Syriac Timeline
2nd Century

Syriac Timeline (101-200 A.D.)




104 AD, [58]
([38] gives the period of his see as c. 105 to 115 AD)

Mar Peqidha became the first bishop of Adiabene. The Chronicle of Arbela states that Bishop Pequidha was originally converted to Christianity through the preaching and discipleship of Addai the Apostle.

The Chronicle of Arbela is an important historical source for the Syriac speaking east. The text has been published twice, initially by Mingana with a French translation and again more recently by Kawerau with a German translation; Mingana, A. 'Sources Syriaques' Publ. in Leipzig, O. Harrassowitz, and in Mosul both in 1907 and Kawerau, P. 'Die Chronik von Arbela,' CSCO vols. 467 & 468, 1985 from a MS in Berlin.

The Chronicle of Arbela, via [38], p. 15 & [58], p. 8

105 - 107 AD

A persecution in Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria is precipitated by an imperial order to sacrifice to the 'gods' (really demons) of Rome.
Theophorus Ignatius, called 'Luminous' second bishop of Antioch and Metropolitan of Syria is arrested and taken in chains to Rome where he was thrown to the lions during the reign of Trajan Caesar.
On the way to Rome, writing to the church at Smyrna, he quotes from Luke's gospel, Luke 24 v 26 - 40.
"St. Peter himself ordained St. Aphodius and St. Ignatius the Luminous as successors. They did succeeded him after he fell martyr in Rome."
Symeon son of the Lord's uncle Clopas, and the 2nd bishop of Jerusalem martyred by crucifixion by order of Atticus the provincial governor at the age of 120 years. He was succeeded by Justus, (says Hegesippus). Others have dated Symeon's martyrdom between AD 99 and 103, [49], p. 113, however, all these murders were triggered by the same imperial order to sacrifice to the Roman (false) gods and the indicated dates of the martyrdoms show good agreement from widely dispersed sources.
Martrdom of Sharbil of Edessa in the month of Nisan, AG 416 = (April 105 AD) whom had been high priest of idols and was converted through the evangelism of bishop Bar Samya of Edessa who was himself attacked in September of the same year, but not killed.

SOC website.
Ignatius, Smyrnaeans 3.
Eusebius HC 3.32 quoting Hegesippus.
[17], pp. 41, 63, 179, 186
[49], pp. 63, 113

107 AD

The Parthian king Xosroes murders the second bishop of Arbela (modern Arbil) in the buffer state of Adiabene between Armenia and Parthia.

(The chronicle of Arbela, translation by Mingana 1907) via [14]
+Map, [10], p. 424

109 AD

After a period of 18 years without a king, Abgar VII son of Ezat becomes king of Osrhoene. Judging by later events, this king was a Parthian nominee.


c. 110 AD

Papias, bishop of Phrygian Hierapolis writing in his 'Expositions of the sayings of the Lord' mentions Mark's gospel by name and mentions that Matthew had also recorded Jesus' sayings 'in the Hebrew tongue' (Aramaic).

Eusebius HC 3.39

112 AD

Trajan's correspondence with Pliny which designated Christianity as illegal becomes a de facto part of Roman law.

[49], p. 62

115 AD

During Trajan's reign, the Roman army under the commander Lusius Quietus captures Edessa and deposes (the Parthian nominee) king Abgar VII. There followed a period of 2 years where no king reigned in Edessa. The historian Dio Cassius says: 'Trajan came to Edessa, and there saw Abgarus for the first time. For although Abgarus had previously sent envoys and gifts to the emperor on numerous occasions, he himself, first on one excuse or another, had failed to put in an appearance, as was also the case with Mannos, the ruler of a neighboring region of Arabia'

[17], p. 182
[35], p. 31n
Dio Cassius Roman History lxviii.21, 22

115 AD

Adiabene (east of Edessa) was invaded by the Romans and named "Assyria" by them. See map given in [15].

(The chronicle of Arbela, translation by Mingana 1907)

117 AD

Death of Trajan and beginning of the reign of Aelius Hadrian Caesar.


117 AD

Death of Trajan and Aelius Hadrian became Caesar.
Parthian fortress city Hatra is unsuccessfully attacked by Hadrian during his retreat from Parthia.


118 AD

Yalud with Frantsafat (Parthamaspat) became rulers of Osrhoene.


