Thomas of Marga

Just a decade or two prior to the work of Isho'dnah in the 9th century, Thomas, the East Syrian Bishop of Marga in Adiabene authored a book of monastic histories ca. 850 C.E.[1]  He became a monk at the monastery of Beth-'Abe in Marga from which he would ascend to the role of secretary to Catholicos Abraham II (837-850). The Catholicos appointed him in the 840s to become the Bishop of Marga. Thomas wrote three books in his lifetime of which only the third (The Book of Governors) survives completely. The first two ("The Histories of Certain Holy Men" and "The History of the Monastery of Rabban Cyprian") were incorporated into The Book of Governors (Syr. ܟܬܒܐ ܕܪ̈ܫܢܐ), which also goes by the names The Book of Abbots and Historia Monastica, adopting the paradigm of 'Enanisho's (ca. 670) Paradise of the Fathers (see vol. 7 of Bedjan, Acta Martyrum). This detailed monastic history preserves crucial historical detail for the study of the Christian Near East during the 6th to 9th centuries C.E.[2]

Works

Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 3.1.463-501 (Rome, 1725) (=Ch. 23). This work contains Latin translation excerpts.

P. Bedjan, Liber Superiorum seu historia monastica auctore Thoma episcopo Margensi (Paris, 1901).

J.E. Manna, Morceaux choisis de littérature araméenne, Vol. 2 (Mossul, 1901), 55-68. Syriac excerpts.

E.A.W. Budge, The Book of Governors: the Historia Monastica of Thomas Bishop of Margâ, A.D. 840 (London, 1893). Volume 1 – SyriacVolume 2 – English

 

The following breakdown of Thomas of Marga's 'Book of Governors' is done according to the order found in the work of Budge. Each entry contains the chapter number and heading with links to the texts of Budge and Bedjan. The titles loosely follow those of the translation of Budge.

[Book 1] [Book 2] [Book 3] [Book 4] [Book 5] [Book 6]

Preface (Budge)

Table of Contents (Budge) (Bedjan)

Introduction (Budge)

List of Proper Names (Budge)

List of Syriac Forms of Latin and Greek Words (Budge)

Book 1 [Back to Top]

Book 2 [Back to Top]

Book 3 [Back to Top]

  • Part 1: A History of Rabban Babai

  • Part 2: The History of the Holy Mar Maran-'Ammeh, the Metropolitan Bishop [of Salakh]

    • Chapter 1: The Apology of the Author

    • Chapter 2: Of the Origin of Mar Maran-'Ammeh, [and of how and by whom he was Instructed in Divine Things]

    • Chapter 3: Of the Episcopate of the Land of Selakh which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Received, and of the Miracles which Took Place there by his Hands

    • Chapter 4: In which is set Forth how Mar Maran-'Ammeh was Consecrated Metropolitan Bishop of Arbela, and of the First Wonder which he Wrought in the Country

    • Chapter 5: Of those Provinces Belonging to the Episcopal Thrones of the Diocese which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Took over to the Dominion of the Throne of Adiabene, and of those which he Gave in their Place

    • Chapter 6: Of the Revelation which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Received in a Vision of the Angel of the Lord: to Destroy with his Hands the Seed that Worked Evil, and the Corrupt Children who were in the Country of Marga

    • Chapter 7: Of how the Blessed Man Left his Episcopal Home and Fled, and of the Angelic Agency which Prevented his Flight

    • Chapter 8: Of the Departure of Mar Maran-'Ammeh to the Country of Marga, and of the Signs and Wonders which Took Place by his Hands

    • Chapter 9: Of the Drought and Famine which Took Place in the Days of the Holy Mar Maran-'Ammeh, and of the Sign which Shewed by his Rod

    • Chapter 10: Of the Sickness which Smote the Holy Man, and of his Departure from this Temporal Life to that of Eternity

    • Chapter 11: A Discource upon Mar Maran-'Ammeh

Book 4 [Back to Top]

  • Chapter 1: The Introduction to the Book

  • Chapter 2: Of the Blessed Rabban Isho'yahb, the Head of the Monastery, whence he Came, of what Parents he was Born, and of how he was Brought up

  • Chapter 3: Of Mar Timothy, Bishop of Beth-Behash, and of the Prophecy which was made concerning him by one of the Old Men who Lived in this Monastery

  • Chapter 4: Of how Timothy Artfully Contrived to Obtain Possession of the Patriarchate, after the Manner of Jacob who by Craft Obtained the Blessings of Isaac his Father

  • Chapter 5: Of Rosṭam, Bishop of Ḥenaitha

  • Chapter 6: Of the Going up of our Mar Isho'yahb to Adiabene

  • Chapter 7: Of the Swift Judgment which Overtook Rosṭam, and of how those who were with him were put to Shame and Disgraced

  • Chapter 8: Of the Repentance of the People of Adiabene, and of the Humble Entreaty which they Offered to Mar Isho'yahb to Enter into his Episcopal Seat

  • Chapter 9: Of how Mar Isho'yahb was Moved to Pull Down the Clay Temple which had been Built by Isho'yahb the Catholicos, and to Build Another of Lime in its Stead, and of how the Monks who Lived in his Days Counselled him not do do so on account of the Difficulty of the Work

  • Chapter 10: Of how God, the Lord of all, Stirred up Men to Put Forth their Hands against this Great Work

  • Chapter 11: Of the Satanic Vision which Abba Isho'dad, one of the Old Men of this Congregation Saw, and of the Money which he Found

  • Chapter 12: Of Another Treasure which Christ our Lord Gave him

  • Chapter 13: Of the Miracle which our Lord Wrought by the Hands of Mar Isho'yahb

  • Chapter 14: Of the Finish and Completion of the Temple, and of the Death of Isho'yahb

  • Chapter 15: The History of Rabban Cyriacus of Gebilta, the Head of the Monastery of Beth-'Abe, and Bishop of the City of Balad

  • Chapter 16: Of the Origin of the Blessed Cyriacus, and of his Coming to this Monastery of Beth-'Abe

  • Chapter 17: Of the Call of Abba Cyriacus to the Headship of the Monastery

  • Chapter 18: Of the First Miracle which Christ Wrought by his Hands

  • Chapter 19: Of how that Man Came to this Monastery, and of how he Rewarded it with a Noble Recompense as was Meet, and of the Rest of his Signs

  • Chapter 20: Of the Revelations which that Holy Man Received when he was with the Whole Congregation in the Refectory

  • Chapter 21: Of the Coming in of 'Amran Bar Muḥammad to this Country of Marga, and of how having Seized many Villages and Slain their Owners, he also Wished to Kill the Holy [Cyriacus] and to Inherit this Monastery

  • Chapter 22: Of how after these things 'Amran Sent Five Men to Slay Rabban Cyriacus, and of the Terrible Vision which Appeared to them

  • Chapter 23: Of Another Revelation which he Received of how he must be a Bishop

  • Chapter 24: Of the Coming of the Inhabitants of Balad to this Monastery for the Blessed Man

  • Chapter 25: Of the Mirachle which the Blessed Mar Cyriacus Wrought in Balad, and of the End of his Life

Book 5 [Back to Top]

Book 6 [Back to Top]


[1] W. Witakowski, "Historiography, Syriac", in GEDSH (Piscataway, 2011), 202.

[2] W. Witakowski, "Toma of Marga," in GEDSH (Piscataway, 2011), 417.