translator of many books into Arabic. Both he and his son lived in the tenth century.  He was proficient in discipline and work. He was blind and wrote little except short treatises. He died on September 14, 1004.
35) Abu Zakariyya Yahya ibn ‘Adi, the famous philosopher-logician. He was a native of Takrit but resided in Baghdad. Shihab al-Din al-‘Umari said concerning him, “He is a philosopher whose knowledge is like a meadow, and his pen like lightning. At the beginning of his career he was a prominent and learned man of his denomination. He was known for the science of logic, although it was only a part  and an isolated segment of his extensive and general knowledge. Together with literature, logic completed his excellence. He shone like a full moon as other moons were waning.”
Ibn ‘Adi was an excellent translator. He translated books from Syriac into Arabic. He wrote about seventy treatises and books, including a commentary on Aristotle’s Topics, a treatise on the soul, another on the science of logic, and other books on theology. He wrote a significant book on the Training of Character. He died in 974.
36) Abu al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Sawar, known as Ibn al-Khammar of Baghdad. He was a great philosopher endowed with keen intelligence and broad knowledge. He translated many books from Syriac into Arabic with great precision. In his method of medicine, he followed Hippocrates and Galen. He had many writings, including a book on harmonizing the ideas of philosophers with Christianity, a book on different climate phenomena caused by evaporation, a book on the creation of man and his physical components, a book on the dispensation of elders, and a treatise on epilepsy. He translated into Arabic the Isagoge (the Ten Categories) of Alineos of Alexandria. Under him studied many students, the most prominent of whom was the learned Master Abu al-Faraj Ali ibn Hindo, who lived in the second half of the tenth century.
37) Abu ‘Ali ‘Isa ibn Zur’a, the philosopher of Baghdad (d. 1008). He was distinguished in philosophy, medicine, and translation from Greek into Arabic. He composed books, translations, and twenty-four treatises, including one on Aristotole’s book on the inhabited part of the earth, a treatise on the human mind, and disputatious treatises on theology affirming Christianity in an elegant style. He was effective interlocutor and a devoted teacher, writer and translator.
38) Ignatius Marcus bar Qiqi, Maphryono of the East from 991 to 1016. He fell away [He converted to Islam and then repented but lost his church office. Tr] and lost his church rank. He was a competent poet. He composed two odes which prove his broad knowledge.
39) Ishaq ibn Zur’a of Baghdad (d. 1056). He translated from Syriac into Arabic the discourse of Damastius the Greek on the administration of government.
40) Abu Sa’d al-Fadl ibn Jarir of Takrit. He had a broad knowledge of sciences and experience in medicine, for which he served the Amir Nasir al-Dawla ibn Marwan. He wrote a treatise on the names of diseases and their derivations, and a book on oblations. He died in the middle of the eleventh century.
41) Abu Sa’d’s brother, Abu Nasr Yahya ibn Jarir of Takrit. He was his brother’s equal in knowledge and medical expertise. He was still living in the year 1097. He wrote a book on experiments in astronomy, a useful treatise on the benefits of physical exercise and how it should be used, a book titled al-Misbah al-Murshid (The Guiding Lamp) on the principles of Christianity, and a chronicle from the  time of Adam to the state of the Banu Marwan.
42) Severus Jacob bar Shakko of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan (d. 1241). [‘Shakko’ should probably be read ‘Shabbo’ because the letters ‘b’ and ‘k’ look very similar in the Syriac alphabet.Tr] He was a master theologian and a prominent philologist and grammarian. His works include the Dialogue (Questions and Answers) in two volumes. It treats grammar, rhetoric, poetry, philology, logic and philosophy. Among his other books were Kitab al-Kunuz (The Book of Treasures) on the Trinity, the Unity of God, the Incarnation, refutation of heresies, and affirmation of Christianity. It also contains helpful information on geography and the shape of the world, which reveals his farsighted concepts; a book on the explicit proof of the truth of Christianity; an exposition of church ranks; a commentary on the Sacraments; a book on church music; and twenty-two treatises on  rhymed terms. He also composed odes.
43) Abu Nasr of Bartulli, nicknamed Zakhi, of the family of Habbu Kanni, abbot of the Monastery of Mar Matta. He was a venerable ascetic, still living in the year 1290. He was a proficient writer in Syriac. Among his writings were husoyos (supplicatory prayers) and a metrical life-story of Mar Matta. He had elegant handwriting.
44) Dioscorus Gabriel of Bartulli, metropolitan of Jazirat ibn ‘Umar (d. 1300). He had a good grasp of geometry. He composed metrical life-stories of Bar Hebraeus and his brother Barsoum al-Safi. He also created a liturgy and some prayers marked by mediocrity because of the decline of learning of latter generations.
45) The priest Hasan ibn Zouqa of Mosul. He lived in the sixteenth century and composed a hymn recited at the conclusion of the Mass.
46) Dionysius Hidayat Allah ibn Shammo of Khudayda (Qaraqosh), bishop of Malabar, who raised the banner of the Syrian Church in that land (India). He composed an ode in praise of the Virgin and a general treatise containing canons and regulation. He died in 1690.
47) Cyril Rizq Allah of Mosul (d. 1772). He wrote a Syriac morphology.
48) The priest Yaqub (Jacob) Saka of Bartulli (d. 1931). He was a remarkable Syriac poet endowed with innate poetical ability. He left an excellent anthology and letters.

Its Physicians

Some notable Iraqi Syrians excelled in medicine and in this capacity served some kings and princes. They wrote important books and useful treatises. Some of them have been already discussed, like 1)Yahya ibn ‘Adi; 2) Ibrahim ibn Bakus; 3)his son ‘Ali; 4) al-Hasan ibn al-Khammar; 5) Isa ibn Zur’a; 6) al-Fadil ibn Jarir; and 7) Abu Nasr Yahya ibn Jarir.
Among the other physicians whose names we have come upon were:
8) The famous Gabriel Qajari, chief physician of the Persian King Kisra Abrawiz. He was a notable Syrian and one of the great men in the Persian state. He enjoyed a prominent position and great influence (590-610).
9) Abu al-Karam Amin al-Dawla Sa’id, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
10) Shams al-Dawla Abu al-Kahyr Sahl, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
11) The archdeacon Fakhr al-Dawla Mari, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
12) The deacon Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
13) The priest Abu al-Faraj of Mosul. He was physician of the governor of Mosul in 1121.
14) So also was the priest Ibrahim of Mosul in 1159.
15) Abu al-‘Izz ibn Daqiq of Mosul, the physician. He was still living in 1258. Daqiq was a noble family of the thirteenth century, in which flourished its member the priest Abu al-Sa’adat (1246-1290).. He combined virtue, knowledge and noble descent.
16) The deacon Behnam, son of the priest Mubarak of the family of Habbo Kanni of Bartulli. He practiced medicine in 1292. In this noble family flourished the monk Abu Nasr, already mentioned, and the Patriarch of Antioch, Behnam (1454)
17) The priest-physician Jamal al-Din of Arbil (1369).

Its Notables

[Dr. Kiraz: Please note that these notables of Iraq mentioned below have been already discussed under the topic of A’yan al-Syrian or in the table of the physicians of Iraq. There is no need for them here. However, for the sake of following the author, I merely listed their name as follows.]

1) Gabriel of Sinjar.
2) Ibrahim ibn Yeshu’ of Takrit, leader and commander of Takrit.
3) Marutha ibn Habib of Takrit.
4) ‘Ali ibn Sawar ibn al-Khammar.
5) The family of Imran of Takrit.
6) The deacon Hiba (Theodore) ibn Mark of Takrit.
7) The family of Tayyib of Takrit.
8) The family of Tuma of Baghdad.
9) The family of Daqiq of Mosul.
10) The chief scribe Safi al-Dawla Sulayman ibn al-Jamal of Baghdad.

The Monastery of Mar Matta

The Monastery of Mar Matta is the most famous of all the monasteries of Iraq for its antiquity, monks, and ascetics. Built on the almost perpendicular face of the high mountain of al-Faf (‘the thousands’), also called Jabal Maqlub, it overlooks the vast plain beneath, where the city of Mosul can be seen far on the horizon. It was planned by the ascetic Syrian Saint Matta (Matthew), originally from Amid, also famed as the Shaykh, in th last quarter of the fourth century.
Mar (Saint) Matta was born in Abjershat, a village of Diyarbakr, and cherished the ascetic life in his youth. He entered a small monastery in the vicinity of his village and continued his studies at the Monastery of Zuqnin. Because of the religious persecution inflicted on the Syrians by the Emperors Julian the Apostate and Valens, Mar Matta left for Nineveh, then under the rule of the Sassanids, with a group of honorable ascetics who spread throughout that country. Mar Matta resided in this mountain to worship God. Around him gathered ascetics whom he trained in the life of piety. And when Behnam, son of Sennacherib, lord of Nineveh and its dependencies, was converted to Christianity by Mar Matta, and Behnam was martyred, he asked Sennacherib to build for him a church in the mountain, which he did. Soon monastic life flourished in the monastery to a degree that, in its golden age, it accommodated seven thousand monks. This was testified by one of its abbots, Abu Nasr of Bartulli, who was still living in the year 1290. In the last quarter of the fifth century, the monastery of Mar Matta became an episcopal see and then a metropolitan see. The first of its bishops was Bar Suhdo, who was martyred in the year 480 A.D. for his orthodox faith, opposed by the Nestorian Barsoum of Nisibin.  The metropolitan of Mar Matta administered the vast diocese of Nineveh, Athur, and Mosul for a long time. He occupied a place second to that of the Maphriono of the East. He had special privileges endorsed by the synod convened by the Maphryono Mar Marutha in 628 A.D.
We have a roster of the names of thirty-eight metropolitans of the monastery from the year 480 to this day. A school was established in the monastery to educate monks in Bibilical and theological subjects. Mar Marutha, who taught theology in it, also laid down its rules. It became greatly successful in the seventh and eighth centuries, due to the effort of teachers who amended the language of the Scriptures and the books written by church fathers. Furthermore, a library which contained magnificent manuscripts was founded in it.  They were preserved until the year 1375, but began to be dispersed in 1369. Some of them are still intact.
This monastery produced two patriarchs, seven maphryonos, and a host of bishops and metropolitans who served the Syrian dioceses.  In Syriac histories we found mention of thirty-two of these metropolitans during and after the thirteenth century. A number of maphryonos resided in the Monastery of Mar Matta; five of them were buried in it. Most famous of them is the crown of our learned men, the diadem of our maphryonos, the object of pride of the East, the pillar of the Syrians, and the most learned Mar Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286).
The monastery suffered adverse circumstances. Since medieval times the number of its monks declined. In his Mu’jam al-Buldan, Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1225), said that there were a hundred monks in this monastery. They ate meals together in the winter or summer houses. Both houses are hewn in rock, and each accommodates all the monks. Each of the houses contains twenty tables hewn from rocks.
The neighboring Kurds ravaged this monastery four times, in 1171, 1261, 1296 and 1820. In 1609, together with its church the monastery was renovated for the first time. It was renovated for the second time in 1672, and for the third time during the office of Patriarch Jirjis IV (1768-1781). In 1796, its energetic Metropolitan Eustathus Musa also renovated it. In 1858, Bishop Cyril Denha rebuilt its church.  In the time of Metropolitan Cyril Elias [Cyril Elias II Qudso, born in Mosul in 1824. He became a metropolitan in 1872, and passed away in 1921.Tr], some notable Syrians of Mosul and its villages built rooms for visitors. From 1932 to 1935, quaint rooms with a new style were built in it.

Metropolitans of the Monastery of Mar Matta

From the Hisory of Mar Ignatius Aphram Barsoum, Patriarch of Antioch

1) Mar Barsahda (Barsuhdo), martyred in 480.
2) Garami (544).
3) Tubana.
4) Yeshu’ Zkha.
5) Sahdo.
6) Shim’un (Simon).
7) Christophorus I (628) [The dates of the metropolitans from this point on indicate their term as abbots of the monastery.]
8) Yuhanna I (685).
9) Yuhanna II (752)
10) Daniel (817).
11) Quryaqos (834).
12) Christophorus II (Sarjis), (914).
13) Timothy Soghdi (1075-1120).
14) Bar Kotella (1142).
15) —-?    (1153).
16) Saliba (1189-1212).
17) Severus Yaqub (1232-1242).
18) Ignatius (1269).
19) Sawera (Severus) Yeshu’ (1269-1272).
20) Basilius Ibrahim (1278).
21) Iyawannis (1290).
22) Jumu’a ibn Jubayer (1665).
23) Severus Ishaq (1684-1687).
24) Severus Malke (1694-1700).
25) Iyawannis Matta I (1701-1713).
26) Gregorius Li’azar (1728-1730).
27) Timothy ‘Isa 1737-1739).
28) Iyawannis Yuhanna III (1743).
29) Cyril Rizq Allah (1760-1770).
30) Cyril Matta II (1770-1782).
31) Cyril Abd al-Aziz (1782-1793).
32) Eustathius Musa (1793-1828).
33) Gregorius Elias I   (1828-1838).
34) Cyril Matta III (1846-1857).
35) Cyril Denha (1858-1871).
36) Cyril Elias II (1872-1921).
37) Clemis (Clement) Yuhanna IV (1923-1926). [More correctly, Yuhanna V (d. 1949). Tr]
38) Dionysius Yuhanna V (1935-?) [More correctly,  Dionysius Yuhanna VI (d. 1942)]

The Life-Story of Yuhanna (John) Bar Aphtonia (d.538)


On the history of the Monastery of Qinneshrin, its school, and the chronicle of the learned men who graduated from it.)

The famous Monastery of Qinneshre or Qinneshrin, situated on the left bank of the Euphrates, was one of the greatest monasteries of the Syrian Orthodox Church. The term Qinneshrin (Eagles’ Nest) was given to it in the seventh century which prevailed over its other name, that is, the Monastery of Aphtonia, after its founder John the Edessan, who was well known as John the son of Aphtonia. John   founded this monastery in the year 530 and turned it into a distinguished center of monastic living and the teaching of Greek and Syriac sciences. [This monastery should be distinguished from the ancient city of the city of Qinneshrin, situated to the south of Aleppo, a stage distance from Homs. In his Scholion, 1: 369, Theodore Bar Kuni says, “It seems that worship of the eagle was very old among the Greeks.This is attested by the fact that the city of Qinnshrin was built after its name.” Qinneshre became famous, as mentioned in the Eastern chronicles, but was ruined at the end of the tenth century. In our history, we mentioned 18 bishops of that city from 326 to 945.]
In Mu’jam al-Buldan, Yaqut al-Hamawi said, “The Monastery of Qinnesrin is located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates in the neighborhood of the Jazira and the land of Mudar opposite Jarbas. [By Jarbas, Yaqut means Jarbulus. In ancient times it was called Agrophos (Europos).] Between it and Sarug is seven parasangs (a few miles) distance. It is a big monastery which in its heyday accomodated 370 monks. On its temple is found the following inscription:

O Monastery of Qinnesre, it is sufficient that you have become the visiting place for those who seek pleasure and entertainment. You are still populated and crowded; you are still resplendent and visited. Most of all, you are still the object of wonderment. [See Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu’jam al-Buldan, 4: 165.]

