Giwargis of Bʿeltan (Patr. 758–789) [Syr. Orth.]

Syr. Orth. patr. (758–89). Giwargis was born in Bʿeltan, near Ḥimṣ (Emesa), perhaps in a Melk. family (according to a non-Syriac source [see Evetts, 413]), but apparently at a young age he turned Syr. Orth. He was educated in Syriac and Greek learning in the Monastery of Qenneshre.

After the death of Patr. Athanasios IV Sandloyo, at the electoral synod at Mabbug in December 758, though still only a deacon, he was chosen patr. Mesopotamian bishops opposed his elevation and somewhat later chose Yuḥanon of the Monastery of Qarqaphto, bp. of Kallinikos/Raqqaʿ, as an anti-patriarch. The schism could have ended in 762, when Yuḥanon of Kallinikos died, but at the synod at Serugh in 764/5 the Mesopotamian bishops accepted Dawid bp. of Dara as the successor to the deceased anti-patriarch.

Dawid accused Giwargis of tax irregularities, and Caliph Abū Jaʿfar ʿAbdullāh al-Manṣūr (754–75) put him in prison for nine years (767–75). After this Caliph’s death his son and successor, al-Mahdī, upon his accession in 775 released Giwargis, on the condition that he was not to exercise his office or title. Eventually, in 777, he was confirmed in his office by the Muslim authorities.

On 22 May 785 he presided over the synod in Kfar-Nabu in the region of Serugh at which 22 canons, mostly of a disciplinary nature, were passed.

During one of his pastoral journeys, in the region of Qlaudia, he fell sick and not long thereafter he died in the year 789/790 in Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo near Melitene, where he was also buried.

During his imprisonment he is reported to have written numerous discourses and metrical homilies (memre), not preserved, as well as an exegetical work, the ‘Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew’, which displays his knowledge of John Chrysostom, the Cappadocian fathers, and Philoxenos of Mabbug (ms. Vat. Syr. 154, not published). He wrote also synodal letters and a letter to a deacon Guria of Edessa (quoted by Michael Rabo, Chronicle, vol. 3, 5–8) on the formula ‘We break the heavenly bread’, the use of which later became the subject of a long controversy.

    Primary Sources

    • Abbeloos and Lamy, Gregorii Barhebraei chronicon ecclesiasticum, vol. 1, col. 319–28.
    • Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, vol. 2, 525–9; vol. 3, 3–10.
    • B.  Evetts, History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria, vol. 3. Agathon to Mikhael I (766) (PO 5.1; 1910), 255–469.
    • A.  Harrak, The Chronicle of Zuqnīn, Parts III and IV, A.D. 488–775 (Medieval Sources in Translation 36; 1999).
    • R.  Hespel, Chronicon anonymum pseudo-Dionysianum vulgo dictum (CSCO 507; 1989), 164–67, 176f, 190–96.
    • A. Vööbus, The Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition (CSCO 376; 1976), 2–7.

    Secondary Sources

    • A.  Baumstark, ‘Die Evangelienexegese der syrischen Monophysiten’, OC 2 (1902), 360–9.
    • A.  Baumstark, Literatur, 269–70.
    • D.  Bundy, ‘Georges de Beʿeltân’, in DHGE , vol. 20 (1984), col. 595–9.
    • W.  Hage, Die syrisch-jakobitische Kirche in frühislamischer Zeit (1966).

| Giwargis of Bʿeltan |


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