More on Ephraem Syrus’ “Hymni contra haereses”

The 56 Hymns against heresies of Ephraim the Syrian are not online in English, and it does not seem that any published English translation exists.  Sidney H. Griffith has published extracts in English.  The work was published by E. Beck in CSCO 169 (text) and 170 (Latin translation) in 1957, but of course none of us can access this.

Yet a German translation of the work appears in the old Bibliothek der Kirchenvater series, so this suggests that an older edition must exist, which might be online somewhere.  I can only suppose that it is buried in some complete edition of Ephraim’s works. Hmm.

The NPNF series includes some works by Ephraim, translated by John Gwynn, and the introduction refers to “the great Roman edition, S. Ephraemi Syri Opera Syriaca (Rome, 1743).”  The old Library of the Fathers series included a volume of Selected works, which includes a “rhythm against the Jews” which does not seem to be elsewhere and might profitably be placed online.

The “Roman edition” is not easy to find, unless you know that Brigham Young University has  a collection of Syriac books.  It is here.

UPDATE: Yes, well, it might be “here” but I can’t persuade the site to work, either in IE8 or in Chrome.  Why can’t I just download a PDF?!

UPDATE2: Looks as if another copy is here, at the Goussen library.    But it looks as if one can’t download whole volumes, which is very frustrating.  Looks as if there are two series, each of three volumes; series 1, the Greek and Latin works; series 2 the Syriac ones.

UPDATE3: Yay! Found one volume at Google books, here.  Wonder which one? Ah, it’s vol.2 of the Greek and Latin series.  Hit the “About this book” link, and somewhere down the bottom I’m getting other volumes (isn’t Google Books useless for multi-volume works?).  Here’s what I get, after much poking around:

OK, well, that’s something … indeed better than something! Now searching using “Sancti Ephraem Syri Opera omnia quae exstant, Graece” … and this gives me different results again, from what look like Spanish libraries.

Phew.  That was hard work.  But there we have it … all the volumes of this series.

Wonder if any of them contain the Hymni contra haereses?  I think that might be a question for tomorrow!

UPDATE4: vol. 1 of the Syriac is Old Testament commentaries.  Vol. 2 of the Syriac (TOC on p.35 of the PDF) continues this, Job-Malachi, and then has 11 “sermons” on various passages of scripture; then 13 on the Lord’s birthday; then 16 “sermones polemici adversus haereses”, on p.437 (p.472 of the PDF).  We have found our text!  Yay!

3 Responses to “More on Ephraem Syrus’ “Hymni contra haereses””


  1. M

    There’s a chap who has translated the entire cycle of Hymns on the Faith into English and intends to publish them with Peeters. The manuscript has been done for at least a decade and a half, but so far they haven’t been published yet for some mysterious reason. I’m not sure what the prognosis on them is.

  2. Roger Pearse

    Would you mind dropping me an email with the name? It’s the sort of thing that didn’t ought to be allowed to drop. Someone will die, and the translation will get forgotten or something.

  3. rey

    Sancti Ephraem Syri Hymni et sermones Its a parallel text, either Syriac/Latin or Arabic/Latin; I can’t tell.



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