Anonymous prose hagiography

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Some of the following hagiographical texts can sometimes be dated to the 5th century because they are extant in very early manuscripts. Others are less certainly dated, but probably from this period.

Life of Abraham of Qidun and his niece Mary

This text has been wrongly attributed to Ephrem Syrus. An English translation exists of the portion on Mary.

This was translated into Greek, and thence into Latin. A 10th century nun, Hrotswitha of Gandersheim used the Latin text as a source for a play on this subject.

Life of the Man of God

English and French translations exist of this. The earliest form of the work was composed in Syriac. It was translated into Greek in a re-edited and expanded form, where the hero is now named Alexis. This longer version was subsequently translated back into Syriac, as well as into Latin. The Latin version then was the basis of various medieval French retellings.

The Martyrdoms of Shmona, Gurya, and Habib

The three martyrs of Edessa were executed most likely in 297 and 309. The account of the death spread widely. The text was composed in Syriac, and translated into Greek. An English translation exists.

The Teaching of Addai

This text recounts the story of the correspondence between Jesus and King Abgar the Black of Edessa in a much longer form, Eusebius of Caesarea gave the letters and the gist of the legend already in his Church History, book 1, ch. 13, in a Greek translation.

The additional material includes sermons preached in Edessa by Addai, and an early account of the Finding of the Cross (here by Protonike, wife of the emperor Claudius, rather than by Helena, mother of Constantine, as in the standard legend).

The text has much in common with the legends of Sharbel and Barsamya. It is quite possible that the whole group of texts was composed in Edessa in the 420-430's in a circle supporting Ibas against Rabbula.

An English translation exists.

Martyrdoms of Sharbel and Barsamya

These purely legendary accounts of martyrdoms in the reign of Trajan share many features with the Teaching of Addai.

An English translation exists.

Euphemia and the Goth

This is the story of a young woman of Edessa who is forcibly married to a Gothic soldier who has been billetted in her mother's house. It is a local narrative from Edessa.

An English translation exists.

Acts of the Persian Martyrs under Shapur II

The Persian emperor Shapur II persecuted the church in the 340's. This was the most severe persecution under the Sassanids. A considerable number of texts relating to this have come down to us, of varying date, value and reliability.

The oldest ones seem to have been written in the early part of the 5th century. These include the older of the two related Acts of the Catholicos Simeon bar Sabba'e, the martydoms of Miles, of Pusai, of Martha (English translations exist of these) and of several other martyrs.

In time, further stories were composed about these events.

Acts of the Persian Martyrs under Yezdigerd I and Bahram V