December 5, 2022

About the Expert

Jack Tannous is Associate Professor of History at Princeton University, as well as the chair of the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity and the program director of Hellenic Studies. His research interests lie in the cultural history of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, within the Late Antique and early medieval period. He is the author of The Making of the Medieval Middle East: Religion, Society, and Simple Believers and The Life of Simeon of the Olives: An Entrepreneurial Saint of Early Islamic North Mesopotamia, as well as numerous articles centering on Syriac-speaking Christian communities. He is currently working on a book entitled Lovers of Labor at the End of the Ancient World: Syriac Scholars Between Byzantium and Islam. 

Start a Conversation

  1. What were the most important ways that people in the Middle Ages experience religion? How are they similar or different from ways that people experience religion today?
  2. Is religious conversion a rupture from the past or a process of gradual change? What did it mean for the people mentioned in this video to participate in practices from another religion?
  3. How does increasing literacy change the way religions are practiced? What is gained or lost in religious traditions as literacy becomes more or less widespread?

Additional Resources

Brown, Jonathan. Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989.

Burrington, Kathryn. “The Ravenna Mosaics | Some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world.” Mandalla Meadow. 2020. 

Cameron, Averil. The Byzantines. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Ibrahim, Celine. “Female archetypes in the Quran,” lecture at Zaytuna College. YouTube video, 1:58:19. Dec 9, 2019. 

Janega, Eleanor and Neil Max Emmanuel. The Middle Ages: A Graphic History. London: Icon Books, 2021.

Princeton University Department of History. Middle Ages for Educators (MAFE).

Sarris, Peter. Empires of Faith: The Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, 500-700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.