Introduction to Syriac Spirituality: A Thematic Approach

Introduction To Spirituality: A Thematic Approach

A New Book
by Chorbishop Seely Beggiani

Introduction to Syriac Spirituality: A Thematic Approach is an introduction to Syriac spirituality by presenting the themes and insights of a selection of major Syriac writers who lived from the fourth to the eighth centuries. Its approach is not to devote separate chapters to each writer, but to present a synthesis of the Syriac writers of this period according to the principal themes found in their body of work. Since many of the authors cited do not write in a systematic and analytical fashion, this work strives to give an orderly presentation of how Syriac spirituality progressed in those early centuries.

To provide a context for better understanding the approach of these writers, the first chapter of this work presents a theological context within which Syriac spirituality developed.

Besides Syriac writers, the teachings of Evagrius of Pontus have been included because they had a significant influence on many of the writers cited. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite is also included because some of his ideas were incorporated by Isaac of Nineveh and other later Syriac writers.

Chorbishop Seely Beggiani is former rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary and former Adjunct Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America.

“Thou Who Wast Crucified for us, Have Mercy on us” The Theology of Philoxenus of Mabbug on the Trisagion


In a dogmatic letter written to the Monks of Beth-Gaugal,1 Philoxenus of Mabbug (485 A.D. – 519 A.D)2 urged the “hearers” not to be troubled by the statement “God was crucified for us.”3 This assertion was the catalyst that incited the Trisagion controversy.4 The Trisagion, Greek for “thrice holy”, is a liturgical hymn5 that affirms the holiness of the Omnipotent Immortal God in whom Christians believe. At the crux of the controversy lies the Chalcedonian affirmation (451 A.D.) that Jesus’ weaknesses are attributed to his human nature and his supernatural deeds are assigned to his divine nature.6 Philoxenus of Mabbug was among those who rejected this “blasphemy”7 and worked tirelessly to promote the belief in the passion and death of the consubstantial Son, thus bringing to the fore8 and vigorously9 promoting the “theopaschite”10 formula of the Miaphysite Trisagion: “Thou art Holy, God; Thou art Holy, Strong One; Thou art Holy, Immortal One; (Thou) Who wast crucified for us, have mercy on us.”11

The objective of this paper is to explain the theological underpinning for Philoxenus’ Miaphysite Trisagion as elucidated in his dogmatic letter to the monks.