יום רביעי, 29 באפריל 2015


Introductory Notice to Memoirs of Edessa and Other Syriac Documents
The Syriac Documents here subjoined are to be regarded as interesting relics of the primitive ages, but neither wholly genuine nor in details authentic. They have been interpolated and corrupted so as to reflect, in some particulars, ideas wholly repugnant to those of Christian antiquity, and which first received currency in the period of the Iconoclastic controversy.1 Yet the pages of Eusebius bear witness to the Edessene legends as of very early origin, and it is reasonable to suppose that they rest on some inquiries made by the contemporary Abgar concerning the great Prophet who had appeared in Galilee. The visit of the Wise Men from the East, and the history of Naaman the Syrian, lend antecedent probability to the idea that such inquiries may have been made. The mission of Thaddaeus seems a historical fact; and if he found Abgar predisposed to believe, and familiar with the story of the Christ, the growth of the whole fable is sufficiently accounted for. Let me quote Wake in the Preliminary Discourse to his Apostolic Fathers. He says:2 "That both the intercourse reported by Eusebius between our Saviour and this prince (Abgarus), and the report of the picture being brought to him, have been received as a matter of unquestionable truth in those parts, the authority of Gregorius Abulpharagius3 will not suffer us to doubt.... But Gelasius4 pronounced the epistle of our Saviour to be apocryphal.... Natalis Alexander judges both it and the reply of Abgar supposititious; and Dupin, after him, yet more solidly convicts it of such manifest errors as may satisfy all considering persons that Eusebius and Ephraem were too easy of belief in this particular, and did not sufficiently examine into it."5
But I cannot do better than refer the inquirer to Jones' work On the Canon,6 where, even in early youth, I found the whole matter, and the story of the portrait of our Saviour, attractive reading. I owe to that work my initiation into the study of what I am now endeavouring to elucidate, in some degree, for others. I subjoin the words of Lardner,7 in concluding his candid examination of the matter, as follows: "The whole history is the fiction of some Christian at Edessa, in the time of Eusebius or not long before. The people of Edessa were then generally Christians; and they valued themselves upon it, and were willing to do themselves the honour of a very early conversion to the Christian faith. By some one of them, or more united together, this history was formed, and was so far received by Eusebius as to be thought by him not improper to be inserted in his Ecclesiastical History."
I conclude that Eusebius was led to put some confidence in it by the antecedent probability to which I have referred, favouring the idea that some knowledge of Christ had penetrated the mind and heart of Abgar even in our Saviour's lifetime. This idea receives some countenance from the fact recorded by St. Matthew:8 "His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases," etc.
The remarks I have quoted from the learned will sufficiently prepare the reader for the other Syriac Documents which follow these Edessene Memoirs, as I find it convenient to call them.
Here follows the Introductory Notice by the translator:-
These Documents were selected by the late Dr. Cureton, from manuscripts acquired by the British Museum from the Nitrian Monastery in Lower Egypt, of which the first portion arrived in 1841, the second in 1843, and a third in 1847. The preparation of them for publication occupied the closing days of his life. It is to be regretted that his death occurred before he was able to write a preface: the more so because, to use the words of Dr. W. Wright, the editor of the posthumous work, "he had studied the questions connected with this volume for years and from every point of view." In a note occurring in the preface to his Festal Letters of Athanasius,9 he says: "I have found among the Syriac mss.in the British Museum a considerable portion of the original Aramaic document which Eusebius cites as preserved in the archives of Edessa, and various passages from it quoted by several authors, with other testimonies which seem to be sufficient to establish the fact of the early conversion of the inhabitants of that city, and among them of the king himself, although his successors afterwards relapsed into paganism. These, together with accounts of the martyrdom of some of the first bishops of that city, forming a most interesting accession to our knowledge of the early propagation of Christianity in the East down to about a.d.300, I have already transcribed, and hope to publish." "He was himself firmly persuaded," adds Dr. Wright, "of the genuineness of the Epistles attributed to Abgar, king of Edessa, and our Lord: an opinion which he shared with such illustrious scholars as Baronius, Tillemont, Cave, R. Mountague (Bishop of Norwich), and Grabe."
Without attempting here to decide what degree of historical value belongs to these Documents, it may be proper to observe that the several matters contained in them are so far distinct from one another that they do not necessarily stand or fall together. Such matters are: the celebrated Epistles, the conversion of King Abgar Uchomo, the visit of Thaddaeus, and the early prevalence of Christianity at Edessa. With regard to the letters said to have passed between Abgar and our Lord, it seems sufficient, without referring to the internal evidence, to remark, with Lardner and Neander, that it is inconceivable how anything written by Christ should have remained down to the time of Eusebius unknown to the rest of the world.10 The conversion of Abgar is a distinct matter of inquiry. But on this again, doubt, to say the least, is cast by the statement that Abgar Bar Manu, who reigned between the years 160 and 170 a.d., is the first king of Edessa on whose coins the usual symbols of the Baal-worship of the country are wanting, these being replaced in his case by the sign of the Cross.11 If this refers to a complete series of the coins of Edessa, the evidence afforded must be considered very strong. For although, to take a parallel instance, "we seek in vain for Christian emblems on the coinage of Constantine, the first Christian emperor,"12 this may readily be accounted for by his preference of military distinction to the humbler honours conferred by his new faith, whilst it does not appear that anti-Christian emblems are found, and on the coins of his son and successor Christian emblems do make their appearance. The other two subjects referred to do not lie under the same suspicion. There is nothing in the nature of the case to disprove the visit of Thaddaeus (or Addaeus)-nothing improbable in the fact itself, whatever judgment may be formed of the details of it presented to us here. If, however, the visit of Thaddaeus also should have to be ranked among apocryphal stories, this would not affect the remaining point-that with which we are chiefly concerned in these Documents. "It is certain," says Neander, "that Christianity was early diffused in this country." How early, is not so certain. But the evidence furnished by the later portions of these Documents, which there is nothing to contradict and much to confirm, proves that early in the second century Christianity had already made many converts there. The martyrdoms of Sharbil and Barsamya are said to have occurred a.d.113,13 the year in which Trojan conquered the Parthian kingdom, of which Edessa was a part; and, whilst the pagan element was plainly predominant, we find the Christians sufficiently numerous to have a bishop and presbyters and deacons. This sufficiently falls in with the proof already adduced of the conversion of even a king of Edessa about fifty years later.
To the Documents which are presumably of the ante-Nicene age, Dr. Cureton added two Metrical Homilies by Jacob of Serug, who lived in the next century. But, as they are so closely connected with the most interesting portions of the rest, the martyrdoms, and are besides of considerable merit as compositions, the decision of the editors to insert them will, it is presumed, be approved by most readers. The two supplemental portions, one from the Latin of Simeon Metaphrastes, and the other from Le Vaillant de Florival's French translation of Moses of Chorene, have also been inserted.
The translation of the Syriac portions, although made with Dr. Cureton's version constantly in sight, may fairly be considered as independent. The only matter in which his authority has been relied on is-in the case of proper names, the supply of the necessary vowels,-for the text is vowelless. And even to this, one exception occurs, in the Martyrdom of Barsamya, where "Evaristus" has been adopted instead of his "Erastus." In regard to the sense, it has been frequently found necessary to differ from him, while a style somewhat freer, though, it is hoped, not less faithful, has been employed. The Metrical Homilies also have been arranged so as to present the appearance of poetry. The results of Dr. Wright's collation of the text with the mss.have also contributed to the greater correctness of the work.
The translator desires very thankfully to acknowledge his obligations to Dr. R. Payne Smith, Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford,14 the progress of whose Thesaurus Syriacus is regarded with so much satisfaction and hope, for his kindness in furnishing much valuable information respecting matters on which the lexicons are silent.
The notes marked TR. are by the translator. The others, where the contrary is not indicated, are, at least in substance, Dr. Cureton's: though their citation does not always imply approval.15
Relating to the Earliest Establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the Neighbouring Countries.
From the History of the Church.1
The Story2 Concerning the King of Edessa.3
Now the story relating to Thaddaeus was on this wise:-
While the Godhead of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ was proclaimed among all men by reason of the astonishing mighty-works which He wrought, and myriads, even from countries remote from the land of Judaea, who were afflicted with sicknesses and diseases of every kind, were coming to Him in the hope of being healed, King Abgar4 also, who was renowned among the nations on the east of the Euphrates for his valour, had his body wasting away with a grievous disease, such as there is no cure for among men. And when he heard and was informed of the name of Jesus, and about the mighty works which H e did,-for every one alike bore witness concerning Him,-he sent a letter of request by a man belonging to him,5 and besought Him to come and heal him of his disease.
But our Saviour at the time that he asked Him did not comply with his request. Yet He deigned to give him6 a letter in reply: for He promised him that He would send one of His disciples, and heal his sicknesses, and give salvation7 to him and to all who were connected with him.8 Nor did He delay to fulfil His promise to him: but after He was risen from the place of the dead, and was received into heaven, Thomas9 the apostle, one of the twelve, as by an impulse from God, sent Thaddaeus,10 who was himself also numbered among the seventy11 disciples of Christ, to Edessa, to be a preacher and proclaimer of the teaching of Christ; and the promise of Christ was through him fulfilled.
Thou hast in writing the evidence of these things, which is taken from the Book of Records12 which was at Edessa: for at that time the kingdom was still standing.13 In the documents, then, which were there, in which was contained whatever was done by those of old down to the time of Abgar, these things also are found preserved down to the present hour. There is, however, nothing to prevent our hearing the very letters themselves, which have been taken by us14 from the archives, and are in words to this effect, translated from Aramaic into Greek.
Copy of the letter which was written by King15 Abgar to Jesus, and sent to Him by the hand of Hananias,16 the Tabularius,17 to Jerusalem
"Abgar the Black,18 sovereign19 of the country, to Jesus, the good Saviour, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem: Peace. I have heard about Thee,20 and about the healing which is wrought by Thy hands without drugs and roots. For, as it is reported, Thou makest the blind to see, and the lame to walk; and Thou cleansest the lepers, and Thou castest out unclean spirits and demons, and Thou healest those who are tormented with lingering diseases, and Thou raisest the dead. And when I heard all these things about Thee, I settled in my mind one of two things: either that Thou art God, who hast come down from heaven, and doest these things or that Thou art the Son of God, and doest these things. On this account, therefore, I have written to beg of Thee that Thou wouldest weary Thyself to come to me, and heal this disease which I have. For I have also heard that the Jews murmur against Thee, and wish to do Thee harm. But I have a city, small and beautiful, which is sufficient for two."
Copy of those things which were written21 by Jesus by the hand of Hananias, the Tabularius, to Abgar, sovereign of the country:-
"Blessed is he that hath believed in me, not having seen me. For it is written22 concerning me, that those who see me will not believe in me, and that those will believe who have not seen me, and will be saved. But touching that which thou hast written to me, that I should come to thee-it is meet that I should finish here all that for the sake of which I have been sent and, after I have finished it, then I shall be taken up to Him that sent me; and, when I have been taken up, I will send to thee one of my disciples, that he may heal thy disease, and give salvation to thee and to those who are with thee."
To these letters, moreover, is appended the following also in the Aramaic tongue:-
"After Jesus was ascended, Judas Thomas sent to him Thaddaeus the apostle, one of the Seventy. And, when he was come, he lodged with Tobias, son of Tobias. And, when the news about him was heard, they made it known to Abgar: "The apostle of Jesus is come hither, as He sent thee word." Thaddaeus, moreover, began to heal every disease and sickness by the power of God, so that all men were amazed. And, when Abgar heard the great and marvellous cures which he wrought, he bethought himself that he was the person about whom Jesus had sent him word and said to him: When I have been taken up, I will send to thee one of my disciples, that he may heal thy disease. So he sent and called Tobias, with whom he was lodging, and said to him: I have heard that a mighty man has come, and has entered in and taken up his lodging in thy house: bring him up, therefore, to me. And when Tobias came to Thaddaeus he said to him: Abgar the king has sent and called me, and commanded me to bring thee up to him, that thou mayest heal him. And Thaddaeus said: I will go up, because to him have I been sent with power. Tobias therefore rose up early the next day, and took Thaddaeus, and came to Abgar.
"Now, when they were come up, his princes happened to be standing23 there. And immediately, as he was entering in, a great vision appeared to Abgar on the countenance of Thaddaeus the apostle. And, when Abgar saw Thaddaeus, he prostrated himself before him.24 And astonishment seized upon all who were standing there: for they had not themselves seen that vision, which appeared to Abgar alone. And he proceeded to ask Thaddaeus: Art thou in truth the disciple of Jesus the Son of God, who said to me, I will send to thee one of my disciples, that he may heal thee and give thee salvation? And Thaddaeus answered and said: Because thou hast mightily25 believed on Him that sent me, therefore have I been sent to thee; and again, if thou shalt believe on Him, thou shalt have the requests of thy heart. And Abgar said to him: In such wise have I believed on Him, that I have even desired to take an army and extirpate those Jews who crucified Him; were it not that I was restrained by reason of the dominion of the Romans.26 And Thaddaeus said: Our Lord has fulfilled the will of His Father; and, having fulfilled it, has been taken up to His Father. Abgar said to him: I too have believed in Him and in His Father. And27 Thaddaeus said: Therefore do I lay my hand upon thee in His name. And when he had done this, immediately he was healed of his sickness and of the disease which he had. And Abgar marvelled, because, like as he had heard concerning Jesus, so he saw in deeds by the hand of Thaddaeus His disciple: since without drugs and roots he healed him; and not him only, but also Abdu,28 son of Abdu, who had the gout: for he too went in, and fell at his feet,29 and when he prayed over him he was healed. And many other people of their city did he heal, and he did great works, and preached the word of God.
"After these things Abgar said to him: Thou, Thaddaeus, doest these things by the power of God; we also marvel at them. But in addition to all these things I beg of thee to relate to me the story about the coming of Christ, and in what manner it was; and about His power, and by what power He wrought those things of which I have heard.
"And Thaddaeus said: For the present I will be silent;30 but, because I have been sent to preach the word of God, assemble me tomorrow all the people of thy city, and I will preach before them, and sow amongst them the word of life; and will tell them about the coming of Christ, how it took place; and about His mission31 for what purpose he was sent by His Father; and about His power and His deeds, and about the mysteries which He spake in the world, and by what power He wrought these things, and about His new preaching,32 and about His abasement and His humiliation, and how He humbled and emptied and abased Himself, and was crucified, and descended to Hades,33 and broke through the enclosure34 which had never been broken through before, and raised up the dead, and descended alone, and ascended with a great multitude to His Father.35
"Abgar, therefore, commanded that in the morning all the people of his city should assemble, and hear the preaching of Thaddaeus. And afterwards he commanded gold and silver to be given to him; but he received it not, and said: If we have forsaken that which was our own, how shall we accept that of others? "
These things were done in the year 340.36
In order, moreover, that these things may not have been translated to no purpose word for word from the Aramaic into Greek, they are placed in their order of time here.
Here endeth the first book.
A Canticle of Mar1 Jacob the Teacher on Edessa.2
Edessa sent to Christ by an epistle to come to her and enlighten her. On behalf of all the peoples did she make intercession to Him that He would leave Zion, which hated Him, and come to the peoples, who loved Him.
She despatched a messenger to Him, and begged of Him to enter into friendship with her. By the righteous king she made intercession to Him, that He would depart from the Jewish people, and towards the other peoples direct His burden.
From among all kings one wise king did the daughter of the peoples find. Ambassador she made him. To her Lord she sent by him: Come Thou unto me; I will forget in Thee all idols and carved images.
The harlot heard the report of Him from afar, as she was standing in the street, going astray with idols, playing the wench with carved images. She loved, she much desired Him, when He was far away, and begged Him to admit her into His chamber.
Let the much-desired Bridegroom kiss me: with the kisses of His mouth let me be blessed. I have heard of Him from afar: may I see Him near; and may I place my lips upon His, and be delighted by seeing Him with mine eyes.
Thy breasts are better to me than wine: for the fragrance of Thy sweetness is life for evermore. With Thy milk shall I be nourished; with Thy fragrance shall I grow sweet from the smoke of idols, which with its rank odour did make me fetid.
Draw me after Thee into Thy fold: for I am a sheep gone astray in the world. After Thee do I run, and Thy converse do I seek: that in me may be completed that number of a hundred, by means of a lost one which is found.3
Let Gabriel rejoice and be exceeding glad, with the company of all the angels, in Thee, the Good Shepherd, who on Thy shoulders didst carry the maimed sheep, that that number of a hundred might be preserved.
Thy love is better than wine; than the face of the upright Thy affection. By wine let us be reminded of Thee, how by the cup of Thy blood Thou didst grant us to obtain new life, and the upright did celebrate Thy love.
A church am I from among the peoples, and I have loved the Only-begotten who was sent by God: whereas His betrothed hated Him, I have loved Him; and by the hands of Abgar the Black4 do I beseech Him to come to me and visit me.
Black am I, yet comely. Ye daughters of Zion, blameless is your envy, seeing that the Son of the Glorious One hath espoused me, to bring me into His chamber. Even when I was hateful, He loved me, for He is able to make me fairer than water.
Black was I in sins, but I am comely: for I have repented and turned me. I have put away in baptism that hateful hue, for He hath washed me in His innocent blood who is the Saviour of all creatures.
Here end the Extracts from the Canticle on Edessa.5
Extracts from Various Books Concerning Abgar the King and Addaeus the Apostle.
Of the blessed Addaeus the apostle. From his teaching which he gave in Edessa before Abgar the King and the assembly of the city.1
And, when he had entered the sepulchre, he was raised to life again, and came forth from the sepulchre with many. And those who were guarding the sepulchre saw not how He came forth from the sepulchre; but the watchers from on high-they were the proclaimers and announcers of His resurrection. For, had He not willed, He had not died, because He is Lord of death, the exit from this life; nor, had it not pleased Him, would He have put on a body, inasmuch as He is Himself the framer of the body. For that will which led Him to stoop to be born of the Virgin, likewise caused Him further to descend to the suffering of death.-And a little after (we read): For, although His appearance was that of men, yet His power, and His knowledge, and his authority, were those of God.
From the teaching of Addaeus the apostle, which was spoken in the city of Edessa.2
Ye know that I said unto you, that none of the souls which go forth out of the bodies of men are under the power of death, but that they all live and continue to exist, and that there are for them mansions and an abode of rest. For the reasoning power of the soul does not cease, nor the knowledge, because it is the image of the immortal God. For it is not without perceptions, after the manner of the bodily frame, which has no perception of that corruption which has acquired dominion over it. Recompense, however, and reward it will not receive apart from its bodily form, because what it experiences belongs not to itself alone, but to the bodily form also in which it dwelt for a time. But the disobedient, who have not known God, will then repent without avail.
From the epistle of Addaeus the apostle, which he spake in the city of Edessa.3
Give heed to this ministry which ye hold, and with fear and trembling continue ye in it, and minister every day, Minister ye not in it with neglectful habits, but with the discreetness of faith. And let not the praises of Christ cease out of your mouth, and let not any sense of weariness come over you at the season of prayers. Give heed to the verity which ye hold, and to the teaching of the truth which ye have received, and to the teaching of salvation which I commit to you. Because before the tribunal of Christ will it be required of you, when He maketh reckoning with the pastors and overseers, and when He shall take His money from the traders with the usury of what they have taught.4 For He is the Son of a King, and goeth to receive a kingdom, and He will return and come and make a resuscitation to life of all men.
Addaeus5 preached at Edessa and in Mesopotamia (he was from Paneus6 ) in the days of Abgar the king. And, when he was among the Zophenians, Severus the son of Abgar sent and slew him at Agel Hasna, as also a young man his disciple.
71. and Narcissus.7 For they did not suffer that selection of the Seventy-two to be wanting, as likewise neither that of the Twelve. This man was of the Seventy-two: perhaps he was a disciple of Addaeus the apostle.
From the departure8 of Marath9 Mary from the world, and the birth and childhood of our Lady Jesus Christ. Book the Second.
In the year three hundred and forty-five, in the month of the latter Tishrin,10 Marath Mary went out from her house, and went to the sepulchre of Christ: because every day she used to go and weep there. But the Jews immediately after the death of Christ seized the sepulchre, and heaped great stones at the door of it. And over the sepulchre and Golgotha they set guards, and commanded them that, if any one should go and pray at the sepulchre or at Golgotha, he should immediately be put to death. And the Jews took away the cross of our Lord, and those two other crosses, and that spear with which our Saviour was struck, and those nails which they drove into His hands and into His feet, and those robes of mockery in which He had been clad; and they hid them: lest, as they said, any one of the kings or of the chief persons should come and inquire concerning the putting to death of Christ.
And the guards went in and said to the priests: Mary cometh in the evening and in the morning, and prayeth there. And there was a commotion in Jerusalem on account of Marath Mary. And the priests went to the judge, and said to him: My lord, send and command Mary that she go not to pray at the sepulchre and at Golgotha. And while they were deliberating, lo! letters came from Abgar, the king of the city of Edessa, to Sabina the procurator11 who had been appointed by Tiberius the emperor, and as far as the river Euphrates the procurator Sabina had authority. And, because Addaeus the apostle, one of the seventy-two apostles, had gone down and built a church at Edessa, and had cured the disease with which Abgar the king was afflicted-for Abgar the king loved Jesus Christ, and was constantly inquiring about Him; and, when Christ was put to death and Abgar the king heard that the Jews had slain Him on the cross, he was much displeased; and Abgar arose and rode and came as far as the river Euphrates, because he wished to go up against Jerusalem and lay it waste; and, when Abgar came and was arrived at the river Euphrates, he deliberated in his mind: If I pass over, there will be enmity between me and Tiberius the emperor. And Abgar wrote letters and sent them to Sabina the procurator, and Sabina sent them to Tiberius the emperor. In this manner did Abgar write to Tiberius the emperor:-
"From Abgar, the king of the city of Edessa. Much peace to thy Majesty, our lord Tiberius! In order that thy Majesty may not be offended with me, I have not passed over the river Euphrates: for I have been wishing to go up against Jerusalem and lay her waste, forasmuch as she has slain Christ, a skilful healer. But do thou, as a great sovereign who hast authority over all the earth and over us, send and do me judgment on the people of Jerusalem. For be it known to thy Majesty that I desire that thou wilt do me judgment on the crucifiers."
And Sabina received the letters, and sent them to Tiberius the emperor. And, when he had read them, Tiberius the emperor was greatly incensed, and he desired to destroy and slay all the Jews. And the people of Jerusalem heard it and were alarmed. And the priests went to the governor, and said to him: My lord, send and command Mary that she go not to pray at the sepulchre and Golgotha. The judge said to the priests: Go ye yourselves, and give her what command and what caution ye please.
From the homily composed by the holy Mar Jacob, the teacher, on the fall of idols.12
To Edessa he made his journey, and found in it a great work:
For the king was become a labourer for the church, and was building it.
The apostle Addaeus stood in it like a builder,
And King Abgar laid aside his diadem and builded with him.
When apostle and king concurred the one with the other,
What idol must not fall before them?
Satan fled to the land of Babylon from the disciples,
And the tale of the crucifixion had got before him to the country of the Chaldeans.
He said, when they were making sport of the signs of the Zodiac, that he was nothing.
From the homily about the town of Antioch.13
TO Simon was allotted Rome,14 and to John Ephesus; to Thomas India, and to Addaeus the country of the Assyrians.15 And, when they were sent each one of them to the district which had been allotted to him, they devoted themselves16 to bring the several countries to discipleship.
The Teaching of Addaeus the Apostle.1
Addaeus2 said to him: Because thou hast thus believed, I lay my hand upon thee in the name of Him in whom thou hast thus believed. And at the very moment that he laid his hand upon him he was healed of the plague of the disease which he had for a long time.3 And Abgar was astonished and marvelled, because, like as he had heard about Jesus, how He wrought and healed, so Addaeus also, without any medicine whatever, was healing in the name of Jesus. And Abdu also, son of Abdu, had the gout in his feet; and he also presented his feet to him, and he laid his hand upon them, and healed him, and he had the gout no more. And in all the city also he wrought great cures, and showed forth wonderful mighty-works in it.
Abgar said to him: Now that every man knoweth that by the power of Jesus Christ thou doest these miracles, and lo! we are astonished at thy deeds, I therefore entreat of thee to relate to us the story about the coming of Christ, in what manner it was, and about His glorious power, and about the miracles which we have heard that He did, which thou hast thyself seen, together with thy fellow-disciples.
Addaeus said: I will not hold my peace from declaring this; since for this very purpose was I sent hither, that I might speak to and teach every one who is willing to believe, even as thou. Assemble me tomorrow all the city, and I will sow in it the word of life by the preaching which I will address to you-about the coming of Christ, in what manner it was; and about Him that sent Him, why and how He sent Him; and about His power and His wonderful works; and about the glorious mysteries of His coming, which He spake of in the world; and about the unerring truth4 of His preaching; and how and for what cause He abused Himself, and humbled. His exalted Godhead by the manhood which He took, and was crucified, and descended to the place of the dead, and broke through the enclosure5 which had never been broken through before, and gave life to the dead by being slain Himself, and descended alone, and ascended with many to His glorious Father, with whom He had been from eternity in one exalted Godhead.
And Abgar commanded them to give to Addaeus silver and gold. Addaeus said to him: How can we receive that which is not ours. For, lo! that which was ours have we forsaken, as we were commanded by our Lord; because without purses and without scrips, bearing the cross upon our shoulders, were we commanded to preach His Gospel in the whole creation, of whose crucifixion, which was for our sakes, for the redemption of all men, the whole creation was sensible and suffered pain.
And he related before Abgar the king, and before his princes and his nobles, and before Augustin, Abgar's mother, and before Shalmath,6 the daughter of Meherdath,7 Abgar's wife,8 the signs of our Lord, and His wonders, and the glorious mighty-works which He did, and His divine exploits, and His ascension to His Father; and how they had received power and authority at the same time that He was received up-by which same power it was that he had healed Abgar, and Abdu son of Abdu, the second person9 of his kingdom; and how He informed them that He would reveal Himself at the end of the ages10 and at the consummation of all created things; also of the resuscitation and resurrection which is to come for all men, and the separation which will be made between the sheep and the goats, and between the faithful and those who believe not.
And he said to them: Because the gate of life is strait and the way of truth narrow, therefore are the believers of the truth few, and through unbelief is Satan's gratification. Therefore are the liars many who lead astray those that see. For, were it not that there is a good end awaiting believing men, our Lord would not have descended from heaven, and come to be born, and to endure the suffering of death. Yet He did come, and us did He send11 ...of the faith which we preach, that God was crucified for12 all men.
And, if there be those who are not willing13 to agree with these our words, let them draw near to us and disclose to us what is in their mind, that, like as in the case of a disease, we may apply to their thoughts healing medicine for the cure of their ailments. For, though ye were not present at the time of Christ's suffering, yet from the sun which was darkened, and which ye saw, learn ye and understand concerning the great convulsion14 which took place at that time, when He was crucified whose Gospel has winged its way through all the earth by the signs which His disciples my fellows do in all the earth: yea, those who were Hebrews, and knew only the language of the Hebrews, in which they were born, lo! at this day are speaking in all languages, in order that those who are afar off may hear and believe, even as those who are near. For He it is that confounded the tongues of the presumptuous in this region who were before us; and He it is that teaches at this day the faith of truth and verity by us, humble and despicable15 men from Galilee of Palestine. For I also whom ye see am from Paneas,16 from the place where the river Jordan issues forth, and I was chosen, together with my fellows, to be a preacher.
For, according as my Lord commanded me, lo! I preach and publish the Gospel, and lo! His money do I cast upon the table before you, and the seed of His word do I sow in the ears of all men; and such as are willing to receive it, theirs is the good recompense of the confession of Christ; but those who are not persuaded, the dust of my feet do I shake off against them, as He commanded me.
Repent therefore, my beloved, of evil ways and of abominable deeds, and turn yourselves towards Him with a good and honest will, as He hath turned Himself towards you with the favour of His rich mercies; and be ye not as the generations of former times that have passed away, which, because they hardened their heart against the fear of God, received punishment openly, that they themselves might be chastised, and that those who come after them may tremble and be afraid. For the purpose of our Lord's coming into the world assuredly was,17 that He might teach us and show us that at the consummation of the creation there will be a resuscitation of all men, and that at that time their course of conduct will be portrayed in their persons, and their bodies will be volumes for the writings of justice; nor will any one be there who is unacquainted with books, because every one will read that which is written in His own book.18
Ye that have eyes, forasmuch as ye do not perceive, are yourselves also become like those who see not and hear not; and in vain do your ineffectual voices strain themselves to deaf19 ears. Whilst they are not to be blamed for not heating, because they are by20 nature deaf and dumb, yet the blame which is justly incurred falls upon you,21 because ye are not willing to perceive-not even that which ye see. For the dark cloud of error which overspreads your minds suffers you not to obtain the heavenly light, which is the understanding of knowledge.22
Flee, then, from things made and created, as I said to you, which are only called gods in name, whilst they are not gods in their nature; and draw near to this Being, who in His nature is God from everlasting and from eternity, and is not something made, like your idols, nor is He a creature and a work of art, like those images in which ye glory. Because, although this23 Being put on a body, yet is He God with His Father. For the works of creation, which trembled when He was slain and were dismayed at His suffering of death,-these bear witness that He is Himself God the Creator. For it was not on account of a man that the earth trembled,24 but on account of Him who established the earth upon the waters; nor was it on account of a man that the sun grew dark in the heavens, but on account of Him who made the great lights; nor Was it for a man that the just and righteous were restored to life again, but for Him who had granted power over death from the beginning; nor was it for a man that the veil of the temple of the Jews was rent from the top to the bottom, but for Him who said to them, "Lo, your house is left desolate." For, lo! unless those who crucified Him had known that He was the Son of God, they would not have had to proclaim25 the desolation26 of their city, nor would they have brought down Woe! upon themselves.27 For, even if they had wished to make light of this confession,28 the fearful convulsions which took place at that time would not have suffered them to do so. For lo! some even of the children of the crucifiers are become at this day preachers and evangelists, along with my fellow-apostles, in all the land of Palestine, and among the Samaritans, and in all the country of the Philistines. The idols also of paganism are despised, and the cross of Christ is honoured, and all nations and creatures confess God who became man.
If, therefore, while Jesus our Lord was on earth ye would have believed in Him that He is the Son of God, and before ye had heard the word of His preaching would have confessed Him that He is God; now that He is ascended to His Father, and ye have seen the signs and the wonders which are done in His name, and have heard with your own ears the word of His Gospel, let no one of you doubt in his mind-so that the promise of His blessing which He sent to you may be fulfilled29 towards you: Blessed are ye that have believed in me, not having seen me; and, because ye have so believed in me, the town30 in which ye dwell shall be blessed, and the enemy shall not prevail against it for ever.31 Turn not away, therefore, from his faith: for, lo! ye have heard and seen what things bear witness to His faith-showing that He is the adorable Son, and is the glorious God, and is the victorious King, and is the mighty Power; and through faith in Him a man is able to acquire the eyes of a true mind,32 and to understand that, whosoever worshippeth creatures, the wrath of justice will overtake him.
For in everything which we speak before you, according as we have received of the gift of our Lord, so speak we and teach and declare it, that ye may secure33 your salvation and not destroy34 your spirits through the error of paganism: because the heavenly light has arisen on the creation, and He it is who chose the fathers of former times, and the righteous men, and the prophets, and spoke with them in the revelation of the Holy Spirit.35 For He is Himself the God of the Jews who crucified Him; and to Him it is that the erring pagans offer worship, even while they know it not: because there is no other God in heaven and on earth; and lo! confession ascendeth up to Him from the four quarters of the creation. Lo! therefore, your ears have heard that which was not heard by you; and lo! further, your eyes have seen that which was never seen by you.36
Be not, therefore, gainsayers of that which ye have seen and heard. Put away from you the rebellious mind of your fathers, and free yourselves from the yoke of sin, which hath dominion over you in libations and in sacrifices offered before carved images; and be ye concerned for your endangered37 salvation, and for the unavailing support on which ye lean;38 and get you a new mind, that worships the Maker and not the things which are made-a mind in which is portrayed the image of verity and of truth, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; believing and being baptized in the triple and glorious names. For this is our teaching and our preaching. For the belief of the truth of Christ does not consist of many things.39 And those of you as are willing to be obedient to Christ are aware that I have many times repeated my words before you, in order that ye might learn and understand what ye hear.
And we ourselves shall rejoice in this, like the husbandman who rejoices in the field which is blessed; God also will be glorified by your repentance towards Him. While ye are saved hereby, we also, who give you this counsel, shall not be despoiled of the blessed reward of this work. And, because I am assured that ye are a land blessed according to the will of the Lord Christ, therefore, instead of the dust of our feet which we were commanded to shake off against the town that would not receive our words, I have shaken off to-day at the door of your ears the sayings of my lips, in which are portrayed the coming of Christ which has already been, and also that which is yet to be; and the resurrection, and the resuscitation of all men, and the separation which is to be made between the faithful and the unbelieving; and the sore punishment which is reserved for those who know not God, and the blessed promise of future joy which they shall receive who have believed in Christ and worshipped Him and His exalted Father, and have confessed Him and His divine Spirit.40
And now it is meet for us that I conclude my present discourse; and let those who have accepted the word of Christ remain with us, and those also who are willing to join with us in prayer; and afterwards let them go to their homes.
And Addaeus the apostle was rejoiced to see that a great number of the population of the city stayed with him; and they were but few who did not remain at that time, while even those few not many days after accepted his words and believed in the Gospel set forth in41 the preaching of Christ.
And when Addaeus the apostle had spoken these things before all the town of Edessa, and King Abgar saw that all the city rejoiced in his teaching, men and women alike, and heard them saying to him, "True and faithful is Christ who sent thee to us"-he himself also rejoiced greatly at this, giving praise to God; because, like as he had heard from Hanan,42 his Tabularius, about Christ, so had he seen the wonderful mighty-works which Addaeus the apostle did in the name of Christ.
And Abgar the king also said to him: According as I sent to Christ in my letter to Him, and according as He also sent to me, so have I also received from thine own self this day; so will I believe all the days of my life, and in the selfsame things will I continue and make my boast, because I know also that there is no other power in whose name these signs and wonders are done but the power of Christ whom thou preachest in verity and in truth. And henceforth Him will I worship-I and my son Maanu,43 and Augustin,44 and Shalmath the queen. And now, wherever thou desirest, build a church, a place of meeting for those who have believed and shall believe in thy words; and, according to the command given thee by thy Lord, minister thou at the seasons with confidence; to those also who shall be with thee as teachers of this Gospel I am prepared to give large donations, in order that they may not have any other work beside the ministry; and whatsoever is required by thee for the expenses of the building I myself will give thee without any restriction,45 whilst thy word shall be authoritative and sovereign in this town; moreover, without the intervention of any other person do thou come into my presence as one in authority, into the palace of my royal majesty.
And when Abgar was gone down to his royal palace he rejoiced, he and his princes with him, Abdu son of Abdu, and Garmai, and Shemashgram,46 and Abubai, and Meherdath,47 together with the others their companions, at all that their eyes had seen and their ears also had heard; and in the gladness of their heart they too began to praise God for having turned their mind towards Him, renouncing the paganism in which they had lived,48 and confessing the Gospel of Christ. And when Addaeus had built a church they proceeded to offer in it vows and oblations, they and the people of the city; and there they continued to present their praises all the days of their life.
And Avida and Barcalba,49 who were chief men and rulers, and wore the royal headband,50 drew near to Addaeus, and asked him about the matter of Christ, requesting that he would tell them how He, though He was God, appeared to them as a man: And how, said they, were ye able to look upon Him? And he proceeded to satisfy them all about this, about all that their eyes had seen and about whatsoever their ears had heard from him. Moreover, everything that the prophets had spoken concerning Him he repeated before them, and they received his words gladly and with faith, and there was not a man that withstood him; for the glorious deeds which he did suffered not any man to withstand him.
Shavida, moreover, and Ebednebu, chiefs of the priests of this town, together with Piroz51 and Dilsu their companions, when they had seen the signs which he did, ran and threw down the altars on which they were accustomed to sacrifice before Nebu and Bel,52 their gods, except the great altar which was in the middle of the town; and they cried out and said: Verily this is the disciple of that eminent and glorious Master, concerning whom we have heard all that He did in the country of Palestine. And all those who believed in Christ did Addaeus receive, and baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And those who used to worship stones and stocks sat at his feet, recovered from the madness53 of paganism wherewith they had been afflicted. Jews also, traders in fine raiment,54 who were familiar with the law and the prophets-they too were persuaded, and became disciples, and confessed Christ that He is the Son of the living God.
