Severos Sebokht (d. 666/7) [Syr. Orth.]

Scholar, astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, bp. of Qenneshre (city south of Aleppo); or bp. of the Monastery of Qenneshre on the east bank of the Euphrates. We do not know much of Severos’s life. Some scholars assume that Severos was born at Nisibis. He became a monk and student in the Monastery of Qenneshre, the famous center of Greek learning founded by John bar Aphtonia. According to the Maron. Chronicle Severos in his capacity as bp. came in June 659 to Damascus together with Bp. Theodore to hold a debate on religious matters with the Maronites in the presence of Muʿāwiyya. Several parts of his works survive, although only few have been published to date. Some of Severos’s astronomical works were (partially) published by F. Nau and E. Sachau. The most notable of these are: the ‘Treatise on the Astrolabe’ and the ‘Treatise on the Constellations’. Severos wrote several works concerning the logic of Aristotle, among which are his ‘Treatise on Syllogisms’ (written in 638) and his Letters to Bp. Aitalaha of Nineveh and the periodeutes Yawnan. According to the ms. tradition Severos translated from Middle Persian into Syriac a short exposition of Aristotle’s ‘De interpretatione’, which was composed by Pawlos the Philosopher (6th cent.; also known as Pawlos the Persian). Some scholars suggested that Severos translated from Middle Persian into Syriac Pawlos’s compendium on the logic of Aristotle, which was addressed to the Persian shah Khusrau I (for the question of the language in which Pawlos wrote, see Pawlos the Philosopher).


  • Barsoum, Scattered pearls, 325–8.
  • Baumstark, Literatur, 246–7.
  • S. P.  Brock, ‘The Syriac Commentary Tradition’, in Glosses and Commentaries on Aristotelian Logical Texts, ed. C.  Burnett (Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts 23; 1993), 3–18. (repr. in From Ephrem to Romanos [1999], ch. XIII)
  • H.  Hugonnard-Roche, La logique d’Aristote du grec au syriaque: Études sur la transmission des textes de l’Organon et leur interprétation philosophique (2004).
  • F.  Nau, ‘Le traité sur l’astrolabe plan de Sévère Sébokt’, JA 9.13 (1899), 56–101, 238–303.
  • F.  Nau, ‘La cosmographie au VIIe siècle chez les Syriens’, ROC 5 (18) (1910), 225–54.
  • F.  Nau, ‘Le traité sur les ‘Constellations’ écrit, en 661, par Sévère Sébokt, évêque de Qennesrin’, ROC 7 (27) (1929), 327–410; 8 (28) (1932), 85–100.
  • G. J.  Reinink, ‘Severus Sebokts Brief an den Periodeutes Jonan. Einige Fragen zur aristotelischen Logik’, in SymSyr III, 97–107.
  • E.  Sachau, Inedita Syriaca. Eine Sammlung syrischer Übersetzungen von Schriften griechischer Profanliteratur (1870; repr. 1968), 127–34.
  • J.  Teixidor, Aristote en syriaque. Paul le Perse, logicien du VIe siècle (2003).
  • J. W.  Watt, ‘A Portrait of John Bar Aphtonia, Founder of the Monastery of Qenneshre’, in Portraits of Spiritual Authority. Religious Power in Early Christianity, Byzantium and the Christian Orient, ed. J. W. Drijvers and J. W. Watt (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 137; 1999), 155–169.

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