Early 2nd Century or earlier.

Early church buildings are erected in Edessa. The churches in this independent kingdom reputedly operated along the lines of the Antiochene theological tradition.

[7], p. 58.

122 - 123 AD

(?) Death of Yalud, his colleague Frantsafat continues as ruler of Osrhoene.
Hadrian makes peace settlement with the Parthians based upon a frontier close to the Euphrates river. Dura Europus is handed over to the Parthians as part of the peace settlement.

[35], pp. 27, 88

123 AD

The Parthians take Osrhoene and Edessa from the Romans, depose Frantsafat and place their own nominee Ma’nu VII son of Ezat on the throne, (he reigned 123-139 A.D.).

[29], p. 105

124 AD

Hadrian visits Athens and the Christian writer Aristides presents him with his 'Apologia' for the Christian faith written in Greek. This work survives in Syriac translation and has been edited by J. Rendel Harris, 1893.

[49], p. 94 f.

c. 130 AD

Flourished Hegesippus, a Christian who wrote five books on the faith and who quoted 'from a Syriac Gospel' according to a report by the historian Eusebius. Black, [8] places the death of Hegesippus in AD 180. This date of his death is probably based on a record of Eusebius, [39]. However, Eusebius also quotes Hegesippus' writings which show that his literary activities flourished at this earlier time, during the reign of Hadrian Caesar.

Eusebius HC 4.8 and 4.22
[8] p. 200
[39], p. 114

132 AD

War between Rome and the Jews begins. This is called the third Jewish war. It was a revolt led by a Jewish man Bar Koseba, later called Bar Cochba who claimed to be the Jewish Meshiha.

[49], p. 164
[60], p. 13

135 AD

Jewish revolt of Bar Cochba was crushed by Rufus, the Roman governor of Judea in the reign of Hadrian Caesar. The entire population of Jerusalem was destroyed and the city was renamed after the emperor, 'Aelia Capitolina'.

Eusebius HC 4.6
[49], p. 164
[60], p. 13

135 AD

Dated Christian tomb inscriptions written in the Palmyrene Aramaic dialect were made in Palmyra, Syria. These demonstrate that Christianity existed in Syria well before the turn of the second century AD.

[42], p. 56

137 AD

Marcion, a disciple of Cerdo and the son of a bishop from Sinope in Pontus, leaves the Catholic church, [41], [49]. Marcionism was apparently, an ascetic and strongly evangelical form of Christianity which was cut off from its Jewish roots, [49].

Marcion (aged 50 years) arrives in Rome from his native town, Sinope in Pontus, c. AD 140, ([35], but this is a decade too late). Marcion had an interpretation of the NT which required followers to abstain from marriage and which graded Christians depending on their lifestyles. His christology portrayed Jesus as a spirit in the form of a man sent by God to accomplish redemption. As such, his beliefs denied the essential humanity of Jesus. Nevertheless, his views held sway in the east and especially in Mesopotamia at least until the mid 5th century, [35].

Marcion rejected the Old Testament completely, and he produced a shortened version of Luke's gospel, edited to remove all Old Testament quotations. His NT incorporated only ten Pauline epistles, [49]. It is also highly likely that Marcion edited Paul to suit his beliefs. The fact that Marcionism was generally widespread and present in Edessa in the third and fourth centuries is certain from the writings of Bardaisan of Edessa and Ephrem of Nisibis who were concerned to refute it. This means that Marcion's Syriac-speaking followers would have needed a Syriac translation of Marcionite Luke in Greek. This gives us a hypothesized Old Syriac gospel text type based upon Marcionite Luke.

However, an author W. Bauer (1971) cited in [49], page 167 has supposedly shown that Marcionism was the first form of Christianity at Edessa. This idea is highly improbable, given Marcion's strong anti-Jewish views and his rejection of the Jewish bible on the one hand and on the other, the prominence given to Jewish Christian evangelists in the foundation narrative of the Edessene church, (the doctrine of Addai) and the extensive use made of the Peshitta Old Testament in Jewish and Christian circles in Edessa from the earliest times.

[35], p. 54 (from Theodoret)
[49], pp. 159, 167 f., 188

137 AD
After Hadrian returns to Rome from the East.

The Acts of Eleutherius, who preaches in Rome and does miracles of some sort, (document in Syriac). He mentions Peter's earlier preaching in that city.

