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 Kitāb fī ḥaqīqa dīn al-Naṣrāniyya li-aḥad ʿulamāʾ al-Muslimīn

(135 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Treatise on the truth of the Christian religion, for one of the Muslim religious doctors Makkīkhā ibn Sulaymān al-Qankānī Date: Before 1109 Original Language: Arabic Description This work appears to have been a justification of Christian teachings in the light of Muslim criticisms, and is likely to have contained defenses of the Trinity, the unity of the divine and human natures in Christ, and Christian scripture, among other recognized matters of disagreement. Significance It is difficult to say what the significance of the work was. Manuscripts MS Aleppo, Rizq Allāh Bāsīl Colle…

Ibn Athradī

(226 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Abū l-Ghanā’im Hibat Allāh ibn ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Athradī Date of Birth: Early 11th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: End of the 11th century, around 1080 Place of Death: Unknown Biography Ibn Athradī belonged to the East-Syrian (‘Nestorian’) community of Baghdad and was a disciple of Abū l-Faraj ‘Abdallāh ibn al-Ṭayyib (q.v.). He was the author of several medical and philosophical works. One of his medical writings was addressed to the West Syrian author Yaḥyā ibn Jarīr (later 11th century) (q.v.). He also wrote a theological handbook, on which see below. Primary Sources…

Ishoʿyahb III of Adiabene (Ḥadyab)

(542 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Ishoʿyahb III of Adiabene Date of Birth: c. 580 Place of Birth: Quplānā (Qaplān) (in Adiabene, between Kirkuk and Mosul) Date of Death: 659 Place of Death: Monastery of Bēt ʿAbē Biography Originating from a rich family, Ishoʿyahb studied at the theological school of Nisibis, though left as part of a group of students in protest against the heretical position of its rector, Ḥnānā (d. 596). He later became a monk in the newly established monastery of Bēt ʿAbē, where he became the disciple of its first abbot, Mār Yaʿqūb. In 628, …

Yūḥannā Yūshaʿ ibn Shūshān

(347 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Yoḥannōn Ishoʿ bar Shūshān Date of Birth: Unknown; possibly early 11th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 6 (or 27) November 1072 Place of Death: Amida (Diyarbakir) Biography Yuḥannā was sunkellos (secretary) and pupil of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch John IX (d. 1057). After the latter’s death, he was elected patriarch by the bishops belonging to the Maphrianate, i.e. the eastern territories of the West Syrian Church (roughly modern Iraq and Iran). This election was not recognized by the bishops of the western dio…

Quryāqus al-Rāhib

(198 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Quryāqus (ibn Zakariyyā al-Ḥarrānī) al-Rāhib Date of Birth: Possibly early 10th century Place of Birth: Unknown; perhaps Ḥarrān Date of Death: Possibly later 10th century Place of Death: Unknown Biography Quryāqus was an East Syrian monk, possibly identical with the East Syrian theologian Quryāqus ibn Zakariyya, from Ḥarrān, who composed a refutation of some of the anti-Nestorian arguments formulated by Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (d. 974) (q.v.) in his letter to Abū l-Ḥasan al-Qāsim ibn Ḥabīb, to which Yaḥyā developed an elaborate counter-argument.   Primary Sources of Information E. Platti, Ya…

 Two mēmrē

(179 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Two metrical poems Dionysius bar Ṣalibi Date: Between 1159 (when the event described in both mēmrē took place) and 1171 Original Language: Syriac Description Gregory Barhebraeus ( Chronicon ecclesiasticum, ed. Abbeloos and Lamy, iii, pp. 347-52) mentions Dionysius as the author of two metrical compositions on the steadfastness of a Syrian Orthodox girl who resisted pressure by Muslim doctors from Mosul to convert to Islam, as well as on the attitude of a Maphrian (representative of the patriarch for the eastern territories…

