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Author Topic: some confusing Syriac Orthodox figures  (Read 698 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: September 28, 2010, 06:17:27 PM »

There are some figures in the Syriac Orthodox Church in the 5th and 6th centuries which I find somewhat confusing because they appear to not have been Syrian and even seem to have sometimes originated far outside the jurisdiction of Antioch. Could someone explain these anomalies? Particularly right now I have in mind (St?) Peter the Fuller, Saint Severus of Antioch, and John of Ephesus.
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2010, 06:37:57 PM »

Another thing I wonder is: was John of Ephesus even technically part of the SOC? It would seem that at a certain point Ephesus developed as the primatial see of an Asian church that was independent of the Syrian church. Then at Chalcedon it was placed under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. And then at Ephesus III that decision was repudiated in favor of the restoration of Ephesus' independence. So was John's church really technically part of the Antiochene-Syrian church or were the two just highly related because of a shared faith and geographical neighboring?
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 03:03:49 AM »

There wasn't a Syrian Orthodox Church, you are speaking anachronistically.

There was THE CHURCH. That is why there was not a Coptic Orthodox Church. Just the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

People didn't think like that.

Several Patriarchs of Alexandria were from Antioch. Saint Severus was not a Syriac speaker, just as many Alexandrian bishops were not Coptic speakers. The Church wasn't divided according to race and language. Syriac did not become a Church language until the 6th century-ish, nor did Coptic. Everyone (important) spoke Greek.

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deusveritasest
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 04:05:12 PM »

I understand that much. But that doesn't entirely answer what I was trying to get at.

So what we're talking about is simply the Anti-Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Antioch. Alright.

So again, how does that explain Peter the Fuller and Saint Severus of Antioch, who both appear to have originated from outside the jurisdiction of Antioch?

Also, even if the Syriac Orthodox Church did not exist in the same sense, is it still not the case that most of the people of the Anti-Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Antioch were Syrians?

So what were the ethnic backgrounds of Peter and Saint Severus?

And given that we're simply talking about the Patriarchate of Antioch, how does John of Ephesus fit into all of this, when it doesn't seem Ephesus ever had any jurisdictional relationship with Antioch?

What you bring up about the varying identities of the Patriarchs is a little curious. Why were their some Patriarchs of Alexandria who were from Syria? How did they get by serving their flock without speaking Coptic? And how did the Antiochene Patriarchs get by serving their flock without speaking Aramaic?
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2010, 04:16:47 PM »

But the Egyptians didn't speak Coptic, they spoke Greek.

And the Antiochians didn't speak Aramaic they spoke Greek.

The local languages were used by those who were either outside the zone of civilisation or of a lower class.

St Severus preached in Greek, and in his own lifetime his homilies were translated into Syriac for those beyond the city of Antioch. But as far as I remember from the tables in Price's Acts of Constantinople, it was only in the 5th century that Syriac began to be used for literate purposes.

Likewise St Shenouda was among the first literate authors in Coptic.

Everyone spoke Greek. There were Greeks in Italy. Even the Irish aspired to some Greek knowledge.

Origin meant nothing in the ancient world. There were no nation states such as we have now. My dear St Theodore of Canterbury was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 7th century, and is buried just 20 miles from where I am sitting but he was a Syrian.

Why do you think it odd that there was such movement of people? We can surely think of many saints who moved around. St Peter the Iberian was from Georgia, lived in Constantinople, then became a monastic founder in Palestine.

Even in our own times we have had a Polish and now a German Pope. If the Church is universal then this happens. The Church of Antioch in the time of St Severus was not the Anti-Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Antioch, it was just the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Think also of how the Emperors themselves were from a wide variety of places of origin. There was nothing unusual in this. People were part of the Empire, and attached to their towns and cities. Even in Britain after the people were left to fend for themselves they considered themselves Roman for centuries.

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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2010, 05:31:44 PM »

I agree with what Fr Peter has written, except perhaps for the following sentences which seem to not be completely correct, especially the second one:

But the Egyptians didn't speak Coptic, they spoke Greek.

.....But as far as I remember from the tables in Price's Acts of Constantinople, it was only in the 5th century that Syriac began to be used for literate purposes.

.....Everyone spoke Greek.

Maybe what is written concerning Syriac is true about Antioch, I don't know. But it is not true concerning Syriac generally. I just remembered St Ephrem the Syrian who did not even know Greek, Aphrahat, the Aramaic translation of the Holy Scriptures etc. Also, Syriac was a liturgical language long before the 5th century.

I also remembered the Coptic writings of the Nag Hammadi Library, the many versions of Coptic translations of the Holy Scriptures. So, not everyone spoke Greek. I think, it is more correct to say that the Greek influence was great in those countries that became hellenistic, especially in major cities.

Sorry, just my 2 cents.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 05:33:30 PM by vasnTearn » Logged
Leb Aryo
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2010, 05:43:12 PM »

I would also disagree with Fr. Peter about Syriac.  Edessa's official language was Syriac.  Edessa as a kingdom was established in 150B.C.  You have examples of Monuments written in Syriac there not Greek dating from 6 A.D. in strictly this Aramaic dialect.  Continous use of Aramaic in this area dated from 11th century B.C.  All the surrounding areas were Syriac speaking.  In the East of what is today Iraq you would have even a lesser penetration of Greek than in N Syria.  
Syriac or Greek has nothing to do with class or state in life, as the former poster mentioned, many world renowned writers wrote only in Syriac.
Syriac churches started using this dialect in the 3rd century for worship not 6th.
Antioch would have been more mixed between Greek and Syriac:
The following writers wrote mostly in Syriac: Jacob of Serugh, Narsai, Philoxenus of Mabbog, Babai the Great, Isaac of Nineveh and Jacob of Edessa.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 05:45:08 PM by Leb Aryo » Logged
Tags: Syriac Orthodox Oriental Orthodox saints liturgical languages 
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