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e-Gorgias (Issue 30, June/July 2008)


Issue 30
June/July 2008
Reading Time: 13 minutes

Summer is half over and in this newsletter we announce many new titles for some summer and back to school reading. We are also very excited about the histroic publication project of The Chronicle of Michael Rabo that came into fruition during the Jacob of Edessa conference for which we need your support. To find out more about how to support this momentous project please check out the News section below.


  • Recently Released: Our latest titles
  • Coming Soon: Forthcoming titles from Gorgias Press
  • From the Acquisitions Desk: By Acquisitions Editor Steve Wiggins
  • News: Publication of the Chronicle of Michael Rabo
  • Gorgias Enthusiast: Stephen Thomas
  • Reviews: Lieve M. Teugels and Rivka Ulmer, Midrash and Context: Proceedings of the 2004 and 2005 SBL Consultation on Midrash; Naomi Graetz, S/He Created Them: Feminist Retellings of Biblical Stories and Unlocking The Garden: A Feminist Jewish look at the Bible, Midrash and God; Sebastian Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition
  • Conferences: Aram Society



Gorgias press is pleased to announce the availability of the following:


Jacob of Sarug's Homily on the Judgment of Solomon
By Stephen A. Kaufman

ISBN 978-1-59333-972-2
Paperback, $38

This volume gives a bilingual Syriac-English edition of Saint Jacob of Sarug’s homily on the Judgment of Solomon. The Syriac text is fully vocalized, and the translation is annotated with a commentary and biblical references. The volume constitutes a fascicle of Gorgias’s Complete Homilies of Saint Jacob of Sarug.

The Qatal//Yiqtol (Yiqtol//Qatal) Verbal Sequence in Semitic Couplets
By Silviu Tatu

ISBN 978-1-59333-958-6
Hardback, $138

The book investigates the qatal//yiqtol (yiqtol//qatal) verbal sequence, previously known as ‘tense shifting’, as found in couplets of the Hebrew Psalter, attempting an innovatory explanation by means of M.A.K. Halliday’s Systemic Theory. Examples from Ugaritic poetry are also provided.

A Comparison of Ancient Near Eastern Law Collections Prior to the First Millennium BC
By Samuel Jackson

ISBN 978-1-59333-221-1
Hardback, $115

This work sets out to compare the pre-first millennium BC law collections of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Hatti. By highlighting and explaining consistent differences in both framing and content it questions the notion of a uniform ancient Near Eastern legal culture.

The Life of Severus by Zachariah of Mytilene
By Lena Ambjörn

ISBN 978-1-59333-841-1
Paperback, $52

This biography ofSeverus, the patriarch of Antioch 512-518 AD, gives unique information about life in Mediterranean region in the second half of the 5th century. It is an important source for studies on Late Antiquity and the early History of Christianity.

The Military Consilium in Republican Rome
By Pamela Delia Johnston

ISBN 978-1-59333-373-7
Hardback, $99

The consilium, or advisory council, played an important role in the everyday activities of the Roman magistrate in his role as military commander. This work is an in-depth look at the commander's consilium from its first depicted appearances in the accounts of the legendary period to 31 BC. The concilium adapted to meet changing needs and serves to illustrate how Romans felt about their own society. The role of the commander's consilium can be seen as a pragmatic compromise between the desire for competent leadership and personal ambition on the one hand, and the Romans' ever-present fear of tyrannical behavior on the other hand.

Homer and the Bronze Age
By Peter Karavites

ISBN 978-1-59333-985-2
Hardback, $107

This scholarly and up-to-date investigation of Bronze Age and Near Eastern literature and Homer’s poetry reveals fascinating similarities between Near Eastern and Homeric Diplomatic Practices and the enduring influence of Humanistic Ideals on Bronze Age customs and practices.

The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East
By A. Leo Oppenheim

ISBN 978-1-59333-733-9
Hardback, $112

Oppenheim’s foundational study on dreams and their interpretation in the Ancient Near East has long been a standard text for those interested in the role of dreams in the ancient world. With a new introduction by Scott Noegel, this edition presents the complete original study along with its photographs, as well as insights concerning how the book has fared over the past fifty years.

The Ethics of Violence in the Story of Aqhat
By Chloe Sun

ISBN 978-1-59333-975-3
Hardback, $109

This book examines the ethics of violence in the Ugaritic story of Aqhat by using the conventions of characterization and point of view. The multiple perspectives on Anat's act of violence present a complex and nuanced understanding of the subject in question.


We are excited to announce that the following titles will soon be in print:

Click here for a complete list of our soon-to-be-published books.


An Anthology of Arab Wit and Wisdom By Rifaat (In Collaboration with Michael M.J. Young) Ebied
This anthology of Wit and Wisdom is a small drop from a deep ocean – that of the rich aphoristic and proverbial literature of the Arabs. It comprises five hundred items, ranging from the seventh to the twentieth centuries, and is organized under a number of headings which provide a broad classification of the subject matter.
ISBN 978-1-59333-396-6, Hardback, $46

The Coups of Hazael and Jehu By D. Matthew Stith
This study engages biblical, archaeological, and historical scholarship, along with recent developments in the philosophy and methodology of history, to present a narrative reconstruction of the rise of Hazael and Jehu to the thrones of Israel and Aram-Damascus.
ISBN 978-1-59333-833-6, Hardback, $95 

Aphrahat the Persian Sage and the Temple of God By Stephanie K. Skoyles Jarkins
This books examines Aphrahat the Persian Sage’s views of asceticism, sacramental theology, Christology, and ecclesiology and concludes that Aphrahat, a mid-fourth century Christian author, uses themes with ancient roots, including Merkabah traditions of the temple and applies these traditions to the Christian experience of God.
ISBN 978-1-59333-679-0, Hardback, $115

Divine Contingency: Theologies of Divine Embodiment in Maximos the Confessor and Tsong kha pa By Thomas Cattoi
The purpose of this work is to explore the distinct notions of divine embodiment developed by Maximos the Confessor (580-662), one of the greatest Greek Fathers, and Tsong kha pa (1357-1419), arguably the most important thinker in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
ISBN 978-1-59333-970-8, Hardback, $105 

United States and Two Gulf Wars By Lester H. Brune
This incisive study by historian Lester Brune examines the background and implications of these events. Considering the late twentieth-century involvement of the United States in Iraq, Brune discusses the policy of containment and the decision to go to war a second time in the region in the twenty-first century. He traces the situation up to the creation of an Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein’s capture and trial. The continuing implications of the wars are also analyzed.
ISBN 978-1-59333-591-5, Hardback, $127 

L’église des deux Alliances By Andrei Orlov, Madeleine Petit, eds. Basil Lourié
The volume explores the influence of Jewish apocalyptic and priestly calendars on early Christian calendrical teachings and chronologies including the conflicting chronologies for the Passion Week in the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John.
ISBN 978-1-59333-083-5, Hardback, $108

A Comparison of Ancient Near Eastern Law Collections Prior to the First Millennium BC By Samuel Jackson
This work sets out to compare the pre-first millennium BC law collections of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Hatti. By highlighting and explaining consistent differences in both framing and content it questions the notion of a uniform ancient Near Eastern legal culture.
ISBN 978-1-59333-221-1, Hardback, $115 

The History of the Holy Mar Ma‘in with a Guide to the Persian Martyr Acts: Fascicle 1 By Sebastian Brock
The History of Holy Mar Ma‘in of Sinjar tells the story of a Sasanian general during the time of Shapur II (309-79) who suffered persecution after his conversion to Christianity. Composed probably in the sixth century, this text is of a higher literary quality than most of the other texts describing martyrdoms under Shapur I. In this volume, the first in this new series from Gorgias Press, Sebastian P. Brock provides the first edition ever of the Syriac text of the History of Ma‘in as well as the first full translation of it. This volume also includes a basic guide to the whole corpus of Persian Martyr Acts as well as useful indices to these numerous texts.
ISBN 978-1-59333-222-8, Paperback, $51.04 

The Holy Spirit in the Syrian Baptismal Tradition By Sebastian Brock
A fitting contribution to Gorgias Liturgical Studies, Sebastian Brock’sHoly Spirit in the Syrian Baptismal Tradition is a sensitive and evocative treatment of an issue key to any liturgical tradition—that of the role of the Holy Spirit in worship. With a keen awareness of the tradition of Syrian Christianity, Brock begins his exploration with the concept and the role of the Holy Spirit in the Syriac Bible.Symbols of the Spirit, the sources used to glean this information, and how it ties in with the Eucharist and Pentecost, as well as baptism itself and the subsequent practice of anointing.
ISBN 978-1-59333-844-2, Hardback, $58 



Acquisitions sometimes means more than the acquisitions of books! Over the past several months, Gorgias Press has been expanding its network of competent and enthusiastic series editors for our recently established collections. For the already launched and inaugurated series Deities and Angels of the Ancient World, Dr. Steven W. Holloway of ATLA has agreed to take the editorial helm. With its first title already in production, Conflict and Trade (originally entitled Conflict and Trade in the Middle East) has grown in scope and depth with the addition of Dr. Maya Shatzmiller of the University of Western Ontario taking editorial charge of the series. Gorgias author Aho Shemunkasho is heading up a new series entitled Bibliotheca Nisibinensis. We value the breadth and experience of our new editors and welcome them to our enterprise!

If you are working on a project that might fit into one of these series, you may contact either the series editor directly or the staff at the home office. The summer is a great time to get immediate attention for manuscript proposals! Several new books have appeared on our website over the past few weeks, so don’t forget to take out some time for quality summer reading!

Steve Wiggins, Acquisitions Editor



Support the publication of the Chronicle of Michael Rabo

<PALIGN=JUSTIFY>Last month, during a Symposium  on Mar Jacob of Edessa held in Aleppo, the Edessan Community—for the first time in history—gave permission for the publication of the History of Michael Rabo, in a special arrangement with Dr. Sebastian Brock and Dr. George A. Kiraz. The community possesses the only manuscript of this history. No scholar in the past was given access and publication permission. But with the efforts of the Edessan community and wise management of Bishop Mar Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim, permission was granted last month. Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim himself will edit this volume. He;wrote to George Kiraz saying:




Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim with the Manuscript

Bishop Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim and the custodians with the manuscript.


It was one of the shortest and most important decisions in my life, that of the publication of the Chronicle of Mor Michael Rabo. I consider it one of the miracles of Mor Yacoub d'Urhoy, this great malfono and saint. He was behind the decision for this publication. It is after almost 500 years that this manuscript is kept in different places. Now the scholars and all those who are interested in this chronicle will enjoy this decision and be happy that our Symposium in Aleppo prompted the Archdiocese to publish this manuscript for the first time.

God Bless

Mar Gregorios

This Chronicle is a world history. It starts from creation and goes on until the 12th century (when its author Patriarch Michael the Great died). The 13th century polymath Bar Ebroyo used it as a source in his history. It indeed one of the most historical records of the Syriac church.


Gorgias agreed to help in this project, but we need to raise funds for it. There is no way for us to recoup publication costs by selling the book. Only printing-and-binding will cost $25,000 to $30,000.  But we are determined to do the project as community service. I hope you will also help by contributing to this project.


All contributors will be acknowledged in the book, and will receive free copies of the book. We set up 3 levels of contribution: Silver (you get 1 free copy), Gold (you get 3 free copies), and Platinum (you get 5 free copies).


Please help us make this historical book available for the first time in history. I appreciate it if you can take action. Go to this link to help:


The Chronicle of Patriarch Michael Rabo Support

Silver Contribution- $500 (1 free copy)
Gold Contribution- $1000 (3 free copies)Platinum Contribution- $2000 (5 free copies)


The Chronicle (or History) of Michael Rabo is one of the most important historical records of the Syriac Orthodox Church. There is only one copy of this History, written 500 years ago in Edessa. The Syriac Orthodox community of Edessa took care of this copy for about 500 years. When in 1923 the entire community had to leave Edessa after Sayfo—leaving their homes, Churches and possessions— they kept the Chronicle of Michael Rabo with them. Today, this copy is still preserved by the Edessan community in Hay al-Syrian, Aleppo.


Stephen Thomas, author of Deification in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Biblical Perspective

I got to know Gorgias as a customer. I have a great love of Syriac/Aramaic and Gorgias makes available some wonderful books. In this I am an enthusiastic amateur. I learnt Syriac with John Healy at Durham, when he was there in the Dept. of Oriental languages - when I should have been concentrating upon my doctorate, I suppose. I had always wanted to read St Ephraim and St Isaac the Syrian and there are reasonably-priced Gorgias editions of these; for example I never thought that I would be able to have a personal copy of St. Isaac's Ascetical Homilies, Bedjan's edn. being a rare book.

I have also since had the opportunity to get to know Gorgias as an author. I was in retirement from my academic position (Dogmatics, Systematic & Historical Theology) after cancer and started to think about Scripture (I had always kept up my Greek and Hebrew) in relation to the Eastern Orthodox teachings about the experience of God. There are no specialist biblical experts whose tradition is the Eastern Orthodox one; almost all the scholars write about patristics and one has to approach Scriptures via patristics. Why not be more direct about it, I thought, and try to write simply and clearly as possible for a wide audience?

