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8. Of ST. SABA. In the imperial library at Vienna is a Greek version of the works or part of the works of Isaac the Syrian, bishop of Nineveh, who lived, according to Assenmani (Biblioth. Orient. vol. iii. pars i. p. 104, note 3), about the close of the sixth century, but according to Nicephorus the editor of Isaac's Ascetica (Praef. p. vi.) in the first half of that century.


The Vienna MS. bears this title: Τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις πατρὸς ἡμᾶν Ἀββᾶ Ἰσαὰκ Σύρου καὶ ἀναχωρητοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐπισκόπου τῆς φιλοχρίστου πόλεως Νινευὶλόγοι ἀσκητικοὶ, εὑρεθέντες ὑπὸ τῶν ὁσίων πατέρων ἡμῶν τοῦ Ἀββᾶ Πατρικίου καὶ τοῦ Ἀββᾶ Ἀβραμίου τῶν φιλοσόφων καὶ ἡσυχαστῶν ἐν τῇ λαύρᾳ τοῦ ἐν ἀγίοις πατρὸς ἡμῶν Σάββα, Sancti Patris Nostri Abbatis Isaaci Suri ct Anachoretae, qui fuit Episcopus urbis Christi-amantis Nineue, Sermones ascetici, reperti a sanctis patribus nostris Abbate Patricio et Abbate Abramio sapientiae Christianae et quieti monasticae deditis in Laura (sive Monasterio) Sancti Patris nostri Sabbie. (Lambec. Commentar. de Biblioth. Caesar. vol. v. col. 158, ed. Kollar.)

The MS. contains eighty-seven Sermones Ascetici, apparently translated from the Syriac text of Isaac by Patricius and Abramius; though the title of the MS. only ascribes to them the finding of the work. In other MSS. however (e. g. in several Vatican, Asseinani, Bibl. Oriedt. vol. i. p. 446, and one, perhaps two, Bodleian, Nos. 256 and 295, vid. Catalog. MStorum Angliae et Iliberniae, pp. 35, 44, fol. Oxford, 1697), they are described as translators. Assemani, however, observes that they translated not the whole works of Isaac, which, according to Ebed-jesu (apud Assemani, l.c.), who has perhaps ascribed to Isaac of Nineveh the works of other Isaacs, extended to seven tomi or volumes, and treated De Regimine Spiritas, de Divinis Mysteriis (comp. Gennad. De Viris Illustr. c. 26), de Judiciis et de Politia, but only ninety-eight of his Sermones. This is the number in the Vatican MSS.; in (one of the Bodleian (No. 295, Catal. MStor. Angliae, p. 44) there are ninety-nine, but it is to be observed that the division, as well as the number of these Sermones, which are also termed λόγοι, Orationes, differs in different MSS (Nicephorus, l.c.). The first fifty-three, according to the arrangement of the Vienna MS., are extant in a Latin version, as one work, under the title of Isauci Syri de Contemptu Mundi Liber.


Latin Editions

This work appears in several collections of the works of the fathers, has been improperly ascribed by the respective editors of the Bibliotheca Patrum, except Galland, to Isaac of Antioch [ISAACUS, No. 5], instead of their true author Isaac of Nineveh [ISAACUS, No. 6]. It is to be observed, that Isaac of Nineveh was not the Isaac mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great as visiting Italy and dying near Spoletum [ISAACUS, No. 6].

Greek Editions

The Greek version of Isaac's ascetic works by Patricius and Abramius, as far as it is extant, was published by Nicephorus Theotocius, a Greek monk, by direction of Ephraim, patriarch of Jerusalem, 4tp., Leipzig, 1770. The edition contains eighty-six Λόγοι, Orationes, and four Ἐπιστολαὶ, Epistolae, which, in the two MSS. employed by Nicephlorus, were reckoned as λόγοι, making ninety altogether. These were differently divided and arranged in his MSS. He followed the division (with one exception) and the text of one MS., giving the different readitigs of the other, but formed an arrangement of his own, differing from both the MSS. What portion of the seven tomi mentioned by Ebed-jesn is contained in this work cannot, from the various divisions and titles of the divisions in the MSS., be ascertained. Of the time when Patricius and his coadjutor Abramius lived, nothing can be determined, except that they were of later date than Isaac himself, whose period has been mentioned. If we adopt the reading of the Vienna MS. εὑρηθέντες, which, however, is most likely a transcriber's error for ἑρμηνευθέντες, we must place them late enough for the works of Isaac, in the Greek version at least (of which, in such case, they would be not the authors, but only the discoverers), to have been previously lost.

Further Information

Assemani, l.c.; Lambecius, l.c.; Nicephorus, l.c.; Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 430, 440, 540, vol. i. pp. 415, 434, 519, ed. Oxford, 1740-1743; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. xi. pp. 119, &c. and p. 706.


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