The Teaching Interests of the Orientalist Vasile Radu
HUI, XII, 2021, 137-161
Historia Universitatis Iassiensis 12, 137–161
. This study highlights the scholarly interests of Professor Vasile Radu, a pioneer of Oriental Studies in Romania, one of the first Romanian scholars who learned and used several Eastern languages and developed a coherent research program that he carried out throughout his life. Professor Vasile Radu can be considered the first Romanian orientalist and researcher of Christian Arabic texts concerning the Romanians. His first published works show his interest in the close relationship between the Patriarchate of Antioch, with its Seat in Damascus, and the Romanian Orthodox Church, starting with the last decades of the 16th century.
This paper begins with Professor Vasile Radu’s biography and presents information from researched sources, especially from direct sources written by Radu himself, with a focus on his higher education in Paris. This paper provides data concerning the professors whose courses the Romanian orientalist followed in Paris, as well as a description of how their courses were conducted. Also presented here is a list of Radu’s works, both published and left in manuscripts, the first inventory of titles bearing his signature.
Emphasis is placed on a latter period in Vasile Radu’s life, his time spent in Chișinău as professor at the newly established Faculty of Theology, attached to the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași. This marks another element of novelty in presenting the contribution of Professor Radu to the reorganization of
Romanian higher education, following in the footsteps of the renowned foreign universities of the time.
Concerning Radu’s translations and editorial work on Paul of Aleppo’s Diary, one of the professor’s most important works in the field of Arabic studies, this paper explores the Diary’s importance as a documentary source regarding the history of Romanians, Ukrainians, Russians and Christian Arabs throughout the Ottoman Empire.
Another topic addressed in this paper concerns the formative relations that the Romanian orientalist had with great scholars who shaped his scientific interests. It describes the friendship and the results of the collaboration with Gala Galaction, with whom Vasile Radu met during his tenure at the Faculty of Theology in Chișinău. Another person with whom Radu established a fruitful spiritual friendship was Cyrille Charon (Kiril Karalevskij), with whom he edited and translated from Greek the work of Athanasios Dabbās, the Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, History of the Patriarchs of Antioch.
This study illuminates the importance of the contributions made by Professor Vasile Radu as a scholar of Hebrew and Arabic studies to the founding and continuity of the Department of Exegesis of the Old Testament at the Faculty of Theology in Chișinău, as well as to the wider discussion in the academic environment at the time concerning the reorganization of the theological higher education in Romania.