The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
. Aniranian Religions: Christianity
PAUL THE PERSIAN
By: Byard Bennett
Bar Hebraeus (Chron. Eccl. II; ed. Abbeloos and Lamy, I, cols. , 97-98) refers to a certain Paul the Persian of Dershar (or Dershahr) who lived at the time of the Nestorian Patriarch Ezekiel (567-580 C.E.), according to Bar Hebraeus (Chron. Eccl. II; ed. Abbeloos and Lamy, 1872I, cols. 97-98), and was well versed in ecclesiastical and philosophical matters. . Having onceat one time aspired to be the metropolitan bishop of Persis, hehe later converted to Zoroastrianism.; Paul's apostasy is described in ( a similar manner in the Arabic Chronicle of Se‚ert (XXIV; ed. Scher, 1911, p. 147), but cf. Teixidor (1996, p. 509, n. 1) has questioned the historical value of these reports.
Bar Hebraeus attributes to Paulhim "an admirable introduction to the dialectics (of Aristotle)." It is generally agreed that this is identical with the Syriac Treatise on the Logic of Aristotle the Philosopher addressed to King Khhuosrowousrowau (i.e., Khousrowa I Anushirvwân, rregn. 531-5798/579), which is extant in aone Syriac manuscript in the British Museum (ms.ms. 988 [Add. 144660], ff. 55v-67rv; Wright 1872, 1872, p. 1161). Renan edited the first part of the introduction and translated it into French (1852a, 311-319) and Latin (1852b, 16-22). An edition and Latin translation of the Treatise were published by Land (1875). The Treatise contains an introduction to philosophy in general, an introduction to Aristotle's logical works (dependent upon Porphyry's Isagoge), and concise summaries of the individual books of the Organon studied in the Syrian school tradition (Categoriae; De interpretatione; Analytica priora 1I.1-7).e whole treatise was then edited and translated into Latin by Land (1875) The first half of the Treatise has and been translated into French by Teixidor (1992, pp. 129-1320; 1998b).
[was whole treatise translated by Teixidor or only introduction to treatise?]
Ahmad al-Meiskawwayh (d. 1030), in his Tartibât_bkh als-sa´Âdtls-thâbet sa'dat Kitab al-Sa'ada, quotes from an otherwise unknown workletter of Paul addressed to Khhousrowau which provides a general introduction tointroducing the philosophy of Aristotle and explaining its value (Pines 1971, 1971, pp. 123-124; Gutas, 1983, pp. 233, 244); this, a type of prolegomenon which traditionally formed the first part of a commentary on the Categoriae (Gutas, 1983, p. 246). ; this lost epistle may have served as a cover letter for the extant Treatise addressed to Khusrau.
The two previously described works described above Paul's Treatise exercised a certain influence upon later Islamic writers, especially philosophical writers of the ninth to eleventh centuries C.E. A.D. (Kraus, 1934, pp. 1934, 16-20; Pines, 1971; 1971 ; Gutas, 1983; 1985, pp. 119,, 123, n. 17). Particularly influential were Paul's classification and division of the parts of philosophy (Gutas, 1983; Teixidor 1996/1997, pp. 733-734) and his claim that knowledge is superior to faith and should be pursued/chosen in preference to the latter. Paul argued that;, since through the knowledge one may attain to to certainty, allowing people to reach unanimous and so it and leads to agreement., F while faith, however, can neither gain exact knowledge nor eliminate doubt, leading to dissension and discord breeds doubt and leads to discord (Gutas, 1983, p. 247; Teixidor, 1996).
This Paul also wrote a short commentary on Aristotle's De interpretatione, which is extant in Syriac in Alqoš_sh, ms.ms. Voste‚e/ 53 (= Scher 50), cah. 24, pp.ff. 1-15. The prescript asserts that this commentary was translated from Middle Persian into Syriac by Severus Sebokt (d. 667) (Scher, 1906, p. 498; Voste‚, 1928, e/, p. 23; Sims-Williams, forthcoming), raising the question of whether the treatise Treatise Paul addressed to Khosrow Khosrowusroau was likewisealso originally written in Middle Persian (Baumstark 1922, 1922, p. 246 with n. 8; Vööoobus 1965, 1965, p. 171 with n. 19; Gutas, 1983, pp. 239, n. 15; , 244, n. 29). The De interpretatione commentary and its prescript are also known to have survived in pp. 124-155 ofin a Syriac manuscript formerly in the collection of lent by Paul Bedjan to A. (Van Hoonacker (1900, 1900, p. 73). The relation of this commentary to the summary of the De interpretatione given in the Treatise has not been established.
Paul the Persian also appears as a literary figure in an early Byzantine Greek anti-Manichaean work, the Debate of Photinus the Manichaean and Paul the Persian, which is extant in Sinaiticus gr. 513 (383), ff.fols.foll. 130v-136v; Athos, Vatopedinus 236, ff.fols.foll. 129v-135r; and Vaticanus gr. 1838, ff.fols.foll. 249v-258v. Mai (1847) produced an edition of the text (based upon Vaticanus gr. 1838 but with numerous errors) together with a Latin translation; these were reprinted by J.-P. Migne (Patrologia Graeca, vol. 88, cols. 529A-552C). Samuel Lieu and Mark Vermes have prepared an English translation of this work (to appear in the Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Series Graeca), which is based upon Mai's edition but includes some emendations made after examining a microfilm of Vatopedinus 236. A critical edition of the Greek text and a new English translation are being prepared by Byard Bennett.
The Debate purports to be a transcript of three disputations held in Constantinople at the command of the Emperors Justin I and Justinian I (i.e., between 1 April 1 and 1 August 1, 527 C.E. A.D.), with the eparch of the city, Theodorus (Teganistes), presiding. The three disputations deal, respectively, with the origin of human souls, the Manichaean doctrine of the two principles, and the nature of the Law and validity of the Old Testament.
Lieu (1983, p. 165, n. 107) (1983, p. 165 n.107) initially suggested that the Debate was fictional, being "composed in the literary tradition of the Acta Archelai.." In a later work, however, Lieu (1992, pp. 96, 211-214) appears to have accepted the historicity of the disputations, noting the realistic narration of events and the coincidence in time of this alleged debate with Justinian's edicts against Manichaeism (Codex Justinianus 126.96.36.199-3,; 188.8.131.52; ed. Krue Krüger, 1929, pp. 53, 56) and persecution of the Manichaeans (John Malalas, Chronographia, ; ed. Dindorf, 1831, p. 423, 16-17;, reproduced in Theophanes, Chronographia A.M. 6016; ed. de Boor, 1883, p. 171, 2-3). The historicity of the disputations has similarly been affirmed by Mercati (1901, p. 191), Richard (1977, p. XLV), and Klein (1991, p. 31). Since, however, there is no evidence that Theodorus held the office of eparch after 1 Dec.ember 1, 526 (Martindale, 1980, p. 1096; Feissel, 1986) and these disputations are not attested in any other source, their historicity cannot be regarded as established.
The assertion by Labourt (1904, pp. 166-167) and Lieu (1992, p. 212) that the Paul who appears in the Debate can be identified with the author of the Treatise is implausible. The fact that the Paul who authored the logical treatises is said to have flourished over forty years after the debate with the Manichaeans is supposed to have taken place suggests caution in identifying these two figures.
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