În 337, împăratul [[Constantin cel Mare|Constantin I]], care a transformat creştinismul în religie legală (recepta) în Imperiul Roman, a murit. Profitând de această oportunitate, Shapur al II-lea al Persiei a iniţiat o serie de atacuri în nordul Mesopotamiei de sub administraţie romană. Nisibis a fost asediat în 338, 346 şi 350. În timpul primului asediu, Efrem consideră că episcopul Iacov a apărat oraşul cu rugăciunile sale. Episcopul îndrăgit de Efrem a murit curând după acest evenimet, iar Babu a condus destinele bisericii prin vremurile tulburi ale disputelor de frontieră. În timpul celui de-al treilea asediu, din anul 350, Shapur a schimbat cursul râului Mygdonius pentru a ocoli zidurile Nisibisului. Nisibisenii au refăcut repede fortificaţiile în timp ce cavaleria pe elefanţi a perşilor s-a împotmolit în pământul mocirlos de pe fundul râului. Efrem a sărbătorit salvarea miraculoasă a oraşului într-un imn ca fiind ca plutirea sigură [[Arca lui Noe|Arcei lui Noe]] pe puhoaiele potopului.
One important physical link to Ephrem's lifetime is the baptistery of Nisibis. The inscription tells that it was constructed under Bishop Vologeses in 359. That was the year that Shapur began to harry the region once again. The cities around Nisibis were destroyed one by one, and their citizens killed or deported. The Roman Empire was preoccupied in the west, and [[ Constantius]] and [[ Julian the Apostate]] struggled for overall control. Eventually, with Constantius dead, Julian began his march into Mesopotamia. He brought with him his increasingly stringent persecutions on Christians. Julian began a foolhardy march against the Persian capital Ctesiphon, where, overstretched and outnumbered, he began an immediate retreat back along the same road. Julian was killed defending his retreat, and the army elected Jovian as the new emperor. Unlike his predecessor, Jovian was a Nicene Christian. He was forced by circumstances to ask for terms from Shapur, and conceded Nisibis to Persia, with the rule that the city's Christian community would leave. Bishop Abraham, the successor to Vologeses , led his people into exile.
Ephrem found himself among a large group of refugees that fled west, first to Amida (Diyarbakir), and eventually settling in Edessa ( modern Sanli Urfa) in 363. Ephrem, in his late fifties, applied himself to ministry in his new church, and seems to have continued his work as a teacher ( perhaps in the School of Edessa). Edessa had always been at the heart of the Syriac-speaking world, and the city was full of rival philosophies and religions. Ephrem comments that Orthodox Nicene Christians were simply called "Palutians" in Edessa, after a former bishop. [[Arianism| Arians]], [[Marcionism| Marcionites]], [[ Manichaeism| Manichees]], [[Bardaisan]] ites and various [[Gnosticism| Gnostic sects]] proclaimed themselves as the true Church. In this confusion, Ephrem wrote a great number of hymns defending Orthodoxy. A later Syriac writer, [[Jacob of Serugh]], wrote that Ephrem rehearsed all female choirs to sing his hymns set to Syriac folk tunes in the forum of Edessa.
After a ten-year residency in Edessa, in his sixties, Ephrem reposed in peace, according to some in the year 373, according to others, 379.
Writings == Over four hundred [[hymn]]s composed by Ephrem still exist. Granted that some have been lost to us, Ephrem's productivity is not in doubt. The church historian [[Sozomen]] credits Ephrem with having written over three million lines. Ephrem combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic [[ Judaism]], he engages wonderfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/ Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.
The most important of his works are his lyric hymns (''madrâšê''). These hymns are full of rich imagery drawn for biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrâšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrâšê has its ''qâlâ'', a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qâl& ecirc; are now lost. It seems that [[Bardaisan]] and [[Mani]] composed madrâšê, and Ephrem felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrâšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — ''Carmina Nisibena'', ''On Faith'', '' On Paradise'', '' On Virginity'', '' Against Heresies''— but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection ( for instance, only the first half of the ''Carmina Nisibena'' is about Nisibis). Each madrâšâ usually had a refrain (''`unîtâ''), which was repeated after each stanza. Later writers have suggested that the madrâšê were sung by all women choirs with an accompanying lyre.
Ephrem also wrote verse [[ homily| homilies]] (''mêmrê''). These sermons in poetry are far fewer in number than the madrâšê. The m& ecirc; mrê are written in a heptosyllabic couple] s ( pairs of lines of seven syllables each).
The third category of Ephrem's writings is his prose work. He wrote biblical commentaries on [[Tatian]]'s [[Diatessaron]] (the single gospel harmony of the early Syriac church), on [[Genesis]] and [[Exodus]], and on the [[Acts of the Apostles]] and [[Pauline Epistles]]. He also wrote refutations against [[Bardaisan]], [[Mani]], [[Marcion]] and others.
Ephrem wrote exclusively in the Syriac language, but translations of his writings exist in Armenian, Coptic, Greek and other languages. Some of his works are extant only in translation ( particularly in Armenian). Syriac churches still use many of Ephrem's hymns as part of the annual cycle of worship. However, most of these liturgical hymns are edited and conflated versions of the originals.
The most complete, critical text of authentic Ephrem was compiled between 1955 and 1979 by Dom Edmund Beck, OSB as part of the ''Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium''.