Call for Papers: The Eighth North American Syriac Symposium

The Eighth North American Syriac Symposium

Brown University | Providence, RI

June 16-19, 2019

The Eighth North American Syriac Symposium will convene at Brown University on June 16-19, 2019. Held every four years since 1991, the North American Syriac Symposium brings together scholars and students for exchange and discussion on a wide variety of topics related to the language, literature, and cultural history of Syriac Christianity, extending chronologically from the first centuries CE to the present day and geographically from Syriac Christianity’s homeland in the Middle East to South India, China, and the worldwide diaspora.

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Image Source: https://www.brown.edu/academics/religious-studies/

We invite paper proposals for the 2019 Brown Syriac Symposium on the theme of…

Syriac Worlds: Interactions, Exchanges, Contributions.

Throughout its long history, Syriac Christianity has flourished in the midst of other languages, religions, cultures, and societies. However turbulent its circumstances, Syriac has enabled distinctive articulations and cultural expressions for its speakers. Moreover, not only have there been constant interactions, but Syriac has been an active medium of exchange. Contributions, borrowings, adaptations, and innovations have characterized the literary, material, philological, and cultural productions of Syriac speakers from the start. This Symposium welcomes proposals for scholarly papers on all topics that address Syriac in any of its historical time periods, within this broad theme.

Proposals may be submitted either for individual papers or as part of a proposed panel. Individual presentations must be limited to 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes of discussion time. Please submit contact information for the presenter(s) and an abstract of 250-350 words. Those wishing to propose a panel of 3 or 4 papers (4 papers maximum) on a specific theme must submit a separate abstract for each presentation, a title for the panel, and full contact information for all presenters and the session moderator.

All proposals should be submitted electronically to nasyriacsymposium@gmail.com on or before January 2, 2019. Notification of acceptances of paper and panel proposals will be made in early February, with a view to publishing the program in early March.

In addition to papers and panels, the symposium will feature keynote lectures by:

  • Liv Ingebord Lied, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo
  • Kathleen McVey, Princeton Theological Seminary (emerita)
  • Ellen Muehlberger, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • Michael Penn, Stanford University
  • Columba Stewart, St. John’s University David G. K. Taylor, Oxford University

Additional information for the Symposium can be found at the following website which will be updated regularly: https://www.brown.edu/academics/religious-studies/events- 0/syriac-symposium.

If you have any questions, please contact us at: nasyriacsymposium@gmail.com.

We look forward to welcoming you to Brown University in the summer of 2019!

Best wishes,

Susan Ashbrook Harvey
on behalf of the local steering committee:

 

Local Steering Committee:
Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University (Chair)
Sargon Donabed, Roger Williams University
Jae Hee Han, Brown University
Sandra Keating, Providence College
Nancy Khalek, Brown University
Ute Possekel, Harvard Divinity School

 

*Content courtesy of Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Director, Program in Early Cultures Interim Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies | Brown University)

European Association of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting and Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting July 30 – August 3, 2018 | Helsinki, Finland

The University of Helsinki hosted the European Association of Biblical Studies’ annual meeting, which this year was held together with the Society of Biblical Literature’s international meeting, from July 30 – August 3, 2018.

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View from Helsinki Harbour of the Cathedral

Delegates were welcomed to the conference by Outi Lehtipuu, chair of the local organizing committee, John F. Kutsko, SBL’s executive director and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, EABS’ executive officer, in the historic surroundings of the University’s Great Hall. This was followed by a reception at the City Hall, hosted by the major of Helsinki.

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Delegates were treated to a concert in the Rock Church, one of Helsinki’s most popular attractions (Photograph courtesy of SBL)

The conference included a wide range of papers on qur’ānic studies:

Sayed-Hassan Akhlaq (Boston) “The Inspirational Aspect of the Idea of “Tahrif” for Interreligious Dialogue” and “The Biblical and Qur’ānic Image of Moses and Jesus”

George Archer (Iowa State) “Ephrem’s 27thHymn on the Nativity in the Qur’anic Landscape”

Rachel Claire Dryden (Cambridge) “How al-Shayṭān got his Name: The Arabic Recensions of the Narratives from the Syriac Cave of Treasures”

Alyssa Gabbay (North Carolina) “Jesus, Son of Mary: Lineage and Descent in the Bible and the Qur’ān”

Abdulla Galadari (Khalifa University) “The Qur’ān: Authorship between Muhammad and the Divine”

Ghilène Hazem (Paris-Nanterre) “Avoiding Embarrassing Meanings: Ambiguous Qur’ānic Verses, Corrected Scribal Errors and Biblical/Apocryphal Intertexts”

Bert Jacobs (KU Leuven) “Reading the Gospel in a Muslim Context: Dionysius Bar Salibi’s (Re)Interpretation of Jesus’ Difficult Words and Deeds”

