"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).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Syriac Idiosyncrasies

Brill has just put into my hands a new book:

Serge Ruzer and Aryeh Kofsky, Syriac Idiosyncrasies: Theology and Hermeneutics in Early Syriac Literature (Brill, 2010), 196pp.

As the publisher tells us, the study of Syriac Christianity lags behind study of other forms of Eastern Christianity, which is itself far behind scholarship on Western traditions. This volume looks at the development of the Syriac tradition from a Christian Aramaic background with considerable Jewish influences. The "idiosyncracies" in the title include certain developments in Syriac Trinitarian theology, Christology, and hermeneutics, each of which may be found in early Syriac literature before "the onslaught of Greek hegemony."

Susan Ashbrook Harvey of Brown University's Department of Religious Studies, one of the  world's leading specialists on Syriac Christianity (whose book Scenting Salvation: Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination was published in 2006 and reviewed by Vigen Guroian in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies in 2008) recommended to me a reviewer of this book: Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent, who did her dissertation under Harvey ("Apostolic Memories: Religious Differentiation and the Construction of Orthodoxy in Syriac Missionary Literature"), was a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, and is now a professor here. Her review should appear in 2011.


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