Colophons do not necessarily match in language the texts that they conclude, so that we sometimes have a Garšūnī colophon at the end of a Syriac text, or vice versa (as in an earlier place in the manuscript mentioned below). Garšūnī and Arabic are not, of course, distinct languages, but given that the medium in view here is graphic, the clearly distinct writing systems employed for them may matter in a way approaching that which exists between different languages properly speaking. In addition, at least some scribes that used Garšūnī were careful to note the difference, as I pointed out recently.
Here, mainly for the handwriting, is an Arabic colophon at the end of a Garšūnī manuscript: Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, № 169, which mostly contains homilies in Garšūnī. (At the beginning there is an excerpt, in Syriac, from the Chronicle of Michael the Great, book 11 of chapter 20, on the Council of Manazkert convened in 726 by Catholicos Yovhannēs Ōjnec’i the Philosopher with Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Athanasios III. Neither Michael nor the title Chronicle are specifically mentioned here, however.)
The kind of Arabic script most often found in the collections I have cataloged is naskh. Less commonly we see ruqʿa, and rarer still is the slanted taʿlīq or one of its derivations, so the handwriting here is of some interest merely for that reason. The script here is characterized by each word being written on a down-slanting line (sometimes with the last letter written above the preceding parts of the word), loosely placed diacritical marks, and some horizontal and rounded lines being notably extended. Perhaps others would like to try their hand at reading it. My transcription (save for one part in the first line that has proven undecipherable to me so far) follows below. By the way, the year is given as 1092 AG, but this must be a mistake for 2092 AG (= 1780/1 CE), so the full date as given below would be May 1, 1781; a purchase note at the end of the manuscript is dated 2102 AG (= 1790/1 CE). The scribe, also named earlier in this manuscript in a Syriac colophon, is called Anīs, who is from Gargar, but this manuscript was written outside Diyarbakır/Āmid.
SMMJ 169, f. 145r
كتب بداخل مدينة آمد في قلاية البطريركية الايغناطيوسية ادام الله سعادتها ؟ ؟ الينا المعظم المغبوط المكرم مار ايغناطيوس
بطريرك انطاكية بيد احقر عبيد الله واحوجهم الراهب الهارب وانيس باسم قسيس في سنة اثنان تسعين والف للاسكندر اليوناني
في يوم عيد القديس مار ميخايل
اول يوم شهر ايار
رحم الله من ترحم على الكاتب الحقير
وعلى والديه واخوته
I continue with cataloging the collection of the Chaldean Cathedral of Mardin. In a very important manuscript, some other texts of which I hope to publish in the near future, I’ve come across a short work counting the years from Adam up to the mid-fifteenth century. I’ve just uploaded a document with both the Syriac text and an English translation here, and below just the translation is given.
CCM 20, f. 235r
The text comes from an East Syriac manuscript dated to 1770 AG (= 1458/9 CE), Chaldean Cathedral of Mardin (CCM) 20, ff. 235r-235v (olim Diyarbakır 106). Judging from the text itself, it is original to this manuscript (i.e. it’s not a copy). In its details for the years, I have not compared it with other similar texts in Syriac or other languages, but I offer it with an English translation simply as an example of how a fifteenth-century Syriac scribe looked back very briefly across human history as he saw it. In addition, Syriac students might find it to be a short and easy text, especially to practice their knowledge of Syriac numbers.
With God’s help I note down an index of the sum of years from Adam to today, [the years] sometimes defined, indicating the years of the Greeks. Our Lord, help me!
1 From Adam to the Flood there are 2242 years.
2 From the Flood to the building of the Tower [of Babel], 700 years.
3 From the building of the Tower to the promise [made to] Abraham, 500 years.
4 From the promise [made to] Abraham to the exodus from Egypt, 430 years.
5 [From that time to the time] of Moses, Joshua b. Nun, 67 years.
6 [From that time to the time] the kings, 524 years.
7 [From that time to the time] of the Babylon[ian captivity], 70 years.
