Archive for the ‘Christian Arabic’ Tag

Stones, beetles, or both? The transmogrification of the shepherd that Barbara cursed   Leave a comment

I have previously discussed an episode in the Syriac version of the story of Barbara in which a shepherd and his flock are mutated into beetles. As I mentioned there, in the Greek version, the sheep become beetles (κανθαρίδες), but the shepherd himself becomes a stone (λίθος). I also noted that the synaxarion texts in Arabic and Gǝʿǝz lack this episode entirely. Since then I have looked at two other sources: an Arabic version from a manuscript I cataloged, and the Armenian version in Vark’ ew vkayabanut’iwnk’ srboc’, vol. 2, and here is what I have found.

The Armenian text appears in Vark’ 2, two lines from the bottom of p. 358 to p. 359, line 13 (see here). The text, with a few notes on vocabulary and grammar and an English translation, follow:

Եւ սուրբն Վառվառ ելեալ փախչէր յերեսաց հօրն իւրոյ։

ելեալ ptcp ելանեմ, ելի to go out | փախչէր impf 3sg պախչեմ, -խեայ to flee  | երես, -աց face

Իսկ հայրն իբրեւ զարիւնարդու գազան՝ ելեալ [p. 359] վարէր զհետ նորա.

արիւնարդու bloodthirsty, bloodsucking | գազան, -աց beast, animal | վարէր impf 3sg վարիմ, -եցայ to conduct oneself, act, go (m/p of վարեմ, -եցի to direct, guide, manage, lead, use) | զհետ after (< հետ, -ոյ, -ք, -տոց footprint, step, track)

եւ ել ի լեառն եւ խնդրէր զերանելին Վառվառ. եւ ահա տեսանէր ի լերինն հովիւս երկուս զի արածէին զհօտս իւրեանց. եւ հարցանէր ցնոսա եթէ արդեօք տեսեալ իցեն զնա։

ել aor 3sg ելանեմ, ելի to go out | խնդրեմ, -եցի to search for, pursue, wish | լեառն, լերանց mountain | արածեմ, -եցի to tend (herd), cause to graze | հօտ, -ից flock, herd | հարցանեմ, հարցի to ask, question | արդեօք perhaps | իցեմ subj pres 3pl եմ to be

Իսկ միւսն ի նոցանէ կամեցաւ ստել վասն նորա զի մի ի բուռն անկցի սուրբն եւ սպանցի, եւ երդնոյր նմա եթէ ոչ եւս գիտեմ զնա թէ ուր իցէ, եւ ոչ տեսեալ իցեմ զնա։

կամին, -եցայ to want, intend | ստել to lie | բուռն, բռանց fist, hand, violence, force | անկցի aor subj 3sg անկանիմ, անկաւ to fall | սպանցի aor m/p subj 3sg սպանանեմ, սպանի to kill, slay, slaughter, etc. | երդնույր impf 3sg երդնում, երդւայ to swear | եւս still | գիտեմ, գիտացի to know | ուր where | իցէ pres subj 3sg եմ to be | իցեմ pres subj 1sg եմ to be

Իսկ ընկեր նորին ակնարկեալ եւ նշանացի սկսաւ ցուցանել նմա զաղախինն Քրիստոսի։

ընկեր, -աց companion | ակնարկեալ ptcp ակնարկեմ, -եցի to indicate, show | նշանեմ, -եցի to sign, mark, make a sign (նշան, -աց sign) | սկսաւ aor 3sg սկսանիմ to begin | ցուցանեմ, ցուցի to show, point out | աղախին, -ոց/-աց maidservant

Զորս եւ անիծեալ սրբոյն՝ զանօրէն հովիւն զայս, եւ առժամայն մածեալ արձանացաւ հանդերձ ոչխարօքն, որպէս զկինն Ղովտայ. եւ կայ մինչեւ ցայսօր նովին կերպարանաւ, կան քարացեալ ի նմին տեղւոջ ի ցոյցս տեսողաց։

անիծեալ ptcp անիծանեմ, անիծի to curse | անօրէն unjust, wicked | առժամայն immediately | մածեալ ptcp մածանիմ, մածայ to be glued, adhere, coagulate, congeal, join, unite | արձանացաւ aor 3sg արձանանամ, -ացայ to become like a statue, to be fixed  | հանդերձ with, together with (also -ից clothes) | ոչխար, -աց sheep (cf. Geo. ცხოვარი/ცხუარი sheep [see Ačaṙean, vol. 3, 562b]) | կին woman, wife | կայ pres 3sg կամ, կացի to remain, be, stand | նովին inst.sg նոյն that (same), self, he/she/it | կերպարան, ի (also pl) form, face, look, appearance, image | կան pres 3pl կամ, կացի to be, exist, live, remain, stand | քարացեալ ptcp քարացուցանեմ to turn into stone | ցոյց, ցուցից showing, index, sign, testimony, indicator, proof | տեսող seer, spectator

A rough ET:

Saint Barbara, having gone out, was fleeing from her father, but he, like a bloodthirsty animal, was pursuing her. And he went out to the mountain and searched for the blessed Barbara, and just then he saw on the mountain two shepherds, who were tending their flocks, and he was asking them whether they might have seen her. One of them wanted to lie for her, lest the saint fall violently and be killed, and he swore to him, “I don’t know at all where she might be, nor will I be able to spot her.” But his companion began to indicate and make signs so as to point out Christ’s handmaid. The saint, then, having cursed him, (namely) this wicked shepherd, and he immediately having coagulated, he, together with the sheep, became like a statue, like Lot’s wife, and it remains to this day in that very form: they remain petrified in the same place for a sign to those who see it.

