Narsai: Rethinking His Work and His World

Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni & Visitors Center
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah
June 22–23, 2017


East Conference Room
Chair: Kristian S. Heal, BYU

9:00—Welcome & Session One

Adam Becker (New York University)
“Names in Fervent Water: Ritual and the Mediating Power of the Divine Name in Narsai’s Memre”

Ellen Muehlberger (University of Michigan)
“Extraordinary Conceptions: Insemination and Theories of Reproduction in Narsai’s Thought”


11:00—Session Two

Jeff Childers (Abilene Christian University)
“In Search of Jesus: Performative Christology in Narsai’s Memre on Baptism”

Ute Possekel (Harvard Divinity School)
“The Baptism of Jesus in the Theology of Narsai”


Catered lunch in the conference center
Presentation on digital tools for the study of Narsai

2:30—Session Three

Craig Morrison (The Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, Italy)
“Narsai’s Understanding of the Human Person”

Eva Rodrigo (Universidad Eclesiástica San Dámaso)
“Painting Metaphors as a Means of Theological Expression in Narsai”


4:30—Session Four

Daniel Becerra (Duke University)
“Exegesis, Askesis, and the Other: Narsai’s Homily on the Parable of the Ten Virgins

Robert Kitchen (Minister [Retired], Knox-Metropolitan United Church, Regina, Saskatchewan)
“The Ascetic Narsai: Ascetical and Monastic Practice and Theology in the Mēmrē of Narsai”




Executive Board Room
Chair: Aaron M. Butts (The Catholic University of America)

9:00—Session Five

Kelli Gibson (Abilene Christian University)
“Narsai’s Memra for the Feast of the Cross: An Early Syriac Apologia Crucis”

James E. Walters (Rochester College)
“Where Soul Meets Body: Bodily Sensation and the Sleep of the Soul in Aphrahat and Narsai”


11:00—Session Six

Jeremy Brown (The Catholic University of America)
“Symbols and Serpents: Homilies by Narsai and Jacob of Serugh on the Bronze Serpent”

Erin Walsh (Duke University)
“‘How the Weak Rib prevailed against the might of Demons!’: Female Biblical Figures in Narsai’s Poetry”


Catered lunch in the conference center

2:30—Session Seven

Kristian S. Heal (Brigham Young University)
“Narsai’s Memra on Joseph in its Literary Context”

Philip Forness (Goethe University, Frankfurt)
“The Construction of Metrical Poetry in the Homilies of Narsai and Jacob of Serugh”


4:30—Session Eight

Round Table Discussion




Kristian S. Heal, Brigham Young University
Aaron Butts, Assistant Professor of Semitic Languages, The Catholic University of America
Robert Kitchen, Minister (Retired), Knox-Metropolitan United Church, Regina, Saskatchewan