Let us pray, peace be with us:

"The Cross that has been the cause of our good and by which our mortal humanity was set free,
O Lord, be for us a strong fortress. And by this Cross, we shall overcome the wicked one and All his devices."

(Syro-Malabar Qurbana)


Archives

THE NAZRANI
“The Truth will make you free”

Vol. 17, No. 1                                New Delhi                                        Easter, 2007

Qyamteh d-Maran alaik: Qyamta u-Haiye u-Hudatha Alaik = "Let our Lord's resurrection be with you: Resurrection, Life and renewal be with you" !!!

Once again, we greet one another with these joyous words, words that not only embody the essence of our celebration, but embody the very essence of our faith and hope in the love of our Lord Iso' Msiha. Central to our faith are the words of Saint Paul: "If Msiha is not risen, our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). Having desired to reconcile all creation to its Creator, the only-begotton Son of God took on our human flesh.  He entered human history, time, and space, as one of us.  He came not to be served but, rather, to serve.  And in so doing, He revealed that God "is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Mathew 22:32), the God Who desired the renewal and transformation of His people and all creation with such intensity that He was willing to die, that life might reign.  By His death and resurrection, He led us into a new promised land, one in which there is no sickness, sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.  It is this reality that we proclaim in that simple, yet profound, expression of faith, "Qyamteh d-Maran Alaik: Qyamta u-Haiye u-Hudatha alaik".

The resurrection of Iso' - Msiha from the dead is the center of the Christian faith.  The Christian faith is celebrated in the liturgy fo the Church.  The purpose of the celebration of the Holy Qurbana is not to "recreate" or "reproduce" a past event but, rather, to participate in an event that is beyond time and space and which, in fact, continues to happen each time the Holy Qurbana is celebrated in fulfillment of our Lord's command.  True celebration is always a living participation.  It is not a mere attendane at service.  It is communion in the power of the event being celebrated.  It is God's free gift  of joy given to spiritual men as a reward for their self-denial.  I is the fulfillment of spiritual and physical effort and preparation.  The resurrection of Christ being the centre of the christian faith, is the basis of the Church's liturgical life and the true model for all creation.

By His death, Christ endured the supreme inignity; by His resurrection, He dignifies us, by sharing with us His ultimate victory and divine glory, bringing us from the brink of hopelessness to the joy of eternal life.  May we, during this most sacred time of the year and beyond, not only proclaim this, the essence of our faith, among ourselves but may we seize every opportunity to proclaim, as did the apostles, the Risen Lord and the eternal life which He offers to one and all, to those who continued  to sit in darkness, to those who still had no hope.  and may the eternal joy of His Kingdom consumes us here and now, even as we anticipate the fulfillment of  all things in the Risen Christ.

                                               *********** 

The Syro-Malabar Liturgy

Dr Paulachan Kochappilly, CMI

Celebration!  Celebration is so common that no one is exempt from its phenomenon.  People of all times and cultures found special significance in celebration.  It holds good in  our times as well.  Moreover, the number of celebrations is on the increase.  Though we cannot conclude that every celebration supports life, it is true that there is no life without celebration.  And celebration presupposes life.  Life is the fountain, force and focus of celebration.  A particular celebration reveals the nature, texture and stature of the life of the people.  The celebration of a people unveils the vision, values and vistas of their horizon.  In this manner, celebration is an occasion for the transmission of all what they hold in common and that what holds all of them together.  As a result the participants having proper dispositions are transformed into the story or the mystery celebrated.  It is the celebration that holds people together and it is the celebration that unfolds the assembly.  Therefore, it is proper and fitting to say: “As one celebrates, so one lives; as one lives so one celebrates” (P. Kochappilly, Celebrative Ethics, 4).
The role of celebration in shaping a community is evident and significant more than ever before.  Every association and the different factions have different forms of celebrations in view of supporting each one’s identity.  Fathers of Church understood and underscored this truth, when they observed, “Eucharist constitutes the Church, and Church makes the Eucharist.”  The encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, reiterates the patristic teaching.  Beyond any doubt, it is admitted today that any assembly or institution depends on its celebration for its substance, sustenance and survival.  So celebration is a must for the assembly of God, the Church to exist, express and excel in her mission entrusted by Jesus Christ in the Spirit to the Glory of God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church has entitled the section on the sacraments as the celebration of the Christian Mystery.  This is in perfect tune with the ever old and ever new significance of the sacraments in the Church.  Sacraments are “celebration of our faith, our total commitment to Jesus Christ, during the critical or decisive moments of our life” (V. Pathikulangara, Mysteries of the Church, 5). In the ecclesiological perspective, the sacraments are “only those official actions of the Church which are of apostolic origin, clearly manifesting the ecclesial nature and revealing the definite salvific mystery at the important moments of an individual life” (T. Poovathanikunnel, The Sacraments. The Mystery Revealed, 584).  In short, sacraments are the authentic official symbolic celebration of the Mystery of Christ and the history of salvation at the decisive moments in the history of a person as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.  The birth, strength, growth, health, oneness and service of a person is instilled in, incorporated into, invigorated by the Mystery of Christ and the mystery of the Church.  In other words, every stage in the life of a person is celebrated in Christ so that one is transformed into the person of Christ and is made the icon of God in the world for its integral and eternal celebration in the presence of the triune God.
The Church celebrates in the liturgy “the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of salvation” (CCC 1067).  Further, Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates on it saying that it is “this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world” (1068).

