Archive for November 2013

A short colophon in East Syriac Garšūnī with reference to Syriac-Arabic translation   1 comment

Across manuscript traditions in many languages, colophons are the place where a scribe (including the translator-scribe) can, among other things, tell something of the origin of the text just then completed, whether that means the manuscript he or she copied from, the person who commissioned the copying, the place of copying, etc. If the text copied is a translation, that is sometimes mentioned, too, as here from a Georgian colophon (S-384, 11th/12th cent.; see W. Djobadze, Materials for the Study of Georgian Monasteries in the Western Environs of Antioch on the Orontes, CSCO 372/Subs. 48 [Louvain, 1976], 24-25, from which this ET is adapted):

ლოცვა ყავთ წმიდანო ღმრთისანო. რომელნიცა მიემთხჳნეთ აღწერილსა ამას წმიდისა გრიგოლ  ნოსელისასა. ცხორებასა დიდისა გრიგოლი საკჳრველთ-მოქმედისასა. რომელი დაიწერა ბერძულისაგან ქართულად მოსწრაფებითა მღდელისა გაბრიელისითა და ჴელითა ყოვლად უღირსისა ეფრემისითა. ხოლო ბრძანებითა ზოგადისა მამისა ჩუენისა. ბერისა საბაჲსითა…

Pray, holy men of God, those of you who come upon this Life of the great Gregory the Wonder-worker, written by Gregory of Nyssa, translated from Greek into Georgian thanks to the eagerness of the priest Gabriel and by the hand of the unworthy Ep’rem at the command of our common father, the monk Saba…

As a similar example in Arabic (Garšūnī), below is a simple colophon that comes at the end of a treatise attributed to John Chrysostom (“On the Departed, That it is not Appropriate to be Overly Sad about them”) in the manuscript Chaldean Cathedral of Mardin (CCM), 13, f. 120. The language is Arabic, but written in East Syriac script; for those who may not be familiar with the latter, I have transcribed it into Arabic letters and I have also given an English translation.

CCM 13, f. 120r

CCM 13, f. 120r

واذكروا الكاتب الحقير مطران بسيليوس في صلواتكم لكي يُنْجى من عذاب المَطْهَر لانّه نَقَلَهم من السرياني للعربي في سنة الف وسبعمائة وتاسع عشر لميلاد سيدنا يسوع المسيح له المجد والتسبيح الى ابد الآبدين  آمين

Remember in your prayers the poor scribe, Muṭrān Basilios, that he might be delivered from the torment of purgatory, because he translated these [texts] from Syriac into Arabic in the year 1719 of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and praise forever and ever. Amen.

Eastern Christian mss at the 2013 SBL Meeting   Leave a comment

The Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature begins in a few days in Baltimore. This is the third year for the workshop on “Manuscripts from Eastern Christian Traditions”, and in addition to one session that will cover a variety of these language traditions, we are glad to have two joint sessions also with the Syriac literature program unit. The three sessions are:


Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts
Joint Session With: Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts, Manuscripts from Eastern Christian Traditions
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Holiday 2 – Hilton Baltimore

Theme: Studies in Syriac Manuscripts

Adam McCollum, Saint John’s University, Presiding
Liv Ingeborg Lied, MF Norwegian School of Theology and Nils Hallvard Korsvoll, MF Norwegian School of Theology
Enoch, Baruch, and Sesengen Bar Pharanges: An Amulet for Xvarr-Veh-Zad (25 min)
Michael Penn, Mount Holyoke College
Know Thy Enemy: Manuscript Contestations and the Council of Chalcedon (25 min)
Philip Michael Forness, Princeton Theological Seminary
Narrating History through the Bible: A Reading Community for the Codex Ambrosianus (7a1) (25 min)
Jonathan Loopstra, Capital University
Reading in the Margins: Between Gloss and Lemma (25 min)
David A. Michelson, Vanderbilt University
Reading Syriac Anthologies 400-800: A Survey of the Manuscript Evidence (25 min)
Erica C. D. Hunter, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Transmitting Learning from Mesopotamia to China: the Christian Library at Turfan (25 min)


Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts
Joint Session With: Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts, Manuscripts from Eastern Christian Traditions
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 346 – Convention Center

Theme: Studies in Syriac and Arabic Manuscripts

Nathan Gibson, Catholic University of America, Presiding
Dina Boero, University of Southern California
Late Antique Manuscript Production of the Syriac Life of Symeon the Stylite (30 min)
Nicholas Al-Jeloo, University of Sydney
Beasts Building Churches: An Untreated Syriac Recension of the Vita of St. Mammas (30 min)
Sara Schulthess, Université de Lausanne
The Arabic Manuscripts of the Pauline Epistles: The Case of Vaticanus Arabicus 13 (30 min)


