Jacob of Edessa and the Syriac Culture of His Day


Jacob of Edessa (c.640-708) is considered the most learned Christian of the early days of Islam. In all fifteen contributions to this volume, written by prominent specialists, the interaction between Christianity, Judaism, and the new religion is an important issue. The articles discuss Jacob’s biography as well as his position in early Islamic Edessa, and give a full picture of the various aspects of Jacob of Edessa’s life and work as a scholar and clergyman. Attention is paid to his efforts in the fields of historiography, correspondence, canon law, text and interpretation of the Bible, language and translation, theology, philosophy, and science. The book, which marks the 1300th anniversary of Jacob’s death, also contains a bibliographical clavis.
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Biographical Note

Bas ter Haar Romeny, Ph.D. (1997), Leiden University, is Professor of Old Testament and Eastern Christianity at Leiden University. He has published extensively on the biblical text and the history of its interpretation, including A Syrian in Greek Dress (Peeters, 1997) and The Peshitta: Its Use in Literature and Liturgy (Brill, 2006).

Review Quotes

"Le volume s' ouvre par une esquisse biographique de Jacques, où A. Salvesen introduit au contexte historique et aux diverses facettes de l'oeuvre que traitent ensuite, l'une après l'autre, les spécialistes les plus autorisés de chaque discipline: histoire et épistolographie (W. Witakowski, W. Adles, J. van Ginkel), droit canon (H.G.B. Teule, K.D. Jenner), exégèse et révision du texte biblique (R.J. Saley, A. Salvesen, B. ther Haar Romeny), grammaire (R. Talmon) et traduction (L. van Rompay), philosophie et science (H. Hugonnard-Roche, M. Wilks) et liturgie (B. Varghese)."
Isabelle Isebaert-Cauuet ( Le Museon)

Table of contents


Alison Salvesen (Oxford), ‘Jacob of Edessa’s Life and Work. A Biographical Sketch’

Robert Hoyland (St Andrews), ‘Jacob and Early Islamic Edessa’

Jacob as a historian and correspondent

Witold Witakowski (Uppsala), ‘The Chronicle of Jacob of Edessa’

William Adler (Raleigh, NC), ‘Jewish Pseudepigrapha in Jacob of Edessa’s Letters and Historical Writings’

Jan van Ginkel (Leiden), ‘Greetings to a Virtuous Man: The Correspondence of Jacob of Edessa’

Jacob as a jurist

Herman G.B. Teule (Nijmegen), ‘Jacob of Edessa and Canon Law’

Konrad D. Jenner (Leiden), ‘The Canons of Jacob of Edessa in the Perspective of the Christian Identity of His Day’

Jacob as an exegete and reviser of the Peshitta

Richard J. Saley (Harvard), ‘The Textual Vorlagen for Jacob of Edessa’s Revision of the Books of Samuel’

Alison Salvesen (Oxford), ‘Jacob of Edessa’s Version of 1-2 Samuel: Its Method and Text-Critical Value’

Bas ter Haar Romeny (Leiden), ‘Jacob of Edessa on Genesis: His Quotations of the Peshitta and his Revision of the Text’

Jacob as a grammarian and translator

The late Rafi Talmon, ‘Jacob of Edessa the Grammarian’

Lucas Van Rompay (Durham, NC), ‘Jacob of Edessa and the Sixth-Century Syriac Translator of Severus of Antioch’s Cathedral Homilies’

Jacob as a philosopher

Henri Hugonnard-Roche (Paris), ‘Jacob of Edessa and the Reception of Aristotle’

Marina Wilks (Exeter), ‘Jacob of Edessa’s Use of Greek Philosophy in his Hexaemeron’

Jacob and the liturgy

Baby Varghese (Kottayam), ‘The Anaphora of Saint James and Jacob of Edessa’


Dirk Kruisheer (Amsterdam), ‘A Bibliographical Clavis to the Works of Jacob of Edessa (Revised and Expanded)’



All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Late Antiquity, Eastern Christianity, Bible versions, as well as linguists, philosophers, theologians, and Syriac scholars.


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