Day 147 – Ken here (F)(2-5-2010)
(DEF v.2, ch.24, 25, pp.950-960)
Nisibis – given over without a Fight
The city of Nisibis has a long history – especially within the Persian Christian Church (Nestorian and Jacobite) which Christianized Asia and the Silk Caravan Route overland in the long centuries between the decline of Rome in the East (beginning in the late 300′s) and the rise of European trade and the merchant-prince-cities of the Mediterranean (the 1000′s and later).
The city actually had a Roman-Christian history after the Roman withdrawal. It had changed hands so many times in the last few centuries, no one suspected that this last hand-off (from Rome to Persia) would be the last – until the Gotterdammerung of Heraclius and Persian on the eve of the Muslim conquests of most of the Mediterranean world (early 600′s).
This from Wiki (here):
Nusaybin (Syriac: ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, Nṣibin, later Syriac ܨܘܒܐ, Ṣōbā, classical Nisibis) is a city in Mardin Province, southeastern Turkey populated by Turks, Kurds, Assyrian/Syriacs, Arabs.
It is the ancient Mesopotamian city, which Alexander’s successors refounded as Antiochia Mygdonia (Greek: Αντιόχεια της Μυγδονίας) and is mentioned for the first time in Polybius’ description of the march of Antiochus I against the Molon (Polybius, V, 51). Greek historian Plutarch suggested that the city was populated by Spartan descendants. The Syriac name for the town is Soba. The Armenian name is Մծբին Mtsbin, and the Hebrew name is נציבין Netzivin”.
As early as 852 BC, Nisibis appeared in the Assyrian Eponym List as the seat of an Assyrian provincial governor named Shamash-Abua.
Like many other cities in the marches where Roman and Parthian powers confronted one another, Nisibis was often taken and retaken: it was captured by Lucullus after a long siege from the brother of Tigranes (Dion Cassius, xxxv, 6, 7); and captured again by Trajan in 115, for which he gained the name of Parthicus (ibid., LXVIII, 23), then lost and regained against the Jews during the Kitos War. Lost in 194, it was again conquered by Septimius Severus, who made it his headquarters and re-established a colony there (ibid., LXXV, 23). With the fresh energy of the new Sassanid dynasty, Shapur I conquered Nisibis, was driven out, and returned in the 260s. In 298, by a treaty with Narseh, the province of Nisibis was acquired by the Roman Empire.
In about the 1st century CE Netzivin was the home of Judah ben Bethera, who founded a famous yeshiva there.
The Roman historian of the 4th century Ammianus Marcellinus gained his first practical experience of warfare as a young man under the governor at Nisibis, Ursicinus. From 360 to 5th century, Nisibis was the camp of Legio I Parthica. Because of its strategic importance on the Persian border Nisibis was heavily fortified. Ammianus lovingly calls Nisibis the “impregnable city” (urbs inexpugnabilis) and “bulwark of the provinces” (murus provinciarum).
In 363 Nisibis was ceded back to the Persians after the defeat of Julian. At that time the population of the town was forced by the Roman authorities to leave Nisibis and move to Amida. The townspeople tried to persuade Emperor Jovian that they were ready to defend their home against the Persians, but Iovianus allowed them only three days for the evacuation. Historian Ammianus Marcellinus was again an eyewitness of this sorrowful event. He condemns Emperor Jovian for giving up the fortified town without a fight. Marcellinus’ point-of-view is certainly in line with contemporary Roman public opinion.
Nisibis had a Christian bishop from 300, founded by Babu (died 309). War was begun again by Shapur II in 337, who besieged the city in 338, 346 and 350, when James, Babu’s successor, was its bishop. Nisibis was the home of Ephrem the Syrian, who remained until its surrender to the Persians by Jovian in 363.
Later, the bishop of Nisibis was the ecclesiastic metropolitan of the Province of Beit-Arbaye. In 410 it had six suffragan sees and as early as the middle of the 5th century was the most important episcopal see of the Persian Church after Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and many of its Nestorian or Jacobite bishops were renowned for their writings: Barsumas, Osee, Narses, Jesusyab, Ebed-Jesus.
The first theological, philosophical, and medical School of Nisibis, founded at the introduction of Christianity into the city by Assyrians of the Assyrian Church of the East, was closed when the province was ceded to the Persians. Ephrem the Syrian, a poet, commentator, preacher and defender of orthodoxy, joined the general exodus of Christians and reestablished the school on more securely Roman soil at Edessa.
In the 5th century the school became a center of Nestorian Christianity, and was closed down by Archbishop Cyrus in 489; the expelled masters and pupils withdrew once more to Nisibis, under the care of Barsumas, who had been trained at Edessa, under the patronage of Narses, who established the statutes of the new school. Those which have been discovered and published belong to Osee, the successor of Barsumas in the See of Nisibis, and bear the date 496; they must be substantially the same as those of 489. In 590 they were again modified. The monastery school was under a superior called Rabban (“master”), a title also given to the instructors. The administration was confided to a majordomo, who was steward, prefect of discipline, and librarian, but under the supervision of a council. Unlike the Jacobite schools, devoted chiefly to profane studies, the school of Nisibis was above all a school of theology. The two chief masters were the instructors in reading and in the interpretation of Holy Scripture, explained chiefly with the aid of Theodore of Mopsuestia. The free course of studies lasted three years, the students providing for their own support. During their sojourn at the university, masters and students led a monastic life under somewhat special conditions. The school had a tribunal and enjoyed the right of acquiring all sorts of property.
Its rich library possessed a most beautiful collection of Nestorian works; from its remains Ebed-Jesus, Bishop of Nisibis in the 14th century, composed his celebrated catalogue of ecclesiastical writers. The disorders and dissensions, which arose in the sixth century in the school of Nisibis, favoured the development of its rivals, especially that of Seleucia; however, it did not really begin to decline until after the foundation of the School of Baghdad (832). Among its literary celebrities mention should be made of its founder Narses; Abraham, his nephew and successor; Abraham of Kashgar, the restorer of monastic life; John; Babai the Elder.
Modern Nusaybin remains the site of two titular sees in the Roman Catholic Church, Nisibenus Chaldaeorum, and Nisibenus; the first seat is held by Jacques Ishaq, titular Archbishop, the second has been vacant since 1968.