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E01159: The East Syrian synod of 554, convened by the patriarch Joseph I (ob. 570) in Seleucia-Ctesiphon (Mesopotamia), issues a canon that seeks to abolish the earlier prohibition on building martyria shrines within cities and in their immediate vicinity. From the Acts of the Synod of 554.

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posted on 29.02.2016, 00:00 by sminov
Syriac Acts of the Synod of 585, Canon 20

ܩܢܘܢܐ ܕܥܣܪܝܢ. ܐܬܬܚܡ ܡܢ ܐܚܖ̈ܢܐ ܕܕܝܖ̈ܬܐ ܘܒܝܬ ܣܗܕܘ̈ܬܐ ܒܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܘܒܚܕܪ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܠܘ ܢܬܒܢܘܢ. ܘܐܬܐܡܪܬ ܒܟܢܘܫܝܐ ܕܐܦܝܣܩ̈ܘܦܐ: ܕܗܢܐ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܕܠܩܘܒܠܐ ܗ̣ܘ ܕܟܪܣܛܝܢܘܬܐ܆ ܐܦ ܚܢܦ̈ܐ ܘܝܗܘ̈ܕܝܐ ܒܗ̇ ܒܗܕܐ ܡܢܚܝܢ ܐܢܘܢ܆ ܕܠܐ ܬܫܬܪܬܚ ܟܪܣܛܝܢܘܬܐ ܘܠܐ ܬܣܓܐ ܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ. ܐܠܐ ܚܢܢ ܐܝܟ ܦܘܩ̈ܕܢܐ ܕܟܬܒ̈ܐ ܩܕܝܫ̈ܐ ܘܐܝܟ ܡܫܠܡܢܘܬܐ ܘܝܘܒܠܐ ܕܪܕܐ ܒܥܕܬܐ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܡܢ ܫܠܝܚ̈ܐ ܛܘܒ̈ܢܐ ܘܥܕܡܐ ܠܝܘܡܢܐ: ܗܢܟܐ ܢܫܬܪܬܚ. ܕܥܕ̈ܬܐ ܘܕܝܖ̈ܬܐ ܘܗܝܟ̈ܠܐ ܘܒܝܬ ܣܗܕܘ̈ܬܐ ܢܬܒܢܘܢ ܒܡܕܝܢ̈ܬܐ ܘܒܚܕܖ̈ܝ ܡܕܝܢ̈ܬܐ. ܩܘܪܒܢܐ ܕܝܢ ܠܐ ܢܬܩܪܒ ܒܗܘܢ܆ ܘܡܥܡܘܕܝܬܐ ܠܐ ܬܬܝܗܒ ܒܗܘܢ. ܐܠܐ ܐܢ ܒܡܦܣܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܦܝܣܩ̈ܘܦܐ ܒܝܘܡ̈ܬܐ ܝܕܝܥ̈ܐ. ܘܫܪܟܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ ܝܘܡܬܐ: ܢܗܘܘܢ ܫܩܠܝܢ ܩܘܪܒܢܐ ܡܢ ܥܕܬܐ ܪܒܬܐ܆ ܘܐܡܝܢܐܝܬ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܝܗܒܝܢ.

'Canon 20: It has been decreed by others that monasteries and martyria (lit. "houses of martyrdom") should not be built in a city or in the vicinity of a city. And it was said in the council of bishops that this doctrine is contrary to Christianity. Also, both pagans and Jews are pleased with this, so that Christianity would not flourish and the glory of God would not increase. We, however, in accordance with the commandments of the holy Scriptures and according to the tradition and custom which continue in the holy church from the blessed apostles until today, (decree) so that it shall flourish, so that churches and monasteries and temples and martyria should be built in cities and in a vicinity of cities. But the eucharistic offering should not be offered in them, and baptism should not be performed in them, unless with the permission of the bishops on designated days. And during all other days they should receive the eucharistic offering from the cathedral church and always distribute (it).

Ed. Chabot 1902, pp. 106-107; trans. by S. Minov.

History

Evidence ID

E01159

Saint Name

Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Language

Syriac

Evidence not before

554

Evidence not after

570

Activity not before

554

Activity not after

570

Place of Evidence - Region

Mesopotamia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ctesiphon

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

Ctesiphon Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Construction of cult building to contain relics

Source

The Acts of the Synod of 554, comprised of 23 canons, were issued at the East Syrian council that was convened by the patriarch Joseph I (ob. 570) in the city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in the year 554. They were preserved and transmitted as a part of the larger canonical collection, known as the Book of Synods, an assortment of the documents of the East Syrian councils that took place between the 5th and 8th centuries, which may have been produced c. 800 (see on this, van Rompay 2011a). Its Syriac text was published in 1902 by Jean Baptiste Chabot, accompanied by a French translation. On the life and activities of Joseph, see Labourt 1904, 192-197; van Rompay 2011b.

Discussion

In this canon, the East Syrian synod abolishes an earlier decree that prohibited building monasteries and martyria shrines within cities and in their immediate vicinity, and actively endorses such activity. It is not certain how far back this prohibition goes in regard of martyr churches in the Sasanian empire, but as far as the monasteries are concerned, we see it in force during the last decades of the 5th century; see canon 2 of the Acts of the Synod of 486 (ed. Chabot 1902, pp. 55-56 [Syr.], 302-303 [trans.]). The original context of these measures is also far from clear, but most likely it has to do with the efforts of East Syrian bishops to secure their authority over the Christian communities in urban centres. The reversal of the official stance of the East Syrian Church on the issue of the construction of martyr churches in an urban context might reflect a general change in the position of its hierarchy within Iranian society, toward a more secure and self-assertive one. That would also agree with the change in the general attitude toward the Christians of Iran on the part of the Sasanian authorities, who sought their support and strove to ensure their loyalty.

Bibliography

Main editions and translations: Chabot, J.B. (ed.), Synodicon orientale ou recueil de synodes nestoriens (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1902). Further reading: Labourt, J., Le christianisme dans l’empire perse sous la dynastie sassanide (224–632) (Bibliothèque de l’enseignement de l’histoire ecclésiastique 11; Paris: V. Lecoffre, 1904). van Rompay, L., “Synodicon Orientale,” in: S.P. Brock, A.M. Butts, G.A. Kiraz and L. van Rompay (eds.), Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2011), 387-389. [= 2011a] van Rompay, L., “Yawsep I of Seleucia-Ctesiphon,” in: S.P. Brock, A.M. Butts, G.A. Kiraz and L. van Rompay (eds.), Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2011), 435. [= 2011b]

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