|Hymns on Paradise (Popular Patristics)|
St. Ephrem the Syrian, Sebastian Brock
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St. Ephrem the Syrian's cycle of 15 Hymns on Paradise offers a fine example of Christian poetry, in which the author weaves a profound theological synthesis around a particular Biblical narrative. Centered on Genesis 2 and 3, he expresses his awareness of the sacramental character of the created world, and of the potential of everything in the created world to act as a witness and pointer to the creator.
God's two witnesses, says Ephrem, are: "Nature, through man's use of it, and Scripture, through his reading it." In Hymns on paradise, Ephrem posits an inherent link between the material and spiritual worlds. Because his theology is not tied to a particular cultural or philosophical background, but operates by means of imagery and symbolism basic to all human experience, his theological vision expressed in his hymns has a freshness and immediacy today that few other theological works from the early Christian period can hope to achieve.
About the Popular Patristics Series
The Popular Patristics series published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press provides readable and accurate translations of a broad range of early Christian literature to a wide audience--from students of Christian history to lay Christians reading for spiritual benefit.
Recognized Patristic scholars provide short but comprehensive and clear introductory essays according to their specializations for each volume.
Texts include classics of Christian literature, thematic volumes, homily collections, letters, spiritual guidance, and poetical works from a wide variety geographical contexts and historical backgrounds. The purpose of the series is to mine the riches of the early church and to make these invaluable writings available to all.
|Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns (Classics of Western Spirituality)|
Ephrem the Syrian
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Ephrem was born in the Mesopotamian city of Nisibis toward the end of the third century. An outpost of the Roman Empire, Nisibis and its Christian citizens were formed under the reign of Constantine and the doctrines of the Council of Nicea. There, amidst a large and sophisticated Jewish population along with numerous Gnostic sects, Ephrem
sought to defend orthodox Nicene Christianity. His skill as a teacher and writer made him an influential voice in the life of Syriac Christianity through the peaceful years of Constantine's patronage.
It was as a poet that Ephrem made his greatest impact. Writing in isosyllabic verses called madrashe, he attained the literary brilliance that won him a place of prominence not only in his own tradition, but in the Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, and Arabic traditions as well. His hymns had a formative influence on the development of European medieval religious drama. Blending Greek forms with his native style, he wove a highly crafted poetry of rich symbolism into the cosmic framework of God's redemptive act in Christ.