Memoirs of Edessa and Other Ancient Syriac Documents
The Teaching of Addæus the Apostle.1
Addæus2 said to him: Because thou hast thus believed, I lay my hand upon thee in the name of Him in whom thou hast thus believed. And at the very moment that he laid his hand upon him he was healed of the plague of the disease which he had for a long time.3 And Abgar was astonished and marvelled, because, like as he had heard about Jesus, how He wrought and healed, so Addæus also, without any medicine whatever, was healing in the name of Jesus. And Abdu also, son of Abdu, had the gout in his feet; and he also presented his feet to him, and he laid his hand upon them, and healed him, and he had the gout no more. And in all the city also he wrought great cures, and showed forth wonderful mighty-works in it.
Abgar said to him: Now that every man knoweth that by the power of Jesus Christ thou doest these miracles, and lo! we are astonished at thy deeds, I therefore entreat of thee to relate to us the story about the coming of Christ, in what manner it was, and about His glorious power, and about the miracles which we have heard that He did, which thou hast thyself seen, together with thy fellow-disciples.
Addæus said: I will not hold my peace from declaring this; since for this very purpose was I sent hither, that I might speak to and teach every one who is willing to believe, even as thou. Assemble me tomorrow all the city, and I will sow in it the word of life by the preaching which I will address to you - about the coming of Christ, in what manner it was; and about Him that sent Him, why and how He sent Him; and about His power and His wonderful works; and about the glorious mysteries of His coming, which He spake of in the world; and about the unerring truth4 of His preaching; and how and for what cause He abused Himself, and humbled. His exalted Godhead by the manhood which He took, and was crucified, and descended to the place of the dead, and broke through the enclosures (Eph_2:14) which had never been broken through before, and gave life to the dead by being slain Himself, and descended alone, and ascended with many to His glorious Father, with whom He had been from eternity in one exalted Godhead.
And Abgar commanded them to give to Addæus silver and gold. Addæus said to him: How can we receive that which is not ours. For, lo! that which was ours have we forsaken, as we were commanded by our Lord; because without purses and without scrips, bearing the cross upon our shoulders, were we commanded to preach His Gospel in the whole creation, of whose crucifixion, which was for our sakes, for the redemption of all men, the whole creation was sensible and suffered pain.
And he related before Abgar the king, and before his princes and his nobles, and before Augustin, Abgar’s mother, and before Shalmath,5 the daughter of Meherdath,6 Abgar’s wife,7 the signs of our Lord, and His wonders, and the glorious mighty-works which He did, and His divine exploits, and His ascension to His Father; and how they had received power and authority at the same time that He was received up - by which same power it was that he had healed Abgar, and Abdu son of Abdu, the second person8 of his kingdom; and how He informed them that He would reveal Himself at the end of the ages9 and at the consummation of all created things; also of the resuscitation and resurrection which is to come for all men, and 658 the separation which will be made between the sheep and the goats, and between the faithful and those who believe not.
And he said to them: Because the gate of life is strait and the way of truth narrow, therefore are the believers of the truth few, and through unbelief is Satan’s gratification. Therefore are the liars many who lead astray those that see. For, were it not that there is a good end awaiting believing men, our Lord would not have descended from heaven, and come to be born, and to endure the suffering of death. Yet He did come, and us did He send10… of the faith which we preach, that God was crucified for11 all men.
And, if there be those who are not willing11 to agree with these our words, let them draw near to us and disclose to us what is in their mind, that, like as in the case of a disease, we may apply to their thoughts healing medicine for the cure of their ailments. For, though ye were not present at the time of Christ’s suffering, yet from the sun which was darkened, and which ye saw, learn ye and understand concerning the great convulsion12 which took place at that time, when He was crucified whose Gospel has winged its way through all the earth by the signs which His disciples my fellows do in all the earth: yea, those who were Hebrews, and knew only the language of the Hebrews, in which they were born, lo! at this day are speaking in all languages, in order that those who are afar off may hear and believe, even as those who are near. For He it is that confounded the tongues of the presumptuous in this region who were before us; and He it is that teaches at this day the faith of truth and verity by us, humble and despicable13 men from Galilee of Palestine. For I also whom ye see am from Paneas,14 from the place where the river Jordan issues forth, and I was chosen, together with my fellows, to be a preacher.
