Bibliothèque de l'Eglise apostolique arménienne - Paris - BIRGE , John Kingsley     Retour à l'Index des auteurs en anglais    Accueil des catalogues en ligne

Bibliothèque de l'Église apostolique arménienne - Paris
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John Kingsley BIRGE
( 1888 - 1952 )


Naissance le 4 mars 1888 à Bristol, Connecticut (USA), décès le 14 aout 1952 à Istanbul (Turquie)

B.A. Yale University, 1909
B.D. Hartford Seminary, 1913
To Smyrna, 1914
YMCA in U.S.A., 1924-26
Candidate Secretary ABCFM 1926-27
Married Ruby Phillips, 1927
To Istanbul, October, 1927
Ph.D. Hartford Seminary, 1935
To Istanbul, Secretary of the Mission, 1938
Died, Istanbul, August 14, 1952
Connecticut was home for Kingsley Birge, born in Bristol on March 4, 1888, educated at Yale (1909) and Hartford Theological Seminary (1913) followed by a year at Kennedy School of Missions, Ph.D., HTS, 1935.
He married Anna Harlow of Grafton, Massachusetts on May 22, 1913. In June of 1914 they sailed for Smyrna, serving there 1914-16 and again 1919-23, at the International College. During the years at Smyrna, Mr. Birge gave much time and attention to the Greeks and Armenians in their troubles. Four children were born to Kingsley and Anna. They returned to the U.S.A. and Mr. Birge worked with the Y.M.C.A. from 1924-26, Mrs. Birge died in 1925.
During the year 1926-7 Mr. Birge was Candidate Secretary of the ABCFM, and on May 2, 1927, he married Ruby Phillips, also employed in that office. They sailed for Istanbul in September of that year, arriving October 1. The summer of 1928 was spent in Neuchatel, Switzerland. A daughter Dorothy, was born to Ruby and Kingsley. The year June 1934 to August 1935 they were in America, where Mr. Birge earned his Ph.D degree at Hartford Theological Seminary. Thereupon they returned to Istanbul.
Dr. Birge became Secretary of the Mission in July 1938. He was a delegate to the International Missionary Union Conference in Madras, India, in 1938. In May 1942, they returned to the United States for three years, and in the school year 1943-44 he was a teacher in the School of Oriental Languages at Princeton University, teaching Turkish. After another five-year term in Istanbul, they furloughed again May 1950 to September 1951. The Birges were released for 3 years (January 1951 - December 31, 1953) to engage in research and study project in Turkish history (social, political, ideological), to be completely financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Birge died in Istanbul, August 14, 1952 and is buried in the Feriköy cemetery.
Dr. Birge was a competent scholar, author of the standard work on the Bektasi order of Dervishes: "The Bektashi Order of Dervishes", which is Vol. VII in Luzac's Oriental Religious Series. He also published other books and articles on Turkey and Islam, and at his death was engaged in a study of "The Origin and Evolution of the Turkish Republic". His eulogist at the 1953 Annual Meeting of the Mission bespoke four particular qualities of "King" Birge: his friendliness and warm sympathy for everyone-evidenced by the invitation of the Bektasis to foin them (and permission to visit their center in Albania) and in his work as Mission Pastor; secondly, his contagious enthusiasm; further, the quality of thoroughness, recognized by authorities in several fields who came away from consultations with him feeling enriched; and lastly, his depth of vision, enabling his grasp of the movements of history and our place in it, coupled with profound spiritual power and joy.

