|My brothers, do not be deprived of mercy like the rich man who did not have pity on another human being.||ܐܰܚܰܝ̈ ܠܳܐ ܬܶܗܘܘܽܢ.ܓܠܺܝ̈ܙܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܶܐ. ܐܰܝ̱ܟ ܗܰܘ ܥܰܬܝܪܳܐ. ܕܠܳܐ ܚܰܢ ܠܒܰܪ ܒܶܣܪܶܗ܀|
|The poor man had been lying at this [rich man’s] door. Since he did not have pity on [the poor man], [the rich man] inherited Gehenna. (See Lk 16:19-31)||ܡܶܣܟܺܢܳܐ ܪܳܡܶܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ. ܥܰܠ ܬܰܪܥܶܗ ܕܗܳܢܳܐ. ܘܥܰܠ ܕܠܳܐ ܚܰܢܶܗ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ. ܝܺܪܶܬ ܓܺܝܗܰܢܳܐ܀|
|The Son of the Supreme Being, Whom the types of every seer [prophet?] depicted, slept on a boat and completed the types of Jonah the master.||ܒܪܳܐ ܕܺܐܝܬܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܨܳܪܘ ܗ̱ܘܰܘ ܛܘܽܦ̈ܣܶܐ ܕܟܽܠ ܚ̈ܰܙܳܝܶܐ. ܕܡܶܟ ܒܰܣܦܺܝܢ̱ܬܳܐ ܘܚܰܬܶܡ ܛܘܽܦ̈ܣܶܐ ܕܪܰܒܳܐ ܝܰܘܢܳܢ܀|
|The disciples approached to wake up the One Who does not sleep, “Our Master, our Master, wake up, help us, for, behold, we are perishing!” (See Mt 8:23-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25)||ܩܪܶܒܘ ܬܰܠܡܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܕܰܢܥܺܝܪܘܽܢܳܝܗ̱ܝ ܠܗܰܘ ܕܠܳܐ ܕܡܳܟܳܐ. ܪܰܒܰܢ ܪܰܒܰܢ ܩܘܽܡ ܥܰܕܰܪܰܝܢ ܕܗܳܐ ܐܳܒܕܺܝܢܰܢ܀|
|The men in the boat witnessed a miracle and began to say, “Who is this One Whom sea and wind obey?“||ܚܙܰܘ ܬܶܕܡܘܽܪܬܳܐ ܐ̱ܢ̈ܳܫܳܐ ܕܒܶܐܠܦܳܐ ܘܫܰܪܺܝܘ ܐܳܡܪܺܝܢ. ܕܡܰܢܘܽ ܗܳܢܳܐ ܕܝܰܡܳܐ ܘܪܘܽܚܳܐ ܡܶܫܬܰܡܥܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ܀|
|Glory be to the Father, Who sent His Son to earthly beings, and adoration to the Son, Who, as a human being, slept on a boat.||ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܫܰܕܰܪ ܠܰܒܪܶܗ ܨܶܝܕ ܬܰܚ̈ܬܳܝܶܐ. ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܰܐܝ̱ܟ ܒܰܪܢܳܫܳܐ ܕܡܶܟ ܒܰܣܦܺܝܢ̱ܬܳܐ܀|
|Mother of our Lord, we put our trust in you truly, since Your majestic Son listens to you kindly.||ܐܶܡܶܗ ܕܡܳܪܰܢ ܥܠܰܝܟܝ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܣܰܒܪܰܢ ܫܰܪܺܝܪܳܐܺܝܬ. ܕܫܳܡܰܥ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܠܶܟܝ ܝܰܠܕܶܟܝ ܦܰܐܝܳܐ ܒܰܣܺܝܡܳܐܺܝܬ܀|
|Help us fervently with prayer, martyrs (literally confessors), and expel the Evil One, since, behold, he constantly harms us.||ܩܘܽܡܘ ܒܰܨܠܘܽܬܳܐ ܣܳܗ̈ܕܶܐ ܥܰܡܰܢ ܓܰܢ̱ܒܳܪܳܐܺܝܬ. ܘܰܛܪܘܽܕ ܠܒܺܝܫܳܐ ܕܗܳܐ ܡܰܐܟܶܐ ܠܰܢ ܐܰܡܺܝܢܳܐܺܝܬ܀|
|Call the departed and raise them by way of command, Son of God, since You are truly the Resurrection.||ܩܪܺܝ ܠܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܘܰܐܩܺܝܡ ܐܶܢܘܽܢ ܦܳܩܘܽܕܐܺܝܬ. ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܕܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ ܫܰܪܺܝܪܳܐܺܝܬ܀|
|To You be glory on the day of Your mother’s memorial unceasingly (lit. without repletion), Son of God, Who athletically strengthened His martyrs (lit. confessors).||ܠܳܟ ܬܶܫܒܘܽܚܬܳܐ ܒܕܘܽܟܪܳܢ ܐܶܡܳܟ ܠܳܐ ܣܰܒܥܳܐܺܝܬ. ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܕܚܰܝܶܠ ܣܳܗ̈ܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܐܰܬܠܺܝܛܳܐܺܝܬ܀|
|O blessed [Mary], come [and] be the protection of our weakness that we may live in grace with you through your prayers.||ܐܳܘ ܡܝܰܩܰܪܬܳܐ ܬܳܝ ܩܘܽܡܝ ܒܰܐܦܶܝ̈ܗ݀ ܕܰܡܚܺܝܠܘܽܬܰܢ. ܘܰܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܳܐ ܢܺܐܚܶܐ ܥܰܡܶܟܝ ܒܰܨ̈ܠܰܘܳܬܶܟܝ܀|
