Thursday, August 6, 2020

Donations for Saint George Hospital, Beirut

From their website:

Dear Friends,
Saint George Hospital University Medical Center (SGHUMC), the first hospital in the region that has been serving people for more than 150 years now, sustained severe damages during the 4th of August explosion in Beirut. Since its formation SGHUMC has relied on the generous donations of its benefactors which enabled it to become a leading hospital in Lebanon, serving the entire Lebanese population. Most recently, SGHUMC has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. Following the recent ravaging explosion, the hospital was rendered non-operational and 160 inpatients had to be evacuated from the floors to the Emergency Room (ER) and then to their homes or to other hospitals. The 400-bed hospital who has always been providing high quality care was suddenly transformed into a field hospital providing urgent care to the injured on the floor using all available means, including rudimentary ones such as cell phones. The devastating loss hit the heart of SGHUMC. Four of our cherished nursing staff lost their lives, as they were getting on with their work. In addition, 12 patients and one visitor were also killed. More than 100 of our healthcare professionals, doctors, residents, nurses and administrative staff, sustained injuries ranging from mild to critical.

In order to resume its mission of providing excellent healthcare services to our community, a lot of work is needed on different levels of the hospital and the cost of this rehabilitation runs into an estimate of more than ten million US Dollars and may even reach twenty million.

Your prayers and support is highly appreciated. We sincerely hope that you will be able to help us realize this very worthy cause!


The Antiochian Archdiocese of North America's Collection for Beirut

By now, the world has seen videos of a mushroom cloud soaring over the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which explosions rocked today, August 4. People fled in terror, homes have been destroyed, and countless lives were ended or ruined. St. George Hospital in Beirut was without power and treating casualties in the darkness.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, leader of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, issued the following message:

“It is with a sense of shock and awe that I learned of the tragic explosions in Beirut today. I have been in contact with the Archdiocese of Beirut and am thankful that His Eminence Metropolitan Elias of Beirut is safe. At this moment, all of the clergy of his archdiocese are safe. However, churches in Beirut including St. George Cathedral in downtown and especially St. Nicholas Church in Ashrafiyah suffered severe damage. There was also significant damage to Metropolitan Elias’ archdiocesan headquarters as well as St. George Hospital. We will send out an immediate appeal to our parishes requesting funds to aid our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. If you want to give directly, please send your donations to the Archdiocesan Headquarters (P.O. Box 5238, Englewood, NJ 07631-5238) and put “Beirut” in the memo of the check. In the meantime, please keep all of our Lebanese brothers and sisters – and their families on this continent and overseas – in your prayers as they endure yet another tragedy and hardship in their history.”

Friday, July 24, 2020

Hasan Çolak: Catholic Infiltration in the Ottoman Levant and Responses of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates during the late 17th and early 18th Centuries

Catholic Infiltration in the Ottoman Levant and Responses of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates during the late 17th and early 18th Centuries


During the long reign of the French King Louis IV (1638-1715), there was a great influx of Catholic conversion activities among not only the Greek Orthodox flock, but also the hierarchs, including priests,  bishops and even patriarchs in the Ottoman Empire. The present paper focuses on two major fields: Firstly, it discusses the positive and negative reception of this Catholic infiltration among the Ottoman Christians in general, and the Greek Orthodox population and hierarchy in the Ottoman Empire in  particular. Secondly, it analyses the parallel policies that the Ottoman central administration, the Greek Orthodox lay elites and the Patriarchates came to follow after the catastrophic effects of the Catholic infiltration. The essay points out how the flourishing of Catholicism in the Ottoman Levant led to the formation of a new group by introducing the concept of patriarchal elites—in parallel to the lay elites— with close association with Istanbul, the core of ecclesiastical and political centre in the Ottoman Empire. In particular, it provides a discussion of the nature of the relations between the Patriarchs of Constantinople, and the Eastern Patriarchs in whose appointment the former began to take more determined role. In addition to the already-published sources, namely the reports written by Jesuit missionaries in the Levant, and Greek patriarchal documents, this essay brings to the fore unpublished and unused correspondence between the Ottoman central administration, and the Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria preserved in the Prime Ministerial Ottoman Archives in Istanbul.

Read the whole article here

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Retired Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregorius III on Hagia Sophia

Arabic original here.

