October 1999


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International Symposium on Patriarch Michael the Great (+ 1199)

October 8, 1999

DAMASCUS. The 800th anniversary of the passing away of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and scholar Mor Michael the Syrian was commemorated at an international symposium convened by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zaka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and H.E. Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan of Aleppo.

The occasion also marked the 75th anniversary of the forced mass-exodus of the Syrian Orthodox people of Edessa (Urhoy or Urfa). The St. George Syrian Orthodox Church of the Edessan Syrian Orthodox, in Aleppo, has the only manuscript of the greatest work of Patriarch Michael, "The Chronicle of Mor Michael the Great."

The Symposium convened at the Patriarchate's new educational facility, St. Ephrem Theological Seminary, at Ma'arat Saydnaya outside Damascus, Oct 1-8 1999. About 20 scholars from Belgium, England, Germany, Lebanon, Syrian and the United States delivered papers on a variety of topics related to the great historical chronicle produced in the 12th century by Mor Michael, at what was the first scholarly meeting in modern times devoted to the study of Syriac historiography. Each session concluded with rigorous and learned discussion. A concert of sacred music presented by the seminarians of St. Ephrem's preceded the symposium. Participants were also entertained with a tour to local churches and monasteries, and a magnificent dinner hosted by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I.

Speakers at the Symposium included: Prof. Michel Van Esbroech, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, V. Rev. Dr. Joseph Tarzi, Ms. Dorthea Weltecke, Ms. Emma Loosley, Prof. Michael Morony, Dr. May Touma, H.E. Metropolitan Mor Gregoios Yohanna Ibrahim, Rev. Fr. Abdo Badwi and Mr. Fadi Baroody, Rev. Fr. Elias Khalifeh, H.E. Metropolitan Theolophilos George Saliba, Prof. Dr. Robert Betts, and Prof. Dr. Seta Dadoyan.

The following papers were presented:

  1. Prof. Michael van Esbroeck, "Michael the Syrian on Cyrus and Benjamin."
  2. Prof. Susan Harvey, "Theodora the Believing Queen: A Study in Syriac Historiographical Tradition."
  3. Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Joseph Tarzi, "Edessa in the Era of Patriarch Michael the Syrian."
  4. Dr. Dorothea Weltecke, "Originality and Function of Formal Structures in the Chronicle of Mar Michael the Great."
  5. Ms. Emma Loosely, "The Crusades: How they were perceived in the History of Mar Michael."
  6. Dr. Michael G. Morony, "Michael the Syrian as a Source of Economic History."
  7. Dr. May Touma, "Eglise Inedite Sur le Haute Euphrates."
  8. H.E. Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, "The Challenges that Confronted the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in the Era of Mar Michael the Great."
  9. Fr. Abdo Badui and Mr. Fadi Baroody, "The Liturgy of Mar Michael the Great in the Maronite Church."
  10. Rev. Fr. Elias Khalifeh, "The Maronites in the Chronicle of Mar Michael the Great."
  11. Dr. Frank R. Trombley, "Michael the Syrian: Historian of the Christian Communities under the Caliphate (7th- 11th Centuries)."
  12. H.E. Archbishop Theophilus George Saliba, "Arabic-Islamic Conquest in the Chronicle of Mar Michael the Great."
  13. Dr. Robert Betts, "The Rev. George Badger and the Syrian Orthodox Communities of the Tur cAbdin: Contact with the Protestant West and its Consequences."
  14. Dr. Seta Dadoyan, "The Chronicle of Mor Michael and the Armenian Version."

Source: Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarzi, Ph.D.

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