Liturgy is the authentic, official, symbolic and communitarian response of the faithful to the call of God in Christ through the Spirit as the Church, which is founded on the apostolic Christ-experience. It is, in fact, “a celebration of what we are, a celebration of our own Christian existence” (V. Pathikulangara, Qurbana, 5). Indeed, the Eucharistic Liturgy is the source, strength and summit of it (SC 10).

It is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, “the work of our redemption is accomplished” and it is through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church (SC 2).  Sacred Liturgy is “the authentic involvement and participation of the man of today in the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation” (V. Pathikulangara, Chaldeo-Indian Liturgy I: Introduction, 11).  It is through the celebration of the Qurbana, the assembly is involving and participating in the Mystery of Christ and the history of salvation.  Such a celebration is intended for “a real personal transformation or transfiguration” (V. Pathikulangara, Qurbana, 5).

The Church of Saint Thomas Christians calls Eucharist as Raza (mystery) or Qurbana (offering, oblation). These Syriac words speak for the substance and significance of the Eucharist.  There are three forms of Eucharistic celebration in this Church: a) the most solemn form (Raza) for most solemn festivals; b) the solemn form for Sundays and ordinary feast days; and c) the simple form for week days.

The Quddasa or Anaphora, the Hallowing,the central part of the Eucharistic celebration, which is used today in the Syro-Malabar Church is of Addai and Mari, the disciples of Saint Thomas the apostle, who are known as the Teachers of the East.  According to several scholars it is the first Hallowing that was formed in the whole of Christendom. Its origin even goes back to the first century and definitely in the life-situation of Jesus himself and thus most precious in the history of Christianity. It is Semitic in the intensity of its absorption in the Eucharistic experience and in its concentration upon eschatology to the exclusion of philosophising.  Hence, the Raza or Qurbana is congenial and cogent to the spirit and aspiration of Asians, in general, and Indians, in particular.  This Church may also use two other Hallowings, which are under the names of Mar Theodore of Mopsuestia and Mar Nestorius.

The Eucharistic Liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church has seven successive, progressive and programmatic moments, an epiphany of the history of salvation and mystery of Christ through signs and symbols.  They are the following:

  1. Introductory Rites celebrates the birth of Jesus, its Old Testament background, Jesus’ private life and his manifestation in the river Jordan.
  2. Liturgy of the Word proclaims the Holy Bible as the source of Christian faith and the public life of Jesus.
  3. Rite of Preparation is a proleptic confession of the passion, death and burial of Jesus.
  4. Quddasa (Anaphora) celebrates the actual death and resurrection of our Lord.
  5. Rite of Reconciliation is the expression of reconciliation between God and men, the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  6. Rite of Communion unites most intimately the humans with God in the person of Jesus Christ.
  7. Concluding Rites render thanks to the Lord for all his gifts, especially for this particular celebration.

