Beulay, Robert (1927–2007)
Carmelite priest, scholar of the Ch. of E. and of E.-Syr. mysticism. He was born in Paris, entered the Carmelite order in 1945, was ordained in 1953, and in 1958 went to Baghdad to the Carmelite mission, which had been founded there in the 17th cent. He was professor of dogmatic theology at the Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad from 1963. At Babel College, which was founded in 1991, he taught spirituality, general and oriental, ontology and philosophy of nature. In 1997 he began teaching Syriac theology as well.
Initially in Paris under the influence of L. Massignon, his teacher, he studied Islamic mysticism, but the Carmelite order preferred that he focus on the mystical writings of the Syriac church. He studied Near Eastern languages for three years, graduated from the École Pratique des Hautes Études in 1971, and presented his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne in 1974. Both parts of his thesis were published: La lumière sans forme in 1987 and L’enseignement spirituel de Jean de Dalyatha in 1990. Antoine Guillaumont was his teacher at the École Pratique and attested to the contribution his studies made to scholarship. At that time, Yoḥannan of Dalyatha was largely unedited so that in order to write his thesis Beulay had to assemble copies of mss., including the Arabic version — all of this in Baghdad far from western libraries. In addition to Yoḥannan of Dalyatha, he did significant research on Yawsep Ḥazzaya as well, including a translation of Yawsep’s ‘Treatise on the nature of the divine essence’, preserved in a 13th-cent. ms. from Alqosh (Notre-Dame des Semences 237/Dawra 680). His commitment to scholarship never waned nor was compromised during his many years in Baghdad. He contributed publications and actively participated in seminars and international symposia on Syriac studies.
He never lost sight of the connection between Syriac writers and their church. Also he sought to make this tradition available to the Iraqi people among whose ancestors it had developed. He did this while teaching at Babel College. Several articles from this period may be found in Patrimoine syriaque (1996, 2001, 2005). Through his teaching and his ministry as priest, he worked to sustain the faith of countless students during tragic years in Iraq. Even after he returned permanently to France in 2004, for health reasons, his students exiled all over the world kept in touch. He died in 2007 in Normandy and was buried in Lisieux.
- ‘Jean de Dalyatha et sa lettre XV’, ParOr 2 (1971), 261–79.
- ‘Des Centuries de Joseph Hazzaya retrouvées?,’ ParOr 3 (1972), 5–44.
- ‘Jean de Dalyatha’, in DSpir , vol. 8 (1974), 449–52.
- ‘Joseph Hazzaya’, in DSpir , vol. 8 (1974), 1341–49.
- ‘Précisions touchant l’identité et la biographie de Jean Saba de Dalyatha’, ParOr 8 (1977/8), 87–116.
- La collection des lettres de Jean de Dalyatha (PO 39.3; 1978).
- La lumière sans forme. Introduction à l’étude de la mystique chrétienne syro-orientale (1987).
- ‘Formes de lumière et lumière sans forme. Le thème de la lumière dans la mystique de Jean de Dalyatha’, in Mélanges Antoine Guillaumont: Contributions a l’étude des christianismes orientaux (Cahiers d’orientalisme 20; 1988), 131–41.
- L’enseignement spirituel de Jean de Dalyatha: Mystique syro-oriental du VIIIe siecle (Théologie historique 83; 1990).
- ‘Discours sur la nature de l’essence divine’, in Le saint prophète Elie d’après les pères de l’Église (Spiritualité Orientale 53; 1992).
- ‘De l’émerveillement à l’extase: Jean de Dalyatha et Abou Saʿid al-Kharraz’, in Youakim Moubarac. Dossier dirigé per Jean Stassinet (2005), 333–43.
- ‘Quelques axes de l’enseignement de Denys l’Aréopagite chez les mystiques syro-orientaux, et leur continuité possible en mystique musulmane’, in Patrimoine syriaque. Actes du Colloque IX: Les syriaques transmetteurs de civilisations (2005), 97–106.
- ‘Les dimensions philosophiques de l’expérience spirituelle de Jean de Dalyatha’, ParOr 33 (2008), 201–7.
- M. Hansbury, ‘Professor Robert Beulay, OCD (1927–2007)’, JCSSS 7 (2007), 99–102.
Select publications by Beulay
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
Mary T. Hansbury, “Beulay, Robert,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Beulay-Robert.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Hansbury, Mary T. “Beulay, Robert.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Beulay-Robert.
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