Archive for the ‘Codicology’ Category
Curses against would-be book-thieves and their ilk are common across many manuscript and library traditions. We have looked at a few here (1, 2, 3). Elsewhere, too, bloggers have recently talked about curses, as here in the context of other deterrents to book-tampering, and here a picturesque curse in a Sanskrit manuscript in Bangladesh is highlighted.
Such curses appear in Georgian manuscripts, too, and here is one example from a collection of hagiographic texts, perhaps of the 14th century, Sin. geo. 91. (On this manuscript see Gérard Garitte, Catalogue des manuscrits géorgiens littéraires du Mont Sinaï, CSCO 165/Subs. 9 [Louvain, 1956], pp. 263-282.) A scan of a microfilm of this manuscript (and many others from Sinai) is available at E-corpus. Here is the the relevant part of the manuscript, written in nusxuri:
Sin. geo. 91, f. 323va4-11
And here is the text of the manuscript transliterated by line into mxedruli:
…აწ ვინცა გა-
მოაჴუას ამ(ა)ს კაპპათისა
მონასტერსა წ(მიდა)თა მთ(ა)ვ(ა)რან-
გ(ე)ლ(ო)ზთასა : ერთიცა ამ(ა)თ
წიგნთა გ(ა)ნი ჻ ჰრისხავს-
მცა მ(ა)მაჲ და ძე და ს(უ)ლი წ(მიდა)ჲ ჻
და წ(მიდა)ჲ ღ(მრ)თის მშ(ო)ბ(ე)ლი : და ყ(ოველ)ნი
წ(მიდა)ნი ღ(მრ)თისანი : …
Lexical and grammatical notes:
- გამო-ა-ჴუ-ა-ს aor conj 3sg გამოჴუება to take away
- ჰ-რისხავ-ს-მცა pres 3sg O3 რისხვა to be angry at + -მცა (optative particle attached to indicative verbs)
Now whoever might remove even one of these books from this [place, namely] the Gabbatha Monastery of the Holy Archangels, may the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the holy God-bearer [Mary], and all the saints of God be angry at him!
For those interested, here, too, is Garitte’s LT (Cat., p. 282):
Nunc, quicumque amoverit ab hoc Gabbathae monasterio sanctorum archangelorum vel unum ex his libris, irascatur ei Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus et sancta Dei Genitrix et omnes sancti Dei.
Here is a simple scribal note on a page of manuscript 152 of the Church of the Forty Martyrs, Mardin (CFMM), a book dated 1780 AG (= 1468/9 CE) and containing mēmrē attributed to Isaac, Ephrem, and Jacob. On p. 59, where the date is given, in addition to the name Gabriel, which also occurs in this note, we see the name Abraham as another partner in producing the manuscript, which was copied at the Monastery of Samuel.
CFMM 152, p. 145
Here’s the Syriac and an English translation, followed by a few notes for students.
d-pāgaʿ w-qārē nšammar ṣlotā l-Gabriʾēl da-npal b-hālēn ḥaššē wa-ktab hānā ptāḥā a(y)k da-l-ʿuhdānā w-meṭṭul reggat ṣlotā d-ḥussāyā da-ḥṭāhē
Whoever comes upon and reads [this note], let him send a prayer for Gabriel, who has fallen into these sufferings and has written this page-spread as a memorial and due to a longing for a prayer for the forgiveness of [his] sins.
A few notes on the passage:
- The verb pgaʿ, semantically similar to Greek ἐντυγχάνειν, often means “to read” and is commonly paired with qrā in notes and colophons.
- šmr D + ṣlotā means “to direct, send, utter a prayer”.
- ḥaššē may not refer to any specific pains or illness. Scribes are generally all too happy to remind their readers that it was in difficult circumstances — of environment, body, mind, etc. — that they wielded their pens!
- ptāḥā means “the opening” (ptaḥ to open), that is, the two-page spread of an open book.
- The purpose, commonly mentioned in notes and colophons, of Gabriel’s copying this book is to remind readers to pray for his sins.
I learned earlier this week from a tweet by Matthew Crawford (
@mattrcrawford) that the Rabbula Gospels are freely available to view online in fairly high-quality images. This sixth-century manuscript (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56) is famous especially for its artwork at the beginning of the codex before, surrounding, and following the Eusebian canon tables, including both figures from biblical history and animals: prophets, Mary, Jesus, scenes from the Gospels (Judas is hanging from a tree on f. 12r), the evangelists, birds, deer, rabbits, &c. Beginning on f. 13r, the folios are strictly pictures, the canon tables having been completed. These paintings are very pleasing, but lovers of Syriac script have plenty to feast on, too. The main text itself is written in large Estrangela, with the colophon (f. 291v-292v) also in Estrangela but mostly of a much smaller size. Small notes about particular lections are often in small Serto. The manuscript also has several notes in Syriac, Arabic, and Garšūnī in various hands (see articles by Borbone and Mengozzi in the bibliography below). From f. 15v to f. 19r is an index lectionum in East Syriac script. The Gospel text itself begins on f. 20r with Mt 1:23 (that is, the very beginning of the Gospel is missing).
The images are found here. (The viewer is identical to the one that archive.org uses.)
Rabbula Gospels, f. 231r, from the story of Jesus’ turning the water into wine, Jn 2.
Rabbula Gospels, f. 5r. The servants filling the jugs with the water that will become wine.