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 The Bektashi Order of Dervishes
Titre : The Bektashi Order of Dervishes / auteur(s) : John Kingsley BIRGE -
Editeur : London: Luzac & Co./ Hartford: Hartford Seminary Press
Année : 1937
Imprimeur/Fabricant : Burleigh Press, Bristol, GB
Description : 16,5 x 24,5 cm, 291 pages including bibliography and index. 31 plates on glossy paper, mostly reproduced photographs
Collection : Vol VII in Luzac's Oriental Religious Series
Notes : First edition
Autres auteurs :
Sujets : Dervishes
Lecture On-line : non disponible

Commentaire :

I. The General Place of Dervish Orders in Turkey and other Moslem Countries
The study of mystic orders in Islam is one of particular importance if the Moslem world is to be adequately understood. The religion left by Muhammad very early developed in two directions. On the one hand it produced a rigid, scholastic theology with an inflexible religious law. At the same time, even from within the first two centuries, a tendency away from this fixed, external system showed its beginning and quickly developed into individuals and groups who emphasized the ascetic life and the mystical approach to direct knowledge of God. As orthodox canonists and professional theologians objected to this tendency to " search the conscience " on the ground that the ultimate result would be in the direction of heresy, organized bands or brotherhoods began to develop, based on the fundamental idea that " the fervent practice of worship engenders in the soul graces (fawaid], immaterial and intelligible realities, and that the ' science of hearts ' (Urn al kulub] will procure the soul an experimental wisdom (ma'rifa1)."
Although the article Tarika in the Encyclopaedia of Islam makes the statement that " As a rule the number of persons affiliated to the brotherhoods in any particular Muslim country is not over three per cent, of the population," it appears certain that in Turkey and Albania, at least, the proportion of actual members and of those loosely affiliated is far greater. When the writer first visited Turkey in 1913 he went about under the impression he had received from books that Turkey was a Sunni (i.e. from the Muharnmadan point of view orthodox) country. He quickly found to his surprise that an enormous proportion of the people not only were affiliated with dervish brotherhoods, but even the leaders who appeared on Friday as Imams in the formal worship (namaz) in the mosque, were on other days to be found acting as Seyh's (Shaikhs) in dervish tekkes.1 During Muharrem, the month when Shi'ites especially remember the death of Huseyin and the early injustice done Ali and his family in taking the Caliphate from them, the writer visited tekke after tekke, and found in them all dervishes passionately mourning the death of Hasan and Huseyin. In discussing this matter later with one of Turkey's greatest scholars the writer expressed the impression that the Turkish people while outwardly Sunni were, under cover of their dervish brotherhoods, partially Shi'ite, at least in their tendencies, and certainly mystical rather than orthodox. The scholar replied that there in Constantinople where the proportion was presumably less than in the rest of the country, probably sixty per cent, of the people belonged directly or indirectly to dervish fraternities. He pointed out that in Christian countries we had in church history experienced our persecutions, Catholics killing Protestants and vice versa, but that there was a certain moral advantage in this. Deep sincerity, he said, lay behind these persecutions. Whereas, in Moslem lands, he continued, the practice of takiye, dissimulation, had grown up to make possible a man's continuing his standing as an orthodox member of the religious body while at the same time being a member of a mystic fraternity which emphasized an experiential rather than a traditional and formal approach to reality.
In Turkey, therefore, this tendency to group life in a brotherhood of those seeking a direct knowledge of God must be recognized as a widespread tendency lying sometimes beneath the surface, but influencing probably the lives of a large majority of the people.
In general, the ideology of such groups has come from Arabic and Persian sources, the more learned among the dervish leaders being well able to read and to write in these languages. The most important immediate sources of ideas for all the Turkish dervish orders have been the Mesnevi, a great poem written in Persian in the thirteenth century by Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the patron saint of the Mevlevi dervish order, and the two Arabic works Futuhati Mekkiye and Fususul Hikdm by Muhyiddini Arabi (1165-1240). Lying as a foundation underneath the system developed by the influence of these books has been the common belief and practice of the Turkish people with their inherited customs from the Asiatic past. Certain orders, of which the Mevlevi's are the outstanding example, grew up chiefly in urban centres, as aristocratic, intellectual fraternities, especially attracting members from the upper classes on grounds largely of aesthetic appeal. Other groups, of which the Bektashis are the notable exponent, developed directly out of the life of the people. On the surface in these latter groups, lies the Islam which became the accepted religion of the people. Underneath have lain, all down through Ottoman history, customs and practices which came originally from the ethnic life of the various peoples who mingled together on the frontiers in the thirteenth century, and from amongst whom grew up a natural religion of the people.

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