When Christians First Met Muslims
Wednesday, 06 Sep 2017 at 7:00 pm – Sun Room, Memorial UnionMichael Penn is a professor of religious studies at Stanford University and specializes in the history of early Christianity with a focus on Middle Eastern Christians. Middle Eastern Christians composed the earliest and largest collection of Christian writings on Islam, but their experiences are largely omitted from the modern historical narrative because of the unfamiliar Aramaic dialect of Syriac in which they wrote. Michael Penn will discuss how the history of Christian-Muslim relations changes if, instead of relying on the writings of Greek and Latin Christians who often were in military conflict with Muslims, one focuses on Middle Eastern Christians and their everyday encounters with Muslims.
No podcast will be available for this event.
Michael Penn’s books on the subject include Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians in the Early Muslim World and When Christians First Met Muslims: A Source Book of the Earliest Syriac Writings.
Penn has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council for Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, the British Academy, the American Philosophical Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning. He is also the author of Kissing Christians: Ritual and Community in the Late Ancient Church.
Penn is currently working on an Andrew Mellon Foundation funded collaboration that uses recent advances in the computerized analysis of handwriting to help analyze ancient Aramaic manuscripts. In addition to this work in the digital humanities, Professor Penn has begun several related projects that focus on the history of Syriac Christianity and the manuscripts they produced.
Before joining Stanford, Professor Penn was on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College. He has also taught at Brandeis University, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, and Duke University. He has additional experience as a secondary school teacher, including six years as the director of forensics at Durham Academy High School, where he ran a nationally competitive policy debate team. Professor Penn has also held research positions at Apple Computers, the Weizmann Institute (Israel), the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital, and Ames Research Center, NASA.
Penn earned a PhD in religion from Duke University and has an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Princeton University.
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