Archive for the ‘Bar ˤEbrāyā’ Category

Armenian, Syriac, and Arabic collections available at HMML (summer 2012)   1 comment

Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul (Patriarch’s collection) 109 (dated 1433 CE)

This PDF file was distributed in one of the sessions at the Symposium Syriacum on Malta a few weeks ago. Because it is (a) up-to-date, (b) concise, and (c) easily navigable, it is fitting to share it here, too, where it will hopefully be widely viewed and consulted. A few things to bear in mind:

  • Listed here are only collections of manuscripts photographed digitally (i.e. the European collections photographed by HMML in prior decades and preserved in bitonal microfilm — including a notable number of Armenian and Arabic manuscripts, much less in Syriac — are absent).
  • Manuscripts from these collections are immediately available to order (either for limited access viewing online or for your personal digital copy).
  • Cataloging can be time-consuming work, and this particular project has only been underway for two years. While these collections are preserved and available for study, only a small fraction of this great number of manuscripts has so far been cataloged. That means, of course, that there is far more here than is listed in the online catalog, Oliver.
  • Finally, as I said in the presentation at the Symposium, capable catalogers for many of these collections are needed. While the study of all of these languages and literatures has advanced over the past centuries, there are still very many texts that remain only in manuscripts, not to mention the fact that manuscripts will remain interesting in and of themselves for various reasons (paleography, codicology, historical notes, etc.) and the fact that even where printed editions exist recourse to manuscripts (whether used in the edition in question or not) is very often an illuminating (pun intended) exercise. All this and more means that the opportunity to catalog and otherwise study these manuscript collections will, I hope, be considered welcome to scholars in the field: հունձք բազո՛ւմ են՝ եւ մշակք սակա՛ւ; ḥṣādā saggi wǝ-pāʿlē zʿorin; al-ḥiṣād kaṯīr wa-l-faʿala qalīl! Please feel free to contact me about the details of this cataloging work, including remuneration.

Here are a few images from various collections at HMML.

Dominican Friars of Mosul 354: Jacques Rhetoré’s Grammaire de la langue Torâni

Pontifical Babel College Library, Habbi (Ankawa) 10, an early 18th cent. copy of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Book of Splendors, copied in Alqosh.

Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil 151, Yawsep II’s Book of the Magnet (see H. Teule in Samir FS, pp. 221-241)

Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem 43, f. 7v: A Garšūnī commentary to the Pentateuch.

On the nature of the seven planets (Syriac)   Leave a comment

The recent transit of Venus has been in the news for the past few days, so it’s a fine time to have another look at something astronomical-astrological (see here for a previous post on the theme). Below is an image from Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo (SOAA) ms 148, a manuscript from, at the earliest, the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, this terminus from the fact that, in addition to some of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s poems (mušḥātā, see Takahashi 2005: 313-346), it also contains texts from David Puniqāyā (d. ca. 1500) and Sergius of Ḥāḥ (d. 1508). The selection below is the beginning of a poem, Bar ʿEbrāyā’s “On the nature of the seven planets” in the heptasyllabic meter with rhyming lines, the seven planets being the “wandering — as opposed to fixed — stars” known in antiquity: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, and the moon.

SOAA 148, f. 58v

As you can see, someone has penciled the planet names in Arabic (Garšūnī) in the margins. The poem was published, without the use of this manuscript, in Dolabani’s edition of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s poetry (1929: 77-78, no. 6.3), but it’s not in Scebabi’s edition (Rome, 1877). Bar ʿEbrāyā lists those things or people associated with each planet in the order given above. A comparison between the printed edition, based on manuscripts in Jerusalem and Mosul, and the Aleppo manuscript yields a notable difference: Dolabani has only given the domiciles (baytā here in Syriac, as also οἶκος in Greek with this meaning) for Mercury and the moon, the last two planets, but the Aleppo manuscript gives domiciles for all seven of the planets, which means that the manuscript has ten more heptasyllabic lines than the printed text. In addition, the two-part little poem printed in Dolabani separately as 6.4 is clearly taken by the scribe of this manuscript as part of the poem on the planets, and the subject matter and phraseology indeed fits.

A review of Takahashi’s bibliography for the poems will show that much work remains to be done on them, including not least a proper edition, which would be no small task given the plethora of known manuscripts. Till then, let this little notice stand as a harbinger of what else might be discovered.

Bibliography

Dolabani, Y., ed. 1929. Mušḥātā d-Mār Grigorios Yoḥannān Bar ʿEbrāyā mapryānā qaddišā d-madnḥā. Jerusalem. Reprint, Glane, 1983.

Takahashi, H. 2005. Barhebraeus: A Bio-Bibliography. Piscataway.

A (slightly) hidden scribal name   3 comments

One of the unendingly amusing parts of colophons (at least those composed by Christians) are the almost grandiloquent means with which scribes tout their now trumpeted humility: gloomy and unfavorable adjective piled upon gloomy and unfavorable adjective, lexical competition with other monastic scribes to find the most picturesque expression for assumed wickedness, &c. A nearly ubiquitous topos goes something like, “…written by the hands of the lowliest of God’s servants, whose name is not worthy to be mentioned…” The scribe nevertheless in most cases goes on to mention his name “on account of the prayers of the brothers”, that is, so that his fellow monk-readers will be able to pray for him (and his family) by name. The scribe of Church of the Forty Martyrs (Mardin) no. 496 (olim Dayr Al-Zaʿfarān 142), an 18th century copy of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s grammatical work called The Book of Splendors (Ktābā d-ṣemḥē), was rather more inventive. In the course of the colophon, written in the dodecasyllabic meter of Jacob of Sarug and with almost every line concluding with the Syriac adverbial ending -āʾit, he says (text in the image below),

If you want to know my name, our brother, read and observe in enlightenment with your great intelligence: Pray to the Lord to grant sincerely in his mercy a good reward to the one who prays lovingly, on whom may the Lord’s mercy be continually.

CFMM 496, p 450

It doesn’t take “great intelligence” to note the rubricated letters in the scribe’s request for prayer. Taking these together, we have the name Ṣlibā, several other examples of which can be found in Wright’s “General Index” to his catalog of the Syriac manuscripts then at the British Museum (p. 1319). While we know no more of his name than Ṣlibā, and that he copied the book in 2026 AG,* we will probably not be mistaken to imagine his having smiled at this playful finishing of his work.

* Also given are 1717 AD and 1127 AH, but these don’t match the AG year exactly.

Two Jerusalem manuscripts of Bar ˤEbrāyā’s philosophical œuvre   Leave a comment

HMML’s partnership with Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, to digitize their manuscript collection has yielded high-quality digital images of close to 300 manuscripts. A hard drive of the latest files arrived here last week and they have been uploaded to the server. The collection was cataloged in the early numbers of Oriens Christianus by G. Graf, A. Baumstark, and Ad. Rücker, and in the late 1980s thirty-one manuscripts from this collection were microfilmed by BYU and cataloged by William Macomber; scans of these microfilms have been graciously made available at the CPART site. Until the collection is again examined closely, it will not be certain how much the Saint Mark’s collection has changed from these earlier efforts at scrutiny and description, i.e. which manuscripts have been lost, and which have been gained.

SMMJ 232, f. 148v

As is relatively well known thanks to the work of the earlier German scholars and of BYU and Macomber, the Saint Mark’s collection has several notable manuscripts. I hope that I will be able to adequately highlight some of these in the future here, but today I share with you a bit of information (and images) of two manuscripts of Bar ˤEbrāyā’s philosophical work, each copy containing his Tēgrat Tēgrātā (The Treatise of Treatises), Ktābā da-Swād Sofia (The Conversation of Wisdom), and Ktābā d-Bābātā (The Pupils [of the Eye]). The manuscripts are numbered 231 and 232, with 232 being the older and dated 1878 AG (= 1566/7 CE) on f. 196r, but dated to the month of Āb (August) in 1885 AG (1574) on f. 148v; see the image to the right. The scribe of this is Tomā bar Murād bar Giwargis of Klibin, near Mardin, and “my teacher and our teacher Tomā” is named in the colophon on f. 197r, that part copied earlier is the work of another scribe. Completion dates this divergent for parts of one manuscript are not hard to fathom when we realize that they were apparently first not of the same manuscript. Near the beginning of The Book of the Pupils, ff. 163-172 are marked as the second quire (the first not explicitly marked), while the first text in the whole manuscript, The Treatise of Treatises, takes up sixteen quires, which are marked, itself. It seems that up to f. 152 was originally separate from the rest of the book, and the two parts were later joined together. The later manuscript is dated on f. 308r to Tāmuz (July) 9, 1882, and it was most probably copied from no. 232. It, too, begins with The Treatise of Treatises, which was copied (up to f. 139) in the way of some other works of Bar ˤEbrāyā’s, with Syriac and Arabic (Garšūnī) having been copied side-by-side, but here there is no full Arabic version of The Treatise, only select words and sentences. Some — probably most or all, but I have not studied the copies closely — of these translated bits also appear in the sixteenth-century manuscript, but they do not there have such a broad space; they are merely written in the margins. Images of corresponding parts near the beginning of the work are below, with the comments explaining in Arabic what “Peripatetic” means.

SMMJ 232, f. 2r

SMMJ 231, f. 9v

Note

Abundant bibliographic and manuscript information on all three of these works by Bar ˤEbrāyā will be found in H. Takahashi, Barhebraeus: A Bio-Bibliography (Piscataway, 2005), 254-265, to which I would make the following additions based on my work in the Church of the Forty Martyrs collection:

  • The Conversation of Wisdom
  1. CFMM 548, dated 1891, has Syriac and Garšūnī versions of the work.
  • The Book of the Pupils
  1. CFMM 546, dated 1879 and copied in Edessa.
  2. CFMM 547, dated 1923 and also copied in Edessa.
%d bloggers like this: