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was consecrated bishop in 308 /9. According to the Chronicle ofEdessa, he was the builder of the first church at Nisibis (c. 313-20), and a baptistery built beside that church was dedicated to his memory by his successor Vologese in 359. From various conciliar lists, it is certain that Jacob represented Nisibis at the Council of Nicaea. He was known as an anti-Arian. Works attributed to him by later chronicles and manuscripts, including homilies of Aphrahat, were not written byJacob. Jacob became a prominent feature of the later hagiographical traditions.10

The spirituality of the church was heavily ascetic. Many if not all converts committed to a life of celibacy, which attracted more women than men. Ephrem lamented that the husbands often used this as an excuse to purchase concubines from the nearby Arab nomadic tribes. At least some of the church participants were organised into two orders, 'Sons of the Covenant' and 'Daughters of the Covenant'. The exact nature of these groups has perplexed scholars. It was not monasticism as it was later developed under the influence of Egyptian Christianity and Buddhism, but the groups appear to have been structured efforts to encourage the development of asceticism and spirituality. They may have functioned as diaconal clergy. Women were involved in social ministries, prayer and ascetical practices. They also provided music for the liturgy, although there is no evidence for further involvement.

The most important Byzantine Asian author of the fourth century was Ephrem of Syria.11 He is the most important and reliable source for the history and culture of the church in northern Mesopotamia during the fourth century. Ephrem's influence on the entire Christian church can scarcely be overstated. His works were translated into Armenian, Georgian, Latin, old Slavonic, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Coptic and Ethiopic. His influence on the Syriac-language churches was probably the single most determinative factor in their development. He influenced biblical interpretation, theological

10 P. Peeters, 'La L├ęgende de Saint Jacques de Nisibe'; J.-M. Fiey, Nisibe; D. Bundy, 'Jacob of Nisibis as a model for the episcopacy'; D. Bundy 'Vision for the city'; Bundy 'Bishop Vologese'.

11 Edmund Beck has prepared an extensive critical edition of the Syriac text of Ephrem's works, with German translation, for CSCO (see the bibliography, below, for details). Translations of other material, often with quite useful notes and contextual material, include S. Brock, The harp of the Spirit; S. Brock, St. Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns on paradise; C. W Mitchell et al., Prose refutations; C. McCarthy St. Ephrem's commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron; E. G. Mathews, Jr. and Joe Amar, trans., St. Ephrem the Syrian: Prose works; and K. McVey, trans., Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns. For additional information, see S. Brock, The luminous eye; S. Brock, The Syriac fathers on prayer and the spiritual life; S. Griffith, 'Ephraem, the deacon ofEdessa'; S. Hidal, Interpretatio Syriaca; T. B. Mansour, Lapensee symbolique de Saint Ephrem le Syrien; Murray Symbols of church and kingdom; and W L. Petersen, The Diatessaron and Ephrem Syrus.

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