St. Ephrem: A Brief Guide to the Main Editions and Translations

Earlier versions of this Brief Guide was published in S. P. Brock, A Brief Guide to the Main Editions and Translations of the Works of St. Ephrem, The Harp, vol. 3, no. 1-2, pp. 7-29, 1990., Saint Ephrem : un poete pour notre temps : Patrimoine syriaque, Actes du colloque XI, Aleppo 2006, Patrimoine syriaque, Actes du colloque, vol. 11. Markaz ad-Dirāsāt wa-'l-Abḥāt̲ al-Mašriqīya, Antelias, pp. 280–338, 2007., and (in Russian) in Patriarch of Moscow Alexei, Pravoslavnaja enciklopedija. Moscow: Pravoslavnaja ėnciklopedija, 2009., 79–94. The Antelias volume also includes indexes of first lines of both madrashe and memre, and of the qale.

Although St Ephrem (c. 306–373) undoubtedly ranks as the greatest of all Syriac creative writers, his extensive works have only become available in reliable editions within the last thirty or so years, thanks above all to the labours of Dom Edmund Beck, OSB. Beck accompanied his editions in the great Louvain Corpus of Oriental Christian Writers (CSCO) with a German translation,1 but for the English, French, and Italian readers there is unfortunately no complete translation of Ephrem's works available. The aim of this summary guide is two-fold: firstly, in Section I, to list the contents of the main editions, indicating where the older editions have now been replaced by better ones in the CSCO (or elsewhere); and then in Section II, to provide information concerning translations into English, French, and Italian, where available. At the end of this section a table summarizes the main editions and translations that are available, and brief indications are provided concerning the early manuscript tradition, and the chronology of Ephrem’s works. The following Section III offers a brief guide to the ancient translations, while Sections IV–V consist of indices to the first lines of the memre and of the madrashe, and to the qale (melody titles) to which the madrashe were originally sung. It should be noted that this guide is not directly concerned with questions of authenticity, though an indication is given in cases where the attribution to Ephrem is definitely incorrect; this applies especially with some of the memre.

In Section I, if a text in one of the older editions has subsequently been reedited in CSCO or elsewhere, then reference to modern translations (if they exist) will be found under the re-edition, listed in Section II (cross references to re-edited texts are always given). In Section II references to other older editions, beyond those listed in Section I, are normally excluded. Secondary literature, in the form of studies of particular texts, is not included; for this, see above all the excellent bibliography: K. den Biesen, Bibliography of St Ephrem the Syrian. Giove in Umbria [Italy]: [Publisher not identified], 2002.. Also see the periodic bibliographies of Syriac studies in Parole de l’orient. 1970..2 Den Biesen’s Bibliography is organised as follows:

  • Classification of the Titles; this includes, as sections 17–173, a list of Ephrem’s works in Syriac (not all of which are genuine); since these entries conveniently list all editions, translations and studies, the appropriate section number (introduced by #) is given for each item in I–II below (if a work listed in I is re-edited in II, den Biesen’s number is only given under the latter).
  • Editions.
  • Titles exclusively dealing with Ephrem.
  • Titles partly dealing with Ephrem.
  • Titles incidentally dealing with Ephrem.
  • Appendices: these list the contents of the main pre-20th century editions of Ephrem’s works, in Syriac, Greek, and Armenian. The page numbers of these Appendices for the Roman edition, Overbeck, and Lamy are given for convenience below, in I.

Another useful survey of the different editions of Ephrem's works and their manuscript basis is provided by J. Melki in J. Melki, Saint Éphrem le Syrien, un bilan de l'edition critique, Parole de l'Orient, vol. 11, pp. 3-88, 1983.

It should be noted that this Guide includes only a summary of the ancient translations of Ephrem (in Section III), and is for the most part confined to modern translations in English, French, German, and Italian.3




Roman Edition (1732–1746). [den Biesen, 361–365]

This monumental work, entitled Sancti Patris Nostri Ephraem Syri Opera Omnia quae exstant GraeceSyriaceLatine, is in six volumes, but only the last three contain the Syriac texts (with Latin translation, often very free and unreliable), edited by P. Mobarak (Benedictus) and S.E. Assemani.4 A very useful index to this edition, indicating the manuscript sources (where these could be identified) was provided by F.C. Burkitt, in F. C. Burkitt, S. Ephraim's Quotations from the Gospel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901., pp. 6–19.

