John Bar Andreas (d. 1155 or 1156) and Syro-Armenian polemics in the eleventh and twelfth centuries

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Cultural history
    • Medieval history
    • Other Middle Eastern literatures
    • Other languages and literary studies not elsewhere classified
    • History of religions, churches and theology
Syro-Armenian studies polemical literature ancient and medieval translations
Project description

Surrounded by Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Armenians and later also Latin Christians, members of the Syriac Orthodox Church sought to emphasize the distinction between themselves and other churches and faiths. The most well-known proponent of Syriac Orthodox Streitkultur during the Syriac Renaissance (1049-1316) is Dionysius bar Salibi (d. 1171), who wrote treatises against Muslims, Jews, Melkites, Chalcedonians, members of the Church of the East as well as the Armenians. This project highlights a lesser known polemicist, John bar Andreas (d. 1155/6), whose contribution to Syro-Armenian polemics has remained largely unexplored, despite the fact that he is the only known bilingual Syriac-Armenian participant in these debates. Bar Andreas not only wrote an anti-Armenian treatise and a now lost refutation of an (equally lost) Armenian anti-Syriac treatise, he also translated into Syriac an Armenian letter, written by Kevork of Lori, a monk who had temporarily (r. 1071-4) replaced the Armenian Cilician Catholicos Krikor II Vkayaser (r. 1066-1105) to the Syriac Orthodox patriarch John X Bar Shushan (r. 1061-72/3). Bar Andreas' anti-Armenian treatise, his Syriac translation of Kevork's letter as well as an Armenian version of this letter are preserved, which allows us to investigate for the first time his involvement in these debates, as the link between these debates in the 1070s and in the second half of the twelfth century, as his translation was used by Dionysius to refute Kevork