|O holy ones, be our companions, [lacuna] mercy. Persevere in prayer and righteousness before God.||ܐܳܘ ܩܰܕܺܝ̈ܫܶܐ ܗܘܰܘ ܠܰܢ ܚܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ … ܪܰܚ̈ܡܶܐ. ܩܘܽܡܘ ܒܰܨܠܘܽܬܳܐ ܘܰܒܟܺܐܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܩܕܳܡ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ܀|
|O departed, tomb-dwellers, be comforted. The Good News is upon you, since, behold, Resurrection is standing at the door.||ܐܳܘ ܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܥܳܡܪ̈ܰܝ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ ܩܢܰܘ ܒܘܽܝܳܐܳܐ. ܣܒܰܪܬܳܐ ܥܠܰܝܟܘܽܢ ܕܗܳܐ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܐ ܒܬܰܪܥܳܐ ܩܳܐܶܡ܀|
|Glory be to the Father, Who chose Mary among all generations, and worship be to the Son, Whose hidden power dwells in the holy ones.||ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܰܓܒܳܗ݀ ܠܡܰܪܝܰܡ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ ܫܰܪ̈ܒܳܢ. ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܚܰܝܠܶܗ ܟܰܣܝܳܐ ܫܪܶܐ ܒܩܰܕܺܝ̈ܫܶܐ܀|
|O You who fast, since you have distinctly pleased God, behold, the table of the kingdom is set before you.||ܐܳܘ ܨܰܝ̈ܳܡܶܐ ܕܦܳܪܘܽܫܳܐܺܝܬ ܫܦܰܪܘ ܠܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ. ܗܳܐ ܦܳܬܘܽܪܳܐ ܕܒܶܝܬ ܡܰܠܟܘܽܬܳܐ ܣܺܝܡ ܩܘܽܕܡܰܝܟܘܽܢ܀|
|The one who has always loved fasting and has [always] rejoiced in it, their lives are joined to God and they delight in Him.||ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܐܚܒܶܗ ܠܨܰܘܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܙܒܰܢ ܘܶܐܬܓܰܐܺܝ ܒܶܗ. ܒܶܗ ܒܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ ܐܳܣܪܺܝܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܐܳܦ ܡܶܬܒܰܣܰܡ܀|
|The one who sustains their daily fast with God, the temporal hunger will not squash them, for God is their sustenance.||ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܣܡܺܝܟ ܥܰܠ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܒܨܰܘܡܶܗ ܟܽܠܝܘܽܡ. ܠܳܐ ܫܳܚܶܩ ܠܶܗ ܟܰܦܢܳܐ ܕܙܰܒܢܳܐ ܕܗܘܽܝܘܽ ܚܰܝ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ܀|
|May the Church worship the Father Who crowned her with the crown of fasting and her children give thanks unto the Son, who fasted for our sake.||ܬܶܣܓܘܽܕ ܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܟܰܠܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܟܠܺܝܠ ܨܰܘܡܳܐ. ܘܢܰܘܕܘܽܢ ܝ̈ܰܠܕܶܝܗ݀ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܨܳܡ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܶܛܽܠܳܬܰܢ܀|
Known as the Flute of the Holy Spirit and the Harp of the Church, Jacob of Sarug (ca. A.D. 451 – 521) was among the Syriac Church Fathers such as Aphrahat (ca. A.D. 270 – ca. 345) and Ephrem (ca. A.D. 306 – 373) who interpreted and explained the Holy Scriptures using symbols and types. This prolific writer certainly possessed a great talent in searching them out throughout the Old Testament and in employing them in his mimre (verse homilies) to share the abounding riches he discovered in Scriptures, to propound his faith in Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of the living God, and to call others to this faith.
