Saint Demiana and the 40 Virgins known as the Chaste Martyr Saint Demiana, is a Coptic martyr of the early fourth century. Near the end of the third century, there lived, he was the governor of el-Borollos, el-Zaafaran, Wadi al-Saysaban districts in the Northern delta of the Nile River in Egypt. Mark had an only child named Demiana, her father loved her dearly; when Demiana was still a young child, her mother died, her father did his utmost to raise her a virtuous Christian. When she was 15, her father wanted her to marry one of his noble friends, she refused, she said she had devoted herself as a bride of Christ and intended to live in celibacy and serve the Lord. Demiana requested her father to build her an isolated house on the outskirts of the city where she could live with her friends, away from the world and its temptations, her father built her a large palace in the wilderness. Demiana changed the palace into the first Coptic Orthodox coenobitic monastery for nuns, living the monastic, ascetic life with her forty unmarried friends.
Demiana was the abbess. At that time, the pagan emperor, began to torture and kill Christians who refused to worship his idols and Artemis; when Mark was ordered to kneel before the idols and offer incense, he refused initially. When news reached Demiana that her father offered incense before the idols, she reproached him severely, her father was bitterly repented. Mark traveled to Antioch to see Diocletian, he made the sign of the cross in front of the emperor, soldiers and all people, declared himself a Christian. Diocletian was furious and said, “I have tried to keep our friendship but you insult me in front of all", he ordered Mark to reconsider but Mark refused. The emperor ordered Mark to be beheaded by the sword; the feast day of his martyrdom is commemorated on July 12, Abeeb 5. When Emperor Diocletian learned that it was Mark's daughter, St. Demiana, who had persuaded her father to return to worshiping Jesus Christ, he ordered one of his commanders, a prince, to attack her palace with one hundred soldiers.
Diocletian ordered him: “First, try to convince her to worship our idols by offering her riches and glory, but if she refuses threaten her, torture her, behead her and her virgins to make her an example for the other Christians.”Demiana saw the soldiers approaching, prayed to God to strengthen their faith. She told her 40 friends: “If you are willing to die for Jesus' sake you may stay, but if you cannot withstand the torments of the soldiers hurry and escape now.” The forty virgins replied, “We will die with you.”The prince relayed Diocletian's message to St. Demiana by saying: "I am an envoy sent by Emperor Diocletian. I command you by his orders to worship his gods so that he may grant you whatsoever you wish." St. Demiana shouted: "Cursed be to the messenger and him who sent him.... There is no other God in heaven or on earth besides the one and only true God--the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--the Creator, who has no beginning and no end; as for me, I worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Good Father and the Holy Spirit--the Holy Trinity--I profess Him...and in His name I will die and by Him I will live forever.”The prince was enraged with Demiana and ordered her to be placed in the Hinbazeen until blood poured on the ground.
When they put her in prison, an angel of the Lord appeared to her, touched her body with his illumined wings, she was healed of all her wounds. She was subjected to additional tortures; the prince issued an order for the 40 virgins to be beheaded. St. Demiana received 3 heavenly crowns: for her virginity, her endurance of torture and her martyrdom. During the reign of Constantine the Great, his mother, Helena visited the site of St. Demiana's monastery palace, where she had a church built over the tomb; this tomb church was consecrated by Pope Alexandros, on May 20, Bashans 12. The original church was destroyed but another has been rebuilt and still stands on the same site to this day; every year, many people visit St. Demiana's shrine, asking for her intercessions; the main season of visit is the period between 4th to 12th Bashans.. Situated in Barrary-Belqas, Egypt, at the same place where St. Demiana’s original monastery palace and Tomb Church were, is a coenobitic Coptic Orthodox Monastery for nuns bearing her name—St.
