Jeffrey Wickes is Associate Professor, Theological Studies, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.
The Living Saints in Jacob’s Memre
March 17, 2021, at 10:00 am (Washington, DC Time)
Jacob of Serugh left an expansive corpus of memre, around thirty of which treat the lives of the saints (both biblical and non-biblical) in the context of the church’s feasts. These understudied hagiographical memre, interesting for their content alone, also occupy a unique place in sixth-century reflections on post-mortem activity of saints. The early Syriac theologian Ephrem seems to have believed that saints could not be active on behalf of others until the final jugement, when their souls were rejoined with their bodies. This position would become dominant in the Church of the East. Yet, Jacob’s often gushing prayers to the saints suggest his belief in their on-going, present activity on behalf of the living. Against this backdrop, this paper has two primary aims. First, it offers a general overview of the corpus of Jacob’s hagiographical memre. Second, it situates this corpus in developing Syriac theologies of the saints and their cult.
St. Ephrem the Syrian. The Hymns on Faith. The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 130. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2015.
Bible and Poetry in Late Antique Mesopotamia: Ephrem’s Hymns on Faith. Christianity in Late Antiquity 5. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2019.