Ilkka Lindstedt and Nina Nikki (Helsinki) “Abraham as an Identity Sign in Paul and the Qur’ān”

Jusuf Salih (Dayton) “Mustafa Sabri Efendi’s Views on the Resurrection of Jesus”

Mohammad Ghandehari (Tehran) “Clarifying the Divine Teachings for Thee”: The Qur’ān’s Self-Identified Role in Clarifying the Bible”

Kate Tinson (Cardiff) “Moses and His Leprosy: Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic Texts and the Qur’ān”

The conference provided an important forum for scholars of the Qur’ān to interact with biblical scholars as well as being a key meeting point for the field in 2018, when there is no IQSA international meeting. Many thanks to the local organizing committees and the staff and graduate helpers at the University of Helsinki for such a warm welcome to a beautiful city and for an extremely well-organised conference – kiitos!

EABS’ next Annual Meeting will be held from August 11 – 14, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland.

SBL’s next International Meeting will be held from July 23 – 26, 2019 in Bangalore, India, which will coincide with IQSA’s biannual International Meeting.

The calls for papers for the above will be announced in due course.

 

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

Conference and Workshop: The Translation of the Qur’ān in Indonesia – Yogyakarta, Indonesia | July 30 – 31, 2018

Indonesia is not only the most populous Muslim-majority state but also one of the most multilingual ones. This is one of several reasons that make the field of Qur’ān translation in Indonesia highly interesting. Another, is the early and strong presence of reformist trends in the country that led, on the one hand, to sustained daʿwa activities centered on the Qur’ān and, on the other, to doctrinal debates on the permissibility of such activities, that mirrored those in Egypt. Rashīd Riḍā actually issued one of his fatwas on Qur’ān translation in response to a question from Indonesia. In the 1960s, the government of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia emerged as a strong actor in the field of religion, commissioning a national Qur’ān translation that still dominates the market. The government also promoted Bahasa Indonesia as a national language at the expense of the multitude of regional languages spoken by Indonesia’s citizens. In recent years, however, the Ministry of Religion has started to reverse that trend and published Qur’ān translations in more than a dozen regional languages. These translations often compete with existing works by local religious scholars.

Recognising the complexity and relevance of the field of Qur’ān translation in Indonesia, the Department of Islamic Studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany, and the School of Graduate Studies at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, organised the first conference on this topic. On July 30 and 31, 2018, dozens of scholars and students met in Yogyakarta to discuss the political, social and linguistic dimensions of Indonesian Qur’ān translations. The schedule allowed for plenty of time to discuss the twenty-three papers, including six given by students, that were delivered in two plenary sessions and several panels on politics and media, gender, education, and regional languages.

Some dominant themes emerged during the discussions: First, the dominant role of the authoritative Qur’ān translation published by the Indonesian Government. Owing to its wide distribution, it has been able to influence social and political debates but the scholars who produced it were also forced to react to social change, as is apparent in the evolution of the translation’s approach to gender. Another topic that was discussed a great deal was the question of script. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Arabic script competed with the Latin alphabet in qur’ānic exegesis and Qur’ān translation. For some languages, such as Javanese and Buginese, these systems, in turn, competed with traditional scripts such as Carakan and Lontara. Many papers touched upon this issue but it became apparent during the conference that a conclusive history of the rise and fall of different writing systems in Islamic literature, particularly during the 19th and 20th centuries, still remains to be written.

Several papers brought up unusual, little-known and unexpected facts, such as the existence of new prophets in Indonesia who base their message on the Qur’ān and their own translation of it, or the production of rhyming translations in traditional meters in languages such as Sundanese and Acehnese by traditional scholars. The field of qur’ānic translation in practice is clearly larger than is generally assumed, and includes interlinear translation, often considered a pre-modern phenomenon, is, in fact, thriving, both due to its roots in traditional Islamic schools and to a recent upsurge in interest in learning to read the Qur’ān in Arabic, as opposed to relying on stand-alone translations.

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Participants at the First Conference and Workshop on the Translation of the Qur’ān in Indonesia

The conference was judged a great success by the participants and will hopefully lead to a publication that will make scholarship on Indonesia, particularly that conducted by Indonesians, more visible within the field of qur’ānic Studies. It will also help develop a theoretical framework for the study of Qur’ān translations that takes multilingual contexts, changes in writing systems, and the politics of translation into account.

© International Qur’ānic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

Call for Papers: The Qur’ān and Ethiopia: Context and Reception

Submissions are solicited for a one-day symposium on ‘The Qurʾān and Ethiopia: Context and Reception’, which will be held at The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC USA) on Monday, April 8, 2019.

