• Erin Galgay Walsh is Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Well-Versed in Pain: Biblical Narratives of Healing in Jacob of Serugh’s Poetry

    June 16, 2021, at 10 am (Washington, DC Time)

  • Abstract

    Jacob of Serugh composed narrative poems (memre) on a variety of biblical stories featuring miraculous healings. He also wove the imagery of disease, disability, and medicine throughout his writings. This lecture turns our attention to the potency of such imagery and the prominence of Jesus as healer in Jacob’s poetry. Inhabiting the voice of the poetic narrator, Jacob frequently underscored the symbolic value of the bodily conditions of biblical characters, interpreting their stories to address the universal condition of human sinfulness. At the same time, Jacob’s artfully staged protagonists resist the erasure of their physical bodies, often giving voice to their emotional and physical distress as well as the social consequences of illness. I will highlight memre on New Testament narratives such as the woman with a bent spine (Lk 13:10-17) and the leper (Mk 1:40-45, Mt 8:1-4, and Lk 5:12-16)to examine how Jacob’s poetry brought their encounters with Jesus to life within the liturgy.

  • Select Bibliography

    “Holy Boldness: Narsai and Jacob of Serugh Preaching the Canaanite Woman,” Studia Patristica 78 (2017): 85-98.

    “Mourning Eve: The Homily on Women as Attributed to Jacob of Serugh,” Patristica Nordica Annuaria 33 (2018): 31-59.

    “Sanctifying Boldness: New Testament Women in Narsai, Jacob of Serugh, and Romanos Melodos,” Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 2019.