School of Nisibis


School of Nisibis

The School of Nisibis (Syriac: ܐܣܟܘܠܐ ܕܢܨܝܒܝܢ), for a time absorbed into the School of Edessa, was an educational establishment in Nisibis, modern-day Turkey. It was an important spiritual center of the early Syriac Orthodox Church, and like Gundeshapur, is sometimes referred to as the world's first university.[1][2][3] The School had three primary departments teaching, Theology, Philosophy, and Medicine. The most famous of the School's teachers was Ephrem the Syrian.

The School was originally founded in 350 in Nisibis. In 363, when Nisibis fell to the Persians, St. Ephrem accompanied by a number of teachers left the school. They went to the School of Edessa, where St. Ephrem took over the directorship of the school there. It had been founded as long ago as the 2nd century by the kings of the Abgar dynasty. When St. Ephrem took over the school, its importance grew still further. [4] After the Nestorian Schism, when the Byzantine emperor Zeno ordered the school closed for its teachings of Nestorian doctrine, deemed heretical by Chalcedonian Christianity, the School moved back to Nisibis.

Contents

Early history

The school was founded around 350 by Mar Jacob after the model of the school of Diodorus of Tarsus in Antioch. It was an ideal location for a Syriac school: located in the center of the Syriac speaking world, and still inside the Roman empire, which had just embraced Christianity. Most of Mesopotamia was under Sassanid Persian rule, which at that time was trying to revive the ancient Zoroastrian religion.

Exile to Edessa

The Persians gained Nisibis soon after, in 363, and the school was moved westward to a preexisting school located in Edessa, Mesopotamia, where it was known as the 'school of the Persians'(Eskuli d-Forsoye/Eskuli d-Parsaye in Edessan Aramaic/Syriac). There, under the leadership of Ephrem the Syrian, it gained fame well beyond the borders of the Syriac speaking world.

Meanwhile in Antioch, Theodore of Mopsuestia had taken over the school of Diodorus, and his writings soon became the foundation of Syriac theology. Even during his lifetime they were translated into Syriac and gradually replaced the work of Ephrem. One of his most famous students was Nestorius, who became Patriarch of Constantinople, but for the doctrine he was preaching, ran afoul of Cyril of Alexandria. Cyril sought to brand Nestorius as a heretic, and at the First Council of Ephesus in 431, had Nestorius formally censured. The resulting conflict led to the Nestorian Schism, which separated the Church of the East from the Western Byzantine form of Christianity. The opponents of Nestorius attacked his Theodore's school of Diodorus as well, and the Syrians answered by giving protection to the followers of Nestorius. In the year 489 the Byzantine emperor Zeno ordered the school closed for its Nestorian tendencies, and it returned to Nisibis.[5]

Center of Syriac theology

Back in Nisibis the school became even more famous. It attracted students from all the Syrian Church, many of its students embodied important church offices, and its teaching was normative. The exegetical methods of the school followed the tradition of Antioch: strictly literal, controlled by pure grammatical-historical analysis. The work of Theodore was central to the theological teaching, and men like Abraham of Beth Rabban, who headed the school during the middle of the 6th century, spent great effort to make his work as accessible as possible. The writings of Nestorius himself were added to the curriculum only about 530.

At the end of the 6th century the school went through a theological crisis when its director Henana of Adiabene tried to replace Theodore with his own doctrine, which followed Origen. Babai the Great (551-628), who was the unofficial head of the Church at that time and also involved in reviving the strict Syrian monastic movement, refuted him and in the process wrote the normative Christology of the Church of the East, based on Theodore of Mopsuestia.

A small sampling of Babai's work is available in English translation.[6] The Book of Union is his principal surviving work on Christology. In it he explains that Christ has two qnome (essences), which are unmingled and eternally united in one parsopa (personality). This, and not Nestorianism, is the teaching of the Church of the East.

Influence on the West

The fame of this theological seminary was so great that Pope Agapetus I and Cassiodorus wished to found one in Italy of a similar kind. Although the troubled times prevented their wishes from being realized, but Cassiodorus's monastery at Vivarium was inspired by the example of Nisibis, about which he had learned from the Quaestor Junillus during his time in Constantinople.[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ Jonsson, David J. (2002). The Clash of Ideologies. Xulon Press. p. 181. ISBN 9781597810395. 
  2. ^ Spencer, Robert (2005). The politically incorrect guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Regnery Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 9780895260130. 
  3. ^ "MONASTIC LIFE IN THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH". http://syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/articles/monastic-life-in-the-syrian-orthodox-church-of-antioch. 
  4. ^ "MONASTIC LIFE IN THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH". http://syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/articles/monastic-life-in-the-syrian-orthodox-church-of-antioch. 
  5. ^ Foster, John (1939). The Church of the T'ang Dynasty. Great Britain: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. pp. 31. "The school was twice closed, in 431 and 489" 
  6. ^ "Bawai the Great Speaks Concerning Faith" (archive.org mirror). cired.org. Archived from the original on October 9, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20061009222658/http://www.cired.org/faith/bawai.html. Retrieved October 9, 2006. 
  7. ^ M.L.W. Laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe: A.D. 500 to 900 second edition (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1957), p. 96

Coordinates: 37°4′0″N 41°12′55″E / 37.066667°N 41.21528°E / 37.066667; 41.21528


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nisibis — • Titular Archdiocese of Mesopotamia, situated on the Mygdonius at the foot of Mt. Masius. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Nisibis     Nisibis      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Nisibis — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nisibis, School of — ▪ school, Nusaybin, Turkey       intellectual centre of East Syrian Christianity (the Nestorian Church) from the 5th to the 7th century. The School of Nisibis (now Nusaybin, Tur.) originated soon after 471, when Narsai, a renowned teacher and… …   Universalium

  • Nisibis (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province) — The ruins of the East Syrian church of Mar Yaʿqob in Nisibis The Nisibis region was a metropolitan province of the Church of the East between the fifth and seventeenth centuries. The province of Nisibis (Syriac: Nisibin, ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, often abb …   Wikipedia

  • Jacob of Nisibis — Saint Jacob of Nisibis Jacob s tomb in the crypt of his church in Nisibis. Born 3rd century AD Nisibis (Antiochia Mygdoniae) Died c. 350 AD Nisibis …   Wikipedia

  • Schule von Nisibis — Die Schule von Nisibis war in der Spätantike das geistliche Zentrum der Syrischen Kirche von Antiochien Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Gründung und Lage 2 Zentrum der syrischen Theologie 3 Einfluss auf den Westen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Barsumas of Nisibis — (c. 415/20–c. 491/2)    Bishop and Heretic.    Barsumas was a follower of the semi Nestorian ibas of Edessa. Supported by the Persian King, he became Bishop of Nisibis where he founded an important school of theology. He attempted to establish… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Nusaybin —   District   …   Wikipedia

  • Persia — • The history, religion, and civilization of Persia are offshoots from those of Media. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Persia     Persia      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • patristic literature — Body of literature that comprises those works (excluding the New Testament) written by Christians before the 8th century. It refers to the works of the Church Fathers. Most patristic literature is in Greek or Latin, but much survives in Syriac… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.