Philip Michael Forness, “Preaching and Religious Debate: Jacob of Serugh and the Promotion of His Christology in the Roman Near East,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2016.Excerpt:
My dissertation, “Preaching and Religious Debate,” investigates homilies as a source for understanding social history. The sermons of John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo contain a wealth of information about the places and contexts in which they preached. But this sets them apart from most extant homilies. Indeed, the homilies falsely attributed to Chrysostom and Augustine far outnumber their authentic works. These works were often written in non-classical languages and feature in the literature of a wide variety of eastern Christian communities. Scholars have little hope of finding the context of any one of these pseudonymous homilies.Cross-file under Syriac Watch
I seek to answer questions about the homiletical literature in general by focusing on these texts within Syriac literature. Syriac homilies from late antiquity provoke an exploration of the possibility of using sermons without a defined context as historical texts. Around seven hundred homilies authored in Syriac survive from the fourth through sixth centuries. Yet most have resisted efforts to identify their dates, locations, and liturgical settings. By attending to these texts, we are forced to confront the difficulty of interpreting the seemingly de-contextualized remains of most sermons from late antiquity.