Abilene Campus (Residential)
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Committee Chair or Primary Advisor
Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor
Third Committee Member or Committee Reader
Late antique Syriac Christianity has been noted for the prevalence of nuanced, sympathetic, and overall positive depictions of biblical women, especially in comparison to the depictions in non-Syriac sources. These positive depictions, however, are not written by Syriac authors as ends in and of themselves but because biblical women’s stories furnish appropriate vehicles for demonstrating various theological commitments. In this thesis I will argue that biblical women’s stories are especially useful to Late Antique Syriac authors as a means to demonstrate one of their foundational christological commitments: the paradoxical coexistence of revelation and hiddenness within the nature of Christ.
To demonstrate the efficacy of narratives of biblical women for illustrating christological commitments, I will analyze the interpretations of three biblical women as they are interpreted by two significant Syriac authors, Ephrem the Syrian and Jacob of Sarug. I will consider Tamar in Genesis 38 as interpreted in Jacob of Sarug’s homily “On Tamar,” the Samaritan woman of John 4 as she appears in Ephrem’s “Hymns on Virginity” 22 and 23, and the virgin Mary as presented in Ephrem’s “Hymns on the Nativity” and Jacob’s collection of homilies On the Mother of God. This study will analyze the imagery, language, and strategies used by Syriac authors to connect the polarities and incongruities of these particular women’s stories with similar polarities in the character of Christ. It will observe the ways in which those strategies are specifically gendered and what implications they have for twenty-first century understandings of the place of women in Syriac-speaking Christian society in Late Antiquity. The primary aim of this thesis, however, is to analyze how these presentations of biblical women demonstrate Syriac Christology, especially with regard to Christ’s paradoxical hiddenness and revelation.
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Biddy, Penelope, "Christological Implications of Biblical Women in Late Antique Syriac Christianity" (2022). Digital Commons @ ACU, Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 451.