The Spirituality of Qyāmā: An Ideal for Modern Monasticism

Sr. Roselin SST



The long history of the Church, both in the East and in the West, loudly proclaims the important role of monasticism in the building up of an Individual Church. The concept of monasticism as such, is an ancient phenomenon and can be seen in many religions. Mainly it marks a tendency to develop a parallel lifestyle to seek liberation from the hurries and worries of this world or to purify oneself or to attain union with God. But Christian Monasticism is unique. It is not an individual effort to attain private salvation. But it is a war like effort to live in the Church, for the Church and as the Church. The monasteries must be the perfect Church in its Micro form that act as leaven to foster the Macro Church. Hence, Christian Monasticism should be the continuation of the Holy tradition of the Jerusalem community, the first Church. The roots of Christian monasticism should not be searched for in other religions. It is not an extension of an already existing universal phenomenon with the covering of the new dress of Christianity. It is unique and its roots are in the primitive Church as described in the Acts of the Apostles.   It was, it is and it should be an attempt to live the Gospel in its Spirit. 

This true spirit of monasticism is kept in a unique way by Qyāmā, the Covenanters, the elite group in the East Syriac Church. They were considered ascetics who lived the real spirit of the Church during the first centuries, before the period of a developed monasticism which was measured in terms of the categories of Egyptian monasticism. When we think about monks, we never consider them as the part of the common society. They voluntarily leave mainstream society and live in the deserts in perfect silence, without enjoying the normal pleasures of the world, keeping people at a distance, etc. But these Covenanters of the Proto -Monastic period were an exception. They lived in the midst of society but accepted and lived the challenging responsibility to imitate their Lord to perfection.  They were active participants of the Church who worked to build up the Church. They actualized the genuine spirit of being Christian monks. They actually tried to live the spirit of the primitive Church in Jerusalem. In this article we try to understand this venerable tradition of the Mesopotamian Church which she lost in the course of history for various reasons among them, Hellenistic influence.

1.   The First Christian Community: The Role Model of Monasticism

We read a beautiful description of the primitive Church of the Jerusalem in the Acts of the The whole community had one heart and one soul. They did not enjoy any private ownership. Their possessions were held in common. Their fidelity to the teachings of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of the bread, and to the prayers was their identity marks as the Disciples of Christ (Acts 2, 42-46: 4, 32-36). This communitarian life was inspired by the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 16, 24-27 and Mt. 19, 16-29) which enumerate the blessings that spring out from the spirit of renunciation which later reincarnated into monasticism.

All the ascetical practices and renunciations, even though many times are considered as the goal are only the means to lead a perfect ecclesial life. Hence, monasticism is not a parallel track, but a “movement among the baptized believers who try to respond to Christ’s call for perfection”[1]. There existed an ardent desire to imitate Christ who is ‘the Perfect’ and who is present in this world through his mystical body, the Church.

2.   The Monastic Vocation: The Perfection of the Baptismal Vocation

OXYGEN VOLUME 13From the very beginning of the Church, there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty and imitate him more closely, practising the evangelical counsels. ‘Imitation of Christ’ was considered as the way to perfection or divinization. But it is not a mere imitation of one historical man who lived in Galilee. For all those who receive Baptism and become the members of the Church, imitation of Christ has an ecclesial dimension.  Now He is glorified and is living ‘among us’ and ‘in us’, as the Church. Hence, imitation of Christ is ‘living in the Church’ and ‘as the Church’, i.e., to lead a profound ecclesial life. This was the mind of the Fathers, too. Pope John Paul II invites the faithful to re-realize the truth that the monastic vocation is inherent to the baptismal vocation itself.

In the East, monasticism has retained great unity. It did not experience the development of different kinds of apostolic life as in the West. The various expressions of monastic life, from the strictly cenobitic, as conceived by Pachomius or Basil, to the rigorously eremitic, as with Anthony or Macarius of Egypt, correspond more to different stages of the spiritual journey than to the choice between different states of life. In any event, whatever form they take, they are all based on monasticism. Moreover, in the East, monasticism was not seen merely as a separate condition, proper to a precise category of Christians, but rather as a reference point for all the baptized, according to the gifts offered to each by the Lord; it was presented as a symbolic synthesis of Christianity[2].

Both the Church and Monasticism originated in Jerusalem. Here lies the significance of referring to the Eastern Churches as monastic Churches. It was only later that monasticism gradually spread to the West and continues to be a rich and unique heritage to the Universal Church. Pope John Paul II makes the Eastern Churches mindful of their venerable heritage. 

Monasticism has always been the very soul of the Eastern Churches: the first Christian monks were born in the East and the monastic life was an integral part of the Eastern lumen passed on to the West by the great fathers of the undivided Church[3]

3.   Institutionalized Monasticism:  A Break with the Church

As mentioned above, there was a fervent attempt from the major part of the believing community to 

discipline-of-prayer-theimitate Christ i.e. to lead an ecclesial life in its perfection. It was not easy for them. The Church was severely persecuted in the first centuries. The Christians were ready to proclaim and celebrate their faith at the cost of their life. For early Christians, martyrdom was considered the supreme manner of imitating their Lord.  Zealous faithful were eager to be counted worthy of martyrdom. The cessation of persecution against the Christians in the Roman Empire gave an impetus, perhaps indirectly, to the monastic movement.  The last persecution was that of Diocletian from A.D.304.  When the Church started to enjoy freedom there arose two main reasons for the development of monasticism in its developed form as a separate lifestyle.

  1. Heroic Christians were disappointed that there was no more opportunity for making the supreme sacrifice of laying down their life for Christ to become a martyr.  They dedicated themselves to the service of Christ, vowing life-long celibacy and virginity which came to be equated with martyrdom.[4] Thus Monastic life was considered as “white martyrdom,” i.e., unbloody martyrdom.[5]
  2. At the same time, especially after the period of persecution, Christianity became more and more estranged from gospel values and conformed to the world. Monastic life emerged in the Church as a reaction and a corrective measure to preserve intact the ideals of Christian life by living the gospel values radically in the altered circumstances.[6]

When monasticism developed into institutionalized forms and the monks sought isolated locations for devotional practice, we lost the great tradition of true monasticism as the genuine ecclesial life.

In the Western Roman Empire after the Edict of Milan which gave the Church freedom, the community of the faithful tended to grow lax in the observance of Gospel values. A smaller group wanted to live discipleship to its perfection and separated itself from the mainstream to lead a more radical Christian life. This resulted in the evolution of institutionalized monasticism. There are many other factors behind the emergence of Monasticism as an institutional form. The fourth century witnessed the fast growth of monasticism in its strict sense. It is reasonable to consider this movement as a reaction against the degradation of quality of the Christian life. In the early church, the martyr represented an ideal. Many were so fervent enough that they earnestly desired martyrdom. With the end of persecution, this ideal was no longer attainable. In effect, the martyr was replaced by the ascetic, whose rigorous life was often regarded as martyrdom. In the case of the ascetic, the human persecutor was replaced by a spiritual one i.e. the demon. If we consider ascetics as the heirs of martyrs, we can make sense of their austere life. They simply tried to carry out the norms of the Christian life of the pre-Constantine period, during which time, to be a Christian was a very serious matter. Hence, the ascetical life was in reality, not a parallel track, but an attempt to be firm on the right way of living in the Church and to keep fidelity to Gospel values[7].

frbonifacedrawing3But this was not the case of Syriac Christianity. They never enjoyed such an acceptance from the surrounding community. Their asceticism was different from that of the Egyptian desert tradition. From its very beginning Syriac Christianity was intrinsically ascetic. The Syrian Christians considered practising their faith as a radical dedication and sacrifice. They took our Lord’s exhortation ‘whoever wants to save his life will lose it’ as a challenge. Hence, the community of faithful, i.e., the Church itself was monastic. They were united under their head, our Lord, Jesus Christ and took the Gospel as their Typikon.

While Egyptian monks felt the need to escape from the pressures of the world in order to imitate Christ in the deserts, the Syrian ascetics bnay qyāmā never felt the need to do likewise. They refused to flee from the culture in which they were born and brought up and considered it their duty to serve and transform it (Rom 12, 1). They considered themselves strangers to the world. But this did not mean they were isolated and removed from it. Rather, they assumed a special responsibility for it. Unlike the monks of Egypt, the Syrian monks had a different image of the desert. The desert for them was the land where men and beasts had once lived together. So they tried to make a desert in the midst of the city. They never tried to avoid ordinary people and the daily situations of life. They accepted food and protection from their lay brethren[8]. They remained active participants in the ecclesial life and embrace the culture around them. They remained a prominent part of the local congregations in their own town or village.

Since Egypt is generally considered the cradle and inspirational source of Monasticism in the whole Church, the indigenous Syrian Proto-Monasticism which preserved the genuine spirit, never got the position or attention it deserves. The immense prestige that was gained by Egyptian monasticism gave the impression that it was the ultimate source of inspiration for the ideal of the ascetic and even became synonymous with monastic life. But this is not true. Because of its unique origin in Christianity, Mesopotamian monasticism has an indigenous nature quite different from that of Egyptian monasticism.

4. The Bnay Qyāmā (ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ): The Witnesses  to the Ecclesial Dimension of Monasticism

As already mentioned, the forgotten ecclesial dimension of monasticism was very evident in Eastern Mesopotamian monastic tradition, especially in the proto-monastic tradition, i.e., in the life of the Sons and Daughters of the Covenant. Their life style was unique when compared to Greek monks. By their own choice they stayed in the larger community. They held a wholesome view of spirituality. These eastern ascetics saw their spiritually disciplined life as community on a journey of steps, adopting the notion that all are equal in God’s eyes, each finding him or herself on a stairway to godliness that leads ultimately towards eternity with God[9]. Each one had an equal regard for those at different stages of the journey and remained committed to them by giving other believers opertunities to grow and assist them in their path to perfection.  The Bnay qyāmā acted as missionaries to their own community. They taught the children, showed hospitality to the strangers, served the poor, and stood for social justice. For them, following our Lord meant awareness of  His presence through their active participation as His representatives. They never considered their lifestyle as radically unobtainable for the average Christian. They viewed discipleship as a journey. They considered it their duty to guide the faithful to the next step in their faith, hoping to see those on earlier steps to grow as well. They never lived the Christian life for themselves. They usually lived together or with their family members. Each of them took the vow of chastity to become a member of the convent. But they stayed at the core of the married Christian communities. According to Peter Brown the sons and daughters of the covenant:

x-prehis1…were not settlements of wild ascetics, but pools of quiet confidence that the Spirit rested on those who had regained, through baptism and continence, the full humanity of Adam and Eve. Their presence bathed the Christian community as a whole with a sense of being a group marked out by inviolate holiness. Crowded into the little churches of Syria and Northern Iraq, they stood like the animals in Noah’s Ark, their sexual urges stilled by the presence of God[10].

This ancient syriac institution of covenanters were at the heart of the church and it was there voice that brought the ascetic message to the married householders[11].

 The Church itself was monastic and the fervent faithful who led the perfect ecclesial life were honoured as an elite group. They never considered themselves as superior to the Church and never tried to lead a parallel life within the Church. Their monastic vision was perfect. The monastic dimension of the ecclesial life was the real beauty of ancient East Syriac Church. The background of this original vision is nothing but the result of the distinct origin of Christianity in Mesopotamia.

 4.1.     The Jerusalemite Christianity in Mesopotamia: The Cradle of Bnay qyāmā

The general impression is that the beginnings of Christianity in Mesopotamia[12] were an expansion of Christendom developed in the general framework of Hellenistic Christendom.[13] But  this is not true. We have some biblical, historical and chronological data from some early documents that prove that the origin of Christianity in Mesopotamia came about in a different way. In clear and plain words: “Mesopotamian Christianity is Jerusalemite and not Antiochian in origin”[14]. In a similar way, we can have proofs from history that Mesopotamian monasticism also had its roots not in Egypt, but in the primitive Jerusalem Church.


 4.2.           Proofs of Jerusalemite Origin of Mesopotamian Christianity

Following are some proofs of the Jerusalemite origin of Mesopotamian Christianity.

