The Catholic University of America

Crowell Defense

Mr. Trevor Crowell presented his dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on Monday April 18, 2016. His disseration is titled, "The Biblical Homilies of Ephraem Graecus"

Final Examination of
Mr. Trevor Crowell 
for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Monday April 18, 2016
2:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125
The Biblical Homilies of Ephraem Graecus"
Director: Dr. Robert Miller, O.F.S., Ph.D.
St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373) is one of the most revered figures of Eastern Christianity and one of the few theologians canonized in both the Eastern and Western Churches.
Ephrem’s renown spread beyond the boundaries of Syriac-speaking Christendom and attracted the interest of Greek-speaking Christians. Demand for more information about this figure sparked production of texts about and putatively by Ephrem in many languages, including Greek. In the end, the number of Greek texts attributed to Ephrem ranks second in patristic history to only St. John Chrysostom. This voluminous corpus of texts, known as the Ephraem Graecus corpus, has gone relatively unstudied because the works are almost certainly inauthentic, as Ephrem composed exclusively in Syriac. Nevertheless, the texts have been influential in the history of Christianity, providing some of the foundational texts of Orthodox monasticism and inspiring theologians such as John Wesley.
                This study seeks to explore the portion of the corpus on the topic of biblical exegesis. It provides the first ever English translation of many of these homilies. The homilies evince a creative style of exegesis relatively unknown in Western Christianity but which does appear in some Syriac genres. These works imaginatively retell the biblical stories, inventing new dialogue and situations for the familiar characters within their established narratives. This study argues that the homilies transport the audience into a dramatic re-creation of the biblical stories where they encounter the biblical figures in a new way which emphasizes the humor, pathos, and above all humanity of the heroes and villains in Scripture. A work on Joseph translated in this study depicts Joseph momentarily freeing himself from his Ishmaelite captors to fall on his mother’s grave and cry out to her in Hebrew, an act that is misinterpreted by the fearful Ishmaelites as necromancy. This episode is known from Jewish and Syriac Christian exegesis on this story, but is not attested by the Greek-speaking Christian tradition. This study argues that the Ephraem Graecus corpus is an important case study for understanding the interconnected, multi-lingual world of Late Antique Christianity. The anonymous author of the Ephraem Graecus corpus created literature for a group of Christians which reflected Syriac concerns, motifs, and interests but in the Greek language.
Summary of Coursework
LAT 501           Elem Latin for Grad St I
LAT 502           Elem Latin for Grad St II
SEM 531          Into to Syriac I
SEM 532          Intro to Syriac II
SEM 611          Biblical Hebrew Prose I
SEM 612          Biblical Hebrew Prose II
SEM 631          Syriac Literature
SEM 632          Syriac Literature
SEM 711          Biblical Hebrew Poetry I
TRS 598D         Doctoral Comps (with classes)
TRS 600A         Advanced Biblical Greek I (Luke – Acts)
TRS 600B         Advanced Biblical Greek II
TRS 751A         Teach/Learn: Religious Education/Catechetics
TRS 802B         The Chronistic History
TRS 804C         The Psalms
TRS 804F         The Book of Jeremiah
TRS 814A         Pauline Theology
TRA 814M        Epistle to the Hebrews
TRS 996B        Dissertation – Doctoral