Students of the Bible in 4th and 5th Century Syria: Seats of Learning, Sidelights and Syriacisms

Students of the Bible in 4th and 5th Century Syria: Seats of Learning, Sidelights and Syriacisms

Students of the Bible in 4th and 5th Century Syria: Seats of Learning, Sidelights and Syriacisms

Students of the Bible in 4th and 5th Century Syria: Seats of Learning, Sidelights and Syriacisms

Excerpt

This book is concerned with three bishops from Syria, viz. Eusebius of Emesa (ca. 300 – ca. 359), Severian of Gabala (? – after 408), and Theodoret of Cyrrhus (ca. 393 – ca. 466). In their literary activity they altogether cover about 100 years – from the second quarter of the 4th century until the beginning of the second half of the 5th century. As bishops, of course, their main responsibilities were of an ecclesiastical nature. However, we shall be more concerned with their roles as representatives of seats of learning or school traditions, but it should be mentioned at the very outset that they hardly drew any sharp distinction between what belonged to School and what belonged to Church. It should also be emphasized that the state of research is characterized by a fairly great variation in the scholarly approach of each of the three authors.

Their “language of office” was no doubt Greek. Eusebius and Severian probably had Syriac as their mother tongue, whereas Theodoret’s vernacular, as will be argued below, was Greek. Generally speaking, they all have some connection with the School of Antioch; since, however, this “school”, as has been shown most convincingly, was not “monolithic”, and, as will be true of any “school”, was not “identical” in form throughout the years of 350, 400, and 450, respectively, this “identification” maybe contains far more open questions than definite answers. It is therefore a basic point that the three authors should each be considered on the background of their time and context in history, both theologically speaking as well as in terms of culture, language etc.

The reason that this collection of articles dating from 1969 to 2005 (2008) has been given the title “Students of the Bible”, is the fact that we shall mainly be concerned with the ways in which the three bishops approached the Bible. The state of research, however, compels us to include questions on the transmission . . .

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