Demiana's Monastery. The monastery was consecrated as a coenobitic Coptic Orthodox Monastery for Nuns on September 24, 1978, by Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and 117th Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. Presently at her monastery property, 4 of the 9 churches bear her name: Saint Demiana’s Big Church, Saint Demiana’s Tomb Church, Saint Demiana’s Ancient Church and Saint Demiana’s Church for Nuns. Many churches of the Coptic Orthodox Church bear her name. In May 2014 Egyptian security forces averted a car bomb attack on the monastery. St. Demiana is the founder of monasticism for Coptic Orthodox nuns and the princess of female martyrs of the Coptic Orthodox Church. St. Demiana and her 40 virgin nuns are depicted in Coptic icons as not wearing the black monastic habit as we see Coptic Orthodox nuns wear nowadays because at her time
Wadi El Natrun
Wadi El Natrun is a valley located in Beheira Governorate, including a town with the same name. The name refers to the presence of eight different lakes in the region. In Christian literature it is known as Scetis and is one of the three early Christian monastic centers located in the desert of the northwestern Nile Delta; the other two monastic centers are Kellia. These three centers are easily confused and sometimes referred to as a single place, but the locales are distinct, though geographically close together and with interrelated histories. Scetis, now called Wadi El Natrun, is best known today because its ancient monasteries remain in use, unlike Nitria and Kellia which have only archaeological remains; the Nitrian Desert is sometimes used to mean the entire region. It can more refer to the immediate area around Nitria and Kellia, with the region around Wadi El Natrun more called the Scetis Desert. (In modern Greek usage, regarding monasticism the word Scetis, the transliteration of Σκήτη can refer to an isolated monastic cell, not part of a convent, whereas Kellia The area is one of the best known sites containing large numbers of fossils of large pre-historic animals in Egypt, was known for this in the first century AD and much earlier.
The alkali lakes of the Natron Valley provided the Ancient Egyptians with the sodium bicarbonate used in mummification and in Egyptian faience, by the Romans as a flux for glass making. The desolate region became one of Christianity's most sacred areas; the desert fathers and cenobitic monastic communities used the desert's solitude and privations to develop self-discipline. Hermit monks believed that desert life would teach them to eschew the things of this world and follow God's call. Between the 4th and 7th century A. D. hundreds of thousands of people from the world over joined the hundreds of Christian monasteries in the Nitrian Desert, centered on Nitria and Scetis. Saint Macarius of Egypt first came to Scetis around 330 AD where he established a solitary monastic site, his reputation attracted a loose band of anchorites and monks who settled nearby in individual cells. Many of them came from nearby Nitria and Kellia where they had previous experience in solitary desert living. By the end of the fourth century, four distinct communities had developed: Baramus, Macarius and John Kolobos.
At first these communities were groupings of cells centered on a communal church and facilities, but enclosed walls and watchtowers developed over time and in response to raids from desert nomads. Nitria and Scellis experienced internal fractures related to doctrinal disputes in Egypt; the monasteries flourished during the Muslim conquest of Egypt, but in the eighth and ninth centuries taxation and administration concerns led to conflicts with the Muslim government. Nitria and Kellia were abandoned in the 7th and 9th centuries but Scetis continued throughout the Medieval period. Although some of the individual monasteries were abandoned or destroyed, four have remained in use to the present day: Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great Paromeos Monastery Monastery of Saint Pishoy Syrian MonasteryThe Egyptian Salt and Soda Company Railway was built at the end of the 19th century as a 33 miles long narrow gauge railway with a gauge of 750 mm, which attracted the first tourists to the wadi; some of the most renowned saints of the region include the various Desert Fathers, including Saint Amun, Saint Arsenius, Saint John the Dwarf, Saint Macarius of Egypt, Saint Macarius of Alexandria, Saint Moses the Black, Saint Pishoy, Sts.