 4.2.1.      Biblical proofs:

From Sacred Scripture itself we have some evidence of the presence of Mesopotamians in Jerusalemdownload at the time of Jesus Christ. As per the infancy narrative of the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, three wise men from the East came to worship Him with gifts. This New Testament account of the wise men is an evergreen venerable tradition in the Church of the East. They believe that the wise men were Persians[15]. According to Acts 2, 9 the good news of the Risen Lord was carried to the East by “Parthians, Medes, Elamites and Residents of Mesopotamia” who were present in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost.

 4.2.2.      Proofs from the Tradition

From early Christian times we have some ancient apostolic traditions that give some important clues about the founding of Mesopotamian Christianity. From these traditions it became the traditional belief that Mar Toma Sliha evangelized India and Addai Edessa. Church History of Eusebius

writing_historyThere exists an ancient Christian legend The Legend of Addai, first documented by Eusebius in the 13th chapter of the History of the Church[16]. According to this legend, the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem toward the East was dependent on the Kingdom of Osrhoene[17]. That Legend says that the king of Edessa Abgar (ܡܠܟܐ ܕܐܘܪܗܐ ܐܒܓܪ) was afflicted with an incurable sickness. He wrote to our Lord Jesus asking for his help to heal him. In return he received Jesus’ letter promising that after his ascension he would send one of his disciples endowed with his power. Later Mar Toma sliha (Juda Toma ) sent his disciple Thaddeus (Addai one of the seventy disciples) to heal the King[18]. There he stayed with one Tobias who was supposed to be a Jew[19].  Eusebius included both letters in his account. After healing the King, as per Thaddeus’ demand the King and the people of the city assembled to hear the preaching of Thaddeus. Consequently, they believed in the Gospel. Doctrine of Addai the Apostle

One Syriac document of AD 400 ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ (Doctrine of Addai the Apostle)[20] elaboratesMay14_9 the same legend of the healing of Abgar. Later Addai preached the Gospel there. We have a beautiful narration of his ministry:

And they renounced the Paganism in which they stood, and confessed the Gospel of Christ. And when Addai had built a church, they offered in it vows and oblations, they and the people of the city, and there they offered praises all the days of their life…And Addai received all those who believed in Christ, and baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit of Holiness (ܘܟܠ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܡܗܝܡܢܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܒܡܫܝܚܐ ܡܩܒܠ ܗܘܐ ܠܗܘܢ ܐܕܝ. ܘܡܥܡܕ ܗܘܐ ܠܗܘܢ ܒܫܡ ܐܒܐ ܘܒܪܐ ܘܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘܕܫܐ )[21]. And those who used to worship stones and stocks sat at his feet, and recovered from the plague of the foolishness of paganism. Even Jews skilled in the law and the prophets, who traded in silks, they too were convinced, and became disciples, and confessed Christ, that he is the Son of the Living God…And they received his doctrine with love, all his country of Mesopotamia, and all the regions round about it[22].

Thus, a Palestine emissary starts the work in Edessa and connects the new movement with the traditions of Palestinian Aramaean Christianity. The Doctrine of the Apostles

From this ancient document ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ [23](The Doctrine of the Apostles) we, too, have information about the missionary activities of Mar Toma Sliha, Mar Addai and Mar Aggeus.

India (ܗܢܕܘ), and all its own countries, and those bordering on it, even to the farthest sea, received the Apostles’ hand of priesthood (ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ)  from Judas Thomas (ܝܗܘܕܐ ܬܐܘܡܐ), who was guide and ruler in the Church (ܡܕܒܪܢܐ ܘܦܩܘܕܐ ܒܥܕܬܐ  ) which he built there, and ministered there[24].

…Edessa (ܐܘܪܗܝ) and all its environs which were all sides of it, and Soba, and Arabia, and all the North, and the regions around about it, and the South, and all the places of the borders of Mesopotamia (ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ), received the  Apostles’ Hand of Priesthood(ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ) from Addaeus, the Apostle, one of the Seventy two Apostles (ܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܫܒܥܝܢ ܘܬܪ̈ܝܢ ܫܠܝ̈ܚܐ), who taught there, and built a Church there, and was Priest and ministered there in his office of Guide there[25].

The whole of Persia (ܦܪܤ) of the Assyrians and Armanians and Medians, and of the countries round about Babylon, the Huzites and the Gelae, even to the borders of Indians (ܬܚܘ̈ܡܐ ܕܗܢ̈ܕܘܝܐ), and even to the country of Gog and Magog, and again all the countries from all sides, received the Apostles’ Hand of Preisthood (ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ) from Aggaeus, the maker of golden chains, the disciple of Addaeus the Apostle (ܐܓܝ ܥܒܕ ܫܐܪ̈ܝܐ ܬܠܡܝܕܗ ܕܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ)[26].

From all these ancient sources Mar Bawai Soro[27] concludes:

Through the missionary efforts of Addai the Apostle, one of the seventy disciples of Jesus, the Kingdom of Oserhoene, in particular the city of Edessa located beyond the eastern part of the Roman Empire was evangelized. Addai’s  disciple Mari carried the Good News further south to Persian territory, thus becoming the first missionary of Persia. Probably before both Missions Thomas the Apostle one of the twelve headed off to India via Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf to preach the Risen Lord in those far lands[28].

He affirms:

From Jerusalem (not Antioch or any other ancient Christian centre) missionaries to evangelize the lands of the Church of the East in Mesopotamia were sent. Church of the East’s self understanding reflects this hypothesis and the Church’s list of governing bishops clearly illustrate these connections. Therefore Antioch and the rest of the ancient apostolic Sees are sister Sees to that of the Church of the East, while the Holy City Jerusalem remains the Founder and Mother of all Apostolic Sees[29].

The expansion of the Christian faith in these Semitic areas were carried out, not by Greek speaking Hellenistic Christians, but by Aramaic speaking Christians who possessed   the lingua franca of the contemporary orient. It is natural that the Aramaean Christian traditions spread along the ancient way which connected Palestine over Edessa with Adiabene in the Empire of the Arsacides. Thus, the transition of the Christian message from the Aramaean Jewish community to the native Syrian communities is natural. In eastern countries the Jewish community appeared to be the channel through which the first seed of the Christian kerygma was transplanted.

5.   The Church of the East at Present

At present, East Syriac tradition consists of the two branches of the Assyrian Church[30] which are non-Catholic,  and the Chaldean Church and Syro-Malabar Church which are in union with the Catholic Church.[31] All these churches share a common East Syriac liturgical, linguistic, spiritual and theological heritage[32]. The East Syrian Church, which is rooted in the Middle East and spread outside the Roman Empire, has a troubled and eventful history as well as a rich theological, spiritual, and liturgical heritage[33]. Knowledge of this branch of Christendom is slight although Syriac Christianity constitutes its third strand, along with the Latin-West and Greek- Byzantine Traditions. Usually the theological discussions address only the Latin West and the Greek East traditions, while the third important tradition, the “Syriac Orient” receives negligible consideration.

This Church has several names. The most significant and accurate name “The Apostolic Church of the East” refers to those churches outside the Roman Empire whose Patriarch (Catholicos) had his see at the Persian capital Seleucia-Ctesiphon. From the time of its origin this Patriarchate was autonomous and independent with regard to its administrative relation with the Patriarchates of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, which are considered “Western”. Some consider the autonomous Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon as a revolt against the primacy of the Pope. Such a conclusion is only superficial, because it fails to go deeper into the core of a Christian community which traces its origin to the apostolic period itself.  While Christianity had been introduced to Persia in the first centuries AD, during the earliest period, the leadership was unorganized. At the end of the second century the Church started to move towards the direction of centralization of authority. Through a series of national synods that were held in the first centuries, the centralized authority was gradually evolved and was established and given to the bishop of  Persian capital city, Seleucia-Ctesiphon[34].  It got the name the “East Syriac Church” because of its liturgical tradition and the use of Syriac as the liturgical language.

The term “Persian Church” is also in wide use. But since the Church of the East is extended as far as Central Asia, China and India this term, too is narrow. Unfortunately the terms which are incorrect and valid only in a very limited sense are more familiar in the West like “Nestorian Church”, “Pre-Ephesian Church”. etc. This authentic form of Christianity developed with less Greek influence[35] is treated in all references as a heretical church.  The East Syriac Theologian and Canonist Abdisho bar Brika (+ 1318) wrote in his ‘Book of the Pearl’ (Margarita) that East Syriac Christians “never changed their faith and preserved it as they had received it from the apostles, and they are called Nestorians unjustly, especially since Nestorius was not their Patriarch…”[36]. Since it received the gospel directly from Apostles and primitive Church in Jerusalem, they were guided not by Hellenistic philosophical ideas but by the message of Gospel.

6.  Native Monastic Heritage of the  Mesopotamian Christianity

When we consider the monastic Heritage of Mesopotamian Christianity we have to consider two distinct phases.

  • Period of Proto- Monasticism, the period prior to the 5th century.

It differs considerably from the Egyptian monastic tradition. The primary sources for this period are the early 4th century fathers Aphrahat Mar Aprem and the anonymous author of ܟܬ̣ܒ̣ܐ ܕܡܤ̈ܩܬ̣ܐ (the Ktābā d-Massqātā)[37].

  • The period of institutionalised Monasticism, the second phase after the 5th century which reflects the fundamental shift of Syrian Monasticism towards the Egyptian model

6.1 Period of Proto-Monasticism

JerusalemBefore the development of monasticism proper (which developed in the desert of Egypt), most Syriac churches would consist of a community of men and women who had committed themselves to sexual abstinence and the service of the church. Thus the early Syriac Church had developed its own distinctive tradition of the consecrated life-style which is called ‘proto- monasticism’.[38] In Christendom, Egypt was considered as the cradle of Monasticism, and even became synonymous with monastic life. According to a large number of Syriac sources, monasticism was introduced into Syria and Mesopotamia by disciples of Pachomius, notably, a certain Mar Awgen (Eugenios). But this is not true. The famous Syriac scholar S. Brock denies it boldly:

A closer scrutiny, however, throws up the remarkable fact that Mar Augen is never mentioned in any source, Syriac or Greek that can be dated earlier than about the ninth century. It thus becomes apparent that later Syrian monks were prepared to forget their genuinely native heritage under the influence of the immense prestige that Egyptian monasticism gained, through works like Palladius’ Paradise[39].

6.1.1.    The Sons of the Covenant: The Protagonists of Proto -Monasticism

From Aphrahat who represents Syriac Christianity completely untouched by western influence, we have a detailed description of the heritage of native Syriac Proto Monasticism. From his demonstrations[40] especially from the 6thdemonstation with the Syriac title: ܬܚܘܝܬܐ ܕܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ  On the bnay qyāmā,   literally, ‘On the children of the qyāmā we have knowledge about these ascetical trends of pure Syriac tradition.  In Syriac these ascetics were called the bnay qyāmā (ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ), literally sons of the covenant. A male member of the covenant was called bar qyāmā (ܒܪ ܩܝܡܐ), or son of the covenant; a female member was bat qyāmā (ܒܪܬ ܩܝܡܐ), or daughter of the covenant.

Prokudin-Gorskii-39The members of the covenant were an important part of early Syriac Christianity. They took vows of celibacy and poverty. They were in harmony with the spirituality of their own Church.[41] They took the oath of commitment for life in asceticism very seriously.   They lived the life of renunciation in order to pursue God’s work with single-minded devotion.  They lived in the open countryside, conducted their public ministries by travelling without concern for shelter or food, and abandoned society’s comforts of family, home, and relative security for a life of witness to God.[42] They devoted themselves to the service of the church community under the direction of priests or bishops[43]. Thus, the term bnay/ bnat qyāmā became a collective name of the Church’s core elite, who were considered to be the only full- fledged Christians. The term served as a means of Christian self identity. Covenanters were a continent and celibate circle within the Church[44]. The primary sources for this period are the early 4th century fathers Aphrahat, Ephrem and the author of ܟܬ̣ܒ̣ܐ ܕܡܤ̈ܩܬ̣ܐ (the Ktābā d-Massqātā).