Gregorius III Calls on Muslims to Reject the Turkish Court's Decision to Transform the Church of Hagia Sophia

Former Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, Gregory III commented on the decision to change the Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque, saying, "Today the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a decree opening the Hagia Sophia historical museum for Muslim to perform prayers following the Higher Administrative Court's ruling requiring that the Church of Hagia Sophia historical monument so that the Church of Hagia Sophia once more becomes a mosque, after having been a museum and shared world heritage since 1934, during the time of Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey. The church is a holy place and the mosque is a holy place. The church and the mosque are a place of prayer. We respect mosques just as we respect churches."

He continued, "But what is unfortunate is that the mosque will be a commodity and instrument for politics, a manifestation of chauvinism, a call for extremism and hatred between people and fellow-citizens, a cause for stirring up feelings and a reason for erecting psychological and nationalistic barriers between people.

Are we in need today of an additional church or an additional mosque, of thousands of mosques and churches? Or do we need to develop faith and love, solidarity, brotherhood, communication and mutual respect between people in Turkey or in any other place in the world? I address my words to my Muslim brothers whom I love, in our Arab countries and throughout the world. I call upon them with the feelings of mercy and compassion which fill the pages of the Noble Qur'an.... to be the first to reject this new situation on the basis of the values that Muslims and Christians hold in common in the comprehensive human rights document that His Holiness Pope Francis and the honorable sheikh of al-Azhar jointly signed."

He closed by calling "in particular on my Muslim brothers and fellow-citizens in Syria, Lebanon and our other Arab countries to reject this decree and to demand that the Turkish court's decision be cancelled. May the attitude of my Muslim brothers toward this decision be a building-block of love, compassion, respect and esteem among fellow-citizens in our blessed Arab nations. May this position be a pillar of support for the dialogue of religions and civilizations and for the building-up of the civilization of love to which our holy faith calls us."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

New Open-Access Book: Ambassadors, Artists, Theologians: Byzantine Relations with the Near East from the 9th to the 13th Centuries

Download it here.

Ambassadors, Artists, Theologians

Byzantine Relations with the Near East from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries

edited by Zachary Chitwood and Johannes Pahlitzsch

The authors of the collective volume Ambassadors, Artists, Theologians: Byzantine Relations with the Near East from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries examine the complex dynamic between the Byzantine Empire and the Near East. The contributions gathered here go beyond the tradition of histoire événementielle and clarify the transmission of artistic practices, ideas and interlocutors between Byzantium and the Islamic world. In this way, this volume attempts to nuance and contextualize our understanding of the relationship between these two medieval cultural zones.

Table of Contents: 

Zachary Chitwood, Johannes Pahlitzsch: Introduction
Asa Eger: The Agricultural Landscape of the Umayyad North and the Islamic-Byzantine Frontier
Ute Versteegen: How to Share a Sacred Place – The Parallel Christian and Muslim Use of the Major Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem
Robert Schick: The Christian Presence in Jordan in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries
Nicolas Drocourt: Arabic-speaking Ambassadors in the Byzantine Empire (from the Ninth to Eleventh Centuries)
Bettina Krönung: The Employment of Christian Mediators by Muslim Rulers in Arab-Byzantine Diplomatic Relations in the Tenth and Early Eleventh Centuries
Alexander Beihammer: Changing Strategies and Ideological Concepts in Byzantine-Arab Relations in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
Mat Immerzeel: Painters, Patrons, and Patriarchs Byzantine Artists in the Latin and Islamic Middle East of the Thirteenth Century
Lucy-Anne Hunt: The Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII (1261-1282) and Greek Orthodox / Melkite-Genoese Cultural Agency in a Globalised World: Art at Sinai, Behdaidat, of the pallio of San Lorenzo in Genoa, and in Mamluk Egypt
Elizabeth Dospěl Williams: Dressing the Part: Jewelry as Fashion in the Medieval Middle East
Alicia Walker: Pseudo-Arabic as a Christian Sign: Monks, Manuscripts, and the Iconographic Program of Hosios Loukas
Robert Hillenbrand: The Lure of the Exotic: The Byzantine Heritage in Islamic Book Painting
Benjamin de Lee: Niketas Byzantios, Islam, and the Aristotelian Shift in Ninth-century Byzantium
Alexander Treiger: Greek into Arabic in Byzantine Antioch: ʿAbdallāh ibn al-Faḍl’s »Book of the Garden« (Kitāb ar-rawḍa)
Sidney Griffith: Islam and Orthodox Theology in Arabic: The »Melkite« Tradition from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Open-access Articles from Chronos

