Author Topic: ‘Syriac Dialogue’ – An Example from the Past  (Read 675 times)

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Offline CoptoGeek

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‘Syriac Dialogue’ – An Example from the Past
« on: December 30, 2011, 01:55:55 PM »
I found this very interesting article, it's the translation & analysis of 'dispute poem' between St. Cyril & Nestorius in Syriac.

‘Syriac Dialogue’ – An Example from the Past
Professor Sebastian Brock, Oxford University
Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, Vol. 18, no. 1, 2004

excerpt of the intro:

"It is a particular pleasure for me, as a fellow participant at some of these meetings of ‘Syriac Dialogue’ to offer, in honour of Mar Aprem (Metropolitan of Trichur of the SOC), a translation of a much earlier literary ‘Syriac Dialogue’, in the form of a dispute poem, or soghitha, on christology where the protagonists for the two christological traditions, Antiochene and Alexandrian, are the Greek theologians Nestorius and Cyril. In effect, they speak for the East and West Syriac christological traditions.

The distinctive Syriac genre of the dispute poem, where two characters conduct an argument in alternating verses, has its roots in the ancient Mesopotamian precedence disputes, composed in Sumerian and Akkadian and going back to late third and the second millennium BC. Within the Syriac literary tradition, where the earliest examples of such poems are found in the writings of St Ephrem, the dispute between Nestorius and Cyril is unusual, in that here two historical figures are presented as arguing, whereas in the great majority of the dialogue soghyatha it is pairs of biblical characters who are the participants (for example, Cain and Abel, Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist and Christ, etc.). Furthermore, considering the harsh tones of much of the polemical literature on either side of the christological controversy from the fifth century onwards, the tone of the present poem is remarkably, and laudably, restrained."

excerpt of the poem:

8. CYRIL The eternal Son became flesh (John 1:14)
And His great glory came down to earth;
He contained Himself in the Virgin
And suspended Himself from the top of the Cross.

9. NESTORIUS The eternal Son became flesh -
From the house of David they proclaimed Him: (Matt. 1:1)
Prophets and apostles too indicated this,
(thus too) did the Watcher announce to the Virgin. (Luke 1:32)

10. CYRIL He completed the Law through His coming,
He fulfilled the prophets through the shedding of His blood,
The announcement of the Watcher that was sent
Was intended for the hearing of His mother.

11. NESTORIUS Remove the veil over your hearts
And look at the Scriptures which say
That the Child of the Father took from us
A visible body and dwelt in it. (Col. 2:9)

12. CYRIL You are a source of amazement (to me), not having heard
From the son of thunder (Mark 3:17) who proclaimed it,
That the Word Himself (qnomeh) became flesh. (John 1:14)
Why are you arguing and fail to agree?

13. NESTORIUS You are a source of amazement (to me), seeing that all the Scriptures
And Writings too have knocked on your ears
(proclaiming) that (with) Jesus, the Saviour of the world,
His glory has shone forth from David’s house. (Matt.1:1, 21:9; Rom.1:3)

14. CYRIL Look, there is a mediator between me and you,
The great Paul; (so) listen, my man:
Gods sent His Son (Gal. 4:4)
And He became flesh in the Virgin.

15. NESTORIUS Paul himself cries out concerning Him
That He is a mediator between His Father and us. (I Tim. 2:5)
Why do you so boldly abuse
The Son of the Father who put on the body?
"Be oppressed, rather than the oppressor. Be gentle, rather than zealous. Lay hold of goodness, rather than justice." -St. Isaac of Nineveh

“I returned to the Coptic Orthodox Church with affection, finding in her our tormented and broken history“. -Salama Moussa