Bardaisan of Edessa 9781463235307

In this volume, a reprint of his 1966 monograph, H. J. W. Drijvers investigates the life and teachings of Bardaisan of E

242 59 3MB

English Pages 324 Year 2014

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
Recommend Papers

Bardaisan of Edessa

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Bardaisan of Edessa

Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies

36 Series Editors George Anton Kiraz István Perczel Lorenzo Perrone Samuel Rubenson

Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies brings to the scholarly world the underrepresented field of Christianity as it developed in the Eastern hemisphere. This series consists of monographs, edited collections, texts and translations of the documents of Eastern Christianity, as well as studies of topics relevant to the world of historic Orthodoxy and early Christianity.

Bardaisan of Edessa


H.J.W. Drijvers Introduction by

Jan Willem Drijvers


34 2014

Gorgias Press LLC, 954 River Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA Copyright © 2014 by Gorgias Press LLC Originally published in 1966 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. 2014



ISBN 978-1-4632-0188-3

ISSN 1539-1507

Reprint of the 1966 edition by Van Gorcum Press.

Printed in the United States of America

TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents ..................................................................................... v Introduction to the present edition ..................................................... vii Bibliography: Bardaiṣan of Edessa since 1966.................................... xi List of Abbreviations ............................................................................ xix Chapter 1: Introduction. The Research and its Problems ................. 1 The First Period: 1855–1897 ......................................................... 3 The Second Period: 1897–1932 .................................................. 27 The Third Period: 1932 to the Present ...................................... 52 Chapter 2: The Book of the Laws of Countries ............................... 69 A. The Problem from the Point of View of Literary History .................................................................................... 69 B. Bardaiṣan’s Conception of God, Man and the World, According to the “Book of the Laws of the Countries” .............................................................................. 88 Chapter 3: The Cosmology .................................................................109 The First Cosmological Tradition .............................................118 The Second Cosmological Tradition ........................................126 The Third Cosmological Tradition ...........................................130 The Muslim, and the Remaining Christian Arabic Traditions .............................................................................136 Chapter 4: Ephrem Syrus on Bardaiṣan ............................................143 A. Cosmology...............................................................................146 B. Bardaiṣan’s Hymns and Mythology .....................................160 C. Anthropology ..........................................................................170 D. Fate and Astrology.................................................................175 E. Bardaiṣan’s Personality, his Followers and his Writings ..179 Chapter 5: The Other Traditions Regarding Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites ..................................................................................185 A. The Greek Tradition ..............................................................186 B. The Further Syriac Tradition ................................................207 v



C. The Arabic Tradition .............................................................222 D. The Armenian tradition ........................................................232 E. The Other Works Ascribed to Bardaiṣan ...........................233 Chapter 6: Conclusions: Bardaisan and the Bardesanites in the Setting of their Times .................................................................239 A. Edessa in the Second Century of our Era ..........................240 B. Bardaiṣan’s Life .......................................................................243 C. Bardaiṣan’s Teachings ............................................................245 D. Bardaiṣan’s Relations to Marcion and Mani ......................252 E. The Fortunes of the Bardesanites........................................254 Bibliography ..........................................................................................257 Index of Subjects ..................................................................................281 Index of Names ....................................................................................295 Index of Modern Authors ...................................................................299

INTRODUCTION TO THE PRESENT EDITION In 1966 Bardaiṣan of Edessa appeared as the sixth volume in the series ‘Studia Semitica Neerlandica’, originally published by Van Gorcum in Assen (now by Brill, Leiden). The monograph is Han Drijvers’ doctoral dissertation for which he received the doctor’s degree (summa cum laude) from the University of Groningen. He started his research on Bardaiṣan around 1960. The year before Bardaiṣan of Edessa came out, he had published a new English translation of Dialogue on Fate, also known as The Book of the Laws of Countries, attributed to Bardaiṣan. Bardaiṣan was probably born in 154 and died in 222, possibly in Edessa. He spent a large part of his life at the court of king Abgar VIII (‘the Great’) of Edessa, who took an interest in arts and sciences. At Abgar’s court he taught his pupils and followers whom he had assembled around him. He is said to have held a position of distinction in Edessene society. When in 214 the emperor Caracalla (211–217) put an end to Edessa’s independence as a kingdom, Bardaiṣan probably went to Armenia. He is said to have written a considerable number of works and several others have been attributed to him, but no writings of Bardaiṣan have been preserved. Fragments of his work as well as titles of lost works have been preserved in later sources. His best known work, The Book of the Laws of Countries, was not authentically his but written by his pupil Philippus, although it reflects Bardaiṣan’s ideas. Drijvers’ Bardaiṣan of Edessa was the first comprehensive study on this Syriac philosopher and theologian since F. Nau’s Une biographie inédite de Bardesane l’Astrologue (Paris 1897). Scholarly interest in Bardaiṣan goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when W. Cureton discussed Bardaiṣan as author of The Book of the Laws of Countries, the manuscript of which was preserved in B. L. Add. 14.658, in the Preface of his Spicilegium Syriacum (London 1855). vii



Since then interest in Bardaiṣan never disappeared. However, much scholarly work only dealt with aspects of his person and work, as Drijvers discusses in the first chapter of his book. Through these studies knowledge about Bardaiṣan, his ideas and work increased considerably, but there also existed little unanimity among scholars about how to contextualize Bardaiṣan’s ideas in the philosophical and religious movements of his time. Drijvers’ ambitious aim in writing Bardaiṣan of Edessa was to present a “total image of Bardaiṣan” (p. 59) by analyzing the existing sources, particularly The Book of the Laws of Countries and the writings of Ephrem, but also the other Syriac as well as the Greek, Armenian and Arabic traditions about Bardaiṣan. Furthermore he attempted to relate Bardaiṣan’s ideas to the religious and philosophical (including cosmological) currents of his time. The city of Edessa as his place of residence for many years and king Abgar’s interest in arts and sciences was of great importance for the development of Bardaiṣan’s ideas and teachings since the city was at the cross roads between east and west, and cultural, religious and philosophical influences from both directions came together in the North-Mesopotamian city. Drijvers portrays Bardaiṣan as a complex intellectual figure, who had a large and broad interest in philosophy, religion, theology, ethnography, geography, cosmology and history. In his teaching Bardaiṣan probably tried to synthetize the many philosophical and religious ideas with which he became acquainted. However, this did not result in a defined and well-constructed system. Bardaiṣan’s philosophical and religious perspective upon life and the world is very much the view of a single man. This view was a fusion of the many ideas circulating in Edessa and northern Mesopotamia which as a thinker connects Bardaiṣan to the many philosophical and religious movements but did not make him a representative of one of them. Bardaiṣan of Edessa demonstrates Han Drijvers’ wide interests in the language and culture of early Syriac Christianity and its centre Edessa. His approach of studying language, culture and religion in connection with the socio-historical context of early Syriac Christianity, an approach which he first developed in Bardaiṣan of Edessa, has always remained characteristic for Drijvers’ scholarly work. After Bardaiṣan of Edessa he wrote a few articles on the Edessene philosopher and theologian, but he soon moved on to other topics in later periods. However, early Syriac Christianity and



the city of Edessa always remained at the centre of his attention and scholarly work. Bardaiṣan of Edessa had a considerable impact in the field of studies on early Syriac Christianity and related disciplines. The book raised more interest in the person of Bardaiṣan and the context in which he lived and worked. Also his place in the wider philosophical context of his age has received significant attention since. The publication of the book coincided with the beginning of interest in the period of Late Antiquity, which since ca. 1970 has expanded enormously. In particular the interest in late antique scholarship for the interrelationship between the development of eastern Christianity and philosophical movements put Bardaiṣan and his ideas and their relationship within late antique Christianity into the focus of attention. The attached bibliography of publications which appeared since Bardaiṣan of Edessa saw the day of light in 1966 is proof of this increased interest. 1 Jan Willem Drijvers Groningen, September 2012

I would like to thank Sebastian Brock, Ilaria Ramelli and Gerrit Reinink for providing bibliographical information and comments on an earlier draft of this introduction. 1

BIBLIOGRAPHY: BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA SINCE 1966 Bakker, D., Bardaisan’s Book of the Laws of the Countries. A ComputerAssisted Linguistic Analysis (Diss. Leiden 2011). Beck, E., “Bardaisan und seine Schule bei Ephräem”, Le Muséon 91 (1978) 271–333. Bianchi, U., “Bardessanes gnosticus. Le fonte del dualismo di Bardesane”, in: Uminità e storia. Scritti in onore di Adelchi Attisani II (Naples 1971) 627–641; repr. in: U. Bianchi, Selected Essays on Gnosticism, Dualism and Mysteriosophy (Leiden 1978) 336–350. Brock, S., “Bardaisan (154–222)”, in: S. Brock, A. Butts, G. Kiraz and L. van Rompay (eds.), Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway 2011) 56–57. Bruns, P., “Bardaisan, der ‘aramäische Philosoph’ (154–222)”, in: P. Bruns, Das Christusbild Aphrahats des Persischen Weisen, Hereditas. Studien zur alten Kirchengeschichte 4 (Bonn 1990). Camplani, A., “Rivisitando Bardesane. Note sulle fonti siriache del bardesanismo e sulla sua collocazione storico-religiosa”, Cristianesimo nella Storia 19 (1998) 519–596. —— “Note Bardesanitiche”, Miscellanea Marciana 12 (1997 [1998]) 11–43. —— “Bardesane et les bardesanites”, École pratique des hautes études. Section des sciences religieuses. Annuaire. Résumé des conférences et travaux 112 (2003–2004) 29–50. Davids, A. J. M. “Zur Kosmologie Bardaisans”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 120 (1970) 32–42. Contini, R. (ed.), Pitagora, Bardesane, e altri studi siriaci (Rome 1989). xi



Crone, P., “Daysanīs, Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden 2012, 3rd ed.) 116–118. Dihle, A., “Zur Schicksalslehre des Bardesanes”, in: A. M. Ritter (ed.), Kerugma und Logos. Festschrift für C. Andresen (Göttingen 1979) 123–135; repr. in A. Dihle, Antike und Orient. Gesammelte Aufsätze (Heidelberg 1984) 161–173. —— “Astrology in the Doctrine of Bardesanes”, Studia Patristica 20 (1989) 160–168. Drijvers, H. J. W., “Bardaisan, die Bardaisaniten und die Ursprünge des Gnostizismus”, in: Studies in the History of Religions, Suppl. to Numen 12 (Leiden 1967) 307–314. —— “Bardaisan of Edessa and the Hermetica. The Aramaic Philosopher and the Philosophy of his Time”, Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap ‘Ex Oriente Lux’ 21 (1969– 1970) 190–210; repr. in H. J. W. Drijvers, East of Antioch. Studies in Early Syriac Christianity (London 1984) XI. —— “De schilder en de kunstcriticus. Discussies rond een portret van Bardesanes, de filosoof der Arameeërs”, Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 24 (1969–1970) 89–104. —— “Het imago van Bardesanes van Edessa”, Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 24 (1969–1970) 260–262. —— “Mani und Bardaisan. Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte des Manichäismus”, in: Mélanges d’histoire des religions offerts à HenriCharles Puech (Paris 1974) 459–469; repr. in H. J. W. Drijvers, East of Antioch. Studies in Early Syriac Christianity (London 1984) XIII. —— “Bardaisan von Edessa als Repräsentant des syrischen Synkretismus im 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr.”, in: A. Dietrich (ed.), Synkretismus im syrisch-persischen Kulturgebiet. Bericht über ein Symposion in Reinhausen bei Göttingen in der Zeit von 4. bis 8. Oktober 1971, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Dritte Folge, 96 (Göttingen 1975) 109–122; repr. in H. J. W. Drijvers, East of Antioch. Studies in Early Syriac Christianity (London 1984) XII. —— “Bardesanes”, Theologische Realenzyklopädie 5 (1980) 206–212.



—— “Bardaisan’s doctrine of freewill, the Pseudo-Clementines, and Marcionism in Syria”, in: G. Bedouelle, O. Fatio (eds.), Liberté chrétienne et libre arbiter. Textes de l’enseignement de troisième cycle des faculties romandes de théologie (Fribourg 1994) 13–30. —— Reprint of The Book of the Laws of Countries. Dialogue on Fate of Bardaisan of Edessa, with new Introduction by Jan Willem Drijvers (Piscataway 2006). Ehlers Aland, B., “Mani und Bardesanes. Zur Entstehung des manichäischen Systems”, in: A. Dietrich (ed.), Synkretismus im syrisch-persischen Kulturgebiet. Bericht über ein Symposion in Reinhausen bei Göttingen in der Zeit von 4. bis 8. Oktober 1971, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Dritte Folge, 96 (Göttingen 1975) 123–143. Gibbons, Kathleen, “Nature, Law and Human Freedom in Bardaisan’s Book of the Laws of the Countries”, in: D. Brakke, D. Deliyannis & E. Watts (eds.), Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity (Farnham 2012) 35–47. Hegedus, T., “Necessity and Free Will in the Thought of Bardaisan of Edessa”, Laval théologique et philosophique 59.2 (2003) 333–344. Isho‘, S. (ed.), “Ktaba d-namose d-atrawata da-’bid l-Bardaysan”, Simto VI (19–20) (2012), 23–54 [edition in E. Syriac script, partly vocalized]. Jansma, T., Natuur, lot en vrijheid. Bardesanes, de filosoof der Arameërs en zijn images (Wageningen 1969). Krannich, T., P. Stein, “Das Buch der Gesetze der Länder des Bardesanes von Edessa”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 8 (2004) 203–229; with a German translation of the Book of the Laws of Countries. Kruse, H., “Die ‘mythologischen Irrtümer’ Bar-Daisans”, Oriens Christianus 71 (1987) 24-52. Lund, J., The Book of the Laws of Countries: A Dialogue on Free Will versus Fate. A Key-Word-in-Context Concordance (Piscataway 2007).



Poirier, P.-H., “Faith and Persuasion in the Book of the Laws of Countries. A Note on Bardaisanian Epistemology”, Journal of the Canadian Society for Syrian Studies 2 (2002) 21–29. —— “Deux doxographies sur le destin et le gouvernement du monde. Le livre des lois des pays et Eugnoste (NH III,3 et V,1)”, in: L. Painchaud, P.-H. Poirier (eds.), Coptica GnosticaManichaica, Bibliothèque copte de Nag Hammadi, Études 7 (Québec 2006) 761–786. —— “La parabole de l’ivraie (Matthieu 13, 24–30, 36–43) dans le livre des lois des pays”, in A. Frey, R. Gounelle (eds.), Poussières de christianisme et de judaisme antiques. Études réunies en l’honneur de J.-D. Kaestli et E. Junod, Publications de l’Institut romand des sciences bibliques 5 (Prahins 2007) 297–305. Poirier, P.-H., É. Crégheur, “Foi et persuasion dans le Livre des lois des pays à propos de l’épistémologie bardesanienne”, Le Muséon 116 (2003) 329–342. Possekel, U., “Bardaisan of Edessa on the Resurrection: Early Syriac Eschatology and its Religious-Historical Context, Oriens Christianus 88 (2004) 1–28. —— “Bardaisan of Edessa: Philosopher or Theologian?”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 10 (2006) 442–461. —— “Die Schöpfungstheologie des Bardaisan von Edessa”, in: L. Greisiger et al. (eds.), Edessa in hellenistisch-römischer Zeit: Religion, Kultur und Politik zwischen Ost und West. Beiträge des internationalen Edessa-Symposiums in Halle an der Saale, 14.–17. Juli 2005, Beiruter Texte und Studien 116 (Beirut/Würzburg 2009) 219– 230. —— “Bardaisan and Origen on Fate and the Power of the Stars”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 20.4 (2012) 515–541. Ramelli, I., “Linee generali per una presentazione e per un commento del Liber legum regionum, con traduzione italiana del testo siriaco e dei frammenti greci,”, Rendiconti dell’ Istituto Lombardo, Accademia di Scienze e Lettere, Classe di Lettere 133 (1999) 311– 355. —— “Bardesane e la sua scuola tra la cultura occidentale e quella orientale: il lessico della libertà nel Liber Legum Regionum (testo



siriaco e versione greca)”, in: R. B. Finazzi, A. Valvo (eds.), Pensiero e istituzioni del mondo classico nelle culture del Vicino Oriente (Alessandria, 2001), 237–255. —— Bardesane di Edessa, Contra il Fato (Rome/Bologna 2009). —— “Origen, Bardaisan and the Origin of Universal Salvation”, Harvard Theological Review 102.2 (2009) 135–168. —— “Bardesane e la sua scuola, l’apologia siriaca ascritta a Melitone e la Doctrina Addai”, Aevum 83 (2009) 141–168. —— Bardaisan of Edessa: A Reassessment of the Evidence and a New Interpretation (Piscataway 2009). —— “Cristo-Logos in Origene: ascendenze filoniane, passaggi in Bardesane e Clemente, e negazione del subordinazionismo”, in: Alfredo Valvo, Roberto Radice (eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference ‘Dal Logos dei Greci e dei Romani al Logos di Dio. Ricordando Marta Sordi’, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, 11– 13 November 2009, Vita e Pensiero, Temi metafisici e problemi del pensiero antico series (Milan 2011) 295–317. —— “Disability in Bardaisan and Origen. Between the Stoic Adiaphora and the Lord’s Grace”, in: Wolfgang Grünstäudl, Markus Schiefer Ferrari (eds.), Gestörte Lektüre. Disability als hermeneutische Leitkategorie biblischer Exegese (Stuttgart 2012) 141– 159. —— “L’Auctoritas che fonda ogni filosofia e teologia: Bardesane e l’Apologia siriaca ad Antonino Cesare attribuita a Melitone”, in: Maria Vittoria Cerutti (ed.), Auctoritas. Mondo tardoantico e riflessi contemporanei (Siena 2012) 151–176. —— “Bardaisan as a Christian Philosopher: A Reassessment of His Christology”, in: Giulia Sfameni Gasparro, Augusto Cosentino & Mariangela Monaca (eds.), Religion in the History of European Culture. Proceedings of the 9th EASR Conference and IAHR Special Conference, 14–17 September 2009, Biblioteca dell’Officina di Studi Medievali 16, 1/2 (Palermo 2013) 873– 888.



—— “Preexistence of Souls? The ἀρχή and τέλος of Rational Creatures in some Origenian Authors”, Studia Patristica LVI, vol. 4 (Louvain 2013) 167–226. —— Bardaisan on Free Will, Fate, and Human Nature: The Book of the Laws of Countries, SAPERE series (Tübingen, forthcoming 2014); introductory essay, Syriac edition, translation, commentary, and two critical essays (“Bardaisan on Apokatastasis” and “Bardaisan, Origen, and Middle Platonism”). Other essays in this volume are by Maximilian Forschner (“Bardaisan on Freedom and Fate: His Philosophical Background”), Kathleen McVey (“Bardaisan in the Context of Early Syriac Literature”), Ute Possekel (“Bardaisan’s Influence on the Christian Church in Late Antiquity”), and Aurelio Pérez Jiménez (“Bardaisan and Imperial Astrology”). —— “Bardaisan: a Syriac Christian Philosopher’s Interpretation of Genesis in the light of Plato’s Timaeus”, in: R. Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Kosmologie, Kosmogonie, Schöpfung (Tübingen, forthcoming 2014) 1–14. —— “Bardaisan: A Christian Middle Platonist from Edessa”, SBL lecture forthcoming in a collective volume edited by Cornelia Horn. —— “Bardaisan (Philosopher and Poet)”, in: Paul J. J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte (eds.), Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (Leiden, forthcoming). Skjaervo, P.J., “Bardesanes”, Encyclopedia Iranica 3 (1989) 780–785. Teixidor, J., Bardésane d’Édesse: la première philosophie syriaque (Paris 1992). —— “Bardesane”, Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques 2 (1994) 54–63. Van Reeth, J. M. F., “La cosmologie de Bardaysan”, Parole de l’Orient 31 (2006) 133–144. Van Rompay, L., “Bardaisan and Mani in Philoxenus of Mabbog’s Mēmrē against Habbib”, in: Wout Jac. van Bekkum, Jan Willem Drijvers & Alex C. Klugkist (eds.), Syriac Polemics. Studies in Honour of Gerrit Jan Reinink, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 170 (Louvain 2007) 77–90.



Widengren, G., “Bardesanes von Edessa und der syrischmesopotamische Gnostizismus. Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte des Manichäismus”, in: The Many and the One. Essays on Religion in the Graeco-Roman World Presented to Herman Ludin Jansen on his 80th Birthday (Trondheim 1985) 153–181. Winter, F., Bardesanes von Edessa über Indien. Ein früher syrischer Theologe schreibt über ein fremdes Land, Frühes Christentum. Forschungen und Perspektiven 5 (Innsbruck 1999). Yousif, E.-I., La vision de l’homme chez deux philosophes syriaques: Bardesan (154–222) et Ahoudemmeh (VI s.) (Paris 2007).


American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures Archiv Orientální Archiv für Religionswissenschaft Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig BHTh Beiträge zur historischen Theologie BiOr Bibliotheca Orientalis BKV Bibliothek der Kirchenväter BLC Book of the Laws of the Countries BSOAS Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies CH Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen contra Haereses, ed. E. Beck CSCO Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium EI Enzyklopädie des Islam FGH Fragmente der griechischen Historiker FHG Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum FRLANT Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments GCS Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte HThR The Harvard Theological Review IEJ Israel Exploration Journal JA Journal Asiatique JAOS The Journal of the American Oriental Society JBL Journal of Biblical Literature and Exegesis




Jaarbericht van het vooraziatisch-egyptisch genootschap Ex Oriente Lux JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies JRAS Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain JThS The Journal of Theological Studies MPG J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completes, series Graeca MPL J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completes, series Latina NTT Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift OrChr Oriens Christianus OLZ Orientalistische Literaturzeitung PO Patrologia Orientalis PW A. Pauly-G. Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft RAC Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum RE Realencyclopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche RGG3 Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3te. Aufl. ROC Revue de l’Orient Chrétien RThPh Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie SC Sources Chrétiennes ThQ Theologische Quartalschrift TSt Texts and Studies TU Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur UUÅ Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift VigChr Vigiliae Christianae VT Vetus Testamentum ZA Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete ZDMG Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft ZII Zeitschrift für Indologie und Iranistik ZKG Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche


Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION. THE RESEARCH AND ITS PROBLEMS In 1855 W. Curaton published his Spicilegium Syriacum from the Syriac Ms. BM Add. 14,658 of the sixth or seventh century, containing the “Book of the Laws of Countries.” The latter seemed to him to be the lost Syriac original of Bardaiṣan of Edessa’s famous treatise on Fate. Since then, scholarly attention has again been directed upon this intriguing figure.1 So far, the shock of often diametrically opposed opinions has not resulted in a generally accepted view of the life and teaching of Bardaiṣan. Thus G. Widengren could remark that a modem monograph on Bardaiṣan was lacking, which did not prevent him from making a critical examination of H. H. Schaeder’s essay on Bardaiṣan, and styling it a makeshift for the desired monograph.2 A year later this lack was not yet supplied and O. Klíma calls Bardaiṣan “eine ziemlich änigmatische W. Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum, London 1855. Syriac text: pp. ‫_ ܐ‬ ‫ ;ܟܐ‬translation: pp. 1–34; the work is subsequently indicated by the abbre1

viation BLC. Bardaiṣan probably lived 154–222 A.D. and passed the greater part of his life in Edessa. Eusebius H.E. IV, 30 mentions his διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης. The earlier literature concerning him is disregarded here; see for that: Cureton, o.c., p. V, n. 1. In the present work the name is given as Bardaiṣan, a transcription of the Syriac form ‫ ;ܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬the Greek form Bardesanes is common. For preliminary orientation see RGG3, Bd. I, s.v. Bardesanes, kol. 870f. and RAC, Bd I, s.v. Bardesanes, kol.1180–1186 (L. Cerfaux). 2 G. Widengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, Stuttgart 1961, S. 147. H. H. Schaeder’s essay, which may be regarded as an incomplete monograph, appeared in 1932: H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa in der Überlieferung der griechischen und syrischen Kirche’, ZKG, Bd. LI, 1932, SS. 21–74.




Persönlichkeit,” whose full teaching is unfortunately not yet exactly known.3 In these circumstances both the motive for and the justification of the present investigation will be clear enough; however, all the riddles of Bardaiṣan’s personality will certainly not be solved, if indeed this be possible, while some parts of his teaching will still, we fear, remain unknown. What can be carried out, is a survey of the history of research regarding Bardaiṣan until the present time, and a new examination of all the available sources, with the addition of those which had escaped attention or have never been confronted with the others. After this, a fresh attempt may be made to portray the life and teaching of Bardaiṣan and to determine his place in the religious and cultural life of Edessa in the second half of the second century of our era. All the cultures and religions which have exercised their influence in that town will require discussion in this comparative review, for Edessa was one of the points of contact between East and West, and for centuries was a centre of cultural exchange and mutual influence.4 In the historical account all the points of controversy concerning the life and doctrine of Bardaiṣan will emerge, examination and comparison of the sources will supply new data or permit of new combinations, whereupon we may attempt a sketch of Bardaiṣan’s life and teaching in the setting of his time.5 The history of the group that took his name will also need some attention, the more so as it has become evident that there were differences within this group during the centuries of its existence, while all claimed to be Bardaiṣan’s spiritual heirs. Research regarding Bardaiṣan may be divided into three periods. Each of these is distinguished from the others either by a specific approach to the problem or by the scholars who dominated O. Klíma, Manis Zeit und Leben, Monographien des Orientinstituts der Tschechoslowakischen Akademie der Wissensch., Bd. 18, Prag 1962, S. 135. 4 Cf. G. Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parthischer Zeit, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Geisteswissensch. Heft 70, Köln-Opladen 1960. RAC, Bd. IV, s.v. Edessa. 5 For this method cf. J. Rudhardt, ‘Sur la possibilité de comprendre une religion antique’, Numen, Vol. XI, 1964, pp. 189–211. 3



each period. The first period exemplifies this with its almost bewildering number of publications.

THE FIRST PERIOD: 1855–1897 In the Preface of his Spicilegium Syriacum Cureton devoted some space to Bardaiṣan, of whom some authors report that he wrote a dialogue on Fate, dedicated to Antoninus. The latter Cureton held to be the emperor Marcus Aurelius.6 Parts of this dialogue were known from the Praeparatio Evangelica of Eusebius, the PseudoClementine Recognitiones and the second dialogue of Caesarius, the brother of Gregorius of Nazianze. According to Cureton, Eusebius had before him a Greek translation of Bardaiṣan’s dialogue, for his works were translated into Greek, as Eusebius himself tells us.7 The original, however, is to be found in the “Book of the Laws of Countries” in spite of the fact, evident from the book itself, that it was written by a certain Philippus, a pupil of Bardaiṣan, that there is no sign of any dedication to an emperor, and that the title is a different one. As to the relationship between the various recensions found in the BLC, Eusebius, the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and Caesarius, Cureton does not pronounce himself. Nor does he survey the life and thought of Bardaiṣan, but simply concurs with earlier authors in this respect. A number of quotations from a letter of Philoxenos of Mabbug (d.522) to an anonymous, included in the Syr. Ms. BM 12,164, which mentions Bardaiṣan, conclude the pages referring to him.8 In a certain sense, a great part of the historical research since Cureton was determined by this publication. Earlier authors on Bardaiṣan, lacking other sources, had to be content to sketch his portrait from the material advanced by his opponents in ensuing

Cureton, o.c., p. ii. Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; the other texts in: Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 9; Recogn. IX, 19–28; Caesarius, Quaestiones, 47–48. Here, and subsequently, the titles of these works are abbreviated in the usual manner. The texts are printed synoptically in A. Hilgenfeld, Bardesanes, der letzte Gnostiker, Leipzig 1864, SS. 92–123. 8 Cureton, o.c., p. Vf. 6 7



centuries, Ephrem (306–373) in particular.9 Cureton now published an original text, without entering into the problems of literary history it raised. At this point there was a parting of the ways. Henceforth, a number of scholars accepted the BLC as an original work and let it determine their image of Bardaiṣan; a number of others did not so regard it, and thus arrived at a totally different view ofBardaiṣan, taking his refutation by Ephrem and others as their main source. Closely connected with this matter is the problem of the original language of the BLC. Discussing the Spicilegium, H. Ewald already attacked Cureton’s simplistic outlook in 1856. According to Ewald, the Syriac text is a translation of a Greek original. This makes the link between the BLC and Bardaiṣan more tenuous, so that his teaching must be reconstructed from the other extant sources, i.e. the refutations made of his doctrine.10 J. P. N. Land concurs with this view, remarking: “Liber Legum Terrarum… Cureton… male autem Bardesani tribuit. Est enim Philippi illius discipuli, qui praeceptoris nomine Platonis ad exemplum usus est.”11 Land regards the dialogue on Fate, dedicated to Antoninus, as lost, apart from the fragments preserved by Eusebius, the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and Caesarius. He holds, however, that Epiphanius (c.315–403) and Theodoretus (c.395–460) are referring to our dialogue, the BLC.12 Thus Land distinguishes a dialogue in defence of astrology, dedicated to Antoninus and mentioned by Eusebius, and a dialogue against astrology, spoken of by Epiphanius and Theodoretus and now extant in a Syriac translation. Using a particular passage of the BLC, he attempts to found this view more solidly than on grounds of literary criticism alone: in reply to a question of Philippus Bardaiṣan says that formerly he cherished the 9 Ephrem lived 306–373; cf. I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, Rome 1958, p. 54. Especially his Hymni 56 contra Haereses give an extensive polemic against Bardaiṣan. The only resource for the text was the poor Roman edition of Ephrem’s works: J. S. Assemani, S. Patris N. Ephraemi Syri op. Omnia 6 Vol. Romae 1732–43 (= AS); the Hymns against Heresies are found AS, Op. Syr. 21, 437–560. 10 H. G. A. Ewald, Götting. Gel.Anz. 1856, S. 652. 11 J. P. N. Land, Anecdota Syriaca, T.I., Leiden 1862, p. 30. 12 Land, o.c., p. 51; Epiphanius, Panarion 56; Theod., Haer. Fab. Comp. I, 22.



art of the Chaldaeans, i.e. astrology. Afterwards he came to oppose astrology.13 The material of his refutation would be contained in this dialogue of Philippus, who according to Land may have been bishop of Gortynia on Crete, as a certain Philippus is named in that function by Eusebius, H.E. IV, 25.14 Land added an important source to the material already available by publishing a list of names of the signs of the Zodiac according to Bardaiṣan and his pupils, from the Syr. Ms. BM 14,658.15 A very different way was followed by R. A. Lipsius, for he left the BLC entirely out of account in reconstructing the doctrine of Bardaiṣan.16 In this way he is really continuing an earlier line, associated with the names of A. Hahn and C. Kuehner.17 According to Lipsius, Bardaiṣan is a gnostic whose teachings closely correspond with those of Saturninus, Basilides and the Ophites, as they are described by Irenaeus. On the other hand there are links with what Lipsius calls “der Vorasiatische Mythenkreis.” Basing himself solely on Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies,18 Lipsius finds in Bardaiṣan all kinds of gnostic conceptions that he shares with other gnostics. Thus we find the “Father of Life” and the “Mother of Life,” from whose union spring Christ and Chakmuth. These are the first two syzygies, which together form an idealistic tetrad. Besides this, there is also an actual tetrad, viz. fire and earth, air and water, Bardaiṣan’s elements, which Lipsius regards as aeons. These two tet13 The BLC is quoted in this chapter after the latest edition by F. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2. Paris 1907, col. 536–611; this quotation is to be found in col. 564. 14 This Philippus wrote against Marcion, and is supposed to have been following his teacher Bardaiṣan in that. Land, o.c., p. 52. 15 Land, o.c., p. 31 seq.; a photograph of this part of the Ms. is included in Land’s work, Tabula XI, sub. Num. 53. 16 R. A. Lipsius, ‘Über die ophitischen Systeme’, Zeitschr. f. Wissensch. Theol. Jhrg. 6, 1863, SS. 410–457; (ZWTh); also R. A. Lipsius, die Gnosis, Leipzig 1860. 17 A. Hahn, Bardesanes Gnosticus Syrorum Primus Hymnologus, Leipzig 1819; C. Kuehner, Bardesanis Gnostici Numina Astralia, Hildeburgh, 1833. 18 Lipsius, ‘ophitische Systeme’, S. 435; also: R. A. Lipsius, Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, Bd. I, Braunschweig 1883, SS. 305–320.



rads together constitute the pleroma. Moving downward, we find in succession the seven planets, the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the thirty-six decanal stars. Below these is matter. Lipsius finds parallels in this System with, for instance, the pseudo-Simonian apophasis and the doctrine of Valentinus. For this last point he can join up with Eusebius and other authors, who state that Bardaiṣanwas a pupil of Valentinus.19 Bardaiṣan has in common with Valentinus that he carries the doctrine of the syzygies as far as possible.20 Thus far Lipsius, who has to reckon with numerous changes in the various systems, to be able to depict them as related. The data supplied by the hymns of Ephrem are here fitted into an existing scheme, in order at all costs to make Bardaiṣan into an Ophitic or Valentinian gnostic. A forced application is made of the relevant texts which are torn from their context.21 In the same year as the article by Lipsius, the first monograph on Bardaiṣan appeared, written by A. Merx, in which all the sources known at that time are discussed and their significance determined.22 The subtitle of Merx’s book “nebst einer Untersuchung über clas Verhältniss der clementinischen Recognitionen zu dem Buche der Gesetze der Länder,” is eloquent here. Merx is of the opinion that the accepted view of Bardaiṣan, based until then on the information of church historians who wrote in Greek, the refutation by haeresiologists and the hymns of Ephrem against the heresies, must be drastically revised on account of the BLC.23 While unauthentic, being the work of a pupil, the treatise is in the original Syriac and presents a faithful version of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine; it is “zur Darstellung der bardesaneischen Gnosis, die einzige authen-

19 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; Epiphanius, Panarion 56; Hippol., Ref. omn. Haer., VI, 35. 20 Lipsius, ‘ophitische Systeme’, S. 441. 21 Lipsius, ‘ophitische Systeme’, S. 435 gives a clear example of this, where Lipsius makes out Bardaiṣan’s elements to be Aeons, after a very crooked line of argument. 22 A. Merx, Bardesanes von Edessa, nebst einer Untersuchung über das Verhältnis der clementinischen Recognitionen zu dem Buche der Gesetze der Länder, Halle 1863. 23 Merx, o.c., S. 8ff.



tische Quelle.”24 In the unauthenticity of the work, Merx sees reason to set aside the information given by the early fathers and the haeresiologists as unreliable, and to look upon the dedication to an emperor Antoninus as an imitation, while disregarding the chronological problem raised by these statements.25 The data from the hymns of Ephrem, whose polemics are very inexact, are only serviceable in so far as they agree with the BLC, as Ephrem was acquainted with this work.26 Therefore Ephrem is dismissed as an independent source. Examination of the relationship between the BLC and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. also results unfavourably for the latter. Merx finds a number of borrowings from the BLC in the Recogn., which prove to be interpolations.27 The time of interpolation is difficult to determine, in any case it is after 190 A.D., the probable time of origin of the BLC. 28 Such a view of the sources leads Merx to quite a different image of Bardaiṣan. With one foot still in the heretical gnosis, he has already conquered dualism and the theory of emanation, which are fundamental for gnosticism. Bardaiṣan has arrived at a monistic system, he believes in God as creative power and does not speak of a demiurge nor of matter as something outside God. The last of the great gnostics, he still shows reminiscences of Valentinianism: a pleroma with two syzygies, a trichotomous anthropology, denial of the resurrection of the body, but immortality of the soul.29 The report of a number of patres, that at some time in his life he was a Valentinian, may therefore be founded on truth.30 Bardaiṣan took quite another point of departure for his system, however, than Valentinus. He was interested in ethical problems and pronounced for freedom of the human will. Evil is a result of this freedom, and is not implicit in the nature of substance or in the fall of Sophia from the pleroma. Bar-

Merx, o.c., S. 22. Merx, o.c., S. 13–16. 26 Merx, o.c., S. 23. 27 Merx, o.c., S. 103, 113. 28 Merx, o.c., S. 17. 29 Merx, o.c., SS. 59–80; S. 121. 30 Merx, o.c., S. 3. 24 25



daiṣan does teach, though, a limited power of Fate, exercised by stars and planets upon the external fortunes of man.31 The later sources are very incompletely consulted by Merx. He only quotes the dialogue of Adamantius, De recta fide, to demonstrate that Bardaiṣan adhered to a docetic Christology.32 The later Arabic notices of Shahrastânî (1086–1153) and an-Nadîm (c.988) prove to be so strongly influenced by Manichaeism that the specific Bardesanite aspect has disappeared, and they cannot be used as sources for the doctrine of Bardaiṣan.33 As was only to be expected, in the Nachträge of his book Merx combats the views of Land and Ewald. He denies the existence of two different dialogues, one defending astrology and the other attacking it. The passage of the BLC quoted by Land in support of his opinion, is translated in an altogether different way by Merx, so that it does not offer any argument for the existence of two dialogues, for and against astrology, corresponding to two periods in the life of Bardaiṣan.34 Against Ewald, who strongly emphasised the gnostic character of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine, supposed to spring from Persian roots, Merx stresses the Semitic element in Bardaiṣan’s conceptions, particularly his monism. Bardaiṣan’s doctrine is founded upon the same Aramaic paganism which still constitutes the inheritance of the Sabians in Ḥarran. The heretical element in Bardaiṣan is his admitting astrology, just as the Sabians did. Bardaiṣan is far more closely related to these Aramaic-Syrian-gnostic trends, to which the Mandaeans may also be reckoned, than to the Persian dualism, if indeed the latter can be demonstrated in Bardaiṣan.35 With these last remarks, which are quite unconnected with the rest of his book, Merx has laid a foundation for a new view of Bardaiṣan, that will seek to understand him from the cultural and religious milieu in which he Merx, o.c., SS. 69–72. Merx, o.c., S. 78. 33 Merx, o.c., SS. 83–86. 34 Merx, o.c., S. 118f.; Merx translates the Syriac ‫ ܐܡܝܪ ܠܝ‬as “mir ist gesagt”: S. 36; S. 118f. he attempts to justify this translation with the aid of parallels from the Peshiṭta. No one followed him in this; the translation is: it was said by me. 35 Merx, o.c., S. 125ff. 31 32



lived and developed his doctrine. For the rest, so much remains nebulous in Merx’s work that later scholars could follow quite different ways, while still appealing to his authority. After reading his book, it is still an open question what constitutes the specific gnostic aspect of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine. This is partly due to the fact that Merx does not make a clear attempt to unite the various elements of Bardaiṣan’s teaching into a coherent whole. Cosmology, anthropology, theology, christology and astrology remain detached parts of a puzzle that is not fitted together, and it is not even determined what are their tangent planes. As a result, A. Hilgenfeld, whose book on Bardaiṣan appeared a year after that of Merx, is able to pay due honour to his predecessor in the field, and yet take a totally different direction himself.36 The title of his book constitutes a programme, in which on the one hand he turns against Merx and on the other undertakes an independent work that “die bezeichnenden Grundeigenthümlichkeitcn des Gnosticismus noch bei dem letzten bedeutenden Gnostiker in ihrer ganzen Schärfe nachweist.” The main characteristics of gnosis are dualism, distinction of a hypercosmic and a cosmic divine realm, of a supreme god and a demiurge, and consequently a doctrine of emanation to link the two realms, and a dualistic Christology, often assuming docetic forms.37 In contrast with Lipsius, Hilgenfeld would seek the origin of these concepts in Persia and not in Near Eastern mythology. Hilgenfeld sees Ephrem as the chief source, and starting from his Hymns against Heresies he reconstructs a complete gnostic system, bearing a close relation to the ideas of the Valentinians.38 Bardaiṣan subscribed to a dualism cognisant of a pleroma of two syzygies, viz. the Father and Mother of Life, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, which correspond respectively with Bythos and Sige, and Nous and Aletheia of the Valentinians. Opposite this pleroma, there is uncreated matter, which in perfect symmetry also consists of four elements, forming two syzygies. In the third hymn of Ephrem Hilgenfeld recognises the fallen Sophia, Sophia-Chakmuth, who together with the Son creA. Hilgenfeld, Bardesanes, der letzte Gnostiker, Leipzig 1864, S. IX. Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 1f. 38 Hilgenfeld, o.c., SS. 29–32. 36 37



ates the world. The hylic element, matter itself, gave the impulse to this work of creation, by making an attack upon the world of light, the pleroma. The data of Ephrem are confirmed by later sources in Arabic, such as the Fihrist of an-Nadîm (c.988) and Shahrastânî (1086–1153).39 The five planets with sun and moon and the twelve signs of the Zodiac were created first. They embody Fate, which works upon the soul of man.40 This astrological fatalism is the main characteristic of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology; therein also he shows himself a Valentinian, having much in common with the Marcus named by Irenaeus.41 A docetic christology and disavowal of the bodily resurrection complete this image of the last gnostic, who held the principal place among the eastern Valentinians. Besides this, he forms a transition to the later Manichaeism, which is historically linked with Bardaiṣan.42 In Hilgenfeld’s eyes the BLC has no value at all as a source for Bardaiṣan’s doctrine, because it is unauthentic and a later Hellenistic transformation of Bardaiṣan’s original ideas. The report of a dedication to an emperor Antoninus takes its origin from a letter of Bardaiṣan to the emperor Elagabalus, who also bore the name Antoninus, written in 218 after the fall of Edessa.43 The ancestral name of Elagabalus was Avitus, of which there is a reminiscence in the BLC, for Bardaiṣan’s main opponent is called Awida.44 The Hellenistic remodelling of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine is due to his son Harmonius, with whom Greek philosophy and science entered into the school of Bardaiṣan, as we hear from Theodoretus.45 Consequently, the relation between Ephrem and the BLC is analogous to that between the Hellenistically tinted reports on the Ophites in the Philosophumena and the stories about the same sect, coloured with Eastern dualism, that Irenaeus gives us.46 The BLC, originally writHilgenfeld, o.c., SS. 37–51. Hilgenfeld, o.c., SS. 53–57. 41 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 50; Iren. I, 17, 1. 42 Hilgenfeld, o.c., SS. 65–71. 43 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 19. 44 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 74. 45 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 73; Theod., Haer. Fab. Comp. I, 22; also: Sozomenus, H.E., III, 16. 46 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 7. 39 40



ten in Greek, shows no signs, either of gnosticism or of the real, consistent fatalism of Bardaiṣan. If this “Book” were a real source, we should see “der Gnosticismus des Bardesanes ganz verloren gehen.”47 It is not at all surprising, then, that on comparison of the BLC and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. the scale is turned in favour of the latter. Hilgenfeld gives a synoptic presentation of the BLC, Praep. Evang. VI, 10, 6 seqq., Recogn. IX, 19 seqq. and Caesarius, Quaest. 47, 48. From a comparison of the various texts he concludes that Pseudo-Bardaiṣan borrowed from Pseudo-Clemens. The Greek version of Pseudo-Bardaiṣan was used by Eusebius; Caesarius had the Recogn. as his source. Later on, Georgius Hamartolus borrowed from Caesarius again.48 Hilgenfeld also discusses the other passages in the Recogn. where Merx established borrowing from the BLC, viz. III, 15–26; V, 25–27; VIII, 55 seqq. Hilgenfeld judges the connection of these passages with their context to be organic, so that he does not regard them as interpolations, particularly as the Recogn. are concerned completely to refute the power of Fate, in contrast with the BLC, in which a limited power is ascribed to Fate. In Recogn. IX, 17, 19–27 the matter is a little different. Recogn. IX, 19–27 harks back to Recogn. IX, 17, where three astral constellations are named, which have a particular influence upon the course of human life. These three constellations are not mentioned in Pseudo-Bardaiṣan, so that Pseudo-Clemens cannot have borrowed from there. Recogn. IX, 17, 19–27 is derived, however, from an older treatise, probably not even a Christian work, which attempts to refute astrology. In spite of this borrowing, the passage does form a whole.49 According to Hilgenfeld, everything pleads for the originality of Pseudo-Clemens, and derivation from it is evidence of the early diffusion and the great influence of the writings of Pseudo-Clemens.50 On the main points, therefore, the opinions of Hilgenfeld and Merx are diametrically opposed, although they both include the same writings in their investigation, and both follow practically the Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 78. Hilgenfeld, o.c., SS. 124–132. 49 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 148. 50 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 151. 47 48



same method in comparing these writings one with the other. A correct evaluation of the sources will therefore be a cardinal point in investigating the life and ideas of Bardaiṣan. The importance of Hilgenfeld’s book does not lie so much in his view of Bardaiṣan’s gnosis, as in various matters he was the first to broach: the line going from Bardaiṣan to Mani,51 the difference between the “Hellenistic” Greek sources and the Syriac and Arabic sources with the attendant possibility of later alterations in Bardaiṣan’s ideas among his pupils.52 It is also important, that in the Recogn. IX, 17, 19–27 Hilgenfeld assumes derivation from an earlier, non-Christian work. Later scholars were to return to this, as it can make a very great difference to the literary and historical problems concerning the BLC, which can then be assigned to a trend of thought in the ancient world, opposed to astrology. Obviously Bardaiṣan was not alone in taking this stand, and the several thinkers borrowed the arguments from one another, at least, if the BLC may be accounted an authentic source for the ideas of Bardaiṣan. The contrasted opinions of Merx and Hilgenfeld seem to demand an analvsis, and this is given by the Englishman F. J. A. Hort in a sober critical fashion, without an a priori attempt to construct either a Valentinian or an Ophitic system, which would fit in with gnostic classifications as already known.53 In his view of the life story of Bardaiṣan Hort does not differ appreciably from his predecessors; though he does voice some doubt regarding king Abgar, with whom Bardaiṣan grew up. This Abgar is supposed to have ruled from 202–217, but much remains uncertain here. During a persecution which took place after Edessa was taken by Caracalla, Bardaiṣan repaired to Armenia, where he devoted himself to writing a history of that country. 54 The last we hear of him is a great Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 70ff.; this had formerly been pointed out already by I. de Beausobre, Histoire critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme, 2 Vols., 1739–44, in the chapter ‘De Bardesanes et de ses Erreurs’ in Vol. 2. 52 Hilgenfeld, o.c., S. 73. 53 A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines, ed. By W. Smith and H. Wace, Vol. I, London 1877, pp. 250–260 art. Bardaisan (F. J. A. Hort). 54 Moses of Chorene states in his history of Armenia, that he has borrowed from the historical work of Bardaiṣan of Edessa; Moses of 51



interest in Indian conditions and customs, aroused by an Indian embassy to Elagabalus of Emesa, the emperor at that time. The place of this contact is uncertain, it was probably Edessa or Ḥarran.55 If much is already uncertain in the life of Bardaiṣan, his theology is a still more difficult problem. The BLC is to be ascribed to a pupil, and of his other writings very little is preserved. The Greek and Latin authors only know of Bardaiṣan by hearsay, except perhaps Epiphanius, and do not consider him an arch-heretic. Later on, though, he is regarded as such, and for this Ephrem is the chief source of information. In his work we cannot draw a line between the teachings of Bardaiṣan and those of his pupils, and we may assume that Ephrem faithfully renders the ideas of Bardaiṣan, except perhaps in the Hymns 53–56 against Heresies. What we know of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine is only a fragment of his entire system of thought. In a general way, he will not have rejected the faith of the Christians as this was seen in his town and in his time, apart from a few isolated points. When Bardaiṣan became a Christian, he could not part with astrology and the Semitic mythology which had formerly been a spiritual home to him. In discussing the passages of Ephrem’s work which refer to Bardaiṣan, Hort points out many obscurities, particularly in the doctrine concerning evil and its origin. Regarding the last hymns, 53–56, Hort adduces a number of passages from the Acta Thomae and the information concerning the Sabians in Ḥarran, which can shed a good deal of light.56 In Bardaiṣan we can observe a Semitic way of thinking and feeling, expressing spiritual entities in sexual relations. Such a phenomenon is also found in other forms of Syrian gnosis as they are described by Hippolytus.57 It should be noticed, though, that this strange material is only found in Ephrem, so that it may date from a later period than that which Bardaiṣan and his son Harmonius lived in. Chorene, II, 66. Cf. V. Langlois, Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de l’Arménie I = Frag. Hist. Graec. V, 2, Paris 1884, p. 67. 55 Porph., Peri Stygos, I, 56 seq. = Stobaeus, Anthol. I, 3, 56; Porph., De Abstinentia, IV, 17. 56 Acta Thomaec. 47; D. Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2 Tl. Petersburg 1856; I, S. 343; II, S. 40ff.; II, S. 301ff. 57 Hippol, Ref. omn. Haer. VI, 14 (Simonians); V, 19 (Sethians); V, 26 (Justin’s myth of Elohim and Eden).



Matters are similar for the doctrine of Fate of Bardaiṣan and his pupils, as it may be reconstructed from the BLC if that source is admitted, and from the polemics of Dioclorus of Tarsus (d.392) against the pupils of Bardaiṣan upon this point.58 Hort shows great reserve and does not arrive at a definitive opinion: “it is impossible to say how far the Dialogue faithfully represents Bardaiṣan’s own doctrine of the Stars”; possibly this “own doctrine” is to be found in one of the Excerpta ex Theodoto of Clement of Alexandria (d. before 215).59 At any rate, none of the fragments concerning Bardaiṣan show a trace of Valentinianism, in spite of the fact that a number of authors expressis verbis declare him to have been a Valentinian at some time of his life.60 Perhaps Valentinianism was a stage of his spiritual development, perhaps it was the form of Christianity he first encountered, via Antioch, the home town of Axionicus. There are, in any case, more or less clear connections with all kinds of gnostic groups, except with the Valentinians. Therefore Bardaiṣan cannot be termed a gnostic, for then the concept “gnostic” would have no content left. Affinities with other gnostic groups are occasioned by the fact that both Bardaiṣan and a number of gnostics have absorbed elements from the same fundamental background, from Syria. Of all the works of Bardaiṣan only the BLC is left. It gives a fairly faithful rendering of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine, but it may have undergone alterations because of contact with more orthodox views. In any case the treatise dates from a time immediately after Bardaiṣan, was originally written in Syriac and then translated into Greek. Eusebius used this Greek version, which was also the source for the Ps. Clem. Recogn. In later centuries there is silence in the West regarding Bardaiṣan and his pupils, except for the dialogue of Adamantius, De recta fide. The Arabic authors give a Manichaean tinge to Bardesanism, and must therefore be utilised with caution. In view of this cautious approach to Bardaiṣan and his pupils by Hort, he naturally has considerable objections to the works of Merx, Lipsius Diodorus of Tarsus, περὶ εἱμαρμένης c. 50, 51 = Photius, cod. 223. Clemens Alex., Excerpta ex Theodoto, 69–71 (on astrology and Fate). 60 Cf. p. 5, n. 3; a number of authors again derived from Eusebius, Epiphanius and Hippolytus, int. al. Moses of Chorene, Bar Hebraeus etc. 58 59



and Hilgenfeld, as these authors assign a place to Bardaiṣan in established gnostic systems of thought in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner. By Hort’s article much which at first seemed so certain, was undermined and again brought into the field of debate. Let us recapitulate a few salient points. Hort draws attention to the peculiar significance of no. 53–50 of Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies. Do we find ideas and images of Bardaiṣan in them, or of his pupils? This question carries all the more weight, because these are the hymns which supply the material where with Bardaiṣan can be stamped a gnostic. In the second place Hort accepts the BLC as rendering Bardaiṣan’s ideas more or less faithfully. But he reckons with later alterations; the treatise as we know it has a history behind it, so that it cannot be the “einzige authentische Quelle” for Bardaiṣan’s doctrine that Merx termed it. In the third place Hort points out that the dialogue of Adamantius has quite an isolated place for the Christians of the West. The question rises how this was caused, and what the sources of this dialogue are. The first period is also characterised by a slight increase in the material, the study of a number of details connected with Bardaiṣan, and the following of either Merx, Hilgenfeld or Hort. It was not until 1897 that F. Nau was to make a new attempt to give a coherent picture of Bardaiṣan from quite a new point of view. In 1865 already J. J. Overbeck had published some prose works of Ephrem which remained unnoticed for years, perhaps owing to the lack of a translation.61 The work contains the first and second treatise to Hypatius, in which Ephrem discusses the heretical teachings of Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan, parts of treatises directed against Bardaiṣan alone, the testament of Ephrem, a vita of bishop Rabbula of Edessa, and some other works that are nothing to our purpose.62 These important sources were for some time not drawn 61 J. J. Overbeck, S. Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae episcopi Edesseni, Balaei aliorumque opera selecta, Oxford 1865. 62 Cf. I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, Rome 1958, p. 89–lists all text editions of Rabbula’s Vita and his other works. It is related in his Vita that he brought the Bardesanites back into the church, not disdaining the use of force, cf. Vita Rabbulae, P. Bedjan, Acta martyrum et sanctorum, T. IV, p. 431–432.



into the investigation, although they offer a possibility of comparing the hymns of Ephrem with prose works by his hand, directed against the same opponents. The vita of Rabbula, who was bishop of Edessa 415–435, throws some light upon the later history of the Bardesanites. The publication of the Syriac text of the apocryphal acts of the apostles by W. Wright had better fortune. 63 In a review of this work Th. Nöldeke put forth the suggestion, that the “Hymn of the Soul” in the Acts of Thomas might be one of the hymns (madraše) of Bardaiṣan, though at the same time mentioning several objections. In any case, the hymn dates from the period of Bardaiṣan’s life, belongs to the same type as his hymns, and was originally written in Syriac.64 These words of Nöldeke were eagerly taken up by K. Macke, who in a florid, but hardly exact demonstration sets forth that the hymns in the Acts of Thomas are of Syrian origin and were afterwards inserted into the Acts, while very few poets in Syriac are known from the time when these hymns originated, so that Bardaiṣan is the only possible author. After this, Macke characterises Bardaiṣan as a gnostic who combined poetry and gnosis in the flowery language of the Orient, as is also the case in the hymns of the Acta Thomae, whereupon he comes to the surprising conclusion: “So deuten also die angeführten Momente unzweideutig auf Bardesanes als Verfasser dieser Gedichte hin.” Of course he then finds the required resemblances in ideas and images between the hymns from the Acts of Thomas and the Hymns 53–56 of Ephrem against Heresies, in which fragments of authentic hymns of Bardaiṣan may be preserved.65 Macke, then, ascribes all the hymns in the Acta Thomae to Bardaiṣan, and not only the “Hymn of the Soul.” He modified these claims somewhat in 1882, though.66 Macke finds a follower in Lipsius, who also sees numerW. Wright, The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, ed. from Syriac Mss. In the Brit. Mus. and other Libraries, 2 Vols, London 1871. 64 Th. Nöldeke, review of W. Wright, o.c., ZDMG Bd. 25, 1871, SS. 670–679. 65 K. Macke, ‘Syrische Lieder gnostichen Ursprungs’, ThQ, Jhrg. 56, 1874, SS. 3–70, espec. SS. 36–40. 66 K. Macke, Hymnen aus dem Zweiströmeland. Dichtungen des hl. Ephrem des Syrers nebst einem Anhang, Mainz 1882; in this Anhag Macke gives a 63



ous parallels between the hymns of Bardaiṣan, as fragmentarily preserved by Ephrem, and the hymns in the Acts of Thomas. In view of his earlier work it is not surprising that in these hymns he recognises all the gnostic aeons, syzygies, the fall of Sophia-Chakmuth, and the wedding of the heavenly Sophia, besides affinities with the Ophites.67 Macke’s work therefore supplies Lipsius with further arguments for maintaining unaltered his former opinion regarding the doctrine of Bardaiṣan. According to him, the rest of the Acta Thomae shows no trace of Bardesanite teachings. A different connection between Bardaiṣan and these Acta had already been suggested by A. von Gutschmid, who looked upon the legend of Thomas as the remodelled account of a Buddhist conversion. This story of a conversion had become known in Edessa through Bardaiṣan, for he took a great interest in Indian conditions and customs, and knew very much about them. Gradually this story would have taken the shape of the legend of Thomas as we know it.68 Unfortunately Gutschmid did not inform us, how a process of this kind actually takes place. All these publications had made the possible relationship between Bardaiṣan and the Acts of Thomas in their extant form a problem that could not be dismissed when Bardaiṣan was in question, and that was long to remain acute. That the Manichaeans used the Acta Thomae was a further complication. Attention had been drawn anew to Bardaiṣan as historian of Armenia, also by von Gutschmid, who pointed out that in his history of Armenia Moses of Chorene had borrowed much regarding Bardaiṣan from Eusebius, but had also made use of a real historical work by Bardaiṣan. The latter had written this during the last part of his life, in the fortress Ani, in continuation of the history written by the priest Ol’yp (= Olympios). It is noticeable that in the parts Moses is supposed to have taken from Ol’yp and Bardaiṣan there is translation of the Hymn of the Soul and says, S. 246: ‘Sein Verfasser ist vielleicht Bardesanes der Gnostiker’. 67 R. A. Lipsius, Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, Bd. I, Braunschweig 1883, SS. 300–320. 68 A. von Gutschmid, ‘Die Königsnamen in den apokryphen Apostelgeschichten’, Rhein. Mus. N.F. Bd. XIX, 1864, SS. 161–183; 380– 401; = Kleine Schriften Bd. II, Leipzig 1890, SS. 332–394; espec. S. 363f.



not a single name that might indicate a Greek source.69 In 1884, V. Langlois next published all the fragments of Bardaiṣan dealing with Armenia that are to be found in Moses of Chorene, Zenob of Glag and Ukhthanes of Edessa.70 HereBardaiṣan is one of the “Anciens Historiens de l’Arménie,” and no question is yet raised as to the authenticity of these fragments. Only later would there be mention of a Pseudo-Moses of Chorene, and would the authenticity of his history be set in doubt. The investigation was not to pass without rendering Bardaiṣan’s authorship doubtful. While G. Flügel in his book on Mani had already published texts from the Fihrist of an-Nadîm and other authors in Arabic that mentioned Bardaiṣan in connection with Mani,71 K. Kessler in 1889 undertook an investigation of the sources of Manichaeism.72 This work deservedly met with severe criticism, one of its critics being Nöldeke, for Kessler’s translation of the Syriac and Arabic texts was the reverse of satisfactory.73 Kessler included a text of Ibn al-Murtaḍâ dealing with Mani, that was taken from an Arabic Ms. 230–231 of Glaser’s collection.74 The polemics of this work, the al-baḥr az-zaḫḫâr, are also directed against the dualists, and these include Manichaeans, Mazdakites and Daisanites. Up to the present, the Arabic text concerning the Daisanites has not yet been published, though it may certainly be important. 75 69 A. von Gutschmid, Über die Glaubwürdigkeit der Armenischen Geschichte des Moses von Khoren, BGL, Philol.-hist. Classe, Bg. 28, 1876, SS. 1–43 = Kleine Schriften Bd. III, Leipzig 1892, SS. 282–331; espec. S. 303f. 70 V. Langlois, Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de l’Arménie, T.I. = Frag. Hist. Graec., V, 2, Paris 1884, pp. 57–95; the edition of Langlois is swarming with mistakes, particularly in the references. 71 G. Flügel, Mani, seine Lehre und seine Schriften, Leipzig 1862, S. 161 Anm. 55, S. 165, S. 356, Anm. 308. 72 K. Kessler, Mani, Forschungen über die manichäische Religion, 1e Bd., Voruntersuchungen und Quellen, Berlin 1889 (nicht weiter erschienen). 73 Th. Nöldeke, review of K. Kessler, Mani, ZDMG, Bd. 43, 1889, S. 535–549. 74 Kessler, o.c., SS. 343–355; cf. W. Ahlwardt, Kurzer Verzeichnis der Glaser’schen Sammlung arabischer Handschriften, Berlin 1887. 75 Kessler, o.c., S. 346: Ibn al-Murtaḍâ has reminiscences of the Fihrist and of Shahrastânî, but otherwise he is independent and original.



Still more source material appeared in publications of those years. P. Vetter examined the apocryphal correspondence between St. Paul and the Corinthians, known as the Third Epistle to the Corinthians.76 He concluded that the apocryphal Acta Pauli had been the source for the greater part of the correspondence. The Syrian author had translated these parts from Greek into Syriac, with a number of additions. Judging from what Ephrem says in his commentary on this letter (only preserved in Armenian), Vetter opines that this correspondence polemises against the sect of Bardaiṣan; St. Paul is shown refuting a number of heretical teachings. Ephrem informs us that is the reason why the Bardesanites did not admit this correspondence in their canon. For there they are combated with their own weapons: the fabrication of spurious acts and letters of the apostles in order to propagate their false teachings.77 Seen against this background, Vetter holds the correspondence must have originated in Syria, around 200. Vetter’s extensive investigation stems from the view of the correspondence developed by Zahn. Vetter follows Zahn entirely, arrives at the same conclusions, but has a far fuller argumentation. 78 If this point of view can be admitted as valid, a new source would be added to those already extant, to give research regarding Bardaiṣan as wide a foundation as possible. More texts were published, or set in a wider frame-work, by V. Ryssel, who studied the literary work of Georgios episkopos Arabum (d.724), a man learned in philosophy, astronomy and geography, and a pupil of Jacob of Edessa (633–708).79 In his Spicilegium Cureton had already published a text of Georgios, in which the latter informs the presbyter Joshua in what manner the duration of the world is reckoned at 6000 years. One of those making P. Vetter, Der apokryphe dritte Korintherbrief, Wien 1894, in the Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus dem Jahre 1893–94. 77 Vetter, o.c., SS. 17–22. 78 Th. Zahn, Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons, Bd. II, 2, Erlangen u. Leipzig 1892, SS. 592–611. 79 V. Ryssel, Georgs des Araberbischofs Gedichte und Briefe, aus dem syrischen übers. u. erläutert, Leipzig 1891; V. Ryssel, ‘Die astronomischen Briefe Georgs des Araberbischofs’, ZA, VIII, 1893, SS. 1–55. Cf. I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, Roma 1958, p. 172 seq. 76



this computation is Aphraates, the Persian sage (c.270–345), but Bardaiṣan, too, wrote in one of his books that the world would last for 6000 years, which he computed in a particular manner.80 In another letter of Georgios, to the stylite Joḥannan of Litharb, the bishop instructs the stylite regarding the ἀναφοραί of the signs of the Zodiac, and says this information comes from the Bardesanites.81 This at any rate shows that Bardaiṣan and his pupils occupied themselves with astronomy and astrology, subjects which easily merge one into the other, and cannot be separated in those times. Obviously this brand of learning of the Bardesanites was still alive in the 8th century. The interest of the pious bishop was not, however, directed upon astrological compilations, which he heartily detested, but upon establishing the calendar of the feasts of the Church as accurately as possible.82 In a work of 1892, dealing with “De Providentia” by Philo of Alexandria, P. Wendland drew attention to certain passages of the BLC which show a close affinity with parts of this work of Philo, particularly where astrology is refuted on thebasis of the “Laws of Countries.”83 Wendland follows Hilgenfeld in his view of the dialogue, pleading a Greek origin for it. It is linked with Greek sources, viz. this work of Philo, and one can see stoical elements in it, including the way the concept “Nomos” is defined.84 It is noticeable that this relationship manifests itself in those passages, which also appear in the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and in Eusebius. Does this show us something of the non-Christian source, which Hilgenfeld thought had been used in the Recogn. IX, 17, 19–28? Then that might be a Jewish source. If the BLC is indeed regarded as authentic, then its place, or that of Bardaiṣan, in Hellenistic spiritual life now becomes a little plainer. He is then making use of the same Cureton, o.c., p. ‫ ܟܐ‬: text; p. 40: transl.; V. Ryssel, Georgs des Araberbischofs Gedichte und Briefe, S. 48f. (German transl.). 81 V. Ryssel, ‘Die astronomischen Briefe’, S. 19, L. 20 – S. 20, L. 6. text; transl. S. 47f. 82 V. Ryssel, ‘Die astronomischen Briefe’, S. 1. 83 P. Wendland, Philos Schrift über die Vorsehung. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der nacharistotelischen Philosophie, Berlin 1892, S. 27. 84 P. Wendland, o.c., S. 31, 33. 80



argumentation in refuting the absolute power of Fate, embodied in the stars, as Philo. He has then also undergone the influence, of the Stoa. These lines of research were afterwards to be taken up again. The affinity between the BLC and the De Providentia of Philo, observed by Wendland, was further examined by F. Boll in a publication on Ptolemy.85 More material can be collected than Wendland did, who already drew attention to Diodorus of Tarsus’ περὶ εἱμαρμένης preserved in cod. 223 of Photius. Besides this, the Quaestiones of Caesarius and the Chronicon of Georgius Hamartolus should be mentioned. All these writers work with the argument of the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά to invalidate astrology. According to Boll, this argument originally goes back to the New Academy, and to Carneades.86 It is even possible to set up a table showing how the authors who make use of this argumentation are related, and how they derive their material. For our purpose, we need only note that he makes the BLC of Pseudo-Bardaiṣan dependent on the “Urschrift” of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. The Recogn. as now extant and the BLC are therefore both derived from a common source. Diodorus of Tarsus depends on Ps. Bardaiṣan, and Caesarius on the Recogn. Other Fathers can also be named who made use of the arguments of Carneades, viz. Origen, Ambrosius in his Hexaemeron, Gregorius of Nyssa in his Peri Heimarmenes and Procopius of Gaza; the three last took their material from Origen. Naturally the work of Carneades was also used by non-Christian authors, such as Panaetius, Cicero, Philo of Alexandria, Favorinus, Sextus, etc.87 The point of the argument is a demonstration that the manners and customs of whole peoples are the same, so that the course of life and the qualities of an individual cannot be determined by the constellation of the stars at the hour of his birth. If such were the case, each individual would have a different way of life, while we see that this is the same for a whole people. The astrologists, however, attempted to invalidate this argumentation by means of the so-called 85 F. Boll, ‘Studien über Cladius Ptolemäus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie und Astrologie’, Jahrbücher f. class. Philol., Suppl. Bd. 21, Leipzig 1894, SS. 49–244. 86 Boll, o.c., S. 181. 87 Boll, o.c., S. 182.



astrological geography. This doctrine divided the world into a number of zones, each ruled by one of the planets or signs of the Zodiac. This would explain the common general customs of a people, so that the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά become an argument in favour of astrology. There are several systems of astrological geography; the most well-known is that whereby the world is divided into seven zones called klimata.88 This doctrine was again attacked, but only on the part of the Christian authors, who drew attention to two matters. In the first place the laws of a country and its people can be altered by the ruler. In the second place the Persian Magi, but particularly the Jews and Christians, everywhere in the world keep to the same laws and preserve the same customs, which distinguishes them from their compatriots.89 This argumentation is also found at great length in the BLC. For this second part of the argumentation against astrology there must be a separate source, a Christian one, is Boll’s conclusion. The ultimate source of the BLC has therefore been traced by Boll, Carneades’ argumentation against astrology, which appears in the works of many, very different authors, and had a long life. The arguments against astrological geography thus also derive from a common source, the nature of which cannot yet be determined. Boll pleads a Christian source; a Jewish one is also a possibility, as was afterwards argued by H. J. Schoeps. In any case, this investigation has made the position of the BLC far clearer, and assigned it a place, in a particular trend of thought in classical antiquity, that was continued in the early church and heterodox currents therein. The history of Bardaiṣan’s dwelling-place, Edessa, was the subject of a publication by Rubens Duval, in which he sought to assemble all aspects of this history.90 All kinds of influences meet in Edessa; the Seleucid Kings ruled there for a long time, then the town became independent under a Nabataean dynasty, until at the end of the first century of our era it fell under the sway of a family 88 The doctrine of the seven klimata probably goes back to Eratosthenes. cf. Boll, o.c., S. 188. 89 Boll, o.c., S. 184f. 90 Rubens Duval, Histoire politique, religieuse et littéraire d’Édesse jusqu’à la première croisade, Paris 1892. (also published in the JA in several parts).



related to Parthian rulers in Armenia and descended from the royal house of Adiabene.91 From this political history it is also evident that Edessa was a centre of cultural contacts, for which it was favourably situated. It is one of the towns where Hellenism had intensive contact with eastern, particularly Parthian culture, where the population included a large Jewish group, and where Syrian paganism continued an obstinate existence.92 This was the city where Bardaiṣan lived, and no doubt felt the influence of all the cultures that asserted themselves there. In this city the earliest form of Christianity was undoubtedly that of Jewish Christians with all the traditions imparted by Judaism and Christianity, which must certainly also have been present in literary shape. In this world Marcion gained many adherents, and Valentinianism was known as well as other forms of gnosis, whose cradle seems to have been Samaria.93 In the midst of these groups, Bardaiṣan developed his doctrines, so creating one more group. Duval has little new to say about this, and only varies familiar themes. Bardaiṣan has points of contact with Valentinianism, but also diverges greatly from the Valentinians. He wrote astronomic treatises, composed hymns, including the “Hymn of the Soul” of the Acta Thomae, attempted to convert the Armenians, but wrote a history of this country when his missionary work came to nothing. The BLC, was originally written in Syriac, and “rend exactement sa pensée et ses paroles.”94 The language and style of this work, however, which is a brilliant piece of Syriac prose and the earliest we have, presupposes a highly developed culture before the time of Bardaiṣan, and of this we know very little.95 In the last decade of the previous century there also appeared the great works of A. von Harnack, in which everything known of early Christian literature was brought together, but all problems were also set in a glaring light. Harnack was the first to collect all

Rubens Duval, o.c., p. 27; cf. Flav. Jos., Ant. XX, 2, 12. Rubens Duval, o.c., p. 74svv. 93 Rubens Duval, o.c., p. 107svv.; p. 114. 94 Rubens Duval, o.c., p. 116. 95 Rubens Duval, o.c., p. 122. 91 92



the texts concerning Bardaiṣan in the Greek and Latin Fathers,96 but after this he wrote: “Doch sind die Fragen nach der Schriftstellerei und der Lehre des Bardesanes so schwierig, wie schon eine Vergleichung der oben mitgetheilten Testimonien lehrt, dass sie hier nicht erörtert werden können.”97 Harnack produces variations on the opinions advanced in the course of time, but gives us practically nothing new. An interesting remark is that Valentinians had already appeared in Edessa before Bardaiṣan. One of them was Quq, whom Ephrem mentions four times together with Bardaiṣan.98 Is this Quq identical with Axionicus, who in the Philosophumena is named four times beside Bardaiṣan as a representative of the eastern school of the Valentinians, and who is otherwise only known to Tertullian? At any rate Bardaiṣan belongs to the group of the gnostics, for the report that he had been a Valentinian is a piece of tradition that cannot be neglected. 99 A second argument lies in the fact that in the dialogue of Adamantius the Bardesanite Marinus propounds teachings of Valentinus.100 For the rest, Ephrem is the principal source for the doctrines of Bardaiṣan, which have also been preserved in the dialogue of Philippus, the BLC. This was probably originally written in Greek, but has nothing to do with the dialogue on Fate dedicated to Antoninus, who was probably an emperor, though it is not certain which. It is unlikely that the BLC is dependent on the Recogn., rather the reverse. But the Recogn. and Eusebius have particulars that are lacking in the BLC. Therefore the Recogn. are dependent on Eusebius, or they both used an earlier version of the dialogue, which was written in Greek.101 The Apology of Melito, also published by Cureton, is possibly identical with the treatise Bardaiṣan dedicated to AntoniA. Harnack, Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius, 1e Aufl. 2 Tle, 1893–1904; Tl. I, SS. 184–189. 97 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 190f. 98 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 179; S. 186. 99 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 184; A. Harnack, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte Bd.I, Freiburg 1894, S. 239, Anm.2; A. von Harnack, Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums, 3e Aufl. Leipzig 1915, Bd. II, S. 143. 100 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 185. 101 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. II, 2, S. 131. 96



nus, but much is uncertain here.102 Harnack regards the statement of Moses of Chorene, that he has seen a historical work of Bardaiṣan, as veracious103 and also believes that the Third Epistle to the Corinthians is directed against the Bardesanites 104 and that the Acta Thomae are of Bardesanite origin.105 It is very remarkable that the vita of bishop Aberkios (c. 175) of Hieropolis in Phrygia relates, that on his travels the bishop met a certain Barchasanes, in whom we may doubtless recognise Bardaiṣan, which is very well possible chronologically. Various details also point towards Bardaiṣan.106 If this report is founded on truth, it would make known a small episode in the life of Bardaiṣan. Thus Harnack clearly makes a selective choice, combines a number of opinions, and possibly offers us a slight addition to the material. Investigation of the gnosis acquired quite a new character owing to the work of W. Anz, who carried this research into the genetic field.107 Anz sees the typical and central point of all gnostic systems in the doctrine that the soul rises up through the spheres of the planets. This “gnostische Zentrallehre” comes from Babylonia, and is the product of Persian-Babylonian syncretism. Bardaiṣan is closely related to this. He adhered to an astrological determinism, for man’s body and soul are subject to the planets. Liberation from this power is only possible for the gnostic, who possesses complete freedom on earth and belongs to a higher order. The, liberated soul rises up to Sophia, his mother, and salvation is visualised as a banquet of the souls with their mother. 108 Anz takes all his data from Hilgenfeld, using only the hymns of Ephrem as a basis, which he only knows from Hilgenfeld’s translation. One is again struck to see how differently the data can be interpreted. The doctrine of freedom of the BLC here becomes an esoteric matter, and for the Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. II, 2, S. 130. A. von Harnack, Mission, Bd. II, S. 126, Anm. 3. 103 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. II, 2, S. 130. 104 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 116. 105 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. II, 2, S. 176. 106 Harnack, Geschichte, Tl. I, S. 184; Tl. II, 2, S. 184. 107 W. Anz, Zur Frage nach dem Ursprung des Gnostizismus, TU, Bd. XV. H. 4, Leipzig 1897. 108 Anz, o.c., S. 35f. 102



rest Bardaiṣan is supposed to be a complete determinist. A large part of the material Anz has passed over in silence. The termination of this first period of the investigation is formed by an article of Krüger,109 who gives a concise summary of the material and the problems, but is very pessimistic as to a solution: “einen genauen und zuverlässigen Einblick in die Gedankenwelt des Bardesanes zu gewinnen ist uns durch die Überlieferung unmöglich gemacht.”110 The BLC is a doubtful source, as the problem of the original language of this work is insoluble. It is, in any case, identical with the dialogue mentioned by Eusebius and Epiphanius. Thus only Ephrem is left as main source, viz. his Hymns against Heresies (particularly 1–6 and 51–56), the works edited by Overbeck, and the Carmina Nisibina (particularly 46: 8, 12; 48: 8, 51) published by E. Bickell in 1866. In the past, Krüger thinks, too mechanical a use has been made of terms such as monism, dualism and fatalism, as if all turned on a word. It must be possible to combine a monistic theology and the doctrine of free will on the one hand, with the astrological and cosmological speculations of Bardaiṣan. For the latter elements Krüger points to Hierapolis in Syria and its cult of the Dea Syra, which we know from the work of Lucianus. From a remark of Bar Hebraeus (1225– 1286), Krüger concludes that before he became a Christian, Bardaiṣan was a priest of this cult in Hierapolis.111 Therefore he cannot be regarded as a Valentinian, although there are relations with other gnostic groups, particularly the Ophites; those come from their common foundation, Syrian mythology and Chaldaean astrology. In a later epoch, the Muslim authors describe Bardesanism as a consistent dualistic system; this is due to a strong Manichaean influence. They cannot therefore be admitted as authentic sources, anymore than the dialogue of Adamantius, which contains teachings that lack the characteristic note of Bardaiṣan.112



RE, Bd. II, Leipzig 1897, Art. Bardesanes, SS. 400–403 (G.

RE, Bd. II, S. 401. RE, Bd. II, S. 400. 112 RE, Bd. II, S. 403. 110 111



The first period of investigation clearly shows up all the problems surrounding Bardaiṣan that played a part in research from 1855 until the present day, and also demonstrates that very heterogeneous factors determined the course of the investigation. The first problem concerns the sources and their mutual relations, which are far from clear. What is the relation between the BLC, the passages in the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and the passage in the Praep. Evang. of Eusebius? How does the content of these sources, if such they be, stand to what Ephrem and others tell us of Bardaiṣan? In how far are they mutually exclusive, so that only part of the sources can be called authentic? Closely bound up with these questions is the problem of Bardaiṣan’s relation to the religious and philosophical currents of his time. In how far is he dependent on Judaism, Christianity, gnostic trends, Iranian-Parthian conceptions, classical philosophy and autochthonous astrology and related phenomena in Mesopotamia? In how far is he independent of all these, because he gives a synthesis of a number of their elements? The relation between the later Bardesanites and Bardaiṣan himself also requires elucidation, in view of the differences existing among them and the way they differ from Bardaiṣan. This problem is complicated still further by the publication of what purports to be Bardaiṣan’s biography. Having regard to their stand in these matters, scholars fall into four groups. The first group, of whom Merx is a representative, accepts the authenticity of the BLC and rejects those reports of Ephrem and others that do not agree with it. The second group, represented int. al. by Hilgenfeld and Lipsius, accepts the authenticity of Ephrem’s hymns, esp. Hymn 53–56 against Heresies, and rejects the BLC. Bardaiṣan thus results a gnostic. A third group consists of the cautious, Hort and Krüger, and pronounces a non liquet. A fourth group only treats Bardaiṣan indirectly, in connection with the publication of a text or some more comprehensive subject.

THE SECOND PERIOD: 1897–1932 Krüger, who closed the first period of research, had spoken of the characteristic element in Bardaiṣan, but failed to indicate what it was. In a series of publications F. Nau endeavoured to repair this omission, and with him we enter upon the second period of investigation. This lasted until 1932, when a new attempt was made to



determine what characterised Bardaiṣan. All the questions debated during the first period also reappear. Particularly Bardaiṣan’s relation to Mani is examined, a matter indirectly touched upon in the first period. The problem of the sources is far from being solved, and is even rendered more complicated by the publication of new texts. At the same time various authors deal with Bardaiṣan in a wider setting, e.g. gnosticism, Marcionism, Syriac poetry and so on. Others mainly follow E. Nau. Astrology to Nau seems the principle characteristic of Bardaiṣan, as the title of his first publication already indicates.113 In this, Nau printed an unpublished fragment of the chronicle of Michael Syrus, patriarch of Antioch (d.1199), which contains a legendary life of Bardaiṣan.114 This vita formed the source of Bar Hebraeus, and is the earliest biography of Bardaiṣan. From this it is evident that he was not a gnostic at all, but that his only heretical activity was an interest in astrology, which made him suspect in Syria.115 The BLC has been wrongly regarded as a treatise on Fate. The title is taken from the last, third part and is probably not original, while the treatise deals with the origin of evil and man’s moral responsibility, based on his free will. Therefore we cannot recognise the dialogue on Fate, dedicated to Antoninus, in this work. Indeed, Eusebius plainly distinguishes that from the BLC, which he quotes in the Praep. Evang.; Eusebius says he will give an excerpt from the dialogues of Bardaiṣan with his pupils.116 The BLC was written down by a pupil, Philippus, not by Bardaiṣan, though it does faithfully reflect his ideas. The Syriac text is the original, and Eusebius knew it in the form of an inaccurate translation with many omissions. The Ps. Clem. Recogn. take their material from Eusebius.117 Those few Greek words that appear in the work are current in Syria, as evidenced by the Peshitta, so that they cannot be used as an argument in favour of a Greek origin. F. Nau, Une biographie inédite de Bardesane l’astrologue, Paris 1897. Nau used the Ms. BM. Or. 4402, a karchuni text; later the complete chronicle was published by J. B. Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien Patriarche Jacobite d’Antioche, 3 Vols. Paris 1900–1910. 115 Nau, Une biographie inédite, p. 2sv. 116 Nau, Une biographie inédite, p. 3sv.; Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 9, 32. 117 Nau, Une biographie inédite, p. 4sv. 113 114



The texts in Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies, which had always been used to make a gnostic of Bardaiṣan, must therefore be explained in an astrological sense, in accordance with the other texts where Ephrem speaks of Bardaiṣan’s astrological hobbies. Besides, Ephrem is very prejudiced, ignorant and unjust, he has wittingly falsified passages of Bardaiṣan, and one must remember that in this case one poet is fighting another with his own weapons, which in general hardly makes for exactitude.118 Thus Bardesanes gnosticus is a preconceived opinion, afterwards to be justified by means of the texts. No wonder Hilgenfeld’s work is fiercely and ironically criticised; the “seven” are no gnostic aeons, but the seven planets, which include sun and moon. Bardaiṣan’s orthodoxy is also apparent from the fact that he refuted the heresies of his day, particularly Marcion. He may have adhered to heretical opinions in some period of his life, but it is uncertain in which period. For of his life we know very little, not even where he was born and died, only that he passed a great part of his life in Edessa.119 For the rest, Nau inclines to regard the fragment from Michael Syrus as trustworthy in a general way, in spite of its legendary character. This opinion, set forth in 1897, undergoes practically no alteration in Nau’s later publications, it is only deepened and provided with better arguments. In 1899 he published the Syriac text of the BLC, with a French translation and an extensive introduction. 120 Bardaiṣan is and remains a simple astrologist, very unfairly used by later generations. Ephrem even set him side by side with the archheretics Mani and Marcion, and all later authors copied and perpetuated this injustice. Bardaiṣan is an orthodox Christian, believing in God, the Creator of the world. God first created the five elements, fire, wind, water, light and darkness, the latter embodying evil. Darkness mingled with the other elements, who in their distress called upon God, and God sent the Messiah to help them, and creNau, Une biographie inédite, p. 8svv.; p. 14. Nau, Une biographie inédite, p. 11. 120 F. Nau, Bardesane l’astrologue, le livre des lois des pays, texte syr. et trad. franc., 2 T., Paris 1899. Cf. JA, 9ème série, T. XIV, 1899, pp. 12–19, ‘Annexe au Procès-Verbal, Bardesane l’astrologue’: a succinct rendering of Nau’s view of Bardaiṣan. 118 119



ated the world in its present form. Thereupon God created the angels and man, who is composed of three elements, νοῦς, ψυχή and σῶμα. The Planets determine the fortunes of the body, but otherwise man is free and even immortal. It is possible, says Nau, thatBardaiṣan denied the resurrection of the body, but that is not proved by the texts.121 Apart from this somewhat unusual cosmology, determined by Bardaiṣan’s predilection for astrology, he was an orthodox Christian. In Edessa, however, astrology was accounted heretical, because it went together with paganism there.122 Nau therefore uses texts from Firmicus Maternus to comment on his translation of the BLC. In his big edition of the BLC in the Patrologia Syriaca in 1907, Nau collected all the texts referring to Bardaiṣan from Syriac and Arabic authors.123 By means of these, he again attempts to abstract the view of Bardaiṣan he had already formed. Nor was his opinion of the BLC yet changed in any way. In his text he made use of a uniform notation for the Syriac, so that he altered the Ms. only in points of orthography. The text is supplied with a number of emendations by Th. Nöldeke, who also gives a short opinion on the work. According to Nöldeke it is indeed by Philippus, written in Syriac between 196 and 224/26. The titles appearing in the Ms. are by a later hand, and have nothing to do with the text. So the title “Book of the Laws of Countries” or “Liber Legum Regionum” is not really correct. 124 The question whether Bardaiṣan was or was not a gnostic, Nau answers in a way that at the same time illustrates the difficulties surrounding the problem what gnosis really is, and which therefore deserves to be quoted: Si gnosticorum nomen ferunt quicumque scientias paganorum in dogma christianum transferre studuerunt primis nostrae aetatis saeculis, gnosticus fuit Bardesanes; si vero gnostici nota inuritur nisi deliramentis dualismi et Nau, Bardesane l’astrologue, Introduction, pp. 9–17. Nau, Bardesane l’astrologue, Introduction, p. 23; cf. the warnings against astrology in the Doctrina Addai, ed. G. Phillips, London, 1876. 123 F. Nau, Bardesanes Liber Legum Regionum, Patrologia Syriaca I, 2, acc. R. Graffin, Paris 1907, p. 492–657; in discussing the various texts it will be indicated, whether they already appear in Nau’s collection. 124 Nau, Patrol. Syr. P. 535. 121 122



emanationum, verbis eius et antiquis auctorum testimoniis mature perpensis, Bardesanes ipse — quidquid de eius discipulis sentiatur — gnosticus fuisse non videtur.125

In an article of 1910 Nau adduces new material to strengthen his conception of Bardaiṣan. He finds that the fragment of Georgios episkopos Arabum is taken from a letter of Severus Sebokt (d.666/7) to the Cypriot priest Basilius.126 Severus was a great student of Greek science and philosophy, in particular of astrology and geography.127 Also, Nau gives a fragment of a Berlin Ms., in which doctrines of Mani are ascribed to Bardaiṣan; again, the cause is the injustice and malice, of Ephrem. In the same year Nau discovered that the biography of Bardaiṣan given by Michael Syrus, was borrowed by him from the world history of Agapius of Mabbug (10th cent.), so putting back its age considerably. It is striking that the vita of Bardaiṣan is here connected with MabbugHierapolis, a well-known centre of Syrian paganism.128 In later years Nau slightly modified his view, but not to the extent of changing his general conception. In 1913, reviewing the text edition of Ephrem’s prose refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan, Nau admits that the connection between Bardaiṣan and Mani may be founded upon more than the malevolence of Ephrem. Both may go back to a “fonds commun.”129 Finally, a reprint of Nau’s edition of the BLC appears in 1931, provided with an “Avertissement.” Here Nau repeats that astrology provides a sufficient explanation of all texts concerning Bardaiṣan, and also expresses his doubts as to the authenticity of Ephrem’s prose refutations, the second volume of which has meanwhile appeared. For in these 125 Nau, Patrol. Syr. P. 535; cf. E. de Faye, Gnostiques et Gnosticisme, Paris 1913, p. 475f., who follows Nau in this. 126 F. Nau, ‘Notes d’astronomie syrienne’, JA, 10ème série, T. XVI, 1910, pp. 209–228; espec. P. 209; this letter is in the Ms. syr. Paris 346, fol. 122v. cf. F. Nau, ‘La cosmographie au VIIe siècle chez les Syriens’, ROC, Vol. XV, 1910, pp. 225–254, espec. p. 225sv. 127 Cf. I Ortiz de Urbina, Patrol. Syr. p. 164. 128 F. Nau, ROC, Vol. XV, 1910, p. 335sv. cf. G. Goossens, Hiérapolis de Syrie, essai de monographie historique, Leuven 1943, pp. 127–142. 129 F. Nau, JA, 11e série, T. I, 1913, p. 234, n. 3.



prose writings there is no mention of astrology. Should these works indeed be authentic, then Bardaiṣan proves to have been one of the teachers of Mani, and in that case “il ne nous déplairait pas alors de prendre pour titre ‘Bardesane astrologue et gnostique’.”130 Nau’s work can hardly be overestimated. He was the first to try to determine what was typical in Bardaiṣan, and he found this in astrology. He consistently maintained this point of view, and consequently came to regard Ephrem’s love of truth as very slight. Naturally Nau occasionally strained the sense of the texts, to make them fit into his scheme, thereby falling into the same fault as Hilgenfeld, whom he so strongly criticised. Yet his approach is more realistic, and is confirmed by the greater part of the texts. Nau’s greatest mistake was to think that a man could be an orthodox Christian in the second half of the second century while dabbling in astrology as a side-line, without any consequences for his orthodoxy. In those times astrology stood for a religious outlook upon life and the world entailing enormous consequences.131 As not even Nau had arrived at a decisive opinion regarding Bardaiṣan’s works and doctrine, if such an opinion is possible, his first publications were succeeded by a confusing variety of views and hypotheses. Some authors follow Nau, perhaps with slight deviations, others draft quite a different picture or reach back to the first period of the investigation. The authorship of numerous works is attributed to Bardaiṣan, or most positively denied him, including the “Hymn of the Soul” and the Odes of Solomon. Nor has discussion yet ceased around the BLC; particularly the problem of its original language and its relation to the Ps. Clem. Recogn. will long continue in debate. The relationship between Bardaiṣan and Mani also attracts attention once more, while the sources are again increased. These matters will be described below, in part chronologically, in part systematically, in order to trace the lines of research as exactly as we can.

