Lindsay Young Professor
Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D., Duke University
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship
Project: A Memory of Violence: The Radicalization of Religious Difference in the Middle East (ca. 431-750 CE)
Religious violence flared up in the eastern Mediterranean. Religious leaders were kidnapped, exiled, and sometimes killed; government officials chose sides; and religious minorities faced persecution. In the fifth century a theological controversy over the relation of the divine and human aspects of the second Person of the Christian Trinity became sharply politicized. The emperor Marcian called the empire's bishops to the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, but many Christians rejected its outcome and political favor vacillated as subsequent emperors sought a compromise. By the late sixth century, the church was permanently divided in schism, fueled by decades of political rivalries, hostile propaganda, and sporadic persecution. Today the Syrian, Coptic (Egyptian), Armenian, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches reject the outcome of the Council of Chalcedon, which is accepted by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant churches. This intra-Christian conflict and its crystallization into permanent schism is the subject of Dr. Shepardson's third book, which will argue that the writings of 5th- and 6th-century Syriac-speaking leaders constructed a shared memory of persecution and resistance that equipped their anti-Chalcedonian Christian community to survive decades of imperial hostility.