Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jeff W. Childers

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Kelli Gibson

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Robert A. Kitchen


This thesis presents an edition, translation, and analysis of the heretofore unpublished Epistle to Marcianus, an early fifth-century letter attributed to Mar John the Solitary of Apamea. Mar John has long remained a somewhat shadowy figure in Syriac studies, given the complexities of his writings, confusion about what texts should be attributed to him, and his condemnation as a heretic by later Syriac writers. However, scholars have recently begun suggesting that Mar John was in fact quite influential in the development of Syriac ascetic theology. The Epistle to Marcianus (EpMar) considers the passion of lust, which is personified as the biblical figure of “Lady Folly” from Proverbs 7. In the letter, Mar John warns a young monk, Marcianus, about the dangers that lust poses as well as the means by which one can break the passion’s hold on him or her.

The first chapter offers a general introduction to Mar John as well as EpMar. In chapter 2, the Syriac edition and English translation of EpMar are presented consecutively, preceded by brief notes on the editorial policy and translational method employed. Chapters 3 and 4 offer an initial analysis of EpMar. Chapter 3 systematizes and expounds the theology of lust found in EpMar and characterizes the epistle as an ad hoc work of pastoral advice. Chapter 4 considers EpMar in its Johannine context as well as in the context of late-antique asceticism more generally, with specific reference to the writings of Evagrius of Pontus. Chapter 5 offers a brief reflection on the significance of Mar John and EpMar and suggests future avenues of research.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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