The Arabic (Garšūnī) copy I have read is in CFMM 306, with this episode at ff. 57v10-58r7. Here is the image:

CFMM 306, ff. 57v-58r

CFMM 306, ff. 57v-58r (pp. 102-103)

And a rough ET:

And when her wicked father realized that she had gotten the better of him by the power of her great Lord, he made a thorough search for her and went up the mountain after her. That mountain was enough for two [shepherds] to tend sheep, and he asked them about her. One of them swore that he had not seen her. Satan entered the heart of the other as he had entered the heart of Judas, who handed Christ over to the Jews: thus [the second shepherd] handed the chaste woman into her father’s hand. Then she lifted her gaze toward that shepherd who had pointed her out to her father and she cursed him, and he and his flock became black rocks, [remaining so] to this very day.

So we have now seen this part of the tale in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic. Here is a chart showing what happens to the cursed shepherd and his sheep in these versions:

shepherd sheep
Greek stone beetle
Syriac beetle beetle
Arabic stone stone
Armenian stone stone

This data is of course not based on a complete examination of surviving sources for this story, not even for the languages included here. In all likelihood a more thorough investigation would reveal even more variety across the versions of this text, as well as some clues as to when and whence the different metamorphoses manifest in these texts.

Excerpta synaxarica   Leave a comment

For a diversion or language practice, here are a few lines from the synaxaria for yesterday (Jan 20), with English translation and a few notes.

Ṭūba 25/Jan 20, for Abadius, PO 11: 697

فقال مقدم القصر للنقيب ما ذا يستحق هذا من العذاب لانه قد سب الابلون فاجاب النقيب قائلا له هذا مستوجب عقوبة الموت فقال له القديس اباديوس ما دام حكمت عليّ بالموت فامضي وادفن ابنك لان العقرب لسعته ومات

  • imḍī wa idfin If impv, we should, of course, understand here (and below) imḍi, the 2msg impv, not the 2fsg. Basset thus takes both verbs as imperatives in his FT. Alternatively, we might read ʾamḍī wa ʾadfinu, “I will go and bury.”

فقال له مقدم القصر ايش هذا الكلام السحر الذي انت تقوله فامر ان يضرب بالسياط والقديس قال له امضي وادفن زوجتك لانها ماتت

  • al-kalām al-siḥr Either hendiadys, or perhaps read kalām al-siḥr or al-kalāmal-siḥrī.
  • sawṭ, pl. siyāṭ whip

فقال النقيب لكاتب الدرج اخرج واكشف الخبر ولما خرج من باب القصر وجد عبيد مقدم القصر وهم مشققين الثياب صارخين من اجل موت الصبي الذي لسعه العقرب وسمع البكا في بيت النقيب على زوجته

  • šaqqaqa to tear, rip open (also I, with sim. mng.)

فرجع بسرعة واعلمهم بما كان وقال لهم ان هذا الانسان رجل الله وللوقت امر ان يلقوا القديس في السجن

The castle overseer [muqaddam al-qaṣr] said to the leader [naqīb], “What kind of punishment does this man deserve, because he has cursed Apollo?” The leader answered, saying to him, “He is worthy of the death penalty.” Then Saint Abadius said to him, “As you sentence me to death, go and bury your son, because a scorpion has stung him and he is dead.” The castle overseer said to him, “What are these words of sorcery you are saying?” And he commanded that he be whipped, but the saint said, “Go and bury your wife, because she is dead.” Then the leader said to the secretary [kātib al-darǧ], “Go out and discover what happened.” And when he went out from the gate of the castle, he found the castle overseer’s servants tearing open their garments and screaming on account of the death of the boy whom the scorpion had stung, and in the leader’s house he heard weeping for his wife, so he quickly returned and informed them of what had happened and said, “This person is a man of God!” And immediately [the leader] commanded that they throw [the saint] in prison.

Ṭǝrr 25/Jan 20, for Sebastian, PO 45: 182, 184

ወበዛቲ ፡ ዕለት ፡ ካዕበ ፡ ስምዓ ፡ ኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ስብስጥያኖስ።

ወየሐውር ፡ በጥበብ ፡ ወብአእምሮ ፡ ውይፌውስ ፡ በጸሎቱ ፡ ብዙኃነ ፡ ድውያነ ፡ ወይከሥት ፡ አዕይንተ ፡ ዕውራን።

ወእምዝ ፡ ሶበ ፡ ክህዶ ፡ ዲዮቅልጥያኖስ ፡ ለአምላክ ፡ አገበሮ ፡ ለቅዱስ ፡ ስብስጥያኖስ ፡ ይስግድ ፡ ለጣዖት ፡ ወሶበ ፡ ዓበዮ ፡ አዘዘ ፡ ይእስርዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ኦም ፡ ይቡስ ፡ ወይንድፍዎ ፡ በአሕፃ ፡ ዘአልቦ ፡ ኍልቍ ፡ ወተሐዘብዎ ፡ ከመ ፡ ሞተ።

