Syriac Timeline
8th Century

Syriac Timeline (701-800 A.D.)




705 AD

Ya`qob (Jacob) of Edessa completed his revised Syriac text of the Old Testament.
Ya`qob was a distinguished scholar. He was responsible for creating new monastic centres of Greek learning at Kaisum, Eusebona and Tell `Adda. In his writings, Ya`cob used the Peshitta as his gospel text.

[33], p. 211
[38], p. 100

June 5th
708 AD

Died Ya`qob, (Jacob) who was for a few years, Syrian Orthodox bishop of Edessa.

[24], p. 143
[33], p. 211
[38], p. 100
[53], p. 93, 97

714 - 718 AD

Giwargis, (George) Syrian Orthodox bishop of the Arabs wrote in a letter about the identity of the fourth century 'Persian sage' we know as Aphrahat. This letter was part of an important cycle of his correspondence written between AD 714 and 717, [53].

[53], p. 98

724 AD

Died Giwargis, Syrian Orthodox bishop of the Christian Arab tribes. According to Spencer-Trimingham, [35] Giwargis was born c. 640 AD. He was based at `Aqula, (later known as Kufa and famous as the source of the Arabic Kufic script) not far from the Nestorian centre of Arab Christianity at Hira, [35].

[35], p. 176 f.
[38], p. 100
[53], p. 97

740 AD

Died Pition, Catholicos of the East.

[24], p. 218

c. 740 AD

Flourished the East Syrian Mystical writer Abraham Bar Dashandad. A letter of his survives in Mingana Syr 601 part C.

[46], volume 1, column 1147

741 AD

Mar Abha Bar Berikh-sebhyaneh of Kashkar bishop of Kashkar became East Syrian Catholicos. He sat until his death in AD 751 at an age of 110 years. He is quoted at least ten times by Isaac Shebadhnaya, also known as Asco in his sedras, see AD 1440 and Wright's catalogue of the Cambridge MSS, page 441. Also, it is mentioned in the Beth Gaza, for example Borgia Syr. 60, p. 532, column 2 that this Mar Abha wrote the Turgame, or exegetical anthems which are chanted before the gospel readings in the liturgy of the Church of the East.

Mar Abha of Kashkar was succeeded by Sourin as catholicos of the east, [50].

[24], p. 186 f.
[50], p. 515 note 4

750 AD

The Abbasid Islamic caliphate is established in Iraq

[60], p. xxiv

c. 754 AD

Sourin catholicos of the east was deposed, [50].

[50], p. 515 note 4

758 AD

Giwargi was elected Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. He sat until AD 790.

[62], p. 5

October 1st
759 AD and September 30th

Ya`qob metropolitan of Gundi-Shapor was elected Ya`qob II Saba Brika catholicos of the east. His election ended a four year gap which began with the deposition of his predecessor, Sourin.

[50], p. 515 note 4

759 or 760 AD

A dated inscription in a stone sepulchre was found near Amida containing three quotations from an Old Syriac gospel.

[38], pp. 110 - 111

760 AD

Was born Job of Edessa.

[33], p. 212

October 1st
764 AD and September 30th

Ya`qob II catholicos of the east was imprisoned and within two years, he died. After his death, there was no catholicos of the east for nine years until the election of Henanisho` II.

[50], pp. 515, 515 note 4

767 AD

An East Syrian copy of the Peshitta NT was copied in the convent of Rabban Mara Sabar Yeshua, or Beth Quqa near the river Zaba Rabba in Adiabene.

Hatch 'Album', p. 214

773 or 774 AD

Lazar of Qandasa, (or Kandasa), a Syrian Orthodox monk who lived in the mountains near Edessa wrote a commentary upon the gospels of Mark and John. From these it is clear that Lazar used the Peshitta text.

[38], p. 113

774 - 779 AD

When the Caliphs conquered the old Sassanid (Persian) metropolis of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and built Baghdad their new capital between the years 762 and 766, the East Syrian catholicos Henanisho` II (774-9) considered it expedient to move the Patriarchate in 775 to that city though still reserving the old title of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. As head of one of the richest and influential communities in the Islamic Empire, his position in the central administration became one of relative importance, sometimes through favour with the Caliphs themselves and sometimes through bribery and gifts, [Atiya]. Henanisho` II died in AD 780, [46].

Atiya, Aziz S., 'A History of Eastern Christianity' Methuen, London, 1968
[46], volume 1, column 1202
[60], pp. xxv, 5

775 AD

Mohammed El-Mahdi became Islamic Caliph of Baghdad.

[50], p. 516
[60], p. 85

Between October 29th
775 AD and October 16th
776 AD

The East Syrian catholicos Henanisho` II held a synod. The synodal acts contain gospel quotations which mainly follow the Peshitta text, though a few Old Syriac variants are still to be seen. The synodal record is dated to 'AG 1087 which is also AH 159', [50]. This provides an early confirmation of the mathematical link between the Greek and Islamic calendars in use at that time.

Henanisho` had been bishop of Lashom prior to his election as catholicos. His election was schismatic: not all east Syrian bishops supported him. Nevertheless, according to [50], it is his name which appears on the Singan-fu Syriac inscription found in China which is dated AD 781. The present author has not yet been able to verify this claim, or the date of the inscription.

[38], p. 116
[50], p. 515

775 - 776 AD

A monk from a monastery near Amida writes 'The chronicle of Zuqnin', which covers the period AD 488 - 775.


September 779 AD

Died east Syrian catholicos Henanisho` II. Henanisho` was poisoned and died when he tried to recover some church property lost during the interregnum.

