Ante-nicene fathers



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The fruit whose smell is fragrant, that it may be incense to the Godhead.

Fair shoot, thy cluster bring from where it is,

That its wine may be for a libation whose taste is sweet.
The lamb heard that they were seeking him, that he might be a sacrifice;

And he set out and came to the sacrificers rejoicing.

He heard that others also were being afflicted for his sake,

And he came that he might bear the suffering which was his, in the stead of many.

The lot fell on him, to be himself alone a sacrifice;

And the fire that was to offer him up was looking out for him until he came.

Of the many who were bound for his sake

Not one single person was seized to die, but only he.

He it was that was worthy, and for him was martyrdom reserved;

And to snatch the martyr’s place no man was able.

And therefore of his own will did he present himself

To the judge, that he might be seized, and die for Jesus’ sake.

He heard that they sought him, and he came that he might be seized, even as they sought him:

And he went in of himself before the judge, and dauntless was his look.

He hid not himself, nor did he wish to flee from the judge:

For with light was he imbued, and from the darkness he would not flee.


No robber was he, no murderer, no thief,

No child of night: but all his course was run in open day.

Wherefore from his flock should the good shepherd flee,

And leave his fold to be devoured by robbers?

Wherefore should the physician flee, who goeth forth to heal diseases,

And to cure souls by the blood of the Son of God?

A fearless countenance14 did the brave man carry with him, and a great heart;

And to meet death he ran, rejoicing, for Jesus’ sake.


He went in, he stood before the judge, saying to him:

I am Habib, whom ye sought: lo! here I stand.

And the pagan trembled, and amazement seized him, and he marvelled at him—

At the man who was not afraid, either of sword or of fire.

While he thought that he was fleeing apace, he entered in and mocked him;

And the judge shook, for he saw him courageous in the very face of death.


A disciple he of that Son of God who said:

“Rise, come, let us go: for he that betrayeth me lo! is here.”

And to the crucifiers, again, He said: “Whom seek ye? ”

They say: “Jesus.” And He said to them: “I am He.”

The Son of God of His own will came to the cross;

And on Him the martyr looked, and presented himself uncompelled before the judge.


And the pagan beheld him, and was smitten with fear, and was exasperated against him.

His rage was excited, and he began in his fury to put to him questions.15

And, as if he had been one who had shed on the ground the blood of the slain,

He proceeded to question the saintly man, but he was not ashamed

Menacing him, and trying to terrify him, and to frighten him,

And recounting the sufferings which were being prepared by him on his account.


But Habib, when questioned, was not afraid,

Was not ashamed, and was not frightened by the menaces he heard.

Lifting up his voice, he confessed Jesus, the Son of God—

That he was His servant, and was His priest, and His minister.16

At the fury of the pagans, roaring at him like lions,

He trembled not, nor ceased17 from the confession of the Son of God.

He was scourged, and the scourgings were very dear to him,

Seeing that he bore a little of the stripes of the Son of God.

He was put into bonds,18 and he looked on his Lord, whom also they had bound;

And his heart rejoiced that in the path of His sufferings he had begun to walk.

He ascended the block,19 and they tore him with combs, but his soul was radiant with light,

Because he was deemed worthy that on him should come the agony of the sufferings of crucifixion.


In the pathway of death had he set his face to walk,

And what could he desire to find in it but sufferings?

The fire of sacrifice20 was betrothed to him, and for her did he look;

And she on her part sent him combs, and stripes, and pains, to taste.

All the while that she was coming, she sent him sufferings, that by means of them

He might be prepared, so that when she met him she might not dismay him.

Sufferings purged him, so that, when the blazing fire should put him to the proof,

There might not be any dross found in his choice gold.

And he endured the whole of the pains that came upon him,

That he might have experience of suffering, and in the burning stand like a brave man.


And he accepted rejoicing the sufferings which he had to bear:

For he knew that at their termination he should find death.

And he was not afraid, either of death or of sufferings:

For with that wine of the crucifixion his heart was drunk.

He despised his body, while it was being dragged along by the persecutors;

And his limbs, while they were being torn asunder in bitter agony.21

Scourges on his back, combs on his sides, stocks on his feet,

And fire in front of him: still was he brave and full of faith.


They taunted him: Lo! thou worshippest a man;

But he said: A man I worship not,

But God, who took a body and became man:

Him do I worship, because He is God with Him that begat Him.

The faith of Habib, the martyr, was full of light

And by it was enlightened Edessa, the faithful city.

The daughter of Abgar, whom Addaeus betrothed to the crucifixion—

Through it is her light, through it her truth and her faith.

Her king is from it, her martyrs from it, her truth from it;

The teachers also of her faith are from it.

Abgar believed that Thou an God, the Son of God;

And he received a blessing because of the beauty of his faith.

Sharbil the martyr, son of the Edessaeans, more-ever said:

My heart is led captive by God, who became man.

