Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Jacobus Sarugensis, bp. of Batnae
Jacobus (13) Sarugensis, bp. of Batnae, a little town in the district of Sarug in Osrhoëne. He enjoyed an extraordinary reputation for learning and holiness and was sainted alike by orthodox and heretics. The Syrian liturgies commemorate him with St. Ephraim as "os eloquentissimum et columnam ecclesiae."
Two Lives are extant in the Vatican and one in the Brit. Mus. (Cod. dcccclx. 46, dated A.D. 1197). The oldest and best is the spirited eulogium by his disciple Georgius, perhaps a bishop of the Arabs. The other two, which are anonymous and later than 10th cent., are in close agreement with it. According to them, Jacobus was born at Kurtom on the Euphrates, A.D. 452, and was taught in one of the schools of Edessa (according to Mares the Nestorian).
The anonymous Life (Vat.) states that Jacobus was made bp. of Batnae ("urbis Sarug") when 67½ years old, A.D. 519, and that he died 2½ years afterwards, i.e. A.D. 521. Before A.D. 503, Joshua Stylites tells us, Jacobus was a periodeutes or visitor of the district of Batnae, a middle rank between the episcopate and the priesthood. Cf. Ep. 316 in the Brit. Mus. Cod. dclxxii. The Stylite adds that Jacobus composed many homilies on Scripture, psalms, and hymns; which proves his fame already established in 503.
Renaudot (t. ii. Liturgg. Orientt.) has charged Jacobus with Monophysitism, a charge which Assemani and Abbeloos shew to be unwarranted. Timotheus of Constantinople (fl. 6th cent. ad init.) calls him "orthodox," Isaacus Ninivita and Joannes Maro quote him as such, and Joshua the Stylite, his contemporary, calls him venerable. The Maronites, always hostile to Nestorians and Jacobites, honour him as a saint. Further, he began his episcopate under Justin, by whose orders Severus was driven from Antioch, Philoxenos from Hierapolis, and other heretics from Mesopotamia and Syria. Had Jacobus been a Monophysite, he would have shared their fate. Not a single Catholic writer of the 5th, 6th, or 7th cent., says Assemani, has so accused him. Bar-hebraeus and the Life in the Brit. Mus., indeed, allege that he communicated with Severus, and Dionysius in his Chronicon asserts that St. Jacobus of Sarug would not communicate with Paul of Antioch, because the latter confessed the two natures. But Dionysius is contradictory in his dates. Some passages of the extant hymns speak of the single nature of Christ, but may be interpolated. There is direct evidence that after the council of Chalcedon the Monophysites began to tamper with texts (cf. Evagr. iii. 91). They even attributed whole works, written in their own interests, to such men as Athanasius and Gregory Thaumaturgus. Jacobus Edessenus testifies that a certain poem was falsely ascribed by the Jacobite sect to the bp. of Batnae shortly after his decease (Bar-hebr. Horr. Myst. ad Gen. vi.). A silly poem against the council of Chalcedon (Cod. Nitr. 5 fol. 139) is proved by internal evidence to be spurious. His writings in general supply ample proof of orthodoxy on the doctrines in question.
Works.—He was a very voluminous writer. Bar-hebraeus says that he employed 70 amanuenses in writing his homiletic poems, of which 760 exist, besides expositions, epistles, hymns, and psalms. Georgius, in his panegyric, gives a list of his poetic writings which treat of the great men of O.T., of angels, and of the mysteries of the Son of God. The anonymous Life (Vat.) states that his homilies (mim’rê) numbered 763. Of these many may be lost; most of those which survive are unedited.
Prose Works.—(1) An anaphora or liturgy (Renaud. Lit. Or. ii. 556–566) beginning Deus
Pater, qui es tranquillitas! also found in Ethiopic (Brit. Mus. Cod. cclxi. ii, "Anaphora of holy Mar Jacob the Doctor, of Batnan of Serug." Also Codd. cclxiii. and cclxxiii.).
(2) An order of Baptism; one of four used by the Maronites (Assemani, Cod. Lit. ii. 309).
(3) An order of Confirmation (ib. iii. 184).
(4) A number of epistles—the Brit. Mus. Cod. dclxxii. (dated A.D. 603) contains 34 in a more or less perfect state, including (a) Ep. to Samuel, abbat of St. Isaacus at Gabûla; on the Trinity and Incarnation. "The Father unbegotten, the Son begotten, the Spirit proceeding from the Father, and receiving from the Son." (b) Ep. to the Himyarite Christians. (c) Ep. to Stephen bar-Sudaïl of Edessa, proving from reason and Scripture the eternity of heaven and hell. (d) Ep. to Jacobus, an abbat of Edessa, explaining Heb. x. 26, I. John v. 16, etc. (e) Ep. to bp. Eutychianus against the Nestorians.
(5) Six Homilies: on Nativity, Epiphany, Lent, Palm Sunday, The Passion, The Resurrection (Zingerlé, Sechs Homilien des heilig. Jacob von Sarug, Bonn, 1867).
Poetic Works.—Assemani gives a catalogue of 231, with headings and first words. Very few have been printed. The subjects are chiefly the personages and events of O. and N. T., esp. the words and deeds of Christ. Jacobus is very fond of an allegorical treatment of O.T. themes.
Wright's Cat. Syr. MSS., pp. 502–525, gives an account of upwards of 40 MSS. and fragments of MSS., containing metrical discourses, and letters and a few homilies in prose, by St. Jacobus. Jacobus Edessenus classed the bp. of Batnae with St. Ephraim, Isaacus Magnus, and Xenaias Mabugensis, as a model writer of Syriac. Assem. Bibl. Or. i. 283–340; Cave, ii. 110; Abbeloos, de Vitâ et Scriptt. S. Jacobi Batn. Sarugi in Mesop. Episc. (Lovan. 1867); Matagne, Act. Sanct. xii. Oct. p. 824; Bickell, Consp. Syr. 25, 26.