|1. Light your lamps, sisters and brothers, for the Bridegroom is about to arrive (Mt 25:1-13).||ܐ. ܐܰܢܗܰܪ ܐܰܚܰܝ̈ ܠܰܡ̈ܦܺܐܕܰܝܟܘܽܢ. ܕܗܳܐ ܡܰܛܺܝ ܠܶܗ ܚܰܬܢܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܬܶܐ ܀|
|2. He makes the Righteous dwell in the spiritual garden of Eden on the day of salvation.||ܒ. ܒܓܰܢܰܬ ܥܕܶܝܢ ܗܳܝ ܕܪ̈ܘܽܚܳܢܶܐ . ܡܰܫܪܶܐ ܠܟܺܐܢ̈ܶܐ ܒܝܘܽܡ ܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܳܐ ܀|
|3. He opens the bridal chamber of light to them, and they praise him with their harps.||ܓ. ܓܢܘܽܢܳܐ ܕܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܦܳܬܰܚ ܠܗܘܽܢ ܆ ܘܰܡܫܰܒܚܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܒܟܶܢܳܪ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܀|
|4. They also exult in meeting him when he comes, for they expect him and hope in his name.||ܕ. ܕܳܝܨܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܬܘܽܒ ܡܳܐ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ. ܟܽܠ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܶܗ ܘܣܰܒܰܪܘ ܒܰܫܡܶܗ ܀|
|5. Behold the Bridegroom is about to arrive. Blessed are they who are expecting him.||ܗ. ܗܳܐ ܡܰܛܺܝ ܠܶܗ ܚܰܬܢܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܬܶܐ ܆ ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܰܐܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܣܰܟܶܐ ܠܶܗ ܀|
|6. He interweaves a crown of glory for the Righteous, who expect his name and his redemption.||ܘ. ܘܰܟܠܺܝܠ ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܟܺܐܢ̈ܶܐ ܓܳܕܶܠ ܆ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܰܫܡܶܗ ܘܰܠܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܶܗ ܀|
|7. The First-born (Col 1:15) arose and descended to Sheol to raise the dead from their graves.||ܙ. ܙܳܚ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܘܰܢܚܶܬ ܒܘܽܟܪܳܐ ܠܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܆ ܕܰܢܩܺܝܡ ܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܀|
|8. The Just saw his light in Sheol and eagerly watched for the return of the Son of the Merciful One.||ܚ. ܚܙܰܘ ܙܰܕܺܝ̈ܩܶܐ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܒܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܆ ܘܰܣܘܰܚܘ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܕܒܰܪ ܚܰܢܳܢܳܐ ܀|
|9. They forgot their pain and the suffering they endured when they saw their Lord hung on a tree.||ܛ. ܛܥܰܘ ܟܺܐܒ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܘܚܰܫ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܣܒܰܠܘ ܆ ܕܰܚܙܰܘ ܠܡܳܪܗܘܽܢ ܬܠܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܀|
|10. He gave us life because of his mercy, and he intermingled our mortality with the angels.||ܝ. ܝܰܗ̱ܒܠܰܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܛܽܠ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܘܰܗ̱ܝ ܆ ܘܒܰܝܢܳܬ ܥܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܚܠܰܛ ܡܺܝܬܘܽܬܰܢ ܀|
|11. Death lay in wait for our humanity. But he came in his lovingkindness and saved us.||ܟܟ . ܟܡܶܢ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܰܘܬܳܐ ܥܰܠ ܐ̱ܢܳܫܘܽܬܰܢ ܆ ܘܗܘܽ ܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܶܗ ܐܶܬܳܐ ܘܦܰܪܩܰܢ ܀|
|12. To you be glory, Lord of the angels, for your shining forth gladdened the mournful in Sheol.||ܠ. ܠܳܟ ܬܶܫܒܘܽܚܬܳܐ ܡܳܪܳܐ ܕܥܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܆ ܕܕܶܢܚܳܟ ܐܰܦܨܰܚ ܟܡܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܀|
|13. Thenceforth the night fled and vanished, and your light shone on Creation.||ܡ. ܡܶܟܺܝܠ ܥܪܰܩ ܠܶܗ ܠܺܠܝܳܐ ܘܰܐܘܦܺܝ ܆ ܘܰܕܢܰܚ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܥܰܠ ܒܶܪ̈ܝܳܬܳܐ ܀|
|14. He descended from the height, saved us, and ascended [back]; behold he sits again on the right [hand of the Father] (Mk 16:5).||ܢܢ . ܢܚܶܬ ܡܶܢ ܪܰܘܡܳܐ ܦܰܪܩܰܢ ܘܰܣܠܶܩ ܆ ܘܗܳܐ ܝܳܬܶܒ ܬܳܘܒ ܡܶܢ ܝܰܡܺܝܢܳܐ ܀|
|15. They eagerly watch for his coming, when he comes again: all those who expect him and hope in his name.||ܣ. ܣܳܘܚܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܬܘܽܒ ܡܳܐ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ ܆ ܟܽܠ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܶܗ ܘܣܰܒܰܪܘ ܒܰܫܡܶܗ ܀|
|16. He entered Sheol, his light shone, and drove out darkness from its departed.||ܥ. ܥܰܠ ܠܳܗ݀ ܠܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܘܰܕܢܰܚ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܆ ܘܰܛܪܰܕ ܚܶܫܟܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܝܗ݀ ܀|
|17. The fruit Adam ate killed him; the fruit of the height descended and saved him.||ܦ. ܦܺܐܪܳܐ ܕܶܐܟܰܠ ܐܳܕܳܡ ܩܰܛܠܶܗ ܆ ܘܰܢܚܰܬ ܦܰܪܩܶܗ ܦܺܐܪܳܐ ܕܪܰܘܡܳܐ ܀|
|18. He burst open the graves, raised the dead, and depicted to us the type of his magnificent day.||ܨ. ܨܰܪܺܝ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ ܡܢܰܚܶܡ ܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܆ ܨܳܪ ܠܰܢ ܛܘܽܦܣܳܐ ܕܝܰܘܡܶܗ ܪܰܒܳܐ ܀|