ʿAbdishoʿ of Nisibis

(1,459 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
ʿAbdishoʿ bar Brikhā, ʿAbdishoʿ Ṣūbāwī; Ebediesus (Sobensis) Date of Birth: Around the middle of the 13th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Beginning of November 1318 Place of Death: Probably Nisibis Biography ʿAbdishoʿ belonged to the East-Syrian (‘Nestorian’) community. Little is known about his early years. His surname Bar Brikhā, ‘son of the blessed one’, seems to be an honorific name and not an indication of his family or of the place where he was born or grew up. Though he undoubtedly followed the classical ca…

 Ktābā d-ʿal-idaʿtā da-shrārā aw d-ʿElat d-kull ʿellān

(677 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
The book of knowledge of the truth or of the Cause of all causes Ktābā d-ʿal-idaʿtā da-shrārā Date: Probably 11th century Original Language: Syriac Description This work, originally divided into nine memrē (discourses), the last two of which are lost (the work ends at memrō 7, ch. 2), is a reflection and meditation on God’s creation, based on the reading and interpretation of the ‘Book of nature’, nature being the father and teacher of the human race, and on the study of scripture, especially the ‘Book of Moses’. In the introduction, the …

 Ktābā d-marganitā

(505 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
'The book of the pearl' ʿAbdishoʿ of Nisibis Date: November 1298 Original Language: Syriac Description At first sight, the Ktābā d-marganitā seems an internal Christian theological work, dealing with the traditional issues of East Syrian doctrine and ecclesiastical practice. In the introduction, however, the author explains that the pearl mentioned in the title is the pearl of the truth of Christianity in general, apparently not just of the truth of his own community, the Church of the East. It would appear that he…

Dionysius bar Ṣalibi

(569 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Biography There is no information about Bar Ṣalibi’s early years or education (Dionysius was his episcopal name; he was baptised James). He embraced the monastic life, since he is incidentally called aksnōyō ‘stranger’, a term used to designate anchorites or monks living in a monastery. In 1153, as a deacon, he wrote against Bishop John of Mardin, who had argued that God had not ordained the fall of Edessa to ʿImād al-Dīn Zangī of Mosul in 1144, and stated that it was in fact divinely decreed. The conflict was brought before …


(324 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Creed ʿAbdishoʿ of Nisibis Date: 7 December 1298 Original Language: Arabic Description This brief untitled creed can be divided into two sections. The first, on the Trinity, presents the faith ‘of the Christians’ in God’s tri-unity. The fact that, as in the Ktābā d-marganitā, the author speaks of the Christians in general, and not only of his own community, may imply that his work was addressed to non-Christians, in particular to Muslims. Samir remarks that it is no coincidence that the term wāḥid is one of the key terms in this creed and testifies to its dialogical character (Samir, Professi…

 Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn

(867 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
The fundamentals of religion Elias II, Ibn al-Muqlī Date: Before 1132 Original Language: Arabic Description The Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn, preserved in the Asfār al-asrār, consists of 22 chapters of apologetic character, and is indirectly addressed by the East Syrian author to Chalcedonians and West Syrians (‘Jacobites’), Jews and Muslims; the latter are explicitly mentioned in chs 11 and 15. Gianazza and Landron have convincingly argued that this work cannot be attributed to Patriarch Elias I, as is held by Graf. Ch. 1 is devoted to the Trinity. The author strongly emphasizes that…

 Maktbānut zabnē

(307 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Chronicle Jacob of Edessa Date: 692 (with extension of the chronicle covering the years 692-710) Original Language: Syriac Description This chronicle purports to be a reworking and continuation of Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia ecclesiastica. The continuation covers the period from the 21st year of the reign of Constantine until the year 692, with an extension by an anonymous pupil up to the year 710. Significance The chronicle contains some brief notes on Muḥammad, the year of the beginning of the 'Kingdom of the Arabs', and Muslim raids in Palestine, as we…

Unknown author

(85 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
The Maronite Chronicle Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown Place of Death: Unknown Biography The author of this chronicle probably belonged to the Maronite community, as is suggested by an important passage in the chronicle itself. Primary Sources of Information E.-W. Brooks, Chronica Minora II, Paris, 1904 ( CSCO 4), pp. 43-74, esp. p. 70 Hoyland, Seeing Islam, p. 135 Secondary Sources of Information See below Works on Christian-Muslim Relations Title unknown; Chronicon Maroniticum Herman G.B. Teule

