ĀFRĪD, 5th century A.D. Christian bishop of the province of Sagastān (i.e., Sīstān). Āfrīd is a proper name, also occurring in compounds (e.g., Burzāfrīd, Hormizāfrīd), from Avestan āfrī/ĭti- “blessing,” the name of one of the minor yazatas (Air Wb., col. 330), according to the Syriac Synodicon Orientale (ed. J. B. Chabot, Paris, 1902)—a collection of ecclesiastical canons from the Seleucia-Ctesiphon synods dating from the beginning of the 5th to the end of the 8th century—this bishop represented Sagastān (sgstn) at the synod of the catholicos Dādīšōʿ (swnhdws ddyšwʿ), A.D. 424, during the reign of Wahrām V Gōr (wrn mlk mlkʾ). The synod took the first step towards establishing a national church by emphasizing the autonomy of Iranian Christianity (a process that culminated with the definitive adoption of the Nestorian constitutio dogmatica at the synod in Bēth Lāpaṭ, A.D. 484). The right of appellation to the West was cancelled, the catholicos of the Orient (qatolīqā dəmadnḥā) being responsible only to Christ. The considerable number of Iranian names of Christian bishops at this synod, in addition to that of Āfrīd, is a testimony to the success of Christian missionary activity among the fellow countrymen of the Sasanians and helps explain this historical development. At the Synod of Mar Ezekiel (A.D. 576), Bishop Xurmāh (i.e., xwar-māh; Justi, Namenbuch, p. 179) represented Sagastān.


J. P. Asmussen, “Das Christentum in Iran und sein Verhältnis zum Zoroastrismus,” Studia Theologica 16, 1962, pp. 5ff.

I. Guidi, “Ostsyrische Bischöfe und Bischofssitze im V., VI. und VII. Jahrhundert,” ZDMG 1889, pp. 396.11, 404.7-8.

Justi, Namenbuch, pp. 6, 483.

I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca, Rome, 1958, pp. 112f. (2nd ed., Rome, 1965).

(J. P. Asmussen)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 579

Cite this entry:

J. P. Asmussen, “ĀFRĪD,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, p. 579; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afrid-5th-cent-christian-bishop-of-sagastan (accessed on 14 March 2014).