Anonymous literature of the 6th century

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There is a quantity of literature which probably all belongs to this period.[1]


Much of the anonymous Syriac poetry probably belongs to this period. This includes many of the dialogue soghyatha, and a madrasha on Epiphany. The latter is described as "beautiful" by Brock and exists in English translation.


There are many anonymous works which probably belong to this period. Brock lists the following.

The Cave of Treasures

An English translation exists of this. This is a collection of legendary biblical traditions, addressed to an unknown Nemesius. The work covers the period from Creation to Pentecost. This period is reckoned as 5,500 years, with the end of each millennium explicitly indicated.

Many non-biblical traditions are included, often of Jewish origin. These include the appearance of Noah's fourth son, Yonton, who is portrayed as the teacher of wisdom to Nimrod.

Although some of its sources go back much earlier, it is generally thought to have reached its final form in about the 6th century. Some manuscripts attribute it to Ephrem, but this is certainly incorrect.


  • Three Homilies on Epiphany.
  • Three Homilies on the Sinful Woman (Luke 7).
  • A Homily on the High Priest (Hebrews 5:7)

There is a French translation of all of these.


There is a Life of the East Syrian Catholicos and confessor Mar Aba (d. 552) and the Lives of two East Syriac martyrs, Grigor (Piragushnasp) and Yazidpaneh, both executed by Khosrau I (531-579). These long accounts are of great interest because of the picture they give of Christianity in the Persian empire in the 6th century.

There is also a Life of Ahudemmeh (d. 575), the Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of the Orient and "apostle of the Arabs".


The following translations exist:[2]

  • Memra on Epiphany: S.P.Brock, PdO 15 (1988-9), 169-96 and in Harp 2:3 (1989) 131-40.
  • Cave of Treasures: E. Wallis Budge, 1927.
  • Homilies on Epiphany: French tr. by A. Desreumaux, PO 38 (1977)
  • Homilies on the Sinful Woman: French tr. F. Graffin, PO 41 (1984)
  • Homily on the High Priest: French tr. F. Graffin, PO 41 (1984)
  • Life of Ahudemmeh: French tr. F. Nau, PO 3 (1905), 7-51.


  1. Sebastian Brock, A brief outline of Syriac literature, Moran Etho 9, p.46-7.
  2. Sebastian Brock, A brief outline of Syriac literature, Moran Etho 9, p.132.