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Connections between the Qurʾān and Ethiopia are vast and varied. On the one hand, Ethiopia provides an important historical context (among many others) for understanding the Qurʾān in its Late Antique milieu. After all, throughout Late Antiquity, Ethiopia was a major political power, situated just across the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula. Occasionally, Ethiopia even interceded directly in affairs in the peninsula, as evidenced above all by the Najrān episode. In addition, Islamic literature relays many connections that Muḥammad and his followers had with Ethiopia, including most famously the first Ḥijrah in which companions of the prophet sought refuge in Ethiopia. Thus, it comes as no surprise that there are Ethiopic loanwords in the Qurʾān, perhaps none more saliently than the Ethiopic word maʾǝdd ‘table, Eucharist’, which is found as the name of the fifth sūrah (al-Māʾidah). While Ethiopic loanwords in the Qurʾān have long been known, a number of questions remain: What do these loanwords tell us about the context in which the Qurʾān came into existence? And, more broadly and significantly, can we move beyond loanwords? That is, what are the other ways in which Ethiopia may provide a context for understanding the Qurʾān in its historical setting?

On the other hand, the Qurʾān also had—and still has—a reception in Ethiopia. Modern day Ethiopia is home to a sizable Muslim community: The 2007 census reported that just over one-third of the country’s ca. 74 million inhabitants identified as Muslim. Similarly, in neighboring Eritrea, which is historically part of the ancient kingdom of Axum, almost half of the ca. 5.5 million inhabitants in 2011 were Muslim, according to a report by the U.S. Department of State. These modern Muslim populations have historical antecedents stretching back to the rise of Islam. Thus, Ethiopia provides fertile ground for studying the reception of the Qurʾān for well over a millennium. The reception of the Qurʾān in Ethiopia is an especially opportune topic for a symposium at The Catholic University of America, which thanks to a recent gift by Gerald and Barbara Weiner now holds an invaluable collection of more than 175 Arabic manuscripts from Ethiopia, including a number of copies of the Qurʾān as well as exegetical works (tafsīr). Thus, ultimately, this symposium aims to locate the Qurʾān in Ethiopia, both as a context for its early development and as a location for its later reception.

Abstracts describing the precise topic treated with a length of approximately 200-300 words can be sent as an electronic version (pdf and MS word document) to Aaron Butts (buttsa@cua.edu). The deadline for submission is November 1, 2018.

Papers presented at the symposium will be considered for publication in an edited volume, which aims to make this interesting topic available to a wider audience.

 

Questions can be addressed to:

Dr. Aaron Butts
Assistant Professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures
Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures
The Catholic University of America
buttsa@cua.edu

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

Summer School in Arabic Codicology, at the Royal Library of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, July 9 – 13, Madrid

The fifth, consecutive, intensive summer school on Arabic Codicology: the Islamic Manuscript Heritage in the El Escorial Collection took place in Madrid, Spain from July 9 – 13. The course was led and directed by Professor Nuria de Castilla (Ecole Pratique d’Hautes Etudes, Paris), and Professor François Déroche (Collège de France, Paris). This year, participants were also able to benefit from the expertise of José Luis del Valle Merino, director of the Royal Library of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The course was sponsored by the European Commission Research Project Saadian Intellectual and Cultural LifE SICLE 670628 and co-organised by UCM’s Fundación General.

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Professor Nuria de Castilla and some of the participants at the summer school

The aim of the summer school has been to provide the students with basic training in codicology and the research methods they will need when studying and analyzing Arabic manuscripts. Following morning lectures on different aspects of codicology, such as composition, writing surfaces, illumination, paleography and bindings, the afternoons were dedicated to hands-on sessions at the Royal Library, where participants were able to apply the knowledge and skills they had learnt, by examining manuscripts from the Arabic Collection.

The El Escorial Arabic Manuscript Collection (circa 2000 codices) consists mainly of manuscripts from the Library of Sultan Mūlay Zaydān, which became part of the Library of Phillip III of Spain in 1612. The collection is thus one of the very few from the Muslim world to remain virtually intact and is therefore considered to be the most important collection of Arabic manuscripts in Spain and one of the most interesting in Europe.

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A hands-on session in the Library

The course not only furthered participants’ knowledge of the collection, but also promoted the creation of international networks and exchange between participants. With an average of 100 applications each year, but capacity for only 16 participants, to date, the course has welcomed participants from all five continents. This year, the course was attended by participants from Argentina, Austria, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Singapore, Spain, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

Anyone interested in the field of codicology can find more information on the summer school’s Facebook page, Twitter profile or website.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

 

Second Aramaic & Syriac Studies Conference at the Cairo University 2019

The Department of Oriental Languages will hold its Second Aramaic and Syriac Studies Conference at the Cairo University (Egypt) between February-March of 2019.

Conference Panels Include:
Grammar and Linguistic Studies
Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Syriac Rhetoric
Armenian and Syriac Studies
Arabic and Syriac Studies
Comparative Semitic and Syriac Studies
Archaeological studies
lnscriptions and Graffity
Old and modern Aramaic
Old and modern Syriac/Suryat
Ancient and modern Aramaic/Syriac Literature
Diaspora and Migration Studies|
Ancient and contemporary Theater and Story Studies
Travel Liteartures
Establishment of ancient and modern Syriac Schools
Dialog with Jewish and Islam
Translation of OT, NT, and Quran into Syriac
Renaissance literature/Studies
Jewish, Greek, Islamic,and Syriac Legal Texts
Christian arabic Studies
Karshoni Studies
Digital Studies in Syriac Heritage

Abstracts and Papers will be accepted until the end July 2018, and completed papers until the end August 2018.

Applications for attendance by observers are welcome and should be submitted by July 2018.

Conference Fees
US Fees include paper publication, accommodations, meals (3 days), a trip to new Library of Alexandria, and city tour.

  • Fees are $100.00 USD for Speakers without accommodations.
  • Fees for speaker attendance excluding paper publication are $350.00 USD (include accommodations, all meals for 3 nights)

Accommodations at University Hotel:

  • Limited single rooms, double and triple rooms available
  • Families should apply by the end July for suitable accomodations

Questions? Contact secondcairoconference@gmail.com

 

*Content and images courtesy of http://arts.cu.edu.eg/  and Prof. Dr. Salah Abdel Aziz Mahgoub Edris.

The Future of Syriac Studies and the Legacy of Sebastian P. Brock, Sigtuna, Sweden, June 12 – 15, 2018

To celebrate Sebastian P. Brock’s 80th birthday, Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy and Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden, hosted a conference on the Future of Syriac Studies” in Sigtuna Sweden. The conference was partly funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. Participants from the US and Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan were welcomed to the conference by Michael Hjälm, (Sankt Ignatios Academy, Södertälje/Stockholm), Samuel Rubenson, (Lund/Sankt Ignatios Academy, Södertälje /Stockholm) and Archbishop Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin (Syriac Orthodox Church in the Netherlands/Sankt Ignatios Seminary, Södertälje /Suryoye Seminary, Salzburg), who gave an overview of Sebastian Brock’s academic contribution to Syriac studies over the last half a century. George Kiraz (Gorgias Press) presented Professor Brock with the first edition of Gorgias Press’ new Sebastianoye series, developed in his honour 

As well as a wide range of papers on Eastern Christian subjects, the conference included a number of presentations that intersected with Islamic and qur’ānic studies, underlining the importance of Syriac and Syriac studies for research on the Qur’ān and early Islam.

Stephen J. Shoemaker (Oregan) discussed Syriac apocalypticism in light of the rise of Islam, stressing the importance of non-Islamic sources for understanding the emergence of Islam. From the sixth century onwards, Christians, Jews, and even Zoroastrians, believed they were living at the beginning of the end of time, Syriac apocalyptic writings, in particular, are therefore useful for understanding the rise of Islam. Professor Shoemaker concluded that Muhammad’s group of Believers can best/better be understood against the backdrop of this apocalyptic fervor, as eschatological expectations reached a peak in the seventh century.

Rachel Claire Dryden (Cambridge) presented a state of the field review of qur’ānic studies in relation to the role of Syriac. With few exceptions, the importance of Syriac literature for understanding the Qur’ān appears to have been ignored, or at least neglected, by scholars until the beginning of the current millennium. As well as highlighting current research on the Qur’ān that takes Syriac into account, Miss Dryden stressed the need for further collaboration between scholars of the Qur’ān and of Syriac, which has the potential to benefit both fields, by revealing more about the nature of Late Antique monotheistic debate and exchange.

Bert Jacobs (Leuven) examined Syriac translations of the Qur’ān, which has received little attention compared to translations into Greek and Latin. Dr Jacobs concluded that this may be because it is still not clear what qur’anic material is extant in Syriac, or even whether there was a full Syriac translation of the Qur’an. Dr Jacobs argued that there had never been a full Syriac translation, firstly because it would have been irrelevant to Syriac-speaking Christians, before becoming unnecessary, as Arabic became the language of Arab Christians.

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Venue for the Syriac music performance at the conclusion of the evening’s events.  Photo Credit: Rachel Dryden

As part of Professor Brock’s 80th birthday celebrations, Mor Dioscoros Benyamin Atas, one of two archbishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Sweden and Scandinavia presented him with the Order of Sankt Ignatios for 2018, in recognition of his contribution to Syriac studies and his championing of the rights of the Syriac people. The evening concluded with a performance of Syriac music.

Huge thanks goes to Miriam and Michael Hjälm, Bob Kitchen and Gabriel Bar Sawame for the initiative and organization of the conference, which brought so many scholars of Syriac from different fields together in an environment that encouraged interaction and exchange.

Conference proceedings will be published in due course.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.