Today (July 22) in some churches the feast of Mary Magdalene is celebrated. How about a few lines on her from the Ethiopian synaxarion, where she is commemorated on the 28th of Ḥamle (Aug 4)? These lines belong to the genre of the sälam (greeting; usually called ʿarke when outside of the synaxarion), five rhyming lines — e.g. the lines below all end in -ma — that typically conclude a saint’s mention in the Ethiopian synaxarion. The synaxarion in Gǝʿǝz goes back to the Arabic synaxarion for the Coptic church compiled by Michael of Atrīb and Malīg in the 13th century. The earliest Gǝʿǝz recension, from the end of the 14th century, survives in only three manuscripts, one of which being EMML 6458, for the first half of the year; another early, but distinct, witness is EMML 6952. In the sixteenth century, following a notable rise of interest in local hagiography, the synaxarion was revised, first, it seems, at Däbrä Ḥayq Ǝsṭifanos, but with a rival recension also from Däbrä Libanos. It is this sixteenth century revision, known as the Vulgate recension, that has the sälam verses. This corpus, a unique contribution of Gǝʿǝz hagiography, offers students of hagiography and students of the Gǝʿǝz language a long list of reading material sure to hold their attention. Here is the one for Mary Magdalene, the text in PO 7 435, and my translation.
Greetings to the Magdalene, Mary by name,
Who saw Christ’s resurrection first among the apostles.
Greetings to the women who shared in her toil
As they ran together to the tomb of the Wise Craftsman
Without the terror of the night frightening them.
Bibliography (further bibliography in each of these articles)
Aßfalg, Julius. “Synaxar(ion).” In H. Kaufhold, ed., Kleines Lexikon des christlichen Orients. 2d ed. Wiesbaden, 2007. Pp. 448-449.
Colin, Gérard and Alessandro Bausi. “Sǝnkǝssar.” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica IV 621-623.
Nosnitsin, Denis. “Sälam.” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica IV 484.
Yalew, Samuel. “ʿArke.” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica I 342.