F. Nau, Bardesane l’astrologue, le livre des lois des pays, texte syr. 2e tirage, Paris 1931, p. VIII. 131 Cf. F. Cumont, Astrology and religion among the Greeks and Romans, N.Y.-London 1912, passim; RAC, Bd. I, s.v. Astrologie. 130



The prevalent uncertainty already appears from the history of Syriac literature by Rubens Duval.132 Duval relates the known facts regarding Bardaiṣan, but in contrast with Nau he opines that the BLC is indeed the Syriac original of the dialogue on Fate dedicated to Antoninus. Therefore he takes this as a basis, together with the last Hymns against Heresies of Ephrem, who is, however, “suspect de mauvaise foi ou d’ignorance.” Yet the contents of the BLC, which was known to Ephrem, show nothing of gnostic conceptions; all the same, Duval speaks of Bardaiṣan as a gnostic.133 Duval is no longer so positive as Nau: “Il est donc impossible de savoir avec quelque certitude en quoi consistait l’hérésie de Bardesane.”134 A following history of literature, by Bardenhewer, also gives the known facts and no longer even attempts to show in what Bardaiṣan’s heresy consisted.135 Bardenhewer pleads for Greek as the original language of the BLC, and also for the Bardesanite origin of the Acta Thomae with the hymns preserved in it.136 This latter point, however, remains no more than a hypothesis, which will keep reappearing, though it cannot be proved. Such is the case in the work of E. Preuschen, who examined the two great hymns of the Acts of Thomas: the so-called Bridal song of Sophia and the “Hymn of the Soul.”137 Preuschen remarks that we know very little of Bardaiṣan, but the supposition, which Nöldeke was the first to advance, that he was the author of these hymns, requires further study. Preusehen makes no attempt to put together the quotations from the last of Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies into a Valentinian or Ophite system, in view of their nature: “traurige Fetzen.”138 132 Rubens Duval, La littérature syriaque, 2ème éd., paris 1900, Anciennes littératures chrétiennes II. 133 Duval treats Bardaiṣan in the chapter ‘La Philosophie syriaque’, pp. 241–248; espec.p. 243. 134 Duval, La literature, p. 247. 135 O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Litteratur, I, Freiburg 1902, SS. 337–340. 136 Bardenhewer, o.c., I, S. 445; Bardenhewer, o.c., IV, Freiburg 1924, S. 325. 137 E. Preuschen, Zwei gnostische Hymnen, Gieszen 1904. 138 Preuschen, o.c., SS. 73–80: Bardesanes und das Christentum der Hymnen, espec. S. 77.



Yet there are numerous points of agreement between the little we know of Bardaiṣan and the two hymns of the Acta Thomae, including the seven bridesmaids and bridesmen and the twelve attendants, who correspond to the seven aeons, seven planets and twelve signs of the Zodiac that we find in Bardaiṣan. Moreover, he was a poet of reputation, and it is not impossible that the metre of his verse and that of the hymns are the same. The King’s Son in the “Hymn of the Soul” is akin to Bardaiṣan in his own milieu, a son of Persian parents, growing up at the court of Edessa: “So scheinen alle Indizien dafür zu sprechen, dass Bardesanes der Sänger der beiden Lieder ist.”139 However, we are in the field of hypothesis; the possibility can be set forth, but lack of knowledge precludes our finding clear evidence.140 In this connection it should be remarked that if is the last, very controversial, hymns of Ephrem which suggest that possibility. The figure of Bardaiṣan had been sketched before from these hymns alone, the other data being disregarded. Already F. C. Burkitt, following A. A. Bevan, had pleaded the Bardesanite origin of the “Hymn of the Soul.”141 Burkitt also took a great interest in the BLC, in which he recognised Bardaiṣan’s Dialogue on Fate.142 He drew attention to the religious, but unecclesiastical nature of the work, which breathes a Jewish spirit and bears witness to an original, free manner of thinking. Burkitt regards it as our primeval source of knowledge regarding Bardaiṣan, as Ephrem and the chronicle of Michael must be used very cautiously.143 In 1904, though, Burkitt has become more prudent

Preuschen, o.c., S. 79. Preuschen, o.c., S. 80. 141 F. C. Burkitt, The Hymn of Bardaisan, rendered in English, Essex House 1899, gives a translation of the Hymn of the Soul under that title; Burkitt has often discussed this hymn, see: F. C. Burkitt, ‘Toga in the East’, JThS, Vol. XXIII, 1922, p. 281f.; F. C. Burkitt, ‘Sarbôg, Shuruppak’, JThS, Vol. IV, 1903, p. 125ff. 142 F. C. Burkitt, Early Christianity outside the Roman Empire, Cambridge 1899, p. 55; F. C. Burkitt, Early Eastern Christianity, London 1904, p. 161. 143 Burkitt, Early Christianity, p. 58f.; Burkitt, Early Eastern Christianity, p. 160f. 139 140



concerning Bardaiṣan’s authorship of the “Hymn of the Soul,” while later on he let go the idea entirely.144 W. Bousset sounds a very different note in his great work on gnosticism. Bousset regards Bardaiṣan as a representative of eastern dualism, under strong Persian influence, who has nothing in common with the Valentinians. It is true we do not know very much about him, but some things may be regarded as certain: in his system the heavenly Mother goddess played a great part, beside her the Father of Life had a place. The hidden Son of Life completes the triad. There are other female figures also in Bardaiṣan’s system: the Holy Ghost and Sophia-Chakmuth. Bousset regards the Seven planets as collaborating in the process of creation, particularly the creation of man. In contra-distinction to many other scholars, Bousset therefore thinks that the late reports of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine should not be attributed to his pupils, but are evidence for his original dualism, representing an uncomplicated gnosis.145 This is not the place to submit Bousset’s work to a thorough criticism. Others have already done so.146 He is only named here, because these ideas are still in vigour; they play a great part, for instance, in the work of Widengren, who for that reason also is a continuator of the work of the “Religionsgeschichtliche Schule” of Bousset and Reitzenstein. Far more in the line of Nau’s research is the work of E. Buonaiuti, whose book on gnosis opens no new perspectives, though later he strongly opposes the views of Bousset.147 Like Nau, BuoBurkitt, Early Eastern Christianity, p. 216f.; in 1921 Burkitt drops this idea entirely: C. W. Mitchell, S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, Vol. II, compl. by A. A. Bevan and F. C. Burkitt, London 1921, p. CXXIX. 145 W. Bousset, Hauptprobleme der Gnosis, FRLANT, Heft 10, Göttingen 1907, S. 16, 71, 96, 330ff. 146 Int. al. H. Jonas, Gnosis und Spätantiker Geist, I, Die mythologische Gnosis, 3e Aufl. 1964, FRLANT, Heft 33, Göttingen 1964, S. 32: ‘Alchemie der Ideen’, Jonas characterizes Bousset’s view of gnosis. 147 E. Buonaiuti, Lo Gnosticismo. Storia di antiche lotte religiose, Roma 1907, p. 182 seqq. Buonaiuti pleads for Bardaiṣan as author of the hymns in the Acta Thomae; E. Buonaiuti, ‘Bardesane l’Astrologo’, Riv. stor. crit. d. scienze teol. Vol. 5, 1909, pp. 691–704. 144



naiuti sees Bardaiṣan as an astrologer, not as one of the great teachers of the gnosis as Bousset does. Therefore Buonaiuti interprets Ephrem’s texts astrologically, and attaches little importance to the later data.148 So the old controversy still continues; the discussion between Buonaiuti and Bousset differs little from that between Nau and Hilgenfeld. Meanwhile the source material increased a little. Harnack having remarked that Bardaiṣan appears in the vita of Aberkios (c.175), Th. Nissen established that the beginning of the BLC was the model for a conversation between Aberkios and Euxeimanos.149 He also observed a few borrowings from the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. Besides this, one passage agrees literally both with the BLC and with ch. 83 of the Acta Thomae. The latter work, then, also has a text in common with the BLC, as had been pointed out before.150 Nissen shows that the Greek text is preferable to the Syriac as regards a logical train of thought and in style. Further there are a number of differences. His most important conclusion is that Aberkios combats Marcion in Euxeimanos, as many of the objections and questions of Euxeimanos are of a Marcionite character. Especially the beginning of the conversation, which is lacking in the BLC, shows this clearly, as Euxeimanos asks Aberkios how God can be at once good and just. Nissen’s conclusion is, that the author of the vita took his material from Bardaiṣan’s many writings against the Marcionites, mentioned e.g. by Eusebius and Hippolytus, while a later Syriac author borrowed from the same material to let Bardaiṣan refute the astrologer Awida. Indirectly then, Nissen is pleading against the BLC as an original work, in which we certainly cannot recognise the Dialogue on Fate.151 Regarding the matter in a slightly different light, it might also be maintained that in the Vita of Aberkios we have a Greek translation of the original Syriac writing known to us as the BLC, a translation more or less correspondBuonaiuti, ‘Bardesane l’Astrologo’, p. 695seq. Th. Nissen, ‘Die Petrusakten und ein bardesanitischer Dialog in der Aberkiosvita’, ZNW, 9, 1908, SS. 190–203; 315–328; espec. S. 315ff. For this problem see now: H. Grégoire, ‘Bardesane et S. Abercius’, Byzantion, T. 25–27, 1955–1957, pp. 363–368. 150 Nissen, o.c., S. 319. 151 Nissen, o.c., S. 326ff. 148 149



ing with the Greek text Eusebius gives of another part. At any rate this textual evidence shows that as a matter of literary history the BLC presents a more complicated problem than had been thought heretofore.152 Remarkably enough, this discovery of Nissen was afterwards never considered in the discussion; obviously it passed unnoticed. The number of direct sources also increased. In 1909 Ignatius Ephraem II Rahmani, the Syrian patriarch of Antioch, published the Syriac text of the catalogue of heresies by Maruta of Maipherkat (c.350–420), which until that time had only been available in an Arabic version.153 The description of the Bardesanites shows how closely they are related to the Manichaeans. If the catalogue of heresies is authentic, which is disputed, that relationship would already have existed in the time of Maruta, which implies that considerable changes had taken place in Bardaiṣan’s system. Earlier, Kahmani had already published a mêmra of Ephrem against Bardaiṣan, from a Ms. he had access to. 154 Rahurani’s outlook on Bardaiṣan offers no new points of view; Rahmani builds mainly on Ephrem and again points out the possibility of relations between Bardaiṣan and Quq.155 The only scholar of this period who gives a general summary of all we know about Bardaiṣan is F. Haase, who in the light of literary criticism examines the authenticity of the BLC, and the

152 It is Nissen’s opinion, that the astrological terms had been removed in the source of the Vita of Aberkios: the text therefore had a history during which it underwent intensive alteration. The problem is still further complicated, as Marcion is probably hidden in the BLC under the name of Bar Jamma (Nau, Patrol. Syr. col. 564), just as in the Vita of Aberkios his mask is Euxeinianos. Both names hint at Marcion’s birthplace Pontus on the Black Sea, which the Greeks called πόντος εὔξεινος. 153 Ignatius Ephraem II Rahmani, Documenta de antiquis haeresibus, Studia Syriaca, fasc. IV, In seminario Scharfensi de Monti Libano 1909, p. ‫ܨܚ‬ _ ‫ ܩܓ‬: text; p. 76–80; transl. The Arabic translation forms part of the Arabic Praefatio of the Council of Nicea, Mansi, Tom. II, col. 1059. 154 Ignatius Ephraem II Rahmani, Studia Syriaca I, In Seminario Scharfensi in Monte Libano 1904, p. ‫ ܝܒ _ ܝܐ‬: text; p. 9–11: transl. 155 Rahmani, Studia Syriaca IV, p. XLIII–LIV.



theology of Bardaiṣan.156 It is not his intention to write a monograph, but only to enter into all the controversial questions. Yet his work can almost be regarded as a monograph, as all the pronouncements about Bardaiṣan have given rise to controversies. In the first place Haase examines the BLC and its relation to Bardaiṣan’s authentic writings, of which we only know the titles. Haase distinguishes two dialogues concerning astrology. The first is the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης, mentioned by Eusebius H.E. IV, 30, a work of Bardaiṣan’s youth, written in defence of astrology and dedicated to Marcus Aurelius.157 The second is the dialogue καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης mentioned by Epiphanius and Theodoretus, and written against astrology.158 The BLC has something to do with the latter, but exactly what can only be determined after a careful investigation of relations between the BLC and the excerpts in the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and Eusebius. Haase gives the texts synoptically and concludes that Eusebius and the BLC have a common source, while the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and Eusebius show so much affinity, that they probably used this source also; that is to say a single source for all three works. That source was the dialogue καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης, originally written in Syriac. Eusebius and the Recogn. make use of a Greek translation, the BLC is a later Syriac redaction. The source dates from the last part of Bardaiṣan’s lifetime, probably around 220.159 The work is strongly influenced by Greek philosophy and by astrology, but it is not possible to say where these influences came from. Probably Bardaiṣan was himself the originator of the argument against astrological geography, which Boll only found in Christian authors.160 Next Haase goes into other controversial matters, viz. Bardaiṣan’s possible authorship of the “Hymn of the Soul” in the Acta Thomae and of the Apology of Melito.161 Ac156 F. Haase, Zur Bardesanischen Gnosis. Literarkritische und dogmengeschichtliche Untersuchungen, TU, III, 4, Leipzig 1910. 157 Haase, o.c., S. 15f. 158 Epiphanius, Panarion 56; Theod., Haer. Fab. Comp. I, 22. 159 Haase, o.c., S. 46f. 160 Haase, o.c., S. 49. 161 This Apology of Melito was first published by Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum, p. ‫ܐܠ _ ܟܒ‬, from the same Ms. as the BLC. This may have been one of the reasons for regarding Bardaiṣan as the author.



cording to Haase the possibility can be admitted in both cases, yet there is more that speaks against it than for it. The reliability of the sources is also included in Haase’s investigation. As he sees it, Nau’s highly unfavourable opinion of Ephrein’s work is not justified. Ephrem did not misrepresent Bardaiṣan’s ideas on purpose, but often he did not properly understand them and he failed to distinguish between the work of the teacher and that of the disciples. Eusebius and Epiphanius add little to our knowledge, in contradistinction to Sozomenus, who gives us valuable information about Bardaiṣan’s son Harmonius with his Greek education. The Arabic sources give an erroneous picture, as they regard Bardaiṣan as a consistent dualist. Of value, however, is Bardaiṣan’s cosmology as transmitted to us by several authors.162 The BLC only qualifies as a source in those parts of which we also have a Greek version in Eusebius and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. Altogether much caution is requisite, for nowhere are we on firm ground. Haase then discusses the controversial points of Bardaiṣan’s theology and comes to the following conclusions. He is a monist and believes in God the Creator, although his doctrine regarding matter is not entirely correct.163 One cannot call him a gnostic because of this, however, nor do Ephrem’s last Hymns against Heresies offer grounds for doing so. These passages may have a truly Christian meaning, even if their form is influenced by gnosticism. A formal resemblance in language and imagery need not imply an identical meaning. Bardaiṣan’s doctrine regarding man’s soul is enigmatic; according to Ephrem he says it was created by the seven planets. How can this be reconciled with the free will residing in the soul, which is restricted by these very planets? We hear nothing of Bardaiṣan’s christology and soteriology; his teaching a docetic christology is doubtful. He does indeed deny the resurrection of the body, but this need not necessarily point to gnosis. There is some gnostic influence, but the greater part of his false opinions can be explained by astrology and Greek philosophy. That is why Bardaiṣan’s importance is greatest in cultural history; in the history of the Church and of theology his ideas have had little 162 163

Haase, o.c., SS. 72–76. Haase, o.c., S. 80ff.



influence. Fifteen years later Haase reviews his opinions, and maintains the distinction he had made between the dialogues περὶ εἱμαρμένης and καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης.164 Moreover, he touches upon the problem of the original language of the BLC and still holds that the source of the BLC, Eusebius and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. is a necessary postulate, and that it was written in Syriac. This problem had again come up for discussion at the time. He also pronounces himself as to the question, whether the Odes of Solomon were perhaps written by Bardaiṣan, a matter much discussed since the publication of the Syriac text of these Odes by J. Rendel Harris in 1909.165 According to Haase nothing in the Odes points to Bardaiṣan as their author. In another work, Haase also gives a negative answer to the question, whether the apocryphal correspondence between St. Paul and the Corinthians is directed against Bardaiṣan, in spite of the fact that Ephrem expressly states that it was.166 The discussion regarding the BLC, as it restarted after Nau’s work, and that around the Odes of Solomon may be shortly summarised here. In his book on the Pseudo-Clementine writings H. Waitz follows Nau almost entirely: the BLC is not Bardaiṣan’s dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης.167 He assumes, however, with Hilgenfeld that the Ps. Clem. Recogn. did not borrow from Eusebius Praep. Evang. VI, 9, as posited by Nau, but from an earlier work on astrological genesis, perhaps a non-Christian one.168 E. Schulthess and Th. Nöldeke carried on an interesting discussion on the subject of the original language of the BLC. Schulthess began it by postulating, on the evidence of a single passage, that the Syriac text is not comprehensible without the aid of the Greek, from which he concluded that Philippus wrote the dialogue in Greek. This Greek text would then have been soon translated into Syriac at about the same time as the F. Haase, ‘Neue Bardesanesstudien’, OrChr. N.S. Bd. 12–14, Leipzig 1925, SS. 129–140; cf. F. Haase, Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen, Leipzig 1925, S. 330ff. 165 J. Rendel Harris, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, Cambridge 1909. 166 Haase, ‘Neue Bardesanesstudien’, S. 38; Haase, Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte, S. 338. 167 H. Waitz, Die Pseudoklementinen, Homilien und Rekognitionen. Eine quellen-kritische Untersuchung, TU, F.F. Bd. X, H. 4, Leipzig 1904. 168 Waitz, o.c., S. 256ff. 164



Apology of Melito, with which it has a stylistic affinity.169 Moreover, Schulthess made a number of corrections in the Syriac text. Nöldeke at once retorted that Schulthess had misunderstood that one passage, so that his conclusion was not justified, at the same time pointing out a number of passages which show that the Greek text is definitely inferior to the Syriac. Nöldeke did accept a number of Schulthess’s corrections though, as he too admitted that the tradition of the Syriac text left a good deal to be desired.170 Schulthess replied, and took the opportunity of criticising Nau’s view of the literary relationship of the various texts. He observed that the Greek versions had had a history, which really cannot be said of the Syriac version. From this he concluded, that the question as to the original language of the treatise should be detached from the results of comparing the versions at our disposal. For that reason he does not regard Nöldeke’s argument, that the Syriac text is as a rule better than the Greek, as conclusive. Schulthess thinks it highly improbable that a single Greek translation of a Syriac writing should undergo such great alteration in less than a hundred years. The most likely solution is, that there were several Greek translations current, and Eusebius seems to suggest this.171 Philippus wrote the dialogue, freely after Bardaiṣan, in Greek, and soon after it was translated into Syriac. Other pupils presumably gave a different version, as there was no version by Bardaiṣan himself, who taught orally. Schulthess adds a few philological remarks to this defence.172 Although Nöldeke seems to be right that the original version of the BLC was Syriac, the importance of Schulthess’s exposition is, that he points out that the Greek version had a history. Therefore it is not possible to solve the problem by means of a comparison of the recensions that are available. The research of W. F. Schulthess, ‘Zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder”; Spicileg. syr. ed. Cureton S. 1ff.’, ZDMG, Bd. 64, 1910, SS. 91–94; Nachtrag: S. 486. 170 Th. Nöldeke, ‘Zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder,”’ ZDMG, Bd. 64, 1910, SS. 555–560. 171 F. Schulthess, ‘Noch einmel zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder,”’ ZDMG, Bd. 64, 1910, SS. 745–750. 172 Schulthess, ‘Noch einmel zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder,”’ S. 749. The philological remarks of Schulthess and Nöldeke will be referred to in discussing the text of the BLC. 169



Heintze into the Greek sources of the Romance of Clement joins up with this in a way. With some hesitation regarding the distinction introduced by Haase between περὶ εἱμαρμένης and καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης, Heintze assumes that the BLC, Eusebius and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. have a common source. Yet he does not see that the dialogue καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης was the source for all three: the fact that they all attack astrology is an insufficient argument. It is an open question whether the “Laws of Countries” really go back to Bardaiṣan. Probably the so-called “Grundschrift” of the PseudoClementine writings is the source here, as the “Laws of Countries” formed part of that.173 Between the so-called “Grundschrift” and the Syriac BLC there stands the authentic dialogue of Philippus, which was used by Eusebius. The Ps. Clem. Recogn. developed out of the “Grundschrift,” and the BLC out of the dialogue of Philippus. In any case, there is no evidence whatever that the part of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. that more or less corresponds to part of the BLC comes from Bardaiṣan. Heintze further demonstrates a strong Stoic influence, both in the Pseudo-Clementine writings and in the BLC.174 It is at any rate clear from this, that the literary aspect cannot be treated separately. The motive of the “Laws of Countries” as means of refuting astrology had a history. We cannot consider our Greek versions of these “Laws of Countries” without taking this history into account. G. Levi della Vida also agrees that the BLC has a history closely linked with the history of the Bardesanites. Levi della Vida thinks our treatise presents a deformation of Bardaiṣan’s actual thoughts, approaching more closely to the doctrine of the church regarding the unity and omnipotence of God the Creator. 175 The “real” Bardaiṣan is to be found in Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies, particularly hymns 53–56, and in the same author’s Prose Ref173 W. Heinzte, Der Clemensroman und seine griechischen Quellen, TU, Bd. 40, H. 2, Leipzig 1914, S. 104. 174 Heinzte, o.c., S. 104; 105, Anm. 2. 175 G. Levi della Vida, ‘Bardesane e il dialogo delle leggi dei paesi’, Riv. trim. di Studi filos. e relig. Vol.I, 1920, pp. 399–430; espec.p. 425. Cf. G. Levi della Vida, Bardesane. Il dialogo delle leggi dei paesi, introd. trad. e note, Scrittori Cristiani antichi 3, Roma 1921, p. 11.



utations.176 Bardaiṣan’s doctrine consists of a gnostic system on an astrological basis, systematised and influenced by Greek philosophy of nature, particularly the Stoa, and dressed in mythological habit.177 Thus Ephrem is an excellent source for the doctrine of Bardaiṣan, all the more as he clearly distinguishes him from Marcion and Mani. With the latter Bardaiṣan has much in common, and when Manichianism became a considerable power in Mesopotamia, many Bardesanites went over to it. Levi della Vida calls them the left wing; the right wing sought an approach to orthodoxy and mitigated Bardaiṣan’s dualism in the BLC, a document of the right wing, this schisma is hinted at when the author lets Bardaiṣan say that formerly he had different ideas about astrology than now.178 For the rest, this later work is almost a polemic against the “real” Bardaiṣan, only discussing the question of the origin of evil and man’s responsibility. Yet there are elements of Bardaiṣan’s real gnosis to be found in it, int. al. the doctrine of the mingling of the elements. Moreover, Levi della Vida remarks that Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, as represented int. al. by Moses bar Kepha (813–903), does not contain a single Christian element, which is the reason why it should be regarded as an authentic tradition. Seeing how Levi della Vida regards the BLC, his pleading for the originality of the Syriac text does not influence his opinion of it. The writing was produced one or two generations after Bardaiṣan, and Philippus is only a follower of Bardaiṣan and not a direct pupil. He lets his teacher Bardaiṣan proclaim certain ideas, as Plato did with Socrates. Levi della Vida makes a number of additions to the emendations of the text proposed by Nöldeke and Schulthess, and also gives a translation.179 Finally, he supplements the Arabic sources, which he re-

Levi della Vida, ‘Bardesane e il dialogo’, p. 405seqq. Levi della Vida, ‘Bardesane e il dialogo’, p. 415. 178 F. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 564; this text was also used already by Merx and Haase, and obviously allows of many different interpretations. 179 G. Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici, 1.-Sul “Libro delle Leggi dei Paesi,”’ Riv. degli Studi Orientali, Vol. VIII, 1919–20, p. 709–715; G. Levi della Vida, Bardesane. Il dialogo delle leggi dei paesi, introd. trad. e note, Scrittori Cristiani antichi 3, Roma 1921, gives an Italian translation. 176 177



gards as highly important: often their data agree with information given by Ephrem.180 Whatever value one may wish to attach to this exposition, it is now at any rate clear that the question as to the original language of the BLC and the answer given to it, need not be conclusive in the matter of the authenticity of the work. Levi della Vida has given the treatise a place in the history of the Syrian Bardesanites, has pleaded in favour of the Syriac version being original, and has yet challenged its authenticity. If this opinion be admitted as valid, it means that a similar distinction should also be introduced with regard to the other sources, as Levi della Vida made between Ephrem on the one hand and the BLC, on the other. This matter, however, can only be decided if there is indeed an obvious contrast between Ephrem’s data and the BLC. This will have to appear from further research. A. Baumstark in his history of Syriac literature follows the golden mean, he gives equal weight to all data and so attempts a synthesis, which opens no new perspectives. He does, though, reject Haase’s standpoint, that the dialogue καθ᾿ εἱμαρμένης was the source for Eusebius, the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and the BLC; he seeks this source rather in the dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης, dedicated to Antoninus or held with (against?) Antoninus.181 He does think that the BLC has been worked over, but he does not enter into Levi della Vida’s view upon the matter. C. Schmidt also argued for a late origin of our treatise, as he agrees with Heintze that Philippus must have borrowed the passage about the “Laws of Countries” from the so-called “Grundschrift” of the pseudo-Clementine literature. The terminus ad quem is 313, the year the Praep. Evang. appeared. Bardaiṣan died in 222, so the uttermost date for the composition of the BLC is about 270–280.182 H. Waitz, who discusses the work of Heintze and Schmidt, makes some little adjustments to the points 180 G. Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici, 2.-Fonti arabe sul Bardesanismo’, Riv. degli Studi Orientali, Vol. VIII, 1919–20, p. 716–722. 181 A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn 1922, S. 14; same opinion in W. von Christ, Geschichte der Griechischen Literatur, 6e Aufl. bearb. v. W. Schmid u. O. Stählin, Bd. II, 2, München 1924, S. 1265ff. 182 C. Schmidt, Studien zu den Pseudo-Clementinen, TU, Bd. 46, H. 1, Leipzig 1929, S. 6, Anm. 1; S. 156f.



of view we already know. Bardaiṣan was acquainted with, and made use of, a Jewish Apology directed int. al. against astrological genesis, the doctrine of the fortuity of world events, and polytheism. This Apology was included in the “Grundschrift” of the pseudoClementine literature, and was in any case written before 135. Bardaiṣan made use of this Apology, or possibly of the “Grundschrift,” so that there is no direct relation between the BLC and the text of the Recognitiones which Rufinus translated into Latin.183 O. Cullmann in his study on the pseudo-Clementine literature, follows the opinions of Haase, Schmidt and Heintze.184 So far had research progressed by 1930; a consensus of opinion was still a distant ideal, owing also to the many different views held regarding the sources of the pseudo-Clementine literature. The Odes of Solomon have also been much discussed, and their investigation has been of interest for the study of Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites too. M. Sprengling, who like Preuschen finds gnosis in the Odes, discovered a parallel between the first lines of Ode 6, the BLC, and Ephrem’s 25th Hymn against Heresies. Sprengling concluded from this, that Bardaiṣan knew the Odes and that they were read in his circle. He need not himself be the author.185 W. R. Newbold thought it probable, he was, at any rate of part of the Odes, which can be explained in the sense of the theories proclaimed by Bardaiṣan.186 But he only arrives at this conclusion after having postulated that the composer of the Odes could not be a gnostic in the strict sense of the word, but must be someone imbued with gnostic ideas and at the same time a man of large vision, great originality and great poetic gifts. Bardaiṣan of Edessa was such a man, and Newbold then tries to show agreement beH. Waitz, ‘Die Pseudoklementinen und ihre Quellenschriften’, ZNW, Bd. 28, 1929, SS. 241–272; espec. S. 268f. 184 O. Cullmann, Le problem littéraire et historique du roman pseudoclémentin. Étude sur le rapport entre le Gnosticisme et le Judéo-Christianisme, Paris 1930, p. 35. 185 M. Sprengling, ‘Bardesanes and the Odes of Solomon’, Am. Journ. of Theol., Vol. XV, 1911, p. 459–461. 186 W. R. Newbold, ‘Bardaisan and the Odes of Solomon’, JBL, Vol. XXX, 1911, pp. 161–204; espec. p. 202. 183



tween the Odes and Bardaiṣan’s ideas.187 It is not surprising that he finds examples of this, though by no means all are convincing. His whole argumentation, however, stems from the petitio principii that Bardaiṣan is a definite possibility as author of the Odes. The differences between the Odes and Bardaiṣan’s ideas, if we can be sure of these, Newbold has failed to indicate. His exposition has not been able to convince, for instance, J. H. Bernard.188 Bardaiṣan the poet also engaged the attention of M. Sprengling; after five years, however, Sprengling put the Odes of Solomon quite out of consideration.189 He does, though, now plead for Bardaiṣan as composer of the hymns in the Acta Thomae, and sees remains of his poetry in Ephrem’s Hymns against Heresies, especially in hymn 55, and perhaps in a line preserved by Philoxenos of Mabbug. Sprengling enforces his reasoning by making out Bardaiṣan’s son Harmonius to be fabulous. His existence is only mentioned by Sozomenus (c.440) and a number of his imitators, and is based on an erroneous reading of a text of Ephrem. In the Syriac tradition, which may claim to be reliable, the name Harmonius does not appear. 190 The ancient problem, whether Ephrem’s poetic quotations come from Bardaiṣan or from Harmonius, is thereby most effectually solved, at least for Sprengling. Two matters require particular attention in this phase of the investigation. In the first place Bardaiṣan’s relation to Marcion, whom he combated in dialogues.191 A. von Harnack has passed in review all the texts in which Bardaiṣan and Marcion or the MarcioNewbold, art. cit., p. 164: “Such a man, so far as our information enables us to judge, was Bardaisan of Edessa.” 188 J. H. Bernard, The Odes of Solomon, TSt, Vol. VIII, 3, Cambridge, 1912, p. 11; J. Rendel Harris and A. Mingana, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, 2 vols., Manchester, 1916–20, Vol. II, p. 26f, follow Newbold. 189 M. Sprengling, ‘Antonius Rhetor on versification’, AJSL, Vol. XXXII, 1916, pp. 145–216. 190 M. Sprengling, ‘Antonius Rhetor on versification’, p. 148f.; pp. 196–202. Sprengling gives translations of the 56th Hymn of Ephrem adv. Haer. and of the line of Philoxenos of Mabbug quoted by Cureton, o.c., p. Vf. 191 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 20; Hippol., Ref. VII, 31. Polemising against Marcion was also to be observed in the Vita of Aberkios. 187



nites are named as opponents. In any case Bardaiṣan had contact with two kinds of Marcionites: adherents of the doctrine of two principles and adherents of the doctrine of three principles. One of the latter was Prepon, who according to Hippolytus (early 3rd cent.) wrote against Bardaiṣan.192 We meet with both categories in the first two dialogues of Adamantius’ De recta fide. It is possible, therefore, that Bardaiṣan’s dialogues against Marcion, translated into Greek, may have been the source for the curious work of Adamantius, whoever may lie hidden behind this name.193 In the second place, the relation between Bardaiṣan and Mani aroused much interest in this period. General works on Manichaeism always mention Bardaiṣan as a dualist, whose ideas were on the one hand continued, on the other hand corrected by Mani. Thus P. Alfaric says, that the Kephalaia of Mani is a counterwork against Bardaiṣan’s treatise on Light and Darkness, which is named in the Fihrist. A Book of Mysteries that Mani wrote, had an analogon among the Bardesanites.194 How difficult it is to come to any unanimity if one takes one’s starting-point in the Arabic authors, appears from an essay by J. Pedersen. Pedersen takes his start from the information in the Fihrist that the Manichaeans arose from the Muġtasila. According to Shahrastânî they arose from the Bardesanites. Therefore the latter are closely related to the Muġtasila, which is rendered even more probable, as according to the Fihrist the Bardesanites lived in the marshy districts where the Muġtasila also live.195 In this way the Bardesanites can be subsumed in “le mouvement baptiste” as J. Thomas entitles it, while very little is known of baptism or ritual washing on the part of the Bardesanites. It will first have to be established what were the sources of the Arabic authors, and what lines may be drawn from A. von Harnak, Marcion, das Evangelium vom fremden Gott. Neue Studien zu Marcion, reprint of the 2e Anfl. of 1924, TU, Bd. 45, Leipsig 1924. The reprint appeared in Darmstadt 1960, S. 153, 167. 193 Harnak, Marcion, S. 60*. 194 P. Alfaric, Les écritures manichéennes, 2 Vols., Paris 1918–19; II, pp. 19–21. 195 J. Pedersen, ‘The Ṣābians’, in: A Volume of oriental studies, presented to E. G. Browne, ed. by T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson, Cambridge 1922, pp. 383–391, espes. p. 385. 192



earlier testimonies to their works, while the historical development of the Bardesanites must be borne in mind. Cl. Huart, the author of the article Ibn-Daisan in the Enzyklopaedie des Islams, therefore only gives the data and the sources and does not venture upon an interpretation.196 Ephrem is the first to couple the names of Bardaiṣan and Mani, together with Marcion, both in the Hymns against Heresies and in his Prose Refutations of them. Of this latter work there appeared an edition by C. W. Mitchell, prepared from a London palimpsest. After his death the work was completed by A. A. Bevan and F. C. Burkitt.197 It is strange, that up to the present no thorough confrontation of the Hymns and the Prose Refutations has been forthcoming.198 In his Introductory Essay to the second volume, Burkitt describes the system of Bardaiṣan on the basis of the material provided by the Prose Refutations.199 As this is only “scattered and piecemeal,” Burkitt chooses his starting-point in the fragment of Moses bar Kepha about Bardaiṣan’s cosmology.200 The trustworthiness of Moses bar Kepha is confirmed by Ephrem, who lived more than five centuries earlier. The core of this cosmology is, that God did not create matter, but composed it into an ordered cosmos after the elements had become mingled through some cause or other. God and the uncreated elements existed in space, before the world had come into being, and there enjoyed a happy state of equilibrium. This equilibrium was disturbed, and this “fall” was the cause of the origin of the world. Ephrem blames Bardaiṣan for being eclectic and not constructing a consistent system. This reproach releases Burkitt from the obligation to seek for coherence Cl. Huart, art. Ibn-Daiṣan, EI1, Bd. II, Leipzig 1927, S. 393. C. W. Mitchell, S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, Vol. I, London 1912; Vol. II, comp. by A. A. Bevan and F. C. Burkitt, London 1921. 198 In 1925 F. Haase already wrote in Altchristiche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen, Leipzig 1925, S. 329, Anm. 1: ‘Diese Prosatexte bringen keine wesentlich neuen Beiträge zur bardesanischen Lehre; doch wäre eine Vergleichung mit den Gedichten Ephrems erwünscht”. 199 C. W. Mitchell, o.c., Vol. II, pp. cxxii–cxxxi. 200 C. W. Mitchell, o.c., Vol. II, pp. cxxii; Nou, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 513– 515. 196 197



in Bardaiṣan’s ideas, for perhaps there was none. So Burkitt enumerates a number of loose facts, including denial of bodily resurrection.201 As Bardaiṣan, according to Ephrem, mixed theories of the Platonists with those of the Stoics, the question arises whether Bardaiṣan had first-hand knowledge of Greek literature, particularly philosophy. Burkitt denies this, and says the Hellenism in Bardaiṣan’s theories must be ascribed to Harmonius. The latter is also the author of the quotations in Ephrem’s 55th Hymn against Heresies, as these breathe a totally different spirit than all the rest we know of Bardaiṣan. It is only to be expected, then, that Burkitt will now refuse Bardaiṣan the authorship of the “Hymn of the Soul,” the more so as he can find no single allusion to or derivation from this hymn in the Prose Refutations. To Burkitt, Bardaiṣan is not a poet but in the first place a “matter-of-fact man of science, a teacher of positive doctrine about the physical constitution of the world in which we live.”202 Naturally the concept “science” meant something quite different to Bardaiṣan than it does to us, it was a “creed.” Burkitt observes a definite affinity between Bardaiṣan and Mani, as is evident from the Prose Refutations; especially Mani’s cosmology shows it plainly. Yet the spirit is altogether different: for Bardaiṣan it is a form of “science,” for Mani it is a cosmological drama with enormous consequences for man. But the link is the philosophy of Bardaiṣan, which with Mani is given a place in quite a different setting; “Bardaiṣan’s cosmology is a conflict of forces, Mani’s is a drama enacted by a crowd of supernatural persons.”203 It must be remembered that Burkitt regards Manichaeism in the first instance as a Christian heresy, the Christian elements of which were taken from Bardaiṣan and Marcion. Criticism of this view can find no place here. In 1925 Burkitt repeated this opinion, dating from 1921, without any alteration.204 Some years later he also found C. W. Mitchell, o.c., Vol. II, pp. cxxix. C. W. Mitchell, o.c., Vol. II, pp. cxxx; Burkitt repeats his views on Bardaiṣan in The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. XII, Cambridge 1939, p. 493ff. 203 C. W. Mitchell, o.c., Vol. II, p. cxliii. 204 F. S. Burkitt, The religion of the Manichees, Cambridge 1925, p. 76– 79. 201 202



an affinity between Bardaiṣan and the Mandaeans, particularly in the doctrine regarding the human soul. This is hindered in “crossing over” by the seven planets, which correspond to the Mandaean “celestial Prisons” (mattartas). In Bardaiṣan’s view the soul itself does not possess knowledge, which is a gift to it as divine gnosis. Also, there is agreement in the terms used by Bardaiṣan and the Mandaeans. What connects Bardaiṣan and the Mandaeans is the culture of the Mesopotamian region; it need not be a matter of direct borrowing.205 Thus Burkitt now lays far more emphasis on the “oriental” element in Bardaiṣan’s thought, than he did in earlier publications. L. Tondelli attempts a synthesis by starting, like Nau and Burkitt, with the idea that Bardaiṣan was in the first place a philosopher of nature.206 In seeming, there is considerable discrepancy between the BLC and Ephrem’s data. The Arabic authors, moreover, agree for the greater part with Ephrem, which enhances their value; they also clearly distinguish between Mani and Bardaiṣan. Why should not the Fihrist, which gives a reliable account of Mani, be equally reliable in its information about Bardaiṣan? The Arabic authors in particular strengthen the impression of a great discrepancy. This is only partly true. Bardaiṣan was both a philosopher of nature and an astrologer. On the one hand this links him with Mani, who borrowed from him, on the other hand this natural philosophy and astrology is also to be found in the BLC, where e.g. the concept “mingling” plays a great part. Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of Fate links up with this, for he did not want to make God the creator of evil. The contents of the BLC need not therefore exclude the gnostic-astrological tenor of Bardaiṣan’s work. In the end Tondelli therefore returns to the standpoint of Nau, with slight changes of stress.207 However, Tondelli omits to set forth how Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, doctrine of Fate and anthropology supplement one another and how they follow one from the other, although in every 205 F. S. Burkitt, Church and Gnosis. A study of Christian thought and speculation in the second century, Cambridge 1932, p. 118f.; p. 121; espec. p. 116ff. 206 L. Tondelli, Mani, rapporti con Bardesane, S. Agostino-Dante, Milano 1932, pp. 45–62. 207 Tondelli, o.c., p. 55seqq.



religious and gnostic system there is a clear relation between anthropology and cosmology.208 O. G. von Wesendonk listed a number of formal resemblances between Bardaiṣan and Mani.209 Like Bardaiṣan, Mani was of noble descent; both were in close touch with a royal court; both were forced to take flight from violence, Mani to eastern Persia, Bardaiṣan to Armenia; both had artistic gifts and they spoke more or less the same language. Moreover, both were critically minded with regard to other thinkers: Bardaiṣan with regard to Marcion, Mani with regard to Bardaiṣan, especially in the teachings concerning matter and the soul. But the systems of both are dualistic, and numerous adherents of Bardaiṣan were absorbed in Manichaeism. The resemblances are more than merely formal: both belonged to the Parthian-Iranian culture, and many are the Iranian theologoumena found in the teachings of Bardaiṣan, as also in the teachings of Mani.210 Thus free will is a dogma of Mazdaism; space has a special place in the thought of Bardaiṣan and also with the Magi, who also practised astrology, as Bardaiṣan did.211 Yet there is no sense in searching for analogies, for these also exist between Bardaiṣan and the Stoic-Pythagorean philosophy and the Hermetica.212 We clearly have to do with a product of the confluence of different cultures in Mesopotamia, the Semitic element being dominant.213 Von Wesendonk also shows with other examples that we find various elements in Bardaiṣan that do not exclude one another, but that on the contrary are complementary. Thus he is at the same time a monist and a dualist, as he does not believe in matter being evil by nature, which points to monism, but on the other hand assigns a separate existence even afterwards to the bad element of darkness, 208 Cf. H. Jonas, Gnosis und spätantiker Geist I, Die mythologische Gnosis, FRLANT, N.F. II, 83, 3e Aufl., Göttingen 1964, S. 146; A. J. Festugière, Corpus Hermeticum, T. III, Paris 1954, p. clxxxi sv. 209 O. G. von Wesendonk, ‘Bardesanes und Mānī’, AcOr (L), Vol. X, 1932, SS. 336–363. 210 O. G. von Wesendonk, art. cit., S. 344. 211 O. G. von Wesendonk, art. cit., SS. 346–350; cf. O. G. von Wesendonk, Das Weltbild der Iranier, München 1933, SS. 243–258. 212 O. G. von Wesendonk, art. cit., S. 355f. 213 O. G. von Wesendonk, art. cit., S. 344, espec. Anm. 3.



which had mingled with matter, an obvious motion in the direction of dualism. Our terminology often prevents a more subtle approach, and hides more than it manifests. On the contrary, E. R. Hayes denies all connection between Bardaiṣan and Mani, saying there is not a trace of evidence for it.214 Curiously enough, he remarks in the selfsame book that the only authentic work of Bardaiṣan we still possess, consists of five stanzas in the eleventh book of scholia of Theodore bar Khonai (end of 8th cent.), and this is one of the texts most suitable for setting forth the resemblance and the difference between Bardaiṣan and Mani.215 These stanzas were used as basis by H. H. Schaeder for his disquisition on Bardaiṣan, after he had formerly thoroughly discussed the relation between Bardaiṣan and Mani.216 The work of this great orientalist, who came to quite a different view of Bardaiṣan, may be regarded as the beginning of the third phase of research anent Bardaiṣan.

THE THIRD PERIOD: 1932 TO THE PRESENT In the same way as the second period, the third period opens with the work of a single scholar who attempted a synthesis of nearly all the sources, with the intention of forming a new image of Bardaiṣan. While Nau regarded astrology as Bardaiṣan’s characteristic trait, Schaeder looked upon him as a humanist after the Greek style. For the rest, the course of the third period is largely analogous with that of the second. The sources are again increased, the problem of authenticity is discussed anew, and Bardaiṣan’s relation to the religious and philosophical currents of his time is once more examined. The end of the period offers no surprise: some scholars E. R. Hayes, L’École d’Édesse, Thèse, Paris 1930, p. 96. E. R. Hayes, o.c., p. 79. Hayes devoted an entire chapter to ‘Bardesane et son école’, pp. 74–108, opening no new perspectives. Hayes inclines to regard Bardaiṣan as thehead of a school, rather like Origen was in Alexandria. 216 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform und Fortbildung des Manichäischen Religionssystem’, Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg 1924–25, Leipzig-Berlin 1927, SS. 65–157; espec. S. 73ff.; S. 125. 214 215



(Cerfaux and Klíma) pronounce a non liquet, another (Widengren) sharply criticises Schaeder, while most of the scholars follow after the latter. Schaeder, too, only sketched the contours of a new image and did not utilise all the material: he sought a firm basis for the interpretation of the entire tradition, and considered he had found this in a synthesis of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, as it is transmitted by Theodore bar Khonai and Moses bar Kepha, the information of Ephrem, and the BLC.217 The cosmology sheds light upon certain passages of the BLC, and was known to Ephrem, whose acquaintance with the BLC is also evident. Together, then, these three constitute the firm foundation upon which Bardaiṣan’s system can be reconstructed, by fitting all the other material into this framework. From this latter undertaking Schaeder refrained, so that he has only set up the first part of the proof, which possibly may still turn out to be erroneous. Bardaiṣan created an entirely new image of the world, building it up from elements of Greek philosophy, Christian faith, and the astral conceptions of the east. He attempted to give Christianity a place within the traditional framework, and that links him on the one hand with the early Christian Apologists, on the other hand with the gnosis; Schaeder regards gnosis as a mixture of Greek philosophy of nature and Christian faith, and heartily agrees with Harnack’s well-known definition of it.218 This outlook of Schaeder’s dominated all his work for years, whether he were writing about Mani, Bardaiṣan, or the Orient and the legacy of Greek civilisation.219 In the final instance, Schaeder attaches supreme value to Greek humanism, and this last word is the key to his whole oeuvre. In what guise this humanism appears is an interesting point of investigation for Schaeder, but the heart of the matter is always the same. Thus he greatly values Mani, who has put the Greek philos217 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa in der Überlieferung der griechischen und syrischen Kirche’, ZKG, Bd. 51, 1932, SS. 21–74; espec. S. 27 218 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 67; S. 21–23. 219 Fundamental is: H. H. Schaeder, ‘Der Orient und das griechische Erbe’, Die Antike, Bd. IV, 1928, SS. 226–265; espec. S. 254ff.



ophy of nature into the mythical dress of the East, but the: “Urform” of Manichaeism is Greek philosophy, which supplied the material and the modes of thought for Mani’s grandiose conception.220 Bardaiṣan was the channel, through which this Greek heritage came to Mani; thus it is in the context of Manichaeism that Schaeder first speaks of Bardaiṣan. Countless terms in Mani’s system are borrowed from Bardaiṣan, whose works came to be known in Babylonia during his lifetime, where they came into Mani’s hands.221 In his “Book of Mysteries” Mani has an extensive discussion with Bardaiṣan, particularly about the soul, as the Fihrist and al-Bîrûnî truthfully inform us.222 His interest in astrology and astronomy Mani also owes to Bardaiṣan, from whom his cosmology derives all its elements.223 A great part of the philosophical concepts come from the middle period of Stoicism, particularly from Posidonius, and reached Mani through Bardaiṣan, even continuing to exert their influence in the gnosis of Islam. Some time later Schaeder stated that in his view the creation story of Genesis and the cosmology of Plato’s Timaeus were the models for Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, while the Orient had supplied the mythology. We find something of the same nature in Berossos.224 Here the question can be raised, whether the connecting threads may not run differently, as it is generally assumed that there is a strong “oriental” influence to be observed in Plato’s Timaeus.225 Schaeder’s view of Bardaiṣan, as extensively set forth in the justly famous article of 1932, is therefore based on the synthesis of three sources. In the BLC he sees the dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης menH. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform’, S. 73, 75. H. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform’, S. 71; this is evident from Mani’s polemic with Bardaṣan in the “Book of Mysteries”, fragments of which were preserved by Al-Birûni. 222 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 69f. 223 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform’, S. 125; H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 64. 224 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Der Orient und das griechische Erbe’, S. 257ff., S. 255; H. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform’, S. 125. 225 Cf. S. Pétrement, Essai sur le dualime chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichées, Thèse, Paris 1947, pp. 22–34, for a full discussion of this problem. 220 221



tioned by Eusebius. The addition πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον may be the result of a mistake, or the name Antoninus is the Greek name of Awida, with whom Bardaiṣan converses in the treatise; we know other examples of Orientals with a Greek name besides a native one. 226 In the Praep. Evang., therefore, Eusebius is quoting from the dialogue he had already referred to in the H.E. IV, 30; the distinction made by Haase between two dialogues, one attacking astrology and one defending it, is untenable, were it only on philological grounds. Moreover, the BLC does not contest the power of the stars, only the domain of their rule is restricted. There is no question of Valentinianism with Bardaiṣan: Ephrem names Valentinus once in the twenty-second Hymn against Heresies, without mentioning Bardaiṣan in that connection; besides, Sophia-Chakmuth does not appear in the Mss. of these Hymns, as A. Rücker had already shown, so that argument for Valentinianism drops out.227 Schaeder thoroughly discusses the cosmology transmitted by Theodore bar Khonai, in which he recognises lines of verse, with a caesura in the middle and three stresses in each half. They are certainly not in metre, in contrast with Ephrem’s hymns. Bardaiṣan’s son Harmonius introduced Greek metres, so the quotations in Ephrem’s Hymn 55 against Heresies are taken from him: this poetry is half-way between Bardaiṣan and Mani.228 The latter resolutely developed the dualism, the germ of which is present in Bardaiṣan. He, however, had too optimistic an outlook upon the world for consistent dualism, even though his school may have gone in that direction. Because Bardaiṣan sees evil present in the natural condition of matter and of man, without matter being absolutely evil, his ethics are quite different from those of Mani. Human liberty opens the possibility of fighting H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 411. H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 43; A. Rücker, Des heiligen Ephräms des Syrers Hymnen gegen die Irrlehren, aus dem syr. übersetzt. BKV2, Bd. 61, München 1928, S. 18, Anm. 1. 228 H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, SS. 46–57; Schaeder had already maintained something of the same kind for the Manichaean cosmology as redered by Theodore bar Khonai, in which he saw a poem of Mani himself: H. H. Schaeder, ‘Ein Lied von Mani’, OLZ, Vol. 29, 1936, Kol. 104–107. 226 227



against evil, as is set forth in the BLC. This doctrine of liberty is therefore a necessary complement to Bardaiṣan’s world view, and is not in contradiction with it. Because of this doctrine of liberty, Schaeder calls Bardaiṣan a Christian humanist; his humanism also appears in other matters, e.g. in his lively cultural interest.229 Now and then Schaeder calls Bardaiṣan a gnostic, but he gives this term quite a different content than, for instance, G. Widengren does, who strongly criticised Schaeder. To Schaeder, a gnostic is someone who puts the Christian message into mythical dress by means of concepts taken from Greek philosophy.230 There need be no trace, then, of a pessimistic outlook upon man and the world.231 In the first place it is therefore necessary to examine what is really gnosis, if the work of Schaeder and of his critic Widengren is to be interpreted correctly, for it will have to be clear what is the gnostic element in Bardaiṣan and whether gnosis properly so termed may be found in the work of this “Aramaic philosopher.” The attraction of Schaeder’s conception is, that all the sources can find a place in it except Ephrem’s 55th Hymn against Heresies, while Bardaiṣan holds a definite position in the cultural intercourse between Greece and the East, which throws light upon many traits in his thinking. Before this attractive view becomes established truth, however, the whole tradition will have to be examined over new, the more so as Schaeder’s work was the last attempt to throw some light upon the whole of Bardaiṣan’s personality and thought. The period of research coming after, and in part coinciding with, the work of Schaeder is again devoted to matters of detail and the increasing of source material. A. Baumstark was the first to add a very important source to the stock. He published a text from the Ms. Vat. Syr. 100, in which H. H. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 69ff. For a clear definition by Shaeder, see: H. H. Schaeder, Goethes Erlebnis des Ostens, Leipzig 1938, S. 150. Schaeder is in agreement with Harnack and with R. P. Casey, ‘Two notes on Valeninian Theology’, HThR, Vol. 23, 1930, p. 275. Also: F. Taeschner, Orientalische Stimmen zum Erlösungsgedanken Morgenland, H. 28, Leipzig 1936, SS.80–109; H. H. Schaeder, ‘Der Manichäismus’. 231 This pessimiste outlook is the essential characteristic of the gnostic: cf. H. Jonas, Gnosis un spätantiker Geist I, SS. 143–146. 229 230



there is preserved a work by Îwannîs of Dàrā (early 9th cent.) on the Resurrection of the Bodies. In the first chapters of his book, the author polemises against all who hold dissentient views, including Bardaiṣan. The part concerning the doctrine of Bardaiṣan is distinguished from the rest of the textby greater circumstantiality and better information.232 Îwannîs here renders the cosmology of Bardaiṣan in a version that much resembles that of Moses bar Kepha, although mutual comparison shows that both go back to a single source; this source cannot have been Theodore bar Khonai, as he lacks much that we do find in Moses and Îwannîs together. Beyond Theodore and the source of Moses and Îwannîs there probably lies yet another source of a haeresiological nature. This becomes clear from another branch of the tradition, represented by Michael Syrus, Bar Hebraeus, Agapius of Mabbug and the Copt Ibn al-‘Assāl.233 We shall return to these matters in discussing the texts. Baumstark prints the text of Îwannîs and gives the variants in the text of Moses bar Kepha. It is remarkable that this tradition is preserved by late authors, while earlier sources only hint at it. If Baumstark is right, then at any rate Schaeder’s opinion that Theodore bar Khonai transmits a real poem of Bardaiṣan to us, cannot claim validity. The distinction Schaeder made between real and spurious poetry of Bardaiṣan would thereby become otiose. G. Bornkamm, in his book dealing with the Acts of Thomas, reopens the old problem of the “Hymn of the Soul.” He observes that it is and remains an unanswered question whether Bardaiṣan is the author, but remarks that in ch. 83 of the Acts there is a quotation from the BLC that does not seem at home in the context.234 This tells us nothing regarding the author of the Acts, but indicates that these belong to Bardesanite circles. In that case the same thing

232 A. Baumstark, ‘Iwannis von Dàrā über Bardaiṣàn’, OC, 3e Serie, Bd. 8, Leipzig 1933, SS. 62–71. 233 A. Baumstark, ‘Iwannis von Dàrā’, S. 67; for the texts see Chapter III. 234 G. Bornkamm, Mythos und Legende in den apokryphen Thomas-Akten, FRLANT, N.F. H. 31, Göttingen 1933, S. 86.



might be said of the “Hymn of the Soul.”235 The background of this reasoning is formed by Bornkamm’s opinion, that Hymn 55 against Heresies in particular contains quotations from Bardaiṣan’s poetry, worked into it by Ephrem. This is a much disputed point, as appears e.g. from the work of Schaeder. Only when the hymns of Ephrem have been examined in the context of the whole tradition, will it be possible to pronounce a judicious opinion regarding the “Hymn of the Soul” and the rest of the Acta Thomae. W. Bauer determines the place of Bardaiṣan within the Christianity of Edessa more exactly in his book on orthodoxy and heresy in earliest Christianity.236 Bauer’s expositions aim to prove that orthodoxy was a late product in Christianity, particularly in Edessa and Egypt. There the earliest Christianity was heretical, in the sense given to that concept by the later orthodox theologians and polemists against heresy. To their mind orthodoxy was the most ancient form, and that is the foundation for all stories of haeresiarchs who first adhered to the true faith and afterwards set up a sect of their own, often because of a hurt to their pride: they had wanted to become a bishop and it was prevented, or some tale of that kind.237 This is the light in which all stories of Bardaiṣan’s orthodoxy and heresy must be seen. This view of Bauer is strengthened by the fact, that tradition is completely silent as to discussions between Bardaiṣan and “the orthodox,” though Bardaiṣan does polemise against the Marcionites. This indicates that Bardesanites and Marcionites represent the earliest forms of Christianity known in Edessa.238 The theologians of these regions also devote a disproportionate amount of their work to attacking heresies, for “orthodoxy” still had to make a place for itself. Many traits in the traditional image of Bardaiṣan become intelligible in this light, e.g. his Valentinianism, his excommunication, and so on. With the MarcioBornkamm, o.c., S. 87f., cf. A. F. Findlay, Byways in early christian literature, Edinburgh 1923, p. 275; A. F. J. Klijn, The acts of Thomas, Suppl. NovTest. V, Leiden 1962, p. 40, n. 3. 236 W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, BHTh, 10, Tübingen 1934. 237 Bauer, o.c., S. 3ff. 238 Bauer, o.c., S. 27; also A. F. J. Klijn, The acts of Thomas, Suppl. NovTest. V, Leiden 1962, p. 32. 235



nites, then, the Bardesanites represent the earliest Christianity in Edessa, so they more or less faithfully preserved the old situation. That is why the Bardesanites rejected the apocryphal correspondence between St. Paul and the Corinthians, as it was afterwards added to the Corpus Paulinum for anti-gnostical reasons. We now see Ephrem’s remark upon the matter from a different angle. Bauer does consider it possible, though, that the Acta Thomae have something to do with Bardaiṣan and his group.239 Bauer’s work is chiefly important for the insight it gives into the way “orthodoxy” went to work against the heretics; many things adduced against Bardaiṣan by later authors are part of a regular pattern of arguments, including the statement that at some period the heretic had belonged to the true faith, but had lapsed.240 The philosophical line in Bardaiṣan’s thought is much stressed by G. Furlani, who regarded Bardaiṣan as a Stoic.241 Furlani published part of the sixth chapter of a treatise by Sergius of Resh ‘Aina (d.536) on the categories of Aristotle, preserved in the Syr. Ms. BM. Add. 14,658. In this, Sergius deals with the properties of bodies, which are also regarded as bodies by the Stoics. Sergius observes that Bardaiṣan does the same, and this remark clearly results from his own reading of writings by Bardaiṣan.242 Schaeder had also pointed out already that we find Stoic ideas in Bardaiṣan, including his doctrine of the elements, but Furlani thinks Bardaiṣan was so strongly influenced by the Stoa that one may call him Bardaiṣan the Stoic. Particularly Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of Fate will prove to contain numerous Stoic teachings if examined in that sense, opines Furlani. B. Rehm attempts to fill up a gap in the work of Schaeder, who paid very little attention to the BLC, the “weitaus wichtigste

Bauer, o.c., S. 47. This is recounted e.g. by Epiphanius, Panarion 56; Eusebius, H.E., IV, 30 reverses the relationship. The Bardaiṣan biography of Michael Syrus also has a similar tale of Bardaiṣan. 241 G. Furlani, ‘Sur le stoïsisme de Bardesane d’Édesse’, ArOr, Vol. IX, 1937, pp. 347–352; idem, Encicl. Ital. VI, 1938, p. 167–68. 242 Furlani, art. cit., p. 351. 239 240



Bruchstück seiner Werke.”243 Rehm therefore again tries to make clear the literary relation between the BLC, Eusebius’ quotation from it in the Praep. Evang. 6, 10, 1 seqq. and the laws of the countries in the Ps. Clem. Recogn. 9, 19–29. He regards this work as all the more necessary, since the views of Nau and Hilgenfeld have proved untenable, and the simple solution of Levi della Vida and Schaeder is not satisfactory if one takes account of the expositions of Haase. Rehm finds a close affinity between Eusebius’ Praep. Evang. and the BLC: in both we notice some extra material bearing on Edessa’s local or regional conditions, which is presumably secondary. From the introductory formula of the quotation in the Praep. Evang. it is obvious, that Eusebius is quoting the BLC, though here and there somewhat loosely. That the Syriac version was the original Rehm considers unproved and even improbable, although wellknown orientalists have pronounced in its favour. It seems unlikely to him that at the time of Bardaiṣan’s life such a treatise could be written in Syriac, because of the subtle philosophical distinctions in it. But perhaps Eusebius is right when he says that Bardaiṣan’s writings were translated into Greek by his pupils, although we must reckon with the possibility that Eusebius had a blurred image of Bardaiṣan and his work.244 Rehm then discusses the question whether the passage Ps. Clem. Recogn. 9, l9–29 can be derived from the text of Eusebius or the BLC. He comes to a negative result: the text of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. is the independent treatment of a source to which the text of Eusebius and the BLC also go back. This source is probably Bardaiṣan’s dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης, little as we know of this work. An objection to this view is, that the texts of Caesarius and of Eusebius often agree, so that this must have been even more so in the Greek Recogn. But this is also owing to the use of περὶ εἱμαρμένης as source. Rehm attempts to gain a little more information regard-

B. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, Philologus, Bd. XCLII, 1938, SS. 218–217. 244 Rehm, art. cit., SS. 224–229. 243



ing the latter work, and calls upon Diodorus of Tarsus.245 On the basis of the excerpts of Diodorus preserved by Photius, Rehm concludes that the distinction between Nature and Fate that we find in the BLC is not present in περὶ εἱμαρμένης. Rehm sees other traces of this work in Recogn. 3, 15; Recogn. 5, 25 (= Hom. 11, 8); Recogn. 5, 27 (= Hom. 11, 10); Recogn. 8, 56; Hom. 10, 5 (= Recogn. 5, 13). Yet there are great differences between the outlook of Bardaiṣan on astrological genesis and that of the Ps. Clem. writings. The latter reject astrology entirely, while Bardaiṣan assigns a limited power to Fate. Therefore the Ps. Clem. writings see the demons at work behind the “motus inrationabiles,” while Bardaiṣan regards the latter as showing the restricted power God has given the heavenly bodies. The ultimate spur of human actions is for the Ps. Clem. writings the “timor Dei”; for Bardaiṣan it is the power of the laws.246 In certain instances, therefore, Rehm prefers the text of the Ps. Clem., regarding it as having more clearly preserved Bardaiṣan’s train of thought, e.g. in the introductory formula of the laws.247 Another old problem again brought up was: are the Odes of Solomon Bardesanite or not? J. de Zwaan gave a negative answer to this in an article of 1937.248 Ephrem imitated Bardaiṣan’s poetry, and the Odes have the most parallels with Ephrem’s hymns. Therefore De Zwaan explicitly tries to show that the Odes cannot come from Bardaiṣan or from his school. According to De Zwaan Bardaiṣan’s theology is an “evolutionist theodicy,” evidenced by the BLC and his cosmology. These ideas find no support in the Odes, which speak of baptism and metaphysical grace, a concept entirely

245 Rehm, art. cit., S. 239; Diodorus of Tarsus, περὶ εἱμαρμένης, excerpt 223 of Photius. 246 Rehm, art. cit., S. 246; cf. H. J. Schoeps, Aus Frühchristlicher Zeit, Tübingen 1950, SS. 38–81: ‘Die Dämonologie der Pseudo-klementinen’. 247 Rehm, art. cit., S. 247. Rehm expresses views of the same kind in: B. Rehm, ‘Zur Entstehung der pseudoclementinischen Schriften’, ZNW, Bd. 37, 1938, SS. 77–184; espec. S. 157. Cf. Die Pseudoklementinen I, Homilien, hrgs. v. B. Rehm, GCS Bd. 42, Berlin-Leipzig 1953, S. VII. 248 J. de Zwaan, ‘The Edessene origin of the Odes of Solomon’, Quantulacumque, Studies presented to Kirsopp Lake, London 1937, pp. 285–302.



lacking in Bardaiṣan. The Odes are “vulgarchristlich,” while the theology of Bardaiṣan displays an aristocratic character.249 How difficult it is to get any further with these problems connected with the person and the work of Bardaiṣan, appears from the further history of this research, for there is very little originality in the work. In the RAC L. Cerfaux gave a summary regarding Bardaiṣan, in an article based on the work of Nau and Schaeder;250 a personal opinion hardly transpires. The same may be said of the chapter devoted to Bardaiṣan by D. Amand in his book Fatalisme et Liberté, in which he analyses in particular the BLC. 251 Amand investigates in how far the arguments of Carneades against astrology are found in this treatise. The νόμιμα βαρβαρικά appear frequently, as the title already shows, but Carneades’ anti-fatalistic moral argumentation is also to be seen, although Bardaiṣan has placed it in the setting of faith in God the Creator, so causing some displacement of accent.252 He sees the treatise in the same light as Schaeder: the BLC contains authentic ideas of Bardaiṣan. These Amand has narrowly examined, and he finds Bardaiṣan not to have been opposed to astrology on principle, but to have been bent on critically examining the matter and carefully delimiting the fields where the influence of nature, Fate, or free will is at work.253 Amand repeatedly speaks of the philosophic tenor of Bardaiṣan’s work, in which he recognises Stoic and Platonic ideas, yet he does not particularise where, how, in what connection he sees them. His knowledge of the matter is too indirect to allow of his doing so. Schaeder is also followed in the main by S. Pétrement, who wrote an important book on the structure of dualism, and treats Bardaiṣan in that connection. Bardaiṣan has not entirely conquered the transcendental dualism of the gnostics, but lays far greater stress on the antithesis of counterparts within the world; in this de Zwaan, art. cit., p. 292ff. L. Cerfaux, art. Bardesanes, RAC I, col. 1180–1186 (this fasc. of the RAC was delivered in 1943). 251 D. Amand, Fatalism et Liberté dans l’antiquité grecque, Université de Louvain, Recueil de travaux d’histoire et de philologie, 3me série, 19e fasc., Leuven 1945, pp. 228–257. 252 Amand, o.c., p. 254. 253 Amand, o.c., p. 245sv. 249 250



way he comes close to a monistic system. Therefore Bardaiṣan does not require a separation of the mixture the world consists of, but a new mixture.254 Thus S. Pétrement says the same thing as Schaeder in other words, although unlike Schaeder she considers the term of dualism applicable in the case of Bardaiṣan. Considering her general conception of the phenomenon of dualism, one can fully understand this.255 M. Pohlenz wrote the history of that movement of mind and spirit which is indicated by the term “Stoa,” and this led him to speak of Bardaiṣan: he too chiefly follows the expositions of Schaeder.256 However, he is the only author to enter into the article by B. Rehm, in which some kind of reconstruction of the dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης is attempted from Diodorus of Tarsus and the Ps. Clem. writings.257 In this article Rehm makes out that the distinction made between “nature” and Fate in the BLC, did not form part of περὶ εἱμαρμένης, as it is not found in Diodorus. Pohlenz disagrees with him on this, maintaining that Diodorus only wanted to show that Bardaiṣan allowed too much scope to Fate. Besides, the distinction is also found in Recogn. 8, 44 and in Alexander Aphrodisiensis.258 This latter point might therefore be interpreted in favour of the originality of the BLC. Rehm is also criticised by H. J. Schoeps, who considers it improbable that Bardaiṣan’s dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης, which is completely unknown to us, should have been the source of the “Grundschrift” of the Ps. Clem. writings, and on the other hand that of the BLC, which Eusebius borrowed from.259 The author of the “Grundschrift” certainly did not make use of the work of a gnostic, as he only works with Jewish254 S. Pétrement, Essai sur le dualime chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichées, Thèse, Paris 1947, p. 194, n. 73. 255 Pétrement, o.c., p. 195, 312. S. Pétrement explains her conception of dualism in the introduction of her o.c.; cf. S. Pétrement, Le dualime dans l’histoire de la philosophie et des religions, 2me éd., Paris 1946, passim. 256 M. Pohlenz, Die Stoa. Geschichte einer geistigen Bewegung, 2 Bd., Göttingen 1948–49, S. 409. 257 Rehm, art. cit., S. 240. 258 Pohlenz, o.c., II, 197f. 259 H. J. Schoeps, ‘Astrologisches im pseudoklementinischen Roman’, VigChr, Vol. V, 1951, SS. 88–100, espec. S. 88ff.



Christian and Jewish sources. The common source of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and the BLC, according to Schoeps, was a Jewish apologetic against fatalism and astrology. This apologetic was worked into the “Grundschrift” and was also used by Bardaiṣan.260 An argument for the use of a Jewish apologetic is also that in Ps. Clem. Recogn. 9, 28 the example is adduced of the Jewish circumcision octava die, exactly as prescribed by the Halakah, while the 29th chapter comes from the author of the “Grundschrift”; there the example of the Christian is given.261 The argumentation of this Jewish apologetic ultimately goes back to Carneades. If Sehoeps is right in this matter, the line between the arguments of Philo Alexandrinus and of Bardaiṣan for the freedom of the will becomes a little more clearly marked. However, the propositions of Sehoeps aroused much criticism, also on the part of G. Strecker,262 who does regard περὶ εἱμαρμένης as a source for the “Grundschrift.” Nor is the author of the latter an Ebionite (contra Schoeps), but an adherent of a Jewish Christianity with gnostic tendencies.263 The majority of the authors consider Schaeder’s view of Bardaiṣan acceptable in the main, sometimes with slight corrections.264 An exception to this is C. Widengren, who has repeatedly criticised Schaeder’s conception of gnosis, and himself points to the IranianParthian influence, upon the phenomenon of gnosis.265 In so far Widengren may be regarded as directly continuing the work of R. Reitzenstein. Widengren sees Bardaiṣan also as a representative of this Iranian-Parthian culture, into which Hellenistic and Semitic H. J. Schoeps, ‘Astrologisches’, S. 90. H. J. Schoeps, ‘Astrologisches’, S. 90 (Idem Heintze ans Schmidt). 262 G. Strecker, Das Judenchristentum in den Pseudoklementinen, TU, Bd. 70, Berlin 1958, S. 32; S. 256. 263 Strecker, o.c., S. 213ff.; cf. W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, 2e Aufl. hrsg. v. G. Strecker, BHTh, 10, Tübingen 1964, Nachtrag von G. Strecker, I, ‘Zum Problem des Judenchristentums’, SS. 245ff. 264 E.g. J. Quasten, Patrology, Vol. I, Utrecht 1950, p. 263ff. 265 G. Wildengren, ‘Der iranische Hintergund der Gnosis’, ZRGG, IV, 1952, SS. 97–114; G. Wildengren, ‘Stand und Aufgaben der iranischen Religionsgeschichte II’, Numen, Vol. II, S. 69, Anm. 111. 260 261



elements have also been absorbed.266 He is a gnostic, whose ideas are derived on the one hand from the Mesopotamian world, on the other from Zurvanite theology. 267 The concept of “mingling,” which plays a great part in Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, ultimately goes back to the middle-Iranian concept gumēčišn.268 Many of the conceptions we meet with in his poetry, such as the Father and Mother of Life, the Bridal chamber and so forth, derive on the contrary from Mesopotamian material.269 Thus Widengren sees Bardaiṣan as a typical representative of an Iranian-Semitic culture, the nursingground of gnosis, to which he adhered. No wonder Widengren looks upon the work of Schaeder as insufficient and also erroneous. O. Klíma, too, regards Bardaiṣan’s system as the product of many different cultural influences, Semitic, Iranian and Greek, and for the rest constantly proclaims our ignorance concerning Bardaiṣan.270 This is not surprising, considering the many divergent opinions that have been given forth regarding Bardaiṣan. The same uncertainty is displayed by J. Daniélou, who thinks the doctrinal position of Bardaiṣan hard to determine. He sees him as a gnostic of Jewish-Christian origin, who represents an archaic way of thinking and recalls the Essenian doctrine as we find it in the so-called Manual of Discipline of Qumran. His dualism may be a result of Iranian influences. It should be remarked that a number of scholars are also persuaded they have found Iranian theologoumena in the community of Qumran, thus completing the argument.271 To the

266 G. Wildengren, Mesopotamian elements in Manichaeism. Studies in Manichaean, Mandaean and Syrian-Gnostic Religion, UVA, 1946, 3, UppsalaLeipzig 1946, S. 18, 39, 110, 176ff.; G. Wildengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parthischer Zeit, Köln-Opladen 1960, S. 7, 87f. 267 G. Wildengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, Stuttgart 1961, S. 17f.; Wildengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung, S. 40, Anm. 138. 268 Wildengren, Mesopotamian elements, p. 44, n. 1. 269 Wildengren, Mesopotamian elements, p. 14f.; p. 16, p. 39, p. 110. 270 O. Klíma, Manis und Lehen, Prag 1962, S. 135ff. 271 R. Aubert – J. Daniélou, Geschiedenis van de Kerk I, HilversumAntwerpen 1963, p. 221v.; J. Duchesne-Guillemin, ‘Le Zervanism et les manuscrits de la Mer Morte’, Indo-Iranian Journal, Vol. 1, 1957, pp. 96–99;



same complex belong the Odes of Solomon and the Evangelium Veritatis, which display mutual relationship, while the Odes also have affinity with the Hymns of the community of Qumran.272 Yet very much is only hypothetical here, as hypotheses also play a great part in reconstructing Bardaiṣan’s life and works. The problems raised thereby have sufficiently transpired in the above: there is very little unanimity among the authors who have devoted some part of their oeuvre to Bardaiṣan. Yet there is every reason to make a new attempt, as since the work of Nau, superannuated in many points, no monograph has appeared summing up our information from all the sources. Nau himself already left very much material out of account, and only designed a basic pattern. In many fields our knowledge has increased considerably; Manichaeism, Jewish Christianity in Syria, and gnosis may be instanced. Moreover, a clearer idea has gradually emerged of cultural contacts, particularly those in Syria and Mesopotamia.273 This gives more relief to the backgrounds of Bardaiṣan’s thought. A necessary condition for this renewed investigation of Bardaiṣan and the world of his mind, is a historical and critical analysis of the existing sources, especially the BLC and the works of Ephrem in so far as these treat of Bardaiṣan.274 Yet also the rest of the Syriac tradition, H. Michaud, ‘Un mythe zervanite dans un des manuscrits de Qumrân’, VT, Vol. V, 1955, pp. 137–147. 272 Cf. J. Carmignae, ‘Les affinités qumraniennes de la onzième Ode de Salomom’, Rev. Qumr. Vol. 3, 1961; E. Segelberg, ‘Evangelium Veritatis, A Confirmation Homily and its Relation to the Odes of Salomo’, Orient. Suec. Vol. 8, 1959, pp. 1–42; N. Shenke, Die Herkunft des sogenannten Evangelium Veritatis, Göttingen 1959; cf. J. Doresse, Les livres secrets des gnostiques d’Egypte, Paris 1958. 273 Cf. G. Wildengren, ‘Quelques rapports entre Juifs et Iraniens à l’époque des Parthes’, Suppl. V.T., Vol. IV, Leiden 1957, pp. 197–241; G. Wildengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung, passim, with an extensive list of literature. 274 The authenticity of a number of Ephrem’s works is debates. Cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte des altkirchlichen Litteratur, IV, Freiburg 1924, SS. 361ff., with bibliography. I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrol. Syr., Roma 1958, pp. 52–77, gives an exact list of all the works of Ephrem and their editions.



and the Greek and Arabic tradition, require to be worked over anew, the more so as the number of sources has slightly increased. The nature of the extremely disparate material is such, that examination from the point of view of literary history and interpretation of the sources must go hand in hand to support and strengthen one another, in order to determine the value of each individual source. Particular aspects of Bardaiṣan are therefore brought forward in treating the various sources, and some connections are traced with the other traditions. The total image of Bardaiṣan thus emerges bit by bit, in accordance with the character of the sources, which admit of no other method. Within this compass, parallels are occasionally drawn with other cultural and religious phenomena in the Syrian-Mesopotamian region, merely to serve for the further adstruction or illustration of the argument. A complete comparative investigation would fall outside the scope of the present work. The parallels set off the picture by showing something of Bardaiṣan’s background and spiritual milieu. In the final chapter an attempt will be made to sum up the data obtained and to draw as complete a portrait of Bardaiṣan as possible, though certain aspects will remain wrapped in semi-obscurity, since tradition imparts insufficient light. However, the “ziemlich änigmatische Persönlichkeit” of Bardaiṣan will thus part with some of his riddles, while those remaining will prove to be enigmas indeed.

CHAPTER 2: THE BOOK OF THE LAWS OF COUNTRIES A. THE PROBLEM FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF LITERARY HISTORY In the form in which we know it, the BLC suggests a number of questions that up to the present have not found satisfactory answers; the introduction has sufficiently illustrated the lack of consensus in these matters. In short, these questions are the following: Was the BLC originally written in Syriac, or is it a translation from the Greek? The doubt voiced by Rehm regarding the originality of the Syriac version, makes it necessary to pose this question anew.1 In the second place the relation between the BLC and those passages from it quoted by Eusebius in the Praep. Evang. VI, 10.1–48, and by the Ps. Clem. Recogn. in the chapters 10–20 of the IXth book, has not so far been adequately elucidated, particularly as there are differences between these three recensions which cannot be explained through corruption of the text. Which treatise of Bardaiṣan did Eusebius use? Is he, in the Praep. Evang., quoting the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον that he mentions in the H.E. IV, 30, or is that a separate work which is now lost? In other words, is the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης more or less identical with the BLC, or not. What does Eusebius mean by the addition πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον? If Eusebius saw a Greek version, as he certainly did, then how did this Greek version originate, and what is its relation to the Syriac text we know? Do the Ps. Clem. Recogn. or their “Grundschrift” (G) quote from a treatise by Bardaiṣan without mentioning his name, or did Bardaiṣan borrow from G? Or did they both independently make use of an existing source? Or was 1

B. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 227ff.




Rehm right in his view that the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης of Bardaiṣan was the source for G, and that the BLC originated from the same treatise with considerable modifications, so that the BLC cannot be regarded as an authentic writing from which Bardaiṣan’s ideas may be reconstructed? Fundamental for this latter point is, that there should lie a clear distinction between the ideas in the BLC and those advanced by Diodorus of Tarsus in his περὶ εἱμαρμένης, from which the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης of Bardaiṣan may be reconstructed with the aid of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. IX, 10–29.2 Pohlenz attacked Rehm upon this, so that it requires to be examined afresh. If both Bardaiṣan and G independently made use of some source, as Schoeps supposes in the track of Heintze, then what was its nature? Was it a Jewish apologetic, in which the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά had a place, or was it of a different kind? Closely linked with this problem, is the question how the motive of the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά reached Bardaiṣan, as it ultimately goes back to Carneades. Moreover, in answering this question one must consider that there is much in common between the ideas of Bardaiṣan and those of the author of G, an affinity not confined to the passages Ps. Clem. Recogn. IX, 19–29. In other words, in how far did Bardaiṣan independently continue existing traditions, which are also to be found in G, or did G make frequent use of Bardaiṣan’s works? The all-important question is, whether the BLC is to be regarded as an authentic rendering of Bardaiṣan’s ideas or as a later transformation of them. His value as a source stands or falls according to the answer. That is also the reason why all the questions raised above form a single complex, and cannot be answered independently of one another. The material from which we may hope to compose an answer to this complex of questions, consists of a number of texts, and a series of remarks by the Church Fathers who wrote in Greek. In the first place there is the Syriac text of the BLC, preserved in a 7th or 6th century Ms., a copy of another Syriac text. In any case then, our text of the BLC is not a direct translation from the Greek, if


Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 239–247.



indeed it is such a translation at all.3 Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 10, 1–10 corresponds more or less with BLC, col. 559, 11 – col. 563, 1; Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 10, 11–48 corresponds almost word for word with BLC, col. 583, 5 – col. 611, 8. This Praep. Evang. by Eusebius of Caesarea was written in 313.4 With the second passage there also corresponds Ps. Clem. Recogn. IX, 19–29, without great divergences. The Ps. Clem. Recogn. originated around 360 in Syria; we know the work in a Latin translation from the hand of Rufinus.5 The Greek version of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. was used by Caesarius, the brother of Gregorius of Nazianze, in his Quaestiones c. 47, 48. Georgius Hamartolus, in his turn, borrowed F. Nau, Une biographie inédite, p. 20. For a description of this Ms., which comes from the monastery in the Nitrian desert, see: W. Wright, Catalogue of the syriac Manuscripts, London 1872, pp. 1154–1160. There are a number of editions and translations of the BLG: W. Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum (text and English translation); A. Merx, Bardesanes von Edessa (containing a German translation); F. Nau, Bardesane, l’astrologue, Le Livre des Lois des Pays, Texte Syriaque et Traduction Française (the Syriac text was reprinted in 1931); F. Nau, Patrologia Syriaca I, 2 (containing a Syriac text and a Latin translation); G. Levi della Vida, Bardesane. Il dialogo delle Leggi dei Paesi, Scrittori Cristiani Antichi 3, Roma 1921 (an Italian translation); H. Wiesmann, ‘Die Schrift über die Gesetze der Länder’, in : 75 Jahre Stella Matutina, Festschrift Band 1, Feldkirch 1931, SS. 553–572 (a German translation); H. J. W. Drijvers, The Book of the Laws of Counties, Assen 1965 (Syriac text and English translation). Henceforth, quotation will be from Nau’s edition in the Patrologia Syriaca I, 2, col. 536–610, and from the present writer’s edition with English translation, which gives Nau’s numbering of columns. 4 Cf. C. Schmidt, Studien zu den Pseudo-Clementinen, TU, 46, 1, Leipzig 1929, S. 6, Anm. 1. Edition of the Praep. Evang.: K. Mras, Eusebius, Praep. Evang., GCS, 43, 1, Berlin 1954; this is the edition quoted from here. Mras has altered the division here and there: VI, 10, 1–48 – VI, 10, 1–28 in the earlier editions, e.g. that of E. H. Gifford, 4 Vols, Oxford 1903. 5 This part in: Migne, Series Graeca I, 1409–1415; up to the present, a modern critical edition of the Ps. Cl. Recogn. is lacking. Cf. B. Rehm, Die Pseudoklementinen I, Homilien, GCS 42, Berlin-Leipzig 1953, S. VIII. The Latin translation of Rufinus was made c. 405. The whole matter of Pseudo-Clementine research cannot be gone into here; for the present position see: G. Streeker, Das Judenchristentum in den Pseudoklementinen, TU, 70. Berlin 1958 and H. J. Schoeps, Das Judenchristentum, Bern u. München 1964. 3



from Caesarius in his Chronicon.6 This part of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. already formed part of the so-called “Grundschrift” of the Ps. Clem. literature, which originated in Syria c.220.7 In addition, the work of Diodorus, bishop of Tarsus (d. 392) περὶ εἱμαρμένης shows that he was acquainted with writings by Bardaiṣan, whose adherents he attacks in ch. 51 of this work, from which Photius preserved an excerpt in cod. 223.8 The Vita of Aberkios, of the 4th cent., also evidences knowledge of the BLC or a closely related text. In a conversation between Aberkios and Euxeinianos about religion, the latter puts a number of questions to Aberkios, that correspond in content and sequence with the questions which Awida puts to Bardaiṣan in the BLC.9 Euxeinianos represents the standpoint of Marcion, who is perhaps masked by this name. As a result, all astrological concepts have disappeared from this conversation, as Marcion has nothing to do with these. One wonders therefore, what the relation is between the BLC and the dialogues against the Marcionites, that Bardaiṣan is supposed to have written.10 Besides these direct or indirect witnesses to the text of the BLC, the Greek-writing Fathers repeatedly speak of a dialogue on Fate by Bardaiṣan. As this dialogue on Fate has been identified sevThis text of Caesarius is to be found: Migne SG XXXVIII, 977– 988 (question 109–111); the relevant part of the Chronicon of Georgius Hamartolus: J. A. Cramer, Anecdota graeca e codd. manuscr. Bibliothecarum Oxoniensium, Vol. IV, Oxford 1837, p. 236 sep., also in V. Langlois, FHG V, 2. 7 G. Strecker, Das Judenchristentum, S. 32; none of the scholars who have studied the Pseudo-Clementines doubt, that this portion formed part of G. (Strecker, Rehm, Waitz, Schoeps, Heintze, Schmidt, Cullman). Until recently the general opinion was that G originated around 220, mainly owing to the publications of B. Rehm: B. Rehm, art. Clemens Romanus II, RAC III, 1957, Sp. 197–206; B. Rehm, ‘Zur Entstehung der pseudoclementinischen Schriften’, ZNW 37, 1938, SS. 77–184. Strecker assumes that the origin of G was later, c. 260, Das Judenchristentum, S. 267. 8 MPG 103, 829 C–832 B; 876 A–877 A. cf. V. Ermoni, ‘Diodore de Tarse et son rôle doctrinal’, Le Muséon, N.S. II, 1901, pp. 422–444. 9 Th. Nissen, ‘Die Petrusakten und ein bardesanitischer Dialog in der Aberkiosvita’, ZNW 9, 1908, S. 315. 10 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; Hippolytus, Refutatio VII, 31. 6



eral times with the BLC, it is important to arrange the texts systematically, to see what conclusions may be drawn. Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30, speaks of dialogues of Bardaiṣan against the Marcionites and adherents of other heresies, which his pupils have translated from the Syriac into Greek, and continues as follows: Ἐν οἶς ἐστιν καὶ ὁ πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον ἱκανώτατος αὐτοῦ περὶ εἱμαρμένης διάλογος ὅσα τε ἄλλα φασὶν αὐτὸν προφάσει τοῦ τότε διωγμοῦ συγγράψαι. Among these there is also his most excellent dialogue on Fate with (or: against; or: dedicated to) Antoninus and what else he is said to have written in connection with the persecution then taking place.11

In the VIth book of the Praep. Evang. Eusebius particularly attacks astrology, and in VI, 9, 32 he says that the moment has now arrived in his demonstration to consider the arguments of the astrologers against the Chaldaeans. He takes these from Bardaiṣan’s dialogues with his friends: παραθήσομαι δέ σοι καὶ τῶνδε τὰς ἀποδείξεις ἐξ ἀνδρὸς Σύρου μὲν τὸ γένος, ἐπ᾿ ἄκρον δὲ τῆς Χαλδαικῆς ἐπιστήμης ἐληλακότος. Βαρδησάνης ὄνομα τῷ ἀνδρί, ὃς ἐν τοῖς πρὸς τοὺς ἑταίρους διαλόγοις τάδε πη μνημονεύεται φάναι. And of this I will afford you proofs borrowed from a man, by birth a Syrian, who attained to the highest knowledge of the Chaldaean art. The man is called Bardaiṣan, who in the dialogues with his friends states the following, as we are told.

