Archive for June 2013

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 5   Leave a comment

თქ~ნი წიგნი ზღაპარ არს

Your book is a fairy-tale.

Source: The Martyrdom of Babylas (cf. BHG 205), § 4, as published by K. Kekelidze in Monumenta hagiographica georgica: Keimena (Tblisi, 1918), vol. 1, p. 45. For a notice of this volume see Peeters in Analecta Bollandiana 43 (1925): 379-383.

Synaxarion texts in PO, with links to online texts   2 comments

Among the volumes of the venerable series Patrologia Orientalis (see a list of online volumes here) are synaxarion texts in Arabic, Armenian, Georgian (see update at the bottom), and Gǝʿǝz. The synaxarion — the collection of shorter or longer notices in commemoration of saints for each day of the church calendar — as it appears in different language-traditions offers both language students and students of the saints a host of reading-material: there are mountains of texts for a great many saints common to all the language-traditions, and these texts may be fruitfully compared with each other philologically, literarily, and otherwise, as well as saints particular to each language-tradition. (For further comparison, one might turn to the Byzantine Synaxarium ecclesiae constantinopolitanum, edited by Delehaye.) To make reference easier to these synaxarion texts from PO, all of which are given in the original language and with a French translation, here is a list according to month and PO volume, with links to the appropriate books at, where available. The month names are given according to the appropriate language and preceded by their number; for the correspondences of the months, see here from BHO. For more on eastern Christian hagiography, in addition to the volumes mentioned here, see my tagged bibliography, still in progress, here.

Month PO # Editor Online
1 Mäskäräm 43.3 Colin  
2 Ṭǝqǝmt 44.1 Colin  
3 Ḫǝdār 44.3 Colin  
4 Taḫśaś I 15.5 Grébaut
4 Taḫśaś II 26.1 Grébaut  
5 Ṭǝrr 45.1 Colin  
6 Yäkkatit 45.3 Colin  
7 Mäggabit 46.3 Colin  
8 Miyazya 46.4 Colin  
9 Gǝnbot 47.3 Colin  
10 Säne 1.5 Guidi
11 Ḥamle 7.3 Guidi
12 Näḥase and 13 Pagʷämen 9.4 Guidi et al.
Index, annexes 48.3 Colin  
1 Navasard 5.3 Bayan
2 Hoṛi 6.2 Bayan
3 Sahmi 15.3 Bayan
4 Trē 16.1 Bayan
5 K’ałoc’ 18.1 Bayan
6 Arac’ 19.1 Bayan
7 Mehekan 21.1 Bayan
8 Areg 21.2 Bayan
9 Ahekan 21.3 Bayan
10 Mareri 21.4 Bayan
11 Margac’ 21.5 Bayan
12 Hrotic’ and 13 Awelik’ 21.6 Bayan
1 Tout and 2 Bāba 1.3 Basset
3 Hatūr and 4 Kīhak 3.3 Basset
5 Ṭūba and 6 Amšīr 11.5 Basset
7 Barmahāt, 8 Barmūda, and 9 Bašuns 16.2 Basset
10 Baʾūna, 11 Abīb, and 12 Misrá 17.3 Basset
Additions et corrections; Tables 20.5 Basset   

UPDATE (June 27, 2013): I initially failed to recall Nikolay Marr’s ed. and tr. of an old recension of the Georgian synaxarion: Synaxaire géorgien: Rédaction ancienne de l’union arméno-géorgienne, in PO 19.5, which has texts on Stephen, Peter, and Paul, available here in PDF, and, with the Georgian text only, here from TITUS.

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 4   1 comment

Pilate’s famous question to Jesus in John 18:38, which reads the same in the Adishi, Pre-Athonite, Athonite versions (on the Old Georgian Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, see the recent survey by Childers in the bibliography below):

ჰრქუა მას პილატე: რაჲ არს ჭეშმარიტებაჲ?

λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πιλᾶτος· τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια;

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

The last word of the line is derived from the adjective ჭეშმარიტი, itself from Armenian ճշմարիտ, on which see Ačaṛyan’s dictionary, vol. 3, p. 209, available online here. Other examples of this and related words are easy to find: John 1:9 (Adishi) იყო ნათელი ჭეშმარიტი Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν; 1:14 სავსჱ მადლითა და ჭეშმარიტებითა πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας; and from the K᾽art᾽lis c᾽xovreba, არა იყო წინასწარმეტყუელი და მოძღუარი სჯულისა ჭეშმარიტისა “there was no prophet and teacher of the true faith” (Rapp, Qauxch᾽ishvili, and Abuladze, eds., Kart᾽lis cxovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation, 2 vols. Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1998, vol. 1, p. 18).

