Lost (?) and found: Mardin 129, Gregory’s Orations, and the Scholia of Ps.-Nonnos   1 comment

The beginning of scholion 19 (on Osiris)

In my continuing work cataloging the Church of the Forty Martyrs (Mardin) manuscript collection, I came recently upon a fine old manuscript on parchment. Since most of what I have been reading lately is in Serṭo (West Syriac) script, the older Esṭrangela always immediately catches my attention. This particular manuscript is missing the beginning and ending folios, as well as several at various places in the middle, but as I quickly went through the surviving leaves to get an idea of its contents, I recognized something I thought I had seen before: part of the (very interesting!) mythological scholia to the orations of Gregory Nazianzen, which I studied some years ago in Sebastian Brock’s edition (Cambridge, 1971).[1] I pulled this edition off the shelf and looked at Brock’s discussion of the manuscripts he used and there indeed was a reference to a manuscript from Mardin (pp. 11-12; no shelfmark). He says that he used photographs “taken under somewhat adverse conditions, and a few readings are not entirely certain.” This text in the Mardin manuscript has many of the proper names of the scholia written in Greek, sometimes not quite correctly, in the margins, as can be seen in the image to the right (“Osiris”, “Typhon”, “Titans”; “Mithras” belongs to the scholion in the other column).

In addition to this work, which is missing one folio at the beginning, the Mardin manuscript, now no. 129, contains in part or in full orations nos. 18 (On his Father), 38 (On Epiphany, the Birth of Jesus), 39 (On the Lights), 41 (On the Holy Spirit), 27 (Against the Eunomians), 29 (On the Son, I), 30 (On the Son, II), and 31 (On the Holy Spirit, only one folio).[2] The manuscript is briefly described in Dolabani’s Dayr Al-Za`farān catalog (p. 22 in western numerals, but p. ܟܐ in Syriac!), so it was apparently there before having been relocated to the Church of the Forty Martyrs, like so many other manuscripts from the same monastery. After Dolabani (and Brock), there has been some doubt and uncertainty as to this important manuscript’s whereabouts:

Es steht nicht fest, ob die Handschrift überhaupt noch an ihrem ursprünglichen Aufenthaltsort in Mardin liegt, ob sie verlorengegangen ist, oder ob sie mit weiteren Manuskripten aus Mardin in eine andere Bibliothek verlegt wurde. (A.B. Schmidt and M. Quaschning-Kirsch in Le Muséon 113 [2000]: 90, n. 8.)

Le Centre d’études sur Grégoire de Nazianze n’a pas pu obtenir un microfilm de ce manuscrit dont on a, semble-t-il, perdu la trace. (J.-C. Haelewyck, CCSG 53, Corpus Nazianzenum 18 [2005], p. xii; cf. CCSG 65, Corpus Nazianzenum 23 [2007], p. xi.)

I am happy to report that the manuscript is not lost at all!

From Or. 29 (On the Son, I)

[1] Of more recent publications note especially J. Nimmo Smith, ed., Pseudo-Nonniani in IV Orationes Gregorii Nazianzeni Commentarii, with the assistance of S. Brock and B. Coulie (CCSG 27, Corpus Nazianzenum 2; Turnhout: Brepols, 1992), and Bernard Coulie, “Les versions orientales des commentaires mythologiques du Pseudo-Nonnos et la réception de la mythologie classique,” in Rosa Bianca Finazzi and Alfredo Valvo, eds., La diffusione dell’eredità classica nell’età tardoantica e medievale. Il Romanzo di Alessandro e altri scritti. Atti del seminario internazionale di studio (Roma-Napoli, 25-27 settembre 1997) (L’eredità classica nel mondo orientale 2; Alexandria : Edizioni dell’Orso, 1998), pp. 113-23.

[2] Syriac editions of some of these orations have been published in the CCSG, Corpus Nazianzenum series.

One response to “Lost (?) and found: Mardin 129, Gregory’s Orations, and the Scholia of Ps.-Nonnos

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  1. Brilliant identification!

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