  • ዖም፡ tree, forest, woodland
  • ሐጽ፡ pl. አሕጻ፡ arrow
  • ተሐዘበ፡ to think, believe

ወበሌሊት ፡ ረከብዎ ፡ ምእመናን ፡ እንዘ ፡ ሕያው ፡ ውእቱ ፡ ወፈትሕዎ ፡ ወወሰድዎ ፡ ማእከለ ፡ ደሴት ፡ ወአንበርዎ ፡ ህየ።

  • ደሴት፡ dasset island

ወሰሚዖ ፡ ዲዮቅልጥያኖስ ፡ ተመጠዎ ፡ ኀቤሁ ፡ ወአዘዘ ፡ ይዝብጥዎ ፡ በአብትረ ፡ ሐፂን ፡ ወዘበጥዎ ፡ ብዙኃ ፡ መዋዕለ ፡ ወእምዝ ፡ መጠወ ፡ ነፍሶ።

  • ዘበጠ፡ to beat, strike
  • በትር፡ pl. አብትር፡ stick, rod

And on this day, too, was the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.

And he would act with wisdom and understanding, and with his prayer would heal many sick people and open the eyes of the blind. Then, when Diocletian had denied God, he compelled Saint Sebastian to worship the idol. And when [Sebastian] disobeyed him, [Diocletian] commanded them to bind him in a dry woodland and to shoot him with innumerable arrows. [They did so] and they thought he was dead, but during the night the faithful found him still alive and they led him to an island and established him there. Diocletian having heard this, [his men] took hold of [Sebastian and brought him] to [Diocletian], and he commanded them to strike him with rods of iron, and they did so for many days, and then he gave up his spirit.

And finally, from the Armenian yaysmawurk’, there’s a line that has vocabulary we also saw in this post.

Arac’ 13/Jan 20, for Euthymius the Great (յիշատակ Եւթիմոսի մեծի անապատականին եւ քահանայի), PO 19: 63

Էր կարճահասակ եւ մօրուսն երկայն մինչեւ ի ծունկսն։

He was short, with his long beard to his knees.

  • կարճահասակ short, little
  • մօրուս Why acc?
  • երկայն long

A treasury of Arabic (Garšūnī) hagiography: Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem, № 199   Leave a comment

The first Garšūnī manuscript that I remember studying closely is SMMJ 199, a huge manuscript copied in 1733-1734 and now divided into two parts due to its size. Altogether, it is 750 folios long, with 90 distinct longer or shorter hagiographic pieces. Fortunately the colophon has also survived. This colophon, with a few Syriac elements, but mostly in Garšūnī and Arabic, tells us not only the completion date, but the beginning date, where it was copied (and translated), and about its textual basis. It was copied and translated at Dayr al-Zaʿfarān from a Syriac manuscript dated 1490 AG (= 1178/9 CE) “into the Garšūnī language” by the scribe of this manuscript himself, Bišāra of Aleppo.

SMMJ 199B, f. 750v

SMMJ 199B, f. 750v

Among the later notes to the manuscript is one on f. 367v by Yulius, Metr. of Malabar dated 1933.

SMMJ 199a, f. 367v

SMMJ 199a, f. 367v

According to notes on f. 751 of SMMJ 199 B, the manuscript was purchased in Aleppo and donated to Saint Mark’s in 1874.

William Macomber’s catalog of the manuscript for the BYU microfilm project is available here, and the earlier record by Graf is in Oriens Christianus n.s. 3 (1913): 311-327. I am finishing up the new record of the manuscript for HMML’s own catalog now, but here is an alphabetical index that I made some time ago (also in PDF here: SMMJ_199_index). A few more images from the manuscript follow the index.

The stories are alphabetized by the names of the saints (or the miraculous events) themselves. The parenthetical reference to Graf is to vol. 1 of his Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1944)

A
Aaron, 187a-195b (Graf 523)
ʿAbd Al-Maṣīḥ, 651b-657a (Graf 523)
Abel, see below under Martyrs
Abḥai, 513a-524a (Graf 523)
Abraham, 401a-409a (Graf 523)
Abraham of Qidun, 174b-182a (Graf 523)
Abraham of Kashkar, 310a-311b (Graf 523)
Addai, 545b-547a (Graf 524)
Agrippas, see under Lawrence & Agrippas
Andronicus & Athanasia his wife, 153b-156a (Graf 404)
Antonius, 4b-33b (Graf 312)
Arcadius, son of Xenophon, see under Xenophon
Archelides, 138a-142b (Graf 498)
Athanasia, see under Andronicus
Athanasius, 446b-452a (Graf 315)
Awgen, 323a-340a (Graf 525)
Awtil, 166b-171a (Graf 524)

B
Bacchus, see under Sergius & Bacchus
Barbara & Juliana, 714b-716a (Graf 499ff.)
Barsawma, 226a-265b (Graf 524)
Miracles of Basil, 462a-469b (Graf 328)
Basilia, see under Eugenia
Bayt Al-Šuhadāʾ, 313a-323a (Graf 525)
Bishoi, 67a-81a (Graf 539)

