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E01216: Alexander, governor of Edessa (Mesopotamia) during the year 497/8, is said to have held regular audiences in the martyrium church dedicated to *John the Baptist (S00020) and *Addai/Thaddeus (the Apostle, one of the seventy-two, S00255), during which he would settle lawsuits free of charge. Record in the Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite (6th c.).

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posted on 2016-03-17, 00:00 authored by sminov
Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite 29

ܘܝܬܒ ܗܘܐ ܐܡܝܢܐܝܬ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܝܘ̈ܡܬܐ ܕܥܪܘܒܬܐ ܒܒܝܬ ܣ̈ܗܕܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܝܘܚܢܢ ܡܥܡܕܢܐ ܘܕܡܪܝ ܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ. ܘܫܪܐ ܕܝ̈ܢܐ ܕܠܐ ܚܘܣܪܢܐ.

'Every Friday without fail he (i.e. the governor) would sit in the martyrion of Mar John the Baptist and Mar Addai the Apostle and settle lawsuits free of charge.'

Ed. Chabot 1927-1949, v. 1, p. 256; trans. Trombley and Watt 2000, p. 27.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 Addai/Thaddeus the Apostle, one of the seventy-two : S00255

Saint Name in Source

ܝܘܚܢܢ ܡܥܡܕܢܐ ܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ

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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Distribution of alms

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite is a historiographical work that deals for the most part with the events in the city of Edessa and the neighbouring region during the period 494-506. It is an original Syriac composition, most likely produced not long after the year 506 by a Syriac-speaking citizen of Edessa. In its present form, it is preserved as a part of a larger historiographic work, the Chronicle of Zuqnin (known also as the Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre), an 8th c. West-Syrian composition. Syriac text: Martin 1876, 1-82; Wright 1882, 1-92; Chabot 1927-1933, v. 1, 235-317; English translation: Wright 1882, 1-84; Trombley and Watt 2000; French translation: Martin 1876, ix-lxxxvi; German translation: Luther 1997. For general information, see Trombley and Watt 2000, xi-lv; Luther 1997, 1-32; Watt 1999.


The Chronicle reports that Alexander, the Roman governor of Osrhoene in 497-498 (PLRE II, 'Alexander 14'), aiming to improve the administration of justice, used to hold regular audiences in the martyrium church dedicated to John the Baptist and Addai/Thaddeus the Apostle, during which he would settle lawsuits. This was apparently an act of Christian charity: the governor dispensed justice without demanding the fees or bribes that were normally expected, and did so in a church. Whether the choice of this particular church (with its relics of John the Baptist and Addai) was significant, is not clear from the text. The church was built during the episcopate of Nonnus (457-471) and dedicated originally to John the Baptist alone. It is uncertain at which point in time Addai/Thaddeus the Apostle received a shrine of his own inside the building, perhaps in one of the apses. The chronicler may have been an eyewitness of the events described. There is no reason to doubt this information.


Main editions and translations: Chabot, J.B., Incerti auctoris Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysianum vulgo dictum. 2 vols (CSCO 91, 104, Syr. III.1-2 [43, 53]; Paris: Typographeo Reipublicae, 1927, 1933). English translation: Trombley, F.R., and Watt, J.W., The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite (Translated Texts for Historians 32; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000). Others editions and translations: Luther, A., Die syrische Chronik des Josua Stylites (Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 49; Berlin / New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1997). Martin, J.-P.P., Chronique de Josué le Stylite écrite vers l’an 515 (Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 6.1; Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1876). Wright, W., The Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite Composed in Syriac A.D. 507 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1882). Further reading: Watt, J.W., “Greek Historiography and the “Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite”,” in: G.J. Reinink and A.C. Klugkist (eds.), After Bardaisan: Studies on Continuity and Change in Syriac Christianity in Honour of Professor Han J.W. Drijvers (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 89; Louvain: Peeters, 1999), 317-327.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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