Dr Jennifer Griggs: Medieval Mysticism in Syriac

On Tuesday 10th January the Society was happy to host a lecture by Dr Jennifer Griggs entitled Medieval Mysticism in Syriac, based on her research for her recently published book Gregory Barhebraeus’ Mystical Hermeneutics of the Love of God in Dialogue with Islamic Tradition (Gorgias Press).



In the book Dr Griggs explores the mystical thought of Gregory Barhebraeus (1226-1286CE) and its contemporary relevance, to offer a reading of Barhebraeus’ mystical texts by bringing them into conversation with critical religious studies and the hermeneutical tradition of philosophy. Griggs emphasises the problem of conceptual categories for the academic study of mysticism, seeking to avoid traditional assumptions concerning ‘mysticism’ and attend to the particularity of ‘mystic’ traditions. Through this approach, she examines the mystical hermeneutics of the love of God developed by Barhebraeus, as a response to the elaboration of this theme by the Islamic theologian Abu Hamid al-GhazalI ( 1 OS 8-1111 CE), and as a resolution of the tensions between scholastics and ascetics within his own Syriac tradition.

Dr Jennifer Griggs pursued her doctoral research on Eastern Christian mysticism at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. As part of her postdoctoral work, Jennifer has worked on the interaction of Syriac Christianity with the late Avicennan tradition of philosophy in the Islamic East. She was a Visiting Fellow with the Centre for Religious Studies (CERES) in 2018, at the Ruhr Universität Bochum in Germany, and a Postdoctoral Fellow until 2021, with the Research Training Group Shaping Religious Difference: Pluralism in Christianity and Islam, at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. Jennifer is currently an occasional lecturer in interreligious and intercultural studies at the University of Osnabrück and works freelance for the British Institute for the Study of Iraq in London.

The lecture is now available to watch in full on the Society’s YouTube channel: