ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|Mor Gregorios Bar Hebraeus, Mapheryono (Catholicos), July 30|
Mor Gregorios Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286)
Mar Gregorius Abu al-Faraj of Melitene, mapheryono (Catholicos) of the East, known as Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286) Abu al-Faraj, nicknamed Jamal al-Din," son of the deacon Taj al-Din Aaron the physician, the son of Tuma (Thomas) of Melitene known as Bar Hebraeus, is a very famous learned man and one of the great philosophers and theologians of the Orient as well as the world. Certainly, he is the most luminous star that ever shown in the firmament of the Syrian nation and his encyclopedic knowledge makes him all the more unique and unequalled.
He was born at Melitene in 1226 to a noble Christian family. In an article written by HH. Mor Ignatius Ephrem Barsoum the Patriarch, refuted the allegation of Orientalists who claimed that the term 'Ebroyo (Hebraeus) is evidence that he was of Jewish origin and that his father was a convert to Christianity. The truth is that he was called Hebraeus because either one of his forefathers or he himself was born during a crossing of the River Euphrates. It is sufficient proof to cite a line of poetry which he composed about this, his nickname. He stated:
"If our Lord
(Christ) called himself a Samaritan,
And not a disgraceful doctrine or the Hebrew language."
Let then those who arbitrarily hold this view change their traditional mistake.
Bar Hebraeus studied Syriac, Church rites, the Holy Scripture and the commentaries of the Church Fathers on them, under proficient masters in his own country. He also studied medicine under his father. At the end of 1243 his father left with his family for Antioch because of civil disturbances in his own country. Abu alFaraj took this opportunity to study whatever he could of sciences under other teachers he found. In 1244 he became disenchanted with worldly things and became a monk renowned for his piety. He pursued his study of medicine, rhetoric and logic under master Jacob the Nestorian in Tripoli. When he achieved fame, Patriarch Ignatius III liked him and ordained him a priest and then a bishop for Gubas in 1246 and called him Gregory.
Later he was transferred to the diocese of Laqbin and then Aleppo where he completed his philosophical and theological studies and mastered the Arabic language. On January 19,1264 he was elevated to the Mapheryonate of the East. He spent the next twenty-two years and few months traveling between Nineveh, St. Matthew's monastery, Baghdad, Mosul, Maraga and Tabriz, ministering to the believers and treating favorable circumstance for the Church in both religious and secular domains. He had great favor with the kings of the Mongols because of his knowledge, competence and his excellent handling of things and people. He chose pious and qualified monks and ordained twelve of them bishops. He built two churches, two monasteries and two diocesan homes for the bishops and an inn. Nevertheless, he never stopped learning and entering into discussions with the learned men of his time. Wherever he went, he became the focus of attention for the educated.
At the library of Maraga he studied philosophical commentaries in Arabic. He also read all of the philosophical and medical writings or Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and used them as his authority after the writings of Aristotle. They had a great influence on his own writings. Then he studied the Persian language thoroughly and found time to look into the different books of asceticism. Through God's Providence he was successful in everything he did until his death at Maraga on July 30, 1286, being sixty years of age. All the Christian sects were stunned by his death and mourned his passing. His holy body was conveyed to the Monastery of St. Matthew, where his grave is still the object of reverence.
He was described as "The Ocean of Wisdom," "The Light of East and West," "The Prince of Learning Men," "The Greatest Sage," "The Holy Father" and "The Most Learned Man Possessing Divine Knowledge, and so on... "
His works can be found written in: (History of Syriac Literature and Sciences, Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem I Barsoum, Presseggiata Press, p 152-58)