BL. Add. 14,654 folio 18 via [17], p. 175

137 AD

Death of Hadrian. He was succeeded in AD 138 by Antoninus Pius who reigned until AD 161

[49], p. 97

138 AD
(136 AD according to [7], p. 29)

Hyginus became bishop of Rome. He sat until AD 141. During his episcopate, Valentinus started out as a Christian teacher in Rome, [39], [49]. Valentinus was from the coast of lower Egypt near Alexandria where he had received a Greek classical education. He began his teaching career within the fold of the Roman church, [49].

[7], p. 29
[39], p. 114
[49], pp. 18, 165 f.

139 AD

Ma’nu VIII son of Ma'nu VII became (Parthian nominee) king of Osrhoene, (he reigned from 139 to 163 A.D.)


c. 140 AD

Gnostic heresy appears and gains ground. Some have suggested that the four gospels were canonized at this time as a defensive measure against heresies after the deaths of the Apostles and many of their early disciples.

[7], p. 21
[35], pp. 52-53

141 AD

Pius became bishop of Rome. He sat until AD 154 or 155.

[39], p. 114

c. 150 AD

Lived bishop Noah of Adiabene. Noah was the child of Jewish parents who were from Babylon. He was converted to Christianity whilst the family resided in Jerusalem. When the family returned to Mesopotamia they settled in Arbela (modern day Arbil, Iraq) the capital of Adiabene because (as the chronicle states), “There were many Jews.” This return to Arbela must have occurred around 130 AD, that is to say, prior to the Bar Cochba revolt and the great slaughter of Jews that followed it.

Adiabene was a major area of Jewish settlement in Mesopotamia. They arrived in an early time as exiles during the wars of the Assyrian king Tiglathpileser III (745 – 727 BC). He settled his Jewish captives in the region of Adiabene and in the mountains of Kurdistan, [60].

The Chronicle of Arbela via [38], p. 18.
[60], p. 12

c. 150 AD

Tatian came to Rome from Adiabene, which the Romans called Assyria. He made the acquaintance of Justin Martyr, and converted to Christianity. Between AD 150 – 172 whilst he was resident in Rome, Tatian is said to have composed 'The Gospel of the Mixed' in Syriac which was called in the West, 'The Diatessaron'. This was a harmony of the four gospels. Gospel readings characteristic of the Diatessaron flourished in Syriac in the east, and it was also transmitted in Latin in the west. The text of Diatessaron had an extremely wide influence on the gospel text. Its influence on the primitive gospel text can be traced from China in the east, to Britain and Ireland in the west, from Georgia in the north, to Egypt and Ethiopia in the south.

Tatian was born of pagan parents in Adiabene and received an education in Greek culture and its philosophical systems. However, Tatian opposed the Hellenization of Christianity in a polemic. Unlike the abstract Greek idea of Christ, the Aramean interpretation of the gospel emphasized the value of a relationship with Christ in every day life, [35].

Justin Martyr was a Samaritan, [49] from Palestine, a resident of Neapolis (also known as Shechem or Nablus) where his family were Aramaic speaking immigrants, [35]. In his apology to Antonius Pius Caesar, quoted by Eusebius (H.E. 4.12), Justin describes himself thus, "I Justin, son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, of Flavia Neapolis in Palestine…"

[8], p. 200
[7], p. 152
[35], pp. 54, 64, 134
[38] pp. 10-12
[49], p. 97

c. 154 AD

Polycarp visits Rome to discuss the date of Easter with bishop Anicet or Anicetus. Easter was kept on 14th Nisan in Asia minor, whereas in Rome they always celebrated it on a Sunday. No agreement was reached, (see also under AD 167 below). Anicet was himself a Syrian Christian from Emesa (Homs) and was bishop of Rome from c. 154 to 165 AD.
Irenaeus says that whilst preaching his version of the Apostolic tradition in Rome, Polycarp encountered Marcion and Valentinus and many were converted back to his version of the gospel.
During the episcopate of Anicet, Hegesippus moved to live in Rome.

[6], p. 115
[38]. p. 13
[39], p. 114

July 11th
154 AD

Birth of Bardaisan, the great Syriac author of songs, poems and philosophy. Later a convert to Christianity during the reign of Abgar IX. See under 179 AD.