6.1.2.      Covenant Consciousness in Primitive Syrian Christianity

The lifestyle of covenanters makes us to think more about their concept of [45]ܩܝܡܐ qyāmā (covenant). For them ܩܝܡܐ qyāmā was an important term. The centrality of the covenant is a characteristic feature of the early Church. The Covenant consciousness was the decisive factor which determined the spirituality and Christian way of life.  Christian faith was perceived as a new covenant qyāmā with God.[46] The significance of this term is not very clear. We can see different shades of meaning. In Doctrine of Addai we read: All the qyāmā  of men and women were modest and decorous, they were holy and pure, and they dwelt singly and modestly without spot[47]. Robert Murray calls qyāmā the heart of the Church[48]. In Ephrem’s time the covenanters were not monks and nuns as such and were not isolated from the laity[49].  As the heart of the Church they took up discipleship in Christ and ministered in various ways to the needs of the Church. They were not secluded from the society.  These Syrian monks and Nuns were very active in their societies. In a typological or theological sense qyāmā represents the whole church. But actually ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ  or ܒܢ̈ܬ ܩܝܡܐ    represented an inner circle of elite Christians. S. Brock suggested different shades of meaning for ܩܝܡܐ qyāmā.

  • Qyāmā is conventionally translated as covenant. In this point of view ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ of the Syriac Church had direct roots from the Qumran community, but for this we have no firm evidence.
  • As we have seen ܩܝܡܐ qyāmā is from the root ܩܘܡ  which means ‘to rise’. So it can mean ‘resurrection’, the ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ would be those who anticipate resurrection. The core of Christianity itself is resurrection.
  • Qyāmā means ‘stance’ in particular, the stance of angels, who do not sleep. In Syria there existed an ardent desire to become like angels.
  • Qyāmā is sometimes understood as a vow, either of ܒܬܼܘܠܘܬܐ  virginity or of ܩܕܝܫܘܬܐ sexual abstinence in marriage. In the early Syriac Church, virginity was said to be the requirement for the reception of Baptism. So Qyāmā  can also be understood as a vow which was probably made at the same time with baptism when this took place in adulthood[50].

In short qyāmā was related to Church. Through this vow they took the responsibility to live a perfect ecclesial life. They were called ‘the sons of the church’ (ܒܢ̈ܝ ܥܕܬܐ)[51]. Even the children were dedicated by their parents to this group. There were many who set apart their children and offered them to God. We read of strict instructions given to these parents in Rules of Jōḥannan Bar Qūrsos[52].

  • They should provide them decent garment from childhood.
  • They should be sent to holy monasteries to seek spiritual wisdom. There they could read books and to learn the conduct of the fear of God[53].

So we can conclude that the covenanters, the bnay qyāmā (ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ) were simply the baptized celibate laity, they were the flock, and through from their ranks the pastors or clergy[54] were drawn.[55]” They were always placed after the bishops, presbyters and deacons[56].

6.1.3.      Epithets Applied to the Covenanters

Aphrahat used four epithets for denoting covenanters. He presents them not as four different categories or grades of ascetics but to qyāmā in general. When Christians accept Christ’s Lordship in faith, they belong to his qyāmā and bear his yoke. This yoke is nothing but the vow of virginity. Let us examine these 4 titles of the ascetics of Proto Monastic period. Yīḥīdāyā (ܝܼܚܝܼܕܝܐ)

Yīḥīdāyā derives from the root ܝܚܕ. It means unique one, solitary, separate, individual, singular, theimages only-begotten, alone, hermit etc[57]. But this list is not exhaustive.  In Syriac New Testament Yīḥīdāyā is the title of Christ translating Greek μονογενής (Monogenes), the only begotten. In the book of Wisdom 10, 1 yīḥīdāyā refers to Adam.  In Ephrem yīḥīdāyā refers both to Christ and to His imitators. The imitation of Christ is presented as the aim of all the Christians. But for the consecrated yīḥīdāyē, Christ the yīḥīdāyā par excellence, is the model.  The relation of the Yīḥīdāyā  to the yīḥīdāyē  is described by Ephrem as a gift of Baptism. At the time of baptism the ascetics who consecrate their life, put on Christ the Yīḥīdāyā and become yīḥīdāyē.

See, people being baptized

Becoming virgins and qāddīšē

Having gone down to the font,

Been baptized and put  on

The single Yīḥīdāyā[58]

The same idea can be seen in Aphrahat:

For those that take not wives shall be ministered to by the Watchers of heaven (ܥܝܪ̈ܝ ܫܡܝܐ). Those that preserve chastity shall rest in the sanctuary of the Most High. The Only Begotten who is from the bosom of His Father shall cause all the solitaries to rejoice[59].


The Yīḥīdāyā from the bosom of the Father gives joy to all the Yīḥīdāyē.   The yīḥīdāyā to whom Aphrahat speaks of in his 6th demonstration are those who choose celibacy in preference to marriage[60]. To stay single without entering into marriage is not to remain in solitude like hermits. Aphrahat never intended a physical solitude when he used the term yīḥīdāyā. But he wants to describe a person not to be in a married state. Aphrahat even says that yīḥīdāyā should live in company[61]. Aphrahat strictly exhorted exclusion of the company of two sexes[62].

Therefore, my brethren, if any man who is a monk or a saint, who loves the solitary life, yet desires that a woman, bound by monastic  vow like himself, should dwell with him, it would be better for him in that case to take (to wife) a woman openly and not be made want on by lust. So also again the woman, if she be not separated from the solitary, it is better for her to marry openly. Woman then ought to dwell with woman, and man to dwell with man. And also whatever man desires to continue in holiness, let not his spouse dwell with him, lest he turn back to his former condition, and so be esteemed an adulterer. Therefore this counsel is becoming and right and good, that I give to myself and you, my beloved solitaries, who do not take wives, and to the virgins who do not marry, and to those who have loved holiness. It is just and right and becoming, that even if a man should be distressed, he should continue alone. And thus it becomes him to dwell, as it is written in the Prophet Jeremiah:— Blessed is the man who shall take up Your yoke in his youth, and sit alone and be silent, because he has taken upon him Your yoke. For thus, my beloved, it becomes him who takes up the yoke of Christ, to preserve his yoke in purity[63].

There exists a set of rules written by Mar Rabbula addressed to the priests and the bnay qyāmā (ܦܘܩ̈ܕܢܐ ܘܙܘܗܪ̈ܐ ܕܠܘܬ ܟܗ̈ܢܐ ܘܒܢܝ̈ ܩܝܡܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܪܒܘܠܐ ܐܦܤܩܘܦܐ ܕܐܘܪܗܝ)[64]. The commands and admonitions of Mar Rabbula, the bishop of Eddessa contains many instructions to keep the virginity in its fullness.

  • No one of the periodeutate or priests or deacons or bnay qyāmā shall live with women-images (3) except with his mother or sister or daughter- and they shall not make household for these women outside their own and be constantly with them[65].
  • The priests and deacons shall not be served by women and particularly not by bnat qyāmā [66].
  • The priests should not permit them to dwell with the lay people (ܥܠܡ̈ܝܐ) except with their relatives only or with one another[67].
  • Bnat qyāmā were not permitted to come one by one to the church or go back at night. If possible, they should dwell with one another[68].
  • And again it should not be allowed the bnay qyāmā  to go to gatherings (ܟܢ̈ܫܐ) or other places(ܕܘ̈ܟܝܬܐ ܐܚܪ̈ܢܝܬܐ) without priests(ܩܫ̈ܝܫܐ), and the Bnat qyāmā without deaconesses (ܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܝܬܐ)[69].


The yīḥīdāyā for Aphrahat is ‘single’ or celibate but not ‘solitary’[70].  Murray suggests three elements in the meaning and doctrine of yīḥīdāyā.

  •  Singleness by accepting Christ’s call to leave family and not to marry.
  •  Single mindedness by accepting circumcision of heart
  • Putting on the Yīḥīdāyā , Christ and thus standing up for him as a sort of representative, and thereby joining the qyāmā , the heart of the Church[71].

Brock has a similar opinion:

An yīḥīdāyā is a follower and imitator of Christ the Yīḥīdāyā par excellence, he is single minded for Christ, his heart is single and not divided, he is single as Adam was single when he was created, he is single in the sense of celibate[72].

As the monastic movement achieved various shapes in history, this term, too, assumed many shades of significations different from the original reality. In later monastic terminology yīḥīdāyā means solitary, someone who leads an eremitical life[73]. Qāddīšā (ܩܕܝܫܐ)

The word ܩܕܝܫܘܼܬܐ from the root ܩܕܫ means holiness[74].   Technically it means temporal or permanent abstinence from marital intercourse. ܩܕܝܫܐ Qāddīšā, literally means ‘holy, sacred, angel, monk etc. .’ In Ephrem and in Aphrahat this term is used for those who were once married but who adopted ascetic life marked by complete continence[75]. Holiness, virginity, and continence are closely related to the original state of Adam before the fall, a return to the life of paradise. Btulā  (ܒܬܼܘܠܐ) & Btūlta (ܒܬܼܘܠܬܐ)

The terms  ܒܬܼܘܠܐ btūlā (masculine) and   ܒܬܼܘܠܬܐ btūlta (feminine) are primarily used for those who have ‘ chosen for themselves’ a consecrated life of singleness/celibacy.   Their choice will probably have received its public expression during the reception of Baptism[76].

6.1.4.      Celibacy of the Covenanters: The Power for Realising the Perfect Ecclesial Life

All the above mentioned titles have one common factor, i.e., emphasis on celibacy. Etymologically all these four terms have different meanings. But in Proto Monastic period they were practically synonymous in intent: One who took the vow of celibacy to follow Christ. Aphrahat used all these titles in one sentence to denote the same individual, the covenanter on whom the yoke, the yoke of virginity, is laid.

Hearken then, my beloved, unto that which I write unto you, namely, whatsoever things become solitaries, monks, virgins, saints. Before all things it beseems the man on whom the yoke is laid, that his faith should be firm; as I wrote to you in the first epistle; that he should be zealous in fasting and prayer; that he should be fervent in the love of Christ; and should be humble and mild and wise[77].

From all these epithets we can understand that these ascetics who lived in the midst of the community differed from their ordinary brethren mainly because of their decision to keep themselves celibate. What was their motivating force when they stood for virginity and sexual abstinence? Were they considered flesh as evil? Or were they influenced by Manichaeism or Marcionitism? According to famous Syriac professor Brock the ascetic ideal of Syrian proto monasticism were motivated by mainly three positive conceptual models:

  1. The model of Christ as the bridegroom to whom individual Christians are betrothed at baptism

Mystic_MarriageAnd all the pure virgins who are betrothed to Christ shall light their lamps and with the Bridegroom shall they go into the marriage chamber. All those that are betrothed to Christ are far removed from the curse of the Law, and are redeemed from the condemnation of the daughters of Eve; for they are not wedded to men so as to receive the curses and come into the pains. They take no thought of death, because they do not deliver children to him. And in place of a mortal husband, they are betrothed to Christ[78].

O you virgins who have betrothed yourselves to Christ, when one of the monks shall say to one of you, I will  live with you and you minister to me, thus shall you say unto him:— To a royal husband am I betrothed, and Him do I serve; and if I leave His service and serve you, my betrothed will be angry with me, and will write me a letter of divorce, and will send me away from His house; and while you seek to be honoured by me, and I to be honoured by you, take heed lest hurt come upon me and you.[79]

  1. The model of Baptism as a return to paradise (in the Genesis narrative Adam and Eve did not cohabit until after the fall and their expulsion from Paradise).
  2. The model of the baptismal life as the marriageless life of the angels (Luke 20: 35-6.)[80]

There is neither male nor female, neither bond nor free, but they all are the children of the Most High[81].

In writing this I have reminded myself, and also you, my beloved; therefore love virginity, the heavenly portion, the fellowship of the Watchers of heaven. For there is nothing comparable with it. And in those that are thus, in them Christ dwells[82].

These covenanters ardently desired to keep themselves away from sexual relations. But it was not because they hated marriage. They never considered body as evil. But for them, since they considered themselves as betrothed to heavenly groom, it was not possible to have an earthly partner.  So they were happy to serve Him, their groom, wholeheartedly. They also possessed the luminous eye to see His presence as the Church. These covenanters therefore worked hard to serve the Church without running away from the normal life of the Church. They were always the core of the Church. The ideal ‘Flight from the World’ of Egyptian Monasticism was strange to them.

6.1.5.      The Covenanters: The True Children of the Church

The covenanters lived in the midst of the faithful and considered themselves as the mystical body of Christ, the Church. They tried their best to lead a responsible ecclesial life. The ecclesial mind of the Syrian Church in its Proto Monastic period is clear in the profound Ecclesiology of ܟܬ̣ܒ̣ܐ ܕܡܤ̈ܩܬ̣ܐ (the Ktābā d-Massqātā)  specially in its twelfth mēmrā ‘On the Hidden and Visible Ministry of the Church’ ܥܠ ܬܫܡܫܬܐ ܕܥܕ̱ܬܐ ܟܤܝܬܐ ܘܓܠܝܬܐ (‘al tešmeštā d-‘etā ksītā wa-glītā). This ancient ascetic work speaks about the wonderful effects of the visible ministry of the Church. Through the visible ministry of the Church these ascetics experienced that their body became the Church sanctuary, their heart the altar and their tears the incense offered upon the altar. Here each person acts as a priest, and his life becomes a living sacrifice. Then that heart, in the author’s language ‘the Church of the heart’ becomes a venue of revelation of the heavenly Church in its glory. The person could see the heavenly Church while on earth and he realized the fact that it is the mystery which is presented as image in the visible Church. But if one skips training in the visible Church one will not get this bliss, because the visible ministry of the Church was instituted by Christ Himself and was affirmed by his Apostles. Thus, this excellent discourse describes the personal spiritual life in terms of Church which was the mind of bnay qyāmā.

Since we know that the body (ܦܓܪܐ) becomes a hidden temple (ܗܝܟܠܐ ܟܤܝܐ) and the heart (ܠܒܐ) a hidden altar (ܡܕܒܚܐ ܟܤܝܐ) for spiritual worship (ܬܫܡܫܬܐ ܕܪܘܚܐ), let us be diligent in this public altar (ܡܕܒܚܐ ܓܠܝܐ) and before this public temple (ܗܝܟܠܐ ܓܠܝܐ)[83]…It is through these visible things, however that we shall be in these heavenly things, which are invisible to eyes of flesh (ܠܥܝ̈ܢܐ ܕܒܤܪܐ), our bodies becoming temples and our hearts, altars[84].

 Let us see their involvement in the life of the Church. The Covenanters: The Ministers of the Church

From the ancient ascetic rules we can understand that the primary duty of the Bnay qyāmā was the service of the Church:

  • The bnay qyāmā should learn psalms and the benat qyāmā madrāšē also ( ܗܘܘ ܝܠܦܢ ܡܙܡܘܪ̈ܐ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ. ܘܒ̈ܢܬ ܩܝܡܐ ܕܝܢ ܐܦ ܡܕܪ̈ܫܐ)[85].
  • They were obliged to be continually in the worship service of the church (ܬܫܡܫܬܐ ܕܥܕܬܐ) and shall not neglect the times of prayer and psalmody night and day[86].
    • Ø They should know the true faith of the holy church

 (ܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ ܫܪܝܪܬܐ ܕܥܕܬܐ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ)[87].

  • It is recommended to bnay qyāmā that if possible they should stay in the church, like priests and deacons[88].
  • They were called the sons of the Church (ܒܢ̈ܝ ܥܕܬܐ)[89].
  • The layman shall not become the rabai bātē in the church except where there

are no benai qeiāmā who are suitable[90].

As Peter Brown comments: “The Holy Spirit bubbled up within them in the chanting of the Psalms and the self-composed hymns that are the glory of Syriac Church”[91] The Covenanters: The Core Group Elected by Bishops

From the So-Called canons of Marūtā we have the information that it was the duty of the Chorepiscopus to promote the vocation for the qyāmā.

  1. The Chorepiscopus, when he goes out and passes through the whole district for visitation, shall see to it that if the churches and the monasteries are in need of brothers and sisters, he shall call (together) the old men of the villages and say a word of instruction before them, and admonish them through the scripture lesson.
  2. The Chorepiscopus shall persuade every one of those who have sons and daughters to set their sons and daughters apart.
  3. He shall mark them through prayer and shall lay his hand on them and bless them and these shall become the bnay qyāmā.
  4. They shall be instructed, and given to the churches and monasteries and he shall order them that they shall be educated in doctrine and instruction that they shall become inheritors and the churches and monasteries will be established through them[92]. The Covenanters: The Elite Group who Enjoyed the Protection of the Hierarchy

The bnay qyāmā  were strictly part of the churches and under the protection of the hierarchy.sopocani_250410k

It is clear in the following rule of Rabbula:

  • If any one of the bnay qyāmā or of the benat qyāmā that are in want, the priests or the deacons of their villages (ܩܫ̈ܝܫܐ ܐܘ ܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܐ ܕܩܪܝܬܗܘܢ) shall take care of them; but if it is not in his power he shall inform us[93] that we may be solicitous about them, so that because of their need they may not be compelled to do something that is not suitable[94].

But the service offered to them should be without any selfishness. The rule strictly warned against such human tendencies of exploitation.

¨      The priests and deacons and bnay qyāmā should not compel the bnat qyāmā (ܒܢ̈ܬ ܩܝܡܐ) to weave their garments by force[95].

¨      The priests and deacons shall not be served by women and particularly not by the bnat qyāmā[96]. The Covenanters: The Elite Group with Social Responsibility

As already mentioned bnay qyāmā embraced the society, the culture, social situations etc. even when they considered themselves strangers to the world. According to Aphrahat, care for the sick and the poor was also a practice of prayer. The Syrian ascetics wholeheartedly rendered their services to the poor, the oppressed and the sick. As our Lord had done “the ascetic battled hunger and weariness in the body through such disciplines as fasting and vigils, while the ministry to the poor and the sick fought against the suffering and injustice of the fallen world.  The body both individual and collective could be forged anew, healed and restored as Christ’s own body in its resurrected reality.[97]” They did everything for others, but actually they served their Groom Christ present in them. See Aphrahat’s exhortation as a proof:

Let there be peace among us, that we may be called the brethren of Christ. Let us hunger for righteousness, that we may be satisfied from the table of His Kingdom. Let us be the salt of truth that we may not become food for the serpent. Let us purge our seed from thorns, that we may produce fruit a hundred-fold. Let us found our building on the rock, that it may not be shaken by the winds and waves. Let us be vessels unto honour that we may be required by the Lord for His use. Let us sell all our possessions, and buy for ourselves the pearl, that we may be rich. Let us lay up our treasures in heaven, that when we come we may open them and have pleasure in them. Let us visit our Lord in the persons of the sick (Matthew 25:33-35) that He may invite us to stand at His right hand[98]. The Covenanters: The Elite Group of Fervent Ascetics

ascetic-1sketchIn the midst of the world they lived as if they were strangers. They never enjoyed the pleasures of the world. They observed fasting and vigil and they stood constantly in prayer. All these attempts were for making themselves eligible for the heavenly Groom.

Let us now awake from our sleep, and lift up both our hearts and hands to God towards heaven; lest suddenly the Lord of the house come, that when He comes He may find us in watchfulness. Let us observe the appointed time of the glorious bridegroom that we may enter with Him into His bride-chamber. Let us prepare oil for our lamps that we may go forth to meet Him with joy. Let us make ready provision for our abiding-place, for the way that is narrow and strait. And let us put away and cast from us all uncleanness, and put on wedding garments. Let us trade with the silver that we have received, that we may be called diligent servants. Let us be constant in prayer that we may pass by the place where fear dwells. Let us cleanse our heart from iniquity, that we may see the Lofty One in His honour. Let us be merciful, as it is written, that God may have mercy upon us. ..Let us hate ourselves and love Christ, as He loved us and gave Himself up for our sakes. Let us honour the spirit of Christ, that we may receive grace from Him. Let us be strangers to the world, John 17:14 even as Christ was not of it[99].

According to Rabbula’s rule they should also keep themselves away from meat and wine. Exception was only for the sick. It is written that drunkards should be expelled from the Church[100].

Aphrahat has drawn a portrait of the Covenanter in his 6th Demonstration:

I wrote to you in the first epistle; that he should be zealous in fasting and prayer (ܚܦܝܛ ܒܨܘܡܐ ܘܒܨܠܘܬܐ); that he should be fervent in the love of Christ (ܪܬܚ ܒܚܘܒܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ); and should be humble and mild and wise. And let his speech be peaceful and pleasant, and his thought be sincere with all. Let him speak his words duly weighing them, and set a barrier to his mouth from harmful words, and let him put far from him hasty laughter. Let him not love the adornment of garments, nor again does it become him to let his hair grow long and adorn it, or to anoint it with sweet-scented ointments. Let him not recline at feastings, nor does it become him to wear gorgeous apparel. Let him not dare to exceed at wine.   … Let him depart from a slanderer, and let no man please another man with speciousness of words. These things be seem solitaries who take up the heavenly yoke ܢܝܪܐ ܫܡܝܢܐ, and become Disciples of Christ  ܬܠܡ̈ܝܕܐ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ . For thus it befits the Disciples of Christ to be like Christ their Master (ܗܟܢܐ ܓܝܪ ܝܐܐ ܠܗܘܢ ܠܬܠܡ̈ܝܕܘܗ̱ܝ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ . ܕܠܪܒܗܘܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܢܬܕܡܘܢ)[101].

They never engaged in any material business in this world, non try to gain profit from this world. They considered their life as angelic, free from the torments and labours of this world:

Whosoever adopts the likeness of angels let him be a stranger to men. Whosoever takes upon him the yoke of the saints let him remove from him getting and spending. Whosoever desires to gain himself, let him remove from him the gain of the world. Whosoever loves the abode that is in heaven let him not toil at the building of clay that will fall. Whosoever is expectant of being caught up in the clouds, let him not make for himself adorned chariots. Whosoever is expectant of the marriage-feast of the Bridegroom let him not love the feast of this present time. Whosoever wishes to have pleasure in the banquet reserved there, let him remove drunkenness from himself[102].

This detachment from worldly pleasures was the characteristic of ordinary Syrian Christians.

They received this vision from Christ’s as well as His Apostles preaching. When Abgar offered gold and silver to Addai (Thaddeus) he received it not, but said to him:“How can we receive anything which is not our own? For behold that which was our own we have forsaken it, as we are commanded by our Lord.”[103].We can see a beautiful exhortation of Aggeus the disciple of Addai to those who were appointed as his co-ministers:

And put away from you evil hypocrisy, and bribes and gifts, by which the innocents are condemned. And besides this ministry to which you have been called have no other service; for the Lord himself is the service of your ministry all the days of your life. Be also diligent to give the seal of baptism, and love not the superfluities of this world[104].

In short, the Covenanters tried to live fully in accordance to the ascetic mind received by the Mesopotamian Christianity from the first preachers. It was a tradition quite distinct and independent of Egyptian Monasticism. At the same time they share many things in common. It was not difficult for the native Syrian proto-monastic tradition to become absorbed into the expanding Egyptian tradition. Later History witnessed that fact.

6.2.       The Development of Institutionalised Monasticism

The primordial form of ‘proto-monasticism’ later developed into Anchoritism and which further developed into Coenobitism.  On the one hand corruption of a part of the Asceticism and on the other hand the call for scrupulous separation of the perfect ascetics from the world, from society and from female sex induced them to leave the world and to separate themselves totally from their situations and to lead solitary life in the desert, mountains and other solitary places.  This led to a new way of living that became later known monastic life.

6.2.1. Anchoritism

             The earliest form of Syrian monasticism was Anchoritism.  Anchorites often practiced theirAnchorites Cell 001s withdrawal from the world in an eccentric manner.[105] The terms used to denote a monk were: Ihidaie ( solitary), Anwaie (hermit)  Abile(mouner)[106]. These monks preferred complete isolation, a life in loneliness.  There were many primitive monks living in complete silence and solitude in the mountains and deserts.  Flight from the world and hope for fuller union with God was the salient feature of the life of the monks[107]. From the profound ecclesial vision of covenanters, history witnessed a drastic change in Syrian tradition. The desire for the perfection of monasticism developed into the solitary life.  The fellowship of a community was only a preparatory stage for becoming an anchorite.[108] The anchorite could be a warrior of God fighting the demons and the devil.  There was a widespread conviction, that the solitary monks had a special relationship to angels who guide the anchorites, inspire them and furnish them with mystical knowledge. Each solitary considered his personal strength and following the charism suggested by his conscience, he behaved himself in accordance with its duties.  In the Desert they were their own masters.[109]

By the last quarter of fourth century we see the shift of extreme individual asceticism towards coenobitism. While Egyptian monasticism always stood for moderate fasting and vigils, Syrian asceticism practised them to excess giving much importance to self mortification[110].  The details of the transformation of anchoritism to cenobitism in Syrian monasticism are not available. The first monks like Juliana Saba, Jacob of Nisibis were Anchorites. But their disciples started to establish coenobia receiving inspiration from Egypt and Palestine. This transition passed through the stage of ܚܹܝܪܬ̇ܵܐ( Hēyrtā) which resembled the Palestinian laura[111].  It consists of cells scattered around the cell of the head of the community with common place for assembly for prayer and a storehouse of food. There existed a significant difference between Syrian Hēyrtā and the monastic settlements of Palestine and Egypt. The way of life in Hēyrtā system was typically cenobitic. In Hēyrtā the monks gathered together every day for common prayers[112], but in laura they met only for weekend prayers.

