Aphraates

aphrahat. The twenty-three Syriac Tractates of Aphrahat, written 337-45, are the earliest extant evidence of Syrian church life and thought. A Bible handed on from Jewish Christian sources and gospel citations from the Diatessaron of Tatian combine with a background of virile apologetic against rabbinical Judaism to produce a doctrinal outlook almost unaffected by Greek speculation and Nicene theology. An ascetic from Mosul in Persia, Aphrahat taught God in Christ, the Spirit and Resurrection, baptism and asceticism. God the Creator gave the Law to Moses; Christ is the Son of God, whose Holy Spirit enters a man at baptism and helps him attain resurrection. Baptism commits the believer to moral virtues and ascetic practice. In principle Aphrahat associates postbaptismal life with renunciation of the world, direct warfare with Satan, and celibate asceticism. He advises priests to discriminate against baptismal candidates who have little ascetic potential.