The Syriac texts contained in volumes 4–6 are as follows:

Those not re-edited in CSCO correspond to den Biesen ##116–120; of these #117 is the well-known Maronite and East Syriac hymn Nuhro; #119 (aloho habyulfono) has been republished in Mor Julius Yeshu Cicek, Kapo d-habobe. Holland: Monastery of St Ephrem, 1977., 6–11, and it also features in the East Syriac Hudra (P. Bedjan, Breviarium iuxta ritum Syrorum Orientalium id east Chaldaeorum, 3 vol. Paris: Via Dicta de Sèvres 95, 1867. 1.498–501; T. Darmo, Ed., Ktābā da-qdām wad-bātar wad-ḥudrā wad-kaškōl wad-gazzā w-qālē d-‘udrānē ‘am ktābā d-mazmōrē. Trichur: Mar Narsai Press, 1960. 1.769–772).6 There is an improved edition of #120 in P. Zingerle, Chrestomathia Syriaca. Rome: Society of the Propagation of the Faith, 1871., pp. 254–275.

For translations of texts re-edited in CSCO see below; English translations of other Paraenetica:

  • no. 2 = Malan (b),9 13–50.
  • no. 14 = Malan (a),10 209–214.
  • no. 26 = Malan (a), 202–208.
  • no. 30 = Burgess (a),11 no. XXVII.
  • no. 32 = Burgess (a), no. XXIII.
  • no. 41 = Burgess (a), no. XXVIII.
  • no. 45 = Burgess (b), 180–192.
  • no. 49 = Burgess (b),12 192–200.
  • no. 54 = Burgess (a), no. XXXIV.
  • no. 55 = Burgess (a), no. XXX.
  • no. 58 = Burgess (a), no. XXXI.
  • no. 59 = Burgess (a), no. XXXII.
  • no. 64 = Burgess (a), no. XXIV.
  • no. 65 = Burgess (a), no. XXV.
  • no. 66 = Burgess (a), no. XXXIII.
  • no. 67 = Malan (a), xv-xvi.
  • no. 70 = Malan (a), 232–234.

Nos 39, 51–52, 62–63, 66–67 and 69–70 are found in both the Maronite Shehimto (Weekday Office), as soghyotho, and in the East Syriac Hudra as teshbhatha; English translation of these in S. P. Brock, Some Early Witnesses to the East Syriac Liturgical tradition, Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 9-45, 2004.. See esp. 19–45.13


Overbeck (1865) [den Biesen, 375–376]

J. J. Overbeck, Ed., Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae episcopli Edesseni, Balaei aliorumque Opera selecta: E codicibus syriacis manuscriptis in museo Britannico et bibliotheca Bodleiana asservatis primus editit. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1865.. Contains the following works ascribed to Ephrem (Overbeck provided no translations):


Lamy (1882–1902) [den Biesen, 377–380]

T.J. Lamy's Sancti Ephraem Syri Hymni et Sermones (Malines 1882–1902) consists of four volumes;17 Latin translations are provided throughout. These volumes contain:



The Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani published, at Charfet (Lebanon), a volume of texts by Ephrem, without any title page or date, as Volume 2 of a larger collection of texts entitled Luqote da-mkanshin men soyume `atiqe (de Biesen, Title 139). This contains the following texts (since the volume is very rare, I give the incipits of texts not published elsewhere):

