Trisagion in Turkish (Syriac script)   Leave a comment

I have written before on the page from CCM 10 that has the Trisagion in various languages, all in Syriac script. Let’s take a look specifically at the Turkish part now:

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

The readings of this one are more obvious than the Georgian part we looked at before. Here is a possible transcription:

arı Taŋrı, arı güçlü, arı ölmez

rahmet bizüm ʾwsnʾ eyle!


arı pure, clean (a homonym means bee, wasp). For “holy” in Isa 6:3, Ali Bey has kuddûs, and the same seems to be the norm in related places (e.g. Rev 4:8), too, in Ali Bey’s version and later translations. (For Ottoman translations of the Bible, see here.)

Taŋrı God (< sky). Here spelled tgry. The ŋ in this word (mod. Tanrı) was written in Ottoman with the ڭ (where so marked) or with نڭ. For the earlier history of the word see G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish, pp. 523-524; Turkish and Mongolian Studies, pp. 9-10, 220, 223. It appears in other Turkic languages, too, such as Tatar тәңре. From a Turkic language the word came into Mongolian (sky, heaven, deity; in addition to the above references, cf. N. Poppe, Introduction to Mongolian Comparative Studies, p. 45). The word is listed, of course, in Kāšġarī’s famous work on Turkic languages; see vol. 3: 278-279 of edition available here (PDF); no other edition is available to me now, but for a Russian translation, see № 6418 in the Z.-A. Auezova’s 2005 work (Мах̣мӯд ал-Ка̄шг̣арӣ, Дӣва̄н Луг̣а̄т ат-Турк). (Clauson and others — such as K. Shiratori, Über die Sprache des Hiung-nu Stammes und der Tung-hu Stämme, pp. 3-4 — point to an early occurrence of the word in Chinese garb in the 漢書 Hàn Shū: the form is 撐犁, modern chēng lí < t’ʿäng liei < tʿäng liǝr. The passage is in the last part of the Hàn Shū, the biographies, chapter (94) 匈奴傳上, § 10, available here.) Whether or not there is a real connection, the Turkic word does immediately bring to mind Sumerian diĝir (which we might just as well spell diŋir).

güçlü strong, powerful, mighty. Note in the Syriac script that ç is indicated by a gāmal with an Arabic ǧīm beneath it.

ölmez immortal, undying (the root of ölmek to die + neg. suffix -mAz)

bizüm 1pl pron gen. We might expect the dative bize, but the phrase here (lit. do our mercy) is not altogether unclear; but see the note to the following word. Analogous phrases in Ottoman versions of the Bible do have the dative:

  • Ps 123:3 Ali Bey ʿināyet eyle bize
  • Ps 123:3 Turabi Effendi merhamet eyle bize
  • Lk 18:38 Ali Bey (with 1sg) baŋa merhamet eyle

ʾwsnʾ I’m not immediately sure how to take this word. Possibly a mistake for üstüne upon, a postposition with bizüm for object?

eyle impv of the auxiliary verb eylemek to do, make, here with rahmet: to have mercy, be merciful

The Georgian alphabet (mxedruli) in a Syriac manuscript   Leave a comment

To file in “unexpected finds”: With no apparent relationship to the rest of the text on the page, the Georgian mxedruli alphabet (along with Armenian) is found in the large outer margin of a Syriac manuscript from Jerusalem containing the Lexicon attributed to Eudochus, &c. (SMMJ 295, perh. 19th cent.).

SMMJ 295, p. 277

SMMJ 295, p. 277

Here “Georgian” in Syriac is gergānāytā. The writing begins with ქ, presumably for ქრისტე “Christ!”, and ends with ამ(ე)ნ “Amen”. The handwriting is not bad at all. There is no ჳ between the ტ and უ, but the other four letters obsolete in later Georgian (ჱ, ჲ, ჴ,  ჵ) are here.

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 42: Purim edition, Esther 7:7-10   Leave a comment

Since we are at Purim’s doorstep, here are a few verses from Esther in Old Georgian with vocabulary and some notes. The only version of the book accessible and known to me is that in the so-called Mcxeta Bible, more varied and more lately compiled than the Oshki/Jerusalem text and the old lectionaries. (An electronic edition of the Mxceta Bible is available at TITUS here.)