Following is a condensation of what has been written in our church history about this monastery, which we have gathered in order to perpetuate its memory.
The life-story of Saint Jacob Baradaeus says that this saint loved this monastery for its excellences. He visited it to find out how its monks were doing. He served the priestly ranks in it because it was recently built. One day, when Jacob was celebrating the Holy Eucharist, an Arabian who had  recently been baptized was present. He saw fire from heaven and flames descending on the Elements and Angels with heads bowed before the divine sacrifice. He also saw them writing in the Book of Life  the names of those who had partaken the elements. The faith of that barbarian (Arab) increased, and he began to glorify God. [John of Ephesus, The Life-Stories of Eastern Saints, 2: 611.] Prior to that, Jacob ordained two venerable monks, namely, Mar Demit as metropolitan of Laodicea and Mar Sarjis as bishop for Harran. (John of Ephesus, 2: 587)
In 599, Domitian, Chalcedonian bishop of Melitene, using the influence of his cousin, Emperor Maurice, persecuted the Orthodox with savagery . He usurped from them churches and monasteries in Melitene and its neighborhood and also in Beth Nahrin (present Iraq), expelling a great number of monks. He had about 400 monks from the Monastery of the Easterners in Edessa, killed. Because of  this the monks, including those of the Monastery of Qinneshrin, dispersed throughout  the regions. But when the Persians took those countries in the second half of the seventh century, they restored the churches and the monasteries to their Syrian owners. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 386]
In 523, the Slavs entered the island of Crete and other islands. They captured the monks of the Monastery of Qinneshrin, killing twenty of them. [E. W. Brooks, ed., Chroncica Minora, 2: 147]It happened in the time of Mar Daniel, metropolitan of Edessa (665-684), that some young monks of this monastery were possessed by evil spirits. The abbot, Mar Daniel, was told about their case. He advised that a relic of the remains of Saint Sawera, metropolitan of Samosata, be brought to the monastery. When the right hand of the saint was brought and the abbot had the possessed monks stand facing it, God healed them from this affliction by the intercession of the saint. (Michael Rabo, 2: 400)
In the middle of the eighth century this monastery suffered a period of inactivity, illustrated by the following episode. Theodore, bishop of Samosata, who was probably a graduate of this monastery, chose the deacon Jirjis (who later became Patriarch Jirjis I) as his secretary. Observing that Jirjis was endowed with virtue and wisdom, he predicted his future, saying, “I feel that God will offer you a high rank in his church. Therefore, let your eyes be open to take care of this monastery in which you were raised, because it has become inactive.” [Michael Rabo, 2: 475.]
About the year 810, the Monastery of Qinneshrin was ruined and its monks scattered. The reason was that a man named Rabi’, a follower of Nasr who rebelled against the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun (d.833), from the town of Jisr situated on the Euphrates river, raised with his followers the banner of rebellion. He came to the Monastery of Qinneshrin but found no one willing to give him anything in order to save it from his scourge. He allowed his men to destroy the monastery, set it and its matchless temple on fire. They did the same to the temple (church) of St. Thomas the Apostle, built in the citadel which perched on a rock above the monastery.. Afterwards, a group of men called the Gubbites (after the Monastery of Guba), who had broken away from the church and lived in the area of the monastery, came to the monastery and looted the doors and the wood and left it totally in ruins.  This was the first of our monasteries to suffer ruin under the Arabs. [Michael Rabo, 2: 490]
Meantwhile Dionysius I, Tell Mahre, a graduate of this monastery, ascended the throne of Antioch and obtained an investiture of his patriarchate from the Caliph al-Ma’mun. It was then that the Amir Uthman ibn Thumama had captured hollow Syria, Homs and the land of Phoenicia. He proceeded to the Monastery of Qinneshrin and saw how fire hasd damaged its magnificent temple. He was astonished at its splendor despite its destruction. Patriarch Dionysius paid him a visit and asked his permission to rebuild it. The amir honored him, cheered him up, and issued a decree allowing him to rebuild it. He also sent letters telling the workers to help him build whatever he wished of his churches and monasteries. (Michael Rabo, 2: 502) This took place in the year 810 or 820. To Patriarch Dionysius goes the credit for the renovation of this great monastery which, in a span of hundred years, graduated fiften bishops who were a support to the holy church.
We have not been able to obtain the names of the abbots of this monastery except for the first eight. They were:
1) Mar Yuhanna bar Aphtonia, its first abbot, also known as Yuhanna the Great, from 530 to 538. His biography will follow. The church commemorates him in two festivals, one on November 4, the day of his death, and the other on June 26.
2) Mar Alexandrus the aged, who acted as a deputy of Mar Yuhanna in his absence. According to his life-story, he succeeded him after his death. It seems that the term of his office was short. He is commemorated on January 29.
3) Mar Yuhanna II, who wrote the life-story of Patriarch Severus of Antioch before 544. [The Life-story of Patriarch Severus by Yuhanna, abbot of the Monastery of Aphtonia, was published by Kugener in the Patrologia Orientalis. 1904.]4) Mar Sarjis Bar Karyo, who became about of the monastery and then an amanuensis of Saint Jacob Baradaeus. He also became a bishop of Harran. He was mentioned in a letter in Une Martyrologe et 12 ménologes Syraque, in the years 570 and 578, the year of his death. His commemoration is on December 31. He was well versed in the Greek language. We have by him church canons and a treatise on the Mirun (Chrism) [See this Magazine, 2: 12.]
5) Mar Barlaha, who apparently succeeded Mar Sarjis. He exchanged religious correspondence with the abbots of the monasteries of the East, as evidenced by the Documenta Syriaca, translated into Latin and edited by Rev. J. B. Chabot in 1907 from a magnificent British Museum MS. The commemoration of Mar Barlaha is on December 1. [See F. Nau, ed., Une Martyrologe et 12 ménologes Syriaque, in Patrologia Orientalis, 31 ff.]
6) Mar Yuhanna III, the grammarian known as the Psaltes and the calligrapher. He was a proficient man of letters who composed in Greek a selection of hymns known by us as ma’nthos. They are no less excellent than those of St. Severus of Antioch and Bar Aphtonia. Among these were a ma’nith on Yuhanna bar Aphtonia and two on the Patriarchs Mar Peter III (d. 591) and Mar Julian II (d. 595). They were translated into English and published by the English Orientalist E. W. Brooks with the hymns of Mar Severus. [E. W. Brooks, ed., James of Edessa, The Hymns of Severus of Antioch, 246 ff.] From these hymns his time can be discovered. His death is thought to have taken place before the year 600, or shortly afterwards.  His commemoration is on January 13.
7) Mar Sawera (Severus) of Samosata, brother of Patriarch Mar Athanasius I Gamolo. He became a monk at this monastery and then its abbot. He became metropolitan of Samosata, a diocese which he administered for a long time. He became famous for his virtue and the performance of miracles, as was confirmed by the historian Mar Michael Rabo.
Sawera drew up a liturgy in Greek beginning, “Almighty  and Lord of the World,” translated into Syriac in his lifetime by Ibrahim of Amid. It was not mentioned by Renaudot, Assemani, or other later writers. We found a unique copy of it at the Monastery of Mar Li’azar in Habsnas (Tur Abdin) and made a copy of it in our own handwriting. It mentions that this saint died in 625. [MSS of Tur Abdin in our own handwriting.] Mar Mikha’il Rabo says that he died in 641. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 420] His commemoration is on November 18.
8) Mar Agabius, abbot of the Monastery of Aphtonia. We could not find the date of his time. Most likely he lived in the seventh century. His commemoration is on June 21.
We came upon these commemorations in an ancient church calendar at the Monastery of Qinneshrin, dating back to the last decade of the eighth century. It is among the significant books bought in 932 A. D. by Musa of Nisibin, abbot of the Monastery of the Syrians in the Scete in Egypt, and donated by him to his own monastery (Qinneshrin). May God graciously reward him! This book is preserved in the British Museum MS 14504. It was translated into French and published by the French priest F. Nau in 1912. It mentions that these commemorations were celebrated at the Monastery of Qinneshrin. [p. 29 ff.] But the General Annual Calendar of Feasts, amended for the last  ime by the monk Saliba bar Khayrun of Hah, mentions only the festival of Saint Yuhanna bar Aphtonia on November 4. [Peters, ed., Le martyrologe de Rabban Saliba, 141]
The Monastery of Qinneshrin was well known in ecclesiastical history for four centuries. It produced for the holy church distinguished learned men, fathers, and saintly monks, including seven Patriarchs of Antioch. They were: Mar Julian II (591-595), Mar Athanasius I (d. 631), Mar Theodore (649-667), Mar Athanasius II (684-688), who studied Greek in this monastery but became a monk at he Monastery of Mar Malke, Julian III (688-708), Mar Gewargi I (758-790), and Mar Dionysius I (818-845). Three of these, namely, Athanasius II, Mar Gewargi and Mar Dionysus are considered the most prominent church learned men. [Patriarch Julian II wrote a book defending his master and predecessor, Patirach Peter III. He wrote a commentary on the latter’s book, in which he refuted the ideas of the Alexandrian Patriarch Demian.]  In it flourished prominent bishops and learned men, among whom were Mar Tuma of Harkel, metropolitan of Mar’ash (Germanicia), who amended the translation of the New Testament based on the Greek translations in 616 (he is commemorated on June 26), and Mar Sawera (Severus) Sabukht of Nisibin (638-667), metropolitan of Qinneshrin, the philosopher and mathematician who taught at this monastery. Among his pupils were Athanasius II, Jacob of Edessa, and Gewargi (George), bishop of the Arab tribes. It is sufficient praise for him to have had such remarkable students.  Sabukht wrote several treatises and discourses explaining logical and astronomic problems, a book on the signs of the Zodiac, and another on the astrolabe. His commemoration is on September 11.
Among other graduates of this monastery were the distinguished learned Jacob of Edessa, who wrote important books on philology, theology, philosophy, church jurisprudence, history, literature, church rituals and transactions (he is commemorated on June 4 and May 29 and 31); Iliyya (Elijah) of Harran, bishop of Salamya, who wrote a discourse on the Eucharist and a Diatessaron as is reported by Bar Salibi (he was still living in the ninth century); Theodosius Tell Mahre, metropolitan of Edessa, brother of Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre, who was proficient in Syriac, Greek, and Arabic, and well versed in philosophy. He translated the poems of Gregory the Theologian from Greek into Syriac and composed a short ecclesiastical history. He died after 830. [On these fathers see Duval, Baumstark and Chabot. On Iliyya, bishop of Salamya, see the biography of Bar Salibi in Assemani, Bibilotheca Orientalis, 2: 151.]
Many bishops graduated from this monastery. Among them were Demitius, metropolitan of Latakia, who is said also to have been an abbot. [John of Ephesus, Lives of Eastern Saints, ed. Brooks, 1: 241.] He is the one who suggested to Mar Yuhanna, abbot of the Monastery of Aphtonia, that he write the life-story of Mar Severus of Antioch. He died before 567; Mar Sarjis and Mar Sawera (Severus), already mentioned (Michael Rabo, 2: 475); Mar Theodore, metropolitan of Samosata, who instructed his amanuensis Mar Jirjis to be concerned with rebuilding his monastery. [Michael Rabo, 2: 425] He passed away in 738. His commemoration is on September 11.
Mar Mikha’il Rabo mentioned in his history fifteen bishops who graduated from this monastery from 813 to 915. They included Theodosius, metropolitan of Edessa, already mentioned, and Basilius, metropolitan of Samosata (we found in London MS 863 his answers to the questions of some clergymen of Edessa concerning questions addressed to him); Constantine, bishop of Khurasan; Athanasius, metropolitan of Apamea; Ignatius, bishop of Arsamosata; Iyawannis, bishop of Tella; Thomriqa, bishop of Sarug; Anastas, bishop of Rish ‘Ayna; Constantine, bishop of Edessa; Iyawannis, bishop of Apamea; Jirjis, bishop of Zoghma; Cyril, bishop of Miyafarqin; Theodosius, bishop of Dola; Ishaq, bishop of Nisibin; and Aaron, bishop of al-Jisr. [Michael Rabo, 2: 754 ff.]
The Anonymous Edessan mentioned the priest Shim’un (Simon) from the Monastery of Qinneshrin, who wrote a refutation of Maximus’s heresy of the two wills. It appears that he lived until the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century. [Chabot, ed., Chronicon Anonymum ad A.D. 819 Pertinens, 1 (Paris, 1920): 246; Michael Rabo, 2; 754 ff.]
The Patriarch Mar Theodore resided in the Monastery of Qinneshrin. He died and was buried in it. In the same monastery Saint Theodota, metropolitn of Amid, practiced the ascetic life and devotion, following in the example of Sawera, a pious monk of the monastery. Also in the same monastery was interred the body of Saint Tuma of Mar’ash, the confessor, who passed away in the city of Samosata in 542. [E. W. Brooks, ed. Chronica Minora, 227.] Also buried in this monastery was Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (d. 845).
Michael Rabo relates that Patriarch Quryaqus was ordained in this monastery, as was Basilius, metopolitan of Edessa. Tell Mahre, who succeeded him, is the one who chose eight of his fellow inmates, some of whom he ordained as bishops.
None of the canons followed by the monks of the Monastery of Qinneshrin have been preserved for us, nor were the rules of its famous school. But we may deduce from the chronicles of its pious monks, especially the life-story of Saint Theodota, metropolitan of Amid, who resided in it for a long time (according to a manuscript in our private library in the Estrangelo script, copied from an ancient and unique MS in the Patriarchal Library) that some of its monks practiced difficult manners of piety,  prayers and vigils. Some chose a middle way between strict asceticism and sciences.  Evidently, its monks must have followed the rules of their old monastery, i.e., the Monastery of St. Thomas in Seleucia. (Seleucia is the city of Suwaydiyya, located on the shore of the Mediterranean west of Antioch.) It has already been said that Yaqut al-Hamawi estimated that in its heyday it accommodated 370 monks. They enjoyed a special position in the administration of church matters. Their monastery occupied the first place among other monasteries. This is confirmed by the collection of letters whose publisher gave it the title of Documenta Syriaca. Page 131 contains a letter written by the abbot, priests, deacons and monks of this monastery to Theodosius, Pariarch of Alexandria [J. B. Chabot, ed. Documenta ad ill, in Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium (1907.]
At the school of the Monastery of Qinneshrin, subjects were taught in both Syriac and Greek. Specifically, Greek literature was taught along with philology, commentary on the Scriptures, logic, philosophy, natural sciences, theology and jurisprudence. We know this from the multitude of writings of its learned men, as has been said earlier, and from the observations of experts on the history of Syriac literature.
Many monks of this monastery achieved prominence. In his general letter to the Orthodox dioceses signed by his companion monks, Jacob of Edessa said, “ I have taken with me distinguished learned and eloquent men from the holy Monastery of Aphtonia.” [Chabot, 200] Suffice it to mention  that this was a great monastery which raised the banner of learning specifically in the lands of the Syrians and generally over the whole East. The production of its professors and students attracted the attention of the great contemporary Orientalists, who studied them with eagerness and translated them into their languages.
Most of our learned men in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries came from this great institution. Thus, it should rightly be considered as the successor to the famous School of Edessa which lived for 126 years (363-489), nay, even surpassed it. [See ‘The School of Edessa’ above.] It was a school in which flourished the learned Severus Sabukht, the second Syrian scientist who wrote on mathematics and astronomy, and from which graduated the great learned Jacob of Edessa, who, although he completed his studies in Alexandria, yet he was nurtured with rudimentary knowledge in the school of Qinneshrin, where he also mastered the Greek language; a school which graduated George, bishop of the Arab tribes, Dionysius and Theodosius of Tell Mahre, truly a remarkable institution which surpassed all our schools in the Syrian East. It stands on par with the famous theological Schools of Alexandria and Antioch in Christendom. The School of Qinneshrin existed for 350 years (530-915).      .
The Monastery of Qinneshrin had its own ecclesiastical tradition (Syriac, mashelmonutho) and rituals, just like the other Syrian cities and monasteries, like the traditions of Edessa, Melitene, the Monastery of Mar Barsoum, the Eastern dioceses under the authority of the Maphryono of Takrit, Mardin, and the Monastery of Mar Hananya (Za’faran), the Patriarch Seat, as mentioned in our church rituals. Among these traditions we may mention the Gloria, ascribed to the Apostolic St. Athanasius [See Barsoum, al-Tuhfa al-Ruhyya, 85], chanted daily since ancient times in our church at the end of the vespers. This Gloria was chanted after Morning Prayer by all churches except the Monastery of Qinneshrin, which chanted it at the end of the vespers. The church appreciated this tradition of Qinneshrin and instituted it after the year 675, in which was transcribed the copy of the ma’nithos (hymns) which contain the Gloria. [See E.W. Brooks, ed., The Hymns of Severus of Antioch, 387.  ] The Gloria begins, “Glory be to God on High.”)The reader shall see the biography of Saint Yuhanna bar Aphtonia written in eloquent style by an anonymous author, the loss of whose name is to be regretted. Otherwise, we would have added him to the learned men of this monastery. But we would like to present this biography, which we translated into Arabic from a unique Estrangelo script in the British Museum MS12174. The Orientalist Rev. F. Nau translated it into French and published it with an introduction containing the chronicles of Yuhanna bar Aphtoni with annotations. [F. Nau, Vie de Bar Aphtonia (Paris, 1902] We have added what we could obtain of Yuhanna’s scientific legacy as follows:
It appears from the biography of this saint that he was born around 475 or 482. He entered the Monastery of Mar Tuma (Thomas) between 490 and 498, and became its abbot before 528. He established the Monastery of Qinneshrin about 530.  In 531, he journeyed to Constantinople. He was the amanuensis of the orthodox patriarchs and bishops in their meeting with the Chalcedonian bishops. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 1: 284.] He met with the Emperor Justinian and returned to his own monastery in 532 or 533. He passed away on November 4, 538, being 63 or 55 years old.
Yuhanna became well known as Bar Aphtonia, after his venerable mother Aphtonia, who deserved to be immortalized because of her son’s good name, and the monastery became famous as the Monastery of Aphtonia. Yuhanna completed his studies at the Monastery of the Apostle Thomas, where he mastered the Greek language in addition to his native Syriac language, and came to be known as Yuhanon Mlilo (Yuhanna (John) the Logician). He composed in Greek charming spiritual ma’nithos (hymns) which were added to those of Severus of Antioch. They were composed in a splendidly succinct prose style, usually beginning with a verse from the Psalms. They were specifically used by the church tradition of Mosul, to which they were introduced by the monk David bar Paul in the eighth century. [See a copy of the letters of David bar Paul in our Library.] They had been translated into Syriac by Paul, metropolitan of Edessa, about 628, and revised by Jacob of Edessa in 675. They contained ma’nithos on the Canaanite woman, on the sons of the widow, on Lazarus, on the man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and on the washing of the feet. Three more ma’nithos were in praise of Saint Severus, and another one on the ordination of monks. To Yuhanna is also ascribed a group of hymns on the Eucharist. [The Book of Ma’nithe, 89 ff.]
Yuhanna wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs, of which only fragments remain in British Museum MS 12168. Also written by him were selections of commentaries on the Holy Bible collected by the monk Sawera (Severus) of the Monastery of St. Barbara in the year 861. [British Museum MSS, a copyof which is in our Library; William Wright, A Short Histroy of Syriac Literature, 84]
The biography of Severus of Antioch thought to have been written by Yuhanna, abbot of the Monastery of Aphtonia, was, in fact, by Yuhanna II, who succeeded Alexandrus as an abbot of this monastery. He wrote it in Greek before 544, and it was translated into Syriac by Sergius Bar Karyo (the Short). (See above)
This was all we could obtain about the scientific legacy of Bar Aphtonia. If some pundits are correct in saying that the strength of a nation is measured by its knowledge, our nation should be measured by the learning lore of the great School of Qinneshrin. Since its history is connected with our fathers, we should be all the more attached to this nation. Thus, we have hastily written this synopsis, derived from the most ancient and reliable sources, hoping to urge our sons to follow in the footsteps of the fathers.  We also hope that they will study the Syriac language and sciences, which were defended by the Monastery of Qinneshrin. Such endeavor, however, requires sacrifice, time and money. It is axiomatic that he who proceeds onto the road will reach his destination, and he who adheres to determination, perseverance and good intention will attain his objective. May God guide our steps in words and deed.