Jacek Malczewski, Christ before Pilate, 1910. See here.

Jacek Malczewski, Christ before Pilate, 1910. See here.


Childers, Jeff W. 2012. “The Georgian Version of the New Testament.” In The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, edited by Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, 2nd ed., 293–327. New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents 42. Brill.

Vullers’ Persian chrestomathy   3 comments

Ferdowsi Square in Tehran (from

Ferdowsi Square in Tehran (from here)

Lest, dear reader, you grow over-full of Georgian, the subject of the last three (mini-)posts, here’s something on Persian.

Some days ago while studying one of the Muʿallaqāt, I came across some works of Johann August Vullers, who was a student of Antoine Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838), but about whom I can find little other information. Vullers did work on Arabic poetry, but it was especially Persian literature that seems to have interested him. Of the works by Vullers that I found, including a grammar and lexicon, his Chrestomathia Schahnamiana in usum scholarum (Bonn, 1833) most caught my eye. I have a soft spot for chrestomathies — reading-books for foreign languages that are usually made up of shorter or longer excerpts, often together with glossaries and annotations — and the nineteenth century was a great age of chrestomathies. They may not be so commonly published now as they once were, but there is value in them for both students in courses and for autodidacts. This volume is a Persian reader (dedicated to August Wilhelm von Schlegel, 1767-1845), mostly from the Šāh-nāma, with Persian-Latin lexicon and a few notes. The purpose he gives as follows: “ut iuvenes ad legendum praeclarum istud Persicarum litterarum monumentum, Schahname dico, impellerem…” (“that I might urge the young to read that famous monument of Persian literature, the Šāh-nāma“). The contents are as follows:

  • pp. 1-25, from the part on Alexander the Great
  • pp. 26-70, on Sām’s son
  • pp. 71-86, “de libro fabularum, Calila et Dimna inscripto”
  • pp. 87-108, a selection from the Borzū-nāmā (it had been previously published by Kosegarten)
  • pp. 109-261, Persian-Latin glossary
  • 262-267 annotations

Part of Iranian epic tradition, the Šāh-nāma was put into its most well-known form by Ferdowsi, and there are translations into Turkish, Georgian, and many other languages, including European languages. Nöldeke (see bibliography below) was an avid reader of it, as evidenced not only in some of his books and articles but also in his letters, in a recent edition (Bernhard Maier, ed., Gründerzeit der Orientalistik: Theodor Nöldekes Leben und Werk im Spiegel seiner Briefe, 2013) of which one will find the work mentioned several times. (Georgian literary contacts with Persia are well known, and Rustaveli referred to his Knight in the Panther’s Skin, the Georgian national epic, as “This Persian tale, translated into Georgian,” ესე ამბავი სპარსული, ქართულად ნათარგმანები [st. 9].) In the preface, Vullers refers to De Sacy as “praeceptor meus dilectissimus” (p. vii, cf. p. xiii). There is a two-part review of the book, not favorable, by De Sacy in Journal des Savants, 1833, pp. 719-728, and 1834, pp. 207-18. (Thanks to Richard Budelberger for pointing out the first part, and for the links.)


These old chrestomathies still have something to offer, even though their pedagogical method may not necessarily now be in vogue, even though the evident approach to text-editing may differ from ours, etc. For one thing, many of these books are easily available online. They provide thousands and thousands of lines of grist for the reading-mill. That in itself is a welcome boon for lesser-known languages that might not otherwise be an object of study for no other reason than a dearth of texts. In the best of cases, the texts were chosen both because they are interesting and because they are linguistically accessible, at the same time providing exposure to regular forms, constructions, and vocabulary. Many chresthomathies also offer annotations, sometimes meager, sometimes abundant, and a glossary. These helps will be found to be more or less useful depending as much on their quality and quantity as on the individual reader using the book. For what it’s worth, E.G. Browne recommends the Gulistan as the best Persian reading-texts for learners: “As a reading-book nothing on the whole excels the Gulistán of Saʿdí, of which there are good editions (furnished with full vocabularies) and translations by Eastwick and Platts” (A Literary History of Persia, vol. 1, [London and Leipzig, 1909],  p. 496).

