Mar Dionysius of Tal Mahre (d. .345) – BIOGRAPHIES OF SYRIAN SCHOLARS AND WRITERS – Mor Ignatius Aphram Barsoum – Translated : By Dr. Matti Moosa

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Mar Dionysius of Tal Mahre
(d. .345)

Mar Dionysius I known as the “Talmahri,” the seventieth patriarch of Antioch, was a great and unique church dignitary deeply versed in knowledge. He was born at Tal Mahre to a noble and wealthy Edessene family and became famous at the beginning of the seventh century for his great contribution to the church of Edessa. At Qinnesrin he studied philology, jurisprudence, philosophy and theology and entered the monastic life. It is sufficient to mention that in 818 forty-eight metropolitans and bishops unanimously elected him for the Apostolic See, while he was still an initiate monk. When he headed the Church, he adorned his high office with his piety, honest belief, deep understanding, wide knowledge and firm will. For twenty-seven years he administered the affairs of the Church with great energy, discerning policy, sound judgement, and graceful patience. He held three councils at Callinicus in 818, another council at Euspholis in 828 and another at Takrit in 834. He also issued canons and ordained a hundred metropolitans whose names are cited by Michael the Great. He visited the Caliph al-Mamun in Baghdad and Egypt three times and paid one visit to the Caliph Mutasim, who recognized his caliber and high position, and chose him for a political mission. Also, he was respected and recognized by the Amir Abd Allah ibn Tahir al-Khuzai. The former was the most famous of the Abbasid Caliphs in judiciousness and knowledge. The latter was the best of the Amirs in character, chivalry and justice; he rebuilt the churches which had been unjustly destroyed. After leading a dignified life, but one bothered by sufferings inflicted on his people by the unjust rulers, he died on the twenty-second of August, 845.75 One of his writings is magnificent Annals, covering the period from 583 to 843, which he compiled at the request of John, metropolitan of Dara. It consists of two volumes, each divided into eight treatises, which in turn are divided into chapters, covering the events of 260 years. Michael the Great utilized the Annals to a great extent and enriched his history, by incorporated Dionysius’ introduction in its entirety to it. He also added to it the events of these Annals in brief. The original copy of these Annals was lost, except for two or three chapters, but its compendius has survived. The Annals of Dionysius also contains an interesting description of the pyramids, as well as the conditions of the Coptic Church which welcomed him, and his acceptance by the patriarch Jacob and his bishop outside the city of Tannis in 833. These accounts were incorporated by Bar Hebraeus into his Ecclesiastical History. It was mentioned before that Assemani had erroneously ascribed to Dionysius the history written by the monk of Zuqnin.76 Finally, Dionysius issued twelve canons at the council of Callinicus, preceded by a distinguished proclamation immediately after his consecration.77

154. Mar Dionysius of Tal Mahre (d. .345)