Edessa, Mesopotamia
Overview
 
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

.
The town of Adme is known from cuneiform texts as existing along the banks of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 tributary, called in Greek "Skirtos".

In early Greek texts, the city is called Ορρα or Ορροα, transliterated Orrha or Orrhoa respectively, as the capital of the Kingdom of Osroe, named after its legendary founder Osroe, the Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 form for Chosroes
Khosrau
Khusro, Khosrau, Khusrau, Khosro, or Khusraw is the name of a mythical Persian leader, in the Avesta of the Zoroastrians known as Kavi Haosravah, with the meaning "with good reputation"...

.
Encyclopedia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

.

Names

The town of Adme is known from cuneiform texts as existing along the banks of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 tributary, called in Greek "Skirtos".

In early Greek texts, the city is called Ορρα or Ορροα, transliterated Orrha or Orrhoa respectively, as the capital of the Kingdom of Osroe, named after its legendary founder Osroe, the Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 form for Chosroes
Khosrau
Khusro, Khosrau, Khusrau, Khosro, or Khusraw is the name of a mythical Persian leader, in the Avesta of the Zoroastrians known as Kavi Haosravah, with the meaning "with good reputation"...

. The later native name was Edessa, which became in Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

 ܐܘܪܗܝ, transliterated Orhāy or Ourhoï, in it is Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 Ուռհա , transliterated Urha or Ourha, in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 it is , transliterated as Er Roha or Ar-Ruha, commonly Orfa, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 Urfa, Ourfa, Sanli Urfa, or Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

 ("Glorious Urfa"), its present name. Islam connects Edessa with Ur as the abode of Abraham. Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

, when he refounded the town as a military colony in 303 BC, mixing Greeks with its eastern population, called it Edessa, in memory of Edessa
Edessa, Greece
Edessa , is a city in northern Greece and the capital of the Pella regional unit, in the Central Macedonia region of Greece. It was also the capital of the defunct province of the same name.-Name:...

 the ancient capital of Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

. The name is also recorded as Callirrhoe, and under Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 the town was called Antiochia on the Callirhoe (Greek: Αντιόχεια η επί Καλλιρρόης) by colonists from Syrian Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 (modern Antakya
Antakya
Antakya is the seat of the Hatay Province in southern Turkey, near the border with Syria. The mayor is Lütfü Savaş.Known as Antioch in ancient times, the city has historical significance for Christianity, as it was the place where the followers of Jesus Christ were called Christians for the first...

, Turkey) who had settled there. During Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 rule it was named Justinopolis. Its Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 name is Riha.

History

In the second half of the 2nd century BC, as the Seleucid monarchy disintegrated in the wars with Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

 (145 –129), Edessa became the capital of the Abgar dynasty, who founded the Kingdom of Osroene
Osroene
Osroene, also spelled Osrohene and Osrhoene and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa , was a historic Syriac kingdom located in Mesopotamia, which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244.It was a Syriac-speaking kingdom.Osroene, or...

 (also known in history as Kingdom of Edessa). This kingdom was established by Nabataean or Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 tribes from North Arabia, and lasted nearly four centuries (c.132 BC to 214), under twenty-eight rulers, who sometimes called themselves "king" on their coinage. Edessa was at first more or less under the protectorate of the Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns, then of Tigranes
Tigranes
Tigranes was the name of a number of historical figures, primarily kings of Armenia.The earliest Tigranes is mentioned in the Cyropaedia and in Armenian historical sources. He was an Armenian king from the Orontid Dynasty and an ally of Cyrus the Great. One of his sons was also named Tigranes...

 of Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, then from the time of Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 under the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Following its capture and sack by Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

, the Romans even occupied Edessa from 116 to 118, although its sympathies towards the Parthians led to Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

 pillaging the city later in the 2nd century. In 201 the city was devastated by a great flood. From 212 to 214 the kingdom was a Roman province. Caracalla
Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

 was assassinated in Edessa in 217. Edessa was Armenian Mesopotamia
Armenian Mesopotamia
Armenian Mesopotamia was a region in Northern Mesopotamia that was inhabited partly by Armenians, and from 401 BC to 387 AD was part of Kingdom of Armenia . Later it became part of Sassanid Empire, Arab Caliphate and County of Edessa. Then it became part of Ottoman Empire and Turkey...

's capital city.

The literary language of the tribes which had founded this kingdom, was Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

, whence came the Syriac. Traces of Hellenistic culture were soon overwhelmed in Edessa, whose dynasty employs Syriac legends on their coinage, with the exception of the Syriac client king Abgar IX
Abgar IX of Osroene
Lucius Aelius Megas Abgar IX was a Syriac ruler of Osroene from AD 177 to 212.Andrew Louth in his "Who's Who in Eusebius" at the end of G. A. Williamson's translation of Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History gives the dates of Abgar's reign as from 179-214.During the reign of Abgar the...

 (179-214), and there is a corresponding lack of Greek public inscriptions.

