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Title: Festal apologetics : Syriac treatises on the Feast of the Discovery of the Cross
Author: Bryant, Kelli Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6157
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis argues that the Feast of the Discovery of the Cross offered an occasion to refute religious opposition to the cross and crucifixion in the diverse socio-political contexts encountered by Syriac Christians between the fourth and the ninth centuries. At its inception, the Feast of the Cross promoted the cult of the True Cross, Old Testament typology, and the expansion of the Christian faith, and these features were sufficiently malleable to meet new religious challenges and political contexts. John of Dara's ninth-century homily On the Cross is a lengthy exposition on the veneration of the cross, and it showcases how the feast could be used for apologetic ends. The first chapter focuses on the relic of the True Cross and the theologies of the cross of Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Ephrem the Syrian, which shaped later festal celebrations. The second chapter traces the development of the legend of Helena's Invention of the Cross and introduces the most popular Syriac invention legends, the Protonike and Judah Kyriakos legends. The third chapter analyses themes in pre-Arab Conquest Syriac homilies for the Feast of the Cross by Narsai, David Eskolaya, Jacob of Serugh, Severus of Antioch, and Pseudo-Chrysostom. The fourth chapter provides an overview of the dramatic changes of the seventh century during the reign of Heraclius and following the Arab Conquest. Chapter five compares inter-religious debate concerning the cross and crucifixion between Christians and Jews and between Christians and Muslims between the seventh and ninth centuries. Chapter six introduces John of Dara's homily for the Feast of the Cross, which uses the traditional themes, together with apologetic topics, to defend the veneration of the cross. Chapter seven explores the influence of John of Dara's homily on later Syrian Orthodox writers, Moshe bar Kepha and Dionysius bar Ṣalībī.
Supervisor: Taylor, David G. K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Feast of the Cross--Liturgy--History and criticism ; Holy cross--History of doctrines ; Church history--Primitive and early church ; ca. 30-600 ; Church history--Middle Ages ; 600-1500 ; Christianity and other religions--Islam ; Christianity and other religions--Judaism ; Apologetics