The Book of the Laws of Countries (BLC) by Bardaisan of Edessa belongs to the most important writings of early Syriac literature. The text reflects the intellectual climate of northern Mesopotamia and in particular that of the city of Edessa, at the end of the second century and the first decades of the third century CE.
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The Book of the Laws of Countries
) by Bardaisan of Edessa belongs to the most important writings of early Syriac literature. Bardaisan (154-222), a courtier at the court of King Abgar VIII of Edessa, was one of the most influential thinkers of his time. The
reflects the various cultures and the intellectual climate of northern Mesopotamia, and in particular that of the city of Edessa, at the end of the second century and the first decades of the third century CE. The
is the primary text for our knowledge of Bardaisan's ideas, as no writings of his have been preserved. The text can be divided into two parts. In the first part Bardaisan sets out his ideas about nature, fate and free will. In particular the liberty of man to act as he desires and the responsibility he has for his actions is emphasized by Bardaisan. This book includes the Syriac text of the
and the English translation by Han J.W. Drijvers.
Han J.W. Drijvers (1934-2002) was Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. He was a Syriast and scholar of religious studies. He published widely on early Syriac literature, history and religions of the Near East and Hellenism, archaeology and religious phenomenology. Bardaisan of Edessa (1966), Cults and Beliefs at Edessa (1980) and (together with John F. Healey) The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa and Osrhoene. Texts, Translations and Commentary (1999) are three of his important publications. Two volumes of his collected studies were published by the Variorum Press: East of Antioch. Studies in Early Syriac Christianity (1984) and History and Religion in Late Antique Syria (1994).
Jan Willem Drijvers is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, specializing in Late Antiquity. He is the author of Helena Augusta. The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of Her Finding of the True Cross (1992) and Cyril of Jerusalem: Bishop and City (2004). Together with Han J.W. Drijvers he published The Finding of the True Cross. The Judas Kyriakos Legend in Syriac. Introduction, text and translation (Louvain 1997).