Maximos and Domatios, Saint Poimen The Great and Saint Samuel the Confessor. The environs of Wadi Natrun have been identified as the site of where the plane of French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry crashed on December 30, 1935. After miraculously surviving the crash, he and his plane's mechanic nearly died of thirst before being rescued by a nomad. Saint-Exupéry documented his experience in his book "Wind and Stars"; the event is thought to have inspired his masterpiece, "The Little Prince". Skete Door of Prophecies M. Cappozzo, I monasteri del deserto di Scete, Todi 2009; the monasteries of the Arab Desert and Wadi Natrun UNESCO World Heritage Centre 1992-2012
Theotokos is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used in Eastern Christianity. The usual Latin translations, Dei Genetrix or Deipara, are "Mother of God" or "God-bearer"; the title has been in use since the 3rd century, in the Syriac tradition in the Liturgy of Mari and Addai and the Liturgy of St James. The Council of Ephesus in AD 431 decreed that Mary is the Theotokos because her son Jesus is both God and man: one divine person with two natures intimately and hypostatically united; the title of Mother of God is most used in English due to the lack of a satisfactory equivalent of the Greek τόκος / Latin genetrix. For the same reason, the title is left untranslated, as "Theotokos", in Orthodox liturgical usage of other languages. Theotokos is used as the term for an Eastern icon, or type of icon, of the Mother with Child, as in "the Theotokos of Vladimir" both for the original 12th-century icon and for icons that are copies or imitate its composition. Theotokos is an adjectival compound of two Greek words Θεός "God" and τόκος "childbirth, parturition.
A close paraphrase would be " whose offspring is God" or " who gave birth to one, God". The usual English translation is "Mother of God"; the Church Slavonic translation is Bogoroditsa. The full title of Mary in Slavic Orthodox tradition is Прест҃а́ѧ влⷣчица на́ша бцⷣа и҆ прⷭ҇нод҃ва мр҃і́а, from Greek Ὑπεραγία δεσποινίς ἡμῶν Θεοτόκος καὶ ἀειπαρθένος Μαρία "Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary". German has the translation Gottesgebärerin. "Mother of God" is the literal translation of a distinct title in Greek, Μήτηρ του Θεού, a term which has an established usage of its own in traditional Orthodox and Catholic theological writing and iconography. In an abbreviated form, ΜΡ ΘΥ, it is found on Eastern icons, where it is used to identify Mary; the Russian term is Матерь Божия. Variant forms are the compounds Θεομήτωρ and Μητρόθεος, which are found in patristic and liturgical texts; the theological dispute over the term concerned the term Θεός "God" vs. Χριστός "Christ", not τόκος vs. μήτηρ, the two terms have been used as synonyms throughout Christian tradition.
Both terms are known to have existed alongside one another since the early church, but it has been argued in modern times, that the term "Mother of God" is unduly suggestive of Godhead having its origin in Mary, imparting to Mary the role of a Mother Goddess. But this is an exact reiteration of the objection by Nestorius, resolved in the 5th century, to the effect that the term "Mother" expresses the relation of Mary to the incarnate Son ascribed to Mary in Christian theology. Theologically, the term "Mother of God" should not be taken to imply that Mary is the source of the existence of the divine person of Jesus, who existed with the Father from all eternity, or of her Son's divinity. Within the Orthodox and Catholic tradition, Mother of God has not been understood, nor been intended to be understood, as referring to Mary as Mother of God from eternity — that is, as Mother of God the Father — but only with reference to the birth of Jesus, that is, the Incarnation. To make it explicit, it is sometimes translated Mother of God Incarnate..
The Nicene-Costantinopolitan Creed of 381 affirmed the Christian faith on "one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds", that "came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, was made man". Since that time, the expression "Mother of God" referred to the Dyophysite doctrine of the hypostatic union, about the uniqueness with the twofold nature of Jesus Christ God, both human and divine. Since that time, Jesus was affirmed as true Man and true God from all eternity; the status of Mary as Theotokos was a topic of theological dispute in the 4th and 5th centuries and was the subject of the decree of the Council of Ephesus of 431 to the effect that, in opposition to those who denied Mary the title Theotokos but called her Christotokos, Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person, both God and man and human. This decree created the Nestorian Schism. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, "I am amazed that there are some who are in doubt as to whether the holy Virgin should be called Theotokos or not.