After this, there follow in VI, 10, 1–48 the two passages referred to, to which the above therefore serves as introduction. 12 A number of authors have obviously borrowed from Eusebius’ Ecclesias11 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; ed. E. Schwartz, GGS, 9, 1, Leipzig 1903. The Syriac text is in agreement with this: W. Wright – W. McLean, The ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, Cambridge 1898, p. 243f; transl.: E. Nestle, Die Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius aus dem Syrischen übersetzt, TU, N.F. VI, 2, Leipzig 1901, S. 164. 12 Ed. K. Mras, GCS 43, 1.



tical History. In the first place Hieronymus (c.340–420), De Viris illustribus, c.XXXIII: …Scripsit infinita adversus omnes paene haereticos, qui aetate eius pullulaverant. In quibis clarissimus et fortissimus liber est quem Marco Antonio de fato tradidit et multa alia super persecutione volumina quae sectatores eius de syra lingua verterunt in graecam… He wrote innumerable books against nearly all the heretics, who were swarming in his time. Among these is the very famous and influential book on Fate, which he dedicated to Marcus Antonius, and many other books respecting the persecution, which his followers translated from Syriac into Greek…13

The whole passage makes the impression of having been taken literally from Eusebius. In the second place Theodoretus of Cyrus (c.395–460), Haeretic. Fab. Comp. 1,22: …πολλὰ δὲ καὶ τῇ Σύρων συνέγραψε γλώττῃ καὶ ταῦτα τινες μετέφρασαν εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα φωνήν. Ἐντετύχηκα δὲ κἀγὼ λόγοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ κατὰ εἱμαρμένης γραφεῖσι, καὶ πρὸς τὴν Μαρκίωνος αἵρεσιν καὶ ἄλλοις οὐκ ὀλίγοις. He also wrote many treatises in Syriac, that some have translated into Greek. I, too, have handled writings of his, dealing with Fate, directed against the heresy of Marcion and numerous others.

On the one hand Theodoretus follows the text of Eusebius, on the other he gives a version of his own, founded on personal information. This is also evident from what he tells us about Bardaiṣan’s son Harmonius.14 It is important that Theodoretus does not mention Antoninus, whoever he may be. Finally Nicephorus Callistus (d.1335?) freely made use of the work of Eusebius in composing

Ed. G. Herding, London 1924. Cf. A. Feder, Studien zur Schriftstellerkatalog des hl. Hieronymus, 1927. 14 MPG 83, col. 372. Here Theodoretus also speaks of Harmonius; also in his H.E. IV, 29, ed. L. Parmentier, GCS 44, Berlin 1954 (2te Auful.). 13



his ecclesiastical history; Nicephorus Callistus H.E., IV, 11: (speaking of the writings of Bardaiṣan): …ἐν οἷς καὶ ὁ πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον περὶ εἱμαρμένης αὐτῷ πονηθεὶς ἱκανῶς τὸν Πατέρα τοῦ Λόγου χαρακτηρίζων… …Among these is also the treatise he composed on Fate against (dedicated to, with) Antoninus, which sufficiently characterises the Father of the Word…15

Thus it is only Theodoretus of Cyrus who has a restricted individual value beside Eusebius. If we may take it that Theodoretus had handled writings of Bardaiṣan, and there is no reason whatever to doubt his statement to that effect, then the fact that he does not mention Antoninus in connection with a treatise on Fate becomes doubly important. Moses of Chorene, History of Armenia, II, 66, where a “letter from Bardaiṣan to Antoninus” is spoken of, need not be considered here, for it is entirely dependent on Eusebius.16 A peculiar interest attaches to the report of Epiphanius of Salamis (c.315–403), Panarion 56 (written 374–377): …ὃς πολλὰ Ἀβειδὰν τὸν ἀστρονόμον κατὰ εἱμαρμένης λέγων συνελογίσατο καὶ ἄλλα δὲ κατὰ τὴν εὐσεβῆ πίστιν ἐμφέρεται αὐτοῦ συντάγματα… In a conversation that he had with Awida, the astronomer, about Fate, he adduced many arguments against it, and other writings of his about our sacred faith are also mentioned…17

Awida is Bardaiṣan’s principal interlocutor in the BLC, and there is no reason to suppose that Epiphanius is not referring to the BLC in this passage. In what language Epiphanius may have seen or read this work, is hard to say. He was a linguist, and also understood Syriac, so that he had access to sources not known in the West. As

MPG 145, col. 1002. V. Langlois, Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de l’Arménie I = FHG V, 2, p. 67 (French translation); cf. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 41, Anm. 35. 17 Epiphanius, Panarion 56, ed. K. Holl, GCS 31, Leipzig 1922. 15 16



a rule his reports are reliable, although earlier authors did not think so.18 Besides this source material, the following may be regarded as certain. After the expositions of Nöldeke, Levi della Vida and Schaeder there can be no doubt about it, that the BLC was originally written in Syriac.19 It is not necessary to recapitulate the whole argumentation here. The difficulties put forward by Rehm are not of a philological nature. He considers it improbable that in the time of Bardaiṣan a treatise on so complicated a subject could be written in Syriac.20 Moreover, Rehm remarks that a great part of the material in the BLC is of Greek origin. The latter argument certainly need not plead in favour of a Greek original of the BLC. Syria was a centre of Hellenistic culture, already long before Bardaiṣan’s time; numerous Stoics were of Syrian origin, e.g. Posidonius of Apamea.21 That Syria was bilingual is a clear symptom.22 It is precisely the intermingling of Greek and real Syriac terms in the BLC which reflects this situation.23 Moreover, the distinction between ‫ ܦܘܣܝܣ‬and ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬which plays a part in the BLC, can only be clearly rendered in Syriac.24 Rehm’s first argument can be put aside as not 18 Cf. W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, 2te Aufl. hrsg. v. G. Strecker, BHTh 10, Tübingen 1964, Nachtrag von G. Strecker, S. 284; P. Fraenkel, ‘Histoire sainte et hérésie chez Epiphane de Salamine’, RThPh, 12, 1962, pp. 175–191. 19 Th. Nöldeke, ‘Zum “Buch der Gesetze der Lander”,’ ZDMG Bd. 64, 1910, SS. 555–560; G. Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici, 1.-Sul “Libro delle Leggi dei Paesi”,’ Riv. d. Studi Orientali VIII, 1919–20, pp. 709–715; Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 33f.; also A. Schall, Studien über griechische Fremdwörter im Syrischen, Darmstadt 1960, S. 72f., assumes that the dialogue was originally written in Syriac. 20 Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 227. 21 M. Pohlenz, Die Stoa, S. 208; F. Cumont, Astrology and Religion, p. 69. F. Cumont, Lux Perpetua, Paris 1949, p. 157 sv. 22 Cf. G. Khouri-Sarkis, ‘Propos liminaire’, l’Orient Syrien, I, 1956, pp. 3–30 espec. pp. 26svv.: ‘La Syrie bilingue’. A. Schall, o.c. passim. 23 A. Schall, o.c., SS. 74–80; for Hellenism in Syria see: Ph. K. Hitti, History of Syria, London 1951, pp. 231–348. 24 Cf. F. Haase, Zur Bardesanischen Gnosis, S. 93ff. A. Schall, o.c. S. 76, does not consider this distinction quite certain and thinks that ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is also



proved. On the contrary, other data go to show that something of this kind was certainly not impossible. The letter of Mara bar Serapion, which is probably much older than the BLC, shows a strong influence of the popular Stoa, clearly perceptible in the philosophical terminology. This letter even has a number of concepts in common with the BLC, including ‫ܢܡܘܣܐ‬. The Apology ascribed to Melito, which dates from the same period as the BLC, also shows the same phenomenon: beside real Syriac terms for philosophical concepts, there are a number borrowed from the Greek.25 Remarkably enough, these three writings were preserved in one and the same Ms., and were published together for the first time by Cureton in 1855. Is this fortuitous, or is there a deeper reason, in view also of their content? If we may then assume that the BLC was originally written in Syriac, a number of questions still remain. The BLC was not written by Bardaiṣan, but by his pupil Philippus, who rendered the reasoning of his master, or at least seems to have done so. Awida’s questions are only meant to start Bardaiṣan on an extensive discourse. The work is not really a dialogue in the true sense. Rather should one call it a monologue, with a question or an objection here and there to propel the discourse along. Merx formerly concluded from this that the Fathers were unreliable, wrongly so, I think. It was indeed Philippus who wrote down the dialogue, but it still remains a dialogue of Bardaiṣan, who after all is responsible for the lion’s share of it, the conversation. It was no misnomer, then, for the Fathers to call it a dialogue of Bardaiṣan. All the Fathers relate that this dialogue, dealt with Fate. The distinction between περὶ (Eusebius and Nicephorus Callistus) and κατὰ (Epiphanius and Theodoretus) cannot be maintained on linguistic grounds. The treatise on Fate by Diodorus of Tarsus, referred to above, is entitled περὶ εἱμαρμένης or κατὰ εἱμαρμένης indif-

used in a general sense in the BLC, a view that seems mistaken. The commentary on the passages concerned goes to explain this. 25 A. Schall, o.c. S. 52ff.; S. 81ff.; cf. F. Schulthess, ‘Der Brief des Mara bar Sarapoin’, ZDMG 51, 1897, SS. 365–391.



ferently.26 Moreover, it is incorrect to say that the BLC is not about Fate, but about free will and man’s responsibility. These three cannot be considered disjunctively, at least not in that period. In separating them, a contrast is created which does not exist in reality. The BLC deals with free will and man’s responsibility and therefore also with Fate, and vice versa. There are no conclusive arguments, then, for not assuming that Epiphanius and Theodoretus saw a treatise that was as good as identical with the BLC. In what language this work came before them is hard to decide. In the case of Epiphanius it is not impossible that he saw a Syriac version: he knew Syriac and mentions Awida by name. As we find that the text of Eusebius in the Praep. Evang. closely follows the BLC, we are justified in concluding that Eusebius also saw our BLC, in a Greek translation. He states himself, H.E. IV, 30, that the works of Bardaiṣan were translated into Greek by his pupils: οὓς οἱ γνώριμοι — πλεῖστοι δὲ ἧσαν αὐτῷ δυνατῶς τῷ λόγῳ παρισταμένῳ ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλήνων ἀπὸ τῆς Σύρων μεταβεβλήκασι φωνῆς. These (dialogues) his pupils — who were extremely numerous, as he was most eloquent — translated from Syriac into Greek.

Epiphanius even says that Bardaiṣan knew Greek, Panarion 56: λόγιός τις ὢν ἐν ταῖς δυσὶ γλωσσαις Ἑλληνικῇ τε διαλέκτῳ καὶ τῇ τῶν Σύρων φωνῇ˙ He spoke both languages, Greek and Syriac.

We need not straightaway distrust this information, although Burkitt makes a few objections. As Syria, and particularly Edessa, was bilingual, it may well have been so.27 There are still two questions. What writing of Bardaiṣan is Eusebius referring to in H.E. IV, 30, when he speaks of ὁ πρὸς 26 V. Ermoni, ‘Diodore de Tarse et son rôle doctrinal’, Le Muséon N.S. Vol. II, 1901, p. 441. 27 F. C. Burkitt in: C. W. Mitchell, S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations II, p. cxxvi.



Ἀντωνῖνον περὶ εἱμαρμένης διάλογος. Who is Antoninus? Does he

mean a different work than the one he quotes from in the Praep. Evang.? The argument for concluding there were different treatises, has always been that Eusebius formulates his introduction differently. In the Praep. Evang. he speaks about the τοῖς πρὸς τοὺς ἑταίρους διλόγοις. These have always been understood to be particular works, dialogues of Bardaiṣan. It is quite possible, however, that the word διάλογος here simply means conversation, and does not bear the technical meaning of a particular recorded conversation in the sense, for instance of Plato’s dialogues. Eusebius is here quoting an author who speaks of Bardaiṣan in the third person, and who has apparently gathered his πρὸς τοὺς ἑταίρους διλόγοις into a single writing. That is the BLC, in which Bardaiṣan has several interlocutors, Awida, Philippus and Bar Jamma.28 Eusebius’ introductory formula indicates this clearly: τάδε πη μνημονευέται φάναι.29 Like Seluieder, we do not doubt that Eusebius means the same work when he refers to the περὶ εἱμαρμένης διάλογος H.E., IV, 30. It would be strange if in a context dealing with Fate such as the Praep. Evang. VI, he were to excerpt quite a different work by Bardaiṣan on Fate than the one he mentions in the H.E. The addition πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον remains an enigma, all the more as Antoninus is only named by Eusebius (Nicephorus and Moses of Chorene borrowed from him). It may be a mistake on the part of Eusebius or of a later copyist. Presumably this Antoninus was not an emperor, but a private person. That it was the Greek name of a Syrian (Awida), as Schaeder suggests, is merely an unprovable hypothesis.30 It is possible to find certain grounds in the work of Eusebius which would make the addition πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον at least somewhat comprehensible, though leaving it unexplained. Before he mentions Bardaiṣan in the Praep. Evang., Eusebius speaks of a work by AlBar Jamma, lit. “son of the Sea” probably hints at Marcion, who came from Sinope on the Black Sea. 29 This formula is always used by Eusebius when an author he quotes gives information about a third person: H.E. II, 11, 3. III, 26, 3. Praep. Evang. IX, 7, 8; cf. B. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 225, Anm. 23. 30 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 41; Schaeder himself also considers this unlikely. 28



exander Aphrodisiensis, περὶ εἱμαρμένης dedicated to the emperors Severus and Antoninus.31 It is not impossible that a similar addition for a work of the same, name by Bardaiṣan seemed not unfitting to him. In that case πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον would, after all, mean an emperor.32 Probably Epiphanius is much better informed when he speaks of Antoninus in connection with Bardaiṣan. He tells us that Apollonius, the friend of Antoninus, attempted to draw Bardaiṣan away from the Christian religion, without success, be it said. This statement of Epiphanius, however, bears no relation to his report of a conversation that Bardaiṣan had with Awida about Fate. Was the text of Eusebius afterwards harmonised, and does this show in the addition of πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον? That would fit in particularly well with his remark, that Bardaiṣan wrote in connection with a persecution, a situation that Epiphanius obviously has in mind.33 In any case, these are no more than suppositions, which may perhaps help us to understand the addition πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον. So far, we may assume Eusebius, Epiphanius and Theodoretus to be referring to one and the same writing, the BLC, dealing with Fate. Rehm posits this also, but assumes that there were considerable differences in the content of the διάλογος περὶ (κατὰ) εἱμαρμένης the Fathers speak of and which the Ps. Clem. borrowed from, and the BLC. He founds this on Diodorus of Tarsus’s περὶ εἱμαρμένης in which the distinction between Nature and Fate is not made, in contrast with the BLC, where this distinction is fundamental. As this argument is the prime support of Rehm’s opinion, it is of importance to take a closer look at the relevant passage, as Photius has transmitted it to us in two versions. The first is:

Praep. Evang. VI, 9, 1–31. Exactly which emperor is meant in that case is difficult to decide; many emperors bore this name; see: PW, s.v. Antoninus and the commentary on H.E. IV, 30 by E. Schwartz. 33 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; Epiphanius, Panarion 56: 31 32

ὁ δὲ σχεδὸν ἐν τάξει ὁμολογίας κατέστη λόγους σ συνετοὺς ἀποκρίνκτο ὑπὲρ εὐσεβείας ἀνδρείως ἀπολογούμενος. He almost became one of the “confessores” and gave intelligent answers, courageously defending the faith.

THE BOOK OF THE LAWS OF COUNTRIES Ἐν μέντοι γε τῷ α᾿ καὶ ν᾿ κεφαλαίῳ ἅμα τὴν τῆς εἱμαρμένης κατασείων δόξαν, καὶ τὴν Βαρδιδάνου συνεπιῤῥαπίζει. Αὕτη δὲ ἡμιμανής τίς ἐστι καὶ ἡμίτομος. τὴν μὲν γὰρ ψυχὴν εἱμαρμένης τε καὶ τῆς λεγομένης γενεθλιαλογία ἐλευθέραν ἀπολύει συντηρῶν αὐτῇ τὸ αὐτεξούσιον, ὑποτάττει δὲ τῇ ταύτης διοικήσει τὸ σῶμα, καὶ τὰ περὶ τὸ σῶμα, πλούτον δή φημι καὶ πενίαν καὶ νόσον καὶ ζωὴν καὶ θάνατον καὶ ὅσα οὐκ ἐφ᾿ ἡμῖν, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα τῆς εἱμαρμένης ἔργα δογματίζει. In the 51st chapter, however, at the same time as destroying the notion of Fate, he also overthrows the belief of Bardaiṣan in this matter. For this belief is half-mad and inconsistent (lit.: cut in half), for he makes the soul free of Fate and the socalled casting of a horoscope, reserving for it free-will, but the body he subjects to the rule of Fate, and all which has to do with the body. I mean riches, poverty, illness, life and death, and all that is not in our power. All these things he declares to be the work of Fate.34

The second text is almost identical with the above: Ἀλλὰ τοιαυτα μὲν καὶ κατὰ τὸ ν᾿ κεφάλαιον διελθὼν μετεισι ἐπὶ τὸ α᾿ καὶ ν᾿ ἐν ὧ τοὺς ἀπὸ Βαρδισάνους αἱρετικοὺς διελέγχει δέχεσθαι μὲν προσποιουμένους τοὺς προφήτας καὶ τὰς μὲν ψυχὰς γενέσεως ἐλευθέρας καὶ αὐτεξουσίους ὁμολογοῦντας τὸ σῶμα δὲ τῇ ταύτης ὑποτάττοντας διοικήσει. πλοῦτον γὰρ καὶ πενίαν καὶ νόσον καὶ ὑγίειαν καὶ ζωὴν καὶ θάνατον καὶ ὅσα οὐκ ἐφ᾿ ἡμῖν ἔργον εἶναι λέγουσι τῆς εἱμαρμένης. But after having maintained such things in the 50th chapter, he proceeds in the 51st to refute the heretical Bardesanites, who pretend to accept the prophets. Meanwhile they agree that our souls are born free and possess free-will, but they subject the body to the rule of Fate. For riches, poverty, illness, health, life and death, and all which is not in our power, they declare to be the work of Fate.


MPG 103, col. 829 C–832 B.




(there follows a refutation on the basis of Is. 47, vs. 12 and Jer. 10, vs. 2).35 That the texts are more or less identical argues an accurate tradition on the part of Photius. The content agrees exactly with the BLC, in which it is indeed stated that the liberty of the human will is confined to the soul36 and that Fate brings about riches, poverty, sickness and health.37 Fate (‫)ܚܠܩܐ‬, according to the BLC, also has power over life and death, Diodorus is right there. It is not a matter of life and death in a general sense being in the power of Fate. Once to be born and once to die is inherent in man’s nature (‫)ܟܝܢܐ‬. Yet the time of his birth, and whether he is to die early or late, that is a matter of Fate.38 By nature, then, man is a living being who will one day die. It is Fate, however, which determines how long a man lives and when he is to die. Obviously Diodorus is referring to this latter point when he says that life and death lie in the power of Fate. It is no indication, therefore, of his being unacquainted with the distinction between ‫ ܚܠܩܐ‬and ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬through not meeting with it in Bardaiṣan’s περὶ εἱμαρμένης. But this distinction did not conduce to his argumentation, which was directed against the power of Fate as admitted by Bardaiṣan and his disciples. His aim was only to rebut Fate, to which the BLC does indeed ascribe power over life and death.39 Beside this, a place is left for man’s natural constitution, as we shall see when we come to discuss the ideas of the BLC. Rehm considers the distinction between nature and Fate not too felicitous, and therefore secondary. 40 Yet this dis-

MPG 103, col. 876 A–877 A. F. Nau, col. 551; Drijvers, BLC, p. 16, L. 6–8. 37 F. Nau, col. 571; Drijvers, BLC, p. 30, L. 25 – p. 32, L. 2. 38 F. Nau, col. 575; it is plainly stated here, that an early death is due to the influence of Fate. 39 M. Pohlenz, Die Stoa Bd. II, Erlauterungen, S. 197f. also proves to disagree with Rehm, more or less upon the same grounds. Also Alexander of Aphrodisias is acquiainted with the difference between ‘nature’ and Fate, obviously a common distinction. Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 9, 1–31. 40 B. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 240. The distinction stems from the radical attack upon the belief in Fate. 35 36



tinction is already found in the Ps. Clem. Recogn. VIII, 44, which formed part of G, as Rehm himself says:41 ea …quae rationabiliter fiunt crede quod per providentiam fiant, quae vero inrationabiliter et inordinate quia naturaliter eveniant et fortuito accidant. Be assured that those things… which occur in a reasonable way, occur by providence; but those which (occur) irrationally and irregularly, (occur thus) because they happen naturally and come about by chance.

It is evident, then, that the difference constructed by Rehm between Bardaiṣan’s περὶ εἱμαρμένης and the BLC does not exist, so that there is no difficulty from this point of view in regarding the BLC as a writing, practically identical with the dialogue περὶ εἱμαρμένης.

Schoeps assumes, as Hilgenfeld, Heintze and Schmidt had already done, that the author of G did not borrow from a work by Bardaiṣan, but that both borrowed from a common source.42 Heintze calls that source a “jüdisches Disputationsbuch,” and Schoeps speaks of a “jüdische Apologie,” in which the pagan belief in fate is refuted. Schoeps adduces two arguments. In the first place Recogn. IX, 28 mentions the Jewish circumcision octava die as an argument against astrological geography, which according to Schoeps points to a Jewish source. Secondly, he considers it unlikely that the author of G, who only used Jewish-Christian and Jewish sources, would have borrowed from the work of a gnostic like Bardaiṣan.43 This view is based on the assumption that at the time of origin of G (c.220, Rehm; c.260, Strecker), the dividing lines between the various Christian groups in Syria were clearly marked 41


B. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 240, Anm.

42 H. J. Schoeps, ‘Astrologisches im pseudoklementinischen Roman’, VigChr. V, 1951, S. 88ff. 43 Moreover the author of G not only used Jewish and JewishChristian sources, but also pagan philosophical ones, possibly περὶ θεῶν of Posidonius of Apamea in the discussion about the genesis. Cf. G. Strecker, Das Judenchristentum, S. 256.



and that their mutual attitude was more or less antithetical. Also, Schoeps assumes off-hand that Bardaiṣan was a gnostic in the strict sense of the word, which is unproved, and debated. Considering the character of the author of G, who came from Coele-Syria, where orthodoxy and heterodoxy remained long undivided, and who was in the first place a literary man, there is no reason why one might not suppose him to have borrowed from Bardaiṣan. In any case there were no dogmatic objections.44 If the author of G wrote around 260, as posited by Strecker, who rejects Rehm’s dating, it must be remarked, that even around 260 Bardaiṣan had not yet definitely been declared a heretic, certainly not in Syria.45 In view of this situation and this character of the author of G, Sehoeps really has no grounds for saying he would certainly not have borrowed from a gnostic. That the mention of circumcision octava die, exactly according to the Jewish Halakah, indicates a Jewish source for this part of the Ps. Clem. Recogn., is equally unfounded. Christianity in Syria is of Jewish origin. 46 Relations are so complex there, that often it cannot be determined whether a particular writing is Jewish, Christian, or a Jewish-Christian synthesis; we have an example in the Odes of Solomon and the problems they present. A strong Jewish influence in “Christian” literature is therefore only to be expected, and is indeed found.47 The mention of circumcision need not therefore point to a Jewish source. Moreover, the probability that the author of G borrowed from Bardaiṣan can also be shown on the ground of literary criticism. Not only in Recogn. IX, but disseminated through the whole of the Ps. Clem. literature we find reminiscences of Bardaiṣan’s train of thought as expressed in the BLC, as Merx was the first to observe.48 Rehm gives a number of examples.49 In the BLC we find all Strecker, Judenchristentum, S. 258. Cf. W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei, passim. Bardaiṣan began to be called a heretic in Syria in the time of Ephrem. Eusebius, too, still writes appreciatively of him. 46 Cf. A. F. J. Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, pp. 30–33; Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, p. 13seq. with bibliography. 47 Strecker in his ‘Nachtrag’ to the 2 nd edition of W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei, sets this forth very lucidly; espec. S. 267 and 285. 48 Merx, o.c. SS. 88–114. 44 45



these elements constituting an organic whole in the framework of a logical argumentation. In the Ps. Clem. Recogn. they often do not quite fit the context, or we see that the author has misunderstood them.50 This points to their having been taken from a work in which these passages were organically connected, and as far as we know this is only the case in the BLC. The existence of a Jewish Apology or a “jüdisches Disputationsbuch” is purely hypothetical; we know nothing of such a work. Moreover, this hypothesis complicates the relationships while ignoring the facts given above. In conclusion, then, we may posit that the author of G borrowed from a writing in which reasonings of Bardaiṣan were laid down, a writing that was probably more or less identical with the BLC. The deviations of the text we can observe and which Rehm treated at length, can be explained by literary tradition. Probably towards the end of Bardaiṣan’s life (c.220?), or a little later, Philippus set down Bardaiṣan’s dialogue. This Syriac version was translated into Greek (Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30), perhaps in several versions. The author of G borrowed from this, as we have seen. G was worked over and extended by the author of the Recognitiones (c.360), and of this we know a Latin version by Rufinus (c.400). The Greek version of the Recognitiones as Caesarius used it, is difficult to reconstruct because he abridged the text. 51 This tradition is of so complicated a nature, particularly in the last phase, that alterations may be expected to occur. We do indeed find them. That the text of Eusebius, Praep. Evang. VI, 10, follows the BLC far more closely is understandable, for Eusebius made direct use of a Greek translation, which he mentions himself. It is also evident from the above that Levi della Vida’s view, that the BLC is a later “orthodox” revision of a writing of Bardaiṣan, owing to a schism among the Bardesanites, is highly implausible. For the BLC retains the limited working of Fate; an orthodox revision would undoubtedly have rejected Fate altogether. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, SS. 241–247. Cf. Pohlenz, Die Stoa II, S. 197f. who shows that the author first lets his opponent take the role of an Epicurean and then that of an astrologer. The Epicurean is against Pronoia, the astrologer is for it. 51 This appears from the parallel texts in Hilgenfeld, Bardesanes. 49 50



Moreover, the Ps. Clem. Recogn., based on G, and Eusebius were able to borrow arguments from Bardaiṣan against the power of Fate. If Bardaiṣan had believed in Fate and that faith was afterwards mitigated by his followers, it would have been impossible for them to do so.52 Besides this, Schaeder has shown that the content of the BLC corresponds with the refutation of Bardaiṣan by Ephrem, and his cosmology as transmitted in various recensions.53 Ephrem was certainly not writing against the later “orthodox” Bardesanites, but in the first place against their heretical leader. The author of the Vita of Aberkios also made use of a Greek translation of the BLC or some related writing. The ideas he found there, he directed specifically against the Marcionites, as we may see particularly from the introduction of the relevant passage in the Vita. 54 The work of Bardaiṣan, who opposed the Marcionites in Syria, offered every opportunity for this. 55 Presumably the BLC is not a later anti-astrological revision of an originally anti-Marcionite writing, as suggested by Nissen.56 Bardaiṣan’s view of astrology is one of the foundations of his system, as demonstrated again by Ephrem, upon which both, his cosmology and his anthropology are based. Bardaiṣan did indeed refute the Marcionites, but these writings were lost, unless they are perhaps preserved in the dialogue of Adamantins, De recta fide.57 We may then draw the following conclusions regarding the BLC: The work was written by Philippus, who was a pupil of Bardaiṣan, as appears in the BLC. It is true that Bardaiṣan is the principal speaker, and this gave occasion to call it the dialogue of Bardaiṣan with Awida, as Epiphanius does. Philippus, then, wrote down the ideas of his master Bardaiṣan, and in so far the BLC is 52 Levi della Vida has had no following in this. He set forth his views in: ‘Bardesane e il Dialogo delle Leggi dei Paesi’, Riv. trim. d. Studi filos. e relig. I, 1920, pp. 399–430. 53 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 54f. 54 Th. Nissen, ‘Die Petrusakten u.s.w.’, S. 325ff. 55 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; Hippolytus, Refutatio, VII, 31. 56 Th. Nissen, art. cit. S. 327. 57 Harnack, Marcion, S. 60* advanced this suggestion. It would also explain, why in the dialogue De recta fide a Bardesanite is still refuted at great length.



artificial. It may, however, be accounted as representing the ideas of Bardaiṣan. In how far the BLC had a history, received additions for instance, we cannot tell. A comparison of the text with the Praep. Evang. and the Ps. Clem. Recogn. avails nothing. These two works look part of the BLC and used it in an argumentation which did not tally with that of the BLC. That is why Haase was able to trace back the three versions of this part to a single source.58 The artificial character of the dialogue on Fate, the BLC, must be emphasised. The conversation was never held in this form, we can see that from the whole style. Philippus wished to render the ideas of his teacher, and chose this form, which was not unusual at the time.59 There are certain elements in the work which indicate this, e.g. that once the name Bar Jamma appears, probably cloaking Marcion. The BLC may therefore be a compilation of various conversations or treatises of Bardaiṣan, which originated towards the end of his life, or soon afterwards, and which was transmitted under his name. In so far, some doubt as to the identity of the BLC and the διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης is justified. But the Fathers were probably not acquainted with any “authentic” works of Bardaiṣan, but only with this BLC or its extremely similar predecessor. That the work faithfully renders the ideas of Bardaiṣan can, however, not be doubted. The citing of the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά gave the work its title, and prevented it from perishing. That this passage appeared in the G of the Ps. Clem. Recogn. and the Praep. Evang. of Eusebius certainly contributed to the preservation of the BLC. If we knew anything of the origin of the Ms. BM Add. 14,658, many questions might be answered which now remain open, for instance, in what circles the ideas of Bardaiṣan were still alive in the 6th or 7th century. There must have been some inducement for transmitting the work in this period, with all the “heretical” ideas it contains. Perhaps the interest of those centuries in Greek science was the reason. For the BLC was deeply influenced by Greek science and philosophy, without thereby becoming a specifically Hellenistic writ-

Haase, Zur Bardesanischen Gnosis, S. 45. Compare, for instance, the numerous dialogues in the PseudoClementine literature. 58 59



ing. A further examination of the ideas contained in the BLC regarding man and the world, may serve to elucidate this matter.

B. BARDAIṢAN’S CONCEPTION OF GOD, MAN AND THE WORLD, ACCORDING TO THE “BOOK OF THE LAWS OF THE COUNTRIES” Bardaiṣan’s entire argument in the BLC is an answer to a question put by his opponent Awida: If God is One, as you say he is, and he has created mankind intending you to do what you are charged to, why did He not create mankind in such wise that they could not sin, but always did what is right?”

From this question all Awida’s further questions logically follow.60 Awida puts this question to the pupils of Bardaiṣan, who pass it on to their teacher. The latter formulates the question more sharply and again proposes it to Awida: “Tell me, my son Awida, what do you think: The God of the Universe is not One, or He is One and does not desire man’s conduct to be just and good (‫ܟܐܢܐܝܬ‬ ‫ ”?)ܘܬܪܝܨܐܝܬ‬In this way of framing the question, we are struck by an anti-gnostic, viz. anti-Marcionite tendency, if we consider the emphasis laid on the unity of God. Marcion solved the problem of good and evil in man by assuming a pair of Gods, a good one and a bad one.61 Bardaiṣan believes in a single God, so thathe must seek the solution in quite a different direction. The translation of ‫ܟܐܢܐܝܬ‬ as “just” requires some elucidation. Brockelmann’s Lexicon gives “iustus,” in full agreement. Nau translated the word as “secundum naturam” which, semasiologically speaking, is not correct: in Syriac that would be ‫ܟܝܢܐܝܬ‬. Both words, however, are derived from the same root and should it appear that ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is not merely a formal concept, but also indicates an ideal conception of humanity, of man living according to his true nature, then the term ‫ ܟܐܢܐܝܬ‬may carry 60 F. Nau, col. 536 ; the setting of this ethical problem is characteristic of the direction of Bardaiṣan’s thoughts, which are not concerned with salvation from the world, but with living in the world. 61 Cf. E. C. Blackman, Marcion and his influence, London 1949, passim; A. von Harnack, Marcion, SS. 93–142.



overtones of that meaning. This would bring us close to Stoic lines of thought, which would have influenced the BLC. 62 The reply of the pupils to Awida’s question does not satisfy him at all; they advise him to believe, and then he will know all. Awida, however, will not believe unless he is first convinced. Something of the contrast between “credo ut intellegam” and “intellego ut credam” already becomes visible here. Bardaiṣan then paints a sombre picture of the unbelieving: they are the prey of every fear and know nothing for certain.63 This at any rate shows that Bardaiṣan’s expositions must also be regarded as religious reflection: faith and science are not yet separated here. Bardaiṣan now enters into the question put by Awida, and posits that God did not create man as a witless implement for His use. God gave man a free will (‫)ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬, thereby making him greater than all other creatures and equal to the angels. All other things in creation are subject to a fixed law, sun, moon, stars, sea, earth and so on, as implements in the infallible hand of God. But because man is created after God’s image, he can freely command over created things, doing what he will, or refraining. In this fashion he does indeed become guilty, but if he were unable to do evil, the good he did would not belong to him either. In this context Bardaiṣan remarks that also the sun, moon, stars and so on that he has just spoken of, are not bereft of all liberty. Therefore they will be brought to justice upon the Last Day. He calls these ̈ and ‫ܐܣܛܘܟܣܐ‬ ̈ parts of creation ‫ܨܒܘܬܐ‬ indifferently.64 Philippus asks for a further explanation of this matter:

62 F. Nau, translates ‘secundum naturam’, a Stoic term; already Wendland, Philos Schrift über die Vorsehung, S. 27, Anm. 1 noted Stoic influence in the BLC, as also G. Furlani, ‘Sur le Stoïcisme de Bardesane d’Édesse’, ArOr, IX, 1937, pp. 347–352 63 F. Nau, col. 543 ; Drijvers, BLC, p. 8, L. 16 – p. 10, L. 1. 64 W. H. P. Hatch, ‘Τὰ στοιχεῖα in Paul and Bardaiṣān’, JThS, XXVIII, 1927, p. 181f. saw resemblences between the use of στοιχεῖα in Bardaisan and in Paul. He was followed in this by H. Lietzmann, Der Brief an den Galatern, 1932, S. 25f. J. Huby, ‘ΣΤΟΙΧΕΙΑ dans Bardesane et dans Saint Paul’, Biblica, XV, 1934, pp. 365–368, advanced valid objections to these resemblences; cf. art. Elementum, RAC.



̈ ‫ܐܡܪ ܐܢܐ ܠܗ ܘܐܝܟܢܐ ܐܝܠܝܢ‬ ‫ ܐܡܪ ܠܝ ܐܠ‬.‫ܕܩܒܝܥܢ ̈ܐܢܝܢ ܡܬܕܝ̈ܢܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܗܘܐ ܒܗܕܐ ܕܩܒܝܥܝܢ ܐܘ ܦܝܠܝܦܘܣ ܡܬܕܝܢܝܢ ܐܣܛܘܟܣܐ ܐܐܠ‬ ‫ ܐܠ ܓܝܪ ܡܬܓܠܙܝܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܡܢ ܟܝܢܗܘܢ ܐܡܬܝ‬.‫ܒܗ̇ܝ ܕܡܫܠܛܝܢ‬ ‫ܕܡܬܩܢܝܢ ܐܐܠ ܡܢ ܥܘܙܐ ܕܚܬܝܬܘܬܗܘܢ ܒܨܝ̈ܪܝܢ ܒܡܘܙ ܓܐ ܚܕ ܥܡ‬ ‫ܚܕ ܘܡܫܬܥܒܕܝܢ ܒܚ ܝܐܠ ܕܥܒܘܕܗܘܢ ܘܒܗ̇ܝ ܕܡܫܥܒܕܝܢ ܐܠ‬ ‫ܡܬܕܝܢܝܢ ܐܐܠ ܒܡܕܡ ܕܕܝܠܗܘܢ ܗܘ‬ I said to him: “How can those who beunder determination be judged?” He said to me: “Not for that in which they are determined, Philippus, will the ‘components of nature’ be judged, but for that in which they exercise free power. For the ‘elemental substances’ were not bereft of their own nature when they were ordered, but part of their inherent power is gone through their mixing with one another, and they are subject to the power of their creator. For that in which they are subject they are not judged, but for that which is their own.65

Sun, moon, stars, sea, earth and so on are therefore in part free, and in part subject to a fixed law. Their partial liberty is the cause of their subjection to judgement at the end of time. Obviously, liberty belongs to the essence of the ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬, the ‘elemental substances’ of which the world is built up, and of which the ‘components of nature’ referred to above consist. The word ‫ܐܝܬܝܐ‬, derived from ‫ܐܝܬ‬, being, is the Syriac equivalent of the Greek οὐσία, the term for the four or five primordial elements of the classical philosophy of nature.66 The word also plays a great part in the cosmology of Bardaiṣan, as preserved by Moses bar Kepha, Îwannîs of Dàrâ and Theodore bar Khonai, in discussing which we shall return to it. These ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬formed a certain order, which they broke by mingling with one another. This mingling is the reason of their kick of freedom, of their being subject to the power of their creator. Clearly then, the mingling of the primordial elements is the origin of evil. So one can observe a parallel between free-will, the highest level in man, and the original liberty possessed by the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬which was partly lost through this commixture. Thus there are lines from BarF. Nau, col. 548, 551; Drijvers, BLC, p. 14, L. 12–18. Cf. J. F. Bethune-Baker, Nestorius and his Teaching, Cambridge 1908, Appendix p. 212ff.; Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 51. 65 66



daiṣan’s anthropology to his cosmology, so that a cosmological excursus appears in an anthropological context, as we have seen above. Awida is now convinced that man has a free will, but comes forward with a new objection: the commandments are too onerous for man to carry out. Bardaiṣan counters this again, maintaining that the commandments, which may be subsumed in the golden rule, are not carried out by bodily strength, but by man’s spirit, the will of the soul:

‫ܕܗܐ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܬܚ ܝܬ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܐܢܝܢ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܘܐܠ ܗܘܐ ܒܚ ܝܐܠ ܕܦܓܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܗܘܝܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܐܐܠ ܒܨܒܝܢܐ ܕܢܦܫܐ‬ For see, all these things depend on man’s spirit, not on his bodily strength but on the will of the soul.67

Even one who is old, ill or disabled, may love and speak truth. Nor does the performance of the commandments require any special skill, not shared by all men. The commandments are easy, then, for him who wills and moreover they bring joy to him who carries them out. Awida seems half convinced, and remarks that in his opinion it is possible for man to avoid evil, but not to do what is right. Bardaiṣan now maintains that good belongs to man’s true nature:

‫ܛܒܬܐ ܓܝܪ ܕܝܠܗ ܗܝ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܘܡܛܠ ܗܢܐ ܚܕܐ ܐܡܬܝ ܕܥܒܕ‬ ‫ ܒܝܫܬܐ ܕܝܢ ܡܥܒܕܢܘܬܐ ܗܝ ܕܒܥܠܕܒܒܐ ܘܡܛܠ ܗܢܐ ܟܕ‬.‫ܛܒܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܠܣܢܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܫܓܝܫ ܗܘ ܒܪܢܫܐ ܘܐܠ ܚܠܝܡ ܒܟܝܢܗ ܥܒܕ ܠܗܝܢ‬ For good is natural to man, so that he is glad when he acts rightly. Evil, on the contrary, is the work of the enemy, and therefore man does those evil things when he is not master of himself and his true nature is affected.68

From this it is evident that evil is due to an “enemy,” who affects man’s true nature, his ‫ ;ܟܝܢܐ‬to this ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, then, belongs the doing of what is right. This is another clear parallel to the cosmological excursus mentioned above. The subject there was the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬of the Nau, col. 551 ; Drijvers, BLC, p. 16, L. 6–8. F. Nau, col. 555; Drijvers, BLC, p. 18, L. 19–24.

67F. 68




which was adversely affected by the mingling of the ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬. We see from the cosmology that darkness is to blame for this mingling, for darkness made an assault upon the other ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬and mingled with them.69 Darkness is pre-eminently the evil element, the enemy of the other ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬. It is an obvious assumption, then, that this evil element has also affected man’s ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, so that he is able to do evil. The precise connection between these two concepts is not yet quite clear, however. In any case, Bardaiṣan observes that he who does what is right, lives in perfect harmony with himself and enjoys a tranquillity of conscience lasting till the end of days. This peace is comparable to the peace of the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬before darkness made a disturbance. The word ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬coming into the discussion, this affords Awida an opportunity of advancing new objections to Bardaiṣan’s view; they are formulated by Philippus. Awida asserts that man sins ‫ܡܢ‬ ‫ ܟܝܢܗ‬because of his natural constitution, for if that were not the case, he would not do it. Here free-will again comes into question, which Bardaiṣan has already spoken about. He now explains the difference between ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬and ‫ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬, man’s nature and his liberty:

‫ܟܝܢܗ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܗܢܘ ܕܢܬܝܠܕ ܘܢܬܪܒܐ ܘܕܢܩܘܡ ܒܐܩܡܐ ܘܕܢܘܠܕ‬ ‫ܘܕܢܩܫ ܟܕ ܐܟܠ ܘܟܕ ܫܬܐ ܘܟܕ ܕܡܟ ܘܟܕ ܡܬܬܥܝܪ ܘܕܢܡܘܬ‬ It is man’s natural constitution to be born, grow up, become adult, procreate children and grow old, while eating and drinking, sleeping and waking, and finally to die.70

These characteristics belong to the nature of every man, and in the same way the animals too have a ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, which with them includespretty well the total sum of all instinctive actions. The exisẗ is the work of ‫ܦܘܣܝܣ‬, of Nature: ence of these various ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬

‫ܗܢܐ ܓܝܪ ܥܒܕܐ ܗܘ ܕܦܘܣܝܣ ܕܟܠܡܕܡ ܥܒܕܐ ܘܒܪܝܐ ܘܡܩܝܡܐ‬ ‫ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܬܦܩܕ‬ 69 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 52 (Moses bar Kepha) and the following chapter in extenso. 70 F. Nau, col. 559; cf. Bethune-Baker, o.c., p. 217f.; Drijvers, BLC, p. 22, L. 5–7.



For this is the work of Nature, which does, creates and produces everything as it is ordained.71

Thus there is a clear distinction between ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬and ‫ܦܘܣܝܣ‬, as we also see in Aphraates.72 The word ‫ ܦܘܣܝܣ‬is always used in a general sense, while the use of ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is always specific, even where such is not immediately obvious.73 Unlike the case of the animals, human life is not entirely covered by its vegetal functions: the body is subject to the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬but beside this there is space for the things of the spirit (‫)ܪܥܝܢܐ‬, a field where man is free. The ‫ ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬is clearly bound to the ‫ ܪܥܝܢܐ‬of man, as we have seen earlier.74 Man can lead his life in perfect liberty within the framework of the possibilities comprised in his ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬. He can eat meat or not; he can have intercourse with many women, his mother and sisters included, but he may also lead a chaste life. Some men are like ravaging lions, others would not harm a fly. Moreover, a man can change his way of living from good to bad and vice versa. From these multiple phenomena, then, it cannot be concluded that man sins because of his ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬. The latter he shares with all of his kind, but beyond it no two people are to be found exactly alike. Those who maintain that man sins because of his nature, burden their Creator with their sins, that they themselves may be exempt. They do not understand that no law applies to the ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, because man only becomes guilty or justified by that which he does in liberty. 75 Philippus and Awida are apparently convinced that these expositions are correct, and now fire a new question at Bardaiṣan. Are not people led in their lives by the

F. Nau, col. 559; Drijvers, BLC, p. 22, L. 10–12. Cf. A. F. J. Klijn, ‘The word kejān in Aphraates’, VigChr. 12, 1958, pp. 57–67. 73 In any case in the BLC. The objections voiced by A. Schall, o.c., S. 76 are not valid. In the quotation from the BLC, Nau, col. 571, where it is said that “we men are led in the same way by the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬and in different ways by Fate”, ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is used in a specific sense, viz. the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬of man. 74 Cf. p. 79 n. 1. 75 F. Nau, col. 563; Drijvers, BLC, p. 26, L. 4–5; here too ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is used in a specific sense, as the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬of man, who beyond this has freedom to which the law does apply. (contra A Schall, o.c., S. 76). 71 72



decree (‫ )ܦܘܣܩܢܐ‬of Fate (‫ ?)ܚܠܩܐ‬To this question Bardaiṣan gives the following answer:

‫ܐܡܪ ܠܢ ܐܦ ܐܢܐ ܐܘ ܦܝܠܝܦܘܣ ܘܒܪ ܝܡܐ ܝܕܥ ܐܢܐ ܕܐܝܬ ܒܢ̈ܝ‬ ‫ܐܢܫܐ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܡܬܩ̈ܪܝܢ ܟܠܕܝ ̈ ܐ ܘܗܢܘܢ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܐ ܕܠܗ ܠܗܕܐ ܐܝܕܥܬܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܘܡܢܘܬܐ ܪܚܡܝܢ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܐܢܐ ܒܙܒܢ ܪܚܡ ܗܘܝܬ ܠܗ ܐܡܝܪ‬ ‫ܠܝ ܓܝܪ ܒܕܘܟܬܐ ܐܚܪܬܐ ܕܒܠܩܐ ܗܝ ܢܦܫܐ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܕܬܗܘܐ ܝܕܥܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܣܓܝܐܐ ܐܠ ܝܕܥܝܢ ܘܗܢܘܢ ܗܠܝܢ ̈ܐܢܫܐ ܡܬܪܥܝܢ ܠܢܥܒܕ‬ ‫ܡܕܡ‬

Then he replied to us: ‘Philippus and Bar Jamma, I know there are people called Chaldaeans, and others, who love the knowledge of this art, as I once cherished it also. For in another place I have said, that man’s soul strives to know something the general populace does not know. And these men think they can attain it.’76

This passage requires some comment, in view of the important place it came to take in the examination of the BLC and the questions raised thereby. The name Bar Jamma probably covers Marcion, who came from Sinope on the coast of the Pontos Euxeinos, so that he might be called “Son of the Sea.” If this supposition is correct, it is a pointer to the factitious character of the BLC. Another possible explanation of this cryptic name is later “corruption” of the text, through the influence of other (Greek?) recensions up76 F. Nau, col. 564; Drijvers, BLC, p. 26, L. 19–25. It may even be that Bardaiṣan wrote about the art of the Chaldaeans and that Theodore bar Khonai has preserved a quotation from that writing in his 11 th book of Scholia, when he says in the passage about the heresy of the Chaldaeans:

̇ ‫ܕܡܒܥܢܗ‬ ‫ܒܪܝܢܨ ܓܝܪ ̇ܐܡܪ ܕܚܢܘܟ ܗܘܐ ܫܡܗ‬

“For Bardaiṣan avers that Enoch is the one who originated it (i.e. the heresy of the Chaldaeans)”

Theodore bar Khonai, Liber Scholiorum, ed. A. Scher, Pars II, CSCO, Script. Syri, T. LXVI, Paris 1912, p. 286, L. 6. On the relationship between Enoch and the Chaldaean Magians, cf. Bidez-Cumont, Les Mages Hellénisés, T. II, Paris 1938, p. 46, n. 4. Moreover, there are parallels between ideas in the Apocalypse of Enoch and the ideas of Bardaiṣan, e.g. Enoch 100: 10; cf. H. Windisch, Die Orakel des Hystaspes, Verhandelingen d. Koninkl. Akad. v. Wetenschappen Amsterdam, Afd. Letterkunde, N.R., XXVIII, 3, A’dam 1929, p. 86, n. 5.



on the Syriac version. We may think, for instance, of the Vita of Aberkios, where material taken from the BLC is brought into the field against Marcion. However, no certainty can be attained in the matter. The art of the Chaldaeans means astrology, which attempts to get a grip upon the future; knowledge of the future is reserved for the few and is not common property of the masses.77 Bardaiṣan declares that he formerly engaged in astrology, but has now dropped the practice. There is not the slightest reason to distrust this statement, attributing it e.g. to some pupil desirous of deflecting the ideas of Bardaiṣan into a more “orthodox” direction. It is evident, from the BLC that Bardaiṣan’s thought was characterised on the one hand by philosophic-astrological elements, and on the other by a kind of Christian superstructure. These two main components are so closely interwoven, that they cannot be separated. Here we have a partial, “genetic” explanation of this matter: Bardaiṣan formerly occupied himself with astrology. In this context, the concept of astrology embraces a complete philosophy of life and the world, as in this period astrology and classical philosophy — in particular the Stoa — entered upon a symbiosis.78 Obviously, at a later date he became acquainted with some form of the Christian faith, and then attempted to integrate the old and the new. Bardaiṣan then gives three explanations of all things in life that befall a man independently of his will, such as wealth, poverty, sickness and health. Fate is the cause, embodied in the “Seven”; they occur by mere chance; or, as third possibility, the unpleasant 77 The literature regarding aastrology is very extensive; cf. art. Astrologie, RAC (with bibliography); very suitable for a first introduction is: F. Boll (unter Mitwirkung von C. Bezold) Sternglaube und Sterndeutung. Die Geschichte und das Wesen der Astrologie, 2te Aufl. Leipzig-Berlin 1919; F. Boll, Kleine Schriften zur Sternkunde des Altertums, hrsg. v. V. Stegemann, Leipzig 1950. For the religious side of astrology see: F. Cumont, Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans, N.Y.-London 1912 and F. Cumont, Lux Perpetua, Paris 1949. 78 See for this: J. Bidez, ‘Les écoles chaldéennes sous Alexandre et les Séleucides’, Annuaire de l’institut de philology et d’histoire orientales, T. III, 1935, Brussel 1935, pp. 41–89. F. Cumont, Astrology and Religion, p. 69ff. Posidonius of Apamea is the clearest example of this.



things that befall a man are a punishment sent by God. 79 Bardaiṣan considers these views to be partly correct, and partly mistaken. The latter, because they take no account of the wisdom of God,

‫ܕܐܩܝܡܬ ܥܠ ̈ܡܐ ܘܒܪܬ ܐܢܫܐ ܘܛܟܣܬ ܡܕܒ̈ܪܢܐ ܘܝܗܒܬ ܠܟܠܗܝܢ‬ ̈ ‫ ܐܡܪ ܐܢܐ ܕܝܢ‬.‫ܡܢܗܝܢ‬ ‫ܨܒܘܬܐ ܡܫܠܛܘܬܐ ܕܙܕܩܐ ܠܚܕܐ ܚܕܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܗܘ ܗܢܐ ܫܠܛܢܐ ܐܠܠܗܐ ܘܠܡܐܠܟܐ ܘܠܫܠܝܛܢܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܠܒܢܝܢܫܐ ܘܠܚ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܘܠܡܕܒ̈ܪܢܐ‬ ‫ܝܘܬܐ ܘܟܠܗܘܢ ܗܠܝܢ‬ ‫ܘܐܠܣܛܘܟܣܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܬܓܡܐ ܕܐܡܪܬ ܥܠܝܗܘܢ ܐܠ ܗܘܐ ܒܟܠ ܝܗܝܒ ܠܗܘܢ ܫܘܠܛܢܐ‬ ‫ܕܫܠܝܛ ܓܝܪ ܒܟ ܠ ܚܕ ܗܘ ܐܐܠ ܒܡܕܡ ܫܠܝܛܝܢ ܘܒܡܕܡ ܐܠ‬ ‫ܫܠܝܛܝܢ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܡܪܬ ܗܘܬ ܕܒܗܘ ܡܕܡ ܕܫܠܝܛܝܢ ܬܬܚܙܐ‬ ‫ܛܝܒܘܬܗ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܘܒܗܘ ܡܕܡ ܕܐܠ ܫܠܝܛܝܢ ܢܕܥܘܢ ܕܐܝܬ ܠܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܡܪܝܐ‬

(the wisdom) that established worlds, created man, gave the Guiding Signs their fixed order and gave all things the power due to each. Now I maintain, that this power is in the possession of God, the angels, the Rulers, the Guiding Signs, the elements, mankind and the animals. Yet to all these orders I have named power is not given over everything. For he who has power over everything, is One. But over some things they have power, and over others not, as I have said, to the end that God’s goodness may become manifest from that over which they have power, and that from having no power over other things they may know they have a master.80

There exists therefore in the cosmos a form of delegation of power, the power deriving ultimately from God, and as it were descending from above to below. The wisdom of God, which here has creative power, a Jewish concept, has divided the power, but to a limited extent.81 As the “components of nature” and man also are partly free and partly not, so over certain things they have power, and over others not. The possession of power is a consequence of F. Nau, col. 567; Drijvers, BLC, p. 26, L. 25 – p. 28, L. 13. F. Nau, col. 568; Drijvers, BLC, p. 28, L. 18 – p. 30, L. 3. 81 Cf. art. Weisheit, RGG3, Bd. VI, kol. 1576; P. Dalbert, Die Theologie der hellenistisch-jüdischen Missions-Literatur, Hamburg 1954, passim, espec. S. 78ff.; W. Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im späthellenistischen Zeitalter, 2e Aufl. hrsg. v. H. Gressmann, Tübingen 1926, SS. 343–356. 79 80



liberty, yes, it is liberty itself, and like this is ascribed to the goodness of God. ‫ ܫܠ ̈ܝܛܢܐ‬and ‫ ܡܕܒ̈ܪܢܐ‬indicate astral powers, presumably the signs of the Zodiac and the five planets with sun and moon, ̈ the “Seven.”82 ‫ܐܣܛܘܟܣܐ‬ probably means the components of the world, such as the earth, the seas and so on, though one might also think of astral powers.83 It is owing to the fact that the astral powers have freedom, and therefore power, that there is a Fate. As this power is restricted, Fate is also restricted. Its power begins, where man’s power ends, for all things do not take their course according to our will. We would be rich and healthy and exercise power, but riches, power and health is not the property of all, sometimes only of a few. Children may bring their parents great suffering. Some possess much that they wish, and to others befall things they abhor. Of all these events that befall us with our approval or to our dislike, it is evident that we have no power over them: they fall to our lot through Fate. On this whole argumentation given above, Bardaiṣan now forms the following conclusion:

‫ܘܡܫܬܟܚ ܝܢܢ ̈ܒܢܝܢܫܐ ܕܡܬܕܒܪܝܢ ܚܢܢ ܒܟܝܢܐ ܫܘܝܐܝܬ ܘܒܚܠܩܐ‬ .‫ܦܪܝܫܐܝܬ ܘܒܚܐܪܘܬܢ ܐܢܫ ܐܝܟ ܡܐ ܕܨܒܐ‬

And now it is evident that we men are led in the same way by our natural constitution, in different ways by Fate, but by our liberty each as he will.84

The ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is the level of the vegetal functions of life; the ‫ ܚܠܩܐ‬that of outward events, but the ‫ ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬that of ethics, where laws obtain that man is master of, and which he himself has established. It is now necessary to show that Fate does not have power over everything, once it is established that Fate does indeed exist. First of all Bardaiṣan gives a precise definition of Fate, a definition whereby the limitation of its power is understood:

Cf. F. Cumont, Les religions orientales dans le paganisme Romain4, Paris 1929, p. 116sv., p. 264, n. 88. F. Nau, ROC, 1910, p. 235. 83 Cf. J. Huby, art. cit., p. 366. 84 F. Nau, col. 571; Drijvers, BLC, p. 32, L. 8–10. 82



‫ܡܛܠ ܕܗܘ ܩܢܘܡܗ ܗܢܐ ܕܡܬܩܪܐ ܚܠܩܐ ܛܟܣܐ ܗܘ ܕܡܪܕܝܬܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܕܐܬܝܗܒܬ‬ ‫ܘܐܠܣܛܘܟܣܐ ܡܢ ܠܐܗܐ ܘܥܠܝܗ ܥܠ ܗܕܐ‬ ‫ܠܫܠܝܛܢܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܡܪܕܝܬܐ ̈ܘܛܟܣܐ ܚܠܦܝܢ ܡܕܥܐ ܒܡܚܬܝܗܘܢ ܕܠܘܬ ܢܦܫܐ‬ ‫ܘܚܠܦܢ ܢܦܫܬܐ ܒܡܚܬܝܗܝܢ ܕܠܘܬ ܦܓ̈ܪܐ ܘܗܘ ܗܢܐ ܡܚܠܦܢܐ‬ ‫ܡܬܩܪܐ ܚܠܩܐ ܘܒܝܬ ܝܠܕܐ ܕܗܕܐ ܟܢܘܫܬܐ ܕܡܬܥܪܒܐ ܘܡܬܕܟܝܐ‬ ‫ܠܥܘܕܪܢܐ ܕܗܘ ܡܕܡ ܕܒܚܢܢܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܘܒܛܝܒܘܬܐ ܐܬܥܕܪܘ ܘܡܬܥܕܪ‬ .‫ܥܕܡܐ ܠܫܘܠܡܐ ܕܟܠ‬ For that which is called Fate, is really the fixed course determined by God for the Rulers and Guiding Signs. According to this course and order the spirits undergo changes while descending to the soul, and the souls while descending to the bodies. That which causes these changes is called Fate and native horoscope of that mixture which was mixed and is being purified to the help of that which, by the grace and goodness of God, was and will be helped till the termination of all.85

Thus it becomes apparent that Fate was established by God; formally considered, it is the fixed course described by the constellations and the planets upon the firmament. The power given them by God, as we have seen, enables them to exercise influence upon the spirits and souls descending through the spheres of the various planets to a human body.86 Man’s spirit and soul descend to the body at the moment of birth. The constellation of the heavens at that moment determines the outward fortunes of a man’s life, whether he is rich or poor, ill or well, and so on. Therefore Fate, ‫ܚܠܩܐ‬, and horoscope, ‫ ܒܝܬ ܝܠܕܐ‬are used as synonyms here. Fate and horoscope were established by the power of God at that instant, when he formed the world out of the mixture of the “primordial elements,” ‫ ;ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬for then God delegated a limited power to the various component parts of and the living creatures in the cosmos.87 This regulating intervention is indicated here by means of terms such as “purifying” ‫ ܕܟܝ‬and “helping” ‫ܥܕܪ‬. This activity F. Nau, col. 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 32, L. 11–19. Cf. for related conceptions: A. J. Festugière, La révélation d’Hermès Trismègiste, III, Les doctrines de l’âme, Paris 1953, p. 33sv. And F. Cumont, Lux Perpetua, p. 142svv. 87 Cf. F. Nau, col. 548, 551; Drijvers, BLC, p. 14, L. 12–18. 85 86



lasts until the end of the world. Again, then, we find a clear relation between anthropology and cosmology. In this connection man is regarded as consisting of three parts, spirit, soul and body, and ‫ܡܕܥܐ‬, ‫ ܢܦܫܐ‬and ‫ܦܓܪܐ‬, which remind us of the Greek terms νοῦς, ψυχή, and σῶμα. Perhaps ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬and the ‫ ܪܥܝܢܐ‬mentioned above are identical. In view of the fact, that liberty is bound up with the ‫ܪܥܝܢܐ‬, which is possibly identical with the ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬of man, one is greatly tempted to associate the three parts of man, ‫ܡܕܥܐ‬, ‫ ܢܦܫܐ‬and ‫ܦܓܪܐ‬, with liberty, Fate, and natural constitution, the ‫ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬, ‫ ܚܠܩܐ‬and ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ named before. The ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬or ‫ ܪܥܝܢܐ‬would then come directly from God, for He has given man liberty. The limitation of freedom is due to Fate, embodied in the spheres of the planets and the constellations, through which the ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬descends. The soul would then be linked with Fate, which determines man’s fortunes, and the natural constitution would belong to the body. Within the human body spirit and soul form a unity, both descend through the spheres of the planets, so determining the course of a man’s life, but the spirit has retained the freedom given by God. Natural constitution, Fate and liberty each have their own field; where the influence of the one ceases to work, that of the other begins. Man’s sexual potency, for instance, belongs to the sphere of natural constitution. Once this potency has ceased, even Fate can no longer give men children. Man cannot live without food; this belongs to his natural constitution, but neither can Fate keep him alive without food. Sometimes Fate reinforces that which happens naturally, and sometimes it counteracts it. It is striking, that Bardaiṣan does mention the possibility that Fate may reinforce nature, but only gives examples of Fate opposing nature and causing unpleasantness. Fate is the cause of marriage difficulties, of the malformation and premature death of babies, and of illnesses and scarcity of food. Moreover, Fate occasions a reversal of the normal social order, so that children rule over adults and fools over wise men. Therefore Bardaiṣan says:

‫ܘܦܫܝܩܐܝܬ ܕܥܘ ܕܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܕܡܬܕܘܕ ܟܝܢܐ ܡܢ ܬܪܝܨܘܬܗ ܡܢ‬ ‫ܥܠܬܐ ܗܘ ܕܚܠܩܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܘܘܕܗ‬


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA Be convinced then, that whenever nature is deflected from her true course, it is Fate that is the cause…88

One may conclude from this that the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬possesses a particular ‫ܬܪܝܨܘܬܐ‬. Man’s natural constitution, then, is at the same time his true nature, the ideal form of human existence. On this Fate only has a disturbing influence, in spite of the fact that theoretically a favourable influence of Fate is assumed. This passage also demonstrates the sense of the expression ‫ܟܐܢܐܝܬ ܘܬܪܝܨܐܝܬ‬, just and good.89 To translate ‫ ܟܐܢܐܝܬ‬as “just” is in itself correct. Yet here “just” also has the additional meaning of “according to man’s true nature.” We have seen above that Fate was established as a consequence of the mingling of the elements, the first cause of the origin of the world. These elements then lost a little of their ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬through their intermingling. Could Bardaiṣan be said to hold a similar view regarding man? His view is decidedly Christian, can at least be Christian. It is also possible, however, that Bardaiṣan considered man to be “built up” of the various elements that were mixed with darkness, so that they have lost a part of their ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬. In that case darkness would also be a component part of man, so that his ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is no longer altogether intact. This is strongly reminiscent of Manichaeism.90 It is not possible, though, to arrive at a certain conclusion on the basis of the BLC. The reason that Fate can disturb nature is that the stars and planets are at enmity together. That is the point of departure for every change called horoscope, ‫ܒܝܬ ܝܠܕܐ‬. The “right-hand” ones assist nature when they have a high position in the sky in the sectors belonging to them.91 The “left-hand” ones work against nature in a similar position. Their influence is not limited to man, but extends over all nature. Thus the stars and planets possess a certain F. Nau, col. 576; Drijvers, BLC, p. 36, L. 5–7. Cf. p. 77, n. 2 and Pohlenz, Die Stoa, S. 118f. where he speaks of the Stoic ethic of ὁμολογούμενος τῄ φυσεὶ ζῆν and the implications this entails, determined by the “Zweiseitigkeit der menschlichen Natur” (Pohlenz). 90 Cf. G. Widengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, S. 48ff. and H. C. Puech, Le Manichéisme, Paris, 1949, p. 74svv. 91 F. Nau, col. 576; Drijvers, BLC, p. 36, L. 7–17. 88 89



measure of liberty, whereby they may justify themselves or become guilty. This order is given by God and is determined by the freedom possessed by men as well as stars. That is why it could be said (see above) that they would be subjected to judgment at the Latter Day. Bardaiṣan then briefly recapitulates the above:

‫ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܚܙܝܢܢ ܕܫܚܩ ܚܠܩܐ ܠܟܝܢܐ ܗܟܢܐ ܡܫܟܚ ܝܢܢ ܠܡܚܙܐ ܐܦ‬ ‫ܕܚ ܝܐ ܠܗ ܠܚܠܩܐ ܘܫܚܩܐ ܐܠ ܕܝܢ‬ ̇ ‫ܠܚܐܪܘܬܗ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܟܕ‬ ̇ ‫ ܘܐܠ‬.‫ܒܟܠܡܕܡ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܐܠ ܗܘ ܚܠܩܐ ܒܟܠܡܕܡ ܕܚܐ ܠܟܝܢܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܗܘ ܓܝܪ ܕܬܠܬܝܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܨܒܘܬܐ ܕܟܝܢܐ ܘܕܚܠܩܐ ܘܕܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܕܢܗܘܘܢ‬ ‫ܢܛܝ̈ܪܝܢ ܒܚ ܝܘܬܗܘܢ ܥܕܡܐ ܕܬܫܬܠܡ ܡܪܕܝܬܐ ܘܬܬܡܐܠ ܟܝܠܬܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܢܝܢܐ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܬܚܙܝ ܩܕܡ ܗܘ ܐܝܢܐ ܕܦܩܕ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܢܗܘܐ ܥܘܡܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܫܘܠܡܐ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ ܒ̈ܪܝܬܐ ܘܩܝܡܐ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܟܝܢܐ‬ As we have seen that Fate can disorder nature, so we can also see how man’s liberty forces back and disorders Fate. Not in everything, though, as Fate does not force back nature in everything either. It is fitting, then, that these three things, nature, Fate and liberty keep each their own mode of being, until the course is completed and measure and number have been fulfilled. For thus has it been resolved by Him, who ordained what was to be the way of life and the manner of perfection of all creatures, and the condition of all substances and natures.

Here again only the negative influence of Fate is mentioned, indicated by the word “disorder.” The present condition of man and ̈ the world was established by God, who gave the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬and the ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ their place after the mingling. This situation continues till the end of the world, where measure and number have been fulfilled and the course is completed. This hints at a definite duration assumed by Bardaiṣan for the present world, viz. 6000 years. This is related by Georgios, episkopos Arabum, in a letter to the presbyter Joshua about Aphraates. The latter assumed that the world was to last for 6000 years, and Georgios tells Joshua that the idea is not at all unusual and was accepted by many, including Bardaiṣan. Georgios then relates how Bardaiṣan computed these 6000 years with the aid of



the period required by each planet to complete its orbit. This information Georgios took from Severus Sebokt.92 Awida shows himself convinced that man does not sin through being destined to do so by his natural constitution. One last problem remains. At Awida’s request, Bardaiṣan must still make clear that it is also not due to the influence of Fate, that man sins. If he can do that, one cannot but believe

‫ܕܐܚ ܝܕ ܗܘ ܒܪܢܫܐ ܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܕܢܦܫܗ ܘܒܟܝܢܗ ܡܬܩܪܒ ܠܫܦܝ̈ܪܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܡܙܕܗܪ‬ ‫ܣܢܝܬܐ‬ that man has a free will and is constitutionally inclined to good and averse to evil.

Here again we note, that man’s ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is obviously not ethically indifferent, but that in its pure form, undisturbed by Fate, it is directed towards good. Just as Bardaiṣan has shown in the preceding part, that the combination of ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬and ‫ ܚܠܩܐ‬gives each man an entirely individual life, so that he does not sin because of his ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, he now demonstrates that Fate does not cause all men to act in the same way. Man retains his free-will. Bardaiṣan goes on to treat the literary topos of the νόμιμα βαρβαρικά whose form goes back to Carneades.93 This argumentation shows that Fate has no influence upon man’s moral or immoral actions, whatever other influence one 92 F. Nau, col. 579; Drijvers, BLC, p. 36, L. 23 – p. 38, L. 7, cf. F Nau, JA, 1910, p. 209–215. This article was missed e.g. by Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, p. 40, who fails to state that Georgios borrowed from Severus Sebokt. On the term of 6000 years see: T. Jansma, ‘L’Hexameron de Jacques de Sarûg’, l’Orient Syrien IV, 1959, p. 26, 277; this conception is of Jewish origin and is found with many authors. Via Julius Africanus it penetrated into the Byzantine chronography: cf. H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus und die byzantinische Chronographie, Leipzig, 1898. 93 Cf. F. Boll, ‘Studien über Claudius Ptolemäus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie und Astrologie’. Jahrb. f. class. Philol. Suppl. Bd. 21, Leipzig 1894, SS. 49–244, espec. S. 181ff. D. Amand, Fatalisme et Liberté dans l’antiquité grecque, Leuven 1945, passim. R. M. Grant, Miracle and natural law in graeco-roman and early Christian thought, Amsterdam 1952, p. 111f.



may wish to ascribe to it. Rehm’s thesis was, that only the ethical examples quoted by Bardaiṣan fit in with his argumentation, and are his own. This is the case, for instance, with the Seres and the Brahmans, of whom it is related that they do no sinful things because of their laws.94 According to Rehm the other examples lack this ethical character, and the concept “law” but rarely appears in them. These Bardaiṣan would have taken from earlier collections, whose object was completely to refute belief in Fate, so that they do not really agree with Bardaiṣan’s reasoning.95 This view of Rehm is decidedly mistaken. Bardaiṣan merely wishes to show, that the decision of Fate does not cause all people to act in the same way, from which he concludes, that people do not sin because of their personal Fate embodied in the constellation of the stars at the hour of their birth.96 As people in the same country are born under many very different constellations and yet all keep to the same laws and customs, which they themselves make and institute, it is evident that man’s liberty is stronger than Fate. So Fate does not determine his conduct, and therefore man does not sin through its influence. In this connection it does not signify whether the examples quoted are of an ethical kind and are derived from laws of the people concerned. From the formal point of view all examples, positive or negative, are to the point: the conduct of a people is freely determined on, and even so a man may conduct himself justly and may also become guilty. The νόμιμα βαρβαρικά need only demonstrate that Fate does not determine human conduct, of whatever kind this may be. Man does not sin because of Fate, but in liberty. Bardaiṣan then enumerates a great number of νόμιμα βαρβαρικά and it is noticeable their sequence is such, that it is quite Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 238. Rehm, ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, S. 240, Amn. 71. 96 F. Nau, col. 580; Drijvers, BLC, p. 38, L. 17–21; the hour of birth alone, then, is decisive for the course of events in a human life, as the ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬and the ‫ ܢܦܫܐ‬then descend through the spheres of the planets to the body: therefore Fate is embodied in the horoscope. For all kinds of other conceptions of Fate see: A. Anwander, ‘“Schicksal”-Wörter in Antike und Christentum’, ZRGG, I, 1948, SS. 315–326; II, 1949/50, SS. 48–54; SS. 128–134, with extensive bibliography. 94 95



clear they are being described from an Edessene point of view. Moreover, Bardaiṣan speaks of the customs of peoples in the immediate neighbourhood of Edessa: Rakamaeans, Arabs, inhabitants of Hatra and Kushanians. The Rakamaeans are the inhabitants of Petra, which was formerly called Rekeme.97 From all these examples Bardaiṣan draws a very general conclusion, viz. that the laws of mankind are stronger than Fate, and that they lead their lives according to their own customs. Philippus shows himself convinced, but brings up an objection that the astrologers have always made use of against the argumentation of Carneades and his successors: the doctrine of astrological geography.98 According to this teaching the earth is divided into seven climates, each ruled by one of the “Seven.” This would explain the sameness of laws and customs. Bardaiṣan observes that many different laws are to be found in one climate, giving India and Persia as examples. Even the systems in which the earth is divided into twelve zones, after the number of signs of the Zodiac, or into thirty-six, after the number of the decanal stars, cannot explain this diversity of laws and customs. Thus all imaginable systems of astrological geography are found together here. 99 A conclusive argument against this geography, however, is of a different kind. Many peoples live dispersed over the whole earth, and yet keep to their own laws, e.g. the Persian Magians. The climates have no influence on this. Besides, in one and the same A. Schall, ‘Eine “unbekannte Völkerschaft” im “Buch der Gesetze der Länder”’, ZDMG, N.F. Bd. 24, 1945–1949, SS. 202f. and B. Maisler, Tarbitz, XX, 1940, SS. 316–319, and Y. Yadlin, JEOL, 17, 1963, p. 227 and IEJ, 12, 1962, pp. 227ff. 98 Cf. F. Boll, ‘Studien über Claudius Ptolemäus’, S. 184ff. For criticism of the views of Boll see: E. Honigmann, Die sieben Klimata und die Πολεις ἐπισημοι. Eine Untersuchung zur Geschichte der Geographie und Astrologie im Altertum und Mittelalter, Heidelberg 1929, S. 47; for this passage of the BLC see: Honigmann, o.c., S. 92f. Severn Sebokt and Jacob of Edessa give a circumstantial account of the doctrine of klimata, cf. F. Nau, ROC, XV 1910, pp. 237–241, Nau, JA, Xe série, T. XVI, 1910, p. 227 and Nau, JA, IXe série, T. XIII, 1899. 99 Cf. W. Gundel, Dekane und Dekansternbilder. Studien der Bibliothek Warburg XIX, Glückstadt u. Hamburg 1936, S. 309f. 97



country the law can be changed, as happened in Arabia, which was recently conquered by the Romans who forbade circumcision there.100 The most forcible examples are Jews and Christians. Everywhere the Jews circumcise their sons on the eighth day, worship no idols and keep the Sabbath. Fate and the Climate have no influence at all upon this. When king Abgar came to the faith, he forbade emasculation in honour of Tarcata (Atargatis), the Dea Syra whom Lucianus wrote a book about. 101 Fate or the Climate had no influence upon this either. All Christians everywhere keep to the “law of Christ”; neither local laws nor Fate can prevent them from doing so. Fate does operate upon them, but only in the outward fortunes of life; freedom, however, can withstand Fate: “For if we could do everything, we should be everything but if nothing lay in our power to do, we should be instruments of others.”102 Overall, however, there stands the great and holy will of God, through which, if He will, everything can take place without hindrance. Resistance to it may last for a short period, because God allows all ̈ to lead their life in their own fashion according to their own ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ free-will. This passage forms the transition to the conclusion of the BLC, which again reaches back to the cosmological conceptions of Bardaiṣan:

̈ ̈ ‫ܘܒܬܘܩܢܐ ܕܐܬܬܩܢܘ‬ ‫ܒܥܒܕܐ ܕܐܬܥܒܕܘ‬ ‫ܒܪܡ ܕܝܢ ܟܕ ܐܣܝ̈ܪܝܢ‬ ‫ ܗܘ ܓܝܪ ܛܟܣܐ ܘܕܘܒܪܐ ܕܐܬܝܗܒ ܘܡܘܙ ܓܐ ܕܚܕ‬.‫ܠܥܘܕܪܢܗܘܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܚܕ ܡܦܟܗ ܥܘܙܐ‬ ‫ܕܟܝܢܐ ܕܐܠ ܓܡܝܪܐܝܬ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܢܟܝܢ ܘܐܠ‬ ‫ܓܡܝܪܐܝܬ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܡܬܢܟܝܢ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܢܟܢ ܗܘܘ ܘܡܬܢܟܝܢ ܡܢ‬ ‫ ܘܥܬܝܕ ܗܘ ܕܢܗܘܐ ܙܒܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܗܢܐ ܢܟܝܢܐ‬.‫ܩܕܡ ܒܪܝܬܗ ܕܥܠܡܐ‬ ‫ܕܩܝܡ ܒܗܘܢ ܢܓܡܪ ܒܝܘܠܦܢܐ ܕܗܘܐ ܒܡܘܙ ܓܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ ܘܒܩܝܡܐ‬ ̈ ‫ ܫܠܝܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ ̈ܙܘܥܐ‬.‫ܕܥܠܡܐ ܚܕܬܐ ܗܘ‬ ‫ܒܝܫܐ ܘܫܠܡܝܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܣܟܐܠ ܘܡܬܡܠܝܢ ܚܘܣ̈ܪܢܐ ܘܗܘܐ ܫܝܢܐ‬ ‫ܡ̈ܪܕܐ ܘܡܬܛܦܝܣܝܢ‬ ̈ .‫ܘܫܠܡܐ ܡܢ ܡܘܗܒܬܗ ܕܡܪܝܐ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ ܟܝܢܐ‬

100 F. Nau, col. 603; Drijvers, BLC, p. 56, L. 17–19; this passage has often been used to date the BLC. One may think of the Arabian war of Septimius Severus in 195–6 or of that of Macrinus in 217–18. 101 Lucianus, De Dea Syra, par. 27 and 51; cf. Th. Nöldeke, ‘Die Selbstentmannung bei den Syrern’, ARW X, 1907, SS. 150–152 and G. Goossens, Hiérapolis de Syrie, Leuven 1943, pp. 57–79. 102 F. Nau, col. 608; Drijvers, BLC, p. 60, L. 23 – p. 62, L. 1.


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA But they are bound by the works that have been done and the ordinations that have been instituted for their sake. For this order and rule which is given, and the mingling of one with the other, restricts the force of the natural elements, that they might not become completely harmful nor completely harmed, as they caused and suffered harm before the creation of the world. But a time will come, when even the possibilities of causing harm still existing with them, will disappear through the doctrine which will come about in a different intermixture. In the condition of this new world all evil damaging influences will have ceased and allrevolts will have ended, the foolish will be convinced and every lack supplied, and peace and perfect quiet will reign through the gift of the Lord of all natures.103

Thus at its close the BLC shadows forth a new world, to be formed by a different intermixture which is conveyed in a certain doctrine. Just as before the creation of the world a mingling of the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬took place, after which God created the world, or more exactly set it in order, to restrict the harmful influence of this mingling, so at the end of time, after 6000 years, a different intermixture will come about. No further description is given of the doctrine referred to in this connection. Is it the Christian doctrine? The Son of God plays a certain part in the cosmology of Bardaiṣan: He orders the world. In analogy with this He can, at the end of time, when a new heaven and earth shall come, order the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬in a different intermixture, from which darkness is extracted, or has gradually disappeared in the course of 6000 years. That is why peace and perfect quiet can then reign, because the mischief maker is gone. Other texts will be needed to give the necessary elucidation here. It is striking that it is ̈ that is spoken of here. not the mingling of the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬but of the ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ ̈ The ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬are the “natures” of the various beings or things existing in the world and characterised by an individual way of existence: men, animals, stars and planets. They are characterised by a free ̈ are formed will; this is manifest in them. Now these various ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ out of the primordial elements, which are also free and show certain qualities: dark and light, solid and fluid, warm and cold. These 103

F. Nau, col. 611; Drijvers, BLC, p. 62, L. 8–18.



primordial elements have become mixed, because darkness began this intermingling. From this intermixture God created the world ̈ . God instituted rule and orand everything in it, that is all the ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ der to restrain the evil element, darkness. Here then the primordial elements are not considered in themselves, but only with respect to the influence they have had upon the present situation in the world, where the possibility of causing harm still exists. The causing of harm and the instigating of evil belongs to the ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬of ‫ܚܫܘܟܐ‬, dark̈ . Mutatis ness, a ‫ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬whose effect still continues in all existing ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ mutandis, this applies to all other primordial elements. To accentuate this continuity, only this facet of the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬is regarded, and ̈ , because only their ‫ ܟܝܢܐ‬is determining therefore they are called ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ for our situation, expressed by the three terms ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬, ‫ ܚܠܘܐܠ‬and ‫ܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬. For this structure of human existence results from God’s intervention to establish order, after the comingling of the ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ̈ had exercised a profound influence had taken place and their ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ upon each other, with all ensuing consequences for the present condition of humanity. 104 Genetically, the anthropological concept is primary; the cosmology provides a basis for this outlook upon man, while the eschatology (“a different intermixture”) resolves the tensions between the different levels of human existence. The importance that Bardaiṣan attaches to freedom is also ev̈ are free, and therefore ident from the cosmology. The various ‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ they are able to become guilty, in this case by mingling. Just so can man in his liberty become guilty and justify himself. Freedom is man’s possibility and grandeur, linking him with God, but also cause and origin of his human condition and its inherent evil. Thus the BLC gives us the contours of an anthropology based upon a cosmology. A number of points still remain obscure, so that we must refrain from a systematic arrangement until all the texts have been examined. Neither is it the place here to inquire into the country of origin of all sorts of conceptions, which are here joined

Bethune-Baker, o.c. p. 217f., also pointed this out already: “But k’yânâ had probably a wider application than the Greek φύσις. It can be used as îthyâ. Where we should speak of material things as “substances”, a Syrian would call them “natures”. 104



together into a unique whole. This task also must be put off until all the texts have been cited. As the BLC, a masterpiece of Syriac literature in style and reasoning, continually refers to Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, which supports and underlies his doctrine of Fate and his anthropology, it is now necessary to examine this cosmology more closely, so that we may gain some definite hold.