But neither did King Abgar nor yet the Apostle Addaeus compel any man by force to believe in Christ, because without the force of man the force of the signs compelled many to believe in Him. And with affection did they receive His doctrine-all this country of Mesopotamia, and all the regions round about it.
Aggaeus, moreover, who55 made the silks56 and headbands of the king, and Palut, and Barshelama, and Barsamya, together with the others their companions, clave to Addaeus the apostle; and he received them, and associated them with him in the ministry, their business being to read in the Old Testament and the New,57 and in the prophets, and in the Acts of the Apostles, and to meditate upon them daily; strictly charging them to let their bodies be pure and their persons holy, as is becoming in men who stand before the altar of God. "And be ye," said he, "far removed from false swearing and from wicked homicide, and from dishonest testimony, which is connected with adultery; and from magic arts, for which there is no mercy, and from sooth-saying, and divination, and fortune-tellers; and from fate and nativities, of which the deluded Chaldeans make their boast; and from the stars, and the signs of the Zodiac, in which the foolish put their trust. And put far from you unjust partiality, and bribes, and presents, through which the innocent are pronounced guilty. And along with this ministry, to which ye have been called, see that ye have no other work besides: for the Lord is the work of your ministry all the days of your life. And be ye diligent to give the seal of baptism. And be not fond of the gains of this world. And hear yea cause with justice and with truth. And be ye not a stumbling-block to the blind, lest through you should be blasphemed the name of Him who opened the eyes of the blind, according as we have seen. Let all, therefore, who see you perceive that ye yourselves are in harmony with whatsoever ye preach and teach."
And they ministered with him in the church which Addaeus had built at the word and command of Abgar the king, being furnished with supplies by the king and his nobles, partly for the house of God, and partly for the supply of the poor. Moreover, much people day by day assembled and came to the prayers of the service, and to the reading of the Old Testament, and the New of the Diatessaron.58 They also believed in the restoration of the dead, and buried their departed in the hope of resuscitation. The festivals of the Church they also observed in their seasons, and were assiduous every day in the vigils of the Church. And they made visits of almsgiving, to the sick and to those that were whole, according to the instruction of Addaeus to them. In the environs, too, of the city churches were built, and many received from him ordination to the priesthood.59 So that even people of the East, in the guise of merchants, passed over into the territory of the Romans, that they might see the signs which Addaeus did. And such as became disciples received from him ordination to the priesthood, and in their own country of the Assyrians they instructed the people of their nation, and erected houses of prayer there in secret, by reason of the danger from those who worshipped fire and paid reverence to water.60
Moreover, Narses, the king of the Assyrians, when he heard of those same things which Addaeus the apostle had done, sent a message to Abgar the king: Either despatch to me the man who doeth these signs before thee, that I may see him and hear his word, or send me an account ofall that thou hast seen him do in thy own town. And Abgar wrote to Narses,61 and related to him the whole story of the deeds of Addaeus from the beginning to the end; and he left nothing which he did not write to him. And, when Narses heard those things which were written to him, he was astonished and amazed.
Abgar the king, moreover, because he was not able to pass over into the territory of the Romans,62 and go to Palestine and slay the Jews for having crucified Christ, wrote a letter and sent it to Tiberius Caesar,63 writing in it thus:-
King Abgar to our Lord Tiberius Caesar: Although I know that nothing is hidden from thy Majesty, I write to inform thy dread and mighty Sovereignty that the Jews who are under thy dominion and dwell in the country of Palestine have assembled themselves together and crucified Christ, without any fault worthy of death, after He had done before them signs and wonders, and had shown them powerful mighty-works, so that He even raised the dead to life for them; and at the time that they crucified Him the sun became darkened and the earth also quaked, and all created things trembled and quaked, and, as if of themselves, at this deed the whole creation and the inhabitants of the creation shrank away. And now thy Majesty knoweth what it is meet for thee to command Concerning the people of the Jews who have done these things.
And Tiberius Caesar wrote and sent to King Abgar; and thus did he write to him:-
The letter of thy Fidelity towards me I have received, and it hath been read before me. Concerning what the Jews have dared to do in the matter of the cross, Pilate64 the governor also has written and informed Aulbinus65 my proconsul concerning these selfsame things of which thou hast written to me. But, because a war with the people of Spain,66 who have rebelled against me, is on foot at this time, on this account I have not been able to avenge this matter; but I am prepared, when I shall have leisure, to issue a command according to law against the Jews, who act not according to law. And on this account, as regards Pilate also, who was appointed by me governor there-I have sent another in his stead, and dismissed him in disgrace, because he departed from the law,67 and did the will of the Jews, and for the gratification of the Jews crucified Christ, who, according to what I hear concerning Him, instead of suffering the cross of death, deserved to be honoured and worshipped68 by them: and more especially because with their own eyes they saw everything that He did. Yet thou, in accordance with thy fidelity towards me, and the faithful covenant entered into by thyself and by thy fathers, hast done well in writing to me thus.
And Abgar the king received Aristides, who had been sent by Tiberius Caesar to him; and in reply he sent him back with presents of honour suitable for him who had sent him to him. And from Edessa he went to Thicuntha,69 where Claudius, the second from the emperor, was; and from thence, again, he went to Artica,70 where Tiberius Caesar was: Caius, moreover, was guarding the regions round about Caesar. And Aristides himself also related before Tiberius concerning the mighty-works which Addaeus had done before Abgar the king. And when he had leisure from the war he sent and put to death some of the chief men of the Jews who were in Palestine. And, when Abgar the king heard of this, he rejoiced greatly that the Jews had received punishment, as it was right.
And some years after Addaeus the apostle had built the church in Edessa, and had furnished it with everything that was suitable for it, and had made disciples of a great number of the population of the city, he further built churches in the villages71 also-both those which were at a distance and those which were near, and finished and adorned them, and appointed in them deacons and elders, and instructed in them those who should read the Scriptures, and taught the ordinances and72 the ministry without and within.
After all these things he fell ill of the sickness of which he departed from this world. And he called for Aggaeus before the whole assembly of the church, and bade him draw near, and made him Guide and Ruler73 in his stead. And Palut,74 who was a deacon, he made eider; and Abshelama, who was a scribe, he made deacon. And, the nobles and chief men being assembled, and standing near him-Barcalba son of Zati,75 and Maryhab76 son of Barshemash, and Senac77 son of Avida, and Piroz son of Patric,78 together with the rest of their companions-Addaeus the apostle said to them:-
"Ye know and are witness, all of you who hear me, that, according to all that I have preached to you and taught you and ye have heard from me, even so have I behaved myself in the midst of you, and ye have seen it in deeds also: because our Lord thus charged us, that, whatsoever we preach in words before the people, we should practise it in deeds before all men. And, according to the ordinances and laws which were appointed by the disciples in Jerusalem,79 and by which my fellow-apostles also guided their conduct, so also do ye-turn not aside from them, nor diminish aught from them: even as I also am guided by them amongst you, and have not turned aside from them to the right hand or to the left, lest I should become estranged from the promised salvation which is reserved for such as are guided by them.
"Give80 heed, therefore, to this ministry which ye hold, and with fear and trembling continue in it, and minister every day. Minister not in it with neglectful habits, but with the discreetness of faith; and let not the praises of Christ cease out of your mouth, nor let weariness of prayer at the stated times come upon you. Give heed to the verity which ye hold, and to the teaching of the truth which ye have received, and to the inheritance of salvation which I commit to you: because before the tribunal of Christ will ye have to give an account of it, when He maketh reckoning with the shepherds and overseers, and when He taketh His money from the traders with the addition of the gains. For He is the Son of a King, and goeth to receive a kingdom and return; and He will come and make a resuscitation to life for all men, and then will He sit upon the throne of His righteousness, and judge the dead and the living, as He said to us.
"Let not the secret eye of your minds be closed by pride, lest your stumbling-blocks be many in the way in which there are no stumbling-blocks, but a hateful81 wandering in its paths. Seek ye those that are lost, and direct those that go astray, and rejoice in those that are found; bind up the bruised, and watch over the fatlings: because at your hands will the sheep of Christ be required. Look ye not for the honour that passeth away: for the shepherd that looketh to receive honour from his flock-sadly, sadly stands his flock with respect to him. Let your concern be great for the young lambs, whose angels behold the face of the Father who is unseen. And be ye not stones of stumbling before the blind, but clearers of the way and the paths in a rugged country, among the Jews the crucifiers, and the deluded pagans: for with these two parties have ye to fight, in order that ye may show the truth of the faith which ye hold; and, though ye be silent, your modest and decorous appearance will fight for you against those who hate truth and love falsehood.
"Buffet not the poor in the presence of the rich: for scourge grievous enough for them is their poverty.
"Be not beguiled by the hateful devices of Satan, test ye be stripped naked of the faith which ye have put on."82 ..."And with the Jews, the crucifiers, we will have no fellowship. And this inheritance which we have received from thee we will not let go, but in that will we depart out of this world; and on the day of our Lord, before the judgment-seat of His righteousness, there will He restore to us this inheritance, even as thou hast told us."
And, when these things had been spoken, Abgar the king rose up, he and his chief men and his nobles, and he went to his palace, all of them being distressed for him because he was dying. And he sent to him noble and excellent apparel, that he might be buried in it. And, when Addaeus saw it, he sent to him, saying: In my lifetime I have not taken anything from thee, nor will I now at my death take anything from thee, nor will I frustrate the word of Christ which He spake to us: Accept not anything from any man, and possess not anything in this world.83
And three days more after these things had been spoken by Addaeus the apostle, and he had heard and received the testimony concerning the teaching set forth in their preaching from those engaged with him in the ministry, in the presence of all the nobles he departed out of this world. And that day was the fifth of the week, and the fourteenth of the month Iyar,84 nearly answering to May. And the whole city was in great mourning and bitter anguish for him. Nor was it the Christians only that were distressed for him, but the Jews also, and the pagans, who were in this same town. But Abgar the king was distressed for him more than any one, he and the princes of his kingdom. And in the sadness of his soul he despised and laid aside the magnificence of his kingly state on that day, and with tears mingled with moans he bewailed him with all men. And all the people of the city that saw him were amazed to see how greatly he suffered on his account. And with great and surpassing pomp he bore him, and buried him like one of the princes when he dies; and he laid him in a grand sepulchre adorned with sculpture wrought by the fingers-that in which were laid those of the house of Ariu, the ancestors of Abgar the king: there he laid him sorrowfully, with sadness and great distress. And all the people of the church went there from time to time and prayed fervently; and they kept up the remembrance of his departure from year to year, according to the command and direction which had been received by them from Addaeus the apostle,85 and according to the word of Aggaeus, who himself became Guide and Ruler, and the successor of his seat after him, by the ordination to the priesthood which he had received from him in the presence of all men.
He too, with the same ordination which he had received from him, made Priests and Guides in the whole of this country of Mesopotamia. For they also, in like manner as Addaeus the apostle, held fast his word, and listened to and received it, as good and faithful successors of the apostle of the adorable Christ. But silver and gold he took not from any man, nor did the gifts of the princes come near him: for, instead of receiving gold and silver, he himself enriched the Church of Christ with the souls of believers.
Moreover, as regards the entire state86 of the men and the women, they were chaste and circumspect, and holy and pure: for they lived like anchorites87 and chastely, without spot-in circumspect watchfulness touching the ministry, in their sympathy88 toward the poor, in their visitations to the sick: for their footsteps were fraught with praise from those who saw them, and their conduct was arrayed in commendation from strangers-so that even the priests of the house of89 Nebu and Bel divided the honour with them at all times, by reason of their dignified aspect, their truthful words, their frankness of speech arising from their noble nature, which was neither subservient through covetousness nor in bondage under the fear of blame. For there was no one who saw them that did not run to meet them, that he might salute them respectfully, because the very sight of them shed peace upon the beholden: for just like a net90 were their words of gentleness spread over the contumacious, and they entered within the fold of truth and verity. For there was no man who saw them that was ashamed of them, because they did nothing that was not accordant with rectitude and propriety. And in consequence of these things their bearing was fearless as they published their teaching to all men. For, whatsoever they said to others and enjoined on them, they themselves exhibited in practice in their own persons; and the hearers, who saw that their actions went along with their words, without much persuasion became their disciples, and confessed the King Christ, praising God for having turned them towards Him.
And some years after the death of Abgar the king, there arose one of his contumacious91 sons, who was not favourable to peace; and he sent word to Aggaeus, as he was sitting in the church: Make me a headband of gold, such as thou usedst to make for my fathers in former times. Aggaeus sent to him: I will not give up the ministry of Christ, which was committed to me by the disciple of Christ, and make a headband of wickedness. And, when he saw that he did not comply, he sent and brake his legs92 as he was sitting in the church expounding. And as he was dying he adjured Palut and Abshelama: In this house, for whose truth's sake, lo! I am dying, lay me and bury me. And, even as he had adjured them, so did they lay him-inside the middle door of the church, between the men and the women. And there was great and bitter mourning in all the church, and in all the city-over and above the anguish and the mourning which there had been within the church, such as had been the mourning when Addaeus the apostle himself died.
And,93 in consequence of his dying suddenly and quickly at the breaking of his legs, he was not able to lay his hand upon Palut. Palut went to Antioch, and received ordination to the priesthood from Serapion bishop of Antioch; by which Serapion himself also ordination had been received from Zephyrinus bishop of the city of Rome, in the succession of the ordination to the priesthood from Simon Cephas, who had received it from our Lord, and was bishop there in Rome twenty-five years in the days of the Caesar who reigned there thirteen years.
And, according to the custom which exists in the kingdom of Abgar the king, and in all kingdoms, that whatsoever the king commands and whatsoever is spoken in his presence is committed to writing and deposited among the records, so also did Labubna,94 son of Senac, son of Ebedshaddai, the king's scribe, write these things also relating to Addaeus the apostle from the beginning to the end, whilst Hanan also the Tabularius, a sharir of the kings, set-to his hand in witness, and deposited the writing among the records of the kings, where the ordinances and laws are deposited, and where the contracts of the buyers and sellers are kept with care, without any negligence whatever.
Here endeth the teaching of Addaeus the apostle, which he proclaimed in Edessa, the faithful city of Abgar, the faithful king.
Syriac Calendar.
Tishri prior
Tishri, or Ethanim
Tishri posterior
Bull, or Marcheshvan
Canun prior
Canun posterior
Zif, or Iyar
A Note by the Translator.-The following list of the Syrian names of months, in use in the empire and during the era of the Seleucidae, several of which have been mentioned in these Documents, is taken from Caswinii Calendarium Syriacum, edited in Arabic and Latin by Volck, 1859. The later Hebrew names also are here added for comparison. It must, however, be noticed that "the years employed in the Syrian Calendar, were, at least after the incarnation, Julian years, composed of Roman months." (See L'Art de verifier les dates: Paris, 1818, tom. i. p. 45.) The correspondence with the Hebrew months, therefore, is not so dose as the names would indicate, since these commenced with the new moons, and an intercalary month, Veadar, following their twelfth month Adar, was added.
The Teaching of the Apostles.1
At that time Christ was taken up to His Father; and how the apostles received the gift of the Spirit; and the Ordinances and Laws of the Church; and whither each one of the apostles went; and from whence the countries in the territory of the Romans received the ordination to the priesthood.
In the year three hundred and2 thirty-nine of the kingdom of the Greeks, in the month Heziran,3 on the fourth4 day of the same, which is the first day of the week, and the end of Pentecost5 -on the selfsame day came the disciples from Nazareth of Galilee, where the conception of our Lord was announced, to the mount which is called that of the Place of Olives,6 our Lord being with them, but not being visible to them. And at the time of early dawn our Lord lifted up His hands, and laid them upon the heads of the eleven disciples, and gave to them the gift of the priesthood. And suddenly a bright cloud received Him. And they saw Him as He was going up to heaven. And He sat down on the fight hand of His Father. And they praised God because they saw His ascension according as He had told them; and they rejoiced because they had received the Right Hand conferring on them the priesthood of the house of Moses and Aaron.
And from thence they went up to the city, and7 proceeded to an upper room-that in which our Lord had observed the passover with them, and the place where the inquiries had been made: Who it was that should betray our Lord to the crucifiers? There also were made the inquiries:8 How they should preach His Gospel in the world? And, as within the upper room the mystery of the body and of the blood of our Lord began to prevail in the world, so also from thence did the teaching of His preaching begin to have authority in the world.
And, when the disciples were cast into this perplexity, how they should preach His Gospel to men of strange tongues9 which were unknown to them, and were speaking thus to one another: Although we are confident that Christ will perform by our hands mighty works and miracles in the presence of strange peoples whose tongues we know not, and who themselves also are unversed in our tongue, yet who shall teach them and make them understand that it is by the name of Christ who was crucified that these mighty works and miracles are done?-while, I say, the disciples were occupied with these thoughts, Simon Cephas rose up, and said to them: My brethren, this matter, how we shall preach His Gospel, pertaineth not to us, but to our Lord; for He knoweth how it is possible for us to preach His Gospel in the world; and we rely on His care for us, which He promised us, saying: "When I am ascended to my Father I will send you the Spirit, the Paraclete, that He may teach you everything which it is meet for you to know, and to make known."
And, whilst Simon Cephas was saying these things to his fellow-apostles, and putting them in remembrance, a mysterious voice was heard by them, and a sweet odour, which was strange to the world, breathed upon them;10 and tongues of fire, between the voice and the odour, came down from heaven11 towards them, and alighted and sat on every one of them; and, according to the tongue which every one of them had severally received, so did he prepare himself to go to the country in which that tongue was spoken and heard.And, by the same gift of the Spirit which was given to them on that day, they appointed Ordinances and Laws-such as were in accordance with the Gospel of their preaching, and with the true and faithful doctrine of their teaching:-
1. The apostles therefore appointed: Pray ye towards the east:12 because, "as the lightning which lighteneth from the east and is seen even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be: "13 that by this we might know and understand that He will appear from the east suddenly.14
2. The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation:15 because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the lace of the dead and on the first day of the week He arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week He ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week He will appear at last with the angels of heaven.16
3. The apostles further appointed: On the fourth17 day of the week let there be service: because on that day our Lord made the disclosure to them about His trial,18 and His suffering, and His crucifixion, and His death, and His resurrection; and the disciples were on account of this in sorrow.19
4. The apostles further appointed: On the eve of the Sabbath,20 at the ninth hour, let there be service: because that which had been spoken on the fourth day of the week about the suffering of the Saviour was brought to pass on the same eve; the worlds and creatures trembling, and the luminaries in the heavens being darkened.
5. The apostles further appointed: Let there be elders and deacons, like the Levites;21 and subdeacons,22 like those who carried the vessels of the court of the sanctuary of the Lord; and an overseer,23 who shall likewise be the Guide of all the people,24 like Aaron, the head and chief of all the priests and Levites of the whole city.25 6. The apostles further appointed: Celebrate the day of the Epiphany26 of our Saviour, which is the chief of the festivals of the Church, on the sixth day of the latter Canun,27 in the long number of the Greeks.28
7. The apostles further appointed: Forty29 days before the day of the passion of our Saviour fast ye, and then celebrate the day of the passion, and the day of the resurrection: because our Lord Himself also, the Lord of the festival, fasted forty days; and Moses and Elijah, who were endued with this mystery, likewise each fasted forty days, and then were glorified.
8. The apostles further appointed: At the conclusion of all the Scriptures other let the Gospel be read, as being the seal30 of all the Scriptures; and let the people listen to it standing upon their feet: because it is the Gospel of the redemption of all men.
9. The apostles further appointed: At the completion of fifty31 days after His resurrection make yea commemoration of His ascension to His glorious Father.
10. The apostles appointed: That, beside the Old Testament, and the Prophets, and the Gospel, and the Acts (of their exploits), nothing should be read on the pulpit in the church.32
11. The apostles further appointed: Whosoever is unacquainted with the faith of the Church and the ordinances and laws which are appointed in it, let him not be a guide and ruler; and whosoever is acquainted with them and departs from them, let him not minister again: because, not being true in his ministry, he has lied.
12. The apostles further appointed: Whosoever sweareth, or33 lieth, or beareth false witness, or hath recourse to magicians and soothsayers and Chaldeans, and putteth confidence in fates and nativities, which they hold fast who know not God,-let him also, as a man that knoweth not God, be dismissed from the ministry, and not minister again.
13. The apostles further appointed: If there be any man that is divided in mind touching the ministry, and who follows it not with a steadfast will34 , let not this man minister again: because the Lord of the ministry is not served by him with a stedfast will; and he deceiveth man only, and not God, "before whom crafty devices avail not,"35
14. The apostles further appointed: Whosoever lendeth and receiveth usury,36 and is occupied in merchandise and covetousness, let not this man minister again, nor continue in the ministry.
15. The apostles further appointed: That whosoever loveth the Jews,37 like Iscariot, who was their friend, or the pagans, who worship creatures instead of the Creator,-should not enter in amongst them and minister; and moreover, that if he be already amongst them, they should not suffer him to remain, but that he should be separated from amongst them, and not minister with them again.
16. The apostles further appointed: That, if any one from the Jews or from the pagans come and join himself with them, and if after he has joined himself with them he turn and go back again to the side on which he stood before, and if he again return and come to them a second time,-he should not be received again; but that, according to the side on which he was before, so those who know him should look upon him.
17. The apostles further appointed: That it should not be permitted to the Guide to transact the matters which pertain to the Church apart from those who minister with him; but that he should issue commands with the counsel of them all, and that that only should be done which all of them should concur in and not disapprove.38
18. The apostles further appointed: Whenever any shall depart out of this world with a good testimony to the faith of Christ, and with affliction borne for His name's sake, make yea commemoration of them on the day on which they were put to death.39
19. The apostles further appointed: In the service of the Church repeat ye the praises of David day by day: because of this saying: "I will bless the Lord at all times, and at all times His praises shall be in my mouth; "40 and this: "By day and by night will I meditate and speak, and cause my voice to be heard before Thee."
20. The apostles further appointed: If any divest themselves of mammon and run not after the gain of money, let these men be chosen and admitted to the ministry of the altar.
21. The apostles further appointed: Let any priest who accidentally puts another in bonds41 contrary to justice receive the punishment that is right; and let him that has been bound receive the bonds as if he had been equitably bound.
22. The apostles further appointed: If it be seen that those who are accustomed to hear causes show partiality, and pronounce the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, let them never again hear another cause: thus receiving the rebuke of their partiality, as it is fit.42
23. The apostles further ordained: Let not those that are high-minded and lifted up with the arrogance of boasting be admitted to the ministry: because of this text: "That which is exalted among men is abominable before God; "and because concerning them it is said: "I will return a recompense upon those that vaunt themselves."
24. The apostles further appointed: Let there be a Ruler over the elders who are in the villages, and let him be recognised as head of them all, at whose hand all of them shall be required: for Samuel also thus made visits from place to place and ruled.43
25. The apostles further appointed: That those kings who shall hereafter believe in Christ should be permitted to go up and stand before the altar along with the Guides of the Church: because David also, and those who were like him, went up and stood before the altar.44
26. The apostles further appointed: Let no man dare to do anything by the authority of the priesthood which is not in accordance with justice and equity, but in accordance with justice, and free from the blame of partiality, let all things be done.
27. The apostles further appointed: Let the bread of the Oblation be placed upon the altar on the day on which it is baked, and not some days after-a thing which is not permitted.All these things did the apostles appoint, not for themselves, but for those who should come after them-for they were apprehensive that in time to come wolves would put on sheep's clothing: since for themselves the Spirit, the Paraclete, which was in them, was sufficient: that, even as He had appointed these laws by their hands, so He would guide them lawfully. For they, who had received from our Lord power and authority, had no need that laws should be appointed for them by others. For Paul also, and Timothy,45 while they were going from place to place in the country of Syria and Cilicia, committed these same Commands and Laws of the apostles and elders to those who were under the hand of the apostles, for the churches of the countries in which they were preaching and publishing the Gospel.
The disciples, moreover, after they had appointed these Ordinances and Laws, ceased not from the preaching of the Gospel, or from the wonderful mighty-works which our Lord did by their hands. For much people was gathered about them every day, who believed in Christ; and they came to them from other cities, and heard their words and received them. Nicodemus also, and Gamaliel, chiefs of the synagogue of the Jews, used to come to the apostles in secret, agreeing with their teaching. Judas, moreover, and Levi, and Peri, and Joseph, and Justus, sons of Hananias, and Caiaphas46 and Alexander the priests-they too used to come to the apostles by night, confessing Christ that He is the Son of God; but they were afraid of the people of their own nation, so that they did not disclose their mind toward the disciples.
And the apostles received them affectionately, saying to them: Do not, by reason of the shame and fear of men, forfeit your salvation before God, nor have the blood of Christ required of you; even as your fathers, who took it upon them: for it is not acceptable before God, that, while ye are, in secret, with His worshippers, ye should go and associate with the murderers of His adorable Son. How do ye expect that your faith should be accepted with those that are true, whilst ye are with those that are false? But it becomes you, as men who believe in Christ, to confess openly this faith which we preach.47
And, when they heard these things from the Disciples, those sons of the priests, all of them alike, cried out before the whole company of the apostles: We confess and believe in Christ who was crucified, and we confess that He is from everlasting the Son of God; and those who dared to crucify Him do we renounce. For even the priests of the people in secret confess Christ; but, for the sake of the headship among the people which they love, they are not willing to confess openly; and they have forgotten that which is written:48 "Of knowledge is He the Lord, and before Him avail not crafty devices."
And, when their fathers heard these things from their sons, they became exceedingly hostile to them: not indeed because they had believed in Christ, but because they had declared and spoken openly of the mind of their fathers before the sons of their people.
But those who believed clove to the disciples, and departed not from them, because they saw that, whatsoever they taught the multitude, they themselves carried into practice before all men; and, when affliction and persecution arose against the disciples, they rejoiced to be afflicted with them, and received with gladness stripes and imprisonment for the confession of their faith in Christ; and all the days of their life they preached Christ before the Jews and the Samaritans.
And after the death of the apostles there were Guides and Rulers53 of our Lord, who said to them: "I am with you, even until the world shall end; "the Guides disputing with the Jews from the books of the prophets, and contending also against the deluded pagans with the terrible mighty-works which they did in the name of Christ. For all the peoples, even those that dwell in other countries, quietly and silently received54 the Gospel of Christ; and those who became confessors cried out under their persecution: This our persecution to-day shall plead55 on our behalf, lest we be punished, for having been formerly persecutors ourselves. For there were some of them against whom death by the sword was ordered; and there were some of them from whom they took away whatsoever they possessed, and let them go.56 And the more affliction arose against them, the richer and larger did their congregations become; and with gladness in their hearts did they receive death of every kind. And by ordination to the priesthood, which the apostles themselves had received from our Lord, did their Gospel wing its way rapidly into the four quarters of the world. And by mutual visitation they ministered to one another.
1. Jerusalem received the ordination to the priesthood, as did all the country of Palestine, and the parts occupied by the Samaritans, and the parts occupied by the Philistines, and the country of the Arabians, and of Phoenicia, and the people of Caesarea, from James, who was ruler and guide in the church of the apostles which was built in Zion.
2. Alexandria the Great, and Thebais, and the whole of Inner Egypt, and all the country of Pelusium,57 and extending as far as the borders of the Indians, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Mark the evangelist, who was ruler and guide there in the church which he had built, in which, he also ministered.
3. India,58 and all the countries belonging to it and round about it, even to the farthest sea, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Judas Thomas, who was guide and ruler in the church which he had built there, in which he also ministered there.
4. Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia, and Galatia, even to Pontus, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Simon Cephas, who himself laid the foundation of the church there,59 and was priest and ministered there up to the time when he went up from thence to Rome on account of Simon the sorcerer, who was deluding the people of Rome with his sorceries.60
5. The city of Rome, and all Italy, and Spain, and Britain, and Gaul, together with all the rest of the countries round about them, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Simon Cephas, who went up from Antioch; and he was ruler and guide there, in the church which he had built there, and in the places round about it.61
6. Ephesus, and Thessalonica, and all Asia, and all the country of the Corinthians, and of all Achaia and the parts round about it, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from John the evangelist, who had leaned upon the bosom of our Lord; who himself built a church there, and ministered in his office of Guide which he held there.
7. Nicaea, and Nicomedia, and all the country of Bithynia, and of Inner Galatia,62 and of the regions round about it, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Andrew, the brother of Simon Cephas, who was himself Guide and Ruler in the church which he had built there, and was priest and ministered there.
8. Byzantium, and all the country of Thrace, and of the parts about it as far as the great river,63 the boundary which separates from the barbarians, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Luke the apostle, who himself built a church there, and ministered there in his office of Ruler and Guide which he held there.
9. Edessa, and all the countries round about it which were on all sides of it, and Zoba,64 and Arabia, and all the north, and the regions round about it, and the south, and all the regions on the borders of Mesopotamia, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Addaeus the apostle, one of the seventy-two apostles,65 who himself made disciples there, and built a church there, and was priest and ministered there in his office of Guide which he held there.
10. The whole of Persia, of the Assyrians, and of the Armenians, and of the Medians, and of the countries round about Babylon, the Huzites and the Gelae, as far as the borders of the Indians, and as far as the land66 of Gog and Magog, and moreover all the countries on all sides, received the apostles' ordination to the priesthood from Aggaeus, a maker of silks,67 the disciple of Addaeus the apostle.
The other remaining companions of the apostles, moreover went to the distant countries of the barbarians; and they made disciples from place to place and passed on; and there they ministered by their preaching; and there occurred their departure out of this world, their disciples after them going on with the work down to the present day, nor was any change or addition made by them in their preaching.
Luke, moreover, the evangelist had such diligence that he wrote the exploits of the Acts of the Apostles, and the ordinances and laws of the ministry of their priesthood, and whither each one of them went. By his diligence, I say, did Luke write these things, and more than these; and he placed them in the hand of Priscus68 and Aquilus, his disciples; and they accompanied him up to the day of his death, just as Timothy and Erastus of Lystra, and Menaus,69 the first disciples of the apostles, accompanied Paul until he was taken up to the city of Rome because he had withstood Tertullus the orator.70
And Nero Caesar despatched with the sword Simon Cephas in the city of Rome.71
1 The Teaching of Simon Cephas2 In the City of Rome.3
In the third4 year of Claudius Caesar, Simon Cephas departed from Antioch to go to Rome. And as he passed on he preached in the divers countries the word of our Lord. And, when he had nearly arrived there,5 many had heard of it and went out to meet him, and the whole church received him with great joy. And some of the princes of the city, wearers of the imperial headbands,6 came to him, that they might see him and hear his word. And, when the whole city was gathered together about him, he stood up to speak to them, and to show them the preaching of his doctrine, of what sort it was. And he began to speak to them thus:-
Men, people of Rome, saints of all Italy, hear ye that which I say to you. This day I preach and proclaim Jesus the Son of God, who came down from heaven, and became man, and was with us as one of ourselves, and wrought marvellous mighty-works and signs and wonders before us, and before all the Jews that are in the land of Palestine. And you yourselves also heard of those things which He did: because they came to Him from other countries also, on account of the fame of His healing and the report of the marvellous help He gave;7 and whosoever drew near to Him was healed by His word. And, inasmuch as He was God, at the same time that He healed He also forgave sins: for His healing, which was open to view, bore witness of His hidden forgiveness, that it was real and trustworthy. For this Jesus did the prophets announce in their mysterious sayings, as they were looking forward to see Him and to hear His word: Him who was with His Father from eternity and from everlasting; God, who was hidden in the height, and appeared in the depth; the glorious Son, who was from His Progenitor, and is to be glorified, together with His Father, and His divine Spirit, and the terrible power of His dominion. And He was crucified of His own will by the hands of sinners, and was taken up to His Father, even as I and my companions saw. And He is about to come again, in His own glory and that of His holy angels, even as we heard Him say to us. For we cannot say anything which was not heard by us from Him, neither do we write in the book of His Gospel anything which He Himself did not say to us: because this word is spoken in order that the mouth of liars may be shut, in the day when men shall give an account of idle words at the place of judgment.
Moreover, because we were catchers of fish,8 and not skilled in books, therefore did He also say to us: "I will send you the Spirit, the Paraclete, that He may teach you that which ye know not; "for it is by His gift that we speak those things which ye hear. And, further, by it we bring aid to the sick, and healing to the diseased: that by the hearing of His word and by the aid of His power ye may believe in Christ, that He is God, the Son of God; and may be delivered from the service of bondage, and may worship Him and His Father, and glorify His divine Spirit. For when we glorify the Father, we glorify the Son also with Him; and when we worship the Son, we worship the Father also with Him; and when we confess the Spirit, we confess the Father also and the Son: because in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit, were we commanded to baptize those who believe, that they may live for ever.
Flee therefore from the words of the wisdom of this world, in which there is no profit, and draw near to those which are true and faithful, and acceptable before God; whose reward also is laid up in store, and whose recompense standeth sure. Now, too,9 the light has arisen on the creation, and the world has obtained the eyes, of the mind, that every man may see and understand that it is not fit that creatures should be worshipped instead of the Creator, nor together with the Creator: because everything which is a creature is made to be a worshipper of its Maker, and is not to be worshipped like its Creator. But this One who came to us is God, the Son of God, in His own nature, notwithstanding that He mingled10 His Godhead with our manhood, in order that He might renew our manhood by the aid of His Godhead. And on this account it is right that we should worship Him, because He is to be worshipped together with His Father, and that we should not worship creatures, who were created for the worship of the Creator. For He is Himself the God of truth and verity; He is Himself from before all worlds and creatures; He is Himself the veritable Son, and the glorious fruit11 which is from the exalted Father.
But ye see the wonderful works which accompany and follow these words. One would not credit it: the time lo! is short since He ascended to His Father, and see how His Gospel has winged its flight through the whole creation-that thereby it may be known and believed that He Himself is the Creator of creatures, and that by His bidding creatures subsist. And, whereas ye saw the sun become darkened at His death, ye yourselves also are witnesses. The earth, moreover, quaked when He was slain, and the veil was rent at His death. And concerning these things the governor Pilate also was witness: for he himself sent and made them known to Caesar,12 and these things, and more than these, were read before him, and before the princes of your city. And on this account Caesar was angry against Pilate because he had unjustly listened to the persuasion of the Jews; and for this reason he sent and took away from him the authority which he had given to him. And this same thing was published and known in all the dominion of the Romans. That, therefore, which Pilate saw and made known to Caesar and to your honourable senate, the same do I preach and declare, as do also my fellow-apostles. And ye know that Pilate could not have written to the imperial government of that which did not take place and which he had not seen with his own eyes; but that which did take place and was actually done-this it was that he wrote and made known. Moreover, the watchers of the sepulchre also were witnesses of those things which took place there: they became as dead men; and, when those watchers were questioned before Pilate, they confessed before him how large a bribe the chief-priests of the Jews had given them, so that they might say that we His disciples had stolen the corpse of Christ. Lo! then, ye have heard many things; and moreover, if ye be not willing to be persuaded by those things which ye have heard, be at least persuaded by the mighty-works which ye see, which are done by His name.
Let not Simon the sorcerer delude you by semblances which are not realities, which he exhibits to you, as to men who have no understanding, who know not how to discern that which they see and hear. Send, therefore, and fetch him to where all your city is assembled together, and choose you some sign for us to do before you; and, whichever ye see do that same sign, it will be your part to believe in it.
And immediately they sent and fetched Simon the sorcerer;13 and the men who were adherents of his opinion said to him: As a man concerning whom we have confidence that there is power in thee to do anything whatsoever,14 do thou some sign before us all, and let this Simon the Galilaean, who preaches Christ, see it. And, whilst they were thus speaking to him, there happened to be passing along a dead person, a son of one of those who were chiefs and men of note and renown among them. And all of them, as they were assembled together, said to him: Whichever of you shall restore to life this dead person, he is true, and to be believed in and received, and we will all follow him in whatsoever he saith to us. And they said to Simon the sorcerer: Because thou wast here before Simon the Galilaean, and we knew thee before him, exhibit thou first the power which accompanieth thee.15
Then Simon reluctantly drew near to the dead person; and they set down the bier before him; and he looked to the fight hand and to the left, and gazed up into heaven, saying many words: some of them he uttered aloud, and some of them secretly and not aloud. And he delayed a long while, and nothing took place, and nothing was done, and the dead person was lying upon his bier.
And forthwith Simon Cephas drew near boldly towards the dead man, and cried aloud before all the assembly which was standing there: In the name of Jesus Christ, whom the Jews crucified at Jerusalem, and whom we preach, rise up thence. And as soon as the word of Simon was spoken the dead man came to life and rose up from the bier.
And all the people saw and marvelled; and they said to Simon: Christ, whom thou preachest, is true. And many cried out, and said: Let Simon the sorcerer and the deceiver of us all be stoned. But Simon, by reason that every one was running to see the dead man that was come to life, escaped from them from one street to another and from house to house, and fell not into their hands on that day.
