Nativity reading from a Mardin Gospel Lectionary   Leave a comment

Church of the Forty Martyrs ms. 41, p. 46

Below are the recto and verso of a folio (now pp. 31-32) from an undated (probably 13th century) Syriac Gospel Lectionary from the Church of the Forty Martyrs (formerly at Dayr Al-Zaˤfarān). The painting, one of twenty in this manuscript,[1] shows the birth of Jesus; it has has suffered somewhat in the middle of the page, and is thus not one of the better preserved, but is nevertheless fitting to current season of the church calendar. The Syriac text, from John 1,[2] is notable for the way in which it was written: outlined letters filled in with gold, and within a decorative border. A few other lections in the manuscript are also written this way, but the greater part is written in a fine, thick Esṭrangǝlā, an example of which I have also included.

Best wishes to all for year’s end and a new beginning!

[1] J. Leroy, Les manuscrits syriaques à peintures (Paris, 1964), vol. 1, pp. 371-383 (with some errors in reference to the manuscript’s pagination); vol. 2, pp. 127-136. I dare say these color images are rather more striking than the black and white reproductions in Leroy’s album. We can be thankful for the ease with which we can now reproduce such high-quality images.

[2] This reading, and most of the others, are of the Ḥarqlean version. Leroy says that the manuscript is Ḥarqlean, but there are in fact some lections from the Pǝšiṭtā, and they are so marked in the margins.

Church of the Forty Martyrs ms. 41, p. 31

Church of the Forty Martyrs, ms. 41, p. 32

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