Was Ibn al-Ibri (Bar Hebraeus) of Jewish Descent?

Mar Gregorius Ibn al-Ibri (Bar Heberaeus), Syrian Maphryono of the East known as Abu al-Faraj al-Malatia (of Melitene), is the unique learned philosopher, theologian, historian and physician who flourished in the thirteenth century (1226-1286), and one of the most prominent men of the East. Recognizing his excellence, Western writers published his books and quoted from them valuable information, as is admitted by those well-versed in the history of Christendom..
Despite the fact that Bar Hebraeus wrote his own biography in detail [Gregorii Barhebraei, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, ed. and translated into Latin by Joannes Baptista Abbeloos and Thomas Josephus Lamy, III (Lovanii, 1872), 431-485], many Orientalists  who wrote the account of his life and those who copied them [See Abbeloos and Lamy, Introduction to Chronicon Ecclesiasticum; Paul Bedjan, introduction to the Syriac Profane History of Bar Hebraeus (Paris, 1890); Butrus al-Bustani, Da’irat al-Ma’arif (Encyclopedia) , I, 594; Sami Beg, Qamus al-A’lam ( Dictionary of Biographies), 1: 646; William Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature (London, 1894), 265-266; Rubens Duval, La Litterature Syriaque (Paris, 1907), 408); and Anton Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literature, (Bonn, 1922), 312-313).], [The translator would add E. A. Wallis Budge, trans., The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, 1 (Oxford, 1932), xv.] assert that his father, Aaron, was a Jew converted to Christianity. Thus his son was called “Son of the Hebrew”. I see no evidence to support this epithet except the name Aaron and the agnomen of Bar Hebraeus. Therefore, I decided to correct this error by the following evidence, for no other purpose but to serve historical truth. I proceed by saying that,
1) We find no trace in the biography of Bar Hebraeus of the claim of Orientalists, already mentioned, as is well known to those who read his history.
2) We have a lengthy biography of Bar Hebraeus, composed in a twelve-syllabic metrical ode, by his disciple Mar Dioscorus Gabriel of Bartulli, metropolitan of Jazirat ibn Umar (d. 1299).[Gabriel was a man of letters in his generation with knowledge of geometry. He was a disciple of Bar Hebraeus, who ordained him a bishop in 1284.); this ode is a significant source unknown to Orientalists. There are two copies of it, one at Bartulli, a village near Mosul, and the other at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. (Smith Catalog, 515, No. 74, March, 1864.] This ode contains the following: “Bar Hebraeus came from an ancient noble family. His father was the Deacon Aaron the physician.” If, as latter writers claim, Aaron had been converted to Christianity, the author of the ode would never have neglected to mention his conversion.
3) Those who tenaciously use the name Aaron as a sign of Jewish identity should remember that this is not an evidence to support their claim. Indeed, many Christians and Muslims have used and are still using the name Aaron even to this day. They have also used the name Musa, (Moses) which no one would perceive as an indication of the Hebraic or Christian heritage of those who carry it. Among the Syrians named Aaron was the Syrian ascetic Aaron who flourished in the mountains of Melitene in the fourth century and built several monasteries in the vicinities of Melitene, Anrioch and Edessa, some of which were still populated in the thirteenth century. [Petrus the Polish, Synaxarium, p.) There was also the sixth-century Aaron, the Alexandrian priest, who compiled a scrapbook of medicine. [Bar Hebraeus, Mukhtasar Tarikh al-Duwal (Compendium of the History of Dymasties), ed. Anton Salihani (Beirut, 1958), 92, 112.]
In the catalogue of names of bishops of the Syrian Church appended to his Chronography, the historian Patriarch Mikha’il al-Kabir (Michael Rabo, d. 1199) lists eight bishops named Aaron. They are: Aaron, bishop of Anazarba (‘Ayn Zarba); Aaron, bishop of Circesium (Khabur); Aaron, bishop of Cyrrhus; Aaron, bishop of Gisro (the Bridge); Aaron I and II, bishops of Miyafarqin; Aaron, bishop of Sijistan;  and Aaron, bishop of Seleucia [Chronique de Michel le Syrien, ed. and translated into French by J. B. Chabot, III (Paris, 1905, rpt. Brussels, 1963), Appendix III, 483, where the names of these bishops are listed in the Index. Tr] In his Ecclesiastical History, Bar Hebraeus mentions the names of the famous Patriarch John Aaron Ibn al-Ma’dani (d. 1264), his contemporary Patriarch Dionysius Aaron Anjour (d. 1260), and Aaron Tanzij, metropolitan of Laqbin. [Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1, p. ?]
Bar Hebraeus himself saved us the trouble of researching this subject by two lines of verse he composed, found in several copies of his Anthology. They read thus:

If our Lord called himself a Samaritan
Do not be ashamed if people call you Bar Hebraeus
(Son of a Hebrew)
For the origin of this appellation is the river Euphrates,
And not a disgraceful doctrine or the Hebrew language.

[The Anthology of Bar Hebraeus, ed. Mikha’il Shababi (Rome, 1877), 152, which is full of errors. ], [ We may add the Anthology of Bar Hebraeus, ed. Yuhanna Dolabani (Jerusalem, 1929), 71, and Matti Moosa, “Studies in Syriac Literature,” The Muslim World, 63, No. 4 (1968), 322.]
I read in some commentaries that Bar Hebraeus’s mother gave birth to him while, in her travels, she crossed the River Euphrates, and thus her son was called Bar Hebraeus, that is, son of the one who has crossed (the river) [In Syriac, ‘to cross’ is ‘Ibar.’ Hence, Bar ‘Ibroyo. [ See (The Anthology of Bar Hebraeus in manuscript form, in the library of Abd al-Nur, metropolitan of Diyarbakr.]This should silence those who claim that Bar Hebraeus was ‘the son of the Hebrew.’
From this context you perceive that Bar Hebraeus was neither of Jewish origin nor of the Hebrew tongue; he was a Syrian by origin, tongue and doctrine. He descended from a most ancient Christian family. Of course, you know that despite their wide knowledge and proficiency in research, some Orientalists harbored strange ideas.  Sometimes, their profound and meticulous research led them to form weak ideas which others quoted without investigation, as in this case.
I found no confutation of those who hold this opinion, like that of Rev. Cheikho. (His biography of Bar Hebraeus (Beirut, 1898)) But he used wrong evidence taken from Renaudot (Eusèbe), Liturgiarum Orientalium, 469. Cheikho copied Renaudot, saying, “Gregroius Bar Hebraeus was a nephew of the above mentioned Patriarch Mikha’il, who would have not ascended the patriarchal throne if he were new in the faith, a matter which church laws disavow.” Apparently Renaudot did not distinguish between the Maphryono Gregorius Yaqub (Jacob) Qandasi, nephew of Patriarch Mikha’il (1189-1215) and Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus (1264-1286) [There is an obvious error in the birthdate of Bar Hebraeus. who was born in 1226, not 1264.] He was misled by the names of these dignitaries. Actually, the former Maphryono Gregorius belongs to the Family of Qandasi [ Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 538,  598) ], while the latter belongs to the Family of Bar Hebraeus. The different of time between the two is obvious, as you see. [It is strange that the Orientalist Bernstein saw in Bar Hebraeus’s agnomen, Abu al-Faraj, an evidence that he had a son named Faraj. Such agnomens and surnames, as is well known, were received by the Syrians from the Arabs in the Middle Ages. The celibacy of Bar Hebraeus is well known, as the Orientalists Abbeloos and Lamy, on p. 8 of their introduction to the Ecclesiastical History of Bar Hebraeus, and Rev. Cheikho in his above-mentioned biography of Bar Hebraeus have shown.]