C
Children of the rulers of Rome & Antioch, 150b-153b
Christopher the Barbarian, 642a-646b (Graf 500)
Clement of Rome, 440b-443a (Graf 304)
The Invention of the Cross, 412a-414b (Graf 244)
Cyprian & Justa, 494a-498a (Graf 517)
Cyriacus & his mother Julitta, 646b-648b (Graf 500)

D
Daniel of Scetis, 156a-159a (Graf 403)
Daniel & the Virgins, 675a-677b (Graf 403)
Daniel of Ǧabal Galaš, 266a-272a
Dimet, 171b-174b (Graf 525)
Dionysius, see under Peter & Paul
Dometius, see under Maximus

E
Ephrem the Syrian, 453b-462a (Graf 433)
Eugenia, her family, & Basilia, 723a-729b (Graf 501)
Eulogius the stonecutter, 156a-159a (Graf 403)
Eulogius the Egyptian, 390b-400a (Graf 526)
Euphrosune, 689a-693a (Graf 501)
Eupraxia, 677b-684a (Graf 518)
Eustathius, see under Placidus
Evagrius, 362a-363b (Graf 399)

F
Faith, Hope, & Love, & their mother Wisdom, 719a-723a (Graf 513ff.)
Febronia, 729b-737a (Graf 502)
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, 570b-574a (Graf 510)

G
George, 578b-582a (Graf 502-504)
Gerasimus, 308a-310a (Graf 408)
Gregory the Illuminator, 484a-494a (Graf 310, 518)
Gregory Thaumaturgus, 479b-484a (Graf 309)

H
Habib, 635b-638b (Graf 526)
Hagna, 718a-719a (Graf 526)
Hilaria, 684b-689a (Graf 526)
The Himyarites, 624b-631b (Graf 516)

I
Ignatius, 437b-439b (Graf 305)
The Image of Christ made by the Jews in Tiberias, 366a-379b (Graf 245)
Invention (of the Cross), see above under Cross
Isaiah of Aleppo, 349b-356a (Graf 528)
Isaiah of Scete, 363b-366a (Graf 403)

J
Jacob, 582a-585b (Graf 504ff.)
Jacob the Anchorite, 272a-277a (Graf 527)
Jacob Baradaeus, 527a-533a
Jacob of Nisibis, 452a-453b (Graf 527)
Jacob the Recluse, 379b-390a (Graf 527)
Jacob of Sarug, 526b-527a (Graf 452)
John the Anchorite, 409a-412a (Graf 527)
John the Baptist, 434a-437b (Graf 506-508)
John Chrysostom, 469b-479b (Graf 353ff)
John of Edessa, see under Paul of Cnidus
John the Evangelist, 422b-434a (Graf 261ff.)
John of Kfar Sanya, 590a-599a (Graf 527)
John of Tella, 533a-545b (Graf 528)
John of the Well, 290b-294a (Graf 527)
John, son of the emperor (John of the Golden Gospel), 142a-146a (Graf 505)
John the Short, 81a-98a (Graf 534)
John, son of Xenophon, see under Xenophon
Juliana, see under Barbara & Juliana
Julianus, 182a-187a (Graf 367)
Justa, see under Cyprian

L
Lawrence & Agrippas, 612b-624b (Graf 528)

M
Macarius, 33b-52a (Graf 395)
Malchus, 340a-349b (Graf 528)
Malchus of Clysma, 280a-282b (Graf 529)
Mamas, his father Theodotus, & his wife Rufina, 648b-651b (Graf 520)
Mari(n)a, 693a-694a (Graf 508)
Mary the martyr, 716a-718a (Graf 528)
Mary the Egyptian, 698b-703a (Graf 508)
Mark of Ǧabal Tarmaq, 110b-114a (Graf 512)
Mark the Merchant, 286b-290a
Martinianus, 277a-278a (Graf 510)
The Holy Martyrs, beginning with Abel, 564b-566b (Graf 528)
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, 414b-420b (Graf 249-251)
Maximus & Dometius, sons of Emperor Valentinus, 52a-67a (Graf 536)

N
Nicholas, also known as Zakhe, 511a-513a (Graf 511)

O
Onesima & other women, 669a-672a (Graf 529)
Another on Onesima (the same martyr as above), 672a-675a (Graf 529)

P
Pantaleon, 604a-609b (Graf 521)
Pappus, 638b-642a (Graf 529)
Paul of Alexandria, 1b-4b (Graf 512)
Paul (the Apostle), see under Peter & Paul
Paul of Cnidus & John of Edessa, 506a-511a (Graf 529)
Pelagia, 703a-709b (Graf 529)
Peter, 443b-446b (Graf 309)
Peter & Paul, Dionysius’ Letter on the Apostles, 420b-422b (Graf 270)
Pethion, 657a-662a (Graf 529ff)
Petra, 311b-313a (Graf 530)
Pistis, Elpis, Agape, & Sophia, see under Faith et alii
Placidus, also known as Eustathius, 566b-570b (Graf 502)
Plotinus, 498a-506a (Graf 530)

R
Rechab, the sons of, (Rechabites) 282b-286b (Graf 214)
Reuben (Rubil), 162b-166a (Graf 530)
Risha, 146a-150b (in two parts) (Graf 498)
Romanus, 609b-612b (Graf 530)
Rufina, see under Mamas et alii

S
Saba of Alexandria, 278a-280a (Graf 530)
Seleucus, see under Stratonike
Serapion, 114a-132b (Graf 530)
Sergius & Bacchus, 585b-590a (Graf 512)
The Seven Martyrs of Samosata, 599a-604a
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, 574a-578b (Graf 512ff.)
Severus (Letter), 524b-526b (Graf 419)
Shenoute, 98a-110b (Graf 463)
Shmona & Gurya, 631b-635b (Graf 530)
Simeon of Kfar ʿĀbdīn, 159a-162b (Graf 530)
Simeon Stylites, 196a-226a (Graf 513)
Simeon the Fool (Salos), 294a-308a (Graf 409)
Stratonike and her fiance Seleucus, 737a-750a (Graf 530)
Susanna, 695b-698a (Graf 530)

T
Thecla & other female martyrs, 709b-714a (Graf 514)
Theodore, martyred in Euchaita, 662a-669a (Graf 514)
Theodotus, father of Mamas, see under Mamas et alii
Theodotus of Amida, 547a-564b

V
A Certain Virgin, 694a-695b
Another Virgin, 698a-698b

X
Xenophon & his sons, John & Arcadius, 132b-137b (Graf 515)

Y
Yareth, 356b-362a (Graf 531)

Z
Zakhe, see under Nicholas

Example of the mise en page. SMMJ 199A, f. 52r.

Example of the mise en page. SMMJ 199A, f. 52r.

Scribal note on Mar Malkē. SMMJ 199A, f. 349v.

Scribal note on Mar Malkē. SMMJ 199A, f. 349v.

SMMJ 199A, f. 290v, John of the Well

SMMJ 199A, f. 290v, John of the Well

SMMJ 199B, f. 698v, Mary the Egyptian

SMMJ 199B, f. 698v, Mary the Egyptian

SMMJ 199B, f. 703r, Pelagia

SMMJ 199B, f. 703r, Pelagia

(Ps.-)Ignatius of Antioch, Hortatory Epistle to Priests (CPG 1030)   1 comment

In the manuscript Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem, № 170, ff. 139v-145v, a collection mostly of homilies in Garšūnī, there is a letter attributed to Ignatius of Antioch (al-nūrānī). As I was cataloging the manuscript and hunting down some information on the text, I located what seemed to be it in CPG 1030:

Picture 44

I was glad to see that a Syriac version of the letter might be available, but when I went to check it (only in the Woodbrooke vol., BJRL not being available to me), it was immediately apparent that Mingana published a Garšūnī text, not Syriac. So there in CPG 1030 we should read arabice, not syriace! Mingana’s text is based on two Garšūnī manuscripts, perhaps of the sixteenth century (see his pages 96-97). SMMJ 170 is later, and I have yet to determine the relationship of this copy of the text to that which Mingana published, but here is a sample (= Mingana, p. 110, line 7-p. 111, line 3) for those few who might be interested.

SMMJ 170, f. 140r

SMMJ 170, f. 140r

The Story of Sarabamon, from the Arabic synaxarion   Leave a comment

I had the pleasure last summer of meeting Amsalu Tefera during the EMML @ 40 conference, which took place at HMML to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library (EMML). The proceedings of that conference will, we hope, be published before year’s end. At the conference, Amsalu read a paper on the Gǝʕǝz hagiographic witness to a relatively little known saint of Egypt by the name of Sarabamon. We look forward to the fuller work on Sarabamon in Amsalu’s paper to appear in the aforementioned volume, but he has very recently offered a short guest post at Alin Suciu’s blog.

Not surprisingly, the synaxarion in Arabic also offers a witness to Sarabamon (on Hatūr 28 = November 24; PO 3: 273-277), and when I mentioned it to Amsalu, he kindly encouraged me to offer a translation of it here. While not much more than a mere draft, here it is (PDF, with a few notes, here sarabamon_arabic_synax):

On this day the holy Sarābāmūn the bishop, bishop of Nikiu, was martyred. He was of the family of Stephen [Istīfānūs], of the tribe of Judah, from Jerusalem. The name of his father was Abraham [Ibrāhīm] b. Levi [Lāwī] b. Joseph [Yūsuf], brother of Simon [Simʿān], the maternal uncle of Stephen. At his birth, they named him Simʿān after his grandfather. When his parents died, he wanted to become a Christian, then an angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to go to the bishop, Anbā John [Yūḥannā]. When [Simon] reached him, [Anbā John] told him of the secret of the incarnation of the Lord Christ, but he did not dare to baptize him in Jerusalem because of his fear of the Jewish people and he remained uncertain as to what he should do. Then the Lady [Mary], the bearer of God, appeared to him, and she told him that he should go to Alexandria to [p. 274] Patriarch Anbā Theonas [Tāʾunā]. The angel of the Lord accompanied him in the appearance of a person until he reached Alexandria, the angel having previously told the patriarch his situation. The patriarch rejoiced in him, preached to him, and baptized him. He [Simʿān] then became a monk in the Zuǧāǧ monastery. Then, when Patriarch Anbā Theonas went to rest [i.e., died, tanayyaḥa], and they installed Peter [Buṭrus] in his place, he [Peter] summoned him to assist him with the patriarchal duties, and thereafter he ordained [karrazahu = karrasahu] him as bishop over Nikiu.

