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E01088: The 9th c. East Syrian writer Thomas of Margā reports that as a result of their disagreement with the patriarch Īshō‘yahb II of Gdālā (628-645), a group of monks from the East-Syrian monastery of Bēt ‘Ābē in Mesopotamia left the monastery, while taking with them the relics of its founder *Jacob of Bēt ‘Ābē.

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posted on 18.01.2016, 00:00 by sminov
Thomas of Margā, Book of Governors II.9

ܥܠ ܫܘܢܝܗ ܕܪܒܢ ܩܡܝܫܘܥ ܘܕܐܚ̈ܐ ܡܢ ܥܘܡܪܐ ܠܚܪܦܐ ܩܪܝܬܐ ܕܣܦܣܦܐ.

ܟܕ ܕܝܢ ܚܙܘ ܗ̣ܘ ܪܒܢ ܩܡܝܫܘܥ ܘܒܪܙ ܣܘܪܝܢ ܪܫܐ ܕܟܢܘܫܝܐ: ܗ̇ܘ ܕܒܬܪ ܪܒܢ ܩܡܝܫܘܥ ܗ̣ܘ ܩܡ ܒܪܫܢܘܬܐ: ܕܡܢ ܟܠܗ ܩܛܝܪܐ ܡܬܥܨܝܢ ܠܡܫܢܝܘ ܡܢ ܥܘܡܪܐ: ܒܕܠܐ ܡܫܟܚܝܢ ܠܡܩܡ ܠܩܘܒܠܗ ܕܡܪܝ ܝܫܘܥܝܗܒ ܐܬܥܬܕܘ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܟܢܝܫܐܝܬ. ܥܡ ܫܒܥܝܢ ܓܒܖ̈ܐ ܝܚܝܕܝ̈ܐ ܡܢܗ ܕܟܢܘܫܝܐ ܗܢܐ. ܘܒܠܠܝܐ ܟܕ ܠܐ ܪܓܝܫ ܡܪܝ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܐ: ܥܠܘ ܠܒܝܬ ܣܗ̈ܕܐ ܘܫܩܠܘܗܝ ܠܓܠܘܣܩܡܗ ܕܩܕܝܫܐ ܡܪܝ ܝܥܩܘܒ ܐܒܘܗܘܢ ܪܘܚܢܝܐ. ܘܗܟܢܐ ܟܕ ܒܟܝܢ ܘܡܝܠܠܝܢ ܘܪܥܘܡܐ ܠܗܘܢ: ܐܝܟ ܡܢ ܕܠܐ ܡܟܝܠ ܥܬܝܕܝܢ ܕܢܚܙܘܢܝܗܝ ܠܥܘܡܪܐ ܗܢܐ: ܐܠܐ ܡܦܩܬܐ ܗ̣ܝ ܠܗܘܢ ܕܠܥܠܡ. ܐܙܠܘ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܠܥܠ ܡܢ ܚܪܦܐ ܩܪܝܬܐ ܕܣܦܣܦܐ. ܒܥܘܬܕܐ ܟܐܡܬ ܕܢܒܢܘܢ ܥܘܡܪܐ: ܘܢܣܝܡܘܢܝܗܝ ܠܪܒܢ ܒܓܘܗ ܘܬܡܢ ܢܫܠܡܘܢ ܕܘܒܖ̈ܝܗܘܢ ܘܚ̈ܝܝܗܘܢ. ܘܐܬܥܬܕܘ ܠܡܥܓܠܘ ܟܐܦ̈ܐ. ܘܠܡܛܝܒܘ ܡܠܘ̈ܐܐ ܠܬܘܩܢܗ ܕܗܝܟܠܐ ܘܕܩ̈ܠܝܬܐ. ܟܕ ܠܐ ܪܓܝܫܝܢ ܛܘܒ̈ܢܐ ܗܢܘܢ: ܕܩܪܝܒܐܝܬ ܡܗܦܟ ܠܗܘܢ ܡܪܢ ܠܝܪܬܘܬܗ ܕܝܥܩܘܒ ܐܒܘܗܘܢ.


'On the departure of Rabban Qāmīshō‘ and the brethren from the monastery to Ḥerpa, a village of Saphsāphā.

Now when Rabban Qāmīshō‘, and Berāz Sūrīn the head of the congregation, who after Rabban Qāmīshō‘ obtained the headship of the monastery, saw that they were irresistibly compelled to depart from the monastery, because they were not able to withstand Mār Īshō‘yahb, they together with seventy solitaries belonging to this congregation, made ready with one accord and at night, unperceived by Mār Catholicos, they went into the martyrium, and took away the coffin of the holy Mār Jacob their spiritual father. And thus weeping, and crying, and murmuring, that they should never again see this monastery, and that their departure was for ever, they all went forth up above Ḥerpa, a village of Saphsāphā, prepared to build a monastery in which they might lay Rabban Jacob, and where they might continue the course of their ascetic life and end their days. And they had made ready to bring stones and had prepared materials for the construction of a temple and cells, and those blessed men did not perceive that God would shortly bring them back to the inheritance of their father Jacob.'

Ed. Budge 1893, vol. 1, p. 76 (Syr.), vol. 1, pp. 150-151 (trans., lightly adapted).

History

Evidence ID

E01088

Saint Name

Jacob of Bēt ‘Ābē, monk in Mesopotamia, ob c. 615/625 : S00689

Saint Name in Source

ܝܥܩܘܒ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Syriac

Evidence not before

839

Evidence not after

840

Activity not before

628

Activity not after

645

Place of Evidence - Region

Mesopotamia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Marga

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

Marga Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics

Source

Thomas, the East Syrian bishop of Margā, composed the Book of Governors around the year 840. In this work, Thomas presents history of his native monastery of Bēt ‘Ābē, located in northern Mesopotamia, about 100 km northeast of Mosul. The work contains biographies of the abbots of the monastery and several other prominent figures of the East Syrian church from the 6th up to the middle of the 9th century. For the Syriac text, see Budge 1893, v. 1; Bedjan 1901, pp. 1-517; English translation: Budge 1893, v. 2. For general information on Thomas's life and works, see Teule 2009; Fiey 1956.

Discussion

In the second book of his work, containing among other things an account of the East Syrian patriarch Īshō‘yahb II of Gdālā (628-645; see on him Sako 1983, 63-86), Thomas describes a conflict that took place between him and the monastic community of the monastery of Bēt ‘Ābē (Book of Governors II.7-10). The conflict was caused by the patriarch's authoritarian decision to establish a school for children on the monastery's premises. Afraid that this institution would become a major disruption to their ascetic way of life, the monks tried to dissuade Īshō‘yahb from carrying out his plan. After their attempts failed, a group of monks, headed by the abbot Qāmīshō‘, decided to reestablish their monastery in a new place. One night, they secretly left the monastery, taking with them the relics of its founder Jacob, and fled to the village of Ḥerpa, where they started to make preparations for building a new monastery. This action made the patriarch change his mind and revoke his decision. This story, apparently received by Thomas as a piece of local monastic lore during his stay in the monastery of Bēt ‘Ābē, bears witness to the great importance ascribed by this East Syrian monastic community to the relics of the founder of their monastery.

Bibliography

Main editions and translations: Bedjan, P. (ed.), Liber superiorum, seu Historia Monastica, auctore Thoma, Episcopo Margensi. Liber Fundatorum Monasteriorum in regno Persarum et Arabum. Homiliae Mar-Narsetis in Joseph. Documenta Patrum de quibusdam verae fidei dogmatibus (Paris/Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1901). Budge, E.A.W. (ed.), The Book of Governors: The Historia Monastica of Thomas, Bishop of Margâ A.D. 840, Edited from Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum and Other Libraries. 2 vols (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1893). Further reading: Fiey, J.-M., “Thomas de Marga. Notule de littérature syriaque,” Le Muséon 78:3-4 (1965), 361-366. Sako, L.R., Lettre christologique du Patriarche Syro-oriental Īšō‘yahb II de Gḏālā (628–646): Étude, traduction et édition critique (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Orientale, 1983). Teule, H.G.B., “Thomas of Margā,” in: D.R. Thomas and B.H. Roggema (eds.), Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History. Volume 1 (600‒900) (History of Christian-Muslim Relations 11; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009), 688-690.

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