CHAPTER 3: THE COSMOLOGY Bardaiṣan’s cosmology is transmitted to us by some authors who wrote in Syriac or Arabic. The tradition is not uniform: some reports give more than others, and there are greater differences between them. This raises certain problems pertaining to literary history. Another difficulty is that we do not gain a hold on this tradition until several centuries after the life of Bardaiṣan. Thus the reliability of the tradition can only be indirectly established or rejected through comparison with the BLC and the data of Ephrem. A striking point is that the Fathers who wrote in Greek do not breathe a word of any special cosmology of Bardaiṣan. They are only interested in Christology, use of the Bible, the combating of Fate, polemics with Marcion and possible agreement with Valentinus. There is nothing to show they had any knowledge of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology as it was transmitted by the Syrian Church and the Muslims. If they were at all acquainted with it, then they did not realise its heterodoxy. Probably Bardaiṣan’s attacks upon Marcion were sufficient proof in their eyes, that his doctrine regarding creation did not contain any heresies. In the Syriac tradition, however, stress came to fall upon the cosmology, after the rise of Manichaeism. Mani was the great heretic whose entire thought was based upon his cosmology, which he had probably borrowed in its main form from Bardaiṣan, though not without making some fundamental alterations. This may be the reason why Ephrem closely associates Bardaiṣan and Mani, although he is not imperceptive of the differences between them. Ephrem is the first to attack Bardaiṣan’s cosmological ideas, without describing the cosmology in full, any more than he gives details of Mani’s cosmologv. After Ephrem, we come to the first extensive rendering of Mani’s and Bardaiṣan’s ideas regarding the origin of man and the world. This need not mean, then, that the cosmology did not originate until that time within the group of the 109



Bardesanites, being simply ascribed to their founder. We depend upon Bardaiṣan’s opponents for the tradition, and they did not direct their attention to the cosmology until Manichaeism had become a formidable power in the East, to be attacked with all available means. It was in part owing to this, that Bardaiṣan came to be decried as a complete heretic at a time when the West no longer paid any attention to him whatever. Characteristic differences between the haeresiology of the West and the East loom up here, which are entirely determined by the then situation of Christianity in East and West. The late transmission of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology may be thus sufficiently explained. Up to the present, only the reports of Theodore bar Khonai (late 8th cent.), Îwannîs of Dàrâ (lst half of the 9th cent.) and Moses bar Kepha (d.903 aged 90) were advanced for the knowledge of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology. Baumstark already pleaded the hypothesis of a “haresio-logische Mittelquelle,” requisite for a satisfactory explanation of the resemblances and differences between these three recensions of the cosmology.1 Writing in 1933, Baumstark could then have known another recension of this cosmology, which is preserved in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa (late 6th cent.) published by F. Nau in 1932.2 This last report agrees in the main with the three first, and may be their source. Notwithstanding this agreement as to the main lines, there are such differences between the report of Theodore bar Khonai on one side and the three others on the other, that there is every reason to regard the report of Theodore bar Khonai as a separate tradition. A look at the synoptically presented texts at once shows the differences. The cosmological information of Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ forms the first tradition, the report of Theodore bar Khonai the second. Besides these, there is a third cosmological tradition that we find in Agapius of Mabbug, Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus. The Muslim authors have echoes of the 1


A. Baumstark, ‘Îwannîs von Dàrâ über Baradaiṣàn’, OC, Bd. 30, S.

F. Nau, La première partie de l’histoire de Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa, texte syriaque édité et traduit par F. Nau, PO. T. XXIII, Paris 1932; the account of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology is on p. 191sv. 2



various reports, as has the Christian Arabic literature, in which Theodore Abû Qurra represents a curious intermediate form. The cosmology supplied by Ephrem is left out of account in this chapter, since his cosmological data are so intimately linked with his other information of an anthropological and astrological nature that to separate them would constitute too drastic an operation. Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa

Moses bar Kepha

The fifth heresy is that of the Daisanites. These speak of many elements and the head and lord of all has made himself known to no one. To the Stoicheia too they give the name of elements. And they reason as follows: The world originated through an unlucky chance. How then? In the beginning the light was in the East and the wind opposite to it in the West; the fire in the South and the water opposite to it

Bardaiṣan, now, has the following opinion regarding this world, maintaining that it originated and was formed from five elements, viz. fire, wind, water, light and darkness. Each of these was situated in its own cardinal point, the light in the East, the wind in the West, the fire in the South, the water in the North, their lord being up above and their enemy, darkness,

̇ .‫ܐܝܬܝܗ ܕܕܝ̈ܨܢܝܐ‬ ‫ܗܝ ܗܪܣܝܣ ܕܚܡܫ‬ ̈ ‫ܗܠܝܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܣܓܝܐܐ ܐܡܪܝܢ ܘܗܘ‬ ‫ܠܡ ܪܫܐ ܘܪܒܐ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ ܐܠ ܐܬܝܕܥ‬ ̈ ‫ܐܠܣܛܘܟܣܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܡܟܢܝܢ‬ ‫ܐܠܢܫ ܘܐܦ‬ ‫ܘܐܡܪܝܢ ̇ܗܟܝܢ ܕܥܠܡܐ ܠܡ ܡܢ‬ ‫ ܐܝܟܢ܆ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܠܡ‬.‫ܫܓܡܐ ܗܘܐ‬ .‫ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܗܘܐ ܩܕܡܝܬ ܒܡܕܢܚܐ‬ ‫ܘܪܘܚܐ ܠܘܩܒܠܗ ܒܡܥܪܒܐ ܘܢܘܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܬܝܡܢܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܝܐ ܠܘܩܒܠ ̇ܗ‬

‫ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܗܟܝܠ ܡܢ ܐܬܪܥܝ ܡܛܠ‬ ‫ܥܠܡܐ ܗܢܐ ܘܐܡܪ ܕܡܢ ܚܡܫܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܗܘܐ ܘܐܬܩܝܡ ܗܢܘܢ ܕܐܝܬܝܗܘܢ ܢܘܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܡܝܐ ܘܢܘܗܪܐ ܘܚܫܘܟܐ ܟܠ‬ ‫ܘܪܘܚܐ‬ ‫ܚܕ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܩܐܡ ܒܦܢܝܬܗ‬ ‫ܢܘܗܪܐ ܡܢ ܡܕܢܚܐ ܪܘܚܐ ܕܝܢ ܒܡܥܪܒܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܢܘܪܐ ܡܢ ܬܝܡܢܐ‬ ‫ܡܝܐ ܡܢ ܒܓܪܒܝܐ‬ ‫ܟܕ ܡܪܗܘܢ ܡܢ ܩܐܡ ܒܪܘܡܐ‬ ‫ܒܥܠܕܒܒܐ ܚܫܘܟܐ ܩܐܡ‬



Îwannîs of Dàrâ

Theodore bar Khonai

Bardaiṣan, now, maintains that this visible world originated from five elements: fire, wind, water, light and darkness. Each of these was situated apart in its own cardinal point: the fire in the East, the wind in the West, the water in the North, the light in the South, their lord up above and their enemy, darkness, in the depths. Now once upon a time, either by chance or by some act of destiny, they knocked against one another and the darkness rose up and the elements fled

For he (Bardaiṣan) maintains that: five elements actually (essentialiter) existed of eternity. These were deserted (?) and wandered around. Finally, as if by some chance, they were brought into movement. The wind blew strongly and… (?) crept and reached him who was beside him. The fire began to burn in the forest and a dark smoke gathered which was not a product of the fire, and the pure air was brought into confusion and all mingled with one another.

‫ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܝܢ ̇ܐܡܪ ܗܘܐ ܕܡܢ ܚܡܫܐ‬ ‫ܐܝܬܝܢ ܗܘܐ ܥܠܡܢܐ ܗܢܐ ܕܡܬܚܙܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܡܝܐ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܚܫܘܟܐ‬ .‫ ܪܘܚܐ‬.‫ܢܘܪܐ‬ ‫ܘܟܠܚܕ ܡܢܗܘܢ ܠܘܩܕܡ ܦܪܕܢܐܝܬ‬ ‫ ܢܘܪܐ ܒܡܕܢܚܐ‬.‫ܩܐܡ ܗܘܐ ܒܦܢܝܬܗ‬ ̈ ‫ܪܘܚܐ ܒܡܥܪܒܐ‬ ‫ܡܝܐ ܒܓܪܒܝܐ ܘܢܘܗܪܐ‬ ‫ܒܬܝܡܢܐ ܘܡܪܗܘܢ ܒܪܘܡܐ ܘܚܫܘܟܐ‬ ‫ܒܥܠܕܒܒܗܘܢ ܒܥܘܡܩܐ ܘܗܘܐ ܠܡ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܚܕ ܡܢ‬ ‫ܙܒܢܐ‬

‫ܐܡܪ ܓܝܪ ܕܚܡܫܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܐܝܬܝܐܝܬ‬ ‫ܐܢܘܢ ܡܢ ܥܠܡ ܘܫܗܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܘܦܗܝܢ‬ ‫ܘܠܚܪܬܐ ܐܬܬܙܝܥܘ ܗܢܘܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܐܝܟ‬ ‫ܕܒܫܓܡܐ ܡܕܡ ܘܢܫܒܬ ܪܘܚܐ‬ ̇ ‫ܒܥܘܙܗ ܘܫܦ ܘܡܛܐ ܒܚܒܪܗ‬ ‫ܘܣܦܬ ܢܘܪܐ ܒܥܒܐ ܘܩܛܪ ܬܢܢܐ‬ ‫ܟܡܝܪܐ ܕܐܠ ܗܘܐ ܝܠܕܐ ܕܢܘܪܐ ܘܐܬܕܠܚܬ‬ ‫ܐܐܪ ܫܦܝܬܐ ܘܐܬܚܠܛܘ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܚܕ‬ ‫ܒܚܕ ܘܐܬܛܪܝܬ ܪܫܝܬܗܘܢ ܓܒܝܬܐ‬



Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa

Moses bar Kepha

in the North. Their lord up above and the enemy, darkness, in the depths. And by an unlucky chance the elements came into movement. One began to stir and reached the one beside, him, and the power each individually possessed was curtailed (thereby). The heavy ones came down and the light ones rose up and they mingled with one another. And then all became restless, took to flight and sought refuge with the grace of the Allhighest. Then a loud voice descended towards the noise of the movement, that is the Logos, the Word of Thought. He

in the depths. Now once upon a time, either by chance, or because it was so destined, they came into confusion against one another and the darkness made an attack from the depths to rise up and mingle with and among them. Then those pure elements began to get restless and they fled before the darkness and sought refuge with the grace of the All-highest, that He might free them of the nasty colour that had mixed itself with them, viz. the darkness.

‫ܒܪܘܡܐ‬ ‫ܡܪܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܒܓܪܒܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܒܥܠܕܒܒܐ ܕܗܘ ܚܫܘܟܐ ܒܥܘܡܩܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܢ ܫܓܡܐ ܠܡ ܐܬܬܙܥܘ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܫܦ ܠܡ ܘܡܛܐ ܒܚܒܪܗ ܘܐܬܛܪܝܬ‬ ̈ ‫ܪܫܢܘܬܗܘܢ ܓܘܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܕܚܕܕܐ ܘܢܚܬܘ‬ ‫ܝܩܝ̈ܪܐ ܘܣܠܩܘ ܩܠ ̈ܝ ܐܠ ܘܐܬܚܠܛܘ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܚܕܕܐ ܘܡܟܝܠ ܦܝܙܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܟܠܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܘܥܪܩܝܢ ܘܓܘܣܐ ܒ̈ܪܚܡܘܗܝ ܕܥܠܝܐ‬ ‫ܐܚܕܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܘܗܝܕܝܢ ܠܩܠ ܩܠܗ‬ ‫ܕܙܘܥܐ ܢܚܬ ܩܐܠ ܪܒܐ ܕܗܘܝܘ ܡܠܬܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܐܡܪܐ‬

‫ܗܘܐ ܒܥܡܩܐ ܘܗܘܐ ܠܡ ܒܚܕ ܡܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܙܒܢܝܢ ܐܢ ܡܢ ܓܘܫܡܐ ܘܐܢ ܡܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܓܕܫܐ ܘܐܬܛܚܘ‬ ‫ܒܚܕܕܐ ܚܕ ܒܚܕ‬ ‫ܘܣܥܐ ܐܦ ܚܫܘܟܐ ܡܢ ܥܘܡܩܐ‬ ‫ܠܡܣܩ ܘܠܡܬܚܠܛܘ ܥܡܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܘܒܗܘܢ ܗܕܝܢ ܫܪܝܘ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܗܢܘܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܟܝܐ ܦܝܪܝܢ ܘܥܪܩܝܢ ܡܢ ܩܕܡ‬ ‫ܚܫܘܟܐ ܘܐܚܕܝܢ ܓܘܣܐ ܒ̈ܪܚܡܘܗܝ‬ ‫ܕܥܠܝܐ ܕܢܦܨܐ ܐܢܘܢ ܡܢ ܓܘܢܐ ܡܫܟܪܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܬܚܠܛ ܒܗܘܢ ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ‬



Îwannîs of Dàrâ

Theodore bar Khonai

before it. They sought refuge wit the All-highest, that he might save them from the darkness. Now He sent the Word of Thought, that is Christ. He separated the darkness from the elements and it fell into the depths where it naturally belongs. He gave each element its place which it occupies in the order. And from the mixture that had come about He formed this world. That which was mixed, behold, it is being purified until the world shall be completed. And because he has said that the bodies come from the darkness, he teaches

Their elect origin was violated and they began to bite each other like wild animals. Then their lord sent to them the Word of Thought and commanded the wind to lie down. And the wind caused his blast to return to him. The wind of the heights blew, and the confusion was suppressed by force and flung into its abysses. The air took delight in itself, there came quiet and rest, the lord was praised for his wisdom and laudation of his mercy rose up. Of the mingled composition that remained of the elements He made all creation, that which

‫ܐܢ ܡܢ ܓܫܡܐ ܘܐܢ ܡܢ ܓܕܫܐ ܡܕܡ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܚܕܕܐ ܘܣܠܩ ܚܫܘܟܐ‬ ‫ܐܬܛܪܝܘ‬ ‫ܘܥܪܩܘ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܡܢ ܩܕܡܘܗܝ ܘܐܚܕܘ‬ ‫ܓܘܣܐ ܒܥܠܝܐ ܕܢܫܘܙܒ ܐܢܘܢ ܡܢ‬ ‫ܚܫܘܟܐ ܘܗܐ ܫܕܪ ܠܡܐܡܪܐ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܘܦܣܩܗ‬ ‫ܡܫܝ ܚܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ‬ ‫ܠܚܫܘܟܐ ܡܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܘܢܦܠ‬ ‫ܠܬܚܬܝܘܬܐ ܕܟܝܢܗ ܘܐܩܝܡ ܠܟܠܚܕ‬ ‫ܡܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܒܛܟܣܗ ܘܡܢ ܚܘܠܛܢܐ‬ ‫ܕܗܘܐ ܐܩܝܡ ܠܗܢܐ ܥܠܡܐ ܘܗܘ ܡܐ‬

̈ ‫ܠܚܕܕܐ ܐܝܟ ܚ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܫܪܝܘ ܡܢܟܬܝܢ‬ ‫ܝܘܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܣܪܘܚܬܐ ܘܗܝܕܝܢ ܫܕܪ ܥܠܝܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܡܪܗܘܢ ܡܐܡܪܐ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܘܦܩܕ‬ ̇ ‫ܢܫܒܗ‬ ‫ܠܪܘܚܐ ܘܫܠܝܬ ܘܐܗܦܟܬ‬ ̇ ‫ܠܘܬܗ ܘܢܫܒܬ ܪܘܚܐ ܕܪܘܡܐ‬ ‫ܘܐܬܟܒܫ ܒܚ ܝܐܠ ܘܐܬܬܚܬܝ ܕܠܘܚ ܝܐ‬ ̈ ̇ ̇ ‫ܠܥܘ‬ ‫ܒܓܘܗ‬ ‫ܡܩܝܗ ܘܐܬܦܨܚܬ ܐܐܪ‬ ‫ܘܗܘܐ ܫܠܝܐ ܘܢܘܚܐ ܘܐܫܬܒܚ ܡܪܝܐ‬ ‫ܒܚܟܡܬܗ ܘܣܠܩܬ ܬܘܕܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܠܚܢܢܗ ܘܡܢ ܗ̇ܘ ܚܠܛܢܐ‬



Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa

Moses bar Kepha

separated darkness from among the pure elements and it was driven away and fell to its place there below. He separated them and placed each apart in his place according to the mystery of the cross. And from their mixture he made this world and for that a period of time was set, and He set a limit for it, within which it must remain. As for that which is not yet purified, He will come at the end of time and purify it and then speak as follows: The element which seized upon the one who was beside him, has been made to vacillate and it has driven

Now then, at this terrible clamour, the Word of Thought of the All-highest descended, that is Christ. He drove away the darkness from among the pure elements and it was expelled and fell towards the depths where it naturally belongs. He gave each element its place which it occupies in the order according to the mystery of the cross, and from the mixture of those elements and their enemy darkness He made this world and

‫ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܘܠܚܫܘܟܐ ܦܣܩܗ ܡܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܡܨܥܬ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܕܟܝܐ ܘܐܬܕܚ ܝ ܢܦܠ‬ ‫ܐܠܬܪܗ ܬܚܬܝܐ ܘܦܪܫ ܐܢܘܢ ܘܒܪܐܙ‬ ‫ܨܠܝܒܐ ܐܩܝܡ ܐܢܘܢ ܠܟܠ ܚܕܚܕ‬ ‫ܡܢܗܘܢ ܒܐܬܪܗ ܘܡܢ ܚܘܠܛܢܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܥܒܕ ܗܢܐ ܥܠܡܐ ܘܐܬܩܢ ܠܗ ܙܒܢܐ‬ ‫ܘܣܠܩܗ ܬܚܘܡܐ ܕܟܡܐ ܢܟܬܪ ܘܗ̇ܘ‬ ‫ܡܐ ܕܦܐܫ ܡܢ ܨܘܠ ܐܠ ܐܬܐ ܠܚܪܬܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܕܟܐ ܠܗ ܘܐܡܪ ܗܟܢ ܐܝܬܝܐ ܕܛܪܐ‬ .‫ܒܚܒܪܗ ܐܬܬܢܝܦ ܘܕܚ ܝܗܝ ܠܥܘܡܩܐ‬

‫ ܗܝܕܝܢ ܠܡ ܡܢ ܩܠܗ ܕܘܥܐ‬.‫ܚܫܘܟܐ‬ ‫ܗܘ ܢܚܬ ܡܐܡܪܐ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܗ ܕܥܠܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܦܣܩܗ‬ .‫ܡܫܝ ܚܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ‬ ‫ܠܚܫܘܟܐ ܗܘ ܡܢ ܡܨܥܬ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܟܝܐ ܘܐܬܕܚ ܝ ܘܢܦܠ ܠܬܚܬܝܘܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܟܝܢܗ ܘܐܩܝܡ ܠܚܕ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܒܛܟܣܗ ܒܪܐܙܐ ܕܨܠܝܒܐ ܘܗܘ‬ ‫ܚܘܠܛܢܐ ܕܗܘܐ ܡܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܗܢܘܢ ܘܡܢ‬ ‫ܚܫܘܟܐ ܒܥܠܕܒܒܗܘܢ ܩܝܡ ܡܢܗ‬ ‫ܠܥܠܡܐ ܗܢܐ ܗܣܡܗ‬



Îwannîs of Dàrâ

Theodore bar Khonai

that they do not rise again, as they are impure and it is impossible for them to be led to the (heavenly) abodes and to live in the resurrection, because it is not in their nature to possess immortality and they originated from evil. He was brought to excogitate this and to proclaim it, because he wished to keep evil far from God. This idea, however, he borrowed from the ancient pagans.

is above and that which is below. And behold, all natures and creatures hasten to purify themselves and to put away what is mixed with the nature of evil. Thus are the ungodly opinions Bardaiṣan has strung together.

‫ܕܐܬܡܙ ܓ ܗܐ ܟܕ ܡܨ ܛܠܠ ܥܕܡܐ‬ ‫ܕܫ̇ ܠܡ ܥܠܡܐ ܘܡܛܠ ܕܐܡܪ‬ ‫ܕܦܓ̈ܪܐ ܡܢ ܗ̇ܘ ܚܫܘܟܐ ܐܢܘܢ ܡܠܦ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܐܠ ܩܝܡܝܢ ܡܛܠ ܠܡ‬ ‫ܕܛܡܐܐ ܐܢܘܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܐܠ ܡܨܝܐ ܕܢܬܠܘܘܢ‬ ‫ܐܠܘܘܢܐ ܘܢܐܚܘܢ‬ ‫ܒܩܝܡܬܐ ܘܡܛܠ ܕܠܝܬ ܠܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܐܠ ܡܝܘܬܘܬܐ ܒܟܝܢܐ ܘܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ ܗܘܘ‬ ‫ܗܠܝܢ ܕܝܢ ܐܬܢܓܕ ܕܢܒܥܐ ܘܢܐܡܪ‬ ‫ܒܕܒܥܐ ܠܡ ܕܢܪܚܩ ܠܒܝܫܬܐ ܡܢ‬ ̇ ‫ܢܣܒܗ ܕܝܢ ܠܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܗܕܐ‬ ‫ܠܐܗܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܡܢ ܚܢ̈ܦܐ ܥܬܝܩܐ‬

‫ܘܡܘܙ ܓܐ ܕܦܫ ܡܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܥܒܕ‬ ̈ ‫ܒܪܝܬܐ ܟܠ ̇ܗ ܕܥܠ ̈ܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܬܚܬܝܐ ܘܗܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܟܝܢܐ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܘܒܪܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܪܗܛܝܢ‬ ‫̈ܕܢܨܠܠܘܢ ܢܣܒܘܢ ܗ̇ܘ ܡܐ ܕܐܬܚܠܛ‬ ‫ܒܟܝܢ ܒܝܫܐ ܕܐܝܟ ܗ ̇ܢܘ ܪܘܫܥܐ ܕܚ ܝܛ‬ .‫ܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬



Barhaḍbešabba ‘Arbaïa

Moses bar Kepha

the latter away to the depths. The black darkness came aloft and darkened the shining elements. And besides the above, they occupy themselves with destiny and with Fate, suppress the freedom of man and deny the resurrection of the bodies. They all dress in white, with the idea that everyone who wears white belongs to the followers of the Good One and whoever wears black to those of the Evil One. Although they do not reject the scriptures, they admit numerous revelations beside them.

placed it in the middle so that no further mingling can take place between them and that which had already been admixed, while it is being cleansed and purified by conception and birth until it is brought to perfection.

‫ܒܡܨܥܬܐ ܘܬܘܒ ܚܘܠܛܢܐ ܐܠ ܢܗܘܐ ܣܠܩ ܚܫܘܟܐ ܟܡܝܪܐ ܘܐܟܡܪ ܐܠܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܡܢܗܘܢ ܘܗܘ ܡܐ ܕܩܐܡ ܐܬܚܠܛ ܟܕ ܦܨܝ ̈ ܚܐ ܘܥܡ ܗܠܝܢ ܡܥܠܝܢ ܓܕܐ‬ ‫ܡܬܕܟܐ ܘܡܨ ܛܠܠ ܒܚܕ ܒܛܢܐ ܘܚܠܩܐ ܘܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܕܒܪܢܫܐ ܡܒܛܠܝܢ‬ ‫ܘܩܝܡܬܐ ܕܦܓ̈ܪܐ ܛܠܡܝܢ ܘܟܠܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܘܝܠܕܐ ܥܕܡܐ ܕܫܠܡ‬ ‫ܚܘ̈ܪܐ ܠܒܝܫܝܢ ܒܗ̇ܝ ܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܟܠ‬ ‫ܕܠܒܫ ܚܘ̈ܪܐ ܡܢ ܡܢܬܐ ܗܘ ܕܛܒܐ‬ ‫̈ܐܘܟܡܐ ܕܝܢ ܡܢܬܐ ܕܒܝܫܐ ܗܠܝܢ ܟܕ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܓܠܝܘܢܐ‬ ‫ܠܟܬܒܐ ܐܠ ̇ܡܣܠܝܢ‬ ̈ .‫ܣܓܝܐܐ ܥܡܗܘܢ ܡܩܒܠܝܢ‬

Notes on the texts: The cosmology after Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa is taken from the edition of his history, PO, T XXIII, Paris 1932, p. 191sv. The cosmology after Moses bar Kepha is taken from the text of F. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 513seq., who prints part of the Syr. Ms. Paris 241, fol. 17v. The cosmology after Îwannîs of Dàrâ is taken from the article by A. Baumstark, OC, 3e Serie, Bd. VIII, 1933, SS. 66–71. In this article Baumstark suggested a number of emendations in the passage in the work of Moses bar Kepha, whose text he compared with that of Îwannîs; these suggestions are given here.



The cosmology after Theodore bar Khonai is taken from the edition of H. Pognon, Inscriptions Mandaïtes des Coupes de Khouabir, Paris 1898, p. 123 (P). It was compared with the text of Scher in his edition of the book of Scholia in the CSCO. It was also collated with two Tübingen manuscripts: Ms. or. quart. 871 (formerly in PrSB) (T 1) and Ms. or. quart. 1143 (formerly PrSB) (T 2). For a description of these Mss. cf. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland Bd. V, J. Assfalg, Syrische Handschriften, Wiesbaden 1963, S. 31–33. Schaeder also compared the Ms. T. 1. and suggested some emendations. A new edition of the eleventh book of Scholia, with translation and commentary, based on all the available Mss., is being prepared in the Semitistic Institute of the State Universite of Groningen. For the disadvantages of the existing editions cf. E. G. Clark, The selected questions of Ishô bar Nûn on the Pentateuch, Diss. Leiden 1962, p. 184ff. Moses bar Kepha: 1. Read with Baumstark ‫ ܐܬܛܚܢܘ‬or with the text of Îwannîs ‫ܐܬܛܪܝܘ‬ 2. Read with Baumstark ‫ܒܝܪ‬ (mistake on the part of Nau?)

Theodore bar Khonai: 3. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܐܢܘܢ‬ 4. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܢܡܛܐ‬ 5. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܢܗܘܐ‬ 6. Scher: ‫ܢܘܪܐ‬ 7. T 2: ‫ܫܠܝܬ‬ 8. Scher (Ms. D): ‫ܘܐܬܗܦܟܬ‬ ̇ 9. T 1: ‫ܢܫܗ‬ 10. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܐܬܟܬܫ‬ 11. T1: ‫ܘܐܬܬܚܙܝ‬ 12. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܘܐܬܦܨܚ‬ 13. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܒܓܘܢܗ‬ 14. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܘܕܬܚܬܝ ̈ ܐ‬ 15. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܕܢܨܠܘܢ‬ 16. T 1 and T 2: ‫ܘܢܣܒܘܢ‬

THE FIRST COSMOLOGICAL TRADITION Barḥadbešabba lived at the end of the 6th century, and he was “caput doctorum” of the famous theological school in Nisibis. His history of the church is all that remains of his profuse literary production, which included a treatise against all pagan and heretical



groups.1 There are indications that Barḥadbešabba was well informed regarding many matters that other authors are silent upon. 2 Besides various sources known to us, the ecclesiastical history of Socrates and that of Theodoretus, writings of Nestorius and so on, he also made use of diverse unknown sources.3 His passage about Bardaiṣan also makes a reliable impression when compared with the information given by Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ; on the one hand it is the most complete, on the other it follows a stringent line of thought, although it is not stated expressis verbis that the darkness made an attack upon the other elements. There are indications that also Barḥadbešabba had borrowed this report. The last part of it corresponds exactly with the notice on the Daiṣanites in the heretical catalogue of Maruta of Maipherkat (middle of the 4th cent.). He writes as follows:

̈ ̈ ‫ܘܓܕ ܐ ܘܚܠ ̈ܩܐ‬ .‫ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܝܢ ܛܒܐ ܒܝܫܐ ܡܘܕܝܢ‬.‫ܕܕܝܨܢܝܐ‬ ‫ܗܪܣܝܣ‬ ̈ ̈ .‫ ܘܫܒܥܐ ܘܬܪܥܣܪ ܡܟܪܙܝܢ‬.‫ܘܡܠܘܫܐ ܐܝܟ ܡܢܝܢܝܐ ܐܡܪܝܢ‬ ‫ ܘܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܐܠ‬.‫ܘܫܘܠܛܢܐ ܕܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܗ ܕܥܠܡܐ ܡܢ ܒܪܘܝܐ ܫܩܠܝܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܡܪܩܝܘܢܐ‬ ‫ܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܐܝܬ ܠܒܪܢܫܐ ܘܩܝܡܬܐ ܕܦܓ̈ܪܐ ܛܠܡܝܢ ܐܝܟ‬ ̈ ‫ ܘܚܘ̈ܪܐ ܠܒܫܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܡܛܠ ܕܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܟܠ ܕܠܒܫ‬.‫ܘܡܢܝܢܝܐ‬ ̈ .‫ܚܘ̈ܪܐ ܡܢ ܡܢܬܐ ܗܘ ܕܛܒܐ ܘܟܠ ܕܠܒܫ ܐܘܟܡܐ ܡܢܬܐ ܕܒܝܫܐ‬

Heresy of the Daiṣanites. These believe in a Good and an Evil (God) and teach fortunate constellations and destinies, like the Manichaeans. They proclaim the Seven and the Twelve, deprive the Creator of the power of ruling the world, deny the freedom of man and vilify the resurrection of the bodies, like the Marcionites and the Manichaeans. They wear and wrap themselves in white clothing, because they say that who wears white clothes belongs to the followers of Good, and who wears black, to the followers of Evil.4 Ortiz de Urbina, o.c., p. 122seq.; Baumstark, Geschichte, S. 136. Cf. A. Vööbus, ‘Un vestige d’une letter de Narsaï et son importance historique’, L’Orient Syrien, Vol. IX, 1964, p. 520svv. 3 Ortiz de Urbina, o.c., p. 123. 4 Rahmani, Studia Syriaca IV, p. ‫ ;ܩܐ_ܩܡ‬this is the only text edition of the heretical catalogue of Maruta; Nau presented this text in parallel with the report of Barḥadbešabba. 1 2



The authenticity of this heretical catalogue is debated, Nau e.g. does not accept it,5 but the greater number of scholars, even the critical Harnack, assume its authenticity.6 This does not imply that the other works ascribed to Maruta would also be authentic. Maruta is accounted a good litterateur and a capable physician, who had numerous contacts with the court of the Sassanides. This catalogue of heresies is added to a history of the Council of Nicea and a collection of Canons of Nicea, largely spurious.7 If we accept the authenticity of the catalogue, the relation between the report of Maruta and that of Barḥadbešabba requires further examination. Obviously Barḥadbešabba did not borrow from Maruta, as he gives so very much more. On the other hand the two accounts do not quite agree. Maruta draws parallels between Bardesanites and Manichaeans and Marcionites, which Barḥadbešabba does not speak of. In this Maruta reminds us of Ephrem, who also puts these three groups together. Moreover Maruta summarises the whole of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology in the lapidary sentence that the Bardesanites believe in a good and an evil god. The most likely solution is, that Maruta had a source for his summary of the doctrine of Bardaiṣan and his followers, which was also the source of Barḥadbešabba. Maruta drastically shortened this information: the description of all the other heresies in his catalogue is equally summary. The crass dualism ascribed to the Bardesanites must therefore be put to the account of Maruta, as also the parallel between Bardesanites on the one side and Marcionites and Manichaeans on the other. The latter point may, though, be due to Ephrem. In any case it is clear, that at the time when Maruta lived there was occasion to bring Bardesanites and Manichaeans into close association. The doctrine of two Gods is not found elsewhere in the cosmology ascribed to Nau, PO. T. XXIII, p. 182, n. 1. Its authenticity is defended by: Baumstark, Geschichte S. 54; Ortiz de Urbina, o.c., p. 49; G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, I, StT 118, Roma 1944, SS. 586–593; A. Harnack, Der Ketzer-Katalog des Bischofs Maruta von Maipherkat, TU, N.F. IV, 1, Leipzig 1899, S. 4; O. Braun, De Sancta Nicaena Synodo. Syrische Texte des Maruta von Maipherkat, Kirchengeschichtliche Studien IV, 3, Münster 1898, S. 24. 7 For a detailed discussion of these spurious Nicene Acta see G. Graf, Geschichte I, SS. 586–593. 5 6



Bardaiṣan, and constitutes Maruta’s view of it. Its associations with Manichaean cosmology may have been the cause of this. For an author like Maruta, who had repeated contacts with the Sassanides, this is not surprising. Also Moses bar Kepha was a prolific writer: besides numerous commentaries he composed a history of the church, wrote against the heretics, upon free-will and predestination, about the soul, and produced many other works.8 Unlike Barḥadbešabba, he was a Jacobite. His information about Bardaiṣan is preserved in his hexaemeron, while he also makes a few remarks with reference to Bardaiṣan in his book about the soul.9 Here and there, he uses exactly the same terms as Barḥadbešabba, from whom he may have borrowed. Yet there are also distinctive features: Moses says that the darkness made an attack upon the other elements, which Barḥadbešabba does not say, although from the sequel of his report one cannot but deduce that such had been the case. Most probably, therefore, Moses also borrowed from the same source as Barḥadbešabba: each worked up the material in his own fashion, hence the differences and resemblances. One of the most typical differences is, that Moses speaks of five elements, the four pure ones and the darkness. Barḥadbešabba does not do so. He clearly distinguishes the four pure elements from their enemy, the darkness dwelling in the depths. Later controversies regarding the true nature of darkness, such as we find in the Muslim authors, may stem from this difference.10 The text of Îwannîs of Dàrâ is closest to that of Moses, although it lacks a number of characteristic items, such as mention of the mystery of the cross and the purification of the world through

Cf. Baumstark, Geschichte, S. 281 f. Nau was the first to publish the text of Moses bar Kepha, (Patrol. Syriaca II, p. 513seq. cf. O. Braun, Mozes bar Kepha und sein Buch von der Seele. Freiburg 1891, S. 76: ‘Mani, Bar Daiṣan, Marcion und andere mit ihnen sagen, die Seele sei von der Natur Gottes oder ein Stück seines Wesens’. 10 Cf. Baumstark, ‘Îwannîs von Dàrâ’, S. 65; information as to these controversies among the Bardesanites is supplied by an-Nadîm in the Fihrist, by Shahrastânî, al-Madîsî etc. 8 9



conception and birth. Baumstark’s “häresiologische Mittelquelle”11 may have operated here. It is noticeable, that Barḥadbešabba does mention the mystery of the cross, but not the purification of the world through conception and birth, while this latter thought certainly belongs to the ideas of Bardaiṣan.12 Chronologically, it is possible for Îwannîs to have borrowed from Moses, but most likely he also made use of the source referred to above, which unfortunately cannot be located more nearly. Thus Maruta, Barḥadbešabba, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs represent a single branch of the tradition, which is fairly homogeneous and probably goes back to a single source, which all have followed more or less independently. If Maruta has been rightly placed in this series, as was argued above, this tradition goes back to the 4th century. A still higher age is not impossible, however, as a multitude of these cosmological conceptions also appear in the works of Ephrem. The first cosmological tradition, then, describes Bardaiṣan’s view of the origin of the world as follows: In the beginning there were four pure elements: light, wind, fire and water, situated in the East, West, South and North respectively. Îwannîs of Dàrâ lets light and fire change places, but this may be due to a mistake between ‫ ܢܘܪܐ‬and ‫ ܢܘܗܪܐ‬such as may easily occur in a tradition by writing. These four elements are presumably situated in a plane. Above it, their Lord resides, and beneath them their enemy, darkness, is located. The tradition is not uniform as to whether the darkness is to be reckoned among the elements or not. The earliest tradition, Maruta and Barḥadbešabba, do not do so, 11 Baumstark gives the impression that he is the first to draw attention to this text of Îwannîs of Dàrâ, but this is not so. In 1891, O. Braun, Mozes bar Kepha und sein Buch von der Seele, Amn. X, S. 136f. already signalised the ‘ziemlich abweichende Darstellung’ of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine by Îwannîs in his Book on the Resurrection of the Bodies (Ms. Syr. Vat. 100). The passage also appears in the Ms. Syr. Vat. 101, fol. 159b; among the contents of this Ms. is (Pseudo) Johannes Maro, Explanation of the Liturgy of Mar Jacob, the Apostle and brother of the Lord, and in this work the passage has been included. 12 This way of purification is named by Michael Syrus, Bar Hebraeus, Agapius of Mabbug, al-Bîrûnî. In the BLC also we find a positive attitude towards sexuality.



and neither does the third cosmological tradition, as will appear further on. These ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬, uncreated elements, are not tied to one place, but they are in movement over the whole area in which they belong. By chance, they transgressed the limits that were set, and the darkness availed itself of this to mingle with them. Nowhere in this tradition is it stated, that darkness was the cause of the chaotic intermingling because it attacked the pure elements. The mingling of the elements themselves is the cause of this chaos, of which the darkness makes use. When the darkness mingled with the pure elements, these invoked the aid of the All-highest, that He might liberate them. He sends the Word of Thought (‫)ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܡܐܡܪܐ‬, which this tradition states to be the pre-existing Logos-Christ. He separates the darkness from the other elements, which is only partially successful. From the mixture, He makes this world, after ordering the elements according to the mystery of the cross.13 Thus the mixture contains a certain quantity of darkness, and that is the reason why there is evil in the world. Thus the cause of the origin of the world is an unfortunate chance before the world began, which gave evil an opportunity. If the Word of Thought is Christ, in the figure of the Logos, then we have here the conception of the Logos as principle that orders and shapes. A certain period of time (6000 years) is established for the world, and it is allocated a place in the universe, that the darkness may not be able to rise up again. The world, then, fills the plane where the pure unmixed elements were at first. During the existence of the world purification takes place through conception and birth, in striking contrast with the Manichaean view, while at the end of time a definitive purification will take place. Besides this cosmology communicated by Barḥadbešabba, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs, each in his own manner, their notices contain traditions the others do not have. Barḥadbešabba relates that the Bardesanites believe in the Unknown God, the Lord of all elements, among which they also reckon the stoicheia. In this 13 In this context, the cross indicates the restoration of order, which begins already with the creation of the world. Cf. for this concept: H. Rahner, Griechische Mythen in christlicher Deutung, S. 73ff.: ‘Das Mysterium des Kreuzes’, Zürich 1957.



context, stoicheia probably refers to planets and constellations, which may also be called ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬. We shall see the same with Ephrem. This information reminds one very strongly of the gnostic conceptof the Unknown All-highest God.14 Touching the mingling of the elements, Barḥadbešabba tells us that the light elements came to the top and the heavy ones underneath. From the questions Moses bar Kepha puts to Bardaiṣan after his cosmological account, we may conclude that he too was acquainted with this trait in the story; for he wonders, if the elements were arranged according to weight, how the elements in the middle could permit the darkness to rise up and mingle with the light (the lightest element). How could the heavy darkness rise up?15 We find something of the same kind in a Mêmra of Ephrem against Mani, which contains valuable material towards learning the views of Bardaiṣan.16 Besides this, Barḥadbešabba states that the Bardesanites occupy themselves with destiny and Fate, as we already knew from the BLC, deny the resurrection of the body, and limit man’s freedom. That Bardaiṣan and his adherents do not believe in corporeal resurrection is stated by many authors, and it certainly constitutes a regular element of his teachings.17 The limiting or suppressing of man’s freedom seems strange at first sight, as the BLC so strongly emphasises human liberty. They do not say that Bardaiṣan denies this freedom, only that he suppresses it (‫) ̇ܒܛܠ‬. This probably relates to the motive in the BLC describing man as free, but not perfectly so. He is subject to nature and Fate and only beyond that is he free: liberty is not a given datum, it is only a human possibility, to be realised in man’s actions. In that sense, Barḥadbešabba can say that Bardaiṣan suppresses human freedom. The wearing of white clothes by the Bardesanites is also reported by Maruta. Furthermore it is stated by Cf. A. J. Festugière, La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste IV, Le Dieu inconnu et la gnose, Paris 1954, passim; there is no suggestion, though, of an evil demiurge in Bardaiṣan. 15 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 53f. 16 Mitchell, Prose Refutations II, p. 214ff.; II, 224ff. It is possible that Moses borrowed from Ephrem. 17 Among others, Ephrem, Maruta or Maipherkat, Michael Syrus, Bar Hebraeus, Abû’l-Barakât, Agapius of Mabbug; the denial of the resurrection involves a docetic Christology. 14



Abû’l-Barakât in his Book of the Lamp of Darkness, in a notice most probably derived from Maruta or the latter’s source. 18 This recalls the dress of the Manichaean elect, as indeed Maruta’s whole report rouses associations with Manichaeism.19 The Bardesanites do not reject the Old and New Testament, but next to these they have many other revelations, a remark Barḥadbešabba is the only one to make. Others also speak of special holy books of the Bardesanites, e.g. Ephrem, Theodore bar Khonai, Epiphanius, an-Nadîm, Mas‘udi, al-Bîrûnî.20 What these revelations were is not known; one might think of apocryphal Acts of the apostles, but also of entirely esoteric literature. Îwannîs of Dàrâ gives a further explanation of the denial of corporeal resurrection by the Bardesanites. Man’s body originated — how we are not told — from evil, presumably meaning the mixture of the four pure elements and darkness. Because Bardaiṣan wished to keep evil far from God, he held this opinion regarding the origin of the world, and by extension one arrives at the denial of the resurrection of the body. God and evil are entirely different from each other, and may in no manner come into contact, not even through the resurrection brought about by God, which would bring him into touch with the evil inherent in man. As we have seen in the BLC, Bardaiṣan’s point of departure in developing his view of man was that man must be at liberty to be able to act rightly. This links him with God, and evil is far. We find a counterpart of this in the cosmology, where there is an absolute division beAbû’l-Barakât, Le Livre de la Lampe des Ténèbres, texte arabe édité et trad. p. L. Villecont, PO, XX, 1929, p. 690svv. 19 Cf. Widengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, S, 100. 20 Theodore bar Khonai mentions ‘revelations’ without further elucidation; Epiphanius speaks of ‘some apocrypha’; An-Nadim names ‘a book about the light and the darkness’, ‘a book about the mobile and the fixed’, ‘a book about the spiritual character of truth’ and many other books; Mascudi, Muruğ aḏ-ḏahab, ed. C. Barbier de Meynard, Vol. VIII, 292 ult. – 293 L. 6, relates that ‘Abdu’llah ibn al-Muqaffac ‘translated works of Mani, Bardaiṣan and Marcion into Arabic in the time of the Caliph alMahdi (775–785); al-Bîrûnî, Chronologie orient. Völker, ed. E. Sachau, Leipzig 1878, S. 23, L. 9–10, says that the Marcionites and Bardesanites possess a gospel differing from the canonical one. 18



tween God and evil, which is yet in some fashion lodged in the world. The contrast between freedom and constraint we again meet with here, when Barḥadbešabba says that the elements lost part of their power, that is of their liberty, when they mingled. This idea we have already seen in the BLC. Liberty is the cardinal point around which Bardaiṣan’s thought revolves. This freedom is only present in part: man is bound by nature and Fate. As man, he is a “mixed” being and so not completely free. We see the same in the cosmology: after the intermingling the elements are partly free and partly constrained. The concepts of “mingling” and “mixture” may therefore be used both in an anthropological and a cosmological sense, and convey a particular outlook upon man and the world. It is noticeable that the spiritual potencies are not concerned in this. Liberty is confined to the ‫ ܡܕܥܐ‬or ‫ ܪܥܝܢܐ‬of man, as appeared from the BLC. In the cosmology such a spiritual potency appears, ‫ܡܐܡܪܐ‬ ‫ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬the ordering principle, which partially undoes the intermixture. So can man’s liberty partially undo the influences of nature and Fate, products of the mixture. In the third cosmological tradition this separation between the “corporeal” and the “spiritual” will prove to be still more decisive. Such a view is typically that of an intellectual aristocrat like Bardaiṣan who does not despair of human existence.

THE SECOND COSMOLOGICAL TRADITION Theodore bar Khonai’s account of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology has so far attracted the most attention because of the work of Schaeder, who regarded it as an excerpt from a cosmological hymn of Bardaiṣan, just as he had formerly defended a similar thesis with regard to the cosmology of Mani as transmitted by Theodore. 21 It stands apart from the other traditions. When Baumstark discussed this matter, he assumed that Theodore, too, had used the “Mittelquelle” to which the other traditions go back, as Theodore also speaks of five elements. Yet there are only four, as darkness is not to be accounted one of the pure elements; the earliest complete report, that of Barḥadbešabba, also enumerates four elements. If Theodore was Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 47ff.; Schaeder, ‘Ein Lied von Mani’, OLZ, 29, 1926, Kol. 104–107. 21



acquainted with an authentic cosmological hymn of Bardaiṣan, he had other sources beside. His further information regarding the life and doctrine of Bardaiṣan recalls on the one hand the notice of Epiphanius, on the other the biographe transmitted by Agapius of Mabbug and Michael Syrus.22 Schaeder thought the whole account of the cosmology to be an excerpt from a hymn, but that is at least doubtful as to the first strophe and the eighth and ninth. According to Schaeder, the, words “five elements” form the second part of the first line of the first strophe, which consists of three lines in all. They do not, therefore, fit in well with the whole, and it is far more likely that Theodore either borrowed the expression, or himself concluded from what he read that there were five elements. In the same way Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ also concluded there were five elements, while Barḥadbešabba mentions four. Maruta does not speak of elements at all, but does mention a Good and Evil God, from the motive that the lord of the elements resides aloft and the enemy in the depths. The exact nature of darkness clearly presented a problem.23 Moreover, these five elements are not discussed in the rest of Theodore’s report: searching, we may find three, wind, fire and perhaps light.24 He does intuition the air (twice) and the “forest,” a Syriac word ‫ ܥܒܐ‬which is probably a literal translation of the Greek ὕλη, matter. The last two elements do not appear elsewhere in the tradition. We may conclude from this that the tradition represented by Theodore bar Khonai is quite detached from that represented by Maruta (partly), Barḥadbešabba, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ. From the literary point of 22 Theodore also treats Bardaiṣan under the heading of Valentinus; that account reminds one strongly of Epiphanius. Cf. Nau, PS, col. 518. The introduction of the cosmological part has reminiscences of Agapius and Michael Syrus. There Theodore also calls Bardaiṣan a Valentinian, which Agapius and Michael do not. 23 Here we touch the problem whether darkness is itself a substance, or whether it belongs to the μή ὂν. Both views are found in the tradition, also with Ephrem, who on the one hand states that darkness is an element (Mitchell, Prose Refutations II, p. ci ff.), and on the other says that Bardaiṣan equates darkness and nothingness (Mitchell, Prose Refutations I, p. lvii). 24 Schaeder proposes to read ‫ ܕܢܘܗܪܐ‬instead of ‫ ܕܢܘܪܐ‬and so finds a place for light: Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 48, Anm. 55.



view Theodore’s report has a complex structure. The beginning is obviously taken from the first tradition or the source thereof. There is no mention there of the elements being deserted and wandering around, on the contrary, their harmony is emphasised. In expression the rest of the report differs greatly from what is communicated in the first tradition, while it does not speak of five elements. It is thus obvious that the report is abridged. Is this a poetic version of the cosmology which the first tradition presents in a more rationalised form? It is possible that this version too goes back to Bardaiṣan in some manner, so that the thinker and the poet are both represented in the tradition of the cosmology. The end of Theodore’s report corresponds more closely to the first tradition in terminology and may be borrowed, or be a conclusion of Theodore himself; the composition of the strophes also proved somewhat disordered at the end. This does not bear upon the value of the source. It may well be that Theodore bar Khonai represents a reliable tradition, only fragmentarily. For the Manichaean cosmology also Theodore is a very valuable and reliable source, transmitting authentic material.25 In any case, it is necessary to examine these traditions separately, without attempting a premature harmonisation, especially as there is still a third cosmological tradition, represented by Agapius of Mabbug and after him by Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus, while it is also found in a summary form with the Christian Arabic author Mu’taman ad-Dawla Abû Isḥâq ibn al‘Assâl.26 The formal content of the account given by Theodore bar Khonai is largely in agreement with the first tradition. He too describes a process of mingling, from which this world originated. The wind begins to mingle with the other elements. From the seventh question of Moses bar Kepha it is also evident, that this was the element to set the process in motion. Ephrem relates literally

Cf. F. Cumont, Recherches sur le Manichéisme I, La cosmogonie manichéenne d’après Théodore bar Khôni, Brussel 1908, p. 2svv. 26 Cf. Baumstark, ‘Îwannîs von Dàrâ’, S. 66 and G. Graf, Geschichte fer christlichen arabischen Literatur II, S. 407ff. 25



the same.27 Theodore also mentions the fire, and besides this the air. Schaeder regarded the pure air as the aether, the fifth element of the Stoic series, which Bardaiṣan equated with space.28 Water and light are missing, though Schaeder proposes to read ‫ܢܘܗܪܐ‬, light, for the second time that the word ‫ܢܘܪܐ‬, fire, appears. Darkness is not mentioned by name either, but indicated by the word ‫ ܕܠܘܚ ܝܐ‬confusion. Schaeder thought he recognised darkness in the word ‫ܥܒܐ‬, ὕλη, matter, though he is very cautious and calls this “sonderbar.”29 Another explanation of the differences between Theodore bar Khonai and the other authors seems possible, if one takes into account that Theodore’s notice is shortened. If the word ‫ܐܐܪ‬, air, goes back to the Greek αἰθήρ, the fifth element of the series, as Schaeder posits, then this can be used to designate light. The Greek αἰθήρ is on the one hand equivalent to ἀήρ, air, on the other it also signifies fire, as αἰθήρ is the lighted sky where the sun describes his course.30 The epithet ‫ܫܦܝܬܐ‬, pure, seems to me also to indicate this. Furthermore, it is very doubtful whether in this context ‫ܥܒܐ‬, ὕλη, matter designates darkness. If so, we could only take the whole passage to mean that fire ignited the darkness, which is in complete contradiction with the other tradition. Rather does “matter” here mean Cf. p. 111, n. 2 and Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 54; for the questions of Moses about the cosmology of Bardaiṣan cf. PS I, 2, p. 515sv. 28 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 50; Schaeder, ‘Urform und Fortbildungen des manichäischen Systems’, Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg, 1924–25, Leipzig-Berlin 1927, S. 125; here Schaeder follows Burkitt in Mitchell, Prose Refutations II, Introductory Essay, p. cxxiii. It is very doubtful whether space is really an element with Bardaiṣan. R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zorastrian Dilemma, Oxford 1955, p. 202, speaks of the ‘deification of Space’ found with Bardaiṣan, who in this would be the heir of the traditions of Magians; even so: J. Bidez – F. Cumont, Les Mages Hellénisés, Tom. I, Paris 1938, p. 62, n. 4. If the terms God, Space and Light can be used indiscriminately, as Zaehner posits, o.c. p. 202, this does not mean that Space has thereby become an element, but rather that space is a qualification of God, or a hypostasis. The characteristic feature of Bardaiṣan’s elements is, that they exist uncreated, apart from God, and only come into relationship with him after the commixture. 29 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 51. 30 Cf. Liddell-Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. 27



the whole of the ‫ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬while there may still be some reminiscence of the Stoic doctrine that fire is the original quality defining the state of matter.31 As with Barḥadbešabba, explicit mention of darkness as an element is then lacking. Perhaps we may still find an echo of the Biblical story of creation, when it is stated that the “wind of the heights blew,” after which confusion is driven to the abyss. Is this “wind of the heights” the ‫מרחפת על־פני רוח אלהים‬ ‫ ?המים‬In any case this wind is different from the element wind, which set the process of mixing in motion. Most significant is the absence of darkness as an element, a trait shared by the third cosmological tradition.

THE THIRD COSMOLOGICAL TRADITION The principal representatives of this are Agapius of Mabbug, Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus. The cosmology is not communicated separately by these authors, but forms part of a biography of Bardaiṣan, in which his life and doctrine are related together. Agapius of Mabbug wrote his history of the world in the first half of the tenth century; he made use of a number of Syriac sources, partly unknown to us. Such is also the case for the possible source for the life of Bardaiṣan as Agapius relates it. It is possible that this story was current in Mabbug, the ancient Hierapolis, as the biography assumes a connection between Bardaiṣan and a pagan priest of the Dea Syra in Mabbug.32 The story of Agapius is as follows:

31 Cf. Pohlenz, Die Stoa I, S. 71: from the hyle fire develops as the first element, and from that the other elements. 32 Agapius, Kitâb al-‘Unwân, PO, Tom. VII, Paris 1911, p. 519. G. Goossens, Hiérapolis de Syrie, Leuven 1943, p. 140sv. Can discover no relation between the doctrine of Bardaiṣan and a possible pagan gnosis in Hierapolis, of which, incidentally, we know nothing. Goossens sees in Bardaiṣan’s doctrine ‘traces très nettes du dualism iranien’, but we have no knowledge as to the existence of the latter in Hierapolis. Does the whole connection between Bardaiṣan and Hierapolis rest upon calumny on the part of the orthodox, as Schaeder concludes in ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 29, as Ephrem knows nothing of this connection?



He (Bardaiṣan) avers that there are seven elements; three of these are the chief ones and four take second rank. The three chief elements are: spirit, force and thought. The other four are: fire, water, light and wind. These seven elements unite together and hence there originate three hundred and sixty worlds. Man is also formed of these seven elements: his soul consists of the three principal, fine elements. In another book he posits the thesis, that the body consists of the four lesser elements.33

The report given by Michael Syrus is also contained in the biography of Bardaiṣan, so it was either taken from Agapius, or it derives from the same unknown source.34 Michael writes as follows:

̈ ‫ܘܐܡܪ ܕܬܠܬܐ ܠܡ‬ ‫ܟܝܢܐ ܪܘ̈ܪܒܐ ܐܝܬ ܘܕ ̄ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ̄ܗ ܗܘܢܐ ܘܚ ܝܐܠ‬ ̈ ̈ .‫ܘܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܘܡܕܥܐ ܘܐܪܒܥܐ ܠܡ ܚ ܝ ܐܠ ̈ ܢܘܪܐ ܘܡܝܐ ܘܢܘܗܪܐ ܘܪܘܚܐ‬ .‫ܘܡܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܠܡ ܗܘܘ ܐܝ ̈ܬܝܐ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܐ ܘܥܠܡܐ ܕܗܘܝ̈ܢ ܠܡ ܫܣܝ‬

He (Bardaiṣan) avers that there are three great natures and four elements, viz. spirit, force, thought and knowledge, and four forces, fire, water, light and wind. From these the other elements originated and the worlds to the number of three hundred and sixty.35

This notice is clearly inferior to that of Agapius, and even somewhat mangled. The other authors will have to solve this matter. Bar Hebraeus relates the following:

̈ ‫ܕܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܗܢܐ ܬܠܬܐ‬ ‫ܟܝܢܐ ܪܘ̈ܪܒܐ ܐܡܪ ܗܘܢܐ ܘܚ ܝܐܠ ܘܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܐܪܒܥܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܢܘܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܡܝܐ ܘܢܘܗܪܐ ܘܪܘܚܐ ܘܡܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬ .‫ܘܥ̈ܠܡܐ ܫܣܘ‬ Regarding Bardaiṣan. He avers, that there are three great natures, spirit, force and thought and four elements, fire, water, PO, Tom. VII, p. 520. Nau assumes that Michael borrowed from Agapius, ROC, XV, 1910, p. 335sv.; G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur II, S. 39, says that Michael borrowed from Agapius ‘mittelbar oder unmittelbar’. 35 J. B. Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, T. I, fasc. II, p. 110 (text), p. 184 (French translation). 33 34


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA light and wind. From these the elements originated and three hundred and sixty-six worlds.36

In another place he names not four, but five elements:

‫ܘܡܢ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܐ ̇ܡܢ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܚܡܫܐ ܣܐܡ ܪܝ̈ܫܐ ܐܘܟܝܬ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܢܘܪܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܡܝܐ ܘܢܘܗܪܐ ܘܚܫܘܟܐ ܡܐܢܝ ܕܝܢ ܬܪܝܢ ܒܠܚܘܕ ܛܒܐ‬ ‫ܘܪܘܚܐ‬ .‫ܘܒܝܫܐ‬ Bardaiṣan, among others, establishes five principles, i.e. elements, fire, wind, water, light and darkness. Mani on the other hand only two, good and evil.37

Here again, we see the tradition hesitating as to the nature of darkness. Probably Bar Hebraeus used different sources. Finally, mention may be made of Al-Mu’taman abû Isḥâq Ibrâhîm ibn al-‘Assâl, whose name is usually abbreviated as Mu’taman ad-Dawla (confidential government representative). He wrote a theological Summa between 1240 and 1200, so he was a contemporary of Bar Hebraeus. Numerous sources are utilised in this Summa, and Mu’taman enumerates them exactly; Bar Hebraeus is one of these, so it may be that Mu’taman borrowed from him, what he relates of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine:38 …that there are three substances, spirit, force and thought, and those are the great universal ones; and four that are preexistent and eternal, fire, water, light and air.39

36 Bar Hebraeus, Sur les Hérésies, ed. F. Nau, PO, Tom. XIII, Paris 1919, p. 225; this part is also found in the Mnarat Kudshê, but is not yet published in the edition of this work in the PO. 37 Bar Hebraeus, Mnarat Kudshê, le Candélabre des Sanctuaires, ed. J. Bakoš, PO, Tom. XXII, Paris 1930, p. 547. 38 G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur II, S. 409. Mu’taman was a universal man of learning, who twice made a journey from Egypt to Syria. (Mu’taman belonged to the Coptic church). 39 Text after Baumstark, ‘Îwannîs von Dàrâ’, S. 66, who used the Ms. Vat. ar. 103, an incomplete Ms. of the work, already made during the life of Mu’taman, cf. Graf, Geschichte II, S. 411, The complete work has not up to the present been published; only parts of it have appeared.



Mu’taman has “air” instead of “wind,” but this may be due to the influence of classical philosophy, of which Mu’taman had an excellent knowledge; the element “wind” fills the place of the element “air” in the classical series.40 The expression “pre-existent and eternal” shows that Mu’taman wished to render the Syriac ‫ ;ܐܝܬܝܐ‬Greek defines this with ἀγένητος which comprises the same concepts. 41 The third cosmological tradition may now be summarised as follows: In the beginning there existed fire, water, light and wind, as uncreated elements before the origin of the world. Besides this, there are three spiritual potencies, spirit, force and thought. There is obviously something wrong with the text of Michael Syrus. He ̈ ), which he does not name, and then of speaks of three natures (‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ ̈ four elements (‫)ܐܝܬܝܐ‬, the fourth of which (‫ )ܡܕܥܐ‬is not found in Agapius, Bar Hebraeus or Mu’taman, although it is in the BLC.42 Have we to do here with an attempt at harmonisation? The word ̈ moreover, is more apposite for spiritual potencies, which Mi‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ chael calls ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬. The elements, which come next, he then names forces (‫)ܚ ̈ܝ ܐܠ‬. Either Michael did not reproduce his source correctly, or his text has got out of order in the course of its transmission. From these seven components everything originated, three hundred and sixty (or three hundred and sixty-six) worlds, and also man. Michael and Bar Hebraeus say that from these the other elements also arose, by which they mean the component parts of the ̈ ). There is a similar world, which may also be called natures (‫ܟܝܢܐ‬ 43 permutation of terms in the BLC. Man consists of a body and a soul. The former is formed of fire, water, light and wind, the latter of the three spiritual potencies, spirit, force and thought, which are of a higher order. The BLC also contained the conception, that the spirit descends to the soul, and the soul then descends to the body. It is true that a different

40 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 50; ‘Urform und Fortbildungen’, S. 125. 41 A. Baumstark, ‘Der Text der Mani-Zitate in der Syrischen Übersetzung des Titus von Bostra’, OC, 3e Serie Bd. 6, 1931, S. 25f. 42 Nau, PS, I, 2, col. 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 32, L. 14. 43 Nau, PS, I, 2, col. 611; Drijvers, BLC, p. 62, L. 11.



Syriac term is used there, but the conception is the same: the spirit is a component of the soul.44 In this third tradition the mingling of the elements is not mentioned, but it is assumed when it is stated, that everything originated from these elements. The spiritual potencies are the formative power, for they are of a higher order. Just so did the Word of Thought function in the first tradition and with Theodore bar Khonai as the principle giving form and setting in order. The third tradition does not name darkness, any more than Theodore bar Khonai; Barḥadbešabba did not regard darkness as an element either, though Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ did. An intermediate form of the various cosmological traditions is constituted by the report of Theodore Abû Qurra (c.740–820), bishop of Ḥarrân, which is included in his “Treatise upon the Creator and the true faith.”45 Theodore came from Edessa, and was the first Christian author to write in Arabic. While all his Syriac work is lost, his Arabic is largely preserved. It is defined by a strong polemic interest, while he proves well informed about his opponents. 46 Theodore says that Bardaiṣan taught five gods, existing of eternity. One of these is gifted with reason, four are not. The first subjected the four others, and from this the world and its creatures were formed. The four not gifted with reason (‘aqlî) are: fire, air, water and earth. The other, possessor of reason (‘âqil), by his wisdom

Nau, PS, I, 2, col. 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 32, L. 14, 15. Text published by L. Cheikho, ‘Mîmar von Theodor Abû Qurra, Bischof von Harrân am Ende des 9. und Anfang des 10. Jahrhunderts über die Existenz des Schöpfers und die wahre Religion’, al-Mašriq XV, 1912, pp. 757–774. Also a separate edition: L. Cheikho, Traité inédit de Théodore Abou Qurra (Abucara) évêque Melchite de Harran sur l’Existence de Dieu et la Vraie Religion, Beyrouth 1912. German translation by G. Graf, Des Theodore Abû Kurra Traktat über den Schöpfer und die wahre Religion, Beitr. z. Gesch. d. Philos. d. Mittelalters, T.u.U. Bd. XIV, Heft 1., Münster i.W. 1913. 46 Cf. G. Graf, Geschichte II, S. 7ff.; G. Graf, Die arabischen Schriften des Theodor Abû Qurra Bischofs von Ḥarrân (c.740–820), Forsch. z. Christl. Lit. u. Dogmengesch. Bd. X, Heft 3/4, Paderborn 1910, SS. 5–24. 44 45



formed the “natures of the world” out of the four elements.47 Theodore Abû Qurra does not mention darkness at all, he only speaks of wisdom and not of three spiritual potencies (so also the BLC), and in his series of elements he departs from the rest of the traditions. It is clear from his terminology that he meant to render the Syriac word ‫ܐܝܬܝܐ‬. A striking point is that he assigns no reason to the four elements: in this he agrees in part with the Muslim traditions regarding Bardaiṣan, which explicitly state that according to Bardaiṣan darkness does not possess reason, in contrast with the views of Mani. The change in the elements, earth and air instead of wind and light, is to be explained because Theodore Abû Qurra continually speaks of these four elements.48 The four pure elements of Bardaiṣan he equated with them. It must be remarked that this series of Theodore has some resemblance to that of his namesake Theodore bar Khonai, with whom we also found the air and the ὕλη (‫ )ܥܒܐ‬for which Theodore Abû Qurra has earth. From what source this notice of the Ḥarranian bishop is derived one cannot tell, nor whether it has influenced the Muslim traditions regarding Bardaiṣan. There are certainly affinities, then, between the various traditions, which for the rest are not uniform. Do they all go back to Bardaiṣan himself, so that they supplement one another, or did discrepancies arise in the course of history within the group of the Bardesanites regarding the true nature of darkness? Some of these questions will have to be answered by the works of Ephrem.

Graf, Traktat über den Schöpfer, S. 30, Anm. 26. Up to the present, none of the scholars in our present field has bestowed attention upon this work. With regard to Manichaeism, the religion of the Parsees and the Ḥarranian Sabians Theodore also has valuable data. His theology somewhat recalls certain views Bardaiṣan, though we cannot speak of a historical relation: thus Theodore teaches a trichotomous anthropology, regards the human body as built up of the four elements and so on. 48 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 28. 47



THE MUSLIM, AND THE REMAINING CHRISTIAN ARABIC TRADITIONS The Muslim authors state that in Bardesanite circles there were differences of opinion as to the essence of darkness. Schaeder called the Arabic traditions regarding Bardaiṣan “weitgehend apokryph,” but it is doubtful whether this opinion can be maintained.49 The Muslim authors took their data about Bardaiṣan and Mani largely from Syriac sources, so they may be transmitting authentic material. Moreover, the material they supply about Mani proves to be very valuable, and they make a distinction between Mani and Bardaiṣan.50 It is not permissible, then, to say that the Muslim authors speak of a state of affairs in which there was no difference between Manichaeans and Bardesanites, as the latter had for the greater part been absorbed into Manichaeism.51 The value of the data regarding Bardaiṣan in Arabic literature, will have to be tested by comparison with the whole body of tradition, and this value may differ in each case, leaving aside all the rest, only those data will be considered in this context which are important for Bardaiṣan’s cosmology. In the Fihrist, which he finished in Bagdad in 988, an-Nadîm writes that there is a controversy between Manichaeans and Bardesanites regarding the nature of darkness. According to Mani, darkness is something active, concerned in the formation of this world. According to Bardaiṣan darkness is blind, lacks senses and is without knowledge, as contrasted with light. For this reason, there are also mutual controversies among the Bardesanites on the question how light and darkness were able to mingle. One half says, Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 28. G. Flügel, Mani, seine Lehre und seine Schriften, Leipzig 1862, was the first to point out the importance of the Arabic date for Mani. An-Nadîm in the Fihrist, from which Flügel took his material, as well as al-Bîrûnî, Shahrastânî, Mas‘udi and write about the differences between Mani and Bardaiṣan with reference to the nature of darkness, the doctrine regarding soul and body, purification by means of ascesis or otherwise, and so on. 51 The history of research regarding Bardaiṣan has shown that only too often scholars constructed contradictions in the tradition which did not really exist to that degree, so that they were forced to set aside part of the tradition as apocryphal or unreliable. 49 50



that darkness went to the light, the other half maintains the reverse.52 Ibn Ḥazm of Cordova (994–1064) briefly states, that with Mani darkness is alive, and with Bardaiṣan it is dead.53 His contemporary Maqdîsî says exactly the same, after telling us that according to Bardaiṣan light is the creator of good and darkness of evil. Acutely, he then poses the question how a dead thing, darkness, can bring about anything.54 The most extensive notice is found in the work of Shahrastânî (1086–1153), who wrote on religious and philosophical sects under the inspiration of Ibn Ḥazm.55 This work can as a rule be considered most reliable, as he strove to reproduce the views of the various sects as faithfully as possible.56 Shahrastânî also says, that according to Bardaiṣan light is living and active, and darkness on the contrary dead and unable to do or to perceive anything. He then mentions the same controversies among the Bardesanites as an-Nadîm in the Fihrist. Since light and darkness have mingled, had things necessarily happen, as there is a difference between acting from necessity and acting of one’s own free will.57 52 G. Flügel, Mani, S. 161 quotes this text, which Flügel also published in his edition of the Fihrist. 53 Ibn Ḥazm, al-faṣl fi’l-milal wa’l ahwa’ wa’l-milal, Cairo 1317 (1899) I, 36, L. 3–6; text also quoted by Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici’, p. 721 seq. 54 Le Livre de la Création et de l’Histoire d’Abou-Zéid Ahmed ben Sahl elBalkhî, publié et trad. p. Cl. Huart, Paris 1899svv. Tom. I, 142, L. 13–17. From T. III onwards Huart ascribes the work to Maqdisî. 55 Cf. H. A. R. Gibb, Arabic Literature, sec. ed. Oxford 1963, p. 126. 56 Gibb, o.c., p. 127: ‘Himself strictly orthodox, he presents the arguments and views of even the most heretical schools with remarkable fairness…’ 57 Book of religious and philosophical sects by Muhammad al-Sharastáni, ed. By W. Cureton, 2 parts, London 1842–46, Part I, p. 194, L. 3 – p. 195, L. 8. Particularly the last line is significant as to acting from free-will and acting from necessity: free-will effects what is good, nessicity what is evil. From Shahrastânî Ibn al-Murtaḍâ (764/1363–840/1437) borrowed in his information about various religions and sects in his Kitâb al-Munya, the first book of the Gâyât al-afkâr, the great commentary on al-baḥr az-zaḫḫâr. The Kitâb al-Munya is preserved in the Ms. Glaser 108 (Ahlwardt no. 4909) in Berlin, now in Tübingen, and also in a number of other Mss. Kessler



This tradition, then, clearly shows the difference between Mani and Bardaiṣan: their conception of darkness as chaotic power is fundamentally different. For Mani, darkness is active and makes an attack upon the world of light, thereby giving the impulse leading to the origin of man and the world. Dualism exists with Mani from the very beginning, and is found throughout his whole system. 58 For Bardaiṣan darkness, confusion, is not an active principle threatening the world of the pure elements, but only originates through the mixing of these pure elements. The pure elements are four in number, while the chaotic confusion arising from their commixture may be counted as a fifth.59 This last is darkness as an image of everything which is chaotic and impure. With Mani, the mingling of light and darkness is a result of dualism; with Bardaiṣan a dualistic element enters in as a result of the mingling of the pure elements with one another. This event is therefore ascribed to an unlucky chance, or an act of destiny, and not to darkness. In this way the hesitation of the tradition between four and five elements can be explained, and also the fact that darkness is not mentioned in the description given by Theodore bar Khonai of the process of commingling of the pure elements. After this commingling darkness is driven out, in so far as that is possible, by the Word of Thought, which forms the world from the mixture. With this mixture, a piece of chaos, confusion, evil, is included in the world. Only after 6000 years is a new mixture to arise without confusion. When the Arabic tradition speaks of light and darkness in the system of Bardaiṣan, light means the “Lord up aloft” together first drew attention to this, cf. K. Kessler, Mani, S. 343–346. For further particulars cf. Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyâ ibn al-Murtaḍâ, Die Klassen der Mu’taziliten, hrsg. v. Suzanna Diwald-Wilzer, Bibliotheca Islamica 21, Wiesbadem 1961, S. XII ff. S. XIX gives a survey of the various Mss. in which the Kitâb alMunya is preserved. 58 Cf. S. Petrement, Essai sur le dualism chez Platon, les Gnostiques et les Manichéens, Thèse Paris 1947, p. 200svv. 59 Thus Theodore bar Khonai: ‘the confusion was suppressed and flung into its abysses…’; this way of counting, whereby the sum of the parts is counted as a separate part, or even set in opposition to them as a separate entity, is also found in Manichaeism, cf. Widengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, S. 51ff.



with the four pure elements. With Bardaiṣan matter is therefore not originally an antidivine principle, as it is with Mani; that which is anti-divine does not originate until the commingling. The pure elements reappear in Mani’s system as the component parts of the armour of the Primal Man.60 Bardaiṣan’s optimistic view of man thus becomes comprehensible. Divine harmony is primal and confusion, evil, is secondary. Therefore human life; ought to be directed towards doing what is good, striving after divine harmony, and this is possible because of the liberty man shares with God and the pure elements. Evil must be actively combated. Mani sees darkness as an active principle, militating against light and trying to detain the particles of light. Human life should therefore, according to Mani, he directed towards the liberating of the particles of light through the greatest possible passivity, and not towards active contest with the powers of darkness.61 Bardaiṣan and Mani face one another as a man of the world and an ascetic, and that is evident from their cosmology. Finally a number of short notices inform us that Bardaiṣan, like Mani, believed in the existence of two gods who both took a part in the creation of the world, a good God and an evil one. Apart from the fact that this pronouncement does not hold good for Manichaeism, which never styled the darkness a god, 62 it must be observed that all the authors who give this information were fervent heretic-hunters, at least in their works. In the first place Maruta of Maipherkat, whose information we have already examined; everything pointed to its having been abridged, as with Barḥadbešabba we found a fuller and more distinctive account, which moreover does not mention the Marcionites and the Manichaeans. Maruta’s account may be regarded as authentic, which is not the case with the history of the Council of Nicea, of which the

60 Windengren, Mani, S. 54; the aether is the fifth light element, which also forms part of the armour. 61 Cf. Widengren, Mani, S. 97ff. 62 Widengren, Mani, S. 48, where he quotes Augustine, Contra Faustum XX, 1. The two principles are God and matter.



heretical catalogue forms part.63 In Arabic and Aethiopian tradition we find the same history with the Canons, which differ greatly from the Canons of Nicea as we know them from other sources. This tradition, in which the part of the heretical catalogue goes back to Maruta, we also meet with in the Conciliar History of Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, bishop of Ashmunaïn, (l0th cent.) where he explains the Symbolum Nicaenum: And also Mani, the accursed, and Bardaiṣan aver that there are two gods, viz. (a god) of light and (a god) of darkness, a good and an evil one.64

A little further on he writes as follows: As regards Mani, the accursed, Bardaiṣan and Marcion and their followers, these aver that the god of darkness created part of the creation and the god of light another part.65

There is something of the same kind in the Book of the Lamp of Darkness of Abû ’l-Barakât, known by the name of Ibn Kabar (d.1325). Among the sources Ibn Kabar utilised for this work were the theological Summa of Mu’taman ad-Dawla and the Conciliar History of Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘.66 Through these sources the heretical catalogue of Maruta also came to his knowledge, for his passage about the Bardesanites is in literal agreement with the notice of Maruta. Ibn Kabar writes: They (the Bardesanites) believe in two gods, a good and an evil one.” (Maruta’s whole: account follows).67

Cf. p. 107, n. 4. Severus ibn al-Muqaffac, évêque d’Ashmunaïn, Histoire des Conciles, éd. et trad. p. L. Leroy, PO, Tom. VI, Paris 1911, p. 524. Cf. G. Graf, Geschichte II, S. 306ff. 65 PO, Tom. VI, p. 527. 66 G. Graf, Geschichte II, S. 438ff.; S. 309: Abû ’l-Barakât included the 10th chapter of the conciliar history without the polemical passages. 67 Le Livre de la Lampe des Ténèbres et de l’exposition (lumineux) du service (de l’église) par Abû ’l-Barakât, connu sous le nom d’Ibn Kabar, éd. et. trad. par L. Villecont, PO, Tom. XX, 1929, p. 690sv. 63 64



When speaking of God as Creator, Ibn Kabar gives the same information as Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, that Mani, Bardaiṣan and Marcion ascribed part of the creation to the god of darkness and another part to the god of light.68 All these accounts may be assumed to go back to Maruta or perhaps to be even older, as we do not know Maruta’s sources. It is reasonable to conclude that the naming of Mani, Bardaiṣan and Marcion all three together goes back to Ephrem, who combats them together. Presumably Maruta understood Bardaiṣan’s cosmology by analogy with that of Mani, reinterpreting the Lord and the enemy of the pure elements as respectively a good god of light and an evil god of darkness, who do not otherwise appear in the tradition. The same may be said of the process of creation, in which both gods are supposed to take part. The world and man were indeed formed from the mixture of which darkness is part, because a mixture is impure and chaotic. But nowhere in the tradition is there any evidence that Bardaiṣan’s darkness was an active principle which itself created, nor even that the evil in the world is due to an evil god of darkness. There is certainly mention of the enemy, both in the BLC and in the cosmology, but this enemy is rather defined as passive and negative.69 In conclusion, it may provisionally be set down that the good and evil god supposed to have created the world constitute a gross simplification, which does not do justice either to Bardaiṣan or to Mani and Marcion. 70 Bardaiṣan actively opposed Marcion’s view of creation and God the Creator! 71 PO, Tom. XX, 1929, p. 714. PS, I, 2, col. 551 L. 9: he who submits to the enemy of man cannot comply with the commands, because they are then too heavy for him. It seems to me this does not mean that such a man then does evil, but rather that he fails to do what is right. Cf. col. 555. 70 With Bardaiṣan there is no question of two gods; neither is there with Mani, but in Manichaeism the world is the result of measures taken by the highest God and counter-measures on the part of matter, after darkness had made an attack upon the world of light; Marcion ascribes all creation to the God of the O.T., the evil demiurge. 71 Eusebius, H.E. IV, 30; Hippolytus, Refutatio VII, 31; Theodoretus, Haeret. Fabular. Comp. I, 22; Ephrem also sharply distinguishes Marcion and Bardaiṣan. 68 69



All discrepancies in the tradition of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology are not explained and resolved in the above. Particularly the nature of darkness proved to be a contradictory matter, where tradition is not uniform. Nor could the spiritual potencies which play a part in the process of creation be elucidated any further. Ephrem Syrus, who fiercely combated Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites, will perhaps be able to afford elucidation, as on the one hand he lumps together Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan, and on the other he is capable of distinguishing them.

CHAPTER 4: EPHREM SYRUS ON BARDAIṢAN All his life, as monk, ascetic and prolific author, Ephrem Syrus (306–373) made a stand for the cause of orthodoxy, for which he tried to gain acceptance in Syria. A native of Nisibis, he left this town in 363, when it became part of the Sassanide kingdom. After some wanderings, Ephrem then went to Edessa, where he founded the famous “School of the Persians” of which he was the first head. Now he was really confronted with heresies, which proliferated particularly in Edessa, and he fought against them with all his might. Especially Bardaiṣan and his followers, the Manichaeans and the Marcionites were the targets of Ephrem’s polemics, as his biographer circumstantially relates in his vita, which is decked with legendary anecdotes.1 These three groups predominated in Edessa, where orthodoxy was clearly in the minority, much to Ephrem’s sorrow. In how far these were matters of social standing is hard to say, but one gains the impression that the elite of the town belonged to the followers of Bardaiṣan; part of Ephrem’s outbursts against Bardaiṣan must be set to the account of the grudge the ascetic monk nursed towards the high-placed courtier Bardaiṣan.2 1 Cf. Baumstark, Geschichte, SS. 31–37; Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia, pp. 52–54; Des heiligen Ephräm des Syrers ausgewählte Schriften I, Einleitung v. O. Bardenhewer, SS. xiii–xvii, BKV 37, Kempten-München 1919; A. Vööbus, Literary critical and historical studies in Ephrem the Syrian, Papers of the Estonian Theological Society in Exile 10, Stockholm 1958, pp. 46–58. For the various recensions of the Vita of Ephrem cf. Vööbus, Literary critical and historical studies, pp. 11–45, where the various editions are also enumerated. 2 Cf. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 26; this is clearly evident in the Hymn contra Haereses I, 12.




This great social and perhaps intellectual difference between Ephrem and his opponent, who moreover could no longer make his own defence, was not conducive to a correct understanding. Yet Ephrem certainly did not misrepresent the words of his opponents on purpose, though that is not to say he always understood them correctly. Ephrem’s method consists of taking certain words or concepts of his opponents out of their context, and then attempting to refute them in detail by means of rational or Biblical arguments.3 That this refutation does not do justice to the intended meaning of the pronouncements he objects to, goes without saying, but we may certainly not suggest his rendering is deliberately wrong. For this reason, Ephrem is one of the principal sources for our knowledge of Bardaiṣan’s ideas, which absorbed a great part of his attention. For an examination of Bardaiṣan’s conceptions, in so far as Ephrem rendered these in a polemic context, we must turn our attention in particular to the 56 Hymns contra Haereses, of which E. Beck has now given us a modem edition, 4 and the so-called Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan.5 Formerly the Hymns contra Haereses were only available in the poor Roman edition, while the Prose Refutations have barely been examined apart from the short Introductory Essay by F. C. Burkitt in Vol. II, although the desirability of its being done has several times been pointed out.6 Moreover, a confrontation of the Hymns and the Prose Refutations is necessary, as F. Haase formerly already advo3 Cf. Des heiligen Ephräm des Syrers Hymnen gegen die Irrlehren, übers. v. A. Rücker, BKV 61, München 1928, SS. XXIIIff. 4 Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen contra Haereses, hrsg. u. übers. v. E. Beck, GSCO, Script. Syri Tom. 76–77, Leuven 1957 (henceforth abbreviated as CH). Rücker’s translation remains of value, as that of Beck has a good many inaccuracies. 5 C. W. Mitchell, S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan. Vol. I, The discourses addressed to Hypatius, London 1912; Vol. II completed by A. A. Bevan – F. C. Burkitt, London 1921 (henceforth abbreviated as Pr. Ref.). 6 Cf. A. Adam, ‘Manichäismus’ in: Handbuch der Orientalistik VIII, 2, Leiden 1961, S. 106; A. Rücker, Hymnen gegen die Irrlehren, S. XXIV.



cated.7 The point is that the Hymns were destined for the ordinary “congregation,” who with these Hymns were to attack the Bardesanites with their own weapons, for the making of hymns Ephrem had taken from Bardaiṣan.8 The Prose Refutations, on the other hand, were meant for an intellectual elite, of whom Hypatius, whoever he may have been, was one. The main points are a little differently presented in the Prose Refutations, so that much contained in the Hymns can thereby he clarified. They also contain much new material.9 Ephrem’s Carmina Nisibina (esp. 46 and 51) attack Bardaiṣan’s denial of the bodily resurrection, and may also be considered as sources. Other works of Ephrem will not be examined here, as his authorship is doubtful: such is the case e.g. with the Mêmra against Bardaiṣan, which A. S. Duncan Jones and Rahmani published independently.10 Ephrem’s commentary on the apocryphal correspondence between Paul and the Corinthians, the so-called Third epistle to the Corinthians, may also be disregarded here, since A. F. J. Klijn has shown that this epistle was not directed against the Bardesanites, as Ephrem supposed it to be in his commentary. 11 The short treatises of Ephrem against Bardaiṣan, formerly published by Overbeck, must also be looked upon as spurious, though this is disputed.12 In any case, these last writings offer no new 7 F. Haase, Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen, Leipzig 1925, S. 329, Anm. 1. 8 Cf. Sozomenus, H. E. III, 16; G. Hölscher, Syrische Verskunst, Leipziger Semit. Studien, N.F. Bd. V, Leipzig 1932, S. 1ff. This is also evident from the way Ephrem indicates the melodies of some of the Hymns, e.g. of CH. IV, XX, XXII. 9 Such already appears from the very sketchy summary given by Burkitt in the Introductory Essay of Pr. Ref. II, in which many texts are left out of consideration. 10 A. S. Duncan Jones, ‘A homily of St. Ephrem’, JThS. Vol. V, 1904, p. 546–552; I. Ephrem II Rahmani, Studia Syriaca I, In Monte Libano 1904, p. 11f. (Syriac text) p. 9seq. (Latin transl.); cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Litteratur IV, S. 363f. 11 Cf. A. F. J. Klijn, ‘The apocryphal correspondence between between Paul and the Corinthians’, VigChr. 17, 1963, pp. 2–23, esp. p. 22. 12 Cf. Bardenhewer, Geschichte IV, S. 363f.; Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia, p. 68seqq.; Baumstark, Geschichte, S. 44ff.



points of view for the knowledge of Bardaiṣan’s ideas, and may for this reason alone be left out of consideration.13 The Hymns contra Haereses are probably of earlier date than the Prose Refutations.14 Therefore, in a systematic examination of Ephrem’s information regarding Bardaiṣan and his followers, the Hymns will form the point of departure; with them we shall compare the corresponding texts in the Prose Refutations, as the latter consider Bardaiṣan’s ideas far more deeply, thus as it were commenting on the Hymns. It will then also appear whether the Prose Refutations borrow from or allude to the Hymns. 15 The material presented only in the Prose Refutations will be discussed separately. The treatment of the texts seeks to follow a systematic order. The cosmological concepts form the starting-point, after which the anthropological views are discussed. Then follow the texts referring to Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of Fate and to astrology, though these are closely bound up with anthropology and cosmology, as will appear in the discussion. Finally, Ephrem has a few isolated remarks touching Bardaiṣan’s way of life, his sons and followers, his writings and so on, which will be ordered as coherently as possible.

A. COSMOLOGY Ephrem repeatedly accuses Bardaiṣan of denying the creatio ex nihilo, and says that instead of admitting one Being (‫)ܐܝܬܝܐ‬, by whom Ephrem means God the Creator, he teaches the existence of several, from which the world originated after a process of ordering. The number of Beings, Elements, (‫ )ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬is a controversial point and must now first be examined. The following texts are relevant: Hymn III, 1–7: Here Ephrem reproaches Bardaiṣan that he 13 Especially two short treatises against Bardaisan published by Overbeck, S. Ephraemi Syri etc., p. 132–136 and p. 136, from Mss. in the B.M. These treatises deal mainly with the separation of body and soul and afford no new material. 14 Cf. A. Rücker, Hymnen gegen die Irrlehren, S. XXIV. 15 The Hymns contra Haereses are quoted after the edition of E. Beck, who in the notes to his translation already gives references to the Pr. Ref. Stylistic research is impossible, as two different kinds of literature are concerned. A verbal comparison lies outside the scope of this work; the various texts are only compared as to their content.



has divided the one Divine Being and partitioned it into five: “Over five forces they distribute His Essence” (‫ܕܒܝܬ ܚܡܫܐ ܚ ̈ܝܠܝܢ‬ ̇ ‫ܦܠܓܘܗ ܐܠܝܬܘܬܗ‬ Hymn III, 2). A little further on Ephrem says that Bardaiṣan has set five other beings beside the one Divine Being: “It is foolishness within the Being to set five (forces, beings) beside him” ‫ ܣܟܐܠ ܗܝ ܕܒܐܝܬܘܬܐ ܚܡܫܐ ܢܣܝܡ ܥܡܗ‬Hymn III, 5). In Hymn 111, Ephrem draws the conclusion following from that which went before and says:

̈ ‫ܡܛܐ ܠܫܬܐ‬ ‫ܓܒܝܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܚܫܒ ܫܬܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܣܡ ܐ̈ܪܒܥܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝ ܝܢ ܠܦܘܬ ܐܪܒܥܐ ܓܒܝܢ‬ ‫ܚܕ ܣܡ ܒܓܘ ܥܘܡܩܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ ܒܓܘ ܪܘܡܐ‬

Because of the six directions, he counted six beings; Four beings he placed in the four quarters of the winds, One he placed in the depth, and one other on high.

Hymn 111, 7 states that Bardaiṣan borrowed this error from the Greeks. Hymn XIV, 7 gives a further explanation, saying Bardaiṣan (and Mani and Marcion) took the concept ‫ܗܘܐܠ‬, ὕλη from the Greeks and named this being ‫ܐܝܬܘܬܐ‬.16 The above agrees exactly with the other cosmological traditions. The one being was split up by Bardaiṣan into six, the familiar four pure elements, air, water, fire and light, the darkness and God himself. Ephrem, desirous of reserving the term being, ‫ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬or ‫ܐܝܬܘܬܐ‬, for God alone, sees the spectre of paganism looming up here, over which he pours out the vials of wrath and contumely. Obviously Ephrem considers that Bardaiṣan called darkness a being ‫ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬as is confirmed in Hymn XLI, 7, where moreover wind, fire and water are mentioned by name, Hymn LIII, 7–10 has a general attack upon the beings of Bardaiṣan, without mentioning their number, upon Biblical grounds: David and Moses speak of only one Being. By giving the elements God’s name, Bardaiṣan makes them equal to God, and that is blasphemy. He does, however, distinguish the different “natures” of the elements: Hymn LIII, 10: 16 Cf. the comment of Beck on CH III, 7. Bardaisan denied the creation ex nihilo; whether this was owing to Platonic influences, as posited by Beck, is at any rate doubtful. The concept matter (‫ܗܘܐܠ‬, ὕλη) is otherwise only found in the report of Theodore bar Khonai.



‫̇ܡܢ ܟܝ ܦܪܫ ܘܐܫܘܝ‬ ̈ ‫ܟܝܢܝܗܘܢ ܘܐܫܘܝ‬ ̈ ‫ܦܪܫ‬ ‫ܫܡܗܝܗܘܢ‬ Who has made differentiation and has made equal, Made their natures different and their names equal?