Finally, for more Persian poetry reading, we can look forward to the (apparently forthcoming) Classics of Persian Poetry: A Primer for Students by Michael Craig Hillmann.

Bibliography (items linked to above not repeated here)

Texts and translations

A. E. Bertels (editor), Shax-nāme: Kriticheskij Tekst, nine volumes (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Nauka, 1960–71)

Clinton, Jerome W. The Tragedy of Sohráb and Rostám. Rev. ed. Seattle and London, 1996. [Persian text and ET.]

Mohl, Julius. Abu’l-Qāsem Ferdowsi, Le livre des rois. 7 vols. Paris, 1838-78. (At Internet Archive all but vol. 2 here.)

Warner, Arthur George and Edmond Warner. The Sháhnáma of Firdausí. 9 vols. London, 1905–1925. (At Internet Archive: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.)

Studies (and vocabulary)

Banani, Amin. “Reflections on Re-reading the Iliad and the Shahnameh.” Available here and here.

Moïnfar, Mohammad Djafar. Le vocabulaire arabe dans le Livre des rois de Firdausī: Étude philologique et de statistique linguistique. Wiesbaden, 1970.

Nöldeke, Th. Das iranische Nationalepos. 2nd ed. Berlin and Leipzig, 1920. (Available here and at Internet Archive here.)

The Shahnama Project. At Cambridge.

Wolff, Fritz. Glossar zu Firdosis Schahname, Berlin, 1935; reprint, Hildesheim, 1965.

Yarshater, E. “Iranian National History.” In Cambridge History of Iran III/1, pp. 359-477.

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 3   Leave a comment

A nice, easy one:

რამეთუ ჟამი ახლოს არს

ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγὺς

…for the time is near.

Source: Revelation 1:3 (available here from TITUS).

Posted June 17, 2013 by adam_bremer-mccollum in Bible, Georgian

Tagged with , ,

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 2   2 comments

და ვითარ ესე ყოველი დავისწავე მე და შემიყვანა მე რიცხუსა ვარსკულავთა მოქცევისასა.

Cum autem haec omnia didicissem, me initiavit calculo conversionis stellarum.

When I had learned all this, he brought me to the number of the stars’ turning.

Source: Peeters, P. “La Version Ibéro-arménienne de L’autobiographie de Denys l’Aréopagite.” Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921): 277–313. § 4. (Online here).

Old Georgian phrases and sentences   6 comments

I have for some time now been collecting from various translated and original Georgian sources phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that interested me for one reason or another. This corpus makes for reading-material that is both philologically instructive and diverting. While hardly making a commitment to daily offerings, I’m hoping to share regularly some of these selections with a translation and sometimes with a few philological remarks. So it is not a promise of “daily Old Georgian sentences” or the like, but even with less than daily frequency, perhaps for those that are interested — in practicing Old Georgian, in reading interesting sentences out of context, in finding unexpected words that lead to more things un-looked-for, etc. — the regularity and selection will prove to furnish a welcome pastime. I plan to share them as individual posts and to archive them all on this page.

So, to begin:

აღდეგ და ვიდოდე ვინაჲცა გნებავს სახლსა ჩემსა

Surge et vade quocumque vis e domo mea.

Get up and go wherever you wish out of my house!

Source: G. Garitte, Vies géorgiennes de S. Syméon Stylite l’Ancien et de S. Ephrem, CSCO 171-172 (Louvain, 1957), Life of Ephrem, § 2. Incidentally, Garitte’s very close Latin translations of Georgian (and Armenian, etc.) can serve as trusty guides to the original text that has been translated.

Comments and observations are welcome. Might this be worthwhile and fun for anyone (besides me)? Any recommendations on the endeavor?

