Volume 18/19, 2020/2021

Ousia: Essence ou Substance?

Izabela Jurasz
Pages 515-544

Itutā ‑ ītyā / ītyē comme synonymes d’ousia dans la polémique d’Éphrem contre Bardesane

In his critic of the doctrine of Bardaisan († 222), Ephrem the Syrian († 373) devotes a lot of space to reflection on the meaning of the terms ītutā and ītyā (plural ītyē) which, as he denounces, are used inaccurately by his opponent. These Syriac terms can be translated by “being” or “essence”, but also by “substance”. This observation leads us to propose the comparison with the Greek term οὐσία, taking into account many difficulties raised by its uses in theological discourse. The article is devoted to the analysis of the uses of the terms ītutā and ītyā ‑ by Ephrem and by Bardaisan ‑ in their different ways of describing the divine essence. This comparison reveals the peculiarities of the two systems of thought and also their connections with the Greek philosophical doctrines.