6.2.2. Cenobitism

            monks 3 By the end of the 4th c. traces of cenobitism had received strength and growth and had developed into new phase. When solitaries grew too numerous, some felt the need for a common life. This would offer mutual support for their spiritual and material needs. This paved the way to a cenobitic form of life[113]. Cenobitism began on the day an anchorite first accepted one or more disciples who wished to imitate his way of life. A proper coenobium is called  ܕܼ̇ܝܪܵܐ(Dayrā) or ܥܘܼܡܪܵܐ (‘umrā).  The increasing tendency toward communal life created the necessity of creating an order for the life of the community with rules. At first there existed an oral transmission from the founder to the disciples. Later the need arose to write them down. The individualistic nature was very evident in this stage of development. We cannot see any highly influential legislator such as Basil or Pachomius. There was no uniformity among the different Dayrē. Different ways of life were practised in different monasteries. Some had high regard for work while others put their trust in heaven placing great emphasis on the ideal of poverty[114]. The rules of these monasteries are collected and published by Vӧӧbus[115] an important source for knowing about the life in these Dayrē. It includes 23 collections of monastic regulations. Through these rules we get an impression that the monasteries had a very hierarchical organization.  The life of fellowship and having all things in common, like the Apostles the celebration of the liturgical offices together are also signs of the coming of the Kingdom: a sign of fellowship between the brothers which shows Christ’s fellowship with his flock, serving each other in humility as Christ served his Apostles.[116] This was the origin of monasticism.

According to Theodore there were thousands of monasteries not only in Syria but in all the Orient.  There was tremendous growth in the network of the monasteries. Primitive and simple structures gave way to the more complex establishments to house the growing number of monks attracted to cenobitism.  Thus, in place of tiny buildings, magnificent monasteries comparable places were erected, with gardens, orchards, plantations, fields and herds necessary for their maintenance.[117] These monks were very much involved in the matters of the Church and ecclesiastical life.  They influenced the religious, social, cultural and literary field of the churches with which they concerned.  The reputation of Syrian monasticism spread throughout the Christian world during the 5th century.  But the later history of Syrian monasticism was characterized by periods of crisis, persecution and decadence which led to reorganizations and restorations that appeared in different forms and under different leaderships.[118]     .   


In this short study, the second phase of monasticism after the 5th century i.e., the development of institutionalised monasticism is not given much space. Our intention was only to re-think the genuine Proto-Monastic tradition of Mesopotamian Church. The life of those Covenanters was always in the heart of the Universal Church as an inspiring memory. She invites all her children to follow their footsteps.  The exhortation of Vatican II regarding the renewal of religious life is relevant here.“The appropriate renewal of religious life involves two simultaneous processes: 1) a continuous return to the sources of Christian life and to the original inspiration behind a given community and 2) an adjustment of the community to the changed conditions of the times”.[119]

      We know the present situation of Monastic movements of the East and West. Institutionalised monasticism goes in a parallel track to that of the life of the Church. Abbots and Superiors can become powerful than the hierarchy of the Church. Without forgetting their immense service to the Church and to the society a rethinking is urgent for keeping the initial spirit. Canon no. 410 of CCEO describes the religious thus: “… they renounce the world and totally dedicate themselves to the acquisition of perfect charity in service to the Kingdom of God for the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world as a sign of the foretelling of heavenly glory”[120], the present day religious cannot turn their face against the mind of the Church. Their calling is not merely to do some charitable works.  And certainly they are not to create a church inside the Church. They are to manifest ‘Love’ Himself, the Lord God, present as the Church. Like Covenanters, religious are called to serve the people of God, but considering it as the building up of the Church. Their first priority must be the service of the Church. They should destroy the tall walls of their mind and of their monasteries to embrace the whole creation, and obliged to allow the Gospel to reach the ends of the world. Their unity, their sanctity, their openness to all, their awareness as apostles of Christ must proclaim the ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’.

There are no established monastic families in East Syrian Church like the Benedictines of the West or the Basilians of the Greek East.  The reason is, the believing community itself was monastic.  Hence, the need for an institutionalized monasticism was not felt.  But even in that ascetically oriented community, the bnay qyāmā were models of the true spirit of asceticism.  This serves to challenge modern monastics to likewise be models of the same spirit of asceticism.   Celibacy was the hallmark of the bnay qyāmā.  It is a fact that only a person disciplined in asceticism can keep fruitful celibacy.  The struggle to keep celibacy is a contemporary issue.  The true spirit that forced the bnay qyāmā to keep virginity/celibacy should inspire present religious.  It was their power and from there they were energized to serve their Groom’s Body, the Church. 

The poverty practised by the bnay qyāmā should edify present day religious.  In this technological world where ‘having more’ seems to be the norm, the observance of the true spirit of poverty is becoming more and more difficult.  Although technology can and should be used by religious in the service of the Church, religious should not yield to the temptation to make it the norm.  It is only with the practice of asceticism that religious can live a life of true poverty.

The intense collaboration of bnay qyāmā with the community of believers is also remarkable.  Often they stayed with their own families and kept close relationship with the larger community.  Now there exists a notable distance between the ordinary lay people and religious.  Like bnay qyāmā religious should consider themselves as ministers and servants of the community of the faithful.  At the same time the lay people should not forget their responsibility to protect and support the religious.  The bnay qyāmā were protected by the hierarchy and often the lay people helped them in their material needs.  The fraternal relationship between them still inspires us.

The bnay qyāmā were an elite group that helped the faithful to participate effectively in liturgy.  The present religious should consider it their primary responsibility to assist the community of believers to lead a genuine ecclesial life.  The participation of all the religious, including monks and nuns, at least on Sundays, could make a great impact on the ecclesial life of the parish. 

Monasteries are the powerhouses of the Church. Here the real life of the Church is protected in the midst of the fast moving world. The monks and the monasteries are responsible for bringing up the faithful in the spirit of the Church. Monks proclaim their faith through their fidelity to the liturgy and by living the spirit of the liturgy. All the monks should consider the Divine Liturgy as their primary duty. The composition, development and reformation of the liturgy of the hours are the primary contribution of the monasteries in all eastern and western Churches. Through their deliberate efforts, the contemporary religious are obliged to learn from the venerable proto-monastic tradition of Covenanters how to lead monastic life through genuine ecclesial life.

[1] COLLINS O’ Gerald-FARRUGIA  G. Edward, A Concise Dictionary of Theology, London-Newyork, T&T, Clark 2000, 163.

[3] OL. 9

[4] MATTAM A.D., “Contribution of the East in the Development of Monasticism and Christian Spirituality,” Ephrem’s Theological Journal 4.2 (2000) 99-130,102.

[5] MATSAGOURAS E. G., The Early Church Fathers as Educators, Minneapolis 1977, 14.                           

[6] KALLUNKAL George Thomas, “Eastern Christian Monasticism,” in Paurastya Vidyapitham Completing 20 Years, Kottayam 2003, 119.

[7] BROCK Sebasstian, “Early Syrian Asceticism”, in Numen vol. 20, Fasc, 1, Brill 1973, 1-19, 2, Article available in   URL:


[8] Cf. BROWN Peter, The Body and Society. Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, New York: Columbia University Press 1988, 332-333.

[9] This theme is treated in a late 4th century anonymous spiritual treatise, ܟܬ̣ܒ̣ܐ ܕܡܤ̈ܩܬ̣ܐ (the Ktābā d-Massqātā), well known under the title of Latin translation Liber Graduum. The Ktābā d-Massqātā is a collection of 30 mēmrē or sermons by an anonymous author who lived in the Persian Empire (modern Iraq). This early Syriac literature did not have much Greek influence.  It deals with almost all the experiences and problems of day to day life and describes the struggle of a Christian Community which did not have a developed Monasticism. This explains the dynamics of the spiritual life as a way to perfection and further growth.  The anonymous author, who had the responsibility of a Spiritual Father, explains the way to perfection in a simple and detailed way using biblical language. He handles multiple issues, but the golden thread that unites all the sermons is his affirmation about the existence of two groups of people in the community- ܟܐܢ̈ܐ )kēnē)‘the Upright’ and ܓܡܝܖ̈ܐ )gmīrē( ‘the Perfect’- with many grades in between. The author accepts the different calls of the persons to practice the gospel values and cares for each one with directions proper to him. The author calls everybody to lead an ascetical life.  However, the extreme physical asceticism which is considered as the nature of the Syrian Church is absent here. Not only the Perfects but also the Upright receive his appreciation and encouragement.

Critical edition: KMOSKO Michael (ed. & tr.), ܟܬܳܒܳܐ ܕܡܰܤ̈ܩܳܬܳܐ  Liber Graduum, Parisiis: Ediderunt Firmin-Didot et Socii 1926 (ܡܰܠܦܳܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܐܰܒܳܗ̈ܳܬܳܐ ܤܘܽܪ̈ܝܳܝܶܐ   Patrologia Syriaca 3). Hereafter PS III.

This edition contains the Syriac text with Latin translation. The editor provided a long Praefatio which provides information about authorship, date of composition, milieu, and manuscripts. He did the transcription of the text into serto (west Syriac script) with the addition of vowels. The work is fully or partially translated into different major languages.

[10] BROWN Peter, The Body and Society101.

[11] BROWN Peter, The Body and Society 329.

[12] Mesopotamia (Μεσοποταμία: “[land] between rivers”) was the cradle of ancient civilization. It was the land between two rivers Tigris–Euphrates. In  Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪܝܢ (Beth Nahrain): “land of rivers”. It corresponds to modern day Iraq, the north eastern section of Syria and to a much lesser extent, southeastern Turkey, smaller parts of southwestern Iran and Kuwait.

[13] VÖÖBUS Arthur, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient. A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Near East I, Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpuSCO 1958 (CSCO 184, Subsidia Tomus 14) 3.

[14] SORO Bawai, The Church of the East. Apostolic and Orthodox, San Jose: Adiabene Publications 2007, 25.

[15] SORO Bawai, The Church of the East 34.

[16] Syriac Text:    ܡܢ ܬܫܥܝܬܐ ܕܥܕܝܐ in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents Relative to the Earliest Establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the Neighbouring Countries, from the Year of our Lord’s Ascension to the Beginning of the Fourth Century, London-Edinburg: Williams and Norgate 1864,  ܐ – ܗ, Eg. Tr. From the History of the Church 1-5.

[17] Osrhoene  was a small buffer state that stood along the border between the two quarrelling empires of Rome and Persia. Its capital was Edessa.

[18] ܫܕܪ ܠܗ ܝܗܘܕܐ ܬܐܘܡܐ ܠܬܿܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܫܒܥܝܢ

Syriac Text:    ܡܢ ܬܫܥܝܬܐ ܕܥܕܝܐ in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܓ.

[19] ܘܟܕ ܐܬܼܐ ܫܪܐ ܗܘܐ ܠܘܬ ܛܘܒܝܐ ܒܪ ܛܘܼܒܝܐ

Syriac Text:    ܡܢ ܬܫܥܝܬܐ ܕܥܕܝܐ in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܓ.

And when he came he stayed with Tobia the son of Tobia.

[20] Syriac Text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents  ܗ – ܟܓ, Eg. Tr. The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle 6-23.

[21] Syriac Text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܝܕ.

[22] The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents 13-14.

[23] Syriac text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ in in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܟܕ – ܠܗ. Eg. tr. The Doctrine of the Apostles 24-35.

[24] The Doctrine of the Apostles in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents 33.

Syriac text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ in in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܠܓ.

