• Muriel Debié is Professor, L’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sciences Religieuses, Paris, France.

  • Jacob of Serugh in his Time: A Preacher in Late Antique Mesopotamia

    April 21, 2021, at 10:00am (Washington, DC Time)

  • Abstract

    As the Narrative of the period of distress which occurred in Edessa, Amid, and all Mesopotamia reminds us, at the time of the Persian invasion of north Mesopotamia (502/3), “the respected Jacob, the periodeutes, who composed many mimre on Scriptural passages, and sugyoto and zmiroto … wrote letters of encouragement to different cities.” As a periodeutes, an ecclesiastical visitor, before he became a bishop, Jacob shared the lives of the lay and religious communities he visited and to whom he addressed his mimre, or metrical homilies. Hundreds of these survived until today, of which 60 were recently edited for the first time.

    This talk aims at trying to understand  what it means to be a preacher in Northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 6th century, at a time of war, famine and plague as well as religious unrest, when the Christological controversies caused restlessness.  What can we say about Jacob’s role and about the way he composed and delivered his speeches if we look at them not just from the perspective of patristic studies, as pieces written by a Church Father, but as late Antique contributions anchored in the living conditions of the contemporary communities?

  • Select Bibliography

    “Guerres et religions en Mésopotamie du Nord dans l’Antiquité tardive : un mimro inédit de Jacques de Saroug sur l’église Saint-Étienne que les Perses ont transformée en temple du feu à Amid (Diyarbakιr) en 503 è.c.”, Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Journal 56 (2018), p. 29-90. 

    “Saint Stephen in Amida in a new mimro of Jacob of Serugh : Christianity vs Zoroastrianism in a Clash of Religious Shrines”, in Syriac Hagiography. Texts and Beyond, F. Ruani & S. Minov (eds),  Leiden-Boston: Brill, p. 340-364.

    Briquel-Chatonnet, Françoise and Debié, Muriel, Le Monde syriaque. Sur les routes d’un christianisme ignoré. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2017.

    L’écriture de l’histoire en syriaque: transmissions interculturelles et constructions identitaires entre hellénisme et islam. Avec des répertoires des textes historiographiques en annexe. Late Antique History and Religion 12. Leuven: Peeters, 2015.