But the whole city took hold of Simon Cephas, and they received him gladly and affectionately; and he ceased not from doing signs and wonders in the name of Christ; and many believed in him. Cuprinus,16 moreover, the father of him that was restored to life, took Simon with him to his house, and entertained him in a suitable manner, while he and all his household believed in Christ, that He is the Son of the living God. And many of the Jews and of the pagans became disciples there. And, when there was great rejoicing at his teaching, he built churches there, in Rome and in the cities round about, and in all the villages of the people of Italy; and he served there in the rank of the Superintendence of Rulers twenty-five years.17
And after these years Nero Caesar seized him and shut him up in prison. And he knew that he would crucify him; so he called Ansus,18 the deacon, and made him bishop in his stead in Rome. And these things did Simon himself speak; and moreover also the rest, the other things which he had in charge, he commanded Ansus to teach before the people, saying to him: Beside the New Testament and the Old let there not be read before the people19 anything else:20 which is not right.
And, when Caesar had commanded that Simon should be crucified with his head downwards, as he himself had requested of Caesar, and that Paul's head should be taken off, there was great commotion among the people, and bitter distress in all the church, seeing that they were deprived of the sight of the apostles. And Isus the guide arose and took up their bodies by night, and buried them with great honour, and there came to be a gathering-place there for many.
And at that very time, as if by a righteous judgment, Nero abandoned his empire and fled, and there was a cessation for a little while from the persecution which Nero Caesar had raised against them. And many years after the great coronation21 of the apostles, who had departed out of the world, while ordination to the priesthood was proceeding both in all Rome and in all Italy, it happened then that there was a great famine in the city of Rome.22
Here endeth the teaching of Simon Cephas.
Acts of Sharbil,1
Who Was a Priest of Idols, and Was Converted to the Confession of Christianity in Christ.2
In the fifteenth year of the Sovereign Ruler3 Trajan Caesar,4 and in the third year of King Abgar the Seventh,5 which is the year 416 of the kingdom of Alexander king of the Greeks, and in the priesthood of Sharbil and Barsamya,6 Trajan Caesar commanded the governors of the countries under his dominion that sacrifices and libations should be increased in all the cities of their administration, and that those who did not sacrifice should be seized and delivered over to stripes, and to the tearing of combs, and to bitter inflictions of all kinds of tortures, and should afterwards receive the punishment of the sword.
Now, when the command arrived at the town of Edessa of the Parthians, there was a great festival, on the eighth of Nisan, on the third day of the week: the whole city was gathered together by the great altar7 which was in the middle of the town, opposite the Record office,8 all the gods having been brought together, and decorated, and sitting in honour, both Nebu and Bel together with their fellows. And all the priests were offering incense of spices and libations,9 and an odour of sweetness was diffusing itself around, and sheep and oxen were being slaughtered, and the sound of the harp and the drum was heard in the whole town. And Sharbil was chief and ruler of all the priests; and he was honoured above all his fellows, and was clad in splendid and magnificent vestments; and a headband embossed with figures of gold was set upon his head; and at the bidding of his word everything that he ordered was done. And Abgar the king, son of the gods, was standing at the head of the people. And they obeyed Sharbil, because he drew nearer to all the gods than any of his fellows, and as being the one who according to that which he had heard from the gods returned an answer to every man.
And, while these things were being done by the command of the king, Barsamya, the bishop of the Christians, went up to Sharbil, he and Tiridath the elder and Shalula the deacon; and he said to Sharbil, the high priest: The King Christ, to whom belong heaven and earth, will demand an account at thy hands of all these souls against whom thou art sinning, and whom thou art misleading, and turning away from the God of verity and of truth to idols that are made and deceitful, which are not able to do anything with their hands-moreover also thou hast no pity on thine own soul, which is destitute of the true life of God; and thou declarest to this people that the dumb idols talk with thee; and, as if thou wert listening to something from them, thou puttest thine ear near to one and another of them, and sayest to this people: The god Nebu bade me say to you," On account of your sacrifices and oblations I cause peace in this your country; "and: Bel saith, "I cause great plenty in your land; "and those who hear this from thee do not discern that thou art greatly deceiving them-because "they have a mouth and speak not, and they have eyes and see not with them; "it is ye who bear up them, and not they who bear up10 you, as ye suppose; and it is ye who set tables before them, and not they who feed you. And now be persuaded by me touching that which I say to thee and advise thee. If thou be willing to hearken to me, abandon idols made, and worship God the Maker of all things, and His Son Jesus Christ. Do not, because He put on a body and became man and was stretched out on the cross of death, be ashamed of Him and refuse to worship Him: for, all these things which He endured-it was for the salvation of men and for their deliverance. For this One who put on a body is God, the Son of God, Son of the essence of His Father, and Son of the nature of Him who begat Him: for He is the adorable brightness of His Godhead, and is the glorious manifestation of His majesty, and together with His Father He existed from eternity and from everlasting, His arm, and His right hand, and His power, and His wisdom, and His strength, and the living Spirit which is from Him, the Expiator and Sanctifier of all His worshippers. These are the things which Palut taught us, with whom thy venerable self11 was acquainted; and thou knowest that Palut was the disciple of Addaeus the apostle. Abgar the king also, who was older than this Abgar, who himself worshippeth idols as well as thou, he too believed in the King Christ, the Son of Him whom thou callest Lord of all the gods.12 For it is forbidden to Christians to worship anything that is made, and is a creature, and in its nature is not God: even as ye worship idols made by men,13 who themselves also are made and created. Be persuaded, therefore, by these things which I have said to thee, which things are the belief of the Church: for I know that all this population are looking to thee, and I am well assured that, if thou be persuaded, many also will persuaded with thee.14
Sharbil said to him: Very acceptable to me are these thy words which thou hast spoken before me; yea, exceedingly acceptable are they to me. But, as for me, I know that I am outcast from15 all these things, and there is no longer any remedy for me. And, now that hope is cut off from me, why weariest thou thyself about a man dead and buried,16 for whose death there is no hope of resuscitation? For I am slain by paganism, and am become a dead man, the property of the Evil One: in sacrifices and libations of imposture have I consumed all the days of my life.
And, when Barsamya the bishop heard these things,17 he fell down before his feet, and said to him: There is hope for those who turn, and healing for those that are wounded. I myself will be surety to thee for the abundant mercies of the Son Christ: that He will pardon thee all the sins which thou hast committed against Him, in that thou hast worshipped and honoured His creatures instead of Himself. For that Gracious One, who extended Himself on the cross of death, will not withhold His grace from the souls that comply with His precepts and take refuge in His kindness which has been displayed towards us. Like as He did towards the robber, so is He able to do to thee, and also to those who are like thee.
Sharbil said to him: Thou, like a skilful physician, who suffers pain from the pain of the afflicted, hast done well in that thou hast been concerned about me. But at present, because it is the festival to-day of this people, of every one of them, I cannot go down with thee to-day to the church. Depart thou, and go down with honour; and to-morrow at night I will come down to thee: I too have henceforth renounced for myself the gods made with hands, and I will confess the Lord Christ, the Maker of all men.
And the next day Sharbil arose and went down to Barsamya by night, he and Babai his sister; and he was received by the whole church. And he said to them: Offer for me prayer and supplication, that Christ may forgive me all the sins that I have committed against Him in all this long course of years. And, because they were in dread of the persecutors, they arose and gave him the seal of salvation,18 whilst he confessed the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.19
And, when all the city had heard that he was gone down to the church, there began to be a consternation among the multitude; and they arose and went down to him, and saw him clad in the fashion of the Christians.20 And he said to them: May the Son Christ forgive me all the sins that I have committed against you, and all in which I made you think that the gods talked with me, whereas they did not talk; and, forasmuch as I have been to you a cause of abomination, may I now be to you a cause of good: instead of worshipping, as formerly, idols made with hands, may ye henceforth worship God the Maker. And, when they had heard these things, there remained with him a great congregation of men and of women; and Labu also, and Hafsai, and Barcalba, and Avida, chief persons of the city. They all said to Sharbil: Henceforth we also renounce that which thou hast renounced, and we confess the King Christ, whom thou hast confessed.
But Lysanias,21 the judge of the country, when he heard22 that Sharbil had done this,23 sent by night24 and carded him off from the church. And there went up with him many Christians. And he sat down, to hear him and to judge him, before the altar which is in the middle of the town, where he used to sacrifice to the gods. And he said to him: Wherefore hast thou renounced the gods, whom thou didst worship, and to whom thou didst sacrifice, and to whom thou wast made chief of the priests, and lo! dost today confess Christ, whom thou didst formerly deny? For see how those Christians, to whom thou art gone, renounce not that which they have held,25 like as thou hast renounced that in which thou wast born. If thou art assured of the gods, how is it that thou hast renounced them this day? But, if on the contrary thou art not assured, as thou declarest concerning them, how is it that thou didst once sacrifice to them and worship them?
Sharbil said: When I was blinded in my mind, I worshipped that which I knew not; but to-day, inasmuch as I have obtained the clear eyes of the mind, it is henceforth impossible that I should stumble at carved stones, or that I should any longer be the cause of stumbling to others. For it is a great disgrace to him whose eyes are open, if he goes and falls into the pit of destruction.
The judge said: Because thou hast been priest of the venerable gods, and hast been partaker of the mystery of those whom the mighty emperors26 worship, I will have patience with thee, in order that thou mayest be persuaded by me, and not turn away from the service of the gods; but, if on the contrary thou shall not be persuaded by me, by those same gods whom thou hast renounced I swear that, even as on a man that is a murderer, so will I inflict tortures on thee, and will avenge on thee the wrong done to the gods, whom thou hast rebelled against and renounced, and also the insult which thou hast poured upon them; nor will I leave untried any kind of tortures which I will not inflict on thee; and, like as thine honour formerly was great, so will I make thine ignominy great this day.
Sharbil said: I too, on my part, am not content that thou shouldest look upon me as formerly, wheel I worshipped gods made with hands; but look thou upon me to-day and question me as a Christian man renouncing idols and confessing the King Christ.
The judge said: How is it that thou art not afraid of the emperors, nor moved to shame by those who are listening to thy trial, that thou sayest, "I am a Christian"? But promise that thou wilt sacrifice to the gods, according to thy former custom, so that thy honour may be great, as formerly-lest I make to tremble at thee all those who have believed like thyself.
Sharbil said: Of the King of kings I am afraid, but at any king of earth I tremble not, nor yet at thy threats towards me, which lo! thou utterest against the worshippers of Christ: whom I confessed yesterday, and lo! I am brought to trial for His sake to-day, like as He Himself was brought to trial for the sake of sinners like me.
The judge said: Although thou have no pity on thyself, still I will have pity on thee, and refrain from cutting off those hands of thine with which thou hast placed incense before the gods, and from stopping with thy blood those ears of thine which have heard their mysteries, and thy tongue which has interpreted and explained to us their secret things. Of those gods lo! I am afraid, and I have pity on thee. But, if thou continue thus, those gods be my witnesses that I will have no pity on thee!
Sharbil said: As a man who art afraid of the emperors and tremblest at idols, have thou no pity on me. For, as for me, I know not what thou sayest: therefore also is my mind not shaken or terrified by those things which thou sayest. For by thy judgments shall all they escape from the judgment to come who do not worship that which is not God in its own nature.
The judge said: Let him be scourged with thongs,27 because he has dared to answer me thus, and has resisted the command of the emperors, and has not appreciated the honour which the gods conferred on him: inasmuch as, lo! he has renounced them.
And he was scourged by ten men, who laid hold on him, according to the command of the judge.
Sharbil said: Thou art not aware of the scourging of justice in that world which is to come. For thou wilt cease, and thy judgments also will pass away; but justice will not pass away, nor will its retributions come to an end.
The judge28 said: Thou art so intoxicated with this same Christianity, that thou dost not even know29 before whom thou art judged, and by whom it is that thou art scourged-even by those who formerly held thee in honour, and paid adoration to thy priesthood in the gods. Why dost thou hate honour, and love this ignominy? For, although thou speakest contrary to the law, yet I myself cannot turn aside from the laws of the emperors.
Sharbil said: As thou takest heed not to depart from the laws of the emperors, and if moreover thou depart from them thou knowest what command they will give concerning thee, so do I also take heed not to decline from the law of Him who said, "Thou shalt not worship any image, nor any likeness; "and therefore will I not sacrifice to idols made with hands: for long enough was the time in which I sacrificed to them, when I was in ignorance.
The judge said: Bring not upon thee punishment30 in addition to the punishment which thou hast already brought upon thee. Enough is it for thee to have said, "I will not sacrifice: "do not dare to insult the gods, by calling them manufactured idols whom even the emperors honour.
Sharbil said: But, if on behalf of the emperors, who are far away and not near at hand and not conscious of those who treat their commands with contempt, thou biddest me sacrifice, how is it that on behalf of idols, who lo! are present and are seen, but see not, thou biddest me sacrifice? Why, hereby thou hast declared before all thy attendants31 that, because they have a mouth and speak not, lo! thou art become a pleader for them: dumb idols "to whom their makers shall be like," and "every one that trusteth upon them" shall be like thee.
The judge said: It was not for this that thou wast called before me-that, instead of paying the honour which is due, thou shouldst despise the emperors. But draw near to the gods and sacrifice, and have pity on thyself, thou self-despiser!
Sharbil said: Why should it be requisite for thee to ask me many questions, after that which I have said to thee: "I will not sacrifice"? Thou hast called me a self-despiser? But would that from my childhood I had had this mind and had thus despised myself,32 which was perishing!
The judge said: Hang him up, and tear him with combs on his sides.-And while he was thus torn he cried aloud and said: It is for the sake of Christ, who has secretly caused His light to arise upon the darkness of my mind. And, when he had thus spoken, the judge commanded again that he should be torn with combs on his face.
Sharbil said: It is better that thou shouldest inflict tortures upon me for not sacrificing, than that I should be judged there for having sacrificed to the work of men's hands.
The judge said: Let his body be bent backwards, and let straps be tied to his hands and his feet; and, when he has been bent backwards, let him be scourged on his belly.
And they scourged him in this manner, according to the command of the judge.
Then he commanded that he should go up to the prison, and that he should be east into a dark dungeon. And the executioners,33 and the Christians who had come up with him from the church, carried him, because he was not able to walk upon his feet in consequence of his having been bent backwards. And he was in the gaol many days.
But on the second of Ilul,34 on the third day of the week, the judge arose and went down to his judgment-hall by night; and the whole body of his attendants was with him; and he commanded the keeper of the prison, and they brought him before him. And the judge said to him: This long while hast thou been in prison: what has been thy determination concerning those things on which thou wast questioned before me? Dost thou consent to minister to the gods according to thy former custom, agreeably to the command of the emperors?
Sharbil said: This has been my determination in the prison, that that with which I began before thee, I will finish even to the last; nor will I play false with my word. For I will not again confess idols, which I have renounced; nor will I renounce the King Christ, whom I have confessed.
The judge said: Hang him up by his right hand, because he has withdrawn it from the gods that he may not again offer incense with it, until his hand with which he ministered to the gods be dislocated, because he persists in this saying of his.
And, while he was suspended by his hand, they asked him and said to him: Dost thou consent to sacrifice to the gods? But he was not able to return them an answer, on account of the dislocation of his arm. And the judge commanded, and they loosed him and took him down. But he was not able to bring his arm up to his side, until the executioners pressed it and brought it up to his side.
The judge said: Put on incense, and go whithersoever thou wilt, and no one shall compel thee to be a priest again. But, if thou wilt not, I will show thee tortures bitterer than these.
Sharbil said: As for gods that made not the heavens and the earth, may they perish from under these heavens! But thou, menace me not with words of threatening; but, instead of words, show upon me the deeds of threatening, that I hear thee not again making mention of the detestable name of gods!
The judge said: Let him be branded with the brand of bitter fire between his eyes and upon his cheeks.
And the executioners did so, until the smell of the branding reeked forth in the midst of the judgment-hall: but he refused to sacrifice.
Sharbil said: Thou hast heard for thyself from me, when I said to thee "Thou art not aware of the smoke of the roasting of the fire which is prepared for those who, like thee, confess idols made by hands, and deny the living God, after thy fashion."
The judge said: Who taught thee all these things, that thou shouldest speak before me thus-a man who was a friend of the gods and an enemy of Christ, whereas, lo! thou art become his advocate.
Sharbil said: Christ whom I have confessed, He it is that hath taught me to speak thus. But there needeth not that I should be His advocate, for His own mercies are eloquent advocates for guilty ones like me, and these will avail to plead35 on my behalf in the day when the sentences shall be eternal.
The judge said: Let him be hanged up, and let him be torn with combs upon his former wounds; also let salt and vinegar be rubbed into the wounds upon his sides. Then he said to him: Renounce not the gods whom thou didst formerly confess.
Sharbil said: Have pity on me and spare me again from saying that there be gods, and powers, and fates, and nativities. On the contrary, I confess one God, who made the heavens, and the earth, and the seas, and all that is therein; and the Son who is from Him, the King Christ.
The judge said: It is not about this that thou art questioned before me-viz.: what is the belief of the Christians which thou hast confessed; but this is what I said to thee, "Renounce not those gods to whom thou wast made priest."
Sharbil said: Where is that wisdom of thine and of the emperors of whom thou makest thy boast, that ye worship the work of the hands of the artificers and confess them, whilst the artificers themselves, who made the idols, ye insult by the burdens and imposts which ye lay upon them? The artificer standeth up at thy presence, to do honour to thee; and thou standest up in the presence of the work of the artificer, and dost honour it and worship it.
The judge said: Thou art not the man to call others to account for36 these things; but from thyself a strict account is demanded, as to the cause for which thou hast renounced the gods, and refusest to offer them incense like thy fellow-priests.
Sharbil said: Death on account of this is true life: those who confess the King Christ, He also will confess before His glorious Father.
The judge said: Let lighted candles37 be brought, and let them be passed round about his face and about the sides of his wounds. And they did so a long while.
Sharbil said: It is well that thou burnest me with this fire, that so I may be delivered from "that fire which is not quenched, and the worm that dieth not," which is threatened to those38 who worship things made instead of the Maker: for it is forbidden to the Christians to honour or worship anything except the nature of Him who is God Most High. For that which is made and is created is designed to be a worshipper of its Maker, and is not to be worshipped along with its Creator, as thou supposest.
The governor said: It is not this for which the emperors have ordered me to demand an account at thy hands, whether there be judgment and the rendering of an account after the death of men; nor yet about this do I care, whether that which is made is to be honoured or not to be honoured. What the emperors have commanded me is this: that, whosoever will not sacrifice to the gods and offer incense to them, I should employ against him stripes, and combs, and sharp swords.
Sharbil said: The kings of this world are conscious of this world only; but the King of all kings, He hath revealed and shown to us that there is another world, and a judgment in reserve, in which a recompense will be made, on the one hand to those who have served God, and on the other to those who have not served Him nor confessed Him. Therefore do I cry aloud, that I will not again sacrifice to idols, nor will I offer oblations to devils, nor will I do honour to demons!
The judge said: Let nails of iron be driven in between the eyes of the insolent fellow, and let him go to that world which he is looking forward to, like a fanatic.39
And the executioners did so, the sound of the driving in of the nails being heard as they were being driven in sharply.
Sharbil said: Thou hast driven in nails between my eyes, even as nails were driven into the hands of the glorious Architect of the creation, and by reason of this did all orders of the creation tremble and quake at that season. For these tortures which lo! thou art inflicting on me are nothing in view of that judgment which is to come. For those "whose ways are always firm," because "they have not the judgment of God before their eyes,"40 and who on this account do not even confess that God exists-neither will He confess them.
The judge said: Thou sayest in words that there is a judgment; but I will show thee in deeds: so that, instead of that judgment which is to come, thou mayest tremble and be afraid of this one which is before thine eyes, in which lo! thou art involved, and not multiply thy speech before me.
Sharbil said: Whosoever is resolved to set God before his eyes in secret, God will also be at his right hand; and I too am not afraid of thy threats of tortures, with which thou dost menace me and seek to make me afraid.
The judge said: Let Christ, whom thou hast confessed, deliver thee from all the tortures which I have inflicted on thee, and am about further to inflict on thee; and let Him show His deliverance towards thee openly, and save thee out of my hands.
Sharbil said: This is the true deliverance of Christ imparted to me-this secret power which He has given me to endure all the tortures thou art inflicting on me, and whatsoever it is settled in thy mind still further to inflict upon me; and, although thou hast plainly seen it to be so, thou hast refused to credit my word.
The judge said: Take him away from before me, and let him be hanged upon a beam the contrary way, head downwards; and let him be beaten with whips while he is hanging.
And the executioners did so to him, at the door of the judgment-hall.
Then the governor commanded, and they brought him in before him. And he said to him: Sacrifice to the gods, and do the will of the emperors, thou priest that hatest honour and lovest ignominy instead!
Sharbil said: Why dost thou again repeat thy words, and command me to sacrifice, after the many times that thou hast heard from me that I will not sacrifice again? For it is not any compulsion on the part of the Christians that has kept me back from sacrifices, but the truth they hold: this it is that has delivered me from the error of paganism.
The judge said: Let him be put into a chest41 of iron like a murderer, and let him be scourged with thongs like a malefactor.
And the executioners did so, until there remained not a sound place on him.
Sharbil said: As for these tortures, which thou supposest to be bitter, out of the midst of their bitterness will spring up for me fountains of deliverance and mercy in the day of the eternal sentences.
The governor said: Let small round pieces of wood be placed between the fingers of his hands,42 and let these be squeezed upon them vehemently.43
And they did so to him, until the blood came out from under the nails of his fingers.
Sharbil said: If thine eye be not satisfied with the tortures of the body, add still further to its tortures whatsoever thou wilt.
The judge said: Let the fingers of his hands be loosed, and make him sit upon the ground; and bind his hands upon his knees, and thrust a piece of wood under his knees, and let it pass over the bands of his hands, and hang him up by his feet, thus bent, head downwards; and let him be scourged with thongs.
And they did so to him.
Sharbil said: They cannot conquer who fight against God, nor may they be overcome whose confidence is God; and therefore do I say, that "neither fire nor sword, nor death nor life, nor height nor depth, can separate my heart from the love of God, which is in our Lord Jesus Christ."
The judge said: Make hot a ball of lead and of brass, and place it under his armpits.
And they did so, until his ribs began to be seen.
Sharbil said: The tortures thou dost inflict upon me are too little for thy rage against me-unless thy rage were little and thy tortures were great.
The judge said: Thou wilt not hurry me on by these things which thou sayest; for I have room in my mind44 to bear long with thee, and to behold every evil and shocking and bitter thing which45 I shall exhibit in the torment of thy body, because thou wilt not consent to sacrifice to the gods whom thou didst formerly worship.
Sharbil said: Those things which I have said and repeated before thee, thou in thine unbelief knowest not how to hear: now, supposest thou that thou knowest those things which are in my mind?
The judge said: The answers which thou givest will not help thee, but will multiply upon thee inflictions manifold.
Sharbil said: If the several stories of thy several gods are by thee accepted as true, yet is it matter of shame to us to tell of what sort they are. For one had intercourse with boys, which is not right; and another fell in love with a maiden, who fled for refuge into a tree, as your shameful stories tell.
The judge said: This fellow, who was formerly a respecter of the gods, but has now turned to insult them and has not been afraid, and has also despised the command of the emperors and has not trembled-set him to stand upon a gridiron46 heated with fire.
And the executioners did so, until the under part of his feet was burnt off.
Sharbil said: If thy rage is excited at my mention of the abominable and obscene tales of thy gods, how much more does it become thee to be ashamed of their acts! For lo! if a person were to do what one of thy gods did, and they were to bring him before thee, thou wouldest pass sentence of death upon him.
The judge said: This day will I bring thee to account for thy blasphemy against the gods, and thine audacity in insulting also the emperors; nor will I leave thee alone until thou offer incense to them, according to thy former custom.
Sharbil said: Stand by thy threats, then, and speak not falsely; and show towards me in deeds the authority of the emperors which they have given thee; and do not thyself bring reproach on the emperors with thy falsehood, and be thyself also despised in the eyes of thine attendants!
The judge said: Thy blasphemy against the gods and thine audacity towards the emperors have brought upon thee these tortures which thou art undergoing; and, if thou add further to thine audacity, there shall be further added to thee inflictions bitterer than these.
Sharbil said: Thou hast authority, as judge: do whatsoever thou wilt, and show no pity.
The judge said: How can he that hath had no pity on his own body, so as to avoid suffering in it these tortures, be afraid or ashamed of not obeying the command of the emperors?
Sharbil said: Thou hast well said that I am not ashamed: because near at hand is He that justifieth me, and my soul is caught up in rapture towards him. For, whereas I once provoked Him to anger by the sacrifices of idols, I am this day pacifying Him by the inflictions I endure in my person: for my soul is a captive to God who became man.
The judge said: It is a captive, then, that I am questioning, and a madman without sense; and with a dead man who is burnt, lo! am I talking.
Sharbil said: If thou art assured that I am mad, question me no further: for it is a madman that is being questioned; nay, rather, I am a dead man who is burnt, as thou hast said.
The judge said: How shall I count thee a dead man, When lo! thou hast cried aloud, "I will not sacrifice? "
Sharbil said: I myself, too, know not how to return thee an answer, since thou hast called me a dead man and yet turnest to question me again as if alive.
The judge said: Well have I called thee a dead man, because thy feet are burnt and thou carest not, and thy face is scorched and thou holdest thy peace, and nails are driven in between thine eyes and thou takest no account of it, and thy ribs are seen between the furrows of the combs and thou insultest the emperors, and thy whole body is mangled and maimed with stripes and thou blasphemest against the gods; and, because thou hatest thy body, lo! thou sayest whatsoever pleaseth thee.
Sharbil said: If thou callest me audacious because I have endured these things, it is fit that thou, who hast inflicted them upon me, shouldest be called a murderer in thy acts and a blasphemer in thy words.
The judge said: Lo! thou hast insulted the emperors, and likewise the gods; and lo! thou insultest me also, in order that I may pronounce sentence of death upon thee quickly. But instead of this, which thou lookest for, I am prepared yet further to inflict upon thee bitter and severe tortures.
Sharbil said: Thou knowest what I have said to thee many times: instead of denunciations of threatening, proceed to show upon me the performance of the threat, that thou mayest be known to do the will of the emperors.
The judge said: Let him be torn with combs upon his legs and upon the sides of his thighs.
And the executioners did so, until his blood flowed and ran down upon the ground.
Sharbil said: Thou hast well done in treating me thus: because I have heard that one of the teachers of the Church hath said,47 "Scars are on my body, that I may come to the resurrection from the place of the dead." Me too, who was a dead man out of sight, lo! thine inflictions bring to life again.
The judge said: Let him be torn with combs on his face, since he is not ashamed of the nails which are driven in between his eyes.
And they tore him with combs upon his cheeks, and between the nails which were driven into them.
Sharbil said: I will not obey the emperors, who command that to be worshipped and honoured which is not of the nature of God, and is not God in its nature, but is the work of him that made it.
The judge said: Like as the emperors worship, so also worship thou; and that honour which the judges render, do thou render also.
Sharbil said: Even though I insult that which is the work of men and has no perception and no feeling of anything, yet do not thou insult God, the Maker of all, nor worship along with Him that which is not of Him, and is foreign to His nature.
The judge said: Does this your doctrine so teach you, that you should insult the very luminaries which give light to all the regions of the earth?
Sharbil said: Although it is not enjoined upon us to insult them, yet it is enjoined upon us not to worship them nor honour them, seeing that they are things made: for this were an insufferable48 wrong, that a thing made should be worshipped along with its Maker; and it is an insult to the Maker that His creatures should be honoured along with Himself.
The judge said: Christ whom thou confessest was hanged on a tree; and on a tree will I hang thee, like thy Master.
And they hanged him on a tree49 a long while.
Sharbil said: As for Christ, whom lo! thou mockest-see how thy many gods were unable to stand before Him: for lo! they are despised and rejected, and are made a laughing-stock and a jest by those who used formerly to worship them.
The judge said: How is it that thou renouncest the gods, and confessest Christ, who was hanged on a tree?
Sharbil said: This cross of Christ is the great boast of the Christians, since it is by this that the deliverance of salvation has come to all His worshippers, and by this that they have had their eyes enlightened, so as not to worship creatures along with the Creator.
The governor said: Let thy boasting of the cross be kept within thy own mind, and let incense be offered by thy hands to the gods.
Sharbil said: Those who have been delivered by the cross cannot any longer worship and serve the idols of error made with hands: for creature cannot worship creature, because it is itself also designed to be a worshipper of Him who made it; and that it should be worshipped along with its Maker is an insult to its Maker, as I have said before.
The governor said: Leave alone thy books which have taught thee to speak thus, and perform the command of the emperors, that thou idle not by the emperors' law.
But Sharbil said: Is this, then, the justice of the emperors, in whom thou takest such pride, that we should leave alone the law of God and keep their laws?
The governor said: The citation of the books in which thou believest, and from which thou hast quoted-it is this which has brought upon thee these afflictions: for, if thou hadst offered incense to the gods, great would have been thine honour, like as it was formerly, as priest of the gods.
Sharbil said: To thine unbelieving heart these things seem as if they were afflictions; but to the true heart "affliction imparts patience, and from it comes also experience, and from experience likewise the hope"50 of the confessor.51
The governor said: Hang him up and tear him with combs upon his former wounds.
And, from the fury with which the judge urged On the executioners, his very bowels were almost seen. And, lest he should die under the combs and escape from still further tortures, he gave orders and they took him down.
And, when the judge saw that he was become silent and was not able to return him any further answer, he refrained from him a little while, until he began to revive.
Sharbil said: Why hast thou had pity upon me for even this little time, and kept me back from the gain of a confessor's death?52
The governor said: I have not had pity on thee at all in refraining for a little while: thy silence it was that made me pause a little; and, if I had power beyond the law of the emperors, I should like to lay other tortures upon thee, so as to be more fully avenged on thee for thine insult toward the gods: for in despising me thou hast despised the gods; and I, on my part, have borne with thee and tortured thee thus, as a man who so deserves.
And the judge gave orders, and suddenly the curtain53 fell before him for a short time; and he settled and drew up the sentence54 which he should pronounce against him publicly.
And suddenly the curtain was drawn back again; and the judge cried aloud and said: As regards this Sharbil, who was formerly priest of the gods, but has turned this day and renounced the gods, and has cried aloud "I am a Christian," and has not trembled at the gods, but has insulted them; and, further, has not been afraid of the emperors and their command; and, though I have bidden him sacrifice to the gods according to his former custom, has not sacrificed, but has treated them with the greatest insult: I have looked into the matter, and decided, that towards a man who doeth these things, even though he were now to sacrifice, it is not fit that any mercy should be shown; and that it is not fit that he should any longer behold the sun of his lords, because he has scorned their laws. I give sentence that, according to the law of the emperors, a strap55 be thrust into the mouth of the insulter, as into the mouth of a murderer, and that he depart outside of the city of the emperors with haste, as one who has insulted the lords of the city and the gods who hold authority over it. I give sentence that he be sawn with a saw of wood, and that, when he is near to die, then his head be taken off with the sword of the headsmen.
And forthwith a strap was thrust into his mouth with all speed, and the executioners hurried him off, and made him run quickly upon his burnt feet, and took him away outside of the city, a crowd of people running after him. For they had been standing looking on at his trial all day, and wondering that he did not suffer under his afflictions: for his countenance, which was cheerful, testified to the joy of his heart. And, when the executioners arrived at the place where he was to receive the punishment of death, the people of the city were with them, that they might see whether they did according as the judge had commanded, and hear what Sharbil might say at that season, so that they might inform the judge of the country.
And they offered him some wine to drink, according to the custom of murderers to drink. But he said to them: I will not drink, because I wish to feel the saw with which ye saw me, and the sword which ye pass over my neck; but instead of this wine, which will not be of any use to me, give me a little time to pray, while ye stand. And he stood up, and looked toward the east,56 and lifted up his voice and said: Forgive me, Christ, all the sins I have committed against Thee, and all the times in which I have provoked Thee to anger by the polluted sacrifices of dead idols; and have pity on me and save me,57 and deliver me from the judgment to come; and be merciful to me, as Thou wast merciful to the robber; and receive me like the penitents who have been converted and have turned to Thee, as Thou also hast turned to them; and, whereas I have entered into Thy vineyard, at the eleventh hour, instead of judgment, deliver me from justice: let Thy death, which was for the sake of sinners, restore to life again my slain body in the day of Thy coming.
And, when the Sharirs of the city heard these things, they were very angry with the executioners for having given him leave to pray.
And, while the nails were remaining which had been driven in between his eyes, and his ribs were seen between the wounds of the combs, and while from the burning on his sides and the soles of his feet, which were scorched and burnt, and from the gashes of the combs on his face, and on his sides, and on his thighs, and on his legs, the blood was flowing and running down, they brought carpenters' instruments, and thrust him into a wooden vice, and tightened it upon him until the bones of his joints creaked with the pressure; then they put upon him a saw of iron, and began sawing him asunder; and, when he was just about to die, because the saw had reached to his mouth, they smote him with the sword and took off his head, while he was still squeezed down in the vice.
And Babai his sister drew near and spread out her skirt and caught his blood; and she said to him: May my spirit be united with thy spirit in the presence of Christ, whom thou hast known and believed.
And the Sharirs of the city ran and came and informed the judge of the things which Sharbil had uttered in his prayer, and how his sister had caught his blood. And the judge commanded them to return and give orders to the executioners that, on the spot where she had caught the blood of her brother, she also should receive the punishment of death. And the executioners laid hold on her, and each one of them severally put her to torture; and, with her brother's blood upon her, her soul took its flight from her, and they mingled her blood with his. And, when the executioners were entered into the city, the brethren and young men58 ran and stole away their two corpses; and they laid them in the burial-place of the father of Abshelama the bishop, on the fifth of Ilul, the eve of the Sabbath.
I wrote these Acts on paper-I, Marinus, and Anatolus, the notaries; and we placed them in the archives of the city, where the papers of the kings are placed.59
This Barsamya,60 the bishop, made a disciple of Sharbil the priest. And he lived in the days of Binus,61 bishop of Rome; in whose days the whole population of Rome assembled together, and cried out to the praetor62 of their city, and said to him: There are too many strangers in this our city, and these cause famine and clearness of everything: but we beseech thee to command them to depart out of the city. And, when he had commanded them to depart out of the city, these strangers assembled themselves together, and said to the praetor: We beseech thee, my lord, command also that the bones of our dead may depart with us. And he commanded them to take the bones of their dead, and to depart. And all the strangers assembled themselves together to take the bones of Simon Cephas and of Paul, the apostles; but the people of Rome said to them: We will not give you the bones of the apostles. And the strangers said to them: Learn ye and understand that Simon, who is called Cephas, is of Bethsaida of Galilee, and Paul the apostle is of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia. And, when the people of Rome knew that this matter was so, then they let them alone. And, when they had taken them up and were removing them from their places, immediately there was a great earthquake; and the buildings of the city were on the point of falling down, and the city was near being overthrown. And, when the people of Rome saw it, their turned and besought the strangers to remain in their city, and that the bones might be laid in their places again. And, when the bones of the apostles were returned to their places, there was quietness, and the earthquakes ceased, and the winds became still, and the air became bright, and the whole city became cheerful. And when the Jews and pagans saw it, they also ran and fell at the feet of Fabianus, the bishop of their city, the Jews crying out: We confess Christ, whom we crucified: He is the Son of the living-God, of whom the prophets spoke in their mysteries. And the pagans also cried out and said to him: We renounce idols and carved images, which are of no use, and we believe in Jesus the King, the Son of God, who has come and is to come again. And, what ever other doctrines there were in Rome and in all Italy, the followers of these also renounced their doctrines, like as the pagans had renounced theirs, and confessed the Gospel of the apostles, which was preached in the church.Here end the Acts of Sharbil the confessor.
Further, the Martyrdom of Barsamya,1
the Bishop of the Blessed City Edessa.
In the year four hundred and sixteen of the kingdom of the Greeks, that is the fifteenth year of the reign of the sovereign ruler, our lord, Trajan Caesar, in the consulship of Commodus and Cyrillus,2 in the month Ilul, on the fifth day of the month, the day after Lysinus,3 the judge of the country, had heard the case of Sharbil the priest; as the judge was sitting in his judgment-hall, the Sharirs of the city came before him and said to him: We give information before thine Excellency concerning Barsamya, the leader of the Christians, that he went up to Sharbil, the priest, as he was standing and ministering before the venerable gods, and sent and called him to him secretly, and spoke to him, quoting from the books in which he reads in the church where their congregation meets, and recited to him the belief of the Christians, and said to him, "It is not right for thee to worship many gods, but only one God, and His Son Jesus Christ"-until he made him a disciple, and induced him to renounce the gods whom he had formerly worshipped; and by means of Sharbil himself also many have become disciples, and are gone down to the church, and lo! this day they confess Christ; and even Avida, and Nebo,4 and Barcalba, and Hafsai, honourable and chief persons of the city, have yielded to Sharbil in this. We, accordingly, as Sharirs of the city, make this known before thine Excellency, in order that we may not receive punishment as offenders for not having declared before thine Excellency the things which were spoken in secret to Sharbil by Barsamya the guide of the church. Thine Excellency now knoweth what it is fight to command in respect of this said matter.
