A Glimpse of the History of the Syrian Nation in Iraq / SYRIAN DIOCESES Ignatius Aphram Barsoum I, Translated by Dr. Matti Moosa

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Ignatius Aphram Barsoum I,
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Translated and with an Introduction by
Dr. Matti Moosa

(Lum’a fi Tarikh al-Umma al-Suryaniyya fi al-Iraq)
A Glimpse of the History of the Syrian Nation in Iraq

We were requested by our spiritual son, the half-deacon Ni’mat Allah Denno,  [Later archdeacon. He died in 1951. Tr] to write a brief tract on the history of our holy church in Iraq. So we derived from our histories the following chapters. Also, in response to the desire of many noble Iraqis, we decided to publish the tract in the Patriachal Magazine for the common benefit of the readers. We hope that they will gain an idea about the history of this honorable nation, follow in the footsteps of the worthy forefathers, and emulate their literary and religious achievement.
The Syrian nation prides itself on having an honorable and glorious past. It is one of the eminent nations which inhabited Iraq since ancient times and achieved great civilization. It embraced Christianity and established its priestly hierarchy in what was known as the Catholicate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (Arabic, al-Mada’in), capital of the Persian kings. It disseminated Christianity and its principles by its missionaries and monks until it became firmly established in the country. It proved its adherence to its religion by the blood of thousands of martyrs. But, when doctrinal disputes and schism plagued it in the middle of the fifth century and early sixth century, it was divided into two factions and established its hierarchy in the Maphrianate of the East in Takrit in the heart of Iraq in 559 A.D. Then it put its house in proper order in the time of the Maphryono St. Marutha, who in 628 A.D. established twelve dioceses throughout Iraq. Later he added to them three more dioceses in Persia and Afghanistan. In time, the church flourished even more and claimed as many as thirty dioceses. In the twelfth century, the See of the Maphrianate was moved to Mosul and Nineveh. From the time of the Apostle Thomas until Basilius Behnam IV (1859), there were 102 Maphryonos (Catholicoi), and 81 from the time of Mar Ahodemeh (d. 575).
Its Dioceses
1) Ba ‘Arbaya. Prior to the year 559, its first bishop was Ahodemeh and the last Metropolitan was Iyawannis Musa, who was ordained in 1378.
2) Sinjar. The episcopate of this diocese began in the middle of the third century. Its first bishop mentioned by ecclesiastical history was Qaris about 544, and the last in the middle of the fourteenth century.
3) M’altha, near Duhuk (in northern Iraq), whose bishop was mentioned in the third decade of the fifth century.
4) Arzen. Its episcopate began in the middle of the third century. The first of its bishops mentioned by history was Daniel in 410.
5) Gomel or Marga (Marj). Its first bishop was Ithalalha (God Exists) in the year 628. One of its bishops was Mar Bar Hadh Bishabba in 818.
6) Baremman, or Beth Waziq (Bawazij), on the bank of the Tigris River. Six of its bishops are known, the first of whom was Mazina in 620, and the last Mikha’il Mukhlis, who was ordained in 1287.
7) Karma, a town near Takrit. History has preserved for us the names of six of its bishops, the first of whom was Yuhanna in 700, and the last was Basilius. Its bishopric was established in 628.
8) Jazirat Qardu (Ibn ‘Umar). It took the place of the episcopate of ancient Bazabde, which dates back to the holy Apostles. History mentions Mizra, one of its bishops, in the year 120. When the Muslims rebuilt the city of Jazira, a bishopric was established in it. History mentions thirty-six metropolitans who occupied the see of this bishopric, the last of whom was Julius Behnam of ‘Aqra (d. 1927).
9) Banuhadra (present-day Duhuk, in northern Iraq). Its first bishop was Sulayman in the year 424. Zachi (593-605) was known among its other bishop. Its last bishop was Iyawannis Ayyub (Job) Malphono, who was ordained in 1284.
10) Firshapur (Piruz Shapur), or al-Anbar, or the Arabs of the Banu Nimr. Its bishopric was established in 628. Its first bishop was the venerable ascetic Aho.
11) Shahrzur. Its bishopric was established in 628. Its first bishop was Yazid, and the last Bishop Iyawannis in 800.
12) Al-Hira. Its bishopric dates back to the beginning of the fifth century. It included the Arabs of the Banu Bakr. History mentions its first Bishop Shim’un (Simon) in 424, and the last BishopYuhanna in 628.
13) ‘Ana and the Banu Taghlib. In matters of doctrine, the Banu Taghlib were Syrian Orthodox Christian Arabs. Among them flourished the famous poet al-Akhtal. [Widely known as Giyath al-Tahglibi (640-710). He was the private poet of the Umayyads, whom he defended. He is rightly considered the first to institute political poetry. Tr] Their bishop resided in the town of Deqlo (Palms). Its bishopric was founded in the seventh century. Among its bishops were Yuhanna in the year 628, ‘Uthman in 834, Marzuq and Yaqub Malphono, bishop of ‘Ana (ninth century). Its last bishop was Theodore in 910. Fourteen bishops who joined the Patriarchal See in the ninth century are known to us.
14) Nineveh and Mosul. Its first Bishop was Christophorus in the year 628. It present Bishop is Mar Athansius. [When the author wrote this article and had it published in 1936, the Bishop of Mosul was Mar Athanasius Tuma Qasir. Qasir died in 1952 and was succeeded by Mar Gregorius Bulus Behnam, who passed away in 1969. The present Bishop is Mar Gregorius Saliba Shamoun. Tr]
15) Baghdad. Its episcopate lasted about five centuries. History has preserved for us the names of nine of its metropolitans. The first metropolitan was Habib in the year 818, and the last was Timothy Yeshu’, who was ordained in 1256.
16) The Monastery of Mar Matta. This monastery was the see of an ancient bishopric. We know the names of only 38 of its metropolitans. The first was the martyr Barsohdo, around the year 480. Its present metropolitan is Dionysius Yuhanna. [Yuhanna died in 1936 and was succeeded by Metropolitan –Luqa (Luke)  Sha’ya. Tr. ]
17) Al-Kufa. It was the seat of the bishopric of the Arab tribes of the Banu Tayy, Tanukh, and ‘Uqayl. The most famous of its bishops was the most learned Jirjis (Gewargi, George), bishop of the Arab tribes, who died in 725. [For a comprehensive account of the churches and monasteries of al-Kufa, see
Muhammad Sa’id al-Touraihi, al-Diyarat wa al-Amkina al-Nasraniyya fi al-Kufa was Dawahiha (The Monasteries and Christian Places in al-Kufa and its Surroundings: Beirut, 1981). Tr.]
18) Narsibad. Of its bishops are mentioned Sharbil about the year 780 and Iliyya (Elijah) in 834.
19) Kurum, among whose bishops were Theodore in 818 and Addai in 834.
20) Qronta, situated on the Tigris River in the area surrounding Takrit near the Great Zab, a tributary of the Tigris. One of its bishops who are known to us was Ignatius in the second half of the ninth century.
21) Beth Arsham, near al-Mada’in. Its Bishop, the Malphono Mar Shim’un, achieved fame in 505-523.
22) Hassasa, an ancient town near Takrit. Its bishop Matta al-Ra’i was known in the tenth century.
23) Tirhan, a town between Takrit and al-Sin, that is, Baremman. It bishopric was established  in 628. Its bishop was Yeshu’ Rahme.
24) Balad (Aski Mosul). Its bishop was known as Musa.
25) Beth Saida, near Arbil. Its bishops were mentioned in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries . The bishopric of Arbil is very ancient.
26) Sijistan. Its bishopric was established in the middle of the seventh century. Then it was added to the Patriarchal See (in Persia). We know of twenty-one of its bishops. Its first bishop was Efrid in 424.
27) Herat (in Afghanistan). Its bishopric was established in the middle of the seventh century and then added to the Patriarchal See. Its first bishop was Yazdawi in 424. We have a table of the names of its bishops, the last of whom was Iyawannis.
28) Azerbayjan (in Persia). Among its cities are Tabriz and Urmia. The first bishop of Tabriz was known in 1272; the first bishop of Urmia was Ignatius Gabriel in 1189.
29) Bahrain, a large island in the Basra (Persian) Gulf. Its Christian inhabitants were known in the middle of the ninth century. Among its bishops were Jurji in 834 and Marcus in 1175.
30) Jolamark which belongs to the Turkish wilayat (province) of Van. It is the capital city of the Hakari district. In 752, its bishop was Yunan (Jonah).
31) The Monastery of Mar Behnam. It became an episcopal see in the sixteenth century.  We know the names of five of its bishops, beginning with Iyawannis Yeshu’ Khudaydi (of Qaraqosh, 1566-1567) and ending with Iyawannis Behnam of Mosul (d. 1776). [The Monastery of Mar Behnam was usurped by the schismatic Syrian Catholics in 1839.]
Its Known Churches