The book of Esther in the Greek Bible is known not only for having six parts that do not correspond to anything in the Masoretic text, but also for having two distinct versions, the “LXX” or “Old Greek” version and the “alpha text”. For some details, including edition history, see D.J.A. Clines, The Esther Scroll, chapters 6, 7, and the appendix, parts of which should be available for some people, at least, here. See also Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, pp. 257-259, and T.M. Law, When God Spoke Greek, pp. 63-64. Hanhart’s Göttingen edition of Esther includes both texts, as do the Cambridge Septuagint and Lagarde, Librorum veteris testamenti canonicorum pars prior graece. The NETS English version of both texts is available here.

The passage we are concerned with is numbered 7:7-10 in (at least most) English Bibles and in the Georgian edition referred to above. The two Greek texts are numbered differently from each other in all of the editions I have looked at (and NETS), but they will be found in Hanhart’s ed. on pp. 183-185, in the Cambridge Septuagint here and here, and in Lagarde here. For a few more notes, see Field here. (If you’d like a visual aid for the biblical scene just before this one, see Ernest Normand’s here and Doré’s here. A 14th-century miniature from Vind. Pal. 1191 with Haman hanging is available through HMML’s Vivarium here, and Barry Moser’s rendering of Haman standing before the gallows is here.)

I had not read any of Esther in Georgian until recently and when comparing the Georgian text of the Mcxeta Bible with the two Greek versions I was struck by how much this Georgian version is an amalgamation of the two Greek texts: it follows neither absolutely. Before any conclusion about this can be reached, the entire book must be studied, of course, alongside the Greek texts and the thick apparatūs critici of the aforementioned editions, as well as the Armenian version. But for now, we can confirm that at least for this passage, the Georgian version was not based on a text cleanly and simply like either the LXX Esther or the alpha-text Esther, but it shows features of both. Indeed, a color-coded edition — one much simpler than that recently executed for Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury; see also here and here — would show how apparently amalgamated this Georgian translation is.

Here, accompanied by some notes for vocabulary and grammar, is the text from TITUS, but with two places that seem to need correction in verse 7: ახლდნა > ახლდა and ევედრებთდა > ევედრებოდა.

7 და ზე ახლდა სმისაგან, განვიდა მტილად. ხოლო ამანს შეეშინა და შეუვრდა ფერჴთა დედოფლისათა. და დავარდა ცხედარსა მისსა ზედა. და ევედრებოდა დედოფალსა, რამეთუ ჰხედვიდა თავსა თჳსსა ბოროტსა შინა.

ზე up | ახლდ-ა aor 3sg ახლდომა to jump up | სმაჲ drinking, getting drunk | გან-ვიდ-ა aor 3sg განსლვა to go out, go forth | მტილი garden | შე-ე-შინ-ა aor 3sg (indir. vb) შეშინება to be afraid | შე-უ-ვრდ-ა aor 3sg შევრდომა to fall down | და-ვარდ-ა aor 3sg დავრდომა to fall down | ცხედარი bed | ე-ვედრებ-ოდ-ა impf 3sg ვედრება to ask, beg, implore | ჰ-ხედვ-ი-დ-ა impf 3sg ხედვა to see

8 ხოლო მეფემან მოაქცია მიერ მტილით სასმურადვე და იხილა ამან ცხედარსა ზედა დავრდომილი და ევედრებოდა დედოფალსა. ჰრქუა მეფემან: ვერ კმა-გეყოა შენ შეცოდება მეფისა, არამედ ცოლსაცა ჩემსა ჰმძლავრებ ჩემ წინაშე სახლსა შინა ჩემსა? ამანს რაჲ ესმა ესე; ჰრცხვენა პირსა წინაშე

მო-ა-ქცი-ა aor 3sg მოქცევა to (re)turn | სასმური drinking-place | ი-ხილ-ა aor 3sg ხილვა to see | დავრდომილი ptcp დავრდომა to fall down | კმა-გ-ე-ყო-ა aor 3sg O2 (+ interr ptcl) კმა-ყოფა to be enough for, satisfy | შეცოდება to sin against | ჰ-მძლავრებ pres 2sg მძლავრება to use force, violence with | ესმა aor 3sg (indir. vb) სმენა to hear | ჰ-რცხვენ-ა aor 3sg O3 რცხჳნება to shame | პირი face (here, the king’s); apparently reading Greek διετράπη τῷ προσώπῳ as “he was confounded at (his) face”

9 და თქუა ბუგათან, ერთმან მონათგანმან მისმან, საჭურისმან: აჰა, ძელი ეზოსა შინა მისსა, რომელი მომზადა ამან ერგასის წყრთა, რამეთუ მოეკვეთა იგი, რათა აღაგოს მარდოქე, რომელი იტყოდა მეფისათჳს კეთილსა. და თქუა მეფემან: დამოჰკიდეთ იგი მას!

