image of REMIO Guest Lecture: The Image of Jews in Medieval Syriac Hagiography

REMIO Guest Lecture: The Image of Jews in Medieval Syriac Hagiography

CERES Palais, room "Ruhrpott" (4.13)

REMIO Guest Lecture by Alexei Muraviev (Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia)

Christian missionaries who carried out the task of bringing the Gospel to the distant lands of the Roman (and beyond-Roman) countries were on many occasions not the first to come there. Quite often they headed to places where Jewish emigrees lived already. There are three specific cases where it was clearly so.

The first was a story recorded in the hagiographic dossier of St Nino of Georgia, whose Invention of the Holy Vivifying Column was based on some Judeo-Christian memories of local Jewry. The second one is the story of the Indian journey of St Thomas who turned to out to find the would-be Cochin Jewish community while preaching on the Malabar Coast. The third occasion is of some later date but quite an eloquent one. Some local Jewish community on
both sides of the Red Sea played an important role in the construction of the Ethiopic identity. Some Jewish missionaries converted the king Du-Nuwas in Yemenite Himyar to Judaism.

At the same time Jewish communities were strongly reputed in Aksum for bringing there the Arc of the Covenant connected with the Solomonic legend of the Ethiopian kingship (reflected in the Kebra Negest). There is a similarity in all these stories pointing to some stream of emigrees prior to the Destruction of the Temple and making up the diasporal Jewish community.

The lecture series is sponsored by the RUB Research School and CERES.


Photograph of Prof. Dr. Zaroui Pogossian

Prof. Dr. Zaroui Pogossian