Manuscripts from Eastern Christian Traditions
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Room: Armistead – Hilton Baltimore

Jeff Childers, Abilene Christian University, Presiding
Anton Pritula, The Hermitage Museum
Persian Christian Manuscripts from Crimea (14th Century) (30 min)
Timothy B. Sailors, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
The Ancient “Acts of Peter” in Oriental Christian Witnesses (30 min)
Peter Cowe, University of California-Los Angeles
Technical, Instructional, and Intercultural Issues Governing the Manuscript Transmission of the Armenian Bible (30 min)
Adam C. McCollum, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University
“I Have Written This Holy Book with My Grossly Sinful Hand”: An Orientation to Georgian Manuscripts through Hagiographic Literature (30 min)

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 15 (“Foxes have holes”)   1 comment

In a previous episode of this series, I gave part of Luke 9:58 (// Mt 8:20) without any further explanation. Here’s the whole verse (minus the introduction of Jesus’ direct speech) in the Adishi version. The Pre-Athonite and Athonite versions have only small differences, which are indicated below. (Incidentally, it is usually instructive to read these three versions side-by-side. I am preparing some documents for the synoptic study of these Georgian versions of the Transfiguration and the Temptation of Jesus pericopes.)

First, some vocabulary:

  • მელი fox
  • მიდრეკა to lean
  • [მფრინველი bird]
  • საყუდელი refuge, residence
  • ფრინველი bird (Rayfield et al. 1293; as such not in Sarj.-Fähn., but note ფრინვა to fly)
  • ჩენა to appear to/for (i.e. to be seen to belong to, with the CV უ- to mark an indirect object as possessor). For the second occurrence of this verb in the verse, the Pre-Ath. and Ath. versions have აქუს. (For უჩს, another place is Vep’xistqaosani 82a: მეფესა ესე ამბავი უჩს, ვითა მღერა ნარდისა, “This news seemed to the king [or The king held this news] as [lightly as] playing backgammon.”)
  • ჴურელი hole

αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν
მელთა ჴურელი უჩნს

καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις,
და ფრინველთა ცისათა საყუდელი,
(Pa and At have მფრინველთა for ფრინველთა.)

ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.
ხოლო ძესა კაცისასა არა უჩს, სადა თავი მიიდრიკოს.

Astute Gospel-readers will remember that this is not the only place where Jesus uses the word “fox”: he calls Herod one at Lk 13:32 (here again in the Adishi version):

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς·
ხოლო თავადმან ჰრქუა მათ:

πορευθέντες εἴπατε τῇ ἀλώπεκι ταύτῃ·
მივედით და არქუთ მელსა მას:

ἰδοὺ ἐκβάλλω δαιμόνια
აჰა, ესერა, განვასხამ ეშმაკთა

καὶ ἰάσεις ἀποτελῶ σήμερον καὶ αὔριον
და კურნებასა აღვასრულებ დღეს და ხვალე,

καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ τελειοῦμαι.
და ზეგე აღვესრულები.

Documentary on the Encyclopaedia Iranica and Prof. Yarshater   Leave a comment

A friend of mine shared this documentary from BBC Persian on Prof. Ehsan Yarshater (b. 1920) and the amazing work of the Encyclopaedia Iranica (online here). It’s in Persian, but English subtitles are available. Knowing the background and looking behind the scenes of major research projects such as this — or the CAD, for another example, volumes of which, like the Encyclopaedia Iranica, have also for some time been freely available online  — is not an opportunity to be missed even by those remotely interested in whatever field the project concerns. In this case, the field is the full breadth of Persian history, languages, literatures, and connections with cultures across a long time period. We can be very grateful that the Encyclopaedia is freely accessible online, rather than hidden behind extortionate tomes in perhaps too distant libraries to multitudes of would-be readers, so interested researchers of all kinds have an ever fruitful resource at their fingertips. But even more than on the Encyclopaedia itself, we get to hear firsthand from a hard-working and experienced scholar. Yarshater mentions his studies many years ago with W.B. Henning and Mary Boyce. I always enjoy seeing scholars’ workspaces, and we have that here, too. We hear him using Persian proverbs and reciting some lines of poetry. In his voice and memories we see an inspiring gentleman. These twenty-five minutes, then, will make for worthy time to anyone interested in Persian culture and intellectual biography.

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