For those interested in studying this important manuscript beyond examining these now accessible images, here are a few resources:
Bernabò, Massimò, ed. Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56. L’illustrazione del Nuovo Testamento nella Siria del VI secolo. Folia picta 1. Rome, 2008. A review here.
Bernabò, Massimò, “Miniature e decorazione,” pp. 79-112 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Bernabò, Massimò, “The Miniatures in the Rabbula Gospels: Postscripta to a Recent Book,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 68 (2014): 343-358. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Codicologia, paleografia, aspetti storici,” pp. 23-58 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Il Codice di Rabbula e i suoi compagni. Su alcuni manoscritti siriaci della Biblioteca medicea laurenziana (Mss. Pluteo 1.12; Pluteo 1.40; Pluteo 1.58),” Egitto e Vicino Oriente 32 (2009): 245-253. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “L’itinéraire du “Codex de Rabbula” selon ses notes marginales,” pp. 169-180 in F. Briquel-Chatonnet and M. Debié, eds., Sur les pas des Araméens chrétiens. Mélanges offerts à Alain Desreumaux. Paris, 2010. Available here.
Botte, Bernard, “Note sur l’Évangéliaire de Rabbula,” Revue des sciences religieuses 36 (1962): 13-26.
Cecchelli, Carlo, Giuseppe Furlani, and Mario Salmi, eds. The Rabbula Gospels: Facsimile Edition of the Miniatures of the Syriac Manuscript Plut. I, 56 in the Medicaean-Laurentian Library. Monumenta occidentis 1. Olten and Lausanne, 1959.
Leroy, Jules, “L’auteur des miniatures du manuscrit syriaque de Florence, Plut. I, 56, Codex Rabulensis,” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris 98 (1954): 278-283.
Leroy, Jules, Les manuscrits syriaques à peintures, conservés dans les bibliothèques d’Europe et d’Orient. Contribution à l’étude de l’iconographie des églises de langue syriaque. Paris, 1964.
Macchiarella, Gianclaudio, “Ricerche sulla miniatura siriaca del VI sec. 1. Il codice. c.d. di Rabula,” Commentari NS 22 (1971): 107-123.
Mango, Marlia Mundell, “Where Was Beth Zagba?,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 7 (1983): 405-430.
Mango, Marlia Mundell, “The Rabbula Gospels and Other Manuscripts Produced in the Late Antique Levant,” pp. 113-126 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Mengozzi, Alessandro, “Le annotazioni in lingua araba sul codice di Rabbula,” pp. 59-66 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Mengozzi, Alessandro, “The History of Garshuni as a Writing System: Evidence from the Rabbula Codex,” pp. 297-304 in F. M. Fales & G. F. Grassi, eds., CAMSEMUD 2007. Proceedings of the 13th Italian Meeting of Afro-Asiatic Linguistics, held in Udine, May 21st-24th, 2007. Padua, 2010.Available here.
Paykova, Aza Vladimirovna, “Четвероевангелие Раввулы (VI в.) как источник по истории раннехристианского искусства,” (The Rabbula Gospels (6th cent.) as a Source for the History of Early Christian Art) Палестинский сборник 29  (1987): 118-127.
Rouwhorst, Gerard A.M., “The Liturgical Background of the Crucifixion and Resurrection Scene of the Syriac Gospel Codex of Rabbula: An Example of the Relatedness between Liturgy and Iconography,” pp. 225-238 in Steven Hawkes-Teeples, Bert Groen, and Stefanos Alexopoulos, eds., Studies on the Liturgies of the Christian East: Selected Papers of the Third International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy Volos, May 26-30, 2010. Eastern Christian Studies 18. Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA, 2013.
Sörries, Reiner, Christlich-antike Buchmalerei im Überblick. Wiesbaden, 1993.
van Rompay, Lucas, “‘Une faucille volante’: la représentation du prophète Zacharie dans le codex de Rabbula et la tradition syriaque,” pp. 343-354 in Kristoffel Demoen and Jeannine Vereecken, eds., La spiritualité de l’univers byzantin dans le verbe et l’image. Hommages offerts à Edmond Voordeckers à l’occasion de son éméritat. Instrumenta Patristica 30. Steenbrugis and Turnhout, 1997.
Wright, David H., “The Date and Arrangement of the Illustrations in the Rabbula Gospels,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 27 (1973): 199-208.
Readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware of the recent reports of the destruction of the Monastery of Mar Behnam and Sara (see here, here, and elsewhere). The fate of the monastery’s manuscripts is now unknown. Not long ago, at least, HMML and the CNMO (Centre numérique des manuscrits orientaux) digitized the collection. A short-form catalog of these 500+ manuscripts has been prepared for HMML by Joshua Falconer, and I have taken a more detailed look at a select number of manuscripts in the collection. From this latter group I would like to highlight a few and share them with you. The texts mentioned below are biblical, hagiographic, apocryphal/parabiblical, historical, poetic, theological, medical, lexicographic, and grammatical. Here I merely give a few rough notes, nothing comprehensive, along with some images, but in any case the value and variety of these endangered manuscripts will, I hope, be obvious.
These manuscripts, together with those of the whole collection, are available for viewing and study through HMML (details for access online and otherwise here).
Syriac Pentateuch. Pages of old endpapers in Syriac, Garšūnī, and Arabic. Very many marginal comments deserving of further study to see how they fit within Syriac exegetical tradition. The comments are anchored to specific words in the text by signs such as +, x, ~, ÷. According to the original foliation, the first 31 folios are missing.
