Hardcore Scholarliness

I have to apologize for so little writing- the last weeks of the semester (plus the end of Lent and the marathon of Holy Week and Pascha which are so close) leave little time for blogging, I’m afraid. However, my study habits are certainly nowhere near those described by Barhadbeshabba (‘son of Sunday’) in his Eclessiastical History, in which he described the scholastic-monastic life of Narsai, the apparent founder and first head of the School of Nisibis, who would have loved coffee:

‘Now he would take a simple nourishment regularly of one meal, and again he would do this at evening time, or once every two days. His bed was a mat of reed and palm, his bedding a patched cloak. He would work wholly in meditation upon the liturgy and meditation on the scriptures, not giving place for sleep to fall upon himself, but upon a common seat he would drive sleep from his brow, and if it happened that he was conquered to slumber from his vigil, either he would stand and walk or he would place in his nostrils materials which would excite and awake, like spicy and sour things, or hot and pleasing things, or he would lay a tome upon his face and in this way he would sleep upon his seat. Often the tome would be the cause of waking him, since it would tip from its weight and fall from his face to his hands. The holy one demonstrated all this diligence so that while he was fleshly and mortal he emulated the way of the angels.’

From Sources for the Study of the School of Nisibis, translated and with an introduction by Adam H. Becker (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008). Becker’s reassasment and interpretation of the School of Nisibis and its ‘scholastic’ culture, which this collection of sources supplements, is excellent and comes much recommended if you’re at all interested in the Church of the East, though the price tag is unfortunately rather steep…

The Peace is God, Who Came to Us and Became Flesh

1.

Gabriel flew
From the height on the wings of the wind
And brought an epistle from his Lord
To bring Mary the salutation.
He opened it and read it and said to her:
“My Lord is with you and rises from you;
I left him behind up above
And here with you I find him.”
Praise be to him, before whom in the height and in the depth
The angels sing praise.

2.

“Peace, peace
To the far and the near!”
The prophet in the Holy Spirit called out
To the whole race of the house of Adam.
The peace is God,
Who came to us and became flesh.
Praise to him, who humiliated so much
His majesty on our behalf.
And he rose from us after our likeness
And (yet) he did not leave his Father’s side.

3.

Grant, o our Lord,
Peace to your church in all four corners of the globe
And take from her the quarrels
And the divisions and the evil schisms
And gather her children in her fold
In the true faith
And appoint shepherds over her
Who put her to pasture after your will.
And may she rejoice with you in the kingdom
To the right of Him who sent you.

Simeon the Potter of Gesir, Potter Songs

St. Ephrem on Prayer

11. Our prayer has become like a hidden taste within our body, but let it richly give forth the fragrance of our faith: fragrance acts as a herald for the taste in the case of that person who has acquired the furnace which tests all scents.

12. Truth and Love are wings that cannot be separated, for Truth cannot fly without Love, nor can Love soar aloft without Truth; their yoke is one of amity.

17. Let prayer wipe clean the murky thoughts, let faith wipe clean the senses outwardly; and let one such man who is divided collect himself and become one before You.

St. Ephrem, Hymns on Faith, No. 20