The Churches of Takrit

Takrit is an ancient city built by Shapur, son of Ardashir (241-272). It was taken peacefully by the Muslims through the effort of the Maphryono Mar Marutha. In it Christianity flourished.
Ibn Hawqal, the traveler and merchant native of Mosul (d. 981 A. D.), mentioned in his book al-Mamlik that the Syrians had twelve churches in Takrit. Most famous of them were the following:
1) The Cathedral Church of Mar Ahodeme, known as al-Bi’a al-Khadra (The Green Church).
2) The Church of the two martyrs Sergius and Bakus. It was a magnificent church built in the time of Maphryono Bar Yeshu’ (669-684).
3) The Church of Mar Gurgis the martyr, which housed the temple of Mar Barsoum. It was destroyed by the governor of Takrit in 1085.
4) The Citadel Church, built by Mar Marutha.
5) The New Church, built by the Maphryono Denha II (727).
Our histories mention the distinguished deacon Theodore (Hiba), son of Marcus of Takrit, who renovated the Great Cathedral in 1041. After the Tatars killed most of the Syrian people, the Muslims usurped it twice, in 1098 and 1258. They looted its vessels and possessions and turned it into a mosque.

The Churches of Mosul

1) The Church of Mar Theodore, known as The Church of the Cross, was still thriving in 1245.
2) The Church of Mar Zaina which is the New Church of the Takritians.  Today it is a mosque called al-Khallal in the Qal’a district of Mosul.
3) The Church of Mar Ahodemeh, known as the Old Gaddan Church, in al-Iraq Gate. It is now in our possession. In the past it belonged to the Takritians.
4) The Church of Mar Tuma (Thomas) the Apostle in the Khazraj district is still thriving. It was renovated in 1848.
5)The Church of al-Tahira (The Virgin Mary) in the Imadi Gate.
6) The Church of the Virgin in the Qal’a district. It was built in 1895.

