Aba I.

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Aba I. also Mar Aba I .; Mar Abba the Great († 552 ) was Catholicos of the "Church of the East" from 540 to 552. He introduced the anaphores of Theodor of Mopsuestia and Nestorius , in addition to the older liturgy of Addai and Mari . Even though his tenure as Catholicos saw some threats to Christians from the Persian-Roman wars and the threat of influence from both Sassanid and Byzantine rulers, his reign is considered a time of consolidation. One synod he held in 544 had a particularly strong influence on the strengthening and unification of the church. Aba is said to have written and translated a number of scriptures.

He is a saint of the Assyrian Church of the East , the Ancient Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church , which runs a seminary named after him in San Diego , USA. His feast is celebrated on the seventh Friday after Epiphany and on February 28th .

Biographies can be found in the Selected Acts of Persian Martyrs and The Lesser Eastern Churches , two collections of biography of saints from the Eastern Church.


Aba was born into a Zoroastrian Persian family. His place of birth was Hala in Mesopotamia . Mar Aba became the secretary to the governor of Beth Garmai before converting to Christianity. He studied theology and later taught at the school of Nisibis . He gained recognition as a scholar and continued his studies in Edessa , where he learned Greek from Thomas von Edessa. With this he traveled through the Byzantine Empire and met around 525/530 Kosmas Indicopleustes , who owed his cosmology to a no longer existing treatise Abas I on the two catastases . Aba I is credited with translating or at least overseeing the translation of key texts in theology, including the works of Theodor and Nestorius . Own works include Bible commentaries, homilies and synodal letters.

Disputes about Theodor von Mopsuestia

When Mar Aba disseminated the biblical interpretation and commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia, he took a controversial position. The Byzantine emperor Justinian I tried to meet him around 532, before his consecration as patriarch. He wanted to convince him to refuse the teachings of Theodor. Justinian also prepared a condemnation of Theodor and his works, evidently in sharp rejection of Mar Aba's views. Concessions to Justinian's ideas would have been politically undesirable for Mar Aba, since his Assyrian Church of the East only gained independence from the Christian West at the Council of Dadisho in 424. Mar Aba did not show up for the meeting.

The synod of 544

Aba's tenure as Catholic ended a 15-year period of schism in the Assyrian Church of the East. Remote areas in the jurisdiction had raised their own counter-bishop during this time. Mar Aba managed to resolve the schism by visiting the areas in question and re-establishing consensus. In 544 he called a synod in which the agreements should be ratified. The synod determined that the metropolitans of the areas under the jurisdiction of Seleukia-Ctesiphon should elect the patriarchs at a formal synod in the future. However, this agreement was subverted substantially in the years that followed, not only when Chosrau I , the Persian Shah, influenced the election of Joseph , Aba's successor.

The synod acts also include an “Orthodoxy of Faith” written by Aba himself. Some of his precepts demonstrate the specifically Persian character of the Church of the East. Especially marriage regulations, which forbid the marriage of closely related persons and which are obviously intended as a response to the open customs of Zoroastrian culture, make the cultural background clear.

Tensions with Persia and Rome

Tensions between the Persian and Byzantine empires intensified during Mar Aba's lifetime, and after hostile encounters the persecution of Christians in the Persian empire intensified in the 540s. Zoroastrians, who despised Mar Aba as an apostate , put pressure on Chosrau to do something against Mar Aba. As a punishment for proselytizing among Zoroastrians, Mar Aba was placed under house arrest and later sent into exile in Azerbaijan . However, he was allowed to return after seven years and he remained a patriarch until his death in 552, - according to some representations, he died of the consequences of torture and imprisonment.

Impact history

The first seminary of the Chaldean Catholic Church outside Iraq was founded in El Cajon, San Diego in July 2008 and named Seminary of Mar Abba the Great .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Robert Benedetto, James O. Duke (Ed.): New Westminster Dictionary of Church History . Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, ISBN 0-664-22416-4 , pp. 406 .
  2. Aba I. In: Bruno Becchio, Johannes P. Schadé (Ed.): Encyclopedia of World Religions . Foreign Media Group, 2006, ISBN 1-60136-000-2 .
  3. ^ A b c d e Wilhelm Baum, Dietmar W. Winkler: The Church of the East . Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-29770-2 , pp. 33-34 .
  4. ^ Suha Rassam: Christianity in Iraq . Gracewing, 2005, ISBN 0-85244-633-0 , pp. 37 .
  5. Edward Noort, Eibert Tigchelaar JC : The Sacrifice of Isaac . 2002, ISBN 90-04-12434-9 , pp. 115 .
  6. Seminary of Mar Abba the Great ( Memento from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  7. ^ Samuel NC Lieu: Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire and Medieval China . 1992, p. 52.
  8. Greatrex & Lieu (2002), p. 273
  9. Michel van Esbroeck: Aba I. (Mar) . In: Lexicon for Theology and Church , 3rd edition, Vol. 1 (1993), Col. 8.
  10. ^ A. Gelston: The Eucharistic prayer of Addai and Mari . Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-19-826737-1 , pp. 23 .
  11. ^ Jean-Baptiste Chabot:  Syriac Language and Literature . In: Catholic Encyclopedia , Volume 14, Robert Appleton Company, New York 1912.
  12. ^ MJ Birnie: The Church of the East and Theodore of Mopsuestia: the commitment to his writings and its implications for dialogue . In: Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies . 10, No. 1, September.
  13. Christopher Buck: Paradise and Paradigm . SUNY, 1999, ISBN 0-7914-4061-3 , p. 6 .
  14. Michael G. Morony: Iraq After the Muslim Conquest . Gorgias Press, 2005, ISBN 1-59333-315-3 , pp. 364 .


predecessor Office successor
Polos I. Catholicos of the “Church of the East”
Josip I.