Robin Darling Young. In Procession before the World: Martyrdom as Public Liturgy in Early Christianity. ISBN 0-87462-581-5. (2001, Lecture 32). 71 pp. Cloth. $15

In 1972, Dr. Young earned her a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Mary Washington College, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, about half way between Washington and Richmond. She went on to earn her Masters of Arts from the University of Chicago’s Divinity School in 1975. It was from the same school that Dr. Young awarded her Ph.D. in the history of Christianity in 1982, with a thesis entitled The Patri-archate of Severus of Antioch, 512-518. In the meantime, she had already begun her teaching career, working as an instructor in Church history at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., during the last two years of her doctoral work. After a year (1984-1985) as a visiting scholar in Wolfson College, Oxford, followed by two successive one-year appointments at Catholic University, Dr. Young left her Church history post at Wesley Theological for her post at Catholic University, where she has stayed ever since.

Dr. Young has taught courses on the theological approaches proper to ancient Alexandria, Antioch, and Cappadocia; classes on Augustine, Christology, asceticism, biblical interpretation, and monastic traditions of the early Church; courses on the relationship of early Christianity to Judaism or to ancient philosophy; as well as the more general sorts of history of Christianity courses all the way up to the early modern period. The reader of this present lecture will not be surprised to know that she has also taught a course on martyrdom and sacrifice in early Christianity. The doctoral dissertations which Dr. Young has directed and her teaching and lecturing off the Catholic University campus reflect the diversity of interests evidenced by her classroom work.

In the 1980s, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies helped finance her field work and manuscript research in Jerusalem, Damascus, London, and Midyat, Turkey. She thus gained access to the libraries and collections of Armenian and Syrian Orthodox patriarchates and monasteries. Dr. Young’s research has extended then not just to the thought and practice of the Greek-speaking Christianity of the first few centuries of our era but to the Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, Armenian, and Coptic sources, as well.

Besides presenting translations or interpretations of the works of Syrian figures like Ephrem, Jacob, Severus, Philoxenus, and Narsai, Dr. Young’s articles have also touched on Jewish-Christian relations in Antiquity, contemporary interpretations of ancient asceticism, the role of women in the traditions of mysticism and of martyrdom, and the history of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. She also presented the Armenian adaptation of Evagrius’s Kephalaia Gnostica in Origeniana Quinta (ed. R. Daly, 1992), as well as research on Evagrius in Edessa. Forthcoming is her contribution to the book The Heirs of Evagrius: Early Eastern Christian Spirituality (ed. B. McGinn) in the Classics of Western Spirituality Series put out by Paulist Press. She has already co-authored, with Monica J. Blanchard, a book-length English translation of a treatise on God written by the fifth-century Armenian author Eznik of Kolb (Leuven: Peeters, 1998). Dr. Young has continued to cultivate her interest in Armenian, Syriac, and Latin expressions of early Christian through the research she has presented at meetings of the American Society of Church History, the North American Patristic Society, the International Symposium Syriacum, the Oxford Patristic Conference, the Byzantine Studies Conference, and the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature.

Her expertise in the life and thought of early Christianity has led those within and without the academy to solicit her opinion and advice. Dr. Young’s book reviews have appeared in Church History, Theological Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Anglican Theological Review, The Thomist, Religious Studies Review, and Byzantine Studies/Etudes byzantines. She has been on the Organizing Committee of the Syriac Studies Symposium (starting in 1989). She served as member of the Steering Committee and as editor of the Society of Biblical Literature Group on Asceticism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. She has also been on the program committees for the American Academy of Religion (History of Christianity Section, 1986-1989), American Catholic Historical Society (1987), and American Society of Church History (1984). She has worked on the Advisory Boards of Pro Ecclesia (starting in 1992) and was a grants award panelist and reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 until 1989.

The Christian Churches have not gone without the benefit of her theological and historical acumen. In 1990, she became a member of the Eastern Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation (Official U.S. Bilateral Dialogue). In 1991, she began work on the consultation team “The Armenian Church Observed” sponsored by the North American Diocese and the Armenian Catholicosate, Etchmiadzin. She was invited to speak at the Colloquy of Bishops and Scholars in October 1992 on the theme Enculturation in the Patristic Period. And in March 1992, she took up her role on the Board of Consultors of the Syrian Orthodox Academy.


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