Fire from Heaven: Studies in Syriac Theology and Liturgy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Fire from Heaven

Studies in Syriac Theology and Liturgy, 1st Edition

By Sebastian Brock


368 pages

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Hardback: 9780754659082
pub: 2006-05-28
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This fourth collection by Sebastian Brock focuses on three areas: the christology of the Church of the East, the distinctive phraseology of the invocations to the Holy Spirit in the Syriac liturgical tradition, and two important early Commentaries on the Liturgy. The inclusion of the Church of the East into ecumenical dialogue in recent years has stimulated a renewed study of its christology, which has often been badly misunderstood. A close study of the formative texts of the fifth to seventh centuries indicates that the traditional characterisation of this Church as 'Nestorian' is not only unsatisfactory, but also thoroughly misleading. There follows a series of studies of the wording of the many invocations to the Holy Spirit to be found in Syriac liturgical texts. These bring to light a number of intriguing features, some of which can be traced back to the Jewish roots of one strand of early Syriac Christianity. Syriac also preserves one of the earliest Commentaries on the Liturgy; dating from the fifth century, it proved influential in all three Syriac liturgical traditions, and was even translated into Sogdian. This short text, and another longer work by Gabriel of Qatar (fl. c. 600), are introduced and translated in full.


’Besides the obvious usefulness for Syriac scholars to have articles which were previously published in different editions and periodicals how in one work, for a more general audience of scholars in Patristic and Byzantine Studies and in Church History, the entire collection serves as a perfect introduction to the ecclesiastically divided Syriac spiritual tradition that developed a distinctive outlook in its early stages independently from Greek-speaking Christianity.’ Scrinium ’Sebastian Brock’s scholarship is, as always, ground-breaking and of outstanding quality, and given that his work is frequently published in a diverse range of journals and Festschriften, some more easily found in libraries than others, the convenience of having these articles collected together in a single volume will clearly recommend it to Syriac scholars and to libraries with an interest in Syriac Christianity, Patristic theology, or liturgical studies.’ Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: The Christology of the Church of the East: The 'Nestorian' Church: a lamentable misnomer; The Persian Church up to the 6th century and its absence from the Councils in the Roman Empire; The christology of the Church of the East; Christ 'the hostage': a theme in the East Syriac liturgical tradition and its origins. Invocations to the Holy Spirit and their Background: Fire from heaven: from Abel's sacrifice to the Eucharist: a theme in Syriac Christianity; 'Come, compassionate Mother, …, come Holy Spirit': a forgotten aspect of early Eastern Christian imagery; The epiklesis in the Antiochene baptismal ordines; Towards a typology of the Epicleses in the West Syrian Anaphoras; Invocations to/for the Holy Spirit in Syriac liturgical texts: some comparative approaches; The lost Old Syriac at Luke 1:35 and the earliest Syriac terms for the incarnation; An early interpretation of pasah: aggen in the Palestinian Targum; Passover, Annunciation and Epiclesis; From Annunciation to Pentecost: the travels of a technical term; The Ruah Elohim of Gen. 1,2 and its reception history in the Syriac tradition. Editions and Translations: Some early Syriac baptismal commentaries; An early Syriac commentary on the Liturgy; Gabriel of Qatar's commentary on the Liturgy; Index.

About the Author

Sebastian Brock was Reader in Syriac Studies at the Oriental Institute, and is Professorial Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General
RELIGION / Christian Church / General