Rabbula was a fifth–century Syrian bishop of Edessa and theologian; b. Qennešrīn, near Aleppo, c. 350; d. Edessa, 435 or 436. Son of a pagan father and Christian mother, Rabbula was well educated and knew Greek. He entered the civil service and rose to prefect, but c. 400 was converted and became a monk. In 411 he was elected bishop of Edessa and devoted himself to the reform of the Church, particularly of the clergy and monks. He strongly opposed Jewish, pagan, and Gnostic influences in Syria. At the Council of ephesus (431) he took the part of cyril of alexandria, and in the difficulties that followed he excommunicated Andrew of Samosata and broke with Alexander of Hierapolis, charging them with Nestorian leanings (before Easter 432). At Cyril's request he translated the Alexandrian's De recta fide into Syriac; wrote two series of rules for priests and monks; preached against Nestorius and on the agape for the deceased. He is credited with having written some of the hymns in the Syriac (Jacobite) liturgy, but their authenticity is doubtful. The vita written apparently c. 450 by an Edessan ecclesiastic is only partially trustworthy. His authorship of the Syriac version of the Bible, the peshitta, is seriously questioned. He had difficulty with his clergy, and particularly Ibas of Edessa during the last years of his life, and seems to have been in ill health for a long time. Only fragments of his correspondence have been preserved.
Bibliography: j. overbeck, ed., S. Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae Episcopi Edesseni … Opera (Oxford 1865) 159–209, Vitae, 222–248, homilies and letters; liturgy. a. vÖÖbus, Investigations into the Text of the New Testament Used by Rabbula (Pinneberg 1947); Early versions of the New Testament (Stockholm 1954); History of Asceticism the Syrian Orient, v.2 (Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium (197; Paris–Louvain) 1960) 154–158; L'Orient syrien 7 (1962) 297–306, letter to Gemillinos; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 8:958–959; ed. and tr., Syriac and Arabic Documents (Stockholm 1960). p. e. pusey, Sancti patris nostri Cyrilli … de recta fide (Oxford 1877) 1–33. p. peeters, Recherches de science religieuse 18 (1928) 170–204. i. ziadÉ, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 13.2:1620–26.