8 From the freedom from Babylon to the crucifixion of our savior, 480 years.
9 From the crucifixion of our savior until the Persians ruled, 81 years.
10 From [the time] that the Persians ruled [f. 235v] until the Arabs [ṭayyāyē] ruled, 505 years.
11 From [the time] that the Arabs ruled to the year in which this book was noted down, 862 years.
12 The sum of all the years is 6950 years.
13 The years that the Persians ruled are 550 years.
14 The blessed lady Mary received the good news [i.e. the Annunciation] in the year 303 of the Greeks.
15 Our savior was born in the year 304.
16 He was baptized by John in the year 334.
17 He suffered, died, arose, and ascended to heaven in the year 337 of the Greeks.
18 From the ascension of our Lord to the year in which this book noted down, 1433 years.
Ended is the reckoning and numbering of the years from Adam to the year in which we are.
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!
Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, 48 is a big manuscript — 26.1x18x13.5 cm and about 600 folios — containing Dionysios bar Ṣalibi’s commentary on the Gospels, and a notable copy because it comes from only a century after the author’s death: the colophon (f. 588v) has the date Nisan 23, 1582 AG (= 1271 CE). Before the text itself begins on f. 1v, there is on the previous page a note in Garšūnī:
SMMJ 41, f. 1r
The note is not in the same hand of the manuscript’s scribe, and there is no explicit indication of its date, but it bears no marks of being recent. Here is a quickly done translation into English:
We found the date of this holy, venerated father, Mār Dionysios (that is Yaʿqub) bar Ṣalibi, recorded in the Chronicon [Ecclesiasticum] of St. Gregory Bar ʿEbrāyā, the fact that he was ordained bishop over Marʿaš by Athanasios the patriarch (that is, Yešuʿ b. Qaṭra). The ordination of Patriarch Athanasios was in the year 1450 AG (1138/9 CE), and the ordination of St. Dionysios bar Ṣalibi as bishop was in the year 1462 [AG, = 1150/1 CE]. This St. Dionysios was present at the ordination of St. Mār Michael the Great, Patriarch of Antioch, whose ordination was in the year 1478 AG [1166/7 CE] in the Monastery of Mār Barṣawmā. The eternal rest of St. Dionysios bar Ṣalibi was in Tešrin II [November] 1483 AG [= 1171 CE], and he was buried in the Church of the Virgin in Diyarbakır.
If you wish, you can read more about Dionysios bar Ṣalibi in:
- Michael the Great’s Chronicle, Edessa-Aleppo Codex, ff. 349v-350v (outer columns; = pp. 701-703 in the Gorgias Press facsimile)
- Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Chronicon [Ecclesiasticum] I 511-513, 559-561
- Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis II 156-211
- S.P. Brock, in GEDSH 126-127
The note above, which acknowledges Bar ʿEbrāyā as a source, apparently by an early reader, is a good example showing how manuscripts are not static objects serving merely as text-receptacles, but unique witnesses not only to this or that version of a particular text, but also to the scribes who copied them, their readers from generation to generation, and the communities that have curated them.
UPDATE: Thanks to Gabriel Rabo for pointing out a mistake in my translation due to eyeskip. It has now been corrected.
In SMMJ 20 (187v), at the end of the Psalms, appears a short hymn on Jesus attributed to Severos. The same text also occurs (probably among others) in DIYR 202, a liturgical manuscript dated 1477, at the beginning of the Rite for the Confirmation of Deacons (77r-78r), but there without any mention of Severos. The handwriting of the latter is more careful, so I give images from that manuscript here.
DIYR 202, ff. 76v-77r
DIYR 202, ff. 77v-78r
The ending taw-alaf in some cases is written in a unique way that I’ve not noticed before, in which the scribe connects two letters not normally connected.
DIYR 202, f. 77v, line 11 (see also line 5)
It’s not a particularly moving piece, but it’s short and easy, and so it may be a welcome sample for Syriac students to devote a few minutes to.