Aqaq Acacius (late 5th cent.) [Ch. of E.]

Bp. of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and cath. (484–495/6). Aqaq headed the Ch. of E. during a critical period of its history, when it adopted a strictly dyophysite Christology. Aqaq had studied at the School of Edessa, where he became acquainted with the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Among his fellow students were Narsai and Barṣawma of Nisibis. Aqaq’s predecessor, Cath. Babowai, who had a strained relationship with Barṣawma, had also come into conflict with the Persian Emperor Peroz and was arrested and executed by the latter in 484. When Aqaq took office, therefore, the situation of Christianity in the Persian Empire was extremely precarious. Our main source for the history of his period is the Synodicon Orientale. There is no evidence of Aqaq’s involvement in a synod held in Beth Lapaṭ in April 484. This may have been a limited synod of Barṣawma’s followers, of which no report is transmitted (and which Barṣawma himself later revoked). It was in the wake of this synod that Babowai was arrested and executed, and replaced by Aqaq. At a subsequent synod, held in Beth ʿEdray, in August-September 485 (of which also no report is preserved), peace between Barṣawma and Aqaq was established. A number of letters from this period, included in the Synodicon, confirm that Barṣawma and his followers eventually submitted to Aqaq. The stage was thus set for the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, of Febr. 486, in which a unified church, under Aqaq’s leadership, adopted dyophysite Christology. Additionally, measures were taken to restrain the (excessive) influence of ascetics outside their monasteries and to make marriage the preferred status for all clergy, including bishops, celibacy being relegated only to monasteries. The specific context of these measures is not yet clear. Should they be understood in response to ideas prevailing in the Zoroastrian society, or as reactions to over-active wandering monks, who also may have propagated Miaphysitism among Persian Christians? Apart from the information in the Synodicon, very little is known about Aqaq. The Chronicle of Siirt attributes to him a treatise ‘On faith’, written against the Miaphysites, and three discourses on fasting, none of which is preserved. The Chronicle also reports that Aqaq translated into Persian a treatise on the Christian faith by Elishaʿ bar Quzbaye, which was presented to the Persian emperor Qawad.


  • Braun, Synodicon Orientale, 59–83.
  • Chabot, Synodicon Orientale, 53–61 (synod of 486 and note on the synod of 484, Syr.), 299–309 (FT), 525–39 (additional letters concerning Barṣawma and Aqaq).
  • Fiey, Jalons, 113–9.
  • S.  Gero, Barṣauma of Nisibis and Persian Christianity in the fifth century (CSCO 426; 1981).
  • S. Gero, ‘Die antiasketische Bewegung im persischen Christentum  — Einfluss zoroastrischer Ethik?’ in SymSyr III, 187–91.
  • Labourt, Le christianisme dans l’empire perse, 131–54.
  • A.  Scher, Histoire nestorienne inédite (Chronique de Séert), vol. 2.1 (PO 7; 1909), 112–3, 126–7.

How to Cite This Entry

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

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Aqaq,” in Aqaq, 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:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Aqaq.” In Aqaq. 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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