"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).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Syrian Orthodox Christians in the Late Ottoman Period

Several times in the past I have on here sung the praises of Gorgias Press in their wide-ranging treatment of many aspects of Eastern Christian history, tradition, and theology, including most especially the interactions between various Eastern Christian and Islamic groups. In their newest catalogue, sent to me just yesterday, we see at long last a study that has been promised for some time newly released: Khalid S. Dinno, Syrian Orthodox Christians in the Late Ottoman Period and Beyond: Crisis Then Revival (Gorgias Press, 2017), 526pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Despite the protection afforded to the minorities of the Ottoman Empire through the millet system, Syrian Orthodoxy witnessed weakness and depletion throughout the nineteenth century, caused by significant conversion to Western Christianity, particularly in Syria and in Iraq.
The events following the 1895 violence in southeastern Anatolia became precursors to the genocidal Safyo of 1915, which resulted in the annihilation of nearly half the Syrian Orthodox in Anatolia and brought Syrian Orthodoxy to the verge of extinction. The apathy of the victors of World War I towards the beleaguered survivors contrasted with the welcome the exiled survivors found in the Arab lands to the south, where historical affinity was rekindled.
From the safety of this new environment, Syrian Orthodoxy, led by enlightened individuals, was revitalized, drawing on a venerable Syriac cultural tradition and a patriarchal standing that was characteristically free from social elitism and tribal sectarianism. Utilizing the quest for learning that was widespread in the emerging new nation states, this new leadership, despite meager resources, launched Syrian Orthodoxy on a course of revival and renaissance not witnessed since the days of Bar Hebraeus in the late thirteenth century.
No study, in any language, has covered the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church over the designated period as fully as this current work, which it is hoped will fill a dire gap and break ground in new research. The basis for this study, in addition to published sources, has been approximately 6,000 relevant images that were filtered from a collection of over 24,000 uncatalogued, unedited and unpublished archival documents that were made available to the author.

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