Bardaisan [Bardesan], who served in the court of King Abgar VIII (177-212 CE), is still the first known Syriac literary author. While he is said to have written works against Marcion, none of his works have been discovered other than "The Book of Laws of Countries" which was likely penned by his pupil, Philip. This work gained popularity and is quoted partially in Greek by Eusebius in his, "Preparation for the Gospel" (XI.10.1-48) and in the "Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions" (IX.19-29).1 Other sources for the writings of Bardaisan come from St. Ephrem's Hymns against the heresies,2 and his Prose Refutations.3 The text is only found in one manuscript: B.L. Add. 14,658. For a look at the editions of the text of Bardaisan as well as a list translations, see pages 17-23 of Dirk Bakker's Ph.D. dissertation4 which can be downloaded here. For more information on the life, times, thinking, and reception of Bardaisan, see this keyword search at A Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity.
Sources for The Book of the Laws of Countries
(The following entries provide a short breakdown of the material contained in the work)
“Bardaisan - The Book of the Laws of Countries”, in Spicilegium syriacum, containing remains of Bardesan, Meliton, Ambrose, and Mara bar Serapion, London: Rivingtons, 1855 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/spicilegiumsyria00cureuoft,
- English translation (pp. 1-34)
- The second Dialogue of Caesarius, which contains parallels in Greek (pp. 34-40)
- Unrelated to Bardaisan, this work also contains:
- Textual notes
- The Syriac text of BLC (pp. 1-21)
- The Syriac text of Meliton the Philosopher (pp. 22-31)
- The Syriac text of Melito, Bishop of Sardis (pp. 31-37)
- The Syriac text of the Hypomnemata (pp. 38-42)
- The Syriac text of the Epistle of Mara Bar Sarapion (pp. 43-50)
Bardesanes von Edessa nebst einer Untersuchung über das Verhältnis der clementinischen Recognitionen zu dem Buche der Gesetze der Länder. Halle: C.E.M. Pfeffer, 1863 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/BardesanesVonEdessa,
Le livre des lois des pays. Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1899 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/lelivredesloisd00naugoog,
- French translation, based on a new reproduction of the manuscript collated by E. Wallis Budge and given to Nau by Rubens Duval
- Nau has broken down the BLC as follows:
- The circumstance for writing (§9)
- The first question of Avida: Was God not able to create man so that they could not sin? (§10)
- The second question: Does evil not come from our nature? (§21-24)
- The third question: Does evil not come from fate? (§25a)
- 1. Direct response: Bardaisan defines the roles of free will, of nature, and of fate (§25b-33a)
- 2. Indirect response: People submissive to the same fate act differently according to their laws, therefore fate does not constrain them (§33b-53)
- Objection: But these same laws, which people obey, are they not another form of fate? (§54-58)
- Another fragment of Bardaisan from George, the Bishop of the Arabs
- Extract of Moshe Bar Kepha
- Syriac Text of BLC
“Bardaisan - Liber Legum Regionem”, in Patrologia Syriaca, vol. 2, Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1907, pp. 490-658 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/patrologiasyria02grafgoog ,
- Unrelated to Bardaisan, this text also contains
- Index of names and places
- Syriac index
- Syriac text with Latin translation
“Bardesan. The Book of the Laws of Divers Countries”, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886, pp. 721-734 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/antenicenefather08robe ,
- This English translation is based on Cureton's text. It contains occasional notes on philology and backgrounds with references to Cureton and Merx.
“Lettre à M. Reinaud sur quelques manuscrits syriaques de Musée Brittanique. Contenant des traductions d'auteurs grecs profanes et des traités philosophiques”, Journal Asiatique, vol. 19, pp. 295-298, 1852 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/stream/s4journalasiatiq19sociuoft#page/n300/mode/1up,
- This work tells of the discovery by Renan of B.L. Add. 14,658. This edition only contains the Syriac text and French translation of what Renan believed to be the beginning and end of the BLC.
- 1. , “Bardaiṣan”, in The Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage, Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2011, p. 147.
- 2. , “S. Patri Nostri Ephraem Syri Sermones Polemici sex & quinquaginta adversus Haereses”, in Sancti Patris Nostri Ephraem Syri Opera Omnia quae exstant Graece, Syriace, Latine in sex Tomos distributa, vol. 2, 6 vol., Rome: Vatican Press, 1740 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/SanctiPatrisNostriEphraemSyriOperaOmniaQuaeExstantGraeceSyriaceLatineVol.2 (1-6; 51-56).
- 3. , S. Ephraim's Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan of which the Greater Part has been Transcribed from the Palimpsest B.M. Add 14623 and is now First Published. Volume 1: The Discourses Addressed to Hypatius, vol. 1, 2 vol. Oxford: Williams and Norgate, 1912 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/proserefutations01ephruoft; , S. Ephraim's Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan of which the Greater Part has been Transcribed from the Palimpsest B.M. Add 14623 and is now First Published. Volume 2: The Discourse Called 'Of Domnus' and Six other Writings, vol. 2, 2 vol. Oxford: Williams and Norgate, 1921 [Online]. Available: https://archive.org/details/cu31924092341670
- 4. , “Bardaisan's Book of the Laws of the Countries, a Computer-Assisted Linguistic Analysis”, Universiteit Leiden, Leiden, 2011 [Online]. Available: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/17580/DissertatieDBakkerBinnenwerkDefinitief_2011-03-08.pdf?sequence=2