On Syriac Studies and ReIReS: An Interview with Catalin Popa

Early February 2019, postdoctoral scholar Catalin Stefan Popa came to Louvain in the context of the ReIReS initiative. This gave him the chance to consult otherwise inaccessible resources and get in touch with some Louvain-based fellow scholars in Syriac Studies. TRN talked with him about his background and experiences.

  • Can you tell us something about your interest in Syriac studies? How did this express itself in your academic career?

I am actually an Orthodox Christian myself. Slowly but surely I developed a passion for the Middle East and especially for the Syriac Christianity. So, after my studies in Romania (at the universities of Bucharest, Craiova and Sibiu), I went to Germany, to the University of Göttingen, to start a PhD on Syriac studies. For my dissertation, which I defended in 2015, I worked on a fascinating letter from the 7th century, written by Giwargis 1st (George 1st, 661-680), Catholicos-Patriarch of the Church of the East. This letter is situated in a time of change and turmoil: Islam had started to spread in the former Sassanid Persian empire. All of this was happening right in Giwargis’ area of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It’s no surprise that a time of change brings about many questions on faith and how to practice it.

Read more on the website of Theology Research News of KU Leuven.

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