Syriac Timeline
7th Century

Syriac Timeline (601-700 A.D.)




600 – 620 AD
(Mentioned in AD 612, [50].)

Flourished Shubha-lmaran, who was metropolitan of Karka d-Beth Slokh, (now Kirkuk in Iraq). His approximate period is identified by Dr. Sebastian Brock in his paper 'Gabriel of Qatar's Commentary on the Liturgy', [Hugoye 6.2]. Ancient sources indicate that he participated in an ecclesiastical trial held in the Persian royal court, AD 612, [50]. Later, he was imprisoned for his faith by the Persian king, Khusraw II Parwez [50].

His metrical works are preserved in a Sinai MS, New Finds 20 and he is probably the same person as a monk of the same name quoted in MS Mingana Syr 553. He also wrote ascetic treatises called, 'The book of gifts'. This work has been edited from British Library Oriental Manuscript 6714 by the late Professor David Lane, (this work is currently being prepared for publication by CSCO).

Hugoye on-line journal, Vol. 6, No. 2 July 2003.
[50], pp. 625, 633
For the CSCO edition see:

600 – 620 AD

Flourished Gabriel bar Lipeh Qatraya, i.e. of Qatar, who wrote an early commentary upon the East Syrian liturgy. His approximate date is identified by Dr. S. Brock in his Hugoye paper ' Gabriel of Qatar's Commentary on the Liturgy' where Gabriel's commentary is also edited. His commentary is preserved in a unique MS, British Library, Or. 3336 which is dated AD 1268. The commentary is based upon a much earlier one which must have been written before the schisms of the mid 5th century because traces of it can be found in all the Syriac liturgical traditions. An abridgment of Gabriel's commentary was also transmitted under the name Abraham bar Lipeh Qatraya. This abridgment has also been published by R.H. Connolly, 'Anonymi auctoris Expositio Officiorum Ecclesiae Georgio Arbelensi vulgo ascripta. Accedit Abrahae Bar Lipeh Interpretation Officiorum,' II (CSCO Scr. Syri 29, 1913). Gabriel's commentary quotes the gospel a few dozen times, and even though the surviving MS is of the 13th century, it is clear from the remaining Old Syriac variants that an Old Syriac gospel text was in use.

Hugoye online journal, Vol. 6, No. 2 July 2003.
[52], pp. 60 f.

AD 602

Christian Arab Lakhmid king al-Nu'man III was assassinated by Khusraw II Parwez the Sassanid king of Persia. Al-Nu'man III was the last Lakhmid king.

[60], p. 43

AD 604

Died east Syrian catholicos Sabhr-isho` in Nisibis, whilst the Persian king Khusraw II Parwez was besieging Dara. In this year this Persian king besieged and captured Dara. This started a war with the Byzantines that lasted 25 years.

[24], pp. 125, 133
[50], p. 456 note 2

604 AD

Died Dadh-isho` the director of the Izla monastic movement, (see under AD 588). Dadisho` was succeeded as director by Babai the Great or 'the Archimandrite' or 'the Elder' (he lived AD 569-629) . Babai had studied at Beth Zahbdai and at the School of Nisibis where he had also taught. Babai wrote 'The Book of Union' a major statement of East Syrian theology, (see below under AD 612). There are many gospel quotations in this book which he quoted from an Old Syriac gospel manuscript, (only a few quotations have been vulgarized during transmission).

Babai's most important works were his commentaries on the whole bible. These commentaries were thought entirely lost until a copy was found amongst the 'New finds' at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai during refurbishment work in the 1970's. At the time of writing in 2005 this unique manuscript remains unpublished. Also, despite the efforts of the present author, the manuscript remains inaccessible. This situation is greatly to be regretted and hopefully the text will be made available soon.

During his tenure at Mount Izla, Babai expelled a number of monks. Perhaps there was a dispute, because another monk from Izla called variously Meshiha-zekha, Isho`-zekha or Zekha-Isho` left shortly afterwards and founded the monastery of Beth Rabban Zekha-Isho` or Beth Rabban in the district of Dasen. This would have happened in the first quarter of the 7th century AD. Zekha-Isho` was the author of an ecclesiastical history.

Atiya, Aziz S., 'A History of Eastern Christianity' Methuen, London, 1968
[24], pp. 130, 131, 167
[38], p. 97
[53], p. 176

605 AD

Grighor, (Gregory) of Kashkar metropolitan of Nisibis was appointed by Khusraw, [63] as east Syrian catholicos, he died in the fourth year of his patriachate. He was nominated by the Persian Queen Shirin who also supported the Syrian Orthodox church. The same month, a Syrian synod was held by the new catholicos. At this synod, the clergy complained in the synodal canons that the monks and anchorites ignored their authority. This was further evidence of the rift that had opened up between the clergy and the monks following the persecution of monks by the clergy.

Barhadbeshabba bishop of Holwan who had been head of the school of Nisibis became bishop of Holwan. His signature appears at the foot of this synod, [50]. This Barhadbeshabba wrote an important history, 'The cause of the foundation of the schools' which survives only in young manuscripts. The oldest reported in [38] is of the 15th century AD. The gospel text he used was originally Old Syriac, however many of his quotations were vulgarized during 900 years of textual transmission. It has been edited by Scheer, C. in PO IV and again by Vööbus, A. 'History of the school of Nisibis', CSCO subsidia XXVI, Peeters, Louvain 1965.

[38], volume 1, pp. 94f. & p. 125
[50], pp. 471 f., 479
Drijvers, H. ‘Bardaisan of Edessa’ p. 106
[63], p. lxxiv

Between October 608 AD and April 609 AD

Died the East Syrian Catholicos Grighor, (Gregory) of Kashkar. After his death there was a persecution in Persia until the murder of Khusraw II Parwez Hormezd in AD 628. During this time there was no Catholicos of the East and the leadership role was exercised by Babai the Great. From a political point of view, the Izla ascetic movement was now (temporarily) in charge of Eastern Christianity. ([24] gives Grigor's date of death as 607 AD.)

[24], pp. 126, 167
[50], p. 472

609 AD

Died Mar Qamisho` Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit and all the East. After his death, there would seem to be a gap of about five years.

[71], p. 54

609 AD

The Persians attack and capture Edessa from the Byzantine empire.

[33], p. 95

c. 610 AD

Flourished Mar Y`aqob, (or Rabban Jacob) the East Syrian founder of the convent of Beth `Abhe. Rabban Jacob tutored Sahdona whilst the latter was a monk at Beth `Abhe, see below under AD 630, [52].

At about this time in the first part of the seventh century flourished Rabban Hormizd who was a famous founder of East Syrian monasteries presumably including the one bearing his name at Alqosh in northern Iraq. The source of this data are 'The histories of Rabban Hormizd the Persian and Rabban Bar Idta' edited by E. A. W. Budge 1902 via [38].

Also about this time in the first quarter of the seventh century, Mar Gabriel of Kashkar founded several monasteries in the regions of Bet Garmai and Bet Aramaya including the Dayra `Alita or 'The Upper Monastery' so called because it was located at the highest point in the city of Mosul above the Tigris river. Mar Gabriel died in AD 639, [53]. The Upper Monastery was initially known as the Monastery of Mar Gabriel, but later it was known as the Monastery of Mar Gabriel and Mar Abraham after Mar Abraham bar Dashandad, 'The Crippled' of Bet Sayyada who was a celebrated teacher there around AD 800, [53]. The Upper Monastery was to become the most eminent convent in the East Syrian sphere. All the liturgical and textual reforms of the Church of the East were all initiated in this monastery, (see below under AD 647 and AD 1202).

[38], volume 2, p. 33
[52], p. 67
[53], pp. 185 f. & 189

c. 611 AD

Martyrdom of Nathaniel bishop of Siarzour whose crucifixion after an imprisonment lasting 6 years was ordered by king Khusraw II Parwez. He had written a polemic against the Magian religion, (which was the state religion in Persia at that time, see below under AD 620).

[50], p. 479

612 AD

Giwargis an East Syrian monk was martyred. An account of this man's life and martyrdom was written by Babai the Great who also wrote an account of the martyrdom of Christina. Both of these works also contain gospel quotations quoted from an Old Syriac manuscript.

Also at about this time, Babai the Great was made 'Inspector of Monasteries' by the joint action of the metropolitans of Nisibis, Hadiab and Karka da-Bet Selok. In this position he entered into a controversy with the brothers `Abhd-isho` Hazzaya and Rabban Joseph Hazzaya i.e. from Hazza = Arbil. Joseph was a disciple of Hannana of Hedhaiyabh who had been excommunicated by the catholicoi Isho`yabh of Arzon and Sabhr-isho`. Babai's theological controversy with Joseph included his important christological treatise, 'The book of Union'. This latter work has been published by Vaschalde A. 'Liber de unione', CSCO 1915. A number of Joseph's works also survive. A 'Letter on the three Stages of Monastic Life' has been published: Patrologia Orientalis, PO 202 (45.2) and others lie in the MSS, including a large work on the Godhead, the trinity, the creation, the judgment and the divine economy found in Mingana Syr 601 part V. Several smaller works by Joseph and others by his brother `Abhd-isho` are also contained in this MS, [46].

[24], pp. 124-129
[38], volume 1, p. 98, volume 2, p. 33
[46], volume 1, columns 1150, 1152

Between 27th June 612 AD
and 26th June
613 AD

An unusual kind of controversial synod was held by the command of the king. The synod was held in the royal court of king Khusraw II Parwez, in the 23rd year of his reign, between the Syrian Orthodox physician Gabriel and the bishops of the Church of the East. The only surviving record of this meeting was written by the Church of the East, [50]. This record amounts to a defence of the faith of the church of the East.