[38], p. 14

155 AD
23rd February
(The date is supported by Lightfoot, [6], but it is a little uncertain)

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna then a Christian for 86 years was martyred (burned at the stake) during Caesar's festival.
The date of 'The martyrdom of Polycarp' is recorded in a colophon as: 'on the second day in the beginning of the month of Xanthicus, the day before the seventh kalends of March, on a great Sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was arrested by Herod, when Philip of Thralles was high priest, and Statius Quadratus proconsul, during the unending reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Eusebius also quotes 'the martyrdom', but does not include this colophon.

[5], p. 69

161 AD

Death of Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius became emperor.
Vologases II of Parthia invades Roman territory and gets as far as Syria before being beaten back, (see 165 AD below).

[35], p. 27
[49], p. 97

163 - 165 AD

Wa’el son of Sahru became (Parthian nominee?) king of Osrhoene and the Arabs, replacing Ma'nu VIII.

[29], p. 106

164 AD

The Romans commanded by Lucius Verus start a counterattack against the Parthians.

[35], p. 27

165 AD

End of the see of Anicet bishop of Rome who sat from c. 154 to 165 AD. He was a Syrian Christian from Emesa (Homs). He was succeeded by bishop Soter who sat until AD 175.

[6], p. 115.
[38]. p. 13

165 AD
1st February
13th March
(Adar AG 476)

Thirteen pagan Syriac monumental inscriptions from Sumatar in the Tektek mountains (Turkey) were written in a Syriac script similar to Estrangela.
Tiridates was king of Parthia at this date.
The Romans, under Lucius Verus reconquer Osrhoene and the capital Edessa, taking it back from the Parthian nominee Wa'el son of Sahru. The Romans place Ma'nu Philorhomaios on the throne instead, (he reigned until 167 AD).

The Romans capture the Parthian capital Ctesiphon, but are forced by plague to withdraw. Nevertheless, the Romans managed to subdue the power of the Parthians.

[29], p. 104

[35], p. 27

c. 165 AD

Emperor Marcus Aurelius' legalistic beliefs lead to intense persecution of Christians. Justin (friend of Tatian) was martyred.


165 AD

Dura Europus on the Euphrates was occupied by the Romans which marked the eastern border of the territory administered by Palmyra, (Palmyra was a Roman client kingdom until the mid third century AD).

[35], p. 61, p. 23:map

167 AD

Abgar VIII became king of Osrhoene and ruler of /`rb/ = Arabs. He is mentioned in the pagan inscriptions found near Urfa, (Edessa).
Christians in Edessa and Persia became involved with western Christians in the controversy about the date of Easter during this reign, (see also under AD 154 above).

[7], p. 152.

172 AD

Tatian broke with the Roman church, (see earlier under 150 AD). He was denounced and expelled in 172 AD by Soter, bishop of Rome (c. 165 – 175 AD) and he returned to Adiabene, (called Assyria by the Romans) and founded the sect of the Encratites (i.e. the self-disciplined). Although Tatian was denounced as a heretic by bishop Soter, this sanction may have resulted from Tatian's opposition to the Hellenization of Christianity, rather than from his approach to the key teachings of the Christian faith. Tatian's opposition to the Hellenization of Christianity is a feature of his Greek writings. Tatian also wrote in Syriac and his most important Syriac work was his Diatessaron harmony of the gospels, [60].

From the textual studies of the present author, Tatian's Diatessaron was a Aramaic-Syriac gospel harmony based upon and incorporating much older Aramaic texts of the separate gospels. Identifiable traces of these earlier Syriac gospel texts embedded in the Diatessaron and certain changes Tatian made to move western Aramaic expressions into eastern Syriac modes of expression indicate that he composed the Diatessaron gospel in Syriac. Tatian may have been the first person to vulgarize the Syriac gospels by introducing some textual elements from the Greco-Latin gospel tradition. The changes Tatian introduced are evidence of the earliest known Greek influence on a Syriac gospel text. Tatian's Diatessaron was a compact gospel book and so it cost less and was highly portable. These factors helped make the Diatessaron very popular amongst the Syrians and it was used widely by them at least until the end of the fifth century AD when it's use went into decline. Even so, the Diatessaron did not replace the older Syriac texts upon which it was based. The Syriac texts of the pre-Peshitta separate gospels were never officially suppressed, however they were gradually conformed to the text of the Peshitta during copying and transmission. By the thirteenth century AD, this gradual process of copying and vulgarization had more or less eradicated the earlier Syriac texts.