The Churches of Nineveh (The Mosul Province)

1) We have eight churches in Qaraqosh.One of them is named for the woman martyr Saint Shmuni the Maccabean; the Church of Mar Juji, Mar Sergus and Bakus is still thriving. It is in our possession. Other churches are the Chuch of Mar Zaina, Mar Andrew, and the Virgin, which are in the hands of the Catholics (Schismatic Syrians).
2- In Bartulli are the Churches of Mar Ahodemeh and Mar Jurji, both of which are ruined. The Churches of Saint Shmuni and the Virgin are still thriving.
3) The Church of Mar Gurgis in ‘Aqra.
4) The church of Mar Jirjis in Bahzani..
5) The Church of the Virgin in Sinjar, built by the efforts of the late Abd al-‘Aziz Effendi Bethoun of Mosul in 1925.
6) The Church of the Forty Martyrs of Karmlais. It was still flourishing in the fourteenth century. The Maphrain Ibrahim II consecrated the Holy Chrism in it in 1369.
7) Maphrian Ignatius Li’azar stayed at the church of the village of Beth Taklitho in 1153.

The Churches of Baghdad

We had two churches in Baghdad, including the Church of Mar Tuma at the Muhawwal Gate in the Kharkh district. It was a cathedral, also known as the Church of Qati’at al-Daqiq (Qati’a, plural qata’i’, were plots of land in Baghdad alloted by the Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja’far al-Mansur to notables to build their houses on them.) It was adjacent to Dar al-Rum (the abode of the Greeks). Yaqut al-Hamawi said, “It is a large church, a wonderful structure and pleasant to view. People visited it because of the marvelous portraits it contained and its structure.” The Muslims burned it down in 1002, but it was rebuilt by Maphryono Ignatius in 1004. The other church we had in Baghdad is the Church of the Virgin. In 1934 a church was built in the name of St. Thomas the Apsotle.
In Arbil, we had the Church of the Citadel, or The Great Church, in the name of the Virgin. It was built in 1262 and ruined in 1375.
In BaSaida, a church was built in 1266.
In Seleucia, a church was built for our Syrian people in 609.
In Balad, we had the Church of the Mother of God.
In Takshabr (Beth Takshbar), in the vicinity of Arbil, we had the Church of Mar Daniel, which was thriving in the middle of the thriteenth century. In it flourished a distinguished malphono (doctor) named Yuhanna.
The names of the churches in other dioceses of Iraq are not known to us.

Its Monasteries

The Syrian Church had many monasteries in Iraq, inhabited by a noble group of monks and ascetics. They were also the center of learning. Many Syrians sent their children to be educated in them. From these monasteries were chosen bishops to run the dioceses. Time, however, wreaked havoc not only upon the monasteries, but also with the names of many of them. Following are the names of the monasteries mentioned by the history of the church:
1) The Monastery of Mar Matt the ascetic.
2) The Monastery of the martyr Mar Behnam, known as The Monastery of the Jubb (Cistern), near the village of Qaraqosh. It was built at the end of the fourth century and became the seat of a bishopric in the sixteenth century. It was usurped by the schismatic Syrian (Catholic) group in 1839.
3) The Upper Mar Daniel Monastery, known as the Monastery of Beetles, near the village of Basakhra (in Nineveh, the Mosul province). It was exclusively for monks. It was thriving at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It was mentioned by al-Khalidi.
4) The Lower Mar Daniel Monastery, exclusively for nuns. It is near the other monastery of Mar Daniel.
5) The Monastery of Mar Zaina, known as the Monastery of Qayyara. It was built at the end of the sixth century and housed 170 monks. It was still populated in the thirteenth century. It was mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi in 1210, and by Bar Hebraeus. It is located on the bank of the Tigris River, in what is known today as Hammam al-‘Alil.
6) The Monastery of Mar Sergius, Mar Z’ura and Mar Ba’uth, in the Atshan (Thirsty) Mountain in Sinjar. It was built by Mar Ahodemeh about 570. From it graduated the learned Mar Moses Bar Kepha .It was still populated in 1345.
7) The Monastery of ‘Ayn Qunna, in the middle of Ba’arbaya. It was built by Mar Ahodemeh and was still populated in 829.
8) The Monastery of Beth Asa near Qronta. It was mentioned in the life-story of Mar Ahodemeh. Its abbot was Yeshu’ Zkha.
9) The Monastery of Aqmariyya (Abu Marya) near Tallia’far (Tell ‘Afro, north of Mosul).
10) The Monastery of Takrit, mentioned in the life-story of Mar Ahodemeh.
11) The Monastery of J’atni in the desert. It was named for Mar Ahodemeh.
12) The Monastery of Mar Shamu’il (Samuel) the Mountaineer, on the northern bank of the Tigris River, opposite the Monastery of Mar Sergius near Balad. It housed forty monks. Mar Marutha studied in it in the sixth century.
13) The Monastery of Nardes in Duhuk, named after Mar Li’azar, who was martyred in 480. It was located near the village of Beth Maloudh. At one time it housed seventy monks. It achieved more fame than all the monasteries of the East in the sixth century.  In it the saint Maphryono Mar Marutha studied and became a monk. Among its abbots who achieved fame were Mar Jusi and Maskina.
14) The Monastery of Bir Qawm, near Balad on the bank of the Tigris River. Some maphryonos were its inmates.
15) The Monastery of Shirin in al-Mada’in (Ctesiphon, south of Baghdad), built by the Christian Queen Shirin near the royal palace in 598.
16) The Monastery of Shapur in ‘Aqula (modern al-Kufa in Iraq). It was populated in 605.
17) The Monastery of Mar Sergius, known as al-Ajjaj, betweenTakrit and Hit. It was built by Mar Marutha on the highway leading from the Tigris to the Euphrates. It was mentioned by Yaqut as ‘Ayn Gago.
18) The Convent of the Virgin for nuns in Takrit. It is also known as Beth Ibro.
19) The Monastery of the Virgin, built by the Syrian governor of Takrit, Ibrahim, son of Yeshu’, near the city in the seventh century.
20) The Monastery of Knoshia in the Mountain of Sinjar. From it graduated the Syrian Malphono Dawud, son of Bulus (David bar Paul).
21) The Monastery of ‘Aluk in Takrit, from which came the Maphryono Sergius (872-883).
22) The Monastery of Kukhta, known also as Kukhi. It was built in the name of Mar Ibrahim near the Monastery of Mar Matta. Its abbot, the philologist Athanasius, achieved fame in the eighth century. Its ruins still stand today.
23) A monastery in Sinjar, built by Saint Shim’un (Simon) d-Zaite, metropolitan of Harran (734). It was mentioned in his life-story.
24) The Monastery of Beznitho (in Nineveh, probably on the site where the village of Bahzani stands). It is an ancient monastery in which the tyrant Barsoum of Nisibin killed ninety priest-monks in 480.
25) The Monastery of Mar Gurgis the martyr, in Bartulli. It was populated in 1701.
26) The Monastery of Mar Yuhanna Nagoro (son of carpenters) and his sister Susan, the martyrs in Bartulli. It was built by the learned Maphryono Mar Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus in 1284. It was still inhabited by monks in 1593.
27) The Monastery of the Forty Martyrs, north of Bartulli. These martyrs were mentioned in the Synaxarium of saints.
28) The Convent of nuns in Khudayda (Qaraqosh, mentioned by Bar Hebraeus in his Syriac Chronography in 126 A.D.
29) The Monastery of Mar Yuhanna of Daylam, known as Naqurthaba, located between Qaraqosh and Karmlais. It was inhabited until 1734. Some of its ruins can still be seen.
30) A monastery near Jazirat Ibn ‘Umar, mentioned in the History of Maphrians in 1172.
31) The Convent of Nuns (Sisters) in Baghdad, still populated in 1002.
32) The Monastery of Beth ‘Urbo (the Raven), to the side of Takrit. Yuhanna, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta, stayed in it in 685.
We also had monasteries in al-Mada’in (Ctesiphon), capital of the Persians, among which was the Monastery of Shirin. But they were ruined after the death of Gabriel of Sinjar, chief physician of the Persian king in 610.