Thus the elements have different qualities. So far, everything is clear and in agreement with what is found in the other cosmological traditions. One passage, however, speaks of seven instead of six beings, on the one hand in an astrological context, on the other in connection with the soul. This is the reason why a number of scholars think space should be reckoned as the seventh being or element, the more so as space does have a certain function in Bardaiṣan’s thinking.17 Hymn LI, 13 runs as follows:

‫ܘܝܐ ܕܝܗܒ ܡܪܢ ܠܘܝܗ ܠܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬ ‫ܕܣܡ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܫܒܥܐ‬ The “Woe” spoken by our Lord struck Bardaiṣan, Who established seven beings … … …

The same strophe then relates, that Bardaiṣan preaches the signs of the Zodiac, draws horoscopes, teaches the Seven (planets) and observes the times. This context would seem to indicate that the reference here is to “beings” in the astrological sense, that is to planets, so that it is useless to seek for a seventh being or element. 18 There is a contextual relation between Hymn LI, 13 and Hymn LIII, 4: 17 Thus Burkitt, Introductory Essay, p. CXXIII and after him Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 50f. and ‘Urform und Fortbildung’, S. 79, Anm. 1: Bidez-Cumont, Les Mages Hellénisés I, p. 62, n. 4; R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford 1955, p. 202. Nowhere does Ephrem state that Bardaiṣan called space a ‘being’. 18 The BLC, too, calls the planets ‘beings’; Beck in his commentary on CH LI, 13 and LIV, 3 hesitantly accepts space as the seventh being or element, but is willing to link these with the seven planets: one element is subject to each planet. Such is notwhere evident from the texts. The ‘Woe’ pronounced by the Lord porbably refers to his remaining behind in matter, separated from God by the seven spheres of the planets.



‫ܗܐ ܕܝܢ ܩܛܝܪܐܝܬ ܚܘܒܐ ܠܟܘܢ ̇ܐܠܨ‬ ̈ ‫ܕܬܣܝܒܪܘܢ‬ ‫ܐܚ ܝ ܬܢܝܢ ̈ ̈ܡܠܝܗܘܢ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܘܡܥܘܟܢܐ ܟܘܟܒܐ ܘܡܠܘܫܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ ̇ ‫ܠܝܬܝܗ‬ ‫ܦܓܪܐ ܕܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ ܕܩܝܡܬܗ‬ ‫ܢܦܫܐ ܕܡܢ ܫܒܥܐ ܘܫܪܟܐ ܕܐܠ ܢܣܓܐ‬ But of necessity, Love compels you, My brethren, to endure the repetition of their words, Regarding the beings and the obstructing principles, the stars and the signs of the Zodiac, Regarding the body, that derives from evil, regarding its resurrection, which will not be, Regarding the soul, that derives from the Seven, not to speak of the rest.

Here too “beings” probably means astral or planetary powers. The obstructing principles also indicate this: they hinder the soul from rising up to its source, as also appears from other texts of Ephrem.19 The soul, therefore, does not consist of seven elements, which also constitute the world, but it derives from the seven planets, which endow it with a number of qualities while it is descending to the body through the spheres of the planets. 20 The concept being (‫ )ܐܝܬܝܐ‬may therefore also be used in an astrological sense, as was also seen in the BLC.21 The last text in this connection is Hymn LIV, 3:

‫ܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܐܦ ܢܦܫܐ ܡܢ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ ܥܒܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܨܝܐ ܕܐܠ ܬܪܓܫ ܢܦܫܐ ܒܐܝܬܘܬܐ‬ ̇ ̇ ‫ܘܥܩܪܗ‬ ‫ܡܥܝܢܗ‬

Cf. Pr. Ref. II p. LXXVII (transl.) and p. 164: 32–40 (Syr. text); Pr. Ref. II, p. XCVII (transl.) and p. 204: 32–47 (Syr. text). 20 Although out of date, W. Bousset’s book ‘Die Himmelsreise der Seele’, ARW, Bd. IV, 1901, SS. 136–169, 229–273, gives a great deal of material touching this conception. Cf. also F. Cumont, Lux Perpetua, Paris 1949 passim. 21 Cf. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 544, 548, 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 10, L. 15; p. 14, L. 8; p. 32, L. 13. 19


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA They say, that the soul too is made out of the beings, But that the soul cannot perceive the Being, Its source and root … … …

Hymn LIV, 2 speaks of Bardaiṣan teaching a number of “beings,” whose natures become mixed with each other, and each of which is separately located in a definite region. In this case “beings” is understood to mean the constituent parts composing the world. It may quite well be that Bardaiṣan regarded the soul as built up out of very fine parts; the soul, then, is something material. In that sense one may understand the expression, that the soul is made out of the “beings.” But on its journey to the human body, this soul receives a number of qualities from the seven planets, so that it also consists of seven parts. These qualities attach themselves, as it were, to the material soul. Now Hymn LIV, 3 states, that this soul has no cognitive power; in spite of the fact that it is made out of the beings, it cannot take cognisance of the essential Being. Man therefore possesses a separate faculty of cognition apart from the soul; we found a similar train of thought in the BLC, 22 while elsewhere also Ephrem ascribes a trichotomous anthropology to Bardaiṣan.23 That Ephrem polemises in this way against Bardaiṣan, is due to the fact that he wishes to reserve the concept “being” (‫ ܐܝܬܝܐ‬or ‫ )ܐܝܬܘܬܐ‬for God. If anything is formed out of these “beings” it must know its source. So Ephrem represents Bardaiṣan as making the elements equal to God, reasoning that if the name is the same, the matter is the same. While Ephrem recognised that for Bardaiṣan too there was a great difference between God on the one hand and the elements on the other, the terminology made it unacceptable to him.24 These are the principal data from the Hymns contra Haereses touching Bardaiṣan’s cosmology: Beside God and the darkness Cf. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 32, L. 14, 15. E.g. CH XXIX, 4, 5. Cf. the part about Bardaiṣan’s anthropology according to Ephrem. 24 Cf. CH III, 1–9; CH XLIX, 6; CH LIV. See further J. F. BethuneBaker, Nestorius and his teaching, Cambridge 1908, Appendix on the history of the syriac terms îthûthâ, îthya, k’yânâ, parṣôpâ and q’nômâ, p. 212ff. 22 23



there are thus four pure elements. There is no seventh to be found, for nowhere does Ephrem say that Bardaiṣan teaches a seventh being. When the number seven appears, it is in an astrological context or with relation to the soul. Essentially, matters are the same in the Prose Refutations. In my view, there is no question there of a seventh being or element, as posited first by Burkitt25 and afterwards by Schaeder.26 There is one locus in the Refutations, where Mitchell conjecturally read “seven Entities,” but there is no occasion whatever to do so, on the basis of that which is legible in the palimpsest. The text, or what is left of it, runs as follows:27

‫ ܕܢܘܗܝ ܥܠܡܐ ܐܐܠ ܥܠ ܢܡܘܣܐ ܐܡܪ ܗܘ‬..‫ܐ‬.‫ ܐ‬. ‫ ܐܠ‬.. ‫ܐܡܪ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬ ‫ܕܡܢ ܠܐܗܐ ܐܬܝܗܒ‬ Mitchell translates: “For though Bardaiṣan said (seven Entities constitute) the world, he nevertheless said concerning the Law that it was given by God.”

On the basis of the consonants that are legible, there is no reason at all to read ‫ܫܒܥܐ‬, seven, and the ‫ ܠܝ‬even argues against it. Moreover, with this conjecture the meaning of the text remains entirely unexplained. There should be a certain contrast between the giving of the Law by God and that which goes before, but surely the formation of the world from a certain number of elements does not contrast with the giving of this Law? It is hard to say what should be read here, but certainly not ‫ܫܒܥܐ‬, seven, nor do the spaces between the legible âlafs offer the possibility of reading ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬, elements. Besides, the contrast Mitchell constructs with his conjecture, is not supported by any other text in Ephrem’s work. There is one other locus where Ephrem speaks of seven parts, but that refers to the soul; Ephrem attacks Mani, who maintains that the Evil One placed the soul in the human body; Ephrem wonders why the Evil One could not fix the light in the body then. In this matter Bardaiṣan has a cunning line of argument, says Ephrem, maintaining that: “The soul is built up and consists of Burkitt, Introductory Essay in Pr. Ref. II, p. cxxiii. Cf. n. 17. 27 Pr. Ref. II, p. XXV (transl.) p. 53: 35–40 (Syr. text). 25 26



̈ ‫)ܕܡܢ ܫܒܥ‬.28 In conseven parts” (‫ܡܢܘܢ ܐܬܡܙ ܓܬ ܢܦܫܐ ܘܐܬܩܒܥܬ‬ trast with Mani, then, Bardaiṣan says that the soul does not come from the Evil One, consequently consisting of one substance, but that the mixture of seven parts together forms the soul. However, Ephrem refutes Bardaiṣan with the argument, that there are innumerable proportions in which these seven parts might mix with one another, as the soul gathers these constituents itself. Particularly this latter point indicates that we are here concerned with the qualities with which the soul is endowed, which it collects from the planets while it is descending to the body. These are not constituent parts like the elements, but qualities collected by the soul, without which it is really unimaginable. Naturally there is not a fixed proportion in the composition of this mixture, and that is just why the fate of one individual differs from that of another. For this fate was determined by the position of the planets at the hour of birth, when the soul takes up its abode in the body. The qualities derived from the planets determine man’s outward fortunes, because the soul brings them along. This is discussed at length in the BLC. 29 The number seven, then, is only used to indicate the seven planets, and in connection with the soul. Space plays quite another part than the four pure elements, God and the darkness. In Bardaiṣan’s thought space is not a constituent part of man and the world, as the other six beings or elements are, but space contains and encloses the existence of all beings or elements and everything proceeding from them. All the elements and God are situated in an empty space;30 Ephrem inquires, who or what keeps these elements in their places, as they differ in weight. Bardaiṣan praises space, in the middle of which is God. Ephrem considers this a restriction of God, as space supports Him as it were.31 Moreover this space is of a material nature and is not merely a concept to which no substance corre-


1, 8.

Pr. Ref. I, p. XXXII (transl.) p. 8:8–10 (Syr. text); cf. Hymni de Fide

Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 572, 576. Drijvers, BLC, p. 32; 36 Pr. Ref. I, p. LIV (transl.) p. 52: 30–37 (Syr. text). 31 Pr. Ref. I, p. XCVI (transl.) p. 133: 1–9 (Syr. text). 29 30



sponds.32 For Bardaiṣan, the Cosmos is something restricted, shut up in an empty space, within which God is also. This space is not active, neither is it constitutive for the world; therefore space is not a being or element, but merely the limitation of the others. The rationalistic Ephrem regards this conception mainly as a restriction of the nature of God, without reflecting that for a poet the cosmic space, in which all events from the beginning take place, may be an object of contemplation and praise.33 Thus in Bardaiṣan’s system Ephrem knows, beside God, of four pure elements, light, wind, fire and water, while darkness represents impurity. These last five constitute the world, after the process of intermingling, through the intervention of God. The four pure elements are situated in a plane; in the four quarters of the winds, while God is on high and the darkness in the depths.34 Besides this scheme, Ephrem is also acquainted with a distribution of the elements according to weight: darkness is right at the bottom, and above it there follow water, fire, wind and light in that order.35 There need not be any contrast between these two conceptions. They are not exact models at a situation before the existence of the world, but images, Bardaiṣan is not engaged in physics, but is trying to take account of man’s situation in the world, which originated in a particular manner. It is not of interest how this came about, only why it came about, and that was because of intermingling owing to an unfortunate chance, which enabled evil to seize its opportunity, or even enabled it to originate. This

Pr. Ref. II, p. VII (transl.) p. 16: 27–35 (Syr. text). Cf. the three Zurvanite hymns of which Zaehner gives a translation, Zurvan, p. 197f.; there are some parallels here with Bardesanite conceptions. 34 Pr. Ref. II, p. CVII (transl.), p. 226: 3–17 (Syr. text). The other cosmological traditions also place the four pure elements in a plane. 35 Pr. Ref. II, p. CVI (transl.), p. 224: 36–225:26; M. A. Kugener, ‘Un traité astronomique et météorologique syriaque attribué à Denys l’Aréopagite’, Actes du XIVe congrès international des orientalistes Alger 1905, Sect. II, 2e partie, p. 137–198, Paris 1907, found in a 7th century Ms. in the B.M. (Add. 7192) a treatise from Edessa which contains numerous parallels to this Bardesanite cosmology. 32 33



intention found no response in Ephrem’s mind, and he exhausts himself producing rational objections to this ideation in images. These five elements together form matter, ‫ܗܘܐܠ‬, ὕλη.36 Mani has only one element, i.e. evil, Bardaiṣan on the contrary has five.37 These five elements, the ‫ܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬, are the cause of the process of creation, and Ephrem most ironically asks Mani and Bardaiṣan whither they will not give the name of God to matter also, matter having been the occasion of the work of God the Creator. 38 The elements are of an atomic nature, so their mingling is not a collision of bodies, but the mingling of atoms, which in all kind of proportions can produce new bodies.39 These atomic elements each have a different colour: light is white, fire red, wind blue and water green. According to Ephrem Bardaiṣan took these notions from the Greeks.40 As each of the elements has its own colour, so it also has its own odour, taste, form and sound, corresponding to the five senses of man.41 A mingling begins among the pure elements, beginning with the wind, which was driven towards the fire; in this way the existing harmony was disturbed. Ephrem says that the Bardesanites themselves do not know how this came about: in any case God is not the cause.42 Ephrem relates exactly how these matters took place, even quoting from the works of Bardaiṣan or his followers. Speaking of the Manichaean cosmology Ephrem says: For Bardaiṣan had already (?) (i.e., before Mani) said, “There arose a cause by chance and the Wind was impelted against the Fire.”43

Pr. Ref. I, p. C (transl.) p. 141:9–17 (Syr. text). Pr. Ref. I, p. XC (transl.) p. 122:13–17 (Syr. text). 38 Pr. Ref. I, p. C (transl.) p. 141:9–17 (Syr. text). 39 Pr. Ref. II, p. CI (transl.) p. 214:24–215:12 (Syr. text), p. CII (transl.) p. 215:13–44 (Syr. text). 40 Pr. Ref. II, p. CVI (transl.) p. 223:23–224:7 (Syr. text). 41 Idem. 42 Pr. Ref. I, p. LVI (transl.) p. 55:15–24, p. 56:5–14, p. 56:22–35 (Syr. text). 43 Pr. Ref. I, p. LXII (transl.) p. 69:40 (Syr. text). 36 37



Other texts also speak of the wind being the instigator of the process of commixture, while the exact place of the elements in space is indicated. The Wind stood in the West; opposite, in the East was the Light; the Fire in the South and the Water in the North.44 Ephrem wonders how the Wind was able to reach the Fire. If a sideward motion impelled the Wind, then why did it not go to the Light instead of to the Fire? And if the movement came from above, then the Fire would have passed by the Darkness, and the same thing would have happened if the impulse came from the North-west.45 This reasoning only shows that the sole point of importance for Bardaiṣan was, that it was chance which had given the impulse towards commixture and that the Wind was the first and the Fire the second to begin moving and exceed their frontiers. The placing of the elements entirely agrees with the notices of Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ. Meanwhile, Theodore bar Khonai relates in his rendering of the cosmology that the Wind was the instigator, by chance, and that it moved towards the Fire. Thus the traditions regarding Bardaiṣan’s cosmology supplement one another, as Ephrem relates both the one and the other. After Wind and Fire the Darkness comes into action, which before was asleep and powerless.46 One even gains the impression that darkness is equated with Nothingness. When Ephrem inquires what force, according to Bardaiṣan, keeps the whole of creation in place, he supposes, interrogatively, that this must be darkness, which is situated lowest of all. According to Bardaiṣan

‫ܕܥܠ ܐܠ ܡܕܡ ܣܝܡ ܟܠ ܡܕܡ‬ everything is placed upon nothing.47

With the darkness there is connected a dirty smoke.48 This reminds one of the statement of Theodore bar Khonai. The darkness is also cold, and is melted by the hot fire, so that smoke rises up: Pr. Ref. I, p. CI (transl.) p. 214:24–215:12 (Syr. text). Idem. 46 Pr. Ref. I, p. LVI (transl.) p. 56:5–14 (Syr. text). 47 Pr. Ref. I, p. LVII (transl.) p. 58:16–23 (Syr. text). 48 Pr. Ref. II, p. CII (transl.) p. 216:3–8 (Syr. text). 44 45



.‫ܚܡܝܡܘܬܐ ܠܡ ܫܪܬܗ ܠܩܪܝܪܘܬܐ ܘܥܛܪ ܬܢܢܗ‬ The heat caused the cold to disappear and its smoke rose up.49

So darkness is something completely inactive, sleeping, powerless, cold. Wind and fire on the contrary are active, they produce heat and smoke. Darkness is heavy and thereby unwieldy and inert. The four pure elements are lighter, and so more mobile. Thus darkness, indicating evil, is of a decidedly ambivalent nature. On the one hand it is nothing, without activity and power of its own, unwieldy and ice-cold, on the other it is concerned in the process of the mingling of the elements, after the fire has melted and ignited it. It is impossible to explain this ambivalence by a rational solution. Ephrem had no eye for this, and attempted to point out a number of contradictions in Bardaiṣan’s conception, which do indeed exist. Ephrem wonders how the inert darkness suddenly became active; how it could rise up in spite of its weight, and so on. 50 This ambivalence is found in the whole system; in one way Ephrem counts four elements, in another five. The darkness is nothing, and yet it is something; it is the lack and disturbance of harmony in a negative sense, chaos and confusion in a positive one. Later Mani was to push this line of thought to its logical conclusion, assigning activity to darkness, while Bardaiṣan remained sensible of the ambivalent nature of evil. This view is in keeping with Bardaiṣan’s optimistic outlook upon man, who is capable of doing what is right and carrying out the commandments, as appeared from the BLC. Evil itself has no power at all, but only consists in the disturbance of the order willed by God. If man lives in agreement with this order (‫)ܟܐܢܐܝܬ‬, evil has lost its power. Thus Bardaiṣan sees God in the first place as the One who establishes order among the quarrelling elements and tries to put a stop to confusion. It is explicitly stated that the mingling is not caused by God himself, but by pure chance. Bardaiṣan strove to keep evil far from God; evil is present in the world, and so God cannot be its Creator. How the world was formed from the mixture of the elements is not clear. Ephrem speaks of “ordering” (‫)ܬܩܢ‬. This ordering con49 50

Pr. Ref. II, p. CVII (transl.) p. 226:3–17 (Syr. text). Pr. Ref. I, p. LVI (transl.) p. 56:5–14 (Syr. text).



joins the atoms of the elements into certain combinations, which give rise to seas, light and dark, the blowing of the winds, and so on.51 Ephrem asks how it was possible for the wind to blow before this ordering, as then the elements did not yet possess these qualities. In any case, the ordering is brought about by the Speech of God:

‫ܐܝܟ ܕܐܡܪ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܚ ܝܐܠ ܕܡܐܡܪܐ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܕܦܫ ܒܒܪܝܬܐ ܗܘ ܥܒܕ‬ .‫ܟܠ ܡܕܡ‬ As Bardaiṣan says, that the power of the First Word, which remained behind in Creation, has made everything.52

There is no unanimity on this point, however, within the group of the Bardesanites. Others say, according to Ephrem:

‫ܕܦ̈ܪܕܐ ܠܡ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܝܬܐ ܐܝܬ ܕܗܘܢܐ ܘܕܚ ܝܐܠ ܘܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܗܢܘ ܕܝܢ‬ ‫ܕܬܠܬܐ ܐܝ̈ܬܝܢ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܝܢ ܕܗܢܘܢ ܐܫܬܠܚܘ ܡܢ ܡܪܝܐ ܕܟܠ ܥܠ‬ ‫ܚܫܘܟܐ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܘܥܠ ܬܘܩܢܐ ܗܢܐ ܘܡܢܗܝܢ ܠܡ ܕܗܠܝܢ ܦ̈ܪܕܐ‬ .‫ܐܬܚܠܛ ܘܡܬܚܠܛ ܒܗܠܝܢ ܐܚ̈ܪܢܝܬܐ‬ that there exist other atoms of Spirit, Force and Thought, which are three other elements; that by the lord of the universe they were sent to the darkness which was there in the beginning, and to that process of ordering, and some of these atoms were and are mixed with those others.53

This information enables us to reduce a difference in the cosmological tradition to a difference in understanding between Bardaiṣan and his followers. Bardaiṣan himself admits a single spiritual potency, the power of the First Word, or the Word of Thought, which was sent by God to the quarrelling elements and there established some order. We find this tradition with Ephrem, but also in the first cosmological tradition, represented by Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa, Moses bar Kepha and Îwannîs of Dàrâ and also in the second tradition of Theodore bar Khonai. Whether Bardaiṣan himself already recognised Christ as the Logos in this, is very doubtful. The three Pr. Ref. II, p. CII (transl.) p. 215:13–44 (Syr. text). Pr. Ref. II, p. CIV (transl.) p. 220:10–33 (Syr. text). 53 Pr. Ref. II, p. CIV (transl.) p. 220:10–33 (Syr. text). 51 52



potencies, Spirit, Force and Thought, are found in the third cosmological tradition represented by Agapius of Mabbug, Michael Syrus, Bar Hebraeus et al. These three potencies are ascribed by Ephrem to the pupils or followers of Bardaiṣan, who wished to be even cleverer than he. The reason eludes us; was it done in order to complete the heptad with the four pure elements? Is it linked with the trichotomous anthropology or does it go back to classical philosophical concepts? This last seems most probable. 54 At any rate, Ephrem clearly marks what is the spiritual property of Bardaiṣan and what is to be set to the account of his followers. There is no reason to doubt the exactness of this information; in other parts of his work also Ephrem makes this distinction.55 The intervention that establishes order entails a partial expelling of darkness, for part of it remains behind in the mixture, so that a complete purification is still necessary, both of man and of all components of the world, sea and land, heaven and earth, and all that is therein.56 The only way of purification consists of the knowledge and the faith given by Bardaiṣan (and Mani):

‫ܐܢ ܓܝܪ ܒܝܕܥܬܐ ܘܒܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ ܕܒܝܬ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܘܡܢܝ ܡܬܕܟܝܐ‬ ‫ܘܡܨ ܛܠ ܐܠ ܒܪܝܬܐ ܘܕܐܠ ܗܟܢ ܠܝܬ ܦܪܘܣ ܐܠܡܬܝ ܚ ܝܪܝܢ ܚܠܫܐ‬ ‫ܕܗܢܘܢ ܒܠܚܘܕܝܗܘܢ ܢܘܦܘܢܗ ܠܒܪܝܬܐ‬ For if by the knowledge: and the faith of the school of Bardaiṣan and Mani the creation is being cleansed and refined, and otherwise there is no way, when do these feeble ones look forward by themselves to finish the creation?57

Formally, then, Bardaiṣan and Mani agree to a certain extent, in that purification is necessary. How this cleansing takes place is a point of difference between them. Mani chooses the way of ascesis, because he has ascribed a power and initiative of its own to darkness, to evil, in the creation of the world and mankind. Bardaiṣan Cf. Pohlenz, Die Stoa I, S. 90f.; S. 198f. E.g. Pr. Ref. II, p. CV (transl.) p. 221f. (Syr. text) where Ephrem distinguishes between Bardaiṣan and his son; also in CH LV, where Ephrem separates the hymns of Bardaiṣan and those of his followers. 56 Pr. Ref. II, p. XCVII (transl.) p. 204:32–47 (Syr. text). 57 Pr. Ref. II, p. XCVIII (transl.) p. 206:31–39 (Syr. text). 54 55



differs from Mani in this, and so he chooses the way of striving after good through an active attitude in the world. Exactly how Bardaiṣan imagined this purification is not clear. Knowledge and faith, which in this context are not in fundamental opposition, are in any case requisite. Knowledge concerns the origin of man and the world, and the part taken by darkness. Once the Bardesanite has understood this part, he can direct his actions accordingly and try to live in harmony with the divine order. Clearly, this cosmology has mythical traits, in spite of the “scientific” impression it makes.58 Regarding the creation of man, nothing whatever is communicated by Ephrem; only one text says something about the origin of life:

‫ܠܩܘܒܠܗܘܢ ܢܐܡܪܘܢ ܡܠ ̈ܝܗܘܢ ܕܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܚ ܝܘܗܝ ܢܘܟܪܝܐ ܒܐܝ̈ܬܝܐ‬ .‫ܢܦܚ ܘܚܙܡ ܐܢܘܢ‬ Against them let us say their words, — who say that the Stranger blew His life into the Entities and girded them;59

The human body consists of the mixture of the elements. The life in it comes from God, who blew His breath into the body. From the sequel of this text it appears that it does indeed deal with man, as Ephrem speaks further of the relationship between the body and the soul. There is no contrast between the body and the soul, says Ephrem, if the life in the body comes from God. We are reminded on the one hand of the story of creation in Genesis, on the other hand the title “Stranger” is peculiar for God. Most probably, we have to do here with a pronouncement of Bardaiṣan or the Bardesanites directed against Marcion and his followers. For Marcion speaks of the strange God, contrasted with the God of the O.T., the evil demiurge. According to Marcion the strange God has nothing to do with the creation of the world, he is only the Father of Jesus Christ. This dualism within the concept of Godhead was opposed by Bardaiṣan, and that may be the origin of this expression. Another possibility is, that the “Stranger” stands for the UnCf. for this whole problem W. Jaeger, Die Theologie der frühen griechischen Denker, Stuttgart 1953, passim; H. Frankfort (ed.), Before Philosophy, Pelican Book, 1951, p. 237ff. 59 Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXIII (transl.) p. 158:1–11 (Syr. text). 58



known God found in many Gnostic trends. With these Gnostic groups, however, it is never the doing of the highest, unknown God that the soul has landed in the body, but this is always due to an unfortunate chance, to a fall within the pleroma.60 Life, then, is a gift of God, who blew into the mixture of the elements, so bringing man into existence, and a large part of Bardaiṣan’s thoughts were claimed by man, as we see from Ephrem’s circumstantial reports of his anthropology. Before dealing with this, however, a number of hymn fragments will be discussed, mainly of a cosmological nature, which Ephrem includes in his 55th Hymn against Heresies. As the content of these fragments at first sight differs considerably from all other information about Bardaiṣan and his followers, they have played a part in the history of investigation which was often decisive. A further examination is therefore desirable.

B. BARDAIṢAN’S HYMNS AND MYTHOLOGY In hymn 55 contra Haereses, Ephrem quotes a number of poetic fragments of Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites, mostly of a cosmological kind. It is not clear exactly what is to be ascribed to Bardaiṣan and what to other hymnographers among his followers, in particular to his son. The latter’s name is nowhere mentioned by Ephrem, but in the Greek tradition he appears as Harmonius. 61 The Prose Refutations do quote a fragment of a hymn by this son, but also without giving his name. As there is a considerable difference between the content of these fragments and that which we have learnt of Bardaiṣan’s doctrine from other sources, the prob60 Cf. e.g. G. Quispel, Gnosis als Weltreligion, Zürich 1951, S. 28ff. The Stranger appears thus in Mandaism, where he is the Redeemer, cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, S. 5, Anm. 2; 50, 3; 121, 6f.; 575, 27. 61 Cf. for all data concerning Harmonius: M. Sprengling, ‘Antonius Rhetor on versification’, The American Journal of Semitic lang. a. lit. XXXII, 1916, pp. 196–202, where Sprengling seriously calls in question the existence of Harmonius. The name Harmonius may, however, be a Semitic name so that it need not be brought into connection with harmony, in consideration of his hymns, cf. M. C. Astour, ‘Greek names in the semitic world and semitic names in the greek world’, JNES XXIII, 1964, p. 199.



lem becomes even more complicated. The following questions may be formulated: 1. If these fragments were not written by Bardaiṣan, then why does Ephrem ascribe the greater part of them to him? In the Prose Refutations he carefully distinguishes the poetic fragments of Bardaiṣan and his son. Moreover, Ephrem informs us very exactly regarding Bardaiṣan’s views, as becomes evident when his data are compared with the BLC and the traditions regarding the cosmology. 2. What is the relation between these fragments and what we have seen of Bardaiṣan’s views elsewhere? Up to the present, no one has attempted to establish this relation. Either the point of departure was the BLC, sometimes combined with the cosmology, and then the fragments of the hymns were ascribed to Bardaiṣan’s son, who was supposed to have dressed his father’s ideas in mythological attire, and to have stood half-way between Bardaiṣan and Mani. Schaeder even thought he could support this view with distinctive metres he had found in the hymns.62 Or the point of departure was the hymn fragments in Hymn 55, which were regarded as specific for Bardaiṣan, and then the BLC was looked upon as a later mitigation of his doctrine. It must be noted in general that it makes a difference whether someone puts his thoughts into the shape of a logical exposition or into poetic form, as the two have a different aim and so function differently. If one author practises both one and the other genre, one has no right to construct contradictions a priori. Certain things can only be expressed in poetic form and can only function in that form. Thus hymns and prose can supplement one another to give a more subtle depiction of the author. Ephrem himself provides a clear example. His Hymns contra Haereses and the Prose Refutations supplement and elucidate one another. We must now first examine the poetic fragments more closely, to learn their content.


Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 61f.



Hymn LV, 1 contains an exhortation of Ephrem to his brethren to pray for the Bardesanites, as they aver insane things, like children; they say that:

‫ܡܕܡ ܪܕܐ ܘܢܚܬ ܡܢ ܗ̇ܘ ܐܒܐ ܕܚ ̈ܝܐ ܘܐܡܐ ܒܪܐܙ ܢܘܢܐ ܒܛܢܬ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܝܠܕܬܗ ܘܐܬܩܪܝ ܒܪܐ‬ ‫ܕܚ ܝܐ‬ Something streamed down from that Father of Life And the Mother became pregnant in the shape of a fish and bore him; And he was called Son of Life63

In the second strophe the same conception appears, though Father, Mother and Son are not explicitly named; then the representation is ascribed to Bardaiṣan:

‫ܘܕܐܡܪ ܕܐܠ ܫܠܝܛ ܠܡܫܘܚܕܐ ܠܓܡܪ‬ ‫ܠܡܦܪܐ ܘܠܡܘܠܕܘ ܠܡܪܢ ܩܪܝܗܝ ܙܪܥܐ‬ .‫ܕܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܬ̈ܪܝܢ ܝܠܝܕ ܒܪܐܙܐ ܕܙܘܘܓܐ‬ And because he (Bardaiṣan) said that it was completely impossiblefor a solitary one To bring forth and to bear, he called our Lord the child That was produced by two, through sexual union.64

It is possible, therefore, that a conception of their teacher was developed further by the Bardesanites. The third strophe speaks of the Holy Ghost, a female figure, who bears two daughters, according to the Bardesanites:

‫ܕܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܪܘܚ ܩܘܕܫܐ ܬ̈ܪܬܝܢ ̈ܒܢܢ ܝܠܕܬ‬ ‫ܒܪܓܠܟܝ ܬܗܘܐ ܠܝ ܠܡ ܒܪܬܐ ܘܠܟܝ ܚܬܐ‬

That they say, that the Holy Ghost bore two daughters, “Immediately after thee a daughter will come to me, a sister to thee.”65

CH, LV, 1 (differing from Beck’s translation). CH, LV, 2. Sprengling, art. cit., p. 196ff. translated Hymn LV very inaccurately into English. 65 CH, LV, 3. 63 64



Probably we have to do here with a twin, who is further described in strophe 4 as:

̈ ‫ܒܗܬܬܐ ܕܝܒܫܐ ܘܨܘܪܬܐ‬ ‫ܕܡܝܐ‬

the blush of the earth and the image of the water66

The red earth and the water are the two main components of creation; here they take the shape of daughters of the Holy Ghost, who is thus somehow concerned with the creation of the world. The fifth strophe also treats of the Holy Ghost:

‫ܘܐܡܪ ܕܐܡܬܝ ܬܘܒ ܢܚܙ ̇ܝܗ ܠܡܫܬܘܬܟܝ‬ ̈ ‫ܪܘܚܐ ܛܠܝܬܐ ܠܡ ܒܪܬܐ ܗܝ ܕܥܠ‬ ̇ ‫ܒܘ‬ ‫ܪܟܝܗ‬ ̇ ̇ .‫ܘܢܨܪܬܗ‬ ‫ܣܡܬܗ‬ And he says further, “when shall we see thy wedding feast, O youthful spirit? She is the daughter whom she set upon her knees and sang to sleep…”67

The strophe goes on to state that in his hymns Bardaiṣan blasphemed the Holy Ghost. Strophe six continues this polemic and turns his own arms against Bardaiṣan by giving a quotation from one of his hymns which strongly recalls Ps. 22:2 (and Matth. 27:46):

‫ܠܟܘܐܪܗܘܢ ܣܦܩ ܡܕܪܫܗܘܢ ܟܣܝܐ‬ ‫ܕܗ̇ܝ ܡܢ ܕܗܝ ܕܐܡܪܬ ܕܐܝܠ ܘܪܫܢܝ‬ ‫ܫܒܩܬܢܝ ܒܠܚܘܕܝ‬ To make them ashamed their own secret hymn is sufficient, In which she rightly says: “My God and my Lord Thou hast left me alone … … …68

The Holy Ghost, or less probably one of her daughters, therefore calls upon God in the words of the psalmist, when she has remained behind alone, where is not stated. The most obvious conCH, LV, 4; cf. commentary of Beck. CH, LV, 5. Beck’s translation is confusing, because he uses a masculine pronoun for the Holy Ghost, whereas in the Syrian world of thought the Spirit always appears as a female figure. 68 CH, LV 6. Another example of a totally different interpretation of a Bible text. 66 67



clusion is that the Holy Ghost, who was concerned in the creation of the world, has remained behind entangled in matter. This trait reminds us of Manichaean ideas. Ephrem now returns to the figures of the Father and the Mother, already referred to earlier in the hymn. According to Ephrem the Bardesanites acknowledge that the Law comes from Moses, but he (Bardaiṣan) despises this when he writes:

‫ܪܝܫܐ ܕܒܢܝܢܐ‬ ‫ܕܬ̈ܪܥܘܗܝ ܒܦܘܩܕܢܐ ܐܬܦܬܚܘ ܩܕܡ ܐܡܐ‬ ‫ܘܒܐܬܪܐ ܕܟܘܐܪܐ ܣܡܗ ܠܦܪܕܝܣܐ‬ the palace, Whose portals open to the Mother at command. And in a shameful place he situated paradise69

The expression ‫ܪܝܫܐ ܕܒܢܝܢܐ‬, translated here as “palace,” is not clear: one might also think of the summit of the building, but what that would mean is not clear either. In any case it is the entry of the Mother into paradise which is hinted at here, so much is plain from the context. The shamefulness of this picture of paradise is, that there is sexual union there between the Father and the Mother, in contrast with the Biblical story of paradise:

‫ܣܢܐ ܬܘܒ ܠܦܪܕܝܣܗ ܒܪܝܟܐ ܕܩܕܝܫܐ‬ ‫̈ܘܐܘܕܝ ܒܦܪܕܝܣܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ ܕܟܘܐܪܐ‬ ‫ܕܐܠܗܐ ܡܫܚܘ ܣܡܘܗܝ ܐܒܐ ܠܡ ܐܦ ܐܡܐ‬ ‫ܒܙܘܘܓܗܘܢ ܢܨܒܘܗܝ ܒܕܘ̈ܪܟܬܗܘܢ ܫܬܠܘܗܝ‬ he also hated the blessed paradise of the Holy One And believed in another paradise of shame “Gods measured it and laid it out, that is the Father with the Mother, By their sexual union they founded it, They planted it with their descendants.”70

CH, LV, 7; the translation of the expression rendered here, with Rücker, as ‘palace’ (contra Beck), is debated. 70 CH, LV, 8; for comment on this cf. G. Widengren, Mesopotamian elements in Manichaeism, p. 18. 69



Particularly the sexual element in this quotation brings a blush to Ephrem’s cheeks. Strophe 10 finally tells us who the Father and the Mother are, viz. Sun and Moon. Thus it was possible in this mythology to establish a relation between the astral and the vegetative elements:

‫ܒܫܡܫܐ ܘܣܗܪܐ ܚܪ ܒܫܡܫܐ ̈ܡܬܠ ܐܠܒܐ‬ ‫ܒܣܗܪܐ ܡܬܠ ܐܠܡܐ ܕܟ̈ܪܐ ܘܢܩܒܬܐ‬ ̈ ....... ‫ܠܐܗܐ ܘܝܠܕܝ̈ܗܘܢ‬ He considered Sun and Moon; with the Sun he compared the Father, With the Moon he compared the Mother, male and female Gods and their children … … …71

This latter conception also appears in the Prose Refutations. In connection with the Manichaean conception of the moon, Ephrem says of Bardaiṣan:

‫ܕܐܡܪ ܥܠ ܣܗܪܐ ܕܐܪܥܐ ܗܝ ܘܟܪܣܐ ܕܡܢ ܫܦܥܐ ܪܡܐ ܘܥܠܝܐ‬ ‫ܡܠܝܐ‬ that he says of the Moon that she is an earth and a womb, which is filled from a sublime and elevated stream.72

The moon in turn showers down over everything below her. The waxing and waning of the moon may be looked upon as impregnation and parturition, so it is not surprising that Bardaiṣan speculated upon the meaning of the names of the months. He gives the first two months the names of Tešri and Marḥešwan, which he connects with “beginning” (‫ )ܫܪܝ‬and “crawling” (‫)ܪܚܫ‬. His son formed a different allegory, as he did not speak of Tešri and

71 CH, LV, 10. Cf. H. Rahner, ‘Das christliche Mysterium von Sonne und Mond’, Eranos-Jahrb. X, 1943, SS. 305–404. 72 Pr. Ref. I, p. XLII (transl.) p. 27:32–38 (Syr. text). We find the same conception in the treatise published by Kugener, M. A. Kugener, ‘Un traité astronomique’, p. 171; see esp. p. 171, n. 5.



Marḥešwan, but of Tešri and Tešri, that is the first and second Tešri.73 The son says the following of this matter:

‫ܐܡܪ ܓܝܪ ܗܟܢܐ ܒܡܕܪܫܗ ܐܘ ܠܡ ܬܫܪܝ ܐܡܐ ܕܫܢܬܐ ܐܘܠܕ ܠܢ‬ ‫ܬܫܪܝ ܐܚܪܬܐ ܗܢܘ ܕܝܢ ܥܐ ܠܡܐ ܕܚ ̈ܝܐ ܐܡܪ ܟܕ ܒܥܐ ܡܢܗ ܕܬܘܠܕ‬ .‫ܬܫܒܘܩ ܒܪܬܗ ܒܕܡܘܬܗ‬ He speaks as follows in his hymn: “O Tešri, mother of the year, bring forth for us another Tešri.” This now he says of the Mother of Life, when he asks her to bring forth and leave behind a daughter after her image.74

Also the biography of Bardaiṣan, as transmitted by Agapius of Mabbug in his Kitâb al-‘Unwân, by Michael Syrus in his chronicle, and by Bar Hebraeus in the Mnarat Kudshê and the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, mentions that according to Bardaiṣan the Mother of Life every month discards her clothing and goes in to the Father of Life, who has communion with her. She then bears seven sons. All the authors state, that this happens by analogy with the moon, who every month “discards” her light and goes to the sun.75 The idea is, therefore, that the moon is impregnated by the sun. Bar Hebraeus in the Chronicon ecclesiasticum goes even further, and says that the Moon is the Mother of Life and the Sun the Eather of Life. The Moon receives from the Sun the “spirit of preservation,” which she sends into the world.76 Thus there is close agreement between Ephrem and Bardaiṣan’s biography, of which Agapius of Mabbug is the earliest witness. Only the biography relates that the number of children of the Father and Mother of Life is seven, while Ephrem does not give a number. 73 Bardaiṣan used the Babylonian names, which were still in use outside Edessa also. For the names of the months cf. C. Brockelmann, Syrische Grammatik, S. 79, Anm. 1. 74 Pr. Ref. II, p. CV (transl.) p. 223:13–22 (Syr. text). 75 Agapius of Mabbug, Kitâb al-‛Unwân, ed. A. Vasiliev, PO, VII, Paris 1911, p. 520sv.; Michael Syrus, Chronique, ed. J. B. Chabot, Tom. I, p. 110sv.; Bar Hebraeus, Sur les Hérésies, ed. F. Nau, PO XIII, Paris 1919, p. 255sv. 76 Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, 2 Tom. Leuven 1872–77, ed. J. B. Abbeloos – Th. Lamy, Tom. I, col. 47.



It seems to me there is no reason at all, considering Ephrem proves to be so well informed regarding Bardaiṣan’s doctrine, suddenly to ascribe the quotations in Hymn 55 to his son, particularly as in the Prose Refutations Ephrem is able clearly to distinguish between father and son, and explicitly ascribed the image of the Moon as a womb to Bardaiṣan.77 Moreover, in his Hymns contra Haereses Ephrem also makes a definite distinction between Bardaiṣan, Mani and Marcion, so that it is not permissible to ascribe these quotations to followers or sons of Bardaiṣan who were closely associated with Manichaeism or had even been absorbed into it. Many scholars have been led astray by the desire to compose a complete picture from disjointed data. We may expect to come across the spiritual heritage of many cultures in Bardaiṣan’s ideas, considering his place of residence and the century he lived in. That all these elements would cohere into a logically consistent system was really not to be expected, though it is possible to indicate certain structures which support the whole, in so far as we can discern this. The question is whether it is possible to link up these elements with our other information about Bardaiṣan’s ideas, both that derived from Ephrem and that from the other sources. The fundamental difference in function between hymns and philosophically tinted treatises must meanwhile be carefully kept in mind. When Ephrem speaks of the Holy Ghost, a female figure, who bears two daughters, the earth and the sea, he is referring to certain conceptions of Bardaiṣan regarding creation. In the cosmology we have seen, that the world was formed by “The Word of Thought,” i.e. the creative word of God, while Theodore bar Khonai also speaks of “the Wind of the heights.” These are images to convey the formative and life-giving power of God. It is not surprising, if in a hymn this formative and life-giving power appears in the image of the Holy Ghost, always feminine in this context, who bears two daughters, earth and water. It is not impossible that the images in the story of creation in Genesis I have been poetically elaborated here. Whether Jewish conceptions were interme-


Pr. Ref. I, p. XLII (transl.) p. 27:32–38.



diary here is not certain, but it is probable. 78 Speculations about “wind,” “spirit” (one single word!) and “word” were rife.79 There is no fundamental difference, then, to be found here. Until this moment, Bardaiṣan had only presented us with the idea of a single God, by whose intervention the world was formed. Hymn 55 now introduces us to a triad of Father, Mother and Son. Father and Mother are seen in the image of Sun and Moon, but at the same time as the first inhabitants of the Garden of Life, of Paradise, where they brought forth life.80 These images do not exclude one another, but are complementary. Sun and moon together also give life, and produce children, the months, and so they maintain the progress of life: they give the “spirit of preservation” (Bar Hebraeus). It seems to me that this “spirit of preservation” which arose from the connection of the Father and the Mother, played a part in Bardaiṣan’s Christology. Christ, too, originated from the Father and the Mother, the latter in the shape of a fish. Now the fish was dedicated to Atargatis as goddess of fertility, and she was especially honoured in Hierapolis.81 The Father of Life may then be Hadad, the Semitic sun-god.82 In that case we should have a fusion here of ancient Semitic mythological concepts, the worship of sun and moon as practised particularly by the Chaldaeans, with Christian elements. No exact distinctions can be made, the images are as it were superimposed, they supplement one another, and all at78 One might think of speculations regarding Wisdom, cf. BoussetGressmann, Die Religion des Judentums im späthellenistischen Zeitalter, dritte Aufl. Tübingen 1926, S. 342ff. 79 Bousset-Gressmann, o.c., S. 347ff. with a number of striking texts; P. Dalbert, Die Theologie der hellenistisch-jüdischen Missions-Literatur unter Ausschluss von Philo und Josephus, Hamburg 1954 passim, esp. S. 130ff. 80 Cf. Widengren, Mesopotamian elements, p. 18. 81 Cf. art. Atargatis in RAC; G. Goossens, Hiérapolis de Syrie, p. 127svv.; F. Cumont, Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain, Paris 1929, p. 95svv. 82 G. Goossens, Hiérapolis de Syrie, p. 133; F. Cumont, Études syriennes, p. 59; in Macrobius, Saturn, I, 23:17–20 there is a text in which Hadad is the sun and Atargatis the earth. Obviously there were many speculations in this field. Besides Hierapolis one may also think of Ḥarran with its ancient cult of Sin.



tempt to grip the secret of life. The fish is significant in this connection: it is the image of the Mother, but in a Christian sense it can also indicate the Son. 83 The best way to imagine it is, that the “spirit of preservation,” the product of the union of the Father and Mother of Life, the Son of Life, descends into the man Jesus of Nazareth. Bardaiṣan’s docetic Christology is thereby sufficiently explained. The Garden of Life, the Paradise planted by Father and Mother, is at the same time the Bridal Chamber of Light to which the souls return. This return was made possible by Christ, who himself comes from this Garden of Life, as Son of Life. In Bardaiṣan’s doctrine the soul in particular is the bearer of life, and so returns to the origin of all life. We may thus trace a few connections between the content of these hymn fragments and Bardaiṣan’s other doctrines. It is remarkable, however, that there is no unity of representation here either: besides the Holy Ghost and her two daughters we see, Father, Mother and Son appear. Yet the intention of these images is the same: to grasp the secret of creation and man’s life. Sexuality is regarded as a positive value in this connection. The Son originates from the sexual union of the Father and Mother of life. With him purification commences, that is to say: salvation. This recalls the remark of Moses bar Kepha that conception and birth is a form of purification according to Bardaiṣan. Thus the intention is the same, while the representation differs from one case to the other and also from what else is offered us as Bardesanite teaching. The only explanation of this can be that Bardaiṣan accepted traditional pagan Syrian mythology of various origin and used it as point of departure for the reasonings we have seen so far. He aimed at the synthesis of highly disparate material, as also appeared in the BLC, where classical philosophy and Chaldaean astrology accompany a Jewish-Christian ethic. There, too, all the tensions were not resolved which are inherent in the creating of syntheses. The cosmology delivered to us is of an analogous nature. Here we find classical philosophy accompanying Parthian-Iranian conceptions Cf. art. Fisch, RGG3, Bd. II, kol. 968 with bibliography. F. J. Dölger, Ichthus, Bd. I-5, 1910–1943. 83



and the Logos Christology; possibly the latter goes back to Jewish speculations concerning Wisdom, the Word and the Spirit. Naturally the autochthonous material was most vividly alive. This also explains the many points of agreement between Bardaiṣan’s ideas and e.g. the Hymn of the Soul and the Odes of Solomon, which were pointed out in the course of investigation. All this has a certain justification, inasmuch as these hymns supplied material for Bardaiṣan’s cosmological and anthropological speculations. That is why Ephrem mentions the fact, that in the meetings of the Bardesanites all kinds of hymns were sung, and books were read and subsequently explained. Seen thus, these hymn fragments function in Bardaiṣan’s teachings and at the same time supply material for them. Some of these images will return in the anthropology, notably the “Bridal chamber of Light,” which belongs to the context of these hymn fragments.

C. ANTHROPOLOGY Ephrem’s main objection to Bardaiṣan’s view of man is, that he denies the resurrection of the body. This is already evident in the Carmina Nisibina, where Ephrem relates that he has read a book of Bardaiṣan full of blasphemy, for Bardaiṣan separates body and soul and denies resurrection to the former.84 What book Ephrem is referring to here, is unknown. He mentions other books by Bardaiṣan which he appears to have handled.85 The theme returns in the Hymns contra Haereses. Here too Ephrem strongly reproaches Bardaiṣan with denying the resurrection.86 If Hymn XXIX is also aimed at doctrines of Bardaiṣan, who is not, however, mentioned by name, any more than the other heretics, then Ephrem ascribes to Bardaiṣan a trichotomous anthropology: spirit besides body and soul. The human body Ephrem speaks of in this context consists of pure components and something demonic, deriving from darkness. Ephrem wonders whether body, 84 Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Carmina Nisibina, hrsg. u. übers. v. E. Beck, CSCO, Script. Syri 102–103 (zweiter Teil), Hymne LI, 2, 3, 4; cf. also Hymne LI, 7, 13 and Hymne XLVI, 2, 8. 85 Int. al. CH I, 15 ‘The Book of Mysteries’; cf. CH LVI, 9, 4. 86 CH I, 9.



soul and spirit together are not a match for the power of this demonic contingent.87 It seems to me that this discussion may very well refer to Bardaiṣan, as Ephrem speaks of something demonic beside pure components in the body. This corresponds with the views of Bardaiṣan, and not with those of Mani and Marcion. Moreover, it is stated in the same Hymn that man can only sin while he is awake; when he sleeps, the demonic in him also rests.88 E. Beck, the latest editor of the Hymns, already suggested that the reference here was to Bardaiṣan’s ideas about evil.89 This seems the most likely, as this view is only comprehensible if evil has no existence and activity of its own, but only arises through the wrongly directed activity of something else. The reason body, soul and spirit together cannot combat evil, is that there is not really anything to fight against. Evil originates, when the spirit is wrongly directed, and that possibility is implicit in the possession of free-will. In the discussion of the cosmological conceptions the relation between the soul and the Seven was already noted. Through the qualities with which it is endowed by the Seven, the soul determines a man’s fortunes, and so it pertains to a level of human existence, upon which spirit and will can exercise only a very limited influence, or none at all. These fortunes are fixed, whether man will or no. Thus we can understand that in Hymn LIV, 3 Ephrem says that the soul has no faculty of cognition.90 The Prose Refutations elaborate the themes of the Hymns contra Haereses, while adding new data. Man consists of three parts, body, soul and spirit. The body is subject to the “foolish ̈ Guiding Signs” (‫)ܡܕܒ̈ܪܢܐ ܣܟܐܠ‬.91 The BLC tells us the same. The body comes from “the nature of evil” (‫)ܟܝܢܐ ܕܒܝܫܬܐ‬92 and would return todust even without the sin of Adam. 93 The soul on the contrary rises upward after death. This means that after death the CH XXIX, 4, 5. CH XXIX, 10. 89 Beck, übers. d. CH, S. 104, Anm. 4, S. 105, Anm. 6. 90 Cf. Beck’s comment on CH LIV, 1, 3. Also according to the BLC the faculty of cognition, which also houses the will, is added to the soul. 91 Pr. Ref. I, p. XCI (transl.) p. 124:8–18 (Syr. text). 92 Pr. Ref. I, p. CII (transl.) p. 147:18ff. (Syr. text). 93 Pr. Ref. II, p. LXVI (transl.) p. 143:1–24 (Syr. text). 87 88



body, formed out of the chaotic mixture of the elements, falls apart into its components, being the direct result of the unlucky chance that set the mixing process in motion. Thereby good and evil were mixed together in the body, and this commixture was not completely undone. Potentially, the possibility of evil action is grounded in the body. Evil is not a component of the body, but it is given in the circumstance of commixture. In this context Ephrem polemises against Bardaiṣan, who says that he accepts free-will, and yet posits that good and evil, pure elements and darkness, are mixed in the body. According to Ephrem this is an inconsistency, for if freewill is a gift of God, then Bardaiṣan is saying that both good and evil stem from God. Either one believes in free-will, or in good and evil, that is, either the will sins, or one of the components gets the mastery and the will has no say in the matter. In the latter case the will is a “bound nature.”94 This polemic again shows that Ephrem had no understanding of the subtlety of Bardaiṣan’s thoughts regarding the essence of evil: evil is present in the body, as the body originated from the mixture, but within the body it can generate no activity of its own. Only the free will can cause evil to originate, just as in the cosmology the free will of wind and fire set the darkness in movement. So the death of the body is not the punishment for the sin of Adam, and through the coming of Christ this dead body is not raised up. Ephrem considers that in following this line of thought, Bardaiṣan is breaking the relationship between Adam and Christ.95 The former dies, as God’s punishment for his disobedience, while the latter raises the dead body. The first person who really dies, according to Bardaiṣan, was Abel, who was killed by his brother. That is to say, the misdirection of Cain’s will caused the violent death of Abel.96 The sin of Adam, however, was the cause that the soul could not rise up:

94 Pr. Ref. I, p. XVII (transl.) p. 43 (of the edition of Overbeck, S. Ephraemi Syri etc., who published the first two discourses to Hypatius); Pr. Ref. I, p. XVIII (transl.) p. 44 (Overbeck). 95 Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXI (transl.) p. 153 (Syr. text). 96 Idem.



‫ܐܝܟ ܝܘܠܦܢܗ ܕܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܡܘܬܐ ܕܐܥܠ ܗܘܐ ܐܕܡ ܟܠܝܢܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܢܦܫܬܐ‬ ‫̈ܕܟܠܝܢ ܗܘܝ ܨܝܕ ܡܥܒܪܬܐ ܕܟܐܠ ܐܢܝܢ ܚܛܗܗ ܕܐܕܡ ܘܚ ̈ܝܐ ܠܡ‬ .‫ܕܐܥܠ ܡܪܢ ܕܐܠܦ ܩܘܫܬܐ ܘܐܣܬܠܩ ܘܐܥܒܪ ܐܢܝܢ ܠܡܠܟܘܬܐ‬ ‫ܒܕ ܓܘܢ ܠܡ ܠܐܦܢ ܡܪܢ ܕܟܐ ܠܝܢܐ ܕܡܠܬܝ ܢܬܪ ܡܘܬܐ ܠܥܠܡ‬ ‫ܡܬܟܠܝܐ ܢܦܫܗ ܡܐ ܕܥܒܪܐ ܥܠ ܡܥܒܪܬܐ ܐܝܟ‬ ‫ܐܠ ܢܛܥܡ ܕܐܠ ܠܡ‬ ‫ܟܠܝܢܐ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܕܡܬܟܠܝܢ ̈ܗܘܝ ܢܦܫܬܐ ܥܕ ܐܠ ܢܐܬܐ ܦܪܘܩܢ‬ According to the doctrine of Bardaiṣan — the Death that Adam brought in — was a hindrance to Souls — in that they were hindered at the Crossing-place — because the sin of Adam hindered them — “and the Life,” he (says), “that our Lord brought in, — is that he taught verity and ascended, — and brought them across into the Kingdom” “Therefore,” he says, our Lord taught us — that “every one that keepeth My Word — death for ever he shall not taste,” — that his Soul is not hindered — when it crosses at the Crossing-place — like the hindrance of old — wherewith the Souls were hindered — before our Saviour had come.97

The place where the souls cross over is indicated more exactly as the “Bridal chamber of Light” (‫)ܓܢܘܢ ܢܘܗܪܐ‬.98 Thus the coming of Christ brings deliverance for the soul; the body does not require to be redeemed, for this will always, in any case, return to dust. That the soul could not rise up to the “Bridal chamber of Light” was owing to the sin of Adam, disobedience, the wrong use of free-will. Here lies the great difference with the Gnostic systems, where the soul is imprisoned in the body owing to a fall before the creation of the world. In a certain sense this “fall” also exists with Bardaiṣan, in so far as it was an “accident” which occasioned creation. But the soul is not concerned in this “accident.” The soul’s misfortune is due to the sin of Adam; thus at this point an ethical aspect already enters into the system, where there is no question yet of anything of the kind in the Gnosis. In the Gnostic systems, a certain amount of ethics result from thinking over man’s unfortunate situation, or more particularly the unfortunate situation of his soul in the world. 97 98

Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXVII (transl.) p. 164:41–165:12 (Syr. text). Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXVII (transl.) p. 164:32–40 (Syr. text).



With Bardaiṣan, the ethical intent of his entire thought is the basis both of his cosmology and his anthropology. It was already noted in the Hymns contra Haereses that the soul has no cognitive faculty. The Prose Refutations confirm this: besides body and soul, man possesses a spirit, which is bound to the soul, and yet is free of it:

‫ܡܕܥܐ ܐܝܟ ܕܐܡܪܝܢ ܗܢܘܢ ܚܡܝܪܐ ܗܘ ܢܘܟܪܝܐ ܕܛܡܝܪ ܒܢܦܫܐ ܗܝ‬ ‫ܕܕܐܠ ܝܕܥܬܐ ܗܝ ܠܦܓܪܐ ܘܡܕܥܐ ܢܘܟܪܝܐ ܗܝ ܐܢ ܗܘ ܕܐܠ ܡܨܐ ܟܝܬ‬ ‫ܦܓܪܐ ܠܘܐ ܠܢܦܫܐ ܕܥܦܪܐ ܗܘ ܐܦ ܐܠ ܗܝ ܡܨܝܐ ܕܬܠܘܐ ܠܡܕܥܐ‬ ‫ܕܗܘ ܠܐܗܝܐ ܗܘ‬ “Reason,” as they say, — “is the strange Leaven that is hidden — in the Soul, which is without knowledge; — to the Body and Reason it is strange! — If so be then the Body cannot — cleave to the Soul, being earthly, neither can it (the Soul) cleave — to the Reason which is Divine.”99

We already met with the same trichotomy in the BLC, where it is also stated that man possesses a body, a soul and a spirit, the last being a divine gift, with which knowledge and free will are bound up.100 Thus the spirit is the divine element in man, and therefore it is also the lightest. As the elements can be ordered according to their weight, darkness being the heaviest, so also can the elements of man be ordered:

‫ܐܦ ܢܦܫܐ ܒܥܝܢܝ ܦܓܪܐ ܐܝܟ ܡܐ ܕܐܡܪܝܢ ܩܛܝܢܐ ܗܝ ܘܒܥܝܢܝ‬ .‫ܡܕܥܐ ܓܫܝܡܐ ܗܝ‬ The Soul also in comparison with the Body as their saying goes is “subtle” — and in comparison with Reason it is “corporeal.”101

The body is the most trifling, the spirit the most precious thing thatman possesses. Yet each has its own distinct function in human existence, and these functions are all precisely distinguished from Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXIII (transl.) p. 158:20ff. (Syr. text). Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 551; Drijvers, BLC, p. 16, L. 6–8; p. 32, L. 14, 15. 101 Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXIV (transl.) p. 159:9–13 (Syr. text). 99




one another, and all are indispensable for human life. The spirit is valued most highly, because it embodies knowledge and free will, the image of God. The great agreement here with the ideas of the BLC is very noticeable. It is also evident from Ephrem’s polemic, that free-will is the central point around which Bardaiṣan’s whole thought revolves. Schaeder has shown that the BLC, Ephrem’s polemic against Bardaiṣan and the cosmology transmitted to us, together form a coherent deposit from which Bardaiṣan’s conceptions may be largely reconstructed. The above clearly demonstrates that the same applies to his anthropology, which moreover is intimately linked with the cosmology. On this point the BLC, the cosmological traditions and Ephrem supplement one another; they are not in contradiction, but are mutually explanatory. The other data from Ephrem’s polemic against Bardaiṣan will demonstrate this further.

D. FATE AND ASTROLOGY It is noticeable that in the Hymns contra Haereses Ephrem makes a few remarks about Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of Fate and his astrology, while in the Prose Refutations he does not speak of them at all, apart from a passing reference. In the Prose Refutations Ephrem mainly polemises against Bardaiṣan’s cosmology and anthropology; other subjects are merely touched on in passing, but do not really interest him. If the Prose Refutations are indeed of a later date than the Hymns contra Haereses, this might afford indirect evidence that Bardaiṣan’s interest in astrology decreased more and more, as he himself says it did in the BLC. 102 Moreover, this is the most conclusive proof against Nau’s view of Bardaiṣan, that he was really orthodox and the practice of astrology was his only heresy. In this matter, Ephrem’s eyes were sharper! In their meetings, Bardaiṣan and his followers read books about the signs of the Zodiac, instead of the Prophets, says Hymn I, 18. It is possible that this strophe was added later, as it speaks of the destruction of the locality where they met. According to the Vita of Rabbula he destroyed the place of cult of the Bardesanites; 102

Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 564; Drijvers, BLC, p. 26, L. 19–22.



we know of no earlier destruction.103 Hymn XXII, 22 reproaches one of the teachers of false doctrine with having added astrology (‫ )ܟܠܕܝܘܬܐ‬to the true faith.104 Probably this is also a reference to Bardaiṣan. The most important datum in the Hymns contra Haereses, however, is that Ephrem shows his acquaintance with Bardaiṣan’s complicated doctrine of Fate, as it is described in the BLC. Hymn VI attacks astrological Fate in general, but mentions Bardaiṣan by name:

̈ ‫ܕܟܘܟܒܐ ܘܢܗܝ̈ܪܐ‬ ‫ܘܐܢ ܕܝܢ ܡܪܕܝܬܐ‬ ‫ܐܠ ܗܘܐ ܕܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܗܝ ܕܝܠܗܘܢ ܕܢܗܝ̈ܪܐ‬ ̇ ‫ܥܠܝܗ ܕܗܕܐ ܕܡܢ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܥܛܐܠ ܗܝ‬ ‫ܢܫܬܠ‬ ‫ܕܡܢܘ ܡܕܝܠ ̈ܙܘܥܐ ܕܟܠܗܘܢ‬ ‫ܘܐܝܢܐ ܕܥܠ ܙܘܥܗ ܡܬܚܙܐ ܕܐܠ ܫܠܝܛ‬ ‫ܐܠ ܬܥܒܕܝܘܗܝ ܡܪܐ ܕܥܒܕܐ ܗܘ ܕܐܠ ̈ܪܓܐܠ‬ ‫ܩܛܝܢ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܐܣܪܗ ܠ ܗ̇ܘ ܚܠܩܐ‬ ‫ܒܚܐܪܘܬܐ‬ ‫ܒܚܠܩܐ ܕܪܒ ܡܢܗ ܕܪܕܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܩܛܝܪܐ‬ ‫ܕܬܚܬܝܐ ܐܟܣܗ ܒܥܠܝܐ‬ ‫ܛܠܠܗܘܢ ̇ܡܟܣ ܠܓܘܫܡܗܘܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܗ̇ܘ ܓܝܪ ܚܘܫܒܢܐ ܕܚܒܫ ̈ܠܬܚܬܝܐ‬ ‫ܚܓܪܗ ܠܚܐܪܘܬܐ ܫܪܝܬܐ ܕܥܠܝܐ‬

And if the course of the constellations and stars Does not depend on the free will of the stars themselves, We shall put the most difficult question of all about it: Who sets them all in motion? But him who proves to have no power over his own movement Thou shalt not make out to be lord: he is a servant without feet. Bardaiṣan is cunning, who put that Fate under restraint Through a Fate that is greater, as it describes its course in liberty. The thraldom of the lower, refutes him with the upper, Their shadow refutes their body,

103 104

Bedjan, Acta martyrum et sanctorum T. IV, p. 431–432. Beck is also of the opinion that this remark refers to Bardaiṣan.



For that intent which restricted the lower, Crippled the unrestricted freedom of the upper.105

According to Bardaiṣan Fate is not completely arbitrary but rests on the course given to the stars and planets by God. 106 Thus they do not describe this course, in which Fate is embodied, out of their own free will. Ephrem’s argument now is, that also He who gave this course to the planets is not completely free, because He has bound himself, as it were, to the planetary courses and cannot depart from them. The relationship between God and the planets is that of the body and its shadow; one depicts the other: if the shadow is not free, this shows that the body is not free. Ephrem sees in this a restriction of God’s sovereign power. Ephrem is also acquainted with the distinction between Nature and Fate as if is explained in the BLC. This appears from the same Hymn VI:

‫ܠܘ ܓܝܪ ̈ܡܢ ܚܠܩܐ ܗܝ ܓܙܘܪܬܐ ܘܥܘܪܠܘܬܐ‬ ‫ܕܗ̇ܝ ܢܛܪܐ ܥܝܕܐ ܘܗܕܐ ܠܦܘ̈ܪܫܢܐ‬ ‫ܚܕܐ ܦܪܫܐ ܛܥ̈ܘܡܐ ̈ ܐܚܪܬܐ ܠܕܘܒ̈ܪܐ‬ ‫ܡܢ ̇ܡܢ ܣܓܝܘ ܢܟܦܐ ܒܥܠܡܐ‬ ‫ܘܠܟܝܢܐ‬ ‫ܕܩܝܡܗܘܢ ܫܛܗ ܠܚܠܩܐ‬ ̈ ̈ ‫ܕܠܘ‬ ‫ܟܘܟܒܐ ܡܙ ܓܘܗܝ ܠܩܘܕܫܐ ܒܩܕܝܫܐ‬ For Judaism and paganism do not come from Fate, The latter keeping to its customs and the former to its distinctions, The one distinguishes meats, the other ways of living. Through whom have the chaste become numerous in the world, So that their order despised Fate and Nature? For the stars did not give sanctity to the sanctified!107

105 CH, VI, 9, 10 (some differences from Beck’s translation); cf. Beck’s commentary on this passage. 106 The same conception in the BLC: Nau, Patro. Syr. I, 2, col. 568 and 572; Drijvers, BLC, p. 28, L. 19; p. 32, L. 11–13. 107 CH, VI, 19.



Ephrem adheres to the doctrine of unrestricted free-will; every limitation of it is abhorrent to him. According to him, Bardaiṣan assigned too great a power to Nature and Fate. In this strophe, the very same terms for Nature and Fate (‫ )ܚܠܩܐ ܘܟܝܢܐ‬appear, which we found in the BLC. Indeed, the whole strophe strongly reminds us of that work.108 Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of Fate is slightly distorted by Ephrem, but that is only natural in polemics. Ephrem objects on theological grounds to Bardaiṣan’s limitation of the field of action of free-will, because its correlative is a certain limitation of the omnipotence of God. Within this polemic, the importance of Nature and Fate is rated too highly by Ephrem, hence the distortion. The main thing is, however, that both the terminology of the BLC is known to Ephrem and the delimitation of the concepts in a functional sense. The Prose Refutations add nothing new to the picture; Ephrem’s interest is chiefly directed there upon the cosmology as the source of the heresy, from which the other false doctrines follow organically. In discussing the anthropology it was already noted that, according to Ephrem, in Bardaiṣan’s system the planets exorcise power over the body. This may be regarded as another proof that the conceptions of the BLC, that is of Bardaiṣan, were known to Ephrem, as it is stated in the BLC that this power of the planets over the body is exercised through the medium of the soul. The Prose Refutations do say something, though, of Bardaiṣan’s outlook upon the construction of the universe according to Bardaiṣan (and Mani) a complete purification of the cosmos is necessary, not only of man, but also of everything in the cosmos. In this connection Ephrem speaks of “seven regions and ten firmaments” (‫ )ܫܒܥܐ ܡܥܘܢܝܢ ܘܥܣ̈ܪܐ ܐܪܩܝܥܝܢ‬which must also be purified.109 The word “region” (‫ )ܡܥܘܢܐ‬appears several times more in the Prose Refutations; the most important passage is that, where it ̈ ‫ܒܟܠ‬ is stated that the souls in “all depths and regions” (‫ܥܘܡܩܝܢ‬ ‫ )ܘܒܡܥܘܢܝܢ‬are hindered from rising up to the Bridal chamber of 108

Cf. Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, col. 599seqq.; Drijvers, BLC, p. 52, L.


Pr. Ref. II, p. XCVII (transl.) p. 204: 32–47 (Syr. text).




Light.110 Mitchell translates the word as “Limbo,” and so speaks of “Seven Limbos,” erroneously, I think. The word probably refers to the seven spheres of the planets. This agrees better with the ten firmaments, and also with a place where the souls are hindered from rising up. The rising up of the soul through the seven spheres of the planets to the highest heaven is a widely disseminated notion.111 The Hymns and Prose Refutations also contain a number of detached remarks with reference to Bardaiṣan’s person, his followers, and his writings. These will now be briefly discussed.

E. BARDAIṢAN’S PERSONALITY, HIS FOLLOWERS AND HIS WRITINGS Ephrem takes no interest at all in Bardaiṣan’s origins, his family life, and so on; in any case he tells us nothing of them. All the remarks of Ephrem touching Bardaiṣan’s person are disparaging and are inspired by envy and abhorrence. Particularly the elevated social position of his opponent, who was at the court, of Edessa, aroused the resentment of Ephrem, who hotly expressed his grudge:

̈ ‫ܒܢܚܬܐ ܘܒ̈ܪܘܐܠ ܨܒܬܗ ܠܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬ With (costly) attire and jewels he (the Devil) adorned Bardaiṣan.112

The destruction of the meeting-place of the Bardesanites which Eabbula, a century after Ephrem, caused to be carried out, was prompted in at least equal measure by this jealousy and by zeal for orthodoxy. The reproach of hypocrisy is congruent with this image; Ephrem says that on the surface the words of Bardaiṣan were perfectly reasonable and orthodox, but secretly they were full of madness, full of blasphemous mysteries.113 Does this mean there was an esoteric doctrine, only intended for the initiated? Or does the remark refer to a certain method of scriptural exegesis, which atPr. Ref. II, p. LXXVII (transl.) p. 164: 32–40 (Syr. text). Cf. p. 133, n. 2. 112 CH, I, 12. 113 CH, I, 11. 110 111



tempts to extract their hidden secrets from the words of the Bible?114 The latter possibility is the most likely, and is also supported by another passage: Hymn L, 2:

‫ܒܗܬ ܬܘܒ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܦܗܐ ܘܬܘܒ ܐܦܗܝ‬ ‫ܘܐܠܦ ܕܣܓܝܐܐ ܡܠܠܘ ܒܢܡܘܣܐ‬ Bardaiṣan must also be ashamed, for he errs and leads into error, And teaches, that many have spoken in the Law.115

Ephrem then sets forth that the one Truth unfolds in numerous laws and in words differing one from the other, but yet remains the one Truth. In view of this context, it is to be assumed that Bardaiṣan distinguished a certain stratification in the Bible, that is in the O.T., which he ascribed to different revelations (of different divine figures?). It is at any rate clear from this, that Bardaiṣan’s teachings were destined for an intellectual elite, which was at the same time a social elite, and not for the common man. One cannot speak of a secret doctrine; the matter in question is an extra intended for those, who have the intellectual and spiritual capacity for understanding it. The differences that seem to exist between Bardaiṣan’s doctrine as it appears in the BLC, and the material of Ephrem and the cosmological traditions, may thus be satisfactorily explained. The BLC is addressed to another audience, at any rate in the form in which it has reached us, than those teachings of Bardaiṣan which Ephrem particularly attacks. That is why in the BLC we find doctrines hinted at, that Ephrem et al. explicitly discuss. The agreements are so clear, that it is not possible to play off one part of the tradition against the other; they supplement one another and in part overlap. The outward orthodoxy of Bardaiṣan, emphasised by Nau, rests upon a different basis which is considered heterodox, at 114 Something of the same kind as we find in Valentinianism? Cf. G. Quispel (ed.), Ptolémée: Lettre à Flora, SC, Paris 1949, introduction passim; F. M. M. Sagnard, La Gnose Valentinienne et le témoignage de Saint Irénée, Études de Philos. Médiév. XXXVI, Paris 1947, pp. 451–479. 115 CH, L, 2 (differing from the translation of Beck), cf. Sagnard, o.c., p. 458sv.; G. Quispel, o.c., introduction.



any rate in later centuries. The addition provided by Bardaiṣan may have rested upon a particular method of explaining the Bible, intended for an intimate circle. In other places also Ephrem says that Bardaiṣan gave a special interpretation to certain passages of Scripture.116 The followers of Bardaiṣan, whom he stole from the flock,117 called themselves after him: Bardaiṣanites or Daiṣanites.118 They ̈ held meetings in caves (‫)ܢܩܥܐ‬,119 where songs and hymns were sung120 and all kinds of writings were read and explained.121 Obviously these writings were fairly numerous. The astrological took an important place in them; we have already met with writings about the signs of the Zodiac, though we cannot tell whether these were works by Bardaiṣan himself.122 Ephrem also mentions a “Book of Mysteries,” which is by Bardaiṣan’s own hand.123 Mani was acquainted with this work, and wrote a book of his own with the same title, in which he polemises against some of Bardaiṣan’s ideas.124 Other works mentioned by Ephrem are the “Book about Thunder” and the “Book of the Hosts,” meaning the hosts of evil spirits.125 These are not works by Bardaiṣan himself, but they do give a good impression of the specific interests of the Bardesanites. Bardaiṣan did write a book against the Platonists, entitled “Of Domnus” (‫)ܕܕܡܢܘܣ‬. Who or what is meant thereby, remains obscure. Against the views advanced by Bardaiṣan in this work, CH, LI, 13; Pr. Ref. II, p. LXXVII (transl.), p. 165 (Syr. text). CH, XXII, 3. 118 CH, XXIII, 5; CH, LVI, 1, 2. 119 CH, I, 17; cf. E. Benz, ‘Die Heilige Höhle in der alten Christenheit und in der östlich-orthodoxen Kirche’, Eranos-Jahrb. XXII, 1953, SS. 365–432. 120 CH, I, 17. 121 CH, I, 18. 122 The BLC, too, betrays obvious acquaintances with astrological literature, int. al. the Book of the Chaldaeans. 123 CH, I, 14; CH, LVI, 9. 124 Al-Bîrûnî has preserved part of this discussion in his work on India: Alberuni’s India, ed. b. E. Sachau, London 1887, p. 27, L. 12ff.; Alberuni’s India, an English ed. b. E. Sachau, 2 Vols, London 1910, Vol. I, p. 54f. 125 CH, I, 14. 116 117



Ephrem wrote “Against Bardaiṣan’s Doninus.” The method of polemising is such, that it offers practically no possibility of learning anything of the contents of this work of Bardaiṣan.126 The work is directed against the Platonists, and particularly against the distinction of somata and asomata. Ephrem corrects this idea and says that this distinction is found in a work of Albinus “Of the incorporeal” (‫)ܥܠ ܐܠ ܓܘܫܡܐ‬.127 The Stoics, who do maintainthe distinction, are right in Ephrem’s opinion.128 As according to Albinus there is no fundamental difference between the philosophy of Plato, of Aristotle and of the Stoa, the debate here is rather concerned with names than with actualities. The only possible conclusion is, that according to Bardaiṣan the essence of things corresponds to their name:

‫ܗܟܢܐ ܕܝܢ ܛܥܐ ܐܦ ܒܫܡܗܐ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܘܣܒܪ ܕܐܝܟ ܫܡܗܝܗܝܢ ܗܟܢܐ‬ .‫ܐܦ ܟܝܢܗܝܢ‬ But so Bardaiṣan juggled even by names and supposed that the nature (of things) is like their names.129

Also concepts and immaterial things such as a line or a sound are bodies according to Bardaiṣan:

‫ܘܐܡܪ ܕܝܢ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܐܦ ܗܘ ܣܘܪܬܐ ܡܬܡܫܚ ܠܗ ܒܗܘ ܓܘܫܡܐ‬ .‫ܡܕܡ ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܒܗ‬ But Bardaiṣan has said that even a line is measured by that body, whatever it be, in which it is.130

Cf. Burkitt, Introductory Essay in Pr. Ref. II. Pr. Ref. II, p. III (transl.) p. 6:41–7:12 (Syr. transl.). For Albinus cf. G. Kafka – H. Eibl, Der Ausklang der antiken Philosophi und das Erwachen einer neuen Zeit, München 1928, S. 213–218; Pohlenz, Die Stoa, S. 358f. R. E. Witt, Albinus and the history of Middle Platonism, Cambr. Class. Studies VII, 1937. Albinus lived c. 150 A.D.; nothing further is known of the work names here, although the theme plays a great part in his philosophy, cf. J. H. Waszink, ‘Bemerkungen zum Einfluss des Platonismus im frühen Christentum’, VigChr., 19, 1965, pp. 139ff., n. 21. 128 Pr. Ref. II, p. XIII (transl.) p. 29:43–30:1 (Syr. text). 129 Pr. Ref. II, p. XXI (transl.) p. 48:48f. (Syr. text). 130 Pr. Ref. I, p. IX (transl.) p. 20:45–21:2 (Syr. text). 126 127



̈ ̈ ‫ܕܐܡܪ ܥܠ‬ ‫ܣܛܘܝܩܐ ܕܐܡܪܘ‬ ‫ܣܘܟܐܠ ܕܡܫܬܡܥܝܢ ܐܠ ܕܝܢ ܛܥܘ‬ .‫ܕܒܪܥܝܢܐ ܡܬܪܓܫܝܢ‬ For he (Bardaiṣan) said concerning notions that they are audible. But the Stoics did not err, for they said that they (i.e. notions) are perceived by the mind.131

Thus it is clear that Bardaiṣan had some knowledge of the philosophy of his time, and opposed the Platonic distinction between somata and asomata. In this context it is notable that Sergius of Resh ‘Aina, in a writing about the categories of Aristotle, calls Bardaiṣan a Stoic, because he regards the qualities of bodies as bodies themselves.132 In content, this view of Sergius agrees with the opinions Ephrem attacks in Bardaiṣan. Sergius calls Bardaiṣan a Stoic, or says that he holds Stoic doctrines; Ephrem says the Stoics are right, against Bardaiṣan, in their view of concepts and qualities. In Bardaiṣan’s time, then, there were not clear distinctions between Platonists, Stoics, etc. and it is uncertain in how far Bardaiṣan was exactly informed regarding thevarious systems. That we must assume him to have been influenced by late classical philosophy, however, is beyond dispute. Along which historical lines and in what.form this knowledge reached him, we cannot say. Probably here were influences from several sides: many philosophers of that period were of Semitic, and particularly of Syrian origin, one of them being the above-mentioned Albinus, who was a contemporary of Bardaiṣan. The function of these philosophic elements in the whole of Bardaiṣan’s thought will be further examined below from a systematic point of view, when we shall attempt to give a slightly more exact outline of the philosophy of the “Aramaic Philosopher,” as Ephrem calls him.133

Pr. Ref. II, p. XIII (transl.) p. 29:43–30:1 (Syr. text). Cf. G. Furlani, ‘Sur le stoicism de Bardesane d’Edesse’, Archiv Orientálni, Vol. IX, 1937, p. 347–352; also in the Enciclopedia Italiana, VI, 1938, p. 167seq. (art. on Bardaiṣan by Furlani). Probably Sergius did not borrow from Ephrem. 133 Pr. Ref. II, p. CVI (transl.) p. 255:15–26 (Syr. text). 131 132



Ephrem explicitly states that Bardaiṣan composed 150 psalms or hymns, in imitation of David.134 Whether the number was exactly 150 may be doubted, but that Bardaiṣan composed hymns is incontestable. Ephrem himself communicates a few fragments of them, as we saw above, which bear a certain relation to Bardaiṣan’s teachings. Thus Ephrem introduces us to many aspects of Bardaiṣan, and is indeed the principal source of our knowledge of him. Almost all the ideas of Bardaiṣan that Ephrem attacks in his polemic also appear in other sources, the BLC, the tradition of the cosmology and Bardaiṣan’s biography. This affords a firm basis for reconstructing the edifice of Bardaiṣan’s studied reflection upon man and the world, marked as it is by the religious and spiritual climate of the Edessa of those days. This climate was syncretistic and eclectic, so constituting an acute peril for the orthodoxy of Ephrem, who will admit of no synthesis. It is synthesis which characterises Bardaiṣan, because in him many religious and cultural trends meet to form a higher unity. Ephrem sharply recognised this character of synthesis, and that is why his polemic against Bardaiṣan was a fight on many fronts, that are united in Bardaiṣan himself.

134 CH, LIII, 6; cf. Beck’s commentary. All works dealing with Bardaiṣan give this information, and also that Ephrem learnt from him to compose hymns and set them to music. Cf. for a general orientation: I. H. Dalmais, ‘L’apport des églises syriennes à l’hymnographie chrétienne’, L’Orient Syrien II, 1957, pp. 243–260. J. Puyade, ‘Composition interne de l’office syrien’, L’Orient Syrien II, 1957, p. 92, gives a gnostic hymn of Bardaiṣan, transmitted by Ephrem, about the hard lot of the soul in matter, and its redemption by Jesus. This may be a Bardesanite conception, but Puyade does not state which hymn it is, where it is to be found, or whether the authorship of Bardaiṣan is certain.

CHAPTER 5: THE OTHER TRADITIONS REGARDING BARDAIṢAN AND THE BARDESANITES Besides the Syriac tradition, represented by the BLC, the reports of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology and the polemic of Ephrem Syrus against Bardaiṣan, there are numerous other items of information regarding him and his followers. We have seen so far that the Syriac traditions agree together in so many points, that these afford a firm foundation for a correct understanding of Bardaiṣan’s views. This does not imply, however, that the other traditions are worthless, or give a deliberate misrepresentation. All will require to be judged upon their own merits, their origin will, if possible, have to be determined and the overall picture will need to be modified where the traits they present make this desirable. It will be best to arrange the information according to language, and we then have three groups, the Greek, Syriac and Arabic. The Latin fathers borrowed mainly from the Greek, and have no separate tradition. The remaining Syriac notices form a group apart, while the Arabic authors borrowed from Syriac sources, which may have been translated into Arabic, and which can no longer be traced. Naturally this classification is not absolute: the traditions interweave here and there and Syriac authors have also used Greek sources, and vice versa. Each case must be examined individually. The Armenian tradition is peculiar to itself and raises questions of its own. Is it entirely apocryphal or does it derive from Syriac sources or Greek ones? These questions will be considered in due place. Finally it will have to be determined whether any of the works that in the course of research have been put to Bardaiṣan’s name: the Odes of Solomon, the Acts of Thomas, the Hymns in those 185



Acts and so on, have been rightly ascribed to him, so that they come into consideration as sources. The whole of the tradition will then have been examined, ordered, and interpreted afresh, so that it will then perhaps be possible to say a little more about Bardaiṣan and his doctrine than could be done up to the present.