Rebuilt by Emperor Justin
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

, and called after him Justinopolis, Edessa was taken in 609 by the Sassanid Persia, soon retaken by Heraclius
Heraclius
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

, but lost to the Muslim army under Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 during the Islamic conquest of Levant
Muslim conquest of Syria
The Muslim conquest of Syria occurred in the first half of the 7th century, and refers to the region known as the Bilad al-Sham, the Levant, or Greater Syria...

 in 638 CE. The city maintained a Syriac and Christian identity for centuries.

The amir Muawiyah stayed at Edessa while he fought Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 in the 30s / 650s. Edessa suffered a flood in 667 CE in the late autumn. In 679 CE, Edessa suffered an earthquake.

The Byzantines often tried to retake Edessa, especially under Romanus Lacapenus, who obtained from the inhabitants the "Holy Mandylion", or ancient portrait of Christ, and solemnly transferred it to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, August 16, 944. This was the final great achievement of Romanus' reign. This venerable and famous image, which was certainly at Edessa in 544, and of which there is an ancient copy in the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 Library, was brought to the West by the Venetians
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 in 1207 following the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

. The city was ruled shortly by Marwanids.

In 1031 Edessa was given up to the Byzantines under George Maniakes by its Arab governor. It was retaken by the Arabs, and then successively held by the Greeks, the Armenians, the Seljuk Turks (1087), the Crusaders (1099), who established there the County of Edessa
County of Edessa
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century, based around Edessa, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity....

 and kept the city until 1144, when it was again captured by the Turk Zengi
Zengi
Imad ad-Din Zengi was the atabeg of Mosul, Aleppo, Hama and Edessa and founder of the Zengid dynasty, to which he gave his name.-Early life:...

, and most of its inhabitants were slaughtered together with the Latin archbishop (see Siege of Edessa
Siege of Edessa
The Siege of Edessa took place from November 28 to December 24, 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the crusader County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.- Background :...

). These events are known to us chiefly through the Armenian historian Matthew
Matthew of Edessa
Matthew of Edessa was an Armenian historian in the 12th century from the city of Edessa . Matthew was the superior abbot of Karmir Vank' , near the town of Kessoun, east of Marash , the former seat of Baldwin of Boulogne...

, who had been born at Edessa. In 1144 the city had 47000 Armenian population. Since the 12th century, the city has successively belonged to the Sultans of Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 (Ayyubids), Sultanate of Rum
Sultanate of Rûm
The Sultanate of Rum , also known as the Anatolian Seljuk State , was a Turkic state centered in in Anatolia, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya. Since the court of the sultanate was highly mobile, cities like Kayseri and Sivas also functioned at times as capitals...

, the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, the Mameluks, the Akkoyunlu, the Safavids and from 1517 to 1918 to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. In 1914 Edessa had an Armenian population numbering 35000. In 1915, during the Armenian Genocide, Edessa's Armenian population fought the Turkish army (numbering 18000) for 25 days.

Christianity

The precise date of the introduction of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 into Edessa is not known. However, there is no doubt that even before AD 190 Christianity had spread vigorously within Edessa and its surroundings and that (shortly after 201 or even earlier?) the royal house joined the church. According to a legend first reported by Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 in the 4th century, Armenian King Abgar V Ukāmā was converted by Addai, who was one of the seventy-two disciples
Seventy Disciples
The seventy disciples or seventy-two disciples were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke . According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text...

, sent to him by "Judas, who is also called Thomas".. Yet various sources confirm that the Abgar who embraced the Christian faith was Abgar IX. Under him Christianity became the official religion of the kingdom. As for Addai, he was neither one of the seventy-two disciples as the legend asserts, nor was sent by Apostle Thomas, as Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 says, but a missionary from Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 who evangelized Mesopotamia about the middle of the 2nd century, and became the first bishop of Edessa. He was succeeded by Aggai
Mar Aggai
Aggai was a legendary 1st-century primate of the Church of the East, reputedly the disciple of Mar Addai, who is conventionally believed to have sat from 66 to 87. His existence is disputed, and considered as one of several fictitious early church leaders whose lives were concocted in the 6th...

, then by Palout (Palut) who was ordained about 200 by Serapion of Antioch
Serapion of Antioch
Serapion was Patriarch of Antioch . He is known primarily through his theological writings. Eusebius refers to three works of Serapion in his history, but admits that others probably existed: first is a private letter addressed to Caricus and Pontius against Montanism, from which Eusebius quotes an...

. Thence came to us in the 2nd century the famous Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

, or Syriac translation of the Old Testament; also Tatian
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

's Diatessaron
Diatessaron
The Diatessaron is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic. The term "diatessaron" is from Middle English by way of Latin, diatessarōn , and ultimately Greek, διὰ τεσσάρων The Diatessaron (c 160 - 175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony...

, which was compiled about 172 and in common use until St. Rabbula
Rabbula
Rabbula was a bishop of Edessa from 411 to August 435, noteworthy for his opposition to the views of Theodore of Mopsuestia, as well as those of Nestorius...

