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Everett, Nevsky James (2021) 'A Place of the Shekinah': Contextualising Isaac of Nineveh's Homily on the Cross in the Religious Cosmography of Late Antique Mesopotamia. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00035671

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Abstract

Isaac is often portrayed in scholarly literature as a monk who eschewed controversy. However, this thesis explores the polemical themes with which Isaac engaged. His homily on the cross (II. XI) is influenced by a long tradition of anti-pagan and anti-Jewish writing defending cross veneration. He uses these same tropes against the Messalians, reflecting a theological controversy prevalent in his own day. Likewise, II. XI becomes a locus for Isaac’s Christological thought, which has been misinterpreted in modern times. He was from Beth Qatraye, and recent work has highlighted the region’s intellectual vibrancy in the seventh century. Isaac’s thought on the cross and cross veneration has close parallels with the writings of two contemporaries, Dadisho and Gabriel Qatraya, situating him in this context. His understanding of the mystical ascent in prayer, for which cross veneration is an important part, is also reflected in the Jewish mystical tradition represented in Apocalyptic literature, and in the Hekhalot texts. Isaac’s writing on the cross can also be seen in the context of Christian engagement with Zoroastrian ideas in the late-Sassanian period. His emphasis on divine love for creation and the power of the cross over nature parallel wider Christian challenges to Zoroastrian cosmology. This thesis demonstrates the ways that Isaac responds to a range of theological currents present in Late Antique Mesopotamia, and identifies him as a significant theological and polemical writer.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Catherine Hezser
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00035671
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 10:02
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/35671

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