Since this blog’s inception there has been in the list of links one to digital editions of ZDMG, etc. In the same collection there are now 196 title of the series Islamkundliche Untersuchungen (h/t Sabine Schmidtke), a series covering a range of studies historical, literary, textual, linguistic, and social in the Middle East, and despite its title, the series is not strictly confined to Islamica. Every reader will have his or her own favorites or titles of interest, but as a sampling of the long list of books from this series freely available, here are a few of my own, with direct links:
Galen: “Über die Anatomie der Nerven” : Originalschrift und alexandrinisches Kompendium in arabischer Überlieferung / Ahmad M. Al-Dubayan
The stories of the Prophets by Ibn Muṭarrif al-Ṭarafī / ed. with an introd. and notes by Roberto Tottoli
Studien zum ältesten alchemistischen Schrifttum : auf der Grundlage zweier erstmals edierter arabischer Hermetica / Ingolf Vereno
Die Kritik der Prosa bei den Arabern : (vom 3./9. Jahrhundert bis zum Ende des 5./11. Jahrhunderts) / Mahmoud Darabseh
Über die Steine : das 14. Kapitel aus dem “Kitāb al-Muršid” des Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmad at-Tamīmī, nach dem Pariser Manuskript herausgegeben, übersetzt und kommentiert / Jutta Schönfeld
Die Entstehung und Entwicklung der osmanisch-türkischen Paläographie und Diplomatik : mit einer Bibliographie / Valery Stojanow
Ibn ar-Rāhibs Leben und Werk : ein koptisch-arabischer Enzyklopädist des 7./13. Jahrhunderts / Adel Y. Sidarus
Der Orientalist Johann Gottfried Wetzstein als preussischer Konsul in Damaskus (1849 – 1861) : dargestellt nach seinen hinterlassenen Papieren / Ingeborg Huhn
Das Verhältnis von Poesie und Prosa in der arabischen Literaturtheorie des Mittelalters / Ziyad al-Ramadan az-Zuʿbī
Mädchennamen – verrätselt : 100 Rätsel-Epigramme aus d. adab-Werk Alf ǧāriya wa-ǧāriya (7./13. Jh.) / Jürgen W. Weil
Der arabische Dialekt von Mekka : Abriß der Grammatik mit Texten und Glossar / Giselher Schreiber
Das Kitāb ar-rauḍ al-ʿāṭir des Ibn-Aiyūb : Damaszener Biographien des 10./16. Jahrhunderts, Beschreibung und Edition / Ahmet Halil Güneş
Studien zur Grammatik des Osmanisch-Türkischen : unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Vulgärosmanisch-Türkischen / von Erich Prokosch
Arabic literary works as a source of documentation for technical terms of the material culture / Dionisius A. Agius
Kritische Untersuchungen zum Diwan des Kumait b. Zaid / Kathrin Müller
Athanasius von Qūṣ Qilādat at-taḥrīr fī ʿilm at-tafsīr : eine koptische Grammatik in arabischer Sprache aus dem 13./14. Jh. / von Gertrud Bauer
Erziehung und Bildung im Schahname von Firdousi : eine Studie zur Geschichte der Erziehung im alten Iran / von Dariusch Bayat-Sarmadi
Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem, 135 is dated Feb 1901 AG (= 1590 CE) and contains a copy of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Candelabrum of the Sanctuary (Mnārat Qudšē). It was copied at Dayr Al-Zaʿfarān by Behnām b. Šemʿon b. Ḥabbib of Arbo. From a much later note immediately after the colophon we learn that this scribe was made metropolitan of Jerusalem in 1901 AG and died in 1925 AG. Who wrote this later note? None other than Ignatius Afram Barsoum (1887-1957; see GEDSH, 62, including a photo). On the following page, there are three more notes by Barsoum, all autobiographical.
Notes by Barsoum at the end of SMMJ 135.
In the year 1913 AD I visited the tomb of the savior and I spent two months in our monastery, that of Saint Mark, while I — the weakest of monks and the least of priests, Afram Barsoum of Mosul, alumnus of the Monastery Mār Ḥnānyā [Dayr Al-Zaʿfarān] — was using the old books [there]. Please pray for me!
In the year 1918 AD, on the 20th of Iyyār, I was elected metropolitan of the diocese of Syria, Damascus, Ḥoms, and their environs, and I was named Severius Afram.
In the year 1922 AD I again returned to Jerusalem and I took part in the consecration of the myron with Patriarch Eliya III on the 18th of Ēlul.
Notes like this are important for at least two reasons. First, they remind us that books have had their readers throughout their individual histories, that is, we are usually not the first readers since the time of the author or scribe to examine and study a book; rather, readers make contact with, or meet, books here and there along the way, with ourselves just one node in that continuum, and some of those readers leave their marks, wittingly or not, in the books. Second, these notes are a kind of archival document, in this case for the future patriarch Barsoum and for some goings-on in Syriac Orthodox circles in the first quarter of the twentieth century, and anyone studying the region in this time period might find something of interest here and in similar places. Once again, we see manuscripts as unique objects with unexpected finds!
The script used for Syriac is generally divided into three types: Estrangela, East Syriac, and Serto, which are distributed partly along chronological, partly denominational, lines. These three types cover the majority of surviving manuscripts, but this is not the whole picture: another type, called Melkite, is found less often, but we have enough surviving manuscripts to recognize its distinctiveness from the three other better known types of writing. A search online for “melkite syriac script” etc. yields little easily discoverable images of examples, so it occurred to me that this would be a good place to share a few. HMML finished digitizing the manuscripts of the Church of Mary in Diyarbakır a few years ago, and the collection has been ably cataloged by Grigory Kessel, with his records searchable through Oliver. The Church of Mary has a few manuscripts with this kind of script, and it is from these that the images below come. (These Diyarbakır manuscripts, along with the rest of the collection, are available for study at HMML, and copies may be ordered with a form here.)
The term “Melkite” (< Syriac malkā) refers to adherents of the Council of Chalcedon particularly in areas where there where also adherents of miaphysite belief. Melkite, or Rum Orthodox, Christians are partly an heir to Syriac culture, and Syriac was used liturgically into the eighteenth century in some places. (In Palestine and Transjordan from the 5th-14th centuries, Chalcedonian Christians used Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA), the script for which is similar to Estrangela, but it is an Aramaic dialect altogether distinct from Syriac.) From the ninth century especially, the literature is in Arabic, but in Syriac there are some earlier theological and polemical texts, not to mention a number of translations from Greek, as well as a few monastic texts known from Melkite manuscripts but originating in Syriac Orthodox or Church of the East communities. (For Syriac, see further Brock in GEDSH, 285-286, and “Melkite” and “Melkites” in the Comprehensive Bibliography of Syriac Christianity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and otherwise G. Graf, GCAL I 623-640, II 3-93, and III 23-41, 79-298, and J. Nasrallah, Histoire du mouvement littéraire dans l’Église Melchite du Vᵉ au XXᵉ siècle, 4 vols.)
According to Hatch (An Album of Dated Syriac Manuscripts, 28-29), the Melkite Syriac script developed from Serto, but he generally points out similarities with Estrangela and East Syriac, too, echoing Wright, who says that it “inclines in many points towards the Nestorian” (Cat. Syr. Brit. Mus., pt. III, p. xxxi). Plates xv-xvii of Wright’s catalog provide some examples. Hatch knew of only fourteen manuscripts, including those in Wright’s catalog, in Melkite script clearly dated before the end of the sixteenth century, the cutoff point for his Album. The oldest of these manuscripts is one finished at the Lavra of Mar Elias on the Black Mountain and dated 1045 CE. Hatch offers examples in his plates clxxxiv-cxcvii.
A few more examples from HMML’s work at the Church of Mary in Diyarbakır, of good quality and in full color, will be a welcome addition to the samples otherwise available. The manuscripts are indicated by their HMML source number.
DIYR 00062. Menaion, dated 1535.
DIYR 62, f. 42r
DIYR 00063. Menaion, 16th cent.
DIYR 63, f. 69v
DIYR 00083. Pentecostarion, dated 1540.
DIYR 83, f. 35v
DIYR 00335. Menaion, 16th/17th cent.
DIYR 335, f. 157v