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E01287: In his Syriac Ecclesiastical History, Barḥadbešabbā ‘Arbāyā, an East-Syrian author (late 6th/early 7th c.), presents *Nestorios (bishop of Constantinople, ob. 450, S00778) as a saint and martyr for the sake of Christ.

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posted on 2016-04-18, 00:00 authored by sminov
Barḥadbešabbā ‘Arbāyā, Ecclesiastical History 20

ܡܛܠ ܕܝܢ ܕܬܫܥܝܬܐ ܕܥܫܘܩܝܗ ܕܗ̇ܘ ܕܒܝܬ ܩܕܝܫ̈ܐ ܣܗܕܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܛܘܒܢܐ ܢܣܛܘܪܝܤ ܐܦܣܩܘܦܐ ܕܩܘܣܛܢܛܝܢܐ ܐܛܡܛܝܢܢ ܕܢܟܬܘܒ ...

'Because we have arrived at writing the story of the calumniation of one of the saints, the martyr of Christ, the blessed Nestorios, the bishop of Constantinople ...'

Ed. Nau 1913, p. 517; trans. Sergey Minov.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Nestorios, bishop of Constantinople, ob. 450 : S00778

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 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.


At the beginning of chapter 20 of his Ecclesiastical History, which deals with Nestorios (c. 386-450), Barḥadbešabbā introduces the bishop of Constantinople as 'one of the saints' and 'the martyr of Christ' (on Nestorios' life, see Bevan 2010; Kosinski 2007). The particular emphasis on the image of Nestorios as a martyr for the sake of Christ makes this description stand out in comparison with the portrayal of other important ecclesiastical figures from the past in the History. This evidence has rightly been regarded by scholars as one of the earliest expressions of the development of veneration of Nestorios among the East-Syrian Christians (see on this Seleznyov 2010).


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. Bevan, G.A., “Nestorius of Constantinople,” in: K. Parry (ed.), Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), 197-210. Kosinski, R., “The Life of Nestorius as Seen in Greek and Oriental Sources,” Electrum 13 (2007), 155-170. Seleznyov, N.N., “Nestorius of Constantinople: Condemnation, Suppression, Veneration, with Special Reference to the Role of His Name in East-Syriac Christianity,” Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 62:3-4 (2010), 165-190. 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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