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E01286: Barḥadbešabbā ‘Arbāyā, an East-Syrian author (late 6th/early 7th c.), in his Syriac Ecclesiastical History ascribes a particular importance to such ecclesiastical leaders of the past as *Athanasios (bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373, S00294), *Gregory the Miracle-Worker (bishop and missionary in Pontus, ob. c. 270, S00687), *Basil (bishop of Caesarea, ob. 379, S00780), *Flavianos (bishop of Antioch, ob. 404, S00781), *Diodoros (bishop of Tarsus, ob. c. 390, S00782), *John Chrysostom (bishop of Constantinople, ob. 407, S00784), *Theodoros (bishop of of Mopsuestia, ob. 428, S00783) and *Nestorios (bishop of Constantinople, ob. 450, S00778).

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posted on 2016-04-18, 00:00 authored by sminov
In his work, Barḥadbešabbā offers a particular vision of church history, in which he ascribes special importance to such ecclesiastical leaders of the past as Athanasios of Alexandria (ch. 9), Gregory Thaumatourgos (ch. 12), Basil of Caesarea (ch. 15), Flavianos of Antioch (ch. 16), Diodoros of Tarsus (ch. 17), John Chrysostom (ch. 18), Theodoros of Mopsuestia (ch. 19) and Nestorios (ch. 20), dedicating to each of them an individual chapter, with details of their lives as well as of their writings. The author of the History presents them as defenders of the orthodox faith, while referring to them regularly as 'blessed' (ṭubānā) and 'holy' (qadišā) men. While that in itself is not enough to be regarded as a clear sign of the cult of these figures among East-Syrian Christians during the last decades of the 6th century, this evidence definitely bears witness to the high regard in which they were held in the circles related to the School of Nisibis during that period, which in its turn gave rise to the development of the cult of at least some of them later on.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Gregory the Miracle-Worker (Taumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus : S00687 Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373 : S00294 Basil, bishop of Caesarea, ob. 379 : S00780 Nestorios, bishop of Constantinople, ob. 450 : S00778 Flavianos, bi

Saint Name in Source

ܓܪܝܓܪܝܘܤ ܐܬܢܣܝܤ ܒܣܝܠܝܤ ܢܣܛܘܪܝܤ ܦܠܘܝܢܘܤ ܕܝܕܘܪܘܤ ܬܐܕܘܪܘܤ ܝܘܐܢܝܤ

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 name in other Language(s)

Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Barḥadbešabbā ‘Arbāyā, an East-Syrian writer and member of the School of Nisibis in Northern Mesopotamia, was active during the late 6th and early 7th century. Among other works, he produced two important historical compositions, the Ecclesiastical History and the Cause of the Foundation of the Schools. Composed not very long after the year 569, the History covers events mostly of the 4th and 5th century from an East-Syrian perspective. While for the bulk of his work Barḥadbešabbā extensively used Greek sources, in the concluding two chapters he deals with the history of the Schools of Edessa and of Nisibis up to the year 569, relying on the local tradition of the latter academic institution (on its history, see Vööbus 1965; Becker 2006; Becker 2008). Syriac text, together with French translation: Nau 1913; Nau 1932. For general information on Barḥadbešabbā, see Becker and Childers 2011; Becker 2008, 11-16, 40-46.


In his description of Gregory the Miracle-Worker, Barḥadbešabbā shows indebtedness to the Syriac version of the Greek Life of Gregory the Miracle-Worker composed by Gregory of Nyssa (see E05934).


Editions: Nau, F., La seconde partie de l’Histoire de Barhadbešabba ‘Arbaïa et controverse de Théodore de Mopsueste avec les Macédoniens (Patrologia Orientalis 9.5 [45]; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1913). Nau, F., La première partie de l’Histoire de Barhadbešabba ‘Arbaïa (Patrologia Orientalis 23.2; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1932). Scher, A., Mar Barhadbšabba ‘Arbaya, évêque de Halwan (VIe siècle). Cause de la fondation des écoles (Patrologia Orientalis 4.4 [18]; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1908). Further reading: Becker, A.H., Fear of God and the Beginning of Wisdom: The School of Nisibis and the Development of Scholastic Culture in Late Antique Mesopotamia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006). Becker, A.H., Sources for the Study of the School of Nisibis (Translated Texts for Historians 50; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008). Becker, A.H., and Childers, J.W., “Barḥadbshabba ‘Arbaya,” 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), 57-58. Vööbus, A., History of the School of Nisibis (CSCO 266, Subs. 26; Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1965).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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