John of Damascus bigraphy, stories - Syrian monk and priest

John of Damascus : biography

676 - 749
Chrysorrhoas redirects here. For the river, see Barada.

Saint John of Damascus (Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Δαμασκηνός Iōannēs ho Damaskēnos; Latin: Iohannes Damascenus; also known as John Damascene, Χρυσορρόας/Chrysorrhoas, "streaming with gold"—i.e., "the golden speaker") (c. 675 or 676 – 4 December 749; Arabic: يوحنا الدمشقي Yuḥannā Al Demashqi) was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.M. Walsh, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints(HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), pp. 403.

A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination.Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Idols in the East: European representations of Islam and the Orient, 1100-1450, Cornell University Press, 2009 p.204David Richard Thomas, Syrian Christians under Islam: the first thousand years, Brill 2001 p.19. He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world. He is considered "the last of the Fathers" of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defense of icons. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.Christopher Rengers The 33 Doctors Of The Church Tan Books & Publishers, 200, ISBN 0-89555-440-2

Biography

John of Damascus. The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. This is an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text. The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations, and was written by an Arab monk, Michael. Michael explained that he decided to write his biography in 1084 because none was available in his day. However, the main Arabic text seems to have been written by an earlier author sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD. Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration and some legendary details, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is widely reproduced and considered to contain elements of some value. The hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century.R. Volk, ed., Historiae animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (Berlin, 2006).

Family background

John was born into a prominent family known as Mansour ( al-Mansǔr, "the victorious one") in Damascus in the 7th century AD.McEnhill and Newman, 2004, p. 154. His full name was Yuhanna (or Yanah) ibn Mansur ibn Sarjun (), named for his grandfather Mansur, who had been responsible for the taxes of the region under the Emperor Heraclius. The lack of documentation attesting to his specific tribal lineage has led a number of scholars to assign him either to the Taghlib or the Kalb, two prominent Christian Arab tribes in the Syrian desert. Others suggest that he may have been of Syrian non-Arab origin. Whatever the case, John of Damascus had two names: John, his Christian name, and his Arabic name, given as Qurein or Yana or Iyanis.

Eutychius, a 10th-century Melkite patriarch mentions a certain Arab governor of the city who surrendered the city to the Muslims, probably John's grandfather Mansur Bin Sargun. When the region came under Arab Muslim rule in the late 7th century AD, the court at Damascus retained its large complement of Christian civil servants, John's grandfather among them. John's father, Sarjun (Sergius) or Ibn Mansur, went on to serve the Umayyad caliphs. According to John of Jerusalem and some later versions of his life, after his father's death John also served as an official to the caliphal court before leaving to become a monk. This claim, that John actually served in a Muslim court, has been questioned since he is never mentioned in Muslim sources, which however do refer to his father Sarjun (Sergius) as a secretary in the caliphal administration.Robert Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It Darwin Press: Princeton, 1996, 481. In addition, John's own writings never refer to any experience in a Muslim court. It is believed that John became a monk at Mar Saba, and that he was ordained as a priest in 735.Brown, 2003, p. 307.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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