It being Hallowe’en, I thought it appropriate to do something hagiographic, and since misshapen and monstrous prodigies may surround the day, what better saint to consider than one with a doghead, Christopher (aka Reprebus; BHO 190-192, BHG 309-311). I’ve chosen only two episodes near the beginning of the saint’s story to give in a draft translation here, episodes that touch on his character as a sanctus informis. I’m using the Syriac text (translated from Greek), an edition of which Johann Popescu prepared based on three manuscripts (from Berlin, Cambridge, and the BL) for his Inaugural-Dissertation at Strassburg in 1903: Die Erzählung oder das Martyrium des Barbaren Christophorus und seiner Genossen.
These two parts of the story are from 2.4-3.14 and 5.6-6.13 in Popescu’s edition. There are several printer’s errors in the text. Here are the corrections (with only the consonantal form given for the mistakes):
- 2.5 read ḥzātā (not ḥʔtʔ)
- 5.9 read gabbāw(hy) (not gbwh)
- 5.13 read mezdayyaḥ (not mʔdyḥ)
- 5.16 read bnaynāšā (not bnnšʔ)
- 6.7 add space to get lā yādʕā
- 6.8 add syāmē to r(h)omāyē
This man was quite a sage. He was of the barbarian stock of cannibals, and he had an ugly appearance: his head was like that of a dog (which in Greek is translated κυνοκέφαλος), so that everyone knows [p. 3] that God helps not only the Christians, but he is the rewarder even of those from foreign nations who turn to the true faith, and he sets them up as select and skillful with his knowledge. This man was faithful in the knowledge [of God], and he meditated with God’s words in praise of him, for he was unable to use our language. When he saw the distress that the Christians were enduring, he was very sad and grieved. So he went outside the city and he cast himself before God in prayer and said, “Lord, God almighty, look upon my humility and show the abundance of your mercy with me. Renew my tongue with the language of this people, that I might go and rebuke this rebel.” Right then a man in multi-colored aspect [?] appeared to him and said, “Reprebus, your prayer has been heard before God. Get on your feet.” Then he approached his lips and breathed on them, and just then he was given the language as he had asked.
The blessed Reprebus went to the gate of the church, stuck his staff in the ground, and sat down with his head bent between his knees, and the hair of his head hung down from both sides. He prayed and spoke thus: “Lord, God almighty, who heard the three youths from within the furnace of fire, whose habitation is in heaven, praised by the heavenly creatures, exalted and worshipped by the saints on earth, who is celebrated by the cherubim, and at whose appearance the angels are terrified: hear the sound of my prayer, incline your ear to my petition, and perform a favorable sign for me, and your grace upon me will be known to everyone, because I was dumb to the language of the[se] people, and you have granted me to speak. And now, cause [p. 6] this wood[en staff] in my hands to sprout by your power, that thus even I might approach and be made worthy of your praise.” Just then the staff sprouted and strengthened the man.
While he had been praying, a woman came into the garden to pick a rose. When she saw him sitting and weeping, she turned around in fear and went and told the people, “Today I saw something at the church [hayklā] and I think it was a dragon [tanninā], thanks to the ugly mark it has, but I don’t know the reason it was crying so much.” While she was speaking, the Romans looking for him arrived there, and when they heard the woman’s words, they asked her and said, “What is he like, and where did you see him?” She showed them, and because of the report of his frightful appearance, they did not dare approach him, but rather went up to a high spot across from him, that they might look at him.
That’s all for now! Be on the lookout today for κυνοκέφαλοι, saintly or otherwise!
Among the many hagiographic traditions that have found few linguistic bounds in the history of Christian literature is the story of Barlaam and Io(d)asaph, known in Georgian as the Balavariani. I don’t want to get into the question of how and where this tradition from India, going back to stories of the life of the Buddha (for accessible excerpts of which from the Pali Canon see here), was first made into a Christian text (see here e.g.); I only want to highlight this text in two ways: first, with a look at some lines from the beginning of the work to continue my Old Georgian phrases and sentences, and second, by putting together a convenient beginning bibliography on the text as it exists in Georgian and Greek, as well as some other languages of eastern Christianity. If the selected Georgian bit below is of no interest or use to readers, maybe the bibliography will be.
Ioasaph (?), apparently confused for Asaph (of the Psalms), in Walters 733, f. 36v; see here.
The Georgian text survives in two recensions (see Tarchnišvili 1958). The snippet here is from recension A, § 1 (available at TITUS here), and the accompanying English translation is adapted from Lang’s (1966).
(იყო იგი) შეყოფილი გონებითა ნებათა და საშუებელთა ამის სოფლისათა
He was tied to thinking on the desires and delights of this world
და დამონებულ ნებასა თავისა თჳსისასა,
and enslaved to his own will,
და ყოვლადვე ვერ წინააღმდგომელ შუებათა მიმართ განმხრწნელთა სულისათა.
and wholly unopposed to the indulgences that corrupt the soul.
The sentence of the Greek that most closely matches this one is κατὰ ψυχὴν δὲ ἐσχάτῃ πιεζόμενος πτωχείᾳ καὶ πολλοῖς κακοῖς συμπνιγόμενος, τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς ὑπάρχων μοίρας καὶ σφόδρα περὶ τὴν δεισιδαίμονα πλάνην τῶν εἰδώλων ἐπτοημένος (1.43-46, Volk 2006: 10). The Georgian text, a little before the above sentence, mentions the king’s non-christianity (იყო იგი წარმართი ფრიად, in recension B იყო იგი წარმართი, კერპთ მსახური), but the Greek expands it further here.
The text offers no difficulties in terms of grammar. As seen in the layout above, the structure is built around three participles (შეყოფილი, დამონებულ, [ვერ] წინააღმდგომელ) and their connected nouns. In the order of the text, here are all but the commonest words (but not all of these are uncommon):
- შეყოფილი joined, bound
- გონებაჲ thinking
- ნებაჲ desire
- საშუებელი treat, delight
- დამონებული enslaved
- წინააღმდგომელი opposing, antagonistic
- შუებაჲ indulging
- განმხრწნელი (also written with -ჴ-) corrupting, ruining
(For the older publications, see generally BHO 141-145 for Armenian [with Marr 1899 below), Arabic, and Gǝʕǝz (with Weninger 2003 below); for Syriac see GSL 97-98; and for Arabic, see GCAL I 546-548. Further works on the Georgian text are listed in D.M. Lang, Cat. of Georgian and Other Caucasian Printed Books in the British Museum (1962), cols., 25-27, and D. Barrett, Cat. of the Wardrop Collection (1973), p. 25. The non-Greek texts are treated more recently in Volk 2009: 495, but specifically on the Georgian text, see 98-115.)
Asmussen, J.P. (1988). Barlaam and Iosaph. Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 3, p. 801. Online here.
Beck, Hans-Georg. (1959). Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich. Byzantinisches Handbuch 2.1. Munich. Pages 482-483.
Doelger, F. (1953). Der griechische Barlaam-Roman ein Werk der H. Johannes von Damaskos. Ettal.
Krumbacher, Karl. (1897). Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur. 2d ed. Munich. Pages 886-891. Available here; unfortunately these pages are in part poorly scanned.
Lang, D. M. (1955). St. Euthymius the Georgian and the Barlaam and Ioasaph Romance. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 17(2), 306–325.
Lang, D. M. (1957a). The Life of the Blessed Iodasaph: A New Oriental Christian Version of the Barlaam and Ioasaph Romance (Jerusalem, Greek Patriarchal Library: Georgian MS 140). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 20(1/3), 389–407.
Lang, D. M. (1957b). The Wisdom of Balahvar. A Christian Legend of the Buddha. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Lang, David Marshall. (1966). The Balavariani (Barlaam and Josaphat): A Tale from the Christian East Translated from the Old Georgian. With an introduction by Ilia Abuladze. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Available here.
Mahé, J.-P., & Mahé, A. (1993). La sagesse de Balahvar. Une vie christianisée du Bouddha. Paris: Gallimard.
Marr, N. Y. (1899). Армянскоь грузинскіе матеріалы для исторіи Душеполезной Повѣсти о Варлаамѣ и Іоасафѣ (Armeno-Georgian Materials for the Story of Barlaam and Ioasaph). Записки Восточного Отделениа Императорского Русскаго Археологическаго Общества, 11, 49–78.
Martin-Hisard, B. (2002). Le monde géorgien médiéval et l’Inde. Travaux et mémoires, 14, 457–471.
Tarchnišvili, M. (1958). Les deux recensions du «Barlaam» géorgien. Le Muséon, 71, 65–86.
Wolff, R. L. (1937). The Apology of Aristides: A Re-Examination. Harvard Theological Review, 30, 233–247.
van Lantschoot, Arnold. (1966). Deux paraboles syriaques (Roman de Barlaam et Josaphat). Le Muséon 79: 133-154.
