Arthur Vööbus Centre for Near Eastern Studies
The Arthur Vööbus Centre of Near Eastern Studies, founded in January 2016, is aimed at fostering competency in Oriental Christianity, Early Christianity, patristics, and the textual history of the Bible at the University of Tartu. The activities of the centre increase the international visibility of the scholarly work done in Tartu.
Arthur Vööbus (1909–1988) was a prolific Orientalist, church historian, and theologian. After defending his doctoral dissertation in Tartu, he pursued most of his scholarly career at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago as a professor. He undertook numerous expeditions to Oriental countries, resulting in a discovery of a high number of yet unknown and unpublished Syrian manuscripts. The unique collection of manuscript photos currently in the possession of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sheds light on the history of Oriental Christianity, Syrian literature, and the textual history of the Bible. The volume of the collection guarantees editorial and scholarly work for several decades.
Arthur Vööbus was considered to be the best-known Estonian scholar in Humanities, globally. The activities of the centre meet the moral obligation Vööbus has defined through his contribution to Estonia, Syria and the world. Oriental Christianity, early Christianity, patristics, and the textual history of the Bible involving its prehistory and reception are the focus of the centre.
Estonian competency in reading, translating, and interpreting texts thoroughly is emphasised at the centre and students hope to learn as much as possible from Vööbus’ lively engagement and sharp eye.
In light of the complicated situation in which Oriental Christianity finds itself today, together with the current plight of the Syrian people, the centre appraises the ancient cultural heritage of Syria. A number of elective and optional courses in connection to the disciplines represented by Vööbus’ work will be organised.