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Dumbarton Oaks/HMML Coptic and Syriac Summer School

July 10–August 4, 2023 | Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML)

Building on seven summers of success, HMML in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks, announces an intensive four-week course introducing the Coptic language and intermediate Syriac for the summer of 2023. This course is intended for doctoral students or recent PhDs who can demonstrate a need for Coptic or Syriac in their research. Priority is given to students who lack opportunities to continue studying Coptic or Syriac at their own institutions. 

Approximately ten places will be available for each language. If on-site, costs for tuition, housing, and meals will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks. 

The program welcomes international applicants but does not sponsor J visas.

Program Description

Seminars will introduce the basics of the disciplines of numismatics and sigillography,

Sessions are held Monday–Friday in the morning and afternoon. Total instruction time equals 110 hours.

Prerequisites for the introductory Coptic and intermediate Syriac language classes differ, and some preparation will be required before arrival, as directed by the instructors. 

By the end of the course, students will be fully equipped to continue reading on their own or to enter reading courses at other institutions. 


  • Coptic: Vince Bantu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Church History and Black Church Studies, Fuller Seminary; Jason Zaborowski, PhD, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois.
  • Syriac: Kelli Bryant Gibson, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas; Robert Kitchen, PhD, Regina, Saskatchewan.
  • HMML staff: Father Columba Stewart, OSB, Executive Director, HMML & Professor of Theology at Saint John’s University; Matthew Z. Heintzelman, PhD, Curator of Western European Manuscripts & Special Collections; James Walters, PhD, Lead Cataloger of Eastern Christian Collections; and Joshua Mugler, PhD, Curator of Eastern Christian and Islamic Manuscripts.

Accommodations and Costs

Students will be housed in dormitory apartments on the Saint John’s University campus. Each participant will have an air-conditioned, private bedroom and bathroom, with shared kitchen and laundry facilities. A meal contract at the college Refectory will be provided. All expenses will be covered by Dumbarton Oaks, apart from travel to and from Saint John’s University. 

All participants must submit proof of full vaccination status to participate in the course. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants must be either enrolled graduate students in good standing with a demonstrated need to learn Coptic or Syriac for their research, or recent PhDs, including early-career faculty members, who can demonstrate the value of Coptic or Syriac for their teaching and research. Priority will be given to those who lack opportunities to learn Coptic or Syriac at their own institutions.

Application Procedure

Applications are due February 13, 2023, and should include the following: 

  • Letter of no more than two single-spaced pages describing the applicant’s academic background, including language skills, and an explanation for why learning Coptic or Syriac is important for future research and teaching. Address letter to Father Columba Stewart, OSB, HMML Executive Director.
  • Current curriculum vitae.
  • A transcript of graduate school coursework for those who are currently doing graduate study. This is not required for those who completed a PhD.
  • Two letters of recommendation.


Please send all materials as email attachments to with either “Coptic 2023 Summer School” or “Intermediate Syriac 2023 Summer School” in the subject line.

Letter of Recommendation Authors:

Please send all materials as email attachments to with either “Coptic 2023 Summer School + applicant’s name” or “Intermediate Syriac 2023 Summer School + applicant’s name” in the subject line. Letters of recommendation should be sent directly from the author of the letter to HMML.  

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of previous academic achievement, demonstrated need for intensive study of Coptic or Syriac, and research promise. Awards will be announced by February 27 with an acceptance deadline of March 13, 2023.

Past Years


July 11–August 5, 2022 | Introductory Syriac and Intermediate Armenian



July 12–August 6, 2021 | Intermediate Syriac and Introductory Armenian



Intermediate Syriac

  • Christopher Bonura, University of California, Berkeley
  • Michelle Freeman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Johnathan W. Hardy, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Pamela Klasova, Macalester College
  • Andrei Macar, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • Christopher McLaughlin, Boston College
  • Francesca Minonne, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano
  • Cosimo Paravano, University of Vienna
  • Nicolò Sassi, Indiana University
  • Nora K. Schmid, University of Oxford

Introduction to Classical Armenian

  • Ashley Bozian, St. John’s University
  • Tinatin Chronz, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
  • Christian Gers-Uphaus, University of Tübingen
  • Jake Nabel, Pennsylvania State University
  • Matteo Poiani, Université de Strasbourg/The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Christopher Sprecher, University of Regensburg
  • Yvona Trnka-Amrhein, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Ayelet Wenger, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Douglas Whalin, Catholic University of America
  • Emanuele Zimbardi, Ca’ Foscari Università di Venezia

July 7–August 2, 2019 | Introductory Coptic and Syriac


  • Syriac: Robert Kitchen, PhD, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy, Södertälje, Sweden; Sergey Minov, PhD, University of Oxford.
  • Coptic: Alin Suciu, PhD, Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen; Prof. Victor Ghica, Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo.
  • HMML Staff, and guest lecturers



  • Nikita Andrejevs, University of Latvia
  • Bogdan Draghici, University of Oxford
  • Rosamund Drew, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Matteo Milesi, University of Michigan
  • Angel Narro, Universitat de València
  • Amal Shehata, Zagazig University
  • Medhat Tadros, Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo
  • Joanna Wegner, University of Warsaw
  • Douglas Whalin, George Mason University
  • Daniel Zelenin, Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg


  • Mahmut Agbaht, Uppsala University
  • Augustine Dickinson, University of Toronto
  • Valentina Grasso, University of Cambridge
  • Johnathan Hardy, University of Minnesota
  • Abby Kulisz, Indiana University
  • Antonio Musto, New York University
  • Stanislau Paulau, Leibniz Institute of European History
  • Dingjian Xie, University of Edinburgh
  • Mostafa Younsesie, Tarbiat Modares University
  • Marianna Zarantonello, Università degli Studi di Padova

July 2–August 3, 2018 | Introductory Syriac


  • Alberto Rigolio, Princeton University
  • Jeffrey Wickes, Saint Louis University

July 10–August 12, 2017 | Introductory Syriac and Classical Armenian



July 10–August 6, 2016 | Introductory Syriac


  • Scott Johnson, University of Oklahoma (Syriac language)
  • Adam McCollum, University of Vienna (Syriac manuscripts)