(Al-Hikma, No. 2 (Jerusalem, November, 1927), pp. 92-96)

Famous Syrians

The Syrian Philosopher al-Shaykh Yahya Ibn ‘Adi (d. 974)

In ancient times, the Syrians produced a number of distinguished men who excelled in sciences, literature, philosophy, theology and history. Some of them devoted themselves to translating works from Greek and Syriac into Arabic, especially in the time of the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun (d. 833), thus enriching the Arabic language. They also wrote valuable works and commentaries on different fields of knowledge.  One of these learned men was the Syrian philosopher Yahya Ibn ‘Adi, who flourished in the tenth century and achieved great fame in the time of the Abbasid Caliph al-Muti’ li Allah (945-973) for his works of philosophy, theology and literature. Therefore we decided to adorn al-Hikma (November 2, 1927) with his biography.
He was al-Shaykh Abu Zachariah Yahya ibn ‘Adi ibn Hamid ibn Zachariah of Takrit, who was born in Takrit in 893 A.D. Endowed with keen intelligence, he devoted himself at an early age to learning.  He moved to Baghdad, them the mother of all cities and the abode of learned men, and studied under Bishr ibn Matta (Matthew) ibn Yunus (Bishr ibn Matta, the Nestorian philosopher and physician, from the Monastery of Qunni. He was the teacher of al-Farabi (d. 940). He joined the school of Mar Mari and studied under the Syrian Orthodox monks Raphael and Benjamin. In al-Fihrist, Ibn al-Nadim mentioned him, saying, “The leadership of logicians in his time culminated in Abu Bishr.”) Abu Nasr al-Farabi [Abu Nasr was Muhammad ibn Tarkhan. He was born in Farab and moved to Baghdad to seek knowledge. He studied under Abu Bishr Matta and emulated his knowledge, style and philosophy. He died at Damascus in 951.], and others. He mastered philosophy, theology and literature and became a great authority of these disciples. He was excellent in translating from Syriac into Arabic using his own handwriting. He wrote many books in an elegant script. He was so prolific that he copied in one day and night a hundred folios or more. He made in his own hand two copies of al-Tabari’s commentary (on the Quran) and carried them to the neighboring kings. He also copied many books of scholastic theologians.
Yahya was famous for his adherence to religion. He defended tenaciously the faith of the Syrian Church and Christian dogmas, especially the Trinity and Tawhid (Monotheism) with decisive proofs refuting the ideas of detractors. What is worth mentioning in this context is that Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Isa al-Jarrah, the caliph’s vizier, invited Abu Muslim Muhammad ibn Bahr al-Isfahani to help him in some administrative matters. The two men could not agree with each other and decided to ask a distinguished learned man who had knowledge of these matters to help. The Vizier, Abu al-Hasan, suggested the name of a prominent Christian (Yahya ibn ‘Adi) to be their arbiter. Abu Muslim objected, saying that this man did not know how to count. Abu al-Hasan countered, saying, “Do you mean that he (Yahya) does not know how to count?” Abu Muslim said, “Yes, because to him one is three and three are one.” [Obviously the reference is to the Holy Trinity.]
Many students graduated under Yahya ibn ‘Adi, of whom we may mention the famous Syrian    Orthodox logician Ibn Zur’a. [ He is Abu Ali Isa ibn Ishaq the Syrian Orthodox of Baghdad. His biography is found in Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Tabaqat al-Atibba’ (Categories of Physicians), 1: 235, and Jamal al-Din al-Qifti, Tarikh al-Hukama (History of Philosophers), 245. Ibn Zur’a left many works of philosophy and medicine and translations mentioned in al-Fihrist by Ibn a-Nadim, 264. He was a leading logician and philosopher and excellent translator. He died in 1008. See Bar Hebraeus, Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal (Compendium History of Dynasties), 315.)
Despite his wide knowledge and established disciplines of learning of, Yahya hardly bragged about himself. This is confirmed by Jamal al-Din al-Qifti, who in hisTarikh al-Hukama, 30, says, “I heard that Yahya ibn ‘Adi attended an assembly of some viziers in Baghdad on a delightful day. Many scholastic theologians were also present. Turning to these men, the vizier asked them to converse with Yahya ibn ‘Adi, chief of the philosophers’ group. Yahya excused himself from talking to the philosophers. The vizier asked him the reason. Yahya said, ‘They do not understand the rules of my philosophy, and I do not understand their terminology. I fear that what will happen to me is the same as what happened to al-Jubbai’ in his book al-Tasaffuh (Scrutinization), because he refuted the words of Aristotle, thinking that he had fully understood him. If he had known better, he would have not done this, because he was ignorant of the principles of logic. When the vizier heard Yahya, he believed that he was fair, and excused him from debating with the scholastic theologians.”
Among the well-known men who wrote about Yahya ibn ‘Adi and related his achievements were Jamal al-Din al-Qifti, Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Ibn al-Nadim, and Bar Hebraeus, already mentioned. Shihab al-Din al-‘Umari (d. 1347) also wrote about him in his book Masalaik al-Absar, 336-337, and so did Louis Cheikho (d. 1928), al-Makhtuta al-Arabiyya li Katabat al-Nasraniyya (Arabic Manuscripts of Christian Writers), 213, from whose writings we assembled this biography. [We should add here what Georg Graf wrote about Yahya ibn ‘Adi and his School. See Georg Graf, Geschichte der Christlichen Arabischen Literatur (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1947), 233-249. Tr]
In his chapter on Tabaqat al-Atibba’, al-‘Umari said, “Among them (learned men) is Yahya Ibn ‘Adi Abu Zachariah the logician, whose knowledge is like a meadow and whose pen is lightning. At the beginning of his career he was a prominent teacher and a guide of his denomination. He was known for the discipline of logic, although it was only a part of and an exclusive segment of his extensive general knowledge.”
Yahya Ibn ‘Adi lived 81 years, mostly spent in reading and writing. He died on Thursday, August 15, 1285 of the Greeks/974 A.D., and was buried in the Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas), in the district of Qati’at al-Daqiq in Baghdad. He asked his student Abu Ishaq Isa Ibn Zur’a to inscribe on his grave the following two lines of verse:
Many a dead man, because of his erudition, is still alive
And a live person, because of his ignorance, is already dead
So do possess knowledge to gain immortality
And do not consider the life of ignorance real.

Our Yahya, may God be gracious to him, was unique in his time for his learning. He was singled out as the leading logician of his age. If one recognizes that this age produced prominent men like the poet al-Mutanabbi (d. 965), al-Buhturi (d. 897), Abu Firas al-Hamdani (d. 967), al-Jurjani (d. 976), Ibn  al-‘Amid (d. 976), al-Farabi (d. 951), al-Tabari (d. 923), al-Mas’udi (d. 954), and al-Razi (d. 923),  he will realize the lofty degree to which this man had risen.
The Orientalist Rev. Augustine Périer studied the works of Ibn ‘Adi and published eight treatises by him, including his refutation of al-Kindi. His book, entitled Yahya Ibn ‘Adi, was submitted to the Sorbonne University in 1921 for obtaining the doctoral degree.
Those who copied Ibn ‘Adi’s ideas about the Trinity and the Unity of God are many. Among them was al-Shaykh al-Safi Ibn al-‘Assal, who described him as the Authority on the Christian Religion.
The writings of Yahya are numerous and testify to his excessive knowledge. Unfortunately only a few escaped the ravages of time. Following are his writings copied from Tarikh al-Hukama’ by Jamal al-Din al-Qifti. (Leipzig, 1903):

1) A refutation of those who claim that human actions are created by God and acquired by the slave (man).
2) A commentary on Aristotle’s Topics.
3) A treatise on the five topics of the eight heads.
4) A book on showing the excellence of the distinction between the philosophical dialectic and Arabic grammar.
5) A book on the excellence of logic.
6) A book on guiding him who has gone astray.
7) A book explaining that number and an addition to it are two essences which exist in the numbers themselves.
8) A treatise on extracting the implicit number.
9) A treatise on three subjects of the infinite.
10) Another comment on the same.
11) A treatise showing that everything connected is divided into disconnected components.
12) An answer by Yahya ibn’Adi about a chapter of the book of Abu al-Habash the grammarian (also called al-Hasan), who claimed the number is infinite.
13) A treatise on the idea that human actions are God’s creation and the accusation of the slave (man).
14) A book answering the problems raised by Bishr the Jew.
15) A commentary on Alexander’s treatise on the difference between the species and matter.
16) A treatise showing that heat is not an essence of fire.
17) A treatise on the infinite.
18) A refutation of him who says that the bodies are subject to disputation.
19) A commentary on the eighth treatise of Aristotle’s Physics.
20) A treatise showing that there is nothing existing which is infinite by number or volume.
21) A treatise proving false the idea of those who say that the bodies are a compound of undivided parts.
22) A treatise exposing the falsehood of those who maintain that God knows probable things before they exist.
23) Another commentary on the same.
24) A treatise showing that there is no contradiction in the quantum.
25) A treatise on the idea that the diameter does not partake with the side.
26) Several questions regarding the Isagoge.
27) A treatise on the idea that the persona is a collective name.
28) A treatise on the whole and the parts.
29) Expounding the small Alpha [A] of Aristotle’s Metaphysics.
30) A treatise on the necessity of knowing the essence of form, division, the kind, the particular and the nonessential in order to establish the proof.
31) A treatise on everything in existence.
32) A treatise demonstrating that every connected object is subject to infinite division..
33) A treatise on affirming with the the strongest evidence the nature of what is probable and directing attention to it. [It is also said to present proofs to show the corruption of this nature.]
34) A treatise on the Unity of God.
35) A treatise showing that the Categories are ten, no more or no less.
36) A treatise on the idea that the form is not a type of the nine Categories.
37) A treatise explaining that the existence of nonessential things is not intrinsic to the nonessential categories.
38) A comment on the part which is indivisible.
39) Many commentaries on the same.
40) A commentary on things Yahya said while treating the excellence of logic.
41) Several comments on Abu Bishr Matta on matters concerning logic discussed by them.
42) A treatise on the division of genus and names, which Aristotle did not divide into their medium kinds and persons.
43) A treatise on the four scientific subjects concerning the three topics of the divine, the natural and the illogical.
44) A treatise on the right path leading to the Posterrior Analytics.
45) A book on suspecting the invalidity of the probable.
46) The answer of al-Darimi and Abu al-Hasan, the scholastic theologian, to the question of the invalidity of the probable.
47) A debate between him and Ibrahim ibn ‘Adi, the scribe, and his refutation of Ibrahim’s idea that the body is an essence and an accident.
48) A treatise about the answer of Ibrahim ibn ’Adi the scribe.
49) A tract he wrote for Abu Bakr al-Adami al-Attar regarding the ideas of philosophers which have been established after meticulous investigation and scrutiny.

Apart from what has been mentioned above, Yahya wrote many more works. Among these is his Kitab Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (The Training of Character), an important work in which he expounded human character in detail. Despite its small size, it is a treasure of wisdom and a fountain from which the wise and the ignorant man can draw. An ancient copy of it is at our St. Mark’s Library in Jerusalem. It consists of 99 folios which we will publish, God willing. It has already been published in Beriut and Egypt. It was also appended to the book entitled Tuhfat al-Azman fi Adab al-Fityan, serialized by the erudite Muhammad Kurd Ali, President of the Arab Academy in Damascus, in the Academy’s Periodical. But it was erroneously ascribed to Al-Jahiz. Later, however, Kurd Ali corrected this error when the Patriarch of the Rum Orthodox, Gregorius Haddad, alerted him to it.
One manuscript (Paris MS 169) contains twelve treatises, some of which are theological, treating the Trinity, the Unity of God and the Incarnation; others are philosophical and disputatious. Some of the latter are a refutation of ‘Ali ibn ‘Isa al-Jarrah, Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, and answers to the questions raised by Abu Sa’id ibn Dawud ibn ‘Isa. They were mentioned by Rev. Cheikho in his book al-Makhtutat al-Arbaiyya li Katabat al-Nasraniyya (Arabic Manuscripts of Christian Authors). Yahya also has a book titled Kitab al-Shudhur al-Dhahabiyya fi Madhhab al-Nasraniyya: Muqtatafat min Aqwal Yahya ibn ‘Adi, a copy of which is at the Medicis Library. [This book has been erroneously ascribed to Yahya ibn ‘Adi. It is only an anthology written by several authors, including Ibn ‘Adi, in defense of the Christian doctrine. See Matti Moosa, “Florentine MS 299: A New Source on Ahmad ibn al-Tayyib al-Sarakhsi,” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 92, No. 1 (January-March, 1972): 19-24.] In his book Usul al-Din, Ibn al-Assal mentions a treatise by Yahya ibn ‘Adi entitled “Dalil Aqli fi Annahu Ta’ ala Ya’lam al-Juz’iyyat wa al-Kulliyat wa al-Farq bayn al-Ilmayn” (A Rational Proof that God Knows the Particulars and the General Conceptions and the Difference Between Them). Another treatise mentioned by Ibn al-‘Assal is on the idea that the world is not ancient. It is supported by rational and traditional evidence, followed by deliberations on the same topic. Al-‘Assal also related Yahya’s refutation of Ali ibn ‘Isa al-Warraq.
Finally, Yahya ibn ‘Adi composed a few lines of verse in answer to those who reject the mysteries of religion because they cannot understand them. [See Paris MS 101, folio 45.] The following two lines were published in al-Mashriq 23 (1925): 600-602:

You have investigated the reality of meanings
But could not understand them because you have not
Perused them thoroughly.
The sun is hidden from the one who has no sight
But cannot be hidden from the one with full sight.

This is all that we could find about the chronicles of the famous Yahya ibn ‘Adi .We ask God to raise for the Syrian nation men like him in fulfillment of the following adage:

If one of our prominent men is passed away
Another will be raised who will establish
What remarkable men said and did.

