Sharing the past: Christian Arabic identity formation and the intercultural circulation of historical knowledge in the Late Ancient melkite bishop of Manbij (c. 942). 

01 October 2016 → 30 September 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Theology and religious studies
Christian Arabic Identity
Project description

A key witness to the process of Christian Arabic identity formation and the intercultural transmission, translation and transformation of historical and biblical knowledge in the multicultural and multilingual context of the late ancient and early medieval Near East is the chronicle of Mahbub, the tenth-century melkite (Arabic-speaking and Greek-Orthodox) bishop of Manbij in Syria, a rare example of Christian Arabic chronography written before the Crusades and before the Byzantine Reconquista of Northern Syria in 975. This project will represent the first in-depth investigation of this chronicle, which has never been studied in its entirety, despite its rarity and early date. The chronicle will not only be approached as a crucial witness for the history of the early Islamic Near East and a repertory of fragments of now lost Greek, Syriac and Arabic sources, but also as a rare product of early Arabic melkite history-writing. This project will study the plan, sources and purpose of this chronicle and will compare the author’s representation of the past with that of his Syriac Orthodox colleagues, who used some of the same Syriac sources. Recognizing the apologetic purpose of the chronicle, Mahbub’s chronicle will be used as a lens to observe the process of melkite identity construction in a period of isolation from the Byzantine empire.