Archive for the ‘Paleography’ Category
One of the pleasures of cataloging manuscripts is learning about authors and texts that are relatively little known. One such Syriac author is Athanasios (Abū Ġalib) of Ǧayḥān (Ceyhan). Two fifteenth-century manuscripts, CFMM 417 and 418, which I have recently cataloged, each contain different texts attributed to him. Barsoum surveys his life and work briefly in Scattered Pearls (pp. 441-442), and prior to that Vosté wrote an article on him; more recently Vööbus and Carmen Fotescu Tauwinkl have further reported on him. (See the bibliography below; I have not seen all of these resources.) According to Barsoum, he died in 1177 at over 80 years old. As far as I know, none of his work has been published.
The place name associated with this author is the Turkish Ceyhan. The Syriac spelling of the place in the Gazetteer has gyḥʾn, but in both of these manuscripts it is gyḥn. The former is probably an imitation of the Arabic-script spelling, while the form without ālap in the manuscripts still indicates ā in the second syllable by means of an assumed zqāpā.
Now for the CFMM texts.
CFMM 417, pp. 465-466
An untitled monastic selection. These two pages make up the whole of this short text. As you can see, it follows something from Isaac of Nineveh, and it precedes Ps.-Evagrius, On the Perfect and the Just (CPG 2465 = Hom. 14 of the Liber Graduum). The manuscript is dated March, 1785 AG (= 1474 CE).
CFMM, p. 465
CFMM 417, p. 466
CFMM 418, ff. 235v-243v
Excerpts “from his teaching”. Here are the first and last pages of the text. This longer text follows Isaac of Nineveh’s Letter on how Satan Takes Pains to Remove the Diligent from Silence (ff. 223v-235v, Eggartā ʿal hāy d-aykannā metparras Sāṭānā la-mbaṭṭālu la-ḥpiṭē men šelyā) and precedes some Profitable Sayings attributed to Isaac. This manuscript — written by more than one scribe, but at about the same time, it seems — is dated on f. 277v with the year 1482, but the 14- is to be read 17-, so we have 1782 AG (= 1470/1 CE; cf. Vööbus, Handschriftliche Überlieferung der Mēmrē-Dichtung des Jaʿqōb von Serūg, III 97).
CFMM 418, f. 235v
CFMM 418, f. 243v
Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu, “Abū Ghālib, an Unknown West Syrian Spiritual Author of the XIIth Century”, Parole de l’Orient 36 (2010): 277-284.
Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu, “A Spiritual Author in 12th Century Upper Mesopotamia: Abū Ghālib and his Treatise on Monastic Life”, Pages 75-93 in The Syriac Renaissance. Edited by Teule, Herman G.B. and Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu and ter Haar Romeny, Robert Bas and van Ginkel, Jan. Eastern Christian Studies 9. Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010.
Vööbus, Arthur, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Near East, III, CSCO 500, Subs. 81. Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1988, pp. 407-410.
Vööbus, Arthur, “Important Discoveries for the History of Syrian Mysticism: New Manuscript Sources for Athanasius Abû Ghalîb”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 35:4 (1976): 269-270.
Vosté, Jacques Marie, “Athanasios Aboughaleb, évêque de Gihân en Cilicie, écrivain ascétique du XIIe siècle”, Revue de l’Orient chrétien III, 6  (1927-1928): 432-438. Available here.
DCA (Chaldean Diocese of Alqosh) 62 contains various liturgical texts in Syriac. It is a fine copy, but the most interesting thing about the book is its colophon. Here first are the images of the colophon, after which I will give an English translation.
DCA 62, f. 110r
DCA 62, f. 110v
English translation (students may see below for some lexical notes):
This liturgical book for the Eucharist, Baptism, and all the other rites and blessings according to the Holy Roman Church was finished in the blessed month of Adar, on the 17th, the sixth Friday of the Dominical Fast, which is called the Friday of Lazarus, in the year 2150 AG, 1839 AD. Praise to the Father, the cause that put things into motion and first incited the beginning; thanks to the Son, the Word that has empowered and assisted in the middle; and worship to the Holy Spirit, who managed, directed, tended, helped, and through the management of his care brought [it] to the end. Amen.
I — the weak and helpless priest, Michael Romanus, a monk: Chaldean, Christian, from Alqosh, the son of the late deacon Michael, son of the priest Ḥadbšabbā — wrote this book, and I wrote it as for my ignorance and stupidity, that I might read in it to complete my service and fulfill my rank. Also know this, dear reader: that from the beginning until halfway through the tenth quire of the book, it was written in the city of Siirt, and from there until the end of the book I finished in Šarul, which is in the region of the city of Erevan, which is under the control of the Greeks (?), when I was a foreigner, sojourner, and stranger in the village of Syāqud.
The fact that the scribe started his work in Siirt (now in Turkey), relocated, then completed his work, is of interest in and of itself. As for the toponyms, Šarul here must be Sharur/Şərur, now of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (an exclave of Azerbaijan), which at the time of the scribe’s writing was under Imperial Russian control, part of the Armenian Province (Армянская область), and prior to that, part of the Safavid Nakhchivan Khanate, which, with the Erevan Khanate, Persia ceded to Russia at the end of the Russo-Persian War in 1828 with the Treaty of Turkmenchay (Туркманчайский договор, Persian ʿahd-nāme-yi Turkamānčāy). The spelling of Erevan in Syriac above matches exactly the spelling in Persian (ايروان). When the scribe says that Šarul/Sharur/Şərur is in the region of Erevan, he apparently means the Armenian Province, which contained the old Erevan Khanate. He says that the region “is under the control of the Greeks” (yawnāyē); this seems puzzling: the Russians should be named, but perhaps this is paralleled elsewhere. For Syāqud, cf. Siyagut in the Syriac Gazetteer.
See the Erevan and Nakhchivan khanates here called respectively Х(анст)во Ереванское and Х(анст)во Нахичеванское, bordering each other, both in green at the bottom of the map near the center.
For Syriac students, here are some notes, mostly lexical, for the text above:
- šql G sākā w-šumlāyā to be finished (hendiadys)
- ʿyādā custom
- ʿrubtā eve (of the Sabbath) > Friday
- zwʿ C to set in motion
- ḥpṭ D incite (with the preposition lwāt for the object)
- šurāyā beginning
- tawdi thanks (NB absolute)
- ḥyl D to strengthen, empower
- ʿdr D to help, support
- mṣaʿtā middle
- prns Q to manage, rule (cf. purnāsā below)
- dbr D to lead, guide
- swsy Q to heal, tend, foster
- swʿ D to help, assist, support
- ḥartā end
- mnʿ D to reach; to bring
- purnāsā management, guardianship, support (here constr.)
- bṭilutā care, forethought
So we have an outline of trinitarian direction in completing the scribal work: abā — šurāyā; brā — mṣaʿtā; ruḥ qudšā — ḥartā.
- mḥilā weak
- tāḥobā feeble, wretched
- mnāḥ (pass. ptcp of nwḥ C) at rest, contented
- niḥ napšā at rest in terms of the soul > deceased (the first word is a pass. ptcp of nwḥ G)
- mšammšānā deacon
- burutā stupidity, inexperience
- hedyoṭutā stupidity, simplicity (explicitly vocalized hēdyuṭut(y) above)
- šumlāyā fulfilling
- mulāyā completion
- dargā office, rank
- qāroyā reader
- pelgā half, part
- kurrāsā quire
- šlm D to complete, finish
- nukrāyā foreigner
- tawtābā sojourner
- aksnāyā stranger
- qritā village
While cataloging the 15th-century manuscript CFMM 152 (on which see also here), I was struck by the long rubric of this mēmrā attributed to Ephrem.
CFMM 152, p. 156
(Students of Syriac may note the construct state before a preposition in ʿāmray b-ṭurē [Nöldeke, Gramm., § 206], as well as in the common epithet lbiš l-alāhā [Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum, 2d ed., 358a].)
Here with English glosses are the nouns in this rubric where monks may dwell. They can all be rocky areas, and there might be some semantic ambiguity and overlap with some of them.
- ṭurā mountain
- gdānpā ledge, crag
- šnāntā rock, crag, peak
- ṣeryā crack, fissure
- pqaʿtā crack (also valley)
- ḥlēlā crack
Brock’s list of incipits tells us that this mēmrā, possibly a genuine work of Ephrem, has been published by Beck in Sermones IV (CSCO 334-335 / Scr. Syr. 148-149, 1973), pp. 16-28. (Published earlier by Zingerle and Rahmani; there are two English translations, neither available to me at the moment.) The rubric in Beck’s ed. differs slightly from the one in this manuscript.
For comparison, here is another mēmrā attributed to Ephrem from a later manuscript, CFMM 157, p. 104. (see Beck, Sermones IV, pp. 1-16, for a published edition of the mēmrā).
CFMM 157, p. 104
This one has some of the same words, but the related addition terms are:
- mʿartā cave (pl. without fem. marker; see Nöldeke, Gramm., § 81)
- šqipā cliff
- pe/aʿrā cave
And so I leave you with these related Syriac terms, in case you wish to write a Syriac poem with events in rocky locales!
Here is a colophon from a manuscript I cataloged last week (CFMM 155, p. 378). It shares common features and vocabulary with other Syriac colophons, but the direct address to the reader, not merely to ask for prayer, but also to suggest that the reader, too, needs rescuing is less common. We often find something like “Whoever prays for the scribe’s forgiveness will also be forgiven,” but the phrasing we find in this colophon is not as common.
CFMM 155, p. 378
Brother, reader! I ask you in the love of Jesus to say, “God, save from the wiles of the rebellious slanderer the weak and frail one who has written, and forgive his sins in your compassion.” Perhaps you, too, should be saved from the snares of the deceitful one and be made worthy of the rank of perfection. Through the prayers of Mary the Godbearer and all the saints! Yes and yes, amen, amen.
Here are a few notes and vocabulary words for students:
- pāgoʿā reader (see the note on the root pgʿ in this post)
- ḥubbā Išoʿ should presumably be ḥubbā d-Išoʿ
- pṣy D to save; first paṣṣay(hy) D impv 2ms + 3ms, then tetpaṣṣē Dt impf 2ms
- mḥil weak
- tāḥub weak
- ākel-qarṣā crumb-eater, i.e. slanderer, from an old Aramaic (< Akkadian) idiom ekal qarṣē “to eat the crumbs (of)” > “to slander” (see S.A. Kaufman, Akkadian Influences on Aramaic, p. 63) (cf. διάβολος < διαβάλλω)
- ṣenʿtā plot (for ṣenʿātēh d-ākel-qarṣā cf. Eph 6:11 τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου)
- mārod rebellious
- paḥḥā trap, snare
- nkil deceitful
- šwy Gt to be equal, to be made worthy, deserve
- dargā level, rank
- gmirutā perfection
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.