- Gen 1r-58v (beg miss; starts at 20:10)
- Ex 59r-129v
- Lev 129v-180v
- Num 181r-241r
- Deut 241r-283v (end miss; ends at 28:44)
MBM 1, f. 105v, with marginal note to Ex 28:37, with the Greek letter form of the tetragrammaton.
MBM 1, f. 275v, with marginal note on Dt 25:5 explaining ybm as a Hebrew word.
Syriac texts on Mary and the young Jesus. Folio(s) missing, and the remaining text is somewhat disheveled. In addition, some pages are worn or otherwise damaged. Colophon on 79v, but incomplete.
- The Book of the Upbringing of Jesus, i.e. the Syriac Infancy Gospel, 1r-12v. Beg. miss. See the published text of Wright, Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature of the New Testament, pp. 11-16 (Syr), available here.
- The Six Books Dormition 13r-79r (beg and end miss?). See Wright, “The Departure of my Lady from this World,” Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record 6 (1865): 417–48; 7: 110–60. (See also his Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature) and Agnes Smith Lewis, Apocrypha Syriaca, pp. 22-115 (Syr), 12-69 (ET); Arabic version, with LT,by vailable here. In this copy, the end of the second book is marked at 24v, and that of the fifth book on 30v. As indicated above, there are apparently some missing folios and disarranged text.
MBM 20, f. 24v. End of bk 2, start of bk 3 of the Six Books.
Another copy of Eliya of Nisibis, Book of the Translator, on which see my article in JSS 58 (2013): 297-322 (available here).
Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Metrical Grammar. Colophon on 99r: copied in the monastery of Symeon the Stylite, Nisan (April) 22, at the ninth hour in the evening of Mar Gewargis in the year 1901 AG = 1590 CE.
Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Metrical Grammar, d. 1492/3 on 78v. Clear script, but not very pretty.
Bar ʿEbrāyā, Book of Rays. Lots of marginalia in Syriac, Arabic, and Garšūnī.
Bar Bahlul’s Lexicon, 18th cent. Beg. miss. Some folios numbered by original scribe in the outer margin with Syriac letters, often decorated. Nice writing. Beautiful marbled endpapers, impressed Syriac title on spine.
MBM 152, spine.
MBM 152, marbled endpapers.
The Six Books Dormition, Garšūnī, from books 5-6, 16th cent. (?).
Hagiography, &c., Garšūnī, 16th/17th cent. According to the original foliation, the first eleven folios are missing from the manuscript.
- 1r end of the Protoevangelium Jacobi (for the corresponding Syriac part, cf. pp. 21-22 in Smith Lewis’s ed. here). Here called “The Second Book, the Birth”.
- 1r-31v Vision of Theophilus, here called “The Third Book, on the Flight to Egypt…” Cf. GCAL I 229-232; Syriac and Arabic in M. Guidi, in Rendiconti della Accademia dei Lincei, Classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, 26 (1917): 381-469 (here); Syriac, with ET, here.
- 31v-37v book 6, The Funeral Service (taǧnīz) of Mary
- 37v-39r Another ending, from another copy, of this book 6
- 39r-62r Miracle of Mary in the City of Euphemia
- 62r-72v Marina and Eugenius
- 72v-96r Behnam & Sara (new scribe at ff 83-84)
- 96r-104r Mart Shmoni and sons
- 104r-112v Euphemia (another scribe 112-114)
- 112v-124v Archellides
- 124v-131r Alexis, Man of God, son of Euphemianus
- 131v-141v John of the Golden Gospel
- 141v-147v Eugenia, Daughter of the King/Emperor (incom)
19th cent., Garšūnī, hagiography. Not very pretty writing, but includes some notable texts (not a complete list): Job the Righteous 3v, Jonah 14v, Story of the Three Friends 24r (?), Joseph 73r, Ahiqar 154v, Solomon 180v, and at the end, another Sindbad text 197v-end (see the previous posts here and here).
MBM 209, f. 197v. The Story of Hindbād and Sindbād the Sailor.
Medical, very nice ES Garšūnī. Includes Ḥunayn’s Arabic translation of the Summary of Galen’s On the Kinds of Urine (fī aṣnāf al-bawl), ff. 1v-8r; cf. here. For a longer Greek text, see Kuehn, Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia (Leipzig, 1821-33), vol. 19, pp. 574-601. These now separate folios seem originally to have been the eighth quire of another codex.
MBM 250, f. 1v. Beg. of Ḥunayn’s Arabic translation of the Summary of Galen’s On the Kinds of Urine.
John of Damascus, De fide Orthodoxa, Arabic (cf. Graf, GCAL II, p. 57, this ms not listed). Fine writing. 16th/17th cent.
MBM 270, f. 5v. John of Damascus, Arabic.
A late copy (19th cent.), but with a fine hand, of the Kitāb fiqh al-luġa, by Abū Manṣūr ʿAbd al-Malik b. Muḥammad al-Ṯaʿālibī, a classified dictionary: e.g. § 17 animals (82), § 23 clothing (155), § 24 food (173), § 28 plants (205), § 29 Arabic and Persian (207, fīmā yaǧrá maǧrá al-muwāzana bayna al-ʿarabīya wa-‘l-fārisīya).
Syriac, 15th cent. (?). F. 10v has quire marker for end of № 11. The manuscript has several notes in different hands:
- 29v, a note with the year 1542 (AG? = 1230/1 CE); Ascension and Easter are mentioned
- 31v, note: “I had a spiritual brother named Ṣlibā MDYYʾ. He gave me this book.” (cf. 90v)
- 66v, note: “Whoever reads this book, let him pray for Gerwargis and ʿIšoʿ, the insignificant monks.”
- 90v, note: Ownership-note and prayer-request for, it seems, the monk Ṣlibonā (cf. 31v)
- 132v, longish note similar to the note on 168v
- 157r, note: “Theodore. Please pray, for the Lord’s sake.”
- 168v, note: “I found this spiritual book among the books of the church of the Theotokos that is in Beth Kudida [see PS 1691], and I did not know [whether] it belonged to the church or not.”
For at least some of the contents, cf. the Syriac Palladius, as indicated below.
- Mamllā of Mark the Solitary, Admonition on the Spiritual Law 1r-17r
Second memra 17r
Third memra 41v
Fourth memra 48r
- Letters of Ammonius 67r-78v (see here; cf. with Kmosko in PO 10 and further CPG 2380)
- “From the Teaching of Evagrius” 78v-100r
- Confession of Evagrius 100v
- Abraham of Nathpar 101r-117v
2nd memra 105r
3rd memra 109v
4th memra 110v
5th memra 115v
- Teachings of Abba Macarius 117v
- Letter (apparently of Macarius) 130r-130v
- Letter of Basil to Gregory his Brother 131r-139v
- Letter from a solitary to the brothers 139v-142r
- Sayings of Evagrius 142r-146v
- Gluttony 147v
- The Vice of Whoring (ʿal ḥaššā d-zānyutā) 147v
- Greed 148r
- Anger 149r
- Grief 149v
- On the Interruption of Thought (ʿal quṭṭāʿ reʿyānā) 149v
- Pride 150r
- From the Tradition (mašlmānutā) of Evagrius 151r
- On the Blessed Capiton (here spelled qypyṭn) 151r (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 223)
- The Blessed Eustathius 151v
- Mark the Mourner 151v
- A student of a great elder in Scetis 152r
- A student of another elder who sat alone in his cell 155v
- A student of a desert elder 156r
- (more short saint texts) 157v-161r
- Tahsia 161r-164r (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 173)
- An Elder named Zakarya 164r
- Gregory 168r
- Daniel of Ṣalaḥ 180v
- Philemon 180v (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 427)
- One of the Blessed Brothers 181r
- Pachomius, with various subtexts and miracles 182v
- Didymus 188v-190v
Arabic, 15th century (?). Second, but probably contemporaneous with the first, scribe begins at 80r.
- 1r-34r Pss 38:17-150 (end)
- 34r-79v maqāla 11 by Saint Simʿān, maqāla 12 by Simʿān, … maqāla 16 by Simʿān on 67r. There is some apparent disarray and missing folios: the end of this group of texts seems really to be 78v, but 79r has “Sayings and Questions of Abū ‘l-qiddīs Simʿān”
- 80r-114r Jn 7:20-21:25 (i.e. end of the Gospel)
MBM 365, f. 79r, the beginning of the Saying and Questions of Saint Simʿān
Two loose folios of an Arabic tafsīr of the Gospels, one of which has the quire marker for the original thirty-first quire (so numbered with Syriac letters). Perhaps 16th cent. From Mt 10, with commentary (qāla ‘l-mufassir), on 1v (image below); Lk 6:20 ff. on f. 2r.
MBM 367, f. 1v. Mt 10:19-23 with the beginning of the commentary.
Garšūnī (very nice, clear script). Memre and other texts on theological, monastic, and spiritual subjects.
17th cent., Garšūnī, hagiography. Note the Qartmin trilogy beginning on 105v.
- The Book of the Ten Viziers / Arabic version of the Persian Baḫtīār Nāma 1r (beg miss). (On this work, see W.L. Hanaway, Jr., in EIr here.) It is a frame story spread over several days with a boy (ġulām) telling smaller stories (sg. ḥadīṯ) to a king. As it now stands in the manuscript, it begins in the eighth day, ending on the eleventh. (ET of the Persian here by William Ouseley; ET by John Payne of an Arabic version with Alf layla wa-layla here, eighth day beg. on p. 125). Here are the subdivisions:
The Story of [the city of] Īlān Šāh and Abū Tamām 1v
Ninth day 7r
King Ibrāhīm and his son (on 9r, marginalia in Arabic: “this is an impossible thing!”)
Tenth day 14r
Story of Sulaymān 15v
Eleventh day, 29v
- Infancy Gospel of Jesus 33v-55r
- John of Dailam 55r-68v
- Behnām and Sara 68v-73v
- Mar Zakkay 73v-105r (at 105r it says Mar Malke)
- Mar Gabriel 105v-132r (much of f. 111 torn away; partly f. 127, too)
- Mar Samuel 132v- (folios miss. after ff. 141, 157)
- Mar Symeon -163v (begins where?)
- Memra of Ephrem on Andrew when he entered the land of the dogs 163v
- Miracle of Mary 170v
- Miracle of Mark of Jabal Tarmaq 172v
17th cent., ES Garšūnī, mostly hagiography. Colophon on 135v.
- Story of Susanna
- Ephrem on Elijah 14r
- Story of a Jewish Boy and what happened to him with some Christian children 31v (hands change at 34r)
- Story of some royal children 40v (some Syriac, hands change at 47r)
- Story of Tatos the martyr (f.), martyred in Rome 51r
- Story of a Mistreated Monk 58v
- Story of Arsānīs, King of Egypt 66v
- John of the Golden Gospel 70v (folio(s) missing after 70v)
- Elijah the Zealous 88v
- Andrew the Apostle 100v
- Text by Eliya Catholicos, Patriarch 111r
- Zosimus and the Story of the Rechabites 116r
- Story of the Apple 131r (several other copies at HMML: CFMM 350, pp. 717-722; CFMM 109, ff. 179v-182r; CFMM 110, 182v-185v; ZFRN 73, pp. 382-390 and more)
17th cent., WS Garšūnī, some folios missing, hagiographic, homiletic, &c.
- Ahiqar 1r (on 27r dated 2006 AG in Arabic script)
- Merchant of Tagrit and his Believing Wife 27v
- Chrysostom, On Receiving the Divine Mysteries 34r
- Chrysostom, On Repentance and Receiving the Divine Mysteries 44v (s.t. miss. after 51v)
- Ephrem, (beg. miss.) 52r ? (s.t. miss. after 67v)
- Jacob of Serug, On Repentance 69v (s.t. miss after 69v)
- Ephrem ? 94r
- From the Fathers, That everyone has a guardian angel 102v (hands change just b/f this)
- Story of Petra of Africa 110r (no other Arabic/Garšūnī at HMML; for Syriac, see CFMM 270, pp. 291-302)
- Zosimus and the Story of the Rechabites, 119v-132r
- Life of John the Baptist 132r
- Five Miracles of John the Baptist 150r
- Story of Macarius (end miss) 152v-153v
Ecclesiasticus, Garšūnī, with some Turkish-Arabic/Garsh equivalents at beginning.
MBM 469, f. 1v. Turkish words with Arabic/Garšūnī equivalents.
Here are the forms on this page, first in Turkish, then Arabic:
- ıslattı naqaʿa [he soaked]
- aramış fattaša [he searched]
- aradın fattašta [you searched]
- aradım fattaštu [I searched]
- aramışlar fattašū [they searched]
- işitti samiʿa [he heard]
- içti šariba [he drank] *The Turkish root here is written with š for ç, as in Kazakh; on the previous page the verb also appears and is spelled ʾyǧty, i.e. içti (Garšūnī ǧīm = Turkish c or ç.)
Note that for the forms of aramak [to search], the third person forms are past indefinite, while the first and second person forms are past definite.
From a Gospel lectionary, Syriac, Estrangela. Here is f. 6v, with Mt 18:15-17, 20:1-3.
MBM 485, f. 6v. Mt 18:15-17, 20:1-3.
French drama translated into Syriac by Abraham ʿIso in Baghdad, 1972-1974.
- [5r] title page
- [6r-7v] introduction
- pp. 5-122 Athalie by Racine
- pp. 125-244 Le Cid by Corneille
- pp. 247-380 Polyeucte by Corneille
- pp. 381-463 Esther by Racine
MBM 489, f. 74r = p. 125. Title page to the Syriac translation of Corneille’s Le Cid.
With the first page of the Syriac Le Cid cf. the original text here. Note that the Syriac translation is in rhyming couplets like the French.
MBM 489, f. 77r = p. 131. The beginning of the Syriac Le Cid.
19th cent., Arabic. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī. Starts with excerpt from Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa on him (cf. the end of the ms). On 14r begins the K. al-Ifāda wa-‘l-iʿtibār fī ‘l-umūr wa-‘l-mušāhada wa-‘l-ḥawādiṯ al-muʿāyana bi-arḍ Miṣr. See De Sacy’s annotated FT here.
Here is the part from ch. 4, on monuments (beg. 30r), about the burning of the library of Alexandria by ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ “with the permission of ʿUmar” and on the Pharos of Alex (bottom of 34v = de Sacy p. 183).
MBM 509, f. 34v.
Printed work. Mariano Ugolini. Vasco de Gama al Cabo das Tormentas, dodecasillabi siriaci con versione italiana. Rome, Tipografia Poliglotta, 1898. “Poesia letta in Roma nella solenne accademia per le feste centenarie della scoperta delle Indie, il giorno 21 Maggio 1898.” 6 pages. Bound with Rahmani’s Testamentum Domini.
Here are the first six lines:
MBM 514, p. 4.
And the same in Italian:
MBM 514, p. 5.
As anyone who frequents this blog knows, manuscripts can be much more than simple receptacles for the main texts that their scribes copied. When present, colophons, notes, &c., may make a manuscript even more valuable and interesting. Here is a case in point. On f. 241r of SMMJ 211, a fifteenth-century copy of Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Chronography (secular & eccles.), are two later meteorological reports from different hands, neither the scribe’s.
Notes in outer column of SMMJ 211, f. 241r.
The first note says roughly in English:
In the year 1814 (= 1502/3 CE) AG, in the month of Ḥzirān, there was a white meteor like the darkest night in the middle of the air for about an hour in the day, and everyone [lit. the whole world] saw it. And in the same year, on the feast of St. Jacob, on the 29th of the month of Tammuz, there was great and powerful thunder before midday, and with it were white clouds (ʿnānā), yet without a mist (ʿaymā) in the air, or rain, and this thunder continued roaring for about an hour of the day. They heard its sound throughout the region all the way to Gāzartā and the valley, and many people were frightened of its sound and fell on their faces. While the Lord shows us these signs for us to be repentant, our insolent and refractory heart neither repents nor is softened. May the Lord not repay us according to our evils, but according to the multitude of his mercy — amen — and his grace.
