The idea of one lecture a month did not seem hard. Sebastian Brock and Susan Ashbrook Harvey were gracious to accept – and now it’s December!
Several things on the way to December that we did not anticipate, but came to appreciate. Lecturers and many others participated in our hour-long sessions from around the Syriac studies world, a consistent gathering that would not have been likely or sustainable in an in-person conference. Graduate students, professors, independent scholars and many people from other disciplines; many who would not have made the trip, spent the money, taken off the time to come to a traditional conference. While we all look forward to the day when Covid-19 will no longer constrict us, in some fashion we should not dispense with the benefits that Zoom has allowed us.
As a benefit, a sense of community in the field of Syriac has been renewed – sharing accomplishments, the sadness of deaths of our colleagues, new books. We do want to meet one another again, and even talk with one another about non-Syriac topics. Yet there is value and virtue in doing both in-person, with an occasional Zoom!
The insights of Jacob of Serugh into the Mystery of Salvation and his Christocentric theology transcend time and space. Those who heard his biblical interpretations 1500 years ago found value in them and preserved them for future generations. One generation handed them to another until these interpretations reached us, albeit not all of them. Jacob impacted Middle Eastern men and women in the area where he served. And he is still influencing us today.
We come from various backgrounds and belong to different Christian communities–some of us might not even be Christians. But Jacob’s theological and exegetical acumen brought us together, as one community, to honor him throughout 2021.
Jacob’s thoughts are so intricate that they require a community of scholars to clarify them to us. And what a lineup of scholars did The Year of Jacob of Serugh have! In the name of Bishop Zaidan, the sponsor of this online conference, Robert and I thank all of you for making The Year of Jacob Serugh successful. We particularly thank the esteemed speakers: Sebastian Brock, Philip Forness, Jeffrey Wickes, Muriel Debié, Manolis Papoutsakis, Erin Galgay Walsh, Roger Akhrass, Kelli Bryant Gibson, Aaron Butts, Thomas Kollamparampil, Khalil Alwan, last but not least, Susan Ashbrook Harvey.
The fruit of this conference has been the videos posted online. But a volume to commemorate in print the 1500th Anniversary of the Death of Jacob of Serugh will complement well the digital medium.
Thank you Bishop Zaidan for sponsoring this conference. And we thank all of you once more.
Be on the lookout for another conference!
Armando Elkhoury and Robert Kitchen
His Excellency Elias Zaidan, Eparchial Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Los Angeles
Armando Elkhoury, Priest, Maronite Eparchy of Los Angeles
Robert Kitchen, Senior Lecturer in Syriac Theology, Sankt Ignatios College, Sodertalje, Sweden
Aaron Butts, Associate Professor, Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, The Catholic University of America
Robin Darling Young, Associate Professor of Church History, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America
Monica Blanchard, Curator, Semitics / ICOR Collections, The Catholic University of America