[50], p. 580

613 - 619 AD

Paul (Syrian Orthodox bishop) of Tella, flees persecution in Mesopotamia and goes to the Antonine convent in Alexandria, Egypt to work with Thomas of Harkel on translations of the Bible from Greek into Syriac. Paul of Tella translated from Greek into Syriac the LXX OT and the story of the woman caught in adultery found in the Greek gospel of John, [46]. Thomas of Harkel created the Herklensian version of the Syriac NT. And completed it in AD 616, [46]. Thomas mentions the earlier work of Philoxenus and uses that as a basis for his version. Later on, Thomas of Harkel became bishop of Mabbûg, also called Hierapolis .

[34], p. X (second intro.)
[46], volume 1, columns 870, 871, 875

613 or 614 AD

An East Syrian copy of the Peshitta gospels was made at Nisibis and dated the 25th year of the reign of Khuswaw.

Hatch 'Album' p. 212
BL. Add. 14471

614 AD

Mar Samuel was ordained as Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit and all the East. He sat until Ad 624.

[71], p. 54

614 AD

The Persian king Khusraw II Parwez Hormezd attacks, captures and lays waste Jerusalem. This Khusraw looted the wood of the cross and brought it to Persia.

[24], pp. 135, 169
[37] p. xii

615 or 616 AD

The Persian king Khusraw II Parwez Hormezd attacks and captures Alexandria.

[24], p. 135

615 to 628 AD

The Persian king, Khusraw Parwez engaged in a campaign of destruction and murder. Due to the suspicions of Khusraw Parwez that the Syrian Orthodox believers living under his reign may be communicating with the Syrian orthodox church of the west, Parwez maintained a persecution campaign which lasted until his death in 627 AD. During this campaign, many monasteries near the royal court were destroyed.

[24], p. 134
[71], p.54, 75.

620 to 650 AD

In the thirtieth year of Khusraw Parwez (620), thirteen Christians were imprisoned in Adiabene (Modern Arbil and surroundings) for five years and then in 625, crucified at the bridge marking the border of Beth Garme. At about the same time, a bishop by the name of Nathaniel was crucified for writing a polemic against the Magians, (Nathaniel's crucifixion actually happened slightly earlier, see above under AD 611).

Chabot, "Chastete,," pp. 37, 39-40, 256, 258. Also Hoffmann, "Persiscer Martyrer" , p. 119, 121

622 on 16th Tammuz
(16th July AD 622) = 1 AH

According to Elias of Nisibis, this day is the beginning of the first year of the kingdom of the Arabs, that is to say the first year of the Hadj according to the Julian, (not the present Gregorian) calendar. This date AH 1, is used as year 1 for dates given in the Islamic era, (AH). The Islamic calendar is based on the duration of 12 lunar orbits (months) and so it contains 354.358 days, (see reference below) that is to say, about 11 days shorter than the Julian calendar year of 365.25 days. This means that the Islamic new year moves constantly through the solar year, and calculations of the solar date from an Islamic date must take this movement into account.

According to R. M. Tennent, 'Science data book' Publ. for the OU by Oliver & Boyd 1976, p. 38, the present calendar is based upon a corrected Gregorian tropical solar year of 365.242 days = 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.9747 seconds.

[37], p. xii

24th June AD 624
= 3 AH

According to Elias of Nisibis, [71], the third year of the Islamic era began on 24th day of the month Haziran in the year AG 935. This reference has been used to calculate the beginning of the Arabian calendar on 16th July AD 622, see above.

[71], p. 58

624 AD

Abbot Paul of Cyprus fled to Cyprus to escape the Persian invasion of Syria. He translated the works of Gregory of Nazianzen into Syriac on the island. According to [38], he used an Old Syriac gospel manuscript and the work is very rich in gospel quotations. These translations can be found in BL. Add. Cods. 12153 and 14549.

[24], p. 135
[34], p. LXXI
[38], p. 94

627 AD

Byzantines under Heraclius crush the Persians at the battle of Nineveh, ending the war begun by the Persian king in AD 604.


627 to 630 AD

Khusraw II Parwez Hormezd was murdered in AD 628 and on 25th February AD 628 was succeeded by his son Sharwe or Kawad II, [37], [50]. He reigned only 9 months as king of Persia after the murder of his father in the same year. He was succeeded in about October AD 628 by Ardisher III son of Khusraw who reigned one year and nine or ten months.

