A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 13

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 13

Read FREE!

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 13

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 13

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The two Fathers of the Syrian Church, from whose writings the present Volume presents a selection, are from more than one point of view fitly associated as examples of the leaders of Syriac theological thought and literature. They are the earliest Syriac authors of whom any considerable remains survive; and they both represent the religious mind of the Syrian Church, but little affected by influences from without, other than the all-pervading influence of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.

Syriac Literature is, on the whole, of derivative growth. It consists largely of versions or adaptations from the Greek. The Syriac language, in the hands of those to whom the Syriac Church owes the admirable version of the Scriptures known as the “Peshitto,” proved itself capable of reproducing adequately, not only the sublime conceptions of God and of man’s relations to God which belong to the cognate Hebrew of the Old Testament, but also—the wider, subtler, and more complex religious ideas for which the writers of the New Testament found their fit vehicle in the Greek. But the Peshitto, great as its value must have been to the religious life of Syriac-speaking Christians, never became to them what Luther’s Bible has been to Germany, and the “Authorized” Bible of King James’s translators to England—an inspiring force in literature, not merely to elevate and enrich its language, but to quicken it in every branch. Syriac literature was indeed deeply penetrated by the Syriac Bible, but its level was never raised above mediocrity. For the most part it is imitative not original;—nay, it rarely succeeds in assimilating so as to make its own what it has borrowed. The Syriac translator, if he worked on the writings of a Greek divine, would often paraphrase or even interpolate; if of a Greek historian, would subjoin a continuation; but he would seldom venture farther. Those who essayed independent authorship were few. A home-grown Syriac literature began with Ephraim and Aphrahat; but [setting aside a very small number of the writers who followed] it may almost be said to have ended with them. These two, and these alone, in place of being imitators or translators, were translated and imitated by the writers of foreign nations. Aphrahat’s literary lot was the singular one, that his work survived in an alien tongue for alien readers. when the original had wellnigh perished out of the mem-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.