Bar ʿEbroyo, Grigorios Grigorios Abū al-Faraj, Barhebraeus (1225/6–1286) [Syr. Orth.]

Maph. (since 1264) and polymath. Foremost representative of the Syriac Renaissance of the 12th–13th cent. Bar ʿEbroyo was born as a son of the physician Ahrun in Melitene. The view that links his name to a Jewish ancestry is best rejected in favor of one associating it with the village of ʿEbro on the Euphrates downstream of Melitene. After periods of study in Antioch, Tripoli (both then still in the hands of the Crusaders) and, possibly, Damascus, Bar ʿEbroyo was made bp. in 1246 of Gubos and a little later of Laqabin (both sees in the vicinity of Melitene) by Patr. Ignatius III Dawid (Maphr. 1215–22, patr. 1222–52). In the schism that followed the death of Ignatius III, Bar ʿEbroyo sided at first with Dionysios ʿAngur ( patr. 1252–61) and was appointed by him in ca. 1253 to the see of Aleppo, where he was to witness the fall of the city to the Mongols in 1260. The synod held in Cilicia following the death of Patr. Yuḥanon bar Maʿdani in 1264 saw the double election of Ignatius IV Yeshuʿ ( patr. 1264–82) to the patriarchate and of Bar ʿEbroyo to the maphrianate. Bar ʿEbroyo’s normal place of residence as maph. was Mosul and the nearby Dayro d-Mor Matay, but a significant part of his maphrianate was spent in Maragha and Tabriz, the new centers of power and learning under the Mongol Īl-Khāns, where Bar ʿEbroyo befriended the leading Muslim scholars of the day. During his maphrianate Bar ʿEbroyo ordained a total of twelve bishops, including his biographer Diosqoros of Gozarto, and saw his erstwhile disciple Philoxenos Nemrod ( patr. 1283–92) elected to the patriarchate in 1283. He also entertained a friendly relationship with his Ch. of E. counterparts Denḥa I ( cath. 1265–81) and Yahbalaha III. Bar ʿEbroyo died in Maragha on 29/30 July 1286. His remains were later transferred to Dayro d-Mor Matay, where they rest to this day together with those of his younger brother and successor in the maphrianate, Grigorios Barṣawmo Ṣafī.

Bar ʿEbroyo composed over forty works covering a wide range of subjects, mostly in Syriac, but occasionally also in Arabic. Taken as a whole, Bar ʿEbroyo’s literary output may be seen as an attempt at a revival of learning in Syriac through the use of the latest scholarly literature which was available in his day mostly in Arabic. Bar ʿEbroyo frequently modelled his works on works of Arabic and Persian authors (e.g., Ibn Sīnā, Ghazālī, Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī) and incorporated into the framework provided by these models materials taken from both Arabo-Persian and Syriac sources, thus making a new synthesis out of the older Syriac and more recent Arabo-Persian literature. Bar ʿEbroyo has often been characterised as a skillful but unoriginal compiler of earlier works. This is a characterization that overlooks the originality to be found in his choice of sources and in his openness to the knowledge found in the works of Islamic scholars and those of other Christian denominations. His works were to remain for a long time the standard texts in many fields not only among the Christians of the W.-Syr. tradition but also among those of the E.-Syr. and Maron. traditions. Many of his works were later translated into Arabic, most notably by Daniel of Mardin (1326/7 – after 1382) and Grigorios Yūḥannā b. al-Ghurayr al-Zurbābī ( bp. of Damascus 1668–84).

His literary works include:

1.   Exegesis: ‘Storehouse of mysteries’ (Awṣar roze).

2.   Dogmatic theology: ‘Candelabrum of the sanctuary’ (Mnorat qudše), ‘Book of rays’ (K. d-zalge), ‘Profession of faith’.

3.   Moral theology/mysticism: ‘Ethicon’, ‘Book of the dove’ (K. d-yawno), ‘Childhood of the mind’ (Ṭalyut hawno, unfinished), abridgement of/commentary on the Book of Hierotheos (unpublished; see Sṭephanos bar Ṣudayli).