For, according as my Lord commanded me, lo! I preach and publish the Gospel, and lo! His money do I cast upon the table before you, and the seed of His word do I sow in the ears of all men; and such as are willing to receive it, theirs is the good recompense of the confession ofChrist; but those who are not persuaded, the dust of my feet do I shake off against them, as He commanded me.
Repent therefore, my beloved, of evil ways and of abominable deeds, and turn yourselves towards Him with a good and honest will, as He hath turned Himself towards you with the favour of His rich mercies; and be ye not as the generations of former times that have passed away, which, because they hardened their heart against the fear of God, received punishment openly, that they themselves might be chastised, and that those who come after them may tremble and be afraid. For the purpose of our Lord’s coming into the world assuredly was,15 that He might teach us and show us that at the consummation of the creation there will be a resuscitation of all men, and that at that time their course of conduct will be portrayed in their persons, and their bodies will be volumes for the writings of justice; nor will any one be there who is unacquainted with books, because every one will read that which is written in His own book.16
Ye that have eyes, forasmuch as ye do not perceive, are yourselves also become like those who see not and hear not; and in vain do your ineffectual voices strain themselves to deaf17 ears. Whilst they are not to be blamed for not hearing, because they are by18 nature deaf and dumb, yet the blame which is justly incurred falls upon you,19 because ye are not willing to perceive - not even that which ye see. For the dark cloud of error which overspreads your minds suffers you not to obtain the heavenly light, which is the understanding of knowledge. (Comp. Pro_19:25 - Tr.)
Flee, then, from things made and created, as I said to you, which are only called gods in name, whilst they are not gods in their nature; and draw near to this Being, who in His nature is God from everlasting and from eternity, and is not something made, like your idols, nor is He a creature and a work of art, like those images in which ye glory. Because, although this20 Being put on a body, yet is He God with His Father. For the works of creation, which trembled when He was slain and were dismayed at His suffering of death, - these bear witness that He is Himself God the Creator. For it was not on account of a man that the earth trembled,21 but on account 659 of Him who established the earth upon the waters; nor was it on account of a man that the sun grew dark in the heavens, but on account of Him who made the great lights; nor Was it for a man that the just and righteous were restored to life again, but for Him who had granted power over death from the beginning; nor was it for a man that the veil of the temple of the Jews was rent from the top to the bottom, but for Him who said to them, “Lo, your house is left desolate.” For, lo! unless those who crucified Him had known that He was the Son of God, they would not have had to proclaim22 the desolation23 of their city, nor would they have brought down Woe! upon themselves.24 For, even if they had wished to make light of this confession,25 the fearful convulsions which took place at that time would not have suffered them to do so. For lo! some even of the children of the crucifiers are become at this day preachers and evangelists, along with my fellow-apostles, in all the land of Palestine, and among the Samaritans, and in all the country of the Philistines. The idols also of paganism are despised, and the cross of Christ is honoured, and all nations and creatures confess God who became man.
If, therefore, while Jesus our Lord was on earth ye would have believed in Him that He is the Son of God, and before ye had heard the word of His preaching would have confessed Him that He is God; now that He is ascended to His Father, and ye have seen the signs and the wonders which are done in His name, and have heard with your own ears the word of His Gospel, let no one of you doubt in his mind - so that the promise of His blessing which He sent to you may be fulfilled26 towards you: Blessed are ye that have believed in me, not having seen me; and, because ye have so believed in me, the town27 in which ye dwell shall be blessed, and the enemy shall not prevail against it for ever.28 Turn not away, therefore, from his faith: for, lo! ye have heard and seen what things bear witness to His faith - showing that He is the adorable Son, and is the glorious God, and is the victorious King, and is the mighty Power; and through faith in Him a man is able to acquire the eyes of a true mind, (See Eph_1:18) and to understand that, whosoever worshippeth creatures, the wrath of justice will overtake him.