But biblical studies was not my academic field. Academics are great 'respecters of persons' and often they ask not whether a person presented a truthful argument or good research but rather 'Who are they, I don't know him/her, [s]he's not part of our clique.' I needed a press that would give me a chance. Gorgias was refreshingly straightforward to deal with and was very encouraging during the development and production of my book.

The Deification book is really only stage one. My next step is to answer the hard questions about suffering re, deification, and lastly to show how Orthodox deification is in the broadest possible sense 'sacramental', that is, the uncreated person and their energies are known to us through the concrete, through history. Orthodoxy is the most sacramental of all forms of Christianity, even more than Catholicism. I think that the Bible, taken as a whole, is sacramental and also that it presents the sacramentality of the way God reveals himself. That the Bible leads to a sacramental view of our Christian lives will be a surprise to some Protestants but I hope to surprise them and show that things can be viewed differently.

My ambition is to write clearly. I admire the bone-clear styles of the late 17C (Bunyan in esp.Pilgrim's progress) and 18C: Swift and Addison are my teachers, although they are too complex to imitate. {'He [sic] who wd. master the English sentence must spend his days - and his nights - on the volumes of Addison.' Sam Johnson} Although I will not write like them, reading and studying them has helped me to start cleaning up the often very dense style that a theologian is supposed to adopt (and many do just that!). The heroes are writers like F. F. Bruce. I feel that Gorgias press is open to this deconstruction of the magisterial theological style.

For me, theology has to be alive, and is painfully so to me. My career was cut short by illness, when I came to theology late in any case. I continue to suffer and have to work during periods of illness. And so the issue of suffering in both an intellectual problem and a personal search.


Deification in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Biblical Perspective
By Stephen Thomas

ISBN 978-1-59333-324-9
Hardback, $102

A popularly-written study of the biblical roots of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s mystical understanding of the knowledge of God. This unique study brings together the best of contemporary exegesis with the tradition of Eastern Christianity and illustrates the biblical roots of the Eastern Church's understanding of grace as the energy of God. The book presents, in lay terms, the shape for an Orthodox biblical theology for the 21st century and will be of interest to all Christians for whom the Bible is divine revelation and for whom tradition continues to be creative.

The Platonic Theology of Ioane Petritsi
By Levan Gigineishvili

ISBN 978-1-59333-395-9
Hardback, $99

Gigineishvili’s study is a comprehensive exposition of the philosophical system of twelfth-century Georgian Christian Neoplatonist philosopher Ioane Petritsi. Petritsi translated and commented Proclus’ "Elements of Theology" – the first complete translation of this treatise ever made. The translation needed the creation of a philosophic language—a medium for transmitting the extravagant philosophic ideas into Georgian—which Petritsi had effectively achieved. Petritsi both explains intricacies of Proclus’ thought and tries to prove the basic affinity between the Platonic and the Biblical traditions. Gigineishvili exposes the entire system of Petritsi’s thought on a background of ideas of Proclus, other Neoplatonists, and of the Church Fathers.

Syriac and Antiochian Exegesis and Biblical Theology for the 3rd Millennium
By Robert D. Miller (ed.)

ISBN 978-1-59333-487-1
Hardback, $98

This volume of collected essays explores the exegesis of the patristic School of Antioch, the Syriac Church Fathers, and the churches of the Antiochian-Syriac traditions. This exegetical tradition can be of use in today's historical-critical biblical scholarship with relation to theology.

Eastern Crossroads: Essays on Medieval Christian Legacy
By Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala

ISBN 978-1-59333-610-3
Hardback, $128

This volume contains papers from the First International Congress on Eastern Christianity held in Córdoba, Spain, November 2005. The encounter of medieval Christian writers with several linguistic traditions through the Middle Ages produced one of the most important branches of Middle Eastern literature. This encounter not only changed the nature of the respective writings throughout time, but also influenced considerably the development of the legacies transmitted by the writers and the scholars of various Eastern Christian churches. The volume illustrates the strength of Christian cultural life through the Middle Ages under different socio-political situations, including the context of a predominantly Islamic culture.