The structure of the Qurbana presents a concise yet comprehensive history of salvation and the Mystery of Christ for the immediate attraction, appreciation and appropriation of them by the assembly.  As the celebration of the Qurbana advances, the participants are introduced, initiated and inserted into the meaning and message of the Mystery of Christ in the light of their history.  The Mystery of Christ is unfolded slowly, systematically and as in a symphony, where everybody in the assembly is playing one’s own role in the Church sincerely, steadfastly and solemnly.  No one in the celebration is an onlooker, but everybody is a partaker, who is supposed to be well instructed, involved and interested.  As a result, the celebration of the Qurbana not only unfolds the Mystery of Salvation, but also upholds the faithful in the Christian ethos, redeemed and redeeming people in Christ through the Holy Spirit to the glory of God.

The liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Qurbana is an incessant singing of praise, honour, worship and thanksgiving to the most Blessed Trinity.  It points to the true celebration of the freedom of the Children of God.  The celebration of the Liturgy is a privileged moment of the assembly in disclosing, declaring and dedicating to the adoption, redemption and salvation in Christ.  It is not with the sense of an obligation, but with the sense of joy and with the sentiments of gratitude for the gift of redemption that the assembly goes up to celebrate the Qurbana. The singing of the angelic hymn, “Glory to God in the highest. Peace and hope to people on earth, always and forever” (SMQ13), marks the beginning of the unending hymn of praise to God.  In the same vein of praise and worship, the liturgical assembly continues to praise the Lord of heaven and earth, “Our Father in heaven/ Hallowed be Thy name/ Thy kingdom come/ Holy, Thou art holy.  Our Father in heaven/ Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory/ Angels and people sing out Thy glory/ Holy, holy, Thou art holy” (SMQ, 14).  It is of great importance to see that the very first oration assigned for ordinary days is absorbed in praise and adoration, “O Lord, our God! May the adorable name of Your most glorious Trinity be always praised and glorified, adored and exalted in heaven and on earth, Lord of all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, forever” (SMQ 17). 

As we progress in the celebration of the Qurbana, that is, Marmitha, the bunch of Psalms, reveals the same tone and tempo of the oriental liturgy.  “I will extol You, my God and king; I will bless Your name forever.  Everyday I will bless You; I will praise Your name forever” (SMQ, 18; Ps 144); “Praise the Lord, my soul; I shall praise the Lord all my life, sing praise to my God while I live” (SMQ, 20; Ps 145); and “How good to celebrate our God in song; how sweet to give fitting praise” (SMQ 21; Ps 146).  The musical note of the composition of the Syro-Malabar Qurbana is set to the joy and bliss of the heavenly with the earthly.  Take note of the next oration which is filled with joy and glory of the liturgy, “O Lord, Our God! For all the helps and blessings You have bestowed on us and for which we can never be grateful enough, we offer you never-ending praise and glory in the Church, crowned like a spouse with every goodness and grace” (SMQ 24). 

In the following moment of the Qurbana is Laku Mara d-Kolla, Lord of all.  It is nothing but a hymn of praise.  “Lord of all we bow and praise You/ Jesus Christ, we glorify You/ For You give us glorious resurrection/ And You are the One who saves our soul” (SMQ 25).  In the oration at the close of the singing is in perfect tune of liturgical worship, “We are bound always to thank, adore, and glorify You, The Lord of all, forever” (SMQ 26).  What follows is Trisagion, thrice holy hymn.  This hymn unambiguously presents the right and privilege of the Christians in glorifying the Lord for having shown his compassion on humanity. “Holy Lord of all/ Holy mighty One/ Holy immortal One/ Have mercy on us” (SMQ 27).  In this manner, we notice the distinctive current of thought in the celebration of the Qurbana is giving “glory and honour, thanksgiving and adoration” (SMQ 54) to God the Lord of all.  This characteristic note of the Qurbana explains the saintliness, holiness and redeemed nature of each and every Christian in worship.

