Rome: a Conference Commemorating the 700th Anniversary of ʿAbdīshōʿ of Nisibis

Last update: 2022-04-22 09:56:30

Rome, 8-9 November 2018

Pontificio Istituto Orientale


The ancient churches of the Middle East have long attracted the interest of scholars in the West. Yet the danger currently posed to them has occasioned renewed attention from mainstream au­diences. One point of interest has been the Syriac tradition, once referred to by Sebastian Brock as the ‘third lung’ of Christianity (alongside the better-known Latin and Greek traditions). Embo­dying the tradition is the Church of the East, known variously throughout history as ‘Nestorian’ and ‘East Syrian,’ and which today refers to itself as the Assyrian Church of the East. With its historic base in Iraq, the Church of the East once constituted a vast, global entity that spread as far west as Cyprus and as far east China, and produced several prominent thinkers throughout the Middle Ages, some of whom were instrumental in the tran­smission of Greek thought into the Islamic world. Alongside its Chaldean Catholic counterpart, the Church of the East of today maintains a strong presence in northern Iraq and Iran, eastern Syria, and southern India, with diasporas across Europe, Austra­lia, and North America. Arguably the most important author from this tradition is the polymath ʿAbdīshōʿ bar Brīkhā (d. 1317), metropolitan of the an­cient See of Nisibis.


This conference will discuss ʿAbd­īshōʿ’s significance for Syriac studies and adjacent subjects. In addition to discussing ʿAbdīshōʿ himself, papers will touch on his Syriac Christian, Armenian, and Muslim contemporaries. In doing so, the Pontifical Oriental Institute aims to throw light on the multi-lingual and multi-re­ligious environment that shaped this remarkable figure’s ‘thou­ght-world.’ Attention will also be paid to ʿAbdīshōʿ’s legacy and reception in later centuries, with focus on the manuscript tradi­tion, editions, and translations of his works. By marking the 700th anniversary of ʿAbdīshōʿ’s death this conference hopes to open the field of late medieval Syriac and Christian Arabic studies to a wi­der audience and discuss prospects for future research and colla­boration across subject areas.


Click here to read the programme.