Barsoum, Ignatius Afram (1887–1957) [Syr. Orth.]

Patr. and scholar. He was born to Stephan Barsoum and Susan Abdulnur, who both hailed from distinguished families of Mosul, and was named Ayyoub. He studied as a child at the Dominican School in Mosul and then taught there after he graduated. He also studied Arabic literature and rhetoric at the hands of a local Muslim imām. He joined Dayr al-Zaʿfarān where he was tonsured a monk in 1907 and named Afram after St. Ephrem the Syrian, and later was ordained a priest in 1908. He taught at the school of the monastery, and became director of its printing press in 1911. In 1913, he embarked on a scholarly trip in the Ṭur ʿAbdin region studying local mss. He was consecrated bp. of Syria in 1918 and resided in Ḥimṣ; later Lebanon was added to his diocese. In 1919 he represented his church at the Paris Peace Conference and embarked on a second scholarly trip across Europe where he spent 17 months visiting libraries that hold Syriac mss. In 1927, he embarked on a third scholarly trip visiting Europe and the US, where he consecrated three churches in Worcester, MA, Patterson, NJ, and Rhode Island. During his stay there, he visited the University of Chicago where he worked at the Oriental Institute. In 1932 he became a member of the Syrian Academy. In 1933, he was elected and consecrated patr. , and transferred the Patriarchate to Ḥimṣ. He established in 1939 the Seminary of Saint Ephrem. He authored numerous books, published Syriac texts, and translated Syriac texts into Arabic.

His main works include al-Luʾluʾ al-Manthūr (Ḥimṣ 1943, 2nd ed. Aleppo 1956), a historical survey of Syriac literature and sciences (ET by M. Moosa entitled The scattered pearls, 2004); Maktbonuto d-ʿal ʾatro d-Ṭur ʿabdin, published posthumously with an Arabic translation by Boulos Behnam (1963) and with an English translation entitled History of Tur Abdin by M. Moosa (2009); Nuzhat al-Adhhān fī taʾrīkh dayr al-zaʿfarān, a history of Dayr al-Zaʿfarān (Mardin, 1917; ET by M. Moosa, 2008); Taʾrīkh al-abrashiyyāt al-suryāniyya, a history of the Syriac Diocese published partially in the Patriarchal Magazine, Jerusalem (ET by M. Moosa, 2009); al-Durar al-nafīsa fī mukhtaṣar taʾrīkh al-kanīsa, a history of the Church until the 4th cent. (Ḥimṣ, 1940), with a shorter version entitled al-Mawrid al-ʿadhb for school children (1953); al-ʿAlfāẓ al-suryāniyya fī al-maʿājim al-ʿarabiyya (1951), a study of Syriac lexemes in the Arabic language. A full listing of his works is provided by G. Y. Ibrahim.

See Fig. 21.


  • B.  Behnam, Nafaḥāt al-Khuzāmā aw ḥayāt al-batriyark Afrām (Mosul, 1959).
  • G. Y.  Ibrahim, The Glory of the Syrians, Mar Ignatios Ephrem Barsaum...Biography and Bibliography (Aleppo, 1996).

How to Cite This Entry

George A. Kiraz , “Barsoum, Ignatius Afram,” in Barsoum, Ignatius Afram, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

George A. Kiraz , “Barsoum, Ignatius Afram,” in Barsoum, Ignatius Afram, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Kiraz, George A. “Barsoum, Ignatius Afram.” In Barsoum, Ignatius Afram. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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