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Grant number like: FA-54036-08

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Joseph P. Amar
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 5/31/2010

Ephrem the Syrian: An Intellectual and Cultural Biography, 4th Century B.C.

Ephrem the Syrian is the most influential writer in the history of Syriac letters. I will write the first historically and culturally accurate biography that will place him and the Syriac literary culture which he defined in the broader philosophical and historical context of religious language and culture in the Middle East from early rabbinic Judaism, through Christianity, and ultimately to Islam. Founded on my forthcoming edition of the Syriac Life of Ephrem (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 2008), I will show that the Life preserves no historically reliable information, but distorts the image of Ephrem by anachronistically depicting him as a monk and deacon. Through an interdisciplinary approach based on Ephrem's own writings and native Syriac sources, I will peel away the layers of monastic hagiography to reveal the genius of this pivotal figure in the expression of Semitic Christian culture.