5 June, 2023
We are deeply honoured to welcome Professor Reyhan Durmaz, Assistant Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, to lead a session of the International Interfaith Reading Group on Eastern Christianity in Interfaith Contexts.
Here are the details of this fascinating session.
Title: From Edessa to South Arabia and Back: The Syriac Story of Bishop Paul and Priest John and Models of Sanctity in the Medieval Middle East.
Abstract: The Syriac Story of Bishop Paul and Priest John is a lively narrative about two Syrian holy men who met in Edessa, traveled to the Holy Land, evangelized tree-worshippers in South Arabia, among many other pious deeds. Although not well-known in modern scholarship, the composition and circulation of the story are closely related to that of the Life of the Man of God, the Acts of the Martyrs of Najran, and the Life of Rabbula– prominent traditions in Syriac and Greek hagiography. The story of Paul and John thus contributes to the articulations of sanctity and its relation to notions such as clerical title, asceticism and martyrdom, charisma and anonymity, and space and itinerancy. In addition to being an interesting hagiographical tradition, the story is also important in shedding light on literary interactions between Christian and Islamic hagiography, for it has been transmitted in various Islamic texts from the eighth to the thirteenth century, including a biography of the prophet Muhammad. I will present a few sections from the Story of Bishop Paul and Priest John and will show how those episodes in the story were paraphrased in Islamic texts. In light of this comparison, we will see how sanctity was construed and negotiated between Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages.
Speaker: Professor Reyhan Durmaz, Assistant Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Speaker’s biography: Professor Reyhan Durmaz is assistant professor of religious studies and co-chair of the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include the cultural history of the medieval Middle East, Syriac Christianity past and present, and Christian-Muslim encounter and exchange. Her first book, Stories between Christianity and Islam (University of California Press, 2022) examines the mechanisms underlying the transmissions of saints’ stories between Christian and Muslim communities in the Middle Ages. She is currently working on her second book exploring the forms and expressions of Christianity in the medieval Middle Eastern countryside. Dr. Durmaz held a Junior Fellowship in Byzantine Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship in Religion and Ethics, and recently a Faculty Fellowship at Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center. Her research is published, among other venues, in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Harvard Theological Review, and Method and Theory in the Study of Religion.
Chair: Professor Sebastian Brock FBA, University of Oxford, UK
Date: 5 June, 2023
Time: 17:00-18:00 BST | 9:00-10:00 PDT | 12:00-13:00 EDT
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If you would like to join the Eastern Christianity in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group, please sign up here.
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