[24], pp. 126, 167
[37] p. xii
Hatch 'Album', p. 212
[50], p. 562 note 2

628 AD

Mar Maroutha became metropolitan of Tagrit which was by then the centre of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Persia, [60]. The following year, AD 629 the Persian king recognized Maroutha as Maphrian of the East, the leader of his denomination in Persian territory, [60]. Some 13th century manuscripts containing Maroutha's works survive. From a homily in one of these, BL Add. 14727, it appears that Maroutha used an Old Syriac gospel text.

According to Nau, [71] Maroutha was from Balad and he was educated in the monastery of Mar Samuel near that city.

[38], p. 100
[60], p. xxv
[71], p. 53

628 AD

Isho`yabh II Gedalaya `Arabaya i.e. of Gedhala near Mosul became East Syrian Catholicos. He studied at Nisibis and was bishop of Balad at the time of his elevation. Isho`yabh became Catholicos unexpectedly, since the post was unanimously offered by the bishops to Babai the Great. However, Babai declined the post and Isho`yabh was elected instead. Isho`yabh II wrote a christological treatise in the form of letter to Rabban Abraham of Media which survives, [46]. Babai was near the end of his life anyway. He died in AD 627 or 628, [53].

[24], pp. 167 – 168
[46], volume 1, column 1112
[50], p. 562
[53], p. 177

629 AD

Mar Maroutha was ordained as Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit and all the East.

[71], p. 54

630 AD

Shahabrez 'the great [and] powerful' ruled Persia for 1 year. This reign seems to have been followed by two very short reigns by Persian Queens, Boran and then Zedemedokat both of whom were daughters of Khusraw.

[37] pp. xii – xiii

630 AD

Isho`yabh II of Gedhala East Syrian Catholicos, was sent by Boran, daughter of Khusraw II with an embassy to Heraclius, Emperor of Constantinople. He took with him the the cross which had been looted by the Persians when they captured Jerusalem in AD 614. This relic was promptly returned by Heraclius to Jerusalem.

Accompanying him on this journey was Sahdona of Halamun, (a village in Beth Nuhadhre), afterward called Martyrius bishop of Mahoze dh'Arewan in Beth Garmai. Sahdona studied at Nisibis and became a monk under Mar Y`aqob, (or Rabban Jacob) the founder of the convent of Beth `Abhe. Whilst Sahdona was at Beth `Abhe he composed his important works on asceticism which have been published by CSCO. Sahdona included a great deal of gospel text in his ascetic works, all of it taken from an Old Syriac manuscript.

Also included in this embassy were John the East Syrian bishop of Damascus and Isho`yabh of Hedhaiyabh (i.e. of Adiabene). Isho`yabh of Hedhaiyabh studied at Nisibis, travelled in the West, [54] and later became bishop of Mosul and then Metropolitan of Hazza, (i.e. Arbel) and Mosul and then Catholicos of the East in AD 647.

[24], pp. 169 – 171
[38], pp. 103 – 104
[54], p. xlix

630 AD

A Syrian Orthodox synod was held at the Mar Matti Monastery (north-east of Mosul, Iraq) and the synodal acts include the canons of this monastery. The establishment of the Mar Matti Monastery with it's own Metropolitan was an important event in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church and community in the Persian empire. This event is linked to the establishment of the Metropolitanate at Tagrit and to the creation of the Syrian Orthodox Maphrianate of the East. The first Maphrian was Marutha of Tagrit, (see below under AD 640).

[62], p. 10

631 AD

Hormezed V, son of Khusraw became king of Persia.

[37] p. xiii

632 AD

Yesdelrad III, son of Khusraw became king of Persia.

[37] p. xiii

635 AD

Missionaries including Alopen the Persian from the Church of the East arrive in China. during the reign of emperor T'ai-tsung (AD 626 – 649). This date was commemorated by an inscription set up in AD 781 in Hsian-Fu, Western China.

Rendell Harris from his introduction to Gibson's edition of Isho`dad's commentary upon the NT, p. xii
[60], p. 39 f. where the arrival date is also given as AD 635.

637 AD

During the reign of Catholicos Isho`yabh II Gedalaya `Arabaya (628-44) the Muslim invaders seized Seleucia-Ctesiphon (near Baghdad) after the battle of al-Qadisiya in 637, and subsequently the whole Persian empire succumbed to their armies and the Sassanid dynasty of Persian kings came to an end.

[60], p. xxiii

639 AD

Edessa and Harran were captured by the Muslim army commanded by 'Iyad ibn Ghanm the general. Michael the Syrian, commenting on the Muslim conquest, said that the Syrian Orthodox church lost much property, but gained relief from the persecution which had been dished out by the Byzantine emperors.

[29], p. 110
[33], pp. 99, 100

640 AD

Mar Maroutha Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Taghrith (or Tagrit) became Maphrian of the East until his death in AD 649. He compiled a new liturgy and wrote a commentary upon the gospels as well as some discourses and sedras. Small fragments of his gospel commentaries can be found in Mingana Syr 362 and in BL Add 12144.

