James Wolfe

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Hellenic Studies, funded by the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity, 2021-2022

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Classics, The Ohio State University, 2020
    Dissertation
    Bēth Rhōmāyē: Being and Belonging in Syriac in the Late Roman Empire
    Research Project
    Syriac Terms for Roman Institutions: A Glossary and Analysis
Contact Info

James Wolfe is a historian of Roman institutions and the Roman administration in early Christian communities in the late antique Near East, and especially in Syriac-speaking communities in the late Roman empire. His research focuses on cultural exchange in Roman imperial contexts and the replication of Roman thought-patterns in Greek, Syriac, and Armenian texts. James received his Ph.D. in Greek and Latin from the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University in December 2020, where he studied the ways in which Syriac-speaking communities and their texts engaged with contemporary Roman ideologies of ethnicity and citizenship. He has also worked on the reception of Plutarch in Armenian historiography (JECS 31.1, forthcoming), as well as the reception of Ephrem in two early-modern Armenian manuscripts.

About the Research Project

Syriac Terms for Roman Institutions: A Glossary and Analysis

This project investigates the ways in which Syriac writers in the late Roman and early Byzantine periods rendered the language of the Roman administration in Syriac. It examines how the Syriac language was deployed as a language of empire alongside Greek and Latin in order to develop a model not only of how the Syriac language evolved in Roman imperial contexts, but why and to what ends. By incorporating evidence from literary and non-literary sources (primarily) in Syriac, Greek, and Latin, this project seeks to develop a glossary of Syriac terms for Roman institutions that will function as a companion to both Mason’s Greek Terms for Roman Institutions and Butts’ Language Change in the Wake of Empire. In addition, it will offer analyses of the lexical data in the glossary, arguing that Syriac writers utilized similar techniques to those of their Greek and Latin contemporaries in order to replicate the language of Roman law and the administration in the late Roman empire in various linguistic contexts.