GREGORY BAR HEBRÆUS ("son of a Hebrew"), ABU AL-FARAJ IBN HARUN:
Jacobite Syrian historian, physician, philosopher, and theologian; born at Malatia, Asiatic Turkey, 1226; died at Maragha, Persia, 1286. Gregory first studied medicine under his father, Aaron, a Jewish physician who embraced Christianity; he then devoted himself to theology and philosophy, at the same time studying other sciences. He was successively Bishop of Guba (1246), of Laḳaba (1247), and of Aleppo (1253). In 1264 he was named "mafriana," or "primate," of the eastern Jacobites, with his seat at Tekrit on the Tigris. It does not appear that, beyond his surname, Gregory showed any traces of his Jewish origin; even his works (thirty-one) give no proof that, though master of Syriac, Arabic, and perhaps of Greek, he had ever studied Hebrew. On the contrary, in the beginning of his chronicle he ascribes to such Biblical names as Noah, Jacob, etc., a Syriac origin. Nor is there anything to show that his studies were pursued under Jewish influence, though he did not entirely ignore Jewish doctrines.
Gregory was a prolific writer on theology, philosophy, ethics, history, grammar, medicine, mathematics, and astronomy. He was also a poet. Some of his works were written in Arabic, but most of them in Syriac. He was the last great Syriac writer, though he is important rather as a collector than as an independent writer. He is best known for his Syriac grammar ("Ketaba de Ṣemḥe"); his "Chronicle," in two parts, ecclesiastical and political; his "Menarat Ḳudshe," a compendium of theology, philosophy, medicine, physics, and metaphysics; and his scholia on the Old and the New Testament ("Auẓar Raze"). In the last-named he occasionally cites readings from the Samaritan text; it is interesting to note that in a scholium to II Kings xvii. 28 he says: "The law [i.e., text of the Pentateuch] of the Samaritans does not agree with that of the Jews, but with the Septuagint." He occasionally cites opinions of Jews, but probably only at second hand (e.g., to Ps. viii. 2, on the "Shem ha-Meforash"; comp. "Z. D. M. G." xxxii. 465). In the introduction to his commentary on Job he mentions as a writer the priest Asaph (brother of Ezra the Scribe), who identifies Job with Jobab. In speaking of the apocryphal account of the death of Isaiah, he cites "one of the Hebrew books" as authority (Nestle, "Marginalien," ii. 48).
- Assemant, Bibliotheca Orientalis, ii. 244-320;
- Eug. Boré, in Journal Asiatique, 2d series, vol. xiv., pp. 481-508;
- R. Gottheil, in Hebraica, iii. 249-254;
- Nöldeke, Orientalische Skizzen, pp. 250 et seq., Berlin, 1892;
- J. Göttsberger, Barhebrœus und Seine Scholien, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1900;
- and the literature cited in Duval, Littérature Syriaque, p. 409 and passim, Paris, 1899.