Syriac Hagiography

Authored by: Sebastian P. Brock

The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754650331
eBook ISBN: 9781315612799
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043966


 Download Chapter



A very large number of hagiographical texts are preserved in Syriac. The great majority of these range in date from within the millennium spanning from the fourth to the fourteenth century, and consist both of works written in Syriac and those translated from other languages (mostly Greek, but also Middle Persian, Coptic and Arabic). The period of late antiquity, prior to the Arab invasions of the seventh century, was the more productive, with hagiography of one sort or another being produced in both the eastern provinces of the Late Roman Empire and in the Sasanian Empire. As a result of the Christological controversies of the fifth and subsequent centuries there was a three-way split within Syriac Christianity, with two main separate literary traditions developing: that of the Church of the East (often wrongly called ‘Nestorian’) in the Sasanian Empire, and that of the Syrian Orthodox (often misleadingly called ‘Jacobites’ or ‘Monophysites’), mainly in Syria/Mesopotamia, but from the seventh century also further east as well. Where appropriate, texts from these two traditions are indicated below by ‘E’ or ‘W’ in brackets. There is also a small body of Syriac literature of Chalcedonian provenance, both Melkite and Monothelete (Maronite); these communities, however, ceased writing in Syriac after about the ninth century. It should be noted that a person became recognised as a saint primarily through being commemorated in a local liturgical calendar, and the contents of these were apt to change in both time and space.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.