Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Materials for His Biography.
II.—Materials for His Biography.
Fuller details, of more or less authentic character, are forthcoming in many quarters. In Syriac, we have two Lives, a longer and a shorter; but whether the latter is an abridgment of the former, or is rather the nucleus from which the other has been expanded, is questionable. Of both alike, the date and the authorship are undetermined. The longer of the two is entitled, the History [tash itha] of the holy Mar Ephraim. It varies not a little in the two copies of it [the Vatican and the Parisian] which have been edited; 249 and contains many things that are not easily credible, and some things that are irreconcilable with one another, or with established facts. In the main facts, however, this History is borne out by the Greek authorities—the narrations of three fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret, the brief notices of Jerome, De Viris Illustribus (392), and of Palladius, in his Lausiac History (circ. 420) ci., and (what is of most weight) the almost contemporary biographical particulars contained in the Encomium pronounced on Ephraim by Gregory of Nyssa. Other Greek Lives are extant;—one which bears the name of a writer coeval with Gregory, Amphilochius of Iconium, but is certainly by a later hand; one anonymous, and one ascribed to Simeon the Metaphrast, a writer of the tenth century. 250
We proceed to give an outline of the contents of the Syriac History, adding to it here and there such further noteworthy details or incidents as have reached us from the other sources indicated. Further on, it will be our business to examine this narrative and ascertain how far its statements are in themselves credible, or attested by other and earlier evidence.
The former in the Roman edition, Opera Syr., Tom. III, p. xxiii; the latter in Lamys Hymni et Sermones, Tom. II.121:250
Of these, the one, which is ascribed to Amphilochius, is perhaps the basis on which the longer Syriac Life was constructed.
Next: The Life, as Amplified by Mediaeval Biographers.
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