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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Barsumas, Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis

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Barsumas (the Nestorian), bp. of Nisibis and metropolitan, 435-489, who, after the suppression of Nestorianism within the empire, engaged successfully in its propagation in Eastern Asia, especially in Persia. Banished from Edessa by Rabulas, after his desertion of his former friends, Barsumas proved the chief strength and wisdom of the fugitive church. In 435 he became bp. of Nisibis, where, in conjunction with Maanes, bp. of Hardaschir, he established a theological school of deserved celebrity, over which Narses presided for fifty years. Barsumas had the skill to secure for his church the powerful support of the Persian king Pherozes (Firuz), who ascended the throne in the year 462. He worked upon his enmity to the Roman power to obtain his patronage for a development of doctrine which had been formally condemned by the emperor and his assembled bishops, representing to him that the king of Persia could never securely reckon on the allegiance of his subjects so long as they held the same religious faith with his enemies. Pherozes admitted the force of this argument, and Nestorianism became the only form of Christianity tolerated in Persia. Barsumas died in 489, in which year the emperor Zeno broke up the theological seminary at Edessa on account of its Nestorianism, with the result that it flourished still more at Nisibis. Missionaries went out from it in great multitudes, and Nestorianism became the recognized form of Christianity in Eastern Asia. The Malabar Christians are the lineal descendants of their missions. Assemanni, Bibl. Or, iii. 1, 16-70; Wigram, Hist. of Assyrian Ch. c. viii. [See Nestorian Church.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Barsumas, Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
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