Researcher Spotlight: Dr Seth M. Stadel
As an undergraduate student, I developed a strong interest in Eastern Christian studies after reading Norman Russell’s translation of The Lives of the Desert Fathers. During my first Master’s degree, I studied the principal writings of Evagrius Ponticus (345-399), focusing initially on his Greek ascetic corpus and concluding with an examination of the Kephalaia Gnostika and other texts extant in Syriac. This led me to see the importance of Syriac and other Eastern Christian languages in facilitating the spread of ascetic spirituality in the greater Mediterranean world of Late Antiquity. During my MSt in Syriac studies degree at the University of Oxford, I translated a wide range of Syriac texts and examined different types of sources representing the perspectives of people who hold different places in society so as to arrive at a more comprehensive view of ancient social structures and the causes of societal change. During my DPhil degree, also at the University of Oxford, I studied the surviving biographical data and Old Testament exegetical works of Aḥob of Qatar, a late sixth-century East Syriac biblical commentator who taught at the School of Seleucia (central Iraq) and relied on a number of earlier and/or contemporary Greek and Syriac sources for the production of his extant works. My thesis situated Aḥob as one of the earliest East Syriac writers to cite such things as the Septuagint and medical phraseology in a Sasanian context. My first monograph, The Heirs of Theodore: Aḥob of Qatar and the Development of the East Syriac Exegetical Tradition, is a revision of my doctoral thesis and was published with Brill’s “Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity” series in August 2023. I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses on biblical studies, historical theology, and Eastern Christianity.
I am currently preparing an article that investigates the practice of Christian slavery in Fars (southwest Iran), as attested by the law books of Simeon of Rev Ardashir (probably 7th century) and Isho‘bokht of Rev Ardashir (probably late 8th century), both of whom were Church of the East metropolitan bishops of Fars in their respective times. In the future, I plan to produce a monograph that examines slavery practices in East Syriac legal sources.