For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how is the holy Virgin who gave birth, not?". But the argument of Nestorius was that divine and human natures of Christ were distinct, while Mary is evidently the Christotokos, it could be misleading to describe her as the "bearer of God". At issue is the interpretation of the Incarnation, the nature of the hypostatic union of Christ's human and divine natures between Christ's conception and birth. Within the Orthodox doctrinal teaching on the economy of salvation, Mary's identity and status as Theotokos is acknowledged as indispensable
Theophany is the appearance of a deity to a human. This term has been used to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. While the Iliad is the earliest source for descriptions of theophanies in the classical tradition/era the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh; the term theophany has acquired a specific usage for Christians and Jews with respect to the Bible: It refers to the manifestation of the Abrahamic God to people. Only a small number of theophanies are found in the Hebrew Bible known as the Old Testament. At Delphi the Theophania was an annual festival in spring celebrating the return of Apollo from his winter quarters in Hyperborea; the culmination of the festival was a display of an image of the gods hidden in the sanctuary, to worshippers. Roman mystery religions included similar brief displays of images to excited worshippers; the appearance of Zeus to Semele is more than a mortal can stand and she is burned to death by the flames of his power.
However, most Greek theophanies were less deadly. Unusual for Greek mythology is the story of Prometheus, not an Olympian but a Titan, who brought knowledge of fire to humanity. There are no descriptions of the humans involved in this theophany, but Prometheus was punished by Zeus. Divine or heroic epiphanies were sometimes experienced in historical times, either in dreams or as a waking vision, led to the foundation of a cult, or at least an act of worship and the dedication of a commemorative offering; the 4th-century bishop Eusebius of Caesarea wrote a treatise "On Divine Manifestation", referring to the Incarnation of Jesus. Traditional analysis of the Biblical passages led Christian scholars to understand theophany as an unambiguous manifestation of God to man, where "unambiguous" indicates that the seers or seer are of no doubt that it is God revealing himself to them. Otherwise, the more general term hierophany is used. In Revelation, God is described as "having the appearance like that of jasper and carnelian with a rainbow-like halo as brilliant as emerald".
The New Catholic Encyclopedia cites examples such as Gen 3:8a. The same source quotes Gen 16:7–14. In this case it is an angel which appears to Hagar, however it says that God spoke directly to her, that she saw God and lived; the next example the New Catholic Encyclopedia cites is Gen 22:11–15, which states explicitly that it was the angel of the Lord speaking to Abraham. However, the angel addressing Abraham speaks the words of God in the first person. In both of the last two examples, although it is an angel present, the voice is of God spoken through the angel, so this is a manifestation of God Himself. A similar case would be the burning bush. Moses saw an angel in the bush, but goes on to have a direct conversation with God himself. In the case of Jesus Christ according to the gospels and tradition, the majority of Christians understand him to be God the Son, become man; the New Catholic Encyclopedia, makes few references to a theophany from the gospels. Mk 1:9-11, Lk 9:28–36 are cited which recount the Baptism, the Transfiguration of Jesus respectively.
Although Jesus Christ is believed by Christians to be God, it is only when his divine glory is not veiled by his humanity, that it could be termed theophany. Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches celebrate the theophany of Jesus Christ on the 6th of January according to a liturgical calendar as one of the "Great Feasts". In Western Orthodox Christian Churches, the 6th of January is kept as the holy day Epiphany, while the feast of Theophany is celebrated separately, on the following Sunday. In Orthodox Christian tradition, the feast commemorates the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist, considered a theophany because this event marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry; the account of this event in St Matthew's Gospel is the first occasion in all of the Bible where the Holy Trinity is revealed explicitly as Father and Holy Spirit: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Some modern Evangelical Christian Bible commentators, such as Ron Rhodes, interpret “the angel of the Lord,” who appears in several places throughout the Old Testament, to be the pre-incarnate Christ, Jesus before his manifestation into human form, as described in the New Testament.