ܩܒܠܬ ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ. ܗܢܕܘ ܘܟܠܗܘܢ ܐܬܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܝܠܗܿ ܘܕܚܕܪܝܗܿ. ܥܕܡܐ ܠܝܡܐ ܐܚܪܝܐ. ܡܢ ܝܗܘܕܐ ܬܐܘܡܐ ܗܿܘ ܕܗܘܼܐ ܡܕܒܪܢܐ ܘܦܩܘܕܐ ܒܥܕܬܐ ܕܒܢܐ ܗܘܼܐ ܬܡܢ ܘܫܡܫ ܗܘܐ ܬܢܢ܀

[25] The Doctrine of the Apostles in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents 34.

Syriac text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ in in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܠܕ.

ܩܒܠܬ ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ ܐܘܪܗܝ ܘܐܬܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܕܚܕܪ̈ܝܗܿ ܕܡܢ ܟܠ ܓܒܝ̈ܗܿ ܘܨܘܒܐ ܘܥܪܒ ܘܟܠܗܿ ܓܪܒܝܐ ܘܦܢܝ̈ܬܐ ܕܚܕܪ̈ܝܗܿ ܘܬܝܡܢܐ ܘܒܝܬ ܬܚܘ̈ܡܐ ܟܠܗ ܕܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ ܡܢ ܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܫܒܥܝܢ ܘܬܪ̈ܝܢ ܫܠܝ̈ܚܐ. ܕܗܼܘ ܬܠܡܕ ܗܘܼܐ ܬܡܢ ܘܒܢܼܐ ܗܘܼܐ ܥܕܬܐ ܬܡܢ ܘܟܗܢ ܗܘܼܐ ܘܫܡܫ ܗܘܼܐ ܬܡܢ ܒܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܗ ܕܬܡܢ܀

[26]The Doctrine of the Apostles in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents 34.

Syriac text: ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ in in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents ܠܕ-ܠܗ.

ܩܒܠܬ ܐܝܕܐ ܕܟܗܢܘܬܐ ܕܫ̈ܠܝܚܐ ܦܪܤ ܟܠܗܿ ܕܐܬܘܪ̈ܝܐ ܘܕܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ ܘܕܡ̈ܕܝܐ ܘܕܐܬܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܚܕܪ̈ܝܗ ܕܒܒܠ. ܗ̈ܘܙܝܐ ܘܓ̈ܠܝܐ ܥܕܡܐ ܠܬܚܘ̈ܡܐ ܕܗܢ̈ܕܘܝܐ. ܘܥܕܡܐ ܠܒܝܬܓܘܓ ܘܡܓܘܓ ܘܐܬܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܬܘܒ ܟܘܠܗܘܢ ܕܡܢ ܟܠ ܓܒ̈ܝܼܢ ܡܢ ܐܓܝ ܥܒܕ ܫܐܪ̈ܝܐ ܬܠܡܝܕܗ ܕܐܕܝ ܫܠܝܚܐ܀

[27] He was a Bishop of Assyrian Church; later in 2008 Bishop Mar Bawai Soro and nearly 1,000 Assyrian Christian families were received into communion with the Chaldean Catholic Church in California. 

[28] SORO Bawai, The Church of the East 40.

[29] SORO Bawai, The Church of the East 266.

[30] The Ancient Church of the East, the followers of old (Julian) calendar and the Assyrian Church of the East, the followers of new (Gregorian) calendar. See the foot note no.1 in SORO Bawai, The Church of the East 9-10.

[31]Cf.  BAUM Wilhem-Winkler W. Dietmar, The Church of the East: A Concise history, London, New York: RoutledgeCurzon  2003, 2.

[32] Cf. BAUM Wilhem-Winkler W. Dietmar, The Church of the East  5.

[33]Cf.  BAUM Wilhem-Winkler W. Dietmar, The Church of the East  ix.

[34] Cf. MOFFETT Hugh Samuel, A History of Christianity in Asia Vol. 1: Beginnings to 1500, New York: HarperSanFrancisco 1992, 117.

There are mainly two major sources from which we get information about the development of Patriarchate of the East. 1. A Syriac church history of Adiabene written in the 6th century by Mĕšīḥā-Zĕḵā under the title   ܟܬܒܐ ܕܩܠܤܝܤܛܝܩܝ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܙܟܐ Ktaḇā ḏ-ĕqlisyastīqī ḏă-Mĕšīḥā-Zĕḵā commonly known as Chronicle of Arbela by Mĕšīḥā-Zĕḵā [34]. It gives sketches of 20 early bishops (104-511) of the city, including mention of martyrdoms under the Persians. 2.     ܟܤܒܐ ܕܤܘܢܗܕܘ ܡܕܢܝܬܐ Kĕtaḇā ḏ Sunāhdo mādnāhytā i.e.The “Book of the Eastern Synods” which contains the official records and acts of the first 13 synods of the Church of the East from 410 AD to 775 AD[34] and constitutes one of the most important primary sources for the history of the Church of the East in its early years. The thirteen national synods recorded were:The synod of Mar ’Ishaq (410), The synod of Mar Yabhalaha (420), The synod of Mar Dadisho (424), The synod of Mar Aqaq (486), The synod of Mar Bawai (497), The synod of Mar Awa (544), The synod of Mar Yosip(554), The synod of Mar Khaziqil (576), The synod of Mar Iso’yabh (586), The synod of Mar Saurisho(596), The synod of Mar Grigor (605), The synod of Mar Gewargis, (676), The synod of Mar Hnan-‘Isho‘ II (775).  This collection of synods is believed to have been created between 775 which is the date of last synod contained in this collection and 790 the first synod held by Patriarch Mar Timoateos. These synodical texts which are in Syriac are collected and published with its French translation as the Synodicon Orientale by J. B. Chabot in 1902 at Paris[34].

[35] Cf. COLLINS O’ Gerald- FARRUGIA G. Edward, A Concise Dictionary of Theology 44.

[36] Cf. WINKLER W. Dietmar, “The Age of the Sassanians: Until 651” in BAUM Wilhem-Winkler W. Dietmar, The Church of the East  7.

[37] The 4th century spiritual treatise, ܟܬ̣ܒ̣ܐ ܕܡܤ̈ܩܬ̣ܐ (the Ktābā d-Massqātā),  and well known under the name of Latin translation the Liber Graduum is a collection of 30 mēmrē or sermons by an anonymous author who lived in the Persian Empire (modern Iraq). This early Syriac literature did not have much Greek influence.  It deals with almost all the experiences and problems of day to day life and describes the struggle of a Christian Community which had not have a developed Monasticism, i.e., a committed life in the pursuit of perfection.

[38] BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye: The Spiritual World Vision of St.Ephrem, Rome, 1981, 109.

[39] BROCK Sebasstian, “Early Syrian Asceticism” 3.

[40] Cf. PARISOT Ioannes (ed.), ܬܰܚܘܝܺܬܳܐ ܕܛܘܽܛܝܺܬܳܐ ܕܐܰܦܪܰܗܰܛ ܕܗܘܽܝܘܽ ܚܰܟܝܺܡܳܐ ܦܳܪܤܳܝܳܐ   Aphraatis Sapientis Persae Demonstrationes, Parisiis: Ediderunt Firmin-Didot et Socii 1894 (  ܡܰܠܦܳܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܐܰܒܳܗ̈ܳܬܳܐ ܤܘܽܪ̈ܝܳܝܶܐ Patrologia Syriaca 1). Here after PS 1 and for Demonstrations Dem.

PARISOT Ioannes (ed.),  ܬܰܚܘܝܺܬܳܐ ܕܛܘܽܛܝܺܬܳܐ ܕܐܰܦܪܰܗܰܛ ܕܗܘܽܝܘܽ ܚܰܟܝܺܡܳܐ ܦܳܪܤܳܝܳܐ Aphraatis Sapientis Persae Demonstratio XXIII de Acino, Parisiis: Ediderunt Firmin-Didot et Socii 1907 (ܡܰܠܦܳܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܐܰܒܳܗ̈ܳܬܳܐ ܤܘܽܪ̈ܝܳܝܶܐ  Patrologia Syriaca 2). The Patrologia Syriaca (Hereafter PS) 1 contains 22 demonstrations in Serto with its Latin translation. PS 2 includes the remaning part the 23rd demonstration.

[41] MURRAY Robert, Symbols of Church and Kingdom ܖ̈ܙܐ ܕܥܕ̱ܬܐ ܘܕܡܠܟܘܬܐ A Study in Early Syriac Tradition, London: Cambridge University Press 1975, 13.

[42] S. P. BROCK-S. A. HARVEY, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, California 1987, 8.

[43] Cf. HARVEY Ashbrook Susan, “Syriac Christian Thought” in HASTINGS Adrian-MASON Alistair –PYPER Hugh, The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, Oxford: University Press 2000, 692-693, 692.

[44] BUCK Christopher, Paradise and Paradigms Key Symbols in Persian Christianity and the Baha’I Faith, Albany: Sunny Press 1999, 104.

[45] Derives from the root ܩܘܡ  means ‘to rise’, ‘stand’

Cf. SOKOLOFF Michael, A Syriac Lexicon. A Translation from the Latin, Correction, Expansion, and Update of C. Brockelmann’s Lexicon Syriacum, Piscataway-Winona Lake: Gorgias Press-Eisenbrauns 2009, 1330, 1361.

[46] VADAKETH Quriakos Elijah, “The Uniquness of Isho Mesiha in the Indigenous Nazrani Ashram Life” in KOODAPUZHA Xavier (ed.), Eastern Theological Reflections in India, Vadavathoor OIRISI 1999, 134-150, 134.

[47] The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle (Syriac Text), PHILLIPS George (ed.), Ludgate Hill, Trubner &co, 1876, 50.

[48] MURRAY Robert. Symbols of Church and Kingdom 16.

[49] BUCK Christopher, Paradise and Paradigms 104.

[50] Cf. BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye 110-111.

[51] Rules of Rabbula for the qyāmā no. 1 & 11. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 36, 39. Hereafter RRQ; Rabbula was the Bishop of Edessa (411/2-435/6 AD). He converted to Christianity as an adult, leaving his mother, wife, and children for the monastic life. He was renowned for his work among poor, for regulating clergy, monastic and bnay qyāmā. For a brief description see: HARVEY S. A., “Rabbulla of Edessa”, in BROCK P. Sebastian (eds.), GEDSH, Piscataway: Gorgias Press 2011, 348.

[52] He was a native of Callinicus. He entered the monastery of Mar Zakkai located in Callinicus and in 519 AD became the bishop of Tella de- Mauzelat, a town on the route from Edessa to Mardin.

[53] Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 59.

 Rules of Jōḥannan Bar Qūrsos nos. 10 & 11.

10.ܘܐܠܝܢ ܕܐܝܬ ܠܗܘܢ ܒܢܝ̈ܐ ܕܢܕܝܪܝܢ ܠܩܝܡܐ. ܡܢ ܛܠܝܘܬܗܘܢ ܢܬܠܘܢ ܠܗܘܢ ܐܤܟܡܐ ܫܦܝܪܐ. ܕܠܐ ܢܙܕܠܠܘܢ ܒܠܒ̈ܘܫܐ ܚܘܪ̈ܐ ܕܟ̈ܬܢܐ܀. (Those who have children dedicated to qyāmā shall give them a decent garment since their childhood so that they do not become luxurious in white linen garments.)

 11.ܘܢܗܘܢ ܡܫܬܕܪܝܢ ܠܕܝܪ̈ܬܐ ܕܢܩܪܘܢ ܟܬܒ̈ܐ. ܘܢܐܠܦܘܢ ܒܗܝܢ ܕܘܒܪ̈ܐ ܕܕܚܠܬ ܐܠܗܐ. ܐܢ ܓܝܪ ܡܛܠ ܡܪܕܘܬܗ ܕܥܠܡܐ ܗܢܐ. ܤܓܝܐܐ ܠܐܬܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܪ̈ܚܝܩܐ ܡܫܕܪܝܢ ܒ̈ܢܝܗܘܢ. ܟܡܐ ܝܬܝܪܐܝܬ ܙܕܩ ܠܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܠܐܠܗܐ ܦܪܫܘ ܘܩܪܒܘ ܒ̈ܢܝܗܘܢ. ܕܡܛܠ  ܚܟܡܬܐ ܪܘܚܢܝܬܐ. ܢܫܕܪܘܢ ܐܢܘܢ ܠܥܘܡܪ̈ܐ ܩܕܝܫ̈ܐ܀ ( They shall be send into the monasteries to read books and to learn conduct of the fear of God. For if many send their children to far off countries because of the instruction of this world, how much more fitting it is for those who have set apart and offered their children to God, that they have to send them into the holy monasteries for the spiritual wisdom.)

