"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).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Maronites

This recent and interesting article on the desire of the Maronites to revive and retain the use of Aramaic puts me in mind of a fascinating paper I heard by a Spanish scholar at ASMEA in Washington last month entitled "The Arabic Karšuni: an Attempt to Preserve the Maronite Identity in Aleppo, Syria." I am also reminded of  a recent study of them by Paul Naaman: The Maronites: The Origins of an Antiochene Church: A Historical and Geographical Study of the Fifth to Seventh Centuries (Cistercian, 2011). This book is also available in a Kindle edition.

About this book the publisher tells us:
The Maronite Church is one of twenty-two Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Pope of Rome. Her patriarch is in Lebanon. Forty-three bishops and approximately five million faithful make up her presence throughout the world. The story of Maron, a fifth-century hermit-priest, and the community gathered around him, later called the Maronites, tells another fascinating story of the monastic and missionary movements of the Church. Maron's story takes place in the context of Syrian monasticism, which was a combination of both solitary and communal life, and is a narrative of Christians of the Middle East as they navigated the rough seas of political divisions and ecclesiastical controversies from the fourth to the ninth centuries. Abbot Paul Naaman wisely places the study of the origins of the Maronite Church squarely in the midst of the history of the Church. His book offers plausible insights into her formation and early development, grounding the Maronite Church in her Catholic, Antiochian, Syriac, and monastic roots.


  1. This book is a particularly strange attempt at reviving the old myth of 'the perpetual Orthodoxy of the Maronites.' In terms of historical sources, it relies entirely on the 13th century Muslim historian Abu al-Fida al-Hamwi for an account of the founding of the Monastery of Mar Maron, on the basis of which he launches into a general discussion of Syrian monasticism in the time of Theodoret, offering essentially conjectures about the relationship between this monastery and general Syrian monastic trends at the time. The book engages with no recent secondary scholarship on the history of the Maronites and the word 'Monothelete' does not even appear in the book. Originally published by the Maronite seminary in Kaslik, Lebanon, this book is not anywhere near the usual standards of Cistercial Studies.

    1. Samn! Thanks for this--hugely interesting, and very much begging to be turned into a longer review. If I send you a gratis copy of the book, would you review it for LOGOS next year?

    2. Great! E-mail me your contact info if you would: logoseasternchristianjournal@gmail.com


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