 Mnōrat qudshē

(1,277 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
‘The lamp of the sanctuary’ Barhebraeus Date: Around 1266-67, and some years later Original Language: Syriac Description The Lamp of the sanctuary is a 12-volume theological encyclopedia dealing with the most important themes of the West Syrian (‘Jacobite’) creed, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the last judgment (see the list of the individual books below). Several books (on creation, angels, the rational soul) show some influence from the scientific and philosophical world of Islam, comparable to the aut…

 Al-mujādala allati jarat bayna l-usquf Yuʾanīs ibn al-Shammāʿ al-Suryānī wa-l-malik al-Muʿizz bi-ḥuḍūr Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, usquf al-Ashmunayn

(231 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Al-mujādala bayna Yuʾanīs ibn al-Shammāʿ wa-l-MuʿizzThe debate that took place between Bishop Yuʾanīs ibn al-Shammāʿ al-Suryānī and the ‘king’ al-Muʿizz with Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, Bishop of al-Ashmunayn, in attendance, The debate between Yuʾanīs ibn al-Shammāʿ and al-Muʿizz Ibn al-Shammāʿ Yuʾanīs al-Suryānī Date: Late 10th century Original Language: Arabic Description We know nothing about the circumstances or course of this debate, or about the subjects covered, except that it would have been held in Cairo during the first years of Fatimid rule. …

Yoḥannān bar Zoʿbī

(435 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Biography Yoḥannān bar Zoʿbī was a member of the East Syrian Church, a student of Rabban Simeon Shanqlāwī (i.e. of Shanqlābad/Shaqlawa) and a priest-monk of the monastery of Sabrishoʿ in the region of Bēt Qoqē near Irbil. Judging from a contemporary biographical note found in MS Vat Syr. 194, which contains his grammatical works, he was held in high esteem by the members of his community. The author of this note praises him as an extraordinary solitary, a monk, ascetic, priest and spiritual direc…

Moses bar Kephā

(800 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Biography Moses bar Kephā was baptized Moses after his learned uncle, who was a teacher of the reformer of Syriac church music, David bar Paulus d-Bēt Rabban, which points to the intellectual milieu in which bar Kephā grew up. The sources for his life are two Vitas, of which Vita A is extant in a shorter (10th-century) and a longer  (12th-century) recension, and some notes in later chronicles. Vita B is based on the longer recension of Vita A. Moses’ name Bar Kephā (Kephā meaning stone) goes back to his father, Simeon Kephā/Petrus, but is also attributed to the fact that…

 Kalām fī l-ʿaql wa al-ʿāqil wa al-maʿqūl

(238 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Discourse on the Intellect, the Intelligent, and the Intelligible Muḥyī l-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī Date: Possibly 12th century Original Language: Arabic Description This is a short treatise that attempts to demonstrate, following two ways of argumentation, that the Creator and ‘God of the world’ is ‘intellect, intelligent, and intelligible’. The author uses a terminology that he probably borrowed from Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, who employed it in a philosophical demonstration of the Trinity. Although the recipient of this treatise is not mentioned, it seems that the author had a Muslim reader in mind. S…

 Ktābā d-maktab zabnē

(624 words)

Author(s): G.B. Teule, Herman
Syriac Common SourceChronography Theophilus of Edessa, Theophilus bar Tuma, Thawfīl al-Rūmī Date: Shortly after 754 Original Language: Syriac Description The work is not extant. Its title is known through Barhebraeus ( Chronicon Syriacum, p. 127). A partial reconstruction is possible on the basis of the quotations from this chronicle found in the works of three later historiographers. The Syrian-Orthodox Dionysius of Tell-Maḥrē (q.v.) used it as a source. Although his own chronicle is no longer extant, it in its turn is partially preserved in the works of Michael the Syrian and the Ch…
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