Volk, Robert. (2006.) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos VI/2. Historiae animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria): Text und zehn Appendices. Berlin and New York.
Volk, Robert. (2009.) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos VI/1. Historiae animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria): Einführung. Berlin and New York.
Weninger, Stefan. (2003). Bärälam wäyǝwasǝf. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica 1: 472-473.
Wolff, R. L. (1939). Barlaam and Ioasaph. Harvard Theological Review, 32, 131–139.
Zotenberg, H. (1886). Notice sur le livre de Barlaam et Joasaph. Notice et extraits des manuscrits de la Biliothèque nationale 28: 1-166. Available here.
Among other uses of Syriac script for non-Syriac languages, we know well of Garšūnī (or Syro-Arabic) and even Syro-Armenian and Syro-Kurdish (especially the Lawij of Basilios Šemʕon al-Ṭūrānī), but I was surprised to find in my recent cataloging work a small example of Georgian written in Syriac script.* The text, which follows several pages of a grammatical list, is on one page of CCM 10 (olim Mardin 81) and it was not noted by Addai Scher, who cataloged the collection in the early twentieth century. It’s the trisagion (vel sim.: the Latin may be a garbled version of lines from this Easter hymn) in eight languages: Latin, Greek, Armenian, Georgian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and finally, Syriac. Much might be said about how these languages are represented in this short text, but here I’m only considering the Georgian part, lines 13-14 below.
CCM 10 = Mardin 81, f. 8r
The Georgian trisagion (words, transliteration, and ET here) is:
There are many recordings available of the hymn: here is one:
The noun “God” and the adjectives are all in the vocative case, and in the last line we have the verb შეწყალება, which might be analyzed as
There are several occurrences of the imperative ἐλέησον (with first or third person objects) in the Gospels, and so we can look among the Old Georgian versions to see how else the phrase is translated. Here are a few, all from the Adishi version:
- Mt 9:27, 20:30 მიწყალენ ჩუენ
- Mt 15:22 შემიწყალე მე
- Mt 17:15 შეიწყალე ძჱ ჩემი
- Mt 20:31 გჳწყალენ ჩუენ
- Lk 17:13 შეგჳწყალენ ჩუენ
The last one, also with 1pl object, is different from the trisagion form only in orthography. The form from Mt 9:27 and 20:30 is built on the same root, but without the preverb შე- and with the 1st person marker მ- instead of გუ- (or variations thereof). The form in Mt 20:31 also has no preverb, but (allowing for the slight orthographic difference) it has the same 1pl markers as in the triasagion form. Finally, those in Mt 15:22 and 17:15 do have the preverb, and given their objects — 1sg and the 3rd person object “my son”, respectively — these forms look exactly as we would expect, the objects marked by -მ- in the first case and -∅- in the second, and naturally without the final -ნ to mark a plural object.
If we compare this Georgian text with the Syriac script above, we find the latter to be muddled. Recognizable to some degree are წმინდაო (Syr. zmyndʔ), ღმერთო (ʔwmrtw), ძლიერო (zryzw), and უკვდავო (ʔwkwdš), but that’s all I can see. While the Syriac letters are hardly as fitting for Georgian as the Georgian alphabet itself is, even with Syriac one might have gotten closer than the orthography in this example. What is the source of the confusion? Did this scribe write these lines from something he heard or knew himself? Did he copy from another written source also in Syriac letters?
I would be happy to hear about any other examples of Georgian written in Syriac letters, but I suspect it is a rare phenomenon.
* Thanks for their comments to Hidemi Takahashi and Nathan Chase, with whom I discussed this text a little.
As an addendum to a previous post in which I shared two ownership notes in Syriac for Patr. Yawsep II, here from the same collection is another ownership note, this time in Arabic, and finely written. Like the others, this one also has a curse on any book-thieves. The manuscript is a Syriac Pentateuch — you can see the end of Deuteronomy in the image — in East Syriac script (CCM 40, dated 1651/2).
CCM 40, f. 203v
This book is the property of Mar Yawsep II, Patriarch of the Chaldeans. Whoever conceals it, he is excommunicated! Amen, yes, amen!
The image below is from the end of CCM 40, a Pentateuch in East Syriac script copied in 1963 AG (= 1651/2 CE). One wonders why the writer of these words was moved to share this meteorological datum here, but here it is in any case, and we’re reminded that every book we look at, whether handwritten or printed, has lived a life before we met it, and other people have often known, read, and marked in that book. Notes like this, as well as colophons and certain other features, make every manuscript unique, no matter how many copies of its text(s) may exist.