  • 1–19Mimre on Praise at Table
  • 20–28: Fragments of mimre on Nicomedia 
  • 29–32: On Purity of Heart and Contrition [#86] 
    • Incipit: ܒܪܝ ܒܝ ܡܪܝ ܠܒܐ ܕܟܝܐ
  • 33–34: On how God is not the author of misfortunes, or of sickness of body and soul [#67]
    • Incipit: ܠܘ ܢܦܫܐ ܐܝܬܝܗ̇ ܥܠܬܐ
  • 34: Excerpt corresponding to Beck, Sermones 1.1,23 beginning line 153: ܠܐ ܚܕ ܝܘܡ ܢܛܥܢ ܝܘܩܪܐ
  • 35: Incipit: ܐܢ ܩ̇ܪܐ ܐܢܫ ܒܟܬܒ̈ܐ
  • 36–37: On God’s care [#68]
    • Incipit: ܕܫܒܩ ܪܢܝܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ
  • 38–47: On the vigil which makes the soul shine [#114] 
    • Incipit: ܒܦܚ̈ܐ ܢܫܪ̈ܐ ܡܬܬܨܝܕܝܢ
  • 48–52: On a person living in stillness and self-emptying [#69].
  • 52–55: On Repentance.
    • Also in Lamy 4.453–63.
  • 56–59: On Oppression.
    • Also in Lamy 4.217–26.
  • 59–65: On Humility and Fasting [#71]
    • Also attributed to Isaac of Antioch24
    • Incipit:  ܒܐܘܪܚܐ ܕܡܠܟܐ ܫܡܝܢܐ
  • 66–80: On Solitaries; re-edited by Beck in CSCO 334–335 (Sermones 4.1).
  • 81–90: On Solitaries; re-edited by Beck in CSCO 334–335 (Sermones 4.2).
  • 91–92: On Supplication
    • Incipit: ܫܘܒܚܐ ܠܟ ܡܪܐ ܕܪ̈ܚܡܐ
  • 92–109: On Job, 1 [#73]
  • 109–115: On Job, 2 [#74] 
    • Incipit: ܬܘ ܐܚ̈ܝ ܢܬܒܩܐ ܒܗ
  • 115: Satan’s battle [#115]
    • Incipit: ܚܘܣ ܡܪܢ ܥܠ ܐܢܫܘܬܢ
  • 116–120: Admonition to Solitaries 
    • Also in Lamy 4.207–216.
  • 121–129: On Reproof
    • Also in Lamy 4.185–208.
  • 129–130: Against Bardaisan 
    • Part of mimro published in Overbeck, 132–136; incipit: ܡܘܬܐ ܕܓܙܪ ܐܠܗܐ = Overbeck, 132, lines 12–13.
  • 131–132: On fourth siege of Nisibis [#102] 
    • Incipit: ܩܢܝܢ ܐܢܘܢ ܨܒܝܢ̈ܝܟܘܢ
  • 132–133: On Reproof [#96] 
    • Incipit: ܠܢܟ̈ܦܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܠܢܟ̈ܦܬܐ
  • 133–134: On Morning Praise [#56]
    • Incipit: ܒܪܝܟ ܕܒܨܦܪܐ ܨܪ ܐܢܘܢ
  • 134: From mimro 13 on the three sieges [#103] 
    • Incipit: ܐܢ ܕܝܢ ܐܢܫ ܢܐܡܪ ܕܐܝܘܒ



In contrast to the previous section, where the contents of the three main older editions, and of Rahmani’s volume, were listed, in the present section works under Ephrem's name25 published in more recent editions are arranged by genre (prose works, artistic prose, verse homilies or mimre, hymns or madroshe). Translations, where available, are noted; references to secondary literature can readily be found by consulting den Biesen’s Bibliography (the relevant entries in this are again indicated by number introduced by #). At the end a summary list of works attributed to Ephrem and published in the last half century is given in tabular form, for purposes of quick reference; this indicates where complete translations are available.


Prose Works 











Artistic Prose






Verse Homilies (memre)





  • Memre edited by Beck in CSCO (Sermones 1–4).

    • By no means all of the twenty one texts edited, with German translation, by Beck in these four volumes are genuinely by Ephrem. For convenience of reference, the complete contents of each of the four volumes are listed in order, indicating which texts Beck considers to be genuine.




  • Sermones 3 (CSCO 320–321, Scriptores Syri 138–13933).

    • None of the five memre published, with German translation, in this volume are thought likely to be genuine, and the fifth must date from the seventh century. All five are re-editions, as follows:
      • No. 1 = Roman Edition 6.629–638 (no. 13). On the Fear of God and on the End [#108].
      • No. 2 = Lamy 2.393–426. On Magicians etc, and on the End [#77].
      • No. 3 = Roman Edition 6.242–227 (Necrosima, no. 12) [#62].34
      • No. 4 = Lamy 3.133–188. On the (Second) Coming of Christ [#53].
      • No. 5 = Lamy 3.187–212. On the End, Judgement, Retribution, on Gog and Magog and on the False Christ [#65].35




  • Memre on Holy Week, edited by Beck, Ephraem Syrus: Sermones in Hebdomadam Sanctam (CSCO 412–413, Scriptores Syri 181–18238).