4.   Jurisprudence: ‘Book of directions’ (K. d-hudoye, Nomocanon).

5.   Philosophy: ‘Cream of wisdom’ (Ḥewat ḥekmto, only partially published), ‘Treatise of treatises’ (Tegrat tegroto, unpublished), ‘Conversation of wisdom’ (Swod sufiya), ‘Book of the pupils of the eye’ (K. d-boboto, on logic); translation of Ibn Sīnā’s ‘Remarks and admonitions’ al-Išārāt wa-al-tanbīhāt (Remze wa-mʿironwoto, unpublished), translation of Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī’s ‘Cream of secrets’ (Zubdat al-asrār, lost); also two Arabic treatises on psychology.

6.   Historiography: ‘Chronicle’ (Maktbonut zabne, in two parts, usually referred to as ‘Chronicon’ and ‘Chronicon ecclesiasticum’), ‘Epitome of the history of the dynasties’ (Mukhtaṣar taʾrīkh al-duwal, in Arabic).

7.   Belles lettres: ‘Book of poems’ (Mušḥoto), ‘Laughable stories’ (K. d-tunoye mgaḥkone).

8.   Grammar/Lexicography: ‘Book of splendors’ (K. d-ṣemḥe), ‘Book of grammar in the meter of Mor Ephrem’ (also called ‘Book of introduction [to grammar]’, in verse), ‘On equilitteral words’ (ʿal domyoyoto; usually appended to ‘Book of grammar’), Book of the spark (lost).

9.   Epistolary work: Letter to Cath. Denḥa I.

10.   Exact sciences: ‘Ascent of the mind’ (Suloqo hawnonoyo), Astronomical tables (zīj) for beginners (lost).

11.   Oneiromancy: Book of interpretation of dreams (lost).

12.   Medicine/Pharmacology: Book of Dioscorides (lost), abridgement of Ghāfiqī’s ‘Book of simple drugs’ (Muntakhab kitāb jāmiʿ al-mufradāt, in Arabic, partially published), commentary on Hippocrates’ ‘Aphorisms’ (ms. Syr. Orth. Patr. Libr. 6.17, in Arabic), commentary on Hippocrates’s Prognosticon [?] (ms. Syr. Orth. Patr. Libr 6.17), abridgement of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq’s ‘Medical questions’ (ms. Syr. Orth. Patr. Libr 6.17; ms. Dublin, Chester Beatty Arab. 4925, in Arabic), Book of the uses of limbs (probably related to Galen’s ‘De usu partium’, lost), Book of the great Canon of Abū ʿAlī (i.e., a work on Ibn Sīnā’s ‘Canon of medicine’, lost), Book in which he gathered the opinions of physicians (lost), commentary on Ḥunayn’s ‘Medical questions’ (lost).

13.   Liturgical works: revision (abridgement) of the Anaphora of St. James, revision of the rite of baptism, commentary on/revision of the rite of blessing of water; further sermons and prayers attributed with varying degrees of certainty to Bar ʿEbroyo.

See Fig. 18 and 20.


  • Abūna, Adab, 493–508.
  • Actes du Colloque ‘Barhebraeus et la renaissance syriaque’ (9 articles), in ParOr 33 (2008), 17–198.
  • Barsoum, Scattered pearls, 463–81.
  • Baumstark, Literatur, 312–20.
  • J.-M.  Fiey, ‘Esquisse d’une bibliographie de Bar Hébraeus (†1286)’, ParOr 13 (1986), 279–312.
  • Graf, GCAL, vol. 2, 275–81.
  • H. Takahashi, Barhebraeus: A bio-bibliography (2005). (incl. further references)

How to Cite This Entry

Hidemi Takahashi , “Bar ʿEbroyo, Grigorios,” 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,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Hidemi Takahashi , “Bar ʿEbroyo, Grigorios,” 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),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Takahashi, Hidemi. “Bar ʿEbroyo, Grigorios.” 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.

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