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Department of Religions and Philosophies

Ms Jennifer Griggs



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Department of Religions and Philosophies

PHD Student

Ms Jennifer Griggs
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Thesis title:
Syrian Orthodox Barhebraeus in Dialogue with Islam: Understanding the ‘Love of God’ and the Hermeneutics of Mysticism.
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My PhD thesis focuses on the dialogue between Eastern Christian Monastics and Sufism. My focus is on the mystical texts of the Syrian Orthodox bishop Barhebraeus (1226-1286CE), whose writings provide both an inter- and intra-religious dialogical model from the thirteenth-century Christian East.

Barhebraeus overcame the pre-dominant trend of his tradition which had been to polemicise against Islam, to appreciate the contribution of the Islamic sciences to religious thought in the medieval period. His ecumenical attitude also allowed him to overcome the Christological divisions between that of his tradition and rival denominations of his time within the Christian East.

The particular contribution of Barhebraeus within the wider historical encounter of religious communities in this region, was to bring a dimension that was inherently dialogical with other religious traditions. This dialogue was facilitated by his understanding of the significance of the ‘love of God’ as a basis for the discourse about God in the tradition of the mystics.

PhD Publications

  • “John of Dalyatha: Mystic or Messalian?” - awaiting publication in the Proceedings of the Conference for the Syriac Symposium XI, for the journal Parole de l’Orient.
  • “‘Love of God’ as Revelation in the Mysticism of Gregory Bar Hebraeus”, in One in Christ, Vol. 47 No. 2 (Oxford, 2013).
  • “Beyond the polemics of Muslim-Christian Relations: a dialogical approach” in Transformation, Journal of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS), Vol. 30 No. 2 (SAGE Journals, 2013).

PhD Conferences

  • June 2012 - Presented ‘Bar Hebraeus’ Engagement with Islam: a Model Beyond Polemics’ at New Directions in RE Teaching, a Teacher Development held by the Department of the Study of Religions, SOAS.
  • May 2013 - Presented ‘Bar Hebraeus in Dialogue with Islam: the Hermeneutics of Mysticism’ at Postgraduate Research Seminar for the Study of Religions, SOAS.
  • May 2013 - Presented ‘Reading Bar Hebraeus’ mysticism as a dialogue of traditions’ at Christianity in Iraq X Seminar Day, SOAS.
  • July 2012 - Presented ‘John of Dalyatha: Mystic or Messalian?’ at Syriac Symposium XI, University of Malta, Malta.