Ishoʿbokht of Rev Ardashir (late 8th cent.?) [Ch. of E.]

Author of a treatise on secular law; metropolitan bp. of Fars. Ishoʿbokht was consecrated by Cath. Ḥenanishoʿ, most likely Ḥenanishoʿ II (d. 779/80). He wrote his law book in Persian, from which language it was translated into Syriac at the instigation of Cath. Timotheos I, probably after Ishoʿbokht’s death. It is divided into six books. The first is of a general and theoretical nature. Books 2 and 3 deal with matrimonial law. Book 4 is devoted to inheritance law; book 5 to donations, testaments, and obligations. Book 6 deals with the right of appeal. Ishoʿbokht brings his knowledge of biblical law, Roman law, Persian law (and to some extent even Islamic law) together and aims at creating a unified system that would transcend local differences existing among Christians. Ishoʿbokht is familiar with traditions that are incorporated in the Persian ‘Book of thousand judgments’ (Mādīgān ī hazār dādestān) and his work has been used by scholars of Persian-Sasanian law (Macuch). Ishoʿbokht’s engagement with Zoroastrian law and customs was used by Sachau as an argument for dating him earlier than Shemʿon, from whose law book Zoroastrian doctrines and practices are largely absent (see under Shemʿon). Dauvillier regards Ishoʿbokht as a powerful and original mind, and perhaps the best jurist of the Ch. of E. (340). Preserved in the important ms. Alqosh Syr. 169, the primary source for the Synodicon Orientale, this law book served as a source for later jurists. It also exists in an Arabic translation (see Sachau, xvi–xvii).

Ishoʿbokht’s knowledge and interest in philosophy seem to be reflected in some other works, extracts of which have been preserved: a commentary on the Ten Categories (e.g., in ms. Cambridge, Univ. Libr. Add. 2812,vii and in ms. Alqosh 65.5) and a note on ‘possibilities’ (meṭṭol meddem d-metmaṣyānwātā ennen: ms. Berlin 88.32). There is also an extract from a work that may have been dealing with the Hexaemeron (ms. Alqosh 45.3). None of these fragments have been edited or studied. It cannot be ascertained whether they all belong to the same author and whether they were originally written in Syriac.


  • Baumstark, Literatur, 215–6.
  • J. Dauvillier, ‘Chaldéen (Droit)’, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, vol. 3 (1942), 340–3.
  • M.  Macuch, Das sasanidische Rechtsbuch Mātakdān i Hazār Dātistān (Teil II) (Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 45.1; 1981).
  • eadem, ‘Ein mittelpersischer terminus technicus im syrischen Rechtskodex des Īšōʿbōht und im sasanidischen Rechtsbuch’, in Studia Semitica necnon Iranica R. Macuch dedicata, ed. M. Macuch et al. (1989), 149–60.
  • E.  Sachau, Syrische Rechtsbücher, vol. 3 (1914), viii–xvii , 1–201 (Syr. and GT), and 289–344 (notes).

How to Cite This Entry

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

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Ishoʿbokht of Rev Ardashir,” in Ishoʿbokht of Rev Ardashir, 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. “Ishoʿbokht of Rev Ardashir.” In Ishoʿbokht of Rev Ardashir. 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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