[24], p. 137
Wright 'Catalogue', p. 910

c. 640 AD

East Syrian missionaries translate their Syriac Four Gospels into Chinese for the Chinese emperor Tai Tsung

[4], p. 72.

641 AD

The Muslims capture Alexandria


c. 642 AD

Athanasius Patriarch of Antioch writes to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius at the beginning of the Arab invasions.

[46], volume 1, column 407

644 AD

Ended the see of Isho`yabh II of Gedhala, (near Mosul), East Syrian Catholicos. He was succeeded by Mariemmeh who died in AD 647.

[24], pp. 168 – 169, 172

645 AD

Yesdelrad III, son of Khusraw was killed by the Saracens, (?) (Syriac: “the Children of S'a-s'an”). This ended the Persian kingdom.

[37] p. xiii

Muslim Arab armies invaded the area occupied by Syriac speaking Christians from the early 7th century AD onwards. According to an ancient account by Michael the Syrian, the Christians had been oppressed so hard by the Persians in the East and the Byzantines in the West that they welcomed the Muslims!

[38], p. 99

c. 645 AD

`Anan Isho`of Hedhaiyabh (i.e. of Adiabene), (later called Shenna dheBheth Remman) was a distinguished scholar who studied in Nisibis. He became an East Syrian monk when he entered the Great Monastery of mount Izla. Afterwards, according to Wright [24], `Anan Isho` travelled to Egypt and Palestine gathering information about ascetic life in those regions. According to Thomas, bishop of Marga, (via Budge) `Anan Isho` then returned to Mesopotamia and came to the convent of Beth `Abhe whilst his friend Isho`yahb was still Metropolitan of Arbela, that is to say, before Isho`yahb became the Catholicos, Isho`yahb III.

When `Anan Isho` came to the convent of Beth `Abhe he assembled his version of 'The Paradise of the Fathers' from the sources which he had collected during his travels in Scete, (Egypt) and in Jerusalem. `Anan Isho`'s recension of the 'Paradise' is a large work in two volumes. These volumes contain around 80 scattered quotations taken from an Old Syriac gospel manuscript.

According to [38], `Anan Isho`'s name was Enanisho and he worked for a later Catholicos, Gewargis I. However, according to Thomas bishop of Marga, `Anan Isho` came to Beth `Abhe before Isho`yahb III became Catholicos. Therefore, it is most probable that `Anan Isho` edited the Paradise whilst the information which he had gathered during his travels was still fresh in his mind. Therefore, `Anan Isho` probably completed his recension of the Paradise in around AD 645, soon after he came to the convent of Beth `Abhe rather than 15 years later during the patriarchate of Giwargis I.

[24], pp. 174 – 175
'Historia Monastica' by Thomas b. of Marga. c. AD 850 via Budge, “Paradise” 1904, pp. vii – viii
[38], p. 104

647 AD

Isho`yabh III of Hedhaiyabh (i.e. of Adiabene) who had formerly been Metropolitan of Arbela and bishop of Nuhadraye was elected Catholicos of the East. This Isho`yabh ordered the (re-)arrangement of the Hudhra, (or order of service) and seems to have suffered widespread dissent from his bishops. Also attributed to Isho`yabh is a theological and liturgical series of questions and answers which includes historical details, see for example MS Mingana Syriac 566.

The actual work on the Hudhra was done by Isho`yabh's friend, the distinguished scholar `Anan Isho` of Hedhaiyabh. As the Hudhra introduction informs us, this project was completed in the Dayra `Alita or 'The Upper Monastery' of Mar Gabriel of Kashkar and Mar Abraham bar Dashandad, at Mosul. Given that he edited the Hudhra during the Patriarchate of Isho`yabh III, this work would have been completed between AD 647 and 657. According to several ancient sources reported in [57], p. 349 this editing of the Hudhra included the abbreviation of the anaphora of the apostles Addai and Mari. As with `Anan Isho`'s other works, when the Hudhra alludes to the gospels, which it often does, it exhibits an Old Syriac text type. Many copies of the Hudhra survive in the manuscript record and there was an edition based on the MSS at Trichur published by Mar Thoma Darmo in India, 1960, 1961, 1962, (3 volumes). A bibliography of the known MSS of the Hudhra has been published by W.F. Macomber, 'A list of the known manuscripts of the Chaldean Hudra,' Orientalia Christiana Periodica 36, 1970, 139 and by Anton Baumstark, 'Geschichte der syrischen literatur' Bonn, 1922. Some example MSS are; Mardin 22 dated AD 1287 [57], Mingana Syriac 512, which dates from the early 15th century [46], [57], British Library Add. 7177 dated AD 1484, Vatican Syriac 83 dated AD 1538, Trichur Syriac MS 27 (after the list of Mar Aphrem, metropolitan of Trichur) or MS 11 (after Ploeg, [51]) dated AD 1598, Mingana Syriac 542 dated AD 1601 [46], Cambridge Add. 1981 dated AD 1607, [40] and Harvard Syr 12 dating from the 17th century, (see Goshen-Gottstein's catalogue, p. 42). The Hudhra was adapted by the Catholic church to remove references to Nestorianism and an edition was produced in Leipzig called 'Breviarium Chaldaicum', 1886.