And from almost seven decades later, the second note (in less careful handwriting) says:
In the year 1882 AG (= 1570/1 CE) the clouds thickened and much rain appeared in Ṭur ʿĀbdin with terrible thunder, and intense lightning came down for six days in the month of Āb during the Feast of Booths in the villages, one of which is called Zāz, before the outer land of the Church of Mar Dimeṭ, and this lightning came down upon a house near that church with wood and straw inside it, and the house caught fire [with] all the firewood and straw.
(For the Church of Mar Dimet in Zaz, see a picture here.)
Update: Thanks to Thomas Carlson for the suggestion about PQʿTʾ (valley) in the first note, which I initially read as an unidentified place-name PWʿTʾ. The scribe writes waw and qop with little difference.
SMMJ 180 is a seventh- or eight-century manuscript containing the Book of Steps (Liber Graduum) and parts of the Asceticon of Abba Isaiah. The script is a beautiful, clear Estrangela, and the text is written in two columns with around thirty-nine lines. The manuscript is foliated with Syriac letters (numbered folios begin only at f. 10), but the book has been rebound in great disarray. According to a note dated 1881 on 102r, the book was repaired by Grigorios Ǧirǧis Muṭrān of Jerusalem in 1881. In the course of cataloging the manuscript, it became clear that, given the manuscript’s age and its significance as a textual witness, a detailed listing of its contents might be of some value.
SMMJ 180, ff. 62v-63r. The end of the Book of Steps and the beginning of the Asceticon, with some damage at the top.
In his edition of the Liber Graduum (LG), Kmosko discusses the manuscript (his Codex R) on pp. viii-ix, ccxciv-cccvi, the latter section being an appendix with a collation. Significantly, Draguet does not make use, it seems, of the Jerusalem manuscript in his edition of the Asceticon. For both of these monuments of Syriac literature, the Jerusalem manuscript deserves to be studied more closely, and thanks to these high quality images now easily available, those with a close interest in either or both of those texts may do so with little trouble.
Before turning to the contents of the codex, here are a few remarks on the paleography. The script is very straightforward Esṭrangela, with sharp angles as in the bēt and ṭēt. General observations include:
• semkat not attached to the following letter
• the right leg of the ālap has a little serif, seen both when the previous letter is attached and when it is not
• the waw is not closed
• the mim is not closed
• the final nun, when not attached to the previous letter, is at an angle noticeably more horizontal than when it is attached
When there is a little space at line-end, the final letter has an extender to reach the edge. There are no explicit vowel marks, but there is a host of punctuation marks and diacritical points, with examples in almost every line.
Dotted pointers indicate quotations from scripture. These signs are well known from other early Syriac manuscripts.
SMMJ 180, f. 20r, showing dotted pointers to indicate a biblical citation.
In addition, the scribe uses a sign that looks very much like the Alexandrian critical sign, the obelus, here in the form known as the lemniscus (cf. Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, 69-72, and Field, Origenis hexaplorum quae supersunt, I: liii-lx). For example, 26va, line 7:
SMMJ 180, f. 26v
Similarly, on 42v, there is a marginal correction of āzēl to zādēq (Kmosko there has āzēl, col. 776.22). This sign, too, is found in other manuscripts, not only Syriac, but also Garšūnī (e.g. SMMJ 174, p. 262), to anchor a marginal reading to a part of the main text.
Another kind of correction is that for transpositions. On 15r, for example, the words b-demʿē and wa-b-ḥaylā are each marked with a group of three dots to indicate that they should be transposed. That is, we should read mā da-gʿa b-ḥaylā wa-b-demʿē saggiʾātā. (Even without the dots, the grammar points in this direction, due to agreement between demʿē and saggiʾātā.) The same indication of transposition occurs elsewhere, as on 46ra, 49vb, 53vb, 54vb, 58rb, 61vb.
SMMJ 180, f. 15r
For LG, the sections are not divided more minutely than individual memra; here is an example of a section divider between memre:
SMMJ 180, f. 37v, end of memra 24,. beg. of memra 25.
On 43v is a marginal note to indicate the topic (not common in this manuscript): “On the soul’s being called spirit.”
Due to the disorderly arrangement of the manuscript, the path for anyone who is continuously reading the text almost looks like a choose-your-own-adventure book. To cover the surviving parts of the codex, beginning with LG and then moving to the Asceticon, one would read the folios in this order (X indicates a missing folio or folios; there are three such places): 93-100, 83, 101, 90, 84-89, 91, X, 92, 80, 79, X, 82, 81, X, 76, 75, 71-74, 70, 69, 68, 77, 11-18, 78, 19-62, 67, 63-66.
Hopefully the folio-by-folio list of the contents below will be of use to those at work on the Book of Steps or Isaiah’s Asceticon. I give by folio the corresponding parts of the text according to the editions of Kmosko for LG and Draguet for the Asceticon. For the former, in every place I have included memra and section number, and for many places identification down to the column and line number; for the latter, I have given logos and section number, along with page and line number.
Draguet, René. Les cinq recensions de l’Ascéticon syriaque d’Abba Isaïe. CSCO 289 / Scr. Syr. 120. Louvain, 1968.
Kessel, Grigory. “A Previously Unknown Reattributed Fragment from Memra 16 of the Book of Steps,” in Kristian S. Heal and Robert A. Kitchen, eds., Breaking the Mind: New Studies in the Syriac “Book of Steps“ (CUA Press, 2014), 53-71, esp. 54-60. Available here. [The volume has a picture from SMMJ 180 on the cover.]
Kmosko, Michael. Liber Graduum. Patrologia Syriaca 3. Paris, 1926.