The term Christophany has been coined to identify preincarnate appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. Non-Trinitarian Christians differ on the pre-existence of Christ; those groups which have Arian Christology such as Jehovah's Witnesses may identify some appearances of angels the archangel Michael, as Christophanies, but not theophanies. Those groups with early Unitarian or Socinian Christology such as Christadelphians and the Church of God General Conference identify the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament much as Jews do as angels. Early Christadelphians, notably John Thomas and C. C. Walker integrated angelic theophanies and God as revealed in his various divine names into a doctrine of God Manifestation which carries on into a Unitarian understanding of God's theophany in Christ and God being manifested in resurrected believers. Joseph Smith, the prophet and founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, said that when he was 14 years old, he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees near his house, a theophany in answer to his spoken prayer.
This "First Vision" is considered to be the f
Stephen, traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy at his trial, he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was stoned to death, his martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would become a follower of Jesus and known as Paul the Apostle. The only primary source for information about Stephen is the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen is mentioned in Acts 6 as one of the Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jews selected to participate in a fairer distribution of welfare to the Greek-speaking widows; the Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East venerate Stephen as a saint. Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom. Eastern Christian iconography shows him as a young, beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon's vestments, holding a miniature church building or a censer.
Stephen is first mentioned in Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. According to Orthodox belief, he was the eldest and is therefore called "archdeacon"; as another deacon, Nicholas of Antioch, is stated to have been a convert to Judaism, it may be assumed that Stephen was born Jewish, but nothing more is known about his previous life. The reason for the appointment of the deacons is stated to have been dissatisfaction among Hellenistic Jews that their widows were being slighted in preference to Hebraic ones in the daily distribution of food. Since the name "Stephanos" is Greek, it has been assumed. Stephen is stated to have been full of faith and the Holy Spirit and to have performed miracles among the people, it seems to have been among synagogues of Hellenistic Jews that he performed his teachings and "signs and wonders" since it is said that he aroused the opposition of the "Synagogue of the Freedmen", "of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, of them that were of Cilicia and Asia".
Members of these synagogues had challenged Stephen's teachings, but Stephen had bested them in debate. Furious at this humiliation, they suborned false testimony that Stephen had preached blasphemy against Moses and God, they dragged him to appear before the Sanhedrin, the supreme legal court of Jewish elders, accusing him of preaching against the Temple and the Mosaic Law. Stephen is said to have been unperturbed, his face looking like "that of an angel". In a long speech to the Sanhedrin comprising the whole of Acts Chapter 7, Stephen presents his view of the history of Israel; the God of glory, he says, appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia, thus establishing at the beginning of the speech one of its major themes, that God does not dwell only in one particular building. Stephen recounts the stories of the patriarchs in some depth, goes into more detail in the case of Moses. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, inspired Moses to lead his people out of Egypt; the Israelites turned to other gods.
This establishes the second main theme of Israel's disobedience to God. Stephen faced two accusations: that he had declared that Jesus would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and that he had changed the customs of Moses. Benedict XVI stated that St. Stephen appealed to the Jewish scriptures to prove how the laws of Moses were not subverted by Jesus but, were being fulfilled. Stephen denounces his listeners as "stiff-necked" people who, just as their ancestors had done, resist the Holy Spirit. "Was there a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have betrayed and murdered him." Thus castigated, the account is. However, Stephen looked up and cried, "Look! I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God!" He said that the executed Jesus was standing by the side of God. The people from the crowd, who threw the first stones, laid their coats down so as to be able to do this, at the feet of a "young man named Saul".