The church rejoiced in him greatly and the Lord manifested at his hands many signs and miracles. Near his city were ancient Egyptian temples [barābī], in which they would worship the idols [al-awṯān, and he did not stop asking of the Lord Christ that they be obliterated and destroyed. The water rose and covered them, and he uprooted the worship of the idols from his see completely. He put a stop to the blasphemy of Arius, who made the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit out to be a single substance [aqnūm].

One day, as he was stopped at the altar, he saw a fiery man saying to him, “You, entrusted with the people of God, why have you neglected [p. 275] the priest of the nearby church? For Satan has inclined his heart to the considering of the weak elements, the choosing of days and hours, geomancy [ḍarb al-raml], the taking of omens, and magic. He says that the Nile will come to such-and-such a number of cubits, and he has accrued a lot of money, and we spiritual angels want to destroy those who do these dirty deeds on the earth, but the king of truth, Jesus Christ, does not allow us to, saying, ‘Grant them respite: perhaps they will repent. Now they have the books of the prophets, apostles, and the gospels to forbid them all these things.’ And now I advise you: If you wish to get rid of his sin, no longer allow him to enter to the altar, for when he does, I will cut him in two. But let him stay with the believers, so long as he does not act as priest.” Then the bishop fell down due to the deep fear that had seized him, but the angel of the Lord stood him up and said to him, “If the Lord God did not love you, and if your prayer was not received by him like the incense of Melchizedek, king of Salem, and if you had not destroyed the ancient temples, he would not have sent me to you.” Then he departed from him, and [Sarābāmūn] remained all that day like someone drunk, with inattentive mind. And he sent after the priest and he told him all that the angel of the Lord had told him, and he said, “My son, if you want to save your soul, and me with you, no longer act as priest, lest you destroy [p. 276] your soul and body in hell.”

Then, since Diocletian was an infidel, and they told him that the holy Sarābāmūn was destroying the worship of the idols, he commanded his presence before him. When he reached Alexandria with the envoys, Patriarch Anbā Peter and a group of priests came to him in prison and greeted, and they saw his face like [the face] of the angel of the Lord. When he came to the emperor, he [Diocletian] tortured him with various tortures, but the Lord Christ was keeping him without pain, and a large group believed because of him. Then, since the emperor feared that, if he continued to torture him, then they would believe even more, he sent him to Upper Egypt [al-ṣaʕīd], to Arianus the governor and to the city of Antinoë, for him to torture him and to take off his head, but it happened that Arianus the governor was then in Alexandria. When he boarded the boat with him — they were heading to Upper Egypt — and the boat reached Nikiu, his town, they were unable to move it from its place. Then, when they disembarked [p. 277] with the saint into the town’s river, they cut off his head. He obtained the crown of martyrdom, and his people took him in great honor and carried him to the church.

May his prayer and his blessing be with us, amen!

The original manuscript of ʿAbdišoʿ of Nisibis’ Gospel in Rhymed Prose?   2 comments

One of the more interesting texts of Arabic Christian literature that has hitherto escaped a close philological study of the whole is the Gospel text of ʿAbdišoʿ bar Brikhā of Nisibis (d. 1318; see further Childers 2011). The work is interesting especially because of its form: it is a translation (or better, a paraphrase) of Gospel readings together with a general preface and some prologues to the four Gospels individually, but not in bare prose, but rather in saǧʿ, typically called “rhymed prose” in English (see the bibliography below for works touching saǧʿ). In at least four articles, Fr. Samir has focused on this particular work, including an edition and French translation of the prologues (1981) and the same for the general preface (1983). As far as I know, there is no translation of this very interesting, not to mention elegant, prefatory material in English, nor is there a complete edition of ʿAbdišoʿ’s Gospel text itself. Fr. Samir has laid excellent groundwork for this interesting text. My friend Salam Rassi has informed me about the edition from 2007 by Sami Khoury, but unfortunately I have not seen it and have no access to it. It is apparently fully vocalized, a welcome fact.

This work of ʿAbdišoʿ’s deserves to be more fully known by arabists, biblical scholars, and perhaps theologians. Students of Arabic can benefit from the aforementioned vocalized text of the work, if they have access to it; a dedicated lexicon would be an additional help. An English translation at least of the prefatory material if not the whole text would be appreciated by other readers.

