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date: 20 November 2019

Bardaisan [Bardesanes]locked

  • Dimitri Conomos

Extract

[Bardesanes]

(b Edessa [now Urfa], July 11, 154; d Edessa, 222). Syrian hymnographer, astrologer and philosopher. Born into a pagan priestly family, he was educated by a pagan priest but baptized as a Christian, and in 179 he was ordained deacon and priest. Later denounced as a heretic and excommunicated (c216), he fled to Armenia and there taught a kind of astrological fatalism. Bardaisan has been erroneously regarded as a leader of the oriental school of gnosticism founded by Valentinus. His theology, which in fact combined Christian doctrine with astrological and philosophical speculation, is known from the works of later Christian writers such as Eusebius and Ephrem Syrus, who strongly denounced it, and from Bardaisan’s own Dialogue with Antonius concerning Destiny (or Book of the Laws of the Lands), which is the oldest surviving document in Syriac.

Bardaisan wrote many hymns (madrāshe) in Syriac, which his disciples translated into Greek. They included 150 psalms in pentasyllabic metre, reportedly modelled on those of David, through which he popularized his heretical doctrines (Bardaisan’s son Harmonius is said to have written the tunes). The stanzas of the ...

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