|19. He drew near, and the day of resurrection arrived; blessed are they who expect him.||ܩ. ܩܪܶܒ ܘܰܡܛܳܐ ܠܶܗ ܝܘܽܡ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܆ ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܰܐܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܣܰܟܶܐ ܠܶܗ ܀|
|20. The day on which he comes is magnificent because all hidden things are revealed on it.||ܪ. ܪܰܒ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܝܰܘܡܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ ܒܶܗ ܆ ܕܒܶܗ ܡܶܬܓܰܠ̈ܝܳܢ ܟܽܠ ܟܰܣ̈ܝܳܬܳܐ ܀|
|21. Those lying in the dust hear his voice on the day of the resurrection and come out to meet him.||ܫ. ܫܳܟ̈ܒܰܝ ܥܰܦܪܳܐ ܫܳܡܥܺܝܢ ܩܳܠܶܗ ܆ ܒܝܘܽܡ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܘܢܳܦܩܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܀|
|22. Adam marvels when he is resurrected and returns to the place filled with blessedness.||ܬ. ܬܳܗܰܪ ܐܳܕܳܡ ܡܳܐ ܕܡܶܬܢܰܚܰܡ ܆ ܘܦܳܢܶܐ ܠܰܐܬܪܳܐ ܕܰܡܠܶܐ ܛܘܽܒ̈ܶܐ ܀|
Written by Msgr. Seely Beggiani
St. Ephrem, who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Benedict XV, and Jacob of Serugh were two of the earliest and most important representatives of the theological world-view of the Syriac Church. A good part of their work was in the form of hymns and metrical homilies wherein theology was expressed in poetry. This present work strives to present their insights in a systematic form according to headings used in western treatises, while not undermining the originality and cohesiveness of their thought. The material is organized under the themes of the hiddenness of God, creation and sin, revelation, incarnation, redemption, divinization and the Holy Spirit, the Church, Mary, the mysteries of initiation, eschatology and faith.
This work notes the paradox of God’s utter mysteriousness and yet his presence in all that he has created. The kenosis (emptying) of the Word of God is found not only in the human nature of Christ, but in the finite words of Sacred Scripture. The purpose of these actions is for the divine to make itself accessible to humans. The triple descent of the Son of God into the womb of Mary, the Jordan River at his baptism, and into sheol at his death were actions directed both to redemption and divinization. The system of types and antitypes used in Sacred Scripture are employed to demonstrate the sacraments as extensions of Christ’s actions through history.
The goal of this work is to display the rich theological insights the early Syriac fathers provide to the tradition of the universal church. A second purpose of this work is to highlight the fact that the liturgical tradition of the Maronite Church, one of the Syriac Churches, is consistently and pervasively a living expression of the theology of these to Syriac church fathers. This is done through citations from the Maronite divine liturgy, ritual, and divine office.
While monographs on specific themes in St. Ephrem and James of Serugh have been published in English and other modern languages, this work aims to present a complete overview of the theological world-view of these Syriac writers.
Aramaic, an ancient language spoken in the Near and Middle East, goes back to the 9th century BC. Like any language, it evolved with time and broke off into several dialects. Syriac (Suryoyo), one of these dialects that came to the scene decades after the Ascension of our Lord, became the dominant Christian literary language among the Peoples who spoke these various local Aramaic tongues and whose presence extended from the coast of present day Lebanon all the way to China.
|Your loving-kindness shall be sad
upon seeing my stains,
yet may it petition Your justice
lest I be cast out altogether.
ܡܳܐ ܕܚܳܙܝܳܐ ܠܟ̈ܘܽܬܡܳܬܝ.
ܕܠܳܐ ܐܶܫܬܕܶܐ ܠܰܓܡܳܪ܀
|Although there are no deeds,
save me because of my faith.
Save me because of one thing alone,
because of Your loving-kindness.
|ܘܐܳܦܶܢ ܥ̈ܒܳܕܶܐ ܠܰܝܬ.
ܒܰܚܕܳܐ ܚܕܳܐ ܒܰܠܚܘܽܕ.
|Lift me up, the lowest of all,
and make the weakest of all to understand.
Let your compassion, Lord, gush forth
toward me because of Your loving-kindness.
|ܘܥܰܠܳܢܝ ܒܨܺܝܪ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ.
ܘܣܰܟܶܠ ܡܚܺܝܠ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ.
ܢܶܫܦܰܥ ܚܢܳܢܳܟ ܡܳܪܝ.
|Glory be to You, Christ,
the hope, for Whom
all sinners have waited
and to Whom they pray.
|ܠܳܟ ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ.
ܣܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܠܶܗ ܣܰܟܺܝܘ.
ܕܠܶܗ ܗܘܽ ܡܶܬܟܰܫܦܺܝܢ܀
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.