The entire Scriptures are, for Jacob, an abundant source of immeasurable spiritual riches, treasures and valuable pearls. He found the Old Testament to be the typological path of the Son of God and the path already paved leading to Him for each page and each line announces the coming of Christ. The mysteries of the Son inundate it and shine brighter than any luminary traversing the skies. The Holy Scriptures and the Son of God are so intertwined, that Jacob likens the Scriptures to body parts whose soul is the Son Himself. For this reason the Church cherishes and venerates them. Types and symbols are the best vehicle that could have been exploited to bequeath uninterruptedly the promise of the coming of Christ, and each of them represents in a specific way the Christ. According to Jacob,
The whole Testament is veiled after the fashion of Moses:
in him all prophetic books are depicted;
within the veil which lies over the Scriptures
there sits resplendent Christ as judge. (trans. Brock, Sebastian)
These types and symbols, which Jacob tirelessly fished out of the Old Testament based on people, events and prophecies, foretell not only the coming of Jesus Christ, but would also prefigure His Church, which is inseparable from Him. In fact, the symbols of the Son do not proceed without the Church. Along the glowing beauty of the Son of God, the definition of all that is beautiful, shone also forth the beauty and brilliance of His Church in the book of the Father. Moses, the great prophet and the spring of prophecy, who spoke with God and buried in his book all treasures, riches, fortunes and valuable pearls, beheld, with the exalted Eye of Prophecy, Christ and His Bride, the Church. Jacob of Sarug did not just rely on his knowledge of scriptures to speak of the Church, but petitioned God to infuse into him her mysteries as well.
Scouring the available literature on the subject of the theology of the Church as expressed by Jacob of Sarug leaves the researcher wanting. Since western scholars took notice of him, they have studied and published on his writings. However, the notions of the Church as explicated in his œuvres have been left virtually unexamined. Tanios Bou Mansour published a two-volume book that dealt overarchingly with Jacob’s theology. He systematized Jacob’s theological comprehension of creation, anthropology, ecclesiology and sacraments (volume I), schematized his insights into christology, trinity and eschatology and, lastly, he provided Jacob’s exegetical and theological methods (volume II). The one chapter that Bou Mansour dedicated on the subject of the Church is the most extensive study currently available on the topic. Apart from Bou Mansour’s treatment of the subject at hand, the seeker can also avail themselves to the few scholarly publications like Susan Ashbrook Harvey’s paper on biblical women as images of Church in Jacob of Sarug. Nevertheless, she expounds one aspect of his rich ecclesiological imageries.