Its Schools

History did not specifically treat the subject of schools. What we know, however, is that the majority of monasteries taught the children of their neighboring cities and villages religious sciences and the Syriac language, which was the language of Christians. By sheer accident we came upon the names of some schools as follows:
The schools of Beth Qiqi, Beth Tarli, Tell Salmo, Beth Bnai, and Shawarzaq in the neighborhood of Banuhadra (modern Duhuk). They were founded by the Syrian people in the sixth century. (See the Biography of Mar Marutha, 65.)
The School of Beth Shahaq, a village in the province of Nineveh, where Master Sabroy founded a renowned school. His two sons, Masters Ram Yeshu’ and Gabrielle, and his grandson Master Sabar Yeshu’, benefited the Syriac language by vowelizing Syriac books at the Monastery of Mar Matta.  The philologists Yeshu’ Sabran, Athnasius Kokhto, abbot of the Monastery of Kokhto, Sawera bar Zadiqo, Iliyya Ardoyo, and the monk Ephraim and others utilized their method.
The grandfather of the famous monk David bar Paul of the Rabban family founded a great school of 318 students in Nineveh in the middle of the seventh century. Later some of them composed hymns for church festivals and wrote disputatious tracts in refutation of heresiarchs.
There was also in the Monastery of Mar Matta a school teaching theology, whose principles were
outlined by St. Marutha before he became a maphryono. Students of this monastery continued studying sciences until the end of the thirteenth century. The monastery also housed a library of magnificent books, as is shown by the letters of Timothy I, the Nestorian Catholicos (820), the letters of Master David bar Paul (780), and the manuscripts of Florence Library. One of its important books was a magnificent copy of The Six Days by the learned Jacob of Edessa, copied in 870. Today it is in the possession of the Library of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Mosul.
We regret that we do not have the names of the schools of Takrit, Baghdad, Sinjar and other major dioceses of the East, which produced learned men as shown below. In addition, we should mention the School of the Monastery of Mar Sergius in the Sinjar Mountain, also known as the Atshan (thirsty) Mountain. A sufficient proof of its excellence and fame is that it graduated the most learned Moses bar Kepha.
Its Learned Men

