Mushe bar Kipho (d. 903) [Syr. Orth.]

Bp. of Beth Raman (north of Tagrit on the Tigris), and writer. Almost all that is known about him comes from a short anonymous biography (in two recensions, BHO 779–80) transmitted with his works. According to this, he was born in the town of Balad (modern Eski Mosul) and entered the Monastery of Mar Sargis on the ‘Dry Mountain’ (that is, Buṭmān, 15 km. northeast of Balad on the west bank of the Tigris). He became a monk at age twenty, then ten years later, bp., taking the name Severos. His diocese of Beth Raman was suffragan to the metr. of Tagrit. Other sources add to his diocese variously Beth Kiyonaye (that is, Beth Bawazig or Beth Waziq, a neighbouring town), Beth ʿArbaye, and Mosul. He died on 12 Feb. 903 at the age of seventy (or acc. to other sources, ninety). This date puts his birth in ca. 833 and his consecration as bp. in ca. 863.

Mushe’s writings cover a wider area of biblical exegesis, traditional theology, and liturgy than any previous Syriac writer had attempted to span. Perhaps he was aiming at a summa that would defend the Christian religion within the Muslim world. His works are characterized by divisions into short ‘chapters’ or other sections, treating specific points in a formulaic way, often by question and answer. Mushe is regarded as one of the great scholars of the Syr. Orth. Church. This scholarship was, however, largely a matter of compiling excerpts from sources, and modern studies of his works have generally been concerned with the analysis of these sources. They included E.-Syr. ones, which is not so surprising given that Mushe’s career was spent on the E. edge of Syr. Orth. territory.

    Primary Sources

    • Only the main editions and translations are listed. For others, and for mss., see Reller, 60–76, and Graf, GCAL, vol. 2, 229–33 (for the considerable ms. tradition in Arabic).
    • Commentaries on the Bible: on the six-day creation (ed. L.  Schlimme, 1977 with GT), on Paradise (LT by A.  Masius, 1569 = Migne, PG 11, 481–608), on the Psalms (ed. J.-M.  Vosté, 1929, with FT); commentaries on Matt. and Luke (part only surviving of Matt., neither yet published), on John (ed. L. Schlimme, 1978 with GT), and on the Pauline epistles (ed. J. Reller, 1994, Letter to the Romans with GT).
    • Theology: on the soul (GT by O.  Braun, 1891); on the resurrection, on the creation of angels, on the heavenly hierarchy, on free will (none edited).
    • Liturgy: commentaries on the eucharist (ed. R. H. Connolly and H. W. Codrington, 1913, with ET), on the consecration of the chrism (ed. W. Strothmann, 1973, with GT), on baptism, on various smaller offices; a Book of homilies consisting of commentaries on the feasts of the ecclesiastical year; a different Book of the causes of the feasts (none of these fully published).
    • Canons: for scattered canons in his name see A.  Vööbus, Kanonessammlungen, I. 1a (1970), 228–9.
    • Lost works. The biography mentions commentaries on the Pentateuch, historical books, prophets, and Acts; a church history or chronicle; a book against heresies; and a two-part work on Gregory Nazianzen. Bar ʿEbroyo mentions a commentary on Aristotle.

    Secondary Sources

    • Fiey, Saints syriaques, 144.
    • J.  Reller, Mose bar Kepha und seine Paulinenauslegung (1994). (with comprehensive introduction, translation of the biography, and discussion of earlier literature)


How to Cite This Entry

James F. Coakley, “Mushe bar Kipho,” 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/Mushe-bar-Kipho.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

James F. Coakley, “Mushe bar Kipho,” 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/Mushe-bar-Kipho.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Coakley, James F. “Mushe bar Kipho.” 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/Mushe-bar-Kipho.

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

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