[54] Cf. So-Called canons of Marūtā XXV/7: VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 120.

Marūtā was the bishop of Maipherqat. His diocese of Maipherqat in Northeast of Edessa was just across the border on the Roman side. He was sent to Persia as an ambassador of the Byzantine ruler. He used his influence with the Shah Yazdegerd I, to get a permission to convoke a synod to restore peace and order in the Persian church.  Thus the  first Persian synod after the persecution, the Synod of Mar ’Ishaq was convoked on February 1, 410 AD. It was summoned by Shah Yazdegerd I and chaired by Mar ’Ishaq, bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.

For the description and Canons  see: CHABOT Jean Baptiste (ed. & trs.), Synodicon Orientale ou Recueil de Synodes Nestoriens, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale 1902. Hear after SO. Syriac Text: SO, pp. 17-36.French translation: SO pp. 253-275. English: M.J. Birnie, The Synod of Mar Yahbalaha (un published)


Mar Marūtā  participated in this Synod and his  role was significant.This imperial delegate at the Sassanid court, who took initiative in calling this synod, did his mission as an effective agent in promoting peace between Persia and Rome and in improving relations between Shah and his Christian subjects. Tradition remembered him as the author of a certain collection of canons and other documents which contain twenty canons of Council of Nicaea completed by seventy three additional canons called pseudo-Nicene canons (It is a fact that these canons are entirely different from Nicene canons, considering the special situation of Persia different from that of West. Mar Marūtā may have drafted it to provide a wider basis for ecclesiastical legislation), a brief account of the council of Nicaea which was written by Marūtā at the request of Catholicos ’Ishaq and letters of Marūtā to him.

[55] NEDUNGATT George, The Covenanters of the Early Syriac Speaking Church, Rome: Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum 1973, 201.

[56] Cf. RRQ no. 23. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 42.

[57] Cf. SOKOLOFF Michael, A Syriac Lexicon 571-572.

[58] BECK Edmund (ed.), Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen de Nativitate (Epiphania), Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO 1959 (CSCO 186) 173.

Hymns on Ephiphany VIII, 16.ܗܐ ܥܿܡܕܝܢ ܘܗܿܘܝܢ ܒ̈ܬܘܠܐ ܘܩܕ̈ܝܫܐ ܕܢܚܼܬܘ ܥܡܼܕܘ ܘܠܒܫܘ ܠܗܿܘ ܚܕ ܝܚܝܕܝܐ

[59] PS 1, 26826-2694.

ܐܝܠܝܢ ܓܝܪ ܕܠܐ ܢܤܒܝܢ ܢܫ̈ܐ: ܡܢ ܥܝܪ̈ܝ ܫܡܝܐ ܡܫܬܡܫܝܢ. ܢܛܪ̈ܝ ܩܕܝܫܘܬܐ ܒܝܬ ܡܩܕܫܗ ܕܪܡܐ ܡܬܢܝܚܝܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܝܚܝ̈ܕܝܐ ܡܚܕܐ ܠܗܘܢ ܝܚܝܕܝܐ ܕܡܢ ܥܘܒܗ ܕܐܒܘܗ̱ܝ.

[60] PS 1, 2613-4.

to you dear who Yīḥīdāyē who take no wives.

[61] PS 1, 26020-22. Dem. 6/4.

It is good for a woman to live with a woman, and a man ought to live with a man.

ܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܥܡ ܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܝܐܐ ܠܗ ܠܡܥܡܪ: ܘܓܒܪܐ ܥܡ ܓܒܪܐ ܙܕܩ ܠܗ ܠܡܥܡܪ.

[62] PS 1, 25622-24.Dem. 6/2.

ܘܐܢ ܒܪܓܬܐ ܕܚܘܐ ܢܠܗܩ ܐܢܘܢ: ܥܡܪܝܢ ܠܗܘܢ ܗܢܘܢ ܒܠܚܘܕܝܗܘܢ ܘܠܐ ܥܡ ܒܢ̈ܬ ܚܘܐ܀

And if he inflames them with a desire of Eve, they live alone and not with daughters of Eve.

PS 1, 26022-2611. Dem.6/4.

ܘܐܦ ܓܒܪܐ ܐܝܢܐ ܕܨܒܐ ܕܒܩܕܝܫܘܬܐ ܢܗܘܐ: ܫܘܬܦܬܗ ܥܡܗ ܠܐ ܬܥܡܪ ܕܠܐ ܢܗܦܘܩ ܠܗ ܠܟܝܢܗ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܘܢܬܚܫܒ ܠܗ ܓܝܪܐ܀

Furthermore, if a man wishes to remain in holiness, his wife should not live with him, so that he will not return to his former state and be considered an adulterer.

[63] PS 1, 26013-26114. Dem. 6/4.

ܡܬܠ ܗܢܐ ܐܚ̈ܝ ܟܠ ܓܒܪܐ ܒܪ ܩܝܡܐ ܐܘ ܩܕܝܫܐ ܕܪܚܡ ܝܚܝܕܝܘܬܐ ܘܨܒܐ ܕܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܒܪ̱ܬ ܩܝܡܐ ܕܐܟܘܬܗ ܬܥܡܪ ܥܡܗ: ܗܟܢܐ ܦܩܚ ܠܗ ܕܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܢܤܒ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܘܠܐ ܢܫܬܪܚ ܒܪܓܬܐ. ܘܐܦ ܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܬܘܒ ܗܟܢܐ ܘܠܐ ܠܗ ܕܐܢ ܡܢ ܓܒܪܐ ܝܚܝܕܝܐ ܠܐ ܦܪܫܐ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܠܓܒܪܐ ܬܗܘܐ. ܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܥܡ ܐܢ̱ܬܬܐ ܝܐܐ ܠܗ ܠܡܥܡܪ: ܘܓܒܪܐ ܥܡ ܓܒܪܐ ܙܕܩ ܠܗ ܠܡܥܡܪ. ܘܐܦ ܓܒܪܐ ܐܝܢܐ ܕܨܒܐ ܕܒܩܕܝܫܘܬܐ ܢܗܘܐ: ܫܘܬܦܬܗ ܥܡܗ ܠܐ ܬܥܡܪ ܕܠܐ ܢܗܦܘܩ ܠܗ ܠܟܝܢܗ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܘܢܬܚܫܒ ܠܗ ܓܝܪܐ. ܡܟܝܠ ܗܢܐ ܡܘܠܟܢܐ ܝܐܐ ܘܙܕܩ ܘܫܦܝܪ ܕܡܠܟ ܐ̱ܢܐ ܠܢܦܫܝ ܘܐܦ ܠܟܘܢ ܚ̈ܟܝܟܝ ܝܚܝ̈ܕܝܐ : ܕܢܫ̈ܐ ܠܐ ܢܤܒܝܢ: ܘܒܬܘ̈ܠܬܐ ܕܠܓܒܪ̈ܐ ܠܐ ܗܘܝ̈ܢ : ܘܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܪܚܡܘ ܩܕܝܫܘܬܐ ܟܐܝܢ ܘܙܕܩ ܘܝܐܐ ܕܐܦܢ ܒܐܘܠܨܢܐ ܢܗܘܐ ܒܪܢܫܐ ܒܠܚܘܕܘܗ̱ܝ ܢܗܘܐ: ܘܗܟܢܐ ܝܐܐ ܠܗ ܠܡܥܡܪ ܐܝܟ ܕܟܬܝܒ ܒܐܪܡܝܐ ܢܒܝܐ: ܕܛܘܒ ܠܓܒܪܐ ܕܢܫܩܘܠ ܢܝܪܟ ܒܛܠܝܘܬܐ ܘܢܬܒ ܒܠܚܘܕܘܗ̱ܝ ܘܢܫܬܘܩ: ܡܛܠ ܕܩܒܠ ܥܠܘܗ̱ܝ ܢܝܪܟ. ܗܟܢܐ ܓܝܪ ܝܐܐ ܚܒܝܒܝܝ  ܠܡܢ ܕܫܩܠ ܢܝܪܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܢܬܪ ܢܝܪܗ ܒܕܟܝܘܬܐ܀

[64] Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 34-50.

[65] Rule 2.ܠܐ ܐܢܫ ܡܢ ܦܪ̈ܝܗܕܘܛܐ ܐܘ ܩ̈ܫܝܫܐ ܘܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܐ ܐܘ ܡܢ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܢܥܡܪ ܐܡ ܢܫ̈ܐ. ܐܠܐ ܐܢ ܥܡ ܐܡܗ . ܐܘ ܚܬܗ ܐܘ ܥܡ ܒܪܬܗ. ܘܠܐ ܢܘܬܒܘܢ ܐܢ̈ܝܢ ܠܒܪ ܡܢܗܘܢ. ܘܗܘܘ ܐܡܝܢܝܢ ܨܐܕܝܗܝܢ.

VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 36.

[66] Rule 4.

 ܢܫܬܡܫܘܢ ܩܫ̈ܝܫܐ ܘܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܐ ܡܢ ܢܫ̈ܐ ܘܢܬܝܪܐܝܬ ܡܢ ܒܢ̈ܬ ܩܝܡܐ.ܠܐ

VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents, 37.

[67] Cf. RRQ no.10. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 38.

[68] Cf. RRQ no.18. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 45.

[69] Cf. RRQ no.37. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 41.

[70] NEDUNGATT George, The Covenanters, 207.

[71] MURRAY Robert. Symbols of Church and Kingdom 16.

[72]  BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye, 111.

[73] Cf. BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye, 112.

[74] Cf. SOKOLOFF Michael, A Syriac Lexicon 1316.

[75] Cf. BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye, 110-111.

[76] Cf. BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye, 119.

[77]PS 1, 27220-25. Dem.6/8.

ܫܡܥ ܕܝܢ ܚܟܝܟܝ  ܡܕܡ ܕܟܬܒ ܐ̱ܢܐ ܠܟ : ܗܠܝܢ ܡܕܡ ܕܝ̈ܐܝܢ ܠܝܚܝ̈ܕܝܐ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܒ̈ܬܘܠܐ ܘܩܕܝ̈ܫܐ. ܡܢ ܩܕܡ ܟܠܡܕܡ ܝܐܐ ܠܓܒܪܐ ܐܝܢܐ ܕܢܝܪܐ ܤܝܡ ܥܠܘܗ̱ܝ: ܕܗܝܡܢܘܬܗ ܬܗܘܐ ܫܪܝܪܐ ܐܝܟ ܡܕܡ ܕܟܬܒܬ ܠܟ ܒܐܓܪܬܐ ܩܕܡܝܬܐ: ܕܢܗܘܢ ܚܦܝܛ ܒܨܘܡܐ ܘܒܨܠܘܬܐ: ܘܢܗܘܢ ܪܬܚ ܒܚܘܒܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ: ܘܢܗܘܐ ܡܟܝܟ ܘܪܡܝܤ ܘܡܗܘܢ:

[78] PS 1, 2707-16. Dem. 6/6.

ܘܟܠܗܝܢ ܒ̈ܬܘܠܬܐ ܕܟܝ̈ܬܐ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܡܟܝܪ̈ܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܬܡܢ ܢܗܪܝܢ ܠܡܦܪ̈ܝܗܝܢ ܘܥܡܗ ܕܚܬܢܐ ܥܐܠ̈ܢ ܠܓܢܘܢܗ. ܟܠ  ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܡܟܝܪ̈ܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܡܢ ܠܘ̈ܛܬܗ ܕܢܡܘܤܐ ܪܚܝܩ̈ܢ ܘܡܢ ܡܤܡ ܒܪܫܐ ܕܒܢ̈ܬ ܚܘܐ ܦܪܝܩ̈ܢ : ܠܐ ܓܝܪ ܗܘܝ̈ܢ ܠܓܒܪ̈ܐ ܕܢܩܒܠ̈ܢ ܠܘ̈ܛܬܐ ܘܢܗܘܝ̈ܢ ܒܟܐܒ̈ܐ: ܘܠܐ ܚܫܒ̈ܢ ܠܡܘܬܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܒ̈ܢܝܐ ܠܐ ܡܫܠܡ̈ܢ ܠܗ: ܘܚܠܦ ܓܒܪܐ ܕܡܐܬ ܡܟܝܪ̈ܐ ܗܢܝܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ:

[79] PS 1, 2721-19.Dem. 6/7.

