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Babai the Great (c.551–628)

  1. Joseph P. Amar

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0106

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Amar, J. P. 2011. Babai the Great (c.551–628). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Babai is considered to be one of the most eminent scholars of the Syriac Church of the East, also known as the Assyrian Church. Born into a wealthy Persian family c.551, he received primary education in the Persian classics before distinguishing himself at the theological school of Nisibis. He eventually entered the monastery founded by Abraham of Kashkar on Mount Izla near Nisibis. In 604 he became the monastery's third abbot, undertaking an extensive reform of monastic life. The monastic Canons he established survive. When the patriarch, known as Catholicos of the Assyrian Church, died in 608, the Persian Shah, Khosro II, attempted to impose his own candidate. When the candidate was refused, the Shah did not allow the bishops to gather to elect a successor of their own. During this period, leadership of the church was shared by Babai, under the title “visitor of monasteries” and the deacon Aba.


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