Folio-by-folio contents of SMMJ 180
[11r-11v] LG 19.39-20.3 (col. 521.17-532.11)
[12r-12v] LG 20.3-20.6
[13r-13v] LG 20.6-20.8
[14r-14v] LG 20.8-20.10
[15r-15v] LG 20.10-20.13 (col. 556.12-564.17)
[16r-16v] LG 20.13-20.15
[17r-17v] LG 20.15-20.17
[18r-18v] LG 20.17-21.2 (col. 580.15-589.7) THEN GO TO [78r]
[19r-19v] LG 21.4- 21.7 (col. 596.23-604.6)
[20r-20v] LG 21.7-21.9 (col. 604.6-609.19)
[21r-21v] LG 21.9-21.11 (col. 609.20-617.8)
[22r-22v] LG 21.11-21.16 (col. 617.9-624.26)
[23r-23v] LG 21.16-21.20 (col. 624.26-632.7)
[24r-24v] LG 21.20-22.3 (col. 632.7-640.3)
[25r-25v] LG 22.3-22.6 (col. 640.3-645.18)
[26r-26v] LG 22.6-22.8 (col. 645.18-653.9)
[27r-27v] LG 22.8-22.11 (col. 653.8-660.24)
[28r-28v] LG 22.11-22.14 (col. 660.24-668.19)
[29r-29v] LG 22.14-22.17 (col. 668.19-676.5)
[30r-30v] LG 22.17-22.20 (col. 676.5-681.19)
[31r-31v] LG 22.20-22.25 (col. 681.19-689.12)
[32r-32v] LG 22.25-23.3 (col. 689.12-697.11)
[33r-33v] LG 23.3-23.8 (col. 697.11-704.24)
[34r-34v] LG 23.8-23.11 (col. 704.24-712.13)
[35r-35v] LG 23.11-24.2 (col. 712.13-720.6)
[36r-36v] LG 24.2-24.7 (col. 720.6-728.8)
[37r-37v] LG 24.7-25.2 (col. 720.6-736.14)
[38r-38v] LG 25.2-25.5 (col. 736.14-741.25)
[39r-39v] LG 25.5-25.8 (col. 741.25-749.22)
[40r-40v] LG 25.8-26.2 (col. 749.22- 760.23)
[41r-41v] LG 26.2-27.2 (col. 760.23-769.12)
[42r-42v] LG 27.2-27.5 (col. 769.12-777.3)
[43r-43v] LG 27.5-28.1 (col. 777.3-788.4)
[44r-44v] LG 28.1-28.6 (col. 788.4-793.24)
[45r-45v] LG 28.6-28.11 (col. 793.24-801.25)
[46r-46v] LG 28.11-29.1 (col. 801.25-812.17)
[47r-47v] LG 29.1-29.3 (col. 812.17-820.14)
[48r-48v] LG 29.3-29.6 (col. 820.14-828.15)
[49r-49v] LG 29.6-29.9 (col. 828.15-836.9)
[50r-50v] LG 29.9-29.12 (col. 836.9-844.3)
[51r-51v] LG 29.12-29.16 (col. 844.4-849.25)
[52r-52v] LG 29.16-30.1 (col. 849.25-860.6)
[53r-53v] LG 30.1-30.3 (col. 860.6-868.11)
[54r-54v] LG 30.3-30.5 (col. 868.11-876.8)
[55r-55v] LG 30.5-30.8 (col. 876.9-881.27)
[56r-56v] LG 30.8-30.12 (col. 881.27-889.16)
[57r-57v] LG 30.12-30.14 (col. 889.16-897.8)
[58r-58v] LG 30.14-30.18 (col. 897.8-905.7)
[59r-59v] LG 30.18-30.21 (col. 905.7-913.5)
[60r-60v] LG 30.21-30.25 (col. 913.6-921.18)
[61r-61v] LG 30.25-30.29 (col. 921.18-929.15)
[62r-62v] LG 30.29 (col. 929.15-932.16); Asct., Logos 1 (Draguet, p.2-3.1) THEN GO TO [67r]
[63r-63v] Asct., Logos 1.4a-2.2 (Draguet, pp. 6.4-10.5)
[64r-64v] Asct., Logos 2.2-3.1 (Draguet, pp. 10.6-14.2)
[65r-65v] Asct., Logos 3.1-3.4 (Draguet, pp. 14.2-18.4)
[66r-66v] Asct., Logos 3.4-5.18 (Draguet, pp. 18.4-26.8/16)
[67r-67v] Asct., Logos 1 (Draguet p. 3.1-p. 6.4) THEN GO TO [63r]
[68r-69r] LG 19.31-19.36 THEN GO TO [77r]
[69r-69v] LG 19.25-19.31 THEN GO TO [68r]
[70r-70v] LG 19.22-19.25 THEN GO TO [69r]
[71r-71v] LG 19.4-19.7
[72r-72v] LG 19.7-19.11
[73r-73v] LG 19.11-19.19
[74r-74v] LG 19.19-19.22 THEN GO TO [70r]
[75r-75v] LG 19.1-19.4 THEN GO TO [71r]
[76r-76v] LG 18.4-19.1 THEN GO TO [75r]
[77r-77v] LG 19.36-19.39 THEN GO TO [11r]
[78r-78v] LG 21.2-21.4 (col. 589.7-596.23) THEN GO TO [19r]
[79r-79v] LG 15.12-15.15 (col 365.4-372.26) THEN GO TO ? (folio missing)
[80r-80v] LG 15.9-15.12 (col. 357.11-365.4) THEN GO TO [79r]
[81r-81v] LG 17.1-17.4 THEN GO TO ? (folio missing)
[82r-82v] LG 16.9-17.1 THEN GO TO [81r]
[83r-83v] LG 10.2-10.5 THEN GO TO [101r]
[84r-84v] LG 11.3-12.1
[85r-85v] LG 12.1-12.4
[86r-86v] LG 12.4-12.7
[87r-87v] LG 12.7-13.3
[88r-88v] LG 13.3-13.8
[89r-89v] LG 13.8-14.3 THEN GO TO [91r]
[90r-90v] LG 10.9-11.3 THEN GO TO [84r]
[91r-91v] LG 14.3-15.3 (col. 332.1-341.9) THEN GO TO ? (folio missing)
[92r-92v] LG 15.6-15.9 (col. 349.16-357.11) THEN GO TO [80r]
[93r-93v] LG 7.18-7.21 (i.e. the end of memra 7)
[94r-94v] LG 8.1-8.5
[95r-95v] LG 8.5-9.2
[96r-96v] LG 9.2-9.6
[97r-97v] LG 9.6-9.9
[98r-98v] LG 9.9-9.13
[99r-99v] LG 9.13-9.19 (col. 233.2-241.7)
[100r-100v] LG 9.19-10.2 (col. 241.7-252.2) THEN GO TO [83r]
[101r-101v] LG 10.5-10.9 THEN GO TO [90r]
