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Ephrem’s polemic against Chaldeans (1)

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02 Religious and ideological symbols and iconographic motifs

12 Assyrian Identity

02 Religious and ideological symbols and iconographic motifs

4th century CE
Byzantine Empire
Christian-Syriac philosophers and scholars

Ephrem Syrus, Hymns on Paradise 9.14-16:
Learn too from the fire how the air’s breath is all-nourishing; if fire is confined in a place without air, its flame starts to flicker as it gasps for breath. Who has ever beheld a mother give suck with her whole being to everything? Upon her hangs the whole universe, while she depends on the One who is that Power which nourishes all. The Chaldeans are thus put to shame: for they exalted the stars, saying that it is they alone which give to the world all its nourishment. But it is the air which gives suck unstintingly to the stars as well as to seedlings, to reptiles and to man. This we are thought by the fire which itself is nourished by air, - and fire has a close affinity with those heavenly luminaries. For if the soul flies away when air is absent – since air is the body’s pillar upon which our frame is supported, being the bread of our bread, on which our own “field” grows fat – how much the more, then, can this blessed air give to spiritual beings pleasure as they partake and drink of it, fly about and swim in it – this veritable ocean of delights?

Source (list of abbreviations)
Ephrem Syrus, Hymns on Paradise 9.14-16


Brock 1990, 141-142Brock, Sebastian. St. Ephrem the Syrian. Hymns on Paradise. Crestwood: St. Vladimir Seminary Press 1990.

Amar Annus

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