I am an intellectual historian with an interest in theological, philosophical, and scientific encounters between Christians and Muslims living in the medieval Islamicate World. I earned my doctorate at the University of Oxford in 2016, and have since held research and teaching positions at the American University of Beirut and the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Minnesota. I am currently completing a monograph based on my doctoral research on the anti-Muslim apologetics of the thirteenth-century bishop and polymath Abdisho of Nisibis.
My current research focuses on two interconnected areas: (i) the history of theological encyclopaedism among Syriac and Arabic-speaking Christians in the medieval Islamicate World and (ii) the Syriac reception of Avicennan philosophy. The first—theological encyclopaedism—examines a widespread genre of literature produced by Christian communities in the medieval Middle East: the summa theologica, or summary expositions of the Christian faith. These texts provide key insights into how authors articulated a Christian world view within a broader, non-Christian religious setting. The second—the Syriac reception of Avicennan philosophy—focuses on the impact of Avicenna’s metaphysics on the philosophical and theological oeuvre of Barhebraeus (d. 1285/6), a near contemporary of Thomas Aquinas and of comparable significance to the Syriac Orthodox tradition.
A further project involves the history of Arabic alchemy, in particular, the representation of the Christian as mediator of alchemical and occult knowledge in the pre-modern Islamic imaginary. Much of this work centres on an unedited alchemical primer attributed to Aristotle, of which I hope to produce a critical edition, translation, and study of its scientific and literary contexts.

Other Publications

‘From Greco-Syrian to Syro-Arabic Thought: The Philosophical Writings of Dionysius bar Ṣalībī and Jacob bar Šakkō.’ In La philosophie en syriaque. Edited by Emilian Fiori and Henri Hugonnard-Roche. 329-379. Études syriaques 16; Paris: Paul Geuthner, 2019.
‘Between Ecumenism and ʿaṣabiyya: ʿAbdīshōʿ bar Brīkhā’s Attitudes to Other Christians.’ In Syriac in its Multi-Cultural Context. Edited by H. Teule, E. Keser-Kayaalp, K. Akalın, N. Doru, and M.S. Toprak. Leuven: Peeters, 2017.
‘‘What Does the Clapper Say?’ An Interfaith Discourse on the Christian Call to Prayer by ʿAbdīshōʿ bar Brīkhā.’ In The Reception of Islam in Anatolia and its Neighbours. Edited by Andrew Peackock, Sar Nur Yildiz, and Bruno De Nicola, 263-284. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015.
Book review: The Syriac Writers of Qatar in the Seventh Century (ed. Mario Kozah). Al-Abḥāth 64 (2016): 164-167.
Book review: ‘Religious Origins of Nations? The Christian Communities of the Middle East (ed. Bas ter Haar Romeny).’ The Journal of Theological Studies 63, no. 2 (2012): 744-747.
‘Alchemy in an Age of Disclosure: The Case of an Arabic Pseudo-Aristotelian Treatise and its Syriac Christian “Translator”.’ To appear in a special issue of Asiatische Studien (ed. Regula Forster). Submitted 15 November 2020.
‘Barhebraeus on the Incarnation.’ Christian-Muslim Relations: A Reader. Edited by David Thomas et al. Submitted 28 January 2019.  

Salam Rassi

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