Stephen prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit and his killers be forgiven, sank to his knees, "fell asleep". Saul "approved of their killing him". In the aftermath of Stephen's death, the remaining disciples fled to distant lands, many to Antioch; the exact site of Stephen's stoning is not mentioned in Acts. One, claimed by noted French archaeologists Louis-Hugues Vincent and Félix-Marie Abel to be ancient, places the event at Jerusalem's northern gate, while another one, dated by Vincent and Abel to the Middle Ages and no earlier than the 12th century, locates it at the eastern gate. Of the numerous speeches in Acts of the Apostles, Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin is the longest. To the objection that it seems unlikely that such a long speech could be reproduced in the text of Acts as it was delivered, some Biblical scholars have replied that Stephen's speech
Nusaybin is a city and multiple titular see in Mardin Province, Turkey. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009; the population is predominantly Kurdish, Sunni as well as Yezidi, but a small Christian community can be found. With a history going back nearly 3,000 years, Nusaybin was settled by various groups. First mentioned as an Aramean settlement Naşibīna in 901 BCE, it was captured by Assyria in 896 BCE. In the 4th and 5th centuries CE it was one of the great centers of Syriac scholarship, along with nearby Edessa. First mentioned in 901 BCE, Naşibīna was an Aramaean kingdom captured by the Assyrian king Adad-Nirari II in 896. By 852 BCE, Naṣibina had been annexed to the Neo-Assyrian Empire and appeared in the Assyrian Eponym List as the seat of an Assyrian provincial governor named Shamash-Abua, it remained part of the Assyrian Empire until its collapse in 608 BCE. It was under Babylonian control until 536 BCE, when it fell to the Achaemenid Persians, remained so until taken by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.
The Seleucids refounded the city as Antiochia Mygdonia, mentioned for the first time in Polybius' description of the march of Antiochus III the Great against Molon. Greek historian Plutarch suggested. Around the 1st century CE, Nisibis was the home of Judah ben Bethera, who founded a famous yeshiva there. Like many other cities in the marches where Roman and Parthian powers confronted one another, Nisibis was taken and retaken: it was captured by Lucullus after a long siege from the brother of Tigranes. Lost in 194, it was again conquered by Septimius Severus, who made it his headquarters and re-established a colony there; the last battle between Rome and Parthia was fought in the vicinity of the city in 217. With the fresh energy of the new Sassanid dynasty, Shapur I conquered Nisibis, was driven out, returned in the 260s. In 298, by a treaty with Narseh, the province of Nisibis was acquired by the Roman Empire. Nisibis had an Assyrian Christian bishop from 300, founded by Babu. War was begun again by Shapur II in 337, who besieged the city in 338, 346, 350, when St Jacob or James of Nisibis, Babu's successor, was its bishop.
Nisibis was the home of Ephrem the Syrian, who remained until its surrender to the Sassanid Persians by Roman Emperor Jovian in 363. The Roman historian of the 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus, gained his first practical experience of warfare as a young man at Nisibis under the master of the cavalry, Ursicinus. From 360 to 363, Nisibis was the camp of Legio I Parthica; because of its strategic importance on the Persian border Nisibis was fortified. Ammianus lovingly calls Nisibis the "impregnable city" and "bulwark of the provinces". In 363 Nisibis was ceded back to the Persians after the defeat of Emperor Julian. Before that time the population of the town was forced by the Roman authorities to leave Nisibis and move to Amida. Emperor Jovian allowed them only three days for the evacuation. Historian Ammianus Marcellinus was again an eyewitness and condemns Emperor Jovian for giving up the fortified town without a fight. Marcellinus' point-of-view is in line with contemporary Roman public opinion.
