Jacob of Edessa

Jacob of Edessa (so called after the name of his residence), one of the most celebrated Syrian writers and theologians, flourished in the second half of the 7th century. He was born in the village of Indsba (in Antioch), and in early life entered the monastic order. About the year 651 he was appointed bishop of Edessa; but his zeal for the cause of the Church often led him astray, and he made many enemies among the clergy, and finally resigned the episcopal dignity, retiring to a life of seclusion in a monastery at Toledo. He now began an extended study of the Syriac Version of the Old Testament, and made many valuable corrections and annotations, of which parts still remain to us (compare Sylvestre de Sacy, in Eichhorn's Biblioth. d. bibl. Litter. 8, 571 sq.; Notices et extraits des MSS. 4, 648 sq.; Eichhorn, Bibl. d. bibl. Lit. 2, 270; the same, Einl. in d. A. T. 2, §260 sq.). After the decease of his successor at Edessa he was invited to reassume the duties of the bishopric, but he died while on his journey, June 5, 708 Jacob of Edessa was a zealous advocate of Monophysitism, and he is greatly revered by the Jacobites (q.v.), while he is highly esteemed also by the Maronites. He was distinguished for his thorough knowledge of the Syriac, Hebrew, and Greek, and translated a number of Greek works into Syriac, a task which he so ably discharged that he was honored with the surname of "'interpreter of the books" (in the Syriac, קפִשׁקָנָא דִכתָבֵא). He wrote commentaries and scholia on the O.T. and N.T., of which extracts are contained in the works of Ephraem (comp. Assemani, Biblioth. Orient. 1, 476 sq.). See Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, 6, 379 sq.; Halle Encyklopadie, 2nd sect. 13:165-167. (J. H.W.)

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