• Philip Forness is Principal Investigator, Cultural Exchange from Syria to Ethiopia, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

  • A Mediator between Exegetical Traditions
    Jacob of Serugh and His Letters on Biblical Interpretation

    February 17, 2021, at 10:00 am (Washington, DC Time)

  • Abstract

    The epistolary corpus of Jacob of Serugh displays a prominent member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy exercising his authority in the Roman Near East and beyond. In his letters, he replies to monastics seeking advice, offers his opinion on the theological controversies of his day, and consoles Christian communities undergoing persecution. The earliest known collection of his letters seems to have grouped together three letters (22–24) because of their focus on biblical interpretation. In Letter 23, Jacob responds to six questions posed to him by the Greek-speaking lector Maron of Anazarbe. This extensive letter shows Jacob negotiating between the Greek and Syriac biblical traditions, his indebtedness and fidelity to the foregoing Syriac tradition, and the relationship between the exegesis in his letters and his homilies. Through this study, an image will emerge of an exegete seeking to mediate between the various interpretive traditions with which he is familiar and from which his own perspective emerged.

  • Select Bibliography

    Jacob of Serugh: The Homily on the Apostle Thomas and the Resurrection of Our Lord. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 691, Scriptores Syri 266. Leuven: Peeters, 2020.

    ”An Ecclesiology of Monastic and Clerical Vocations in the Letters of Jacob of Serugh to Daniel the Monk”, Pages 325-356 in Monasticism Meeting Modernity: Oriental Christian and Indian Perspectives and Challenges. Edited by Kuttiyil, Geevarghese Shajan and Ayyaneth, George. Pune, India: Bethany Vedavijnana Peeth, 2019.

    Preaching Christology in the Roman Near East: A Study of Jacob of Serugh. Oxford Early Christian Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    ”Cultural Exchange and Scholarship on Eastern Christianity: An Early Modern Debate over Jacob of Serugh’s Christology”, Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 70:3-4 (2018): 257-284.

    ”New Textual Evidence for Jacob of Serugh’s Letters: An Analysis and Collation of Five Monastic Miscellanies”, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 20:1 (2017): 51-128.

    ”Preaching and Religious Debate: Jacob of Serugh and the Promotion of His Christology in the Roman Near East”. Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton Theological Seminary, 2016.

    “Manuscript Discoveries and Debates over Orthodoxy in Early Christian Studies: The Case of the Syriac Poet-Theologian Jacob of Serugh.” Harvard Theological Review.