For in everything which we speak before you, according as we have received of the gift of our Lord, so speak we and teach and declare it, that ye may secure29 your salvation and not destroy30 your spirits through the error of paganism: because the heavenly light has arisen on the creation, and He it is who chose the fathers of former times, and the righteous men, and the prophets, and spoke with them in the revelation of the Holy Spirit.31 For He is Himself the God of the Jews who crucified Him; and to Him it is that the erring pagans offer worship, even while they know it not: because there is no other God in heaven and on earth; and lo! confession ascendeth up to Him from the four quarters of the creation. Lo! therefore, your ears have heard that which was not heard by you; and lo! further, your eyes have seen that which was never seen by you. (Isa_52:15)
Be not, therefore, gainsayers of that which ye have seen and heard. Put away from you the rebellious mind of your fathers, and free yourselves from the yoke of sin, which hath dominion over you in libations and in sacrifices offered before carved images; and be ye concerned for your endangered32 salvation, and for the unavailing support on which ye lean;33 and get you a new mind, that worships the Maker and not the 660 things which are made - amind in which is portrayed the image of verity and of truth, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; believing and being baptized in the triple and glorious names. For this is our teaching and our preaching. For the belief of the truth of Christ does not consist of many things.34 And those of you as are willing to be obedient to Christ are aware that I have many times repeated my words before you, in order that ye might learn and understand what ye hear.
And we ourselves shall rejoice in this, like the husbandman who rejoices in the field which is blessed; God also will be glorified by your repentance towards Him. While ye are saved hereby, we also, who give you this counsel, shall not be despoiled of the blessed reward of this work. And, because I am assured that ye are a land blessed according to the will of the Lord Christ, therefore, instead of the dust of our feet which we were commanded to shake off against the town that would not receive our words, I have shaken off to-day at the door of your ears the sayings of my lips, in which are portrayed the coming of Christ which has already been, and also that which is yet to be; and the resurrection, and the resuscitation of all men, and the separation which is to be made between the faithful and the unbelieving; and the sore punishment which is reserved for those who know not God, and the blessed promise of future joy which they shall receive who have believed in Christ and worshipped Him and His exalted Father, and have confessed Him and His divine Spirit.35
And now it is meet for us that I conclude my present discourse; and let those who have accepted the word of Christ remain with us, and those also who are willing to join with us in prayer; and afterwards let them go to their homes.
And Addæus the apostle was rejoiced to see that a great number of the population of the city stayed with him; and they were but few who did not remain at that time, while even those few not many days after accepted his words and believed in the Gospel set forth in36 the preaching of Christ.
And when Addæus the apostle had spoken these things before all the town of Edessa, and King Abgar saw that all the city rejoiced in his teaching, men and women alike, and heardthem saying to him, “True and faithful is Christ who sent thee to us” - he himself also rejoiced greatly at this, giving praise to God; because, like as he had heard from Hanan,37 his Tabularius, about Christ, so had he seen the wonderful mighty-works which Addæus the apostle did in the name of Christ.
And Abgar the king also said to him: According as I sent to Christ in my letter to Him, and according as He also sent to me, so have I also received from thine own self this day; so will I believe all the days of my life, and in the selfsame things will I continue and make my boast, because I know also that there is no other power in whose name these signs and wonders are done but the power of Christ whom thou preachest in verity and in truth. And henceforth Him will I worship - I and my son Maanu,38 and Augustin,39 and Shalmath the queen. And now, wherever thou desirest, build a church, a place of meeting for those who have believed and shall believe in thy words; and, according to the command given thee by thy Lord, minister thou at the seasons with confidence; to those also who shall be with thee as teachers of this Gospel I am prepared to give large donations, in order that they may not have any other work beside the ministry; and whatsoever is required by thee for the expenses of the building I myself will give thee without any restriction,40 whilst thy word shall be authoritative and sovereign in this town; moreover, without theinterventionof any other person do thou come into my presence as one in authority, into the palace of my royal majesty.
And when Abgar was gone down to his royal palace he rejoiced, he and his princes with him, Abdu son of Abdu, and Garmai, and Shemashgram,41 and Abubai, and Meherdath,42 together with the others their companions, at all that their eyes had seen and their ears also had heard; and in the gladness of their heart they too began to praise God for having turned their mind towards Him, renouncing the paganism in which they had lived,43 and confessing the Gospel of Christ. And when Addæus had built a church they proceeded to offer in it vows and oblations, they and the people of the city; and there they continued to present their praises all the days of their life.