Chronos, the history journal of the University of Balamand, has made all of its issues from 2008 to the present open-access online. This journal, which publishes in French, English and Arabic, is  useful for the history of the Levant and the broader Eastern Mediterranean, particularly during the Ottoman period. Below are links to some English-language articles that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

Rand Abou Ackl, The Construction of the Architectural Background in Melkite Annunciation Icons

Spyridoula Athanasopoulou-Kypriou, A Theological Commentary on the Idea of 'Greekness' of the Ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Antonios Chaldeos, The Greek Community in Tunis through 16th – 17th Centuries

Nicholas Coureas, The Syrian Melkites of the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus (1192-1474)

Ionana Feodorov, Rumanian Pioneers of Oriental Studies in the 18th Century: Dimitrie Cantemir and Ianache Văcărescu

Hilary Kilpatrick, From Venice to Aleppo: Early Printing of Scripture in the Orthodox World

Christoph Leonhardt, The Greek- and the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch in the context of the Syrian Conflict

Imad Rubeiz, Protestant Missionaries Perspectives on the Arab Orthodox and Orthodoxy at the Turn of the 20th Century 

Alexander Treiger, Unpublished Texts from the Arab Orthodox Tradition (1): On the Origin of the Term "Melkite" and On the Destruction of the Maryamiyya Cathedrale in Damascus

Alexander Treiger, Unpublished Texts from the Arab Orthodox Tradition (2): Miracles of St. Eustratius of Mar Saba (written ca. 860)

Alexander Treiger, Unpublished Texts from the Arab Orthodox Tradition (3): The Paterikon of the Palestinian Lavra of Mar Chariton

Monday, June 22, 2020

Met Antonius (el-Souri): Prophecy

Arabic original here.


"Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29)

Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit of the Lord, who sends the word of God down upon the lips of the prophet. The prophet only utters what he was inspired with. He says nothing from himself because he has no word apart from the word of the Most High-- "What the Lord says, that I must speak" (Numbers 24:13)-- which is active and effective-- "And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed" (Joshua 23:14).

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God chose the prophets and caused them to bear the message of the Most High. The Spirit of the Lord did not, afterwards, remain settled in man because the true man had not yet come into the world. The Holy Spirit dwells in Christ Jesus and those who are in Him  bear His Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit of the Lord came to be upon us and in us and us in Him...

"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy" (1Corinthians 14:1). Prophecy, in its essence, is living for the divine word and proclaiming it. It is the revelation of God's mysteries to the faithful to build them up and to build up the Church.

God's word builds man up in righteousness, truth, piety and love, since it calls upon man to depart from the path of evil, to abandon and reject thoughts of sin, and to walk in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord who speaks the commandment. The purpose of the word is man's salvation by guiding him along the path and revealing the secrets of spiritual warfare. It lifts the veil from the truth of existence so that man will not deceive himself and so that he will know the path that leads to eternal life.

The divine word is an icon of God and His living and active presence in those pronouncing it and hearing it, because "As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Without the spirit of prophecy, life in the Church and her witness in the world cannot be correct. The prophet does not fear and is not a respecter of persons because God's word is decisive, dividing truth from falsehood, light and darkness, good and evil... God sends it "To root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10). God does not endeavor to build in man on any foundation apart from His word. Everything that is not from God must be removed because the act of building must place its foundation on the rock that is Christ. Otherwise, it has no stability and cannot rise upwards...

Everyone who believes in God incarnate and everyone who has been baptized in the name of the Trinity has become a dwelling-place for God's Spirit. The desire of the Prophet Moses has been realized, since all of God's people have become prophets. But does anyone realize the magnitude of the grace that dwells within us Christians and the seriousness of the responsibility laid on our shoulders, which requires of us the love of the Trinity?! God has given us Himself by His divine, uncreated grace. His Word has dwelt among us in the Holy Spirit. We bear within ourselves the mystery of divinity as "in jars of clay" (2 Corinthians 4:7), so that we may know our own fragility and weakness, our tenacity and our strength all at once...

The Lord tells each one of us: "Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you" (Jeremiah 1:7-8). We must be obedient to the Spirit of the Lord within us by following the commandment to have an upright and pure heart and the Lord will send His word, fulfill it, and preserve His beloved who are faithful to Him...

He who can accept it, let him accept it.

Metropolitan of Zahle, Baalbek and their Dependencies