Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2017


Theology, Ministry, Missions (GST)

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

Ken Cukrowski


This thesis examines an early fifth-century homily by John the Solitary of Apamea on Matthew 5:3, which I have called Homily on the Poor in Spirit. Mar John wrote the homily to other monks, arguing for the importance of renunciation and voluntary poverty in the life of a monk and exhorting them to develop this practice in their own lives. Although he is understood to be a prominent and influential author during his time, Mar John has received relatively little attention by modern scholarship. Neither an edition nor a translation of the Homily on the Poor in Spirit has been published, and the work remains almost entirely unstudied. The primary goal of this project is to produce a Syriac edition and English translation of the homily, in order that it might be accessible to scholars and students alike.

In addition to the edition and translation, the thesis contains a rhetorical analysis, which identifies and examines Mar John’s use of Scripture, from mere echoes to direct quotations, throughout the homily. Scripture is prominent in the homily; Mar John echoes or quotes the Bible over twenty-five times. After collecting and categorizing the references, they have been studied in order to ascertain how they are used by Mar John within the argument presented in the homily. The analysis clearly shows that he uses Scripture to present exemplars of renunciation for the monks to imitate, to offer practical advice and wisdom, and to provide additional authority to the argument in general.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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