Ephrem the Syrian

4th Century Syriac Saint, theologian, and writer / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Ephrem the Syrian[lower-alpha 1] (c.306 – 373), also known as Saint Ephrem, Saint Ephraim, Ephrem of Edessa or Aprem of Nisibis, was a prominent Christian theologian and writer who is revered as one of the most notable hymnographers of Eastern Christianity. He was born in Nisibis, served as a deacon and later lived in Edessa.[1][2]

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Ephrem the Syrian
Mosaic in Nea Moni of Chios (11th century)
  • Harp of the Spirit, Deacon, Confessor and Doctor of the Church; Venerable Father
  • Hymn Writer, Teacher of the Faith
Nisibis, Mesopotamia, Roman Empire
Diednot before 379
Edessa, Osroene, Roman Empire
Venerated in
AttributesVine and scroll, deacon's vestments and thurible; with Saint Basil the Great; composing hymns with a lyre
PatronageSpiritual directors and spiritual leaders
Parchment manuscript of the Ephrem's Commentary on the Diatessaron. Egypt, late 5th or early 6th century. Chester Beatty Library

Ephrem is venerated as a saint by all traditional Churches. He is especially revered in Syriac Christianity, both in East Syriac tradition and West Syriac tradition, and also counted as a Holy and Venerable Father (i.e., a sainted monk) in the Eastern Orthodox Church, especially in the Slovak Tradition. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church in 1920. Ephrem is also credited as the founder of the School of Nisibis, which, in later centuries, was the centre of learning of the Church of the East.

Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the Church in troubled times. Some of these works have been examined by feminist scholars who have analyzed the incorporation of feminine imagery in his texts. They also examine the performance practice of all-women choirs singing his madrāšê, or his teaching hymns. Ephrem's works were so popular that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphal works in his name. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.[3] In Syriac Christian tradition, he is considered patron of the Syriac Aramaic people.

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