Echoes of Inter-religious controversy in John of Dara’s (9th Century Syrian Orthodox Bishop) Homily ‘On the Cross’

Kelli Bryant
DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford

The Feast of the Finding of the Cross, once an occasion of triumphalist imperial and ecclesial boasting, required fresh explanation following the rise of Islam and the loss of the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire. The Syrian Orthodox bishop John of Dara strategically exploits the occasion to equip his flock with apologetic arguments for the cross and crucifixion. His sermon On the Cross offers the modern scholar a rare glimpse into the inter-religious contacts and challenges of the ordinary believer in ninth-century Mesopotamia.