And Avida and Barcalba,44 who were chief men and rulers, and wore the royal headband,45 drew 661 near to Addæus, and asked him about the matter of Christ, requesting that he would tell them how He, though He was God, appeared to them as a man: And how, said they, were ye able to look upon Him? And he proceeded to satisfy them all about this, about all that their eyes had seen and about whatsoever their ears had heard from him. Moreover, everything that the prophets had spoken concerning Him he repeated before them, and they received his words gladly and with faith, and there was not a man that withstood him; for the glorious deeds which he did suffered not any man to withstand him.
Shavida, moreover, and Ebednebu, chiefs of the priests of this town, together with Piroz46 and Dilsu their companions, when they had seen the signs which he did, ran and threw down the altars on which they were accustomed to sacrifice before Nebu and Bel,47 their gods, except the great altar which was in the middle of the town; and they cried out and said: Verily this is the disciple of that eminent and glorious Master, concerning whom we have heard all that He did in the country of Palestine. And all those who believed in Christ did Addæus receive, and baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And those who used to worship stones and stocks sat at his feet, recovered from the madness48 of paganism wherewith they had been afflicted. Jews also, traders in fine raiment,49 who were familiar with the law and the prophets - they too were persuaded, and became disciples, and confessed Christ that He is the Son of the living God.
But neither did King Abgar nor yet the Apostle Addæus compel any man by force to believe in Christ, because without the force of man the force of the signs compelled many to believe in Him. And with affection did they receive His doctrine - all this country of Mesopotamia, and all the regions round about it.
Aggæus, moreover, who50 made the silks51 and headbands of the king, and Palut, and Barshelama, and Barsamya, together with the others their companions, clave to Addæus the apostle; and he received them, and associated them with him in the ministry, their business being to read in the Old Testament and the New,52 and in the prophets, and in the Acts of the Apostles, and to meditate upon them daily; strictly charging them to let their bodies be pure and their persons holy, as is becoming in men who stand before the altar of God. “And be ye,” said he, “far removed from false swearing and from wicked homicide, and from dishonest testimony, which is connected with adultery; and from magic arts, for which there is no mercy, and from sooth-saying, and divination, and fortune-tellers; and from fate and nativities, of which the deluded Chaldeans make their boast; and from the stars, and the signs of the Zodiac, in which the foolish put their trust. And put far from you unjust partiality, and bribes, and presents, through which the innocent are pronounced guilty. And along with this ministry, to which ye have been called, see that ye have no other work besides: for the Lord is the work of your ministry all the days of your life. And be ye diligent to give the seal of baptism. And be not fond of the gains of this world. And hear yea cause with justice and with truth. And be ye not a stumbling-block to the blind, lest through you should be blasphemed the name of Him who opened theeyesof the blind, according as we have seen. Let all, therefore, who see you perceive that ye yourselves are in harmony with whatsoever ye preach and teach.”
And they ministered with him in the church which Addæus had built at the word and command of Abgar the king, being furnished with supplies by the king and his nobles, partly for the house of God, and partly for the supply of the poor. Moreover, much people day by day assembled and came to the prayers of the service, and to thereadingof the Old Testament, 662 and the New of the Diatessaron.53 They also believed in the restoration of the dead, and buried their departed in the hope of resuscitation. The festivals of the Church they also observed in their seasons, and were assiduous every day in the vigils of the Church. And they made visits of almsgiving, to the sick and to those that were whole, according to the instruction of Addæus to them. In the environs, too, of the city churches were built, and many received from him ordination to the priesthood.54 So that even people of the East, in the guise of merchants, passed over into the territory of the Romans, that they might see the signs which Addæus did. And such as became disciples received from him ordination to the priesthood, and in their own country of the Assyrians they instructed the people of their nation, and erected houses of prayer there in secret, by reason of the danger from those who worshipped fire and paid reverence to water.55
Moreover, Narses, the king of the Assyrians, when he heard of those same things which Addæus the apostle had done, sent amessage to Abgar the king: Either despatch to me the man who doeth these signs before thee, that I may see him and hear his word, or send me anaccountof all that thou hast seen him do in thy own town. And Abgar wrote to Narses,56 and related to him the whole story of the deeds of Addæus from the beginning to the end; and he left nothing which he did not write to him. And, when Narses heard those things which were written to him, he was astonished and amazed.
