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St. Ephraim The Syrian


"I was born in the way of truth: though my childhood was unaware of the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came."

St. Ephraim

v Mor Ephraim the Syrian, the great poet saint of the Syriac Church.

v Also known as: Deacon of Edessa; Ephraim; Ephraim the Syrian; Ephraim; Harp of the Holy Spirit; Sun of the Syrians. (Doctor of the Holy Church) declared as the Doctor of the universal Holy Church.

v Was born in c. A.D. 306 in Nisibis (North-west of Mosul, Iraq). His own writings affirm that he was raised in a Christian family. "I was born in the way of truth: though my boyhood understood not the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came." Again more explicitly, if we may trust a Confession, which is extant only in Greek, "I had been early taught about Christ by my parents; they who begot me after the flesh, had trained me in the fear of the Lord... My parents were confessors before the judge: yea, I am the kindred of martyrs.")

v He was ordained deacon in c. A.D. 338 and served the Bishop of Nisibis, Mor Ya`qub, who participated in the Synod of Nicaea (AD 325).

v He lived as a solitary and apparently never entered into priesthood. After the cession of Nisibis to Persia in AD 363, Ephraim withdrew into the Roman Empire and settled at Edessa where he composed the hymns that survive to this day. Though in the ecclesiastical hierarchy he was just a deacon, he is remembered as a great doctor of the universal Church.

v Ephraim wrote exclusively in Syriac, the Edessene dialect of Aramaic, but his works were translated into Armenian and Greek, and via the latter into Latin and Slavonic. Much of Ephraim's exegetical, dogmatic and ascetic works are in verse form. He wrote several polemical works refuting the heresies of Marcion, Bardaisan, Mani, the Arians and the Anomoeans. He wrote widely regarded biblical commentaries on Genesis and the Diatesseron. His writings extensively employ typology and symbolism. Over 500 genuine hymns survive, of great beauty and insight. His poetry is in two genres: madrshe (hymns) and memre (verse homilies). After his death, the hymns were arranged into hymn cycles, the most famous of which are those on Faith (including the five 'On the Pearl'), on Paradise and on Nisibis (the second half of which is on the Descent of Christ into Hell). His liturgical poetry had a great influence on Syriac and Greek hymnography. Syriac churches honor him as 'the lyre of the Holy Spirit'.

Mor Ephraim departed to his heavenly abode on 9th of June, A.D. 373. His memory is commemorated in the Syriac Orthodox Church on the first Saturday of the Great Lent

30, Nov -0001
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