`Anan Isho` also produced some lexical books. One such book explains how to pronounce difficult Syriac words used by the church fathers based upon pioneering work by Joseph Huzaya, who was the first Syriac grammarian and a disciple of Mar Narsai. Another is a lexical work which survives with the additions made by Honain ibn Ishak al-`Ibadi of Herta who died AD 873. This has been published by Hoffmann, 'Opuscula Nestoriana' from two MSS, [24]. Another MS copy can be found in Mingana Syr 420.

[24], pp. 115, 116, 172, 174, 175
[40], volume 1, p. 163
[46], volume 1, columns 940, 995
[51], p. 137
[57], p. 338

2nd May
649 AD

Died Mar Maroutha, who had been Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit and all the East since AD 628 and Maphrain of the East since AD 629. He was succeeded by Denha. The latter wrote a biography of his predecessor in which he also commented upon the situation in the East Syrian church in his area, (this has been edited by Françoise Nau, [71]). He said that the East Syrian monks were very keen to establish schools in every settlement and that very many schools were established and ran by them.

One of the most famous of these founders of schools in and around Marga was Rabban Babai of Gebiltha. It is highly likely that the monks taught from their Old Syriac gospel texts in these schools.

[24], pp. 136, 137
[38], pp. 100, 131
[71], pp. 52, 55, 58

650 AD

Many monks and ascetics were killed by the army of Sa'd along the Byzantine border, especially in the monastery called "The daughters of Five Churches" at Ra's Ayn (in modern Syria).

(Michael G. Morony, Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, 1984, p. 379, Also J.B. Chabot, CSCO, Scr. Syri 56, Louvain, 1937) 

653 or 654 AD

Gabriel was consecrated bishop of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of Mar Gabriel at Qartamin in Tur `Abdin by Athanasius the patriarch. This monastery was however very old even then. It was founded in AD 397, which see. The consecration of Mar Gabriel happened at this date during the caliphate of Omar. As appears from the gospel quotations in the 13th century manuscript which preserves this record, the gospel text in use at Qartamin at this time was an Old Syriac text of considerable age.

[38], p. 115

657 or 658 AD

Died East Syrian Catholicos Isho`yahb III, formerly Metropolitan of Arbela. Many of his letters survive. These contain gospel quotations partly from the Peshitta and partly from Old Syriac texts. One of Isho`yahb's works, presumably written around AD 640 before his elevation, was a biography of Isho`sabran who was the last martyr of the Sassanid era, (the power of the Sassanids ended in AD 637). This earlier work exhibits quotations from an Old Syriac gospel.

[38], p. 102

658 AD

Mar Gewargis I, (George) succeeded Isho`yahb III as Patriarch. He sat until AD 680 – 681. Reference [50] gives the date of his election as either 658 or 660 AD. Gewargis had been a monk of Beth `Abe.

[38], p. 102
[50], p. 480 note 1

3rd November
660 AD

According to Bar Hebraeus, Mar Denha, Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit died on this day.

[38], p. 131
[71], p. 54, 59

660 AD

Died Isho`yabh III of Hedhaiyabh Catholicos of the East, [60]. He was succeeded by Giwargis of Kaphra in Beth Garmai who sat until AD 680, [63].

[60], p. 80
[63], p. lxv

667 AD

Died the eminent Syrian Orthodox Christian scholar and scientist Severus Sabukht. Sabukht was born in Nisibis and became a monk at Qinnesrine where he received an education. He was a physician, a mathematician, a philosopher and a pioneer of astronomy and science.

[70], p. 70

668 or 669 AD

Athanasios, a Syrian Orthodox priest from Nisibis translates the letters of Severus, Patriarch of Antioch from Greek into Syriac. Athanasios used the Peshitta gospel text to replace the gospel quotations in the Greek original.

[38], p. 101

676 AD

The Catholicos Mar Gewargis I ordained Isaac bishop of Nineveh in the monastery of Beth `Abe. He resigned after only 5 months to resume his solitary life in the mountains of Khuzistan. Isaac was one of the most important east Syrian ascetic authors. His extensive Syriac works were written in the last two decades of the seventh century. These were quickly translated into many other languages and distributed around the world. Isaac's many Syriac works have been published in two stages. The Syriac text of the first part was published by Paul Bedjan, 'Mar Isaacus Ninivita de perfectione religiosa' Paris and Leipzig 1909. This was translated into English by A. J. Wensink in 1923. The second part was published by Sebastian Brock, 'Isaac of Niniveh (Isaac the Syrian) the second part' Publ. CSCO vols. 554, Syr. 224 (Syriac text) and 555, Syr. 225 (Translation) Leuven, Belgium 1995 ISBN 906831708-3 & 906831709-1.

