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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of Didymus of Alexandria and Ephraim the Syrian.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVI.—Of Didymus of Alexandria and Ephraim the Syrian.

At that period at Edessa flourished the admirable Ephraim, and at Alexandria Didymus, 792 both writers against the doctrines that are at variance with the truth. Ephraim, employing the Syrian language, shed beams of spiritual grace. Totally untainted as he was by heathen education 793 he was able to expose the niceties of heathen error, and lay bare the weakness of all heretical artifices. Harmonius 794 the son of Bardesanes 795 had once composed certain songs and by mixing sweetness of melody with his impiety beguiled the hearers, and led them to their destruction. Ephraim adopted the music of the songs, but set them to piety, and so gave the hearers at once great delight and a healing medicine. These songs are still used to enliven the festivals of our victorious martyrs.

Didymus, however, who from a child had been deprived of the sense of sight, had been educated in poetry, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, the logic of Aristotle, and the eloquence of Plato. Instruction in all these subjects he received by the sense of hearing alone,—not indeed as conveying the truth, but as likely to be weapons for the truth against falsehood. Of holy scriptures he learnt not only the sound but the sense. So among livers of ascetic lives and students of virtue, these men at that time were conspicuous.



Flourished c. 309–399. Blind from the age of four, he educated himself with marvellous patience, and was placed by Athanasius at the head of the catechetical school of Alexandria. Jerome called him his teacher and seer and translated his Treatise on the Holy Spirit. Jer. de Vir. Illust. 109.


παιδείας ῾Ελληνικῆς.” His ignorance of languages weakens the force of his dialectic and illustrations. Vid. Dict. Christ. Biog. s.v.


Harmonius wrote about the end of the 2nd century, both in Greek and in Syriac. cf. Theod. Hæret. Fabul. Compend. i. 22, where he is said to have learned Greek at Athens.


Bardesanes, or Bar Daisan, the great Syrian gnostic, was born in 155. cf. the prologue to the “Dialogues.”

Next: Of what bishops were at this time distinguished in Asia and Pontus.

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