Samuel, Athanasios Yeshuʿ (1907–1995) [Syr. Orth.]

Bp. of Jerusalem (1947–48), and first bp. of the United States (1957–95). He was born in Ḥulwa near Nisibis in 1907, and lost his father at an early age. His mother took him to the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem where they both lived, and where he later became a monk. In 1931 he was part of the entourage of Patr. Eliya III in a visit to India. He studied in Egypt and became editor of the Patriarchal Magazine (Jerusalem). He became an abbot of the monastery and in 1946 was consecrated bp. of Jerusalem.

In 1947 he purchased from Arab bedouins through Iskandar Shahin (Kando), a Syriac antiquity dealer from Bethlehem, four Dead Sea Scrolls, later to be known as the St. Mark’s Scrolls. In 1948, he traveled with the Scrolls to the United States for the purpose of making the Scrolls available to a wider market. In the United States, the Scrolls were displayed at various institutions, including the Library of Congress and Duke University. After some complications, the Scrolls were purchased by Y.  Yadin, through an intermediary, for the State of Israel.

In 1948 he was appointed Apostolic Legate to the United States, and in 1957 he became the first bp. of the United States and Canada. He was instrumental in the advancement of this new diocese. He is remembered by many parishioners for his humility and for the help that he rendered to new immigrants, sometimes even taking old ladies shopping for food in his car. In 1971 he took part in the consecration of the Coptic Pope Shenouda  III. In addition to his English autobiography (1966, AT 1985), he wrote a series of Syriac readers entitled mhadyono dšarwoye l-lešono oromoyo  / Aramaic new method readers (vols. 1–3, Jerusalem, 1937–45; vols. 4–6, Glanerbrug, 1984); critics, however, claim that Qarabashī may have had a hand in authoring them. He was instrumental in editing and publishing liturgical texts, with facing ET by Murad Barsoum, for many of the Syr. Orth. liturgical books, most notably the Anaphora of St. James (1967, ET only), The sacrament of holy baptism (1974), The order of solemnization of the sacrament of matrimony (1974), The order for the burial of the dead (1974), the mʿadʿdono entitled Maʿdeʿdono: The book of the church festivals (1984), and Anaphoras: The book of the divine liturgies (1991) containing thirteen anaphoras. He was also a skillful scribe (many of the inscriptions in the United States are molded from his hand). He died in 1995 and was buried in the Monastery of St. Ephrem in The Netherlands according to his Last Will and Testament, which also stipulated that his substantial estate be used for educational purposes and the training of clergy, now administered by the Athanasius Yeshu Samuel Fund.

See Fig. 40.


  • Abūna, Adab, 575.
  • M.  Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery (1950).
  • G. A.  Kiraz, Anton Kiraz’s archive on the Dead Sea Scrolls (2005).
  • Munūfar Barṣūm, Aḍwāʾ, 115.
  • A. Y.  Samuel, Treasure of Qumran: My story of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1996).

How to Cite This Entry

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

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

George A. Kiraz , “Samuel, Athanasios Yeshuʿ,” in Samuel, Athanasios Yeshuʿ, 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:

Kiraz, George A. “Samuel, Athanasios Yeshuʿ.” In Samuel, Athanasios Yeshuʿ. 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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