[61], p. 242

677 AD
(Iyar 57 AH)

There was a synod under the East Syrian catholicos Giwargis I. The synodal canons are dated in the month Iyar = May of the Islamic year AH 57, [50]. Now, the year AH 57 began on the 12th November 676 AD, (see details under AD 622 above).

The synodal canons quote the gospel using the Peshitta text, however a number of Old Syriac variants are also present. Reference [38] gives two differing dates for this synod, or perhaps two synods actually occurred? The canons of this synod indicate that the clergy were still trying to subordinate the monks and anchorites under their own authority. The monks had essentially split away from the church hierarchy following years of persecution at the hands of the clerics. This situation was very important for the history of the Old Syriac gospel text which was the gospel text preferred by the monks. As was typified by the gospel quotations in the canons of this synod, the clerics increasingly preferred the Peshitta text.

[38], p. 102, 125, 126
[50], p. 482

c. October
679 AD

Catholicos Giwargis I wrote a treatise in reply to several letters from Mina who was a priest and bishop in the Church of the East.

[50], p. 490

c. 680 AD

Flourished Shem`on of Taybutheh surnamed 'Luka' who was a monk and a physician, (hence the surname) and a disciple of Rabban Shabor Huzaya. A treatise by him survives in Mingana Syr 601 part E.

[46], volume 1, column 1148

680 or 681 AD

Died East Syrian catholicos Mar Gewargis I. He was succeeded by John bar Marta, [Borgia Syr. 60, p. 532 column 2]

[50], p. 480
[63], p. lxv

684 - 687 AD

Ya`qob, (Jacob) was consecrated as Syrian Orthodox bishop of Edessa by the Patriarch Anastasius II who ruled AD 683 or 684 until his death on 11th September AD 687, (i.e. he died on the 11th Illul AG 998, [53]). Jacob had been a disciple of Severus Sabukht, (see above under AD 667, [60]). Jacob sat as bishop only four years and then he resigned in order to teach. Jacob was a distinguished scholar both in Syriac and in Greek. Jacob wrote a history and in AD 705 he was also engaged in various projects to create new Syriac revisions of Old Testament books whilst living and working in the Monastery of Tell `Ada. He died on June 5th, AD 708.

[24], p. 142
[33], p. 211
[53], pp. 93, 97
[60], p. 70

July 686 AD and
July 687 AD

An East Syrian recluse and monk, Johannan Bar Penkaye, also known as Johannan of Beth Zabhdai completed a large work called, 'The history of the temporal world'. What follows is a translation of a description of MS 25 made by Archbishop Addai Scher in his catalogue of the MSS at Alqosh, [66]. “This work is divided into two parts. The first part contains 9 chapters, and the second six. The work begins with a Hexameron describing the six days of creation and then moves on to the Flood, the people of Isra'el, the scriptures, virtuous doctrine, the gentiles, the trinity, the incarnation, the redemption etc. The two last chapters are devoted to a history beginning with the Apostles and including the persecution of the church under Shapur king of Persia as well as a history of Constantine and the Romans of the same period, the council of Ephesus, the end of the Persian kingdom, then the Arab kingdom up to this year, AH 67 during the lifetime of the author.” Of this large work, chapters 1 to 9 are in Rylands 43, [56]. Also, as mentioned in [38] and [56], chapters 10 to 15 have been edited by Alphonse Mingana, 'Sources Syriaques', Published Leipzig 1908 and also by the Dominican Press at Mosul 1908. Vööbus notes that the gospel is quoted many times in this historical work and also in Penkaye's treatise on chastity and holiness preserved in BL Orient 9385. He says that the quotations are sometimes from an Old Syriac gospel and sometimes from the Peshitta.

Amongst his other works, John bar Penkaya composed 15 metrical works in seven syllable metre, (unpublished, but see Mingana Syr 488 B, CUL Add. 1998, CUL Add. 2018, Rylands Syr 68, HSM Syr 42) and a book called, 'The Merchant' of which a large fragment can be found in Mingana Syr 47.