And, immediately that the judge heard these things, he sent the Sharirs of the city, and some of his attendants with them, to go down to the church and bring up Barsamya from the church. And they led him and brought him up to the judgment-hall of the judge; and there went up many Christians with him, saying: We also will die with Barsamya, because we too are of one mind with him in respect to the doctrine of which he made Sharbil a disciple, and in all that he spoke to him, and in all the instruction that Sharbil received from him, so that he was persuaded by him, and died for the sake of that which he heard from him.
And the Sharirs of the city came, and said to the judge: Barsamya, as thine Excellency commanded, lo! is standing at the door of the judgment-hall of thy Lordship;5 and honourable chief-persons of the city, who became disciples along with Sharbil, lo! are standing by Barsamya, and crying out, "We will all die with Barsamya, who is our teacher and guide."
And, when the judge heard those things which the Sharirs of the city had told him, he commanded them to go out and write down the names of the persons who were crying out, "We will die with Barsamya." And, when they went out to write down the names of these persons, those who so cried out were too many for them, and they were not able to write down their names, because they were so many: for the cry kept coming to them from all sides, that they "would die for Christ's sake along with Barsamya."
And, when the tumult of the crowd became great, the Sharirs of the city turned back, and came in to the judge, and said to him: We are not able to write down the names of the persons who are crying aloud outside, because they are too many to be numbered. And the judge commanded that Barsamya should be taken up to the prison, so that the crowd might be dispersed which was collected together about him, lest through the tumult of the multitude there should be some mischief in the city. And, when he went up the gaol, those who had become disciples along with Sharbil continued with him.
And after many days were passed the judge rose up in the morning and went down to his judgment-hall, in order that he might hear the case of Barsamya. And the judge commanded, and they brought him from the prison; and he came in and stood before him. The officers said: Lo, he standeth before thine Excellency.
The judge said: Art thou Barsamya, who hast been made ruler and guide of the people of the Christians, and didst make a disciple of Sharbil, who was chief-priest of the gods, and used to worship them?
Barsamya said: It is I who have done this, and I do not deny it; and I am prepared to die for the truth of this.
The judge said: How is it that thou wast not afraid of the command of the emperors, so that, when the emperors commanded that every one should sacrifice, thou didst induce Sharbil, when he was standing and sacrificing to the gods and offering incense to them, to deny that which he had confessed, and confess Christ whom he had denied?
Barsamya said: I was assuredly6 made a shepherd of men, not for the sake of those only who are found, but also for the sake of those who have strayed from the fold of truth, and become food for the wolves of paganism; and, had I not sought to make Sharbil a disciple, at my hands would his blood have been required; and, if he had not listened to me, I should have been innocent of his blood.
The judge said: Now, therefore, since thou hast confessed that it was thou that madest Sharbil a disciple, at thy hands will I require his death; and on this account it is right that thou rather than he shouldest be condemned before me, because by thy hands he has died the horrible deaths of grievous tortures for having abandoned the command of the emperors and obeyed thy words.
Barsamya said: Not to my words did Sharbil become a disciple, but to the word of God which He spoke: "Thou shalt not worship images and the likenesses of men." And it is not I alone that am content to die the death of Sharbil for his confession of Christ, but also all the Christians, members of the Church, are likewise eager for this, because they know that they will secure their salvation before God thereby.
The judge said: Answer me not in this manner, like Sharbil thy disciple, lest thine own torments be worse than his; but promise that thou wilt sacrifice before the gods on his behalf.
Barsamya said: Sharbil, who knew not God, I taught to know Him: and dost thou bid me, who have known God from my youth, to renounce God? God forbid that I should do this thing!
The judge said: Ye have made the whole creation disciples of the teaching of Christ; and lo! they renounce the many gods whom the many worshipped. Give up this way of thinking,7 lest I make those who are near tremble at thee as they behold thee to-day, and those also that are afar off as they hear of the torments to which thou art condemned.
Barsamya said: If God is the help of those who pray to Him, who is he that can resist them? Or what is the power that can prevail against them? Or thine own threats-what can they do to them: to men who, before thou give commandment concerning them that they shall die, have their death already set before their eyes, and are expecting it every day?
The judge said: Bring not the subject of Christ before my judgment-seat; but, instead of this, obey the command of the emperors, who command to sacrifice to the gods.
Barsamya said: Even though we should not lay the subject of Christ before thee, yet the sufferings of Christ are portrayed indelibly8 in the worshippers of Christ; and, even more than thou hearkenest to the commands of the emperors, do we Christians hearken to the commands of Christ the King of kings.
The judge said: Lo! thou hast obeyed Christ and worshipped him up to his day: henceforth obey the emperors, and worship the gods whom the emperors worship.
Barsamya said: How canst thou bid me renounce that in which I was born? when lo! thou didst exact punishment for this at the hand of Sharbil, and saidst to him: Why hast thou renounced the paganism in which thou wast born, and confessed Christianity to which thou wast a stranger? Lo! even before I came into thy presence thou didst thyself give testimony on the matter beforehand, and saidst to Sharbil: The Christians, to whom thou art gone over, do not renounce that in which they were born, but continue in it. Abide, therefore, by the word, which thou hast spoken.
The judge said: Let Barsamya be scourged, because he has rebelled against the command of the emperors, and has caused those also who were obedient to the emperors to rebel with him.
And, when he had been scourged by five men, he said to him: Reject not the command of the emperors, nor insult the emperors' gods.
Barsamya said: Thy mind is greatly blinded, O judge, and so also is that of the emperors who gave thee authority; nor are the things that are manifest seen by you; nor do ye perceive that lo! the whole creation worships Christ; and thou sayest to me, Do not worship Him, as if I alone worshipped Him-Him whom the watchers9 above worship on high.
The judge said: But if ye have taught men to worship Christ, who is it that has persuaded those above to worship Christ?
Barsamya said: Those above have themselves preached, and have taught those below concerning the living worship of the King Christ, seeing that they worship Him, and His Father, together with His divine Spirit.10
The judge said: Give up these things which your writings teach you, and which ye teach also to others, and obey those things which the emperors have commanded, and spurn not their laws-lest ye be spurned by means of the sword from the light of this venerable sun.
Barsamya said: The light which passeth away and abideth not is not the true light, but is only the similitude of that true light, to whose beams darkness cometh not near, which is reserved and standeth fast for the true worshippers of Christ.
The judge said: Speak not before me of anything else instead of that about which I have asked thee, lest I dismiss thee from life to death, for denying this light which is seen and confessing that which is not seen.
Barsamya said: I cannot leave alone that about which thou askest me, and speak of that about which thou dost not ask me. It was thou that spakest to me about the light of the sun, and I said before thee that there is a light on high which surpasses in its brightness that of the sun which thou dost worship and honour. For an account will be required of thee for worshipping thy fellow-creature instead of God thy Creator.
The judge said: Do not insult the very sun, the light of creatures, nor set thou at nought the command of the emperors, nor contentiously resist the lords of the country, who have authority in it.
Barsamya said: Of what avail is the light of the sun to a blind man that cannot see it? For without the eyes of the body, it is not possible for its beams to be seen. So that by this thou mayest know that it is the work of God, forasmuch as it has no power of its own to show its light to the sightless.
The judge said: When I have tortured thee as thou deservest, then will I write word about thee to the Imperial government, reporting what insult thou hast offered to the gods, in that thou madest a disciple of Sharbil the priest, one who honoured the gods, and that ye despise the laws of the emperors, and that ye make no account of the judges of the countries, and live like barbarians, though under the authority of the Romans
Barsamya said: Thou dost not terrify me by these things which thou sayest. It is true, I am not in the presence of the emperors to-day; yet lo! before the authority which the emperors have given thee I am now standing, and I am brought to trial, because I said, I will not renounce God, to whom the heavens and the earth belong, nor His Son Jesus Christ, the King of all the earth.
The judge said: If thou art indeed assured of this, that thou art standing and being tried before the authority of the emperors, obey their commands, and rebel not against their laws, lest like a rebel thou receive the punishment of death.
Barsamya said: But if those who rebel against the emperors, even when they justly rebel, are deserving of death, as thou sayest; for those who rebel against God, the King of kings, even the punishment of death by the sword is too little.The judge said: It was not that thou shouldest expound in my judgment-hall that thou wast brought in before me, because the trial on which thou standest has but little concern with expounding, but much concern with the punishment of death, for those who insult the emperors and comply not with their laws.
Barsamya said: Because God is not before your eyes, and ye refuse to hear the word of God; and graven images that are of no use, "which have a mouth and speak not," are accounted by you as though they spake, because your understanding is blinded by the darkness of paganism in which ye stand-
The judge interrupting said: Leave off those things thou art saying, for they will not help thee at all, and worship the gods, before the bitter tearings of combs and harsh tortures come upon thee.
Barsamya said: Do thou too leave off the many questions which lo! thou askest me, and give command for the stripes and the combs with which thou dost menace me: for thy words will not help thee so much as thy inflictions will help me.
The judge said: Let Barsamya be hanged up and torn with combs.
And at that very moment there came to him letters from Alusis11 the chief proconsul, father of emperors.12 And he commanded, and they took down Barsamya, and he was not torn with combs; and they took him outside of the hall of judgment.
And the judge commanded that the nobles, and the chief persons, and the princes, and the honourable persons of the city, should come before him, that they might hear what was the order that was issued by the emperors, by the hand of the proconsuls, the rulers of the countries under the authority of the Romans. And it was found that the emperors had written by the hand of the proconsuls to the judges of the countries:13 "Since our Majesty commanded that there should be a persecution against the people of the Christians, we have heard and learned, from the Sharirs whom we have in the countries under the dominion of our Majesty, that the people of the Christians are persons who eschew murder, and sorcery, and adultery, and theft, and bribery and fraud, and those things for which the laws of our Majesty also exact punishment from those who commit them. We, therefore, in our impartial justice, have commanded that on account of these things the persecution of the sword shall cease from them, and that there shall be rest and quietness in all our dominions, they continuing to minister according to their custom and no man hindering them. It is not, however, towards them that we show clemency, but towards their laws, agreeing as they do with the laws of our Majesty. And, if any man hinder them after this our command, that sword which is ordered by us to descend upon those who despise our command, the same do we command to descend upon those who despise this decree of our clemency."
And, when this command of the emperor's clemency was read, the whole city rejoiced that there was quietness and rest for every man. And the judge commanded, and they released Barsamya, that he might go down to his church. And the Christians went up in great numbers to the judgment-hall, together with a great multitude of the population of the city, and they received Barsamya with great and exceeding honour, repeating psalms before him, according to their custom; there went also the wives of the chief of the wise men. And they thronged about him, and saluted him, and called him "the persecuted confessor," "the companion of Sharbil he martyr." And he said to them: Persecuted I am, like yourselves; but from the tortures and combs of Sharbil and his companions I am clean escaped.14 And they said to him: We have heard from thee that a teacher of the Church has said, "The will, according to what it is, so is it accepted."15 And, when he was entered into the church, he and all the people that were with him, he stood up and prayed, and blessed them and sent them away to their homes rejoicing and praising God for the deliverance which He had wrought for them and for the Church.
And the day after Lysinas16 the judge of the country had set his hand to these Acts, he was dismissed from his authority.
I Zenophilus and Patrophilus are the notaries who wrote these Acts, Diodorus and Euterpes,17 Sharirs of the city, bearing witness with us by setting-to their hand, as the ancient laws of the ancient kings command.
This18 Barsamya, bishop of Edessa, who made a disciple of Sharbil, the priest of the same city, lived in the days of Fabianus, bishop of the city of Rome. And ordination to the priesthood was received by Barsamya from Abshelama, who was bishop in Edessa; and by Abshelama ordination was received from Palut the First; and by Palut ordination was received from Serapion, bishop of Antioch; and by Serapion ordination was received from Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome; and Zephyrinus of Rome received ordination from Victor of the same place, viz., Rome; and Victor received ordination from Eleutherius; and Eleutherius received it from Sorer; and Soter received it from Anicetus; and Anicetus received it from Dapius;19 and Dapius received it from Telesphorus; and Telesphorus received it from Xystus;20 and Xystus received it from Alexander; and Alexander received it from Evartis;21 and Evartis received it from Cletus; and Cletus received it from Anus;22 and Anus received it from Simon Cephas; and Simon Cephas received it from our Lord, together with his fellow-apostles, on the first day of the week, the day of the ascension of our Lord to His glorious Father, which was the fourth day of Heziran,23 which was is the nineteenth24 year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in the consulship of Rufus and Rubelinus, which year was the year 341; for in the year 309 occurred the advent25 of our Saviour in the world, according to the testimony which we ourselves have found in a correct register26 among the archives, which errs not at all in whatever it sets forth.
Here endeth the martyrdom of Barsamya, bishop of Edessa.
See p. 665, note 4. Also, p. 685, note 1, of Barsamya.
I Found at the Armenian Convent of St. Lazarus, near Venice, a version of the Letter of Abgar, translated into French "from the Armenian version of the fifth century," and published in 1868, which is now before me. It ascribes the original to Laboubnia, and adds: "The name Léroubna, mentioned only by Moses of Chorène, was not repeated after him by any one else, save, perhaps, Mekhitar d' Airivank (one of our chroniclers of the thirteenth century), who puts him among our historians, between Tatien and Mar Ibas Gadina, but without affirming whether he knew him only by name or also by his writings." The editor goes on to speak of his correspondence with Dr. Cureton (a.d. 1864) which is referred to in27 , supra. He notes the incomplete and mutilated character of the Syriac copies used by Cureton, and congratulates himself on the entire and integral condition of the Armenian, which he found in 1852 in the Imperial Library at Paris, as Codex No. 88, mss.Armen. Here the name of the author is given as Laboubnia, and agrees with the Syriac. The interpolations he regards as made after the fourth century.
Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon.1
In the month Ab,2 of the year six hundred and twenty of the kingdom of Alexander the Macedonian, in the consulate of Licinius and Constantine,3 which is the year in which he4 was born, in the magistracy5 of Julius and Barak, in the days of Cona.6 bishop of Edessa, Licinius made a persecution against the Church and all the people of the Christians, after that first persecution which Diocletian the emperor had made. And Licinius the emperor commanded that there should be sacrifices and libations, and that the altars in every place should be restored, that they might bum sweet spices and frankincense before Zeus.
And, when many were persecuted, they cried out of their own accord: We are Christians; and they were not afraid of the persecution, because these who were persecuted were more numerous than those who persecuted them.
Now Habib, who was of the village of Telzeha7 and had been made a deacon, went secretly into the churches which were in the villages, and ministered and read the Scriptures, and encouraged and strengthened many by his words, and admonished them to stand fast in the truth of their belief, and not to be afraid of the persecutors; and gave them directions.
And, when many were strengthened by his words, and received his addresses affectionately, being careful not to renounce the covenant they had made, and when the Sharirs of the city, the men who had been appointed with reference to this particular matter, heard of it, they went in and informed Lysanias, the governor who was in the town of Edessa, and said to him: Habib, who is a deacon in the village of Telzeha, goes about and ministers secretly in every place, and resists the command of the emperors, and is not afraid.
And, when the governor heard these things, he was filled with rage against Habib; and he made a report, and sent and informed Licinius the emperor of all those things which Habib was doing; he wished also to ascertain8 what command would be issued respecting him and the rest of those who would not sacrifice. For although a command had been issued that every one should sacrifice, yet it had not been commanded what should be done to those who did not sacrifice: because they had heard that Constantine, the commander9 in Gaul and Spain, was become a Christian and did not sacrifice. And Licinius the emperor thus command Lysanias the govern or: Whoever it is that has been so daring as to transgress our command, our Majesty has commanded that he shall be burned10 with fire; and that all others who do not consent to sacrifice shall be put to death by the sword.
Now, when this command came to the town of Edessa, Habib, in reference to whom the report had been made, was gone across the river to the country of the people of Zeugma,11 to minister there also secretly. And, when the governor sent and inquired for him in his village, and in all the country round about, and he was not to be found, he commanded that all his family should be arrested, and also the inhabitants of his village; and they arrested them and put them in irons, his mother and the rest of his family, and also some of the people of his village; and they brought them to the city, and shut them up in prison.
And, when Habib heard what had taken place, he considered in his mind and pondered anxiously in his thoughts: It is expedient for me, said he, that I should go and appear before the judge of the country, rather than that I should remain in secret and others should be brought in to him and be crowned with martyrdom because of me, and that I should find myself in great shame. For in what respect will the name of Christianity help him who flees from the confession of Christianity? Lo! if he flee from this, the death of nature is before him whithersoever he goes, and escape from it he cannot, because this is decreed against all the children of Adam.
And Habib arose and went to Edessa secretly, having prepared his back for the stripes and his sides for the combs, and his person for the burning of fire. And he went immediately12 to Theotecna,13 a veteran14 who was chief of the band of attendants15 on the governor; and he said to him: I am Habib of Telzeha, whom ye are inquiring for. And Theotecna said to him: If so be that no one saw thee coming to me, hearken to me in what I say to thee, and depart and go away to the place where thou hast been, and remain there in this time of persecution; and of this, that thou camest to me and spakest with me and that I advised thee thus, let no one know or be aware. And about thy family and the inhabitants of thy village, be not at all anxious: for no one will at all hurt them; but they will be in prison a few days only, and then the governor will let them go: because against them the emperors have not commanded anything serious or alarming. But, if on the contrary thou wilt not be persuaded by me in regard to these things which I have said to thee, I am clear of thy blood: because, if so be that thou appear before the judge of the country, thou wilt not escape from death by fire, according to the command of the emperors which they have issued concerning thee.
Habib said to Theotecna: It is not about my family and the inhabitants of my village that I am concerned, but for my own salvation, lest it should be forfeited. About this too I am much distressed, that I did not happen to be in my village on the day that the governor inquired for me, and that on my account lo! many are put in irons, and I have been looked upon by him as a fugitive. Therefore, if so be that thou wilt not consent to my request and take me in before the governor, I will go alone and appear before him.
And, when Theotecna heard him speak thus to him, he laid hold of him firmly, and handed him over to his assistants,16 and they went together to conduct him to the judgment-hall of the governor. And Theotecna went in and informed the governor, and said to him: Habib of Telzeha, whom thine Excellency was inquiring for, is come. And the governor said: Who is it that has brought him? and where did they find him? and what did he do where he was? Theotecna said to him: He came hither himself, of his own accord, and without the compulsion of any one, since no one knew anything about him.
And when the governor heard this, he was greatly exasperated against him; and thus he spoke: This fellow, who has so acted, has shown great contempt towards me and has despised me, and has accounted me as no judge; and, because he has so acted, it is not meet that any mercy should be shown towards him; nor yet either that I should hasten to pass sentence of death against him, according to the command of the emperors concerning him; but it is meet for me to have patience with him, so that the bitter torments and punishments inflicted on him may be the more abundant, and that through him I may terrify many others from daring again to flee.
And, many persons being collected together and standing by him at the door of the judgment-hall, some of whom were members of the body of attendants, and some people of the city, there were some of them that said to him: Thou hast done badly in coming and showing thyself to those who were inquiring for thee, without the compulsion of the judge; and there were others, again, who said to him: Thou hast done well in coming and showing thyself of thine own accord, rather than that the compulsion of the judge should bring thee: for now is thy confession of Christ known to be of thine own will, and not from the compulsion of men.
And those things which the Sharirs of the city had heard from those who were speaking to him as they stood at the door of the judgment-hall-and this circumstance also in particular, that he had gone secretly to Theotecna and that he had not been willing to denounce him, had been heard by the Sharirs of the city-everything that they had heard they made known to the judge.
And the judge was enraged against those who had been saying to Habib: Wherefore didst thou come and show thyself to the judge, without the compulsion of the judge himself? And to Theotecna he said: It is not seemly for a man who has been made chief over his fellows to act deceitfully in this manner towards his superior, and to set at nought the command of the emperors, which they issued against Habib the rebel, that he should be burned with fire.
Theotecna said: I have not acted deceitfully against my fellows, neither was it my purpose to set at naught the command which the emperors have issued: for what am I before thine Excellency, that I should have dared to do this? But I strictly questioned him as to that for which thine Excellency also has demanded an account at my hands, that I might know and see whether it was of his own free will that he came hither or whether the compulsion of thine Excellency brought him by the hand of others; and, when I heard from him that he came of his own accord, I carefully brought him to the honourable door of the judgment-hall of thy Worship.17
And the governor hastily commanded, and they brought in Habib before him. The officers said: Lo! he standeth before thine Excellency,
And he began to question him thus, and said to him: What is thy name? And whence art thou? And what art thou?
He said to him: My name is Habib, and I am from the village of Telzeha, and I have been made a deacon.
The governor said: Wherefore hast thou transgressed the command of the emperors, and dost minister in thine office of deacon, which thou art forbidden by the emperors to do, and refusest to sacrifice to Zeus, whom the emperors worship?
Habib said: We are Christians; we do not worship the works of men, who are nothing, whose works also are nothing; but we worship God, who made the men.
The governor said: Persist not in that daring mind with which thou art come into my presence, and insult not Zeus, the great boast of the emperors.
Habib said: But this Zeus is an idol, the work of men. It is very well for thee to say that I insult him. But, if the carving of him out of wood and the fixing of him with nails proclaim aloud concerning him that he is made, how sayest thou to me that I insult him? since lo! his insult is from himself, and against himself.
The governor said: By this very thing, that thou refusest to worship him, thou insultest him.
Habib said: But, if because I do not worship him I insult him, how great an insult, then, did the carpenter inflict on him, who carved him with an axe of iron; and the smith, who smote him and fixed him with nails!
And, when the governor heard him speak thus he commanded him to be scourged without pity. And, when he had been scourged by five men, he said to him: Wilt thou now obey the emperors? For, if thou wilt not obey them, I will tear thee severely with combs, and I will torture thee with all kinds of tortures, and then at last I will give command concerning thee that thou be burned with fire.
Habib said: These threats with which lo! thou art seeking to terrify me, are much meaner and paltrier than those which I had already settled it in my mind to endure: therefore18 came I and made my appearance before thee.
The governor said: Put him into the iron cask19 for murderers, and let him be scourged as he deserves. And, when he had been scourged, they said to him: Sacrifice to the gods. But he cried aloud, and said: Accursed are your idols, and so are they who join with you in worshipping them like you.
And the governor commanded, and they took him up to the prison; but they refused him permission to speak with his family, or with the inhabitants of his village, according to the command of the judge. On that day was the festival of the emperors.
And on the second of Ilul the governor commanded, and they brought him from the prison. And he said to him: Wilt thou renounce the profession thou hast made20 and obey the command which the emperors issue? For, if thou wilt not obey, with the bitter tearings of combs will I make thee obey them.
Habib said: I have not obeyed them, and morever it is settled in my mind that I will not obey them-no, not even if thou lay upon me punishments still worse than those which the emperors have commanded.
The governor said: By the gods I swear, that, if thou do not sacrifice, I will leave no harsh and bitter sufferings untried with which I will not torture thee: and we shall see whether Christ, whom thou worshippest, will deliver thee.
Habib said: All those who worship Christ are delivered through Christ, because they worship not creatures along with the Creator of creatures.
The governor said: Let him be stretched out and be scourged with whips, until there remain not a place in his body on which he has not been scourged.
Habib said: As for these inflictions, which thou supposest to be so bitter with their lacerations,21 out of them are plaited crowns of victory for those who endure them.
The governor said: How call ye afflictions ease, and account the torments of your bodies a crown of victory?
Habib said: It is not for thee to ask me concerning these things, because thine unbelief is not worthy to hear the reasons of them. That I will not sacrifice I have said already, and I say so still.
The governor said: Thou art subjected to these punishments because thou deservest them: I will put out thine eyes, which look upon this Zeus and are not afraid of him; and I will stop thine ears, which hear the laws of the emperors and tremble not.
Habib said: To the God whom thou deniest here belongs that other world; and there wilt thou be made to confess Him with scourgings, though thou hast again denied Him.
The governor said: Leave alone that world of which thou hast spoken, and consider anxiously now, that from this punishment to which lo! thou art being subjected there is no one that can deliver thee; unless indeed the gods deliver thee, on thy sacrificing to them.
Habib said: Those who die for the sake of the name of Christ, and worship not those objects that are made and created, will find their life in the presence of Cod;22 but those who love the life of time more than that-their torment will be for ever.
And the governor commanded, and they hanged him up and tore him with combs; and, while they were tearing him with the combs, they knocked him about. And he was hanging a long while, until the shoulder blades of his arms creaked.
The governor said to him: Wilt thou comply even now, and put on incense before Zeus there?23
Habib said: Previously to these sufferings I did not comply with thy demands: and now that lo! I have undergone them, how thinkest thou that I shall comply, and thereby lose that which I have gained by them?
The governor said: By punishments fiercer and bitterer than these I am prepared to make thee obey, according to the command of the emperors, until thou do their will.
Habib said: Thou art punishing me for not obeying the command of the emperors, when lo! thou thyself also, whom the emperors have raised to greatness and made a judge, hast transgressed their command, in that thou hast not done to me that which the emperors have commanded thee.
The governor said: Because I have had patience with thee, therefore hast thou spoken thus, like a man that brings an accusation.
Habib said: Hadst thou not scourged me, and bound me, and torn me with combs, and put my feet in fetters,24 there would have been room to think that thou hadst had patience with me. But, if these things take place in the meanwhile, where is the patience towards me of which thou hast spoken?
The governor said: These things which thou hast said will not help thee, because they all go against thee, and they will bring upon thee inflictions bitterer even than those which the emperors have commanded.
Habib said: Had I not been sensible that they would help me, I should not have spoken a single word about them before thee.
The governor said: I will silence thy speeches, and at the same time as regards thee pacify the gods, whom thou has not worshipped; and I will satisfy the emperors in respect to thee, as regards thy rebellion against their commands.
Habib said: I am not afraid of the death with which thou seekest to terrify me; for, had I been afraid of it, I should not have gone about from house to house and ministered: on which account I did so minister.25
The governor said: How is it that thou worshippest and honourest a man, but refusest to worship and honour Zeus there?
Habib said: I worship not a man, because the Scripture26 teaches me,27 "Cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man; "but God, who took upon Him a body and became a man, Him do I worship, and glorify.
The governor said: Do thou that which the emperors have commanded; and, as for that which is in thy own mind, if thou art willing to give it up, well; but, if thou art not willing, then do not abandon it.
Habib said: To do both these things is impossible: because falsehood is contrary to truth, and it is impossible that that should be banished from my thoughts which is firmly fixed in my mind.
The governor said: By inflictions bitter and severe will I make thee dismiss from thy thoughts that of which thou hast said, It is firmly fixed in my mind.
Habib said: As for these inflictions by which thou thinkest that it will be rooted out of my thoughts, by means of these it is that it grows within my thoughts, like a tree which bears fruit.
The governor said: What help will stripes and combs give to that tree of thine? and more especially at the time when I shall command fire against it, to burn it up without pity.
Habib said: It is not on those things at which thou lookest that I look, because I contemplate the things which are out of sight; and therefore I do the will of God, the Maker of all things, and not that of an idol made with hands, which is not sensible of anything whatever.
The governor said: Because he thus denies the gods whom the emperors worship, let him be torn with Combs in addition to his former tearings: for, amidst the many questions which I have had the patience to ask him, he has forgotten his former tearings.
And, while they were tearing him, he cried aloud and said: "The sufferings of this time are not equal to that glory which shall be revealed in "28 those who love Christ.
And, when the governor saw that even under these inflictions he refused to sacrifice, he said to him: Does your doctrine so teach you, that you should hate your own bodies?
Habib said: Nay, we do not hate our bodies: the Scripture distinctly teaches us, "Whosoever shall lose his life shall find it."29 But another thing too it teaches us: that we should "not cast that which is holy to dogs, nor cast pearls before swine."30
The governor said: I know that in speaking thus thy sole object is that my rage and the wrath of my mind may be excited, and that I may pronounce sentence of death against thee speedily. I am not going, then, to be hurried on to that which thou desirest; but I will have patience: not; indeed, for thy relief, but so that the tortures inflicted on thee may be increased, and that thou mayest see thy flesh failing off before thy face by means of the combs that are passing over thy sides.
Habib said: I myself also am looking for this, that thou shouldst multiply thy tortures upon me, even as thou hast said.
The governor said: Submit to the emperors, who have power to do whatsoever they choose.
Habib said: It is not of men to do whatsoever they choose, but of God, whose power is in the heavens, and over all the dwellers upon earth; "nor is there any that may rebuke His hands31 and say to Him, `What doest Thou? '"
The governor said: For this insolence of thine, death by the sword is too small. I, however, am prepared to command the infliction upon thee of a death more bitter than that of the sword.
Habib said: And I, too, am looking for a death which is more lingering than that of the sword, which thou mayest pronounce upon me at any time thou choosest.
And thereupon the governor proceeded to pass sentence of death upon him. And he called out aloud before his attendants, and said, whilst they were listening to him, as were also the nobles of the city: This Habib, who has denied the gods, as ye have also heard from him, and furthermore has reviled the emperors, deserves that his life should be blotted out from beneath this glorious Sun, and that he should not any longer behold this luminary, associate of gods; and, had it not been commanded by former emperors that the corpses of murderers should be buried, it would not be right that the corpse of this fellow either should be buried, because he has been so insolent. I command, that a strap be put into his mouth, as into the mouth of a murderer, and that he be burned by a slow lingering fire, so that the torment of his death may be increased.
And he went out from the presence of the governor, with the strap thrust into his mouth; and a multitude of the people of the city ran after him. And the Christians were rejoicing, forasmuch as he had not turned aside nor quitted his post;32 but the pagans were threatening him, for refusing to sacrifice. And they led him forth by the western archway, over against the cemetery,33 which was built by34 Abshelama,35 the son of Abgar. And his mother was clad in white, and she went out with him.
And, when he was arrived at the place where they were going to burn him, he stood up and prayed, as did all those who came out with him; and he said: "O King Christ, since Thine is this world, and Thine the world to come, behold and see, that, while I might have fled from these afflictions, I did not flee, in order that I might not fall into the hands of Thy justice: may this fire, in which I am to be burned, serve me for a recompense before Thee, so that I may be delivered from that fire which is not quenched; and receive Thou my spirit into Thy presence, through Thy Divine Spirit, O glorious Son of the adorable Father!" And, when he had prayed, he turned and blessed them; and they weeping gave him the salutation, both men and women; and they said to him: Pray for us in the presence of thy Lord, that He would cause peace among His people, and restoration to His churches which are overthrown.
And, while Habib was standing, they dug a place, and brought him and set him within it; and they fixed up by him a stake. And they came to bind him to the stake; but he said to them: I will not stir from this place in which ye are going to burn me. And they brought fagots, and set them in order, and placed them on all sides of him. And, when the fire blazed up and the flame of it rose fiercely, they called out to him: Open thy mouth. And the moment he opened his mouth his soul mounted up. And they cried aloud, both men and women, with the voice of weeping.
And they pulled and drew him out of the fire, throwing over him fine linen cloths and choice ointments and spices. And they snatched away some of the pieces of wood which had been put for his burning, and the brethren and some persons of the laity36 bore him away. And they prepared him for interment, and buried him by Guria and Shamuna the martyrs, in the same grave in which they were laid, on the hill which is called Baith Allah Cucla,37 repeating over him psalms and hymns, and conveying his burnt body affectionately and honourably to the grave. And even some of the Jews and pagans took part with the Christian brethren in winding up and burying his body. At the time, too, when he was burned, and also at the time when he was buried, there was one spectacle of grief over spreading those within and those without; tears, too, were running down from all eyes: while every one gave glory to God, because for His name's sake he had given his body to the burning of fire.
The day on which he was burned was the eve of the Sabbath,38 the second of the month Ilul-the day on which the news came that Constantine the Great had set out from the interior of Spain, to proceed to Rome, the city of Italy, that he might carry on war with Licinius, that emperor who at this day rules over the eastern portion of the territories of the Romans; and lo! the countries on all sides are in commotion, because no man knows which of them will conquer and continue in his imperial power. And through this report the persecution slackened for a little while from the Church.
And the notaries wrote down everything which they had heard from the judge; and the Sharirs of the city wrote down all the other things which were spoken outside the door of the judgment-hall, and, according to the custom that existed, they reported to the judge all that they had seen and all that they had heard, and the decisions of the judge were written down in their Acts.
I, Theophilus, who have renounced the evil inheritance of my fathers, and confessed Christ, carefully wrote out a copy of these Acts of Habib, even as I had formerly written out those of Guria and Shamuna,39 his fellow-martyrs. And, whereas he had felicitated them upon their death by the sword, he himself also was made like them by the fire in which he was burnt, and received his crown. And, whereas I have written down the year, and the month, and the day, of the coronation of these martyrs, it is not for the sake of those who, like me, were spectators of the deed, but with the view that those who come after us may learn at what time these martyrs suffered, and what manner of men they were; as they may learn also from the Acts of the former martyrs, who suffered in the days of Domitianus and of all the other emperors who likewise also raised a persecution against the Church, and put a great many to death, by stripes and by tearing with combs, and by bitter inflictions, and by sharp swords, and by burning fire, and by the terrible sea, and by the merciless mines. And all these things, and things like them, they suffered for the hope of the recompense to come.
Moreover, the afflictions of these martyrs, and of those of whom I had heard, opened the eyes of me, Theophilus, and enlightened my mind, and I confessed Christ, that He is the Son of God, and is God. And may the dust of the feet of these martyrs, which I received as I was running after them at the time when they were departing to be crowned, procure me pardon for having denied Him, and may He confess me before His worshippers, seeing that I have confessed Him now!
And at the twenty-seventh question which the judge put to Habib, he gave sentence against him of death by the burning of fire.
Here endeth the martyrdom of Habib the deacon.
Martyrdom1 Of the Holy Confessors
Shamuna, Guria, and Habib, from Simeon Metaphrastes.2
In the six hundredth year from the empire of Alexander the Macedonian, when Diocletian had been nine years sovereign of the Romans, and Maximian was consul for the sixth time, and Augur son of Zoaras was praetor, and Cognatus was bishop of the Edessenes, a great persecution was raised against the churches in all the countries which were under the sway of the Romans. The name of Christian was looked upon as execrable, and was assailed and harassed with abuse; while the priests and the monks,3 on account of their staunch and unconquerable stedfastness, were-subjected to shocking punishments, and the pious were at their wits' end with sadness and fear. For, desiring as they did to proclaim the truth because of their yearning affection for Christ, they yet shrunk back from doing so for fear of punishment. For those who took up arms against true religion were bent on making the Christians renounce Christianity and embrace the cause of Saturn and Rhea, whilst the faithful on their part laboured to prove that the objects of heathen worship had no real existence.
At this period it was that an accusation was preferred before the judge against Guria and Shamuna. The former was a native of Sarcigitua, and the latter of the village of Ganas; they were, however, both brought up at Edessa-which they call Mesopotamia, because it is situated between the Euphrates and the Tigris: a city previously to this but little known to fame, but which after the struggles of its martyrs obtained universal notoriety. These holy men would not by any means spend their lives in the city, but removing to a distance from it, as those who wished to be remote from its turmoils, they made it their aim to be manifest to God only. Guria's purity and lovingness were to him a precious and honourable possession, and from his cultivation of the former the surname of the pure was given him: so that from his name you would not have known who he was, but only when you called him by his surname. Shamuna devoted his body and his youthful and active mind to the service of God, and rivalled Guria in excellence of character. Against these men an indictment was laid before the judge, to the effect that they not only pervaded all the country round about Edessa with their teaching and encouraged the people to hold fast their faith, but also led them to look with contempt on their persecutors, and, in order to induce them to set wholly at nought their impiety, taught them agreeably to that which is written: "Trust not in princes-in the sons of men, in whom is no safety."4 By these representations the judge was wrought up to a high pitch of madness, and gave orders that all those who held the Christian religion in honour and followed the teaching of Shamuna and Guria, together with those who persuaded them to this, should be apprehended, and shut up in safe keeping. The order was carried into effect; and, seizing the opportunity, he had some of them flogged, and others tortured in various ways, and induced them to obey the emperor's command, and then, as if he were behaving kindly and mercifully, he allowed others to go to their homes; but our two saints, as being the ringleaders and those who bad communicated their piety to others, he ordered to be still further maltreated in prison. They, however, rejoiced in the fellowship of martyrdom. For they heard of many in other provinces who had to pass through the same conflict as themselves: among them Epiphanius and Petrus and the most holy Pamphilus, with many others, at Caesarea in Palestine; Timotheus at Gaza; at Alexandria, Timotheus the Great; Agapetus at Thessalonica; Hesychius at Nicomedia; Philippus at Adrianopolis; at Melitina Petrus; Hermes and his companions in the confines of Martyropolis: all of whom were also encircled with the crown of martyrdom by Duke5 Heraclianus, along with other confessors too numerous for us to become acquainted with. But we must return to the matters of which we were before speaking.
Antonius, then, the governor of Edessa, having permitted others to return to their homes, had a lofty judgment-seat erected, and ordered the martyrs to be brought before him. The attendants having done as they were bidden, the governor said to the saints: Our most divine emperor commands you to renounce Christianity, of which you are followers, and to pay divine honour to Jupiter by offering incense on the altar. To this Shamuna replied: Far be it from us to abandon the true faith, whereby we hope to obtain immortality, and worship the work of men's hands and an image! The governor said: The emperor's orders must by all means be obeyed. Guria answered: Our pure and divine faith will we never disown, by following the will of men, who are subject to dissolution. For we have a Father in heaven whose will we follow, and He says: "He that shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven; but he that shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father and His angels."6 The judge said: You refuse, then, to obey the will of the emperor? But can you for a moment think, that the purposes of ordinary men and such as have no more power than yourselves are to be really carried into execution, while the commands of those who possess supreme power fall to the ground? They, said the saints, who do the will of the King of kings spurn and reject the will of the flesh. Then, on the governor's threatening them with death unless they obeyed, Shamuna said: We shall not die, O tyrant, if we follow the will of the Creator: nay rather, on the contrary, we shall live; but, if we follow the commands of your emperor, know thou that, even thought thou shouldest not put us to death, we shall perish miserably all the same.
On hearing this, the governor gave orders to Anovitus the jailor to put them in very safe keeping. For the mind which is naturally inclined to evil cannot bear the truth, any more than diseased eyes the bright beams of the sun. And, when he had done as he was commanded, and the martyrs were in prison, where many other saints also had been previously shut by the soldiers, the Emperor Diocletian sent for Musonius the governor of Antioch and ordered him to go to Edessa and see the Christians who were confined there, whether they were of the common or of the sacred class, and question them about their religion, and deal with them as he should see fit. So he came to Edessa; and he had Shamuna and Guria first of all placed before the tribunal of judgment, and said to them: This, arid no less, is the command of the lord of the world, that you make a libation of wine and place incense on the altar of Jupiter. If you refuse to do so, I will destroy you with manifold punishments: for I will tear your bodies to pieces with whips, till I get to your very entrails; and I will not cease pouring boiling lead into your armpits until it reaches even to your bowels; after that, I will hang you up, now by your hands, now by your feet, and I will loosen the fastenings of your joints; and I will invent new and unheard of punishments which you will be utterly unable to endure.
Shamuna answered: We dread "the worm," the threat of which is denounced against those who deny the Lord, and "the fire which is not quenched," more than those tortures which thou hast set before us. For God Himself, to whom we offer rational worship, will, first of all, strengthen us to bear these manifold tortures, and will deliver us out of thy hands; and, after that, will also give us to rest in a place of safety, where is the abode of all those who rejoice. Besides, it is against nothing whatever but the body that thou takest up arms: for what possible harm couldst thou do to the soul? since, as long as it resides in the body, it proves superior to torture; and, when it takes its departure, the body has no feeling whatever left. For, "the more our outward man is destroyed, the more is our inward man renewed day by day;7 for by means of patience we go through with this contest which is set before us. The governor, however, again, with a kind of protestation, in order that, in case they did not obey, he might with the more justice punish them, said: Give up your error, I beg you, and yield to the command of the emperor: ye will not be able to endure the tortures. The holy Guria answered: We are neither the slaves of error, as thou sayest, nor will we ever obey the command of the emperor: God forbid that we should be so weak-minded and so senseless! For we are His disciples who laid down His life for us, so manifesting the riches of His goodness and His love towards us. We will, therefore, resist sin even to death, nor, come what may, will we be foiled by the stratagems of the adversary, by which the first man was ensnared and plucked death from the tree through his disobedience;8 and Cain was persuaded, and, after staining his hands with his brother's blood, found the rewards of sin to be wailing and fear. But we, listening to the words of Christ, will "not be afraid of those that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: "Him rather will we fear "who is able to destroy our soul and body."9 The tyrant said: It is not to give you an opportunity of disproving my allegations by snatches of your own writings that I refrain from anger and show myself forbearing; but that you may perform the command of the emperor and return in peace to your homes.
These words did not at all shake the resolution of the martyrs; but, approaching nearer: What, said they, does it matter to us, if thou art angry, and nursest thine anger, and rainest tortures upon us like snow-flakes? For then wouldst thou be favouring us all the more, by rendering the proof of our fortitude more conspicuous, and winning for us a greater recompense. For this is the crowning point of our hope, that we shall leave behind our present dwelling, which is but for a time, and depart to one that will last forever. For we have "a tabernacle not made with hands"10 in heaven, which the Scripture is accustomed also to call "Abraham's bosom," because of the familiar intercourse with God with which he was blessed. The governor, seeing that their firmness underwent no change, forthwith left off speaking and proceeded with the threatened punishments, giving orders to the jailor Anuinus that they should be severally hung up by one hand, and that, when their hands were dislocated by having to bear the entire weight of the body, he should further suspend a heavy stone to their feet, that the sense of pain might be the sharper. This was done, and from the third hour to the eighth they bore this severe torture with fortitude, uttering not a word, nor a groan, nor giving any other indication of a weak or abject mind. You would have said that they were suffering in a body which was not theirs, or that others were suffering and they themselves were nothing more than spectators of what was going on.
In the meantime, whilst they were hanging by their hands, the governor was engaged in trying other cases. Having done with these, he ordered the jailor to inquire of the saints whether or not they would obey the emperor and be released from their torture; and on his putting the question to them, when it was found that they either could not or would not return an answer, he ordered that they should be confined in the inner part of the prison, in a dark dungeon, dark both in name and in reality, and that their feet should be made fast in the stocks. At dawn of day, their feet were loosened from the confinement of the stocks; but their prison was close shut up, so that not a single ray even of sunlight could make its way in; and the jailors were ordered not to give them a bit of bread or a single drop of water for three whole days. So that, in addition to all the rest, the martyrs were condemned to a dark prison and a long privation of food. When the third day arrived, about the beginning of the month of August, the prison was opened to admit light, but they were detained in it stir up to the 10th of November. Then the judge had them brought up before his tribunal: Has not all this time, said he, sufficed to induce you to change your minds and come to some wholesome decision? They answered: We have already several times told thee our mind: do, therefore, what thou hast been commanded. The governor forthwith ordered that Shamuna should be made to kneel down on one side11 and that an iron chain should be fastened on his knee. This having been done, he hung him up head downwards by the foot with which he had made him kneel; the other he pulled downwards with a heavy piece of iron, which cannot be described in words: thus endeavouring to rend the champion in twain. By this means the socket of the hip-bone was wrenched out of its place and Shamuna became lame. Guria, however, because he was weak and somewhat pale, he left unpunished: not that he regarded him with friendly eyes-not that he had any compassion on his weakness; but rather by way of sparing for another opportunity one whom he was anxious to punish: lest perchance, as he said, through inadvertence on my part he should be worn out before he has undergone the torments in reserve for him.
By this time two hours of the day had passed since Shamuna had been hung up; and the fifth hour had now arrived, and he was still suspended on high-when the soldiers who stood around, taking pity upon him, urged him to obey the emperor's command. But the compassion of sinners had no effect upon the saint. For, although he suffered bitterly from the torture, he vouchsafed them no answer whatever, leaving them to lament at their leisure, and to deem themselves rather, and not him, deserving of pity. But, lifting his eyes to heaven, he prayed to God from the depth of his heart, reminding Him of the wonders done in old time: Lord God, he said, without whom not even a poor little sparrow falls into the snare; who didst cheer the heart of David amid his afflictions; who gavest power to Daniel even against the lions; who madest the children of Abraham victorious over the tyrant and the flame: do Thou now also, O Lord, look on the war which is being waged against us, acquainted as Thou art with the weakness of our nature. For the enemy is trying to turn away the workmanship of Thy right hand from the glory which is with Thee. But regard Thou us with looks of compassion, and maintain within us, against all attempts to extinguish it, the lamp of Thy commandments; and by Thy light guide our paths, and vouchsafe us the enjoyment of that happiness which is in Thee: for Thou art blessed for ever, world without end. Thus did he utter the praise of the Umpire of the strife; and a scribe who was present took down in writing what was said.
At length the governor ordered the jailor to release him from his punishment. He did so, and carried him away all faint and exhausted with the pain he suffered, and they bore him back to his former prison and laid him down by the side of the holy Guria. On the 15th of November, however, in the night, about the time of cock-crowing, the judge got up. He was preceded by torches and attendants; and, on arriving at the Basilica, as it is called, where the court was held, he took his seat with great ceremony on the tribunal, and sent to fetch the champions Guria and Shamuna. The latter came in walking between two of the jailors and supported by the hands of both: for he was worn out with hunger and weighed down with age: nothing but his good hope sustained him. Guria, too, had also to be carried in: for he could not walk at all, because his foot had been severely galled by the chain on it. Addressing them both, the advocate of impiety said: In pursuance of the permission which was granted, you have, doubtless, consulted together about what it is expedient for you to do. Tell me, then, whether any fresh resolution has been come to by you, and whether you have in any respect changed your mind in regard to your former purpose; and obey the command of the most divine emperor. For thus will you be restored to the enjoyment of your property and possessions, yea of this most cheering light also. To this the martyrs reply: No one who is wise would make any great account of continuing for a little while in the enjoyment of things which are but transient. Sufficient for us is the time already past for the use and the sight of them; nor do we feel the want of any of them. That death, on the contrary, with which thou art threatening us will convey us to imperishable habitations and give us a participation in the happiness which is yonder.
The governor replied: What you have said has filled my ears with great sadness. However, I will explain to you what is determined on: if you place incense on the altar and sacrifice to the image of Jupiter, all will be well, and each of you will go away to his home; but, if you still persist in disobeying the command of the emperor, you will most certainly lose your heads: for this is what the great emperor wills and determines. To this the most noble-minded Shamuna replied: If, thou shalt confer upon us so great a favour as to grant us deliverance from the miseries of this life and dismissal to the happiness of the life yonder, so far as in us lies thou shalt be rewarded by Him who lays out our possessions on what is for our good. The governor replied to this somewhat kindly, as it seemed, saying: I have patiently endured hitherto, putting up with those long speeches of yours, in order that by delay you may change your purpose and betake yourselves to what is for your good, and not have to undergo the punishment of death. Those who submit, said he, to death which is only for a time, for the sake of Christ, will manifestly be delivered from eternal death. For those who die to the world live in Christ. For Peter also, who shines so brightly among the band of apostles, was condemned to the cross and to death; and James, the son of thunder was slain by Herod Agrippa with the sword. Moreover, Stephen also was stoned, who was the first to run the course of martyrdom. What, too, wilt thou say of John the Baptist? Thou wilt surely acknowledge his distinguished fortitude and boldness of speech, when he preferred death rather than keep silence about conjugal infidelity, and the adulteress received his head as a reward for her dancing?
Again the governor said: It is not that you may reckon up your saints, as you call them, that I bear so patiently with you, but that, by changing your resolution and yielding to the emperor's commands, you may be rescued from a very bitter death. For, if you behave with such excessive daring and arrogance, what can you expect but that severer punishments are in store for you, under the pressure of which you will be ready even against your will to do what I demand of you: by which time, however, it will be altogether too late to take refuge in compassion? For the cry which is wrung from you by force has no power to challenge pity; whilst, on the other hand, that which is made of your own accord is deserving of compassion. The confessors and martyrs of Christ said: There needs not many words., For lo! we are ready to undergo all the punishments thou mayest lay upon us. What, therefore, has been commanded thee, delay not to perform. For we are the worshippers of Christ the true God, and (again we say it) of Him of whose kingdom there shall be no end; who also is alone able to glorify those in return who glorify His name. In the meantime, whilst these things were being said by the saints, the governor pronounced sentence against them that they should suffer death by the sword. But they, filled with a joy, beyond the power of words to express, exclaimed: To Thee of right belongeth glory and praise, who art God of all, because it hath pleased Thee that we should carry on to its dose the conflict we have entered upon, and that we should also receive at Thy hands the brightness that shah never fade away.
When, therefore, the governor saw their unyielding firmness, and how they had heard the final sentence with exultation of soul, he said to the saints: May God search into what is being done, and be witness that so far as I was concerned it was no wish of mine that you should lose your lives; but the inflexible command of the emperor to me compels me to this. He then ordered a halberdier to take charge of the martyrs, and, putting them in a carriage, to convey them to a distance from the city with some soldiers, and there to end them with the sword. So he, taking the saints out at night by the Roman gate, when the citizens were buried in profound slumber, conveyed them to Mount Bethelabicla on the north of the city. On their arrival at that place, having alighted from the carriage with joy of heart and great firmness of mind, they requested the halberdier and those who were under his orders to give them time to pray; and it was granted. For, just as if their tortures and their blood were not enough to plead for them, they still by reason of their humility deemed it necessary to pray. So they raised their eyes to heaven and prayed earnestly, concluding with the words: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive in peace our spirits to Thyself. Then Shamuna, turning to the halberdier, said: Perform that which thou hast been commanded. So he kneeled down along with Guria, and they were beheaded, on the 15th of November. This is the account of what happened to the martyrs.
But forasmuch as the number sought for a third in order that in them the Trinity might be glorified, it found, oh admirable providence! Habib-at a subsequent time indeed: but he also, along with those who had preceded him, had determined to enter on the journey, and on the very day12 of their martyrdom reached his consummation. Habib, then, great among martyrs, was a native of the same place as they, namely of the village of Thelsaea;13 and he had the honour of being invested with the sacred office of the diaconate. But, when Licinius swayed the sceptre of the Roman empire and Lysanias had appointed governor of Edessa, a persecution was again raised against the Christians, and the general danger threatened Habib. For he would go about the city, teaching the divine Scriptures to all he met with, arid courageously seeking to strengthen them in piety. When this came to the ears of Lysanias, he gave information of it to the Emperor Licinius. For he was anxious to be himself entrusted with the business of bringing the Christians to trial, and especially Habib: for he had never been entrusted with it before. The emperor, then, sent him a letter and commanded him to put Habib to death. So, when Lysanias had received the letter, search was made everywhere for Habib, who on account of his office in the Church lived in some part of the city, his mother and some of his relations residing with him. When he got intelligence of the matter, fearing lest he should incur punishment for quitting the ranks of martyrdom, he went of his own accord and presented himself to a man who was among the chief of the body-guard, named Theotecnus, and presently he said: I am Habib for whom ye are seeking. But he, looking kindly at him, said: No one, my good man, is as yet aware of thy coming to me: so go away, and look to thy safety; and he not concerned about thy mother, nor about thy relations: for they cannot possibly get into any trouble. Thus far Theotecnus.
But Habib, because the occasion was one that called for martyrdom, refused to yield to a weak and cowardly spirit and secure his safety in any underhand way. He replied, therefore: It is not for the sake of my dear mother, nor for the sake of my kinsfolk, that I denounce myself; but I have come for the sake of the confession of Christ. For Io! whether thou consent or no, I will make my appearance before the governor, and I will proclaim my Master Christ before princes and kings. Theotecnus, accordingly, apprehensive that he might go of his own accord to the governor, and that in this way he might himself be in jeopardy for not having denounced him, took Habib and conducted him to the governor: Here, said he, is Habib, for whom search has been made. When Lysanias learned that Habib had come of his own accord to the contest, he concluded that this was a mark of contempt and overweening boldness, as if he set light by the solemn dignity of the judicial seat; and he had him at once put on his trial. He inquired of him his condition of life, his name, and his country. On his answering that he was a native of the village of Thelsaea, and intimating that he was a minister of Christ, the governor immediately charged the martyr with not obeying the emperor's commands. He insisted that a plain proof of this was his refusal to offer incense to Jupiter. To this Habib kept replying that he was a Christian, and could not forsake the true God, or sacrifice to the lifeless works of men's hands which had no sensation. The governor hereupon ordered, that his arms should be bound with ropes, and that he should be raised up high on a beam and torn with iron claws.14 The hanging up was far more difficult to bear than the tearing: for he was in danger of being pulled asunder, through the forcible strain with which his arms were stretched out.
In the meantime, as he was hanging up in the air, the governor had recourse to smooth words, and assumed the guise of patience. He, however, continued to threaten him with severer punishments unless he should change his resolution. But he said: No man shall induce me to forsake the faith, nor persuade me to worship demons, even though he should inflict tortures more and greater. On the governor's asking him what advantage he expected to gain from tortures which destroyed his whole15 body, Habib, Christ's martyr, replied: The objects, of our regard do not last merely for the present, nor do we pursue the things that are seen; and, if thou too art minded to turn thy look towards our hope and promised recompense, possibly thou wilt even say with Paul: "The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which is to be revealed in us."16 The governor pronounced his words to be the language of imbecility; and, when he saw that, notwithstanding all the efforts he made, by turns using smooth words and assuming the part of patience, and then again threatening him and menacing him with a shocking17 death, he could not in either way prevail with him, he said, as he pronounced sentence upon him: I will not inflict on thee a sudden and speedy death; I will bring on thy dissolution gradually by means of a slow fire, and in this way make thee lay aside thy fierce and intractable spirit. Thereupon, some wood was collected together at a place outside the city on the northward, and he was led to the pile, followed by his mother, and also by those who were otherwise by blood related to him. He then prayed, and pronounced a blessing on all, and gave them the kiss in the Lord; and after that the wood was kindled by them, and he was cast into the fire; and, when he had opened his mouth to receive the flame, he yielded up his spirit to Him who had given it. Then, when the fire had subsided, his relatives wrapped him in a costly piece of linen and anointed him with unguents; and, having suitably sung psalms and hymns, they laid him by the side of Shamuna and Guria, to the glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, who constitute a Divine Trinity, which cannot be divided: to whom is due honour and worship now and always, and for evermore, Amen. Such was the close of the life of the martyr Habib in the time of Licinius, and thus did he obtain the privilege of being laid with the saints, and thus did he bring to the pious rest from their persecutions. For shortly afterwards the power of Licinius waned, and the rule of Constantine prospered, and the sovereignty of the Romans became his; and he was the first of the emperors who openly professed piety, and allowed the Christians to live as Christians.
History of Armenia.
Moses of Chorene.1
Reign of Abgar; Armenia becomes completely tributary to the Romans; War with Herod's troops; His brother's son, Joseph, is killed.
Abgar, son of Archam, ascends the throne in the twentieth year of Archavir, king of the Persians. This Abgar was called Avak-air (great man), on account of his great gentleness and wisdom, and also on account of his size. Not being able to pronounce well, the Greeks and the Syrians called him Abgar. In the second year of his reign, all the districts of Armenia become tributary to the Romans. A command is given by the Emperor Augustus, as we are told in the Gospel of St. Luke, to number all the people in every part. Roman commissioners, sent for that purpose into Armenia, carried thither the statue of the Emperor Augustus, and set it up in all the temples. At this very time, our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world.
At the same period there was trouble between Abgar and Herod: for Herod wished that his statue should be erected near to that of Caesar in the temples of Armenia. Abgar withstood this claim. Moreover, Herod was but seeking a pretext to attack Abgar: he sent an army of Thracians and Germans to make an incursion into the country of the Persians, with orders to pass through the territories of Abgar. But Abgar, far from submitting to this, resisted, saying that the emperor's command was to march the troops into Persia through the desert. Herod, indignant, and unable to act by himself, overwhelmed with troubles, as a punishment for his wicked conduct towards Christ, as Josephus relates, sent his nephew to whom he had given his daughter, who had been married in the first instance to Pheror, his brother. Herod's lieutenant, at the head of a considerable army, hastened to reach Mesopotamia, met Abgar at the camp in the province of Pouknan, fell in the combat, and his troops were put to flight. Soon afterwards, Herod died: Archelaus, his son, was appointed by Augustus ethnarch of Judaea.
Founding of the town of edessa; Brief account of the race of our illuminator.
A little while afterwards, Augustus dies, and Tiberius becomes emperor of the Romans in his stead. Germanicus, having become Caesar, dragging in his train the princes of the kingdom of Archavir and of Abgar, celebrates a triumph in respect of the war waged with them, in which these princes had killed Herod's nephew. Abgar, indignant, forms plans of revolt and prepares himself for combat. He builds a town on the ground occupied by the Armenian army of observation, where previously the Euphrates had been defended against the attempts of Cassius: this new town is called Edessa. Abgar removed to it his court, which was at Medzpine, all his gods, Naboc, Bel, Patnicagh, and Tarata, the books of the schools attached to the temples, and even the royal archives.
After this, Archavir being dead, Ardaches, his son, reigns over the Persians. Though it is not in the order of the history with respect to time, nor even the order according to which we have begun these annals, yet, as we are treating of descendants of the king Archavir, even of the blood of Ardaches his son, we will, to do honour to these princes, place them, by anticipating the time, near to Ardaches, in order that the reader may know that they are of the same race, of the race of the brave Archag; then we will indicate the time of the arrival of their fathers in Armenia, the Garenians and the Sourenians, from whom St. Gregory and the Gamsarians are descended, when, following the order of events, we come to the reign of the king under whom they appeared.
Abgar did not succeed in his plans of revolt; for, troubles having arisen amongst his relatives in the Persian kingdom, he set out at the head of an army to allay and bring to an end the dissension.
Abgar comes into the East, maintains ardachès upon the throne of Persia; Reconciles his brothers from whom our illuminator and his relations are descended.
Abgar, having gone to the East, finds on the throne of Persia Ardaches, son of Archavir, and the brothers of Ardaches contending against him: for this prince thought to reign over them in his posterity, and they would not consent to it. Ardaches therefore hems them in on all sides, hangs the sword of death over their heads; distractions and dissension were between their troops and their other relations and allies: for King Archavir had three sons and one daughter; the first of these sons was King Ardaches himself, the second Garene, the third Sourene; their sister, named Gochm, was wife of the general of all the Ariks, a general chosen by their father Archavir.
Abgar prevails on the sons of Archavir to make peace; he arranges between them the conditions and stipulations: Ardaches is to reign with his posterity as he proposed, and his brothers are to be called Bahlav, from the name of their town and their vast and fertile country, so that their satrapies shall be the first, higher in rank than all the satrapies of Persia, as being truly a race of king. Treaties and oaths stipulated that in case of the extinction of male children of Ardaches, his brothers should come to the throne; after the reigning race of Ardaches, his brothers are divided into three races named thus: the race of Garene Bahlav, the race of Sourene Bahlav, and the race of their sister, the race of Asbahabied Bahlav, a race thus called from the name of the domain of her husband.
St. Gregory is said to have sprung from the race Sourene Bahlav, and the Gamsarians from the race Garene Bahlav. We will relate in the sequel the circumstances of the coming of these personages, only mentioning their names here in connection with Ardaches, in order that you may know that these great races are indeed the blood of Vagharchag, that is to say, the posterity of the great Archag, brother of Vagharchag.
Everything being thus arranged, Abgar takes with him the letter of the treaties, and returns to his dominions; not in perfect health, but a prey to severe suffering.
Abgar returns from the east; He gives help to Aretas in a war against Herod the Tetrarch.
When Abgar had returned from the East, he learnt that the Romans suspected him of having gone there to raise troops. He therefore made the Roman commissioners acquainted with the reasons of his journey to Persia, as well as the treaty concluded between Ardaches and his brothers; but no credence was given to his statement: for he was accused by his enemies Pilate, Herod the tetrarch, Lysanias and Philip. Abgar having returned to his city Edessa leagued himself with Aretas, king of Petra, and gave him some auxiliary troops under the command of Khosran Ardzrouni, to make war upon Herod. Herod had in the first instance married the daughter of Aretas, then had repudiated her, and thereupon taken Herodias, even in her husband's lifetime, a circumstance in connection with which he had had John the Baptist put to death. Consequently there was war between Herod and Aretas on account of the wrong done the daughter of Aretas, Being sharply attacked, Herod's troops were defeated, thanks to the help of the brave Armenians; as if, by divine providence, vengeance was taken for the death of John the Baptist.
Abgar sends princes to Marinus; These deputies see our Saviour Christ; Beginning of the conversion of Abgar.
At this period Marinus, son of Storoge, was raised by the emperor to the government of Phoenicia, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia. Abgar sent to him two of his principal officers, Mar-Ihap prince of Aghtznik, and Chamchacram chief of the house of the Abahouni, as well as Anan his confidant. The envoys proceed to the town of Petkoupine to make known to Marinus the reasons of Abgar's journey to the East, showing him the treaty concluded between Ardaches and his brothers, and at the same time to call upon Marinus for his support. The deputies found the Roman governor at Eleutheropolis; he received them with friendship and distinction, and gave this answer to Abgar: "Fear nothing from the emperor on that account, provided you take good care to pay the tribute regularly."
On their return, the Armenian deputies went to Jerusalem to see our Saviour the Christ, being attracted by the report of His miracles. Having themselves become eye-witnesses of these wonders, they related them to Abgar. This prince, seized with admiration, believed truly that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and said: "These wonders are not those of a man, but of a God. No, there is no one amongst men who can raise the dead: God alone has this power." Abgar felt in his whole body certain acute pains which he had got in Persia, more than seven years before; from men he had received no remedy for his sufferings; Abgar sent a letter of entreaty to Jesus: he prayed Him to come and cure him of his pains. Here is this letter:-
Abgar's letter to the Saviour Jesus Christ.
"Abgar, son of Archam, prince of the land, to Jesus, Saviour and Benefactor of men, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting:-
"I have heard of Thee, and of the cures wrought by Thy hands, without remedies, without herbs: for, as it is said, Thou makest the blind to see, the lame to walk, the lepers to be healed; Thou drivest out unclean spirits, Thou curest unhappy beings afflicted with prolonged and inveterate diseases; Thou dost even raise the dead. As I have heard of all these wonders wrought by Thee, I have concluded from them either that Thou art God, come down from heaven to do such great things, or that Thou art the Son of God, working as Thou dost these miracles. Therefore have I written to Thee, praying Thee to condescend to come to me and cure me of the complaints with which I am afflicted. I have heard also that the Jews murmur against Thee and wish to deliver Thee up to torments: I have a city small but pleasant, it would be sufficient for us both."
The messengers, the bearers of this letter, met Jesus at Jerusalem, a fact confirmed by these words of the Gospel: "Some from amongst the heathen came to find Jesus, but those who heard them, not daring to tell Jesus what they had heard, told it to Philip and Andrew, who repeated it all to their Master."
The Saviour did not then accept the invitation given to Him, but He thought fit to honour Abgar with an answer in these words:-
Answer to Abgar's letter, which the apostle Thomas wrote to this prince by command of the saviour.
"Blessed is he who believes in me without having seen me! For it is written of me: `Those who see me will not believe in me, and those who do not see me will believe and live.'As to what thou hast written asking me to come to thee, I must accomplish here all that for which I have been sent; and, when I shall have accomplished it all, I shall ascend to Him who sent me; and when I shall go away I will send one of my disciples, who will cure thy diseases, and give life to thee and to all those who are with thee." Anan, Abgar's courier, brought him this letter, as well as the portrait of the Saviour, a picture which is still to be found at this day in the city of Edessa.
Preaching of the apostle ThaddAeus at Edessa; Copy of five letters.
After the ascension of our Saviour, the Apostle Thomas, one of the twelve, sent one of the seventy-six disciples, Thaddaeus, to the city of Edessa to heal Abgar and to preach the Gospel, according to the word of the Lord. Thaddaeus came to the house of Tobias, a Jewish prince, who is said to have been of the race of the Pacradouni. Tobias, having left Archam, did not abjure Judaism with the rest of his relatives, but followed its laws up to the moment when he believed in Christ. Soon the name of Thaddaeus spreads through the whole town. Abgar, on learning of his arrival, said: "This is indeed he concerning whom Jesus wrote to me; "and immediately Abgar sent for the apostle. When Thaddaeus entered, a marvellous appearance presented itself to the eyes of Abgar in the countenance of the apostle; the king having risen from his throne, fell on his face to the earth, and prostrated himself before Thaddaeus. This spectacle greatly surprised all the princes who were present, for they were ignorant of the fact of the vision. "Art thou really," said Abgar to Thaddaeus, "art thou the disciple of the ever-blessed Jesus? Art thou he whom He promised to send to me, and canst thou heal my maladies? ""Yes," answered Thaddaeus; "if thou believest in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the desires of thy heart shall be granted." "I have believed in Jesus," said Abgar, "I have believed in His Father; therefore I wished to go at the head of my troops to destroy the Jews who have crucified Jesus, had I not been prevented by reason of the power of the Romans."
Thenceforth Thaddaeus began to preach the Gospel to the king and his town; laying his hands upon Abgar, he cured him; he cured also a man with gout, Abdu, a prince of the town, much honoured in all the king's house. He also heated all the sick and infirm people in the town, and all believed in Jesus Christ. Abgar was baptized, and all the town with him, and the temples of the false gods were closed, and all the statues of idols that were placed on the altars and columns were hidden by being covered with reeds. Abgar did not compel any one to embrace the faith yet from day to day the number of the believers was multiplied.
The Apostle Thaddaeus baptizes a manufacturer of silk head-dresses, called Attaeus, consecrates him, appoints him to minister at Edessa, and leaves him with the king instead of himself. Thaddaeus, after having received letters patent from Abgar, who wished that all should listen to the Gospel of Christ, went to find Sanadroug, son of Abgar's sister, whom this prince had appointed over the country and over the army. Abgar was pleased to write to the Emperor Tiberius a letter in these words:-
Abgar's letter to Tiberius.
"Abgar, king of Armenia, to my Lord Tiberius, emperor of the Romans, greeting:-
"I know that nothing is unknown to your Majesty, but, as your friend, I would make you better acquainted with the facts by writing. The Jews who dwell in the cantons of Palestine have crucified Jesus: Jesus without sin, Jesus after so many acts of kindness, so many wonders and miracles wrought for their good, even to the raising of the dead. Be assured that these are not the effects of the power of a simple mortal, but of God. During the time that they were crucifying Him, the sun was darkened, the earth was moved, shaken; Jesus Himself, three days afterwards, rose from the dead and appeared to many. Now, everywhere, His name alone, invoked by His disciples, produces the greatest miracles: what has happened to myself is the most evident proof of it. Your august Majesty knows henceforth what ought to be done in future with respect to the Jewish nation, which has committed this crime; your Majesty knows whether a command should not be published through the whole universe to worship Christ as the true God. Safety and health."
Answer from Tiberius to Abgar's letter.
"Tiberius, emperor of the Romans, to Abgar, king of the Armenians, greeting:-
"Your kind letter has been read to me, and I wish that thanks should be given to you from me. Though we had already heard several persons relate these facts, Pilate has officially informed us of the miracles of Jesus. He has certified to us that after His resurrection from the dead He was acknowledged by many to be God. Therefore I myself also wished to do what you propose; but, as it is the custom of the Romans not to admit a god merely by the command of the sovereign, but only when the admission has been discussed and examined in full senate, I proposed the affair to the senate, and they rejected it with contempt, doubtless because it had not been considered by them first. But we have commanded all those whom Jesus suits, to receive him amongst the gods. We have threatened with death any one who shall speak evil of the Christians. As to the Jewish nation which has dared to crucify Jesus, who, as I hear, far from deserving the cross and death, was worthy of honour, worthy of the adoration of men-when I am free from the war with rebellious Spain, I will examine into the matter, and will treat the Jews as they deserve."
Abgar writes another letter to Tiberius.
"Abgar, king of the Armenians, to my lord Tiberius, emperor of the Romans, greeting:-
"I have received the letter written from your august Majesty, and I have applauded the commands which have emanated from your wisdom. If you will not be angry with me, I will say that the conduct of the senate is extremely ridiculous and absurd: for, according to the senators, it is after the examination and by the suffrages of men that divinity may be ascribed. Thus, then, if God does not suit man, He cannot be God, since God is to be judged and justified by man. It will no doubt seem just to my lord and master to send another governor to Jerusalem in the place of Pilate, who ought to be ignominiously driven from the powerful post in which you placed him; for he has done the will of the Jews: he has crucified Christ unjustly, without your order. That you may enjoy health is my desire."
Abgar, having written this letter, placed a copy of it, with copies of the other letters, in his archives. He wrote also to the young Nerseh, king of Assyria, at Babylon:-
Abgar's letter to Nerseh.
"Abgar, king of the Armenians, to my son Nerseh, greeting:-
"I have received your letter and acknowledgments. I have released Beroze from his chains, and have pardoned his offences: if this pleases you, give him the government of Nineveh. But as to what you write to me about sending you the physician who works miracles and preaches another God superior to fire and water, that you may see and hear him, I say to you: he was not a physician according to the art of men; he was a disciple of the Son of God, Creator of fire and water: he has been appointed and sent to the countries of Armenia. But one of his principal companions, named Simon, is sent into the countries of Persia. Seek for him, and you will hear him, you as well as your father Ardaches. He will heal all your diseases and will show you the way of life."
Abgar wrote also to Ardaches, king of the Persians, the following letter:-
Abgar's letter to Ardaches.
"Abgar, king of the Armenians, to Ardaches my brother, king of the Persians, greeting:-
"I know that you have heard of Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom the Jews have crucified Jesus who was raised from the dead, and has sent His disciples through all the world to instruct men. One of His chief disciples, named Simon, is in your Majesty's territories. Seek for him, and you will find him, and he will cure you of all your maladies, and will show you the way of life, and you will believe in his words, you, and your brothers, and all those who willingly obey you. It is very pleasant to me to think that my relations in the flesh will be also my relations, my friends, in the spirit."
Abgar had not yet received answers to these letters when he died, having reigned thirty-eight years.
Martyrdom of our apostles.
After the death of Abgar, the kingdom of Armenia was divided between two: Ananoun, Abgar's son, reigned at Edessa, and sister's son, Sanadroug, in Armenia. What took place in their time has been previously told by others: the apostle's arrival in Armenia, the conversion of Sanadroug and his apostasy for fear of the Armenian satraps, and the martyrdom of the apostle and his companions in the canton of Chavarchan, now called Ardaz, and the stone opening to receive the body of the apostle, and the removal of this body by his disciples, his burial in the plain, and the martyrdom of the king's daughter, Santoukhd, near the road, and the apparition of the remains of the two saints, and their removal to the rocks-all circumstances related by others, as we have said, a long time before us: we have not thought it important. to repeat them here. In the same way also what is related of the martyrdom at Edessa of Attaeus, a disciple of the apostle, a martyrdom ordered by Abgar's son, has been told by others before us.
The prince who reigned after the death of his father, did not inherit his father's virtues: he opened the temples of the idols, and embraced the religion of the heathen. He sent word to Attaeus: "Make me a head-dress of cloth interwoven with gold, like those you formerly used to make for my father." He received this answer from Attaeus: "My hands shall not make a head-dress for an unworthy prince, who does not worship Christ the living God."
Immediately the king ordered one of his armed men to cut off Attaeus' feet. The soldier went, and, seeing the holy man seated in the chair of the teacher, cut off his legs with his sword, and immediately the saint gave up the ghost. We mention this cursorily, as a fact related by others a long while ago. There came then into Armenia the Apostle Bartholomew, who suffered martyrdom among us in the town of Arepan. As to Simon, who was sent unto Persia, I cannot relate with certainty what he did, nor where he suffered martyrdom. It is said that one Simon, an apostle, was martyred at Veriospore. Is this true, or why did the saint come to this place? I do not know; I have only mentioned this circumstance that you may know I spare no pains to tell you all that is necessary.
Reign of Sanadroug; Murder of Abgar's children; The princess Helena.
Sanadroug, being on the throne, raises troops with the help of the brave Pacradouni and Ardzrouni, who had exalted him, and goes to wage war upon the children of Abgar, to make him self master of the whole kingdom. Whilst Sanadroug was occupied with these affairs, as if by an effect of divine providence vengeance was taken for the death of Attaeus; for a marble column which the son of Abgar was having erected at Edessa, on the summit of his palace, while he was underneath to direct the work, escaped from the hands of the workmen, fell upon him and crushed his feet.
Immediately there came a message from the inhabitants of the town, asking Sanadroug for a treaty by which he should engage not to disturb them in the exercise of the Christian religion, in consideration of which, they would give up the town and the king's treasures. Sanadroug promised, but in the end violated his oath. Sanadroug put all the children of the house of Abgar to the edge of the sword, with the exception of the daughters, whom he withdrew from the town to place them in the canton of Hachdiank. As to the first of Abgar's wives, named Helena, he sent her to his town at Kharan, and left to her the sovereignty of the whole of Mesopotamia, in remembrance of the benefits he had received from Abgar by Helena's means.
Helena, pious like her husband Abgar, did not wish to live in the midst of idolaters; she went away to Jerusalem in the time of Claudius, during the famine which Agabus had predicted; with all her treasures she bought in Egypt an immense quantity of corn, which she distributed amongst the poor, a fact to which Josephus testifies. Helena's tomb, a truly remarkable one, is still to be seen before the gate of Jerusalem.
Restoration of the town of Medzpine; Name of Sanadroug; His death.
Of all Sanadroug's doings and actions, we judge none worthy of remembrance except the building of the town of Medzpine; for, this town having been shaken by an earthquake, Sanadroug pulled it down, rebuilt it more magnificently, and surrounded it with double walls and ramparts. Sanadroug caused to be erected in the middle of the town his statue holding in his hand a single piece of money, which signifies: "All my treasures have been used in building the town, and no more than this single piece of money is left to me."
But why was this prince called Sanadroug? We will tell you: Because Abgar's sister, Otaea, while travelling in Armenia in the winter, was assailed by a whirlwind of snow in the Gortouk mountains; the tempest separated them all, so that none of them knew where his companion had been driven. The prince's nurse, Sanod, sister of Piourad Pacradouni, wife of Khosran Ardzrouni, having taken the royal infant, for Sanadroug was still in the cradle, laid him upon her bosom, and remained with him under the snow three days and three nights. Legend has taken possession of this circumstance: it relates that an animal, a new species, wonderful, of great whiteness, sent by the gods, guarded the child. But so far as we have been informed, this is the fact: a white dog, which was amongst the men sent in search, found the child and his nurse; the prince was therefore called Sanadroug, a name taken from his nurse's name (and from the Armenian name, dourk, a gift), as if to signify the gift of Sanod.
Sanadroug, having ascended the throne in the twelfth year of Ardaches, king of the Persians, and having lived thirty years, died as he was hunting, from an arrow which pierced his bowels, as if in punishment of the torments which he had made his holy daughter suffer. Gheroupna, son of the scribe Apchatar, collected all these facts, happening in the time of Abgar and Sanadroug, and placed them in the archives of Edessa.
Homily on Habib the Martyr
Composed by Mar Jacob.1
Habib the martyr, clad in flame, hath called to me out of the fire,
That for him likewise I should fashion an image of beauty among the glorious.
Comrade of conquerors, lo! he beckoneth to me out of the burning,
That, as for the glory of his Lord, I should sing concerning him.
In the midst of live coals stands the heroic man, and lo! he calleth to me,
That I should fashion his image: but the blazing fire permits me not.
His love is fervid, glowing is his faith;
His fire also burneth, and who is adequate to recount his love?
Nay, by reason of that love which led the martyr into the fire,
No man is able to recount his beauties divine.
For who shall dare enter and see in the blazing fire
To whom he is like, and after what pattern he is to be fashioned among the glorious?
Shall I fashion his image by the side of the youths, the children of the furnace?
With Hananiah shall I reckon Habib? I know not.
Lo! these were not burned there: how, then, is he like?
He, I say, like them, when he was burned and the youths not?
Which, I ask, the more beautiful-Habib the martyr, or Azariah?
Difficult for me is the image: how I am to look upon it, I know not.
Lo! Michael was not burned by the flame;
But Habib was burned: which, then, the more beautiful to him that looketh upon him?
Who shall dare say that this is repulsive, or that;
Or not so comely this as that, to him that beholdeth him?
Three there are in the fire, and the flame cometh not near them;
But one was burned: and how shall I suffice to tell
That the Fourth form is that of Him who went down into the midst of the furnace,
That He might fashion an image for Habib there along with those of the three?
He giveth a place in the fire to him who was burned,
That he may be, instead of Him the Fourth, by the side of the conquerors.
And, if of the three the beauties be glorious, though they were not burned,
How shall not this one, who was burned, be mingled with the glorious?
If a man have the power either to be burned or not to be burned,
Of this man, who was burned, more exalted was the beauty than that of the three.
But, inasmuch as the Lord is the control of all things,
He is to be praised, both where He rescues and where He delivers up.
Moreover, too, the will of the three who were not burned,
And of him who was burned, is one and the same, in this case and in that;2
And, had its Lord commanded the fire to burn them,
Even those three on their part, burned they would have been;
And, if He had signified to it that it should not burn that one man also,
He would not have been burned; nor had it been of himself that he was rescued.
To go into the fire was of their own will, when they went in;
But that they were not burned-because the Lord of the fire willed and commanded it.
Therefore one equal beauty is that of him who was burned,
And that of him who was not burned, because the will also was equal.
Beloved martyr! exalted is thy beauty; exalted is thy rank:
Graceful too thy crown, and mingled thy story with that of the glorious.
Choice gold art thou, and the fire hath tried thee, and resplendent is thy beauty.
And lo! into the King's crown art thou wrought, along with the victorious.
Good workman! who, in the doctrine of the Son of God,
Pursueth his course like a valiant3 man, because of the beauty of his faith.
Habib the martyr was a teacher of that which is true;
A preacher also, whose mouth was full of faith.
Watchful was he, and prompt for service; and he encouraged with his teaching
The household of the house of God, through his faith.
Of light was he full, and he wrestled with the darkness
Which overspread the country from the paganism which had darkened it.
With the Gospel of the Son was his mouth filled in the congregations;
And as it were a leader of the way did he become to the villages when he arrived in them.
Zealous he was, because he was concerned for the doctrine
Divine, that he might establish the adherents4 of the faith.
At the time when the winds of the pagans blew, a lamp was he,
And flamed forth whilst they blew upon him, and went not out.
All on fire was he, and filled with the love of his Lord, and was concerned
For this-that he might speak of Him without hindrance.5
The thorns of errour sprang up in the land from paganism;
And, as much as in him lay, he rooted them out by his diligence.
He taught, admonished, and confirmed in the faith,
The friends of Christ,6 who were harassed by persecutors.
Against sword and against fire did he wrestle,
With love hot as the flame, and was not afraid.
Like a two-edged brand,7 keen was
His faith, and against error did he contend.
Leaven did he prove to be in this land which had become exhausted8
Through fondness for the idols of vanity which error had brought in.
He was like salt by reason of his savoury doctrine
To this region, which had become insipid through unbelief.
A deacon was he, and filled the place of a high-priest
By the preaching and teaching of that which is true.
He was to the flock a good shepherd whilst he was its overseer;
And his life laid he down for the flock while he tended it.
He chased away the wolf, and drove off from it the beast of prey.
And he repaired the breaches, and gathered the lambs into their folds.
He went out secretly and encouraged the congregations:
He strengthened them, and exhorted them, and held them up.
And he forged armour of faith, and put it on them,
That they might not be ignominiously overthrown9 by the paganism which abounded.
The flocks of the fold of the Son of God were being laid waste
By persecutors: and he encouraged the lambs and the ewes.
And he was an advocate to the household of faith;
And he taught them not to be daunted by persecutors.
He taught them to run to meet death,
Without being afraid either of sword or of fire.
In the teaching of the Son of God he prospered,
So that his faith pursued its course without dread.
Then errour grew envious, became furious, and was maddened, because of him;
And she pursued after him, that she might shed upon the earth innocent blood.
The Defamer, who hates the race of men,
Laid snares for him, that he might rid the place of his presence.10
He who hateth the truth pursued after him to put him to death,
That he might make his voice to cease11 from the teaching of the house of God.
And errour raised an outcry demanding that Habib should die, because she hated him;
Vexation goaded her on, and she sought to take away his life.
His story was talked about12 before the pagan judge of the country,
And the dear fame of him reached the king: who in great rage,
And because the diadem was interwoven with paganism, decreed13 death
Against Habib, because he was full of faith.
And, when the command reached the judge, he armed himself
With rage and fury; and, with a mind thirsting for blood,
And like hunters who lay nets for the young stag,
After Habib did they go out to catch him.
But this man was a preacher of the faith,
Who in the highway of the crucifixion was prospering;
And, that he might benefit by his teaching the children of his people,
His work embraced the countries round about him.
So, when error went out after him, she found him not:
Not that he was fled, but that he had gone out to preach the Gospel.
Then, because of the fury of the pagans, which was great beyond all that was meet,
His kindred and his mother did they seize for his sake.
Blessed art thou, O woman! mother since thou art of the martyr.
For wherefore was it that they seized thee and bound thee, iniquitously?
What do they require of thee, O thou full of beauty? What, I ask, have they required of thee?
Lo! they require of thee that thou bring the martyr, that he may be a sacrifice.
Bring, oh bring thy sweet fruit to the place of the oblation-
The fruit whose smell is fragrant, that it may be incense to the Godhead.
Fair shoot, thy cluster bring from where it is,
That its wine may be for a libation whose taste is sweet.
The lamb heard that they were seeking him, that he might be a sacrifice;
And he set out and came to the sacrificers rejoicing.
He heard that others also were being afflicted for his sake,
And he came that he might bear the suffering which was his, in the stead of many.
The lot fell on him, to be himself alone a sacrifice;
And the fire that was to offer him up was looking out for him until he came.
Of the many who were bound for his sake
Not one single person was seized to die, but only he.
He it was that was worthy, and for him was martyrdom reserved;
And to snatch the martyr's place no man was able.
And therefore of his own will did he present himself
To the judge, that he might be seized, and die for Jesus' sake.
He heard that they sought him, and he came that he might be seized, even as they sought him:
And he went in of himself before the judge, and dauntless was his look.
He hid not himself, nor did he wish to flee from the judge:
For with light was he imbued, and from the darkness he would not flee.
No robber was he, no murderer, no thief,
No child of night: but all his course was run in open day.
Wherefore from his flock should the good shepherd flee,
And leave his fold to be devoured by robbers?
Wherefore should the physician flee, who goeth forth to heal diseases,
And to cure souls by the blood of the Son of God?
A fearless countenance14 did the brave man carry with him, and a great heart;
And to meet death he ran, rejoicing, for Jesus' sake.
He went in, he stood before the judge, saying to him:
I am Habib, whom ye sought: lo! here I stand.
And the pagan trembled, and amazement seized him, and he marvelled at him-
At the man who was not afraid, either of sword or of fire.
While he thought that he was fleeing apace, he entered in and mocked him;
And the judge shook, for he saw him courageous in the very face of death.
A disciple he of that Son of God who said:
"Rise, come, let us go: for he that betrayeth me lo! is here."
And to the crucifiers, again, He said: "Whom seek ye? "
They say: "Jesus." And He said to them: "I am He."
The Son of God of His own will came to the cross;
And on Him the martyr looked, and presented himself uncompelled before the judge.
And the pagan beheld him, and was smitten with fear, and was exasperated against him.
His rage was excited, and he began in his fury to put to him questions.15
And, as if he had been one who had shed on the ground the blood of the slain,
He proceeded to question the saintly man, but he was not ashamed
Menacing him, and trying to terrify him, and to frighten him,
And recounting the sufferings which were being prepared by him on his account.
But Habib, when questioned, was not afraid,
Was not ashamed, and was not frightened by the menaces he heard.
Lifting up his voice, he confessed Jesus, the Son of God-
That he was His servant, and was His priest, and His minister.16
At the fury of the pagans, roaring at him like lions,
He trembled not, nor ceased17 from the confession of the Son of God.
He was scourged, and the scourgings were very dear to him,
Seeing that he bore a little of the stripes of the Son of God.
He was put into bonds,18 and he looked on his Lord, whom also they had bound;
And his heart rejoiced that in the path of His sufferings he had begun to walk.
He ascended the block,19 and they tore him with combs, but his soul was radiant with light,
Because he was deemed worthy that on him should come the agony of the sufferings of crucifixion.
In the pathway of death had he set his face to walk,
And what could he desire to find in it but sufferings?
The fire of sacrifice20 was betrothed to him, and for her did he look;
And she on her part sent him combs, and stripes, and pains, to taste.
All the while that she was coming, she sent him sufferings, that by means of them
He might be prepared, so that when she met him she might not dismay him.
Sufferings purged him, so that, when the blazing fire should put him to the proof,
There might not be any dross found in his choice gold.
And he endured the whole of the pains that came upon him,
That he might have experience of suffering, and in the burning stand like a brave man.
And he accepted rejoicing the sufferings which he had to bear:
For he knew that at their termination he should find death.
And he was not afraid, either of death or of sufferings:
For with that wine of the crucifixion his heart was drunk.
He despised his body, while it was being dragged along by the persecutors;
And his limbs, while they were being torn asunder in bitter agony.21
Scourges on his back, combs on his sides, stocks on his feet,
And fire in front of him: still was he brave and full of faith.
They taunted him: Lo! thou worshippest a man;
But he said: A man I worship not,
But God, who took a body and became man:
Him do I worship, because He is God with Him that begat Him.
The faith of Habib, the martyr, was full of light
And by it was enlightened Edessa, the faithful city.
The daughter of Abgar, whom Addaeus betrothed to the crucifixion-
Through it is her light, through it her truth and her faith.
Her king is from it, her martyrs from it, her truth from it;
The teachers also of her faith are from it.
Abgar believed that Thou an God, the Son of God;
And he received a blessing because of the beauty of his faith.
Sharbil the martyr, son of the Edessaeans, more-ever said:
My heart is led captive by God, who became man.
And Habib the martyr, who also was crowned at Edessa,
Confessed these things: that He took a body and became man;
That He is the Son of God, and also is God, and became man.
Edessa learned from teachers the things that are true:
Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her, the faith;
But to others, who were fraudulent teachers, she would not hearken.
Habib the martyr, in the ear of Edessa, thus cried aloud
Out of the midst of the fire: A man I worship not,
But God, who took a body and became man
Him do I worship. Thus confessed the martyr with uplifted voice.
From confessors torn with combs, burnt, raised up on the block, slain
And from a righteous king, did Edessa learn the faith,
And she knows our Lord-that He is even God, the Son of God;
She also learned and firmly believed that He took a body and became man.
Not from common scribes did she learn the faith:
Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her; and she firmly believed them:
And, if she be calumniated as having ever worshipped a man,
She points to her martyrs, who died for Him as being God.
A man I worship not, said Habib,
Because it is written: "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in a man."22
Forasmuch as He is God, I worship Him, yea submit to be burned
For His sake, nor will I renounce His faith.
This truth has Edessa held fast from her youth,
And in her old age she will not barter it away as a daughter of the poor.
Her righteous king became to her a scribe, and from him she learned
Concerning our Lord-that He is the Son of God, yea God.
Addaeus, who brought the bridegroom's ring and put it on her hand,
Betrothed her thus to the Son of God, who is the Only-begotten.
Sharbil the priest, who made trial and proof of all gods,
Died, even as he said, "for God who became man."
Shamuna and Guria, for the sake of the Only-begotten,
Stretched out their necks to receive the stroke, and for Him died, forasmuch as He is God.
And Habib the martyr, who was teacher of congregations,
Preached of Him, that He took a body and became man.
For a man the martyr would not have submitted to be burned in the fire;
But he was burned "for the sake of God who became man."
And Edessa is witness that thus he confessed while he was being burned:
And from the confession of a martyr that has been burned who is he that can escape?
All minds does faith reduce to silence and despise-
She that is full of light and stoopeth not to shadows.
She despiseth him that maligns the Son by denying that He is God;
Him too that saith "He took not a body and became man."
In faith which was full of truth he stood upon the fire;
And he became incense, and propitiated with his fragrance the Son of God.
In all his afflictions, and in all his tortures, and in all his sufferings,
Thus did he confess, and thus did he teach the blessed city.
And this truth did Edessa hold fast touching our Lord-
Even that He is God, and of Mary became a man.
And the bride hates him that denies His God-head,
And despises and contemns him that maligns His corporeal nature.
And she recognises Him as One in Godhead and in manhood-
The Only-begotten, whose body is inseparable from Him.
And thus did the daughter of the Parthians learn to believe,
And thus did she firmly hold, and thus does she teach him that listens to her.
The judge, therefore, full of zeal for paganism, commanded
That the martyr should be led forth and burned in the fire which was reserved for him.
And forthwith a strap was thrust into his mouth, as though he had been a murderer,
His confession being kept within his heart towards God.
And they hurried him away, and he went out from the judgment-hall, rejoicing
That the hour was come when the crown should be given to his faith.
And there went out with him crowds of people, that they might bear him company,
Looking upon him, not as a dead man accompanied to his burial,
But as a man who was going away that by means of fire he might become a bridegroom,
And that there might be bestowed the crown which was by righteousness reserved for him.
They looked upon him as upon a man entering into battle,
And around him were spears, and lances, and swords, but he vanquished them.
They beheld him going up like a champion from the contest,
And in his triumph chaplets were brought to him by those who beheld.
They looked upon him as he vanquished principalities and powers,
Which all made war with him, and he put them to shame.
The whole congregation of the followers of Christ exulted over him,
Because he raised up the friends23 of the faith by the sufferings which he bore.
There went forth with him the Church, a bride full of light;
And her face was beaming on the beloved martyr who was united to her.
Then did his mother, because it was the marriage-feast for her son,
Deck herself in garments nobler than her wont.
Since sordid raiment suited not the banquet-hall,
In magnificent attire all white she clad herself fight tastefully.
Hither to the battle came down love to fight
In the mother's soul-the love of nature, and the love of God.
She looked upon her son as he went forth to be put into the flame;
And, forasmuch as there was in her the love of the Lord, she suffered not.
The yearnings of her mother's womb cried out on behalf of its fruit;
But faith silenced them, so that their tumult ceased.
Nature shrieked over the limb which was severed from her;
But the love of the Lord intoxicated the soul, that she should not perceive it.
Nature loved, but the love of the Lord did conquer in the strife
Within the soul of the mother, that she should not grieve for her beloved.
And instead of suffering, her heart was filled with all emotions of joy;
And, instead of mourning, she went forth in splendid apparel.
And she accompanied him as he went out to be burned, and was elate,
Because the love of the Lord vanquished that of nature.
And clad in white, as for a bridegroom, she made a marriage-feast-
She the mother of the martyr, and was blithe because of him.
"Shamuna the Second" may we call this blessed one:
Since, had seven been burned instead of one, she had been well content.
One she had, and she gave him to be food for the fire;
And, even as that one, if she had had seven, she had given them all.
He was cast into the fire, and the blaze kindled around him;
And his mother looked on, and grieved not at his burning.
Another eye, which gazeth upon the things unseen,
Was in her soul, and by reason of this she exulted when he was being burned.
On the gems of light which are in martyrs' crowns she looked,
And on the glory which is laid up for them after their sufferings;
And on the promised blessings which they inherit yonder through their afflictions,
And on the Son of God who clothes their limbs with light;
And on the manifold beauties of that kingdom which shall not be dissolved,
And on the ample door which is opened for them to enter in to God.
On these did the martyr's mother look when he was being burned,
And she rejoiced, she exalted, and in white did she go forth with him.
She looked upon him while the fire consumed his frame,
And, forasmuch as his crown was very noble, she grieved not.
The sweet root was thrown into the fire, upon the coals;
And it turned to incense, and cleansed the air from pollution.
With the fumes of sacrifice had the air been polluted,
And by the burning of this martyr was it cleansed.
The firmament was fetid with the exhalations from24 the altars;
And there rose up the sweet perfume of the martyr, and it grew sweet thereby.
And the sacrifices ceased, and there was peace in the assemblies;
And the sword was blunted, that it should no more lay waste the friends of Christ.
With Sharbil it began, with Habib it ended, in our land;
And from that time25 even until now not one has it shin, since he was burned.
Constantine, chief of conquerors, took the empire,
And the cross has trampled on the diadem of the emperor, and is set upon his head.
Broken is the lofty horn of idolatry,
And from the burning of the martyr even until now not one has it pierced.
His smoke arose, and it became incense to the Godhead;
And by it was the air purged which was tainted by paganism,
And by his burning was the whole land cleansed:
Blessed be he that gave him a crown, and glory, and a good name!
Here endeth the Homily on Habib the martyr, composed by Mar Jacob.
A Homily on Guria and Shamuna
Composed by Mar Jacob.
Shamuna and Guria, martyrs who made themselves illustrious in their afflictions,
Have in love required of me to tell of their illustrious deeds.
To champions of the faith the doctrine calleth me,
That I should go and behold their contests and their crowns.
Children of the right hand, who have done battle against the left,
Have called me this day to recite the marvellous tale of their conflicts:-
Simple old men, who entered into the fight like heroes,
And nobly distinguished themselves in the strife of blood:
Those who were the salt of our land, and it was sweetened thereby,
And its savour was restored, which had become insipid through unbelief:
Candlesticks of gold, which were full of the oil of the crucifixion,
By which was lighted up all our region, which had turned to darkness:
Two lamps, of which, when all the winds were blowing
Of every kind of error, the lights were not put out;
Good labourers, who from the spring of day laboured
In the blessed vineyard of the house of God right duteously:
Bulwarks of our land, who became to us as it were a defence
Against all spoilers in all the wars that surrounded us:
Havens of peace, a place also of retreat for all that were distressed,
And a resting-place for the head of every one that was in need of succour:
Two precious pearls, which were
An ornament for the bride of my lord Abgar, the Aramaean's son.
Teachers they were who practised their teaching in blood,
And whose faith was known by their sufferings.
On their bodies they wrote the story of the Son of God
With the marks of combs and scourges which thickly covered them.
They showed their love, not by words of the mouth alone,
But by tortures and by the rending of their limbs asunder.
For the love of the Son of God they gave up their bodies:
Since it beseemeth the lover that for his love he should give up himself.
Fire and sword proved their love, how true it was;
And more beautiful than silver tried in a furnace of earth were their necks.
They looked on God, and, because they saw His exalted beauties,
Therefore did they look with contempt upon their sufferings for His sake.
The Sun of righteousness had arisen in their hearts;
And they were enlightened by it, and with His light chased they away the darkness.
At the idols of vanity, which error had brought in, they laughed,
Instinct with the faith of the Son of God which is full of light.
The love of the Lord was as a fire in their hearts;
Nor could all the brambles of idolatry stand before it.
Fixed was their love on God unchangeably:1
And therefore did they look with scorn upon the sword,2 all athirst as it was for blood.
With guilelesshess and yet with wisdom stood they in the judgment-hall,
As they had been commanded by the Teacher of that which is true.
Despising as they did kindred and family, guileless were they;
Forasmuch, also, as possessions and wealth were held in no account by them.
Nor guileless only: for in the judgment-hall with the wisdom of serpents too
They were heedful of the faith of the house of God.
When a serpent is seized and struck, he guards his head,
But gives up and leaves exposed all his body to his captors:
And, so long as his head is kept from harm, his life abideth in him;
But, if the head be struck, his life is left a prey to destruction.
The head of the soul is men's faith;
And, if this be preserved unharmed, by it is also preserved their life:3
Even though the whole body be lacerated with blows,
Yet, so long as faith is preserved, the soul is alive;
But, if faith is struck down by unbelief,
Lost is the soul, and life has perished from the man.
Shamuna and Guria of the faith as men4
Were heedful, that it should not be struck down by persecutors:
For they knew that, if faith is preserved,
Both soul and body are preserved from destruction.
And, because of this, touching their faith were they solicitous,
That that should not be struck down in which their very life was hidden.
They gave up their bodies both to blows and to dislocation,5
Yea to every kind of torture, that their faith should not be stricken down;
And, even as the serpent also hides his head from blows,
So hid they their faith within their hearts;
And the body was smitten, and endured stripes, and bore sufferings:
But overthrown was not their faith which was within their hearts.
The mouth betrayeth the soul to death when it speaks,
And with the tongue, as with a sword, worketh slaughter.
And from it spring up both life and death to men:
Denying a man dies, confessing he lives, and the mouth hath power over it.
Denial is death, and in confession is the soul's life;
And power hath the mouth over them both, like a judge.
The word of the mouth openeth the door for death to enter in;
This, too, calleth for life, and it beameth forth upon the man.
Even the robber by one word of faith
Won him the kingdom, and became heir of paradise,6 all fraught with blessings.
The wicked judges too, from the martyrs, the sons of the right hand,
Demanded that by word of mouth only they should blaspheme;
But, like true men holding fast the faith,
They uttered not a word by which unbelief might be served.
Shamuna, beauty of our faith, who is adequate to tell of thee?
All too narrow is my mouth for thy praise, too mean for thee to be spoken of by it.
Thy truth is thy beauty, thy crown thy suffering, thy wealth thy stripes,
And by reason of thy blows magnificent is the beauty of thy championship.
Proud of thee is our country, as of a treasury which is full of gold:
Since wealth art thou to us, and a coveted store which cannot be stolen from us.
Guria, martyr, staunch hero of our faith,
Who shall suffice thee, to recount thy beauties divine?
Lo! tortures on thy body are set like gems of beryl,
And the sword on thy neck like a chain of choice gold.
Thy blood upon thy form is a robe of glory full of beauty,
And the scourging of thy back a vesture with which the sun may not compare.
Radiant thou art and comely by virtue of these thy sufferings, so abounding;
And resplendent are thy beauties, because of the pains which are so severe upon thee.
Shamuna, our riches, richer art thou than the rich:
For Io! the rich stand at thy door, that thou mayest relieve them.
Small thy village, poor thy country: who, then, gave thee
That lords of villages and cities should court thy favour?
Lo! judges in their robes and vestments
Take dust from thy threshold, as though it were the medicine of life.
The cross is rich, and to its worshippers increaseth riches;
And its poverty despiseth all the riches of the world.
Shamuna and Guria, sons of the poor, lo! at your doors
Bow down the rich, that they may receive from you supplies for their wants.
The Son of God in poverty and want
Showed to the world that all its riches are as nothing,
His disciples, all fishermen, all poor, all weak,
All men of little note, became illustrious through His faith.
One fisherman, whose "village" too was a home of fishermen,7
He made chief over the twelve, yea head of the house.8
One a tentmaker, who aforetime was a persecutor,
He seized upon, and made him a chosen vessel for the faith.
Shamuna and Guria came from villages that were not wealthy,
And lo! in a great city became they lords;
And its chief men, its judges also, stand before their doors,
And they solicit their charity to satisfy their wants.
From their confession of the faith of the Son of God
These blessed men acquired. riches beyond compute.
Poor did He Himself become, and the poor made He rich;
And lo! enriched is the whole creation through His poverty.
The chosen martyrs did battle against error,
And in the confession of the Son of God stood they firm like valiant men.
They went in and confessed Him before the judge with look undaunted,9
That He too might confess them, even as they confessed Him, before His Father.
There arose against them the war of pagans like a tempest;
But the cross was their helmsman, and steered them on.
They were required to sacrifice to lifeless images,
But they departed not from their confession of the Son of God.
The wind of idolatry blew in their faces,
But they themselves were as rocks piled up against the hurricane.
Like a swift whirlwind, error snatched at them;
But, forasmuch as they were sheltered by the crucifixion, it hurt them not.
The Evil One set on all his dogs to bark, that they might bite them;
But, forasmuch as they had the cross for a staff, they put them all to flight.
But who is sufficient to tell of their contests,
Or their sufferings, or the rending asunder of their limbs?
Or who can paint the picture of their coronation,10
How they went up from the contest covered with glory?
To judgment they went in, but of the judge they took no account;
Nor were they anxious what they should say when questioned.
The judge menaced them, and multiplied his words of threatening;
And recounted tortures and all kinds of inflictions, that he might terrify them.
He spake great words,11 that by fright and intimidation,
By menaces too, he might incline them to sacrifice.
Yet the combatants despised the menaces, and the intimidations,
And the sentence of judgment, and all bodily deaths;
And they prepared themselves for insult and stripes, and for blows,
And for provocation, and to be dragged along, and to be burnt;
For imprisonment also, and for bonds, and for all evil things,
And for all tortures, and for all sufferings, rejoicing all the while.
They were not alarmed nor affrighted, nor dismayed,
Nor did the sharpness of the tortures bend them to sacrifice.
Their body they despised, and as dung upon the ground accounted they it:
For they knew that, the more it was beaten, the more would its beauty increase;
And, the more the judge increased his menaces to alarm them,
The more did they show their contempt of him, having no fear of his threats.
He kept telling them what tortures he had prepared for them;
And they continued telling him about Gehenna which was reserved for him.
By those things which he told them he tried to frighten them to sacrifice;
And they spoke to him about the fearful judgment yonder.
Truth is wiser than wise words,
And very hateful, however much it may be adorned, is falsehood.
Shamuna and Guria went on speaking truth,
While the judge continued to utter falsehood.
And therefore were they not afraid of his threatening,
Because all his menaces against the truth were accounted by them as empty sound.12
The intercourse of the world they despised, they contemned and scorned, yea they abandoned;
And to return to it they had no wish, or to enter it again.
From the place of judgment they set their faces to depart
To that meeting-place for them all, the life of the new world.
They cared neither for possessions nor for houses,
Nor for the advantages of this world, so full of evil.
In the world of light was their heart bound captive with God,
And to "that" country did they set their face to depart;
And they looked to the sword, to come and be a bridge
To let them pass over to God, for whom they were longing.
This world they accounted as a little tent,
But that yonder as a city full of beauties;
And they were in haste by the sword to depart hence
To the land of light, which is full of blessing for those who are worthy of it.
The judge commanded to hang them up by their arms,
And without mercy did they stretch them out in bitter agony.
A demon's fury breathed rage into the heart of the judge,
And embittered him against the stedfast ones, inciting him to crush them;
And between the height and the depth he stretched them out to afflict them:
And they were a marvel to both sides, when they saw how much they endured.
At the old men's frame heaven and earth marvelled,
To see how much suffering it bore nor cried out for help under their affliction.
Hung up and dragged along are their feeble bodies by their arms,
Yet is there deep silence, nor is there one that cries out for help or that murmurs.
Amazed were all who beheld their contests,
To see how calmly the outstretched forms bore the inflictions laid upon them.13
Amazed too was Satan at their spotless frames,
To see what weight of affliction they sustained without a groan.
Yea, and gladdened too were the angels by that fortitude of theirs,
To see how patiently it bore that contest so terrible that was.
But, as combatants who were awaiting their crowns,
There entered no sense of weariness into their minds.
Nay, it was the judge that grew weary; yea, he was astonished:
But the noble men before him felt no weariness in their afflictions.
He asked them whether they would consent to sacrifice;
But the mouth was unable to speak from pain.
Thus did the persecutors increase their inflictions,
Until they gave no place for the word to be spoken.
Silent was the mouth from the inflictions laid on their limbs;
But the will, like that of a hero, was nerved with fortitude from itself.
Alas for the persecutors! how destitute were they of righteousness!
But the children of light-how were they clad in faith!
They demand speech, when there is no place for speaking,
Since the word of the mouth was forbidden them by pain.
Fast bound was the body, and silent the mouth, and it was unable
To utter the word when unrighteously questioned.
And what should the martyr do, who had no power to say,
When he was questioned, that he would not sacrifice?
All silent were the old men full of faith,
And from pain they were incapable of speaking.
Yet questioned they were: and in what way, if a man is silent
When he is questioned, shall he assent to that which is said?
But the old men, that they might not be thought to assent,
Expressed clearly by signs the word which it behoved them to speak.
Their heads they shook, and, instead of speech, by a dumb sign they showed
The resolve of the new man that was within.
Their heads hung down, signifying amidst their pains
That they were not going to sacrifice, and every one understood their meaning.
As long as there was in them place for speech, with speech did they confess;
But, when it was forbidden them by pain, they spake with a dumb sign.
Of faith they spoke both with the voice and without the voice:
So that, when speaking and also when silent, they were alike stedfast.
Who but must be amazed at the path of life, how narrow it is,
And how straight to him that desires to walk in it?
Who but must marvel to see that, when the will is watchful and ready,
It is very broad and full of light to him that goeth therein?
About the path are ditches; full also is it of pitfalls;
And, if one turn but a little aside from it, a ditch receives him.
That dumb sign only is there between the right and the left,
And on "Yea" and "Nay" stand14 sin and righteousness.
By a dumb sign only did the blessed men plainly signify that they would not sacrifice,
And in virtue of a single dumb sign did the path lead them to Eden;
And, if this same dumb sign had inclined and turned down but a little
Toward the depth, the path of the old men would have been to Gehenna.
Upwards they made a sign, to signify that upwards were they prepared to ascend;
And in consequence of that sign they ascended and mingled with the heavenly ones.
Between sign and sign were Paradise and Gehenna:
They made a sign that they would not sacrifice, and they inherited the place of the kingdom.
Even while they were Silent they were advocates for the Son of God:
For not in multitude of words doth faith consist.
That fortitude of theirs was a full-voiced confession,
And as though with open mouth declared they their faith by signs;
And every one knew what they were saying, though silent,
And enriched and increased was the faith of the house of God;
And error was put to shame by reason of two old men, who, though they spake not,
Vanquished it; and they kept silence, and their faith stood fast.
And, though tempestuous accents were heard from the judge,
And the commands of the emperor were dreadful, yea violent,
And paganism had a bold face and an open mouth,
And its voice was raised, and silent were the old men with pain,
Yet null and void became the command and drowned was the voice of the judge,
And without speech the mute sign of the martyrs bore off the palm.
Talking and clamour, and the sound of stripes, on the left;
And deep silence and suffering standing on the right;
And, by one mute sign with which the old men pointed above their heads,
The head of faith was lifted up, and error was put to shame.
Worsted in the encounter were they who spoke, and the victory was to the silent:
For, voiceless they uttered by signs the discourse of faith.
They took them down, because they had vanquished while silent;
And they put them in bonds, threatening yet to vanquish them.
Bonds and a dungeon void of light were by the martyrs
Held of no account-yea rather as the light which has no end.
To be without bread, and without water, and without light,
Pleased them well, because of the love of the Son of God.
The judge commanded by their feet to hang them up
With their heads downwards, by a sentence all unrighteous:
Hanged up was Shamuna with his head downwards; and he prayed
In prayer pure and strained clear by pain.
Sweet fruit was hanging on the tree in that judgment-hall,
And its taste and smell made the very denizens of heaven to marvel.
Afflicted was his body, but sound was his faith;
Bound fast was his person, but unfettered was his prayer over his deed.
For, prayer nothing whatsoever turneth aside,
And nothing hindereth it-not even sword, not even fire.
His form was turned upside down, but his prayer was unrestrained,
And straight was its path on high to the abode of the angels.
The more the affliction of the chosen martyr was increased,
The more from his lips was all confession heard.
The martyrs longed for the whetted sword affectionately,
And sought it as a treasure full of riches.
A new work has the Son of God wrought in the world-
That dreadful death should be yearned for15 by many.
That men should run to meet the sword is a thing unheard of,
Except they were those whom Jesus has enlisted in His service by His crucifixion.
That death is bitter, every one knoweth lo! from earliest time:
To martyrs alone is it not bitter to be slain.
They laughed at the whetted sword when they saw it,
And greeted it with smiles: for it was that which was the occasion of their crowns.
As though it had been something hated, they left the body to be beaten:
Even though loving it, they held it not back from pains.
For the sword they waited, and the sword went forth and crowned them:
Because for it they looked; and it came to meet them, even as they desired.
The Son of God slew death by His crucifixion;
And, inasmuch as death is slain, it caused no suffering to the martyrs.
With a wounded serpent one playeth without fear;
A slain lion even a coward will drag along:
The great serpent our Lord crushed by His crucifixion;
The dread lion did the Son of God slay by His sufferings.
Death bound He fast, and laid him prostrate and trampled on him at the gate of Hades;
And now whosoever will draweth near and mocketh at him, because he is slain.
These old men, Shamuna and Guria, mocked at death,
As at that lion which by the Son of God was slain.
The great serpent, which slew Adam among the trees,
Who could seize, so long as he drank not of the blood of the cross?
The Son of God crushed the dragon by His crucifixion,
And lo! boys and old men mock at the wounded serpent.
Pierced is the lion with the spear which pierced the side of the Son of God;
And whosoever will trampleth on him, yea mocketh at him.
The Son of God-He is the cause of all good things,
And Him doth it behove every mouth to celebrate.
He did Himself espouse16 the bride with the blood which flowed from His wounds,
And of His wedding-friends He demanded as a nuptial gift17 the blood of their necks.
The Lord of the wedding-feast hung on the cross in nakedness,
And whosoever came to be a guest, He let fall His blood upon him.
Shamuna and Guria gave up their bodies for His sake
To sufferings and tomes and to all the various forms of woe.18
At Him they looked as He was mocked by wicked men,
And thus did they themselves endure mockery without a groan.
Edessa was enriched by your slaughter, O blessed ones:
For ye adorned her with your crowns and with your sufferings.
Her beauty are ye, her bulwark ye, her salt ye,
Her riches and her store, yea her boast and all her treasure.
Faithful stewards are ye:19
Since by your sufferings ye did array the bride in beauty.
The daughter of the Parthians, who was espoused to the cross,20
Of you maketh her boast: since by your teaching lo! she was enlightened.
Her advocates are ye; scribes who, though silent, vanquished
All error, whilst its voice was uplifted high in unbelief.
Those old men21 of the daughter of the Hebrews were sons of Belial,22
False witnesses, who killed Naboth, feigning themselves to be true.
Her did Edessa outdo by her two old men full of beauty,
Who were witnesses to the Son of God, and died like Naboth.
Two were there, and two here, old men;
And these were called witnesses, and witnesses those.
Let us now see which of them were witnesses chosen of God,
And which city is beloved by reason of her old men and of her honourable ones.
Lo! the sons of Belial who slew Naboth are witnesses;
And here Shamuna and Guria, again, are witnesses.
Let us now see which witnesses, and which old men,
And which city can stand with confidence23 before God.
Sons of Belial were those witnesses of that adulterous woman,
And lo! their shame is all portrayed in their names.
Edessa's just and righteous old men, her witnesses,
Were like Naboth, who himself also was slain for righteousness' sake.
They were not like the two lying sons of Belial,
Nor is Edessa like Zion, which also crucified the Lord.
Like herself her old men were false, yea dared
To shed on the ground innocent blood wickedly.
But by these witnesses here lo! the truth is spoken.-
Blessed be He who gave us the treasure-store of their crowns!
Here endeth the Homily on Guria and Shamuna.
Introduction to Ancient Syriac Documents
1. The preceding Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents were inserted in vol. 20 of the Edinburgh series, quite out of place as it seems to me; and the more so, as other Syriac fragments were to follow.
2. In vol. 22, equally out of place, and mixed up with incongruous material, followed the very interesting work of Bardesanes, to which I now assign a natural collocation with the Edessene Memoirs.
3. In vol. 24, with the Liturgies and other mixed material, comes the third Syriac fagot, another valuable and very interesting contribution severed from its due connections.
The reader of this volume will rejoice to find Mr. Pratten's scattered but most instructive translations here brought together, and arranged in less confused sequence and relations one with another. The several announcements prefixed to each have, in like manner, been here gathered and set in order.
It may be worth while, just here, to direct attention to the latest views of scholarship upon Syria, its language and its antiquities. A learned critic, who often supplies one of our weekly newspapers with articles on the Oriental languages worthy of the best reviews, has directed attention24 to a searching critique of Mommsen's recent addition to his Roman History, of a chapter which "deals with Bible-lands in New-Testament times." Professor Nöldke of Strasburg, a leading Semitic scholar, in the Zeitschrift of the German Oriental Society, thus takes him to task:-
"Syria enjoyed a higher prosperity under the Romans than Mommsen concedes, and this continued down into the Christian period. The Hellenization made rapid strides, but not in such a manner that the Greek language or Greek culture spread to a considerable degree; but rather, in such a way that European arts and manners of life were established, and that a number of elements of Occidental culture became powerful in the thinking and language of the educated. Mommsen, according to my conviction, considers the Hellenization of Syria to have advanced much farther than it actually had. That the language of the country had been entirely banished from the circles of the educated, and that it had assumed the position in reference to the Greek which the Celtic in full had assumed over against the Latin, is certainly an exaggerated view. The Aramaic was an old developed language (Cultursprache), which was already written before a single letter was seen in Latium. In the days of the Achaemenidian rulers this was the official language of Egypt, and even of Asia Minor, and was accordingly spread far beyond the original territory. Again we find this language in the days of the Roman emperors not only in Palmyra, but spread also in the whole country of the Nabatheans, and down to almost Medina; here again beyond its native limits, as the official written language. And that this was not merely a remnant of the former political supremacy is evident from the fact that the documents of Palmyra and those of the Nabatheans, in an equal manner, show a younger stage of development of language than that of the Achaemenidian period; this stage being virtually the same as is seen in the various Jewish literary works of that time."
As Mommsen is continuing his irreligious elaborations of history, it may be well to bear in mind his superficial ideas on such subjects, especially when he is reaching the affairs of early Christianity.
1. Our translator (Mr. Pratten) makes the following announcements:-
"The translation of the Syriac pieces which follow25 is based on a careful examination of that made by Dr. Cureton, the merits of which are cordially acknowledged. It will, however, be seen that it differs from that in many and important particulars.
"Many thanks are due to the Dean of Canterbury for his kindness in giving much valuable help."
2. He thus introduces the treatise of Bardesanes:-
"Bardesan, or Bardesanes, according to one account, was born at Edessa in 154 a.d., and it is supposed that he died sometime between 224 and 230. Eusebius says that he flourished in the time of Marcus Aurelius. He was for some time resident at the court of Abgar VI., King of Edessa, with whom he was on intimate terms. He at first belonged to the Gnostic sect of the Valentinians; but abandoning it, he seemed to come nearer the orthodox beliefs. In reality, it is said, he devised errours of his own. He wrote many works. Eusebius attributes the work now translated, The Book of Laws, or On Fate, to Bardesanes. Many modern critics have come to the conclusion that it was written by a scholar of Bardesanes, but that it gives us the genuine opinions and reasonings of Bardesanes. The question is of interest in connection with the Clementine Recognitions, which contain a large portion of the work. The Syriac was first published by Cureton in his Spicilegium."
3. In introducing the Mara bar Serapion and the Ambrose,26 he thus refers to his friend Dr. Payne Smith:-
The text of the two following short pieces27 is found in the Spicilegium Syriacum of the late Dr. Cureton. This careful scholar speaks of the second of these compositions as containing "some very obscure passages." The same remark holds good also of the first. Dr. Payne Smith describes them both as "full of difficulties." So far as these arise from errors in the text, they might have been removed, had I been able to avail myself of the opportunity kindly offered me by Dr. Rieu, Keeper of the Oriental mss.at the British Museum, of inspecting the original ms.As it is, several have, it is hoped, been successfully met by conjecture.
To Dr. R. Payne Smith, Dean of Canterbury, who, as on two previous occasions, has most kindly and patiently afforded me his valuable assistance, I beg to offer my very grateful acknowledgments.
the Book of the Laws of Divers Countries.2
Some days since we were calling3 to pay a visit to our brother Shemashgram, and Bardesan came and found us there. And when he had made inquiries after his health,4 and ascertained that he was well, he asked us, "What were you talking about? for I heard your voice outside as I was coming in." For it was his habit, whenever he found us talking about anything before he came,5 to ask us, "What were you saying? "that he might talk with us about it.
"Avida here," said we to him, "was saying to us, `If God is one, as ye say, and if He is the creator of men, and if it is His will that you should do that which you are commanded, why did He not so create men that they should not be able to do wrong, but should constantly be doing that which is right? for in this way His will would have been accomplished.'"
"Tell me, my son Avida," said Bardesan to him, "why it has come into thy mind that the God of all is not One; or that He is One, but doth not will that men should behave themselves justly and uprightly? "
"I, sir," said Avida, "have asked these brethren, persons of my own age, in order that `they' may return me an answer."
"If," said Bardesan to him, "thou wishest to learn, it were for thy advantage to learn from some one who is older than they; but if to teach, it is not requisite for `thee' to ask `them, 'but rather that thou shouldst induce `them' to ask `thee' what they wish. For teachers are `asked' questions, and do not themselves ask them; or, if they ever do ask a question, it is to direct the mind of the questioner, so that he may ask properly, and they may know what his desire is. For it is a good thing that a man should know how to ask questions."
"For my part," said Avida, "I wish to learn; but I began first of all to question my brethren here, because I was too bashful to ask thee."
"Thou speakest becomingly,"6 said Bardesan. "But know, nevertheless, that he who asks questions properly, and wishes to be convinced, and approaches the way of truth without contentiousness, has no need to be bashful; because he is sure by means of the things I have mentioned to please him to whom his questions are addressed. If so be, therefore, my son, thou hast any opinion of thy own7 respecting this matter about which thou hast asked, tell it to us all; and, if we too approve of it, we shall express our agreement with thee; and, if we do not approve of it, we shall be under obligation to show thee why we do not approve of it. But if thou wast simply desirous of becoming acquainted with this subject, and hast no opinion of thy own about it, as a man who has but lately joined the disciples and is a recent inquirer, I will tell thee respecting it; so that thou mayest not go from us empty away. If, moreover, thou art pleased with those things which I shall say to thee, we have other things besides to tell thee8 concerning this matter; but, if thou art not pleased, we on our part shall have stated our views without any personal feeling."
"I too," said Avida, "shall be much gratified9 to hear and to be convinced: because it is not from another that I have heard of this subject, but I have spoken of it to my brethren here out of my own mind; and they have not cared to convince me; but they say, `Only believe, and thou wilt then be able to know everything.' But for my part, I cannot believe unless I be convinced."
"Not only," said Bardesan, "is Avida unwilling to believe, but there are many others also who, because there is no faith in them, are not even capable of being convinced; but they are always pulling down and building up, and so are found destitute of all knowledge of the truth. But notwithstanding, since Avida is not willing to believe, lo! I will speak to you who do believe, concerning this matter about which he asks; and thus he too will hear something further about it."
He began accordingly to address us as follows: "Many men are there who have not faith, and have not received knowledge from the True Wisdom.10 In consequence of this, they are not competent to speak and give instruction to others, nor are they readily inclined themselves to hear. For they have not the foundation of faith to build upon, nor have they any confidence on which to rest their hope. Moreover, because they are accustomed to doubt even concerning God, they likewise have not in them the fear of Him, which would of itself deliver them from all other fears: for he in whom there is no fear of God is the slave of all sorts of fears. For even with regard to those things of various kinds which they disbelieve, they are not certain that they disbelieve them rightly, but they are unsettled in their opinions, and have no fixed belief,11 and the taste of their thoughts is insipid in their own mouth; and they are always haunted with fear, and flushed with excitement, and reckless.
"But with regard to what Avida has said: `How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation? '-if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself, but would have been the instrument of him that moved him; and it is evident also, that he who moves an instrument as he pleases, moves it either for good or for evil. And how, in that case, would a man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which another guides: where the praise and the blame reside in the hand of the performer or the steersman,12 and the harp itself knows not what is played on it, nor the ship itself whether it be well steered and guided or ill, they being only instruments made for the use of him in whom is the requisite skill? But God in His benignity chose not so to make man; but by freedom He exalted him above many of His creatures, and even made him equal with the angels. For look at the sun, and the moon, and the signs of the zodiac,13 and all the other creatures which are greater than we in some points, and see how individual freedom has been denied them, and how they are all fixed in their course by decree, so that they may do that only which is decreed for them, and nothing else. For the sun never says, I will not rise at my appointed time; nor the moon, I will not change, nor wane, nor wax; nor does any one of the stars say, I will not rise nor set; nor the sea, I will not bear up the ships, nor stay within my boundaries; nor the mountains, We will not continue in the places in which we are set; nor do the winds say, We will not blow; nor the earth, I will not hear up and sustain whatsoever is upon me. But all these things are servants, and are subject to one decree: for they are the instruments of the wisdom of God, which erreth not.
"Not so, however, with man: for, if everything ministered, who would be he that is ministered to? And, if everything were ministered to, who would be he that ministered? In that case, too, there would not be one thing diverse from another: yet that which is one, and in which there is no diversity of parts, is a being14 which up to this time has not been fashioned. But those things which are destined15 for ministering have been fixed in the power of man: because in the image of Elohim16 was he made. Therefore have these things, in the benignity of God, been given to him, that they may minister to him for a season. It has also been given to him to he guided by his own will; so that whatever he is able to do, if he will he may do it, and if he do not will he may not do it, and that so he may justify himself or condemn. For, had he been made so as not to be able to do evil and thereby incur condemnation, in like manner also the good which he did would not have been his own, and he could not have been justified by it. For, if any one should not of his own will do that which is good or that which is evil, his justification and his condemnation would rest simply with that Fortune to which he is subjected.17
"It will therefore be manifest to you, that the goodness of God is great toward man, and that freedom has been given to him in greater measure than to any of those elemental bodies18 of which we have spoken, in order that by this freedom he may justify himself, and order his conduct in a godlike manner, and be copartner with angels, who are likewise possessed of personal freedom. For we are sure that, if the angels likewise had not been possessed of personal freedom, they would not have consorted with the daughters of men, and sinned, and fallen from their places. In like manner, too, those other angels, who did the will of their Lord, were, by reason of their self-control, raised to higher rank, and sanctified, and received noble gifts. For every being in existence is in need of the Lord of all; of His gifts also there is no end.
Know ye, however, notwithstanding what I have said, that even those things of which I have spoken as subsisting by decree are not absolutely destitute of all freedom; and on this account, at the last day, they will all be made subject to judgment."
"But how," said I to him, "should those things which are fixed and regulated by decree be judged? "
"Not inasmuch as they are fixed, O Philip," said he, "will the elements be judged, but inasmuch as they are endowed with power. For beings19 are not deprived of their natural properties20 when they come to be fashioned, but only of the full exercise of their strength,21 suffering a decrease22 of power through their intermingling one with another, and being kept in subjection by the power of their Maker; and in so far as they are in subjection they will not be judged, but in respect of that only which is under their own control."
"Those things," said Avida to him, "which thou hast said, are very good; but, lo! the commands which have been given to men are severe, and they cannot perform them."
"This," said Bardesan, "is the saying of one who has not the will to do that which is right; nay, more, of him who has already yielded obedience and submission to his foe. For men have not been commanded to do anything but that which they are able to do. For the commandments set before us are only two, and they are such as are compatible with freedom and consistent with equity: one, that we refrain from everything which is wrong, and which we should not like to have done to ourselves; and the other, that we should do that which is right, and which we love and are pleased to have done to us likewise. Who, then, is the man that is too weak to avoid stealing, or to avoid lying, or to avoid acts of profligacy, or to avoid hatred and deception? For, lo! all these things are under the control of the mind of man; and are not dependent on23 the strength of the body, but on the will of the soul. For even if a man be poor, and sick, and old, and disabled in his limbs, he is able to avoid doing all these things. And, as he is able to avoid doing these things, so is he able to love, and to bless, and to speak the truth, and to pray for what is good for every one with whom he is acquainted; and if he be in health, and capable of working,24 he is able also to give of that which he has; moreover, to support with strength of body him that is sick and enfeebled-this also he can do.
"Who, then, it is that is not capable of doing that which men destitute of faith complain of, I know not. For my part, I think that it is precisely in respect to these commandments that man has more power than in anything else. For they are easy, and there are no circumstances that can hinder their performance. For we are not commanded to carry heavy loads of stones, or of timber, or of anything else, which those only who have great bodily strength can do; nor to build fortresses25 and found cities, which kings only can do; nor to steer a ship, which mariners only have the skill to steer; nor to measure and divide land, which land-measurers only know how to do; nor to practise any one of those arts which are possessed by some, while the rest are destitute of them. But there have been given to us, in accordance with the benignity of God, commandments having no harshness in them26 -such as any living man whatsoever27 may rejoice to do.28 For there is no man that does not rejoice when he does that which is fight, nor any one that is not gladdened within himself if he abstains from things that are bad-except those who were not created for this good thing, and are called tares.29 For would not the judge be unjust who should censure a man with regard to any such thing as he has not the ability to do? "
"Sayest thou of these deeds, O Bardesan," said Avida to him, "that they are easy to do? "
"To him that hath the will," said Bardesan, "I have said, and do still say, that they are easy. For this obedience I contend for is the proper behaviour of a free mind,30 and of the soul which has not revolted against its governors. As for the action of the body, there are many things which hinder it: especially old age, and sickness, and poverty."
"Possibly," said Avida," a man may be able to abstain from the things that are bad; but as for doing the things that are good, what man is capable of this? "
"It is easier," said Bardesan, "to do good than to abstain from evil. For the good comes from the man himself,31 and therefore he rejoices whenever he does good; but the evil is the work of the Enemy, and therefore it is that, only when a man is excited by some evil passion, and is not in his sound natural condition,32 he does the things that are bad. For know, my son, that for a man to praise and bless his friend is an easy thing; but for a man to refrain from taunting and reviling one whom he hates is not easy: nevertheless, it is possible. When, too, a man does that which is right, his mind is gladdened, and his conscience at ease, and he is pleased for every one to see what he does. But, when a man behaves amiss and commits wrong, he is troubled and excited, and full of anger and rage, and distressed in his soul and in his body; and, when he is in this state of mind, he does not like to be seen by any one; and even those things in which he rejoices, and which are accompanied with praise and blessing from others, are spurned from his thoughts, while those things by which he is agitated and disturbed are rendered more distressing to him because accompanied by the curse of conscious guilt.
"Perhaps, however, some one will say that fools also are pleased when they do abominable things. Undoubtedly: but not because they do them as such, nor because they receive any conmendation for them, nor because they do them with a good hope;33 nor does the pleasure itself stay long with them. For the pleasure which is experienced in a healthy state of the soul, with a good hope, is one thing; and the pleasure of a diseased state of the soul, with a bad hope, is another. For lust is one thing, and love is another; and friendship is one thing, and good-fellowship another; and we ought without any difficulty to understand that the false counterfeit of affection which is called lust, even though there be in it the enjoyment of the moment, is nevertheless widely different from true affection, whose enjoyment is for ever, incorruptible and indestructible."
"Avida here," said I to him, "has also been speaking thus: `It is from his nature that man does wrong; for, were he not naturally formed to do wrong, he would not do it.'"
"If all men," said Bardesan, "acted alike,34 and followed one bias,35 it would then be manifest that it was their nature that guided them, and that they had not that freedom of which I have been speaking to you. That you may understand, however, what is nature and what is freedom, I will proceed to inform you.
"The nature of man is, that he should be born, and grow up, and rise to his full stature, and produce children, and grow old, eating and drinking, and sleeping and waking, and that then he should die. These things, because they are of nature, belong to all men; and not to all men only, but also to all animals whatsoever,36 and some of them also to trees. For this is the work of physical nature,37 which makes and produces and regulates everything just as it has been commanded. Nature, I say, is found to be maintained among animals also in their actions. For the lion eats flesh, in accordance with his nature; and therefore all lions are eaters of flesh. The sheep eats grass; and therefore all sheep are eaters of grass, The bee makes honey, by which it is sustained; therefore all bees are makers of honey. The ant collects for herself a store in summer, from which to sustain herself in winter; and therefore do all ants act likewise. The scorpion strikes with its sting him who has not hurt it; and thus do all scorpions strike. Thus all animals preserve their nature: the eaters of flesh do not eat herbage; nor do the eaters of herbage eat flesh.
"Men, on the contrary, are not governed thus; but, whilst in the matters pertaining to their bodies they preserve their nature like animals, in the matters pertaining to their minds they do that which they choose, as those who are free,38 and endowed with power, and as made in the likeness of God. For there are some of them that eat flesh, and do not touch bread; and there are some of them that make a distinction between the several kinds of flesh-food; and there are some of them that do not eat the flesh of any animal whatever.39 There are some of them that become the husbands of their mothers, and of their sisters, and of their daughters; and there are some who do not consort with women at all. There are those who take it upon themselves to inflict vengeance, like lions and leopards; and there are those who strike him that has not done them any wrong, like scorpions; and there are those that are led like sheep, and do not harm their conductors. There are some that behave themselves with kindness, and some with justice, and some with wickedness.
"If any one should say that each one of them has a nature so to do, let him be assured40 that it is not so. For there are those who once were profligates and drunkards; and, when the admonition of good counsels reached them, they became pure and sober,41 and spurned their bodily appetites. And there are those who once behaved with purity and sobriety; and when they turned away from right admonition, and dared to set themselves against the commands of Deity and of their teachers, they fell from the way of truth, and became profligates and revellers. And there are those who after their fall repented again, and fear came and abode upon them, and they turned themselves afresh towards the truth which they had before held.42
"What, therefore, is the nature of man? For, lo! all men differ one from another in their conduct and in their aims,43 and such only as are of44 one mind and of one purpose resemble one another. But those men who, up to the present moment, have been enticed by their appetites and governed by their anger, are resolved to ascribe any wrong they do to their Maker, that they themselves may be found faultless, and that He who made them may, in the idle talk of men,45 bear the blame. They do not consider that nature is amenable to no law. For a man is not found fault with for being tall or short in his stature, or white or black, or because his eyes are large or small, or for any bodily defect whatsoever; but he is found fault with if he steal, or lie, or practise deceit, or poison another, or be abusive, or do any other such-like things.
"From hence, lo! it will be evident, that for those things which are not in our own hands, but which we have from nature, we are in no wise condemned, nor are we in any wise justified; but by those things which we do in the exercise of our personal freedom, if they be right we are justified and entitled to praise, and if they be wrong we are condemned and subjected to blame."
Again we questioned him, and said to him: "There are others who say that men are governed by the decree of Fate, so as to act at one time wickedly, and at another time well."
"I too am aware, O Philip and Baryama," said he to us, "that there are such men: those who are called Chaldaeans, and also others who are fond of this subtle knowledge,46 as I myself also once was. For it has been said by me in another place,47 that the soul of man longs48 to know that which the many are ignorant of, and those men make it their aim to do this; 49 and that all the wrong which men commit, and all that they do aright, and all those things which happen to them, as regards riches and poverty, and sickness and health, and blemishes of the body, come to them through the governance of those stars which are called the Seven;50 and that they are, in fact, governed by them. But there are others who affirm the opposite of these things,-how that this art is a lying invention of the astrologers;51 or that Fate has no existence whatever, but is an empty name; that, on the contrary, all things, great and small, are placed in the hands of man; and that bodily blemishes and faults simply befall and happen to him by chance. But others, again, say that whatsoever a man does he does of his own will, in the exercise of the freedom which has been given to him, and that the faults and blemishes and other untoward things which befall him he receives as punishment from God.
"For myself, however according to my weak judgment,52 the matter appears to stand thus: that these three opinions53 are partly to be accepted as true, and partly to be rejected as false;-accepted as true, because men speak after the appearances which they see, and also because these men see how things come upon them as if accidentally; to be set aside as fallacious, because the wisdom of God is too profound54 for them-that wisdom which rounded the world, and created man, and ordained Governors, and gave to all things the degree of pre-eminence which is suited to every one of them. What I mean is, that this power is possessed by God, and the Angels, and the Potentates,55 and the Governors,56 and the Elements, and men, and animals; but that this power has not been given to all these orders of beings of which I have spoken in respect to everything (for He that has power over everything is One); but over some things they have power, and over some things they have not power, as I have been saying: in order that in those things over which they have power the goodness of God may be seen, and in those over which they have no power they may know that they have a Superior.
"There is, then, such a thing as Fate, as the astrologers say. That everything, moreover, is not under the control of our will, is apparent from this-that the majority of men have had the will to be rich, and to exercise dominion over their fellows, and to be healthy in their bodies, and to have things in subjection to them as they please; but that wealth is not found except with a few, nor dominion except with one here and another there, nor health of body with all men; and that even those who are rich do not have complete possession of their riches, nor do those who are in power have things in subjection to them as they wish, but that sometimes things are disobedient to them as they do not wish; and that at one time the rich are rich as they desire, and at another time they become poor as they do not desire; and that those who are thoroughly poor have dwellings such as they do not wish, and pass their lives in the world as they do not like, and covet many things which only flee from them. Many have children, and do not rear them; others rear them, and do not retain possession of them; others retain possession of them, and they become a disgrace and a sorrow to their parents. Some are rich, as they wish, and are afflicted with ill-health, as they do not wish; others are blessed with good health, as they wish, and afflicted with poverty, as they do not wish. There are those who have in abundance the things they wish for, and but few of those things for which they do not wish; and there are others who have in abundance the things they do not wish for, and but few of those for which they do wish.57
"And so the matter is found to stand thus: that wealth, and honours, and health, and sickness, and children, and all the other various objects of desire, are placed under the control of Fate, and are not in our own power; but that, on the contrary, while we are pleased and delighted with such things as are in accordance with our wishes, towards such as we do not wish for we are drawn by force; and, from those things which happen to us when we are not pleased, it is evident that those things also with which we are pleased do not happen to us because we desire them; but that things happen as they do happen, and with some of them we are pleased, and with others not.
"And thus we men are found to be governed by Nature all alike, and by Fate variously, and by our freedom each as he chooses.
"But let us now proceed to show with respect to Fate that it has not power over everything. Clearly not: because that which is called Fate is itself nothing more than a certain order of procession,58 which has been given to the Potentates and Elements by God; and, in conformity with this said procession and order, intelligences59 undergo change when they descend60 to be with the soul, and souls undergo change when they descend61 to be with bodies; and this order, under the name of Fate and ge/nesij,62 is the agent of the changes63 that take place in this assemblage of parts of which man consists,64 which is being sired and purified for the benefit of whatsoever by the grace of God and by goodness has been benefited, and is being and will continue to be benefited until the close of all things.
"The body, then, is governed by Nature, the soul also sharing in its experiences and sensations; and the body is neither hindered nor helped by Fate in the several acts it performs. For a man does not become a father before the age of fifteen, nor does a woman become a mother before the age of thirteen. In like manner, too, there is a law for old age: for women then become incapable of bearing, and men cease to possess the natural power of begetting children; while other animals, which are likewise governed by their nature, do, even before those ages I have mentioned, not only produce offspring, but also become too old to do so, just as the bodies of men also, when they are grown old, cease to propagate: nor is Fate able to give them offspring at a time when the body has not the natural power to give them. Neither, again, is Fate able to preserve the body of man in life without meat and drink; nor yet, even when it has meat and drink, to grant it exemption from death: for these and many other things belong exclusively to Nature.65
"But, when the times and methods of Nature have had their full scope, then does Fate come and make its appearance among them, and produce effects of various kinds: at one time helping Nature and augmenting its power, and at another crippling and baffling it. Thus, from Nature comes the growth and perfecting of the body; but apart from Nature, that is by Fate, come diseases and blemishes in the body. From Nature comes the union of male and female, and the unalloyed happiness of them both; but from Fate comes hatred and the dissolution of the union, and, moreover, all that impurity and lasciviousness which by reason of the natural propensity to intercourse men practise in their lust. From Nature comes birth and children; and from Fate, that sometimes the children are deformed, and sometimes are cast away, and sometimes die before their time. From Nature comes a supply of nourishment sufficient for the bodies of all creatures; 66 and from Fate comes the want of sustenance, and consequent suffering in those bodies; and so, again, from the same Fate comes gluttony and unnecessary luxury. Nature ordains that the aged shall be judges for the young, and the wise for the foolish, mid that the strong shall be set over67 the weak, and the brave over the timid; but Fate brings it to pass that striplings are set over the aged, and the foolish over the wise, and that in time of war the weak command the strong, and the timid the brave.
"You must distinctly understand68 that, in all cases in which Nature is disturbed from its direct course, its disturbance comes by reason of Fate; and this happens because the Chiefs69 and Governors, with whom rests that agency of change70 which is called Nativity, are opposed to one another. Some of them, which are called Dexter, are those which help Nature, and add to its predominance,71 whenever the procession is favourable to them, and they stand in those regions of the zodiac which are in the ascendant, in their own portions.72 Those, on the contrary, which are called Sinister are evil, and whenever they in their turn are in possession of the ascendant they act in opposition to Nature; and not on men only do they inflict harm, but at times on animals also, and trees, and fruits, and the produce of the year, and fountains of water, and, in short, on everything that is comprised within Nature, which is under their government.
"And in consequence of this,-namely, the divisions and parties which exist among the Potentates,-some men have thought that the world is governed by these contending powers without any superintendence from above. But that is because they do not understand that this very thing-I mean the parties and divisions subsisting among them,-and the justification and condemnation consequent on their behaviour, belong to that constitution of things rounded in freedom which has been given by God, to the end that these agents likewise, by reason of their self-determining power,73 may be either justified or condemned. Just as we see that Fate crushes Nature, so can we also see the freedom of man defeating and crushing Fate itself,-not, however, in everything,-just as also Fate itself does not in everything defeat Nature. For it is proper that the three things, Nature, and Fate, and Freedom, should be continued in existence until the procession of which I before spoke be completed, and the appointed measure and number of its evolutions be accomplished, even as it seemed good to Him who ordains of what kind shall be the mode of life and the end of all creatures, and the condition of all beings and natures. "
"I am convinced," said Avida, "by the arguments thou hast brought forward, that it is not from his nature that a man does wrong, and also that all men are not governed alike. If thou canst further prove also that it is not from Fate and Destiny that those who do wrong so act, then will it be incumbent on us to believe that man possesses personal freedom, and by his nature has the power both to follow that which is right and to avoid that which is wrong, and will therefore also justly be judged at the last day, "
"Art thou," said Bardesan, "by the fact that all men are not governed alike, convinced that it is not from their nature that they do wrong? Why, then, thou canst not possibly escape the conviction74 that neither also from Fate exclusively do they do wrong, if we are able to show thee that the sentence of the Fates and Potentates does not influence all men alike, but that we have freedom in our own selves, so that we can avoid serving physical nature and being influenced by the control of the Potentates."
"Prove me this," said Avida, "and I will be convinced by thee, and whatsover thou shalt enjoin upon me I will do."
"Hast thou," said Bardesan, "read the books of the astrologers75 who are in Babylon, in which is described what effects the stars have in their various combinations at the Nativities of men; and the books of the Egyptians, in which are described all the various characters which men happen to have? "
"I have read books of. astrology,"76 said Avida, "but I do not know which are those of the Babylonians and which those of the Egyptians."
"The teaching of both countries," said Bardesan, "is the same."
"It is well known to be so," said Avida.
"Listen, then," said Bardesan, "and observe, that that which the stars decree by their Fate and their portions is not practised by all men alike who are in all parts of the earth. For men have made laws for themselves in various countries, in the exercise of that freedom which was given them by God: forasmuch as this gift is in its very nature opposed to that Fate emanating from the Potentates, who assume to themselves that which was not given them. I will begin my enumeration of these laws, so far as I can remember them, from the East, the beginning of the whole world:-
"Laws of the Seres.-The Seres have laws forbidding to kill, or to commit impurity, or to worship idols; and in the whole of Serica there are no idols, and no harlots, nor any one that kills a man, nor any that is killed: although they, like other men, are born at all hours and on all days. Thus the fierce Mars, whensoever he is `posited' in the zenith, does not overpower the freedom of the Seres, and compel a man to shed the blood of his fellow with an iron weapon; nor does Venus, when posited with Mars, compel any man whatever among the Seres to consort with his neighbour's wife, or with any other woman. Rich and poor, however, and sick people and healthy, and rulers and subjects, are there: because such matters are given into the power of the Governors.
"Laws of the Brahmans who are in India.-Again, among the Hindoos, the Brahmans, of whom there are many thousands and tens of thousands, have a law forbidding to kill at all, or to pay reverence to idols, or to commit impurity, or to eat flesh, or to drink wine; and among these people not one of these things ever takes place. Thousands of years, too, have elapsed, during which these men, lo! have been governed by this law which they made for themselves.
"Another Law which is in India.-There is also another law in India, and in the same zone,77 prevailing among those who are not of the caste78 of the Brahmans, and do not embrace their teaching, bidding them serve idols, and commit impurity, and kill, and do other bad things, which by the Brahmans are disapproved. In the same zone of India, too, there are men who are in the habit of eating the flesh of men, just as all other nations eat the flesh of animals. Thus the evil stars have not compelled the Brahmans to do evil and impure things; nor have the good stars prevailed on the rest of the Hindoos to abstain from doing evil things; nor have those stars which are well `located' in the regions which properly belong to them,79 and in the signs of the zodiac favourable to a humane disposition,80 prevailed on those who eat the flesh of men to abstain from using this foul and abominable food.
"Laws of the Persians.-The Persians, again, have made themselves laws permitting them to take as wives their sisters, and their daughters, and their daughters' daughters; and there are some who go yet further, and take even their mothers. Some of these said Persians are scattered abroad, away from their country, and are found in Media, and in the country of the Parthians,81 and in Egypt, and in Phrygia (they are called Magi); and in all the countries and zones in which they are found, they are governed by this law which was made for their fathers. Yet we cannot say that for all the Magi, and for the rest of the Persians, Venus was posited with the Moon and with Saturn in the house of Saturn in her portions, while the aspect of Mars was toward them.82 There are many places, too, in the kingdom of the Parthians, where men kill their wives, and their brothers, and their children, and incur no penalty; while among the Romans and the Greeks, he that kills one of these incurs capital punishment, the severest of penalties.
"Laws of the Geli.-Among the Geli the women sow and reap, and build, and perform all the tasks of labourers, and wear no raiment of colours, and put on no shoes, and use no pleasant ointments; nor does any one find fault with them when they consort with strangers, or cultivate intimacies with their household slaves. But the husbands of these Gelae are dressed in garments of colours, and ornamented with gold and jewels, and anoint themselves with pleasant ointments. Nor is it on account of any effeminacy on their part that they act in this manner, but on account of the law which has been made for them: in fact, all the men are fond of hunting and addicted to war. But we cannot say that for all the women of the Geli Venus was posited in Capricorn or in Aquarius, in a position of ill luck; nor can we possibly say that for all the Geli Mars and Venus were posited in Aries, where it is written that brave and wanton83 men are born.
"Laws of the Bactrians.-Among the Bactrians, who are called Cashani, the women adorn themselves with the goodly raiment of men, and with much gold, and with costly jewels; and the slaves and handmaids minister to them more than to their husbands; and they ride on horses decked out with trapping of gold and with precious stones.84 These women, moreover, do not practise continency, but have intimacies with their slaves, and with strangers who go to that country; and their husbands do not find fault with them, nor have the women themselves any fear of punishment, because the Cashani look upon85 their wives only as mistresses. Yet we cannot say that for all the Bactrian women Venus and Mars and Jupiter are posited in the house of Mars in the middle of the heavens,86 the place where women are born that are rich and adulterous, and that make their husbands subservient to them in everything.
"Laws of the Racami, and of the Edessaeans, and of the Arabians.-Among the Racami, and the Edessaeans, and the Arabians, not only is she that commits adultery put to death, but she also upon whom rests the suspicion87 of adultery suffers capital punishment.
"Laws in Hatra.-There is a law in force88 in Hatra, that whosoever steals any little thing, even though it were worthless as water, shall be stoned. Among the Cashani, on the contrary, if any one commits such a theft as this, they merely spit in his face. Among the Romans, too, he that commits a small theft is scourged and sent about his business. On the other side of the Euphrates, and as you go eastward, he that is stigmatized as either a thief or a murderer does not much resent it;89 but, if a man be stigmatized as an arsenocoete, he will avenge himself even to the extent of killing his accuser.
"Laws....-Among90 ... boys ... to us, and are not ... Again, in all the region of the East, if any persons are thus stigmatized, and are known to be guilty, their own fathers and brothers put them to death; and very often91 they do not even make known the graves where they are buried.
"Such are the laws of the people of the East. But in the North, and in the country of the Gauls92 and their neighbours, such youths among them as are handsome the men take as wives, and they even have feasts on the occasion; and it is not considered by them as a disgrace, nor as a reproach, because of the law which prevails among them. But it is a thing impossible that all those in Gaul who are branded with this disgrace should at their Nativities have had Mercury posited with Venus in the house of Saturn, and within the limits of Mars, and in the signs of the zodiac to the west. For, concerning such men as are born under these conditions, it is written that they are branded with infamy, as being like women.
"Laws of the Britons. "-Among the Britons many men take one and the same wife.
"Laws of the Parthians.-Among the Parthians, on the other hand, one man takes many wives, and all of them keep to him only, because of the law which has been made there in that country.
"Laws of the Amazons.-As regards the Amazons, they, all of them, the entire nation, have no husbands; but like animals, once a year, in the spring-time, they issue forth from their territories and cross the river; and, having crossed it, they hold a great festival on a mountain, and the men from those parts come and stay with them fourteen days, and associate with them, and they become pregnant by them, and pass over again to their own country; and, when they are delivered, such of the children as are males they cast away, and the females they bring up. Now it is evident that, according to the ordinance of Nature, since they all became pregnant in one month, they also in one month are all delivered, a little sooner or a little later; and, as we have heard, all of them are robust and warlike; but not one of the stars is able to help any of those males who are born so as to prevent their being east away.