CCM 40, f. 206v
In the year 2156 [= 1844 CE] of the blessed Greeks, on Tuesday, on the tenth of Tešri ḥrāyā (November), the snow came.
Below are two similar, but not identical, ownership notes for Chaldean Patriarch Yawsep II (1667-1713) in seventeenth-century manuscripts from the Chaldean Cathedral of Mardin (recently mentioned here), both, as it happens, copies of The Book of Sessions (Ktābā d-bēt mawtbē), dated 1653 (№ 47) and 1672 (№ 48) and both copied at the Monastery of Mar Pethion in Amid (Diyarbakır). As often in ownership notes, there is also a curse against any would-be thieves. An English translation follows each image.
CCM 47, f. 212v
This Book of Sessions is the property of our exalted father, Mar Yawsep II, Patriarch of the Chaldeans. May whoever keeps it for himself secretly or in theft be excommunicated!
CCM 48, f. 273v
This Book of Sessions is the property of our exalted father, Mar Yawsep II, Patriarch of the Chaldeans. May the wrath of God remain on whoever keeps it for himself secretly or in theft! Amen!
A characteristic feature of certain verbs in Georgian, including those referred to in the study of modern Georgian as “Conjugation IV” or “indirect” verbs, is that in certain forms they take the “logical” (merely a term of convenience) subject in the dative case and the logical direct object in the nominative case (cf. Aronson, Grammar, Lesson 12). (Similar constructions are not unknown in Indo-European and Semitic languages.) Verbs with such a construction, often verbs of feeling and emotion, in Old Georgian include (with a few examples):
- აქუს “to have”: ძესა კაცისასა არა აქუს, სადა თავი მიიდრიკოს | ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ (Lk 9:58 At)
- ყუარება “to love”” უყუარს ძილი | φιλοῦντες νυστάξαι (Isa 56:10)
- ძულება “to hate”: see below
- ძინავს “to sleep” (cf. ძილი in Isa 56:10 above): ელის ეძინა | Ηλι ἐκάθευδεν (1Sam 3:2 Jer Lect)
- წყურილი “to be thirsty”: ნეტარ არიან, რომელთა ჰმშიოდის და სწყუროდის სიმართლისათჳს | μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην (Mt 5:6 PA)
- ნებვა “to want”: რომელთა ჰნებავს ბრძოლად | τὰ τοὺς πολέμους θέλοντα (Ps 67:31)
- რწმენა “to believe”: რაჲთა ვიხილოთ და გურწმენეს იგი | ἵνα ἴδωμεν καὶ πιστεύσωμεν (Mk 15:32 Ad)
- სმენა “to hear”: არა მესმიან ცუდნი ეგე სიტყუანი შენნი | I do not hear your empty words (MartAbo 70.23)
The first part of Proverbs 8:13, here from the Jerusalem Lectionary, gives an example of the construction: შიშსა უფლისასა სძულს უკეთურებაჲ გინებაჲ და ანპარტავანებაჲ და ზრახვაჲ უკეთურთაჲ | φόβος κυρίου μισεῖ ἀδικίαν, ὕβριν τε καὶ ὑπερηφανίαν καὶ ὁδοὺς πονηρῶν.
The Georgian glossed is:
შიშ-სა უფლ-ისა-სა ს-ძულ-ს უკეთურება-ჲ
fear-DAT lord-GEN-DAT 3SG.OBJ-hate-PRS.3SG.SBJ wickedness-NOM
გინება-ჲ და ანპარტავანება-ჲ და ზრახვა-ჲ უკეთურ-თა-ჲ
abuse-NOM and arrogance-NOM and counsel-NOM wicked-OBL.PL-NOM
“The fear of the Lord hates wickedness, abuse, arrogance, and the counsel of the wicked.”
The same verb “to hate” occurs again in at the end of the verse, but this time as aorist, where it takes a direct construction: გულარძნილნი ალაგნი მოვიძულენ | μεμίσηκα δὲ ἐγὼ διεστραμμένας ὁδοὺς κακῶν (nothing in the Georgian version corresponds to κακῶν).
გულარძნილ-ნი ალაგ-ნი მო-ვ-ი-ძულ-ენ
twisted-NOM.PL path-NOM.PL PRV-1.SBJ-CV-hate[AOR]-PL.OBJ (PRV = preverb, CV = character vowel)
“I hated the twisted paths.”
(As usual in Georgian, the aorist verb takes its direct object in the nominative, but this construction is otherwise quite unlike that used with the verb in the first part of the verse.)