Signs of Miraculousness: The Inimitability of Jacob of Serugh’s Teaching according to the Metrical Biography by Saʿīd Bar Sabunī (11th c)

13 December

We are deeply honoured to welcome Revd Dr Iskandar Bcheiry, Metadata Editor at ATLA, USA, to lead a session of the Eastern Christianity in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group.

The reading material will be circulated to those who will register in advance.

Here are the details of this fascinating session.

Topic: Signs of Miraculousness: The Inimitability of Jacob of Serugh’s Teaching according to the Metrical Biography by Saʿīd Bar Sabunī (11th century)

Abstract: Jacob of Serugh, (451-522), one of the fathers of the Syriac Church was an important Syriac theologian-poet. He composed a long series of metrical homilies on religious themes, which stand as his greatest works. Among the few biographical materials about his life is a metrical homily, preserved in a few Syriac manuscripts, and composed by Saʿīd bar Ṣabūnī, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Melitene at the end of the eleventh century. This presentation aims to highlight Bar Ṣabūnī’s line of reasoning, and the structure of his argument with the supporting evidence he presents to convince his audience of the miraculousness of Jacob’s extraordinary talent for teaching, both in form and in quality. In addition to outlining the rhetorical tools, historical context, audience, and purpose of this sermon, the presentation aims to point out a possible intersection with a similar Islamic doctrine that of the inimitability of the Qurʿān.

Speaker: Revd Dr Iskandar Bcheiry, Metadata Editor, ATLA, USA, holds a PhD in Church History from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome (2005), and another PhD in World Christianity and Global Missions-Christian-Muslim Studies from the Lutheran School of Theology-Chicago (2019). Revd Dr Bcheiry has published a collection of books such as “An Early Christian reaction to Islam: Išū‘yhab III and the Muslim Arabs” (Piscataway, N.J: Gorgias Press, 2019); “Hagiography, History, and Manuscript Culture: Studies in Syriac Christianity” (Kaslik: Lebanon, 2018); “Collection of Historical Documents in Relation with the Syriac Orthodox Community, in the Late Period of the Ottoman Empire” (Piscataway, N.J: Gorgias Press, 2010). Also, Revd Dr Bcheiry published numerous articles on the history of Syriac Christianity and cataloged several collections of Syriac and Arabic manuscripts. His current projects include surveying and mapping Syriac settlements and sacred places in Southeast Turkey and cataloging the Syriac manuscripts found in the Oriental Institute Museum-Chicago University. Revd Dr Iskandar Bcheiry is a Priest for the Syriac Orthodox Church, and serves as a pastor for his community in Chicago since 2006.

Chair: Professor Sebastian Brock, FBA, University of Oxford, UK

Date: Tuesday, 13 December, 2023

Time: 17:00-18:00 GMT | 9:00-10:00 PST | 12:00-13:00 EST

Venue: Online

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