Emmanuel bar Shahhare (d. 980) [Ch. of E.]

Monk in the Upper Monastery (Dayrā ʿellāytā) near Mosul, author of a Hexaemeron, which is still unpublished. Biographical data on Emmanuel are almost completely lacking. The Hexaemeron is a metrical work, partly in twelve- and partly in seven-syllable meter, on the creation of the world and on salvation history. In the 13  mss. of the work known today, 28 memre are listed. However, the first memrā ( incipit : urḥā ḥdattā) is also transmitted under Narsai’s name (no. 81 in Macomber’s list) and most likely belongs to him. The second memrā is missing in all mss. It is only from the third memrā onwards, therefore, that Emmanuel’s authorship is well established. In the first part of the work (up to memrā 15), creation is described in great detail. Discussions on the creation of the angels, on original sin, punishment, and Sabbath rest are included, as well as a number of scientific digressions on anatomy, natural science, astronomy, and meteorology. The second part, consisting of memre 16 to 28, is more theological in nature and focuses on salvation and the New Adam. Excerpts from Emmanuel’s work are quoted in the 15th-cent. Prose Commentary of Isḥaq Shbadnaya.

The title ‘Book of the six days’ (Ktābā d-eštat yawme) places this work in the longstanding tradition of Greek and Syriac writings on the Hexaemeron, the six days of Creation. The incorporation of data derived from secular sciences was a common characteristic of the later Syriac tradition, witnessed, e.g., in Yaʿqub of Edessa’s Hexaemeron. As an exegete and theologian, Emmanuel was familiar with the theological and exegetical views of Theodore of Mopsuestia; however, Narsai was his more direct model, not only as an early Syriac transmitter of Theodore’s teachings, but also as the main E.-Syr. master of the metrical homily. At the same time, Emmanuel should be seen as a representative of the E.-Syr. school tradition of his day.

Other compositions transmitted under Emmanuel’s name include a memrā on the sacrament of baptism (in the seven-syllable meter, ed. J. Ishaq, Bayn al-Nahrayn 14.42 [1983], 33–66), and a Hymn on Mary, preserved in the Ḥudrā.


  • J.  Frishman, The ways and means of the divine economy. An edition, translation and study of six biblical homilies by Narsai (Ph. D. dissertation, Leiden; 1992), 17.
  • W. F.  Macomber, ‘The manuscripts of the metrical homilies of Narsai’, OCP 39 (1973), 305.
  • E.  ten  Napel, ‘Some remarks on the hexaemerical literature in Syriac’, in SymSyr IV, 57–69.
  • E.  ten  Napel  ‘The textual tradition of Emmanuel bar Shahhare’s Hexaemeron in the light of the monastic school tradition’, in StPatr , vol. 18.4, ed. E. A. Livingstone (1990), 289–95.
  • A. Sana, ‘Ḥilq al-insān li-ʿImmanuʾil bar Šahāre’, Journal of the Iraqi Academy. Syriac Corporation 11 (1987), 176–237. (photographic edition)
  • V. van Vossel, ‘Quelques remarques en marge du Memra sur le Baptême d’Emmanuel bar Shahhare’, Questions liturgiques 82 (2001/2), 128–47. (with FT of memrā on Baptism)

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Emmanuel bar Shahhare,” in Emmanuel bar Shahhare, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Emmanuel-bar-Shahhare.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Emmanuel bar Shahhare,” in Emmanuel bar Shahhare, 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/Emmanuel-bar-Shahhare.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Emmanuel bar Shahhare.” In Emmanuel bar Shahhare. 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/Emmanuel-bar-Shahhare.

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

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