    • The attribution to Ephrem of these eight memre [#70] is not likely to be correct. In the (late) manuscripts they are allocated to liturgical hours; 8 is in fact for the Sunday after Easter, not the Resurrection itself. All are re-editions, with German translation, of texts already published by Lamy, as follows:
      • 1. Monday (Ramsho) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.339–358. Catalan translation in M. Nin, Efrem de Nísibis. Himnes i homilies. Barcelona: Edicions Proa, 1997..
      • 2. Tuesday (Lilyo) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.359–390.
      • 3. Wednesday (Lilyo) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.390–410.
      • 4. Thursday (Lilyo) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.410–430.
      • 5. Friday (Lilyo) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.430–450.
      • 6. Friday (Sapro) of the Crucifixion: Lamy, 1.450–524.
      • 7. Saturday (Lilyo) of Holy Week: Lamy, 1.524–552.
      • 8. New Sunday (Lilyo): Lamy, 1.552–566.





Other memre Attributed to Ephrem Published in Recent Years

Since the seven-syllable metre is known as the metre of St Ephrem, a large number of memre which are certainly not by Ephrem are erroneously attributed to him in the manuscript tradition. This also applies to the following memre which have been published within the last few decades; none are likely to be genuine.







Hymns (madrashe).

It is upon the hymns, of which some 400 survive, that Ephrem's reputation as a major poet depends. All the genuine hymn cycles (and a few which are not) have been edited by Beck in CSCO.40 These are listed here alphabetically, by English title.



Translations of individual hymns:



Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on Epiphany (Hymni de Epiphania) [#22]. ܕܒܝܬ ܕܢܚܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on Faith (Hymni de Fide) [#23]. ܥܠ ܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on the Fast (Hymni de Ieiunio) [#24]. ܥܠ ܨܘܡܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe against Heresies (Hymni contra Haereses) [#25]. ܠܘܩܒܠ ܝܘ̈ܠܦܢܐ ܛܥ̈ܝܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe against Julian (Hymni contra Iulianum) [#27]. ܥܠ ܝܘܠܝܢܘܣ ܡܠܟܐ ܕܐܚܢܦ


Madroshe on Julian Saba (Hymni de Iuliano Saba) [#28]. ܥܠ ܝܘܠܝܢܐ ܣܒܐ


Madroshe on the Nativity (Hymni de Nativitate) [#32]. ܕܒܝܬ ܝܠܕܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe of Nisibis/the Nisibenes (Carmina Nisibena) [#34]. ܕܢܨܝܒܝܢ ܐܘ ܕܢܨܝܒܢ̈ܝܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on Paradise (Hymni de Paradiso) [#35]. ܥܠ ܦܪܕܝܣܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on the Resurrection (Hymni de Resurrectione) [#37]. ܥܠ ܩܝܡܬܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on Unleavened Bread (Hymni de Azymis) [#38]. ܥܠ ܦܛܝܪ̈ܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Madroshe on Virginity (Hymni de Virginitate) [#39]. ܥܠ ܒܬܘܠܘܬܐ

Translations of individual hymns:


Soghyatha [#46]. ܣܘܓܝ̈ܬܐ


Hymns preserved only in Armenian translation [#18].

Translations of individual hymns:


Summary Guide to the Main Editions and Translations of Texts Attributed to Ephrem


TitleCSCO/Scr. Syri Complete translations


Prose Works

  • Comm. Genesis, Exodus43 Latin, English, French translations (Comm. Exodus)
  • Comm. Diatessaron Latin, English, French, German translations
  • Comm. Acts Latin
  • Comm. Pauline Epistles Latin
  • 5 Discourses, to Hypatius English, German translations of no.1
  • Prose Refutations English, German translations of Against Bardaisan’s "Domnus"


Artistic Prose

  • Sermo de Domino NostroLatin, English, German translations
  • Letter to Publius English translation
  • Signs performed by Moses in Egypt French translation


Verse: Madroshe/Hymni


Verse: Mimre/Sermones


The Early Syriac Manuscript Tradition

  • All the earliest manuscripts of Ephrem’s works derive ultimately from the library of Deir al-Surian, in Egypt. These were preserved thanks to the dry Egyptian climate and the bibliophile abbot Moses of Nisibis in the early decades of the tenth century.44 After about the seventh century most of Ephrem’s writings, especially the madrashe, were no longer copied in full, but simply excerpted, hence the exceptional importance of the earliest manuscripts.