, Bishop of Edessa (412-435), forbade its use. Among the illustrious disciples of the School of Edessa Bardesanes (154 - 222), a schoolfellow of Abgar IX, deserves special mention for his role in creating Christian religious poetry, and whose teaching was continued by his son Harmonius and his disciples.

A Christian council was held at Edessa as early as 197. In the flood of 201 the Christian church was destroyed. In 232 the relics of the apostle Thomas were brought from Mylapore
Mylapore
Mylapore is a cultural hub and neighborhood in the southern part of the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. Earlier, Mylapore used to be called Vedapuri....

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. Under Roman domination many martyrs suffered at Edessa: Sts. Scharbîl and Barsamya, under Decius
Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

; Sts. Gûrja, Schâmôna, Habib, and others under Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

. In the meanwhile Christian priests from Edessa had evangelized Eastern Mesopotamia and Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and established the first Churches in the kingdom of the Sassanids. Atillâtiâ, Bishop of Edessa, assisted at the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 (325). The Peregrinatio Silviae (or Etheriae) gives an account of the many sanctuaries at Edessa about 388.

When Nisibis
Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

 was ceded to the Persians in 363, Ephrem the Syrian
Ephrem the Syrian
Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially in the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a saint.Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as...

 left his native town for Edessa, where he founded the celebrated School of the Persians. This school, largely attended by the Christian youth of Persia, and closely watched by Rabbula, the friend of Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

, on account of its Nestorian
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 tendencies, reached its highest development under Bishop Ibas
Ibas
The name Ibas may refer to:*Ibas of Edessa*Ibas *Independent Betting Adjudication Service...

, famous through the controversy of the Three Chapters, was temporarily closed in 457, and finally in 489, by command of Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 and Bishop Cyrus, when the teachers and students of the School of Edessa repaired to Nisibis and became the founders and chief writers of the Nestorian Church in Persia. Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 prospered at Edessa, even after the Arab conquest.

Under Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 rule, as metropolis of Osroene, it had eleven suffragan sees. Lequien mentions thirty-five Bishops of Edessa; yet his list is incomplete. The Eastern Orthodox episcopate seems to have disappeared after the 11th century. Of its Jacobite bishops twenty-nine are mentioned by Lequien (II, 1429 sqq.), many others in the Revue de l'Orient chrétien (VI, 195), some in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1899), 261 sqq. Moreover, Nestorian bishops are said to have resided at Edessa as early as the 6th century.

A side of the church in Edessa collapsed in the 679 earthquake. Muawiyah rebuilt it.

Cultural

Famous individuals connected with Edessa include: Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus was Bishop of Edessa from 543 until his death. One of the most important figures in the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox churches generally, he was a defender of the Monophysite movement in a time when its strength was declining...

, the real chief of the Syriac Miaphysites known after him as Jacobites; Stephen Bar Sudaïli, monk and pantheist, to whom was owing, in Palestine, the last crisis of Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

ism in the 6th century; Jacob
Jacob of Edessa
Jacob of Edessa was one of the most distinguished of Syriac writers.-Life:Jacob of Edessa was born in Aindaba near Aleppo, around 640...

, Bishop of Edessa, a fertile writer (d. 708); Theophilus the Maronite, an astronomer, who translated into Syriac verse Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 and Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

; the anonymous author of the Chronicon Edessenum (Chronicle of Edessa), compiled in 540; the writer of the story of "The Man of God", in the 5th century, which gave rise to the legend of St. Alexius, also known as Alexius of Rome
Alexius of Rome
Saint Alexius or Alexis of Rome or Alexis von Edessa was an Eastern saint whose veneration was later transplanted to Rome, a process facilitated by the fact that, according to the earlier Syriac legend that a "Man of God" of Edessa, Mesopotamia who during the episcopate of Bishop Rabbula lived by...

 (because exiled Eastern monks brought his cult and bones to Rome in the 10th century). The oldest known dated Syriac manuscripts (AD 411 and 462), containing Greek patristic texts, come from Edessa.

See also

  • Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people
  • Image of Edessa
    Image of Edessa
    According to Christian legend, the Image of Edessa was a holy relic consisting of a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus was imprinted — the first icon ....

  • Knanaya
    Knanaya
    The Knanaya also known as Q'nanaya, Q'nai, Kanai, or Thekkumbagar, are endogamous Jews who settled in Kerala, India. Their origins are unclear and are hotly disputed by academic scholars...

  • List of bishops of Edessa

Further reading

  • Walter Bauer 1971. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 1934, (in English 1971): Chapter 1 "Edessa" (On-line text)
  • A. von Gutschmid, Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Könligliches Osroëne, in series Mémoires de l'Académie impériale des Sciences de S. Petersbourg, series 7, vol. 35.1 (St. Petersburg, 1887)
  • J. B. Segal, Edessa: The Blessed City (Oxford and New York: University Press, 1970)
  • Schulz, Mathias, "Wegweiser ins Paradies," Der Spiegel
    Der Spiegel
    Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

     2372006, Pp. 158–170.
  • This entry uses text from the Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    , 1909.

External links

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