"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, March 29, 2021

Eastern Christianity: a Reader

Justin Coyle, a young and formidably wise scholar whom one should keep an eye on in the years ahead and of whom one continues to expect great things, kindly writes the other day to draw my attention to a book set for release later this year: Eastern Christianity: A Reader by J. Edward Walters (Eerdmans, November 2021), 448pp.

I am especially gratified to see that "Eastern" here actually means (as it too rarely does) "east of Byzantium." Thus we see a wonderful array from some of the richest, oldest, but frequently overlooked traditions often grouped under the heading of "Oriental" or "non-Chalcedonian" Orthodox. This will certainly be the kind of book useful in survey courses, and required in every serious library devoted to the Christian East. 

This volume offers, the publisher tells us,

English translations of Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic Christian texts from late antiquity to the early modern period 

In order to make the writings of Eastern Christianity more widely accessible this volume offers a collection of significant texts from various Eastern Christian traditions, many of which are appearing in English for the first time. The internationally renowned scholars behind these translations begin each section with an informative historical introduction, so that anyone interested in learning more about these understudied groups can more easily traverse their diverse linguistic, cultural, and literary traditions. A boon to scholars, students, and general readers, this ample resource expands the scope of Christian history so that communities beyond Western Christendom can no longer be ignored.

We are also given the table of contents:


Chapter One: Syriac

Introduction to Syriac Christianity

     General Bibliography for Syriac Christianity

     1. The Doctrina Addai

     2. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns against Heresies 3 and 53

     3. Martyrdom of Mīles, Abursam, and Sinay

     4. Jacob of Serug, The Fourth Homily on Cain and Abel

     5. Narsai, On the Canaanite Woman

     6. Simeon of Beth Arsham, Letter on the Ḥimyarite Martyrs

     7. The Syriac Life of Mary of Egypt

     8. Timothy I, Letter 47

     9. Theodore bar Koni, Scholion, Mēmrā 10 (selection)

Chapter Two: Armenian

     Introduction to Armenian Christianity

     General Bibliography for Armenian Christianity

     1. Koriwn, The Life of Mashtotsʿ

     2. Eznik of Koghb, Refutation of the Sects (or, On God)

     3. The Teaching of Saint Grigor

     4. Anania of Narek, On This Transitory World

     5. Grigor of Narek, Book of Lamentation, Discourse 1, Discourse 88

     6. Nersēs Shnorhali, Hymn for the Sunrise Hour, Instructional Preface to a Prayer of Nersēs, Prayer of Nersēs

Chapter Three: Georgian

     Introduction to Georgian Christianity

     General Bibliography for Georgian Christianity

     1. Martyrdom of St. Shushanik

     2. John Sabanisże, Martyrdom of Habo, the Perfumer from Baghdad

     3. The Lives of John the Iberian, Euthymios the Athonite, and George the Athonite

     4. The Life of Porphyry of Gaza

Chapter Four: Arabic

     Introduction to Arabic Christianity

     General Bibliography for Arabic Christianity

     1. Homilies on the Gospel Readings for Holy Week

     2. Theodore Abū Qurrah, That God Is Not Weak

     3. The Disputation of Abraham of Tiberias

     4. Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq, How to Discern the True Religion

     5. Miracles of Saint George

     6. Commentary on the Pentateuch

Chapter Five: Coptic

     Introduction to Coptic Christianity

     General Bibliography for Coptic Christianity

     1. Life of Pachomius

     2. Shenoute of Atripe, I Have Been Reading the Holy Gospels

     3. Pseudo-Dioscorus of Alexandria, Encomium on Macarius of Tkōou

     4. The Anaphora of Saint Thomas the Apostle

     5. Christophoria, Letter to the Comes Mena

     6. John of Paralos, Homily on the Archangel Michael and the Blasphemous Books of the Heretics

     7. Pseudo-Cyril of Alexandria, Encomium Interpreting Part of the Apocalypse of John the Apostle of Christ Jesus

Chapter Six: Ethiopic

     Introduction to Ethiopic Christianity

     General Bibliography for Ethiopic Christianity

     1. Select Inscriptions of ˁEzana

     2. Homily on Frumentius

     3. Synaxarion on Yared

     4. Glory of the Kings (Kǝbrä Nägäśt) (selection)

     5. Hildephonsus, Bishop of Toledo, Miracles of Mary

     6. Zärˀä Yaˁəqob, Book of the Trinity

     7. Prayer Amulet: MS Duke Ethiopic 15

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