John Monfasani

Dr. John Monfasani, a professor in the University’s History Department, has won a 2010 Summer Stipend award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for his project, “An Edition and Translation of George Amiroutzes’ Dialogue on Religion.” This award is Dr. Monfasani’s third NEH Summer Stipend award. He earned the first in 1975 and the second in 1993. Dr. Monfasani’s current project centers on a Greek text that had been lost for 500 years. He discovered a manuscript of it by chance in the cathedral library of Toledo, Spain. This work had previously been known only from a Renaissance Latin translation. Amiroutzes’ Dialogue is a literary recreation of discussions between himself and the greatest of the Ottoman Sultans, Mehmed II, who captured Constantinople in 1453 and ended the Byzantine Empire. The text is unique in that it conveys the gist of conversations by a Sultan concerning the comparative merits of Islam and Christianity. Amiroutzes argued for the plausibility of Christianity while Mehmed insisted upon the superiority of Islam. The Dialogue reflects the give-and-take between an intellectually curious and sophisticated Moslem ruler and an erudite Christian servant. Monfasani will publish a critical edition of the Greek text accompanied by an English translation and a historical introduction.