საჭურისი eunuch | ძელი tree | ეზოჲ court, yard, house | მო-მზად-ა aor 3sg მომზადება to prepare | ერგასისი fifty | წყრთაჲ cubit | მო-ე-კვეთ-ა aor 3sg მოკვეთა to cut off, sever | აღ-ა-გ-ო-ს aor conj 3sg აღგება to put up (The word usually means to make, create; prepare; or load. It apparently corresponds to ἵνα κρεμάσῃ, but this is not the regular word for hanging. Cf. the following vocabulary word.) | დამო-ჰ-კიდ-ე-თ aor imv 2pl O3 დამოკიდება to hang (tr.)

10 და მოაბეს ამან მასვე ძელსა, რომელიცა მზა-ეყო მარდოქესთჳს. და* მიაქცია ღმერთმან ზრახვა მისი მისავე და სახლსა ზედა მისსა. და წარიჴადა** მეფემან ბეჭედი თჳსი ჴელისაგან მისისა და დაბეჭდეს ყოველსა საცხორებელსა ამანისასა. და მაშინ დასცხრა მეფე გულისწყრომისა მისისაგან

*On the following sentence, see the note below.

**For წარიჴადა მეფემან ბეჭედი თჳსი ჴელისაგან მისისა, cf. Gen 41:42.

მო-ა-ბ-ეს aor 3pl მობმა to fasten, bind on | მზა-ე-ყო aor 3sg მზა-ყოფა to prepare | მი-ა-ქცი-ა aor 3sg მიქცევა to turn back | ზრახვა sight, thought, intention | წარ-ი-ჴად-ა aor 3sg წარჴდა to pull off | ბეჭედი (signet-)ring | და-ბეჭდ-ე-ს aor 3pl დაბეჭდვა to seal | საცხორებელი possession(s) | და-ს-ცხრ-ა aor 3sg დაცხრომა to relax, let o.s. go | გულისწყრომაჲ anger

Note. Concerning the explanatory sentence და მიაქცია ღმერთმან ზრახვა მისი მისავე და სახლსა ზედა მისსა in verse 10, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in any Greek (or Armenian) witness to correspond to it. We might translate it, “And God returned his intention upon him and his household,” the pronominal references, I think, being for Haman, that is, God brought Haman’s plan to pass on himself and his own family. The language is familiar from at least a few other places:

Gen 8:11 JerLect
და მიაქცია მისავე ტრედმან მან
καὶ ἀνέστρεψεν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ περιστερὰ

1 Kg 13:6 Mcx
მოიქცა ჴელი მეფისა მისავე
ἐπέστρεψεν τὴν χεῖρα τοῦ βασιλέως πρὸς αὐτόν

2 Kg 1:5 Mcx
მიიქცეს მოციქულნი იგი მისავე
ἐπεστράφησαν οἱ ἄγγελοι πρὸς αὐτόν

Est 10:8
ღმერთმან მიაქცია ბოროტი მისი მისავე
God returned his evil to him (≈ nothing exactly in Greek Esther here)

Ethio-Hebrew Psalms (BL Add. 19342)   2 comments

While looking lately at the records for some Judeo-Persian manuscripts in Margoliouth’s Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, I stumbled across the record for BL Add. 19342 (№ 158 in the catalog, p. 119), a manuscript with parts of the Psalter in Hebrew, but written in Gǝʿǝz script (Fidäl), something we can call Ethio-Hebrew on the pattern of the descriptors Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, etc. (We could also call Garšūnī Syro-Arabic, but custom has deemed otherwise.) Until this, I had never encountered this particular phenomenon, but as Margoliouth notes, Wright had previously described the manuscript as part of the Ethiopic collection (№ 127, p. 81). It so happens that this manuscript is among the many already made available through the British Library’s digitization project: see here. Following Wright, Margoliouth dates the manuscript to the 18th century. It contains Pss 1-11:4, 51, 121, 123, 130, 140. Unlike most Ethiopic manuscripts, this one is on paper, not parchment.

