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Encyclopedia > Abgarus of Edessa
Tenth-century icon of Abgar with the mandylion, the image of Christ
Tenth-century icon of Abgar with the mandylion, the image of Christ

Abgar V or Abgarus V of Edessa (4 BC - AD 7 and AD 13 - 50) is a historical ruler of the kingdom of Osroene, holding his capital at Edessa. (Compare the Syrian region that was earlier called Aram-Naharaim in the Old Testament.) The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... According to the legend, King Abgarus received the Image of Edessa from the apostle Thaddeus. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 50s BC 40s BC 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC - 0s BC - 0s 10s 20s 30s 40s 9 BC 8 BC 7 BC 6 BC 5 BC 4 BC 3 BC 2 BC 1 BC 1 2 Events Archelaus becomes... For other uses, see number 7. ... For other uses, see number 13. ... Events Londinium is founded by the Romans, taking over as capital of the local Roman province, from Colchester (approximate date) Roman Emperor Claudius appoints Agrippa II governor of Chalcis. ... Edessa is the historical name of a town in northern Mesopotamia. ... See Aramaea and Arameans. ... The Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures (also called the Hebrew Bible) constitutes the first major part of the Bible according to Christianity. ...


In Christian mythology the story of king Abgar of Edessa was an early tale of a wonder-working icon, set in the heart of the region where iconoclast tradition disapproved strongly of images in general and miraculous ones in particular, but which this icon-legitimizing legend connected directly with Jesus. A myth is a story with deep explanatory or symbolic significance, and thus, without addressing any issues of core beliefs of Christianity, Christian mythology is therefore a body of stories that explains or symbolizes Christian beliefs. ... Edessa is the historical name of a town in northern Mesopotamia. ... The Savior Not Made By Hands (1410s, by Andrei Rublev) An icon (from Greek εικων, eikon, image) is an artistic visual representation or symbol of anything considered holy and divine, such as God, saints or deities. ... An iconoclast originally referred to a person who destroyed icons, that is, sacred paintings or sculpture. ... This 11th-century portrait is one of many images of Jesus in which a halo with a cross is used. ...


The legend tells that Abgar, king of Edessa, afflicted with an incurable sickness, has heard the fame of the power and miracles of Jesus and writes to him, acknowledging his divinity, craving his help and offering him asylum in his own residence; the tradition states that Jesus wrote a letter declining to go, promising, however, that after his ascension he would send one of his disciples, endowed with his power, namely Thaddeus (called Addaï), or one of the seventy-two Disciples, called Thaddeus of Edessa. Thaddaeus (Greek Thaddaios) Saint Jude is one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus referred to in Matthew and Mark. ... Thaddeus was one of the Seventy Apostles of Christ, not to be confused with Thaddeus of the Twelve Apostles. ...


The 4th century church historian Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea records a tradition, in his Historia Ecclesiae, I, xii or xiii, ca AD 325, concerning a correspondence on this occasion, exchanged between Abgar of Edessa and Jesus. Eusebius was convinced that the original letters, written in Syriac, were kept in the archives of Edessa. Eusebius also states that in due course Judas, son of Thaddaeus, was sent in 29 AD. Eusebius copies the two letters into the text of his History. (3rd century - 4th century - 5th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 4th century was that century which lasted from 301 to 400. ... Eusebius of Caesarea (~275 – May 30, 339) (often called Eusebius Pamphili, Eusebius [the friend of] Pamphilus) was a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is often referred to as the father of church history because of his work in recording the history of the early Christian church. ... Events May 20 - First Council of Nicaea _ first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church: The Nicene Creed is formulated, the date of Easter is discussed. ...


The correspondence consisted of Abgar's letter and the answer dictated by Jesus. As the legend later expanded, a portrait of Jesus painted from life was introduced. This portrait, painted by the court archivist Hannan during his visit to Jesus, is first mentioned in the Syriac text called the "Doctrine of Addai" (Doctrina Addai-- Addaei, Addaeus = Thaddaeus or Thaddeus), from the second half of the 4th century. Here it is said that the reply of Jesus was given not in writing, but verbally, and that the event took place in 32 AD. This Teaching of Addai is also the earliest account of an image of Jesus painted from life, enshrined by the ailing King Abgar V in one of his palaces. Greek forms of the legend are found in the Acta Thaddaei, the "Acts of Thaddaeus". Travel guide to Syria from Wikitravel Look up Syria in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Government Syrian Arab Republic - Syrian Parliament official site Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in Canada government information and links News Al-Thawra newspaper (in Arabic) SANA Syrian Arab News Agency government agency The Syria Report...


The story of the Abgar, including the portrait made by the court painter Hannan, is repeated with some additions in Moses of Chorene's mid-5th century History of the Armenians, remarking that the portrait was preserved in Edessa.


The story was later further elaborated and altered by the church historian Evagrius, bishop of Edessa (c. 536-600), who eliminates a human painter entirely by declaring for the first time that the image of Jesus was "divinely wrought," and "not made by human hands." We can thus trace the development of the legend from no image in Eusebius to an image painted by Hannan in "Addai" and Moses of Chorene, to a miraculously-appearing image not made by human hands in Evagrius.


This latter concept of an "image not made by hands" formed the foundation on which the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of icons was later created in the 8th century, which held that Jesus made the first icon of himself by pressing a wet towel to his face, miraculously imprinting the cloth with his features, thus creating the prototype for all icons of Jesus and an implied divine approval for their creation.


John of Damascus, the leading architect of the church dogma favoring icons, specifically mentions that Jesus "is said to have taken a piece of cloth and pressed it to his face, impressing on it the image of his face, which it keeps to this day" (On the Divine Images I).


The Abgar legend enjoyed great popularity in the East, and also in the West, during the Middle Ages: Jesus' letter was copied on parchment, inscribed in marble and metal, and used as a talisman or an amulet. Of this pseudepigraphical correspondence there survive not only a Syriac text, but an Armenian translation as well, two independent Greek versions, shorter than the Syriac, and several inscriptions on stone. Pseudepigrapha (from the Greek words pseudos = lie and epigrapho = write) is a text or a number of texts whose claimed authorship or authenticity is incorrect. ...


A curious legendary growth has sprung up from this imaginary occurrence, with scholars disputing whether Abgar suffered from gout or from leprosy, whether the correspondence was on parchment or papyrus, and so forth. Most testimony of the 5th century, for instance Augustine and Jerome, is to the effect that Jesus wrote nothing. The correspondence was rejected as apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I and a Roman synod (c. 495). Biblical scholars now generally believe that the letters were fabricated, probably in the 3rd century AD, and "planted" where Eusebius eventually found them. Another theory is that the story was fabricated by Abgar IX of Osroene, during whose reign the kingdom became Christianized, as a way of legitimizing this religious transformation. St. ... , by Albrecht Dürer , by Peter Paul Rubens Jerome (about 340 - September 30, 420), (full name Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. ... In Judeo-Christian theologies, apocrypha refers to religious Sacred text that have questionable authenticity or are otherwise disputed. ... It is requested that an image(s) should be included, to improve the articles quality. ...


Text of the letter varies. The less available variant, transcribed from the Doctrina Addaei, and printed in the Catholic Encyclopedia 1908:

"Abgar Ouchama to Jesus, the Good Physician Who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting:
"I have heard of Thee, and of Thy healing; that Thou dost not use medicines or roots, but by Thy word openest (the eyes) of the blind, makest the lame to walk, cleansest the lepers, makest the deaf to hear; how by Thy word (also) Thou healest (sick) spirits and those who are tormented with lunatic demons, and how, again, Thou raisest the dead to life. And, learning the wonders that Thou doest, it was borne in upon me that (of two things, one): either Thou hast come down from heaven, or else Thou art the Son of God, who bringest all these things to pass. Wherefore I write to Thee, and pray that thou wilt come to me, who adore Thee, and heal all the ill that I suffer, according to the faith I have in Thee. I also learn that the Jews murmur against Thee, and persecute Thee, that they seek to crucify Thee, and to destroy Thee. I possess but one small city, but it is beautiful, and large enough for us two to live in peace."

The Doctrina then continues:

When Jesus had received the letter, in the house of the high priest of the Jews, He said to Hannan, the secretary, "Go thou, and say to thy master, who hath sent thee to Me: 'Happy art thou who hast believed in Me, not having seen Me, for it is written of Me that those who shall see Me shall not believe in Me, and that those who shall not see Me shall believe in Me. As to that which thou hast written, that I should come to thee, (behold) all that for which I was sent here below is finished, and I ascend again to My Father who sent Me, and when I shall have ascended to Him I will send thee one of My disciples, who shall heal all thy sufferings, and shall give (thee) health again, and shall convert all who are with thee unto life eternal. And thy city shall be blessed forever, and the enemy shall never overcome it.'"

(†According to Eusebius, it was not Hannan who wrote the answer but Jesus himself.)

Contents


Liturgical use of the letter of Abgar

The quotations paraphrasing the Gospels are actually from the famous concordance of Tatian, the Diatessarion, itself compiled in the 2nd century. The legend could not be older than the 3rd century. In addition, however, to the importance which it attained in the apocryphal cycle, the correspondence of King Abgar also gained for some time a place in liturgy. The decree, De libris non recipiendis ("Books not to be received"), traditionally attributed to Pope Gelasius I, places the letter among the apocrypha. That in itself may, possibly, be an allusion to its having been interpolated among the officially sanctioned lessons of the liturgy of some churches. The Syrian liturgies commemorate the correspondence of Abgar during Lent. The Celtic liturgy appears to have attached importance to the legend; the Liber Hymnorum, a manuscript preserved at Trinity College, Dublin (E. 4, 2), gives two collects on the lines of the letter to Abgar. Nor is it impossible that this letter, followed by various prayers, may have formed a minor liturgical office in some Catholic churches. Tatian was an early Christian writer and theologian of the second century. ... It is requested that an image(s) should be included, to improve the articles quality. ... In Judeo-Christian theology, the word apocrypha (Greek απόκρυφα, neuter plural of απόκρυφος, hidden) refers to texts that are not considered canonical, part of the Bible, but are of roughly similar style and age as the accepted Scriptures. ...


True images

The account given by Thaddeus/Adda contains a detail which may be briefly referred to. Hannan, who wrote at Jesus' dictation, was archivist at Edessa and painter to King Abgar. He had been charged to paint a portrait of Jesus Christ and brought back to Edessa an icon which came an object of general veneration, but which, after a while, was said to have been painted by Jesus himself. Like the letter, the iconic portrait was destined be the nucleus of a legendary growth; the "Holy Face of Edessa" was chiefly famous in the Byzantine world, where the legend of the Edessa portrait forms part of the subject of the developing iconography of Christ, and also of the pictures of miraculous origin called acheiropoietoe ("made without hands") both in the Eastern Orthodox Church and, in the West where the tradition has produced Veronicas and the Shroud of Turin. The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is a Christian body whose adherents are largely based in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, with a growing presence in the western world and Africa. ... Saint Veronica Veronica, the Speedwells, a genus of plants. ... The first photo of the Shroud of Turin, taken in 1898, had the surprising feature that the image on the negative was clearer than the positive image. ...


See also

Christian mythology A myth is a story with deep explanatory or symbolic significance, and thus, without addressing any issues of core beliefs of Christianity, Christian mythology is therefore a body of stories that explains or symbolizes Christian beliefs. ...


Reference

The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) in many ways represents the sum of knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Abgarus of Edessa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1121 words)
Abgar V or Abgarus V of Edessa (4 BC - AD 7 and AD 13 - 50) is a historical ruler of the kingdom of Osroene, holding his capital at Edessa.
In Christian mythology the story of king Abgar of Edessa was an early tale of a wonder-working icon, set in the heart of the region where iconoclast tradition disapproved strongly of images in general and miraculous ones in particular, but which this icon-legitimizing legend connected directly with Jesus.
John of Damascus, the leading architect of the church dogma favoring icons, specifically mentions that Jesus "is said to have taken a piece of cloth and pressed it to his face, impressing on it the image of his face, which it keeps to this day" (On the Divine Images I).
Abgarus of Edessa - encyclopedia article about Abgarus of Edessa. (2713 words)
The name under which Edessa figures in cuneiform inscriptions is unknown; the later native name was Osroe, after its purported founder (who was probably only legend), this being the Armenian form for Chosroes; it became in Syriac Ourhoï, in Armenian Ourhaï in Arabic Er Roha, commonly Orfa or Sanli Urfa, its present name.
Thaddaeus of Edessa: one of the 70 or 72 original disciples (besides the 12); according to Eusebius he was sent to Edessa to cure the king Abgar V and founded the Christian church there; he is venerated by the Orthodox churches.
Thaddeus of the Seventy Disciples (=Judas Jacobi?, or Judas Simon?) was born a Jew in Edessa.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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