Abgar the king, moreover, because he was not able to pass over into the territory of the Romans,57 and go to Palestine and slay the Jews for having crucified Christ, wrote a letter and sent it to Tiberius Cæsar,58 writing in it thus: -
King Abgar to our Lord Tiberius Cæsar: Although I know that nothing is hidden from thy Majesty, I write to inform thy dread and mighty Sovereignty that the Jews who are under thy dominion and dwell in the country of Palestine have assembled themselves together and crucified Christ, without any fault worthy of death, after He had done before them signs and wonders, and had shown them powerful mighty-works, so that He even raised the dead to life for them; and at the time that they crucified
Him the sun became darkened and the earth also quaked, and all created things trembled and quaked, and, as if of themselves, at this deed the whole creation and the inhabitants of the creation shrank away. And now thy Majesty knoweth what it is meet for thee to command Concerning the people of the Jews who have done these things.
And Tiberius Cæsar wrote and sent to King Abgar; and thus did he write to him: -
The letter of thy Fidelity towards me I have received, and it hath been read before me. Concerning what the Jews have dared to do in the matter of the cross, Pilate59 the governor also has written and informed Aulbinus60 my proconsul concerning these selfsame things of which thou hast written to me. But, because a war with the people of Spain,61 who have rebelled against me, is on foot at this time, on this account I have not been able to avenge this matter; but I am prepared, when I shall have leisure, to issue a command according to law against the Jews, who act not according to law. And on this account, as regards Pilate also, who was appointed by me governor there - I have sent another in his stead, and dismissed him in disgrace, because he departed from the law,62 and did the will of the Jews, and for the gratification of the Jews crucified Christ, who, according to what I hear concerning Him, instead of suffering the cross of death, deserved to be honoured and worshipped63 by them: and more especially because with their own eyes they saw everything that He did. Yet thou, in accordance with thy fidelity towards me, and the faithful covenant enteredintoby thyself and by thy fathers, hast done well in writing to me thus.
And Abgar the king received Aristides, who had been sent by Tiberius Cæsar to him; and in reply he sent him back with presents of honour suitable for him who had sent him to him. 663 And from Edessa he went to Thicuntha,64 where Claudius, the second from the emperor, was; and from thence, again, he went to Attica,65 where Tiberius Cæsar was: Caius, moreover, was guarding the regions round about Cæsar. And Aristides himself also related before Tiberius concerning the mighty-works which Addæus had done before Abgar the king. And when he had leisure from the war he sent and put to death some of the chief men of the Jews who were in Palestine. And, when Abgar the king heard of this, he rejoiced greatly that the Jews had received punishment, as it was right.
And some years after Addæus the apostle had built the church in Edessa, and had furnished it with everything that was suitable for it, and had made disciples of a great number of the population of the city, he further built churches in the villages66 also - both those which were at a distance and those which were near, and finished and adorned them, and appointed in them deacons and elders, and instructed in them those who should read the Scriptures, and taught the ordinances and67 the ministry without and within.
After all these things he fell ill of the sickness of which he departed from this world. And he called for Aggæus before the whole assembly of the church, and bade him draw near, and made him Guide and Ruler68 in his stead. And Palut,69 who was a deacon, he made elder; and Abshelama, who was a scribe, he made deacon. And, the nobles and chief men being assembled, and standing near him - Barcalba son of Zati,70 and Maryhab71 son of Barshemash, and Senac72 son of Avida, and Piroz son of Patric,73 together with the rest of their companions - Addæus the apostle said to them: -
“Ye know and are witness, all of you who hear me, that, accordingto all that I have preached to you and taught you and ye have heard from me, even so have I behaved myself in the midst of you, and ye have seen it in deeds also: because our Lord thus charged us, that, whatsoever we preach in words before the people, we should practise it in deeds before all men. And, according to the ordinances and laws which were appointed by the disciples in Jerusalem,74 and by which my fellow-apostles also guided their conduct, so also do ye - turn not aside from them, nor diminish aught from them: even as I also am guided by them amongst you, and have not turned aside from them to the right hand or to the left, lest I should become estranged from the promised salvation which is reserved for such as are guided by them.