A. THE GREEK TRADITION The only one of the Fathers writing in Greek, who met Bardaiṣan personally was Sextus Julius Africanus (died after 240). Born in Jerusalem, he accompanied Septimius Severus to Edessa in 195, where he admired Bardaiṣan’s skill in archery at the court of king Abgar VIII, as he relates in his Kestoi. 1 According to Julius Africanus Bardaiṣan the Parthian was a most accomplished archer, who could outline a man’s portrait with arrows on his shield; the “sitter” hid behind the shield while this “agreeable and innocuous amusement” proceeded.2 That is all Sextus Julius Africanus has to tell us about Bardaiṣan. At any rate, this shows that Bardaiṣan was at the court of Edessa, where the Parthian art of archer was held in great honour, as indeed other influences of Parthian culture may be traced in Edessa.3 Julius Africanus calls Bardaiṣan a Parthian; whether he means this as a statement regarding his ethnic descent or regarding the level of society to which he belonged, is not clear. The Parthians ruled in Edessa for a long time, and undoubtedly set their seal upon society, at least upon the upper classes. The statement of Julius Africanus need not be inaccurate, though, for there are other data to suggest Bardaiṣan was not of Edessa, but came from the East. Cf. J. Quasten, Patrology II, pp. 137–140. Text in M. Thevenot, Veterum Mathematicorum Opera, Paris 1693, p. 300seq. Hilgenfeld, Bardesanes, S. 14, Anm. 6 gives the text with a number of emendations; so also Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 30, Anm 11; cf. Migne, PG X, 45. 3 Edessa is often called the ‘Parthian’ or the ‘Daughter of the Parthians’: cf. Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents, p. 41, 94, 106. For Parthian influences in Edessa cf. Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parthischer Zeit, SS. 6–24. 1 2



In the chronological order followed here, the next author is Hippolytus (ob.235), who spent the greater part of his life in Rome, but whose origin lay in the Grecian East. In the so-called Philosophoumena he combats all the heresies of his time and attempts to show that they do not follow Christ and the Scriptures, but go back to pagan philosophy, mysteries and astrology.4 It is precisely this work which demonstrates that the sources of systematic polemising against heretics lie in Rome. On the one hand Hippolytus follows an independent course here, supported by sources of his own, on the other he has taken much from Irenaeus.5 Hippolytus mentions Axionicus and Ardesianes as representatives of the Eastern School of the Valentinians; the second of these two undoubtedly masks Bardaiṣan. They maintain: “that the body of the Saviour was pneumatic; for the Holy Ghost came to Mary, that is Sophia, and the power of the Highest, creative power, that a complete form might be given to that which was given to Mary by the Holy Ghost.”6 Thus Hippolytus is the first to call Bardaiṣan a Valentinian. Probably it was the situation in Rome which determined his outlook in this, for there Valentinianism was a real danger, so that the heretical name of Valentinian was thought to fit men of many different views; possibly this is also due to Irenaeus. We see, then, that Hippolytus ascribed a docetic Christology to Bardaiṣan, in agreement with Ephrem and many other authors. 7 The matter of Bardaiṣan’s Valentinianism may be left in abeyance for the present, as Eusebius, Epiphanius and authors who derived from them, also relate something of the kind. Moreover, Hippolytus knows of the pen polemics between Bardaiṣan and the Marchantes, as he introduces a certain Prepon, an Assyrian, who wrote against (B)Ardesianes the Armenian. Unlike Marcion, Prepon does not start from two principles, good and evil, but from three. The third is justice, which is midway between good and evil.8 Hippolytus Cf. B. Altaner, Patrologie6, Freiburg/Basel/Wien 1963 S. 144ff. Cf. Quasten, Patrology II, p. 166ff. 6 Philosophoumena (Refutatio) VI, 35, ed. P. Wendland GCS 26, Leipzig 4 5



Cyrus. 8

Cf. chapter IV; so also Philoxenos of Mabbug and Theodoretus of Philosophoumena VII, 31.



opines that Prepon does not succeed by these means in escaping from the tenets of Empedocles, which he considers to be at the basis of Marcionism. Thus Prepon wished to mitigate drastic dualism; was his intention conciliatory towards objections on the part of Bardaiṣan? Bardaiṣan’s objections were certainly directed against the Marcionite conception of two gods, an evil demiurge and an unknown God of love, into which he lets creation and redemption fall apart. Hippolytus calls Bardaiṣan an Armenian. Is this a reference to a relationship existing between Bardaiṣan and Armenia, as Armenian historians wish us to believe? Armenia was ruled by a royal house of Parthian origin, so that there need be no pronounced contrast between the indication “Parthian” and “Armenian.”9 That Prepon is called an Assyrian is not strange either; at this time the terms “Syrian” and “Assyrian” were altogether identical.10 Thus Hippolytus, who was the first to point to Valentinian elements in Bardaiṣan’s Christology, and has a completely isolated report regarding the relations between Bardaiṣan and the Marcionites. The origin of Hippolytus’ information cannot be traced, but we need not doubt it is correct, apart from terming him a Valentinian, which is a Roman qualification. Eusebius of Caesarea (ob.339) speaks of Bardaiṣan in his history of the church, the last recension of which was finished soon after 324, and in the Praep. Evang., which he wrote from 312 to 322.11 His information was already fully discussed in treating of the BLC. Eusebius says the following of Bardaiṣan: Ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς αὐτῆς βασιλείας πληθυουσῶν τῶν αἱρέσεων ἐπὶ τῆς Μέσης τῶν ποταμῶν. Βαρδησάνης, ἱκανώτατός τις ἀνὴρ ἔν τε τῇ Σύρων φωνῇ διαλεκτικώτατος, πρὸς τοὺς κατὰ Μαρκίωνα καὶ τινας ἑτέρους διαφόρων προισταμένους δογμάτων διαλόγους συστησάμενος τῇ οἰκείᾳ παρέδωκεν γλώττῃ τε καὶ γραφῇ μετὰ καὶ πλείστων ἑτέρων αὐτοῦ συγγραμμάτων, οὓς οἱ γνώριμοι (πλεῖστοι δὲ ἧσαν αὐτῷ δυνατῶς τῷ λόγῳ παρισταμένῳ) ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλήνων ἀπὸ τῆς Σύρων Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung, S. 46ff. Cf. Cumont, Astrology and religion, p. 77. 11 Quasten, Patrology III, pp. 314–317; pp. 329f. 9




μεταβεβλήκασι φωνῆς. Ἐν οἷς ἐστιν καὶ ὁ πρὸς Ἀντωνῖνον ἱκανώτατος αὐτοῦ περὶ εἱμαρμένης διάλογος ὅσα τε ἄλλα φασὶν αὐτὸν προφάσει τοῦ τότε διωγμοῦ συγγράψαι. Ἧν δ᾿ οὗτος πρότερον τῆς κατὰ Οὐαλεντῖνον σχολῆς, καταγνοὺς δὲ ταύτης πλεῖστά τε τῆς κατὰ τοῦτον μυθοποιίας ἀπελέγξας, ἐδόκει μέν πῶς αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἐπὶ τὴν ὀρθοτέραν γνώμην μετατεθεῖσθαι, οὐ μὴν καὶ παντελῶς γε ἀπερρύψατο τὸν τῆς παλαιᾶς αἱρέσεως ῥύπον. During that same reign (i.e. of Marcus Aurelius) while the heresies in Mesopotamia greatly increased in number, Bardaiṣan, a most capable man and also well versed in Syriac, wrote dialogues against the followers of Marcion and some other advocates of dissident doctrines, which he put forth in his own language and writing, as also very many other writings of his. These (se. dialogues) his pupils — he had a great many, as he was very eloquent — translated out of Syriac into Greek. Among these there is also his most excellent dialogue on Fate against Antoninus (or: with Antoninus) and what else he is said to have written in connection with the persecution then taking place. He at first adhered to the teaching of Valentinus, but when he had condemned this doctrine through having refuted most of his inventions, he seemed to have been converted to the more orthodox opinion, although he did not entirely wash off the dirt of his former heresy.12

Thus Eusebius also speaks of dialogues against the Marcionites, that were translated into Greek. Besides this, he states that Bardaiṣan was at first a Valentinian, but afterwards turned away from that doctrine. This means then, that according to Eusebius there was nothing at all of Valentinianism to be observed in Bardaiṣan’s H.E. IV, 30, ed. E. Schwartz, GCS 91, Leipzig 1903. The Syriac text ed. W. Wright and W. MacLean, The ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, Cambridge 1898, has only trifling differences; Edessa is mentioned by name, and Bardaiṣan’s time of action is placed in the region of Antoninus Verus. This shows there was much uncertainty as to the exact dates of Bardaiṣan’s life, as the H.E. of Eusebius was translated into Syriac at a very early date, cf. P. Keseling, ‘Die Chronik des Eusebius in der syrischen Überlieferung’, OC, 3e série Bd. 1, 1926, SS. 23–48; 223–241, esp. S. 26ff. 12



views as far as he knew them. Later Epiphanius was to state exactly the reverse, that Bardaiṣan had first been orthodox, but afterwards became a Valentinian. All Bardaiṣan’s dialogues against Marcion are lost, at least in their original form. We find some remains of them in the Vita of Aberkios, who was a great adversary of the Marcionites in the East. Part of the discussion between Aberkios and Euxeinianos is borrowed from the BLC, which shows the artificial character of that work. In the same Vita Bardaiṣan is mentioned with great respect. During his great journey through the East, Aberkios crosses the Euphrates, visits Nisibis and other churches in Mesopotamia, where he is active against the heresy of Marcion, and then sees a delegation of Christians arriving with at their head “Bardaiṣan, distinguished from all others by his descent and wealth” (Βαρχασάνης ὃς καὶ γένει καὶ πλούτῳ διέφερεν πάντων). Aberkios will not accept a money present, and Bardaiṣan then proposes to give him the title of ἰσαπόστολος, as nobody has undertaken such distant travels to save his brethren. 13 All accept this proposal, and so Aberkios receives and keeps a title that was afterwards reserved for Constantine the Great. There would seem to be no reason to doubt the historicity of this passage in the Vita of Aberkios. Bardaiṣan’s high social position is correctly represented, the geographical indication of the place of meeting corresponds with Bardaiṣan’s dwellingplace, and Bardaiṣan’s appreciation of this antagonist of the Marcionites agrees with his own feelings towards this group. Harnack made the suggestion, that Bardaiṣan’s dialogues against the Marcionites were used in the Dialogue of Adamantius, De Recta Fide in Deum.14 In the first part the speaker is an adherent of the doctrine of three principles, in the second an advocate of the doctrine of two principles, while there are typical differences between the two parts. This could correspond with what Hippolytus says of a polemic between Bardaiṣan and Prepon, an adherent of the doctrine of three principles. The so-called Dialogue of AdaCf. Th. Nissen, ‘Die Petrusakten u. ein bardesanitischer Dialog in der Aberkiosvita’, ZNW 9, 1908, S. 326; H. Grégoire, ‘Bardesane et S. Abercius’, Byzantion T. 25–27, 1955–1957, p. 363–368. 14 A. Harnack, Marcion, S. 60*, S. 325*. 13



mantius, formerly ascribed to Origen, originated in Syria around 300; it polemises against Marcion, Bardaiṣan and Valentinus, who are represented by Megethius and Marcus, Marinus and Droserius.15 If the place and time of origin are right, this would mean that around 300 an anonymous, who was very poorly informed, wished to defend orthodoxy against heresies which were indeed manifest in Syria. Yet the characteristics are so general, that no conclusions can be drawn from them. The author’s intention was to defend orthodoxy, and not to give an accurate rendering of the opinions of his opponents. He takes his start from the familial” views of the heretics, and lets them develop these without any nuance. This shows that the author’s knowledge was second-hand. Therefore it seems highly improbable to me that he made use of dialogues of Bardaiṣan against Marcion to refute the Marcionites Megethius and Marcus. Then there would surely be some traces of Bardesanite views, especially in a second-rate author like this, and such is not the case. It is possible that he took the datum of three principles, as defended by Megethius (and Prepon) from Bardaiṣan, but his source may just as well have been Hippolytus or some completely unknown work. Moreover, while the work may have been written in Syria, all specific Syrian traits are lacking. The only reason for supposing it to have originated there, is the presence of the Bardesanite Marinus, as one cannot imagine there can have, been any need explicitly Lo refute the Bardesanites outside Syria. For a work of the kind of Adamantius’ dialogue, however, this is not a conclusive argument. Thus the place of origin is uncertain, the sources are also unknown, though certainly not dialogues of Bardaiṣan, while the author’s information is defective. The latter point, may he demonstrated from the theses of the Bardesanite Marinus. Against Adamantius, Marinus defends (a) that the devil was not created by God, (b) that Christ was not born of a woman and (c) that there is no bodily resurrection. In the discussion these three points are elaborated somewhat, without however any intrinsically new additions. Marinus explains the devil’s not being created by saving that he starts from two principles, a good and an evil one, light and darkness, which cannot mix with one another. Of Bar15

Quasten, Patrology II, p. 146f.



daiṣan’s so delicately adjusted conception of good and evil and the origin of the latter, there is no trace, in the mouth of Marinus, Bardaiṣan has become a “vulgar dualist.” So the author has a very incomplete and vague idea of Bardaiṣan’s view of good and evil, light and darkness, and this information is not first-hand. Rather is this part of Adamantius’ dialogue a purely literary production, embroidered upon a vague dualism Bardaiṣan was supposed to have believed in. According to Marinus, Christ was not born of Mary, but the Logos passed through Mary like “water through a pipe.” Therefore his passion was also in semblance. Here then we have a complete docetic Christology attributed to Bardaiṣan. This is also known from other sources, but the whole passage lacks every specifically Bardesanite trait, e.g. the active role of the Logos in the creation of the world, and the Logos as rcdeenter of the souls as described by Ephrem. The judgment given above regarding the passage on dualism may therefore be extended to cover this matter also. Maririus denies the resurrection of the flesh, which seems to imply that he does believe in the liberation of the soul, but the passage is so short that no conclusions can be drawn. For that matter, denial of the resurrection and doeetic Christology are a standing dish in all refutation of Bardesianism.16 We may conclude then, that the author of the dialogue De Recta Fide im Deum had very general and vague ideas of the heresies which Adamantius refutes with Biblical and dogmatic arguments. The information has been handed on too often to be used as a source, in view also of its very general character. After this excursus on Bardaiṣan as adversary of Marcion and on the dialogue of Adamantius, let us return to Eusebius. In the VIth book of the Praep. Evang. he makes a detailed attack on belief in Fate, and in this context he uses two passages from a Greek translation of a text which is practically identical with the BLC as we know it.17 He introduces these as follows: ὥρα καὶ τῶν ἐξ ἀστολογίας πρὸς τοὺς Χαλδαίζοντας τῶν τὴν κακότεχνον ταύτην γοητείαν ὡς ἐν μέρει μαθήματος Text in W. H. van de Sande Bakhuyzen, Der Dialog des Adamantius, GCS 8, Leipzig 1901, S. 114–136 (Liber Tertius). 17 Cf. chapter II. 16



ἐπαγγελομένων τοὺς λόγους ἐπισκέψασθαι· παραθήσομαι δὲ σοι καὶ τῶνδε τὰς ἀποδείξεις ἐξ ἀνδρὸς Σύρου μὲν τὸ γένος, ἐπ᾿ ἄκρον δὲ τῆς Χαλδαικῆς ἐπιστήμης ἐληλακότος. Βαρδησάνης ὄνομα τῷ ἀνδρί, ὃς ἐν τοῖς πρὸς τοὺς ἑταίρους διαλόγοις τάδε πη μνημονεύεται φάναι. But now it is also time to consider the arguments of the astrologers against the Chaldaeans, i.e. of those who present this pernicious imposture as a true study. And of this I shall give you proofs, borrowed from a man who is a Syrian by birth, and who attained to very great knowledge of the Chaldaean art. Bardaiṣan is the man’s name, who in his dialogues with his friends maintains the following, as we are told.18

Thus Eusebius speaks appreciatively of Bardaiṣan and extols his great knowledge of astrology. This last is in agreement with the BLC, Ephrem Syrus and a number of other, particularly Syriac sources. Bardaiṣan was not only interested in astrology, of which he knew so much, but also in ethnography. We get an idea of this from the BLC, although the description there of the laws and customs of the peoples is largely traditional material. Bardaiṣan was able to obtain personal knowledge of Indian customs and stories through contact with an Indian embassy to the emperor Elagabalus.19 He wrote a work about it which was used by Porphyrius in his book on the Styx, fragments of which were preserved by Stobaeus. Porphyrius also took some data from Bardaiṣan in his De abstinentia ab esu animalium. Stobaeus takes the following from Porphyrius: Ἰνδοὶ οἱ ἐπὶ τῆς βαδιλείας τῆς Ἀντωνῖνον, τοῦ ἐξ Ἐμισῶν ἐν τῇ Συρίᾳ (ἀφικομένου) Βαρδισανῃ τῷ ἐκ τῆς Μεσοποταμίας εἰς λόγους ἀφικόμενοι ἐξηγήσαντο, ὡς ὁ Βαρδισάνης ἀνέγραψεν, Praep. Evang. VI, 9, 32, ed. K. Mras, GCS, 43, 1, Berlin 1954. Cf. O. de Beauvoir Priaulx, ‘On the Indian Embassies to Rome from the reign of Claudius to the death of Justinian’, JRAS, XIX, 1862, pp. 274–298; J. Ryckmans, BiOr, XXI, 1964, p. 282, suggests that Damadamis, the head of the embassy, also appears in South-Arabian inscriptions as Dhrdh. 18 19


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA εἶναί τινα λίμνην ἔτι καὶ νῦν παρ᾿ Ἰνδοῖς δοκιμαστηρίου λεγομένην, εἰς ἣν, ἄν τις τῶν Ἰνδῶν αἰτιάν ἔχων τινὸς ἁμαρτίας ἀρνῆται (εἰσάγεται) κτλ. The Indians who came into conversation with Bardaiṣan of Mesopotamia in the reign of Antoninus, when he came from Emesa into Syria, related, as Bardaiṣan wrote, that even now there is still with them a lake which is called “Lake of ordeal,” into which every Indian is thrown who is guilty of a crime, but denies it…20

Porphyrius takes another story from Bardaiṣan also, which he purports to quote literally: Ἑκουσίων τοίνυν ἁμαρτημάτων δοκιμαστήριον Ἰνδοὺς τοῦτ᾿ ἔχειν τὸ ὕδωρ· ἀκουσίων δὲ ὁμοῦ καὶ ἑκουσίων καὶ ὅλως ὀρθοῦ βίου ἕτερον εἶναι, περὶ οὗ ὁ Βαρδισάνης τάδε γράφει· θήσω γὰρ τἀκείνου κατὰ λέξιν. As an ordeal for crimes voluntarily committed the Indians have this water. But both for involuntary and voluntary offences and also for a blameless way of life there is another ordeal, of which Bardaiṣan writes the following. I will quote him literally here:21

There follows a circumstantial story related to Bardaiṣan by the ambassadors, about a cave in a mountain in the centre of the earth. In this cave there is an immense androgynous statue: the right half is male, the: left female. The whole statue is covered with everything there is in the cosmos, sun, moon, seas, plants, living creatures and so on. This statue was given by god to his son for an exemplar when he created the world. Further within the cave it is dark and there is a door through which water flows. He who is pure can pass through this door unhindered, for then it opens wide. Behind the door they find a cool clear spring. Those whose

Ioannis Stobaei, Anthologium, rec. C. Wachsmuth et O. Hense, 5 Tom. Berlin 1884–1912, Tom. I, 56seqq. = Lib. I, III, 56; text also in FGH, III, C, Fr. 719. 21 Idem. 20



conscience is impure cannot go through, as the door closes so that they do not reach the spring. It is not the place here to discuss all the particulars of this story with its obvious cosmological traits. Both motives were borrowed from Porphyrius by Achilleus Tatios, an astrologer and novelist, in his romance Kleitophon and Leukippe; at the end of this story both ordeals are introduced, when Melite the seductress has to descend into the water of the Styx, and Leukippe enters into a cave of Pan, the doors of which open for a chaste woman. 22 The novel of Achilleus was written in the second half of the third century, while Porphyrius lived from c.232 to the beginning of the fourth century. Achilleus may therefore have used Porphyrius, but he may equally well have borrowed directly from the work of Bardaiṣan.23 The book about India was either written directly in Greek, if Bardaiṣan knew Greek as Epiphanius says he did, or it was speedily translated from Syriac into Greek, e.g. by Bardaiṣan’s pupils, as Eusebius tells us. Hieronymus (c.347–c.419) also names Bardaiṣan as the source of his story about the Indians, Adv. Jov. 2, 14: Bardesanes, vir Babylonius, in duo dogmata apud Indos gymnosophistas dividit: quorum alterum appellat Brachmanas; alterum Samanaeos: qui tantae continentiae sunt, ut vel pomis arborum juxta Gangen fluvium, vel publico orizae, vel farinae alantur cibo; et cum rex ad eos venerit, adorare illos solitus sit pacemque suae provinciae in illorum precibus arbitrari sitam.

22 Cf. F. Boll, ‘Zum griechischen Roman’, Philologus Bd. LXVI, 1907, SS. 1–15; O. Weinreich, ‘Gebet und Wunder’, in: Genethliakon Wilhelm Schmid. Tübinger Beitr. z. Altertumswiss. Heft V, Stuttgart 1929, S. 388ff.; S. 400ff.; K. Kerényi, Die Griechisch-Orientalische Romanliteratur in religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung, repr. Darmstadt 1962, S. 56, Anm. 50. For some comments cf. Reitzenstein-Schaeder, Studien zum antiken Synkretismus, S. 91ff. 23 Scholars disagree whether Achilleus borrowed directly from Bardaiṣan or via Porphyrius; cf. J. Kroll, Gott und Hölle, Studien der Bibliothek Warburg 20, Leipzig-Berlin 1932, S. 348, Anm. 3: ‘Sicheres lässt sich leider nicht feststellen’.


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA Bardaiṣan, the Babylonian, divides the gymnosophists of India into two groups: the one he calls Brahmans, the other Samanaeans. These live in such abstinence that they nourish themselves either with the fruit of the trees by the Ganges, or with rice, which grows naturally there, or with farinaceous foods. And when the king comes to them, he is accustomed to venerate them, and he believes that peace in his realm depends upon their prayers.24

Hieronymus, who spent a great part of his life in the East, probably saw the same work of Bardaiṣan as Porphyrius. There is nothing to show that it was through Porphyrius that he learnt of it. Hieronymus, De viris illustribus XXXIII, treating of Bardaiṣan, is taken from Eusebius H.E. IV, 30 with slight variations, i.a. Hieronymus lets Bardaiṣan dedicate the Dialogue on Fate not to Antoninus, but to Marcus Antonius.25 Hieronymus also praises Bardaiṣan’s keen intelligence, for: Nullus enim potest haeresim struere, nisi qui ardentis ingenii est et habet dona naturae, quae a Deo artifice sunt creata. Talis fuit Valentinus, talis Marcion, quos doctissimos legimus. Talis Bardesanes, cuius etiam philosophi admirantur ingenium. No man can found a sect but he who has a keen understanding and is possessed of natural gifts that God has shaped in artistry. Valentinus was such a man and Marcion, of whom we read

24 Hieronymus, Adv. Jov. 2, 14, Migne PL XXIII, col. 317. In this case too, one cannot tell whether Hieronymus borrowed directly from Bardaiṣan or via Porphyrius, De abstinentia ab esu animalium IV, 17, where Porphyrius also speaks of the Brahmans and Samanaeans. R. M. Grant, Miracle and natural law in graeco-roman and early Christian thought, Amsterdam 1952, p. 111f. and p. 173, assumes that Porphyrius was the source, in which he follows E. Bickel, Diatribe in Senesae philosophi fragmenta I, Leipzig 1915, pp. 133–141. Porphyrius expressly states that he has taken this information about India from Bardaiṣan, cf. Bickel, o.c., p. 150seq. 25 Here again it is evident that the figure of Antoninus is very doubtful; all the authors who borrowed from Eusebius and the Syriac translation of the H.E. name a different person.



that they were extremely learned. Bardaiṣan too was such a man, whose intelligence is even admired by the philosophers.26

Which philosophers are referred to here is not known, perhaps Porphyrius? In discussing the BLC and its literary and historical problems, the writing of Diodorus of Tarsus (died before 394), Περὶ Εἱμαρμένης, was already mentioned. It is evident from this that Diodorus had a writing before him which was practically identical with the BLC, so that with Eusebius and the author of the PseudoClementines he is a witness to the fact that the BLC was a wellknown work. The same applies to Epiphanius of Salamis (c.315–403) when he speaks of Bardaiṣan in the Panarion, 56: Τούτοις κατεξῆς συνέπεται Βαρδησιάνης τὶς οὕτω καλούμενος. Ὁ δὲ Βαρδησιάνης οὗτος, ἐξ οὗπερ ἡ αἵρεσις τῶν Βαρδησιανιστῶν γεγένηται, ἐκ Μεσοποταμίας μὲν τὸ γένος ἦν, τῶν κατὰ τὴν Ἐδεσσηνῶν πόλιν κατοικούντων, ὃς τὰ μὲν πρῶτα ἄριστός τις ἀνὴρ ἐτύγχανε, λόγους δὲ οὐκ ὀλίγους συνεγράψατο. ὁπηνίκα ἐρρωμένην εἶχε τῆν διάνοιαν, ἐκ γὰρ τῆς ἁγίας τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκκλησίας ὡρμᾶτο, λόγιος τις ὢν ἐν ταῖς δυσὶ γλώσσαις. Ἑδεσσηνῶν δυνάστῃ, ἀνδρὶ ὁσιοτάτῳ καὶ λογιωτάτῳ, ἐξοικειούμενος τὰ πρῶτα καὶ συμπράττων, ἅμα τε καὶ τῆς αὐτοῦ μετασχὼν παιδείας, διήρκεσε μὲν μετὰ τὴν ἐκείνου τελευτὴν ἄχρι τῶν χρόνων Ἀντωνίνου Καίσαρος, (οὐ τοῦ Εὐσεβοῦς καλουμένου, ἀλλὰ τοῦ Ουήρου). ὃς πολλὰ Ἀβειδὰν τὸν ἀστονόμον κατὰ εἰμαρμένης λέγων συνελογίσατο καὶ ἄλλα δὲ κατὰ τὴν εὐσεβῆ πίστιν ἐμφέρεται αὐτοῦ συντάγματα. Ἀπολλωνίῳ δὲ τῷ τοῦ Ἀντωνίνου ἑταίρῳ ἀντῆρε, παραιτούμενος ἀρνήσασθαι τὸ χριστιανὸν ἑαυτὸν λέγειν. ὁ δὲ σχεδὸν ἐν τάξει ὁμολογίας κατέστη λόγους τε συνετοὺς ἀπεκρίνατο ὑπὲρ εὐσεβείας ἀνδρείως ἀπλογούμενος, θάνατον μὴ δεδιέναι φήσας, ὃν ἀνάγκῃ ἔσεσθαι, κἄν τε τῷ βασιλεῖ μὴ ἀντειποι. καὶ οὔτως ὁ ἀνὴρ τὰ πάντα μεγάλως ἦν Hieronymus, Commentary on Hosea 10:1, Lib. II, 10, Migne, PL XXV, col. 902. 26


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA κεκοσμημένος, ἓως ὅτε τῷ ἀστοχήματι τῆς ἑαυτοῦ αἱρέσεως περιέπεσε, δίκην νηὸς γεγονὼς καλλίστης φόρτον τε ἀσυνείκασης τὲ τὴν ἅπασαν πραγματείαν καὶ ἑτέροις τοῖς ἐπιβάταις θάνατον ἐμποιησάσης. προσφθείρεται γὰρ οὗτος Οὐαλεντίνοις καὶ ἐκ τῆς αὐτῶν μοχθηρίας ἀνιμᾶται τὸ δηλητήριον τοῦτο καὶ ζιζανιῶδες, πολλὰς τε καὶ αὐτὸς ἀρχὰς καὶ προβολὰς εἰσηγησάμενος καὶ τὴν τῶν νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν ἀρνησάμενος ἐδογμάτισε ταύτην τὴν αἵρεσιν. χρῆται δὲ νόμῳ καὶ προφήταις, παλαιᾷ τε καὶ νέᾳ διαθήκῃ, καὶ ἀποκρύφοις τισὶν ὡσαύτως. Following them, there comes someone called Bardasianes. This Bardesianes, from whom the heresy of the Bardesanites originated, came from Mesopotamia and was one of the inhabitants of Edessa. At first he was a most excellent man, who wrote numerous treatises while he was still possessed of healthy views. For he came of the Holy Church of God. He spoke two languages, Greek and Syriac. First he was a friend of Abgar, the rider of the Edessenes, a very pious and sensible, man, and worked together with him, as he had also been brought up with him. After Abgar’s death, he lived on until the time of emperor Antoninus (not the one called Pius, but Verus). In a conversation he had with Awida the astronomer about Fate, he adduced many arguments against it, and other writings by him about our sacred faith are also named. He made a stand against Apollonius, the friend of Antoninus, when it was desired of him not to call himself a Christian. He almost became one of the “confessores” and gave intelligent answers, courageously defending the faith. He said he did not fear death, which would necessarily come upon him, also if he did not resist the emperor. And so this man was highly gifted in all fields, until he fell into the error of his own heresy. He maintained the semblance of a fair ship with an incomparable cargo, that by shattering itself on the banks of the harbour destroyed its whole commercial object, besides causing the death of all those aboard it. For he was led to his undoing by the Valentinians, and from their depravity he got that injurious element and those weeds. He too introduced many principles



and emanations, denied the resurrection of the dead and built up the system of that heresy. He makes use of the Law and the Prophets, the Old and New Testament, and also of some of the apocrypha. He also will be refuted etc.

Epiphanius of Salamis knew many languages, including Syriac, and is generally well informed as to conditions in the East. 27 That Bardaiṣan was brought up with king Abgar of Edessa is in agreement with the report of Julius Africanus that he attended the court, and with the whole impression we are given of his social status. Moreover Epiphanius proves to be acquainted with the BEC. Hence we may conclude that the report of a persecution under Antoninus is probably correct. In that case Antoninus is the emperor Caracalla, who subjugated Edessa in 216 and carried king Abgar IX a prisoner to Rome. Who his companion Apollonius was, remains uncertain.28 Probably Bardaiṣan left Edessa about this time and went to Armenia, at least if the Armenian reports are truthful. Epiphanius has not much to say of Bardaiṣan’s heresies, any more than the other Greek Fathers. He speaks vaguely of principles and emanations, and says that Bardaiṣan founded a heresy of his own under the influence of the Valentinians. Strictly speaking, therefore, Epiphanius does not say that Bardaiṣan was a Valentinian himself, while he even states that Bardaiṣan built up a system of his own. It is important that Epiphanius speaks of the Bible of Bardaiṣan, which consisted both of the Old and the New Testament, Ephrem already acquainted us with special forms of Biblical exegesis.29 Other heretical catalogues also speak of Bardaiṣan without adding much that is new to his image. The notice of Augustine, De Haeresibus c.35, is merely an abridgement taken from Epiphanius.30 Augustine’s De Haeresibus is the source of most of the notices in the so-called Praedestinati Liber Primus, qui est de haeresi-

Epiphanius, Panarion 56, ed. K. Holl, GCS31, Leipzig 1922. Cf. Duval, Histoire etc. d’Édesse, p. 67. 29 Cf. chapter IV. 30 De Haeresibus c.35, ed. L. G. Müller, The De Haeresibus of Saint Augustine, transl. introd. and comment. The Cath. Un. of America, Patr. Studies Vol. XC, Washington 1956. 27 28



bus.31 The Praedestinati Liber, a rather puzzling work, was written between 432 and 440; the order of the heresies is identical with that in Augustine: the Bardesanites are the thirty-fifth heresy, in agreement with c.35 of De Haeresibus. Yet there were more sources available to the author of the Praedestinati Liber, as appears from his report of the Bardesanites: Tricesima quinta haeresis sunt Bardesanitae, a quodam Bardesane perversi.Qui Bardesanes dicitur perfectus fuisse catholicus, sed postea in id per Valentini discipulum incurrisse ut malam diceret carnis humanae creaturam, animae bonam. Hunc in Cappadocia damnavit Theocritus episcopus, docens Deum bonum utraque fecisse, utraque copulasse et carnis humanae non naturam sed praevaricationem esse culpandam. The thirty-fifth heresy is that of the Bardesanites, who were led astray by a certain Bardaiṣan. This Bardaiṣan was, they say, a pure Catholic believer, but later a pupil of Valentinus induced him to fall into the trap of maintaining that the body of man was created evil and his soul good. In Cappadocia bishop Theocritus condemned him, teaching that the good God had created them both and united them, and that not the nature of the human body is to be censured, but its wrong use.32

Of bishop Theocritus of Cappadocia nothing is known. The story about body and soul does in a way recall the report of Diodorus of Tarsus, but that is probably not its source, though it is not possible to determine whence it came. Roughly speaking, there is some truth in the story, but it is a very coarse rendering. On the other hand, the author may have disposed of Eastern sources, as Ephrem also accuses Bardaiṣan of separating body and soul and denying the resurrection of the former. But the author of the Praedestinati Liber does not mention the resurrection. Much remains unclear here. Sozomenus, a Byzantine historian from Palestine, wrote his Historia Ecclesiastica between 439 and 450, as a continuation of the work of Eusebius. Sozomenus did make use of Eastern sources, int. al. stories of Persian martyrs, besides the ecclesiastical Cf. Altaner, Patrologie, S. 407. Liber Praedestinati, c.35, ed. F. Oehler, Corpus Haeresiologicum, Tom. I, Berlin 1856. 31 32



history of Socrates.33 He also used a Vita of Ephrem Syrus, as appears from his story about Bardaiṣan and his son Harmonius:34 οὐκ ἀγνοῶ δε ὡς καὶ πάλαι ἐλλογιμώτατοι τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον παρὰ Ὀσροηνοῖς ἐγένοντο Βαρδησάνης τε, ὃς τὴν ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ καλουμένην αἱρέσιν συνεστήσατο, καὶ Ἁρμόνιος ὁ Βαρδησάνου παῖς, ὃν φασι διὰ τῶν παρ᾿ Ἑλλήσι λόγων ἀχθέντα πρῶτον μέτροις καὶ νόμοις μουσικοῖς τὴν πάτριον φωνὴν ὑπαγαγεῖν καὶ χοροῖς παραδοῦναι, καθάπερ καὶ νῦν πολλάκις οἱ Σύροι ψάλλουσιν, οὐ παντάπασιν ἐκτὸς ἦν τῆς πατρῷας αἱρέσεως καὶ ὧν περὶ ψυχῆς, γενέσεώς τε καὶ φθορᾶς σώματος καὶ παλιγγενεσίας οἱ παρ᾿᾿ Ἕλλησι φιλοσοφοῦντες δοξάζουσι, οἷά γε ὑπὸ λύραν ἃ συνεγράψατο συνθεις ταυτασὶ τὰς δόξας τοῖς οἰκείοις προσέμεξε συγγράμμασιν. ἰδὼν δὲ Ἐφραὶμ κηλουμένους τοὺς Σύρους τῷ κάλλει τῶν ὀνομάτων καὶ τῷ ῥυθμῷ τῆς μελῳδίας καὶ κατὰ τοῦτο προσεθιζομένους ὁμοίως αὐτῷ δοξάζειν, καίπερ Ἑλληνικῆς παιδείας ἄμοιρος. ἐπέστη τῇ καταλήψει τῶν Ἁρμονίου μέτρων. καὶ πρὸς τὰ μέλη τῶν ἐκείνου γραμμάτων ἑτέρας γραφὰς συναδούσας τοῖς ἐκκλησιαστιοῖς δόγμασι συνέθηκεν ὁποῖα αὐτῷ πεπόνηται ἐν θείοις ὕμνοις καὶ ἐγκωμίοις ἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν. ἐξ ἐκείνου τε Σύροι κατὰ τὸν νόμον τῆς Ἁρμονίου ᾠδης τὰ τοῦ Ἐφραὶμ ψαλλουσιν. I am very well aware that formerly also there were such very learned men among the inhabitants of Oshroene, such as Bardaiṣan, who raised up a heresy that bears his name, and Harmonius, the son of Bardaiṣan. They say that he, induced by the science practised by the Greeks, was the first to subject his mother tongue to measures and melodies and let (the verses) be sung by choirs. And even now the Syrians still often sing, not the texts of Harmonius, but his melodies. For as he was not entirely free of the heresy of his father, and touching the soul, the birth and death of the body and regeneration nourished opinions that he shared with the Greek philosophers, he Cf. Quasten, Patrology III, pp. 534–536. Cf. A. Vööbus, Literary critical and historical studies in Ephrem the Syrian, Stockholm 1958, p. 33. 33 34


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA embodied some of these views in the lyric poetry he made. Now when Ephrem saw that the Syrians were charmed by the beauty of the words and the rhythm of the melody, were accustomed to them and so held the same opinions as he, he applied himself to master the metres of Harmonius, although he had not had a Greek education. To the melodies of Harmonius he made other texts which agree with the doctrines of the Church, and he wrote sacred hymns and songs in praise of worthy men. Since then the Syrians sing the songs of Ephrem to the metre of Harmonius.35

Here, then, the personage of Harmonius, who is not mentioned in the Syriac tradition except by Michael Syrus, has largely taken over the part of his father. Ephrem imitated his hymns and not those of Bardaiṣan. Sozomenus had some knowledge of Ephrem’s life, perhaps he even used a Vita, but Ephrem does not name Harmonius in his works, though he does speak of a son of Bardaiṣan. Michael Syrus does know Harmonius, but Agapius of Mabbug in the earlier version of Bardaiṣan’s biography does not, any more than Bar Hebraeus, who has otherwise taken much from Michael Syrus or from associated texts. Thus Michael presumably took the name of Harmonius from the Vita of Ephrem, in which it appears, at least in the Parisian Acta.36 For the rest, these Acta voice some doubt regarding Harmonius, and the Vatican Acta do not mention him. Sprengling suggested that the Parisian Acta had borrowed this part from the work of Theodoretus of Cyrus, who in his turn had taken it from Sozomenus.37 We may therefore posit the conclusion, that Harmonius only appears in the work of Byzantine historians, from whom occasional Syriac texts have borrowed. That is not to say a son of Bardaiṣan may not have been called Harmonius, though this is not capable of proof.38 The Byzantine Sozomenus had a motive, 35 Sozomenus, H.E. III, 16, ed. J. Bidez, eingeleitet u. z. Druck besorgt v. G. Chr. Hansen, GCS 50, Berlin 1960. 36 On the various recensions of Ephrem’s vita cf. Vööbus, Literary critical and historical studies, p. 22ff. 37 Cf. Sprengling, ‘Antonius Rhetor on versification’, p. 201. 38 The name Harmonius in itself is already a little suspect for a composer of hymns. However, the name may be of Semitic origin and con-



though, to let this son play a certain part. Is it not an example of Byzantine chauvinism to arrange the relations between Bardaiṣan, Harmonius and Ephrem in such fashion, that Ephrem imitated the poetic art of Harmonius, which he had learnt from the Greeks? This safely establishes the Greek origin of Syrian hymnology, and that was Sozomenus’ aim. It would be truer to say the relation was reversed. The appearance of Harmonius in the Acta of Ephrem is no argument of weight against it, as the date to be given to these Acta is very late.39 The same applies to the chronicle of Michael Syrus, particularly as none of the associated texts have Harmonius. The existence of this son may remain a fact, though we know nothing further of him. His Greek education and decisive role in the development of Syrian hymnology becomes at best highly doubtful. It will not be possible, then, to employ Harmonius for the solution of difficulties found in Hymn 55 contra Haerases. The foundation of the report of Sozomcnus is too uncertain, and too strongly determined by Byzantine claims. Theodoretus of Cyrus (c.393–c.466) belongs to the same tradition as Sozomenus. In his H.E. IV, 29 he gives about the same account of Bardaiṣan, Harmonius and Ephrem as Sozomenus. Either he used the same sources, or he took most of his material from Sozomenus.40 For the part about Harmonius the latter possibility seems the most likely. The Haeretic. Fabul. Comp., written c.447, is also in the main a compilation of sources. In I, 22 he speaks of Bardaiṣan and Harmonius in a way that recalls Eusebius H.E. IV, 30 from which it is largely borrowed; yet Harmonius is brought in quite needlessly, for Theodoretus has not really anything to say about him: Φασὶ δὲ καὶ Ἁρμόνιον, τούτου παῖδα γενόμενον, ἐν Ἀθήναις τὴν Ἑλληνικὴν παιδευθῆναι φωνήν. Πολλὰ δὲ καὶ οὗτος συνέγραψε, τῇ Σύρων γλώττῃ χρησάμενος. nected with ’armôn – palace, cf. M. C. Astour, ‘Greek names in the semitic world and semitic names in the greek world’, JNES, Vol. XXIII, 1964, p. 199, and M. C. Astour, Hellenosemitica, Leiden 1965, p. 161f. 39 The earliest Ms containing the so-called Vatican Astc dates from 1100. 40 Cf. Quasten, Patrology III, p. 551.


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA His son Harmonius, they say, learnt the Greek language in Athens, but he also produced many writings for which he made use of the Syriac.41

The remark “they say” is eloquent here, while Theodoretus was well enough informed, considering his place of residence, to know that the son normally wrote Syriac. In his numerous letters Theodoretus constantly refers to a docetic Christology of Bardaiṣan, in which he would take up the same position as Simon Magus, Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion and Mani.42 A docetic Christology regularly appears in the tradition regarding Bardaiṣan, and need not be doubted. Whether Theodoretus had more than very general and vague notions of the matter is pretty doubtful. The last author to be considered in this sequence is Nicephorus Callistus (14th cent.), who is mentioned more for the sake of completeness than for his originality. His history of the church is a voluminous compilation from many predecessors. The notice about Bardaiṣan H.E. IV, 11 is taken from Eusebius H.E. IV, 30 while his story of Harmonius and Ephrem comes from Sozomenus H.E. III, 16.43 Thus we see that the tradition of the Greek fathers and historians regarding Bardaiṣan is of a very different nature, from the Syriac tradition. They know little of the content of his teaching and give no details of his heresy. It is in this tradition that he is first made out to be a heretic; Julius Africanus knows nothing of heretical teachings of Bardaiṣan, though that may be due to his own form of Christianity, but Hippolytus and Eusebius ascribe heretical teachings to Bardaiṣan, as do all the later fathers and historians, in which they are strongly dependent on one another. We are only interested in the question whether Bardaiṣan was linked with Valentinianism, or was himself a Valentinian. The Greek fathers are the only ones to say so, while Ephrem is completely silent on the Haeret. Fabul Comp. I, 22, Migne PG 83, col. 372. The following letters of Theodoretus mention this docetic Christology: Epist. CIV to Flavianus, Migne PG 83, col. 1298; Epist. CXXVI, col. 1337; Epist. CXLV, col. 1380; Epist. CLI, col. 1424. 43 Nicephorus Callistus, H.E., Migne PG, 145, Lib. IV, c.11, col. 1002. 41 42



point. They get no further, though, than vague indications such as “principles and emanations,” while Eusebius and all those who derive from him say, that Bardaiṣan was first a Valentinian and then founded a sect of his own, Epiphanius maintaining the reverse. Judging by the content, there is no sign of Valentinian doctrine in Bardaiṣan. Nowhere in the tradition is there mention of the pleroma, the fallen Sophia or other concepts characteristic of Valentinian gnosis.44 In agreement with Leisegang, Vööbuset al.we therefore assume that Bardaiṣan had nothing to do with Valentinianism and that many of his teachings are in flagrant contradiction with what we know of Valentinus.45 Indeed, it is quite a question 44 Cf. F. M. M. Sagnard, La Gnose Valentinienne et le témoignage de Saint Irénée, Paris 1947, passim. Even if we assume, with G. Quispel, that the Valentinian Gnosis had an earlier ‘Vorlage’, the conception of the ‘fallen Idea’ is found in it; cf. G. Quispel, ‘De oudste vorm van de gnostische mythe’, NTT, VIII, 1953/54, pp. 20–25. 45 On the basis of Hippolytus, Philosophoumena VI, 35, a number of authors regard Bardaiṣan as belonging to the eastern branch of the Valentinians; thus i.a. E. Buonaiuti, Lo Gnosticismo, Roma 1907; p. 167; Harnack, Geschichte der altchristl. Lit. I, S. 184ff.; Quasten, Patrology, I, p. 263f. W. v. Christ, Geschichte der Griechischen Litteratur6, Munchen 1924, S. 1265f.; P. Alfaric, Les écritures manichéennes I, Paris 1918, p. 36; Sagnard, La Gnose Valentinienne, p. 525, where he also discusses the differences between the eastern and the western school of the Valentinians. Cf. for this also O. Dibelius, ‘Studien zur Geschichte der Valentinianer I’, ZNW 9, 1908, S. 230ff. and R. P. Casey, ‘Two notes on Valentinian theology II’, The Eastern and Italian schools of Valentinianism’, HThR XXIII, 1930, pp. 291–298. Casey regards Bardaiṣan as a Valentinian ‘however little this may have influenced his later teaching’ (p. 294f.). One wonders what content the term of Valentinian then retains. Therefore E. de Faye, Gnostiques et Gnosticisme, Paris 1913, p. 475f.; H. Leisegang, Die Gnosis4, Stuttgart 1955, S. 297; A. Vööbus, History of Ascetism in the Syrian Orient I, GSCO Vol. 184, Subsidia T. 14, Leuven 1958, p. 60f. and Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 41, are of opinon that Bardaiṣan was not a Valentinian. Burkitt, Church and Gnosis, Cambridge 1932, p. 119f., G. Quispel, ‘Mandeeërs en Valentinianen’, NTT, VII 1952/53, p. 144–148, G. Quispel, ‘De oudste vorm van de gnostische mythe’, NTT, VIII, 1953/54, pp. 20–25, J. Doresse, Les livres secrets des gnostiques d’Egypte, p. 304, 353, call Bardaiṣan a gnostic, but not a Valentinian, which E. Peterson, ‘Urchristentum und Mandäismus’, ZNW 27, 1928,



whether Bardaiṣan was a gnostic, the answer being largely determined by the sense in which one understands gnosis.46 In the last chapter of the present work this problem will be more closely regarded. The intermediary role attributed to Bardaiṣan in the penetration of Valentinian ideas into the gnosis of the Mandaeans, as it was advanced by E. Peterson, is thus dissolved.47 There may be lines running from Bardaiṣan to the Mandaeans as we know them today, but then Valentinus has nothing to do with it.48 That Eusebius and Epiphanius called Bardaiṣan a Valentinian or said he had something to do with Valentinianism, stems from the fact that in the West (Hippolytus!) Valentinus was regarded as the arch-heretic, so that many heterodox ideas could be subsumed under the heading of Valentinianism. A similar lot afterwards fell to Mani, so that the accusation of Manichaeism was most efficacious and frequent, but in many cases also unfounded. The way Eusebius and Epiphanius speak of the relations between Bardaiṣan and Valentinianism already demonstrates a certain hesitation on their part as to whether Bardaiṣan were really a Valentinian. The reports of the Greek-writing fathers and historians are not invalidated hereby. It is with them that we find the earliest notices, and these make it clear that Bardaiṣan was only gradually made out to be a heretic; Julius Africanus, Eusebius, Hieronymus and Epiphanius speak of him with a certain respect and state that he combated various heretics, had a penetrating mind and did not fear martyrdom. Later generations no longer have a good word for S. 55–98, does call him. In the articles cited, Quispel opposes the views of Peterson. 46 Merely on the ground of the gnostic ‘Kunstsprache’, Jonas, Widengren et. al. regard many phenomena as gnostic, which from a functional point of view have no right to this qualification. There exists no generally accepted definition as to what exactly constitutes Gnosticism and gnosis; neither is there agreement as to the origins of Gnosis (Quispel: Jewish sources; Widengren: Iranian influences). In the conclusions a definition will be tried out which was framed by the Groningen working-group for the study of Gnosticism. 47 E. Peterson, ‘Urchristentum und Mandäismus’, ZNW 27, 1928. 48 This was defended by Quispel, ‘Mandeeërs en Valentinianen’, NTT, VII.



him, while they were the most ill-informed. The whole affords clear proof that he was turned into a heretic by a lengthy process, and that orthodoxy was a late arrival in Syria.49 The Syriac notices regarding Bardaiṣan that still remain after those already discussed, present the same appearance: sometimes he is spoken of with respect, and sometimes decried for a heretic. They contain far more information, however, and so complete the image of Bardaiṣan as we have traced it so far.

B. THE FURTHER SYRIAC TRADITION The rest of the Syriac tradition is far more varied in comparison with the Greek sources. Therefore it is not practicable to order this material chronologically, as then the connection existing between the various texts would not show up. The material will be arranged systematically as best it may, beginning with the notices of Bardaiṣan’s life. There follows information regarding his doctrine and finally the scant reports about the history of the Bardesanites. The question then also arises, whether later generations altered views set forth by Bardaiṣan, so that the later Bardesanites no longer had much in common with Bardaiṣan himself.50 In contrast with the Greek sources, which date Bardaiṣan’s life in the time of one of the Roman emperors, usually Antoninus, which entails some confusion as to which Antoninus is meant, 51 the Syriac chronicles give exact data as to Bardaiṣan’s date of birth. The so-called Chronicon Edessenum, which goes back to very ancient sources, gives an exact date for Bardaiṣan’s birth:

‫ܫܢܬ ܥܪܒܥܡܐܐ ܘܫܬܝܢ ܘܚܡܫ ܒܐܝܪܚܐ ܬܡܘܙ ܒܚܕܥܣܪ ܒܗ‬ .‫ܐܬܝܠܕ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬ Cf. for this W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten ChristenTübingen 1964, who pointed out this phenomenon and showed that both in Syria and Egypt the origins of Christianity were heterodox, using heterodox in the sense afterwards assigned to it by the church. 50 Ephrem already distinguished between doctrines of Bardaiṣan and those of his pupils. An important question in this connection is, how long the Bardesanites existed as a group. 51 Cf. the commentary of K. Holl on Epiphanius, Panarion 56, GCS 31. 49



BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA On the 11th of Tammuz of the year 465 Bardaiṣan was born.52

The year 465 of the Seleucidian era is the year 154 of ours.53 It is highly probable that Bardaiṣan was born in that year. The same year is given in the so-called Chronicon ad annum Domini 846 pertinens:

̇ ‫ܐܝܬܝܗ‬ ‫ܗܝܕܝܢ ܢܒܥ ܛܛܝܢܘܣ ܛܥܝܢܐ ܘܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܣܘܪܝ ܝܐ ܫܢܬ ܕܝܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܗܘܬ ܗܕܐ ܬܣܗ‬ .‫ܕܝܘܢܝܐ‬ Then Tatianus, the impostor, and Bardaiṣan, the Syrian, appeared on the scene; now this was the 465th year of the Greeks.54

In his Opus Chronologicum Elias of Nisibis gives the year 445 as Bardaiṣan’s year of birth: The year 445: in this year Bardaiṣan was born on the 11th of Tammuz.

Elias also states:

.‫ܫܢܬ ܐܪܒܥܡܐܐ ܘܬܡܢܐܝܢ ܘܚܡܫ‬ ̈ ‫ܩܢܘܢܐ‬ ‫ܕܫܢܝܐ ܕܐܘܣܒܝܣ‬ ̇ ‫ܒܗ ܐܒܥ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܗܪܣܝܣ‬ The year 485 (according to) the time-reckoning of Eusebius: in that year Bardaiṣan spread abroad (his) heresy.55

Elias of Nisibis nearly always mentions the sources of his chronological data, only not for Bardaiṣan’s year of birth.56 That is already 52 Chronicon Edessenum, ed. L. Hallier, Untersuchungen über die Edessenische Chronik mit dem Syrischen Text und einer Übersetzung, TU, IX, 1, Leipzig 1892, S. 147 (Syr. text), S. 90 (German transl.). 53 Cf. the tablets in J. Finegan, Handbook of biblical chronology, Princeton 1964, p. 134f. 54 Chronicon ad Annum Domini 846 pertinens, ed. E. W. Brooks, interpret. est I. B. Chabot, CSCO Script. Syri Tom. IV, 2, Paris 1904, p. 186 (textus), p. 143 (versio). 55 Eliae Metropolitae Nisibeni, Opus Chronologicum, CSCO Script. Syri Tom. VII, textum ed. E. W. Brooks, VIII, interpret. est I. B. Chabot, Paris 1909/10, Pars I, p. 86 (textus), p. 42 (versio), p. 88 (textus), p. 43 (versio).



a reason to distrust this date; moreover, it does not agree with the other data. The mistake may have occurred through the confusion of ‫ ܣ‬and ‫ܡ‬, which may easily happen, so that ‫ = ܬܣܗ‬465 becomes ‫ =ܬܡܗ‬445. The year 485 is certainly possible as a year in which Bardaiṣan made a certain name for himself, though we cannot build upon it too much. The so-called Chronicon Miscellaneum ad annum Domini 724 pertinens names a different year for this:

‫ܒܫܢܬ ܬܥܛ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܡܬܝܕܥ ܗܘܐ ܕܗܘ ܐܒܥ ܝܘܠܦܢܗ‬ .‫ܕܘܠܢܛܝܢܘܣ‬ In the year 479 Bardaiṣan gained a reputation, who spread the doctrine of Valentinus.57

The date given by the Chronicon Edessenum has so much more weight than all the others, that we shall keep to it. For the date of Bardaiṣan’s death we depend upon Agapius of Mabbug’s Kitâb al-‘Unwân, Michad Syrus’ Chronicon, and Bar Hebraeus. Agapius also gives the year 465 as that of Bardaiṣan’s birth, but does not say what year he died in, in contrast with Michael Syrus, who says Bardaiṣan was born in 475, and that he died after 68 years in 533.58 Clearly 475 is a mistake for 465, as the Chronicon Edessenum also has, for otherwise Bardaiṣan would not have died in 533 = 222, but in 543 = 232. Moreover, Bar Hebraeus also gives the year 533 = 222 for Bardaiṣan’s death at the age of Cf. Praefatio of Pars I of the Versio: ‘Ad unumquemque annum fonts paene ubique citantur’; cf. Th. J. Lamy, Elie de Nisibe, sa chronologie, Bull. d. l.Acad. Royal. d. Belg. T. XV, Brussel 1888. 57 Chronicon Miscellaneum ad annum Domini 724 pertinens, ed. E. W. Brooks, interpret. est I. B. Chabot, Chronica Minora, CSCO Script. Syri Tom. 4, 2. Paris 1904, p. 149 (textus), p. 115 (versio). For the reliability of all these chronicles cf. H. C. Puech, ‘Dates manichéennes dans les chroniques syriaques’, Mélanges R. Dussaud, Paris 1939, pp. 593–607, where Puech goes over the chronicles for the dates of Mani’s life, and indirectly touches upon the problems around the dates of Bardaiṣan. 58 I. B. Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Tom. I, Paris 1900, p. 109; Agapius, Kitâb al-‛Unwân, ed. A. Vasiliev, PO VII, Paris 1911, p. 518. F. Nai, Une biographie inédite, p. 5, uses a Karchuni Ms. which gives the year 455. Curiously enough, Nau says that this is the year 154 A.D. 56



68.59 Together with most of the scholars we will therefore assume that Bardaiṣan lived from 154 to 222, as the most reliable sources inform us. It must be remarked, though, that the date of death is far less certain than that of birth, particularly as we are poorly informed regarding Bardaiṣan’s fortunes in the last years of his life. A biography of Bardaiṣan we have in the Chronicon of Michael Syrus, almost identical with the notice of Agapius of Mabbug in the Kitâb al-‘Unwân. We still find large fragments of it in Bar Hebraeus. Greatly condensed, this biography runs as follows:60 Nuḥama and his wife Naḥširam fled away from Persia in the year of the Greeks 465 (= 154 A.D.) after a conspiracy had been discovered against the life of king Suluq (or: Sahruq) the son of king Narses (or: Narseh). They went to Edessa, but from fear of being discovered there also they left the town again. Nahsiram was pregnant, and on this journey she bore a son on the bank of the Daiṣan, calling him Bardaiṣan. Thereupon they went to Mabbug/Hierapolis, where they resided with a pagan priest, Anuduzbar (?), who taught Bardaiṣan the pagan doctrine. When the boy was grown up, the priest sent him to make purchases in Edessa and there Bardaiṣan happened to hear bishop Hystaspes preaching (according to Michad Syrus). This appealed to him, and he was initiated into the mysteries of the Christians, became a deacon and wrote against the heretics. Finally, however, he was talked over again by the pagans (according to Agapius) or became a follower of Valentinus (according to Michael). Agapius relates that he became an adherent of Arthusus (?), and then founded a sect in which no one else was his precursor. There follows an exposition of his doctrine, which with Michael takes up far more room than the description of his adventures before his heresy, while Agapius describes these adventures very fully and pays less attention to his doctrine. First comes the part about the seven elements, three spiritual and four material, 59 Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon ecclesiasticum, ed. J. B. Abbeloos – Th. Lamy, 2. Tom., Leuven 1872/77, Tom. I, col. 47. 60 Chronique de Michel le Syrien I, p. 109–111; Agapius, Kitâb al-‘Unwân, PO VII, p. 518–521; Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon ecclesiast. I, col. 45/47; Bar Hebraeus, Sur les Hérésies, ed. F. Nau, PO XIII, p. 255/256.



from which three hundred and sixty worlds (aeons?) originated, while man is also formed of them, his soul of the spiritual ones and his body of the material ones.61 Agapius then says that Bardaiṣan also holds to the existence of the Seven and the Twelve, and relates the components of the human body to the Seven: He maintains that the brains of man come from the Sun, his bones from Saturn, his veins from Mercury, his blood from Mars, his flesh from Jupiter, his hair from Venus and his skin from the Moon.62

With Michael Syrus this passage is incomplete owing to corruption of the text. Before this damaged passage, Michael gives a few opinions of Bardaiṣan not found in Agapius:

̈ ̈ ‫ܘܗܘ ܠܡ ܕܡܠܠ ܥܡ ܡܘܫܐ ܘܥܡ‬ ‫ܢܒܝܐ ܪܝܫ ܡܐܠܟܐ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ‬ ‫ܘܠܘ ܠܐܗܐ ܘܡܪܢ ܠܡ ܓܘܫܡܐ ܕܡܐܠܟܐ ܠܒܝܫ ܗܘܐ ܘܡܪܝܡ‬ ‫ܠܡ ܢܦܫܐ ̈ ܢܗܝܪܬܐ ܠܒܫܬ ܕܢܣܩܬ ܐܣܟܡܐ ܘܦܓܪܐ ܘܫܠ ̈ܝܛܐ‬ ̈ ‫ܠܒܪܢܫܐ ܘܥܠܝܐ ܝܗܒܘ ܠܗ ܢܦܫܐ ܘܬܚܬܝ ̈ ܐ‬ .‫ܗܕܡܐ ܕܦܓܪܐ‬

he who spoke with Moses and the prophets was an archangel and not God himself. Our Lord was clothed with the body of an angel, and Mary clothed a soul from the world of light, who enveloped himself in the shape of a body. The “Rulers” (have shaped) man: (or: as regards the relation of the “Rulers” to man) the superior gave him his soul and the inferior his limbs. (There follows the damaged passage.)

After this, both Agapius and Michael Syrus speak of the Sun and Moon, to which the Father and Mother of Life are compared. Every thirty days the Mother of Life goes to the Father, has communion with him and bears seven sons, making eighty-four in a year.

61 It was already evident from Ephrem Syrus that we have to do here with later developments. 62 A comparison of the text of Agapius and the text published by Nau in his Biographie inédite with the edition of Chabot already shows, that the text of the chronicon was very faultily transmitted. Many passages have puzzling cruces, and gaps abound.



Michael also places the life of Christ in an astrological context: Christ was born under the constellation Bel, crucified under Mars, buried under Mercury and arose under Bel. Thus the cycle is completed. This is lacking in Agapius. Both then speak of the denial of the resurrection, saying that according to Bardaiṣan sexual intercourse is an excellent form of purification and lessens the sin in woman. Finally Michael alone names the sons of Bardaiṣan, three in number, Abgarun, Hasdu and Harmonius, says that Aqi, the successor of bishop Hystaspes, put them under a ban and that Bardaiṣan died at the age of 68 (therefore in 222 A.D.). Bardaiṣan’s doctrine as communicated by Michael is also found in the Mnarat Kudšê of Bar Hebraeus.63 In the Chronicon ecclesiasticum he gives a much abridged biography which does not depart from that of Michael, and the same in the so-called Historia Dynastiarum.64 In the Chronicon Bar Hebraeus speaks of the “spirit of preservation” already discussed.65 This “spirit of preservation” takes the place of the seven sons the Mother of Life receives from the Father. It is immediately noticeable that many of these reports do not agree with what we have learnt of Bardaiṣan so far, or are only distantly related to it. Moreover, all these reports are of a late date compared with the time Bardaiṣan lived in, while earlier authors know nothing of much related by Agapius and Michael. The biography, if that word be appropriate here, bears the marks of an ecclesiastical legend, intended to bring a heretic into a particular relation with orthodoxy, in order that his heresy may be the more clearly evident. In the same way Mani is promoted to a deacon who then leaves the church. At the time of Bardaiṣan’s life there was no question of bishops in Edessa; this trait in the story belongs to the regular form of polemic, always based on the idea 63 This part of the Mnarat Kudshê has not yet been published, but in 1919 F. Nau gave an edition under the title Bar Hebraeus, Sur les Hérésies, PO XIII. 64 Ed. E. Pococke, Oxford 1663, p. 125 et 79; text also in Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 527. 65 Chronicon ecclesiast. I, col. 47.



that orthodoxy had the oldest rights. A pagan is converted, but his perversion shows even more clearly when he afterwards returns to paganism! It is possible that the mention of Mabbug/Hierapolis has some foundation in fact, because Bardaiṣan’s teachings do indeed form a continuation of existing Syrian conceptions. There can be no certitude here, however, it is the same with his descent, parents, and sons. It is possible that Bardaiṣan was the son of Persian parents, although Ephrem, e.g., says nothing of this. In that case his wickedness in the eyes of his opponents is transferred to his parents, who were rebels in their own country against a king of whom we know nothing. 66 Perhaps this legend originated in a period when the orthodox needed the support of the Sassanian authorities against the heretics. The argument that the heretic is a son of rebellious parents then has a certain weight.67 That this whole story belongs to ecclesiastical legend, becomes evident in Agapius when he says that Bardaiṣan originated a heresy in which he had not a single predecessor. All the connections Agapius has made before, are really cut by this remark. The names appearing inthe passage offer no hold at all. It is notable, that Nuḥama and Naḥširam are Semitic names, which does not make the connection with Persia any firmer; the same is the case with the names of the sons. Of the first two we know nothing, except that Abgarun has associations with Abgar, while Michael obviously took the third son Harmonius from the Vita of Ephrem or later recensions of it. Agapius does not speak of the sons at all, which does not increase the certainty of their existence either. We find, then, that the legendary vita of Bardaiṣan is so strongly determined by the requirements of polemic that we can do nothing with it as a source. It only shows that such a late period still felt the need to combat the Bardesanites. His views therefore remained effective for a long time. 66 Neither in A. Christensen, L’Iran sous les Sassanides, nor in R. N. Frye, The Heritage of Persia, is there a king Suhuq or Narses to be found. Moreover, the tradition of the names is poor. 67 Something of the same kind is found with Mani, cf. Puech, Le Manichéisme, p. 37.



As to the rendering of Bardaiṣan’s teachings, we have already seen from the work of Ephrem that the three spiritual potencies, spirit, force and thought, were developed among the later Bardesanites. This makes us rather cautions as to the rest, particularly as none of the conceptions we meet there are to be found in the BLC, the cosmological tradition or in Ephrem, except the Father and Mother of Life. There are elements in it reminiscent of the Audians, who had three hundred and sixty firmaments. 68 The three ̈ hundred and sixty worlds or aeons (‫ )ܥܠܡܐ‬mentioned by Agapius and Michael (Bar Hebraeus even has three hundred and sixty-six) correspond with this. Moreover the Audians had a Father and Mother of Life with numerous descendants, and seven planetarian Archons (Rulers), each having dominion over part of the human body. These Seven are also children of the Father and Mother of Life in the Audian system. These conceptions agree with that which is said here of the Bardesanites. 69 The sect of the Audians derives from Aud who founded this group in Edessa after the council of Nicea. Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus explicitly state that he adhered to teachings of the Bardesanites. 70 There were differences though, for the Audians rejected marriage and were enCf. RAC I, col. 910–915, art. Audianer (H. C. Puech). Theodore bar Khonai also, in his eleventh book of Scholia, states that Bardaiṣan believed in the existence of the three hundred worlds, male and female ones, sprung from the Father of the Universe, when discussing Bardaiṣan under the heading of Valentinus; cf. Pognon, Inscriptions Mandaïtes, p. 116 (text), p. 169 (transl.). it is usually assumed that Theodore took these data from the Anakephalaiosis of Epiphanius, but in that work this at any rate is not mentioned. Obviously the relations were more intricate. 69 Puech denies that in origin the Audians had something to do with the Bardesanites, but that they gradually became more and more heretical. Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus expressly state that Aud adhered to the doctrines of the Bardesanites; Puech thinks that the resemblences with the Sethians and Archontics are much greater, but it is to be questioned in how far clear lines of demarcation can be drawn between the various groups, and nowhere in the tradition is Aud brought into relation with these sects. 70 Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon eccles. I, p. 102, 16–18; Michael Syrus, Chronicon, I, p. 277sv. 68



cratists. This the Bardesanites decidedly were not according to Agapius, Michael and Bar Hebraeus. If Aud did indeed continue teachings of the Bardesanites, then Agapius, Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus give us a rendering of them that represents a later development. Ephrem already pointed out that later Bardesanites split up the “Word of Thought” into three spiritual potencies, which we meet with in the report of Agapius and Michael Syrus. Are the same Bardesanites responsible for the other conceptions we find with these authors? This would mean that in the fourth century, which Ephrem and Aud lived in, certain Bardesanites regarded the planets as children of the Father and Mother of Life, who had a large part in the creation of man. In that case there is a connection between the seven elements and the seven planets has an irregularity in Bardaiṣan’s system thus been smoothed out? The idea is all the more attractive, because we observed before that the power of the “Rulers” went back to the mingling of the elements, which entails a restriction of liberty for man and the world, a restriction embodied in the “Rulers.” Just how Bardaiṣan conceived this development is not clear. Perhaps we may have to do with ideas which existed side by side and were not made part of a system. Later generations carried out a systematisation, as appears from Agapius and Michael Syrus, but this also meant a profound alteration of Bardaiṣan’s original views, in which no creative power is assigned to the planets. It is also striking that the life of Christ is placed in an astrological setting. Summing all up, we conclude with every reserve that the report of Agapius, Michael Syrus and Bar Hebraeus refers to later ideas which developed out of the views of Bardaiṣan. The sect of the Audians, located especially in Edessa, is closely related to these later Bardesanites and probably borrowed a number of ideas from them.71

The Audians borrowed from other sects besides, int. al. from the Sethians and their work the Biblio Allogenesis; in so far Puech is right, but the resemblances with the Bardesanites are the most striking. Compare also Handbuch der Orientalistik III, 2, 3, Leiden 1954, S. 172, where Baum71



Within the Syriac tradition we also find a number of texts which point to great astrological interest on the part of the Bardesanites. The Ms. BM 14,658 gives a list of the names of the signs of the Zodiac as employed by the Bardesanites:

̈ ‫ ܬ̈ܪܝܢ‬.‫ ܬܘܪܐ‬.‫ܫܡ ̈ܗܐ ܕܡܠ ̈ܘܫܐ ܐܝܟ ܕܒܝܬ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܐܡܪܐ ܚܣܢ‬ .‫ ܨܠܡܐ ܪܒܐ‬.‫ ܥܩܪܒܐ‬.‫ ܩܢܫܠܡܐ‬.‫ ܫܒܠܬܐ‬.‫ ܐܪܝܐ‬.‫ ܣܪܛܢܐ‬.‫ܨܠܡܐ‬ .‫ ̈ܢܘܢܐ‬.‫ ܕܘܐܠ‬.‫ܓܕܝܐ‬

The names of the signs of the Zodiac according to the pupils of Bardaiṣan: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces.72

The same Syriac names were used by the Mandaeans.73 This need beno indication of borrowing; these names were known in the Mesopotamian countries and current with all groups who went in for astrology. Severus Sebokt (ob. 666/7), who was very well read in Greek philosophy and astronomy, has transmitted a passage dealing with the conjunction of the planets according to Bardaiṣan, who on that basis estimated the duration of the world at 6000 years. Georgios episkopos Arabum (ob. 724), a pupil of Jacob of Edessa, borrowed this from Severus.74 The bishop of the Arabs also wrote to the stylite Joḥannan of Litharb, telling him how the Bardesanites determine the Anaphorai of the signs of the Zodiac, from which the length of the days can be computed. The names are the same as

stark and Rücker also assume some relationship between Aud and the Bardesanites. 72 Text in J. P. N. Land, Anecdota Syriaca I, Leiden 1862, p. 31seq. Land includes a photograph of this part of the Ms: Tabula XI, sub numero 53; cf. Nöldeke, ZDMG 25, S. 256. 73 This was already formerly pointed out by A. Merx; cf. now: E. S. Drower, The Book of the Zodiac, Orient. Transl. Fund, XXXVI, London 1949, passim. 74 Cf. Nau, JA, 2ème série T. XVI, 1910, p. 209svv. The text was already published formerly by V. Ryssel, Georgs des Araberbischofs Gedichte und Briefe, Leipzig 1891, S. 48f. Cf. T. Jansma, L’Orient Syrien IV, 1959, p. 26 and p. 277.



those given in the Ms. BM 14,658.75 It is tempting to assume that Georgios took this also from Severus, or from his master Jacob of Edessa, who shared this interest. For Jacob of Edessa (c.633–708) addresses the twelfth letter to the same stylite, Joḥannan of Litharb, answering a question about the origin of various sects:

‫ܗܠܝܢ ܕܝܢ ܕܒܪܕܝܢܨ܆ ܐܠ ܗܘܐ ܣܕܩܐ ܡܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܡܢ ܩܕܡܘܗܝ‬ ‫ ܟܕ ܐܬܛܪܕ ܡܢ ܥܕܬܐ‬.‫ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܐܐܠ ܡܢܗ ܡܢ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܫܪܝܘ‬ ̈ ‫ܣܓܝܐܐ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܪܘܫܥܗ ܘܐܩܝܡܘ‬ ‫ܕܐ̈ܪܬܘܕܘܟܣܐ ܕܒܐܘܪܗܝ ܘܢܩܦܘܗܝ‬ ̈ ‫ ܘܐܬܩܪܝܘ ܕܝܨܢܝܐ ܥܠ‬.‫ܗܪܣܝܣ ܘܣܕܩܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܡܢܗܘܢ ܘܠܗܘܢ‬ .‫ܫܡ ܒܪܕܝܢܨ‬ The adherents of Bardaiṣan are not a sect deriving from one of his predecessors, but they have their origin in him, Bardaiṣan. When he was expelled from the community of the orthodox in Edessa, many adherents of his godless teachings followed him and formed a heresy and a sect from and for themselves. They are called Daiṣanites after Bardaiṣan.76

In this letter Jacob does mention Valentinus, Marcion, Quq et al., but he does not bring Bardaiṣan into relation with Valentinus, which he does do in the case of the other haeresiarchs. From another text of his it is also evident that Jacob of Edessa was well acquainted with Bardaiṣan’s position and opinions. In his Hexaemeron he lets a Ḥarranian argue with Vologes (or: Valages), an Edessene and Bardesanite, about the influence of astrological Fate upon events in the world, which the Harranian hotly defends. Vologes attacks the power of Fate. 77 These communications of Jacob of Edessa are in exact agreement with what we read in the BLC.

V. Ryssel, ‘Die astronomischen Briefe Georgs des Araberbischofs’, ZA VIII, 1893, S. 19f. Text also in Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 513. 76 Ed. W. Wright, ‘Two epistles of Mar Jacob, Bishop of Edessa’, Journ. Of Sacred Literature N. Series, Vol. 10, 1867, pp. 430–460, p. 27, L. 3– 7 (Syr. numbering); French translation by F. Nau, ROC, 10, 1905, pp. 197–208; 258–282; cf. A. Rücker, BKV, 61, S. 13f. Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 44, Anm. 41, mistakenly speaks of the 17th letter. 77 Jacob of Edessa, Hexaemeron (2nd Memra) ed. I. B. Chabot – A. Vaschalde, CSCO Ser. sec. T. LVI, Paris 1928, p. 61/62. The text of the 75



Severus Sebokt, referred to above, also has a very peculiar remark about Bardaiṣan’s opinion regarding the so-called “Isles of the Blest.” When explaining how geographical longitude and latitude is computed, Severus says that longitude is reckoned starting from the Isles of the Blest, which he in the Ocean in the extreme West, towards the East. He then continues:

‫ܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܕܝܢ ܣܘܪܝ ܝܐ ܘܗܠܝܢ ܕܠܗ ܢܩܦܘ ܓܙ̈ܪܬܐ ܠܡ ܕܒܝܬ‬ .‫ܛܘܒܝܗܘܢ‬ Now Bardaiṣan, the Syrian, and his adherents call these however Isles of Blisses.78

We are immediately reminded of Ephrem’s remark, that Bardaiṣan had his own view of Paradise. The conception of the Isles of the Blest is Greek, and for Bardaiṣan bliss consisted in the return of the soul to its origin.79 Did he alter the name for this reason? Then we have an example here of the removal of Paradise to heaven, in connection with the greater influence of astronomy and astrology.80 The above fragments testify to a strong astrological interest among the Bardesanites. This interest continued in later times, and probably even increased. A number of Syriac authors, with Philoxenos of Mabbug (c.450–c.522) at their head, explicitly state that Bardaiṣan’s Christology was docetic:

‫ܘܠܢܛܝܢܘܣ ܘܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܐܡܪܝܢ ܕܡܢ ܫܡܝܐ ܐܚܬ ܠܗ ܡܠܬܐ ܦܓܪܐ‬ .‫ܘܠܘ ܡܢ ܡܪܝܡ ܗܘܬ ܡܬܒܪܢܫܘܬܗ‬

Hexaemeron was published in part by J. Martin, JA, VIIIe Série T. XI, 1888, pp. 155–219; 401–490; the relevant passage is found on p. 411. 78 Text Nau, JA, 1910, p. 215. 79 Cf. chapter IV, and O. Braun, Mozes bar Kepha und sein Buch von der Seele, Freiburg 1891, S. 76; ‘Mani, Bardaiṣan, Marcion und andere mit ihnen sagen, die Seele sei von der Natur Gottes ode rein Stück seines Wesens’. 80 This shift was examined at length by F. Cumont, Lux Perpetua, Paris 1949. Cumont already drew attention to these shifts in 1912: Cumont, Astrology and Religion, p. 40 and passim.



Valentinus and Bardaiṣan aver, that the Logos caused a body to descend for it from heaven and that its incarnation did not take place through Mary.81

In an extensive treatise on the Trinity Philoxenos says:

‫ܘܬܘܒ ܟܬܒܬ ܕܡܢ ܕܡܘܕܐ ܠܗܘ ܥܘܐܠ ܕܐܬܝܠܕ ܡܢ ܒܬܘܠܬܐ‬ .‫ܕܝܠܕܗ ܗܘ ܕܥܠܝܐ ܠܒܪܝܢܨ ܫܠܡ‬ And furthermore thou hast written, that whosoever professes regarding the Child born of the Virgin, that it is a Son of the All-highest, shares the standpoint of Bardaiṣan.82

There are more texts in the work of Philoxenos, in which he ascribes such heresies to Bardaiṣan, including the opinion that the “Ancient of days” (Dan. 7:9) is a boy.83 What Philoxenos means by this is not clear. Naturally, this Christ cannot suffer either, as is advanced in an anonymous polemic with Julianus of Halicarnassus:

̈ ‫ܕܚܫܘܫܐ ܐܐܠ ܕܐܠ‬ ‫ܐܢ ܦܓܪܐ ܐܠ ܚܫܘܫܐ ܫܩܠ ܠܘ ܒܪ ܓܢܣܐ ܗܘܐ‬ ̈ .‫ܚܫܘܫܐ ܐܝܟ ܫܘܥܝܬܗ ܕܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܘܕܘܠܢܛܝܢܘܣ‬

If He (i.e. Jesus) has taken a body which cannot suffer, He did not belong to the category of those who can suffer, but of those who cannot suffer, in agreement with the unfounded statement of Bardaiṣan and Valentinus.84

In these texts Bardaiṣan is repeatedly coupled with Valentinus, but this is only done by authors who give no evidence of being acquainted with other Bardesanite doctrines. 81 The christological heresies according to Philoxenus of Mabbug, ed. F. Nau, PO XIII, p. 248; E. A. W. Budge, The discourses of Philoxenos T. II, London 1894, p. CXXXVII, L. 1–3, offers a text with very slight deviations from the text of Nau, which are not significant for the meaning. 82 Philoxenus of Mabbug, Dissertationes decem de Uno e Sancta Trinitate incorporato et passo, ed. M. Brière, PO, XV, p. 464. 83 Text in Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 511 (another text there also) cf. A. de Halleux, Philoxène de Mabbug, Lettre aux moines de Senoun, CSCO, Vol. 231 (textus), 232 (versio), Leuven 1963, p. 49 (textus). 84 ‘Pièces de Polémique antijulianiste’, ed. R. Draguet, Le Muséon, T. XLIV, 1931, p. 267.



A late author such as Isho‘dad of Merw (c.850) in his commentary on Mark 8:38 attributes a Christology to Bardaiṣan which is identical with the views of Mani:

‫ܡܐܢܝ ܘܒܪܕܝܢܨ ܒܕܝܢ ܕܒܪܗ ܕܐܢܫܐ ܩܪܐ ܡܫܝ ܚܐ ܢܦܫܗ ܠܒܪܗ ܕܐܢܫܐ‬ ‫ ܡܛܠ ܕܐܬܒܠܥ ܗܘ ܘܚܡܫܐ‬.‫ܗ̇ܘ ̈ ܕܐܝܬ ܗܘܐ ܩܕܡ ܕܢܬܒܪܐ ܐܕܡ‬ .‫ܒܢܘܗܝ ܐܬܐ ܐܡܪܐ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܢܨܠܠ ܐܢܘܢ‬ Mani and Bardaiṣan have the phantasy that when the Messiah calls himself Son of Man, He is that Man who existed before Adam was created. Because this Man with his five sons was swallowed up, the Lamb of Thought came to purify them.85

Adam is Primordial Man and his five “sons” form his armour, viz. aether, wind, light, water and fire, with which he attacks darkness. However, the dark powers swallow up Primordial Man and his armour. The Lamb of Thought is in the Manichaean conception the so-called Living Spirit, who saves Primordial Man from the darkness and creates the world in order that even the last particles of light may be led back to their origin.86 We have met with this conception, in other sources as the Word of Thought, ‫ܡܐܡܪܐ ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬, which forms the world, the Logos (Christ?). It is possible that ‫ܐܡܪܐ‬ ‫ =( ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬Lamb of Thought) is a corruption in the text for ‫ܡܐܡܪܐ‬ ‫ =( ܕܬܪܥܝܬܐ‬Word of Thought). The Lamb of Thought does not appear in the Manichaean tradition. The role of Jesus is quite different there. One might also think that Isho‘dad is giving a Christian version of this conception, which is a contamination of Christ the Lamb, and the Word of Thought as the latter functions in the Bardesanite cosmology. This indicates that there existed a Christian interpretation of this Word of Thought, in whom later authors saw the Logos-Christ, who is indeed pre-existent. Here, then, we find Bardaiṣan mentioned in a commentary on the Bible. A. Levene advanced the supposition that influence of This passage was first published by F. Nau, JA, 1910, p. 219. Nau wrongly translated the text (‘Parceque celui-ci pécha ainsi que ses cinq enfants’). Text also in M. D. Gibson, The commentaries of Isho‘dad of Merv, Vol. II, p. ‫ܪܟܓ‬, Horae Semiticae V, Cambridge 1911; English translation in Vol. I, Horae Semiticae V, Cambridge 1911, p. 135. 86 Cf. Widengren, Mani und der Manichäismus, S. 58ff. 85



Bardesanite teachings could be observed in a Nestorian commentary on Genesis.87 He: considered that a number of elements and the angels were represented as pre-existent. He was also struck by the great emphasis on man’s free-will. To begin with the last point: emphasis on free-will is a regular theologoumenon of the Syrian church, so it need not be attributed to Bardaiṣan. Also Ephrem Syrus defends free-will, and blames Bardaiṣan for restricting this freedom! With T. Jansma, we consider that there is no question of pre-existent uncreated elements. 88 The parallels from Jewish exegesis adduced by Levene do not refer to uncreated elements, but to elements which were created before the actual creation of the world.89 We may well imagine, however, that in many Syriac commentaries the name of Bardaiṣan appears with a short and forcible repudiation of his doctrine. It can hardly be shorter than in the Gannath Bussamê, for this great Nestorian commentary speaks of the “invented and stinking gods” of Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan, “who are too despicable and not worth mentioning.”90 Information of value will certainly not be found in these commentaries. This disparate Syriac material has therefore still supplied some information about the history of the Bardesanites, of whom we know very little. In the time of Ephrem they were a power of some importance, and almost a century later, in the time of bishop Kabbula (ob.435), this was still the case in Edessa. Of this “tyrant of Edessa” his biographer relates that he converted the adherents of Bardaiṣan, who belonged to the persons of distinction in the town, to the “solid truth of the Church of the Apostles,” razed their meeting-hall to the ground and made use of its contents and its stones (!) for his own church. This will hardly have been a gentle process, though the biographer certainly exaggerates. As so often, 87 A. Levene, The early Syrian fathers on Genesis, London 1951, p. 23f.; cf. the review by T. Jansma, BiOr X, 1953, p. 48f. 88 T. Jansma, ‘Investigations into the early Syrian Fathers of Genesis’, Oudtestamentische Studiën XII, Leiden 1958, p. 100. 89 Cf. Jansma, art. cit., p. 101. 90 Text in Bidez-Cumont, Les Mages hellenises, Tom. II, p. 115 (written by J. Vosté).



the mob will have been useful and have molested the more well-todo citizens in the name of true religion.91 It thus proves most difficult, through lack of data, to discover the history of the Bardesanites. A few texts show, that in the course of that history alterations appeared in the ideas that Bardaiṣan had developed, but when this was and to whose activity it was due, remains unknown. Nor can we find out how long the group continued to exist as a group. Moreover, some of the ideas of Bardaiṣan may also have become current outside the group of the Bardesanites, in so far as they were not so already. There is some indication of this in the Audians and the conceptions we find in the Syriac astronomical treatise written in Edessa in the sixth century that was published by Kugener.92 It is not possible, however, to draw definite lines of demarcation between the various groups and sects in that world.93 As the centuries go on, the number of names of haeresiarchs and heresies continually increases, which points to a very complex situation of religious matters in the Mesopotamian world. The Arabic sources also afford some insight in this situation, so that their reports about Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites must now be examined a little more closely.

C. THE ARABIC TRADITION The greater part of the Syriac authors who give information about Bardaiṣan had knowledge of classical philosophy, and some even

91 Cf. Bedjan, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, IV, p. 431–432; also in C. Brockelmann, Syrische Grammastik and in Nau, Patrol. Syr. I, 2, p. 511. 92 M. A. Kugener, ‘Un traité astronomique et météorologique syriaque’, Actes d. XIVe congrès international des Orientalistes Alger 1905, Section II, 2ème partie, p. 137–198, Paris 1907, esp. p. 171. 93 It is even problematic, in how far the many names of sects and haeresiarchs still correspond with actually existing sects. One gains the impression that in later times many haeresiarchs merely served as a flag to cover the cargo of a great number of independent thinkers who continued the old Mesopotamian traditions, and therefore a Christianity of archaic tendency, without ever really forming groups.



took an active part in passing on this knowledge to Islam. 94 Classical philosophy and science also reached Islam through the Sassanide kingdom. The chief problems of philosophic thought, which in these countries and cultures was almost identical with religious philosophy, were the questions connected with creation and with the soul. The origin of the world and of the soul stood at the centre of reflection, because this origin was decisive for the outlook upon life. This was not only the case in the sects, but the official theology was also intensively occupied with these questions.95 A strong influence of Neo-Platonism was still active here. That was the reason why the problems concerned with the origin of the world and with the soul became matters of controversy, so that many authors concentrated upon them and wrote against Bardaiṣan, Mani, Marcion and others in that context. Moreover cosmology and psychology became a parting of the ways for Mani and Bardaiṣan, although the views of the later Bardesanites may have often approached Manichaeism. In this way, these controversial matters entered into Islam and were much disputed there. 96 Closely linked with the problem of the soul is the problem of free-will, which both in Persia and in Syria played a great part, and also dominated the theological and philosophic thought of Islam for a long time.97 Just as Syriac and Persian authors compiled lists of sects that held deviant opinions on these matters in particular, Arabic literature also has such catalogues. No doubt the Muslims drew their knowledge of these groups from Persian or Syriac sources. It is 94 That is the case for instance with Theodore Abu Qurra, Sergius of Resh ‘Aina, Severus Sebokt, Georgios episkopos Arabum etc., cf. De Lacy O’Leary, How greek science passed to the Arabs, London 1949, and F. Rosenthal, Das Fortleben der Antike im Islam, Zürich 1965. An excellent survey is given by G. Klinge, ‘Die Bedeutung der syrische Theologen als Vermittler der griechischen Philosophie an den Islam’, ZKG 58, 1939, SS. 346–386. 95 This is clearly evident from W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, Edinburgh 1962. 96 Cf. for this especially H. Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, Paris 1964, passim. 97 Cf. R. Levy, The social structure of Islam, Cambridge 1962, pp. 205– 207; Montgomery Watt, o.c., p. 58ff.



notable that certain towns played a great part in this transference, particularly Ḥarran (Theodore Abû Qurra), Wasit, where the movement of the Karmatians had its origin, and Basra, where the so-called Iḥwân as-Ṣafa were at home.98 On one side these were centres of Hellenistic learning, on the other hot-beds of heresy both for the Syrian church and for Islam! Exactly how these lines run historically is very difficult to make out, but that they existed is clear. With regard to Wasit and Basra it must be remarked, that the Mandaeans also landed in these regions, bringing many traditions with them. Thus we find a number of items about Bardaiṣan and the Bardesanites reported by Muslim authors, who on the one hand use the Christian haeresiology for their own ends, and on the other are driven by scientific curiosity. All these authors were schooled in the philosophy and the Hellenistic science which reached them via Syria, and Persia, where the sources of their work also lay, at least for these matters. Usually the reliability of these Arabic traditions is judged unfavourably. Schaeder calls them “weitgehend apokryph,”99 and in the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam A. Abel speaks of “far from reliable.”100 At first sight this opinion seems unwarranted, and makes us wonder how, if for instance an-Nadîm in the Fihrist gives most reliable material dealing with Mani, his information about Bardaiṣan could be mere invention. For the very reason that the Muslim authors derived their knowledge of Mani and Bardaiṣan from Syriac and Persian sources which we cannot trace, it is desirable to check in how far their notices agree with what we already knew from another source. At the same time they can inform us about later developments within the group of the Bardesanites. We must remember, though, that the Muslim authors who treat of oth98 Cf. for this Klinge, ‘Die Bedeutung’, S. 351ff., 378; cf. for the Iḥwan as-Ṣafâ: H. Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, p. 190svv.; R. Levy, The social structure, pp. 471–496; A History of Muslim Philosophy I, ed. b. M. M. Sharif, Wiesbaden 1963, pp. 289–310: O. A. Farrukh, ‘Iḵhwân alṢafâ’. 99 Schaeder, ‘Bardesanes von Edessa’, S. 28. 100 EI, Bd. II, p. 199, art. Dayṣâniyya (A. Abel).



er religions and sects “from the start envisage a theodicy” (A. Abel). Already with Mas‘udi (ob.345/6 = 956/7) we can observe that he had Syriac sources. In his Kitâb al-tanbîh wa’l-ishrâf he relates that Bardaiṣan (Ibn Daiṣan) propagated his heresy in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, after having been bishop of Edessa. According to Mas‘udi Bardaiṣan was not born on the banks of the river Daiṣan, but was a foundling taken up there. On the bank of the same river Bardaiṣan had a church.101 This report resembles the Syriac polemic against Bardaiṣan, but carried ad absurdum. When Mas’udi speaks of a church of the Bardesanites, one gains the impression that he knew something of the Chronicon Edessenum, which refers to a church destroyed in an inundation.102 The same Mas’udi gives some information, how the knowledge of all kinds of sects penetrated to Islam. In the Muruğ aḏ-ḏahab he relates, that in the time of the caliph al-Mahdi (158–169 = 775–785) various works of Mani, Bardaiṣan and Marcion were circulated, which Abdu’llah ibn alMuqaffa‘ and others had translated into Arabic from Persian and Pahlavi. In the same period Ibn Abi’l-‘Awğa’ Ḥammâd ‘Ağrad, Yaḥya ibn Ziyâd and Muṭi‘ ibn Iyâs wrote books in support of the Manichaeans, Bardesanites and Marcionites. 103 Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ does indeed seem to have had strong Manichaean sympathies.104 Moreover, Mas’udi is acquainted with the polemic between the various groups of dualists regarding the first principles etc.,105 but the works in which he gave a detailed explanation of their doctrine are lost.106 He does tell us, that Mani wrote against Bardaiṣan in his

101 Masûdi, Kitâb at-tanbîh wa’l-ischrâf, Bibl. Georg. Arab, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Tom. VIII, Leiden 1894, p. 130. 102 Cf. Hallier, Untersuchungen über die Edessenische Chronik, and W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei, S. 17ff. 103 Mas‘udi, Muruğ aḏ-ḏahab, Les prairies d’or, éd. et. trad. p. C. Barbier de Meynard, Paris 1861–1877, VIII, 292 ult.–293, L. 6. Quoted Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici’, p. 718seq. 104 Cf. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, p. 38. 105 Les prairies d’or, I, p. 200sv. 106 Cf. H. A. R. Gibb, Arabic Literature2, Oxford 1963, p. 81f.



