Ephrem, St

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Ephrem, St (c.306–73). ‘The Syrian’, the most important of church fathers in the Syrian churches. He was born in Nisibis (Nusaybin in E. Turkey) where after his baptism he joined the ascetic and celibate circle in the church known as ‘covenanters’. He attended the famous theological school in Nisibis, and was ordained deacon (never priest). After the Roman cession of Nisibis to Persia in 363 he moved to Edessa. His biblical commentaries (e.g. on the Diatessaron) and anti-heretical works (against Bardaisan, Mani (see MANICHAEISM), Arius) come from his last ten years. Ephrem is however best known in Syriac tradition for his large number of hymns, which figure largely in liturgical books and which influenced later Syriac and even Greek hymnography. He was made a Doctor of the Church in 1920.