Prose works

  • These for the most part survive only in single manuscripts, as follows:
    • Commentary on Genesis and Exodus: Vat. sir. 110. 2016. (6th century).
    • Commentary on the Diatessaron: Dublin, Chester Beatty Library ms 209 (5th/6th century).
    • Prose Refutations: British Library, Add. 14623 (a palimpsest manuscript; undertext: 5th/6th century). Once the techniques for reading palimpsest manuscripts have become more widely available, it should be possible to gain considerably more text of the works preserved in this manuscript.
    • Discourse on our Lord: British Library Add. 14570 and 14656 (both 5th/6th century).
    • Letter to Publius: excerpt only in British Library Add. 7190 (12th century).


  • For the most part the memre are only preserved in much later manuscripts.
  • The only memre preserved in manuscripts of the 6th century are:
    • Memre on Faith: Add. 12166.
    • Sermones I.i: Add.14573.
    • Sermones I.ii: Add. 14573 (to line 527).
    • Sermones I.v: Add. 14573.
    • Sermones II.i: Add. 14573.
    • Sermones II.ii: Add. 12176 (5th/6th century).


  • Four manuscripts survive which are precisely dated to years within the sixth century, while five further ones probably (on palaeographical grounds) date to the sixth century (two might even go back to the fifth).
    • On the Church: Vat. sir. 111. 2016. (AD 522); Add. 14574 (5th/6th century); Add. 14635 (6th century); (Add. 14571).
    • On the Crucifixion: Add. 14571 (AD 519); Add. 14627 (6th/7th century),,
    • On Faith: Vat. sir. 111. 2016.; Vat. sir. 113. 2016. (AD 552); Add, 12176 (5th/6th century); (Add.14571).
    • On the Fast: Add. 14571; Add. 14627 .
    • Against Heresies: Vat. sir. 111. 2016.; Add. 12176; Add. 14574.
    • Against Julian: Add.14571.
    • On the Nativity: Add. 14571 [16 poems]; Vat. sir. 112. 2016. (AD 551) [18 poems].
    • On the Nisibenes: Add. 12176; Add. 14572 (6th century); (Add. 14571).
    • On Paradise: Vat. sir. 111. 2016.; Vat. sir. 112. 2016..
    • On the Resurrection: Add. 14627.
    • On Unleavened Bread: Add. 14571 [2 poems]; Add. 14627
    • On Virginity: Vat. sir. 111. 2016.
    • Since a number of these manuscripts have been damaged and have suffered loss, several of the madrashe collections do not survive complete; this applies to On the Church (several gaps), On Nisibis (missing 22–24, and parts of 25–26), On Unleavened Bread (most of 6–11), and On Virginity (much of 23–30, 38–40).
    • Beck also made use of quite a number of medieval liturgical manuscripts of the 8th/9th to 13th century, but, as a consultation of his apparatus will show, these only provide selected stanzas, and never any complete poem. A large number of isolated stanzas can be identified among the madrashe printed in the Mosul edition of the West Syriac Fenqitho, or Festal Hymnary.45


The Chronology of Ephrem’s Works

In the present state of knowledge very little can be said with any certainty concerning the chronology of Ephrem’s works. In some cases the allocation of a work to either his Nisibis or his Edessa period is reasonably assured: thus the Memre on Faith, the Lent and Paschal cycles of Madrashe (originally a single collection, to judge by the notice in Sinai Syr. 10. 2017.) and perhaps also the Madrashe on Paradise are likely to be early works. A terminus post quem is provided on internal grounds for at least those of the Memre on the Nisibenes concerning particular Nisibene bishops, for the Memre on Nicomedia (destroyed by an earthquake in 358), and for those against Julian (who died in 363). The Madrashe against Heresies and Prose Refutations are almost certainly from the Edessa period, and likewise the Madrashe on Faith (some of which polemicize against Eunomius). The Commentary on the Diatessaron was probably edited in its present form after Ephrem’s death.46 For the other madrashe collections little or no clear evidence is available for the purposes of dating.

In the case of all the madrashe collections much will depend on whether Ephrem himself put the collections together, or whether this was done after his death. In the latter case, individual poems within a single collection could be of very varied dates; this of course could also be a possibility even if it was Ephrem himself who put them together. In any case this is the situation with the Madrashe on the Nisibenes for, besides containing material which strongly points to Nisibis as the place of writing, they also include one (no. 31) on bishop Vitus of Harran (near Edessa).

Among the few discussions of this matter, see N. el-Khoury, Die Interpretation der Welt bei Ephraem dem Syrer: Beitr. zur Geistesgeschichte. Mainz: Matthias-Grunewald-Verlag, 1976., Pp. 155–157, and C. Lange, The portrayal of Christ in the Syriac commentary on the Diatessaron. Louvain: Peeters, 2005.28–35.




Only a very basic orientation is offered here.





Christian Palestinian Aramaic





  • A few works have reached Ethiopic, but apart from what is preserved in the so-called Collectio monastica (V. Arras, Collectio Monastica [Text], vol. 1, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1963.; V. Arras, Collectio Monastica [Translation], vol. 2, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1963.); Patericon (V. Arras, Patericon Aethiopice [Text], vol. 1, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1967.; V. Arras, Patericon Aethiopice [Translation], vol. 2, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1967.), and the Asceticon (V. Arras, Asceticon, vol. 1, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1984.; V. Arras, Asceticon [Translation], vol. 2, 2 vol. Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1984.), ed. V. Arras, hardly anything has been published; for details, see CPG 3909, 3942, 4082 (in Suppl.), 4170 (and in Suppl.).49



  • A glance at the second volume of the Clavis Patrum Graecorum (CPG)52 will indicate that the number of texts in Greek attributed to Ephrem (CPG 3905–4175, 366–468) is exceeded only by those attributed to John Chrysostom (CPG 4305–5197, 491–672). Attributions sometimes vary between manuscripts; thus several texts ascribed to Ephrem in fact belong to the Macarian Homilies; these (CPG 3959, 3961, 3992–3, 4032–3, 4035, 4048) were edited in W. Strothmann, Schriften des Makarios/Symeon unter dem Namen des Ephraem. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1981.
  • The second volume of CPG (1974) and the Supplement (1998)53 provide the essential guide to ‘Ephrem Graecus’, and include references to the main secondary literature.54 The corpus is in fact very disparate in character, consisting of at least three very different elements:
    • (1) translations of genuine works by Ephrem
    • (2) translations of Syriac works not by Ephrem 
    • (3) a large body of material, itself disparate in character, for which Greek is the original language. Some of the Greek texts employ a syllabic metre; these may belong to any one of the three categories.
  • Three of the six volumes of the eighteenth-century edition of Ephrem (conventionally designated I-III) contain these Greek texts (though earlier editions, notably that of 1709 by Thwaites, exist). The recent seven-volume edition of the Greek texts, edited by K.G. Phrantzolas,55 is largely derived from the Rome edition, though the final volume contains some hitherto unpublished texts; for convenience, the contents of these volumes, identified here by their CPG numbers, are given in the sequence of their occurrence (‘ms.’ in vol. 7 indicates that the item has been published from a manuscript, and not from the Rome edition):
    • I CPG 3905–3919.
    • II CPG 3921–3936, 3950, 4014, 3943.
    • III CPG 3941, 3942, 3956=3975, 3976, 3959–61, 3963–6, 3968, 3971, 3920.
    • IV CPG 3944, 3945, 3969, 3946, 3948, 4007=4693,4012, [4012.2, ?,] 4014, 4016, 4029, 4044, 4009–11, 3985–8, 4003–6, 4030, 4035, 4031.
    • V CPG 4017, 4041, 3980=4679, 3981–4, 3989–94, 4002, 4001, 3998, 4000, 3997, 4015, 4018, 4032, 2415=4034, 4040, 4047, 4048, 4051,[ ?,] 4055, [?, ?, ?,] 4058–9.
    • VI CPG 4020–24, 3955, 3977=4503, 3978–9, 4028=7752, 4027, 3949, 4053–4, 3995–6, 4008, 4064, 4036, 4068–79.
    • VII CPG 3939, 4025, 4062, 4106, 4104, 4103, ms, 4046, 4061, 3953, 4026, ms, ms, 3954, ms, 4108, 3938, 4082, 3951, 3937, 3947, ms.
  • The distribution of the CPG numbers in their sequence as they feature in the seven volumes is as follows:
    • CPG 3905–3919 = vol. I; 3920 = Vol. III; 3921–3936 = Vol. II; 3937 = Vol. VII; 3938–9 = Vol. VII; 3942 = Vol. III; 3944–6, 3448 = Vol. IV; 3947 = Vol. VII; 3949 = Vol. VI; 3950 = Vol. II; 3953–4 = Vol.. VII; 3956, 3959–61, 3963–6, 3968 = Vol. III; 3969 = Vol. IV; 3971, 3975 = Vol. III; 3977–9 = Vol. VI; 3980–84 = Vol. V; 3985–8 = Vol. IV; 3989–94, 3997–8, 4000–4002 = Vol. V; 4003–7 = Vol . IV; 4008 = Vol. VI; 4009–12, 4014 =Vol. IV; 4014 = Vol. II; 4015 = Vol. V; 4016 = Vol. IV; 4017–8 = Vol. V; 4020–24, 4027–8 = Vol. VI;4025–6 = Vol. VII; 4029–31 = Vol. IV; 4032, 4034 = Vol. V; 4035 = Vol. IV; 4036 = Vol. VI; 4040–41 = Vol. V; 4044 = Vol. IV; 4046 = Vol. VII; 4047–8, 4051 = Vol. V; 4053–4 = Vol. VI; 4058–9 = Vol. V; 4061–2 = Vol. VII; 4064, 4068–79 = Vol. VI; 4082, 4103–4, 4106, 4108 = Vol. VII.
  • Subsequent to Phrantzolas’ edition, two further short Greek texts (CPG 4104, 4106) have been edited, with German translation in S. Held, Zwei an den Enkainien der Jerusalemer Grabeskirche gehaltene Predigten des griechischen Ephräm, Oriens Christianus, vol. 84, pp. 1-22, 2000.
  • Here it will suffice to note that the following are the only Greek texts which have a Syriac original that can be identified; several of these cannot be genuine Ephrem:
    • CPG II, 3909 (Sermo asceticus) 
    • CPG II, 3937 (Life of Abraham and his niece Mary) 
    • CPG II, 3939 (On the Transfiguration; attributed to John Chrysostom in Syriac) 
    • CPG II, 3944 (On the Second Coming),
    • CPG II, 3945(?) (On the resurrection and the Second Coming) 
    • CPG II, 3946(?) (On the Second Coming
    • CPG II, 3947 (Testament)
    • CPG II, 3948 (On the Cross)
    • CPG II, 3950 (Admonition)
    • CPG II, 3952 (On the Sinful Woman; in fact the Greek is not a direct translation)
    • CPG II, 4012(?) (On Second Coming)
    • CPG II, 4025 (On the Passion; attributed to John Chrysostom in Syriac)
    • CPG II, 4028 (On those who sleep in Christ)
    • CPG II, 4054 (On those who investigate the nature of the Son)
    • CPG II, 4082 (On Jonah and the Repentance of Nineveh).


