`Abdisho` bar Brika

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`Abdisho` bar Brika (also known as Abdhiso bar Berikha, and in Latin as Ebed Jesu) was an East Syriac/Nestorian writer who was born around 1250 and died in 1318. He was bishop of Sinjar(Shiggar) and Bet 'Arbaye in 1285 (so BO i.539), and later, before 1291 (so BO i.538; iii.1,327, col.2) Metropolitan of Soba (=Nisibis) and Armenia. He died in 1318.

He wrote in both Arabic and Syriac, and was one of the last Syriac writers.


Ebed Jesu has left us a list of his own works at the end of his Catalogus Librorum (BO iii.1,325ff).

  • The Metrical catalogue of Syriac Writers. Composed in 1298, this gives a list of Syriac writers and what they wrote, and is of very great use, particularly for lost works by these authors. It is divided into 4 parts. (1) The Old Testament and various apocrypha (2) the New Testament (3) the Greek fathers who were translated into Syriac (4) the Syriac fathers, chiefly of the Nestorian sect, of course. The work is arranged in approximately chronological order, but just lists names and titles. Mss.: Cod. Vat. 176; RAS. Add. 76 (imperfect); Rome, Bibl. Vitt. Eman. A. 1194, MSS Sessor. 162; Cambridge, Collection of the SPCK. Ebed Jesu also translated the work into Arabic himself in 1312, as we learn from 'Amr ibn Matta in the Majdal where large portions are quoted (BO. iii.1.360 n.4; see Cod. Vat. 65, 307, and Cod. Vat. Arab. 110 -- so Mai. Script. Vett. Nova Coll., iv -- cf. BO., iii.1, 598). The author lists his own works, which indicates that some of them have not reached us, including:
  • a Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  • a work on the Life of Christ on Earth
  • a work against all the Heresies
  • the book of the mysteries of the Greek philosphers
  • the twelve discourses comprising all the sciences
  • the ecclesiastical decisions and canons
  • an Arabic work entitled Shah-marwarid (the King-pearl).
Other minor works listed in BO. iii. 1, 361 seem to be lost:
  • Consolatory discourses
  • Letters
  • Commentary on the letter of Aristotle to Alexander concerning the Great Art (Alchemy).
  • The Nomocanon, or Collection of Synodical Canons, arranged by subject. The text is analysed in BO. iii.1, 332-351. Mai edited the text and made a Latin translation. A printed version of a Syriac text from manuscript is currently available for purchase (see below).
  • Ordo Iudiciorum Ecclesiasticorum: a set of rules of ecclesiastical judgements, designed as a handbook for use in church courts. A Latin translation exists of this work.
  • Marganitha, or Pearl. It is subtitled "The Truth of the Faith." It is a short but influential summary of East Syriac theology, and was written in 1298. It is in five sections and treats of God, the creation, the Christian dispensation, the sacraments of the church, and the things that prefigure the world to come. Mss include: Cod. Vat. Syr. 175-6, 456; RAS. Add. 76; Berlin Sachau 4,132; Cambridge, coll. of the SPCK. An English translation of this work exists.
  • The Paradise of Eden. This is a collection of 50 poems. It was first circulated in 1291, but the author later, in 1316, added a commentary to it because the poems contained a large number of rare or obscure words. A printed version of a Syriac text from manuscript is currently available for purchase (see below).
  • A further collection of 22 poems, probably composed as a set, is extant in Cod. Vat. Syr. 174 (Catal. iii.359) and Cod. Bodleian Marsh. 201 (Payne Smith, Catal. p. 510).
  • A third collection of poems, including the set of 22 plus some from the Paradise of Eden is extant in Cod. Bodl. Marsh. 361. (P. Smith, Catal. p. 523; see also p. 531 nos 30, 31).
  • In Ms. Paris. Anc. fonds 104 there is a poem explaining the ecclesiastical calendar (Zotenberg, Catal. p. 128).
  • A commentary on the enigmatic moral poem of Simeon Shankelawi, written by Ebed Jesu for his disciple Abraham. Mss: Cod. Vat. 187 (Catal. iii, 404); Ms. India Office No. 9, "Tracts in Syriac," folio 204. It has beenn published by Cardahi, Liber Thesauri, p. 89, incorrectly under the name of as-Sankalabari (copied from Assemani's Sancalabarensis, placing his death in 780; see BO. iii, 1, 225, n. 5, p. 226 n. 7; and Catal. Vat. iii. 405).
  • The turgame are collected in a Ms at Berlin, Alter Bestand 41, 4.


  • 'Abdisho bar Berika, d. 1318, Yusuf Habbi, Fihris al-mu'allifin / ta'lif li-'Abd Yashu' al-Subawi; haqqaqahu wa-naqalahu ila al-'Arabiyah wa-'allaqa 'alayhi Yusuf Habbi. Baghdad?: al-Majma' al-'Ilmi al-'Iraqi, al-Hay'ah al-Suryaniyah, (1986). (Catalogus Liberorum)

(Details of the Syriac text?)

  • Mar Audisho Bar Brikha, Paradise of Eden. (1928). 150 pp. Syriac text and English translation of the first 14 poems, by F.V.Winnett.
  • Assemani, Bibl. Orient. Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. 1, p. 62.
  • Angelo Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio 10:1 (1838), p.1-331. Syriac text and Latin translation of the Nomocanon and the Catalogus.
  • J-M. Vosté (1883-1943), Ordo iudiciorum ecclesiasticorum ... a Mar Abdiso metropolita Nisibis et Armeniae latine interpretatus. Series: Codificazione canonica orientale. Fonti, ser.2. fasc. 15-16; Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis:Rome (1940). Contents: 2. Ordo iudiciorum ecclesiasticorum. Collectus, dispositus, ordinatus et compositus a Mar Abdiso. Latine interpretatus est, notis illustravit Iacobus M. Vosté, O.P. Latin translation of the Ordo Iudiciorum Ecclesiasticorum. There is a copy in Cambridge University Library.
  • G.P.Badger, The Nestorians and their rituals (1852) vol. 2. Pp.361-379 contains an English translation of the Metrical Catalogue of Syriac Writers; Pp.380-422 contains a translation of Marganitha.
  • G. CARDAHI, Liber thesauri de arte poetica Syrorum, Rome (1875). A Maronite writer.


This entry composed from details give in Brock's A brief outline and Wright's A short history.