[46], volume 1, column 1202
[50], pp. 515 note 3, 603 note 5

Sunday 7th May
780 AD

After 8 months of wrangling, Henanisho` II was succeeded by Timothy I Catholicos of the East. He was elected on Sunday 7th May AD 780. Prior to his election, Timothy had been bishop of Beth Bagash. Timothy came originally from Hazza in Adiabene.

[50], p. 603 note 5
[52], p. 60
[60], p. 80

780 to 823 AD

Timothy Catholicos of the Church of the East corresponded with Sergius who was later metropolitan-bishop of Bet-Lapat or Gundishapur in the Persian province of Elam. Timothy was a favourite of the Caliphs al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid. About 200 of Timothy's letters survive and when he quoted the gospel, he quoted from the Peshitta. Some of these letters can be found in Mingana 47, section mm.

[32], paras 24ff.
[38], p. 115
[52], p. 60

22nd May
785 AD

Mari Giwargi Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch held a synod in the village of Kaper-nabu in the district of Serug. The synodal canons are preserved in a Damascus Patriarchate MS which has been edited and published in [68]. the date given in the synodal letter is Pentecost Sunday, 22nd day of the month Iyar in the year of the Greeks 1096.

[62], p. 5
[68], p. 1 ff.

785 AD

Died Mohammed El-Mahdi, Islamic Caliph of Baghdad. He was succeeded by Harun al-Rashid, (see above).

[50], p. 516
[60], p. 85

790 AD

End of the see of Giwargi Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.

[62], p. 5

Between May 19th
790 AD &
May 7th
791 AD

Timothy I catholicos of the east, held the first of two synods.

Catholicos Timothy I tried a cleric, Nestorius priest of the Monastery of Mar Yozedeq, [50] who was accused of being a Messalian, that is to say, a member of an ascetic sect which originated in the 4th century AD, [46]. Nestorius subsequently retracted this belief in a letter dated in this year, AH 174, [50]. Subsequently, Nestorius was made bishop of Beth Nuhadran or Nuhadraya. A treatise by this Nestorius can be found in Mingana Syr 601 part S, [46]. The writings of John Dalyatha who flourished c. AD 700 were also condemned by Timothy at the same synod and for the same reason, [69]. This condemnation was rescinded by Timothy's successor, Isho` bar Nun, [69] see under AD 823.

Also, according to Beulay, during this synod, some words written by Yoseph Hazzaya recommending prayer in the monk's cell as more important than church services were condemned. As one might expect, this sort of teaching was always condemned as 'Messalian' by the Church of the East. See P. Harb, 'Lettre..', p. 269 referring to the ancient text edited in §102 which is on pp. 376 f.

Yoseph was from Hazza in Adiabene, hence his name, and he was born around AD 710, [61]. He wrote many books, most of which are now lost but some were transmitted under the pseudonym of his brother `Abdisho` (See Mingana MS 601). An excellent critical edition of three of his letters based upon 12 manuscripts has been published by Harb. This edition preserves some teaching by Yoseph on the monastic life.

[46], volume 1, column 1115, 1118-9
[50], pp. 603 note 4, 608 note 3
[61], pp. 314 ff.
P. Harb, 'Lettre sur les trois étapes de la vie monastique', P.O. t. 45, fasc. 2, Belgium 1992
[69], pp. 6, 9

791 or 792 AD

The scholar Theodore bar Koni of Kashkar nephew of (presumably Catholicos) John IV, completed his 'Liber Scholiorum'. This book contains much theological, apologetical and historical information. The text is richly studded with the gospel text quoted from a revised version of the Peshitta. Vööbus shows that the Peshitta text used by Theodore had been revised towards the Greek text, [38]. Theodore was promoted by his uncle to be bishop of Lashom in AD 893.

In his 'Liber Scholiorum' Theodore gives an account of the Diatessaron and a brief quotation. He says, (I translate from the Syriac): ‘And finally came Tatianos the Greek, and he saw in the Separate Gospels that the episodes were described two or three times, and he took to write them down, one by one, and gathered from the four of them, one book. He called it "Diatessaron". And when he came to the reading of the resurrection, he saw that the testimonies of the four differed, because each caused to write that He was risen from the dead at the time that our Lord appeared to him. And, so as not to have to choose one testimony and omit three, he spoke thus in order to take account of the testimony of all four: "In the night when the first day of the week dawned, our Lord rose from the dead." ‘

[24], p. 222
[38], p. 116
Petersen “Diatessaron” p. 51

793 AD

Quriaqos or Cyriacus became Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. Cyriacus had been a monk at the convent of Bizona or 'the pillar' near Callinicus. He sat until AD 817 when he died in Mosul. His patriarchate was fraught with serious divisions caused or exacerbated by him in the Church. This situation even led to the appointment of a schismatic patriarch and the mediating intervention of the Islamic Caliph, Harun al-Rashid.

[24], p. 165 f.
Bar Hebraeus, 'Nomocanon'
[53], p. 102
[62], p. 6

794 AD

Quriaqos or Cyriacus Patriarch of Antioch held a synod in the village of Beth-bethyan in the region of Harran. The synodal canons are edited in [68].

[62], p. 6
[68], p. 6

After 797 AD

A work written about the three founders of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of Qartamin in Tur `Abdin which quotes the gospel from an Old Syriac text.

[38], p. 113

c. 800 AD

Died David, an East Syrian monk of Beth Rabban Paulos, i.e. of the convent of Zekha-isho` who later moved and lived in the convent of Beth `Abhe. David wrote a monastic history called 'The little paradise' used as a source by Thomas bishop of Marga. He also wrote a geographical treatise and some poorly styled acrostic poems on wisdom and learning.

[24], pp. 183 f.
[46], volume 1, column 902