The celebration of the Qurbana gives also equal importance to the other side of the Christian existence, that is, the sinfulness of a Christian. In the presence of the holy God, the sinfulness of human beings comes to light.  As a result, the assembly feels that it is unworthy.  Hence the congregation prays, “O Lord Our God!  Strengthen those who firmly believe in Your name and earnestly confess their faith.  May they administer with holiness these redemptive mysteries that sanctify body and soul. With clean hearts and pure thought may they offer You priestly ministry and always praise You for the salvation that You have mercifully granted” (SMQ 17).  Invariably in every oration we can trace the  sense of sinfulness of human beings.  But this does not lead to negativity and pessimism.  Instead it helps the community to be realistic and to put its trust in the Lord.  It does not leave them in despair, but to dedicate them to the Lord, “O Lord, Our God! Extend Your merciful right hand over the universal and apostolic Church. Protect it from every danger, visible and invisible.  In Your compassion make us worthy to minister in Your presence with devotion, diligence and purity” (SMQ 39).  A genuine confession of the true nature of a celebrant – sinfulness and saintliness – is accessible in the following prayer.  “Though I am a sinner, in Your mercy You have made me worthy to offer You the glorious, life-giving and divine mysteries of the Body and Blood of Your Anointed One” (SMQ 45).  Suffice to quote another prayer of the celebrant to have the real picture of Christian existence, one coupled with sinfulness and holiness.  “Woe to me! I am dismayed! For, My lips are unclean.  And I live in the midst of people with unclean lips.  My eyes have seen the King, the almighty Lord.  How awe-inspiring is this place where today I have seen the Lord face to face!  This is none other than the House of God!  Lord, may Your mercy be on us.  Clean us who are unclean and sanctify our lips.  Lord, enjoin the hymns of us, who are feeble, with the praises of the Seraphim and the Archangels.  Praise be to Your mercy that has unified the inhabitants of heaven and earth” (SMQ 52).   This prayer paints a balanced and beautiful picture of a Christian, who is both sinful and saintly simultaneously.  This is our existential experience as well.  Whoever ignores or neglects any of the two aspects is not true to oneself, for such an understanding does not take into account the whole truth of Christian existence in the world.  In this sense, the celebration of the Qurbana is the celebration of our Christian existence – what we are.  The more we are holy, the more humble we become.  The more we are close to God, the deeper understanding of ourselves as unworthy.  This is what the Sacred Scripture testifies.  This is what the assembly celebrates in the Liturgy.  This is what we experience in the life of the people.  

The Liturgical Year of the Syro-Malabar Church unfolds itself in nine seasons, an annual elaborate experiential arrangement for the contemplation of and communion with the mystery of Christ, exactly in the pattern of Holy Qurbana for a concomitant configuration into the icon of Christ.  What is celebrated in the Eucharistic Liturgy is expanded in the liturgical year dividing it into different seasons taking into consideration the changes in the world.

There is time for everything.  There is a time to be born.  There is a time to grow and show.  There is a time to fast and feast.  There is a time to sprout and spread. There is a time for coronation and consecration.  The Mystery of Christ and the story of the Church unfold according to the seasons of the liturgical year.  It is for a deeper and wider contemplation, communication and concurrent communion with the Mystery of Christ.  Following are the seasons of the liturgical year in the Syro-Malabar Church:

  1. Annunciation (subbara) celebrates the birth of Jesus, its Old Testament background and Jesus’ private life.
  2. Epiphany (denha) proclaims Jesus’ baptism in Jordan, the revelation of the Holy Trinity in the humanity of Jesus and his public life.
  3. Great Fast (saumma ramba) continues with the public life and concludes with passion, death and burial.  The emphasis is on the reconciliation and prayerful remembrance of the departed faithful.
  4. Resurrection (qyamta) celebrates the resurrection and thus the victory over death and sin.
  5. Apotles (slihe) emphasises on the work of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the faith.
  6. Summer (qaita) proclaims the growth of the Church, producing martyrs and saints.
  7. Eisas and Cross (Eliya wa-sliba) concentrates on the transfiguration on the mount Tabor, giving a foretaste of heavenly bliss.  There is also a special emphasis on the glorious Cross, which is the summary of the Mystery of salvation.
  8. Moses (Muse) specially emphasises on the end of time and last judgement.
  9. Dedication of the Church (quddas edta) is, in fact, the life of the Church in the heavenly bridal chamber together with her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