Other scholars have written on the Syriac Fathers’ views on the Church and her nature, albeit in the wider realm of the Syriac world. They amassed Syriac works belonging to different authors to extract and summarize a global Syriac worldview on the notions of the Church. As valid as this method may be, it does not allow for a deep access to an individual Syriac author’s thoughts. Both Hieronymus Endberding and François Graffin explored the theme of the Church as Bride in Syriac Liturgies and writings. While the former concentrated his efforts on that which could be found in the liturgy of the Church of the East, the latter had recourse to the Chaldean and Syriac breviaries and the homilies of Jacob of Sarug. Graffin, like Harvey, dealt with one ecclesiological theme found in Jacob’s mimre, i.e., Church as Bride. Robert Murray employed the same approach as Hieronymus and Graffin in his book, Symbols of Church and Kingdom – a reference book for those interested in Syriac symbols and types. Jacob of Sarug, however, does not fall within the time span of the Syriac literature that Murray surveyed. He did not, therefore, avail himself to Jacob’s writings. Wilhelm De Vries also disregarded largely Jacob’s works, albeit for reasons other than Murray’s. His research interest lied in the time span that witnessed the divisions of the Church, mainly, after the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) and, specifically, in Syriac authors who rejected it. Although Jacob of Sarug belongs to this time period, De Vries rarely quoted him for he did not count him as one of the non-Chalcedonian Syriac theologians since De Vries accepted Paul Peeter’s strong arguments which placed Jacob in the Chalcedonian camp.
Therefore, the objective of this doctoral dissertation (Director: Prof. Dr. Peter Bruns at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany), aptly entitled Types and Symbols of the Church According to Jacob of Sarug, is to elucidate the typological approach that Jacob employed in his many mimre to explain his theological understanding of the Church.
Jacob the poet and biblical interpreter was no systematic theologian. Although his writings follow a certain order that fulfilled the purpose for which he tirelessly composed them, he did not arrange them following specific dogmatic themes, e.g., christology, ecclesiology. Consequently, the student of Jacob has to ferret out the rich nuggets scattered throughout his impressive corpus and be satisfied with that which they could find knowing in advance that finding all of them could be a life long pursuit. Accordingly, the findings presented herein are in no way exhaustive, but should provide the reader an ample overview of Jacob’s typological concepts of the Church.
|[The Lord] established on earth the Holy Church instead of Paradise and appointed priests to His service without [animal] sacrifices.||ܘܰܐܬܩܶܢ ܒܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܥܺܕܰܬ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ ܚܠܳܦ ܦܰܪܕܰܝܣܳܐ܃ ܘܰܕܠܳܐ ܕܶܒ̈ܚܶܐ ܐܰܩܺܝܡ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܶܗ܀|
|He revealed Himself to be the Tree of Life Who was hidden and let His fruits drop on those who are near and those who are far.||ܘܰܓܠܳܐ ܢܰܦܫܶܗ ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܰܟܣܳܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃ ܘܰܐܬܰܪ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܥܰܠ ܪ̈ܰܚܺܝܩܶܐ ܘܥܰܠ ܩܰܪ̈ܺܝܒܶܐ܀|
|Behold! The priests surround Him [the Tree of Life], pick fruits from Him, and give life to human beings from Him daily…||ܘܗܳܐ ܟܪܺܝܟܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܘܩܳܛܦܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܢܶܗ܃ ܘܝܳܗܒܺܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܰܒ̈ܢܰܝܢܳܫܳܐ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܟܽܠܝܘܽܡ܀|
|Christ, the benevolent Heir, Who is altogether light, came and restored that which was corrupted from the beginning.||ܘܶܐܬܳܐ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܝܳܪܬܳܐ ܛܳܒܳܐ ܕܟܽܠܶܗ ܢܘܽܗܪܰܐ ܗ̱ܘ܃ ܘܰܐܬܩܶܢ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܕܶܐܬܚܰܒܰܠ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܡܶܢ ܫܘܽܪܳܝܳܐ܀|
|He granted the priesthood to His Twelve with the laying of His hands and appointed priests to the service of the Tree of Life.||ܘܝܰܗ̱ܒ ܟܳܗܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܠܰܬܪ̈ܶܥܣܰܪܬܶܗ ܒܰܣܝܳܡ ܐܺܝܕܶܗ܃ ܘܰܐܩܺܝܡ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܶܗ ܕܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ܀|
|In splendor, with the gentle waving of the hands, and in holiness, behold, they [the priests] surround the Tree of Life at the Holy Altar.||ܘܰܒܙܰܗܝܘܽܬܳܐ ܘܰܒܪܘܽܚܳܦܳܐ ܘܩܰܕܺܝܫܘܽܬܳܐ܃ ܗܳܐ ܟܪܺܝܟܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܠܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܒܡܰܕܒܰܚ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ܀|
|Priests were appointed to the office of the spiritual Seraphim, to which it had been proper to appoint Adam…||ܘܰܒܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܳܐ ܗܺܝ ܕܰܣܪ̈ܳܦܶܐ ܪ̈ܘܽܚܳܢܳܝܶܐ܃ ܩܳܝܡܺܝܢ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܕܒܳܗ݀ ܙܳܕܶܩ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܕܰܢܩܘܽܡ ܐܳܕܳܡ܀|
|They glorify Him in the Church, God’s Eden, and give the fruits of the Tree of Life to the entire world.||ܘܰܡܫܰܒܚܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܒܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܕܺܐܝܬܶܝܗ݀ ܥܕܶܝܢ ܕܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ܃ ܘܝܳܗܒܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܕܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܠܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܶܗ܀|
|The priests stand at the blessed fountain of Eden and irrigate from it the entire creation that thirsts for Him.||ܘܩܳܝܡܺܝܢ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܡܳܒܘܽܥܳܐ ܒܪܺܝܟܳܐ ܕܰܥܕܶܢ܃ ܘܡܰܫܩܶܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܟܽܠܳܗ݀ ܒܪܺܝܬܳܐ ܕܝܰܐܝܺܒܳܐ ܠܶܗ܀|
|They hold the keys which the Head of the disciples received and open the doors of life that the entire world might enter.||ܩܠܺܝ̈ـܕܶܐ ܛܥܺܝܢܺܝܢ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܕܰܫܩܰܠ ܪܺܝܫ ܬܰܠܡܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ܃ ܘܦܳܬܚܺܝܢ ܬܰܪ̈ܥܶܐ ܕܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܕܢܶܥܘܽܠ ܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܶܗ܀|
|They take up common bread to the Altar while reciting [prayers] and bring down from it an Immolated Body that the Church might eat from it.||ܠܰܚܡܳܐ ܫܚܺܝܡܳܐ ܡܰܣܩܺܝܢ ܣܳܕܪܺܝܢ ܥܰܠ ܦܳܬܘܽܪܳܐ܃ ܘܦܰܓܪܳܐ ܩܛܺܝܠܳܐ ܡܰܚܬܺܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܬܶܟܘܽܠ܀|
|They pour wine of vines in chalices in the Holy of Holies and it becomes blood that the entire world might be pardoned with it.||ܚܰܡܪܳܐ ܕܓܘܽܦ̈ܢܶܐ ܒܟܳܣ̈ܶܐ (
|Behold! Our Lord is the Tree of Life bearing fruit. Come, let us pluck from Him and eat from Him the choice harvest.||ܗܳܐ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܘܰܛܥܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ܃ ܬܰܘ ܢܶܩܛܘܽܦ ܠܰܢ ܘܢܶܐܟܘܽܠ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܐܶܒܳܐ ܓܰܒܝܳܐ܀|
|We have sufficiently eaten from the tree of knowledge! The Tree of Life came to us that we might eat from it.||ܟܰܕܘܽ ܐ̱ܟܰܠܢܰܢ ܡܶܢ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ܃ ܐܶܬܳܐ ܠܘܳܬܰܢ ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܢܶܐܟܘܽܠ ܡܶܢܶܗ܀|
|Behold! The Church is the Divine Paradise, and the Holy Altar is that Tree full of Life.||ܗܳܐ ܦܰܪܕܰܝܣܳܐ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܝܳܐ ܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܐܺܝܬܶܝܗ݀ ܃ ܘܗܰܘ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܠܶܐ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܰܕܒܰܚ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ܀|