The Syriac tradition, as defined by Sebastian Brock, is the third “lung” of Christianity (alongside the Latin and the Greek). It represented an essential source of intellectual, exegetic, spiritual, monastic and missionary experiences: for its links with the Semitic and Hebrew, for its early and intense contacts with the origins of Islam and the religions and cultures of Iran, Central Asia, China and India, and finally for its role as mediator of a Greek, Christianized culture in the Orient. Syriac Christianity was an extensive Asian ecclesiastical experience, the most promising Christianity of the first millennium. It, however, underwent dramatic phases of withdrawal and contraction, especially following the Mongolian invasions and throughout the Ottoman Empire, up to the tragic consequences of persecution at the end of World War I. We are now left with an upsetting image of a reality in the process of dissolution due to terrorism and the wars that have spread like wildfire in what was once the last foyer of that ancient presence, the Syrian and Iraqi territory. This rich and multifaceted succession has survived in synodal memory and has been passed down to us in ancient collections, thanks to the works of transcription and copying and the preservation of important manuscript testimonies. These materials, the Synodicon Orientale in particular, are studied here at the Foundation from philological and historical points of view, thanks to the great wealth of information that for the most part has not been widely used by the scientific community. Through research the Foundation intends to examine the strategies and periods of Mesopotamian Christianity in dynamic detail, and the intense and complex thirst for unity that spanned centuries through this ecclesiastical experience, as it was battered by internal conflict. This examination will also encompass the wavering relationship it held with non-Christian secular powers in those lands, and by the ecclesiological and theological models that were initially more inclined to provide a radical testimony of the Gospel, and then later more inclined to guarantee peace and benevolence to their followers and local communities on the part of sovereigns.
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