NEST AC 11, f. 83v, with Mt 12:1-14

NEST AC 11, f. 83v, with Mt 12:1-14

Fr. Samir (1972: 176) says ten manuscripts (only seven in GCAL) of the work are known, but he does not list them there. Samir 1981 is based on USJBO 431 (341 in the article must be a misprint), NEST AC-11, BnF arabe 204, and Vat. arab. 1354. The first two manuscripts are available for study from HMML. (We might also mention USJBO 432, a kind of revision of ʿAbdišoʿ’s work that has also put the Gospels in their biblical, as opposed to lectionary, order.) But thanks to HMML’s partner, the Centre numérique des manuscrits orientaux (CNMO), there is yet another manuscript of this work available. It is not a manuscript that has been unknown, but it is a manuscript that has for some time been difficult, if not impossible, to access otherwise: Diyarbakır 127 = Macomber 12.37 = (now) CCM 91. For the history of the Chaldean collections of Mardin and Diyarbakır, now joined together, see Scher 1907, Scher 1908, Vosté 1937 (only Syriac), Macomber 1969 (only Syriac), and Macomber N.d. As to this collection, which has a number of important manuscripts across several genres — again, not necessarily unknown, but hardly accessible in recent decades, with even its existence and whereabouts uncertain — about which you will hear more, I hope, in the coming months, it is now being cataloged anew as it presently stands. As to this manuscript itself, Scher (1907: 411-412) rightly notes that we may have here the autograph of ʿAbdišoʿ’s rhymed Gospel, and if not the autograph, an early copy. In any case, it is a very early witness to the work, and no one in the future who works on the text will want to neglect a close study of it.

Following the bibliography below are some images from the manuscript, so that readers may get an idea of the text, and I have included a few transliterated lines so that even readers without Arabic can see some examples of the line-ending rhymes.

Bibliography

(A glance at the index to Sidney H. Griffith’s recently published The Bible in Arabic [Princeton and Oxford, 2013] reveals no references to ʿAbdišoʿ.)

Beeston, A.F.L. 1983. “The Role of Parallelism in Arabic Prose”. In Beesont et al. 1983: 180-185 (esp. 185).

Beeston, A.F.L. et al., eds. 1983. Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period. Cambridge.

Childers, J.W. 2011. “ʿAbdishoʿ bar Brikha”. In GEDSH 3-4.

Fahd, T., W.P. Heinrichs, and Afif Ben Abdesselem. 1995. “Sadjʿ”. In Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2d ed.: 732-738.

Graf, Georg. GCAL I 165-166.

Khoury, Sami. 2007. ʿAbdīshōʿ al-Ṣūbāwī. Anājīl ʿAbdīshūʿ al-Ṣūbāwī (d. 1318) al-musajjaʿa. 2 vols. Beirut: CEDRAC, 2007.

Latham, J.D. 1983. “The Beginnings of Arabic Prose Literature: The Epistolary Genre”. In Beeston et al. 1983: 154-179 (esp. 175-176).

Macomber, William F. 1969. “New Finds of Syriac Manuscripts in the Middle East”. ZDMG Suppl. I.2: 473-482 (esp. 479-482).

Macomber, William F. N.d. “A Checklist of the Manuscripts of the Combines Libraries of the Chaldean Cathedrals of Mardin and Diarbekir.” Not published.

Paret, R. 1983. “The Qurʾān — I”. In Beeson et al. 1983: 186-227 (esp. 196-198).

Samir, Samir Khalil Samir. 1972. “Date de composition de l’évangéliaire rimé de ʿAbdišuʿ”. Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph 47: 175-181.

Samir, Samir Khalil Samir. 1981. “Les prologues de l’évangéliaire rimé de ʿAbdishuʿ de Nisibe”. Proche-orient chrétien 31: 43-70.

Samir, Samir Khalil Samir. 1983. “La Préface de l’évangéliaire rimé de ʿAbdishuʿ de Nisibe”. Proche-Orient chrétien 33: 19-33.

Samir, Samir Khalil Samir. 1985. “Une réponse implicite à l’iʿgâz du Coran”. Proche-orient chrétien 35: 225-237.

Scher, Addai. 1907. “Notice sur les manuscrits syriaques et arabes conservés à l’archevêché chaldéen de Diarbékir”. Journal asiatique 10: 331–362, 385–431.

Scher, Addai. 1908. “Notice des mss. syriaques et arabes conservés dans la bibliothèque de l’évêché chaldéen de Mardin”. Revue des bibliothèques 18: 64–95.

El-Tayib, Abdulla. 1983. “Pre-Islamic Poetry”. In Beeston et al. 1983: 27-113 (esp. 33).

Vosté, J.-M. 1937. “Notes sur les manuscrits syriaques de Diyarbékir et autres localités d’Orient”. Le Muséon 50: 345-351.

Images

CCM 91, f. 10r: title

CCM 91, f. 10r: title

“The translation of the sinner ʿAbdišoʿ…; he made the translation into Arabic in the year 699 AH and 1611 AG.” (= 1299/1300 CE; cf. Samir 1972)

CCM 91, f. 11v

CCM 91, f. 11v: from the preface

Lines 6-10 from the page above:

ʔamma baʕdu fa-lammā kāna al-naqlu min luɣatin ilá luɣatin ʔuxrá
min ɣayri ʔifsādin wa-lā tabdīlin li-l-maʕná
wa-lā taxlīṭin li-ǧumali ‘l-kalāmi wa-maqāṭiʕih
wa-lā taḥrīfin li-l-qawli ʕan ʔīrādi mubdiʕih
maʕa muḥāwalati ‘l-faṣāḥati fī ‘l-luɣati ‘l-manqūli ʔilayhā
wa-luzūmi ‘l-šurūṭi ‘l-muʕawwali fī ‘l-ʔiḥāṭati bi-ɣarībi ‘l-luɣatayni ʕalayhā

