Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jeff Childers

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Kelli Gibson

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

David Kneip


This thesis is a study of Narsai of Nisibis’s mēmrē on the sacraments of the baptismal liturgy that situates these mēmrē in their Syriac theological context and presents them as an important witness to Late Antique Christian mystagogy. Narsai is a significant figure in the Syriac Christian tradition, yet he has received comparatively little scholarly attention, especially in the West. However, an increase in editions and studies of Narsai’s work over the last century has led to a further awareness of his influence on Syriac Christianity. Several scholars have pointed out that these mēmrē bear a resemblance to other Late Antique Christian mystagogical texts, which presents the question as to what contributions his mēmrē make to our understanding of Late Antique Christian mystagogy.

Chapter 1 presents an introduction to Christian mystagogy in Late Antiquity and an introduction to Narsai and his mystagogical mēmrē. Chapter 2 constructs an approach to Syriac symbolic theology by analyzing various images employed for the sacraments in the writings of two prominent Late Antique Syriac authors, Ephrem the Syrian and Jacob of Serugh. Chapters 3 and 4 employ the framework of chapter 2 to analyze the imagery Narsai employs to explain the function and significance of the sacraments and the persons involved in the sacraments, respectively. Chapter 5 brings the analysis of Narsai’s mēmrē into a cohesive whole to present his contributions to the task of Late Antique Christian mystagogy and suggests further 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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