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Title: Epistemological dialogue with aspects of the Western discipline of the study of mysticism as it relates to Barhebraeus in conversation with al-Ghazālī on the question of the 'concept of God'
Author: Griggs, Jennifer Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 5517
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines Barhebraeus' contribution to the medieval Syrian Christian discourse on the concept of God, concerning his understanding of the ontology of God through the love of God. Barhebraeus' thinking can contribute to the understanding of God presupposed in the contemporary western academic study of mysticism. Both the medieval Syrian tradition and the modern study of mysticism reach an impasse in the discourse about God due to the conflict between two rival epistemologies. In response to the epistemological impasse, Barhebraeus turns to insights from al-Ghazali on the understanding of God based on the love of God, to critique the metaphysical background of the thinking which Syrian hermeneutics inherited from the Greeks. The main texts used for the argument of this thesis are the Book of the Dove and the Ethicon, which reveal the development of Barhebraeus' main theme and his resolution of the impasse in the Syrian tradition. The academic discipline of mysticism is brought into dialogue with this contribution to Syrian hermeneutics, so that Barhebraeus' mysticism is shown to make a methodological contribution in resolving the epistemological basis of the conflict over the intentionality of mystical consciousness in the contemporary study of mysticism. This conflict is between two main schools of thought, objectivist and relativist, which inform the metaphysical presuppositions of both approaches to the study of mysticism, based on a materialist and essentialist view of religion. Barhebraeus' mysticism is shown to resolve the substantive problem of making metaphysical assertions concerning transcendence in the study of mysticism, through his understanding of the love of God which overcomes the concept of God derived from metaphysics. Barhebraeus' mysticism thus goes beyond both the classical approach to the study of mysticism and the relativist critique, to provide a hermeneutical understanding of the claims of mystic discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral