Book of Theology


Shem’un al-Turani was born in 1670 near Tur Abdin in present-day Turkey. He studied in Tur Abdin and became a monk at the age of twenty. He was appointed maphrian—historically the prelate second to the patriarch in the hierarchy of the Syriac Orthodox Church—in 1710 and took the name Basileios. Maphrian Basileios Shem’un was martyred in 1740. He wrote in verse and prose, and his works are considered important both because he was one of the most-renowned Syriac writers, and because very little of the great body of Syriac literature from the Ottoman period has been published. His Kitāb al-ṯe’ōlōġiyyā (Book of theology) is divided into 12 chapters, each of which is in ten sections. The book was written in Syriac and soon thereafter translated into Garshuni (this term, meaning Arabic written in Syriac script, rather than “Arabic” is specifically used in the manuscripts of the work). The translation is by Athanasius Aslan, bishop of Amid (present-day Diyarbakir, Turkey), and a student of Maphrian Basileios Shem’un. This copy is one of two very early manuscripts of the Garshuni version.

Last updated: September 29, 2014