The structure or architecture of the church in the tradition of Saint Thomas Christians is congenial to the spirit of the celebration.  Liturgy is “the epiphany of heaven on earth” (V. Pathikulangara, Qurbana, 6).  The celebrant declares that “Praise be to Your mercy that has unified the inhabitants of heaven and earth” (SMQ 52). In the Sanctus, the assembly sings, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, the mighty God.  Heaven and earth are filled with Your glory” (SMQ 51).  Truly, liturgy is “an action of the Church in which heaven and earth meet together, the heavenly and earthly choirs mingle together” (V. Pathikulangara, Qurbana, 6).  It is in view of the epiphany of the heaven on earth, the church building is constructed and consists of three parts:

  1. Sanctuary (madbha) represents heaven on earth and those who minister there forms the heavenly choir.
  2. Chancel (questroma) is the intermediary space for the actual choir.
  3. Nave (haikla) represents the earth and those who are there form the earthly choir.

The different processions in the celebration of the Qurbana reveal the significance of each of these spaces in the church building. Liturgical celebration in the Syro-Malabar Church is understood as an ascent of the humans to the heaven in the context of the whole universe, an intermingling between the heavenly and earthly choirs in singing the glory of God and becoming more and more divinised by uniting oneself with Jesus Christ.

Thus, in brief, the celebration of the liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church envelops, enlightens and enriches the assembly of the faithful with the Mystery of Christ and the history of salvation in view of transforming the life of the assembly.  So also the seasons of the liturgical year of the Syro-Malabar Church is a progressive, programmatic presentation of the Mystery of Christ and the history of salvation with an elaborate arrangement for an annual contemplation, communication and communion with the same Mystery.  The structure or the architecture of the church reveals the mingling of the heavenly with the earthly, the eschatological with the cosmic and the divine with the human.  All these speak of the celebration of our Christian existence – the already and not yet. 

As far as the liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church is concerned, it is an attractive, appealing and assimilative approach to the Mystery of our Salvation commemorated and celebrated in the Liturgy of the Church in order to bring forth fruits of glory to God, establish peace on earth and extend hope to human beings. The glorification of God is guaranteed only at the instance of establishing peace on earth and rendering hope to human beings. 

In this sense, there is the urgent need to translate the peace and hope experienced in the celebration of the liturgy into the world of our times through concrete acts of charity with the help of the Spirit of the Lord. Through the transformed presence and witness of Christians the celebration of the whole world in the presence of God and the people of God should be accelerated. “Let us pray! Peace be with us!”

 

THE THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF NISIBIS

Dr Thomas Kuzhuppil

                  

The school of Nisibis was a famous center of theology in Asia, and it brought new life and a growing interest in learning in the Persian church.  By the fifth century the school became famous through the activities of Ibas (d. 457) the bishop of Edessa, Barsauma (d. ca. 495) the bishop of Nisibis and Narsai (d. ca. 503), a scholar from Kurdistan in the Persian mountains, who served as its director in the later half of the fifth century.  This school had a rationalistic tendency, which in turn is reflected in its theological understandings.

