The Syriac Life of Mār Yāret the Alexandrian: Promoting the Cult of a Monastic Holy Man in Early Medieval Mesopotamia
The article presents a hitherto unstudied specimen of Syriac monastic hagiography, the Life of Mār Yāret the Alexandrian. The author offers an overview of the content of the Life, which is followed by a close examination of the narrative’s intertextual background and analysis of the work’s monastic agenda. Also, he offers some preliminary observations on probable date and milieu of composition and gives a concise survey on the development of the cult of Yāret. In the appendix, the Syriac text of the Life is published for the first time, accompanied by an English translation. According to Minov, the Life was produced during the seventh or eighth century in the region of Bēt ʿArbāyē in Northern Mesopotamia, to promote the cult of a local holy man. The saints’ relics were placed at a small monastic church that functioned as a healing shrine. The narrative of the Life exhibits strong intertextual dependence on the sixth-century Life of Mār Awgēn, the semi-legendary founder of monasticism in Northern Mesopotamia. This contribution enriches our knowledge of Syriac hagiography in medieval Mesopotamia, especially of the corpus of monastic hagiographical works associated with the figure of Awgēn. It also sheds some light on the complex nexus involving textual production of hagiographical narratives and the development of the cult of saints during this littlestudied period.