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A conference on St. Isaac and His Spiritual Legacy took place on October 10-11, 2013. It was attended by leading specialists in the work of St. Isaac the Syrian, patrologists and syrologists from Russia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA. 

During the conference we managed to have a talk with Ms Tamar Pataridze, a specialist in translations, professor at Katholieke Universisteir Leuven, who told students of the Ss Cyril and Methodius Institute of Post-Graduate Studies about new methods of research into texts of Holy Fathers. 

- Will you please share your impressions of the conference. What was the most memorable thing about it?

- First of all the quality and diversity of the papers presented. Very many sections were represented, such as philology, theology, the study of literature, etc. The topics of the conference enabled us to hear the viewpoints of leading specialists in this field. I have long studied the life and work of Isaac the Syrian but only philologically and theologically. Therefore, to hear other approaches, for instance, made by experts in literature was also very interesting. To organize such a large conference on Isaac the Syrian, to discuss new approaches, was a good idea, in my view. In addition, I know many scholars personally and it was a pleasure for me to meet them in Moscow. At the conference, we and my colleagues decided to unite and create a common project for studying Isaac’s manuscripts. Before that each of us was engaged in these problems within our own tradition but now we have decided to unite our studies. If we had not met at the conference, we would have no such project. I think my colleagues will agree with me that the conference was an important event for all the researchers into Isaac the Syrian, not only for students, post-graduates and all those who are interested in these issues. At present, it is important that we can work not only autonomously but together. Such author as Isaac the Syrian is manifold; he is studied in all the Churches, and it is important therefore that we should share information with our colleagues. 

 

- Which paper was the most memorable for you?

- All were interesting, but most interesting for me were papers presented by Gregory Kessel, Emiliano Fiori and Sabino Chiala because they are linked with my work. Unusual in its presentation was, for instance, the paper presented by Patrick Hackman who quite unexpectedly and interestingly linked the problems of Isaac the Syrian’s time with today. Of course, some will agree with that, some not, but in any case it was exiting. 

 

- What can you advise to those who are now in the beginning of their academic path? How to write an academic work, what approach is needed?

- First, one needs always to know the standards required of his work and to be well-versed in the history of the problem. No less important criterion is the originality and newness. One should not speak of what has already been said. These are the most important things in science. However, on the basis of my experience I can say that if you do not like your occupation you can, of course, read all and learn it by heart but you will never become a scholar. Secondly, it is very important that you should look critically at yourself. I think each idea should be challenged and verified. You should oppose yourself and try to make the case against your own idea. Through this, the conception is affirmed since all questions have been already looked into. 

 

- What role does the study of patristics play in your university?

- I am not a teacher, I am a researcher. It is divided in our university. I am a philologist by education and work in an institute of Oriental studies. Although patristics is not taught in our university, there is a separate faculty of theology which has close relations with the faculty of philology. Theologians work on texts as well and publish them like we do. At the both faculties all the old languages are studied. So we always work together. For instance, students attend common lectures. As for patristics, there are various areas in this field. I attended lectures both on Oriental patristics and the history of Orthodox Churches. Everything depends on the lecturer. Sometime only one author is studied and then lecturers demand that students should write works on him. Sometimes a course is read in which a general survey of all the patristics is made and then a particular Holy Father is taken up. My professor did so. And as an example he took up Origen. 

 

- How promising is the areas of patristics for studies, in your opinion?

- Patristics developed in the oldest times, just like philosophy. Therefore these areas of science are closely intertwined. All the human questions are also based and exposed in patristics. Holy Fathers really raised the most important questions of life, philosophical, in other words. They wrote texts during many centuries, and our consciousness has absorbed them. It is also important for one to know and remember one’s ancestors, roots and culture. 

 

- What studies are you making now and what plans do you have for the future?

- Now I am preparing my dissertation for publication. Concurrently I am working on the Georgian translation of Isaac the Syrian and participating in a project we have initiated in University of Leuven. This project is about the use of linguistic methods and computer technologies in processing old texts. It involves the automatic processing of a text and machine translation. The description of a language and the entire vocabulary with the help of precise methods allows creating some common models of a language, to give definitions and to identify morphological indicators. All this is done by a linguist.  

ROC Institute of Post-Graduate Studies’ information service


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