Amar's research on the martyrs of Najran, the 6th century CE conflict in remote southern Arabia that drew in the great powers of Byzantium and Persia as well as the conqueror Abyssinia/Ethiopia, stems from his wider interest in the ancient Near East and specifically the religions of that region. Uniquely for the times, this conflict was described as a religiously motivated one, a premeditated attack by a Jewish ruler who demanded the renunciation of faith from his Christian subjects. The reality was far more complex however, and neither the Jewish identity of the king nor the Christian affiliation of the Najranites can be taken for granted.
For too long, scholars have started their search for the antecedents of this conflict half a century (or less) before. Amar's research will trace the roots of this clash as far back as the records allow. He will also search for the forebears of the Jewish and Christian communities far away in time and geography. But his most original contribution will be in employing a new method that seeks to put the record of these events through a more objective set of analytical tools. He is utilising textual criticism as a first step towards establishing the most ancient report of these events. This will be followed by form criticism and finally source criticism before seeking to re-evaluate the whole narrative.
Amar is always pleased to hear from other researchers interested in his work, or who would like to draw his attention to other parallels, and encourages anybody interested in his research to get in touch with him.
Conference papers and presentations
- King's College London, June 2016: 'The Martyrs of Najran and the Wider Conflict in South Arabia in the 6th Century: How Textual Criticism of One Ancient Letter Can Solve the Many Riddles Surrounding that Struggle.'