īshō’dād of Merv

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Nestorian bishop and outstanding exegete. Beyond the facts that he was born at Marū or Merv (Merw) in Khurasan (northeastern Persia) and that he became bishop of ědhatha on the Tigris, practically nothing is known of his life. That he was active around the middle of the 9th century is known from the statements of the Arab historians Māri ibn Sulaymān and 'Amr ibn Mattā, who report that at the death of Catholicos Abraham II, on Sept. 16, 850 (or 852 according to 'Amr ibn Mattā), Īshōdād, as the most famous sage of the time, was proposed to Caliph Mutawakkil (847861) as the best candidate for the patriarchal see. However, because of the machinations of the influential physician bukhtĪshŪ' ibn jibrĪl (d. 870), he lost the election in favor of Theodosius, Bishop of 'Anbar.

Fortunately, the exegetical works of Īshōdād have been preserved. He shows in them that he was a continuer of the great reform movement that was initiated in the 6th century by anānā of ědhayabh and lasted into the 9th century. In his exegesis Īshōdād endeavored to join the allegorical method of the Monophysite (Jacobite) school with the historical-grammatical method of theodore of mopsuestia, which was followed by the Nestorians. This explains why his works were well received and preserved by the Monophysite exegetes of the Middle Ages. In all his commentaries on the books of the OT and the NT, he used the form of questions and answers.

Bibliography: g. diettrich, Išo'dadhs Stellung in der Auslegungsgeschichte des Alten Testaments (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 6; 1902). j. m. vostÉ and c. van den eynde, Commentaire d'Išo'dad de Merv sur l'ancien testament, 1, Genèse [Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium 126 (text), 156 (tr.); 1950, 1955], 2, Exode-Deutéronome [ibid. 176 (text), 179 (tr.); 1958]. e. hammerschmidt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 5: 783784.

[j. m. sola-sole]