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Sermon on Saint Thomas, the Beloved Apostle


A Syriac Catholic Panegyric from Seventeenth Century Malabar


Translation and Introduction by Radu Mustaţă
A study of a homily in praise of Saint Thomas, written in Syriac by a Catholic missionary. The homily, which is preserved in two manuscripts, is an important witness to the interaction between the Indian Syrian Christians and the Western Catholic missionaries.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-3902-2
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Apr 3,2019
Interior Color: Black with Color Inserts
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 122
Languages: English, Syriac
ISBN: 978-1-4632-3902-2
$78.65
$62.92
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This book examines an untitled panegyric sermon in praise of Saint Thomas the Apostle, composed by a Catholic missionary sometime after 1601. It belongs to the new missionary culture written in Syriac from Malabar, in the age surrounding the synod of Diamper (1599). The text is an expression of the Catholic missionary strategy of accommodatio. It reflects the ways in which the Catholic missionaries approached Syriac theological writing in the aftermath of the aforementioned synod, while involving themselves in disputes with their Eastern Syriac or Chaldean contenders. The sermon is the result of a complex blending of scriptural, Patristic and literary sources, both in Latin and Syriac, which are gathered together according to the classical canons of the encomiastic discourse. The author of the text brings into focus the exceptionality of Saint Thomas, invested with a quasi-messianic status (he is called “the Saviour of the Indians”), by putting together a rich exegetical and rhetorical apparatus, giving birth to a beautiful speculative and non-scholastic theological thinking.

This book examines an untitled panegyric sermon in praise of Saint Thomas the Apostle, composed by a Catholic missionary sometime after 1601. It belongs to the new missionary culture written in Syriac from Malabar, in the age surrounding the synod of Diamper (1599). The text is an expression of the Catholic missionary strategy of accommodatio. It reflects the ways in which the Catholic missionaries approached Syriac theological writing in the aftermath of the aforementioned synod, while involving themselves in disputes with their Eastern Syriac or Chaldean contenders. The sermon is the result of a complex blending of scriptural, Patristic and literary sources, both in Latin and Syriac, which are gathered together according to the classical canons of the encomiastic discourse. The author of the text brings into focus the exceptionality of Saint Thomas, invested with a quasi-messianic status (he is called “the Saviour of the Indians”), by putting together a rich exegetical and rhetorical apparatus, giving birth to a beautiful speculative and non-scholastic theological thinking.

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Contributor Biography

Radu Mustaţă

Radu Mustaţă is doctoral candidate in Medieval Studies at the Central European University (Budapest). He holds an MA in History and Medieval Studies from the same institution and a BA in Classical Philology from the University of Bucharest. He is also an associate researcher in the project Jews and Christians in the East: Strategies of Interaction between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, a European Research Council project at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

Table of Contents (v) 
Acknowledgments (vii) 
Introduction (1)
   Historical context (1) 
   The manuscripts in the context of Syriac Indian manuscript studies (6)
      Survey of previous research (7)
      Mannanam Syriacus 46 and Thrissur Syriacus 17 (9)
   The homily: sources, exegesis, elements of contextualization and authorship (11)
      Authorship (11) 
      Analysis of the biblical sources (12) 
      The other sources (20) 
      Exegesis and theological meaning (32) 
      Other elements of contextualization (37) 
      Possible author (40)
      Conclusion (45)
   Language (46)
      Lexical choice (46) 
      Morphosyntax and syntax (47) 
      Phonetics and orthography (49)
Homily in Praise of Saint Thomas: Edition of the Text (53) 
   Note on the edition of the text (53) 
   Abbreviations and conventional signs (55)
Homily in Praise of Saint Thomas: Translation (75)
References (91) 
   I. Sources (91)
      Manuscripts (91) 
      Editions and translations (91)
   II. Secondary literature (94)
Appendix (97) 
   Appendix 1: Description and cataloging of Codex Mannanam Syriacus 46 by István Perczel (97) 
   Appendix 2: Description and cataloging of Codex Thrissur Syriacus 17 (103)

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