Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Severus Sebokht

  • John M. McMahon
Reference work entry

Alternate Names

 Severus Seboht;  Severus Sebokt;  Severus Sebukht

BornNisibis, (Syria), circa575

DiedKennesrin (also called Qinnesrin or Qenneshrê), (Syria), 666/667

Severus Sebokht was one of the leading figures of ecclesiastical, philosophical, and scientific culture of late antique Syria, although little definitive information is known about his life. Born in Persian territory at Nisibis, he left his teaching post in its famous school in 612 after a doctrinal dispute among the Nestorians. Later consecrated a bishop, he pursued a career in the Syrian Monophysite church within Byzantine jurisdiction, residing as a monk at the monastery at Kennesrin on the west bank of the Euphrates, one of the chief seats of Greek learning in western Syria. He continued to write until at least 665.

Like many of his contemporaries, Severus was bicultural, partaking of the Byzantine Greek influence on western Syrian intellectual circles while fully immersed in his own Syrian cultural milieu. He does,...

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Selected References

  1. Brock, Sebastian P. (1984). “From Antagonism to Assimilation: Syriac Attitudes to Greek Learning.” In Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity. Vol. 5, pp. 17–34, esp. 23–24, 28. London: Variorum Reprints. (For specialized treatment of Severus and his contemporaries.)Google Scholar
  2. Gunther, Robert T. (1932). The Astrolabes of the World. Vol. 1, The Eastern Astrolabes. Oxford: University Press, pp. 82–103. (For an English version of Treatise on the Astrolabe, from Nau’s French.)Google Scholar
  3. Moosa, Matti (ed. and trans.) (2000). The History of Syriac Literature and Sciences. Pueblo, Colorado: Passeggiata Press, pp. 65, 108. (Originally published as I. Aphram Barsoum, Kitāb al-Lulual-manthūr fī tarīkh al-ҁulūm wa-’ l-ādāb al-Suryāniyya. Hims, Syria, 1943). (Earlier treatments of Severus are now incorporated into this work, which conveniently lists and briefly discusses all of Severus’s works.)Google Scholar
  4. Nau, F. N. (1899). “Le traité sur l’astrolabe plan de Sévère Sabokt.” Journal asiatique, 9th ser., 13: 56–101, 238–303. (For the Treatise on the Astrolabe.)Google Scholar
  5. — (1910). “La cosmographie au VIIe siècle chez les Syriens.” Revue de lOrient chrétien 5, no. 18: 225–254. (Assesses Severus’s contributions and surveys the contents of Paris MS Syr. 346, three quarters of which is made up of his works.)Google Scholar
  6. — (1910). “Notes d’astronomie syrienne.” Journal asiatique, 10th ser., 16: 209–228, esp. 219–224. (For Severus’s explanation of lunar eclipses.)Google Scholar
  7. — “Le traité sur les ‘Constellations’ écrit, en 661 [sic], par Sévère Sébokt, évêque de Qennesrin.” Revue de lOrient chrétien 7, no. 27 (1929): 327–410; 8, no. 28 (1932): 85–100.Google Scholar
  8. Neugebauer, Otto (1949). “The Early History of the Astrolabe.” Isis 40: 240–256, esp. 242–245, 251–253. (For Severus’s treatise on the astrolabe; discusses Severus’s sources and critiques earlier discussions.)Google Scholar
  9. — (1975). A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 pts. New York: Springer-Verlag, pt. 1, pp. 7–8; pt. 2, pp. 877–878, 1041–1042. (For a brief treatment of the relationship between Greek and Syrian astronomy and its transmission to the Islamic World and Severus’s treatise on the astrolabe.)Google Scholar
  10. Pingree, David (1993). “The Greek Influence on Early Islamic Mathematical Astronomy.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 93: 32–43, esp. 34–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. — (1994). “The Teaching of the Almagest in Late Antiquity.” In The Sciences in Greco-Roman Society, edited by Timothy D. Barnes, pp. 73–98, esp. 94–95. Edmonton: Academic Print and Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Stautz, Burkhard (1997). Untersuchungen von mathematisch-astronomischen Darstellungen auf mittelalterlichen Astrolabien islamischer und europäischer Herkunft. Bassum: Verlag für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, pp. 38–39. (Gives a concise description of the physical appearance of the instrument.)Google Scholar
  13. Wright, W. (1966). A Short History of Syriac Literature. Amsterdam: Philo Press, pp. 137–139.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. McMahon
    • 1
  1. 1.Lemoyne UniversitySyracuseUSA