Stephen bar Sudaili, the Syrian mystic, and the book of Hierotheos

Frothingham F. Stephen bar Sudaili, the Syrian mystic, and the book of Hierotheos. -1886

61 material form of the Euchites to the spiritualized forms of
the kabbalistic, Neo-platooic and Origenistic sects. Late re¬
searches tend to show that much of this was engrafted from
the old Egyptian sects, with slight transformations required
by the new dispensation. How much of this earlier form was
embodied in the so-called Hermetic books it is difficult to
determine, as they seem to be the work of such different Stephen bar Sudaili was undoubtedly in many points a
follower of Origen and the Alexandrian school, but his thought
was dominated by gnostico-kabbalistic elements. Having boldly
proclaimed his doctrines, he sought to propagate them by
numerous writings. Philoxenos shows him to have been a
learned man, much devoted to the study of Scripture, which
he interpreted in a kabbalistic manner, carrying probably to
excess the mania for this kind of exegesis, which was in
vogue among the followers and imitators of Origen; although
it did not originate with the latter, but is found even more
elaborated in the writings of Philo» Although Philoxenos speaks of letters, commentaries, books,
and other writings of Bar Sudaili, he gives details only
regarding an early one, the first which came into his hands,
a commentary on the Psalms. In it Stephen claimed to have
direct revelations and to be an inspired man, to whom alone
was revealed the true sense of Scripture: he called them
dreams and his commentaries on them the interpretations of
dreams. Philoxenos indicates that in this work Bar Sudaili
had not yet developed his pantheism. The question naturally
arises, was he acquainted with the Book of Hierotheos and
did he make use of it in his criticisms? It seems as if
this were not the case: otherwise the language of Philoxenos
would have been entirely different. As it is, the phraseology