The bishop of Nisibis was the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical province of Bit-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 Church of the East after Seleucia-Ctesiphon, many of its Nestorian, Assyrian Church of the East or Jacobite bishops were renowned for their writings: Barsumas, Narses and Ebed-Jesus. According to Al-Tabari some 12,000 Persians of good lineage from Istakhr and other regions settled at Nisibis in the 4th century, their descendants were still there at the beginning of the 7th century; the first theological and medical School of Nisibis, founded at the introduction of Christianity into the city by ethnic Assyrians of the Assyrian Church of the East, was closed when the province was ceded to the Persians. Ephrem the Syrian, an Assyrian poet, commentator 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, was closed down by Archbishop Cyrus in 489. Those that have been discovered and published belong to Osee, the successor of Barsauma in the See of Nisibis, bear the date 496. In 590 they were again modified; the monastery school was under a superior called Rabban, a title given to the instructors. The administration was confided to a majordomo, 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
Massacre of the Innocents
In the New Testament, the Massacre of the Innocents is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew in which Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Most modern biographers of Herod, a majority of biblical scholars, dismiss Matthew's story as an invention; the Catholic Church has claimed the children murdered in Jesus's stead as the first Christian martyrs, their feast – Holy Innocents Day – is celebrated on 28 December. Matthew's story is found in no other gospel, the Jewish historian Josephus does not mention it in his Antiquities of the Jews, which records many of Herod's misdeeds including the murder of three of his own sons. Most modern biographers of Herod dismiss the story as an invention. Classical historian Michael Grant, for instance, stated “The tale is not history but myth or folk-lore”, it appears to be modeled on Pharaoh's attempt to kill the Israelite children, more on various elaborations of the original story that had become current in the 1st century.
In that expanded story, Pharaoh kills the Hebrew children after his scribes warn him of the impending birth of the threat to his crown, but Moses's father and mother are warned in a dream that the child's life is in danger and act to save him. In life, after Moses has to flee, like Jesus, he returns only when those who sought his death are themselves dead; the story of the massacre of the innocents thus plays a part in Matthew's wider nativity story, in which the proclamation of the coming of the Messiah is followed by his rejection by the Jews and acceptance by the gentiles. The relevance of Jeremiah 31:15 to the massacre in Bethlehem is not apparent, as Jeremiah's next verses go on to speak of hope and restoration. Others admit the presence of the "New Moses" paradigm in the nativity story, but feel that the story of the massacre must have had some historical foundation: in the words of R. T. France, a leading Matthean scholar, "It is clear that this scriptural model has been important in Matthew's telling of the story of Jesus, but not so clear that it would have given rise to this narrative without historical basis."
Some scholars, such as Everett Ferguson, write that the story makes sense in the context of Herod's reign of terror in the last few years of his rule, the number of infants in Bethlehem that would have been killed – no more than a dozen or so – may have been too insignificant to be recorded by Josephus, who could not be aware of every incident far in the past when he wrote it. The story's first appearance in any source other than the Gospel of Matthew is in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James of c. AD 150, which excludes the Flight into Egypt and switches the attention of the story to the infant John the Baptist: And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, took the infant and swaddled Him, put Him into an ox-stall, and Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, kept looking where to conceal him.
And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: receive mother and child, and the mountain was cleft, received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them; the first non-Christian reference to the massacre is recorded four centuries by Macrobius, who writes in his Saturnalia: When he heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered killed, his own son was killed, he said: it is better to be Herod's pig, than his son. The story assumed an important place in Christian tradition. Coptic sources place the event on 29 December. Taking the narrative and judging from the estimated population of Bethlehem, the Catholic Encyclopedia more soberly suggested that these numbers were inflated, that only between six and twenty children were killed in the town, with a dozen or so more in the surrounding areas. According to Jewish extra-Biblical traditions, king Nimrod saw a sign in the skies predicting the birth of Abraham, ordered the slaughter of infant children to avoid it.
Nimrod was with his star-gazers on the roof of his palace, saw the strange display in the sky with his own eyes. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. "There can be only one explanation. A son was born tonight who would challenge the king's power, the father is none other than Terah." "Terah?!" Nimrod roared. "My own trusted servant?" Nimrod thought. Little did he know that it was not Terah's son, brought to die, but a servant's; the "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors; the play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants two years old and under in Bethlehem to be killed; the lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that h