And Habib the martyr, who also was crowned at Edessa,

Confessed these things: that He took a body and became man;

That He is the Son of God, and also is God, and became man.

Edessa learned from teachers the things that are true:

Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her, the faith;

But to others, who were fraudulent teachers, she would not hearken.

Habib the martyr, in the ear of Edessa, thus cried aloud

Out of the midst of the fire: A man I worship not,

But God, who took a body and became man

Him do I worship. Thus confessed the martyr with uplifted voice.

From confessors torn with combs, burnt, raised up on the block, slain

And from a righteous king, did Edessa learn the faith,

And she knows our Lord—that He is even God, the Son of God;

She also learned and firmly believed that He took a body and became man.

Not from common scribes did she learn the faith:

Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her; and she firmly believed them:

And, if she be calumniated as having ever worshipped a man,

She points to her martyrs, who died for Him as being God.

A man I worship not, said Habib,

Because it is written: “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in a man.”22

Forasmuch as He is God, I worship Him, yea submit to be burned

For His sake, nor will I renounce His faith.

This truth has Edessa held fast from her youth,

And in her old age she will not barter it away as a daughter of the poor.

Her righteous king became to her a scribe, and from him she learned

Concerning our Lord—that He is the Son of God, yea God.

Addaeus, who brought the bridegroom’s ring and put it on her hand,

Betrothed her thus to the Son of God, who is the Only-begotten.

Sharbil the priest, who made trial and proof of all gods,

Died, even as he said, “for God who became man.”

Shamuna and Guria, for the sake of the Only-begotten,

Stretched out their necks to receive the stroke, and for Him died, forasmuch as He is God.

And Habib the martyr, who was teacher of congregations,

Preached of Him, that He took a body and became man.

For a man the martyr would not have submitted to be burned in the fire;

But he was burned “for the sake of God who became man.”

And Edessa is witness that thus he confessed while he was being burned:

And from the confession of a martyr that has been burned who is he that can escape?

All minds does faith reduce to silence and despise—

She that is full of light and stoopeth not to shadows.

She despiseth him that maligns the Son by denying that He is God;

Him too that saith “He took not a body and became man.”

In faith which was full of truth he stood upon the fire;

And he became incense, and propitiated with his fragrance the Son of God.

In all his afflictions, and in all his tortures, and in all his sufferings,

Thus did he confess, and thus did he teach the blessed city.

And this truth did Edessa hold fast touching our Lord—

Even that He is God, and of Mary became a man.

And the bride hates him that denies His God-head,

And despises and contemns him that maligns His corporeal nature.

And she recognises Him as One in Godhead and in manhood—

The Only-begotten, whose body is inseparable from Him.

And thus did the daughter of the Parthians learn to believe,

And thus did she firmly hold, and thus does she teach him that listens to her.
The judge, therefore, full of zeal for paganism, commanded

That the martyr should be led forth and burned in the fire which was reserved for him.

And forthwith a strap was thrust into his mouth, as though he had been a murderer,

His confession being kept within his heart towards God.

And they hurried him away, and he went out from the judgment-hall, rejoicing

That the hour was come when the crown should be given to his faith.

And there went out with him crowds of people, that they might bear him company,

Looking upon him, not as a dead man accompanied to his burial,

But as a man who was going away that by means of fire he might become a bridegroom,

And that there might be bestowed the crown which was by righteousness reserved for him.

They looked upon him as upon a man entering into battle,

And around him were spears, and lances, and swords, but he vanquished them.

They beheld him going up like a champion from the contest,

And in his triumph chaplets were brought to him by those who beheld.

They looked upon him as he vanquished principalities and powers,

Which all made war with him, and he put them to shame.

The whole congregation of the followers of Christ exulted over him,

Because he raised up the friends23 of the faith by the sufferings which he bore.

There went forth with him the Church, a bride full of light;

And her face was beaming on the beloved martyr who was united to her.


Then did his mother, because it was the marriage-feast for her son,

Deck herself in garments nobler than her wont.

Since sordid raiment suited not the banquet-hall,

In magnificent attire all white she clad herself fight tastefully.

Hither to the battle came down love to fight

In the mother’s soul—the love of nature, and the love of God.

She looked upon her son as he went forth to be put into the flame;

And, forasmuch as there was in her the love of the Lord, she suffered not.

The yearnings of her mother’s womb cried out on behalf of its fruit;

But faith silenced them, so that their tumult ceased.

Nature shrieked over the limb which was severed from her;

But the love of the Lord intoxicated the soul, that she should not perceive it.

Nature loved, but the love of the Lord did conquer in the strife

Within the soul of the mother, that she should not grieve for her beloved.

And instead of suffering, her heart was filled with all emotions of joy;

And, instead of mourning, she went forth in splendid apparel.

And she accompanied him as he went out to be burned, and was elate,

Because the love of the Lord vanquished that of nature.

And clad in white, as for a bridegroom, she made a marriage-feast—



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