Recent years have seen new waves of research in Syriac studies, the medieval Middle East, and family history. Combining all three, Lev Weitz’s Between Christ and Caliph: Law, Marriage, and Christian Community in Early Islam
(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), revisits the early years of Islamic civilization by looking at an oft-neglected population in the secondary literature, Syriac Christians. Weitz’s study uses marital practice from the seventh through tenth centuries to illustrate how Islamic law influenced the development of Christian law and the role religious authorities –that is the Christian bishops– had to play in it. We talk through polygamy, confessional boundaries, and what households meant now and then; Weitz also fills us in on what the growing field of Syriac studies looks like, how it is changing, and how a scholar of the medieval Middle East gets their sources.
is an historian of the Islamic Middle East. He is an assistant professor at the Catholic University of America, in the Department of History; he also directs the Islamic World Studies program at Catholic University. For academic year 2018-19, he will be a fellow of the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He did his PhD at Princeton University at the Department of Near Easter Studies. His scholarly interests lie in the encounters among Muslims, Christians, and Jews that have shaped the Middle East’s history from the coming of Islam to the present.
Nadirah Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.