“Give75 heed, therefore, to this ministry which ye hold, and with fear and trembling continue in it, and minister every day. Minister not in it with neglectful habits, but with the discreetness of faith; and let not the praises of Christ cease out of your mouth, nor let weariness of prayer at the stated times come upon you. Give heed to the verity which ye hold, and to the teaching of the truth which ye have received, and to the inheritance of salvation which I commit to you: because before the tribunal of Christ will ye have to give an account of it, when He maketh reckoning with the shepherds and overseers, and when He taketh His money from the traders with the addition of the gains. For He is the Son of a King, and goeth to receive a kingdom and return; and He will come and make a resuscitation tolife for all men, and then will He sit upon the throne of His righteousness, and judge the dead and the living, as He said to us.
“Let not the secret eye of your minds be closed by pride, lest your stumbling-blocks be many in the way in which there are no stumbling-blocks, but a hateful76 wandering in its paths. Seek ye those that are lost, and direct those that go astray, and rejoice in those that are found; bind up the bruised, and watch over the fatlings: because at your hands will the sheep of Christ be required. Look ye not for the honour that passeth away: for the shepherd that looketh to receive honour from his flock - sadly, sadly stands his flock with respect to him. Let your concern be great for the young lambs, whose angels behold the face of the Father who is unseen. And be ye not stones of stumbling before the blind, but clearers of the way and the paths 664 in a rugged country, among the Jews the crucifiers, and the deluded pagans: for with these two parties have ye to fight, in order that ye may show the truth of the faith which ye hold; and, though ye be silent, your modest and decorous appearance will fight for you against those who hate truth and love falsehood.
“Buffet not the poor in the presence of the rich: for scourge grievous enough for them is their poverty.
“Be not beguiled by the hateful devices of Satan, test ye be stripped naked of the faith which ye have put on.”77... “And with the Jews, the crucifiers, we will have no fellowship. And this inheritance which we have received from thee we will not let go, but in that will we depart out of this world; and on the day of our Lord, before the judgment-seat of His righteousness, there will He restore to us this inheritance, even as thou hast told us.”
And, when these things had been spoken, Abgar the king rose up, he and his chief men and his nobles, and he went to his palace, all of them being distressed for him because he was dying. And he sent to him noble and excellent apparel, that he might be buried in it. And, when Addæus saw it, he sent to him, saying: In my lifetime I have not taken anything from thee, nor will I now at my death take anything from thee, nor will I frustrate the word of Christ which He spake to us: Accept not anything from any man, and possess not anything in this world.78
And three days more after these things had been spoken by Addæus the apostle, and he had heard and received the testimony concerning the teaching set forth in their preaching from those engaged with him in the ministry, in the presence of all the nobles he departed out of this world. And that day was the fifth of the week, and the fourteenth of the month Iyar,79 nearlyansweringtoMay. And the whole city was in great mourning and bitter anguish for him. Nor was it the Christians only that were distressed for him, but the Jews also, and the pagans, who were in this same town. But Abgar the king was distressed for him more than any one, he and the princes of his kingdom. And in the sadness of his soul he despised and laid aside the magnificence of his kingly state on that day, and with tears mingled with moans he bewailed him with all men. And all the people of the city that saw him were amazed to see how greatly he suffered on his account. And with great and surpassing pomp he bore him, and buried him like one of the princes when he dies; and he laid him in a grand sepulchre adorned with sculpture wrought by the fingers - that in which were laid those of the house of Ariu, the ancestors of Abgar the king: there he laid him sorrowfully, with sadness and great distress. And all the people of the church went there from time to time and prayed fervently; and they kept up the remembrance of his departure from year to year, according to the command and direction which had been received by them from Addæus the apostle,80 and according to the word of Aggæus, who himself became Guide and Ruler, and the successor of his seat after him, by the ordination to the priesthood which he had received from him in the presence of all men.
He too, with the same ordination which he had received from him, made Priests and Guides in the whole of this country of Mesopotamia. For they also, in like manner as Addæus the apostle, held fast his word, and listened to and received it, as good and faithful successors of the apostle of the adorable Christ. But silver and gold he took not from any man, nor did the gifts of the princes come near him: for, instead of receiving gold and silver, he himself enriched the Church of Christ with the souls of believers.