The beginning of Ps 1 is in both catalogs mentioned above, but we can now look at the manuscript itself, and in its entirety, thanks to the BL’s having made the images freely accessible. Here are some examples (Heb text below from BHS):

Ps 1:3

וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר פִּרְיֹ֨ו׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתֹּ֗ו וְעָלֵ֥הוּ לֹֽא־יִבֹּ֑ול וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַ׃

Ps 1:3 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1r. Source.

Ps 1:3 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1r. Source.

Ps 2:1-2

לָ֭מָּה רָגְשׁ֣וּ גֹויִ֑ם וּ֝לְאֻמִּ֗ים יֶהְגּוּ־רִֽיק׃ יִ֥תְיַצְּב֨וּ׀ מַלְכֵי־אֶ֗רֶץ וְרֹוזְנִ֥ים נֹֽוסְדוּ־יָ֑חַד עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֹֽו׃

Ps 2:1-2 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1v. Source.

Ps 2:1-2 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1v. Source.

Ps 121

שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲלֹ֥ות אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃
עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃
אַל־יִתֵּ֣ן לַמֹּ֣וט רַגְלֶ֑ךָ אַל־יָ֝נ֗וּם שֹֽׁמְרֶֽךָ׃
הִנֵּ֣ה לֹֽא־יָ֭נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שֹׁ֝ומֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
יְהוָ֥ה שֹׁמְרֶ֑ךָ יְהוָ֥ה צִ֝לְּךָ֗ עַל־יַ֥ד יְמִינֶֽךָ׃
יֹומָ֗ם הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ לֹֽא־יַכֶּ֗כָּה וְיָרֵ֥חַ בַּלָּֽיְלָה׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָרְךָ֥ מִכָּל־רָ֑ע יִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָר־צֵאתְךָ֥ וּבֹואֶ֑ךָ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עֹולָֽם׃

Ps 121 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 9r. Source.

Ps 121 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 9r. Source.

More could be certainly be said, but here are a few scattered observations:

  • The Hebrew h marking final or -e is written (e.g. ሀያህ, ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]).
  • Hebrew is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ፀ (e.g. ክዔፅ, ኤሬፅ) or ጸ (e.g. ይትያጽቡ).
  • Hebrew š is generally spelled with Gǝʿǝz ሠ (e.g. ሣቱል, አሤር, ሦምሬካ), as is Hebrew ś (ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]). In at least one place (Ps 121:6), though, the Ethiopic letter ሸ (not used in Gǝʿǝz, but used in other Ethiosemitic languages) is fittingly used for š: ሀሸሜስ häšämes, but note that the last consonant here, which should also be š, is here a simple s (not ś as usual elsewhere in the manuscript), so that we end up with a form like Arabic šams.
  • Spirantized Hebrew k is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ኀ (e.g. ውኁል, also note the vowel, wǝxul). Spirantization in the other BGDKPT letters is not marked (e.g. ያቦእ).
  • The Hebrew in yārēaḥ is written with Gǝʿǝz ሀ (ውያሬሀ).
  • The Hebrew impf prefix yi- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yǝ- (e.g. ይቴን, ይቦል). The prefix ye- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yä- (የሄጉ; note the incorrect vowel on the h).
  • The tetragrammaton is written ይሁዋህ yǝhuwah.
  • The Gǝʿǝz vowel i often appears where we expect e. The latter vowel is used for Heb segol (e.g. ኤሬፅ, ኤል, ኤት); for the pausal form ā́reṣ we have አሬፅ.
  • An Ethiopism is ሚኵል for Heb mikkol.
  • There are some mistakes, such as ወዓላሁ for וְעָלֵ֥הוּ. The first two words of Ps 2 are missing.