History of the School

The school of Nisibis followed the traditions of the theological school founded in the Roman territory of Edessa.  Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) who taught at Edessa following the fall of Nisibis to the Persians in 363, and thus his commentaries formed the main part of its curriculum thereafter.  Since the Roman emperors made attempts to impose Monophysite tendencies for the sake of theological and national unity, Narsai and his colleagues fled for safety across the border after the death of Ibas in 457 and made Nisibis the intellectual center of the Persian church.
            In the first half of the fifth century the school of Edessa emerged as the center of Antiochene christology and was the heart of the Antiochene reflections and propaganda.   Theodore (d. 428), the ‘theologian’ of the Antiochene school, had a profound influence on the theology of the Church of the East.  For them, he is an authority on doctrinal matters and a model for orthodox belief.   In the lifetime of Theodore the crowed chanted: “Long live the faith of Theodore; we believe as Theodore believed”.   Ibas, who is known as ‘translator’, undertook the project of translation of Theodore’s works from Greek into Syriac.   In the school of Edessa, therefore, there is a synthesis of double theological heritages: (a) the early Syriac sources, particularly that of Ephrem the Syrian and (b) the Antiochene school, especially that of Theodore.  We notice here an amalgamation of hellenistic scholarship cultivated in the Antiochene school with the early theological thinking evolved in the Syriac milieu.  Such a theological heritage is continued in the school of Nisibis thereafter.   This school, in fact, influenced the Syriac Christianity of Persia till the ninth century.
Aristotelianism and the Syriac Christianity:
            The Antiochene school had a rationalistic tendency, and its representative theologians, therefore, reacted to the extreme Platonizing tendencies of the Alexandrian school. The world of sense, according to Aristotle, is the true object of science; he conceives the domain of science in this realistic fashion.   Nemesius of Emesa’s classic work ‘On Human Nature’ (ca. 400) indicates what kind of metaphysical ideas were current at Antioch.  His anthropological view of human nature is not dualistic; there is no radical dichotomy between the physical and the spiritual.  It is a Christian synthesis of Neoplatonic, Stoic and Aristotelian ideas.   In this manner, Aristotelianism provided a basis for the theology evolved in the Syriac milieu, although the West was in the process of forgetting it.
            Syriac translations of the Greek philosophical works (after 435), and the Syriac commentaries on the works of Aristotle and Porphyrios were made available to the students of the school of Edessa.  In the light of the manuscript evidence we have to reckon with the fact that there existed at least two ancient Syriac translations of the hermeneutical works of Aristotle in the fifth century.   To quote Arthur Vööbus: “Thus, the Aristotelian Philosophy became the lasting foundation of the theological thought of the Syrians”.
            Hunayn ibn-Ishaq (809-873), a Nestorian from Hirta, became superintendent of the library and school of Caliph Ma´mun (813-833).  This gave him responsibility over all the court’s scientific translation projects, where texts were usually translated first from Greek into Syriac, and then from Syriac into Arabic.  Much of the translation into Arabic was done by Hunayn’s son Ishaq who became the Arab empire’s foremost translator of the work of Aristotle.   Bishop George (686-724), a Jacobite bishop in Persia, is famous for a highly regarded Syriac commentary on Aristotle’s Organon.  Timothy I, patriarch of the Church of the East for more than forty years (778-823), was a zealous patron of education, familiar with Aristotle and well versed in Greek and Syriac texts.   It is clear that the Syriac Christianity in Persia played the key role in transmitting to the Arabs the heritage of the Aristotelian philosophy (ca. 750-850).  However, the school of Nisibis is the pioneer and the principle source for the infusion of Aristotelian corpus among the Persians. 
            Western Europe rediscovered Aristotelian writings through the translation from Arabic language, and through the commentaries of Arabian philosophers.  By the year 711, Syria, Egypt, Persia, North Africa and Southern Spain were under Muslim rule.  Even though Arabian Philosophy comes to an end in the Orient at the turning point of the eleventh century, it continued, however, its existence and flourished in the Moorish caliphate of Spain.  Until about 1130, medieval thinkers had at their disposal medieval Europe had at their disposal only Western thinkers had at their disposal only a fragment of Aristotle’s work.  By 1270 Latin Christendom possessed the entire Aristotelian corpus.  Following the reconquest of the Spanish city of Toledo by Christian forces in 1085, northern scholars rediscovered the treasury of Aristotelian thought, and they began translation activity from Arabic into Latin.  At a later date, accurate translations, and revisions of earlier translations, were made directly from the Greek.  The advent of ‘Aristotle’ in the West contributed for the development of medieval system of education, and thus laid the foundation of the scholastic theology.
 
