Bardaisan [Bardesan], who served in the court of King Abgar VIII (177-212 CE), is still the first known Syriac literary author. While he is said to have written works against Marcion, none of his works have been discovered other than "The Book of Laws of Countries" which was likely penned by his pupil, Philip. This work gained popularity and is quoted partially in Greek by Eusebius in his, "Preparation for the Gospel" (XI.10.1-48) and in the "Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions" (IX.19-29). Other sources for the writings of Bardaisan come from St. Ephrem's Hymns against the heresies (1-6; 51-56) and his Prose Refutations. The text is only found in one manuscript: B.L. Add. 14,658. For a look at the editions of the text of Bardaisan as well as a list translations, see pages 17-23 of Dr. Dirk Bakker's very thorough Ph.D. dissertation which can be downloaded here. For more information on the life, times, thinking, and reception of Bardaisan, see this keyword search at A Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity.
Sources for The Book of the Laws of Countries
(The following entries provide a short breakdown of the material contained in the work)
W. Cureton, "Bardaisan - The book of the Laws of Countries", in Spicilegium Syriacum: containing remains of Bardesan, Meliton, Ambrose and Mara Bar Serapion (London, 1855).
- English translation (pp. 1-34)
- The second Dialogue of Caesarius, which contains parallels in Greek (pp. 34-40)
- Unrelated to Bardaisan, this work also contains:
- Textual notes
- The Syriac text of BLC (pp. 1-21)
- The Syriac text of Meliton the Philosopher (pp. 22-31)
- The Syriac text of Melito, Bishop of Sardis (pp. 31-37)
- The Syriac text of the Hypomnemata (pp. 38-42)
- The Syriac text of the Epistle of Mara Bar Sarapion (pp. 43-50)
F. Nau, Bardésane - Le livre des lois des pays. Traduction française (Paris, 1899).
- French translation, based on a new reproduction of the manuscript collated by E. Wallis Budge and given to Nau by Rubens Duval
- Nau has broken down the BLC as follows:
- The circumstance for writing (§9)
- The first question of Avida: Was God not able to create man so that they could not sin? (§10)
- The second question: Does evil not come from our nature? (§21-24)
- The third question: Does evil not come from fate? (§25a)
- 1. Direct response: Bardaisan defines the roles of free will, of nature, and of fate (§25b-33a)
- 2. Indirect response: People submissive to the same fate act differently according to their laws, therefore fate does not constrain them (§33b-53)
- Objection: But these same laws, which people obey, are they not another form of fate? (§54-58)
- Another fragment of Bardaisan from George, the Bishop of the Arabs
- Extract of Moshe Bar Kepha
- Syriac Text of BLC
F. Nau, "Bardesanes - Liber Legum Regionum", PS 2 (1907): 490-658.
- Syriac text with Latin translation
- Syriac index
- Index of names and places
- Unrelated to Bardaisan, this text also contains
B. Pratten, "Bardesan. The book of the laws of divers countries", AF 8 (1886): 721-734.
- This English translation is based on Cureton's text. It contains occasional notes on philology and backgrounds with references to Cureton and Merx.
Ernest Renan, "Lettre à M. Reinaud sur quelques manuscrits syriaques du Musée Brittanique. Contenant des traductions d'auteurs grecs profanes et des traités philosophiques", Journal Asiatique 19 (1852): 295-298.
- This work tells of the discovery by Renan of B.L. Add. 14,658. This edition only contains the Syriac text and French translation of what Renan believed to be the beginning and end of the BLC.
 S.P. Brock, "Bardaiṣan", GEDSH (Piscataway, 2011): 56-57.; Amar, J.P. "Ephrem, Life of", GEDSH (Piscataway, 2011): 147.
 D. Bakker, "Bardaisan's Book of the Laws of the Countries, a Computer-Assisted Linguistic Analysis", Ph.D. dissertation, Universiteit Leiden, 2011.