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THE SYRIAC CHRISTIAN CHURCHES: Rediscovering the Church’s Eastern Roots

April 20, 2016 all-day
Cox Lecture Hall, Armstrong Browning Library
Baylor Ave
Waco, TX
Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion



For over a thousand years, the churches of the Middle East and Asia were central to the story of Christianity. Many of the greatest Christian saints and scholars thought and wrote in the ancient language of Syriac, which historically was a critical vehicle of Christian literature. Those Syriac Christian believers were authentic heirs of the earliest apostolic church. When we tell the story of Christianity only through a Western and European lens, we are missing vital parts of the picture. At a time when Middle Eastern churches face such dreadful suffering and persecution, it is all the more necessary for Western Christians to know and understand this often-forgotten part of their common heritage.
This one-day seminar on “The Syriac Christian Churches” brings together leading scholars on Syriac history, literature, theology and culture.

9-10:00am Introduction: Looking East in Christian History
Philip Jenkins, Baylor University

10-10:50am Ecumenical Attitudes in Syriac Literature Since the 4th Century
Abdul Saadi, Baylor University

10:50-11:00am BREAK

11-11:50am Syriac Christianity and the Religious Diversity of Early Sasanian Iran
Paul Dilley, University of Iowa

11:50-1:15pm LUNCH BREAK

1:15-2:05pm Contributions of the Syriac Churches in Early Muslim-Christian Encounters: Learning from the Past
Abjar Bakhou, Baylor University

2:05-2:55 pm Early Syriac Christian Reactions to the Rise of Islam
Michael Philip Penn, Mount Holyoke College

2:55-3:05pm BREAK

3:05-4:00pm General discussion and wrap up