The Pericope adulterae in Old Georgian   Leave a comment

Just over a year ago I wrote on the Pericope adulterae in an East Syriac manuscript in our collections (CCM 64; see here). I’ve recently read over the passage in the two Old Georgian versions that include it (Pre-Athonite and Athonite; not in Adishi). Birdsall wrote on it, and Chris Keith discusses the passage in Georgian a little, especially its placement, in his 2009 book (pp. 124-126). As far as I know, the texts have never been published together, nor is any English translation available, so I have prepared a document with a synoptic presentation of each verse of the passage in Greek (NA27) and the two Georgian versions together with some verse-by-verse vocabulary and grammatical notes (file here). I offer no full textual commentary, but some sense of the distinctive readings of each version compared with each other (and with Greek) will also be evident in the English translation of each Georgian version I give below. These English translations are literal, but nevertheless not every difference between the two versions can be indicated.


J. Neville Birdsall, “The Pericope Adulterae in Georgian,” Studia Patristica 39 (2006): 185–92.

Chris Keith, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (Leiden, 2009).

(See some artwork from HMML collections related to the scene here, here, here, and here.)

English translation

PA 7:53 And each one left for his home.
At 7:53 And each one left for his home.

PA 8:1 But Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives.
At 8:1 But Jesus left for the Mount of Olives.

PA 8:2 And the next day [OR in the morning] he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he was teaching them.
At 8:2 And at dawn he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he sat down and was teaching them.

PA 8:3 The high priests and Pharisees brought a woman and stood her in their midst.
At 8:3 But the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman, who was caught in adultery openly before the people, and they stood her in their midst.

PA 8:4 And they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught seen in adultery.
At 8:4 And they said, because they were testing him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery openly.

PA 8:5 And in the Law of Moses, for such [women] he commands us to throw stone[s]. Now, what do you say?“
At 8:5 And Moses commanded us in the Law to throw stone[s] at such [women]. What, then, do you say?“

PA 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of, but Jesus was looking downward and was marking on the ground with his finger.
At 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have [something] to accuse him of, but Jesus bent down to the ground, was marking on the ground with his finger, and he was saying nothing.

PA 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, then he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever among you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”
At 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever of you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”

PA 8:8 And he again bent down to the ground.
At 8:8 And he again bent down and was marking on the ground.

PA 8:9 But when they heard it, the elders and scribes began, and one by one they were going away, and he himself was left alone, and the woman stood before Jesus.
At 8:9 But when they heard it, exposed from their conscience, they were going away one by one. They began from the elders, until he himself was left alone, and the woman stood in the midst.

PA 8:10 And Jesus looked and said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? No one accuses you?”
At 8:10 And Jesus straightened up and saw no one except the woman, and he said to her, “Where are your accusers? No one accused you?”

PA 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”
At 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” But Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”

“Evil head!” A term addressed to martyrs in hagiographic literature   2 comments

While perusing the Armenian synaxarion over the weekend, I came across an expression that I remembered seeing in a Syriac text that I edited a few years ago. In the Syriac Martyrdom of Theonilla (my edition and translation, in Analecta Bollandiana 128 [2010]: 312-328, are available here), § 9, when they are trying to get Theonilla to renounce Christianity, they say to her, lā tpakknin, qarqaptā bištā!, which I translated as “Stop chattering, wretch!” and in a note on “wretch” I indicated the literal meaning, “evil head”, and I pointed to Hoffmann’s Iulianos der Abtruennige: Syrische Erzaehlungen (Leiden, 1880), 82.12, which is cited by both Brockelmann and Payne Smith, s.v. qarqaptā. I also cited the similar expression ὦ κακὴ κεφαλή from the Martyrdom of Domnina (Lackner, “Eine unedierte griechische Passion der kilikischen Märtyrin Domnina,” AB 90 [1972]: 241-259, here p. 254, § 4). In the Armenian synaxarion reading that commemorates Fausta on Mehekan 8/Feb 14 (PO 21: 39-42; for the Greek synaxarion, see Feb 6 here, and further BHG 658 [mainly catal. references]), this same expression occurs twice, again with the “bad guys” using it to address a Christian martyr-to-be, here the recently converted Evilasius.

Եւ առաքեաց զեպարքոսն Մաքսիմիանոս ի Կիզիկոն, եւ երթեալ հարցանէր ընդ Եւիլասիոս. Ով չարագլուխ, ո՞րպէս իշխեցեր թեթեւացուցանել զաստուածսն մեր, եւ լինել քրիստանեայ։ (40.15-17)

He [the emperor] sent the eparch Maximianus to Cyzicus and [the latter], having arrived, was questioning Evilasius, “You evil head, how have you dared to think lightly of our gods and to become a Christian?”