(Al-Hikma — 1928–02–04)

Under the Shadow of the Jasmine, or At the Monastery of Qinneshrin

This significant article was published by our colleague magazine al-Sa’ih when His Grace (Bishop Aphram Barsoum) was on his latest journey to the New World (America). It was prefaced with the following foreword, which is sufficient to reveal His Grace’s high position in the two worlds of literature and history. We decided to publish this article and the foreword for the benefit of the readers of al-Hikma.  We have adorned it with the photograph of this venerable learned man, hoping to publish some of his writings in future issues.
Al- Sa’ih said that from the ancient land of the East, the cradle of spiritual revelation and the stage of the prophets, His Grace the learned Mar Severus Aphram Barsoum, carried to us literary fragrances filled with invigorating noble memories of the spiritual history of Syria. They contain a description of the fertile ground of the spiritual ancient giants of the East.  They surely elevate the soul, arouse its devotion, awaken it from its slumber, and prompt it to comprehend those glories over which time has drawn a curtain.
His Grace has been so gracious as to have us publish some of these literary fragrances on the pages of al-Sa’ih.  The readers will find that, among the princes of the Eastern Church, there were those who are worthy to be called princes of eloquence who strove to guide their nation with the pastoral staff and the pen. The pastoral staff was meant for the benefit of the souls, while the pen was for the benefit of the intellect.
What a lush and spacious orchard with flowing streams, tall trees, ripe fruits, beautiful and flowers, salubrious breeze and scented breaths, is more excellent than a pleasurable amusement under the shadows of the Jasmine at the Monastery of Qinneshrin.
You have captivated us, son of Aphton, [Yuhanna (John), son of Aphtonia, is one of the famous Syrians for his piety and knowledge. He descended from an ancient noble family and acquired a considerable portion of piety, learning and excellent character. His reputation was attributed to his righteous mother (Aphtonia). He founded the Monastery of Qinneshrin (Eagles’ Nest) between Aleppo and Manbij (Mabug). Because of his sound administration, the monastery produced for the Syrian nation a select group of famous men who were well versed in philosophy and theology. They were proficient in both the Syriac and Greek languages. He died in the year 539, and his name was added to the synaxarium of the saints. For more on John of Aphtonia see Patriarch Barsoum, al-Lulu al-Manthur, trans. Matti Moosa with the title The Scattered Pearls (Gorgias Press, 2003), 289-290.] by the beauty of your monastery, which is the grazing ground for the deer of Christ. You have elevated us with the charming beauty of your own soul. If your soul had not been so charming, it would have not reflected the rays of its beauty on your monastery, which is but a glimpse of your noble soul and great spirit.
Between Aleppo and Manbij you have founded an institute for those who desire the fear of God and shun the world. Thus, thousands rushed to you and planted themselves by your spiritual streams and were watered by the drops of the dew of your learning for five long centuries.
What heroes you have produced, and what men you have offered the church of Jesus beginning with Athanasius I, who for forty years steered the ship of the Apostolic See and led it to the harbor of happiness. After Athanasius I came his brother Severus, the faithful bishop of Samosata, who performed miracles; Jirjis I,  who faced hardships and conquered them and by his resolution and faithfulness until he won the crown of life; Dionysius of Tell Mahre, the hero of the See of Antioch and the wise man of the ninth century; and the eloquent Theodosius, the energetic metropolitan of Edessa; and all the shepherds installed by the Holy Spirit as the bishops of Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia), Afghanistan, Syria, Arabia, Armena and Persia.
And when the lover of immaculate souls, the Savior of mankind, descended into His garden, to the beds of spices, to browse and gather lilies, he gathered the lilies of your talented ones and adorned them with the dew of contentment and blessedness, and guided them to his heavenly gardens, that they may diffuse eternal fragrance.
The souls of the Arameans long for the fragrance and aroma of your garden whenever you are mentioned, O Monastery of Qinneshrin. They desire to sit under your shadows and sing the songs of eternity forever.

(Al-Hikma, No. 1 (Jerusalem, January, 1929), pp. 5-7.)

Men of Godliness and Action

Mar Yuhanna (John) Metropolitan of Mardin (1125-1165)

(We derived this biography from several sources, especially 1) The Chroncile of Mikha’il al-Kabir (Rabo) 2:  630-634 and 677-679; 2) Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1 (the biography of Athanasius VII); 3) Mar Yuhanna’s biography in the Bibliotheca Orientalis, 2: 217-229; 4) A memro (metrical hymn) by Mikha’il al-Kabir eulogizing Metropolitan Yuhanna, in an ancient MS at the Library of the Za’faran Monastery, transcribed in the twelfth century; 5) The Chronicles of the Edessan (the Anonymous Edessan), 228 and 740; 6) various information we gathered from libraries, which will be referred to as needed.)
The great man who adorned the history of the Za’faran Monastery with his commendable acts, and who is to be thanked for renovating this monastery of Mar Hananya (Za’faran), was Mar Yuhanna, metropolitan of Mardin, whose life-story follows.
This outstanding man was born in al-Ruha (Edessa) in 1087 or 1088 A.D., to a poor family and was called Yusuf (Joseph). He was raised in a righteous environment, and as an adult he espoused the monastic way of life and became a monk in some of the monasteries of his region (Tur ‘Abdin), which claimed a great number of monasteries and ascetics. His reputation for piety, abstinence, and virtue reached Patriarch Athanasius VI, who summoned him to his presence. When the patriarch examined him and perceived his devoutness and eligibility, he ordained him a metropolitan for Mardin, but he declined out of sheer humility. Nevertheless, the patriarch ordained him a metropolitan in the year 1125 and called him Yuhanna at his ordination. His administrative duty, however, did not stop him from yearning for the attainment of more commendable traits. But, realizing that he was responsible for caring for the souls of  the parishioners, he devoted his attention to learning and reading religious and scientific books, in order to make up for the lack of learning in his youth. But later and with God’s help, he began to acquire a fair portion of sciences. He became enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge of geometry. He also obtained substantial skill in surveying sciences, to enable him to transfer the water of springs and rivers to where he wished. Because of this technique he gained wide fame among the rulers of Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia). He obtained great wealth, which he spent on charity. But he never failed to render his diocese prosperous and rebuild and renovate ruined, churches and monasteries, which he populated with priests and monks. He did not stop with his own diocese, but extended his activities to the neighboring dioceses. He rejuvenated some of their religious institutions and donated to them religious and ritual books, for whose transcription he paid, as shall be seen later. Meanwhile, he was compassionate to the poor and the weak.  And when the city of Edessa was captured in 1144 (by Imad al-Din Zangi. [ See Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 305-308], he ransomed many captives as a service to God. He traveled throughout his diocese, encouraging the believers to emulate him in this charitable endeavor. He set up a group of men to help those poor and the needy. Thus, many Syrians from everywhere rushed to him complaining about their misfortune and asking for help. Like a father, he treated them with compassion and helped them as generously as he could. This human treatment revealed the goodness of his soul and gained for him the love and devotion of all people, including patriarchs, bishops and monks. In brief, he was unique in his time and the great pride of the Syrians. He became quite famous among Christian denominations and Muslims, and was loved and honored by rulers.
Among his feats was his perfection of the Holy Chrism, which until that time was scarce in Mardin, Tur Abdin, and other countries because of lack of balsamic oil. It happened that some fifteen years or so before he became a bishop, he found at a torn-down church in Rish ‘Ayna a jar containing a solid, colorless and odorless glue. When the workers brought the jar to the governor of the city, (a Muslim), he asked his minister, who was a Christian from the Abdun family, about the substance which the jar contained. The minister said that it was Holy Chrism. The governor handed the jar to his minister, and the people (Syrians) began to use it for baptism. BishopYuhanna stopped them from using the contents of the jar for baptism. He investigated the actual ingredients of the Holy Chrism by searching church books and corresponding with learned bishops, until he came upon the idea of Mar Jacob of Edessa. According to Jacob, the compound of the Holy Chrism included aromatic oil and incense from the storax tree, to which was added some balsam. If balsam could not be found, musk should be used instead, on condition that it should not impair the mystery of the Holy Chrism. When fathers of the church met at the Monastery of Barsoum in 1155, they appreciated the idea of Bishop Yuhanna and confirmed it. They resolved that it should be followed by the rest of bishops. [See Yuhanna’s discourse on the Holy Chrism in an MS we found in Constantinople.] Thus, Bishop Yuhanna consecrated the Holy Chrism thirteen times in his lifetime. He did this because the consecration of the Holy Chrism was not an exclusive privilege of the patriarchs. When Yuhanna saw that church laws had been neglected for a long time, he manifested great zeal, calling for a meeting at his monastery, presided over by the Maphryono of the East, Ignatius II. At the meeting, convened in 1153, the bishops issued forty canons. Yuhanna also attended the synod of Keshum for the election of Patriarch Yuhanna in 1129.
Toward the end of his life, Yuhanna left a memorable legacy at the Monastery of Mar Barsoum in the neighborhood of Malatya (Melitene), by supplying it with water. When the industrious monk, Mikha’il Qandasi of Melitene, who later became Patriarch Mikha’il I (Michael Rabo), became superior of the monastery, the crowds of visitors from different denominations who visited the monastery, especially on the day of the festival of Saint Barsoum, complained about the scarcity of drinking water, which was brought on mules’ backs from faroff sites. Mikha’il wrote to Yuhanna, asking him to come to the monastery to see whether he could divert the water of nearby springs to the monastery. This was not an easy undertaking, because high mountains and enormous rough rocks blocked the water from running through. Yuhanna surveyed the ground and said it would be easy to bring water to the monastery. The work of digging and other preparations began in the fall of the year 1162. Because of the winter season, however, Yuhanna returned to his diocese. Meanwhile, Mikha’il endured criticism by the monks, old and young, because they found the work hard. Some of them wept over the loss of enormous expenses, or were apprehensive of chastisement by those in authority. This happened while Mikha’il treated them with compassion and patience until the coming of the spring, when Yuhanna returned to the monastery. He resumed the work and encouraged the monks, who became more active, especially when they perceived that the governors were assisting and the neighbors, Christians and Muslims alike, were participating in the project.  They became even more enthusiastic when the aqueduct was completed and the water flowed to the monastery. Yuhanna not only engineered the work but also donated from his own money toward the expenses. Thus, the project was completed on August 24, 1163. [The traces of this aqueduct in the mountain of the Monastery of Mar Barsoum can still be seen today.]
Yuhanna continued his praiseworthy feats until old age.  On Monday, July 12, 1165, he mounted his horse at the Monastery of Mar Hananya (Za’faran Monastery) and went to the cave Arur or Arud, to visit the hermit Yahya. He had barely left the monastery’s gate when he fell off the horse and died instantly. Surrounding him, his disciples wept and mourned. Crowds of clerics and lay people gathered to mourn the death of the one who was the father of orphans and widows. His body was carried to the monastery where he was buried with solemn ceremony.
Yuhanna was characterized by holiness, intelligence, wisdom and accomplishment. He took good care of his flock and offered them sound guidance, though he rebuked some of them for their misdeeds.  The young and the old respected him and thanked him for his counsel and compassion. And when Mikha’il al-Kabir (Michael Rabo) came to the Za’faran Monastery to occupy the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch in the year 1166, and learned of Yuhanna’s noble character and achievements, he composed an ode in the Sarugite meter (the twelve-syllabic meter of Jacob of Sarug) in his praise. [See the MSS of the Za’faran Monastery.] He said about Yuhanna’s sad end, “Death cannot harm the righteous, neither does death benefit the wicked man who dies with honor. Man is judged only by his deeds, which will either justify him or condemn him, as both reason and tradition testify.” The church commemorates Yuhanna’s death on July 12. It has inserted his name in the Book of Life along with the saints. [See the Calendar of Bar Khayrun and the memro (metrical ode) of Michael Rabo.] Yuhanna lived 77 or 78 years, of which forty years were spent in running his vast diocese, which incorporated Mardin, Dara, Khabur, Kafar Tut and Tall Bsam. He ordained for his diocese 700 priests and deacons.

(Al-Hikma, 4 (April, 1930): 200-204)

A Historical Tract on the Shamsis (Sun Worshipers)

In ancient Christian times there lived a sect in Mesopotamia called the Shamsiyya (Shamsis). At  the outset  the Shamsis worshiped the sun. But they converted to Christianity and joined the Holy Syrian Church. The date of their conversion, however, is not known. If we repair to the oldest source connected with this denomination, which is the document that Patriarch Ibrahim II of Antioch wrote in 1400 A.D., we learn that the Shamsis were converted to Christianity around 500 A.D. The reason is that the patriarch fixed their conversion 900 years before that date. Evidently, this date has been unduly assumed by the fathers who later recorded the documents concerning the Shamsis, except the last document, as shall be seen shortly.
What we know about the Shamsis, however, is that up to World War I, no more than seventy of their families were still living in Diyarbakr and Mardin under the name of Shamsiyya. In Mardin they occupied a private district in the Sur Gate and had a small new church in the name of the Virgin. We were told by some elders that at the beginning the Shamsis did not intermarry with the Syrian people. But through time they merged with them. It is also said that up to the middle of the last (nineteenth) century, they buried their dead with many of their household belongings, arms, and gold and silver jewelry. They had their own graveyard in Diyarbakr. It appears that when they sensed rejection by the Syrian congregation, they submitted documents to the patriarchs and maphryonos to prove the veracity of their religion and adherence to the faith and laws of the Syrian Church. These documents were couched in such a manner that they could, if need be, be presented to Muslim religious leaders. The Shamsis of Diyarbakr strove to keep these documents until the fourth decade of the last century. On January 11, 1825, the Aleppine Patriarch of Antioch Jirjis V, of good memory, found eight documents dating from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century. He copied them in his own hand in the Garshuni script (Arabic written in Syriac script), and incorporated them in a special book.  They were:
1) A document of Patriarch Ignatius Ibrahim II bar Gharib (1381-1412), dated 803 A.H./1400 A.D.
2) A document of the Maphryono of the East Basilius (Barsoum II of Ma’dan), dated 848 A.H./1336 A.D.
3) A document of Patriarch Ignatius Khalalf of Ma’dan (1455-1483), dated 1769 of the Greeks/1460 A.D.
4) A document of the Maphryono of the East, ‘Aziz (1460-1487), dated about 1460.
5) A document of the monk David of Homs, secretary to the same Maphryono Aziz, written about 1460.
6) A document of the Patriarch of Antioch ‘Abd Allah I (1520-1556), dated 1832 of the Greeks/1521 A.D.
7) A document of the Maphryono of the East, Basilius Iliyya I (1533-1554), authenticated by Patriarch ‘Abd Allah I and Philoxenus Faraj Allah, metropolitan of Diyarbakr, dated October 6, 1542. It shows that at that time the Shamsis were scattered over different countries.
8) A document of Patriarch Ignatius Ishaq (1709-1724), dated 1103 A.H./1691 A.D., which is simply a copy of the document of the monk David of Homs and thus was ignored.

Two more documents were lost — one produced by Patriarch Ignatius V bar Wuhayb (1293-1333), the other by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Behnam I (1472-1454), a native of Bartulli.
Since most of these documents, except the last one, were copied from the first document and did not contain an amendment of the date of the conversion of the Shamis to Christianity, we decided to publish them in our magazine in their original text, save for a few terms, in order to correct them and clarify their connotation.

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasting, Patriarch of Antioch
Ignatius Gurgis (Jirjis) IV
Anyone who may come upon this document should know that on January 11, 2146 of the Greeks/1835 A.D., we found in the possession of our blessed children the Shamsis, who live in Diyarbakr, a document in the handwriting of our predecessor, the late Patriarch of Antioch. It contains acceptance of the Shamsis by our church and removes all doubt about them, because they are our children and the children of our church. For this reason we recorded in this book what our late predecessors put down in order to reveal their true faith.
1) Following is a copy of the document which Patriarch Ibrahim bar Gharib delivered to the Shamsis.

