Elias of Merv

Elias (or Elijah, Syriac: ܐܠܝܐ, Eliya; died after 659) was the metropolitan bishop of Merv in the Church of the East.[1]

The Chronicle of Khuzestan records how Elias converted some Turks through preaching and miracles.[1] Since the chronicle does not mention any event later than 652, the conversion of the Turks probably took place before this date.[2] Elias was present at the deathbed of the Patriarch Ishoʿyahb III in 659.[1] He probably died not long after.[2]

Elias wrote a short church history, described by ʿAbdishoʿ bar Brikha around 1300 as comprising a single book.[1] The 10th-century Chronicle of Seert cites it as a source twice, especially for the life of Gregory of Nisibis.[1][3][4] Elias's high standing in the church would have given him access to official records and possibly also to court gossip. Pierre Nautin argued that this history was in fact the Chronicle of Khuzestan, with additions made by an associate after Elias's death, including the account of the conversion of the Turks. The beginning of the Chronicle of Khuzestan is lost.[1][5]

According to ʿAbdishoʿ, Elias also wrote antiphons, consolations, a commentary on the gospel readings and an account of the origins (ʿeltā) of the responsive prayers at nocturns. Besides these litrugical writings, he wrote commentaries on the biblical books of Proverbs, Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Sirach, the Twelve Minor Prophets and the Pauline epistles. Several of his letters were also known to ʿAbdishoʿ.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hoyland 1997, p. 183 and nn.
  2. ^ a b Hoyland 1997, p. 185.
  3. ^ Hoyland 1997, p. 444.
  4. ^ Wood 2013, p. 203n.
  5. ^ Wood 2013, pp. 183–184.
  6. ^ Badger 1852, p. 371.


  • Badger, G. P., ed. (1852). The Nestorians and Their Rituals. Vol. 2. Joseph Masters.
  • Hoyland, Robert G. (1997). Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam. Darwin Press.
  • Hunter, Erica C. D. (1989). "The Conversion of the Kerait to Christianity in A.D. 1009". Zentralasiatische Studien. 22: 142–163.
  • Nautin, Pierre (1982). "L'auteur de la "Chronique anonyme de Guidi": Élie de Merw". Revue de l'histoire des religions. 199 (3): 303–314. JSTOR 23670021.
  • Wood, Philip (2013). The Chronicle of Seert: Christian Historical Imagination in Late Antique Iraq. Oxford University Press.