Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya

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Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya was an East Syriac writer who flourished ca. 600 AD. He was a teacher at the School of Nisibis during the time of Henana. He came from Beth `Arabaye. It is possible that he is the same as Barhadbeshabba of Halwan.


He composed a History of the Holy Fathers, Persecuted on Account of the Truth, known by the title, Ecclesiastical History, which traces the development of the Church of the East up to the death of Abraham, head of the School of Nisibis (569). The Ecclesiastical History survives as an important source for the early history of the East Syriac Church.

'Abdisho bar Brika mentions this work in his entry on Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya (BibOr. 3.1.169), also attributing to him: a voluminous Book of Treasures, a polemical work against all the Sects, a history of the Followers of Mar Diodor, and commentaries on Psalms and the Gospel of Mark. Only the latter survive, and that only in a few quotations in Ishodad of Merv and Gannat Bussame. [1]

The Ecclesiastical History exists in a French translation. It is in 32 chapters. The sole surviving manuscript gives it the title "History of the holy fathers who were persecuted for the sake of truth". Most of the book deals, first with the Arian controversy of the 4th century, and then the conflict between Cyril and Nestorius in the 5th. Several of the chapters are short biographies of individuals, such as Gregory Thaumaturgus, Basil, Diodore, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nestorius. The final two chapters are devoted to Narsai and Abraham (d. 569).[2]


  • Barhadbeshabba ‘Arbaya, Histoire ecclésiastique, F. Nau (éd.), Patrologia orientalis 9 (1913) and 23 (1932).


  1. This material by Jeff Childers.
  2. S. Brock, Brief outline of Syriac literature, Moran Etho 9, p.48.