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Sanctifying Boldness: New Testament Women in the Liturgical Poetry of Narsai, Jacob of Serugh, and Romanos Melodos

Erin Galgay Walsh, Duke University, Junior Fellow 2018–2019

Over the course of my research I translated and analyzed poems composed by Narsai, Jacob of Serugh, and Romanos Melodos featuring female figures from the New Testament. My research sheds light on the shared interpretative and artistic topoi of these late 5th- and early 6th-century poets. When I arrived at Dumbarton Oaks I had already drafted several chapters, but my time here afforded me the opportunity to deepen my research and revise several sections. I have also expanded my dissertation to include annotated translations of Romanos’s kontakia in addition to the translations of Syriac poetry I completed over the course of my doctoral studies. During the fall, I composed a chapter on the poetic body and one on the dramatic voices of late antique and early Byzantine poetry. Close collaboration and translation work with other Byzantine fellows gave me invaluable feedback and insight into how to develop my dissertation into a future monograph. I also submitted and published a peer-reviewed article featuring a translation of a previously unstudied Syriac mēmrā attributed to Jacob of Serugh. My article “Mourning Eve: The Homily on Women as Attributed to Jacob of Serugh” appeared in the February volume of the journal Patristica Nordica Annuaria.