Review of Teugels, Lieve M., and Rivka Ulmer, eds. Midrash and Context: Proceedings of the 2004 and 2005 SBL Consultation on Midrash by Alex P. Jasson in RBL05/2008

"...on the whole this volume represents some of the best recent scholarship on midrash. The grouping of the papers according to their original session themes ensures the intellectual coherence of the collection. In particular, this volume is a wonderful contribution to the renewed interest in critical comparison of early Jewish and Christian biblical interpretation. "


"...the volume contains many significant contributions to the study of midrash. ...several break new ground (or revisit long fallow ground) in midrash studies and can be employed for further analysis of related scholarly trajectories. The editors are to be congratulated for producing an important volume and continuing to direct a vibrant conversation on midrash at the SBL meetings.

Review of Naomi Graetz S/He Created Them: Feminist Retellings of Biblical Stories and Unlocking the Garden: A Feminist Jewish look at the Bible, Midrash and God by Fran Snyder.

According to Snyder, "Naomi Graetz’s midrashim and expansions of the biblical text are personal and academic, and we must be grateful to her on both counts. ... Graetz sets before us an exemplary model of midrash contemporaneous to our times."

Commenting on Graetz's work in Unlocking the Garden, Snyder writes: "The book's most interesting contribution is “The Barrenness of Miriam: A Midrash on the Haftara Of Ki Tetzeh (Isaiah 54).” I heard Graetz present this midrash in March 2006 at a session of the Jewish Feminist Research Group, A Project of the Women’s Studies Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and I have prepared it for classroom use. It is notable for its adherence to rabbinic midrashic form and for Graetz’s straightforward selfconsciousness in its creation and presentation. Hers is self-consciousness in its most admirable expression: aware, deliberate, honest, and careful. She knows the ancient midrash, how it’s constructed, the rhythm of its language, the painstaking word play that juxtaposes disparate biblical verses in order to yield meanings across texts."

Review of Sebastian Brock, The Bible in the Syriac Tradition in Review of Biblical Literature by H. F. van Rooy

"This book is published in the series Gorgias Handbooks by Gorgias Press, a publisher well-known for its contribution to the field of Syriac studies. The author is the retired Reader in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford and one of the most important scholars in the field of Syriac studies."

Van Rooy recommends the book as "a valuable addition to works on the Bible in Syriac. It can serve as a very good introduction for students and people working in other fields who would like to know more about the Bible in Syriac."

"What is very helpful at the end of this book is the extensive bibliography dealing with editions of the Bible in Syriac, tools, translations, studies, lectionaries, exegesis, and reception history."

Midrash and Context
By Lieve Teugels,

ISBN 978-1-59333-582-3
Hardback, $98

A collection of seven groundbreaking essays on Rabbinic midrash and related texts by a new generation of erudite scholars combining the themes of the 2004 and 2005 SBL midrash sessions: “Jewish and Christian Hermeneutics” and “Midrash and Cultural Studies,” this book is a must have for clergy, students, scholars, and laypersons interested in deepening their understanding of Rabbinic and Patristic biblical interpretation.

S/He Created Them
By Naomi Graetz

ISBN 1-59333-057-X
Paperback, $38

A contemporaneous and religiously meaningful retelling of biblical stories by a feminist who looks at intimate lives of people inhabiting the Bible. She rediscovers a past in which biblical women actively participated and suggests women’s leadership might lead to a better world.

Unlocking the Garden: A Feminist Jewish Look at the Bible, Midrash, and God
By Naomi Graetz

ISBN 1-59333-058-8
Hardback, $58

A stirring collection of fifteen articles, many of which have been previously published by the author who is a feminist Jew. The author unabashedly confronts difficult biblical and midrashic texts, without taking an apologetic stance.

The Bible in the Syriac Tradition (English Version)
By Sebastian Brock

ISBN 1-59333-300-5
Paperback, $38

This is a basic introduction to the various Syriac translations of the Bible and the ways in which they were used in the Syriac tradition. After an initial discussion of the general problems of biblical translation, the different surviving Syriac translations are outlined, as well as biblical manuscripts, lectionaires, printed editions, and translations. A reception history of the Syriac Bible covers the ways in which it has been interpreted, the commentary tradition, its use in preaching, in liturgy, and in spirituality. An appendix offers some comparative samples (in translation) to illustrate some of the differences between the different Syriac translations.


Gorgias will be attending the upcoming conferences of the Aram Society taking place at the Oriental Institute, Oxford.

*The Decapolis: History and Archaeology, 07-10 July 2008 (University of Oxford)

*The Mandaeans, 08-10 September 2008 (SOAS-London)

We will be respsented by our new UK representative Katherine Southwood.



Gorgias Press
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Tel. +1 732-885-8900
Fax. +1 732-885-8908