Moshe bar Kepha

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Moshe bar Kepha (ca. 833-12 Feb. 903) was a West Syriac writer.[1]


He was born in Balad (modern Eski Mosul) in Northern Iraq and educated at the monastery of Mar Sargis, known as the 'Hanging Monastery', in the 'Dry Mountain' some 15kms NE of Balad. Around 863 he was made bishop of Beth Raman, Beth Kiyonaye, and Mosul -- his diocese covered the area along the Tigris south of Mosul and north of Tagrit (=Tikrit).


A significant number of his works survive, but many remain unpublished.

Exegetical works

  • Commentary on the six days of Creation (=Hexameron), in 5 books. Only parts of the Syriac text have been published, but there is a complete German translation.
  • Commentary on Paradise, in three books. This was one of the earliest Syriac texts to be studied by European scholars, and was translated into Latin by Andreas Masius in 1569. The Syriac text remains unpublished.
  • Introduction to the Psalter.FT
  • Commentary on Matthew, Luke, John, Acts and the Letters of Paul. Only those on John and Romans have been published, with a German translation.

Theological works

All of these are unpublished.

  • On the soul, in 41 chapters. A German translation exists.
  • On Resurrection, in 34 chapters.
  • On the creation of the angels, in 45 chapters.
  • On the hierarchy of the angels, in 16 chapters.
  • On predestination and free-will.
  • On priesthood. This work is also attributed to John of Dara.

Liturgical works

The Syriac texts of the second, third, and a few of the homilies are the only ones that have been published.

  • Commentary on the baptism rite ET
  • Commentary on the eucharistic liturgy ET
  • Commentary on the consecration of the myron. GT
  • Commentary on the ordination rites (for bishops, priests and deacons) LT
  • Commentary on the clothing of monks.
  • Commentary on the rite for the dedication of a church.
  • Commentary on the funeral rites.
  • Commentary on the heavenly and earthly priesthood.
  • An instruction to the members of the Church.
  • A collection of 38 homilies. ETFT in part.
  • A book on the causes of the feasts.

Several works are known to be lost. These include a Church History, a commentary on the homilies of Gregory Nazianzen, a work against heresies and a commentary on Aristotle's Categories. An excerpt of the last survives.


  • Comm.on Hexameron: GT by L.Schlimme (1977)
  • On Paradise, LT in Patrologia Graeca 111, cols. 479-608.
  • Introduction to Psalter: GT by G.Diettrich, Eine Jakobitische Einleitung.. (1901). FT by J.-M.Voste, Revie biblique 38 (1929) 214-28.
  • Comm. on John, GT by L. Schlimme (1978-81)
  • Comm. on Romans GT by J. Reller (1994)
  • On the Soul: GT by O. Braun (1891)
  • Comm. on Liturgy: R.H.Connolly and H.W.Codrington, Two Commentaries (1913) 24-90.
  • Comm. on Baptism: R.A.Aytoun, repr. in J.Vellian (ed). Studies on Syrian Baptismal Rites (1973) 7-15.
  • Comm. on Myron: GT by W.Strothmann (1973)
  • Homilies: see Moss, Catalogue... [title in VIIIg, according to Brock].


  1. Sebastian Brock, A brief outline of Syriac literature, Moran Etho 9, (1997), p. 69-70 and p. 13...