It doesn’t take long studying manuscripts before you learn that straightforward categories like genre, language, and even script are not always uniform across an individual manuscript’s contents. And when we include in those contents the evidence of use, such as notes, by its handlers and readers, a manuscript may appear even more motley.
BL Add. 39602 is a late tenth-century Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 181) written in Cappadocia. (See Scrivener, Contributions to the Criticism of the Greek New Testament, pp. 50-52.) Here is the colophon:
BL Add. 39602, f. 220v
Ἐγράφη τὸ τίμιον καὶ ἅγιον εὐαγγέλιον ἐπὶ Στεφάνου τοῦ θεοφίλου ἐπισκόπου Κισκίσσης· μηνὶ ιουνίῳ ἰνδικτιῶνος ηʹ ἔτους ϛυπη γραφὲν διὰ χειρὸς νικ. ϗ τ. (?)
This honored and holy Gospel-book was written for Stephanos the god-loving bishop of Kiskissa, in the month of June, in the 8th [year of the] indiction, in the year 6488 [anno mundi], by the hand of Nik. and …
This comes to the year 980. It was renewed in the next century, as a note on the following folio tells us. The original scribe named in the colophon could be Nikon, Nikolaos, or Nikētas. The manuscript eventually made its way to Mount Athos, the Monastery of Caracalla, whence Robert Curzon acquired it in 1837. (On this monastery and Curzon’s visit there, see his Visits to Monasteries in the Levant (1849), ch. 25, beg. p. 377.). It is probably there that some Georgian monk had written the word discussed below. (See the bibliography at the end of the post for just a few sources on Georgian connections to Mount Athos.)
On f. 1r (see the full page here), below the left column, which ends with John 1:7 in Greek, stands an abbreviated Georgian word.
BL Add. 39602, f. 1r
The word is written small in nusxuri script ⴑⴞⴐⴁⴢ, with an abbreviation mark; in full it would be ⴑ(ⴀ)ⴞ(ⴀ)ⴐ(ⴄ)ⴁ(ⴀ)ⴢ, in mxredruli სახარებაჲ. It’s the common word for Gospel, derived from ხარება, “to rejoice, hear good news; tell, announce”. If there are other Georgian notes recorded in this manuscript, I’ve not found them yet. Who knows why we have the word written here? Anyone with even a smattering of Greek would be able to tell that this is a Gospel-book, so it is likely not just a mere identifying label for those more familiar with Georgian than Greek. It may be that a Georgian reader simply appreciated the connection made between himself and this book and realized that connection by penning the word “Gospel” in his own language onto the manuscript’s first page of text, where John’s Gospel begins. Whatever the reason the word appears, we have it as a reminder of the sometimes miscellaneous quality of what a manuscript may present to us as we study it, and a reminder of the various readers, like ourselves, that may have come across it.
(See also a few more sources listed here from the Library of Congress.)
Blake, R. P. (1929a). The Athos Codex of the Georgian Old Testament. The Harvard Theological Review, 22: 33–56.
Blake, R. P. (1929b). The Georgian Version of Fourth Esdras from the Athos Manuscript. The Harvard Theological Review, 22: 57–105.
Blake, R. P. (1931). Catalogue des manuscrits géorgiens de la bibliothèque de la Laure d’Iviron au Mont Athos. Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, 28: 289–361.
Blake, R. P. (1933). Catalogue des manuscrits géorgiens de la bibliothèque de la Laure d’Iviron au Mont Athos. Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, 29: 114–159, 225–271.
Brosset, M.-F. (1862). Explication de quelques inscriptions, photographiées par Sévastianof, au mont Athos. Bulletin de l’Académie Impériale Des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg, 4: 1–16. Available here.
Ebanoidze, M., & Wilkinson, J. (2001). Timothy Gabashvili. Pilgrimage to Mount Athos, Constantinople and Jerusalem, 1755-1759. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.
Marr, N. Y. (1901). Агіографическіе матеріалы по грузинскимъ рукописямъ Ивера (Hagiographical Material from Georgian Mss on Mt. Athos, Iveron). St. Petersburg.