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Document Details :

Title: Logicising Ecclesiastical Conflicts
Subtitle: The Synod of Ḥenanīshō' II (775) and the Aristotelian Vogue among East Syrian Scholars
Author(s): BERTI, Vittorio
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 72    Issue: 3-4   Date: 2020   
Pages: 203-215
DOI: 10.2143/JECS.72.3.3288665

Abstract :
The Synod of Ḥenanīshō‘ II (775 CE) was held at a moment of transition for the Church of the East during the first Abbassid age. The new ruling dynasty had moved the political heart of Islam from Hellenistic Syria into the native space of the Church of the East. The Christians of Iraq for the first time were placed at the centre of an empire that extended from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, from Arabia to Central Asia. In this context, the cultural competences required to administrate and structure such an empire, opened a political space in which East Syrian scholars could gain public legitimacy because of their literary and scientific skills. In this perspective, the strongly hellenizing attitude that Syriac Christian elites cultivated in their monasteries and schools since the 6th century, in particular the study of the Aristotelian logic, became one of the main ways of gaining not only social prestige outside the Church, but also ecclesiastical recognition and hegemony. This cultural dynamics could explain the application of an emphatic logical jargon in the text of the Synod of Ḥenanīshō‘ II. The ecclesiastical assembly electing him was held after a long vacancy of the patriarchal seat of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Two main factions opposed each other. The text of the synod, handed down to us in the Synodicon Orientale, reflects a complex work of editing documents directed at settling contrasting ecclesiastical groups by a superimposed hermeneutical grid of logical matrix. This contribution aims to explain the meaning and relevance of this logical grid, by clarifying the strategy of the synod and presenting an example of a practical and political application of logical language and reasoning among Syriac speaking elites.