Reyhan Durmaz

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies


Cohen Hall 230

Reyhan Durmaz's research interests include Syriac Christianity, religion in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, hagiography, and Christian-Muslim relations in the medieval Middle East.


Her first monograph, Stories between Christianity and Islam: Saints, Memory, and Cultural Exchange in Late Antiquity and Beyond (University of California Press, October 2022), examines the transmissions of non-biblical saints' stories and cults from Christianity to Islam. Dr. Durmaz's dissertation project (Brown University, 2019), on which her book is based,  received a Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award in Humanities. She also held a Junior Fellowship in Byzantine Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (AY 2018-19), and a Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation while working on this project.


Stories between Christianity and Islam was shortlisted for AAR's Best First Book in the History of Religions Award and for the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Historical Studies). Dr. Durmaz's book also received Honorable Mention by the Middle East Medievalists Book Prize Committee.


For her second book, Dr. Durmaz studies rural forms and expressions of Christianity in the medieval Middle East. She began working on this project during her fellowship as the Faculty Research Fellow at Fordham University's Orthodox Christian Studies Center in the AY 2022-23. Some of the themes central to this project were discussed in a Boardman online talk series she organized, Destabilizing Religion in the Medieval Middle East (February-March 2022), which examined the categories of religion and non-religion in the context of the medieval Middle East. Her recent research have been published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Church History and Religious Culture, Studies in Late Antiquity, among other venues. In connection to her new project, Dr. Durmaz is building a digital photograph archive of medieval churches and monasteries – Visualizing Countryside, which received the Delaware Valley Digital Project Prize. She is also translating a Syriac saint's life, the Life of Aho of Rish'ayno, as part of her new project on Christianities in the countryside. You can learn more about Dr. Durmaz's current project in her interview in the Women Scholars of Orthodox Christianity series and her recent online talk at the East of Byzantium Workshop


During her time as a Faculty Fellow at the Wolf Humanities Center's Forum on Migration (AY 2021-22), Dr. Durmaz also started working on the first Arabic newspaper published in the United States, Kawkab America, analyzing the ways Middle Eastern immigrants in NYC articulated religion and religious diversity in 19th-century America. You can hear more about this project in Dr. Durmaz's talk, Immigrant Voices on Paper, at the Material Texts Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. Her study of Kawkab Amrika is forthcoming in an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.


Dr. Durmaz is affiliated with the Ancient History Graduate Group, Global Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Graduate Group, and the Middle East Center at Penn, and a member of the American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, North American Patristics Society, Byzantine Studies Association of North  America, and the Middle East Studies Association. She also serves as the co-chair of the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins, and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Wolf Humanities Center.


Dr. Durmaz teaches a broad variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Religions of the West, Satan: History, Poetics, and Politics of the Archenemy, From Jesus to Muhammad, Material Christianities, Worlds of Late Antiquity, and Orthodox America.


Office Hours
Thursday 12pm – 2pm, Cohen Hall 230

Ph.D., Brown University (2019)
M.A., Central European University (2012)
M.A., Koc University (2010)
B.A., Middle East Technical University (2007)

Research Interests

Syriac Studies

Medieval Studies

Byzantine Studies

Global Christianity

Christian-Muslim Relations


Research Areas
Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Material and Visual Culture
Courses Taught
Undergraduate Courses:

Religions of the West

Virtual Religion: Religion in the Digital Age

From Jesus to Muhammad: History of Early Christianity

Satan: History, Poetics, and Politics of the Archenemy

Eastern Christianities

Material Christianities: The First Millennium (co-taught with Ivan Drpic)

Orthodox America (an SNF Paideia designated course)


Graduate Courses:

Syriac Christianity Past and Present

Worlds of Late Antiquity (co-taught with Cam Grey)

Orthodox America

Selected Publications

Stories between Christianity and Islam: Saints, Memory, and Cultural Exchange in Late Antiquity and Beyond. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2022.

            Listen: Stories between Christianity and Islam on the New Books Network.

            Review in Theological Studies

            Review in Church History

            Review in Reading Religion

            Received Honorable Mention by the Middle East Medievalists 2023 Book Prize Committee

            Shortlisted for the American Academy of Religion Award for the Best First Book in the History of Religions and the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Historical Studies (2023)

Three Persian Martyr Acts: The Acts of Miles, Bishop of Susa, the Priest Abursam, and Deacon Sinai, the Martyrdom of Zebina and His Companions, and the Martyrdom of the Forty Martyrs of Beth Kashkraye. Edited and translated by Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Reyhan Durmaz, Michael Payne, Daniel Picus, Noah Tetenbaum. Piscataway, NJ. Gorgias Press, Forthcoming.

Jacob of Sarug's Homilies on Women Whom Jesus Met. Edited and translated by Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Sebastian Brock, Reyhan Durmaz, Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos, Michael Payne, and Daniel Picus. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2016.


Articles and Book Chapters:

"Religion, race, and letterpress: Orthodox Christians in 19th-century New York City through the lens of Kawkab America." Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Forthcoming.

"Place, practice, patron: Making of religious communities in the early medieval Middle East." Studies in Late Antiquity. Forthcoming.

"Material culture." In The Cultural History of the Middle East and North Africa, 450–750. Edited by Nancy Khalek. Bloomsbury Academic. Forthcoming.

"Religious diversity in the early medieval Middle East through the lens of the Syriac Chronicle of Zuqnin.” Church History and Religious Culture 113, no. 2 (2023): 158–79.

"Five hundred bones from Constantinople: Monks, manuscripts, and memory at the eastern borders of Byzantium." Harvard Theological Review 115, no. 3 (2022): 363–86.

"Recent research in Syriac Studies and the recurring question of identity." Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 34 (2022): 140-61.

“Patronage and prestige in the countryside: The case of the Church of Mār Domeṭ in northern Mesopotamia.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 80, no.1 (2021): 101–22.

“Saints, stories and sanctity between Christianity and Islam: The conversion of Najrān to Christianity in the Sīra of Muḥammad.” In Syriac Christian Culture: Beginnings to Renaissance. Edited by Aaron Butts and Robin Darling Young, 174–97. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2021.

“Hearing sanctity: Oral performance and aural consumption of hagiographical stories in the late antique and medieval Syriac milieu.” In Syriac Hagiography: Texts and Beyond. Edited by Flavia Ruani and Sergey Minov, 56–88. Brill, 2021.


Teaching Related:

"Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages." Lesson Plan. Bloomsbury Medieval Studies.

"'Mirror, mirror!' Speaking objects and speaking to objects in the classroom." Ancient Jew Review, 2021.

Watch: "Introduction to Syriac Christianity"

Work in Progress
Monograph in preparation:

Christianities in the Countryside: Configurations of Religion and Non-Religion in the Medieval Middle East


Translation in preparation:

English translation of the Syriac Life of Aho of Rish'ayno (Ms: Vatican Syriac 37, fol. 173v–191v)


American Academy of Religion

American Society for Church History

Byzantine Studies Association of North America

Delaware Valley Medieval Association

Mediterranean Seminar

Middle East Medievalists

Middle East Studies Association

North American Patristics Society

Society of Biblical Literature


CV (file)