Elishaʿ bar Quzbaye (early 6th cent.) [Ch. of E.]

Teacher of biblical interpretation and director of the School of Nisibis in the 1st or 3rd decade of 6th cent. The last part of Elishaʿ’s name has not yet been satisfactorily explained. Barḥadbshabba ʿArbaya calls him ‘Elishaʿ ʿArbaya bar Quzbane (sic)’ (ed. F. Nau). The Chronicle of Siirt introduces him as a fellow student of Narsai at the School of Edessa. He is said to have been the director at the School of Nisibis, but the sources are divided as to whether he was the immediate successor of Narsai (d 502/3) or whether he served as director twenty years later, when Abraham of Beth Rabban was temporarily removed from that position. Regardless, he was an old man when he became director, and his tenure was relatively short, 4 or 7 years.

Barḥadbshabba ʿArbaya ascribes to Elishaʿ an apologetic work written in response to criticism (zeṭeme) by the Magi. This may be the same work which, according to the Chronicle of Siirt, Elishaʿ composed on the Christian religion and which Cath. Aqaq translated into Persian before submitting it to the Persian emperor Qawad. The sources also mention didactic writings and biblical commentaries. The Chronicle of Siirt singles out commentaries on the Pauline letters, Job, Joshua, Judges, and Samuel (for which book Elishaʿ is said to have completed the commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia). None of Elishaʿ’s complete works survive, but two brief comments on Job are quoted by Ishoʿdad of Merv, under the simple name Elishaʿ. The Chronicle of Siirt also ascribes to him a book on ‘the cause of the setting of the mawtbā (Arab. al-mawtib; perhaps “academic session”) in the school’, a title that links the work to a well-known work by the author who is known as Barḥadbshabba of Ḥalwan (published by A. Scher).

    Primary Sources

    • F. Nau, La seconde partie de l’Histoire de Barḥadbešabba ʿArbaïa (PO 9; 1913), 620.
    • A.  Scher, Mar Barḥadbšabba ʿArbaya, évêque de Ḥalwan (VIe siècle). Cause de la fondation des écoles (PO 4; 1908), 387–88.
    • C.  Van den Eynde, Commentaire d’Išoʿdad de Merv sur l’Ancien Testament, vol. 3. Livre des Sessions (CSCO 229–230; 1963), 262.9–10, 264.16–7 (Syr.); 311.7–8, 315.6–8 (FT).

    Secondary Sources

    • Baumstark, Literatur, 114–5.
    • Becker, Fear of God, 105.
    • Reinink, ‘Edessa grew dim and Nisibis shone forth’, 81–3.
    • Vööbus, History of the School of Nisibis, 122–33.


How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay, “Elishaʿ bar Quzbaye,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Elisha-bar-Quzbaye.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay, “Elishaʿ bar Quzbaye,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Elisha-bar-Quzbaye.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Elishaʿ bar Quzbaye.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. 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. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Elisha-bar-Quzbaye.

A TEI-XML record with complete metadata is available at https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Elisha-bar-Quzbaye/tei.

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