Acts of Mar Mari

The Acts of Mar Mari is a Syriac Christian apocryphal acts.[1] It pertains to the introduction of Christianity in northern and southern Mesopotamia by Addai's disciple Saint Mari in the first century and in the beginning of the second century AD.[2]

Manuscript history[edit]

Photograph of Jean Baptiste Abbeloos in L'Université de Louvain. Coup d'oeil sur son histoire et ses institutions, 1425-1900, Bruxelles, Bulens, 1900, p. 91.

The Acts of Mar Mari is preserved in multiple manuscripts. Six manuscripts written in either Syriac or Garshuni dated from the nineteenth century and are stored at the Library of the Rabban Hormizd Monastery. These manuscripts were copied at either Tel Keppe or Alqosh from a series called Stories of Saints and Martyrs. One manuscript was known to be copied at Alqosh in 1881 by a man named Abraham of the Qāshā (Priest) family. His copy was based on a nineteenth-century manuscript written by master copyist Īsā Aqrūrāiā. Jean Baptiste Abbeloos had compared the manuscript with an older one he had received from Bishop G. Khyyath of Amida. Abbeloos published it along with his Latin translation in his Acta Sancta Maris (1885) with a list of variants between the manuscripts.[3]

R. Raabe had compared a manuscript known as CB hereafter with Abbeloos's. He had published his German translation along with variants in his Die Geschichte des Dominus Mari, eines Apostels des Orients (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1893).[4]

Paul Bedjan edited his manuscript based on Abbeloos in his Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum Syriace (1890). Bedjan's manuscript was less descriptive than Abbeloos and Raabes.[5]

There are also two Arabic translations of the Acts of Mar Mari. The first was from Bishop Addai Scher of Seert (Turkey) in his Kitāb sītar ašher šuhadā al-mašriq al-qiddīsīn (1900). The other was an abridged translation with sections of the beginning and the end being omitted. It was published by Fr. Albert Abūjā in his Šuhadā al-mašriq (1985).[6]

The Acts of Mar Mari was translated for the first time from Syriac to English in Amir Harrak's The Acts of Mār Mārī the Apostle (2005).[3]


The Acts of Mar Mari heavily relies on ancient texts such as the Doctrine of Addai, the Bible (primarily the Book of Daniel), Eusebius, and Mesopotamian literature.[7] The introduction of the acts begins with the correspondence between Abgar V and Jesus and Abgar's healing by Addai from the Doctrine of Addai. The acts further usage of the Doctrine of Addai continues with a similar occurrence. Concerning the healing of a king who ruled over Arzen, the king had suffered from the exact disease gout as Abgar did. The Arzen king is healed by Mar Mari as Abgar was healed by Addai, and Mar Mari conversed with the king almost exactly as Addai to Abgar.[8]


The date of the Acts of Mar Mari is not universally accepted.[9] Jean Baptiste Abbeloos who first edited the text, dated the acts after the sixth or possibly during the seventh century AD.[9] Josef Markwart chose a late date for the acts because of the two geographical places mentioned, Gawar and Zawzan. According to Amir Harrak's opposition, these locations are unattested in the early periods.[9] Harrak states that these names do not sound Arabic, and Zawzan is only found occurring in Arabic sources. Harrak further elaborates that Zawzan may be found in Arab sources, but it does not mean the name was coined in the Arab period. He further explains the majority of geographical places mentioned in the acts are evidently present in Syriac sources of the pre-Islamic era.[10]

Several scholars have dated the acts to the mid seventh century after the fall of the Sasanian Empire by the Arabs.[9] However, Amir Harrak suggests this in unlikely since the acts never mentions the end of the Sasanian Empire or near it.[9]


  1. ^ Grubbs, Parkin & Bell 2013, p. 132.
  2. ^ Harrak 2005, p. xi.
  3. ^ a b Harrak 2005, p. xii.
  4. ^ Harrak 2005, pp. xii & xiii.
  5. ^ Harrak 2005, p. xiii.
  6. ^ Harrak 2005, pp. xiii & xiv.
  7. ^ Harrak 2005, p. xix.
  8. ^ Harrak 2005, p. xx.
  9. ^ a b c d e Harrak 2005, p. xiv.
  10. ^ Harrak 2005, p. xv.