1) Tatian, widely known as the Assyrian. He was born a heathen but then embraced Christianity and studied Greek sciences. He also studied under St. Justinian, the philosopher, and wrote a treatise in defense of Christianity. He compiled the four Gospels into one called the Diatessaron. He contrived a new heresy, maintaining the existence of two gods, about the year 173 A.D.
2) Archelaous, the learned bishop of Kashkar, who debated the heretic Mani about 281 A.D.
3) Mar Shim’un (Simon) Bar Sabba’i (son of dyers), Catholicos of the East, who was martyred in 311. He composed discourses and hymns to be recited betwen prayers.
4) Mar Melis, bishop of Shushan, a Magian by origin. He became a Christian and then a monk, and was martyred in 341. He composed discourses and various metrical hymns.
5) Aphrahat, well known as the Persian Sage. He became a monk and then a bishop. Between 337 and 345, he wrote an important religious book called The Proofs, consisting of twenty-three discourses. It shows his profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
6) Gregorius the abbot, who was born in Ahwaz and resided for some time in the island of Cyprus. He became well known in the year 366, and wrote a thick book on monastic life in three parts.
7) Aho, Catholicos of the East (415). He wrote the stories of the martyrs in the time of Shapur II. He was virtuous and ascetic, and a lover of strangers. He was also a malphono (doctor)
8) Mar Shim’un (Simon) of Beth Arsham. He was well versed in the Holy Bible, and so skilled in the presentation of decisive proofs in the course of debates that he was nicknamed The Persian Dorusho (the Persian Disputant). He served the diocese of Beth Arsham for more than thirty years. He traversed many countries and defended the faith of the Orthodox Church, challenging the Nestorians. He died an old man in Constantinople around 540. He wrote a treatise on the history of the dissemination of Nestorianism in Persia, and another important one on the Himyarie Martyrs who were killed in Yaman. He also wrote treatises on the Christian faith.
9) Mar Akhsnoyo (Philoxenus), the famous learned man and metropolitan of Mabug. He was a master of the Syriac language and a confessor who died in 523. He was born in Beth Garmai and studied in the Monastery of Qartmin and in Edessa. He wrote significant books on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the refutation of Nestorians and Chalcedonians, and monastic living. He also wrote important correspondence, canons and a liturgy.
10) Mar Ahodemeh, the martyr and Catholicos of the East. He was the bishop of Bet ‘Arbaya (the Arab tribes). He was ordained a catholicos and died in 575. He preached Christianity to the Arab tribes and guided many members of the Tayy, Uqayl and Tanukh tribes to Christianity. He also guided to the faith a Persian prince whom he called Jirjis, and because of him he was martyred. He wrote books on logic, the composition of man, and freedom.
11) Mar Marutha, who was born in the village of Banuhadra (present Duhok). He journeyed seeking knowledge until he attained a great portion of it. He taught theology at the Monastery of Mar Matta. In 628, he became a Maphryono of Takrit and All the East. He passed away in 649, having put in order the affairs of the Eastern Syrian Church. He was a diligent father of the church, competent and a great administrator. Through his effort the citadel of Takrit was taken peacefully by the Muslim Arabs. He wrote a commentary on the Gosepl, homilies, and refutations of some Nestorian learned men.
12) Denha I, Maphryono of the East. He studied at the monastery of Mar Matta under his predecessor Mar Marutha, whom he also succeeded in his see. He died in 659. He was diligent and wrote the life-story of his predecessor.
13) The grandfather of Master David bar Paul, who became well known in the seventh century and founded a great school in Nineveh. According to his grandson, he wrote five books of disputations, in some of which he answered sixty questions addressed to him by a Nestorian teacher.
14) Aaron, known as the Persian Sage, was commended by the learned Jacob of Edessa for his excellent knowledge. He lived in the second half of the seventh century. He wrote a book.
15) Ibrahim, nicknamed Nahshirthono (al-Sayyad, the Hunter) who most likely died in 685. He drew up a liturgy. He is one of the maphryonos of the East.
16) Athanasius II, Patriarch of Antioch, nicknamed the Baladi after the town of Balad. He died in 687. He studied at the Monastery of Qinneshrin and excelled in learning. He translated from Greek into Syriac philosophical books, including the philosophy of Porphyry, the writings of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, and the letters of the Patriarch Mar Severus of Antioch. He also wrote a treatise on how Christians should deal with Muslims.
17) Gewargi, the disciple of Mar Athanasius of Balad.
18) Abu Malik Ghiyath ibn Ghawth, well known as al-Akhtal, the famous Taghlibite poet (705). 19) The Taghlibite poet al-Qattami (about 719).
20) The Family of Ram Yeshu’, Gabriel and Sabr Yeshu’ and their disciples, already discussed. They were masters of the Syriac language. They regulated with precession the language of the Holy Bible and other books of the fathers. They carried the banner of learning in their country until the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth century.
21) Iliyya (Elijah), bishop of Sinjar, who achieved fame in 755. He was a wise man and a malphono who wrote a significant commentary on the first volume of the collected works of Gregory Nazianzen.
22) Master David bar Paul, the abbot. He came from a home of learning and excellence. He was born in a village of Nineveh and flourished in the second half of the eighth century. He wrote a book on grammar and many metrical treatises on a variety of subjects.
23) Patriarch of Antioch Mar Quryaqos of Takrit (d. 817). He was a man of great determination and learning. He convened three synods to enact  canons helpful for strengthening the church. He ordained sixty-eight bishops and metropolitans. He wrote an important book in three volumes On Divine Providence and a book containing significant letters, and profound homilies and canons. He also drew up a liturgy.
24) Shim’un (Simon) II, Bar ‘Amraia of Takrit, Maphryono of the East (about 805-815). He composed a memro (metrical ode) on St. Thomas the Apostle.
25) Habib ibn Khadama Abu Ra’ita of Takrit, who was well versed in philosophy and theology. He translated books from Syriac into Arabic. He was the first Syrian to write in Arabic. Of his works only four discourses remain, on the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Trisagion in defense of his religion and doctrine. He was well recognized in 828 A.D.
26) Li’azar (Lazarus) bar Sobto (the old woman), metropolitan of Baghdad, who was still alive in the year 829. He wrote a brief exposition of the Mass and baptism, and a significant metrical ode on the Chrism. He also drew up a liturgy.
27) The monk Anton of Takrit, the eminent learned man and master of Syriac rhetoric, and the authority on the Aramaic language.  His Book on Rhetoric is unique among the Eastern and Western Syrian writers.  It is a book which dazzles the mind with its profound meanings and marvelous wording. Also, he composed an anthology of poetry embellished with similes which revealed his innovative mind and excellence in the craft of poetry.  Furthermore, Anton wrote a book on the Divine Providence, Reward and Punishment, Predestination, a treatise on the Sacrament of the Chrism, and prayers. He was a contemporary of the Patriarch Dionysius Tell Mahre (818-845).
28) Jacob, bishop of ‘Ana, who lived in the middle of the ninth century. He was bishop of the Arab tribe of the Banu Taghlib. He was quoted by Bar Salibi in his commentary on the Gospels.
29) Yuhanna bar Jazwi, the monk from Takrit. The learned Moses bar Kifa mentioned a metrical ode by him on the censor. He was most likely a ninth-century writer.
30) Patriarch Theodosius of Antioch (887-896), who was born and raised in Takrit. He wrote an exposition of the Book of Heirothios, and another book on medicine.
31- Severus Moses Bar Kifa, metropolitan of Baremman, Beth Kyono and Mosul. He was born in Balad and flourished in the second half of the ninth century. He passed away in 903 A.D. Bar Kifa was a distinguished learned man and malphono who wrote books on theology, philosophy and exegesis, including commentaries on the Holy Bible and the Sacraments. He also wrote important books on the Soul, on the Six Days, a commentary on Aristotle’s Logic, on the Resurrection, on Paradise, another commentary on the discourses of Gregory Nazianzen, on Disputation, a church history and a three-volume work on the reasons for major festivals. He also composed liturgies and a variety of discourses.
32) Abu Zachariah Denha the Syrian, a philosopher and competent debater. Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi debated him in Baghdad and in the Green Church in Takrit in 927 A.D. He attributed to him a history, lost to us, on the Rum (Byzantines), their kings, philosophers and chronicles.
33) Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Bakus, a famous philosopher and physician. He wrote many books on philosophy and translated many others into Arabic. His translation was average. His son, Ali, practiced medicine at the Adudi Bimaristian (hospital) built by ‘Adud al-Dawla. Among Abu Ishaq’s writings were a scrapbook of medicine, a pharmaceutical book, and a treatise arguing that pure water is colder than barley water. He also wrote a treatise on smallpox.
34) Bakus’s son, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn Bakus. He was a distinguished physician who taught at the ‘Adudi hospital founded by ‘Adud al-Dawla ibn Buwayh. Abu al-Hasan was a competent translator of many books into Arabic. Both he and his son lived in the tenth century.  He was proficient in discipline and work. He was blind and wrote little except short treatises. He died on September 14, 1004.
35) Abu Zakariyya Yahya ibn ‘Adi, the famous philosopher-logician. He was a native of Takrit but resided in Baghdad. Shihab al-Din al-‘Umari said concerning him, “He is a philosopher whose knowledge is like a meadow, and his pen like lightning. At the beginning of his career he was a prominent and learned man of his denomination. He was known for the science of logic, although it was only a part  and an isolated segment of his extensive and general knowledge. Together with literature, logic completed his excellence. He shone like a full moon as other moons were waning.”
Ibn ‘Adi was an excellent translator. He translated books from Syriac into Arabic. He wrote about seventy treatises and books, including a commentary on Aristotle’s Topics, a treatise on the soul, another on the science of logic, and other books on theology. He wrote a significant book on the Training of Character. He died in 974.
36) Abu al-Khayr al-Hasan ibn Sawar, known as Ibn al-Khammar of Baghdad. He was a great philosopher endowed with keen intelligence and broad knowledge. He translated many books from Syriac into Arabic with great precision. In his method of medicine, he followed Hippocrates and Galen. He had many writings, including a book on harmonizing the ideas of philosophers with Christianity, a book on different climate phenomena caused by evaporation, a book on the creation of man and his physical components, a book on the dispensation of elders, and a treatise on epilepsy. He translated into Arabic the Isagoge (the Ten Categories) of Alineos of Alexandria. Under him studied many students, the most prominent of whom was the learned Master Abu al-Faraj Ali ibn Hindo, who lived in the second half of the tenth century.
37) Abu ‘Ali ‘Isa ibn Zur’a, the philosopher of Baghdad (d. 1008). He was distinguished in philosophy, medicine, and translation from Greek into Arabic. He composed books, translations, and twenty-four treatises, including one on Aristotole’s book on the inhabited part of the earth, a treatise on the human mind, and disputatious treatises on theology affirming Christianity in an elegant style. He was effective interlocutor and a devoted teacher, writer and translator.
38) Ignatius Marcus bar Qiqi, Maphryono of the East from 991 to 1016. He fell away [He converted to Islam and then repented but lost his church office. Tr] and lost his church rank. He was a competent poet. He composed two odes which prove his broad knowledge.
39) Ishaq ibn Zur’a of Baghdad (d. 1056). He translated from Syriac into Arabic the discourse of Damastius the Greek on the administration of government.
40) Abu Sa’d al-Fadl ibn Jarir of Takrit. He had a broad knowledge of sciences and experience in medicine, for which he served the Amir Nasir al-Dawla ibn Marwan. He wrote a treatise on the names of diseases and their derivations, and a book on oblations. He died in the middle of the eleventh century.
41) Abu Sa’d’s brother, Abu Nasr Yahya ibn Jarir of Takrit. He was his brother’s equal in knowledge and medical expertise. He was still living in the year 1097. He wrote a book on experiments in astronomy, a useful treatise on the benefits of physical exercise and how it should be used, a book titled al-Misbah al-Murshid (The Guiding Lamp) on the principles of Christianity, and a chronicle from the  time of Adam to the state of the Banu Marwan.
42) Severus Jacob bar Shakko of Bartulli, metropolitan of the Monastery of Mar Matta and Azerbayjan (d. 1241). [‘Shakko’ should probably be read ‘Shabbo’ because the letters ‘b’ and ‘k’ look very similar in the Syriac alphabet.Tr] He was a master theologian and a prominent philologist and grammarian. His works include the Dialogue (Questions and Answers) in two volumes. It treats grammar, rhetoric, poetry, philology, logic and philosophy. Among his other books were Kitab al-Kunuz (The Book of Treasures) on the Trinity, the Unity of God, the Incarnation, refutation of heresies, and affirmation of Christianity. It also contains helpful information on geography and the shape of the world, which reveals his farsighted concepts; a book on the explicit proof of the truth of Christianity; an exposition of church ranks; a commentary on the Sacraments; a book on church music; and twenty-two treatises on  rhymed terms. He also composed odes.
43) Abu Nasr of Bartulli, nicknamed Zakhi, of the family of Habbu Kanni, abbot of the Monastery of Mar Matta. He was a venerable ascetic, still living in the year 1290. He was a proficient writer in Syriac. Among his writings were husoyos (supplicatory prayers) and a metrical life-story of Mar Matta. He had elegant handwriting.
44) Dioscorus Gabriel of Bartulli, metropolitan of Jazirat ibn ‘Umar (d. 1300). He had a good grasp of geometry. He composed metrical life-stories of Bar Hebraeus and his brother Barsoum al-Safi. He also created a liturgy and some prayers marked by mediocrity because of the decline of learning of latter generations.
45) The priest Hasan ibn Zouqa of Mosul. He lived in the sixteenth century and composed a hymn recited at the conclusion of the Mass.
46) Dionysius Hidayat Allah ibn Shammo of Khudayda (Qaraqosh), bishop of Malabar, who raised the banner of the Syrian Church in that land (India). He composed an ode in praise of the Virgin and a general treatise containing canons and regulation. He died in 1690.
47) Cyril Rizq Allah of Mosul (d. 1772). He wrote a Syriac morphology.
48) The priest Yaqub (Jacob) Saka of Bartulli (d. 1931). He was a remarkable Syriac poet endowed with innate poetical ability. He left an excellent anthology and letters.