ܐܘܢ ܒ̈ܬܘܠܬܐ ܕܐܡܟܪ̈ܝ ܢܦܫܗܝܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ : ܟܕ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܢܐܡܪ ܠܚܕܐ ܡܢܟܝܢ : ܕܐܥܡܪ ܥܡܟܝ ܘܫܡܫܝܢܝ: ܗܟܢܐ ܬܐܡܪܝܢ ܠܗ: ܕܠܓܒܪܐ ܡܠܟܐ ܡܟܝܪܐ ܐ̱ܬܐ ܘܠܗ ܗ̱ܘ ܡܫܡܫܐ ܐ̱ܢܐ. ܘܐܢ ܫܒܘܐ ܐ̱ܢܐ ܬܫܡܫܬܗ ܘܠܟ ܡܫܡܫܐ ܐ̱ܢܐ: ܪܓܐ ܥܠܝ ܡܟܝܪܝ ܘܟܬܒ ܠܝ ܐܓܪܬܐ ܕܕܘܠܠܐ: ܘܫܪܐ ܠܝ ܡܢ ܒܝܬܗ. ܘܟܕ ܒܥܐ ܐܢ̱ܬ ܕܬܬܝܩܪ ܡܢܝ ܘܐܢܐ ܐܬܝܩܪ ܡܢܟ: ܕܠܡܐ ܢܡܛܠ ܢܟܝܢܐ ܠܝ ܘܠܟ. ܠܐ ܬܤܝܡ ܢܘܪܐ ܒܥܘܒܟ ܕܠܐ ܬܘܩܕ ܢܚ̈ܬܝܟ: ܐܠܐ ܐܢ̱ܬ  ܗܘܝ ܒܐܝܩܪܐ ܒܠܚܘܕܝܟ ܘܐܢܐ ܒܠܚܘܕܝ ܒܐܝܩܪܝ. ܘܗܢܝܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܥܬܪ ܚܬܢܐ ܠܥ̈ܠܡܝ ܡܫܬܘܬܗ ܐܢ̱ܬ ܥܒܕ ܠܟ ܪܘܡܝܢܐ ܘܥܬܪ ܢܦܫܟ ܠܐܘܪܥܗ: ܘܐܢܐ ܐܛܝܒ ܠܝ ܡܫܚܐ ܕܐܥܘܠ ܥܡ ܚܟܝ̈ܡܬܐ ܘܠܐ ܐܬܟܐܐ ܠܒܪ ܡܢ ܬܪܥܐ ܥܡ ܒܬܘ̈ܠܬܐ ܤܟ̈ܠܬܐ܀ 

[80] Cf. BROCK Sebastian, The Luminous Eye, 115.

[81] PS 1, 2694-6. Dem. 6/6.

ܠܝܬ ܬܡܢ ܕܟܕܐ ܘܠܐ ܢܩܒܬܐ: ܘܠܐ ܥܒܕܐ ܘܠܐ ܒܪ ܚܐܪ̈ܐ: ܐܠܐ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܐܝܬܝܗܘܢ ܒܢܘ̈ܗ̱ܝ ܕܪܡܐ.

[82] PS 1, 30921-26, Dem. 6/19.

ܗܠܝܢ ܟܬܒܬ ܥ̱ܗܕܬ ܠܢܦܫܝ ܘܐܦ ܠܟ ܚܒܝܒܝ. ܡܟܝܠ ܪܚܡ ܒܬܘܠܘܬܐ ܡܢܬܐ ܫܡܝܢܝܬܐ ܚܠܝܛܘܬܐ ܕܥܝܪ̈ܝ ܫܡܝܐ. ܠܝܬ ܓܝܪ ܡܕܡ ܕܦܚܡ ܠܗ ܘܒܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܗܟܢܐ ܐܢܘܢ ܒܗܘܢ ܥܡܪ ܡܫܝܚܐ.

[83] Cf. PS III, 2883-7.

ܘܩܕ ܝܕܥܝܢܢ ܕܗܘܐ ܦܓܪܐ ܗܝܟܠܐ ܟܤܝܐ ܘܠܒܐ ܡܕܒܚܐ ܟܤܝܐ ܠܬܫܡܫܬܐ ܕܒܪܘܚܐ: ܢܬܚܦܬ ܒܗܢܐ ܡܕܒܚܐ ܓܠܝܐ ܘܩܕܡ ܗܢܐ ܗܝܟܠܐ ܓܠܝܐ:

[84] Cf. PS III, 28823-26.

ܐܠܐ ܕܡܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܡܬܚܙܝ̈ܢ ܢܗܘܐ ܒܗܠܝܢ ܕܠܐ ܡܬܚܙܝ̈ܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܠܥܝ̈ܢܐ ܕܒܤܪܐ: ܩܕ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܦܓܖ̈ܝܢ ܗܝ̈ܟܠܐ ܘܠܒܝ̈ܢ ܡܕ̈ܒܚܐ.

[85] RRQ no.20. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 41.

[86] RRQ no.27:

ܢܗܘܘܢ ܐܡܝܢܝܢ ܩܫ̈ܝܫܐ ܘܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܐ ܘܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܘܒ̈ܢܬ ܩܝܡܐ ܒܬܫܡܫܬܐ ܕܥܕܬܐ ܘܠܐ ܢܒܛܠܘܢ ܥ̈ܕܢܐ ܨܠܘܬܐ ܘܕܡܙܡܘܪ̈ܐ ܒܠܠܝܐ ܘܒܐܝܡܡܐ܀

 VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 43.

[87] RRQ no. 1,  Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 36.

[88] RRQ no.42:       ܢܗܘܘܢ ܥܡܪܝܢ ܒܥܕܬܐ ܩܫ̈ܝܫܐ ܐܦ ܡܫ̈ܡܫܢܐ ܘܐܢ ܡܫܟܚܐ ܐܦ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ܀                               

Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 46.

[89] Cf. RRQ no.1&11. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 36, 39.

[90] ܠܐ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܥ̈ܠܡܝܐ ܪ̈ܒܝ ܒ̈ܬܐ ܒܥܕܬܐ . ܐܠܐ ܐܢ ܐܝܟܐ ܕܠܝܬ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܕܥܗܢܝܢ

VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 47.

[91] BROWN Peter, The Body and Society 101.

[92] So-Called canons of Marūtā XXVI:

1. ܕܐܡܬܝ ܕܢܦܩ ܟܘܪ ܐܦܝܤܩܘܦܐ ܘܥܒܪ ܒܟܠܗ ܫܘܠܛܢܐ ܠܡܤܥܪ ܢܗܘܐ ܚܙܐ ܕܐܢܗܘ ܕܚܤܝܪ̈ܢ ܥܕ̈ܬܐ ܘܕܕܝܪ̈ܬܐ ܐܚ̈ܐ  ܘܐܚ̈ܘܬܐ ܢܗܘܐ ܩܪܐ ܠܤܒ̈ܐ ܕܩܘܪ̈ܝܤ ܘܐܡܪ ܩܕܡܝܗܘܢ ܡܠܬܐ ܕܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܘܢܪܬܐ ܐܢܘܢ ܒܝܕ ܩܪܝܢܐ ܕܟܬܒ̈ܐ܀

2.  ܘܟܠ ܐܝܢܐ ܡܢܗܘܢ ܕܐܝܬ ܠܗ ܒܢ̈ܝܐ ܘܒ̈ܢܬܐ : ܢܦܝܤܗ ܗܘܸ ܟܘܪ ܐܦܝܤܩܘܦܐ ܢܦܪܘܫ ܡܢ ܒܢܝ̈ܗܘܢ ܘܒ̈ܢܬܗܘܢ ܀

3. ܘܢܪܫܘܡ ܐܢܘܢ ܒܝܕ ܨܠܘܬܐ : ܘܢܤܝܡ ܐܝܕܗ ܥܠܝܗܘܢ ܘܢܒܪܟ ܐܢܘܢ ܘܢܗܘܘܢ ܒܢܝ̈ ܩܝܡܐ܀

4. ܘܢܬܬܠܡܕܘܢ ܘܢܬܝܗܒܘܢ ܒܥܕ̈ܬܐ ܘܒܕܝܪ̈ܬܐ. ܘܢܦܩܘܕ ܥܠܝܗܘܢ ܕܒܝܘܠܦܢܐ ܘܒܡܪܕܘܬܐ ܢܬܕܪܫܘܢ ܘܢܗܘܘܢ ܝܪ̈ܬܐ. ܥܠ ܐܝܕܝ̈ܗܘܢ ܢܬܩܝ̈ܡܢ ܥܕ̈ܬܐ ܘܕܝܪ̈ܬܐܒ܀

VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 121-122.

[93] Since these are the rules by Rabbula the bishop of Eddessa here the “we” naturally denotes the Bishop. In short the responsibility of qyāmā is on the ecclesiastical hierarchy consists of its Bishop, Priests, and Deacons.

[94] Cf. RRQ no.19. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 41.

[95] Cf. RRQ no.3. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 37.

[96] Cf. RRQ no.4. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 37.

[97] HARVEY Ashbrook Susan, “Syriac Christian Thought” 692.

[98] PS 1, 24019-24114. Dem.6, 1.

[99] PS 1, 6, 1

[100] RRQ no. 23. Cf. VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic Documents 42.

ܢܗܘܘܢ ܪܚܝܩܝܢ ܡܢ ܚܡܪܐ ܘܡܢ ܒܤܪܐ ܩܫܝ̈ܫܐ ܘܡܫܡ̈ܫܢܐ ܘܒ̈ܢܝ ܩܝܡܐ ܘܒ̈ܢܬ ܩܝܡܐ. ܐܢ ܕܝܢ ܐܝܬ ܩܗܘܢ ܕܢܤܝܤ ܒܓܘܫܡܗ ܢܬܚܫܚ ܩܠܝܠ ܐܝܟ ܕܟܬܝܒ. ܠܗܠܝܢ ܕܝܢ ܕܪܘܝܢ ܐܘ ܥܐܠܝܢ ܠܒܝܬ ܩ̈ܦܠܐ. ܢܫܬܕܘܢ ܡܢ ܥܕܬܐ܀

The priests and deacons and the bnay qyāmā and benat qyāmā shall keep themselves far from wine and meat; but if there is any among them who is infirm in body, he may use a little, as it is written; those, however, who become drunk or who enter a tavern, shall be expelled from the Church.

[101] PS 1,27222-27620. Dem.6, 8.

[102] PS 1܀ , 2497-16. 6: 1.

[103] The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents  5.

[104] The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle in CURETON W, Ancient Arabic Syriac Documents 15.

[105] SPIDLIK Thomas, The Spirituality of the Christian East, Kalamazoo 1986, 213.

[106] NEDUNGATT George, The Covenanters 427.

[107] CHARIVUPUTAYIDATHIL S., Religious Life as Imitation of Christ, Kottayam1991, 26.

[108] BLUM G. G., Mysticism in the Syriac Tradition , Kottayam (year not given) 7-8.

[109] VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, History  of Asceticism, Vol. I, 21-22.

[110] Cf. PATRICH Joseph, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism: A comparative Study in Eastern Monasticism, Fourth to Seventh Centuries, Washington D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harward University 1995, 21.

[111] Cf. PATRICH Joseph, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism 21.

[112] THEODORET , Historia Philotheos II.5, 204-207, quoted in PATRICH Joseph, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism 22.

[113] VÖÖBUS, History  of Asceticism vol.II, 304.

[114] Cf. PATRICH Joseph, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism, 24.

[115] VӦӦBUS ARTHUR, Syriac and Arabic documents.

[116] PHILIPS I., “Monasticism, the Heart of the Church,” Harp 4.1,2,3 (1991) 18.

[117] VÖÖBUS, History  of Asceticism, Vol. II, 140-145.

[118]THEKKUDAN A., “Sources of Spirituality of the St. Thomas Christian Church in the Pre- Diamper Period”in PUTHUR Bosco(ed.), The Life and Nature of the St.Thomas Christian Church in the Pre-Diamper Period (Kochi, 2000) 137.

[119] Perfectae Caritatis 2.

[120] Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Can. 410.

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