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Dumbarton Oaks/HMML Ge’ez and Syriac Summer School

July 8–July 26 (Ge’ez), and July 8–August 2, 2024 (Syriac) | Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML)

Building on eight summers of success, HMML in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks, announces for the summer of 2024: an intensive three-week course introducing the Ge’ez language and paleography, and an intensive four-week course introducing the Syriac language and paleography. The courses are intended for doctoral students or recent PhDs who can demonstrate a need for Ge’ez and Syriac in their research. Priority is given to students who lack opportunities to continue studying Ge’ez or Syriac at their own institutions.

Approximately ten places will be available for each language. 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

The goal of these courses is to give students a strong foundation in Ge’ez grammar and paleography, and an active command of Syriac through grammar revision and reading texts.

Sessions are held Monday–Friday in the morning and afternoon. Total instruction time equals 75 hours (Ge’ez) and 110 hours (Syriac).

There are no prerequisites for Ge’ez, while for Syriac students must be familiar with the Syriac alphabet (Serto script).

By the end of the course, Ge’ez students will be able to transcribe directly from Ge’ez manuscripts and accurate translate brief texts from Ge’ez into English. Syriac students will be able to independently approach both vocalized and unvocalized Classical Syriac texts, translate from Syriac into English with confidence, and will have a comprehensive grasp of grammar and syntax.



  • Ge’ez: Dr. Jeremy R. Brown, Cataloguer of Ethiopian Manuscripts, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), Collegeville, Minnesota; Dr. Hamza M. Zafer, Lecturer in African Studies, Princeton University.
  • Syriac: Dr. Jonathan Loopstra, Professor of History, Redeemer University, Ancaster, Ontario; a second Instructor will be announced at a later date.
  • HMML staff: Father Columba Stewart, OSB, Executive Director, HMML & Professor of Theology at Saint John’s University; Dr. Matthew Z. Heintzelman, Curator of Western European Manuscripts & Special Collections; and Dr. Joshua Mugler, 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.

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 Ge’ez or Syriac for their teaching and research. Priority will be given to those who lack opportunities to learn Ge’ez or Syriac at their own institutions.

Application Procedure

Applications are due February 23, 2024, 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 Ge’ez or Syriac is important for future research and teaching. Please address the letter to Father Columba Stewart, OSB, HMML Executive Director.
  • Current curriculum vitae.
  • For those who are currently doing graduate study, please include a transcript of graduate school coursework. This is not required for those who have completed a PhD.
  • Two letters of recommendation.


Please send all materials as email attachments to with either “Ge’ez 2024 Summer School” or “Syriac 2024 Summer School” in the subject line.

Letter of Recommendation Authors:

Letters of recommendation should be sent directly from the author of the letter to HMML. Please send the letter as email attachment to Include “Ge’ez 2024 Summer School” or “Syriac 2024 Summer School” and the applicant’s name in the subject line. 

Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of previous academic achievement, demonstrated need for intensive study of Ge’ez or Syriac, and research promise. Awards will be announced by March 8, 2024 with an acceptance deadline of March 22, 2024. Alternates, If space becomes available, will be announced March 25, 2024.

Past Years


July 10–August 4, 2023 | Introductory Coptic and intermediate Syriac


  • 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.

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


  • Kristian Heal, Brigham Young University (Syriac)
  • Sergio LaPorta, Fresno State University (Armenian)
  • Michael Pifer, University of Michigan (Armenian)
  • Salam Rassi, American University of Beirut (Syriac)

July 10–August 6, 2016 | Introductory Syriac


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