SOAS University of London

Visiting Distinguished Scholar of Syriac

16 May 2014
Fr Dr Behnam

Dr. Erica C D Hunter, Senior Lecturer in Eastern Christianity, and co-chair of the Centre of World Christianity has been very pleased to welcome Father Dr. Behnam Moussa Paulos Sony, Lecturer at St. Ephrem’s Seminary at Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq. Father Dr. Sony has come for a 2-month stay under the sponsorship of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI). Father Dr. Sony was educated in Mosul, before leaving for the Lebanon and then completing his education in Rome where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the 6th century West Syrian theologian, Jacob of Serug. A distinguished scholar of Syriac, Father Dr. Sony’s many publications include several volumes on the homilies and letters of Jacob of Serug, as well as a history of Qaraqosh, from the 7th to the end of the 19th centuries using Syriac, Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script) and Arabic sources. In addition, Father Dr. Sony has published many catalogues of Syriac manuscripts held both at Qaraqosh, as well as in other monasteries in Iraq, including the Domenican convent in Mosul and the monastery of Mar Behnam. With the vicissitudes that have beset Iraq since 2003, which has caused much cultural destruction and dissipation of the ancient Christian communities, these works invaluably augment our knowledge of Christianity in northern Mesopotamia. Whilst in London, Father Dr. Behnam is researching the collection of Syriac manuscripts in the British Library where he is also learning digitizing technology. A workshop in his honour, Christians in Syria and Iraq today: facing the challenges was held at SOAS on Monday 28th April with papers presented by Dr. Hratch Tchilingirian (University of Oxford), Dr. Naures Atto (University of Cambridge), Dr. Suha Rassam, Dr. Anthony O’Mahony (Heythrop College) and Mar Polycarpus, Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar for the Netherlands of the Syrian Orthodox Church.