"The Book of the Astrologers.-It is written in the book of the astrologers, that, when Mercury is posited with Venus in the house of Mercury, he produces painters, sculptors, and bankers; but that, when they are in the house of Venus, they produce perfumers, and dancers, and singers, and poets. And yet, in all the country of the Tayites and of the Saracens, and in Upper Libya and among the Mauritanians, and in the country of the Nomades, which is at the mouth of the Ocean, and in outer Germany, and in Upper Sarmatia, and in Spain, and in all the countries to the north of Pontus, and in all the country of the Alanians, and among the Albanians, and among the Zazi, and in Brusa, which is beyond the Douro, one sees neither sculptors, nor painters, nor perfumers, nor bankers, nor poets; but, on the contrary, this decree of Mercury and Venus is prevented from influencing the entire circumference of the world. In the whole of Media, all men when they die, and even while life is still remaining in them, are cast to the dogs, and the dogs eat the dead of the whole of Media. Yet we cannot say that all the Medians are born having the Moon posited with Mars in Cancer in the day-time beneath the earth: for it is written that those whom dogs eat are so born. The Hindoos, when they die, are all of them burnt with fire, and many of their wives are burnt along with them alive. But we cannot say that all those women of the Hindoos who are burnt had at their Nativity Mars and the Sun posited in Leo in the night-time beneath the earth, as those persons are born who are burnt with fire. All the Germans die by strangulation,93 except those who are killed in battle. But it is a thing impossible, that, at the Nativity of all the Germans the Moon and Hora should have been posited between Mars and Saturn. The truth is, that in all countries, every day, and at all hours, men are born under Nativities diverse from one another, and the laws of men prevail over the decree of the stars, and they are governed by their customs. Fate does not compel the Seres to commit murder against their wish, nor the Brahmans to eat flesh; nor does it hinder the Persians from taking as wives their daughters and their sisters, nor the Hindoos from being burnt, nor the Medes from being devoured by dogs, nor the Parthians from taking many wives, nor among the Britons many men from taking one and the same wife, nor the Edessaeans from cultivating chastity, nor the Greeks from practising gymnastics, ..., nor the Romans from perpetually seizing upon other countries, nor the men of the Gauls from marrying one another; nor does it compel the Amazons to rear the males; nor does his Nativity compel any man within the circumference of the whole world to cultivate the art of the Muses; but, as I have already said, in every country and in every nation all men avail themselves of the freedom of their nature in any way they choose, and, by reason of the body with which they are clothed, do service to Fate and to Nature, sometimes as they wish, and at other times as they do not wish. For in every country and in every nation there are rich and poor, and rulers and subjects, and people in health and those who are sick-each one according as Fate and his Nativity have affected him."
"Of these things, Father Bardesan," said I to him, "thou hast convinced us, and we know that they are true. But knowest thou that the astrologers say that the earth is divided into seven portions, which are called Zones; and that over the said portions those seven stars have authority, each of them over one; and that in each one of the said portions the will of its own Potentate prevails; and that this is called its law? "
"First of all, know thou, my son Philip," said he to me, "that the astrologers have invented this statement as a device for the promotion of error. For, although the earth be divided into seven portions, yet in every one of the seven portions many laws are to be found differing from one another. For there are not seven kinds of laws only found in the world, according to the number of the seven stars; nor yet twelve, according to the number of the signs of the zodiac; nor yet thirty-six, according to the number of the Decani.94 But there are many kinds of laws to be seen as you go from kingdom to kingdom, from country to country, from district to district, and in every abode of man, differing one from another. For ye remember what I said to you-that in one zone, that of the Hindoos, there are many men that do not eat the flesh of animals, and there are others that even eat the flesh of men. And again, I told you, in speaking of the Persians and the Magi, that it is not in the zone of Persia only that they have taken for wives their daughters and their sisters, but that in every country to which they have gone they have followed the law of their fathers, and have preserved the mystic arts contained in that teaching which they delivered to them. And again, remember that I told you of many nations spread abroad over the entire circuit of the world,95 who have not been confined to any one zone, but have dwelt in every quarter from which the wind blows,96 and in all the zones, and who have not the arts which Mercury and Venus are said to have given when in conjunction with each other. Yet, if laws were regulated by zones, this could not be; but they clearly are not: because those men I have spoken of are at a wide remove from having anything in common with many other men in their habits of life.
"Then, again, how many wise men, think ye, have abolished from their countries laws which appeared to them not well made? How many laws, also, are there which have been set aside through necessity? And how many kings are there who, when they have got possession of countries which did not belong to them, have abolished their established laws, and made such other laws as they chose? And, whenever these things occurred, no one of the stars was able to preserve the law. Here is an instance at hand for you to see for yourselves: it is but as yesterday since the Romans took possession of Arabia, and they abolished all the laws previously existing there, and especially the circumcision which they practised. The truth is,97 that he who is his own master is sometimes compelled to obey the law imposed on him by another, who himself in turn becomes possessed of the power to do as he pleases.
"But let me mention to you a fact which more than anything else is likely98 to convince the foolish, and such as are wanting in faith. All the Jews, who received the law through Moses, circumcise their male children on the eighth day, without waiting for the coming of the proper stars, or standing in fear of the law of the country where they are living. Nor does the star which has authority over the zone govern them by force; but, whether they be in Edom, or in Arabia, or in Greece, or in Persia, or in the north, or in the south, they carry out this law which was made for them by their fathers. It is evident that what they do is not from Nativity: for it is impossible that for all the Jews, on the eighth day, on which they are circumcised, Mars should `be in the ascendant, 'so that steel should pass upon them, and their blood be shed. Moreover, all of them, wherever they are, abstain from paying reverence to idols. One day in seven, also, they and their children cease from all work, from all building, and from all travelling, and from all buying and selling; nor do they kill an animal on the Sabbath-day, nor kindle a fire, nor administer justice; and there is not found among them any one whom Fate compels,99 either to go to law on the Sabbath-day and gain his cause, or to go to law and lose it, or to pull down, or to build up, or to do any one of those things which are done by all those men who have not received this law. They have also other things in respect to which they do not on the Sabbath conduct themselves like the rest of mankind, though on this same day they both bring forth and are born, and fall sick and die: for these things do not pertain to the power of man.
"In Syria and in Edessa men used to part with their manhood in honour of Tharatha; but, when King Abgar100 became a believer he commanded that every one that did so should have his hand cut off, and from that day until now no one does so in the country of Edessa.
"And what shall we say of the new race of us Christians, whom Christ at His advent planted in every country and in every region? for, lo! wherever we are, we are all called after the one name of Christ-Christians. On one day, the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together, and on the days of the readings101 we abstain from taking sustenance. The brethren who are in Gaul do not take males for wives, nor those who are in Parthia two wives; nor do those who are in Judges circumcise themselves; nor do our sisters who are among the Geli consort with strangers; nor do those brethren who are in Persia take their daughters for wives; nor do those who are in Media abandon their dead, or bury them alive, or give them as food to the dogs; nor do those who are in Edessa kill their wives or their sisters when they commit impurity, but they withdraw from them, and give them over to the judgment of God; nor do those who are in Hatra102 stone thieves to death; but, wherever they are, and in whatever place they are found, the laws of the several countries do not hinder them from obeying the law of their Sovereign, Christ; nor does the Fate of the celestial Governors compel them to make use of things which they regard as impure.
"On the other hand, sickness and health, and riches and poverty, things which are not within the scope of their freedom, befall them wherever they are. For although the freedom of man is not influenced by the compulsion of the Seven, or, if at any time it is influenced, it is able to withstand the influences exerted upon it, yet, on the other hand, this same man, externally regarded,103 cannot on the instant liberate himself from the command of his Governors: for he is a slave and in subjection. For, if we were able to do everything, we should ourselves be everything; and, if we had not the power to do anything, we should be the tools of others.
"But, when God wills them, all things are possible, and they may take place without hindrance: for there is nothing that can stay that Great and Holy Will. For even those who think that they successfully withstand it, do not withstand it by strength, but by wickedness and error. And this may go on for a little while, because He is kind and forbearing towards all beings that exist,104 so as to let them remain as they are, and be governed by their own will, whilst notwithstanding they are held in check by the works which have been done and by the arrangements which have been made for their help. For this well-ordered constitution of things105 and this government which have been instituted, and the intermingling of one with another, serve to repress the violence of these beings,106 so that they should not inflict harm on one another to the full, nor yet to the full suffer harm, as was the case with them before the creation of the world. A time is also coming when this propensity to inflict harm which still remains in them shall be brought to an end, through the teaching which shall be given them amidst intercourse of another kind. And at the establishment of that new world all evil commotions shall cease, and all rebellions terminate, and the foolish shall be convinced, and all deficiencies shall be filled up, and there shall be quietness and peace, through the gift of the Lord of all existing beings."
Here endeth the Book of the Laws of Countries.
Bardesan, therefore, an aged man, and one celebrated for his knowledge of events, wrote, in a certain work which was composed by him, concerning the synchronisms107 with one another of the luminaries of heaven, speaking as follows :-
Two revolutions of Saturn,108 60 years; 5 revolutions of Jupiter, 60 years; 40 revolutions of Mars, 60 years; 60 revolutions of the Sun, 60 years; 72 revolutions of Venus, 60 years; 150 revolutions of Mercury, 60 years; 720 revolutions of the Moon, 60 years.
And this," says he, "is one synchronism of them all; that is, the time of one such synchronism of them. So that from hence it appears that to complete too such synchronisms there will be required six thousands of years. Thus :-
200 revolutions of Saturn, six thousands of years; 500 revolutions of Jupiter, 6 thousands of years; 4 thousand revolutions of Mars, 6 thousands of years; Six thousand revolutions of the Sun, 6 thou-sands of years; 7 thousand and 200 revolutions of Venus, 6thousands of years; 12 thousand revolutions of Mercury, 6 thou-sands of years; 72 thousand revolutions of the Moon, 6 thou-sands of years."
These things did Bardesan thus compute when desiring to show that this world would stand only six thousands of years.
A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion.1
Mara, son of Serapion, to Serapion, my son: peace.
When thy master and guardian wrote me a letter, and informed me that thou wast very diligent in study, though so young in years, I blessed God that thou, a little boy, and without a guide to direct thee, hadst begun in good earnest; and to myself also this was a comfort-that I heard of thee, little boy as thou art, as displaying such greatness of mind and conscientiousness:2 a character which, in the case of many who have begun well, has shown no eagerness to continue.
On this account, lo, I have written for thee this record, touching that which I have by careful observation discovered in the world. For the kind of life men lead has been carefully observed by me. I tread the path of learning,3 and from the study of Greek philosophy4 have I found out all these things, although they suffered shipwreck when the birth of life took place.5
Be diligent, then, my son, in attention to those things which are becoming for the free,6 so as to devote thyself to learning, and to follow after wisdom; and endeavour thus to become confirmed in those habits with which thou hast begun. Call to mind also my precepts, as a quiet person who is fond of the pursuit of learning. And, even though such a life should seem to thee very irksome, yet when thou hast made experience of it for a little while, it will become very pleasant to thee: for to me also it so happened. When, moreover, a person has left his home, and is able still to preserve his previous character, and properly does that which it behoves him to do, he is that chosen man who is called "the blessing of God," and one who does not find aught else to compare with his freedom.7 For, as for those persons who are called to the pursuit of learning, they are seeking to extricate themselves from the turmoils of time; and those who take hold upon wisdom, they are clinging to the hope of righteousness; and those who take their stand on truth, they are displaying the banner of their virtue; and those who cultivate philosophy, they are looking to escape from the vexations of the world. And do thou too, my son, thus wisely behave thyself in regard to these things, as a wise person who seeks to spend a pure life; and beware lest the gain which many hunger after enervate thee, and thy mind turn to covet riches, which have no stability. For, when they are acquired by fraud, they do not continue; nor, even when justly obtained, do they last; and all those things which are seen by thee in the world, as belonging to that which is only for a little time, are destined to depart like a dream: for they are but as the risings and settings of the seasons.
About the objects of that vainglory, too, of which the life of men is full, be not thou solicitous: seeing that from those things which give us joy there quickly comes to us harm. Most especially is this the case with the birth of beloved children. For in two respects it plainly brings us harm: in the case of the virtuous, our very affection for them torments us, and from their very excellence of character we Suffer torture; and, in the case of the vicious, we are worried with their correction, and afflicted with their misconduct.
Thou hast heard,8 moreover, concerning our companions, that, when they were leaving Samosata, they were distressed about it, and, as if complaining of the time in which their lot was cast, said thus: "We are now far removed from our home, and we cannot return again to our city, or behold our people, or offer to our gods the greeting of praise." Meet was it that that day should be called a day of lamentation, because one heavy grief possessed them all alike. For they wept as they remembered their fathers, and they thought of their mothers9 with sobs, and they were distressed for their brethren, and grieved for their betrothed whom they had left behind. And, although we had heard that their10 former companions were proceeding to Seleucia, we clandestinely set out, and proceeded on the way towards them, and united our own misery with theirs. Then was our grief exceedingly violent, and fitly did our weeping abound, by reason of our desperate plight, and our wailing gathered itself into a dense cloud,11 and our misery grew raster than a mountain: for not one of us had the power to ward off the disasters that assailed him. For affection for the living was intense, as well as sorrow for the dead, and our miseries were driving us on without any way of escape. For we saw our brethren and our children captives, and we remembered our deceased companions, who were laid to rest in a foreign12 land. Each one of us, too, was anxious for himself, lest he should have disaster added to disaster, or lest another calamity should overtake that which went before it. What enjoyment could men have that were prisoners, and who experienced things like these?
But as for thee, my beloved, be not distressed because in thy loneliness thou hast13 been driven from place to place. For to these things men are born, since they are destined to meet with the accidents of time. But rather let thy thought be this, that to wise men every place is alike, and that in every city the good have many fathers and mothers. Else, if thou doubt it, take thee a proof from what thou hast seen thyself. How many people who know thee not love thee as one of their own children; and what a host of women receive thee as they would their own beloved ones! Verily, as a stranger thou hast been fortunate; verily, for thy small love many people have conceived an ardent affection for thee.
What, again, are we to say concerning the delusion14 which has taken up its abode in the world? Both by reason of toil15 painful is the journey through it, and by its agitations are we, like a reed by the force of the wind, bent now in this direction, now in that. For I have been amazed at many who cast away their children, and I have been astonished at others who bring up those that are not theirs. There are persons who acquire riches in the world, and I have also been astonished at others who inherit that which is not of their own acquisition. Thus mayest thou understand and see that we are walking under the guidance of delusion.
Begin and tell us, O wisest of men,16 on which of his possessions a man can place reliance, or concerning what things he can say that they are such as abide. Wilt thou say so of abundance of riches? they are snatched away. Of fortresses? they are spoiled. Of cities? they are laid waste. Of greatness? it is brought down. Of magnificence? it is overthrown. Of beauty? it withers. Or of laws? they pass away. Or of poverty? it is despised. Or of children? they die. Or of friends? they prove false. Or of the praises of men? jealousy goes before them.
Let a man, therefore, rejoice in his empire, like Darius; or in his good fortune, like Polycrates; or in his bravery, like Achilles; or in his wife, like Agamemnon; or in his offspring, like Priam; or in his skill, like Archimedes; or in his wisdom, like Socrates; or in his learning, like Pythagoras; or in his ingenuity, like Palamedes;-the life of men, my son, departs from the world, but their praises and their virtues abide for ever.
Do thou, then, my little son, choose thee that which fadeth not away. For those who occupy themselves with these things are called modest, and are beloved, and lovers of a good name.
When, moreover, anything untoward befalls thee, do not lay the blame on man, nor be angry against God, nor fulminate against the time thou livest in.
If thou shalt continue in this mind, thy gift it not small which thou hast received from God, which has no need of riches, and is never reduced to poverty. For without fear shalt thou pass thy life,17 and with rejoicing. For fear and apologies for one's nature belong not to the wise, but to such as walk contrary to law. For no man has even been deprived of his wisdom, as of his property.
Follow diligently learning rather than riches. For the greater are one's possessions, the greater is the evil attendant upon them. For I have myself observed that, where a man's goods are many, so also are the tribulations which happen to him; and, where luxuries are accumulated, there also do sorrows congregate; and, where riches are abundant, there is stored up the bitterness of many a year.
If, therefore, thou shalt behave with understanding, and shalt diligently watch over thy conduct, God will not refrain from helping thee, nor men from loving thee.
Let that which thou art able to acquire suffice thee; and if, moreover, thou art able to do without property, thou shale be called blessed, and no man whatsover shall be jealous of thee.
And remember also this, that nothing will disturb thy life very greatly, except it be the love of gain; and that no man after his death is called an owner of property: because it is by the desire of this that weak men are led captive, and they know not that a man dwells among his possessions only in the manner of a chance-comer, and they are haunted with fear because these possessions are not secured to them: for they abandoned that which is their own, and seek that which is not theirs.
What are we to say, when the wise are dragged by force by the hands of tyrants, and their wisdom is deprived of its freedom18 by slander, and they are plundered for their superior intelligence, without the opportunity of making a defence? They are not wholly to be pitied. For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the. whole19 of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into Every land. Nay, Socrates did "not" die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the new laws which he enacted.
Moreover I, my son, have attentively observed mankind, in what a dismal state of ruin they are. And I have been amazed that they are not utterly prostrated20 by the calamities which surround them, and that even their wars21 are not enough for them, nor the pains they endure, nor the diseases, nor the death, nor the poverty; but that, like savage beasts, they must needs rush upon one another in their enmity, trying which of them shall inflict the greater mischief on his fellow. For they have broken away from the bounds of truth, and transgress all honest laws, because they are bent on fulfilling their selfish desires; for, whensoever a man is eagerly set on obtaining that which he desires, how is it possible that he should fitly do that which it behoves him to do? and they acknowledge no restraint,22 and but seldom stretch out their hands towards truth and goodness, but in their manner of life behave like the deaf23 and the blind. Moreover, the wicked rejoice, and the righteous are disquieted. He that has, denies that he has; and he that has not, struggles to acquire. The poor seek help, and the rich hide their wealth, and every man laughs at his fellow. Those that are drunken are stupefied, and those that have recovered themselves are ashamed.24 Some weep, and some sing; and some laugh, and others are a prey to care. They rejoice in things evil, and a man that speaks the truth they despise.
Should a man, then, be surprised when the world is seeking to wither him with its scorn, seeing that they and he have not one and the same manner of life? "These" are the things for which they care. One of them is looking forward to the time when in battle he shah obtain the renown of victory; yet the valiant perceive not by how many foolish objects of desire a man is led captive in the world. But would that for a little while self-repentance visited them! For, while victorious by their bravery, they are overcome by the power of covetousness. For I have made trial of men, and with this result: that the one thing on which they are intent, is abundance of riches. Therefore also it is that they have no settled purpose; but, through the instability of their minds, a man is of a sudden cast down from his elation of spirit to be swallowed up with sadness. They look not at the vast wealth of eternity, nor consider that every visitation of trouble is conducting us all alike to the same final period. For they are devoted to the majesty of the belly, that huge blot on the character of the vicious.
Moreover, as regards this letter which it has come into my mind to write to thee, it is not enough to read it, but the best thing is that it be put in practice.25 For I know for myself, that when thou shale have made experiment of this mode of life, it will be very pleasant to thee, and thou wilt be free from sore vexation; because it is only on account of children that we tolerate riches.26
Put, therefore, sadness away from thee, O most beloved of mankind,-a thing which never in anywise benefits a man; and drive care away from thee, which brings with it no advantage whatsoever. For we have no resource or skill that can avail us-nothing but a great mind able to cope with the disasters and to endure the tribulations which we are always receiving at the hands of the times. For at these things does it behove us to look, and not only at those which are fraught with rejoicing and good repute.
Devote thyself to wisdom, the fount of all things good, the treasure that faileth not. There shalt thou lay thy head, and be at ease. For this shall be to thee father and mother, and a good companion for thy life.
Enter into closest intimacy with fortitude and patience, those virtues which are able successfully to encounter the tribulations that befall feeble men. For so great is their strength, that they are adequate to sustain hunger, and can endure thirst, and mitigate every trouble. With toil, moreover, yea even with dissolution, they make right merry.
To these things give diligent attention, and thou shalt lead an untroubled life, and I also Shall have comfort,27 and thou shalt be called "the delight of his parents."
For in that time of yore, when our city was standing in her greatness, thou mayest be aware that against many persons among us abominable words were uttered; but for ourselves,28 we acknowledged long ago that we received love, no less than honour, to the fullest extent from the multitude of her people: it was the state of the times only that forbade our completing those: things which we had resolved on doing.29 And here also in the prison-house we give thanks to God that we have received the love of many: for we are striving to our utmost to maintain a life of sobriety and cheerfulness;30 and, if anyone drive us by force, he will but be bearing public testimony against himself, that he is estranged from all things good, and he will receive disgrace and shame from the foul mark of shame that is upon him. For we have shown our truth-that truth which in our now ruined kingdom we possessed not.31 But, if the Romans shall permit us to go back to our own country, as called upon by justice and righteousness to do, they will be acting like humane men, and will earn the name of good and righteous, and at the same time will have a peaceful country in which to dwell: for they will exhibit their greatness when they shall leave us free men, and we shall be obedient to the sovereign power which the time has allotted to us. But let them not like tyrants, drive us as though we were slaves. Yet, if it has been already determined what shall be done, we shall receive nothing more dreadful than the peaceful death which is in store for us.
But thou, my little son, if thou resolve diligently to acquaint thyself with these things, first of all put a check on appetite, and set limits to that in which thou art indulging. Seek the power to refrain from being angry; and, instead of yielding to outbursts of passion, listen to the promptings of kindness.
For myself, what I am henceforth solicitous about is this-that, so far as I have recollections of the past, I may leave behind me a book containing them, and with a prudent mind finish the journey which I am appointed to take, and depart without suffering out of the sad afflictions of the world. For my prayer is, that I may receive my dismissal; and by what kind of death concerns me not. But, if any one should be troubled or anxious about this, I have no counsel to give him: for yonder, in the dwelling-place of all the world, will he find us before him.
One of his friends asked Mara, son of Serapion, when in bonds at his side: "Nay, by thy life, Mara, tell me what cause of laughter thou hast seen, that thou laughest." "I am laughing," said Mara, "at Time:32 inasmuch as, although he has not borrowed any evil from me, he is paying me back."
Here endeth the letter of Mara, son of Serapion.
A Memorial2 a which Ambrose, a chief man of Greece, wrote: who became a Christian, and all his fellow-senators raised an outcry against him; and he fled from them, and wrote and pointed out to them all their foolishness.
Beginning his discourse,3 he answered and said:-
Think not, men of Greece, that my separation from your customs has been made without a just and proper reason. For I acquainted myself with all your wisdom, consisting of poetry, of oratory, of philosophy; and when I found not there anything agreeable to what is right, or that is worthy of the divine nature, I resolved to make myself acquainted with the wisdom of the Christians also, and to learn and see who they are, and when they took their rise, and what is the nature of this new and strange wisdom of theirs,4 or on what good hopes those who are imbued with it rely, that they speak only that which is true.
Men of Greece, when I came to examine the Christian writings, I found not any folly sin them, as I had found not any folly5 in them, as I had found in the celebrated Homer, who has said concerning the wars of the two trials:6 "Because of Helen, many of the Greeks perished at Troy, away from their beloved home."7 For, first of all, we are told8 concerning Agamemnon their king, that by reason of the foolishness of his brother Menelaus, and the violence of his madness, and the uncontrollable nature of his passion, he resolved to go and rescue Helen from the hands of a certain leprous9 shepherd; and afterwards, when the Greeks had become victorious in the war, and burnt cities, and taken women and children captive, and the land was filled with blood, and the rivers with corpses, Agamemnon himself also was found to be taken captive by his passion for Briseis. Patroclus, again, we are told, was slain, and Achilles, the son of the goddess Thetis, mourned over him; Hector was dragged along the ground, and Priam and Hecuba together were weeping over the loss of their children; Astyanax, the son of Hector, was thrown down from the walls of Ilion, and his mother Andromache the mighty Ajax bore away into captivity; and that which was taken as booty was after a little while, all squandered in sensual indulgence.
Of the wiles of Odysseus the son of Laertes, and of his murders, who shall tell the tale? For of a hundred and ten suitors did his house in one day become the grave, and it was filled with corpses and blood. He, too, it was that by his wickedness gained the praises of men, because through his pre-eminence in craft he escaped detection; he, too, it was who, you say, sailed upon the sea, and heard not the voice of the Sirens only because he stopped his ears with wax.10
The famous Achilles, again, the son of Peleus, who bounded across the river, and routed11 the Trojans, and slew Hector,-this said hero of yours became the slave of Philoxena, and was overcome by an Amazon as she lay dead and stretched upon her bier; and he put off his armour, and arrayed himself in nuptial garments, and finally fell a sacrifice to love.
Thus much concerning your great "men; "12 and thou, Homer, hadst deserved forgiveness, if thy silly story-telling had gone so far only as to prate about men, and not about the gods. As for what he says about the gods, I am ashamed even to speak of it: for the stories that have been invented about them are very wicked and shocking; passing strange,13 too, and not to be believed; and, if the truth must be told,14 fit only to be laughed at. For a person will be compelled to laugh when he meets with them, and will not believe them when he hears them. For think of gods who did not one of them observe the laws of rectitude, or of purity, or of modesty, but were adulterers, and spent their time in debauchery, and yet were not condemned to death, as they ought to have been!
Why, the sovereign of the gods, the very "father of gods and men," not only, as ye say, was an adulterer (this was but a light thing), but even slew his own father, and was a paederast. I will first of all speak of his adultery, though I blush to do so: for he appeared to Antiope as a satyr, and descended upon Danaë as a shower of gold, and became a bull for Europa, and a swan for Leda; whilst the love of Semele, the mother of Dionysus, exposed both his own ardency of passion and the jealousy of the chaste Hera. Ganymede the Phrygian, too, he carried off disguised as an eagle, that the fair and comely boy, forsooth, might serve as cup-bearer to him. This said sovereign of the gods, moreover killed his father Kronos, that he might seize upon his kingdom.
Oh! to how many charges is the sovereign of the gods amenable,15 and how many deaths does he deserve to die, as an adulterer, and as a sorcerer,16 and as a paederast! Read to the sovereign of the gods, O men of Greece, the law concerning parricide, and the condemnation pronounced on adultery, and about the shame that attaches to the vile sin of paederasty. How many adulterers has the sovereign of the gods indoctrinated in sin! Nay, how many paederasts, and sorcerers, and murderers! So that, if a man be found indulging his passions, he must not be put to death: because he has done this that he may become like the sovereign of the gods; and, if he be found a murderer, he has an excuse in the sovereign of the gods; and, if a man be a sorcerer, he has learned it from the sovereign of the gods; and, if he be a paederast, the sovereign of the gods is his apologist. Then, again, if one should speak of courage, Achilles was more valiant that this said sovereign of the gods: for he slew the man that slew his friend; but the sovereign of the gods wept over Sarpedon his son when he was dying, being distressed for him.
Pluto, again, who is a god, carried off Kora,17 and the mother of Kora was hurrying hither and thither searching for her daughter in all desert places; and, although Alexander Paris, when he had carried off Helen, paid the penalty of vengeance, as having made himself her lover by force, yet Pluto, who is a god, when he carried off Kora, remained without rebuke; and, although Menelaus, who is a man, knew how to search for Helen his wife, yet Demeter, who is a goddess, knew not where to search for Kora her daughter.
Let Hephaestus put away jealousy from him, and not indulge resentment.18 For he was hated,19 because he was old and lame; while Ares was loved, because he was a youth and beautiful in form. There was, however, a reproof administered in respect of the adultery. Hephaestus was not, indeed, at first aware of the love existing between Venus20 his wife and Ares; but, when he did become acquainted with it, Hephaestus said: "Come, see a ridiculous and senseless piece of behaviour-how to me, who am her own, Venus, the daughter of the sovereign of the gods, is offering insult-to me, I say, who am her own, and is paying honour to Ares, who is a stranger to her." But to the sovereign of the gods it was not displeasing: for he loved such as were like these. Penelope, moreover, remained a widow twenty years, because she was expecting the return of her husband Odysseus, and busied herself with cunning tasks,21 and persevered in works of skill, while all those suitors kept pressing her to marry them; but Venus, who is a goddess, when Hephaestus her husband was close to her, deserted him, because she was overcome by love for Ares. Hearken, men of Greece: which of you would have dared to do this, or would even have endured to see it? And, if any one "should" dare to act so, what torture would be in store for him, or what scourgings!
Kronos, again, who is a god, who devoured all those children of his, was not even brought before a court of justice. They further tell us that the sovereign of the gods, his son, was the only one that escaped from him; and that the madness of Kronos his father was cheated of its purpose because Rhea his wife, the mother of the sovereign of the gods, offered him a stone in the place of the said sovereign of the gods, his son, to prevent him from devouring him. Hearken, men of Greece, and reflect upon this madness! Why, even the dumb animal that grazes in the field knows its proper food, and does not touch strange food; the wild beast, too, and the reptile, and the bird, know their food. As for men, I need not say anything about them: ye yourselves are acquainted with their food, and understand it well. But Kronos, who is a god, not knowing his proper food, ate up a stone!
Therefore, O men of Greece, if ye will have such gods as these, do not find fault with one another when ye do such-like things. Be not angry with thy son when he forms the design to kill thee: because he thus resembles the sovereign of the gods. And, if a man commit adultery with thy wife, why dost thou think of him as an enemy, and yet to the sovereign of the gods, who is like him, doest worship and service? Why, too, dost thou find fault with thy wife when she has committed adultery and leads a dissolute life,22 and yet payest honour to Venus, and placest her images in shrines? Persuade your Solon to repeal his laws; Lycurgus, also, to make no laws; let the Areopagus repeal23 theirs, and judge no more; and let the Athenians have councils no longer. Let the Athenians discharge Socrates from his office: for no one like Kronos has ever come before him. Let them not put to death Orestes, who killed his mother: for, lo! the sovereign of the gods did worse things than these to his father. Oedipus also too hastily inflicted mischief on himself, in depriving his eyes of sight, because he had killed his mother unwittingly: for he did not think about24 the sovereign of the gods, who killed his father and yet remained without punishment. Medea, again, who killed her children, the Corinthians banish from their country; and yet they do service and honour to Kronos, who devoured his children. Then, too, as regards Alexander Paris-he was fight in carrying off Helen: for he did it that he might become like Pluto, who carded off Kora. Let your men be set free from law, and let your cities be the abode of wanton women, and a dwelling-place for sorcerers.
Wherefore, O men of Greece, seeing that your gods are grovelling like yourselves, and your heroes destitute of courage,25 as your dramas tell and your stories declare-then, again, what shall be said of the tribulations of Orestes; and the couch of Thyestes; and the foul taint in the family of Pelops; and concerning Danaus, who through jealousy killed his sons-in-law, and deprived them of offspring; the banquet of Thyestes, too, feeding upon the corpse set before him by way of vengeance for her whom he had wronged; about Procne also, to this hour screaming as she flies; her sister too, warbling, with her tongue cut out?26 What, moreover, is it fitting to say about the murder committed by Oedipus, who took his own mother to wife, and whose brothers killed one another, they being at the same time his sons?
Your festivals, too, I hate; for there is no moderation where they are; the sweet flutes also, dispellers of care, which play as an incitement to dancing;27 and the preparation of ointments, wherewith ye anoint yourselves; and the chaplets which ye put on. In the abundance of your wickedness, too, ye have forgotten shame, and your understandings have become blinded, and ye have been infuriated28 by the heat of passion, and have loved the adulterous bed.29
Had these things been said by another, perhaps our adversaries would have brought an accusation against him, on the plea that they were untrue. But your own poets say them, and your own hymns and dramas declare them.
Come, therefore, and be instructed in the word of God, and in the wisdom which is fraught with comfort. Rejoice, and become partakers of it. Acquaint yourselves with the King Immortal, and acknowledge His servants. For not in arms do they make their boast, nor do they commit murders: because our Commander has no delight in abundance of strength, nor yet in horsemen and their gallant array, nor yet in illustrious descent; but He delights in the pure soul, fenced round by a rampart of righteousness. The word of God, moreover, and the promises of our good King, and the works of God, are ever teaching us. Oh the blessedness of the soul that is redeemed by the power of the word! Oh the blessedness of the trumpet of peace without war! Oh the blessedness of the teaching which quenches the fire of appetite! which, though it makes not poets, nor fits men to be philosophers, nor has among its votaries the orators of the crowd; yet instructs men, and makes the dead not to die, and lifts men from the earth as gods up to the region which is above the firmament. Come, be instructed, and be like me: for I too was once as ye are.
Mara, son of Serapion, p. 735.
I Cannot withhold from the student the valuable hints concerning "the dialect of Edessa" by which Professor Nöldke30 corrects the loose ideas of Mommsen, more especially because the fresh work of Mommsen will soon be in our hands, and general credit will be attached to specious representations which are sure to have a bearing on his ulterior treatment of Christianity and the Roman Empire.
Of the Syriac language Professor Nöldke says:-
"It was the living language of Syria which here appears as the language of writing. In Syria it had long ago been compelled to yield to the Greek as the official language, but private writings were certainly yet to a great extent written in Aramaic. We cannot lay much stress upon the fact that the respectable citizen in the Orient would have the schoolmaster of the village compose a Greek inscription for his tomb, of which he undoubtedly understood but little himself. And what a Greek this often was! That no books written by Aramaic Gentiles have been preserved for us, does not decide against the existence of the Aramaic as the language of literature in that day; for how could such Gentile works have been preserved for us? To this must be added, that that particular dialect which afterward became the common literary language of Aramaic Christendom-namely, that of Edessa-certainly had in the Gentile period already been used for literary purposes. The official report of the great flood in the year 201, which is prefixed to the Edessa Chronicles, is written by a Gentile. To the same time must be ascribed the letter, written in good Edessan language by the finely educated Mara bar Serapion, from the neighbouring Samosata, who, notwithstanding his good-will toward youthful Christianity, was no Christian, but represented rather the ethical stand-point of the Stoicism so popular at that time. The fixed settling of Syriac orthography must have taken place at a much earlier period than the hymns of Bardesanes and his school, which are for us very old specimens of that language, since these hymns represent a versification much younger than the stage of development which is presupposed in this orthography. In general, it must be granted that the dialect of Edessa had been thoroughly developed already in pre-Christian times; otherwise, it could not have been so fixed and firm in writing and forms of expression. And the Syriac Dialogue on Fate, which presupposes throughout the third century, treats of scientific questions, according to Greek models, with such precision that we again see that this was not the beginning, but rather the close, of a scientific Syriac literature, which flourished already when there were but few or possibly no Christians there. Of course I recognise, with Mommsen, that Edessa offered a better protection to the national language and literature than did the cities of Syria proper; but circumstances were not altogether of a different nature in this regard in Haleb, Hems, and Damascus than they were in Edessa and Jerusalem. If, as is known, the common mass spoke Aramaic in the metropolitan city of Antiochia, it cannot safely be accepted that in the inland districts the Greek was not the language of the `educated, 'but only of those who had specially learned it. The Macedonian and Greek colonists have certainly only in a very small part retained this language in those districts down to the Roman period. In most cases they have been in a minority from the beginning over against the natives. Further. as the descendants of old soldiers, they can scarcely be regarded as the called watchmen of Greek custom and language."
No verb is found in the lexicons, etc., note 3, p. 737.
The study of Syriac is just beginning to be regarded as only less important to the theologian than that of the Hebrew. The twain will be found a help, each to the other, if one pursues the study of the cognate languages together. In fact, the Book of Daniel demands such a preparation for its enjoyment and adequate comprehension.31 Let the commend to every reader the admirable example of Beveridge, who at eighteen years of age produced a grammar of the Syriac language, and also a Latin essay on the importance of cultivating this study, as that of the vernacular of our Lord Himself. This little treatise is worthy of careful reading; and right worthy of note is the motto which he prefixed to it,-"Estote imitatores mei, sicut et ego sum Christi" (1 Cor. xi. 1).
When one thinks of the difficulties even yet to be overcome in mastering the language,-the want of a complete lexicon, etc.,32 -it is surprising to think of Beveridge's pioneer labours in extreme youth. Gutbir's Lexicon Syriacum had not yet appeared, nor his edition of the Peshito, which preceded it, though Brian Walton's great name and labours were his noble stimulants. Nobody can read the touching account which Gutbir33 gives of his own enthusiastic and self-sacrificing work, without feeling ashamed of the slow progress of Oriental studies in the course of two centuries since the illustrious Pocock gave his grand example to English scholarship. All honour to our countryman Dr. Murdock, who late in life entered upon this charming pursuit, and called on others to follow him.34 May I not venture to hope that even these specimens of what may be reaped from the field of Aramaic literature may inspire my young countrymen to take the lead in elucidating the Holy Scriptures from this almost unopened storehouse of "treasures new and old"?

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