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasting, the Almighty, Ibrahim Ignatius,
Patriarch of Antioch

We have written this document for the Shamsis group. Every one of the Christian denominations who come upon it will see that the Shamsis are adherents to the faith of the Syrians. They maintain the unity of God and follow the Gospel according to the customs of the Syrians in their prayers, baptism, matrimony and burial of the dead. I, the weak Ignatius Pariarch of the Syrians, have come to believe that their doctrine is same as that of the Syrians. For in ancient times the Armenians, the Copts, the Abyssiyans, the Franks, the Greeks, the Circassians, the Nubians, the Russians, the Slavs, the Chinese and the Indians, were pagans. But they were brought to light and obedience by our Lord Christ and his disciples, the friends of God.  The Muslims (may God protect them) were also guided (to God) by their messenger Muhammad. So were the Shamsis, who were led to God’s obedience and the doctrine of the Syrians 900 years ago. Therefore, no Syrian has the authority to speak a bad word about them or distinguish them from the faith of the Syrians. Otherwise, he will be accursed and condemned. This is what I have put down in my handwriting in their behalf.
Written on Muharram 11, 830 A.H. (of the Muslim Hijra). Thanks be to God the everlasting.  (This is what was written in the original text. More correctly, the Musiim year should be 803, which corresponds to 1400 A. D., because Patriarch Ibrahim passed away in the year 1412, as has already been said.)

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasing, the Incomprehensible by the Mind.

Basilius, the weak and servant of servants of Christ. Greetings and blessings to anyone who may read this document regarding the Shamsis Since they have in their hand the document of former fathers, like Mar Ignatius Ibrahim bar Gharib, and the document of our Father Mar Ignatius, the Exalted Patriarch and occupant of the See of Antioch (He means Patriarch Ignatius Behnam I (1412-1454)), I, also the wretched and weak, have issued this document in their behalf. I testify that the Shamsis are a Christian denomination which follows the doctrine of the Syrians. They maintain the unity of God and observe the Holy Gospel according to the customs of the Syrian in their prayers, celebration of the Eucharist, fasting, baptism, matrimony and burial of the dead. I, the wretched Basilius, Maphryono of the East, and the guardian of the Exalted Holy See (of Antioch), believe as authentic everything that the former patriarchs have maintained about the Shamsis. Their doctrine is same as that of the Syrians, because since ancient times the Syrians, the Armenians, the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Franks, the Greeks, the Circassians, the Nubians, the Russians, the Slavs, the Chinese and the Indians were pagans. But they were brought to light and obedience by our Lord Christ and his disciples, the friends of God. The Muslims (may God protect them) were also guided by their messenger Muhammad. So were the Shamsis, who were led to God’s obedience and the doctrine of the Syrians 900 years ago. Therefore, no Syrian has authority from God to speak a bad word about them or distinguish their faith from that of the Syrians. Otherwise he will be condemned. This is my handwriting in their support, I Basilius successor of the former fathers. Issued in the year 848 A.H/1444 A.D., the year 1757 of the Greeks/1444 A.D. Praise be to God alone the Eternal, the Everlasting. Amen.
The Document of Patriarch Yeshu’ (sic) (This document actually belongs to Patriarch Ignatius Khalaf, who probably changed that name, not used in church tradition, to Yeshe’. But church histories refer to him by the name of Khalaf.), dated 1796 of the Greeks/ 1458 A.D.

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasting, the Incomprehensible by Mind

I, the wretched, and Patriarch only in name, Yeshu’, having examined the documents of my fathers and brothers, agreed and decided to issue this document in our handwriting.
Greetings, invocations and blessings to those who may come upon this, our document of the Christian denominations regarding the Shamsis. Since they have in their possession the documents of ancient fathers and predecessors, namely the Patriarchs Mar Ignatius ibn Wuhayb, the Patriarch Ibn Gharib, and our father Patriarch Behnam, and my uncle, Mar Basilius, I the wretched weak, who follow them and respect their authority, have also confirmed the testimony of the fathers concerning the Shamsis. I testify that they are a Christian denomination following the doctrine of the Syrians. They uphold the unity of God and observe the Holy Gospel according to the Syrians’ custom in their prayers, celebration of the Eucharist, fasting, baptism, matrimony and the burial of the dead. I the weak Ignatius, Patriarch of the Syrians, have come to believe, as did the earlier fathers, that the Shamsis follow the doctrine of the Syrians. Since ancient times the Syrians, the Armenians, the Copts, the Abyssiyans, the Franks, the Greeks, the Circassians, the Nubians, the Russians, the Slavs, the Chinese and the Indians were pagans. But they were brought to light and obedience by our Lord Christ and his disciples, the friends of God.  The Muslims, may God protect them, were also guided by their messenger Muhammad. So were the Shamsis, who were led to God’s obedience and the doctrine of the Syrians 900 years ago. Therefore, no Syrian has authority from God to speak a bad word about them or distinguish them from the faith of the Syrians. Otherwise, he will be condemned. This is what I have put down in my handwriting in their support, I, Ignatius Patriarch of the Syrians. Written in 1769 of the Greeks/ 1458 A.D.

The Document of Mar Basilius (He is Basilius ‘Aziz) Maphryono of the East Issued to the Shamsis. Basilius is the nephew of Patriarch Khalaf of Ma’dan.

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasting, the Incomprehensible by Mind.

Blessed greetings we, the wretched, extend to those who may come upon these humble lines. We would like also to inform them that throughout the ages, the Blessed and Almighty God, in His infinite mercy and benevolence, guided the Apostles, His supporters, and many denominations like the Syrians, the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Russians, the Georgians, the Bosnians, the Aran’ut (Albanians), the Circassians, the Laz, the Walachians, the Serbians, the Slavs, the Nubians, and the Nestorians. Also, Almighty God guided the Muslims by their messenger Muhammad, whereas before the Apostles and Muhammad these people worshiped the sun, the moon, the stars and graven stones. Then God guided them to the right path. Eight hundred and seventy one years have  passed since the Muslims were guided to the path,  and one  thousand four hundred and sixty years or more since the Christians were guided to the right path.
The reason for putting down these lines is in behalf of the group of the Shamsis in all parts of the earth, especially in the city of Amid, may God protect it, who have for a period exceeding 920 years mingled with our people, united themselves to us, obeyed our nation, and upheld the unity of God as we do. Thus, they were accepted and confirmed by the fathers who came before us, like Mar Ignatius Badr Zakhi bar Wuhayb, the exalted father and worker of miracles which have been confirmed by Christians and many Muslims in Mardin for more than a hundred twenty years. After him came the great learned Mar Ignatius Ibrahim bar Gharib. After them came the great and perfect father Mar Basilius, Maphryono of the East and its dependencies, who was characterized by magnificent accomplishments. Following him was my uncle the lawful Patriarch Mar Ignatius Khalaf, nephew of the already mentioned maphryono. He is my lord who brought me up. He is the crown of my head, who by his benevolence saved me from mishaps and led me to the true knowledge. As for me, I, Basilius the weak, and guardian (Maphryono) of the Eastern Church only in name, have read their documents and endorsed them.
A group of Shamsis and a host of learned men of my church came to see me. I discussed with them their doctrinal issues and found nothing contradicting church laws. Thus, following the procedure of former fathers whose decisions I accept, I issued a decree in my handwriting instructing my clergy  to baptize them and solemnize their weddings, and to bury their dead, dispose of their businesses, and enter their churches to pray with them. I also decreed that no one of my people should antagonize them or slander them. The only thing we demand is that they should be treated like our own children and sons of our church in matters of fasts, prayers, baptism, celebration of the Eucharist, and the blessing of weddings.  We also hope that they and my children the Syrians will be one in good and evil, richness or poverty, unity or disunity, happiness or sorrow, and the disposal of their affairs will be subject to our authority. Furthermore, their children will be treated like our children, their possessions as our possessions and their selves like ourselves. May God have mercy on the children of obedience, and protect us from transgression. Praise be to God alone.

Document of the late Patriarch Dawud Shah, when he was still metropolitan of the city of Amid (sic), issued in behalf of the Shamsis, dated 1862 of the Greeks. [This document was actually written in 1460 by the monk Dawud (David) of Homs, well known in the fifteenth century as a man of letters and secretary to Maphryono Basilius Aziz. He was not Patriarch Dawud Shah, as was said by Patriarch Gurgis, for Dawud Shah lived in the sixteenth century and died in 1519, and was not a metropolitan of Amid. Finally, the date 1862 of the Greeks/1551 A.D. is wrong.]

In the Name of God the Compassionate the Merciful, who guides to the straight path whom He wishes. Peace which has no end, honor which has no extinction, and gracious and blessed greetings offered by the wretched writer of these weak lines, to all communicants of other denominations who may come upon these weak lines who know God and uphold his unity.
First, Salutation and prayers, offered by my wretchedness, to our Muslim lords and Christian denominations who may come upon this document.
Now, I would like to inform your friendship, that I am a Syrian who knows that there is an answer to every word on the Day of Judgment, and that everything in this life, good or bad, little or plentiful, must appear unveiled on the great stand (before God) where man will be punished for his evil deeds or rewarded for his good deeds.
We have come to the city of Amid, protected by God, with our father the maphryono, the guardian of the Apostolic See with the Shamsis. After discussing religious matters, we found out that, literally, ‘the Shamsiyya’ is an appellation pertaining to a country facing the rise of the sun. [This idea is untenable. More correctly, the Shamsiyya (Shamsis) worshiped the sun, as has been previously said.] The Shamsis truly uphold the unity of God and are true believers whose faith, more or less, is beyond doubt. We also know that in every age God desires the salvation of His created beings and want to draw them unto Himself.  This is why he sent prophets who, time after time, spoke many things about God in order that people might  believe in Him. The Jews believed in him through Moses in the Old Testament. They consisted of seven sects, namely the Psalters, the Rabbinicals, the Pharisees, the Zendiks (unbelievers, freethinkers), the Jak’ara (sic), who probably believed that God was corporeal, the Rabbis and the Priests. [The Psalters were a group of ascetics. The Jak’ara is probably a division of the Mujassima, i.e., those who maintain that God is corporeal. In his commentary on the Gospels, Bar Salibi said that the Jews are of seven sects: The Scribes, the Pharisees, the Zindiks (free thinkers), the Washers, who wash their bodies daily, the Rebels, and the Herodians. Bar Hebraeus, in his Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal, says that the Jews were of seven sects, namely the Rabbinicals, the Levites, the Seclusionists, the Washers, the Ascetics and the Samara, who assert that God is corporeal.]
When the Lord Christ came to the world by order of God, the disciples, God’s supporters, believed in him as the Gospel and also the Quran bear witness. The disciples preached God all over the world and drew many people to faith. Those who converted (to Christianity) were the Syrians, the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Armenians, the Nestorians, the Slavs, the Greeks, the Georgians, the Serbians, the Russians, the Bosnians, the Arna’ut (Albanians), the Circassians, the Chinese, the Indians and the Nubians, for more than 1460 years until this day. Afterwards, the Muslims were converted by their Prophet Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Muttalib over more than 870 years. They likewise consist of many denominations, some of whom remained as they were in the past, while others have vanished. So both Christians and Muslims came to worship God and uphold His unity. They have their own books, religious duties, and ordinances, whereas in the past they worshiped the sun. Some of them worshiped the moon and stars, while others worshiped fire, stones and trees.
The Shamsis joined our fold (the Syrian Church) and united themselves to us, and we and they became one. They have in their possession documents, especially the one issued by our father and crown, the exalted Patriarch Mar Ignatius Badr Zakhi bar Wuhayb, who performed three miracles in Mardin, confirmed to this day by many Christians and Muslims alike. Following him was the venerable Patriarch Mar Ignatius Behnam of Bartulli, a man well versed in knowledge who authored many magnificent books. He was followed by our exalted, venerable and learned father Mar Basilius Barsoum of Ma’dan, Maphryono of the East. He was famous in this generation for fear of God, knowledge and good conduct. After him came his nephew, our father, our crown and our highest authority, whom we honor and obey, Mar Ignatius Patriarch Khalaf of Mardin. He was followed by his nephew, the exalted Maphryono of the East, Mar Basilius Aziz, a wise, pious and God-fearing man who adorned everything with graciousness. I, the sinful, his secretary, was present at the meeting we held at Amid with the Shamsis. He ordered me to write in his behalf the document prefixed above. They also asked me to give them a document in my handwriting to be a perpetual memorial for them. I obeyed and issued for them this present document. I testified in it, as my fathers did earlier, that the Shamsis are members of our body. They are our brothers and from our community. They follow our path, our law and tradition. Their baptism is our baptism, their weddings are the same as those celebrated in our church, and their celebration of the Eucharist is the same as the one solemnized by our priests. Therefore, no one of our people should antagonize them, oppose them, or differentiate them from us. On the contrary, their possessions should be treated like our possessions, their children like our children, and their likelihood like our livelihood. Any one who antagonizes or opposes them is acting not against me but against the fathers already mentioned. He will be considered a transgressor of our decree.
On their part, the Shamsis should be one with our people in joy, sorrow, in their going out or coming in, in poverty or plenty, in sickness or health. If they observe these things, they will be brothers to us. But if they deviate from this norm, even though they are reproached by our people for some worldly matters, they will have no power to deny their religion or undermine it. I have said this and written it with my own hand, I the weak servant Dawud of Homs, who pray for those who obey. He who disagrees will bear his own sin. We ask God for success and unity for ever. Amen.
Written at Amid, in the house of glory. Praise be to God, the Lord of the world. In Him alone is our trust.

Document of the late Patriarch ‘Abd Allah Issued to the Shamsis, dated 1832 of the Greeks/1521 A.D.

In the Name of God the Eternal, the Everlasting, the Almighty, the Incomprehensible by the Mind

Greetings, invocations, prayers and blessings offered to anyone who may read this our document concerning the Shamsis. Since they have in their possession the documents of former fathers like, Patriarch Ignatius Ibrahim bar Gharib, the exalted Patriarch Badr Zakhi bar Wuahyb, and also the document of my wretchedness I, the weak, their successor who uphold their ideas, state that the Shamsis are a Christian denomination and follow the doctrine of the Syrians. They uphold the unity of God and the Holy Gospel. They observe the Syrians’ ceremonies of prayers, celebration of the Eucharist, fasting, baptism, matrimony and burial of the dead. I, the wretched Ignatius, guardian of the Great See of Antioch, believe as authentic, as has also been done by former patriarchs, that the Shamsis uphold the doctrine of the Syrians. This is because since ancient times the Syrians, the Armenians, the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Franks, the Greek, the Georgians, the Nubians, the Russians, the Slavs, the Serbians, the Chinese and the Indians worshiped idols. Then they were led to God’s obedience by our Lord Christ and his Apostles, the supporters of God. Likewise, the Muslims, may God protect them, were led to God’s obedience by their messenger Muhammad. Also, the Shamsis were guided to God’s obedience and the doctrine of the Syrians nine hundred years ago. Therefore, no Syrian has the authority from God to speak, more or less, badly about them or separate them from the faith of the Syrians. However, any one who vilifies them concerning their doctrine or religion will be under reproach.
I, Patriarch ‘Abd Allah, who uphold the decision of earlier fathers, have issued this document in my own handwriting. Praise be to God forever. Amen. Written in 1832 of the Greeks/1521 A.D.

