Antiochian vs. Mesopotamian


This post comes as a reflection based on thinking back on Fr. Andrew’s book {see Lenten readings post below}, and the book of John Moolan on the Annunciation, and is not fully developed, but just something thrown out there for discussion in case someone wants to discuss.

Many people go through life not realizing that there is a distinction in the Mesopotamian School and the Antiochian School.  Both are influenced by Semitic thought, and both are Eastern, and the Antiochian school had influence over the entire world: Theodore was read in Spain as much as he was read in Iran.  Theodore’s writings was accepted in the Mesopotamian Church because of the reputation of his person and his writing, and also because it was in line with its own system.

Yet, there is a definite distinction between the two.  John Moolan has an interesting observation about the West vs. East “Syriac” churches… that is to say the Antiochian vs. the Mesopotamian ones.  In the conclusion of his book, observing the differences between the two churches in regards to the structure {themes/readings}, he writes:

In summary, then, one may say that the West Syrian tradition, in agreement with the greater emphasis on historia over theoria noted in Antiochene exegesis and mystagogy, presents the more historically ordered sequence of liturgical propers, whereas the East Syrian propers continually revolve around a few basic theological themes. {Emphasis is authors, not mine.}

In most books, a comparison is made between the Alexandrian’s emphasis on allegory against the Antiochian’s emphasis on history, while it is often assumed, even by Church of the East clergy and laity, that the Mesopotamian school can be lumped in with the Antiochian.  Interestingly, Fr. Andrew compares the thematic differences between the Egyptian and the Babylonian school down to the most ancient of times.  The former emphasized the divinity of its rulers, while the latter reminded them that they were humans.  The thematic struggle between the two schools goes through the ages, and the Antiochian school, which is definitely influenced by the Mesopotamian, carries on that struggle in the 4th and 5th centuries with the clashes between Antioch and Alexandria.

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One Response to “Antiochian vs. Mesopotamian”

  1. aboriente Says:

    I’m sorry that I don’t know an easy way to get to Moolan’s book. I myself acquired it through luck and happenstance. If anyone knows how it can be ordered/obtained… would appreciate a comment on that.

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