  • The various Latin versions were made from Greek. The earliest texts to survive are some papyrus fragments of a text on the patriarch Joseph (CPG 3938) and a manuscript with the Sermo asceticus (CPG 3903), both of the sixth century. From slightly later is a free rendering of the Homily on Jonah and the Repentance of Nineveh (CPG 4028). By the ninth century a small corpus of nine texts was circulating, including On Penitence (CPG 3915), which was to prove particularly popular, to judge by the large number of manuscripts. Likewise popular was the Life of Abraham and his niece Mary (CPG 3937), which was also adapted into a play by the Benedictine nun Hrotswitha (late tenth century). This small corpus was replaced in the fifteenth century by a new and more extensive translation of 19 texts from Greek, by Ambrogio Traversari (d.1439). Then in the sixteenth century a very much larger corpus, of over 120 texts, was translated from Greek by Gerardus Vossius, and published in three volumes (1589, 1593, 1598). Vossius also included in his second volume the first Latin translation made directly from a Syriac text. In the seventeenth century several liturgical texts attributed to Ephrem were translated into Latin, but it was not until the great Editio Romana, in the eighteenth century, that large quantities of Syriac texts were made available in Latin translation. Supplementum 4 (1967), 604–48, of the Patrologia Latina contains a number of Latin texts under Ephrem’s name. For the early printed edition, see T. S. Pattie, The Early Printed Editions of Ephraem Latinus and their Relationship to the Manuscripts, Studia Patristica, vol. 20, pp. 50-53, 1989..