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Daemon
Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 12:00:00 AM
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Ephrem the Syrian

Sometimes known as the Harp of the Holy Spirit, Saint Ephrem the Syrian was a prolific hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century CE. According to some accounts, his father was a pagan priest. Ephrem, however, converted Syria to Christianity. He taught and composed at Nisibis and Edessa until his death in 373. His writings have been widely influential, and he is venerated by both the Eastern churches and Rome. He is also notable for conducting choirs that consisted entirely of whom? More...
monamagda
Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 9:01:57 AM

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Over four hundred hymns composed by Ephraim still exist. Granted that some have been lost, Ephraim’s productivity is not in doubt. The church historian Sozomen credits Ephraim with having written over three million lines. Ephraim combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic Judaism, he engages skillfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.

The most important of his works are his lyric, teaching hymns. These hymns are full of rich, poetic imagery drawn from biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrāšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrāšâ had its qālâ, a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qālê are now lost. It seems that Bardaisan and Mani composed madrāšê, and Ephraim felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrāšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — Carmina Nisibena, On Faith, On Paradise, On Virginity, Against Heresies— but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection (for instance, only the first half of the Carmina Nisibena is about Nisibis). Each madrāšâ usually had a refrain, which was repeated after each stanza. Later writers have suggested that the madrāšê were sung by all women choirs with an accompanying lyre.

Particularly influential were his Hymns Against Heresies.[3] Ephraim used these to warn his flock of the heresies which threatened to divide the early church. He lamented that the faithful were “tossed to and fro and carried around with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness and deceitful wiles.”[4] He devised hymns laden with doctrinal details to inoculate right-thinking Christians against heresies such as docetism. The Hymns Against Heresies employ colourful metaphors to describe the Incarnation of Christ as a fully human and divine. Ephraim asserts that Christ’s unity of humanity and divinity represents peace, perfection and salvation; in contrast, docetism and other heresies sought to divide or reduce Christ’s nature, and in doing so would rend and devalue Christ’s followers with their false teachings.

https://saintephraim.com/st-ephraim-the-syrian/

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