The second issue of SARA contains critical editions and translations of Syriac texts, as well as inspiring studies on new approaches to Syriac asceticism, the antiquity of the Syriac language and script, intellectual histories and transmission of prayers and liturgical texts, relic practices, and the encounter of Eastern and Western rites in the Syriac liturgical tradition of the Saint Thomas Christians of South India. The editorial also epitomizes some inspiring ideas from the Easter messages of Syriac church leaders and Middle Eastern ecclesiastical authorities of urgent need for peace in the world.

Author: Sebastian P. Brock


It is well known that the Letter on the Three Stages of the Spiritual Life, now considered to be by the eighth-century East Syriac monastic author Joseph Hazzaya, is attributed in the manuscripts to the sixth-century West Syriac writer Philoxenos of Mabbug.  In this article attention is drawn to a passage in a pre-Communion prayer by Joseph which quotes a short work by Philoxenos on the reception of Communion. Before discussing the passage, it will be briefly considered the false attribution to Philoxenos of Joseph’s Letter on the Three Stages. 

Keywords: Philoxenos of Mabbug, Joseph Hazzaya, Letter on the Three Stages, BL Add. 14,529 

Author: Robert A. Kitchen


In this article the author attempts to offer an integrated perspective of asceticism and perfection exploring the history of a tremendous amount of scholarship in the field and the understanding tendencies of the phenomenon (from A. Vööbus and the ‘ordinary asceticism’ to the new asceticism). The transition to a theological and practical inquiry shaped by contemporary context, will be shown by relevant questions like, “What did the origins of asceticism look like?” which becomes instead “What does it mean and signify and how does it function now in later texts?”. The author will argue that the trajectory of a renewed interpretation of Syriac asceticism needs to shift away from an historical search for the origins of Syriac asceticism towards the elucidation of the theological perceptions of asceticism and its practice, recognizing that by the latter-fifth through seventh centuries, when the earliest manuscripts available to us survive, much historical evidence has already been filtered through a theological interpretation.

Keywords: Arthur Vööbus, new asceticism, holiness, unholy, anti-askesis

Author: Simon Birol


Several letters of Christological content are transmitted under the authorship of Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523). This includes his letter to the community of Arzun, located in the Sasanian Empire, east of Amida. This letter has survived in an excerpt in the Vatican Syriac Manuscript 135, which is dated to the 7th/8th century. In this paper, this letter is edited and translated for the first time and embedded in the context of other contemporary writings.

Keywords: Philoxenus of Mabbug, Arzun, Vatican Syriac Manuscript 135, Jacob of Sarug 

Author: Iskandar Bcheiry


Jacob of Serugh (451–522) was one of the foremost Syriac poets. He composed a long series of metrical homilies on religious themes, which stand as his greatest works. Jacob of Serugh was born around the middle of the fifth century. Among the few biographical materials about his life is a metrical homily, preserved in a few Syriac manuscripts, and composed by Saʿīd bar Ṣabūnī, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Melitene at the end of the eleventh century. In this paper I will present the Syriac text of this homily found in the Oriental Institute Museum-Chicago OIM A 12008, accompanied by an English translation.

Keywords: Jacob of Serugh, Saʿīd bar Ṣabūnī, metrical homily, OIM A 12008, ‘Copy of 1927’ of Saint Mark’s Monastery, MS. 156 

Author: Andy Hilkens


In a recent article, I presented a type of Syriac text which Syriac-speaking Christians used to argue for the antiquity of their language and script vis-à-vis fourteen other written languages, notably Hebrew and Greek. These are lists of fifteen literate peoples of earth who developed a script and are catalogued as descendants of Ham, Japheth and Shem, the sons of Noah (Tables of Literate Nations). In the past article, I focused mostly on the Syriac Orthodox witnesses, because they constitute the majority of the witnesses (9th-13th century), including the earliest ones. I neglected to focus on the witnesses from the Church of the East. In this follow-up study, taking advantage of the opportunity of the discovery of another witness from the Church of the East, I aim to correct this oversight, focusing on the reception of this material in the Church of the East and its uniate factions. 

Keywords: Tables of Literate Nations, Syriac reception of Diamerismos, Church of the East, Epiphanius, BL MS Add. 25,875, Andronicus’ treatise 

Author: Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent


This article aims to demonstrate the central role relics had in the journey of Rabban Sauma sent on an embassy from the Mongolian Ilkhan Arghun in 1287-1288 to Europe. In the text it can be encountered an intersection of the crusading movements and relic traffic theme. For Sauma, devotion to relics tidies up the mess of the crusades and gives legitimacy to the Western church. Sauma’s relic fervour does not reveal the historical and cultural data many times researched, but the leading star of the narrative travel.  His devotion to relics unites him with his co-Christians in Byzantium and Europe. Sauma demonstrates, that Christians, despite differences, had a shared understanding of the power of relics as mediators of the sacred.

Keywords: Rabban Sauma; diplomatic mission; relics; shrines devotion; sacred objects, travel narrative

Author: Baby Varghese


Christianity on the Malabar Coast, in the South Western part of the Indian Peninsula, is not entirely documented seen the scarce present evidences. The present article will discuss the influence of East Syriac liturgy in Malabar, respectively the Malankara Orthodox Church through arrival of the Syrian orthodox prelates and the different phases of antiochianization, along with the Mar Julius Press and the first printed books. The paper will enlighten some of these aspects, together with reliable historical references.

Keywords: Malabar Coast, Syriac inscriptions, antiochianization, Liturgical books, Mar Julius Press