Friday, October 9, 2015

Start learning Syriac: Minesota/Dumbarton Oakas Summer School 2015

Dumbarton Oaks and the HILL MUSEUM & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY (HMML) announce a new four-week intensive introduction to Syriac language and paleography, July 10 to August 6, 2016. The program, sponsored and funded by Dumbarton Oaks, will be hosted at HMML, located on the campus of Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. The summer school will include a long weekend in Washington, DC, to visit Dumbarton Oaks and other institutions in the area to learn more about their resources for Byzantine and Eastern Christian studies.

Approximately ten places will be available to doctoral students and recent PhDs, including including early-career faculty members, who can demonstrate the value of Syriac for their teaching and research. All costs apart from travel to and from Saint John's University (nearest airport: Minneapolis-St Paul) will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks, including the weekend in Washington, DC.

Mornings will be devoted to Syriac language instruction by Prof. Scott Johnson of the University of Oklahoma, with afternoons devoted to the study of digitized Syriac manuscripts with Dr. Adam McCollum of the University of Vienna (formerly Lead Cataloger of Eastern Christian Manuscripts at HMML). There will be opportunities to use HMML's collections, as well as to enjoy the campus of 2700 acres, with woods, lakes, and notable architecture.

Further information, including instructions for applicants, is attached or may be found at:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A great suite of web tools for the study of medieval manuscripts: Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Greek and Arabic

From the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library here is a set of fantastic tools:
  • SCHOOL offers lessons in paleography, codicology, and transcription. 
  • FOLIO provides annotated manuscript pages for study and practice in transcription. 
  • LEXICON explains terms used in manuscript studies. 
  • REFERENCE contains bibliography and links to digitized print resources.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Free Course from Notre Dame University: Introduction to the Quran, the Scripture of the Islam

About this course

According to Islamic tradition, the Quran is not simply an inspired scripture. It is a divine book brought down from heaven by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, and its message is the key to heaven. Join us for an exploration of the scripture that is the word of God to over a billion people.This course will introduce you to various aspects of the Quran, including its basic message, the historical context in which it originated, the diverse ways in which Muslims have interpreted it, and its surprisingly intimate relationship with the Bible. By the end of the course, you will gain an appreciation for the perspectives of Muslim believers and academic scholars alike on the origins and the meaning of the Islamic scripture. No background in Islam or Arabic is necessary for this course.
Click here for more

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Humans of Byzantium: Michael Psellos (11th c)

"I had many students and came to court when I was still young. I got involved in Byzantine politics and became the emperor's most trusted man. He also trusted me. Had to show everyone that I had knowledge and abilities to rule. People said that I was the best philosopher and the most talented historian. Maybe they were right (or maybe not)." (Michael Psellos, consul of philosophers, 11th c)

Byzantine mosaic with Egyptian depiction of daily life

From Archaeology Magazine, a new archaeological finding:
The mosaic floor of a Byzantine-era church that had been removed for conservation purposes has been returned to Qiryat Gat Industrial Park, where it will be on display. The 1,500-year-old mosaic realistically depicts a Nile River landscape and the streets and buildings of a settlement in Egypt where, according to Christian tradition, the prophet Habakkuk had been buried. “The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel. The buildings are arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city, in a sort of ancient map,” archaeologists Sa’ar Ganor and Rina Avner of the Israel Antiquities Authority said. Read more

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Byzantine Theology: Divine Presence in the Eucharistic Theology of Nicholas Cabasilas

Divine Presence in the Eucharistic Theology of Nicholas Cabasilas, a doctoral dissertation, available online:
This study focuses on the Eucharistic theology of the Byzantine theologian Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1390). It examines the presence of the divine and its transmission in the Divine Liturgy. The results of the study indicate that, according to Cabasilas, man is able to partake in God in the liturgy, and thus to subjectively receive and participate in his presence to the world. In Cabasilas’ thought the presence of God is manifested in the liturgy on two major levels. There is, firstly, the level of divine presence which permeates the entire liturgy. It is based on the omnipresence of God, which is pre-eminently manifested in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Great events of the divine economy are to be contemplated and participated in throughout the Eucharistic liturgy in the outward forms and symbols of the rite. Secondly, the presence of God is given a concrete manifestation in the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements, caused by the action of the Triune God, especially due to the Holy Spirit’s descent on the bread and wine during the epiclesis and Christ’s consecratory priestly power. What is ecumenically significant is Cabasilas’ conclusion that the Greek and the Latin doctrines on the conversion of the Eucharistic elements are identical. He claims that in the Latin Mass there is also a strong epicletic element, proven by the part of the Roman Canon known by its incipit, Supplices te rogamus. According to Cabasilas, divine presence should ultimately become a reality within man, e.g. in his heart, soul and body. Deep subjective human reception of God’s presence to the world takes place through receiving the body and blood of Christ. Cabasilas avoids accurate definitions in his statements of Eucharistic communion (koinonia) and union (henosis) with God. Speaking in accordance with the mystical tradition he emphasises the transforming effect of the Eucharist on man. In the end, union with God is manifested as life in Christ, perfected in Christian love towards neighbours.
Click here to download and read

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Humans of Byzantium: A Soldier

"Came from a village near ancient Athens. Fought against the Arabs. Must say that killing in the name of Christ was tough decision. But our general comforted us with sweet-as-honey words" (Anonymous Byzantine soldier)

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