[33], p. 165
[35], p. 75
[38], pp. 11, 14
[60], p. 27

150 -200 AD

Hippolytus, (c. AD 170 - c. 236) a historian, and Theodoret bishop of Cyrrhus (c. AD 440) report a Gnostic called Monoimus or Mun'im an Arab who was a follower of Tatian and who lived in the second half of the 2nd century. Mun'im mentions the prologue of John's Gospel and directly quotes Paul's letter to the Colossians.

[35], pp. 51 - 52

c. 174 or 175

Eleutherus became bishop of Rome. He sat until AD 189. Hegesippus died during his episcopate.

[39], pp. 114, 366
[49], p. 171

179 AD

Abgar IX son of Ma’nu VIII (and therefore perhaps Parthian in outlook) became king of Osrhoene at the capital, Edessa. [60] has AD 177.

[8], p. 200
[7], p. 152
[27] part II/2 p. 29
[29], pp. 105, 118
[60], p. 27

c. 179 AD

Lived Bishop Izani of Edessa. In the west, this man seems to have been known as 'Hystaspes'. Bishop Izani taught Bardaisan the Christian faith and baptized him. It is known that bishop Izani succeeded bishop Jani at about this time.

[29], p. 117
[38], p. 14

180 AD

Death of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.


180 AD, July.

In North Africa, the Scillian martyrs use a Latin translation of Paul's letters in their defence during their summary trial and execution.

[7], p. 25

180 - 200 AD

Flourished Clement bishop of Alexandria, a theologian. Reference [7] gives his lifespan as c. 150 - 215 AD. See also below under AD 203.

[6], p. 139
[7], p. 33

c. 180 AD

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul and a disciple of Polycarp, [6] regarded the fourfold Gospel as one of the axiomatic facts of the universe. 'There are four quarters of the world,' he says, 'and four winds, and thus it is natural that the church universal should rest upon four pillars, and these pillars are the four gospels.'

Irenaeus helps us still further by giving us a sketch of the early history of the gospels. In the same book, 'Against heresies' iii.1.1 he says, 'Matthew among the Hebrews issued a written version of the gospel in their own tongue, ..' Thus, Irenaeus testifies to an original Palestinian gospel written in Hebrew or more likely, in Aramaic. Many western authors of antiquity spoke of 'Hebrew' without distinguishing classical Hebrew from Aramaic, (for examples of the use of this term, see Origen in the third century AD, and Jerome and Epiphanius in the fourth century AD below).

Against heresies iii. 11.8
[7], p. 29
[49], p. 29

182 AD
([35] has AD 185)

Birth of Origen. At the age of 18 years he remained in Alexandria when Clement bishop of Alexandria fled [49]. Origen was a talented and prolific Greek patristic author. He wrote many biblical commentaries, both on the OT and the NT.

[7], p. 33
[35], p. 60
[49], p. 98

189 AD

Victor who was from Africa became bishop of Rome. Victor switched the language of the Roman liturgy from Greek to Latin. He sat until AD 198

[7], p. 30

c. 190 AD

Translations of the four gospels and Paul's Letters are made into Syriac. This date is very conjectural, earlier versions of the gospels in Syriac are quite certain to have existed.

[7], p. 30

c. 192 AD

Was born Yareth of Alexandria. His biography is preserved in Syriac, (BL. Add 12174, #40).

[48], volume 3, p. 1129

193 AD

Septimus Severus became emperor of Rome (by force). He reigned until AD 211.

[49], p. 144

194 - 199 AD

Roman emperor, Septimus Severus attacks Parthia and successfully captures Edessa (AD 199) and then Ctesiphon, (also in AD 199), the Parthian capital, only to withdraw due to inadequate supplies. He unsuccessfully attacked the Parthian fortress city of Hatra during the retreat.

[35], pp. 27, 32

c. 200 AD

Narseh, the pro-Roman king of Adiabene or Assyria, was drowned in the Great Zab lake by the Parthians.

[33], p. 70