The articles in this volume are concerned with the literary responses of the Syriac communities in the Middle East to the drastic political changes of the 7th and 8th centuries, in particular the Persian occupation of the eastern provinces of Byzantium under Khusrau II, and the Islamic conquests and Umayyad rule. Several studies discuss the influential Syriac works concerning Alexander the Great written shortly after AD 628, which present the Byzantine emperor Heraclius as a new Alexander; attention is given to their polemical and propagandistic functions, and to their influence on early apocalyptic texts which respond to the Arab conquests and 'Abd al-Malik's religious propaganda at the end of the 7th century. Other studies deal with the beginnings of Syriac apologetic literature in response to early Islam, discussing texts of the first decades of the 8th century. The remaining articles focus on the religious controversies in the East Syrian community in connection with the increasing political influence of the Syrian Orthodox in Persia by the end of the 6th and the beginning of the seventh century, and the after-effects of Syriac anti-Islamic apologetics in a medieval encyclopedic text.
Dr G.J. Reinink is Associate Professor at the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Middle East, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.
Contents: Preface; 'Edessa grew dim and Nisibis shone forth': the School of Nisibis at the transition of the 6th-7th century; Babai the Great's Life of George and the propagation of doctrine in the late Sasanian empire; Die Entstehung der syrischen Alexanderlegende als politisch-religiAse Propagandaschrift fA1/4r Herakleios' Kirchenpolitik; Pseudo-Ephraems 'Rede A1/4ber das Ende' und die syrische eschatologische Literatur des siebenten Jahrhunderts; Pseudo-Methodius and the pseudo-Ephremian 'Sermo de Fine Mundi'; Alexander the Great in 7th-century Syriac 'apocalyptic' texts; Paideia: God's design in world history according to the East Syrian monk John bar Penkaye; Pseudo-Methodius und die Legende vom rAmischen Endkaiser; Ps.-Methodius: a concept of history in response to the rise of Islam; Der edessenische 'Pseudo-Methodius'; The Romance of Julian the Apostate as a source for 7th century Syriac apocalypses; Early Christian reactions to the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; The beginnings of Syriac apologetic literature in response to Islam; Die Muslime in einer Sammlung von DAmonengeschichten des Klosters von Qennesrin; The lamb on the tree: Syriac exegesis and anti-Islamic apologetics; An early Syriac reference to Qur'an 112?; Communal identity and the systematisation of knowledge in the Syriac 'cause of all causes'; Addenda and corrigenda; Index.