A copy of the document of Patriarch Mar Ignatius, the Maphryono Mar Basilius, and Mar Philoxenus, Metropolitan of Amid, who at this date of the year 1853 of the Greeks/1542 A.D. were still living. (Know that this document was issued by the Maphrian of the East Iliyya I, and authenticated by the Patriarch of Antioch ‘Abd Allah I and  Metropolitan Philoxenus Faraj Allah of Amid.  It was dated October 6, 1542.)

In the name of God the Almighty, the Incomprehensible by the Human Mind

The weak Ignatius Patriarch of Antioch, Basilius, Maphryono of the East, and Philoxenus, Metropolitan of Amid

To the priests, deacons, leaders, stewards, merchants, and communicants of the Syrian denomination, high and low, young and old, who read these our humble lines, should know that throughout the ages the blessed God desired the salvation of His creation. For by His plentiful mercy, charity and benevolence, He guided many people to the right path through the holy Apostles, his supporters, like the Syrians, the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Russians, the Georgians, the Bosnians, the Arna’ut (Albanians), the Circassians, the Laz, the Serbians, the Slavs, the Nubians, the Nestorians and the Maronites. (Notice that for the first time this document mentions the Maronites as a denomination.)  Then God guided the Muslims by their messenger Muhammad. All of these sects who existed before the Apsotles and Muhammad worshiped the sun; others worshiped the moon, others worshiped the stars, and still others worshiped stones. [He says this in general terms. It is known that some Christians were originally Jews.] Then God led them to the right path. Now 949 years have passed since the Muslims were led to the right path, and 1545 years since the Christians were guided to the right path.
These lines were written for the Shamsis scattered over all the earth. They still live in the city of Amid, protected by God. But for the last 962 years or more they mixed with the Syrian denomination and adopted its beliefs. They became one with us, accepting our dogma and upholding the unity of God as we do. Our earlier fathers endorsed them (as one with the Syrian church). One of these fathers was the exalted and honorable Patriarch Badr Zakhi bar Wuhayb, the worker of miracles, to which the Christian and  many Muslims of Mardin have borne witness for more than 120 years. [It seems from this that the Shamsis spread over many countries. However, this time period is wrong. More correctly it is 209 years, because the Patriarch bar Wuhayb died in 1333.] After him was the proficient learned and perfect father Mar Ignatius Ibrahim bar Gharib, who likewise confirmed them as part of the Syrian Church. Both were followed by the perfect learned man, who was adorned with magnificent characteristics, the pious ascetic our father and our crown Mar Basilius, Maphryono of the East and its dependencies. After him came  the one who brought me up as a child, my father, my crown and my guide, who rescued me from darkness and brought me to the light of knowledge, the Patriarch Mar Ignatius Abd Allah, already mentioned. [Mapahryono Basilius has obviously exaggerated the praise of Patriarch Abd Allah because the patriarch ordained him a metropolitan in 1527 and a Maphryono in 1533.]
As for me, I Basilius, the weak, the notoro of the Eastern Church only in name [This is a poor semantic interpretation of the Syriac term notoro, meaning guardian. In this context, however, it means the one who guards the Office of the Maphrianate.], have read their documents and approved their contents. A group of Shamsis and learned men of our denomination appeared before us. We discussed with them the matters related to them and found nothing contrary to our laws. Therefore we, the wretched, issued for them, as did the fathers before us, a document and a pastoral decree instructing our clergy to baptize them, solemnize their weddings, bury their dead, dispose of their problems, and permit them to enter the church and pray with them. We have also ordained that no priest, deacon or any member of the Syrian Church should antagonize them, denigrate them or speak a bad word about them. From now on, no Syrian has the authority from God to slander or vilify them or consider them separate from the faith. However, if anyone acts otherwise, he will be blamed and condemned until he becomes remorseful and repents.
We, the wretched Ignatius, Patriarch of the Syrians, Basilius, Maphryono of the East, and Philoxenus, Metropolitan of Amid, have issued this document in our own handwriting as a testimony for them.
Written in October, 1853 of the Greeks/1542 A.D.

We have also come upon a document issued for the Shamsis by Patriarch Ishaq when he was still a Maphryono at the time when he rebuilt the Church of Mar Yaqub in Amid, dated 1103 A.H./1691 A.D.  It is an exact copy of the document of the late Patriarch Dawud Shah. [That is, a copy of the document of monk Dawud of Homs.] For this reason we declined to recopy it.
Written in our office at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Amid by my own hand, I, the wretched Ignatius Jirjis IV, Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch. [Patriarch Ishaq was Metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta. He became a Maphryono of the East in 1687 and then Patriarch in 1709. He retired on July 20, 1723 due to old age, and died in Mosul on July 11, 1724.]


Dawud (David) of Homs, also Known as the Phoenician

David was son of ‘Abd al-Karim, son of Salah of Homs.  He said that he was originally from  al-Qaryatayn in Syria but was born in 1431 in Damascus. When he was four years old, his father died and the family moved to Homs. At Homs his fraternal grandmother, Nujayma, brought him up and entrusted his education to the venerable priest Musa Mukaysef. At fourteen, David entered the Monastery of Mar Musa in al-Nabk where he engaged in reading and studying. He acted as a scribe for Mar Dioscorus ‘Isa Daww of al-Nabk, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Musa, Damascus and Jerusalem since 1445. Around 1459, he moved to the Za’faran Monastery to complete his studies. At the monastery he established a strong friendship with two venerablemonks: Yuhanna Shay’ Allah and another one of the same name.  Because of his eccentric behavior, however, David left for the Monastery of the Cross in Hisn Kifa where he became reformed in 1461. He then became the scribe of Mar ‘Aziz, maphryono of the East (1471-1487). While holding this position he wrote a document for the Shamsis testifying their adherence to Christianity. He journeyed to Constantinople toward the end of the reign of Sultan Muhaamd the Conqueror (1451-1481 and met with the Muslim leraned man Muhammd Beg, son of the Rumi philosopher. He makes a  amention of the new Sultan Bayazid II (1481-1512). His life suffered drastic changes and he was finally cuaght up with his friend the Patriarch Yuhanna Shallila. The Patriarch composed few lines of verse in the Sarugite and Ephraimite meters praising David for his knowledge and excellence. Most likely, David lived long and passed away in the last decade of the fifteenth century.
David was proficient in the Syriac language and composition. He composed two acrostic odes in the Sarugite meter in which every line begins with a letter of the Syriac alphabet. It displays his dexterety in the metaphoric style which imitates that of ‘Abd Yeshu’ Subawi’s ( d. 1318) anthology entitled Paradise of Eden. [ ‘Abd Yeshu’ is also known as Bar Brikha. Tr.]  He also composed an ode in the Sarugite meter in praise of Mar ‘Aziz bar Sobto, patriarch of Tur ‘Abdin (1460-1481). According to this metaphoric style, some letters in oneline, if put together, will form a new line in the fifth-syllabic meter of Mar Balai. However, the intricacy and unnaturalness of style is obvious in his verse.  Indeed, it is so involved that it must have tired not only the composer but the reader as well. Still some, infatutated with this forced style, like the Martonite Gabriel Cardahi, exaggerated their praise of the Subawi and his Paradise of Eden.  Cardahi even had the audacity to disparage the leading men of the Aramaic tongue like St. Ephraim, Jacob of Edessa and Bar Hebraeus. He says that some critics held the Subawi in a higher position than these giants and maintained that the purity of the language is not marred by superficialities.  [See Cardahi’s Introduction to the Anthology of ‘Abd Yeshu’ Subawi.]
Conversely, the Orientalist Rubens Duval, considered this versical art as worthless and a manifestation of the decline of Syriac poetry. He did not even call the Subawi  and those of his category as poets but versifiers. [ Duval,  19-23.] Obviously, he who prefers the versification of the Subawi to the poetry of St. Ephraim and Bar Hebraeus must be lacking good literary taste. But writers of that age (fourteenth century) were immensely enchanted with rigid literal forms. They plunged deeply into dictionaries to discover a suitable meaning at the expense of simplicity and gracefulness of style. Thus their compositions were reduced to lifeless terms supervening each other in a forced manner  to fianllhy end with a rhyme. Some of them praised the versical composition of David to the point that they reached the verdict  that no one, old or new, could match it.
Of the versifiers whose style was marked by rigidity we may mention Patriarch Yuhanna (d.1493), Patriarch Nuh the Lebanese (d. 1509), Metropolitan Sarjis of Hah (d. 1508), Metropolitan Yusuf al-Gurji (d. 1537), Maphryono ‘Abd al-Ghani I (d. 1575), and Patriarch Ni’mat Allah (d. 1583).  However, if one reads some lines of poetry by David of Homs free from enslavement to rigid rhymes, like his poem on Being Sojourn, will appreciate their pleasant meanings.
Patriarch Jacob I Muzawwiq, said that he came to know the ufortunate monk David of Homs (lacuna).

Patriarch Athanasius Bar Subay’ of al-Nabk ( An Intruding Patriarch)

He was Dioscorus Ibrahim, son of ‘Isa Subay’, metropolitan of Jerusalem and Syria and their dependencies (1479-1511).  Because of a discord in the time of Patriarch Yeshu’ I, the bishops of Syria ordained him an intruding patriarch with the name of Athanasius. We have come upon his name in manuscripts at Homs, Hama, Damascus and Sadad dated October, 1511 to 1514, as Bar Subay’. In the Order of Funerals at Hama he is called Bar Subay’ from al-Nabk. In the discord, Bar Subay’ was supported by Metropolitan Ibrahim Hudayban and Bulus (Paul) Juhha , bishop Hardin.
Bar Subay’ was ordained a metropolitan for Syria and Jerusalem in 1479. But he ceded  Jerusalem when Metropolitan Dioscorus Jacob Hallis of Yabrud was ordained for Jerusalm in 1499. He was mentioned by the priest Sa’d Allah, son of Maqdisi ‘Abd Allah of Homs from 1511 to 1514.  He was not mentioned after 1518 which indicates that he may have passed away between 1514 and 1518, and God knows best.  I think that he ordained ‘Isa Huriyya a metropolitan for the Nabk in 1512.
Nevertheless, in some manuscripts at the churches of Mar Musa and Mar Behnam in Syria,  Bar Subay’ was mentioned.  There is also a copy in his hand writing of the Hidya [ This is probably the  Hudoyo ( Nomocanon) by Bar Hebraeus  Tr.] at the Coptic Library in Cairo which he transcribed when he was a metropolitan. However, no compiler of the roster of patriarchs has ever made a mention of him. The reason is that Bar Subay’ probably intended to renew the patriarchate in Syria but failed.
This biography is dated November 6, 1929

Ignatius Yaqub (Jacob) I ( 1512-1517)

Jacob was son of the rahib (monk) Maqdisi Hasan, son of the rahib (monk) ‘Abd Allah of the Muzawwiq family. He is also known as Jacob al-Khuri. [ The term of rahib (monk) in this context is confusing. Rahibs (monks) are not married and have no children. Most likely, Ignatius’s father and gradfather were not ordained rahibs but were novices who left the cloister and got married. Still, they were designated as rahibs (monks). Tr.]
Ignatius Jacob was born in the village of al-Ahmadi in the province of al-Sawar . It is still populated but no Christians live in it today.  Its church named after the Virgin, was still flourishing in 1587. [ Oxford MS 12.]  Jacob said that he came from the Muzawwiq family and calls his village Fair Ahmadi lying in the outskirts (sic).
Jacob became a monk at the Monastery of Mar Musa the Abyssinian in al-Nabk, Syria, where he was also ordained a priest. It was affter this monastery at al-Nabk, that he assumed the name of Jacob of al-Nabk before 1481. He studied under the monk-priest Musa, son of ‘Ubayd of Sadad who became a metropolitan of Homs around 1489 and passed away in September, 1510. .
Jacob excelled in classical Syriac and gained a great command of its principles and calligraphy. Several manuscripts copied in his elegant handwriting, are at the Libraries of Edessa, Jerusalem, Za’faran, Oxford, Vatican and Diyarbakr. From these manuscripts we gleaned a good portion of his chronicles. We also learned that he had established strong friendship with David of Homs who praised him. David was one of the three fathers who lived in the latter fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century and mastered the Syriac language and calligraphy. They were our Ignatius Jacob, the Maphryono Sulayman of Mardin and Mettopolitan Yusuf al-Gurji
In 1482, Jacob visited the Monastery of the Syrians in the Scete in Egypt. In 1487, he resieded  at  the Monastery of Mar Balai in his own country, and in 1489, he resided at the Za’faran Monastery. When his good reputation became public, he was ordained a metropolitan for Amid (Diyarbakr) by Patriarch Nuh in 1496. and  was called Philoxinus. Together with him was also ordained Dionysius Dawud (David) a metropolitan for Ma’dan. Jacob administered his diocese efficiently for sixteen years. I came upon an ode composed by the deacon Nur al-Din, son of Shallila in praise of him.
In 1512, Jacob was ordained a patriarch [The date of his ordination is mentioned in a Florence MS.] in the lifetime of his predecessor Patriarch Yeshu’ I, for reasons unknown to us. They may have to do with  the qualifications of Yeshu’,  whose sad biography has already preceded [ The biography of Yeshu’ must have been contained in a former brochure other the one used here. Tr. ]
In 1516, the Kurds attacked the Za’faran Monastery looting its possessions. Its inhabitan clergymen became so distressed and needy that they were forced to sell its endowment poperties and  the  poperties of the Jerusalem Monastery in in the villages of Qaluq and Romanya in the Sawar district. [The church at Qaluq was named aftefr Mar Quryaqos which was still flourishing in 1592; and the church at Romanya was named after the female martyr St. Shmuni (1446.] From Qaluq flourished Iyawannis Mas’ud, metropolitan of Sawar in 1673.
After administering the Patriarchate for five years Ignatius Jacob passed away around 1517. He was greatly extolled by his contemporaries who recognized his venerableness and knowledge I have  read  by him pleasant lines of poetry  in which he  beseechs his own repentance. I have also come upon a tract by him at the Monastery of the Cross in Tur ‘Abdin containing chronicles of David of Homs  Also, I came upon comments on some festivals in an old copy of the Homologia  at the Paris Library MS 112.  I found his insignia in some manuscripts at Diyarbakr in the following form, “Philoxinus Jacob, bishop of the City of Glory Amid.”  Finally, I found in the Library of Edessa a manuscript containing orders of baptism, matrimony and canons of penitence in the handwriting of Patriarch Jacob.
Because Jacob had become a monk at the Monastery of Musa the Abyssinia in al-Nabk, as previously said, his nickname “ The Nabki, that is he of al-Nabk” became prevalent. Some sources relegate him to Syria which misled some latter writers to claim that he was from Damascus, which is not the case. Since his father and grandfather were monks, Jacob was nicknamed the Khuri. In the two manuscripts of Florence and Cammbridge dated in late sixteenth century, his name and epithet  appear thus, “ Patriarch Yacub (Jacob) of Nabk also known as Khuri. He died in 1517. May God be gracious to him.” We also read in a Homologia of the Maphriante Seat of Edessa, that Jacob ordianed deacon ‘Abd Allah for the church of the Virgin in Amid, and deacon Ghazal for the churches of Mar Ahodemeh and Mar Tuma (Thomas) in Mosul on August 6, 1512. I, the poor Igntius Jacob of Antioch”
Basilius Sulayman, maphryono of the East (1509-1518)