The Mardin (CFMM) manuscripts of Jacob of Sarug   Leave a comment

photoAmong the very many contributions of Arthur Vööbus (born in 1909 in Estonia, died 1988), to Syriac studies, most of which touch manuscripts in some way or other, one of his most thorough and still most valuable is the four-volume Handschriftliche Überlieferung der Mēmrē-Dichtung des Jaʿqōb von Serūg (CSCO 344-345, 421-422/Subs. 39-40, 60-61; Louvain, 1973-1980). Jacob of Sarug (or Serugh; ca. 451-521), a prolific luminary of Syriac literature, is especially known for his numerous metrical homilies (mēmrē), the main published collection of which is that edited by the great Paul Bedjan and exquisitely published by Harrassowitz in a fully vocalized East Syriac font (as in Bedjan’s other editions). Still not all of Jacob’s surviving work has been edited, much less translated, but a translation project into English, the results published by Gorgias Press, is underway and hopefully also readers who do not read Syriac will begin to appreciate this author more (subseries Metrical Homilies of Mar Jacob of Sarug, series Texts from Christian Late Antiquity). There are now 304 records on Jacob in the Syriac bibliography of the Hebrew University; on Jacob generally see Brock in GEDSH, 433-435. The aforementioned  books by Vööbus, indispensable for any close study of Jacob, present most of what is known concerning the manuscripts — those found in the well-known European collections and those in less accessible places in the Middle East — that have copies of Jacob’s works. Here, as in his other articles and books, we are impressed with the breadth of Vööbus’ manuscript experience and his record-keeping that is in such clear evidence. A perusal of the footnotes in almost any of his contributions reveals a mountain of work never published — how often does he refer to this or that piece “sous presse”, “im Druck”, or “in press” that never appeared? — but into these four volumes he poured years of close attention and study, and every student of Syriac literature is thus in his debt.

The work is a whole, but there are clear divisions in it, and not all of the volumes work the same way. There is, naturally, coverage of preliminary considerations at the beginning of vol. 1, and then he turns in that and the next volume to investigate manuscripts more or less particularly dedicated to preserving Jacob’s works (“Sammlungen”), and some of these are indeed hefty with line after line of that poetic bulk. Vols. 3 and 4 focus more on scattered witnesses to Jacob’s work (“Die zerstreuten Mēmrē”), that is, on manuscripts that are not really collections especially of Jacob, but that have one, two, or a few more mēmrē, amid works by other authors. Vols. 1 and 3 provide brief descriptions of the mss, while vols. 2 and 4 list the contents of the mss, with Syriac titles on the left pages, and the title in German translation on the right pages, but unfortunately he gives no incipits, for which, however, we now have Sebastian Brock’s list in vol. 6 of the augmented Gorgias Press reprint of Bedjan’s edition of Jacob’s mēmrē.

Vööbus’ Handschriftliche Überlieferung (HU), then, is obviously a great store of data for Jacob’s poetic œuvre, but it is not always easy to find the information you’re looking for, something I have discovered both while searching for details on a particular mēmrā and while hunting down the mss of particular collections. Something that can be done for each collection is to make a spreadsheet with the appropriate references in it. In its barest form, with shelfmarks and references to vol. and p. of HU, it would thus be useful for anyone with access to a particular collection, but of course the spreadsheet might be expanded to include date, codicological details, contents, bibliography, etc. A significant number of manuscripts for Jacob are present in Mardin in the collection of the Church of the Forty Martyrs (called CFMM at HMML), a massive collection, parts of which were earlier at nearby Dayr al-Zaʿfarān, and here I have made a simple spreadsheet for CFMM mss that Vööbus refers to. (Not all of CFMM has been cataloged at HMML, but much of it has; all of these Jacob mss are available for study at HMML, and copies may be ordered.) Collections of data like this for mss of Jacob’s works might eventually be brought into an open-access online database searchable by contents, date, collection, etc., but for now we must continue to have recourse to these four volumes of Vööbus’ helpful contribution.

Notwithstanding the attention hitherto given to Jacob’s homilies, there remains much work do be done: as mentioned above, not all of the mēmrē have been published, whether by Bedjan or someone else, and really only Vööbus has looked closely at the surviving mss, so that there is not yet a comprehensive picture of how the mss are related. I can say from my work cataloging and from my work in Bedjan’s edition that a new edition is needed, and the more accessible and clear manuscript data is for Jacob’s works, the better prepared the ground will be for that work.

CFMM 132, f. 16r (modern foliation): the beginning of the mēmrā "On the Beheading of John the Baptist" (cf. Bedjan, III 664-687).

CFMM 132, f. 16r (modern foliation): the beginning of the mēmrā “On the Beheading of John the Baptist” (cf. Bedjan, III 664-687).

%d bloggers like this: