"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 23, 2012

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

Happily today we are seeing an expanding interest in Christianity in Syria in the first millennium. A recent publication continues this development: Adam M. Schor, Theodoret's People: Social Networks and Religious Conflict in Late Roman Syria (Transformation of the Classical Heritage) (University of California Press, 2011), 360pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Theodoret's People sheds new light on religious clashes of the mid-fifth century regarding the nature (or natures) of Christ. Adam M. Schor focuses on Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus, his Syrian allies, and his opponents, led by Alexandrian bishops Cyril and Dioscorus. Although both sets of clerics adhered to the Nicene creed, their contrasting theological statements led to hostilities, violence, and the permanent fracturing of the Christian community. Schor closely examines council transcripts, correspondence, and other records of communication. Using social network theory, he argues that Theodoret's doctrinal coalition was actually a meaningful community, bound by symbolic words and traditions, riven with internal rivalries, and embedded in a wider world of elite friendship and patronage.
One of the world's leading scholars of Syriac Christianity, Susan Ashbrook Harvey of Brown University, says of this book:
Adam Schor has written a lively and incisive study of a notoriously difficult era. Mining the substantial (but greatly understudied) letter collections of the times, applying the insights of network theory, and boldly taking on the entire corpus of Theodoret's writings--an ambitious project in itself--Schor has produced strikingly fresh material throughout. With rich insight and rigorous attention to detail, Schor opens new vistas on the late antique landscape. Thought-provoking at every turn!

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