CCM 91, f. 12r

CCM 91, f. 12r: from the preface

The last five lines on this page:

wa-ʔanā fa-maʕa ‘ʕtirāfī b-quṣūrī wa-ǧalālati ‘l-ʔamr
wa-taḍāʔulī ʕan xawḍi ðā ‘l-ɣamr
fa-ʔinnanī iǧtaðaytu ‘l-šarāʔiṭa ‘l-maðkūrata fī-mā tarǧamtuh
wa-ʔaxraǧtu ʔilá ‘l-arʕabiyyati ‘l-fuṣūla ‘l-muqaddasata ‘l-ʔinǧīliyyata ʕalá mā qaddamtuh
wa-badaʔtu bi-ʔinšāʔi ‘l-muqaddimāti ‘l-θamān
(cont. on 12v: li-kulli mina ‘l-ʔarbaʕati ‘l-rusuli ‘θnatān)

CCM 91, f. 14r

CCM 91, f. 14r: first prologue to Mk

CCM 91, f. 19v

CCM 91, f. 19v: rubric and Lk 1

CCM 91, f. 120r

CCM 91, f. 120r: beginning of Jn 14

CCM 91, f. 158r

CCM 91, f. 158r: Lk 19:8-10 (Zacchaeus and Jesus) and the beginning of Mt 13 (Parable of the Sower)

CCM 91, f. 175r

CCM 91, f. 175r: colophon

The colophon essentially repeats the words of the title page (given above), but at the end it adds: “May God be pleased with whoever reads in [this book].” The year at the bottom is unfortunately illegible due to some holes in the paper, but we can see “the beginning of the blessed month Šaʕbān.”

Synaxarion texts in PO, with links to online texts   2 comments

Among the volumes of the venerable series Patrologia Orientalis (see a list of online volumes here) are synaxarion texts in Arabic, Armenian, Georgian (see update at the bottom), and Gǝʿǝz. The synaxarion — the collection of shorter or longer notices in commemoration of saints for each day of the church calendar — as it appears in different language-traditions offers both language students and students of the saints a host of reading-material: there are mountains of texts for a great many saints common to all the language-traditions, and these texts may be fruitfully compared with each other philologically, literarily, and otherwise, as well as saints particular to each language-tradition. (For further comparison, one might turn to the Byzantine Synaxarium ecclesiae constantinopolitanum, edited by Delehaye.) To make reference easier to these synaxarion texts from PO, all of which are given in the original language and with a French translation, here is a list according to month and PO volume, with links to the appropriate books at archive.org, where available. The month names are given according to the appropriate language and preceded by their number; for the correspondences of the months, see here from BHO. For more on eastern Christian hagiography, in addition to the volumes mentioned here, see my tagged bibliography, still in progress, here.

Month PO # Editor Online
GƎʿƎZ      
1 Mäskäräm 43.3 Colin  
2 Ṭǝqǝmt 44.1 Colin  
3 Ḫǝdār 44.3 Colin  
4 Taḫśaś I 15.5 Grébaut http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient15pariuoft
4 Taḫśaś II 26.1 Grébaut  
5 Ṭǝrr 45.1 Colin  
6 Yäkkatit 45.3 Colin  
7 Mäggabit 46.3 Colin  
8 Miyazya 46.4 Colin  
9 Gǝnbot 47.3 Colin  
10 Säne 1.5 Guidi http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorien01grafgoog
11 Ḥamle 7.3 Guidi http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient07pariuoft
12 Näḥase and 13 Pagʷämen 9.4 Guidi et al. http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient09pariuoft
Index, annexes 48.3 Colin  
       
       
ARMENIAN      
1 Navasard 5.3 Bayan https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorien05pari
2 Hoṛi 6.2 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient06pariuoft
3 Sahmi 15.3 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient15pariuoft
4 Trē 16.1 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient16pariuoft
5 K’ałoc’ 18.1 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient18pariuoft
6 Arac’ 19.1 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient19pariuoft
7 Mehekan 21.1 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
8 Areg 21.2 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
9 Ahekan 21.3 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
10 Mareri 21.4 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
11 Margac’ 21.5 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
12 Hrotic’ and 13 Awelik’ 21.6 Bayan http://www.archive.org/details/patrologiaorient21pariuoft
       
       
ARABIC      
1 Tout and 2 Bāba 1.3 Basset https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorient01pari
3 Hatūr and 4 Kīhak 3.3 Basset https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorient03pariuoft
5 Ṭūba and 6 Amšīr 11.5 Basset https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorient11pariuoft
7 Barmahāt, 8 Barmūda, and 9 Bašuns 16.2 Basset https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorien16pari
10 Baʾūna, 11 Abīb, and 12 Misrá 17.3 Basset https://archive.org/details/patrologiaorient17pariuoft
Additions et corrections; Tables 20.5 Basset   

UPDATE (June 27, 2013): I initially failed to recall Nikolay Marr’s ed. and tr. of an old recension of the Georgian synaxarion: Synaxaire géorgien: Rédaction ancienne de l’union arméno-géorgienne, in PO 19.5, which has texts on Stephen, Peter, and Paul, available here in PDF, and, with the Georgian text only, here from TITUS.

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