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The Formation Of A Communal Identity Among West Syrian Christians: Results And Conclusions Of The Leiden Project

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Chapter Summary

Among those who opposed the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the West Syrian Christians were probably least likely to form a national or ethnic community. In order to investigate the evidence for construction of a communal identity for the Syriac Orthodox Christians in the Leiden project, scholars from various disciplines were brought together in a programme. This chapter introduces their research project and methodology, and presents their results and conclusions. Three areas were considered especially fruitful for investigation: biblical interpretation, historiography, and art. The programme combined five different disciplines: religious studies, history, art history, philology, and social anthropology. The chapter discusses the theoretical background to the issue and then moves to the three groups of sources selected. Each source and its results are examined in detail. Finally, it presents a synthetic survey of the process of formation, maintenance, and renewal of identity among the Syriac Orthodox.

Keywords: biblical interpretation; communal identity; Leiden project; Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO; research project; West Syrian Christians



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