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was reconstituted at Nisibis at the invitation of its bishop. Led by two influential theologians, Narsai and Barsauma, both prolific writers and politically engaged, the school of Nisibis became a formidable intellectual centre for the Asian Christian churches. The theological schism with the churches under Byzantine intellectual control improved the security of the Persian churches in the Persian empire.19

The relations both between the churches and with the government can be seen in the case of Mar Aba I (d. 552). Mar Aba was born at Hale in Radan. He grew up as a Mazdaian but converted to Christianity. He received his intellectual formation at the theological school of Edessa. He travelled and continued his study of Greek in Palestine, Greece and Egypt. He returned to Nisibis as a professor. From Nisibis he was elected and served as catholicos of the East Syrian church (540-52). Dissatisfied with the school at Nisibis, he started a theological school at Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Throughout his career, Aba remained an active author, contributing works in various theological disciplines as well as translations from Greek into Syriac of works by Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius.20

The period of his catholicate was made difficult both by tensions within the church and by the problems between Christians and the Persian government. He worked to heal the schisms in the church. The government sent him into exile in Azerbaijan, and from there he worked to lead the church. About 548, he escaped from detention in Azerbaijan and returned to Seleucia-Ctesiphon. He was imprisoned for about three years, was released in 551 and died within the year.

The synod of 554 formally adopted the commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Nicene Creed as an authoritative text for the Persian church. From this period onward, the East Syrian churches were generally Dyophysite, although theologians were rarely totally consistent in their theological language; of primary concern was the separation from Byzantium.

Theological ferment was a regular feature of the intellectual centre at Nisibis. Central to these controversies during the sixth century was Henana (Hadisbaia') from Adiabene (d. c. 610). Following study at the theological school at Nisibis under a certain Moses, Henana was appointed professor at the institution. He became convinced that the exegetical and theological traditions of Theodore of Mopsuestia should be revised in the light of the work of

19 Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de I'eglise en Iraq; S. Gero, Barsauma of Nisibis.

20 On Mar Aba I, see Synodicon orientale, ed. and trans. Chabot; Labourt, Le christianisme dans I'empire perse; Arthur Voobus, History of the school of Nisibis; J.-M. Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de I'eglise en Iraq; Fiey, Nisibe.

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