Pawlos the Persian (first half of 6th cent.) [Ch. of E.]

Itinerant E.-Syr. scholar. Pawlos is primarily known through a mid-6th-cent. Latin manual of biblical interpretation, authored by Junillus Africanus. Junillus names as his main authority ‘a certain man called Pawlos, a Persian by origin, who was educated at the Syrian School in the city of Nisibis’ (Preface). This Pawlos is said to have written a biblical manual in Greek, which Junillus claims to have used extensively. Scholars had noticed that Junillus’s handbook did indeed reflect many of the themes and approaches known from the School of Nisibis and often traceable to Theodore of Mopsuestia. Junillus’s handbook was, therefore, seen as a more or less faithful translation of Pawlos’s work. The most recent analysis of the work, however, by Maas and Mathews, depicts Junillus as a more independent author (‘neither a passive translator of Pawlos the Persian nor a mouthpiece for the School of Nisibis’, 11), who relied only loosely on Pawlos’s work.

It may have been the same Pawlos who had a debate with a Manichaean in Constantinople in 527. The text of this is preserved in Greek, along with the refutation of a pamphlet written by (probably) the same Manichaean. Scholars in the past also tried to fuse Pawlos’s identity with that of Pawlos of Nisibis or Pawlos the Philosopher. For reasons of chronology and content it seems wiser to distinguish between the three persons named Pawlos, even though all three illustrate the vivid interest E.-Syr. intellectuals were showing in Greek culture during the age of Justinian.


  • H.-G.  Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft 12.2.1; 1959), 386.
  • A. H.  Becker, ‘The dynamic reception of Theodore of Mopsuestia in the sixth century: Greek, Syriac and Latin’, in Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism, Didacticism and Classicism, ed. S. F. Johnson (2006), 29–47.
  • M. Maas and E. G. Mathews, Jr., Exegesis and Empire in the early Byzantine Mediterranean. Junillus Africanus and the Instituta Regularia Divinae Legis (Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 17; 2003).
  • M.  Richard, Iohannis Caesariensis presbyteri et grammatici opera quae supersunt (CCSG 1; 1977), xxxix–xli.

| Pawlos the Persian |


Front Matter A (73) B (53) C (26) D (36) E (27) F (5) G (30) H (22) I (31) J (15) K (11) L (12) M (56) N (19) O (3) P (28) Q (11) R (8) S (71) T (39) U (1) V (5) W (3) X (1) Y (41) Z (4) Back Matter
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