Ephrem the Syrian Open this page in a new tab

Ephrem the Syrian was a prominent Christian theologian and writer who wrote in Syriac. He was born around 306 CE in Nisibis where he served as a deacon (wikipedia). In 363 CE, Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate began hostilities against Persia (the Sasanian Empire) which led to Julian's death in battle on 26/27 July 363 CE (wikipedia). In the aftermath of Julian's demise, Nisibis was surrendered to the Persians and all Christians were expelled. Ephrem then moved to Edessa where he died in 373 CE (wikipedia and Griffith, 1987). Griffith (1987) notes that as Robert Browning has emphasized more recently, Ephraem wrote these hymns in Nisibis in the very year of Julian's death, after he saw the emperor's embalmed corpse lying in state before the city's gates, with a Persian flag flying from the ramparts of the citadel. Cain and Lenski (2009) also report that Ephrem composed his Hymns against Julian within a year of the 363 CE earthquake.