Its Physicians

Some notable Iraqi Syrians excelled in medicine and in this capacity served some kings and princes. They wrote important books and useful treatises. Some of them have been already discussed, like 1)Yahya ibn ‘Adi; 2) Ibrahim ibn Bakus; 3)his son ‘Ali; 4) al-Hasan ibn al-Khammar; 5) Isa ibn Zur’a; 6) al-Fadil ibn Jarir; and 7) Abu Nasr Yahya ibn Jarir.
Among the other physicians whose names we have come upon were:
8) The famous Gabriel Qajari, chief physician of the Persian King Kisra Abrawiz. He was a notable Syrian and one of the great men in the Persian state. He enjoyed a prominent position and great influence (590-610).
9) Abu al-Karam Amin al-Dawla Sa’id, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
10) Shams al-Dawla Abu al-Kahyr Sahl, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
11) The archdeacon Fakhr al-Dawla Mari, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
12) The deacon Taj al-Dawla Abu Tahir, already discussed. See above Notable Syrian Men.
13) The priest Abu al-Faraj of Mosul. He was physician of the governor of Mosul in 1121.
14) So also was the priest Ibrahim of Mosul in 1159.
15) Abu al-‘Izz ibn Daqiq of Mosul, the physician. He was still living in 1258. Daqiq was a noble family of the thirteenth century, in which flourished its member the priest Abu al-Sa’adat (1246-1290).. He combined virtue, knowledge and noble descent.
16) The deacon Behnam, son of the priest Mubarak of the family of Habbo Kanni of Bartulli. He practiced medicine in 1292. In this noble family flourished the monk Abu Nasr, already mentioned, and the Patriarch of Antioch, Behnam (1454)
17) The priest-physician Jamal al-Din of Arbil (1369).

Its Notables

Please note that these notables of Iraq mentioned below have been already discussed under the topic of A’yan al-Syrian or in the table of the physicians of Iraq. There is no need for them here. However, for the sake of following the author, I merely listed their name as follows.]
1) Gabriel of Sinjar.
2) Ibrahim ibn Yeshu’ of Takrit, leader and commander of Takrit.
3) Marutha ibn Habib of Takrit.
4) ‘Ali ibn Sawar ibn al-Khammar.
5) The family of Imran of Takrit.
6) The deacon Hiba (Theodore) ibn Mark of Takrit.
7) The family of Tayyib of Takrit.
8) The family of Tuma of Baghdad.
9) The family of Daqiq of Mosul.
10) The chief scribe Safi al-Dawla Sulayman ibn al-Jamal of Baghdad.

The Monastery of Mar Matta

The Monastery of Mar Matta is the most famous of all the monasteries of Iraq for its antiquity, monks, and ascetics. Built on the almost perpendicular face of the high mountain of al-Faf (‘the thousands’), also called Jabal Maqlub, it overlooks the vast plain beneath, where the city of Mosul can be seen far on the horizon. It was planned by the ascetic Syrian Saint Matta (Matthew), originally from Amid, also famed as the Shaykh, in th last quarter of the fourth century.
Mar (Saint) Matta was born in Abjershat, a village of Diyarbakr, and cherished the ascetic life in his youth. He entered a small monastery in the vicinity of his village and continued his studies at the Monastery of Zuqnin. Because of the religious persecution inflicted on the Syrians by the Emperors Julian the Apostate and Valens, Mar Matta left for Nineveh, then under the rule of the Sassanids, with a group of honorable ascetics who spread throughout that country. Mar Matta resided in this mountain to worship God. Around him gathered ascetics whom he trained in the life of piety. And when Behnam, son of Sennacherib, lord of Nineveh and its dependencies, was converted to Christianity by Mar Matta, and Behnam was martyred, he asked Sennacherib to build for him a church in the mountain, which he did. Soon monastic life flourished in the monastery to a degree that, in its golden age, it accommodated seven thousand monks. This was testified by one of its abbots, Abu Nasr of Bartulli, who was still living in the year 1290. In the last quarter of the fifth century, the monastery of Mar Matta became an episcopal see and then a metropolitan see. The first of its bishops was Bar Suhdo, who was martyred in the year 480 A.D. for his orthodox faith, opposed by the Nestorian Barsoum of Nisibin.  The metropolitan of Mar Matta administered the vast diocese of Nineveh, Athur, and Mosul for a long time. He occupied a place second to that of the Maphriono of the East. He had special privileges endorsed by the synod convened by the Maphryono Mar Marutha in 628 A.D.
We have a roster of the names of thirty-eight metropolitans of the monastery from the year 480 to this day. A school was established in the monastery to educate monks in Bibilical and theological subjects. Mar Marutha, who taught theology in it, also laid down its rules. It became greatly successful in the seventh and eighth centuries, due to the effort of teachers who amended the language of the Scriptures and the books written by church fathers. Furthermore, a library which contained magnificent manuscripts was founded in it.  They were preserved until the year 1375, but began to be dispersed in 1369. Some of them are still intact.
This monastery produced two patriarchs, seven maphryonos, and a host of bishops and metropolitans who served the Syrian dioceses.  In Syriac histories we found mention of thirty-two of these metropolitans during and after the thirteenth century. A number of maphryonos resided in the Monastery of Mar Matta; five of them were buried in it. Most famous of them is the crown of our learned men, the diadem of our maphryonos, the object of pride of the East, the pillar of the Syrians, and the most learned Mar Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286).
The monastery suffered adverse circumstances. Since medieval times the number of its monks declined. In his Mu’jam al-Buldan, Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1225), said that there were a hundred monks in this monastery. They ate meals together in the winter or summer houses. Both houses are hewn in rock, and each accommodates all the monks. Each of the houses contains twenty tables hewn from rocks.
The neighboring Kurds ravaged this monastery four times, in 1171, 1261, 1296 and 1820. In 1609, together with its church the monastery was renovated for the first time. It was renovated for the second time in 1672, and for the third time during the office of Patriarch Jirjis IV (1768-1781). In 1796, its energetic Metropolitan Eustathus Musa also renovated it. In 1858, Bishop Cyril Denha rebuilt its church.  In the time of Metropolitan Cyril Elias [Cyril Elias II Qudso, born in Mosul in 1824. He became a metropolitan in 1872, and passed away in 1921.Tr], some notable Syrians of Mosul and its villages built rooms for visitors. From 1932 to 1935, quaint rooms with a new style were built in it.
Metropolitans of the Monastery of Mar Matta
From the Hisory of Mar Ignatius Aphram Barsoum, Patriarch of Antioch
1) Mar Barsahda (Barsuhdo), martyred in 480.
2) Garami (544).
3) Tubana.
4) Yeshu’ Zkha.
5) Sahdo.
6) Shim’un (Simon).
7) Christophorus I (628) [The dates of the metropolitans from this point on indicate their term as abbots of the monastery.]
8) Yuhanna I (685).
9) Yuhanna II (752)
10) Daniel (817).
11) Quryaqos (834).
12) Christophorus II (Sarjis), (914).
13) Timothy Soghdi (1075-1120).
14) Bar Kotella (1142).
15) —-?    (1153).
16) Saliba (1189-1212).
17) Severus Yaqub (1232-1242).
18) Ignatius (1269).
19) Sawera (Severus) Yeshu’ (1269-1272).
20) Basilius Ibrahim (1278).
21) Iyawannis (1290).
22) Jumu’a ibn Jubayer (1665).
23) Severus Ishaq (1684-1687).
24) Severus Malke (1694-1700).
25) Iyawannis Matta I (1701-1713).
26) Gregorius Li’azar (1728-1730).
27) Timothy ‘Isa 1737-1739).
28) Iyawannis Yuhanna III (1743).
29) Cyril Rizq Allah (1760-1770).
30) Cyril Matta II (1770-1782).
31) Cyril Abd al-Aziz (1782-1793).
32) Eustathius Musa (1793-1828).
33) Gregorius Elias I   (1828-1838).
34) Cyril Matta III (1846-1857).
35) Cyril Denha (1858-1871).
36) Cyril Elias II (1872-1921).
37) Clemis (Clement) Yuhanna IV (1923-1926). [More correctly, Yuhanna V (d. 1949). Tr]
38) Dionysius Yuhanna V (1935-?) [More correctly,  Dionysius Yuhanna VI (d. 1942)]