And not many lines later Maximianus addresses Fausta herself with the title, this time with a preceding adjective:

Կոչեաց եպարկոսն զՓաւստեա եւ ասէ. Ով փոքրիկ չարագլուխ, ո՞րպէս իշխեցեր զայնպիսի մեծ իշխան թագաւորին եւ զաստուածոց քահանայն կորզել ի մէնջ եւ մատուցանել Աստուծոյն քոյ։ (41.6-8)

The eparch called Fausta and said, “You little evil head, how have you dared to snatch from us such a great prince of the emperor and priest of the gods [i.e. Evilasius] and to offer him to your god?”

The Armenian word (չարագլուխ) is a compound, and it does show up in Bedrosian’s dictionary (582a), with the meaning “malignant, malevolent,” etc. There are terms of abuse in English (and other languages) with the suffix -head and -skull (blockhead, numbskull, etc.), but I know of nothing quite like “evil head”. This expression almost certainly appears in other hagiographic tales (and elsewhere?), in these and other languages. If you know of or come across any, please note them in the comments.

UPDATE Feb 17, 2015. I mentioned the Greek ὦ κακὴ κεφαλή above. A quick search in TLG reveals its occurrence in a few other martyrdom texts (there are, of course, many such texts not yet in TLG), but also four times in Aesop’s fables; Dem. De falsa leg. 313; Nicolaus, Frag. 10.56 (see FHG 3, pp. 348‑464); twice in Plutarch (Alexander 9.8.2, 51.1.2); six times in Libanius (Decl.,; Prog.,,,; and Achilles Tatius, Leucippe et Clitophon (This list is not exhaustive.) The expression is especially used in questions. In his epigrams to the Bible (Luke 250a, on Lk 22:31), Theodore Prodromos uses this vocative expression to address Satan, and finally, here is a memorable curse from the Scholia to Lucian’s Μυίας ἐγκώμιον (§ 7): ἀλλ’ ἔρρ’ ἐς μυίας καὶ σκώληκας, κακὴ κεφαλή. “To flies and worms with you, evil head!” (Ἔρρε, with or without qualifiers, is used this way.)

Two meteorological reports from the sixteenth century   Leave a comment

As anyone who frequents this blog knows, manuscripts can be much more than simple receptacles for the main texts that their scribes copied. When present, colophons, notes, &c., may make a manuscript even more valuable and interesting. Here is a case in point. On f. 241r of SMMJ 211, a fifteenth-century copy of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Chronography (secular & eccles.), are two later meteorological reports from different hands, neither the scribe’s.

Notes in outer column of SMMJ 211, f. 241r.

Notes in outer column of SMMJ 211, f. 241r.




The first note says roughly in English:

In the year 1814 (= 1502/3 CE) AG, in the month of Ḥzirān, there was a white meteor like the darkest night in the middle of the air for about an hour in the day, and everyone [lit. the whole world] saw it. And in the same year, on the feast of St. Jacob, on the 29th of the month of Tammuz, there was great and powerful thunder before midday, and with it were white clouds (ʿnānā), yet without a mist (ʿaymā) in the air, or rain, and this thunder continued roaring for about an hour of the day. They heard its sound throughout the region all the way to Gāzartā and the valley, and many people were frightened of its sound and fell on their faces. While the Lord shows us these signs for us to be repentant, our insolent and refractory heart neither repents nor is softened. May the Lord not repay us according to our evils, but according to the multitude of his mercy — amen — and his grace.

And from almost seven decades later, the second note (in less careful handwriting) says:

In the year 1882 AG (= 1570/1 CE) the clouds thickened and much rain appeared in Ṭur ʿĀbdin with terrible thunder, and intense lightning came down for six days in the month of Āb during the Feast of Booths in the villages, one of which is called Zāz, before the outer land of the Church of Mar Dimeṭ, and this lightning came down upon a house near that church with wood and straw inside it, and the house caught fire [with] all the firewood and straw.

(For the Church of Mar Dimet in Zaz, see a picture here.)

Update: Thanks to Thomas Carlson for the suggestion about PQʿTʾ (valley) in the first note, which I initially read as an unidentified place-name PWʿTʾ. The scribe writes waw and qop with little difference.


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