“Book of Books,” which is probably identical with the “Book of Mysteries.”107 The same thing is related by an-Nadîm in the Fihrist when citing the table of contents of this work of Mani, which was probably the counterpart of a work with the same title by Bardaiṣan, which is mentioned by Ephrem. The first chapter deals with the Bardesanites, the twelfth with their teaching regarding soul and body, and the thirteenth is a controversy against them about the life-soul. There is no reason at all to doubt this information, particularly as the Muslim literature gives a rendering of this polemic about the soul in the work of al-Bîrûnî. The Fihrist also refers to Bardaiṣan’s birth on the bank of the Daiṣan, a datum derived from Syriac literature. Bardaiṣan is called a precursor of Mani, who differs from him in the conception of the mixing of light and darkness. That is a matter, however, about which the Bardesanites cannot agree with one another either, for one group says that the light went to the darkness to give it a better status, and the other group says that the light wished to drive away the darkness when it had perceived how nasty it was. The mere chance, owing to which the mingling came about in Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, obviously led to many discussions and considerable difference of opinion among his followers. The Fihrist, then, does not present a view of the Bardesanites entirely in Manichaean colouring, but still shows something of the original ideas of Bardaiṣan. Such is also evident when an-Nadîm says, that according to Bardaiṣan darkness is blind, without organs of sense and without knowledge.108 The Fihrist states besides that the Bardesanites formerly lived in the swamp districts, and also in China and Ḥurasan, where the Manichaeans This text is found in Flügel, Mani, S. 365f.; it is a passage from the Ms. Arab. no. 901 Paris (ancient fonds) = 1470 (de Slane), a Ms. of Mas‘udi’s Muḥtaṣar al-a‘jâ’ib (information supplied by University Library, Leiden). Cf. for this work Carra de Vaux, JA, S. 9, Bd. VII, pp. 133–144 and Carra de Vaux, L’Abrégé des Merveilles, trad. de l’arabe, Paris 1898; in this translation by Carra de Vaux, however, the passage in question is not found. 108 Cf. Flügel, Mani, S. 161f. and Anm. 55. The table of contents of Mani’s Book of Mysteries is to be found in Flügel, Mani, S. 165. 107



are also numerous.109 On the one side this would show that one might find people among the Manichaeans with a strong streak of Bardesanism, although nothing is known of this. Pedersen made the suggestion that the Muġtasila in the swamp districts at the mouth of Euphrates and Tigris were closely related to the Bardesanites, and he was followed in this by Peterson. 110 This again brings us into the region of Karmatians and Mandacans. The eye specialist ‘Abdallah ibn Maimun, who had connections with the Karmatians, was the son of a certain Maimun ibn Daiṣan, who is accounted a Bardesanite. The supposition that the Muġtasilawere a branch of the Bardesanites goes too far, I think. With Bardaiṣan and his followers we hear nothing of lustrations etc. It is very well possible, though, that Bardesanite teachings influenced Karmatians, Mandaeans and other sects living in this region, so that his name was given honourable mention there. 111 An-Nadîm says that he has seen books of Bardaiṣan, viz. a book about “the light and the darkness,” “about the spiritual nature of truth” and about “the mobile and the fixed.” The leaders of the sect also wrote such works, but those an-Nadîm had not seen. 112 To judge from the titles, these were works on cosmology, astrology and ethics with a considerable philosophical component. Ephrem Syrus can tell of no such works, any more than the other Syriac authors. The most obvious assumption is, that an-Nadîm is writing about sectarian groups in the crucible of religions of the South Mesopotamian swamp districts who continued certain doctrines of Bardaiṣan and developed them further. This would explain both the legitimate Bardesanite element in his information, and the great discrepancy with what we know of Bardaiṣan from other sources. In such a situation, books are set to the name of the spiritual father whose authority is claimed. These Flügel, Mani, S. 161. J. Pedersen, ‘The Ṣâbians’, in A Volume of oriental studies presented to E. G. Browne, ed. by T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson, Cambridge 1922, pp. 383–391; E. Peterson, ‘Urchristentum und Mandäismus’, ZNW 27, 1928, S. 66. 111 Cf. M. J. de Goeje, Mémoire sur les Carmathes du Bahraïn et les Fatimides, Leiden 1886, p. 1svv; art. Karmaṭen in Handwörterbuch des Islam. 112 Flügel, Mani, S. 161. 109 110



books, then, are pseudepigraphical works of that group of Bardesanites an-Nadîm has in mind. We may assume that the treatises Mas‘udi wrote about the Bardesanites were much the same as the notice in the Fihrist, as all the rest of the Arabic tradition gives more or less the same information. Thus in a work attributed to Balḥi, Maqdîsî (c.980) also relates that according to the Bardesanites light is alive and darkness dead, though other dualists have a different opinion about this.113 Al-Bîrûnî (ob.440 = 1048) carefully describes the discussion between Mani and Bardaiṣan about the soul in Mani’s “Book of Mysteries”: For he (Mani) also says: ‘The Bardesanites believe, that the rising aloft of the soul of life and its purification take place in the dead body (lit.: carcass), and they show their ignorance of the fact that the body is hostile to the soul and that it prevents her from rising up, that the body is a prison for the soul and a torrent. If the shape of this body were reality, then its creator would certainly not allow that it gradually fell into ruin and that corruption appeared in it, and he would certainly not force it to propagate itself with semen in the womb.’114

Al-Bîrûnî himself possessed a “Book of Mysteries,” so his report may be fully credited; moreover, it quite agrees with the other notices in the Syriac literature which showed that for Bardaiṣan matter did not per se embody evil, as it did for Mani. Therefore this discussion of Mani with Bardaiṣan indirectly confirms our view of Bardaiṣan, as the “Book of Mysteries” is of the third century and belongs to the Manichaean canon, Bardaiṣan has a positive attitude towards matter, and consequently towards sexuality, which is a form of purification. 113 Cf. Le Livre de la Création et de l’Histoire d’Abou Zéid Ahmed ben Sahl el-Balkhî, ed. Cl. Huart, 4 Toms. Paris 1899–1903: I, 91, 1–2; I, 142, 13– 17; III, 8, 8–10; IV, 24, 10–16. Cf. Levi della Vida, ‘Appunti Bardesanici’, p. 717seq. 114 Alberuni’s India, ed. by E. Sachau, London 1887, p. 27, L. 12ff. English translation in Alberuni’s India, an English ed. by E. Sachau, 2 Vols. London 1910, I, p. 54f.



In his chronology al-Bîrûnî says that both the Marcionites and the Bardesanites had a gospel of their own, containing on the one hand a little less and on the other a little more than the canonical gospels. The reason is that Marcion and Bardaiṣan heard the gospel of Jesus in Persia, and combined it with the doctrine of Zarathustra, according to al-Bîrûnî the dualist par excellence. Both therefore introduced a dualistic principle.115 Which gospel Bardaiṣan used is quite unknown; it may have been the Diatessaron.116 Al-Bîrûnî’s story is dominated, however, by his explanation of dualism as a Persian element, and this determines his view of Bardaiṣan. In this connection, though, al-Bîrûnî makes an important remark about Bardaiṣan’s doctrine of the soul, which may serve to supplement the above: Bardaiṣan maintained that the light of God had sought a place in his own heart.” 117 With this we may compare what Jâḥiz says in the Kitâb al-ḥayawân V,38 L. 9, that the soul is a ray of light from the sun in man’s heart.118 The soul therefore comes from the lightworld of the Father, who is at the same time the Sun.119 Thus al-Bîrûnî does not say that Bardaiṣan regarded himself as a special bearer of revelation, as Mani was afterwards to do. Ibn Ḥazm of Cordova (386–458= 994–1064) wrote the first work on comparative religion we know of, the Book of Religions and Philosophical Sects: his intention was apologetic, for all reli-

115 Al-Bîrûnî, Chronologie orient. Völker, ed. E. Sachau, Leipzig 1878, S. 23, L. 9–10; 207, L. 5–12. 116 Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei, S. 34ff., 45f. assumes that Bardaiṣan used the Diatessaron. 117 Al-Bîrûnî, Chronologie, ed. Sachau, p. 207, L. 5–12. 118 This was first pointed out by L. Massignon, ‘Inventaire de la littérature hermétique arabe’, in: A. J. Festugière, La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste I, 2e éd. Paris 1950, p. 387. On Jâḥiz cf. Levy, The social structure, p. 467ff. For the Kitâb al-ḥayawân use was made of a Cairo edition of 1907, in 7 volumes. 119 The same identification of Father and Sun was already found in Ephrem Syrus’ polemic against Bardaiṣan.



gions and sects are systematically refuted.120 Ibn Ḥazm is acquainted with Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, which he also attributes to Mani and Marcion, viz. that the world originated through the mingling of four elements. He knows that Mani derives in part from Bardaiṣan, whom he opposes, and that according to Mani the darkness was alive, but according to Bardaiṣan dead.121 These are familiar words, which we also find in the work of Shahrastânî (1086–1153), bearing the same title as that of Ibn Ḥazm by which it was probably inspired. The whole story about the Bardesanites reminds one of the Fihrist, for with a good deal of verbiage Shahrastânî explains that there are two groups of Bardesanites, who split upon the point how exactly the mixing of light and darkness took place.122 The exposition is larded with various philosophical ideas of Shahrastânî, which are of no account here. He does, however, speak of differences between Mani and Bardaiṣan regarding the “mediator” and goes on: Muhammad ibn Shubaib reports regarding the Bardesanites that they hold the opinion, that the “mediator” is man, who is gifted with organs of sense and with intelligence, for he is neither pure light, nor pure darkness.

Intelligence, the spirit, therefore belongs to the world of light (cf. the Syriac tradition), while sensory perception, which according to Shahrastânî is identical for all five senses, owes its existence to the contrast between light and darkness.123 The contrast still exists in our world where we perceive with our senses; indeed, it is through this antithesis that the world exists! It may be that Shahrastânî is taking up old philosophical speculations of the Bardesanites here, 120 Cf. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, p. 134–136; Gibb, Arabic Literature2, p. 144f.; Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, p. 312–317. 121 Ibn Ḥazm, al-faṣl fi’l-milal wa’l-ahwa’ wa ’l-milal, Cairo 1317/1899, I, 35, L. 22-ult.; 36, L. 3–6 122 Book of religious and philosophical sects by Muhammad al-Sharastáni, ed. W. Cureton, 2 parts, London 1842–46, I, p. 194, 3–195, 8; German translation in Th. Haarbrücker, Religionspartheien und Philosophen-Schulen, 2 Teile, Halle 1850/1, I, S. 293ff. 123 A curious mixture of Greek epistemology and Persian dualism.



but we do not know who Muhammad ibn Shubaib was, nor from what source this information is derived. We shall return to the controversy between Mani and Bardaiṣan regarding the “mediator” in the final chapter. Perhaps there may be brief or more lengthy notices about Bardaiṣan and his followers in other Arabic works, such as those of al-Kindî, who is known to have written about the soul and to have polemised against the dualists.124 It is unlikely, however, that these notices will have anything new to add to what we know already. The above makes it clear that more discrimination is required in judging the Arabic sources than was shown heretofore. It is true they afford us practically no material for the doctrine of Bardaiṣan himself, but they do in part give some insight into the history and diffusion of his ideas, which were altered in the course of time. The ambivalent nature of darkness, which we found to be characteristic of Bardaiṣan, is still evident from these sources, as also the problems and solutions proceeding from it. The sources also give information regarding the polemic between Mani and Bardaiṣan, and indicate how they differed from each other in the matter of cosmology and the soul. Ephrem Syrus writes at length against both of them; he intimates something of differences between them, but without paying attention to the matter, which is understandable in view of the nature of his polemic. The authors in Arabic, who take a great historical and systematic interest, pay attention within this context to the individual differences between the dualists. It is true these reports are somewhat stereotyped, as the authors borrowed from one another and most of them quite certainly had no contact with Bardesanites, assuming this to have been possible. On the other hand, these reports are an extension of the Syriac and possibly the Persian tradition, the greater part of which we cannot trace, while the character of the Arabic authors offers some guarantee that they have faithfully transmitted the core of the matter.

Cf. G. Flügel, Al-Kindî, genannt “der Philosoph der Araber”, AKM I, 2, Leipzig 1857; R. Walzer, Greek into Arabic, Oxford 1962, pp. 175–205; H. Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, pp. 217–222 and p. 355 (litt.). 124



D. THE ARMENIAN TRADITION The Armenian history of Moses of Chorene, written in the 8th century, relates that Bardaiṣan went to Armenia to convert the heathen there, but without success.125 Thereupon he went to the fortress Ani, where he read the temple archives, completed this history with contemporary events and translated it all into Syriac. Afterwards this work was supposed to have been translated into Greek. From this history, says Moses of Chorene, he has taken some information about Tigranes, king of Armenia. Before stating this, Moses tells something of Bardaiṣan which is derived from the H.E. of Eusebius, a work he has also made further use of. Founding himself on Eusebius, Moses of Chorene says that Bardaiṣan was at first a Valentinian, but later founded a sect of his own. He wrote to Antoninus (!), and combated the Marcionites and the belief in Fate and the idols in Armenia.126 Thus Moses has detached the polemic against Fate from a writing dedicated to Antoninus, or directed against Antoninus. Possibly this may indicate, that the Dialogue on Fate has nothing to do with an Antoninus. This same history by Bardaiṣan is also mentioned in the historical work of Zenob of Glag and in that of Ukhthanes of Edessa (10th century).127 The authenticity of the historical work of Moses of Chorene is much debated; the author is commonly termed Pseudo-Moses of Chorene.128 Whoever may have been hidden behind the name of Moses of Chorene, it is certain that in many places he gives free 125 Text in F. Jacoby, Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker III, C, Leiden 1958, S. 679 F. 12 c. 63. 126 A. von Gutschmid, ‘Über die Glaubwürdigkeit der Armenischen Geschichte des Moses von Khoren’, Kleine Schriften III, Leipzig 1892, S. 303f.; J. Muyldermans, ‘L’Historiographie Arménienne’, Le Muséon, LXXVI, 1963, p. 126. 127 Cf. Langlois, Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de l’Arménie I, Paris 1884, p. 335svv.; p. 343. 128 Cf. Altaner, Patrologie, S. 315 (litt.) RGG3 s.v. Armenien I, Sp. 610ff. (R. P. Casey) and RGG3, s.v. Mozes von Chorene. Cf. Cyril Toumanoff, ‘On the date of Pseudo-Moses of Chorene’, Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift f. armenische Philologie, 75, 1961, kol. 467–476.



rein to his imagination, in conformity with the aim of his work.129 Nevertheless, the fact remains that Moses knows of close relations between Armenia and Edessa in a very early period, in which Bardaiṣan figured. Considering the strong Parthian influence in both regions (Bardaiṣan is also called a Parthian!) it is very well possible, that after the fall of Edessa in 216, when Caracalla carried king Abgar IX a prisoner to Rome, Bardaiṣan sought refuge in the friendly country of Armenia.130 In common with most modem authors, then, we assume that there are no decisive reasons for distrusting the information in the history of Moses of Chorene in this respect.131 The christianisation of Armenia was carried out from Syria, and mainly from Edessa, and Armenia has the same cultural aspect as that town, a mixture of Semitic and Parthian elements. 132

E. THE OTHER WORKS ASCRIBED TO BARDAIṢAN In the course of research we repeatedly met with scholars who set certain works to the name of Bardaiṣan. The writings concerned are the following: the Apology of Melito of Sardes, the Odes of Solomon, the Acts of Thomas and the hymns included in them, particularly the Hymn of the Soul. If there were grounds for attributing one or more of these writings to Bardaiṣan, this would mean an alteration in the image we have formed of him, entailing considerable consequences for its systematic description. It is therefore necessary to clear up these matters before embarking on a systematisation of the data obtained. Th. Ullrich was the first to attribute the Apology of Melito to Bardaiṣan, and consequently he spoke of Pseudo-Melito.133 In this Apology, however, there is nothing to be found of specific 129 That is the glorification of the noble minority in Armenia, particularly the house of the Bagratides; cf. Toumanoff, art. cit. 130 Cf. Duval, Édessa, p. 67 and RAC, s.v. Armenian. 131 So also Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung, S. 48, and RAC, s.v. Armenian. 132 Cf. F. Tournebize, ‘Étude sur la conversion de l’Arménie au Christianisme’, ROC 12, 1907, p. 22svv. RAC, art. Armenien and Widengren, Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung, S. 47. 133 Th. Ullrich, Die pseudo-melitonische Apologie, Kirchengeschichtliche Abh. 4, 1906, S. 75.



Bardesanite teachings: the author defends an orthodox Christianity. With Baumstark and Ortiz de Urbina we therefore assume that there are no grounds to attribute the work to Bardaiṣan. It was probably dedicated to the emperor Caracalla during his sojourn in the East and written in Syriac.134 Many scholars have pleaded for Bardaiṣan as the author of the Odes of Solomon,135 or at any rate have tried to show his influence on the Odes.136 The publication of a papyrus Bodmer containing the Greek version of Ode XI, which proves superior to the Syriac, has set the problem in another light. 137 It is true it is not possible to decide in which language the Odes were originally written, but they are hereby proved to be much older. They originated c.125 in a region of Syriac and Greek, perhaps Antioch or Edessa, where they were already known at an early date.138 In ideas they have some affinity to the Evangehum Veritatis, which may also be of Syrian origin.139 At the same time, there are links between the Odes of Solomon and the Hôdayôt of the Qumrân community. Bardaiṣan is therefore ruled out as author of these hymns, and none of the modem authors regard him as such. 140 The Odes probably come from 134 Handbuch der Orientalistik III, 2/3, S. 172; Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, p. 39. 135 The first was W. R. Newbold, ‘Bardaisan and the Odes of Solomon’, JBL, 1911, pp. 161–204; cf. J. H. Bernard, The Odes of Solomon, TS, VIII, 3, Cambridge 1912 p. 11. Extensive bibliography in Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 46f. 136 Thus int. al. Rendel Harris and Mingana, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, 2 Vols. Manchester 1916–1920. 137 M. Testuz, Papyrus Bodmer X–XII, Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, KölnGenève 1959. 138 Cf. A. Adam, ‘Die ursprüngliche Sprache der Salamo-Oden’, ZNW, 52, 1961, SS. 141–156. A. Vööbus, ‘Die Originalsprache der Oden Salomos’, Le Muséon, 75, 1962, SS. 275–290. 139 Cf. J. Daniélou, Geschiedenis van de Kerk I, Hilversum-Antwerpen 1963, p. 60; E. Segelberg, ‘Evangelium Veritatis, A Confirmation Homily and its Relation to the Odes of Salomo’, Orient. Suecana 8, 1959, pp. 1–42; N. Schenke, Die Herkunft des sogenannten Evangelium Veritatis, Göttingen 1959. 140 J. Carmignac, ‘Les affinités qumraniennes de la onzième Ode de Salomon’, Rev. Qumr. 3, 1961; F. M. Braun, ‘L’énigme des Odes de Salo-



a Jewish-Christian milieu with gnosticising diction. If certain images raise associations with ideas of Bardaiṣan, e.g. Ode XVI, 18, 19, where it is stated that the world originated through the Word of God and the Thought of his Heart, this is to be ascribed to the milieu in which Bardaiṣan developed his system, and where such ideas were current. 141 One could give other reasons why the Odes were not written by Bardaiṣan: they teach a decidedly ascetic Christianity, and that is in conflict with everything we know of Bardaiṣan.142 Who was the author of the Odes, is completely unknown143 but they belong to the“vulgar” Christianity of the second century in Syria, while Bardaiṣan has far more aristocratic and intellectual traits. The most difficult problem is that of the apocryphal Acts of Thomas and the hymns inserted in them. The great differences of spiritual climate between Bardaiṣan and the Acts, which are ascetic, have no astrology and do not display any special cosmology, plead against the authorship of Bardaiṣan. Chapter 83 does indeed contain a free quotation from the BLC, but this quotation is also found in the Liber Graduum, and is clearly a stock image. The quotation says that we men are not commanded to carry heavy burdens, nor to build houses, nor to hew stones, but we are only commanded to mon’, Rev. Thom. 57, 1957. J. de Zwaan, in ‘The Edessene origin of the Odes of Solomon’, Quantulacumque, Studies presented to Kirsopp Lake, London 1937, p. 294, already convincingly proved that the Odes can certainly not be by the hand of Bardaisan. K. Rudolph, ‘War der Verfasser der Oden Salomos ein “Qumran-Christ”? Ein Beitrag zur Diskussion um die Anfänge der Gnosis’, Rev. Qum. 4, 1964, SS. 523–555, pointed out that there are connections between the Odes of Solomon, the Hôdayôt and the Mandaean literature, at any rate as to terminology; certain images are also found with Bardaiṣan, but there they have a different function, which again indicates that Bardaiṣan reinterpreted traditional material. 141 Cf. for a sketch of this milieu: J. Daniélou, Théologie du JudéoChristianisme I, Tournai, 1958, passim. 142 The anti-ascetic stand distinguishes Bardaiṣan from the greater part of his Christian contemporaries and from the later generations; both Ephrem and Mani write against him about this matter! 143 Cf. Hennecke-Schneemelcher, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen II, Tübingen 1964, S. 577: ‘Die genaue Bestimmung des Dichters ist unmöglich’ (W. Bauer).



do that which we are capable of. 144 The text has deviations from the BLC and makes the impression of coming from a Jewish milieu. Thus the inclusion of this image is not a decisive argument for a Bardesanite origin of the Acts. The Acts were in use among the Manichaeans, and certain terms are definitely Manichaean. 145 From the point of view of religious history, therefore, the Acts might be regarded as halfway between Bardaiṣan and Mani, and later Bardesanites may have used the Acts, or possibly written them. 146 Then, however, these would be Bardesanites who had come very close to Manichaeism, and thereby to asceticism. Certainty cannot be obtained at this point, though. For the original teachings of Bardaiṣan the Acts do not come into consideration. Most scholars are agreed that the hymns in the Acts functioned separately and were inserted in them. The most recent writer on the subject, A. Adam, argues for an early date: the hymns originated in the 1st cent. A.D. 147 Now it is unmistakable that certain images in these hymns, particularly the Wedding song of Sophia and the Hymn of the Soul, remind one of the quotations from the hymns of Bardaiṣan in Hymn 55 contra Haereses of Ephrem Syrus. We find the Seven and the Twelve, Father, Mother and Son, etc. 148 Burkitt on the other hand found nothing in the Prose Refutations recalling these hymns. 149 Thus the problem is analogous with the problems of the quotations from the hymns in Hymn 55 contra Cf. Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 39ff. for a meticulous discussion of this problem. 145 Cf. G. Bornkamm, Mythos und Legende in den apokryphen ThomasAkten, FRLANT, N.F. 31, Göttingen 1933, passim; Klijn, Acts of Thomas, p. 52f. 146 Cf. Hennecke-Schneemelcher, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen II, S. 306ff. (G. Bornkamm) with well-founded criticism of Klijn’s work on the Acts of Thomas, in that he took too little account of both religious and ‘formgeschichtliche’ parallels. 147 A. Adam, Die Psalmen des Thomas und das Perlenlied als Zeugnisse vorchristlicher Gnosis, Beih. ZNW 24, Berlin 1959. 148 This was especially pointed out by G. Bornkamm, Mythos und Legende, S. 85f. 149 Burkitt, Introductory Essay, Mitchell II. 144



Haereses of Ephrem Syrus. Of these quotations we said that if Ephrem explicitly attributes them to Bardaiṣan, there are no arguments to dismiss this, as Ephrem gives good and extensive information. Moreover, we have seen that their contents afford some grounds for ascribing them to him. The possibility therefore remains open that Bardaiṣan knew these hymns also and that they were in use in Bardesanite circles. It seems at present unlikely that Bardaiṣan composed them, as there is no reason to suppose he did so, and the hymns are probably much older. In the case of a poetphilosopher such as Bardaiṣan one should not attempt too stringent a systematisation. The Aramaic philosopher offered the circle of his pupils a philosophic interpretation of mythical material which is to be found in the many hymns of that time. The hymns form as it were the foundation on which the system was erected, which is at the same time an interpretation of the hymns. We find something of the same kind with Mani, if we consider the relation of the Manichaean psalms and the content of Mani’s works. In examining Bardaiṣan’s system, it will be necessary to take serious account of the above. Hymns and philosophic speculation, mythology and philosophy form a unity, as the hymns can be philosophically interpreted, and the philosophic speculation still shows all the traits of a myth. Bardaiṣan’s outlook upon man and the world is expressed in different fashion in each, but the outlook remains the same. The hymns in the Acts of Thomas and certain passages in the Odes of Solomon give an impression of the milieu in which this poet-philosopher lived, and without which one cannot imagine him. To that extent, they may be adduced as parallels. For on the one hand Bardaiṣan was a man of his day, on the other he occupied a unique position because of the personal interpretation he made of that which his own time and culture offered him. The final chapter is to set forth both the time-bound and the unique aspect of his effort.

CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS: BARDAISAN AND THE BARDESANITES IN THE SETTING OF THEIR TIMES It seems desirable to summarise the results of our examination of the sources as well as we can, and to delineate Bardaiṣan’s personality and views, and those of his pupils and followers as fully as possible. In doing this there is a considerable temptation to cite numerous parallels from more or less related systems, and to dissect the whole into many fragments of different origin, Jewish, Iranian, Chaldaean, Christian, Stoic, etc. By such means the unity of the system is lost, however, while the parallels themselves shed little or no light, as roughly identical concepts often function in a totally different manner within the various systems. The method of the so-called “Religionsgeschichtliche Schule” is therefore not suitable for our research, however valuable the work of this school has been in rendering many sources accessible for the knowledge of religion in late antiquity. Bardaiṣan’s outlook upon life and the world, however, is a unity supported by one man, living in the second half of the second century in Edessa. Many cultural and religious influences had been at work in this town, which in more than one respect was a bordertown between East and West. These influences may be recognised in Bardaiṣan’s thought, which reflects the religious and cultural situation of Edessa in the second century. Thus many elements of his thought are also to be found elsewhere in the “Umwelt” of this town, but in another setting, while in the mind of Bardaiṣan they are welded together into a new unity. Though the outward form of many conceptions remained unchanged, their function was fundamentally altered. That is the peculiar characteristic of Bardaiṣan’s outlook upon life and the world, while formal agreement with other religious and philosophical systems current in his day in the 239



Syrio-mesopotamian region does not isolate him as a thinker, but links him with the variegated pattern of the cultural and religious life of his time. The latter, then, forms the background against which we shall outline Bardaiṣan’s view of life and the world. Within the scope of the present work only the contours of this background can be indicated; a thorough examination of all resemblances and differences between Bardaiṣan’s views and the other religious and philosophical currents of his time would far exceed it. The lines this examination would have to follow may be indicated, so that only some preliminary work is done for a thorough comparative investigation, for which indeed a better knowledge of Bardaiṣan is a conditio sine qua non. It must be remarked that the basis of such an examination must be of a historical nature: only those phenomena qualify for comparison which may be observed in the same period and the same culture, that is, those we may assume to have been known in Edessa and the country around it. Both the foundation and the limits of comparative research are determined by cultural history! The religious and cultural situation in Edessa will therefore constitute the starting-point for a summary of Bardaiṣan’s views, which will then follow after a sketch of his life. The position in relation to Marcion and to Mani will next be examined, as Mani rests in part upon Bardaiṣan and Marcion, and Bardaiṣan polemised against the views of Marcion: Mani, Marcion and Bardaiṣan stand in relations of mutual tension, Bardaiṣan being a typical man of the centre, who avoids the extremes. A sketch of the development within the group of the Bardesanites and their relations to Manichacism on one side and the Syrian church(es) on the other will conclude the chapter.

A. EDESSA IN THE SECOND CENTURY OF OUR ERA In the second century Edessa, the ancient Urhai, was both politically and culturally a border-town between the Roman empire and the Parthians, between the Hellenistic civilisation of the West and Mesopotamia, so strongly marked by Iranian and Parthian influence. In the first half of the century it was ruled by an Armenian dynasty; this was succeeded by a Parthian dynasty, a member of



which was Abgar VIII, the Great, (179–214) at whose court Bardaiṣan resided. Moreover, there existed dynastic ties with the royal house of Adiabene and the Parthian dynasty of Armenia. 1 Situated on an important caravan route, Edessa was also a meeting-point of trade and traffic, and consequently a cultural centre of the first rank, particularly in the second half of the second century. Considering the strong Parthian influence in Euless, expressed in the feudal reign and typically Parthian forms of art, it is to be presumed there was also a Parthian-Iranian religious influence, especially in the upper classes of the population, to which Bardaiṣan belonged. Next to this, Judaism had already at an early date attained to considerable importance in the town, an importance heightened by the relations with the dynasty of Adiabene. This is also apparent from the so-called Teaching of Addai, the apostle of Edessa.2 It is therefore generally assumed that Christianity in Edessa is of Jewish origin and came there from the East, from Adiabene. 3 Relations may also be assumed with the large Jewish colony of Babylonia. Therefore it is not at all surprising that specifically Jewish-Christian texts originated in these regions, or became known there at an early date: Odes of Solomon, Pseudo-Clementine writings, the Syriac Didascalia, and so on.4 The Gnosis too had close ties with Edessa, as appears from the remarkable group of Quq and his followers the Quqites, who represent a Samaritan form of gnosticism, mixed with Iranian elements.5 Perhaps other gnostics will also have made Cf. RAC IV, art. Edessa, Sp. 552–597 (E. Kirsten), esp. Sp. 555ff.; Duval, Histoire politique, religieuse et littéraire d’Édesse jusqu’à la première croisade, Paris 1892, p. 27. 2 Cf. RAC IV, s.v. Edessa, Sp. 556; 556ff. Widengren, Iranischsemitische Kulturbegegnung, S. 6ff.; 13ff. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, p. 41seq. (with literature). 3 Cf. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, p. 13seq. (extensive bibliography); Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 31ff. In a review of Klijn’s book, BSOAS, XXVIII, 1965, p. 143–145, J. B. Segal drew attention to the Eastern source of Christianity in Edessa, with convincing arguments. 4 Cf. J. Daniélou, Théologie du Judéo-Christianisme, Vol. I, Tournai 1958, passim. 5 Quq is spoken of in the heretical catalogue of Maruta of Maipherkat, in the eleventh book of Scholia of Theodore bar Khonai, in the H.E. 1



their influence felt in Edessa, as may be indirectly concluded from the gnostic writings of Chenoboskion, whose language and representations both point in the direction of Syria.6 This diversity of religious forms existed beside and upon the basis of an autochthonous Semitic religion, in which Baal and Nebo were worshipped and an important place was reserved for Atargatis, to whom the sacred fish in the lake of Kallirhoe were dedicated. This cult linked Edessa with Hierapolis. Comparable religious conceptions are found in Batnae, Hatra and Ḥarran (Carrhae).7 Just as in Ḥarran, astrology filled an important place in Edessa, together with a cult of the seven planets under the dominion of Mârilâhâ, who ruled the world by means of the planets. 8 The Sun and Moon were also worshipped separately in Edessa; the Sun flanked by Azizos and Monimos, the morning and evening aspects of Venus. The cult of the planets has become known through recent research and excavations by J. B.Segal, and the sanctuaries belonging to this cult were built in the second half of the second century in Sumatar, in Bardaiṣan’s lifetime.9 Astrology in its pseudo-scientific form was usually accompanied by philosophical, particularly Stoic ideas, as is apparent in the works of Posidonius and Diogenes of Babylon, besides whom many other philosophers might be mentioned, the greater part of them from the East.10 of Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa etc. A monograph on Quq is lacking so far. The present author is preparing a publication about Quq and the Quqites. 6 Cf. J. Doresse, Les livres secrets, p. 288svv.; p. 297svv. A. F. J. Klijn, Edessa, de stad van de apostel Thomas, Baarn 1962, p. 67ff.; A. F. J. Klijn, ‘Das Thomasevangelium und das altsyrische Christentum’, VigChr. 15, 1961, pp. 146–159; The remarkable Syriac Valentinian hymn in Epiphanius, Panarion 31, 2, should be considered again in this context; cf. W. R. Newbold, ‘A Syriac Valentinian Hymn’, JAOS, 38, 1918, pp. 1–33. 7 Cf. RAC IV, s.v. Edessa, Sp. 562–566. 8 Cf. J. B. Segal, ‘Some Syriac inscriptions of the 2nd–3rd century A.D.’, BSOAS, XVI, 1954, pp. 13–36; J. B. Segal, ‘Pagan Syrian Monuments in the Vilayet of Urfa’, Anatolian Studies III, 1953, pp. 97–120. 9 Cf. Segal, ‘Some Syriac inscriptions’, p. 14. 10 Cf. Amand, Fatalisme, p. 233sv.; A. Guillaumont, Les ‘Kephalaia Gnostica’ d’Euagre le Pontique, Patristica Sorbonensia 5, Paris 1962, p. 225; J. Bidez, ‘Les écoles chaldéennes’, p. 81; Hitti, History of Syria2, London 1957, p. 254ff.; Cumont, Astrology and religion, p. 69ff.



Knowledge of classical philosophy, especially of the Stoa, may certainly be assumed in Edessa.11 Christianity also penetrated to this city by various routes, each of which represented a different form. Marcion’s teachings early became known there, as also those of Tatianus, while Bardaiṣan represented another form again. We agree with W. Bauer and Klijn in thinking that there was no question of ecclesiastically organised Christianity in the second century in Edessa, but that there were rather various groups with little interrelation; the practice or rejection of encratism deeply separated the groups, as social differences did too.12 As a gentleman of the court, a friend of Abgar the Great, Bardaiṣan occupied a unique place in this variegated world, distinguished by a high social position and doubtlessly by great erudition, and attempting to bring old and new, East and West into synthesis.

B. BARDAIṢAN’S LIFE We know little more of Bardaiṣan’s life than before. He is called a Parthian, an Armenian, a Mesopotamian and a Syrian, and none of these appellations says anything regarding his origin. Parthian may refer to his position at the court of Edessa, Armenian to his relations with Armenia, reinforced by the dynastic tics with that country, while the last two designations indicate that his home was in Mesopotamia and Syria. His descent is also uncertain, although the tradition that he was of Eastern stock deserves every attention. It is stressed both by Epiphanius and by later transmitters of the material. Names are only given to his parents in a late tradition, and no conclusions can be drawn from them; the case is the same for his son(s).

Cf. F. Schulthess, ‘Der Brief des Mara bar Serapion’, ZDMG, 51, 1897, SS. 365–391; a number of authors, including Bickel, Eisler, Amand etc. pointed out that Bardaiṣan was acquainted with the Stoa; Furlani even called him a Stoic. A separate investigation of the extent to which classical philosophy was spread in the East in the first centuries of our era is urgently required. 12 Cf. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei, S. 27ff.; Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 30ff. 11



Bardaiṣan, then, was born in 154, and his name is brought into connection with the river Daiṣan in Edessa, on the bank of which he is supposed to have been born. This tradition, unknown to Ephrem, is at most doubtful, and certainly goes back to later exegesis of his name, the second part of which then remains unclear. His relation with Mabbug is also doubtful and goes back to a tendentious communication stemming from the church. Bardaiṣan may as well have become acquainted with the cult of Atargatis (Tar‘ata) in Edessa, it was not necessary to have lived in Mabbug for that. Moreover Agapius, with whom we first find this notice, was a Melkite bishop of Mabbug, who was thus able to set the paganism of his own town in an evil light as having bred a dreaded and prominent heretic. Most probably, Bardaiṣan spent the first part of his life at or near the court, while his parents may have been of Eastern descent. As a courtier of Abgar the Great, who took much interest in the arts and sciences, he led a quiet life in the midst of a group of pupils, living in the style of a Parthian nobleman. In this period he polemised against the Marcionites, and probably had contact with Aberkios, another great opponent of the Marcionites. He had then already become acquainted with Christianity; in what way we do not know. A certain intellectual curiosity, characteristic of the man Bardaiṣan, will no doubt have played its part in this. He will also certainly have been well informed regarding all the religious trends manifesting themselves in Edessa, and on the subject of Greek philosophy as it was taught in the schools of the East also. The last years of his life were chequered owing to the political changes in Edessa that followed the intervention of Caracalla, who in 216 made an end of Edessa’s independent existence; king Ma‘nu IX was murdered and his two sons were taken to Rome, as hostages. Perhaps Bardaiṣan left the city at that time and went to Armenia, with which close ties existed. The persecution reported by Eusebius and Epiphanius would then have taken place, in Edessa at that time under Caracalla. Bardaiṣan, who loved liberty, as his whole system shows, opposed Caracalla’s intervention in Edessa as thinker and as courtier, and left the town. Possibly he then began a wandering life, perhaps in Armenia. In any case he came into contact during these years with an Indian embassy to the emperor Elagabalus (217–222), probably in 218. Where the meeting took place is not known. The report of Moses of Chorene that Bardaiṣan re-



sided in Armenia, doing historical research and working for the propagation of Christianity, may certainly be founded on truth. His residence was then that of an exile, killing time in the gloomy stronghold of Ani where he had been put out of harm’s way. We have no idea where Bardaiṣan died. Nor do we know what became of his son(s), whatever his or their name may have been. What we must reckon with is, that after 216 the continuity in the, group of the Bardesanites was certainly broken, so that there was opportunity for changes. These are the scanty data we can distil from the sources for the life of Bardaiṣan, who probably died in 222. Of his doctrine we know far more, although the sources do not enable us to design an altogether well-constructed system. Probably, indeed, it was not such an integrated system, as Bardaiṣan made an attempt to synthetise many religious and philosophical convictions that existed in Edessa. Such a method makes concessions to established opinions, and therefore a certain lack of systematisation may be expected.

C. BARDAIṢAN’S TEACHINGS Out of the sources, an erudite man comes to meet us, interested in astrology, philosophy, ethnology and history, a composer of religious hymns, a discriminating teacher, a courtier who did not despise the luxury of his day, in short, an aristocrat in every sense of the word. He did not only passively imbibe the knowledge of his time, but himself wielded the pen on various subjects, only fragments of which remain. Conversant with the spiritual currents of his day, he built up a new concept of life and the world, not breaking with the old, but attempting to continue it in new forms combined with others. The key word for Bardaiṣan’s life and world view is liberty. One could hardly expect otherwise of a man entertaining close ties with the Parthian feudal nobility, to which he may himself have belonged. We meet with the concept both in his anthropology and his cosmology, for the two are correlates. Man’s freedom is bound up with the spirit, which is of divine origin and joins the soul when the latter descends through the seven spheres of the planets to the human body at the moment of birth. The soul is endowed by the seven planets with various qualities, depending on the constellation at the hour of birth, which determine the outward fortunes of human life, wealth or poverty,



power or subjection, a long or short life, health or sickness. The human body is subject to those laws of nature which are specific for man. In the same way the other living creatures have their own specific nature by which they are determined. Thus the triad freedom, outward fortunes and nature, corresponds with the triad spirit, soul and body. During a man’s life they determine the three levels of existence: the vegetative, which is the same for all men, the individual, which distinguishes each man from his neighbour, but which is determined by his horoscope, and the level of liberty, where man can act as he will, can do or not do what is right and is bound by nothing. The spirit connects man with God and is His gift: the divine is therefore imagined as entirely spiritual. Adam made a wrong use of this gift, and that prevented the soul — to which the spirit is bound — from returning to its divine origin, the “Bridal chamber of light.” The coming of Christ brought salvation to man, but only for his soul, which can now return to its source. This subtle interplay of free and bound also appears in the cosmology. Originally there were four pure elements, light, wind, fire and water, each placed in one of the cardinal points, or lying one above the other according to weight. Above them was their Lord, in the depths was darkness, dead and without knowledge or activity. These four elements were perfectly free. By chance they came into movement and mingled with one another, so that confusion arose and the darkness also had an opportunity to mingle with them. Tradition vacillates as to whether darkness is itself an element, or whether it only consists in the confusion of the four pure elements, in keeping with the ambivalent nature of evil. The pure elements call upon their Lord, who sends the Word of Thought to create some order in the chaos. The world was formed by this Word out of the mixture of the elements, whose constitution is atomic, while their properties differ. Thus the salvation of the pure elements already begins at creation, that chance may be undone. The world thus formed is partly free, partly unfree, because purity and darkness are mingled. All dead things are unfree. Man however, the highest creature in the world, knows liberty as a gift given him at the creation, but he is also unfree in that he is subject to nature and his horoscope. Only for that, in which man and the other creatures are free, will they be brought to judgment. At creation, too, the seven planets were set in the firmament as instru-



ments in the hand of God, with which he can in part direct human fortunes. It is highly probable that Bardaiṣan regarded creation as a good thing, apart from the lack of freedom it entailed. Man could conduct himself in accordance with the given order and make a good use of his divine gift, liberty, which Adam had used wrongly. The human body consists of the mixture of the elements with darkness; therefore it perishes at death and does not rise again. Besides the two triads we have already observed, there is therefore a third one, consisting of confusion, creation and incarnation. The body belongs to confusion, for it is formed from the mixture of the elements, the soul belongs to creation, for it is life with all the fortunes that befall man, the spirit belongs to the incarnation, which over new offered man the possibility of living in accordance with the will of God. This world will stand for six thousand years, as astrological computations teach, and then it will make place for a new mixture, in which darkness will no longer have a place, so that all evil will have come to an end. There are delicate, distinctions, therefore, in Bardaiṣan’s ideas about evil also: on the one hand it is bondage, which is morally indifferent but interferes with life, on the other it is making a wrong use of liberty and is not morally indifferent, but brings man under the judgment. Bardaiṣan’s Christology is not quite clear. Presumably he regarded Christ as the Word of Thought, or the first Word which formed the world. This Logos passed through Mary and sought lodging in Jesus of Nazareth. The Christology is therefore completely docetic. Together with this, there is much emphasis upon Jesus as teacher and new law-giver: salvation consists in knowledge. At the same time Bardaiṣan speaks in his hymns of the Father and Mother of Life and their Son. These are heavenly figures, the last of whom is identified with Jesus. This is not in contradiction, then, with the Logos Christology. The bearing of this Son also signifies salvation, thus purification of the world. That is the reason why it is stated in the tradition that Bardaiṣan regarded conception and birth as a form of purification, beside knowledge. The mythical is exemplary here for human action, whereby evil is extruded. Perhaps in this connection evil, darkness, is thought of as an almost physical entity, as a substance to be spread over as wide an area as possible, that it may cause as little harm as possible. For the “quantity” of darkness was already limited at creation. In the same con-



text mention was made of the Holy Ghost and her two daughters, earth and water. The bearing of these daughters is a form of creation, and also of separation, and that is the formal resemblance with the rest of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology as transmitted to us. Thus the Son of Life, the Holy Ghost and the Word of Thought, which may also be Christ, all make approach to the mystery of creation and life, which comprise purification and salvation. The identification of the father and Mother of Life with the Sun and Moon tends in the same direction, and may link up with astrology, the more so as the latter rests in part upon astral elements in the Semitic religions. We found all these scraps of hymns in Ephrem’s oeuvre, so in some manner they fit into the whole of Bardaiṣan’s system. This was destined for an intellectual elite, although it would go too far to speak of esoteric knowledge. The system is rather an interpretation of traditional material of very heterogeneous origin, and this interpretation was worked out in the circle of the Bardesanites, where the hymns were sung, the books were read and the whole matter was discussed. From this there resulted a certain synthesis in which there were tensions, but that was supported by the personality of one man. Is not sexuality attended by intellectuality most fitting for the aristocratic intellectual courtier at the court of Edessa, well able to appreciate the good things of this earth? This synthetic character, which could make the impression of orthodoxy, also explains the resemblances and differences there are with other forms of Syrian Christianity, which were ultimately laid down in the Acta Thomae, and in later times were regarded as heretical.13 Thus the material Bardaiṣan used, because he found it to hand, was already very heterogeneous so that later Bardesanites could with equal right claim him as founder though differing greatly from one another. The same heterogeneous effect appears in the systematic thought of Bardaiṣan. It contains elements of late classical philosophy, particularly of the Stoa, although we cannot call Bardaiṣan a It must be remarked that ‘orthodoxy’ also preserved many archaic forms in Syria; Widengren strongly emphasises this in Mesopotamian elements in Manichaeism. A term such as ‘Bridal-chamber of Light’, for instance, also appears in the work of Ephrem, cf. Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, p. 173. 13



Stoic. His anthropology strongly recalls the Mazdean view of man14 and Persian ideas on Fate and free will.15 The cosmology also has some affinity with these, 16 but the conception of creation through mixing is also found in classical philosophy and in the PseudoClementine writings.17 The idea that the Highest God rules the world through the Seven Planets is related to the planet cult in Sumatar, by which it was probably inspired. There is Christian influence, expressed in a certain view of creation and salvation and a certain use of the Bible. There are also links with Judaism, for Philo produced a polemic against Fate of the same kind as that of Bardaiṣan, and this may have been known in Jewish circles in Edessa. There are also formal resemblances with the great gnostic systems of the second century, e.g. in the stress laid on knowledge as a means of salvation for the soul, the concept of uncreated matter and a “fall” before the world was really created. Yet there are great differences with the Gnosis, which may be defined as follows: 1. Gnosis is a knowledge that is not primarily intellectual, based upon revelation and necessary for the attainment of full salvation. In the concept of gnosis as it appears in gnosticism, Cf. M. Molé, Culte, Mythe et Cosmologie dans l’Iran Ancien, Annales du Musée Guimet, Bibliothèque d’Études, Tome LXIX, Paris 1963, p. 480 (in the chapter about ‘L’Homme Parfait). 15 Cf. A. V. Jackson, Zoroastrian Studies, N.Y. 1928, pp. 219–244: ‘The Zoroastrian doctrine of the freedom of the will’, esp. p. 226ff.; J. C. Tavadia, ‘Pahlavī Passages on Fate and Free Will’, ZII, 8, 1931, pp. 119–132, esp. 120f. and 126ff. 16 Cf. G. Widengren, ‘Stand und Aufgaben der iranischen Religionsgeschichte II’, Numen II, 1955, S. 104f. H. S. Nyberg, ‘Questions de Cosmogonie et de Cosmologie Mazdéennes’, JA, CCXIV, 1929, pp. 193– 310; CCXIX, 1931, pp. 1–134; JA, CCXIV, p. 207, p. 238; JA, CCXIX, p. 29, 70, 85. Here Nyberg discusses a Syriac treatise against the religion of the Magians, ed. Rahmani, Studia Syriaca IV, which shows much affinity with the views of Bardaisan; cf. E. Benveniste, The persian religion according to the chief greek texts, Paris 1929, passim. 17 Cf. Pohlenz, Die Stoa I, S. 72f.; H. J. Schoeps, Aus frühchristlicher Zeit, Tübingen 1950, SS. 1–37, ‘Die Urgeschichte nach den Pseudoklementinen’, and S. 39f., ‘Die Ursprung des Bösen’. 14



thought is active rather in the category of space than in that of time. 2. Besides a revelation of its own, gnosticism also has a tradition of its own that makes use of the literature of the church, and a theological literature of its own. 3. The O.T. is usually rejected and/or explained allegorically. The same method is used for the exegesis of the N.T. 4. God is imagined as entirely transcendent, beyond the comprehension of human thought and at the same time as the invariable good. Usually matter is opposed to God as something uncreated and independent, in which evil is nearly always inherent as a physical quality. Sometimes there are emanations, aeons, between God and the world. 5. The world is regarded from a completely pessimistic point of view, as the work of the demiurge, who created it against God’s will, or without His knowledge or will. 6. In the world and in mankind pneumatic and material elements are mixed. The pneumatic elements come from God and are the cause of the desire to return to Him. Men are divided into classes, according to whether they have gnosis or not. The pneumatics, who possess full gnosis, are by their nature admitted to full salvation. 7. In most systems Christ is regarded as the great point of reversal in the cosmic process. With him salvation begins, because he proclaims the unknown God, who until that moment had remained in the background. Characteristic of gnostic Christology is docetism.18 This definition, of a provisional nature, is only applicable to phenomena which appeared during the first centuries of our era in the Near East and Mediterranean regions, especially in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. The various conceptions and myths of gnosticism originate in this world, though not all systems display all the above characteristics.

Definition formulated by the Groningen working-group for the study of Gnosticism (slightly abridged). 18



One can point out a number of resemblances in form between Bardaiṣan’s views and the gnostic systems. But the differences are too great to speak of gnosticism with Bardaiṣan: 1. Bardaiṣan’s “gnosis” is not based on revelation, but is insight intellectually acquired. In his thought, time plays a greater part than space. 2. Bardaiṣan does not have a tradition of his own besides revelation, if one can speak of revelation in his case. 3. Matter is not evil for Bardaiṣan in a direct sense. Evil only arises from the commixture. Before that, matter was ordered harmoniously. 4. Bardaiṣan looks upon the world optimistically, as created by the Word of God’s Thought. There is no question of a demiurge. 5. People are not divided into classes, somatics, psychics and pnettmatics. Soma, psyche and pneuma indicate three levels in the life of every man. 6. Christ is not the great turning-point in the cosmic process. At creation, salvation already begins. These differences are so deep-seated, that it must be regarded as a mistake to speak of the Gnosis of Bardaiṣan. Many elements which have contributed to the origin of the gnostic systems, are differently grouped in the thought of Bardaiṣan, so that they function in a different manner and express a fundamentally different view of man and the world from Gnosticism. This last point is conclusive. Bardaiṣan’s ideas must be regarded as a synthesis of everything which his surroundings and his time offered him in the way of religious and philosophical conceptions, while he attempted to connect the old with the new, in order to maintain continuity with the past and a link with his surroundings. That is why it is so difficult to tell whether Bardaiṣan was a Christian. It is perfectly possible that the place of Christ in this system is secondary, and that Bardaiṣan afterwards worked out certain identifications. This may be the case for the Word of Thought, but also for Father, Mother and Son: triads were numerous in the Semitic world. A thorough



religieo-historical inquiry may still bring to light many sources of his ideas.19

D. BARDAIṢAN’S RELATIONS TO MARCION AND MANI The influence of Marcion made itself felt at an early date in Edessa, and was fiercely opposed by Bardaiṣan. The main point at issue was undoubtedly Creation, which Marcion ascribed to the evil God of the O.T. Salvation was the work of Christ, the Son of the Unknown God. This separation between creation and salvation formed the controversy, as Bardaiṣan let salvation begin with creation. Therefore cosmology is for him the substructure of the soteriology, whereas Marcion was only “cosmologist by accident.”20 The introduction of more principles by other Marcionites did not remove the fundamental point of difference. Other issues followed from it: Bardaiṣan takes a far more optimistic view of man than Marcion, who consequently laid full stress upon salvation. Both, however, played a part in Mani’s religious development, and therefore they are accounted the two “just men” of Manichaeism.21 This does not mean that Christianity, in the shape in which it appeared to Mani via Marcion and Bardaiṣan, was constitutive for the development of his doctrine: the Iranian elements are too dominant for that. Mani did, however, make the acquaintance of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology, and the dualistic germ it contained he developed to the full.22 Ephrem Syrus puts it as follows: Because Mani was unable to find another way out, he entered, though unwillingly, by the door which Bardaiṣan opened.23

Therefore Ephrem calls Bardaiṣan the “teacher of Mani” and says that the latter borrowed much from him, astrology in particular. One might think, int. al., of the Hermetic writings, which were also known among the Sabians in Ḥarran. Also, one might think of Hermogenes, cf. Lietzmann, Geschichte d. alten Kirche II, S. 270f. 20 E. C. Blackman, Marcion and his influence, London 1948, p. 79. 21 Cf. H. C. Puech, ‘Erlösung im Manichäismus’, Eranos-Jahrbuch IV, 1936, S. 271. 22 Cf. S. Pétrement, Essai sur le dualism chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichéens, Paris 1947 (thèse), p. 190–197. 23 Pr. Ref. I, p. xc (transl.), p. 122 (Syr. text). 19



Yet the cosmology is the cardinal point. In that, Mani displays a totally different outlook upon life and that is why he only followed Bardaiṣan “unwillingly.” Mani abrogated the ambivalent nature of darkness and made darkness itself into an active principle which makes an attack upon the world of light. Not a chance event is the cause of the confusion, but darkness itself. Besides the darkness there are smoke, fire, water and wind, which are continually at enmity with one another. Smoke we also met with in Theodore bar Khonai’s depiction of Bardaiṣan’s cosmology. Light is naturally missing in the world of darkness. This darkness attacks the world of light of the Father of Greatness, who sends out Primordial Man to beat off the attack. The armour of primordial man consists of aether, wind, light, water and fire. However, the Primordial Man is defeated and robbed of his armour, as a result of which the following phases of this cosmological drama begin to develop. It is already possible, however, to point out resemblances and differences between Mani and Bardaiṣan. A process of reduplication has been at work, so that we find the elements both in the world of darkness and with the Primordial Man who must combat darkness. According to Bardaiṣan, a small amount of darkness mingled with the pure elements out of which God forms the world by means of the Word of Thought. According to Mani the elements of light are stolen by darkness, and the world is created out of the evil Archons by the Living Spirit for the liberation of the particles of light. Bardaiṣan’s creation is intended to drive out darkness as much as possible, Mani’s to liberate the particles of light. The contrast is between an optimistic view of man and a pessimistic view, between an active fighter against evil and a passive ascetic, between acceptance of existence and longing for salvation. It is understandable that Mani only followed Bardaiṣan reluctantly, and that he fundamentally altered the views of his teacher. The difference between the two is also expressed in their view of purification. Mani looks upon sexual intercourse as an obstacle hindering the particles of light from returning to their source, Bardaiṣan thinks it may be a form of purification, and that the soul is purified in the body. Al-Bîrûnî in particular has preserved something of this discussion. The purification of the soul in the body probably takes place because the soul, or the spirit which is linked with it, does what is right, according to Christ’s command. Thus the soul is enabled to return to its source. Sexual intercourse also



“dilutes” the amount of darkness in the world, and so it is a form of purification. Mani, on the other hand, regards the begetting of children as a dispersal of the particles of light, whereby their return is made more difficult. Thus the same difference crops out again and again.24 A number of Bardesanites probably drew the same conclusions as Mani, became strictly ascetic and landed in Manichaeism. Later traditions suggest this. Moreover asceticism was a strong force in Syria, both among the orthodox and the heterodox. This group of followers of a typical man of the “centre,” experienced attraction from all sides and its lot was strongly marked thereby, as we shall see.

E. THE FORTUNES OF THE BARDESANITES Already in the time of Bardaiṣan, the group of the Bardesanites did not form a homogeneous whole. Ephrem relates that there were differences between Bardaiṣan and his son, expressed in their various hymns. There were, more of such differences: Bardaiṣan calls the Lord the Son of a Father and Mother, while the Bardesanites spoke of union between the Father of Life and the Mother, who had the form of a fish. The traditional material was interpreted in many different ways, without abandoning the main line of Bardaiṣan. The group still existed in the time of Ephrem, and it constituted a formidable power. Then also their teachings were not uniform, for Ephrem tells us of developments approaching the views of the Audians. The Audians form a development of the Bardesanites in a more astrological and gnostic direction: Bardaiṣan’s single spiritual potency is divided into three, which together with the four pure elements complete the heptad. These seven A renewed examination of the relations between Bardaiṣan and Mani would certainly be worth while, in view of the current publication of the Coptic Manichaean texts and other writings. Of the earlier studies mention may made of H. H. Schaeder, ‘Urform und Fortbildungen des Manichäischen Systems’, Vorträge d. Bibliothek Warburg 1924–25, LeipzigBerlin 1927, SS. 65–157; L. Tondelli, Mani, rapport con Bardesane, S. Agostino, Dante, Milano 1932, O. G. von Wesendonk, ‘Bardesanes und Mani’, Acta Orientalia, X, 1932, SS. 336–363. 24



are then brought into relation with the Seven planets, including Sun and Moon, who are looked upon as creators of man. Each planet creates a part or organ of the human body. Probably classical ideas of physiology, which were set in an astrological framework in Mesopotamia, played a part in this development. The Audians remained true to the Bardesanite tradition of reinterpreting all kinds of ideas from various sources into a new system. This explains why they are related with, for instance, the Sethians. In the time of bishop Kabbula of Edessa (ob.435) the Bardesanites were forcibly converted and the building where they met was destroyed. In this century of bigoted reaction in Edessa, beginning already with Ephrem and reaching its height in the time of Rabbula, it was attempted to extirpate the last traces of paganism. These included those forms of Christianity, which had grafted the new faith upon existing forms and so displayed archaic traits. Judaism, which Bardaiṣan had spoken of with respect, was also persecuted in that period; both Ephrem and Rabbula were vehement anti-Semites. Old and new, which with Bardaiṣan and his followers went hand in hand, came into antithetic opposition. Whoever tried to preserve old values, found himself in sectarian courses. That is the reason why after Rabbula all sects in Syria possess characteristics of the archaic Christianity in that region, and are driven more and more in that direction. Systematic action against heretics, which had passed its peak in the West, then begins in the East with Ephrem and Maruta of Maipherkat. The arguments are stereotype: Greek science and Syrian astrology have nothing to do with faith, and cannot supply it with forms. This attitude is strengthened by the political constellation Syrian Christianity had to maintain itself between the Byzantine empire on one side and the Sassanides on the other, and consequently marked its distance from both. This entailed the shaking off of the traditions anchored in the two cultures. Owing to this tendency of the times, the Bardesanites became more and more “heterodox;” some of them were probably absorbed into Manichaeism, yet the group still continued to exist. In the time of Jacob of Edessa (c.633–708) there were still Bardesanites. In how far this was then only a matter of individuals, or of a group, is hard to say. The former seems more likely, as they are always people with a strong interest in “science,” who preserved the ancient knowledge. In this period the Bardesanites also



took a part in handing on the sciences of antiquity to Islam, when interest in these increased so much in Syria also. That is the reason why later centuries have preserved so many notices about Bardaiṣan and his followers, and why in that time the Ms. of the BLC was written which is the only one left to us. Yet for Islam, too, the Bardesanites were heretics, however eagerly the Muslims might gather in their knowledge. They formed part of the great accumulation of dualists found in the East at that time, in whom both Christianity and Islam sensed a threat. Bardesanite doctrines were then still to be met with among the Sabians in Ḥarran, among Manichaeans, who in Mesopotamia had also fallen apart into many groups, among Karmatians and Pure Brethren in Basra. They are guardians of the ancient and traditional, unwilling to surrender to any dogmatism, who greatly stress the ethics of everyday life, and whose “humanism” is fed from many different sources. In these forms the ideas of Bardaiṣan worked on, shilling as they naturally must, while the intentions of the Aramaic philosopher were kept inviolate: to take cognisance of all science, that man may know who he is and how he may live as man in an unbroken unity of past and present.

BIBLIOGRAPHY A. EDITIONS AND TRANSLATIONS OF SYRIAC TEXTS The Book of the Laws of Countries CURETON, W., Spicilegium Syriacum, containing remains of Bardesan, Meliton, Ambrose and Mara bar Serapion, ed. with an English transl. and notes, London 1855. DRIJVERS, H. J. W., The Book of the Laws of Countries. Dialogue on Fate of Bardaiṣan of Edessa, Semitic texts with translations III, Assen 1965. LECHLER, G. V., Ukkundenfunde zur Geschichte des christlichen Altertums, 2 Tle., Leipzig 1885–1886 (Syriac text of the BLC). LEVI DELLA VIDA, G., Bardesane. Il Dialogo delle Leggi dei Paesi, Scrittori christiani antichi 3, Roma 1921. (Italian translation of the BLC). MERX, A., Bardesanes von Edessa, Halle 1863, SS. 25–55. (German translation of the BLC). NAU, F., Patrologia Syriaca I, 2, accurante R. Graffin, Paris 1907, col. 536–611. (Syriac text and Latin translation of the BLC with an introduction). NAU, F., Bardesane l’Astrologue. Le Livre des Lois des Pays, texte syriaque et traduction française, Paris 1899. WIESMANN, H., Die Schrift über die Gesetze der Länder, 75 Jahre Stella Matutina, Feldkirch 1931, Ss. 553–572. (German translation of the BLC).

Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa F. NAU, La première partie de l’histoire de Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa, texte syriaque édité et traduit par F. Nau, PO. XXIII, Paris 1932.




Bar Hebraeus ABBELOOS, J. B. — LAMY, TH., Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, 2 Tom. Louvain 1872–1877. BAKOŠ, J., Bar Hebraeus, Mnarat Kudshê, le Candélabre des Sanctuaires, édité et traduit, PO, XXII, Paris 1930. NAU, F., Bar Hebraeus, Sur les Hérésies, texte syriaque édité et traduit, PO XIII, Paris 1919.

Elias of Nisibis: BROOKS, E. W., (edit.) — CHABOT, I. B., (interpret. est), Opus Chronologicum CSCO, Script. Syri, Series Tertia, VII, VIII, Paris 1909–1910.

Ephrem Syrus: BECK, E., Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen contra Haereses, hrsg. u. übers., CSCO, Script. Syri., 76–77, Louvain 1957. BECK, E., Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Carmina Nisibina, hrsg. u. übers., CSCO, Script Syri., 92–93; 102–103, Louvain 1961–1963. DUNCAN JONES, A. S., ‘A homily of St. Ephraem’, JThS, V, 1904, pp. 546–552. LAMY, TH., Sancti Ephraemi Syri Hymni et Sermones, 4 Voll., Mechelen 1882–1902. MACKE, K., Hymnen aus dem Zweiströmland. Dichtungen des heiligen Ephrem des Syrers nebst einem Anhang, Mainz 1882. MITCHELL, C. W., S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaisan, Vol. I, London 1912; Vol. II, compl. by A. A. Bevan and F. C. Burkitt, London 1921. OVERBECK, J. J., S. Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae episcopi Edesseni, Balaei aliorumque opera selecta, Oxford 1865. RAHMANI, IGNATIUS EPHRAEM II, Studia Syriaca I, In Seminario Scharfensi in Monte Libano 1904. RÜCKER, A., Des heiligen Ephräms des Syrers Hymnen gegen die Irrlehren, aus dem Syrischen übers., BKV2, 61, München 1928.

Eusebius: NESTLE, E., Die Kirchengeschichte des Eusebius aus dem Syrischem übers., TU, N.F., VI, 2, Leipzig 1901. WRIGHT, W. — W. MCLEAN, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius in Syriac, Cambridge 1898.

Georgios Episkopos Arabum: RYSSEL, V., Georgs des Araberbischofs Gedichte und Briefe, aus dem



Syrischen übers. und erläutert, Leipzig 1891. RYSSEL, V., ‘Die astronomischen Briefe Georgs des Araberbischofs’, ZA, VIII, 1893, SS. 1–55.

Îwannîs of Dàrâ: BAUMSTARK, A., ‘Îwannîs von Dàrâ über Bardaiṣàn’, OC, dritte Serie, 8, 1933, SS. 62–71.

Isho‘dad of Merv: GIBSON, M.D., The commentaries of Isho‘dad of Merv, Horae Semiticae, V, VI, VII, X, XI, (2 parts) Cambridge 1911–1916.

Jacob of Edessa: CHABOT, I. B., — A. VASCHALDE, Jacobi Edesseni Hexaemeron, CSCO, Series Secunda, 56, Paris 1928. MARTIN, J., ‘L’Hexaméron de Jaques d’Edessa’, JA, 8ème Série, XI, 1888, pp. 155–218; 401–490. WRIGHT, W. (ed.), ‘Two epistles of Mar Jacob, Bishop of Edessa’, Journal of Sacred Literature, N. Series, 10, 1867, pp. 430–460.

Maruta of Maipherkat: BRAUN, O., De Sancta Nicaena Synode. Syrische Texte des Maruta von Maipherkat, Kirchengeschichtliche Studien, IV, 3, Münster 1898. HARNACK, A. VON, Der Ketzer-Katalog des Bischofs Maruta von Maipherkat, TU., N.F., IV, 1, Leipzig, 1899. RAHMANI, IGNATIUS EPHRAEM II, Documenta de antiquis haeresibus, Studia Syriaca IV, In Seminario Scharfensi in Monte Libano 1909.

Michael Syrus: CHABOT, J. B., Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d’Antioche, 3 Vols., Paris 1900–1910. NAU, F., Une biographie inédite de Bardesane l’astrologue, Paris 1897.

Moses Bar Kepha: BRAUN, O., Moses bar Kepha und sein Buch von der Seele, Freiburg 1891.

Philoxenos of Mabbug: BRIÈRE, M., Sancti Philoxeni episcopi Mabbugensis dissertationes decem de Uno e Sancta Trinitate incorporato et passo, PO, XV, Paris



1927. BUDGE, E. A. W., The discourses of Philoxenos of Mabbôgh, 2 Vols., London 1893–1894. HALLEUX, A. DE, Philoxène de Mabbog, Lettre aux moines de Senoun, éd. et trad., CSCO, Script. Syri., 231–232, Louvain 1963. NAU, F., Les hérésies Christologiques d’après Philoxène de Mabboug (Xenaias) et Bar Hébraeus, éd. et trad., PO, XIII, Paris 1919.

Theodore Bar Khonai: POGNON, H., Inscriptions mandaïtes des coupes de Khouabir, Paris 1898. SCHER, A., Liber Scholiorum, CSCO, Series Secunda, 65–66, Paris 1910– 1912.

Chronica: BROOKS, E. W., — I. B. CHABOT, Chronicon Miscellaneum ad Annum Domini 724 pertinens, CSCO, Series Tertia, 4, 2, Paris 1904. BROOKS, E. W., — I. B. CHABOT, Chronicon ad Annum Domini 846 pertinens, CSCO, Series Tertia, 4, 2, Paris 1904. HALLIER, L., Untersuchungen über die Edessenische Chronik mit dem Syrischen Text und einer Uebersetzung, TU, IX, 1, Leipzig 1892.

Other Texts: BEDJAN, P., Acta martyrum et sanctorum, 7 Voll. Paris 1890–1897. CURETON, W., Ancient syriac documents relative to the earliest establishment of christianity in Edessa and the neighbouring countries, with a preface by W. Wright, London 1864. DRAGUET, R., ‘Pièces de polémique antijulianiste, éd. et trad.’, Le Muséon, 44, 1931, pp. 255–317. LAND, J. P. N., Anecdota Syriaca I, Leiden 1862. RENDEL HARRIS, J., — A. MINGANA, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, 2 Vols., Manchester 1916–1920. WRIGHT, W., The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, ed. from Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum and other Libraries, 2 Vols., London 1871.

B. EDITIONS AND TRANSLATIONS OF ARABIC TEXTS Agapius of Mabbug: VASILIEV, A., Kitâb al ‘Unvân-Histoire Universelle, par Agapius (Mahboub) de Menbidj, éd. et trad., II, 1, PO, VII, Paris 1911.



Al-Balḫi: HUART, CL., Le Livre de la Création et de l’Histoire d’Abou - Zéid Ahmed ben Sahl al-Balkhî, publ. et trad., 3 Tom., Publications de l’École des langues orientales vivantes, IVème série, XVI, XVII, XVIII, Paris 1899–1903.

Abû’l-Barakât: VILLECONT, L., Le Livre de la Lampe des Ténèbres et de l’exposition (lumineux) du service (de l’église) par Abû ‘l-Barakât, connu sous le nom d’Ibn Kabar, texte arabe édité et trad. PO, XX, Paris 1929.

Al-Bîrûnî: SACHAU, E., Alberuni’s India, edited in the arabic original, London 1877. SACHAU, E., Alberuni’s India, an English edition with notes and indices, 2 vols., London 1910. SACHAU, E., Chronologie orientalischer Völker, ed., Leipzig 1878. SACHAU, E., The Chronology of ancient nations, an English version of the arabic text of the Athar-ul-bâkiya of Albiruni, or “Vestiges of the Past”, transl. and edit., London 1879.

Bar Hebraeus: POCOCKE, E., Albulfaragius Greg., Historia compendiosa dynastiarum, Arabice edita et Latine versa, 2 Tom. + Suppl., Oxoniae 1663.

Ibn Ḥazm: Al-fasl fi’l milan wa’l ahwa’ wa’l milal, Cairo 1317 (1899).

Jaḥiz of Basra: Kitâb al-Hayawân, 7 Vols., Cairo 1907.

Mas‘udi: GOEJE, M. DE, Kitâb at-tanbîh wa’l-ischrâf, Bibl. Georg. Arab., ed. M. de Goeje, VIII, Leiden 1894. BARBIER DE MEYNARD, C., et PAVET DE COUTEILLE, A. J. B. M. M., Muruğ aḏ-ḏahab, Les prairies d’or, édit. et trad., 9 Vols., Paris 1861–1877. CARRA DE VAUX, L’Abrégé des Merveilles, trad. de l’arabe, Paris 1898.

Severus Ibn Al-Muqaffa‘: LEROY, L., Sévère ibn al-Moqaffa‘, évêque d’Aschmounain, Histoire des


BARDAIṢAN OF EDESSA conciles, édit. et tard. PO, VI, Paris 1911.

Ibn Al-Murtaḍâ: SUZANNA DIWALD-WILZER, Die Klassen der Mu’taziliten, hrsg., Bibliotheca Islamica 21, Wiesbaden 1961.

An-Nadîm: FLÜGEL, G., Kitâb al-Fihrist, mit Anm. hrsg., besorgt v. J. Roediger und A. Müller, 2 Tle., Leipzig 1871–1872.

Theodore Abu Qurra: CHEIKHO, L., Traité inédit de Théodore Abou Qurra (Abucara) évêque Melchite de Harran sur l’Existence de Dieu et la Vraie Religion, édit., Beyrouth 1912. GRAF, G., Des Theodore Abû Kurra Traktat über den Schöpfer und die wahre Religion, Beirr. z. Geschichte d. Philos. d. Mittelalters, T.u.U., XIV, 1, Münster i.W. 1913.

Shahrastânî: CURETON, W., Book of religious and philosophical sects by Muhammad al-Shahrastáni, ed., 2 Vols., London 1842–1846. HAARBRÜCKER, TH., Religionspartheien und Philosophen-Schulen, 2 Tle., Halle 1850–1851.

C. EDITIONS AND TRANSLATIONS OF GREEK TEXTS Adamantius: SANDE BAKHUYZEN, W. H. VAN DE, Der Dialog des Adamantius, ed., GCS., 8, Leipzig 1901.

Caesarius: Quaestiones, Migne SG, 38.

Clement of Alexandria: SIGNARD, F., Clément d’Alexandrie; Extraits de Théodote, SC 23, Paris 1948.

Pseudo-Clementine Writings: REHM, B., Die Pseudoklementinen I, Homilien, GCS, 42, Berlin/Leipzig 1953.



Diodorus of Tarsus: Peri Heimarmenes, excerpta in Photii Bibliotheca: BEKKERI, IMM., Photii Bibliotheca, 2 Tom., Berolini 1824 = Migne, SG, 103–104.

Epiphanius: HOLL, K., Epiphanius, Panarion, hrsg., Bd. II, CGS, 31, Leipzig 1922.

Eusebius: SCHWARZ, E., Eusebius Werke, 20er Band, Die Kirchengeschichte, Teil I, hrsg., GCS, 9I. Leipzig 1903. GIFFORD, E. H., Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, ed. and transl., 4 Vols., Oxford 1903. MRAS, K., Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, GCS, 43, 1, Berlin 1954.

Georgius Hamartolus: CRAMER, J. A., Anecdota graeca e codd. manuscr. bibliothecarum Oxoniensium, IV, Oxford 1837.

Hippolytus: WENDLAND, P., Hippolytus’ Werke, 3ter Band, Refutatio omnium haeresium, GCS, 26, Leipzig 1916.

Julius Africanus: THEVENOT, M., Veterum Mathemathicorum Opera, Paris 1693.

Nicephorus Callistus: Historia Ecclesiastica, Migne, SG, 145.

Ptolemaeus: QUISPEL, G., Ptolemee: Lettre a Flora, SC, 24, Paris 1949.

Porphyrius: Peri Stygos, excerpta in: WACHSMUTH, C., and O. HENSE, Ioannis Stobaei, Anthologium, 5 Tom., Berlin 1884–1912. REISKII, ION. IAC., Porphyrii Philosophi, De Abstinentia ab esu animalium ed., notas adi. Iacob de Rhoer, Traj. ad Rhenum 1767.



Sozomenus: BIDEZ, J., Sozomenus’ Kirchengeschichte, hrsg., eingel. und zum Druck besorgt v. G. Chr. Hansen, GCS, 50, Berlin 1960.

Theodoretus of Cyrus: PARMENTIER, L., Theodoret, Kirchengeschichte, hrsg., Ute Aufl., bearb. v. F. Scheidweiler, GCS, 44, Berlin 1954. Epistulae, Migne, SG, 83. Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, Migne, SG, 83.

D. EDITIONS AND TRANSLATIONS OF LATIN AND OTHER TEXTS Augustinus: MULLER, L. G., The De Haeresibus of Saint Augustine, transl., intros. and comment., The Cath. Univ. of America, Patristic Studies, 90, Washington 1956.

Hieronymus: HERDING, G., Hieronymus, De Viris Illustribus, London 1924. Commentarionum in Osee, Migne, SL, 25. Adversus Jovinianum, Migne, SL, 23.

Moses of Chorene: LANGLOIS, V., Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de l’Arménie I = Fragm. Hist. Grac. V, 2, Paris 1884.

Praedestinati Liber Primus: OEHLER, F., Praedestinati Liber Primus, qui est de haeresibus, Corpus Haeresiologicum I, Berlin 1856.

Pseudo-Clementine Writings: Recognitiones, Migne, SG, 1.

E. OTHER LITERATURE CONSULTED ABEL, A., art. ‘Dayṣāniyya’, EI, new edition, II, 26, London 1963, p. 199. ABRAMOWSKI, R., ‘Untersuchungen zu Diodor von Tarsus’, ZNW, 30, 1931, SS. 234–262. ADAM, A., ‘Die Psalmen des Thomas und das Perlenlied als Zeugnisse vorchristlicher Gnosis, Beiheft ZNW 24, Berlin 1959. ADAM, A., ‘Die ursprüngliche Sprache der Salamo-Oden’, ZNW, 52,



1961., SS. 141–156. ADAM, A., ‘Manichäismus’ in: Handbuch der Orientalistik VIII, 2, Leiden 1961. ALFARIC, P., Les écritures manichéennes, 2 Vols., Pairs 1918–1919. ALLBERRY, CH. R. C., ‘Symbole von Tod und Wiedergeburt im Manichäismus’, Eranos-Jahrbuch VII, 1939, SS. 113–149. ALLGEIER, A., ‘Ein syrischer Memrâ über die Seele in religionsgeschichtlicher Rahmen’, ARW, 21, 1922, SS. 360–396. ALTANER, B., Patrologie, 6te Aufl., Freiburg/Basel/Wien 1963. AMAND, D., Fatalisme et Liberté dans l’antiquité grecque, Université de Louvain, Recueil de Travaux d’Histoire et de Philologie, 3me série fasc. 19, Louvain 1945. ANWANDER, A., ‘“Schicksal”-Wörter in Antike und Christentum’, ZRGG, 1, 1948, SS. 315–327; 2, 1949/50, SS. 48–54, 128–134. ANZ, W., Zur Frage nach dem Ursprung des Gnostizismus, TU, XV, 4, Leipzig 1897. AMUSSEN, J. P., XuĀSTVĀNĪFT studies in Manichaeism, Copenhagen 1965. ASTOUR, M. C., ‘Greek names in the semitic world and semitic names in the Greek world’, JNES, 23, 1964, pp. 193–201. ASTOUR, M. C., Hellenosemitica. An ethnic and cultural study in west semitic impact on mycenaean Greece, Leiden 1965. BARDENHEWER, O., Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, I, IV, Freiburg 1902, 1924. BARDY, G., art. ‘Bardesane, Bardesanites’, Dict. d’hist. et de géografie ecclés., VI, Paris 1932, pp. 765–769. BAUER, W., Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, BHTh, 10, Tübingen 1934. BAUMGARTNER, A., ‘Ueber das Buch “die Chrie”’, ZDMG, 40, 1886, SS. 457–515. BAUMSTARK, A., ‘Lucubrationes Syro-Graeca’, Jahrb. f. Class. Philol., Suppl. Bd. 21, Leipzig 1894, SS. 353–524. BAUMSTARK, A., Ostsyrisches Christentum und ostsyrischer Hellenismus’, RQ, 22, 1908. BAUMSTARK, A., Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, mit Ausschluss der christlich-palästinensischen Texte, Bonn 1922. BAUMSTARK, A., ‘Der Text der Mani-Zitate in der Syrischen Uebersetzung des Titus von Bostra’, OC, 3te Serie, 6, 1931, SS. 23–42. BAUMSTARK, A., Syrische Literatur: in, Handbuch der Orientalistik, III, 2/3, Leiden 1954. BAYNES, CH. A., ‘Der Erlösungsgedanke in der christlichen Gnosis’, Eranos-Jahrbuch V, 1937, SS. 155–209. BEAUVOIR PRIAULX, O. DE, ‘On the Indian Embassies to Rome



from the Reign of Claudius to the Death of Justinian’, JRAS, 19, 1862, pp. 274–298. BENVENISTE, E., The Persian religion according to the chief greek texts, Paris 1929. BENZ, E., ‘Die Heilige Höhle in der alten Christenheit und in der östlichorthodoxen Kirche’, Eranos-Jahrbuch XXII, 1953, SS. 365–432. BERKUSKY, H., ‘Zur Symbolik der Farben’, Zeitschr. d. Vereins f. Volkskunde, 23, 1913, SS. 146–163; 250–265. BERNARD, J. H., The Odes of Solomon, TS, VIII, 3, Cambridge 1912. BETHUNE-BAKER, J. F., Nestorius and his teachings, Cambridge, 1908. BEZOLD, C., Astronomie, Himmelsschau und Astrallehre bei den Babyloniern, SAH, Philos.-hist. Kl., 1911, Abh. 2, Heidelberg 1911. BICKEL, E., Diatribe in Senecae Philosophi fragmenta, I, Fragmenta de Matrimonio, Leipzig 1915. BIDEZ, J., Vie de Porphyre. Le philosophe néoplatonicien, Université de Gand, Recueil de Travaux publiés par la faculté de philosophie et lettres, 43me fasc., Gand-Leipzig 1913. BIDEZ, J., ‘Les écoles chaldéennes sous Alexandre et les Seleucides’, Annuaire de l’institut de philologie et d’historie orientales, III, 1935, Bruxelles 1935, pp. 41–89. BIDEZ, J. — F. CUMONT, Les mages hellénisés. 2 Vols., Paris 1938. BLACKMAN, E. C., Marcion and his influence, London 1948. BOHLIG, A., ‘Die Adamapokalypse aus Codex V von Nag Hammadi als Zeugnis jüdisch-iranischer Gnosis’, OC, 48, 1964, SS. 44–49. BOLL, F., ‘Zum griechischen Roman’, Philologus, 66 (N.F. 20), 1907, SS. 1–15. BOLL, F., (unter Mitwirkung von C. BELZOLD), Sternglaube und Sterndeutung. Die Geschichte und das Wesen der Astrologie, Leipzig/Berlin 1919 (zweite Aufl.). BOLL, F., Kleine Schriften zur Sternkunde des Altertums, herausg. von V. Stegmann, Leipzig 1950. BORNKAMM, G., Mythos und Legende in den apokryphen ThomasAkten, FRLANT, N.F. 31, Göttingen 1933. BOUSSET, W., ‘Die Himmelsreise der Seele’, ARW 4, 1901, SS. 136–169; 229–273. BOUSSET, W., Hauptprobleme der Gnosis, FRLANT, 10, Göttingen 1907. BOUSSET, W., Die Religion des Judentums im späthellenistischen Zeitalter, 2te Aufl., hrsg. v. H. Gressman, Tübingen 1926. BRAUN, F. M., ‘L’énigme des Odes de Salomon’, Rev. Thom., 57, 1957. BUONAIUTI, E., Lo Gnosticismo. Storia di antiche lotte religiose, Roma 1907. BUONAIUTI, E., ‘Bardesane l’Astrologo’, Rivista stor. critica d. scienze



teol., 5, 1909, pp. 691–704. BURCH, V., ‘A Commentary on the Syriac Hymn of the Soul’, JThS, XIX, 1918, pp. 145–161. BURKITT, F. C., The Hymn of Bardaisan, rendered into English, London 1899. BURKITT, F. C., Early Christianity outside the Roman Empire, Cambridge 1899. BURKITT, F. C., S. Ephraim’s quotations from the Gospel, TS, VII, 2, Cambridge 1901. BURKITT, F. C., Early Eastern Christianity, London 1904. BURKITT, F. C., ‘Sarbôg, Shuruppak’, JThS, IV, 1903, pp. 125 ff. BURKITT, F. C., ‘Toga in the East’, JThS, XXIII, 1922, pp. 128 f. BURKITT, F. C., The religion of the Manichees, Cambridge 1925. BURKITT, F. C., History of Syria, in: The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. XII, Cambridge 1939. BURKITT, F. C., Church and Gnosis. A study of Christian Thought and Speculation in the second century, Cambridge 1932. CARMIGNAC, J., ‘Les affinités qumrâniennes de la onzième ode de Salomon’, Revue de Qumran, III, 1, (numéro 9) 1961, pp. 71–102. CARRIÈRE, A., Nouvelles sources de Moïse de Khoren, Wien 1893. CARRIÈRE, A., Les huit sanctuaires de l’Arménie payenne d’après Agathange et Moïse de Khoren, Paris 1899. CASEY, R. P., ‘Two Notes on Valentinian Theology’, HThR, XXIII, 1930, pp. 275–298. CASEY, R. P., art. ‘Armenien’, RGC3, I, Sp. 610 ff. CERFAUX, L., art. ‘Bardesanes’, RAC, I, kol. 1180–1196 (1943). CHABOT, J. B., ‘Note sur l’ouvrage syriaque intitulé Le Jardin des Délices’, Orientalische Studien Theodor Nöldeke gewidmet, Gieszen 1906, Tl. I, SS. 487–496. CHRIST, W. VON, Geschichte der Griechisten Literatur, 6e Aufl., Bd. II, 2, München 1924. CHRISTENSEN, A., L’Iran sous les Sassanides, Annales du Musée Guimet, Bibliothèque d’Études, 48, Kopenhagen/Paris 1936. CHWOLSOHN, D., Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2 Tle., St. Petersburg 1856. CLARKE, E. G., The selected questions of Ishō bar Nūn on the Pentateuch, Leiden 1962. CLERMONT-GANNEAU, C., ‘Syriaque et Nabatéen’, JRAS, 1923, pp. 263 f. CONYBEARE, F. C., ‘The Idea of Sleep in the “Hymn of the Soul”’, JThS, VI, 1905, pp. 609 f. CORBIN, H., ‘Rituel Sabéen et exégèse ismaelienne du rituel’, EranosJahrbuch XIX, 1950, pp. 181–246. CORBIN, H., Histoire de la philosophie islamique I, Paris 1964.



CULLMANN, O., Le problème littéraire et historique du roman pseudoclémentin. Étude sur le rapport entre le Gnosticisme et le JudéoChristianisme, Paris 1930. CULLMANN, O., Die neuentdeckten Qumrantexte und das Judenchristentum der Pseudoklementinen’, Neutestamentliche Studien für Rudolf Bultmann, Beih. ZNW 21, Berlin 1954, SS. 35–51. CUMONT, F., Recherches sur le Manichéisme I, La cosmogonie manichéenne d’après Théodore bar Khôni, Bruxelles 1908. CUMONT, F., Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans, New York/London 1912. CUMONT, F., Études syriennes, Paris 1917. CUMONT, F., Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain, 4ème édition, Paris 1929. CUMONT, F., Lux Perpetua, Paris 1949. DAHLMANN, J., Die Thomaslegende und die ältesten historischen Beziehungen des Christentums zum fernen Osten im Lichte der indischen Altertumskunde, Freiburg (Breisgau) 1912. DALBERT, P., Die Theologie der hellenistisch-jüdischen Missionsliteratur, Hamburg 1954. DALMAIS, I. H., ‘L’Apport des églises syriennes à l’hymnographie chrétienne’, Orient Syrien, II, 1957, pp. 243–260. DANIÉLOU, J., Théologie du Judéo-Christianisme, Tourani 1958. DANIÉLOU, J., Geschiedenis van de Kerk I, Hilversum/Antwerpen 1963. DELLY, EMMANUEL-KARIM, La Théologie d’Élie bar Sénaya. Étude et traduction de ses Entretiens, Roma 1957. DIBELIUS, O., ’Studien zur Geschichte der Valentinianer I’, ZNW, 9, 1908, SS. 230–247. DIX, GREGORY, Jew and Greek. A study in the Primitive Church, London 1953. DORESSE, J., Les livres secrets des gnostiques d’Égypte, Paris 1958. DORESSE, J., L’Évangile selon Thomas, ou les paroles secrètes de Jésus, Paris 1959. DROWER, E. S., The Book of the Zodiac, Orient. Transl. Fund, XXXVI, London 1949. DROWER, E. S., The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, reprint, Leiden 1962. DUCHESNE-GUILLEMIN, J., Ormazd et Ahriman. L’Aventure dualiste dans l’antiquité, Paris 1953. DUCHESNE-GUILLEMIN, J., ‘Persische Weisheit in griechischem Gewande?’, HThR, XLIX, 1956, pp. 115–122. DUCHESNE-GUILLEMIN, J., ‘Le Zervanisme et les manuscrits de la Mer Morte’, IIJ, I, 1957, pp. 96–99. DUCHESNE-GUILLEMIN, J., The Western Response to Zoroaster, Oxford 1958.