Christology of the Church of the East
            The Church of the East attributes to Christ a twofold order of being, namely Godhead and Manhood.  For Theodore of Mopsuestia, the assumed humanity by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, consists of rational soul and body, is the instrument of man’s salvation.  The fundamental idea is that if man is to be redeemed, there must come a perfect man into the world.  Theodore upholds, without discarding the Unity in Christ, the full humanity assumed by the divine Logos and its capacity to operate autonomously.   Ephrem also attributes a twofold order of being in Christ, when he says:  “He gave us divinity, we gave Him humanity”.
            Babai the Great (d. 628), a representative of the school of Nisibis, expounds further the dyphysite Christology in accordance with the teachings of Theodore.  Christ has, according to him, two natures (qnômê) and one prosopon (pârsôpâ); the properties of each qnômâ is preserved without any kind of mixture and confusion.  Christ has only one pârsôpâ of Filiation, that is to say, there is only one subject in Christ.  The Word (Divine qnômâ) has assumed to its pârsôpâ of Filiation, the human qnômâ.  The concept of kyânâ (nature) does not have an existence in itself; it exists only as qnômâ.   To explain the mode of relation of the Word with man, Babai makes use of Aristotelian philosophy.  The admixture of Babai is the same as the synthesis of Aristotle, and the parathesis of the Stoics.
While expounds the mystery of incarnation, the Church of the East preserves the properties of each nature in Christ, and presents how the assumed Manhood is an instrument of human salvation.  In the ancient Christianity, a realistic or rationalistic approach in Christology is a specific contribution of the Church of the East.  The western theologians of the medieval and modern period explain redemption, the mystery of Church and the theology of sacraments by relating to the humanity of Christ.  An adequate satisfaction for the sin can be rendered only by one who shares human nature, that is, a unique being who is the sinless God-man.  The mystery of the Church and the sacraments can be explained only by referring to the significance of Christ’s humanity.  From the point of view of later theological reflections, therefore, we understand better the relevance of the Christology of the school of Nisibis.       


A.Vööbus, History of the School of Nisibis, CSCO 266, Subs 26, Louvain, 1965, 14.

S.H. Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, vol. 1, New York, 1998, 194-201; J.B. Chabot, Littérature syriaque, Paris, 1934, 47-50.

A.Vööbus, History of the School, 30; A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn, 1922, 100.

S.P. Brock, “The «Nestorian» Church: A Lamentable Misnomer”, BJRL 78 (1996) 29.

Cyril of Alexandria, Epistolae 69: PG 77, 340.

J.S. Assemani, Bibliothecae Orientalis Clementino-Vaticanae, vol. 3, Roma, 1719-1728, 1, 85; W. Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, London, 1894, 49.

P. Gignoux, “Narsai”, DSp vol. 11, Paris, 1982, cols 39-40; A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 100; A.Vööbus, History of the School, 88.

J.B. Chabot, “L’école de Nisibe, son histoire, ses statutes”, JA 9, 8 (1896) 81.

D.L. O’Leary, The SyriacChurch and Fathers, London, 1909, 47.

F. Thilly, A History of Philosophy, 3rd ed., Allahabad, 1956, 96.

E. Amann, “Némésius d’Émèse”, DTC vol. 11, Paris, 1931, cols 62-67; A. Siclari, L’antropologia di Nemesio di Emesa, Padova, 1974, 61-68; L’antropologia di Nemesio di Emesa nella critica moderna, Milano, 1973, 477-497.

A.Vööbus, History of the School, 20-24; R. Duval, Anciennes littératures chrétiennes, vol. 2: La littérature syriaque, 3rd ed., Paris, 1907, 246-258; A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, 102; W. Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, 831.

A.Vööbus, History of the School, 20-21.

P.K. Hitti, History of the Arabs from the Earliest Times to the Present, 5th ed., New York, 1951, 312-314; S.H. Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, 354-355.

S.A. Atiya, A History of Eastern Christianity, London, 1968, 195; S.H. Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, 340.

S.H. Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, 352-354.

W. Walker, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Edinburgh, 1986, 332-337; F. Thilly, A History of Philosophy, 218-222.

R.A. Norris, Manhood and Christ: A Study in the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Oxford, 1963, 196; R.V. Sellers, Two Ancient Christologies, London, 1940, 117; S. Gerber, Theodor von Mopsuestia und das Nicänum: Studien zu den katechetischen Homilien, Leiden, 2000, 205-213; A. Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, vol. 1, London, 1975, 219-248, 329-360; G. Kalantzis, “Duo-Filii and The Homo-Assumptus in the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia: The Greek Fragments of the Commentary on John”, ETL 78 (2002) 57-78.

HdF 5, 17; S.P. Brock, The Luminous Eye: The Spiritual World Vision of St.Ephrem, Rome, 1985; Revised edition, Kalamazoo, 1992, 154.

G. Chediath, The Christology of Mar Babai the Great, Rome, 1982, 119-154.

G. Chediath, The Christology of Mar Babai, 94.