History of the temporal world:
Mosul Patr. MS (number unknown, dated AD 1262?)
Alqosh MS 25 dated 1882, [66], p. 489
Vatican Syr 497
Mingana MS 179 dated 1928
Rylands 43, a fragment c. 1915, [56], p. 167 f.
[38], p. 105

His other works:
BL Orient 9385
Rylands 68, §2, 15th - 17th century, [56], p. 200
Mingana Syr 47
Mingana Syr 488 B dates from c. AD 1570
CUL Add. 1998 is 16th century, cat, p. 443
CUL Add. 2018 is dated AD 1677 cat. p. 568
Excerpts: Harvard, HSM 42 dates from c. 16th cent.
Harvard, HSM 115, [67]

687 AD

Giwargis (George) became Syrian Orthodox bishop of the Christian Arab tribes. Giwargis had been a disciple of Ya`qob of Edessa, [53]. He wrote many metrical (poetical) works which preserve allusions to an Old Syriac gospel text. From comments made in [38] his gospel text may have been the Diatessaron harmony.

[38], pp. 100 – 101
[53], p. 97

687 AD

Henanisho I became East Syrian Catholicos.

[46], volume 1, column 54

688 AD

Mar Denha II was ordained as Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tagrit and all the East. He died in AD 727.

[71], p. 51

c. 690 AD

Flourished Dadisho` Qatraya an East Syrian ascetic recluse who nevertheless resided in, or near, the convent of Rabkenara [64] and later in his life at the monastery of Rabban Shabor, [38]. Rabkenara is thought to be situated somewhere in Northern Iraq in the vicinity of Beth `Abe where according to his own words, Dadisho` began his career as a monk, see [64], p. 300 line 16f in the edition and p. 232 lines 20f in the translation. Dadisho` was a very learned man. Dadisho`'s date can be fixed approximately based upon his cherished memories of Rabban Koudhoy who, according to Archbishop Addai Scher, died around AD 680, see [64], p. 231 in the translation and Scher, (see reference opposite) p. 112.

He wrote a commentary on the asceticon of Abba Esha`ya (Abba Isaiah = Isaiah of Scete?) which has been published by CSCO, (vols. 326, 327). Another unedited work by Dadisho` on a similar theme can be found in Mingana MS Syr 60. As well as quoting from Abba Esha`ya, in [64], he quotes extensively from many earlier authors including Anthony of Egypt, (pseudo-) Macarius the Great (= She`mon Messalaya, see under AD 370), Evagrius of Pontus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, John of Apamea, Babai the Great, Barhadbeshabba and others. He also quotes the gospel text frequently and from a very old Syriac text. This Old Syriac text is still evident, even though the manuscripts used in the CSCO edition were copied in the 19th century, [47] including Vatican Syr. 496, see [47] and [64] p. 8* in the introduction to the Syriac text.

Dadisho` Qatraya translated or edited a commentary upon the 'Paradise of western monks' probably that of Palladius and Jerome, [24]. A manuscript copy of his commentary on the Paradise is preserved in the British Library, BL Add. 17264, [48]. Even though the MS dates from the 13th century, it is full of Old Syriac gospel readings, (an example of a Diatessaron quotation can be found edited in [42]).

Dadisho` Qatraya composed a number of other treatises on various aspects of the ascetic life, [24], [61], funeral sermons and some letters, [24]. A treatise on solitude an prayer by Dadisho` was edited and translated by Mingana, A. 'Woodbrook studies' volume 7, 1934 and another English translation by Sebastian Brock in [61]. Vööbus reports that the gospel texts he found in this treatise have been adapted to the Peshitta, [38] but even a translation of this treatise [61] demonstrates that the Old Syriac gospel quotations remain, [61], p. 308.

[24], p. 131
[38], vol. 1, pp. 117f
[42], p. 28
[47], vol. 3, p. 99
[48], vol. 3, pp. 1078f.
[61], pp. 304 – 312
Addai Scher, 'Notice sur la vie et les œuvres de Dadišo Qatraya' Journal Asiatique, ser. X, VII (1906), pp. 103 - 118

c. 700 AD

Flourished John of Dalyatha, also known as John Saba a monk and a mystic of the Church of the East who lived in on Mount Qardu in northern Iraq. John wrote 22 homilies, [61] [66] and 51 short letters, [61] which have all been edited by Robert Beulay, [69] and his work was appreciated and copied in the Syrian Orthodox manuscript tradition as well as in the Church of the East. Two of John's letters have also been translated into English by Brock, [61].

[61], pp. 328 f.
[66], part 2, pp. 66 f. Alqosh MS 104
[69], p. 8 note 16.

c. 700 AD

Jacob of Edessa and John the Stylite corresponded about this time. Jacob was busy revising the Peshitta version of the Old Testament.


700 AD

Died East Syrian Patriarch Henanisho` I. Letters, civil and synodal canons written by Henanisho` survive in Mingana Syr 586.

He was succeeded by Pition, [See the Beth Gazza, e.g. Borgia Syr. 60, p. 532, column 2]. According to Wright, his name was pronounced, 'Pethion' and he died in AD 740, [24].

[24], p. 218
[32], para 31
[46], volume 1, columns 54, 1115, 1121