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E00079: The Chronicle of Edessa, written in Syriac in the 6th c., records that *Rabbula (bishop of Edessa, ob. 435/6, S00784), built a church dedicated to *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030) in Edessa (Mesopotamia) after 411/2, on the orders of the emperor. Before that the building functioned as a synagogue.

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posted on 2014-10-13, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Chronicle of Edessa 51

ܫܢܬ ܫܒܥܡܐܐ ܘܥܣܖ̈ܝܢ ܘܬܠܬ. ܗܘܐ ܒܐܘܪܗܝ ܪܒܘܠܐ ܐܦܝܣܩܘܦܐ. ܘܒܢܐ ܒܝܬ ܡܪܝ ܣܛܦܢܘܤ ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܗܘܐ ܡܢ ܠܘܩܕܡ ܒܝܬ ܫܒܬܐ ܕܝܗ̈ܘܕܝܐ. ܒܢܝܗܝ ܕܝܢ ܒܦܘܩܕܢܗ ܕܡܠܟܐ

'The year 723, Rabbula became bishop in Edessa. And he built the house of Mar Stephanus, which had been formerly a house of Sabbath [i.e. synagogue] of the Jews. Now he built it by command of the king.'

Text: Guidi 1903, p. 6. Translation: Cowper 1864, p. 34.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Rabbula, bishop of Edessa, ob. 435/6 : S00784

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Edessa Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family Jews


The Chronicle of Edessa is a collection of mainly short entries, most of which are related to the history of the city of Edessa. It is an original Syriac composition, produced in the second half of the 6th century by a pro-Chalcedonian Syriac-speaking author. Syriac text: Guidi 1903, vol. 1, 1-13; English translation: Cowper 1864, 30-39; German translation: Hallier 1892, 84-138; Russian translation: Пигулевская 1959. For general information, see van Rompay 2011; Witakowski 1986.


The Chronicle reports that after Rabbula became bishop of Edessa in the year 411/2 he took over a building that functioned as Jewish synagogue and dedicated it to the protomartyr Stephen. It is reported that Rabbula carried out this action under the command of emperor Theodosius II. No other source seems to corroborate this information. It is, however, consistent with other evidence of aggressive policy towards the Jews in Roman Syria during the fifth century.


Editions and translations: Guidi, I., Chronica minora, Pars prior. 2 vols (CSCO Syr. III.4; Paris: Typographeo Reipublicae, 1903). Cowper, B.H., “Selections from the Syriac. No. I: The Chronicle of Edessa,” Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record NS V, 9 (1864), 28-45. Hallier, L., Untersuchungen über die Edessenische Chronik, mit dem Syrischen Text und einer Übersetzung (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 9.1; Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1892). Пигулевская, Н.В., “Эдесская хроника,” Палестинский сборник 4 [67] (1959), 79-96; reprinted in: Пигулевская, Н.В., Сирийская средневековая историография. Исследования и переводы (С.-Петербург: Дмитрий Буланин , 2000), 468-476. Further reading: Rompay, L. van, “Chronicle of Edessa,” in: S.P. Brock, A.M. Butts, G.A. Kiraz and L. van Rompay (eds.), Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2011), 97-98. Witakowski, W., “Chronicles of Edessa,” in: T. Kronholm and E. Riad (eds.), On the Dignity of Man: Oriental and Classical Studies on Honour of Frithiof Rundgren (Orientalia Suecana 33-35; Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1986), 487-498.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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