Bible and Poetry in Late Antique Mesopotamia

Ephrem’s Hymns on Faith

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Jeffrey Wickes
Christianity in Late Antiquity
  • Berkeley: 
    University of California Press
    , September
     226 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Ephrem the Syrian was one of the founding voices in Syriac literature. While he wrote in a variety of genres, the bulk of his work took the form of madrashe, a Syriac genre of musical poetry or hymns. In Bible and Poetry in Late Antique Mesopotamia, Jeffrey Wickes offers a thoroughly contextualized study of Ephrem’s magnum opus, the Hymns on Faith, delivered in response to the theological controversies that followed the First Council of Nicaea. The ensuing doctrinal divisions had tremendous impact on the course of Christianity and led in part to the development of a uniquely Syriac Church, in which Ephrem would become a central figure. Drawing on literary, ritual, and performance theories, Bible and Poetry shows how Ephrem used the Syriac Bible to construct and conceive of himself and his audience. In so doing, Wickes resituates Ephrem in a broader early Christian context and contributes to discussions of literature and religion in late antiquity.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jeffrey Wickes is Assistant Professor of Early Christianity at Saint Louis University.