DUVAL, R., Histoire politique, religieuse et littéraire d’Édesse jusqu’à la première croisade, Paris 1892. DUVAL, R., La Littérature syriaque, 2ème édition, Paris 1900. EHRHARDT, A., ‘Christianity before the Apostle’s Creed’, HThR, 55, 1962, pp. 73–119. EISLER, R., Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt. Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zur Urgeschichte des antiken Weltbildes, München 1910. ELZE, M., Tatian und seine Theologie. Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte 9, Göttingen 1960. ERMONI, V., ‘Diodore de Tarse et son rôle doctrinal’, Le Muséon, Nouvelle Série, II, 1901, pp. 422–444. FAYE, E. DE, Gnostiques et Gnosticisme, Paris 1913. FEDER, A., Studien zur Schriftstellerkatalog des heiligen Hieronymus, 1927. FESTUGIÈRE, A. J., ‘Notes sur les extraits de Théodote de Clément d’Alexandrie et sur les fragments de Valentin’, VigChr., III, 1949, pp. 193–207. FESTUGIÈRE, A. J., La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, 4 Vols., Paris 1942–1954. FINDLAY, A. F., Byways in early christian literature. Studies in the uncanonical gospels and acts, Edinburgh 1923. FINEGAN, J., Handbook of biblical chronology, Princeton 1964. FLÜGEL, G., Al-Kindî genannt “der Philosoph der Araber”, AKM, I, 2, Leipzig 1857. FLÜGEL, G., Mani, seine Lehre und seine Schriften, Leipzig 1862. FRAENKEL, P., ‘Histoire sainte en hérésie chez Épiphane de Salamine’, Revue de Théol. et de Philos., 12, 1962, pp. 175–191. FRYE, R. N., The Heritage of Persia, Oxford 1963. FURLANI, G., ‘Sur le stoïcisme de Bardesane d’Édesse’, Archiv Orientální, IX, 1937, pp. 347–352. FURLANI, G., art. ‘Bardesane’, Enciclopedia Italiana, VI, 1938, pp. 167/168. GELZER, H., Sexus Julius Africanus und die byzantinische Choreographie, Leipzig 1898. GIBB, H. A. R., Arabic Literature2, Oxford 1963. GOEJE, M. J. DE, Mémoire sur les Carmathes du Bahraïn et les Fatimides, Leiden 1886. GOOSSENS, G., Hiérapolis de Syrie. Essai de monographie historique, Université de Louvain, Recueil de Travaux d’Hist. et de Philologie, 3ème série, fasc. 12, Louvain 1943. GRAF, G., Die arabischen Schriften des Theodor Abû Qurra Bischofs von Harrân, Forsch. z. Christl. Lit. u. Dogmengesch., X, 3/4, Paderborn 1910.



GRAF, G., Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, I, II, StT 118, 133, Roma 1944–1947. GRANT, R. M., Miracle and natural law in graeco-roman and early christian thought, Amsterdam 1952. GRÉGOIRE, H., ‘Bardesane et S. Abercius’, Byzantion, 25–27, 1955– 1957, pp. 363–368. GUIGNEBERT, CH., ‘Remarques sur quelques conceptions chrétiennes antiques touchant l’origine et la nature de l’âme’, RHPhR, 9, 1929, pp. 428–540. GUILLAUMONT, A., Les “Kephalaia Gnostica” d’Euagre le Pontique, Patristica Sorbonensia 5, Paris 1962. GUNDEL, W., Dekane und Dekansternbilder, Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, XIX, Glückstadt/Hamburg 1936. GUTSCHMID, A. VON, Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Königreichs Osroëne, Mémoires de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, VIIème série, T. XXXV, Petersburg 1887, pp. 1–49. GUTSCHMID, A. VON, ‘Die Königsnamen in den apokryphen Apostelgeschichten’, Kleine Schriften II, Leipzig 1890, SS. 332– 394. GUTSCHMID, A. VON, ‘Ueber die Gläubwürdigkeit der Armenischen Geschichte des Moses von Koren’, Kleine Schriften III, Leipzig 1892, SS. 282–331. GUTSCHMID, A. VON, Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer, Tübingen 1888. HAASE, F., Zur Bardesanischen Gnosis. Literarkritische und dogmengeschichtliche Untersuchungen, TU, III, 4, Leipzig 1910. HAASE, F., Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen, Leipzig 1925. HAASE, F., ‘Neue Bardesanesstudien’, OC, N.S., XII–XIV, 1925, SS. 135. HALLEUX, A. DE, Philoxène de Mabboug. Sa vie, son oeuvre et sa théologie, Louvain 1963. HARNACK, A., Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, 3te Aufl., 3 Bde., Freiburg 1894–1897. HARNACK, A. VON, Zur Abericus-Inschrift, TU, XII, 4, 2, Leipzig 1895. HARNACK, A. VON, Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums3, 2 Bde., Leipzig 1915. HARNACK, A. VON, Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius, 2te Aufl., Leipzig, 1958. HARNACK, A. VON, Marino. Das Evangelium von fremden Gott; Neue Studien zu Marcion, reprint of the second edition, Darmstadt 1960.



HATCH, W. H. P., ‘Τὰ στοιχεῖα in Paul and Bardaiṣān’ JThS, XXVIII, 1927, pp. 181 f. HAYNES, E. R., L’École d’Édesse, Thèse, Paris 1930. HEINTZE, W., Der Clemensroman und seine griechischen Quellen, TU, XL, 2, Leipzig 1914. HENDRIKS, O., ‘Les premiers monastères internationaux syriens’, L’Orient Syrien, III, 1958, pp. 165–184. HENNECKE, E. and W. SCHNEEMELCHER, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, II, Apostolisches Apokalypsen und Verwandtes, Tübingen 1964. HILGENFELD, A., Bardesanes, der letzte Gnostiker, Leipzig 1864. HILGENFELD, A., Ketzergeschichte des Urchristentums, Leipzig 1884. HITTI, PH. K., History of Syria, second edition, London 1957. HOFFMANN, G., Auszüge aus Syrischen Akten Persischer Märtyrer, Leipzig 1880. HOLSCHER, G., Syrische Verskunst, Leipziger Semitische Studien, N.F., V, Leipzig 1932. HONIGMANN, E., Die sieben Klimata und die ΠΟΛΕΙΣ ΕΠΙΣΗΜΟΙ, Heidelberg 1929. HORT, F. J. A., art. ‘Bardaisan’, A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines, I, London 1877, pp. 250–260. HUART, CL., art. ‘Ibn-Daisan’, EI, II, 1927, S. 393. HUBY, J., ‘ΣΤΟΙΧΕΙΑ dans Bardesane et dans Saint Paul’, Biblica, XV, 1934, pp. 365–368. JACKSON, A. V., Zoroastrian Studies, New York 1928. JAEGER, W. W., Nemesis von Emesa. Quellenforschungen zum Neuplationismus und seinen Anfängen bei Poseidonios, Berlin 1914. JAMES, M. R., The apocryphal New Testament, Oxford 1955. JANSMA, T., Review of A. LEVENE, The Early Syrian Fathers on Genesis, London 1951, BiOr, X, 1953, pp. 48–49. JANSMA, T., ‘Investigations into the early Syrian Father on Genesis. An approach to the exegesis of the Nestorian Church and to the comparison of Nestorian and Jewish exegesis’, OTS, XII, Leiden 1958, pp. 69–181. JANSMA, T., l’Hexaméron de Jacques de Sarûg’, l’Orient Syrien, IV, 1959, pp. 3–42; 129–163; 253–284. JENSEN, P., Die Kosmologie der Babylonier, Strassburg 1890. JONAS, H., Gnosis und spätantiker Geist. I, Die mythologische Gnosis, 3te Aufl., FRLANT, N.F., 33, Göttingen 1964. JUNG, C. G., ‘Erlösungsvorstellungen in der Alchemie’, Eranos-Jahrbuch IV, 1936, SS. 13–111. KAFKA, G. and H. EIBL, Der Ausklang der antiken Philosophie und das Erwachen einer neuen Zeit, Geschichte der Philosophie in Einzeldarstellungen, II, 9, München 1928.



KERÉNYI, K., Mythologie und Gnosis, Albae Vigilae XIV, 1942. KERÉNYI, K., Die Griechisch-Orientalische Romanliteratur in Religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung, reprint, Darmstadt 1963. KESELING, P., ‘Die Chronik des Eusebius in der syrischen Ueberlieferung’, OC, 3te Serie, 1, 1926, SS. 23–48; 223–241. KESSLER, K., Mani. Forschungen über die manichäische Religion. Bd. I, Voruntersuchungen und Quellen, Berlin 1889. KHOURI-SARKIS, G., ‘Propos liminaire’, l’Orient Syrien, I, 1946, pp. 3– 30. KIRFEL, W., Die fünf Elemente insbesondere Wasser und Feuer, Beitr. z. Sprachund Kulturgeschichte d. Orients, 4, Walldorf 1951. KIRSTEN, E., art. ‘Edessa’, RAC, IV, Sp. 552–597. KLÍMA, O., Manis Zeit und Leben, Monographien des Orientinstituts der TschAW, 18, Prag 1962 KLINGE, G., ‘Die Bedeutung der strichen Theologen als Vermittler der griechischen Philosophie an den Islam’, ZKG, 58, 1939, SS. 346– 386. KLIJN, A. F. J., ‘The word kejān in Aphrahates’, VigChr., XII, 1958, pp. 57–67. KLIJN, A. F. J., ‘The so-called hymn of the pearl’, VigChr. XIV, 1960, pp. 154–164. KLIJN, A. F. J., ‘Das Thomasevangelium und das altsyrische Christentum’, VigChr., XV, 1961, SS. 146 ff. KLIJN, A. F. J., Edessa. De Stad van de apostel Thomas, Baarn 1962. KLIJN, A. F. J., The Acts of Thomas, Suppl. Nov. Test. V, Leiden 1962. KLIJN, A. F. J., ‘The apocryphal correspondence between Paul and the Corinthians’, VigChr. XVII, 1963, pp. 2–23. KROLL, J., ‘Die Hymnendichtung des frühen Christentums’, Die Antike, II, 1926, pp. 258–281. KROLL, J., Gott und Hölle, Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, 20, Leipzig/Berlin 1932. KRÜGER, G., art. ‘Bardesanes’, RE, II, Leipzig 1897, SS. 400–403. KUGENER, M. A., ‘Un traité astronomique et météorologique syriaque attribué à Denys l’Aréopagite’, Actes du XIVème congrès international des orientalistes Alger 1905, Section II, 2eme partie, Paris 1907, pp. 137–198. LACY O’LEARY, DE, How Greek Science passed to the Arabs2, London 1951. LEIPOLDT, J., ‘Frühes Christentum im Orient’ in: Handbuch der Orientalistik VIII, 2, Leiden 1961. LEISEGANG, H., Die Gnosis4, Stuttgart 1955. LEVENE, A., The early syrian fathers on Genesis, London 1951. LEVI DELLA VIDA, G., ‘Appunti Bardesanici’, Rivista degli Studi Orientali, VIII, 1919–1920, pp. 709–722.



LEVI DELLA VIDA, G., ‘Bardesane e il dialogo delle leggi dei paesi’, Rivista di studi filosofici e religiosi, I, 1920, pp. 399–430. LEVY, R., The social structure of Islam, Cambridge 1962. LIETZMANN, H., Der Brief an der Galater3, Tübingen 1932. LIETZMANN, H., Geschichte der alten Kirche, 2te Aufl., II, Berlin 1953. LIPSIUS, R. A., Die Gnosis, Leipzig 1860. LIPSIUS, R. A., Ueber die ophitischen Systeme’, ZWTh, 6, 1863, SS. 410–457. LIPSIUS, R. A., Die Edessenische Abgar-Sage, Braunschweig 1880. LIPSIUS, R. A., Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, I, Braunschweig 1883. MACKE, K., ‘Syrische Lieder gnostischen Ursprungs’, ThQ, 56, 1874, SS. 3–70. MARKWART, J., ‘Die Sigynnen’, Caucasica, fasc. 10, Leipzig 1932, SS. 1– 42. MASSIGNON, L., ‘Les infiltrations astrologique dans la pensée religieuse islamique’, Eranos-Jahrbuch, X, 1943, pp. 297–303. MASSIGNON, L., Inventaire de la littérature hermétique arabe, in: A. J. Festugière, La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste I, 2ème édition, Paris 1950, pp. 384–400. MERX, A., Bardesanes von Odessa, nebst einer Untersuchung über das Verhältnis der clementinishen Recognitionen zu dem Buche der Gesetze der Länder, Halle 1863. MESSINA, G., Cristianesimo, Buddhismo, Manicheismo nell’ Asia Antica, Roma 1947. MICHAUD, H., Un mythe zervanite dans un des manuscripts de Qumrân’, VT, V, 1955, pp. 137–147. MICHEL, O., ‘Zur Frage des Seelenliedes’, ZNW, 25, 1926, SS. 312 ff. MINGANA, A., ‘Syriaque et Nabatéen’, JRAS, 1923, pp. 417–419. MOLÉ, M., Culte, Mythe et Cosmologie dans l’Iran Ancien, Annales du Musée Guimet, Bibliothèque d’Études, T. LXIX, Paris 1963. MONTGOMERY WATT, W., Islamic Philosophy and Theology, Islamic Surveys I, Edinburgh 1962. MÜLLER, A., Review of K. Kessler, Mani, Berlin 1889, ThLZ, 1890, SS. 90 ff. MÜLLER, A., Review of K. Kessler, Mani, Berlin 1889, LZ, 1890, SS. 170 ff. MUYLDERMANS, J., ‘L’Historiographie arménienne’, Le Muséon, LXXVI, 1963, pp. 109–145. NASR, S. H., An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Conceptions of nature and methods used for its study by the ikhwān al-ṣafā, al-Bīrūnī, and Ibn Sīnā, Cambridge (Mass.) 1964. NAU, F., Une biographie inédite de Bardesane l’Astrologue, Paris 1897.



NAU, F., ‘Annexe au Procès-Verbal, Bardesane l’astrologue’, JA, 9ème série, XIV, 1899, pp. 12–19. NAU, F., ‘Notes d’astronomie syrienne’, JA, 10ème série, T. XVI, 1910, pp. 209–228. NAU, F., ‘La cosmographie au VIIe siècle chez les Syriens’, ROC, IIe série, V, 1910, pp. 225–254. NAU, F., Review of C. W. MITCHELL, S. Ephraim’s Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion and Bardaisan, Vol. I, London 1012, JA, 11e série, I, 1913, pp. 233–235. NAU, F., ‘Étude historique sur la transmission de l’Avesta et sur l’époque probable de sa dernière rédaction’, RHR, 95, 1927, pp. 149–199. NERSES AKINIAN, P., ‘Moses Khorenatzi. Die Abfassungszeit der “Geschichte Armeniens” und die Persönlichkeit des Geschichtsschreibers in neuen Lichte betrachtet’, WZKM, XXXVII, 1930, SS. 204–217. NESTLE, E., ‘Zur Litteratur der Audianer’, ZNW, 3, 1902, S. 166. NEWBOLD, W. R., ‘Bardaisan and the Odes of Solomon’, JBL, XXX, 1911, pp. 161–204. NEWBOLD, W. R., ‘A Syriac Valentinian Hymn’, JAOS, 38, 1918, pp. 1– 33. NISSEN, TH., ‘Die Petrefakten und ein bardesanitischer Dialog in der Aberkiosvita’, II, ZNW, 9, 1908, SS. 315–328. NÖLDEKE, TH., Review of W. WRIGHT, The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, ed. from Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum and other libraries, 2 Vols., London 1871, ZDMG, 25, 1871, SS. 670– 679. NÖLDEKE, TH., ‘Ueber Mommsen’s Darstellung der römischen Herrschaft und römischen Politik im Orient’, ZDMG, 39, 1885, SS. 331–351. NÖLDEKE, TH., Review of K. KESSLER, Mani, Berlin 1889, ZDMG, 43, SS. 535 ff. NÖLDEKE, TH., ’Syrische Polemik gegen die persische Religion’, Festgruss an Rudolf von Roth, Stuttgart 1893, SS. 34–38. NÖLDEKE, TH., ‘Die Selbstentmannung bei den Syrern’, ARW, X, 1907, SS. 150–152. NÖLDEKE, TH., ‘Zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder”’, ZDMG, 64, 1910, SS. 555–560. NYBERG, H. S., ‘Questions de Cosmogonie et de Cosmologie Mazdéennes’, JA, CCXIV, 1929, pp. 193–310; CCXIX, 1931, pp. 1– 134. NYBERG, H. S., ‘Forschungen über den Manichäismus’, ZNW, 34, 1935, SS. 70–91. ORTIZ DE URBINA, I., Patrologia Syriaca, Roma 1958. PEDERSEN, J., ‘The Sābians’, A Volume of Oriental Studies, presented



to E. G. Browne, ed. by T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson, Cambridge 1922, pp. 383–391. PETERSON, E., ‘Urchristentum und Mandäismus’, ZNW, 27, 1928, SS. 55–98. PÉTREMENT, S., Le dualisme dans l’histoire de la philosophie et des religions, 2ème édition, Paris 1946. PÉTREMENT, S., Essai sur le dualisme chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichéens, Paris 1947 (Thèse). POHLENZ, M., Die Stoa. Geschichte einer geistigen Bewegung, 2 Bde., Göttingen 1948/1949. PRESCHEN, E., Zwei gnostische Hymnen, Geizen 1904. PUECH, H. C., art. ‘Audianer’, RAC, I, Kol. 910–915. PUECH, H. C., ‘Dates manichéennes dans les chroniques syriaques’, Mélanges syriens offerts à monsieur René Dussaud, II, pp. 593–607. PUECH, H. C., ‘Der Begriff der Erlösung im Manichäismus’, EranosJahrbuch, IV, 1936, SS. 183–286. PUECH, H. C., Le Manichéisme. Son fondateur- sa doctrine, Paris 1949. PUECH, H. C., ‘La Gnose et le Temps’, Eranos-Jahrbuch, XX, 1951, pp. 57–113. PUYADE, J., ‘Composition interne de l’office syrien’, l’Orient Syrien, II, 1957, pp. 77–92. QUASTEN, J., Patrology, I, Utrecht 1950. QUISPEL, G., ‘Philo und die altchristliche Häresie’, Thz., 5, Basel 1949, SS. 429–436. QUISPEL, G., Gnosis als Weltreligion, Zürich 1951. QUISPEL, G., ‘Mandeeërs en Valentinianen’, NTT, VII, 1952–53, pp. 144–148. QUISPEL, G., ‘Der gnostische Anthropos und die jüdische Tradition’, Eranos-Jahrbuch, XXII, 1953, SS. 195–234. QUISPEL, G., ‘De oudste vorm van de gnostische mythe’, NTT, VIII, 1953–54, pp. 20–25. RAHLFS, A., Review of K. Kessler, Mani, Berlin 1889, Gött. gel. Anz., 1889, SS. 905 ff. RAHNER, H., ‘Das christliche Mysterium von Sonne und Mond’, Eranos-Jahrbuch, X, 1943, SS. 305–404. RAHNER, H., Griechische Mythen in christlicher Deutung, Zürich 1957. REHM, B., ‘Bardesanes in den Pseudoclementinen’, Philologus, XCIII, 1938, SS. 77–184. REHM, B., ‘Zur Entstehung der pseudoclementinischen Schriften’, ZNW, 37, 1938, SS. 77–184. REHM, B., art. ‘Clemens Romanus II’, RAC III, 1957, Kol. 197–206. REINHARDT, K., Kosmos und Sympathie. Neue Untersuchungen über Poseidonios, München 1926. REITZENSTEIN, R. and H. H. SCHAEDER, Studien zum antiken Syn-



kretismus aus Iran und Griechenland, Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, VII, Leipzig/Berlin 1926. ROSENTHAL, F., Die Aramäistische Forschung seit Th. Nöldeke’s Veröffentlichungen, Leiden 1939. ROSENTHAL, F., Das Fortleben der Antike im Islam, Zürich 1965. RUDHARDT, J., ‘Sur la possibilité de comprendre une religion antique’, Numen, XI, 1964, pp. 189–211. RUDOLPH, K., Die Mandäer, 2 Tle, FRLANT, N.F. Heft 56, 57, Göttingen 1960–1961. RUDOLPH, K., ‘War der Verfasser der Oden Salomos ein “QumranChrist”? Ein Beitrag zur Diskussion um die Anfänge der Gnosis’, Revue de Qumran 4, 1964, SS. 523–555. RYCKMANS, J., ‘Les rois de Ḥaḍramawt mentionnés à ‘Uqla’, BiOr, XXI, 1964, pp. 277–282. RYLANDS, L. G., The Beginnings of gnostic Christianity, London 1940. SAGNARD, F. M. M., La Gnose valentinienne et le témoignage de Saint Irénée, Études de philosopie médiévale, XXXVI, Paris 1947. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Ein Lied von Mani’, OLZ, 29, 1926, Kol. 104–107. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Urform und Fortbildungen des Manichäischen Systems’, Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg 1924–1925, Leipzig/Berlin 1927, SS. 65–157. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Der Orient und das griechische Erde’, Die Antike, IV, 1928, SS. 226–265. SCHAEDER, H. H., Review of R. Reitzenstein, Die Vorgeschichte der christlichen Taufe, Leipzig 1929, Gnomon, V, 1929, SS. 353–370. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Bardesanes von Odessa in der Ueberlieferung der griechischen und syrischen Kirche’, ZKG, LI, 1932, SS. 21–74. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Manichäismus und spätantike Religion’, ZMR, 50, 1935, SS. 65–85. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Der Manichäismus nach neuen Funden und Forschungen’, Orientalische Stimmen zum Erlösungsgedanken, hrsg. von F. Taeschner, Morgenland, Heft 28, Leipzig 1936, SS. 80–109. SCHAEDER, H. H., Goethes Erlebnis des Ostens, Leipzig 1938. SCHAEDER, H. H., Review of Benveniste, Les Mages dans l’ancien Iran, OLZ, 1940, Kol. 375. SCHAEDER, H. H., ‘Der iranische Zeitgott und sein Mythos’, ZDMG, 95, 1941, SS. 268–299. SCHALL, A., ‘Eine “unbekannte Völkerschaft” im “Buch der Gesetze der Länder”’, ZDMG, N.F., 24, 1945–1949, SS. 202 f. SCHALL, A., Studien über griechische Fremdwörter im Syrischen, Darmstadt 1960. SCHEFTELOWITZ, I., Die Entstehung der mänichaischen Religion und des Erlösungsmysterium, Giessen 1922. SCHENKE, N., Die Herkunft des sogenannten Evangelium Veritatis,



Göttingen 1959. SCHMEKEL, A., Die Philosophie der mittleren Stoa in ihrem geschichtlichen Zusammenhänge, Berlin 1892. SCHMIDT, C., Studien zu den Pseudo-Clementinen, TU, 46, 1, Leipzig 1929. SCHOEPS, H. J., Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums, Tübingen 1949. SCHOEPS, H. J., Aus frühchristlicher Zeit. Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, Tübingen 1950. SCHOEPS, H. J., ‘Astrologisches im pseudoklementinischen Roman’, VigChr., V, 1951, SS. 88–100. SCHOEPS, H. J., Urgemeinde Judenchristentum Gnosis, Tübingen 1956. SCHOEPS, H. J., ‘Die Pseudoklementinen und das Urchristentum’, ZRGG, X, 1958, SS. 3 ff. SCHOEPS, H. J., ‘Das Judenchristentum’, Bern/München 1964. SCHULTHESS, F., ‘Der Brief des Mara bar Sarapion’, ZDMG, 51, 1897, SS. 365–391. SCHULTES, F., ‘Zum “Buch der Gesetze der Länder”’, ZDMG, 64, 1910, SS. 91–94. SEGAL, J. B., ‘Pagan Syrian Monuments in the Vilayet of Urfa’, Anatolian Studies, III, 1953, pp. 97–120. SEGAL, J. B., ‘Some syriac inscriptions of the 2nd-3rd century A.D.’, BSOAS, XVI, 1954, pp. 13–36. SEGAL, J. B., Review of A. F. J. Klijn, The Acts of Thomas, BSOAS, XXVIII, 1965, pp. 143–145. SEGELBERG, E., ‘Evangelium Veritatis. A Confirmation Homily and its Relation to the Odes of Salomo’, Orient. Suecana, 8, 1959, pp. 1– 42. SHARIF, M. M., (Ed.), A History of Muslim Philosophy, I, Wiesbaden 1963. SPRENGLING, M., ‘Bardesanes and the Odes of Solomon’, American Journal of Theology, XV, 1911, pp. 459–461. SPRENGLING, M., ‘Antonius Rhetor on versification’, AJSL, XXXII, 1916, pp. 145–216. STRAUSS-KLOEBE, S., ‘Ueber die psychologische Bedeutung des astrologischen Symbols’, Eranos-Jahrbuch, II, 1934, SS. 417–448. STRECKER, G., ‘Christentum und Judentum in den beiden ersten Jahrhunderten’, EvTh, 16, 1956, SS. 458–477. STRECKER, G., Das Judenchristentums in den Pseudoklementinen, TU, 70, Berlin 1958. STRECKER, G., ‘Zum Problem des Judenchristentums’, Nachtrag I to W. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, zweite Aufl. BHTh, 10, Tübingen 1964, SS. 245–287. TAVADIA, J. C., ‘Pahlavī Passages on Fate and Free Will’, ZII, 8, 1931,



SS. 119–132. TESTUZ, M., Papyrus Bodmer X–XII, Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, Keulen/Genève 1959. TEIXIDOR, J., ‘La descente aux enfers chez Saint Ephrem’, l’Orient Syrien, VI, 1961, pp. 25–40. TONDELLI, L., Mani, rapporti con Bardesane, S. Agostino, Dante, Milano 1932. TOUMANOFF, C., ‘On the date of Pseudo-Moses of Chorene’, Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift f. armenische Philologie, 75, 1961, Kol. 467– 476. TOURNEBIZE, F., ‘Étude sur la conversion de l’Arménie au Christianisme ainsi que sur la dôctrine et les usages de l’église arménienne primitive’, ROC, IIème série, 2, 1907. ULLRICH, TH., Die pseudo-melitonische Apologie, Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen 4, 1906. VANDENHOFF, B., ‘Die Götterliste des Mar Jakob von Sarg in seiner Homilie über den Fall der Götzenbilder’, OC, N. Serie, V. 1915, SS. 234–262. VETTER, P., Der apokryphe dritte Korintherbrief, Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus den Jahre 1893/94, Wien 1894. VÖÖBUS, A., History of Ascetism in the Syrian Orient I, CSCO, 184, Subs. 14, Leuven 1958. VÖÖBUS, A., Literary, critical and historical studies in Ephrem the Syrian, Papers of the Estonian theological society in exile, 10, Stockholm 1958. VÖÖBUS, A., ‘Un vestige d’une lettre de Narsaï et son importance historique’, l’Orient Syrien, IX, 1964, pp. 515–523. WAITZ, H., Die Pseudoklementinen, Homilien und Rekognitionen. Eine Quellenkritische Untersuchung, TU, N.F., X, 4, Leipzig 1904. WAITZ, H., ‘Die Pseudoklementinen und ihre Quellenschriften’, ZNW, 28, 1929, SS. 241–272. WALZER, R., Greek into Arabic, Oriental Studies, Vol. I, Oxford 1962. WASZINK, J. H., ‘Bemerkungen zum Einfluss des Platonismus im frühen Christentum’, VigChr., XIX, 1965, SS. 129–162. WEINREICH, O., ‘Gebet und Wunder II, Türöffnung im Wunder- Prodigien- und Zauberglauben der Antike, des Judentums und Christentums’, Genethliakon Wilhelm Schmid, Tübinger Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft, V, Stuttgart 1929, SS. 200–452. WENDLAND, P., Philos Schrift über die Vorsehung. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der nacharistotelischen Philosophie, Berlin 1892. WESENDONK, O. G. VON, ‘Bemerkungen zur iranischer Lichtlehre’, ARW, 31, 1931, SS. 177 ff. WESENDONK, O. G. VON, ‘Bardesanes und Mānī’, AcOr (L), X, 1932, SS. 336–363.



WESENDONK, O. G. VON, Das Weltbild der Iranier, München 1933. WIDENGREN, G., The Great Vohu Manah and the Apostle of God. (King and Saviour I) Studies in Iranian and Manichaean Religion, UUÅ, 1945, 5. WIDENGREN, G., Mesopotamian Elements in Manichaeism (King and Saviour II) Studies in Manichaean, Mandean and Syrian-Gnostic Religion, UUÅ, 1946, 3. WIDENGREN, G., ‘Der iranische Hintergrund der Gnosis’, ZRGG, IV, 1952, SS. 97–114. WIDENGREN, G., Stand und Aufgaben der iranischen Religionsgeschichte’, I, Numen, I, 1954, SS. 16–83; II, Numen, II, 1955, SS. 47–134. WIDENGREN, G., ‘Quelques rapports entre Juifs et Iraniens à l’époque des Parthes’, Suppl. VT, IV, Leiden 1957, pp. 197–241. WIDENGREN, G., Iranisch-semitische Kulturbegegnung in parteiischer Zeit, Köln/Opladen 1960. WIDENGREN, G,. ‘Researchers in Syrian mysticism’, Numen, VIII, 1961, pp. 161–198. WIDENGREN, G., Mani und der Manichäismus, Stuttgart 1961. WIKANDER, S., Feuerpriester in Kleinasien und Iran, Skrifter utgivna av Kungl. Humanistika Vetenskapssamfundet i Lund, XI, Lund 1946. WILSON, R. MCL., ‘Gnostic origins again’, VigChr., XI, 1957, pp. 93– 110. WINDISCH, H., Die Orakel des Hystaspes, Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Akademie v. Wetensch. A’dam, Afd. Letterkunde, N.R., XXVIII, 2, Amsterdam 1929. WITT, R. E., Albinusand the history of Middle Platonism, Cambridge Class. Studies, VII, 1937. WRIGHT, W., Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum, III, London 1872. YADIN, Y., ‘The Nabataean Kingdom, Provincia Arabia, Petra and EnGeddi in the Documents from Naḥal Ḥever’, JEOL, 17, 1963, Leiden 1964, pp. 227–241. ZAEHNER, R. C., Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford 1955. ZAEHNER, R. C., ‘Postscript to Zurvān’, BSOAS, XVII, 1955, pp. 232– 249. ZAHN, TH., Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons, II, 2, Erlangen/Leipzig 1892. ZWAAN, J. DE, ‘The Edessene origin of the Odes of Solomon’, Quantulacumque, Studies presented to Kirsopp Lake, London 1937, pp. 285–302.

INDEX OF SUBJECTS Acta, Nicene 120 — Pauli 19 — Thomae (→ Hymn of the Soul) 13, 16–17, 23, 25, 33–36, 38, 46, 58–59, 248 Acts, apocryphal — of the Apostles 125 Adam, — and Christ 172 —, sin of — 172–173 Adiabene, dynasty of 23, 241 aeon(s) 5–6, 17, 29, 34, 211, 214, 250 ἀήρ 129 aether 129, 139, 220, 253 αἰθήρ 129 air 5, 112, 114, 127, 129, 133– 135, 147 alethia 9 ἀναφοραί 20, 216 angels 30, 89, 96, 221 — preexistence — 221 Ani 17, 232, 245 animals 92–93, 96, 106, 114 anthropology 50, 86, 91, 99, 107–108, 146, 160, 174– 175, 178, 245, 249 — trichotomous 7, 135, 150, 158, 170 Antioch 14, 28, 37, 234 apocalypse of Enoch 94 apocrypha 125, 199 apologist(s), Christian 53 apology, Jewish 45, 64, 70, 83, 85

— (Melito) 24, 38, 41, 77, 233 Apophasis (Pseudo-Simonian) 6 Arabia 105 arabic authors 14, 30, 47, 50, 109, 136, 185, 222 —, christian — 22 Arabs 104 archons, seven planetaria 214 —, evil — 253 archontics 214 Armenia 12, 17–19, 23, 51, 75, 185, 187–188, 199, 232– 233, 240–241, 243–245 —, Christianization of — 233 —, history of — 75 armenian traditions on B. 185, 232 armenian historians 78 armenian(s) 23, 188, 243 ascesis 136, 158 ascetism 236, 254 asomata 182–183 Assyrian and Syrian 188 astral conceptions 53 astrologer(s) 36, 50, 73, 85, 104, 195 astrologist(s) 21, 29 astrology 4–5, 8–9, 11–14, 20– 22, 26–28, 30–32, 38–39, 42–43, 50–52, 54–55, 61– 62, 64, 73, 76, 86, 95, 146, 169, 175–176, 187–188, 193, 216, 218, 227, 235, 242, 245, 248, 252, 255




astronomy 19–20, 216, 218 Atargatis (Tar’ata) 105, 168, 244 atoms 154, 157, 246 ‘Attendants’, Twelve — 34 audian system 214 Audians 214–215, 222, 254– 255 Azizos and Monimos 242 Baal 242 Babylonians 196 banquet of the souls 25 baptism 47, 61 Bardesanites (→ pupils of B., Daiṣanites) 15–16, 19–20, 25, 27, 37, 42–45, 47–48, 58–59, 81, 85–86, 110, 120–121, 123–125, 135– 137, 140, 142, 145, 154, 157, 159–160, 162, 164, 170, 175, 179, 181, 185, 191, 198, 200, 207, 213– 216, 218, 221–231, 236, 239–240, 245, 248, 254– 256 —, Church of — 225 —, history of — 207, 221– 222 —, meeting-place of — 179 Bardesanism 14 Basra 224, 256 Batnae 242 beings, (=elements) 146–150, 152 —, astrological — 148–149 —, essential — 150 —, five — 147 —, One Divine — 147 —, seven — 148–149 —, seventh — 148, 151 —, six — 148 Bel 212 Biographies of B. 27–28, 31, 59, 130, 166, 184, 202, 210

Birth, date of B.’s — 207, 209–210, 226 black dress 117 Black Sea 37, 79 BLC 1, 3–5, 7–8, 10–15, 20– 34, 36–45, 50, 53–57, 59– 64, 66, 69–73, 75–80, 82– 98, 100, 102–109, 122, 124–126, 133–135, 141, 148–150, 152, 156, 161, 169, 171, 174–178, 180– 181, 184–185, 188, 190, 192–193, 197, 214, 217, 235–236, 256–257 —, original language of — 4, 23, 26, 32–33, 40, 44 —, Syriac text of — 28–29, 43, 70, 78 body(ies) 25, 30, 81, 93, 98– 99, 103, 114, 117, 119, 124–125, 131, 133, 135, 136, 151, 159–160, 170, 174, 177–178, 183, 190, 200–201, 211, 214, 219, 226, 247, 253 —, — of an angel 211 —, birth and death of 201 —, components of 170–172, 211 —, nature of 200 —, qualities of 171, 245 —, resurrection of 7, 10, 30, 39, 49, 57, 117, 119, 124– 125, 145, 149, 170, 191, 200 —, — of the Saviour 187 —, separation of — and soul 146 Book, — of Books (Mani) 226 —, — of the Chaldaeans 181 —, — of Domnus 181 —, — on Fate 74 —, — of the Hosts 181

INDEX —, — about India 195 —, — about the Light and the Darkness 47, 125, 227 —, — about the Mobile and the Fixed 125, 227 —, — of Mysteries 47, 54, 170, 181, 226, 228 —, — about the Signs of the Zodiac 175, 181 —, — of the Styx (Porphyrius) 193 —, — about Thunder 181 —, — about the Spiritual Nature of Truth 227 Brahmans 103, 196 Bridal Chamber of Light 65, 169–170, 173, 178, 246, 248 Bridesmaids, seven 34 Bridesmen, seven 34 Bythos 9 Byzantine empire 255 —, historians 202 cardinal points 111–112, 246 Carmina Nisibina (Ephr. Syr.) 26, 145, 170 Carrhae (→ Ḥarran) categories of Aristotle 59, 183 Chaldaean art 5, 73, 94–95, 193 Chaldaeans (→ Magi) 5, 73, 94–95, 168, 181, 193 Chenoboskion 242 Children of Life 214 China 226 Christ 5, 105, 114–115, 123, 157, 159, 168–169, 172– 173, 187, 191–192, 212, 215, 219–220, 246–248, 250–253 —, the Lamb — 220 —, life of — 212, 215 —, Logos — 123, 157, 192, 219–220, 247

283 Christianity, in Edessa — 23, 58–59, 84, 204, 222, 241, 243–245, 252, 255 Christianity, Jewish — 23, 64, 66, 84, 241 Christians 13, 15, 22, 29, 64, 105, 190, 210 —, Jewish 23, 83–84 Christology 8–10, 39, 109, 124, 168–170, 187–188, 192, 204, 220, 247, 250 Chronicon (Georgius Hamartolus) 21, 72 chronography, Byzantine — 102 Church, — of B. 225 circumcision 64, 83–84, 105 Climate 105 climates 22 —, doctrine of — 104 —, seven — 104 Coele-Syria 84 commandments 91, 156 conception and birth 117, 122–123, 169, 247 conduct, human — 103 confusion 247 constellation 11, 21, 98, 103, 119, 124, 176, 212, 245, 255 constraint 126 Corinthians, IIIrd Epistle of Paul to the — 19, 25, 40, 59, 145 Corpus Paulinum 59 cosmology, — of B. 9–10, 39, 48–51, 53–55, 57, 61, 65, 86, 90–92, 99, 106–111, 119–121, 125–131, 135– 137, 139, 141–142, 146, 150, 153–155, 159, 161, 172, 174–175, 178, 185, 220, 223, 226–227, 230,



235, 245–246, 248, 252– 253 —, — of Bardesanites 220, 227 —, — of Mani 49, 54, 109, 121, 126, 139, 154, 223, 230 cosmos 48, 96, 98, 153, 178, 194 creatio ex nihilo 146 creation 35, 54, 89, 106, 114, 123, 130, 139–141, 157, 167, 169, 188, 223, 246– 249 —, biblical story of (→ Genesis) 130, 159, 167 —, — of man 35, 158–159, 169, 215 —, — of the world 10, 106, 123, 139, 158–159, 163– 164, 173, 192, 221, 223 creatures 89, 98, 101, 116, 134, 246 cross 123 —, mystery of the 115, 121– 123 crossing place 173 cultures —, Iranian-Semitic 65 —, Mesopotamian 51 —, Parthian 23, 51, 64, 186, 233, 240–241 Daiṣanites (→ Bardesanites, pupils of B.) 18, 111, 119, 181, 217 darkness 29, 51, 92, 100, 106, 111–115, 119, 121–130, 132, 134–139, 142, 147, 150, 152, 155–158, 171– 172, 191–192, 220, 226, 246–247, 253 —, active principle 138–139, 141, 252 —, alive — 137, 228, 230

—, blind — 136, 226 —, dead — 137, 228, 246 —, essence of — 136 —, expelling of — 213 —, God of — 140–141 —, nature of — 121, 135– 136, 142, 231, 253 —, ambivalent nature of — 156, 231, 246, 253 Day, Last (Latter) 89, 101 De Abstinentia (Porphyrius) 193 De Providentia (Philo Alex.) 20–21 De Recta Fide (Adamantius) 8, 14, 47, 86, 190, 192 De Viris Illustribus (Heiron.) 74, 196 Dea Syra 26, 105, 130 death, date of B.’s 209–210 decanal stars 6, 104 demiurge 7, 9, 124, 141, 159, 188, 250–251 demons 61 depth(s) 112–115, 117, 121, 127, 153, 178, 246 destiny 112, 117, 124, 138 determinism, astrological — 25 devil 179, 191 διάλογος περὶ εἱμαρμένης 1, 33, 38, 40, 54, 60, 63–64, 69–70, 79–80, 82 διάλογος καθ εἱμαρμένης 38, 40, 42, 44, 80 dialogue(s), — of B. 73, 77– 79, 83, 85 —, — on Fate 3–4, 24, 28, 33, 72–73, 87, 189, 196, 232 —, — of Philippus 40–42, 77 —, — against Marcionites (→ Marcionites) 72–73, 189– 191 Diatessaron 229

INDEX Didascalia, Syrian 241 divine realm 9 doctrine, secret (esoteric) — of B. 179–180 Domnus, Book of 181 dress, black 117, 119 —, white 117, 119 dualism 7, 9–10, 26, 35, 43, 52, 55, 62–63, 65, 120, 138, 159, 192 —, Persian 8, 35, 229–230 dualist(s) 18, 39, 47, 51, 192, 225, 228–229, 231, 256 dynasty, Nabatean 22 —, Parthian-Armenian 240– 241 earth 5, 25, 89–90, 97, 104, 106, 134–135, 158, 163, 165, 167–168, 194, 248 East 155 Ebionites 64 Edessa 2, 10, 12, 16–17, 19, 22–23, 29, 34, 58–60, 104, 134, 143, 166, 184, 186, 190, 198–199, 210, 215– 216, 222, 232–234, 239– 245, 249, 252, 255 —, — between East and West 2, 239 —, bilingual — 78 —, bishops in — 212, 225 —, court of — 34, 179, 186, 243, 248 —, ‘Daughter of the Parthians’ 186 —, —’s relations with Armenia 233, 243 Egypt 207 elect, Manichaean 125 element(s) 5–6, 9, 48, 90, 92, 98, 106, 111–115, 119, 121–135, 146–160, 165, 221, 246 —, atomic — 154

285 —, colour of the — 154 —, — of darkness 51 —, divine — in man 174 —, evil — 92, 107 —, fifth — (Stoic) 129 —, five — 29, 90, 111–112, 121, 126–128, 132, 138, 154, 156 —, four lesser — 131, 210 —, four pure — 121–122, 125–126, 135, 138–139, 147, 151–153, 156, 158, 230, 246, 254 —, Lord of — 111–112, 122– 123, 127, 141, 246 —, mingling of the — (→ mingling) 43, 100, 215 —, One — 154 —, preexistent — 231 —, primordial — 90, 98, 106– 107 —, pure — 113, 115, 121– 123, 125–126, 135, 138– 139, 141, 147, 151–154, 156, 158, 172, 246, 253– 254 —, Seven — 131, 149, 210, 215 —, seventh — 148, 151 —, three — in man 30 —, three principal — 131 —, three spiritual — 210 —, uncreated — 48, 123, 129, 133, 221 —, weight of the — 152–153, 174, 246 emanation 7, 9, 199, 205, 250 emasculation 105 Emesa 13, 194 encratism 243 encratists 214–215 Enemy 91–92, 111–113, 115, 121–122, 127, 141 entities, seven — 151, 159



Epicureans 85 epistemology, Greek — 230 eschatology, B.’s — 107 ethics 55, 97, 173, 227, 256 —, Jewish-Christian — 169 ethnography 193 Euphrates 190, 227 Evangelium Veritatis 66, 234 evil 7, 28–29, 50–51, 55–56, 88–92, 102, 106–107, 119, 123–127, 132, 137–141, 149, 153–154, 158–159, 172, 181, 187–188, 192, 200, 228, 244, 246–247, 250–253 —, nature of — 116, 171 —, ambivalent nature of — 156 —, origin of — 13, 28, 43, 90 —, — One 117, 139–140, 151–152, 191 Excerpta ex Theodoto (Clem. Alex.) 14 excommunication, — of B. 58 exegesis, scriptural — 179, 199 —, Jewish — 221 faith, Christian — 13, 53, 59, 62, 75, 80, 89, 95, 105, 198 fatalism 10, 11, 26, 64 Fate 8, 10–11, 14, 21, 61–63, 75, 79–82, 85–86, 93, 95, 97–105, 109, 117, 124, 126, 152, 175–178, 192, 198, 217, 232, 249 —, Book on — 74–75 —, decree of — 94 —, Dialogue on — 3–4, 24, 28, 33, 72–73, 87, 189, 196, 232 —, doctrine of — 14, 50, 59, 108, 146, 175–176, 178 —, treatise on — 1, 28, 75, 77

Father of Greatness 253 Father of Life 5, 9, 35, 65, 162, 166–169, 211–212, 214–215, 247–248, 254 Father of the Word 75 Fihrist (an-Nadîm) 10, 18, 47, 50, 54, 121, 136–137, 226, 228, 230 fire 5, 29, 111–112, 122, 127, 129–134, 147, 153–156, 172, 220, 246, 253 firmaments, ten — 179 —, 360 — 214 fish 162, 168–169, 254 —, sacred — 242 force(s) 131–133, 157, 214 —, four — 131–133 fortune(s), — of life 105 —, — of man 98–99, 152 freedom, — of will (→ liberty, will, free) 7, 64, 89, 91, 97, 99–100, 106–107, 117, 119, 124–126, 246 Gannath Bussamê 221 Genesis 54, 159, 167, 221 —, astrological — 40, 45, 61 geography 19, 31 —, astrological — 22, 38, 83, 104 gnosis 7, 9, 12–13, 16, 23, 25, 30, 35–36, 39, 43, 45, 53– 54, 56, 64, 65–66, 130, 173, 205–206, 241, 250– 251 —, definition of — 206, 223 —, divine — 50 gnosticism 7, 9, 11, 28, 35, 39, 249–251 —, Aramaic-Syrian — 8, 14 —, Samaritan — 241 —, Valentinian — 7 gnostics 5, 7, 25, 27–28, 30, 33, 39, 45, 53, 56, 62–65,

INDEX 83–84, 160, 173, 205–206, 241 —, Ophitic — 6 —, Valentinian — (→ Valentinianism, Valentinians) 6 God(s) 36, 48, 88–89, 96–99, 101, 105–107, 116, 125– 126, 129, 139, 141, 147, 150–152, 156, 159–160, 163, 168, 172, 175, 177, 191, 215, 246, 253 —, — Creator of the World 29, 39, 42, 62, 90, 93, 106, 119, 141, 146, 154, 228 —, — of darkness 137 —, evil — 119–120, 127, 139– 141, 252 —, five — 134 —, good — 119–120, 127, 139–141 —, —’s goodness 96–98 —, Image of — 89 —, — of Light 139–141 —, Son of — 106, 252 —, two — 120, 139–141, 188 —, unity of — 42, 88 —, Unknown — 123–124, 160, 188, 250 —, Wisdom of — 96, 134, 168 —, Word of — 157, 235, 251 ‘Golden Rule’ 91 good 88–89, 91, 119–120, 132, 139, 172, 187, 192 —, the — One 117 gospel, — Bardesanite 229 —, — of Jesus 229 grace 61, 98 Guiding Signs 96, 98, 171 gumēčišn 65 gymnosophists, Indian — 195–196 Hadad 168 haeresiarch 58, 217, 222

287 haeresiology 110, 224 Haer. Fab. Comp. (Theodoret.) 4, 10, 74 Halakah 64, 84 Ḥarran 8, 13, 135, 168, 224, 242, 252, 256 Hellenism 23, 49, 76 heretic(s) 29, 45, 59, 74, 84, 110, 121, 171, 187, 191, 204, 207, 210, 212–213, 244, 255–256 heresy (-ies) 33, 37, 49, 58, 74, 94, 111, 119, 175, 178, 189–190, 198–201, 204, 208, 210, 212–213, 217, 224–225 —, catalogue of — 37, 119– 120, 140, 199, 241 Hermetica 51, 252 Hierapolis (Mabbug) 26, 31, 130, 168, 210, 213, 242 Highest, the All — 113–115, 123–124, 219 Historia Ecclesiastica, (Eusebius) 5, 38, 55, 59, 69, 73– 75, 78–79, 85–86, 188– 189, 204, 232 —, (Nicephor. Callist.) 75, 204 —, (Socrates) 201 —, (Sozomenus) 10, 200, 204 —, (Theodoret.) 203 Hôdayôt 234–235 Holy Ghost 9, 35, 162–164, 167, 169, 187, 248 —, Daughters of the — 162– 163, 167, 169, 248 Homilies, (Ps. Clementine) (→ Pseudo-Clementine writings) 36, 40, 61, 71 horoscope 81, 98, 100, 103, 148, 246 Hosts, Book of — 181 humanism, Greek — 53



—, B.’s — 56, 256 humanist 52 Ḥurasan 226 Hymni 56 contra Haereses (Ephrem) 4, 6–7, 9–16, 26–29, 33, 39, 42, 45–49, 55–58, 61, 144–150, 161, 167–168, 170, 174–176, 179, 203, 236–237 Hymn, — of the Soul (Acta Thomae) 16–17, 23, 32– 35, 38, 49, 57–58, 170, 233, 236 Hymns, — of B. 16–17, 23, 33, 158, 160, 180, 184, 236 —, Zurvanite — 153 hymnology, Syrian — 203 —, Greek origin of Syrian — 203 hypostasis 129 Jacobites 121 Jesus (→ Christ) 159, 169, 184, 219–220, 229, 247 Jewish colony in Babylonia 241 Iḥwân as-Ṣafa (Pure Brethren) 224, 256 immortality 7, 9, 40, 50–51, 94, 116 incarnation 219, 247 India 104, 181, 195–196 Indian customs 193 Indian embassy 13, 193, 244 Indian stores 193–195 inscriptions, South Arabic— 193 intelligence 230 Iranian theologoumena 51, 241 Islam 54, 223–225, 256 ‘Isles of the Blest’ 218 ‘Isles of the Blisses’ 218 Judaism 23, 27, 177, 241, 249, 255

judgment 101, 246–247 Jupiter 211 justice, principle of — 187 κατὰ (περὶ) εἱμαρμένης (Diod. Tars.) 77 Kallirhoe, Lake of — 242 Karmatians 224, 227, 256 Kestoi (Sext. Jul. Afr.) 186 kingdom, Seleucid — 143, 223 knowledge 131, 136, 158–159, 174–175, 223, 226, 245– 246, 249 Kushanians 104 Lake, ‘—of Ordeal’ 194 Lamb of Thought 220 Law(s) 61, 97, 103–104, 151, 180, 193, 199 —, — of Christ 105 —, fixed — 89–90 —, local — 105 —, — of Moses 164 —, — of nature 246 Leaven, ‘strange —’ 174 Letter (Mara bar Serapion) 77 Liber Graduum 235 liberty (→ freedom) 90, 92, 97, 101, 126, 215, 244–247 —, B.’s doctrine on — 55, 82 —, — of man 92–93, 97, 99, 101, 103, 107, 124, 126, 139 —, partial — 90 Life, — of B. 207, 210, 243 —, garden of — 168–169 —, gift of God 160 —, Soul of — 226 —, origin of — 159, 169 Light 10, 29, 111–112, 122, 124–125, 127, 129, 131– 133, 135, 137, 147, 151, 153–155, 166, 191–192, 220, 226, 239, 246, 252– 253

INDEX —, bridal chamber of — 65, 169–170, 173, 178–179, 246, 248 —, — and darkness 132, 135– 138, 226, 228, 230 —, — of God 229 —, God of — 140–141 —, particles of — 139, 220, 253–254 —, treatise on — 47 —, world of — 10, 138, 141, 211, 229–230, 253 limbs, — of man 211 ‘Living Spirit’ 220, 253 Logos (→ Christ) 113, 123, 157, 170, 192, 219–220, 247 lustrations 227 Mabbug (Hierapolis) 26, 31, 130, 168, 210, 213, 242 Madraše (→ Hymns of B.) 16 Magi 22, 51, 94, 104, 129, 249 man 30, 56, 89–90, 96–97, 99– 100, 102, 117, 119, 125– 126, 131, 133, 150, 156, 158, 160, 170–171, 184, 237, 245 —, creation of — 35, 158– 159, 169, 215 —, five senses of — 154, 230 —, fortunes of — 98–99, 152, 171, 245, 247 —, liberty of — (→ freedom) 92–93, 97, 99, 101, 103, 107, 124, 126, 139 —, limbs of — 211 —, natural constitution of — 82, 92, 97, 99–100, 102 —, nature of — 82, 88, 91–93 —, origin of — 109, 138, 159 —, Primal (Primordial) — 139, 220, 253

289 —, purification of — 158, 178, 212, 228, 247–248, 253–254 —, qualities of — 151 —, responsibility of — 28, 43, 78 —, spirit of — 91, 93, 98–99, 133, 167–168, 174–175, 213, 230, 245–247 —, view, Mazdean of — 249 Mandaean literature 235 Mandaeans 8, 50, 206, 216, 224, 227 Mandaism 160 Manichaean Canon 228 Manichaean Psalms 237 Manichaean texts (Coptic) 254 Manichaeans 17–18, 37, 47, 119–120, 125, 136, 143, 225–227, 236, 256 Manichaeism 8, 10, 18, 47, 49, 51, 54, 65–66, 100, 109– 110, 125, 135–136, 138– 139, 141, 164, 167, 206, 236, 248, 252, 254 Manual of Discipline (Qumrân) 65 Marcionism 28, 188 Marcionites 36, 47, 58, 72–73, 86, 88, 119–120, 125, 139, 143, 188–191, 225, 229, 232, 244, 252 —, B.’s writings against — 36, 72, 74, 86, 189 Mârilâhâ 242 Marriage, rejection of — 214 Mars 211–212 Martyrs, Persian — 200 matter 6–7, 9, 39, 48, 51–52, 55, 126–127, 139, 141, 147–148, 154, 164, 184, 228, 251 —, uncreated — 9, 249



Mazdaism 53 Mazdakites 18 μή ὂν 127 ‘Mediator’ 230–231 Mercury 211–212 Mesopotamia 27, 43, 50–51, 65–67, 164, 168, 189–190, 194, 198, 216, 222, 227, 240, 243, 248, 250, 256 Messiah 29, 220 mixed being 126 mixture (commixture, intermixture, mingling, commingling) —, — of four elements and darkness 126, 138, 152, 156, 158, 230, 246 —, — of light and darkness 138 —, new — 63, 106, 138, 247 —, — of the world 50, 62, 64, 90–92, 98, 100–101, 106– 107, 112–115, 123, 125– 126, 128, 130, 133, 138– 139, 141, 152–156, 158– 160, 172, 226, 229, 249, 251 Monism 8, 26, 51, 63 monist(s) 39, 51 months, names of — 165–166 moon 10, 29, 89–90, 97, 165– 168, 194, 211, 242, 248, 255 —, Manichaean conceptions of — 165 Mother, — — Goddess 35 —, — of Life 5, 9, 65, 162, 166, 168–169, 211–212, 214–215, 247–248, 254 ‘motus inrationabiles’ 61 Muġtasila 47, 227 Muslims 109, 223, 256 mysteries, Christian — 210 —, pagan — 187

—, Book of — 47, 54, 170, 181, 226, 228 Mystery of the Cross 115, 121–123 mythology, Near Eastern 9, 54— —, Semitic — 13, 168 —, Syrian — 26, 169 Nabataean dynasty 22 Nature(s) 50–51, 53–54, 61– 63, 80, 88, 92, 99–101, 106–107, 116, 124–127, 119, 148, 177–178, 182, 246 —, components of — 90, 96 —, Lord of all — 106 —, three great — 131–132 Nebo 242 Nestorian commentary on Genesis 221 Nicea, Council of — 37, 120, 139–140, 214 Nisibis 118, 143, 190, 208 νόμιμα βαρβαρικά 21–22, 62, 70, 87, 102–103 Nomos 20 North 111–113, 122, 155 nothingness 127, 155 ‘Nous' 9 νοῦς 30, 99 Odes of Solomon 32, 40, 45– 46, 61, 66, 84, 170, 185, 233–235, 237, 241 —, XI, Greek version of — 234 Ophites 5, 10, 17, 26, 33 ordeal(s) 195 —, — for crimes 194 —, Lake of — 194 order, divine — 156, 159 ordering, process of — 146, 156–157

INDEX orthodoxy 58–59, 84, 143, 179–180, 184, 191, 207, 212–213, 248 Oshroene 201 οὐσία 90 paganism 8, 23, 30–31, 147, 177, 213, 244 pagans 116, 210 Panarion (Epiphanius) 4, 59, 75, 78, 197 parents, — of B. 34, 213, 243–244 Parsees 135 Parthian culture 23, 64, 186 Parthian Iranian conceptions 27, 51, 64, 169, 240–241 Parthian Rulers 23, 186–188 Parthian(s) 240–241 περὶ (κατὰ) εἱμαρμένης (Diod. Tars.) 14, 21, 70, 72, 77, 80, 197 περὶ εἱμαρμένης (Alex. Aphrod.) 79 περὶ θεῶν (Posidon. Apam.) 83 persecution 12, 73, 80, 189, 199, 244 Persia 9, 51, 104, 210, 213, 223–224, 229 Peshiṭta 8, 28 Petra (Rekeme) 104 Philosophumena (Hippol.) 10, 24, 187 philosophy, — of Albinus 182–183 —, — of Aristotle 182–183 —, classical — 10, 27, 30, 38– 39, 43, 48–49, 53, 55, 88, 90, 95, 128, 133, 166, 169, 183, 186, 216, 222–223, 243, 245, 248–249 —, — of nature 53–54, 90 —, — of Plato 182 —, religious — 223

291 —, Stoic-Pythagorean — 53 φύσις 107 planets (→ Seven Planets) 6, 8, 10, 22, 25, 29, 30, 34– 35, 39, 50, 97–100, 103, 106, 124, 148, 149–150, 152, 177–179, 215–216, 242, 245–246, 249, 255 —, conjunction of — 216 Platonist(s) 49, 181–182 pleroma 6–7, 9–10, 160, 205 pneuma 251 poet, B. as a — 16, 28, 34, 46, 49, 57–58, 61, 65, 128, 153, 202–203, 237 polytheism 45 Pontus 37 potencies, spiritual — 14, 126, 133–135, 142, 158, 214– 215 powers, astral — (→ stars, planets) 97, 149 Praedestinati Liber Primus 199–200 Praeparatio Evangelica (Euseb.) 3, 11, 27–28, 40, 44, 55, 60, 69, 71, 73, 78–80, 82, 85, 87, 188, 192 predestination 121 Principles 199, 202 —, Five — 132 —, obstructing — 149 —, Three — 47, 187, 190–191 —, Two — 187, 190–191 Pronoia 85 Prophets 81, 175, 199, 211 Pseudo-Clementine Writings 40, 42, 61, 63, 71, 80, 84, 87, 197, 241, 249 —, ‘Grundschrift’ of — 42, 44–45, 63–64, 69–70, 72, 83–86 ψυχή 30, 99, 251



pupils, — of B. (→ Bardesanites, Daiṣanites) 3, 5–6, 12–15, 19–20, 28, 35, 41, 43, 60, 73, 77–78, 86, 88–89, 95, 158, 189, 207, 237, 239 Pure Brethren (Iḥwân as-Ṣafa) 224, 256 purification, — of man 158, 178, 212, 228, 247–248, 253–254 —, — of the world 121–123, 158–159, 247 Quaestiones (Caeser. Naz.) 11, 21, 71 Quarters, Four — of the winds 147, 153 Qumrân 65–66, 234 —, community of — 65–66, 234 Quqites 241–242 Rakamaeans 104 reason 134–135, 174 Recognitiones (PseudoClementine) (→ PseudoClementine Writings) 3– 4, 7, 11, 14, 20–21, 27–28, 32, 38–40, 42, 44, 60–61, 63–64, 69–72, 83–87 Redeemer 160 —, — of the souls 192 redemption 184, 188 Refutations, prose (Ephrem Syr.) 31, 48–49, 144–146, 151, 160–161, 165, 167, 171, 175, 178–179, 236 Refut. Omn. Haer. (Hippol.) (→ Philosophoumena) 13, 86 region(s) 178 Rekeme (Petra) 104 ‘Religionsgeschichtliche Schule’ 35, 239

Resurrection (→ body) 7, 10, 30, 39, 57, 116–117, 119, 122, 124–125, 145, 170, 191–192, 199–200, 212 revelation(s) 117, 125, 180, 229, 249 Roman Empire 105 Romance (Clement.) 42 Rome 187, 193, 199, 233, 244 ‘Rulers’ 96, 98, 211, 214–215 Sabbath 105 Sabians 8, 13, 47, 135, 252 Salvation 25, 88, 169, 246–253 Samanaeans 196 Samaria 23 Sassanides 120–121, 143, 255 Saturn 211 Saviour 173, 187 science, Greek — 10, 31, 49, 87, 195, 201, 223, 244, 255 Scriptures (→ Bible) 117, 181, 187 Seleucidian era 208 Seleucids 22 senses, five — of man 154, 230 Seres 103 Sethians 214–215, 255 ‘Seven’, ‘The —’ (→ Planets) 6, 29, 34–35, 39, 50, 119, 148–150, 152, 179, 210– 212, 215, 242, 245–246, 249, 255 sexual intercourse 212, 253 sexuality 228 Sige 9 signs, Guiding — 96, 98, 171 —, — of the Zodiac 5–6, 10, 20, 22, 34, 97, 104, 148– 149, 175, 181, 216 Sin 168 Sinope 79, 94 smoke 112, 155–156, 253 σῶμα 30, 99, 251

INDEX somata 182–183 Son, — of God 106, 252 —, — of Life 9, 35, 162, 169, 248, 254 —, — of Man 220 —, — of the Sea (Bar Jamma) 94 Sons, — of B. 211–212 —, Seven — of Life 166, 211–212 Sophia 7, 9, 17, 25, 33, 35, 55, 187, 205, 236 —, bridal (wedding) song — 33, 236 —, — Chakmuth 9, 17, 35, 55 soteriology 39, 248 Soul(s) 7, 10, 25, 39, 50–51, 54, 81–82, 91, 94, 98, 99, 121, 131, 133–134, 136, 146, 148–152, 159–160, 169–174, 178–179, 184, 192, 200–201, 211, 218, 223, 226, 228–229, 231, 245–247, 249, 253 —, banquet of — 25 —, components of — 133– 134 —, descent of — 149, 160, 245 —, immortality of — 7 —, liberation of — 192 —, — of Life 228 —, material — 150 —, rising-up of the — 149, 178–179, 228 —, separation of body and — 146 —, seven parts of — 150–152 —, will of the — 81 South 155 space 129, 148, 152–153 —, empty — 152–153

293 spheres, — of the planets 25, 98–99, 103, 148–149, 179, 245 —, seven — 148, 179, 245 spirit(s), element — 131, 133, 157, 168 —, evil — 181 —, — of man 91, 93, 98–99, 133, 167–168, 174–175, 213, 230, 245–247 —, — of preservation 166, 168–169, 212 stars 6, 8, 14, 21, 55, 89–90, 100–101, 103–104, 106, 149, 176–177 —, decanal — 6, 104 —, power of — 55 Stoa 21, 43, 59, 63, 77, 89, 95, 130, 182, 243, 248 Stoic(s) 49, 59, 76, 182–183 Stoicheia 111, 123–124 Stoicism 54 ‘Stranger’, ‘The —’ 159–160 Syria 28, 66, 72, 76, 83–84, 86, 143, 191, 207, 223–224, 242–243 —, bilingual — 76, 78 Sun 10, 29, 89–90, 97, 129, 165–168, 194, 211, 229, 242, 248, 255 Syzygy (-ies) 5–7, 9, 17 substances, elemental — 90, 101, 107, 127, 132 Sumatar 242, 249 Symbolum Nicaenum 140 Tar‘ata (Atargatis) 105, 168, 242, 244 Testament, New — 125, 199 —, Old — 125, 180, 199 thought, element — 131– 133,157, 214 Thunder, Book about — 181 Timaeus (Plato) 54 ‘Timor Dei’ 61



‘Twelve’, ‘— Attendants’ 34, 119, 211, 236 ὕλη (→ matter) 127, 129, 135, 147, 154 Valentinian(s) 7, 9, 10, 14, 24, 26, 35, 55, 58, 127, 187– 190, 198–199, 204–206 —, eastern — 9, 24, 187 —, western — 205 Valentinianism 7, 14, 23, 33, 55, 58, 180, 187, 189, 204– 206 Venus 211, 242 Vita (Aberkios) 25, 36–37, 46, 72, 86, 95, 190 —, (Ephr. Syr.) 192, 201–202 —, (Rabbula) 175 washing, ritual — 47 Wasit 224 water 5, 29, 111–112, 122, 129, 131–134, 147, 153– 155, 163, 167, 246, 248, 253 West 155 white dress 117, 119, 124 will 95 —, free — (→ freedom, liberty) 7, 26, 28, 39, 51, 62, 64, 78, 81, 89–92, 102, 105–106, 121, 137, 171– 178, 221, 223, 249 —, — of the Soul 91 wind 29, 111–112, 114, 122, 127–128, 130–133, 135, 153–157, 168, 172, 246, 253 —, — of the heights 114, 130, 167 wisdom 96, 114, 134–135, 168, 170

Word, Father of the — 75 —, — of God 167, 235, 251 —, — of Thought (or First —) 113–115, 123, 134, 138, 157, 167, 215, 220, 246– 248, 251, 253 world 10, 88, 98, 106–107, 111–112, 114–115, 149, 151–153, 158, 168, 184, 215, 237, 247, 251 —, components of the — 97, 133, 158 —, creation of the — (→ creation) —, duration of the — 19, 101, 216 —, — of Light 10, 138, 141, 211, 229–230, 253 —, natures of the — (→ natures) 131 —, origin of the — 48, 100, 109, 122–123, 125, 133, 223, 235 —, purification of the — 121–123, 158–159, 247, 253–254 worlds, 300 — 214 —, 360 — 131–133, 211, 214 —, 366 — 132–133, 214 —, male and female — 214 Years, 6000 — 19–20, 101– 102, 106, 123, 138, 216 Zodiac, signs of the — 5–6, 10, 20, 22, 34, 97, 104, 148–149, 175, 181, 216 Zarathustra, doctrine of — 229 Zurvanite hymns 153 Zurvanite theology 65, 153

INDEX OF NAMES ‘Abdullah ibn Maimun 227 ‘Abdu’llah ibn al-Muqaffa‘ 125, 225 Aberkios of Hieropolis 25, 36– 37, 46, 72, 86, 95, 190, 244 Abgar (VIII, IX) 12, 105, 186, 198–199, 213, 233, 241, 243–244 Abgarun 212–213 Abû’l-Barakât 124–125, 140 Achilleus Tatios 195 Adam 172–173, 220, 246–247 Agapius of Mabbug 31, 57, 110, 122, 124, 127–128, 130– 131, 133, 158, 166, 202, 209–215, 244 Albinus 182–183 Alexander Aphrodisiensis 63, 82 Ambrosius 21 Antoninus 3–4, 7, 10, 24, 33, 44, 55, 73–75, 79–80, 189, 194, 196, 198–199, 207, 232 Antoninus Pius 198 Antoninus Verus 189, 198 Antonius Rhetor 46 Anuduzbar 210 Aphraates 20, 93, 101 Apollonius 198–199 Aqi 212 Ardesianes 187 Aristotle 59, 182–183 Arthusus 210 Aud 214–216

Augustine 139, 199–200 Avitus 10 Awida 10, 36, 55, 72, 75, 77– 80, 86, 88–89, 91–93, 102, 198 Axionicus 14, 24, 187 Balḥi 228 Bar Hebraeus 14, 26, 28, 57, 110, 122, 124, 128, 130– 133, 158, 166, 209–210, 212, 215 Barḥadbešabba ‘Arbaïa 110– 111, 117, 155, 157, 242 Bar Jamma 37, 79, 87, 94 Basilides 5, 204 Basilius 31 Berossos 54 al-Bîrûnî 54, 122, 125, 136, 181, 226, 228–229, 253 Caesarius 3–4, 11, 21, 60, 71– 72, 85 Caracalla 12, 199, 233–234, 244 Carneades 21–22, 62, 64, 104 Cicero 21 Clement of Alexandria 14 Constantine the Great 190 Damadamis 193 David 147, 184 Diodorus of Tarsus 14, 21, 61, 63, 70, 72, 77, 80, 82, 197, 200 Diogenes of Babylon 242 Droserius 191 Elagabalus 10, 13, 193 Elias of Nisibis 208




Empedocles 188 Enoch 94 Ephrem Syrus 4–7, 9–10, 13, 15–17, 19, 24–27, 29, 31– 34, 36–37, 39–40, 42–46, 48–50, 53, 55–56, 58–59, 61, 66, 84, 86, 109, 111, 120, 122, 124–125, 127– 128, 130, 135, 141–185, 187, 192–193, 199–204, 207, 211, 213–215, 218, 221, 226–227, 229, 231, 235–237, 244, 248, 252, 254–255 Epiphanius 4, 13–14, 26, 38– 39, 75, 77–78, 80, 86, 125, 127, 187, 190, 195, 197, 199, 205–207, 214, 242– 244 Eratosthenes 22 Eusebius 1, 3–6, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 26–28, 36–42, 44, 46, 55, 59–60, 63, 69, 71–75, 77–80, 82, 84–87, 141, 187–189, 192–193, 195, 197, 200, 203–206, 208, 232 Euxeinianos 36–37, 72, 94, 190 Favorinus 21 Firmicus Maternus 30 Georgios episkopos Arabum 19–20, 31, 101–102, 216– 217, 223 Georgius Hamartolus 11, 21, 71–72 Gregorius of Nazianze 3, 71 Gregorius of Nyssa 21 Ḥammâd ‘Ağrad 225 Harmonius 10, 13, 39, 46, 49, 55, 74, 160, 201–204, 212– 213 Hasdu 212 Hermogenes 252 Hieronymus 74, 195–197, 206

Hippolytus 13–14, 47, 187–188, 191, 204–206 Hystaspes 210, 212 Hypatius 15, 144–145, 172 Ibn Abi’l-‘Awğa’ 225 Ibn al-‘Assâl (Mu’taman adDawla) 57, 128, 132 Ibn Ḥazm of Cordova 137, 229–230 Ibn Kabar 140–141 Ibn al-Murtaḍâ 18, 137–138 Irenaeus 5, 10, 187 Ishô bar Nûn 118 Isho’dad of Merw 220 Îwannîs of Dàrā 57, 90, 110, 112, 117–119, 121–123, 125, 127, 132, 134, 155, 157 Jacob of Edessa 19, 104, 216– 217, 255 Jâḥiz 229 Jesus of Nazareth 159, 169, 184, 219–220, 229, 247 Joḥannan of Litharb 20, 216– 217 Joshua (presbyter) 19, 101 Julianus of Halicarnassus 219 Julius Africanus 102, 186, 199, 204, 206 Justin 13 al-Kindî 231 Kleitophon 195 Leukippe 195 Lucianus 26, 105 Macrinus 105 al-Mahdi 125, 225 Maimun ibn Daiṣan 227 Mani 15, 18, 28–29, 31–32, 43, 47, 49–55, 109, 124–126, 132, 135–142, 144, 147, 151–152, 154, 156, 158– 159, 161, 167, 171, 178, 181, 206, 209, 212–213,

INDEX 220–231, 235–237, 240, 252–254 Ma‘nu IX 244 al-Maqdîsî 137, 228 Mara bar Serapion 243 Marcion 5, 15, 23, 29, 31, 36– 37, 43, 46–49, 51, 72, 74, 79, 86–88, 95, 109, 121, 125, 140–142, 144, 147, 159, 167, 171, 187, 189– 192, 196, 204, 217–218, 221, 223, 225, 229–230, 240, 243 Marcus 10, 191 Marcus Antonius 74, 196 Marcus Aurelius 3, 38, 189, 225 Marinus 24, 191–192 Maruta of Maipherkat 37, 119– 122, 124–125, 127, 139– 141, 241, 255 Mary 187, 192, 211, 247 Mas‘udi 125, 136, 225–226, 228 Megethius 191 Melito of Sardes 24, 38, 41, 77, 233 Michael Syrus 28–29, 31, 57, 59, 110, 122, 124, 127– 128, 131, 133, 158, 166, 202–203, 210–211, 214– 215 Moses 147, 164, 211 Moses of Chorene 12, 14, 17– 18, 25, 75, 79, 232–233, 244 Moses bar Kepha 43, 48, 53, 57, 90, 92, 110–111, 117– 119, 121–124, 127–129, 134, 155, 157, 169 Muḥammad ibn Shubaib 230– 231 Muṭi‘ ibn Iyâs 225 an-Nadîm 8, 10, 18, 121, 125, 136–137, 224, 226–228 Naḥširam 210, 213

297 Narses (or: Narseh) 210, 213 Nestorius 119 Nicephorus Callistus 74–75, 77, 79 Nuḥama 210, 213 Ol’yp (= Olympios) 17 Origen 21, 52, 191 Panaetius 21 Paul 19, 40, 59, 89, 145 Philippus (pupil of Bardaiṣan) 3–5, 24, 28, 30, 40–44, 77, 79, 85–87, 89–90, 92–94, 104 Philo of Alexandria 20–21, 64, 187, 249 Philoxenos of Mabbug 3, 46, 187, 218–219 Photius 14, 21, 61, 72, 80, 82 Plato 4, 43, 54, 79 Porphyrius 193–197 Posidonius of Apamea 54, 76, 83, 95, 242 Prepon 47, 187–188, 190–191 Procopius of Gaza 21 Pseudo-Bardesanes 11, 21 Pseudo-Clemens 11 Pseudo-Melito 233 Pseudo-Moses of Chorene 18, 232 Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) 21 Quq 24, 37, 217, 241–242 Rabbula of Edessa 15–16, 175, 255 Rufinus 45, 71, 85 Saturninus 5 Septimius Severus 105, 186 Sergius of Resh ‘Aina 59, 183, 223 Severus 80 Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘ 140– 141 Severus Sebokt 11, 102, 216– 218, 223



Sextus 21, 186 Shahrastânî 8, 10, 18, 47, 121, 136–137, 230 Simon Magus 204 Socrates 43, 119, 201 Sozomenus 39, 46, 200, 202– 204 Stobaeus 193 Suhuq (or: Sahruq) 213 Tatianus 208, 243 Tertullian 24 Theocritus of Cappadocia 200 Theodore Abû Qurra 111, 134–135, 223–224 Theodore bar Khonai 52–53, 55, 57, 90, 94, 110, 112,

117–118, 125–129, 134– 135, 138, 147, 155, 157, 214, 241 Theodoretus of Cyrus 4, 10, 38, 74–75, 77–78, 80, 119, 141, 187, 202–204 Thomas 17 Tigranes 232 Ukhthanes of Edessa 18, 232 Valentinus 6–7, 24, 55, 127, 189, 191, 196, 200, 204– 206, 209, 214, 217, 219 Vologes (or: Valages) 217 Yaḥya ibn Ziyâd 225 Zarathustra 229 Zenob of Glag 18, 232

INDEX OF MODERN AUTHORS Abbeloos, J. B. 166, 210 Abel, A. 224–225 Adam, A. 144, 234, 236 Ahlwardt, W. 18, 137 Alfaric, P. 47, 205 Altaner, B. 187, 200, 232 Amand, D. 62, 102, 242–243 Anwander, A. 103 Anz, W. 25–26 Arnold, T. W. 47, 227 Assemani, J. S. 4 Assfalg, J. 118 Astour, M. C. 160, 203 Aubert, R. 65 Bakoš, J. 132 Barbier de Meynard, C. 125, 225 Bardenhewer, O. 33, 66, 143, 145 Bauer, W. 58–59, 64, 76, 84, 207, 225, 229, 235, 243 Baumstark, A. 44, 56–57, 110, 117–118, 120–122, 126, 128, 132–133, 143, 145, 234 Beausobre, I. de 12 Beauvoir Priaulx, O. de 193 Beck, E. 144, 146–148, 163– 164, 170–171, 176–177, 180, 184 Benveniste, E. 249 Benz, E. 181 Bedjan, P. 15, 176, 222 Bernard, J. H. 46, 234

Bethune-Baker, J. F. 90, 92, 107, 150 Bevan, A. A. 34–35, 48, 144 Bezold, C. 95 Bickell, E. 26 Bidez, J. 94–95, 129, 148, 202, 221, 242 Blackman, E. C. 88, 252 Boll, F. 21–22, 38, 95, 102, 104, 195 Bornkamm, G. 57–58, 236 Bousset, W. 35–36, 96, 149, 168 Braun, F. M. 234 Braun, O. 120–122, 218 Brière, M. 219 Brockelmann, C. 88, 166, 222 Brooks, E. W. 208–209 Budge, E. A. 219 Buonaiuti, E. 35–36, 205 Burkitt, F. C. 34–35, 48–50, 78, 129, 144–145, 148, 151, 182, 205, 236 Carmignac, J. 234 Carra de Vaux 226 Casey, R. P. 56, 205, 232 Cerfaux, L. 1, 53, 62 Christ, W. von 44, 205 Christensen, A. 213 Chwolsohn, D. 13 Clark, E. G. 118 Corbin, H. 223–224, 230–231 Cramer, J. A. 72 Cullmann, O. 45




Cumont, F. 32, 76, 94–95, 97– 98, 128–129, 148–149, 168, 188, 218, 221, 242 Cureton, W. 1, 3–4, 19–20, 24, 38, 41, 46, 71, 137, 186, 230 Dalbert, P. 96, 168 Dalmais, I. H. 184 Daniélou, J. 65, 234–235, 241 Dibelius, O. 205 Diwald-Wilzer, Suzanna 138 Dölger, F. J. 169 Doresse, J. 66, 205, 242 Draguet, R. 219 Drijvers, H. J. W. 71, 82, 89– 94, 96–98, 100, 102–103, 105–106, 133–134, 149– 150, 152, 174–175, 177– 178 Drower, E. S. 216 Duchesne-Guillemin, J. 65 Duncan Jones, A. S. 145 Duval, Rubens 22–23, 33, 199, 233, 241 Eibl, H. 182 Eisler, R. 243 Ermoni, V. 72, 78 Ewald, H. 4, 8 Faye, E. de 31, 205 Feder, A. 74 Festugière, A. J. 51, 98, 124, 229 Findlay, A. F. 58 Finegan, J. 208 Flügel, G. 18, 136–137, 226– 227, 231 Fraenkel, P. 76 Frankfort, H. 159 Frye, R. N. 213 Furlani, G. 59, 89, 183, 243 Gelzer, H. 102 Gibb, H. A. R. 137, 225, 230 Gibson, M. D. 220 Gifford, E. H. 71

Goeje, M. J. de 225, 227 Goossens, G. 31, 105, 130, 168 Graf, G. 120, 131–132, 134– 135, 140 Graffin, R. 30 Grant, R. M. 102, 196, 205 Grégoire, H. 36, 190 Gressmann, H. 96, 168 Guillaumont, A. 242 Gundel, W. 104 Gutschmid, A. 17–18, 232 Haarbrücker, Th. 230 Haase, F. 37–40, 42–45, 48, 55, 60, 76, 87, 144–145 Hahn, A. 5 Halleux, A. de 219 Hallier, L. 208, 225 Hansen, G. Chr. 202 Harnack, A. von 23–25, 36, 46, 56, 86, 88, 120, 190, 205 Hatch, W. H. P. 89 Hayes, E. R. 52 Heintze, W. 42, 44–45, 64, 70, 72, 83 Hennecke, E. 235–236 Hense, O. 194 Herding, G. 74 Hilgenfeld, A. 3, 9–12, 15, 20, 25, 27, 29, 32, 36, 40, 60, 83, 85, 186 Hitti, Ph. K. 76, 242 Holl, K. 75, 199, 207 Honigmann, E. 104 Hölscher, G. 145 Hort, F. J. A. 12–15, 27 Huart, Cl. 48, 137, 228 Huby, J. 89, 97 Jackson, A. V. 249 Jacoby, F. 232 Jaeger, W. 159 Jansma, T. 102, 216, 221 Jonas, H. 35, 51, 56, 206 Kafka, G. 182 Kerényi, K. 195

INDEX Keseling, P. 189 Kessler, K. 18, 137–138 Khouri-Sarkis, F. 76 Kirsten, E. 241 Klijn, A. F. J. 58, 84, 93, 145, 205, 234, 236, 241–243, 248 Klima, O. 1–2, 53, 65 Klinge, G. 223–224 Kroll, J. 195 Krüger, G. 26–27 Kuehner, C. 5 Kugener, M. A. 153, 165, 222 Lacy O’Leary, de 223 Lamy, Th. 166, 209–210 Land, J. P. N. 4–5, 8, 216 Langlois, V. 13, 18, 72, 75, 232 Leisegang, H. 205 Leroy, L. 140 Levene, A. 220–221 Levi della Vida, G. 42–44, 60, 71, 76, 85–86, 137, 225, 228 Levy, R. 223–224, 229 Lidzbarski, M. 160 Lietzmann, H. 89, 252 Lipsius, R. A. 5–6, 9, 14, 16–17, 27 Macke, K. 16–17 Maisler, B. 104 Martin, J. 218 McLean, W. 73 Massignon, L. 229 Merx, A. 6–9, 11–12, 14–15, 27, 43, 71, 77, 84, 216 Michaud, H. 66 Mingana, A. 46, 234 Mitchell, C. W. 35, 48–49, 78, 124, 127, 129, 144, 151, 179, 236 Molé, M. 249 Montgomery Watt, W. 223, 225, 230 Mras, K. 71, 73, 193

301 Müller, L. G. 199 Muyldermans, J. 232 Nau, F. 5, 15, 27–33, 35–37, 39–41, 43, 50, 52, 60, 62, 66, 71, 82, 88–94, 96–98, 100, 102–106, 110, 117– 121, 127, 131–134, 149– 150, 152, 166, 174–175, 177–178, 180, 209–212, 216–220, 222 Nestle, E. 73 Newbold, W. R. 45–46, 234 Nicholson, R. A. 47, 227 Nissen, Th. 36–37, 72, 86, 190 Nöldeke, Th. 16, 18, 30, 33, 40–41, 43, 76, 105, 216 Nyberg, H. 249 Oehler, F. 200 Ortiz de Urbina, I. 4, 15, 19, 31, 66, 84, 102, 118–120, 143, 145, 234, 241 Overbeck, J. J. 15, 26, 145–146, 172 Parmentier, L. 74 Pedersen, J. 47, 227 Peterson, E. 205–206, 227 Pétrement, S. 54, 62–63, 138, 252 Phillips, G. 30 Pococke, E. 212 Pognon, H. 117, 214 Pohlenz, M. 63, 60, 76, 82, 85, 100, 130, 158, 182, 249 Preuschen, E. 33–34 Puech, H. C. 100, 209, 213– 215, 252 Puyade, J. 184 Quasten, J. 64, 186–188, 191, 201, 203, 205 Quispel, G. 160, 180, 205–206 Rahmani, Ignatius Ephraem II 37, 119, 145, 249 Rahner, H. 123, 165



Rehm, B. 59–61, 63, 69–72, 76, 79–80, 82–85, 103 Reitzenstein, R. 35, 64, 195 Rendel Harris, J. 40, 46, 234 Rosenthal, F. 223 Rücker, A. 55, 144, 146, 164, 216–217, 230 Rudhart, J. 2 Rudolph, K. 235 Ryckmans, J. 193 Ryssel, V. 19–20, 216–217 Sachau, E. 125, 181, 228–229 Sagnard, F. M. M. 180, 205 Sande Bakhuyzen, W. H. van de 192 Schaeder, H. H. 1, 52–60, 62– 65, 75–76, 79, 86, 90, 92, 118, 124, 126–127, 129– 130, 133, 135–136, 143, 148, 151, 161, 175, 186, 195, 217, 224, 254 Schall, A. 76–77, 93, 104 Schenke, N. 234 Scher, A. 94, 117–118 Schmid, W. 44 Schmidt, C. 44–45, 64, 71–72, 83 Schneemelcher, W. 235–236 Schoeps, H. J. 22, 61, 63–64, 70–72, 83–84, 249 Schulthess, F. 40–41, 43, 77, 241 Schwartz, E. 73, 80 Segal, J. B. 241–242 Segelberg, E. 66, 234 Sharif, M. M. 224 Smith, W. 12 Sprengling, M. 45–46, 160, 162, 202

Stählin, O. 44 Stegemann, V. 95 Strecker, G. 64, 72, 76, 83–84 Taeschner, F. 56 Tavadia, J. C. 249 Testuz, M. 234 Thevenot, M. 186 Thomas, J. 47 Tondelli, L. 50, 254 Toumanoff, C. 233 Tournebize, F. 233 Ullrich, Th. 233 Vaschalde, A. 217 Vasiliev, A. 166, 209 Vetter, P. 19 Villecont, L. 125, 140 Vööbus, A. 119, 143, 201–202, 205, 234 Vosté, J. 221 Wachsmuth, C. 194 Wace, H. 12 Waitz, H. 40, 44–45, 72 Walzer, R. 231 Waszink, J. H. 182 Weinreich, O. 195 Wendland, P. 20–21, 89, 187 Wesendonk, O. G. von 51, 254 Wiesmann, H. 71 Widengren, G. 1–2, 35, 53, 56, 64–65, 100, 125, 138–139, 164, 168, 186, 188, 206, 220, 233, 241, 248–249 Windisch, H. 94 Witt, R. E. 182 Wright, W. 16, 71, 73, 189, 217 Yadin, Y. 279 Zaehner, R. C. 129, 148, 153 Zahn, Th. 19 Zwaan, J. de 61–62, 235