Basilius Sulayman was son of Yusuf, son of Elianus of Mardin. He was born in Mardin at the end of the fifteenth century. He assumed the monastic habit at the Za’faran Monastey where he was also educated before 1495. In a manuscript copy, the monk Ibrahim of Baisbrina mentioned him saying “Sulayman of Mardin is one of the venerable monks and learend men,”  At the Monastery of Mar Behnam near Mosul, I came upon the disctiomary of  Bar  ‘Ali transctribed by Sulayman, son of Yusuf, son of Janus (sic) of Mardin. It was made for Dionysius, metropolitan of Ma’dan in 1810 of the Greeks/ 1499 A. D. ] Two years after the death of Ibrahim II, maphryono of the East in 1507, Sulayman was ordained a maphryono with the name of Basilius by Patriarch Yeshu’ I, known as Qachuchan, at the end of 1509 as mentioned in a Cambridge MS   After administering the Patriarchal Office for four years, he was accused of a charge which forced him to leave Mosul for Isfes, a village in Jazirat ibn ‘Umar, in 15141 where he passed away around 1518. He was most likely buried in the church of Mar Dawud (David).
Basilius Sulayman was mentioned by church historians between 1512 and 1517. I have come upon a significant Homologia at the Library of St. Mark Monastery in Jerusale MS .[No number is given Tr.] containing ordination of deacons and priests by Sulayman for the churches of Mosul , the Jazira and Azekh from 1511 to 1518.  A second Homologia containing the same, was the endowment of the church of Edessa in 1300 but transferred to Aleppo in 1924.
Maphryono Sulayman (some say Salman) was an expert in the Syriac language and proficient in both Syriac and Arabic handwriting. We have come upon manuscripts in his elegant hand at the Libraries of Oxford, Paris and the church of Qutrubul. His name is mentioned in the Paris MS [No number is given. Tr] as having succeeded Maphryono Ibrahim II. He was also mentioned in a Za’farn MS dated June 1517.He held the Maphriante Office for nine years and was succeeded by Maphryono Basilius ‘Abd Allah.

A Beautiful page of Syrian History in the Golden Age of the Church: The Election of
Mar Dionysius I, Tell Mahre, as Patriarch of Antioch in 818 A. D.

Dionysius I, famed as Tell Mahre, the seventieth Patrarich of Antioch, is one of our most remarkable predecessors and fathers. He was endowed with wisdom, judgment, knowledge, and piety. He was born to a family of noble descent.  He obtained a great knowledge of philosophy and theology, not to mention his noble character and practice of monastic life. He is the best monk who graduated from the Monastery of Qinneshrin.  [ See Vol. 4: 265 of the magazine.] Suffice it to say that when he was still a novice, forty-eight metropolitans and bishops unanimously chose him as a patriarch. He adorned the patriarchal throne with his excellent characteristics and administered the flock with sound mind, unerring judgment and astonishing patience.
Patriarch Tall Mahre convened three synods which enacted church canons. He ordained a hundred metropolitans and bishops and wrote in Syriac a universal history, extending from the year 528 to 842.  He rebuilt the churches which had been unjustly destroyed.  Thre times he visited the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun (d. 833) in Baghdad and in Egypt. He gained the favor of the caliph, who delegated him on a political mission. He also visited the Caliph al-Mu’tasim. He was also favored by the Amir ‘Abd Allah ibn Tahir ibn al-Hysayn, lord of the Jazira, who waa famous for his noble character and justice. [‘Abd Allah ibn Tahir was born in 797 A. D. He studied sciences and jurisprudence and excelled in literature and poetry. He became governor of the Jazira in 821 and then Egypt in 825. He was transferred to Khurasan and died at Maru (Merv) in 844. He was known for justice and love of his subjects. He was of commanding personality, tolerant, courageous, and benevolent.] He lived a noble life and was appreciated for his virtues. He administered the church with utmost competence for twenty-seven years and twenty-two days, and then departed to be near his Lord on August 22, 854 A. D. He gained for himself an immortal name in the history of the Holy Church and a prominent position in Syriac literature. May God reward him in His kingdom with the holy saints and benefit us by him and by other righteous fathers. [Michael Rabo, Chronicle, 2: 499-544, 754-755; Bar Hebraeus, Ecclesiastical History, 1: 343-386, and 2: 189-193, and his Chronography, 139-148; the Anonymous Edessan, 2: 10-34, 263-264.]
We came upon a magnificent and unique Syriac manuscript, written on vellum in the middle of the ninth century, which survived until World War I at Basibrina in Tur ‘Abdin. [A copy of it is at our library. It contains a corpus of canons.], containing names of the bishops who met at the town of al-Raqqa (Callinicus) and chose Tell Mahre as Patriarch of Antioch. We have collated it with the table of the names of bishops appended to the Chronicle of Michael Rabo and desired to publish it in our magazine. We appended to it an ode we composed in praise of this exalted father. [The ode appended to the article is missing.Tr.] Following is what church history has recorded about the said election.
On August 16, 817, St. Quryaqos, Patriarch of Antioch passed away. In June, 818, the Holy Synod met at al-Raqqa, then heavily populated by Syrians. After taking care of church business for forty days, the fathers prayed and fasted for three days. Then they deliberated the question of the election. Many of them said that there was no one in the monasteries qualified to fill the position of patriarch. Others mentioned the names of some prominent clergymen. Asking for permission to speak, Theodore, bishop of Kesum, said, “The brother monk Dionysius of the Monastery of John bar Aphtonia (Qinneshrin) came and remained with us for two years. We examined him and found him to be qualified for this dignity.” When he finished speaking, a door was opened for discussion, and the bishops agreed with his choice. They wrote a document and unanimously signed it and invited Dionysius Tell Mahre to come to the meeting. He objected with humility, but then agreed and attended the meeting. The bishops left their seats and prostrated themselves before him. On Friday, one of them ordained him a deacon at the Pillars Monastery. On Saturday another bishop ordained him a priest at the Monastery of Mar Zakka. On Sunday at the beginning of August, 818, he was consecrated as patriarch at al-Raqqa’s Cathedral. The patriarchal throne had been vacant for eleven months and fifteen days. Immediately, the new Patriarch Tell Mahre presided over the synod and issued canons. [The acts of this synod and its twelve canons are preserved in an important copy at our Library.]
Quoting Michael Rabo, Bar Hebraeus set the number of the assembling fathers at 45. The mention of 43 bishops in the roster appended to the Chronicle of Michael Rabo is of no consequence, most likely the result of a copyist’s error. Our ancient copy, transcribed forty years after the election of Tall Mahre, shows the number of the bishops as 48 because three of them signed through their deputies at the synod. Indeed, six of the bishops had been ordained by the Patriarch Gewargi I, thirty-five were ordained by Patriarch Quryaqos, six were Eastern bishops ordained by maphryonos, and one, from the Outer Gubo Monastery, was accompanied by a presbyter and three deacons. [Members of this delegation, composed of a bishop, a presbyter, and three deacons acting in the name of the Outer Gubo Monastery, were the ones who revolted over the passage, “We break the Bread of Heaven.”] Following is the list of bishops, copied from the original, preceded by the name of Dionysius.

I, Dionysius, by God’s mercy, Patriarch of the Apostolic See of Antioch in
Syria, have signed and confirmed the above.

1) I, Basilius, metropolitan of Takrit and the occupant of the Eastern See, have consented
and signed.
2) I, Bar Hadhbshabo, bishop of Marga, have consented and signed the above. [The bishops signed according to the order of their ordination.]
3) I, Yuhanna, bishop of Germanicia (Mar’ash), authorized Sulayman, bishop of Cyrus to consent with the Holy Synod.
4) I, Gewargi, bishop of Qinneshrin, authorized my deputy Hannanya and the Holy Synod in this matter. [The chronicles of Michael Rabo and Bar Hebraeus mention the names of three or four other fathers, such as Anastas, metropolitan of Damascus, who authorized Theodosius, metropolitan of Edessa, to sign for him. He was followed by Gewargi, bishop of Qinneshrin.]
5) I, Aaron, bishop of Malatya (Melitene), have consented and put down the consent in my own hand.
6) I, Zakariyya, bishop of Edessa, consented and signed.  [ Zakariyya was ordained in 785 and discharged in 786, but maintained control of parts of the diocese. In the margin it is said that he was from the Monastery of Qartmin.]
7) I, Constantine, bishop of Duluk, consented and signed.
8) I, Theodosius, bishop of Seleucia, consented and signed.
9) I, Tuma, bishop of Anastasia (Dara), approved of the above and signed together with my brethren the metropolitans.
10) I, Athanasius, metropolitan of Callincus (al-Raqqa), consented and signed.
11) I, Dumianus, bishop of Sarug, consented and signed.
12) I, Shim’un (Simon), bishop of Palmyra, consented and signed.
13) I, Timothy, metropolitan of Jerusalem, authorized our Father Theodosius, bishop of Seleucia, and the Synod in this matter.
14) I, Habib Rahma, by God’s grace metropolitan of Euphemia, accepted the contents of this document.
15) I, Philexinus, bishop of Nisibin, agree to the above and duly signed.
16) I, Habib, by God’s grace bishop of Baghdad, consented and signed.
17) I, Ignatius, mettopolitan of  ‘Any Zarab, consented and signed
18) I, Theodosius, metropolitan of Edessa, agreed to the above and signed. [Theodosius was the brother of Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre. He was well versed in both Syriac and Greek.]
19) I, ‘Arabi, bishop of Rish ‘Ayn, consented and signed.
20) I, Sulayman, bishop of Cyrus, agreed to the above.
21) I, Muqim [Nqim, Maqaim], bishop of Circasson, consented and signed.
22) I, Iliyya, by God’s grace bishop of Hadath, consented and signed.
23) I, Sarjis, bishop of Banuhadra, consented and signed.
24) I, Ibrahim, bishop of the Taghlibite Arabs, consented and signed. [There was a special diocese of the Taghlibite Arab tribes from the third decade of the seventh century to the second decade of the tenth century. Its episcopate included the town of ‘Aana and the Taghlibite Arab tribe.]
25) I, Habib, bishop of Narsibad, consented and signed.
26) I, Theodore, bishop of Kesum, consented and signed. [He is the venerable bishop who recommended Mar Dionysius for the Patriarchal Dignity. The name of his diocese was mentioned in the copy as Kerum, obviously a misspelling of Kesum.]
27) I, Li’azar, bishop of the Jisr, consented and signed.
28) I, Shim’un, bishop of Rasafa, consented and signed.
29) I, Daniel, bishop of Aleppo, approved and signed.
30) I, Yaqub, bishop of Urim, approved.
31) I, Gewargi, bishop of Samosata, endorsed the above and signed. [In the Chronicle of Michael Rabo, he is mentioned as the bishop of Arsamosata.]
32) I, Habib, bishop of ‘Ars, fixed my seal in my own handwriting. [In the Edessan copy of the Chronicle of Michael Rabo, Habib is called the bishop of Tarsus. More correctly, it is Arsio, which is the town of Arson. Actually, ‘Ars or ‘Ard is a small town in the Sham (Syria) wilderness, located between Tadmur (Palmyra) and the Hashimite Rasafa. It was an episcopal see, attached to the metropolitan diocese of Rasafa.]
33) I, Eughris (Evagrius), bishop of Adhra’at, consented and signed.
34) I, Yuhanna (John), bishop of Costantina (Thella), have consented and affixed my seal
and signed.
35) I,  Methodius, bishop of Ashfarin, endorsed the above. [Michael Rabo calls him bishop
of Talbsam.]
36) I, Gewargi, bishop of Miyafarqin, endorsed the above and signed.
37) I, Yuhanna, bishop of Qardu, endorsed the above and signed.
38) I, Addai, bishop of Karma, agreed to the above and signed with my own seal.
39) I, Iliyya, bishop of Sinjar, consented and signed. [Iliyya was one of the ordained Eastern bishops. His rank at the synod was eighth. These bishops were Barhadhbshabo, bishop of Marga; Habib, bishop of Baghdad; Sarjis, bishop of Banugadra ([modern Duhuk, in the Kurdish area of north Iraq]; Ibrahim, bishop of the Taghlibite Arab tribes; Habib, bishop of Narsibad; Yuhanna, bishop of Qardu; Addai, bishop of Karma; and Iliyya, bishop of Sinjar.]
40) I, Ezekiel, bishop of Tur Abdin, consented and signed with my own hand.
41) I, Gabriel, bishop of Armenia, endorsed the above and signed.
42) I, Ignatius, bishop of Mardin, approved and signed. [He was a bishop of Mardin and
43) I, Gewargi, bishop of Harran, approved and signed.
44) I, Tuma, bishop of Rish Kifa, signed the above. [Rish Kifa was located in the Jazira of the homeland of the Mudar Arab tribe, near Harran.]
45) I, Iyawannis, bishop of Qasitra (Balsh), endorsed the above and signed. [Balsh, or Perbalisus, was the Episcopal See of Mar Balai, the Syrian Malphono. Today it is called Maskana.]
46) I, Dawud (David), bishop of Eugrophus (Jerabulus), consented and signed.
47) I, Theophilus, bishop of Zbatra, consented and signed.
48) I, Bishop Habib of the Gubba Baraya Monastery (Outer Gubo) submitted and signed. [If Anastas, metropolitan of Damascus, is added to the bishops who attended the synod, their number would be 49. Notice further that more than forty metropolitans and bishops could not attend the synod, either because they lived too far away, or for other reasons.]

I, Yuhanna, an ecumenical presbyter from the said monastery, endorsed the above. We, Gewargi, Anthima, and Yusuf, deacons of the said monastery, together with the rest of the monks of the Gubba Baraya Monastery whom we represent, do submit to, endorse, and sign the decision of the Holy Synod.