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II/III Centuries
The father of Syriac poetry, Bar-Daisan was born into a pagan family c. 154 in Edessa. At 25, he converted to Christianity and was later ordained a deacon or a priest. He was among the earliest Christian converts in Syria and was also associated with the court of Abgar VIII. He wrote 150 hymns, as well as treatises on philosophy and astrology. The latter do not survive. His Dialogue of Destiny, of the Book of the Laws of the Countries, which his disciple Philip recorded, is the oldest known original poem in Syriac. Bar-Daisan rejects the fatalism of Aristotle and the determinism of astrology. He also rejects the resurrection of the body and believes that Christ's body was not a real human body. Bar-Daisan suggests that a hierarchy of dieties created the world; his cosmology may have influenced Mani. Saint Ephrem of Syria in his poetry attacks Bar-Daisan, who died c. 222 in Edessa.

Karen Rae Keck


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