Elias Bar Shināyā

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Nestorian metropolitan and one of the most important writers of his age; b. Nisibis (modern Nusaybin in southeastern Turkey, just across the border from Kameshli in Syria), Feb. 11, 975; d. there, shortly after 1049. In his youth he became a monk in the monastery of Michael at Mosul and later in that of Shemôn near the Tigris. He was ordained in 994, named bishop of Beit-Nûhadra in 1002, and chosen metropolitan of Nisibis in 1088. His writings belong not only to Syriac literature but also to Arabic Christian literature, since he wrote in both languages. In Syriac he composed certain treatises on canon and civil law, a Syriac grammar, which, in its day, enjoyed great popularity, and various hymns and metrical homilies. In Arabic he wrote the Book on the Proof of the Truth of the Faith, a dogmatic treatise written from the viewpoint of Nestorian doctrine, and the Book on the Removal of Suffering, teaching the way to acquire interior peace, as well as certain other dissertations. Probably his best-known work, however, is his great Chronography, a genuine history of the Church from a.d. 25 to 1018, written both in Arabic and in Syriac; it is valuable especially because it mentions the sources, now mostly lost, from which its author drew his historical material. Another important work of his is the Book of the Translator, an Arabic-Syriac dictionary, which is still useful to modern lexicographers. From Elias bar Shināyā are also several pastoral letters, some written in Syriac and some in Arabic, to the clergy and people of Baghdad.

Bibliography: e. bar shinaya, Des Metropoliten Elias von Nisibis Buch vom Beweis der Wahrheit des Glaubens, tr. l. horst (Colmar 1886). r. duval, La Littérature syriaque (Anciennes littératures chrétiennes 2; 3d ed. Paris 1907) 395. a. baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen literatur (Bonn 1922) 287288. e. delly, La Théologie d'Elie bar-Sénaya (Rome 1957). p. krÜger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 195765) 3:811. f. nau, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 4.2:233031.

[j. m. sola-sole]