I consulted Hidemi Takahashi, a Syriac Studies scholar from Japan and
a doctoral student at the University of Frankfurt on your question
regarding the apostolic succession in the Syriac Orthodox Church.
There is no straightforward answer to your question and Hidemi's
response tells you why.
----Original Message Follows----
Subject: Re: A question on Jacob Baradeus
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 10:41:26 +0200
Thank you for your message. <snip>
Coming to your question about the Apostolic succession, I am afraid I
am not really the right person to ask. I am not really very good on
the early history of the Church and there are others who will be much
better qualified than I am to answer your question (and I am sure
there are tons of literature which I should be consulting to answer
your question properly).
There are a couple of points we need to be clear about when talking
about Apostolic Succession. When we talk about the Apostolic
Succession, we mean, of course, the line of bishops ordaining bishops
(and going back ultimately to one of the twelve apostles), not
patriarchs ordaining patriarchs (the old patriarch is usually dead
when a new patriarch is appointed). We need also to remember that
when a bishop is ordained, he may be ordained by several bishops.
There may be one main ordinator (often the patriarch), but the
apostolic succession is transmitted through all the bishops who lay
their hands on him.
I believe the sources generally agree that Jacob Baradaeus/Burd'ono
was ordained bishop of Edessa in 543 by Patriarch Theodosius of
The main source on the life of Jacob, as far as I know is his
biography falsely attributed to John of Ephesus. I have before me the
edition by E.W. Brooks (Patrologia Orientalis XIX, fasc. 2), and here
it is said that Jacob was ordained bishop of Edessa and "all the rest
of Syria and Asia" by Patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria.
Bar Ebroyo (Chronicon ecclesiasticum, ed. Abbeloos-Lamy I.215), I
see, names several bishops who laid their hands on Jacob at his
Constantinus of Laodicea, John of Egypt, Peter, Theodosius (of
Alexandria), Anthimus (of Trebizond), and "a few other bishops".
The statement that there were only three bishops, "one on the
mountains of Marde (Mardin), one in Persian territory, and one who
had gone into Alexandria" occurs in the passage of pseudo-John of
Ephesus just before the account of Jacob's ordination. - But firstly
one has to be wary of taking such statements at face value; they may
involve a degree of exaggeration. Secondly and more importantly this
statement, as the editor, Brooks, points out, is based on a
misunderstanding of a passage of the real John of Ephesus, where John
of Ephesus is talking about John of Tella (who lived a generation
earlier). - So there probably were a few more "orthodox" (i.e.
miaphysite) bishops around in the time of Jacob Baradaeus.
Jacob Baradaeus was, of course, never patriarch of Antioch. - Pseudo-
John of Ephesus tells us that the two immediate succesors of Severus
of Antioch, Patriarchs Sergius of Tella (538-540) and Paul of Beit
Ukama (541), were ordained by Jacob Baradaeus. - But here there is a
problem in that Jacob himself only became bishop after these two
became patriarchs. - Bar Ebroyo, on the other hand, says that Sergius
was ordained by John of Anazarba. - I am afraid I do not have other
historical texts with me. - I am sure someone must have studied and
written about this problem, but I am afraid I do not have any
references ready at hand. ...
Given that Jacob Baradaeus had a major role in the reconstitution of
the Syriac Orthodox hierarchy, one can, I think, be fairly certain
that any Syriac Orthodox bishop today will be able (if all the
records were available, which they are not) to trace back his lineage
in some way to Jacob Baradaeus and Theodosius of Alexandria.
I would be less certain about whether the lineage goes back solely to
Jacob Baradaeus, but given that there were at least some other
miaphysite bishops around at the time, it seems likely that they too
would have taken part in the ordination of some bishops, and if so
there will also be a line going back to the Apostles via routes other
than Jacob and Theodosius.
Now, I am not sure if I've answered your question, but at least I've
All the best,
Thomas Joseph wrote:
> Dear Hidemi,
> Hope you are doing fine. I have a question that I
> wanted to consult you on. Recently, on SOR-Forum
> (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SOR-Forum), the
> question below was posed.
> Do you have any comments on it? Are the historical
> sources in agreement with respect to the consecration of Jacob
> With warm regards,
--- In SOR-Forum@y..., maurnicus@a... wrote:
> Shlomo kool,
> I was wondering whether our line of Apostolic Succession from St.
> Peter came solely through Antioch. As we know, (Mor) Jacob
> Baradaeus helped the Church thrive by ordaining many many
> priests and bishops.
> His was ordained by the Alexandrian patriarch (or bishop, I can't
> recall), and I read something about our church only having 3 living
> bishops at the time of Baradaeus' ordaination.
> So my question is, does our current line of apostolic succession
> come out of antioch (one of those three bishops) or alexandria (via