Reyhan Durmaz's research interests include Syriac Christianity, religion and society in late antiquity, hagiography, and Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. 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 transmission of non-biblical saints' stories and cults from Christianity to Islam. Her other research projects include study of rural Christianities in the Middle Ages in the eastern Mediterranean, and religious skepticism in the medieval Middle East. Dr. Durmaz received her PhD from Brown University (2019), with a Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award in Humanities. She was a Junior Fellow in Byzantine Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (AY 2018-19). Her research has also been supported by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
During her time as a Faculty Fellow at the Wolf Humanities Center's Forum on Migration (AY 2021-22), Dr. Durmaz 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. She also organized a Boardman online talk series, 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.
She is affiliated with the Ancient History Graduate Group, Global Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 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 was the Faculty Research Fellow at Fordham University's Orthodox Christian Studies Center for the AY 2022-23. With this fellowship, she started writing her second book that explores the forms and expressions of Christianity in the medieval Middle Eastern countryside. In connection to this project, she is building a digital photograph archive of medieval churches and monasteries – Visualizing Countryside, which received the Delaware Valley Digital Project Prize.
You can learn more about Dr. Durmaz's book and recent research projects in her interview in the Women Scholars of Orthodox Christianity series.
Upcoming lectures and presentations:
September 25, 5pm ET –"Immigrant voices on paper: Representations of religion, race, and home in the first Arabic newspaper in America." Workshop in the History of Material Texts at Penn. In-person and on Zoom.
October 12, 4pm ET – "The complex religious worlds of simple believers in the medieval Middle East" Smith College. In-person lecture.
October 17, 12:00pm ET – "Daughter, healer, soldier, spy: Finding communities in the medieval Middle Eastern countryside." East of Byzantium Workshop. Online lecture.
October 26, 10:00am ET (4:00pm CET) – "Rural lives and global visions between Syria, Armenia, and Rome in the Life of Aḥo of Rishʿayno: Introductory notes on a new translation project." Texts and Transmission Joint Research Seminar. Online lecture.
Ph.D., Brown University (2019)
M.A., Central European University (2012)
M.A., Koc University (2010)
B.A., Middle East Technical University (2007)
Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Material and Visual Culture
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
Material Christianities: The First Millennium (co-taught with Ivan Drpic)
Orthodox America (an SNF Paideia designated course)
Syriac Christianity Past and Present
Worlds of Late Antiquity (co-taught with Cam Grey)
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
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.
"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.
"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"
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–192r)
American Academy of Religion
American Society for Church History
Byzantine Studies Association of North America
Delaware Valley Medieval Association
Middle East Medievalists
Middle East Studies Association
North American Patristics Society
Society of Biblical Literature