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BOOK REVIEWS œ 125 the problems that anthropologists have taken pains to avoid. Thus, more engagement with anthropological studies ofculture and power inequalities could have further enriched this book. The New Mamluks, with its many provocative insights and stimulating ideas, could and should be ofgreat importance to current debates on globalization, social inequalities, and cultural identities. It's an excellent reminder of the richness that could result from more dialogue between different disciplines, especially history and anthropology, in understanding the current challenges facing the Middle East and the histories shaping its current realities. Shirin: Christian-Queen-Myth of Love: A Woman of Late Antiquity—Historical Reality and Literary Effect Wilhelm Baum. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2004. 114 pp. $38.00 paper. Christopher Livanos, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin , Madison Baum introduces the life and literary afterlife ofShirin, wife ofChosroes II and inspiration for one of the greatest traditions in Middle Eastern literature. From seventh-century chronicles to the twentieth-century theatre, Baum is thorough in covering his sources. The slender book is divided into four sections titled "Persia in Late Antiquity," "Chosroes II (590-628) and Shirin: The Persian Royal Couple," "The Shirin Myth in Literature and Art," and "The Rediscovery of Shirin." Early in the first chapter, Baum makes the important observation that "the West views the Orient principally through the lens of Greek-speaking Byzantine culture" (12), with the result that little is known about the West Syrian Church and still less about East Syrian Christianity. It may be added that Byzantium itself tends to be viewed through the lens ofthe Latin West, so works like Baum's begin to provide much-needed information on an understudied aspect ofMiddle Eastern history. Postcolonial studies have often viewed Muslim-Christian relations in terms of East and West, overlooking or dismissing the Middle East's indigenous Christian communities. Shirin is thus a fascinating 126 JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST WOMEN'S STUDIES and important figure as a Christian and the subject ofliterary works by authors as diverse as Nizami in the twelfth century and Nizem Hikmet in the twentieth. The book begins with an overview ofPersian history, focusing especially on Christians in the Persian Empire and stressing the differences between the so-called "Nestorian" and "Monophysite" churches and the Byzantine Church, which is likely to be at least somewhat more familiar to the Western reader. The chapter is informative, but Baum occasionally overstates his case, as when he writes: Today's reader will find nearly incomprehensible the hatred with which the Orthodox Church persecuted those Christians who used Syriac, Coptic , or Persian, rather than Greek, as their liturgical language. In Constantinople and Rome people had no idea that the Persian church had already spread to India and by the seventh century had extended along the Silk Road to Central Asia and China (5). Such observations serve as a powerful reminder of how far Christianity had spread and how much influence it had attained prior to the Islamic conquests, but it is inaccurate to speak ofthe conflict as though what language one used in the liturgy was of central importance. The Byzantine Church accepted the use ofGeorgian by the Orthodox Church in Georgia and later the use of Slavonic in Eastern Europe. Likewise, the use of Latin rather than Greek in the liturgy was not a point of contention even after Rome and Constantinople fell into schism. IfEast Syrians had accepted the Council of Ephesus in 431, Constantinople would no doubt have approved their use oftheir own languages, and likewise for the West Syrians, Armenians, and Copts had they accepted the Council ofChalcedon in 451. Baum is more convincing later, when he asserts that problems of semantics, rather than genuine theological differences, led to the schisms of Ephesus and Chalcedon (7-8). Nuanced dictums like "two natures in one hypostasis" caused confusion when translated from Greek into other languages, but the dispute was never about liturgical use ofthe vernacular per se. In the following section, Baum discusses the various chronicles. His work is recommended to any reader wishing to learn more about the primary sources on Shirin's life. His analysis is conservative and sound, particularly his examination of myths surrounding the queen...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9579
Print ISSN
1552-5864
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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