Each session will bring together doctoral students from various fields such as history, archaeology, theology, and the social sciences.
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“I am going to go beyond the bounds”: Creating Miaphysite Community through a Woman’s Biographical Mimro
Princeton University, Department of History
The extensive homiletic corpus of Jacob of Serugh (ca. 451–521 CE) offers numerous examples of life stories composed from biblical and extrabiblical characters, and these mimre present a ready field of evidence for inquiry into identity-construction within the Miaphysite church. Intentionally didactic, Jacob used these biographical mimre to offer spiritual models and praxis-oriented exemplars for his listeners. In this paper I would like to begin to consider how such biographical narrations could both create models for individual imitation and also construct a collective, communal history and identity for Jacob’s Miaphysite community.
Homily 170 on the hemorrhaging woman, will offer us a case study, as we see a twelve-year story play out, in several acts, filled with emotive embellishments to help the hearers identify with the protagonist. The 551-line mimro, or sung sermon, describes in vivid, imaginative detail twelve years in the life of a woman whom the biblical text mentions in a mere ten verses. I take this homily as a window into the genre of Syriac homiletic hymnody and will analyze in detail its biographizing elements in the hands of Jacob of Serugh. Then, I will consider how biographical narrations construct communal identity, and conclude with some theoretical considerations on the import of presenting women as exemplars for a fifth- or sixth-century church community. Through evocative life narration, Jacob taught his Miaphysite community both how to live and who they were.
Abdallāh ibn al-Faḍl’s Conception of Philosophy: Byzantine Falsafa
Samuel Noble (KU Leuven)