Aphrahates (Aphraates, Aphrahat) the Persian, Hermit of Antioch.

January 29 is the Commemoration of Aphrahates (Aphraates) the Persian, Hermit of Antioch.
“A Persian hermit involved in the struggle against the Arian heresy. Aphraates was born on the Persian border with Syria. He converted to Christianity and became a hermit in Edessa moving in time to Antioch, Turkey. His hermitage attracted many, and miracles were reported. When Aphraates spoke publicly against the Arians, servant of Emperor Valens tried to murder Aphraates. When the servant died suddenly, Valens took the death as a sign from God and protected Aphraates, refusing an Arian request to exile the hermit. Aphraates is sometimes identified as the bishop of the monastery of Mar Mattai, near Mosul Mesopotamia. Possibly a martyr, he is believed to have written a many-volumed defense of the faith called the Demonstrations, which is the oldest extant document of the Church in Syria. Aphraates is often referred to as “the Persian Sage.””

“Aphrahat (c. 270–c. 345; Syriac: ܐܦܪܗܛ — Ap̄rahaṭ, Persian: فرهاد‎, Greek Ἀφραάτης, and Latin Aphraates) was a Syriac-Christian author of the 3rd century from the Adiabene region of Northern Mesopotamia, which was within the Persian Empire, who composed a series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practice. He was born in Persia around 270, but all his known works, the “Demonstrations”, come from later on in his life. He was an ascetic and celibate, and was almost definitely a son of the covenant (an early Syriac form of communal monasticism). He may have been a bishop, and later Syriac tradition places him at the head of Mar Matti monastery near Mosul, in what is now northern Iraq. He was a near contemporary to the slightly younger Ephrem the Syrian, but the latter lived within the sphere of the Roman Empire. Called the Persian Sage (Syriac: ܚܟܝܡܐ ܦܪܣܝܐ, ḥakkîmâ p̄ārsāyā), Aphrahat witnesses to the concerns of the early church beyond the eastern boundaries of the Roman Empire.
His name, Aphrahat, is the Syriac version of the Persian name Frahāt, which is the modern Persian Farhād (فرهاد). The author, who was earliest known as hakkima pharsaya (“the Persian sage”), was a subject of Sapor II and may have come from a pagan family and been himself a convert from heathenism, though this appears to be later speculation. However, he tells us that he took the Christian name Jacob at his baptism, and is so entitled in the colophon to a manuscript of 512 which contains twelve of his homilies. Hence he was already confused with Jacob, bishop of Nisibis, by the time of Gennadius of Marseilles (before 496), and the ancient Armenian version of nineteen of The Demonstrations has been published under this latter name. Thorough study of the “Demonstrations” makes identification with Jacob of Nisibis impossible. Aphrahat, being a Persian subject, cannot have lived at Nisibis, which became Persian only by Jovian’s treaty of 363. Furthermore, Jacob of Nisibis, who attended the First Council of Nicaea, died in 338, and from the internal evidence of Aphrahat’s works he must have witnessed the beginning of the persecution of Christians in the early 340s by Shapur II of Persia. The persecutions arose out of political tensions between Rome and Persia, particularly the declaration of Constantine I that Rome should be a Christian empire. Shapur perhaps grew anxious that the Christians within Persia might secretly support Rome. There are elements in Aphrahat’s writing that show great pastoral concern for his harried flock, caught in the midst of all this turmoil.
It is learnt that his name was Aphrahat (or Pharhadh) from comparatively late writers, such as Bar Bahlul (10th century), Elias of Nisibis (11th), Bar-Hebraeus and ‘Abhd-isho’. George, bishop of the Arabs, writing in 714 to a friend who had sent him a series of questions about the “Persian sage”, confesses ignorance of his name, home and rank, but gathers from his works that he was a monk, and of high esteem in the clergy. The fact that in 344 he was selected to draw up a circular letter from a council of bishops and other clergy to the churches of Ctesiphon and Seleucia on the Tigris[1] and elsewhere (later to become Demonstration 14) is held by Dr Wright and others to prove that he was a bishop. According to a marginal note in a 14th-century manuscript (B.M. Orient. 1017), he was “bishop of Mar Mattai,” a famous monastery near Mosul, but it is unlikely that this institution existed so early.
Homilies Aohraates 3
Aphrahat’s works are collectively called the “Demonstrations”, from the identical first word in each of their titles (Syriac: ܬܚܘܝܬܐ, taḥwîṯâ). They are sometimes also known as “the homilies”. There are twenty-three Demonstrations in all. Each work deals with a different item of faith or practice, and is a pastoral homily or exposition. The “Demonstrations” are works of prose, but frequently, Aphrahat employs a poetic rhythm and imagery to his writing. Each of the first twenty-two “Demonstrations” begins with each successive letter of the Syriac alphabet (of which there are twenty-two).”

See also:
Homilies Aohraates
“The Homilies of Aphraates, The Persian Sage Edited from Syriac Manuscripts of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries in the British Museum” Edited with an Introduction by William Wright. Syriac Studies Library 38 [Gorgias Press, 2013]
“Eminent Syriac and Arabic scholar William Wright here offers an edition of the homilies of the early Syriac father, Aphrahat. The work was originally proposed and begun by Cureton, but Wright took it up after his death. In the preface, Wright surveys the information known about Aphrahat from later Syriac writers: George, Bishop of the Arabs; Elias bar Shinaya; Barhebraeus; and Abdisho (the relevant sections from George and Elias are given in Syriac at the end of the preface). Naturally, he also deals there with the three manuscripts used for the edition, a task at which he is a widely recognized master; the manuscripts are dated to 474, 512, and sometime in the sixth century. The Syriac text itself includes both critical apparatus and notes on biblical citations, which are also indexed. Though an English translation was planned, it never appeared.”

See further:
Aphrahat book
Stephanie Jarkins “Aphrahat the Persian Sage and the Temple of God: A Study of Early Syriac Theological Anthropology” [Gorgias Press, 2014]
This books examines Aphrahat the Persian Sage’s views of asceticism, sacramental theology, Christology, and ecclesiology and concludes that Aphrahat, a mid-fourth century Christian author, uses themes with ancient roots, including Merkabah traditions of the temple and applies these traditions to the Christian experience of God.
Aphrahat demonstrations India
Kuriakose Valavanolikal (trans) “Aphrahat Demonstrations I” [HIRS Publications (India)]


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