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From Siirt to Sharur: A relocating scribe’s East Syriac colophon from the 19th century   Leave a comment

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. 110r

DCA 62, f. 110v

DCA 62, f. 110v

English translation (students may see below for some lexical notes):

[f. 110r]

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.

[f. 110v]

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
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A scribe addressing a reader’s spiritual condition   Leave a comment

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

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

A Trinitarian-Marian-saintly curse against thieves in a Georgian manuscript   1 comment

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

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)

English translation:

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.

A 15th-century Syriac scribal note   2 comments

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

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.

Jerome’s Life of Paul the Hermit in Syriac (and a colophon on Dayr al-suryān)   1 comment

In some Christian traditions, today is the commemoration of Jerome, so I thought of a Syriac text connected with Jerome that I cataloged some time ago. In CFMM 261, pp. 3-13, there is Jerome’s Life of Paul the Hermit, the Latin text of which is in PL 23, cols., 17-30 (ET here). See BHO 909-916 for Coptic, Armenian, Syriac, and Gǝʕǝz versions. The Syriac text* has been published in Bedjan’s Acta martyrum et sanctorum 5: 561-572 (here at archive.org), and the text also appears in The Book of Paradise (ed. Budge, vol. 2, pp. 242-251; online here). The beginning of the CFMM text is missing, but the identification of the work is sure, not least thanks to the end of the work (see below). I have not closely compared the printed editions with this witness from CFMM, but, unsurprisingly, even a quick look reveals some differences. Only considering the end of the work we see that CFMM 261 has six lines that are absent from the texts of Bedjan and Budge.

*Bedjan’s edition of this text is based on these two manuscripts: Paris syr. 317 (Chabot, “Notice sur les manuscrits syriaques de la Bibliothèque nationale acquis depuis 1874, JA IX, 8 (1896): 264-265; Nau, “Notices des manuscripts syriaques, éthiopiens et mandéens, entrés à la Bibliothèque nationale de Paris depuis l’édition des catalogues,” ROC 16 (1911):  287) and BL add. 12173 (Wright, Cat., pp. 1070-1072).

CFMM 261 (olim Dayr al-Zaʿfarān 116; cf. Dolabani, Dayr al-Zaʿfarān catalog, pt. II, pp. 86-88) has an original part, along with some later additions on pp. 441-464. The original colophon (see below, with translation), coming at the end of quire 22, pp. 439-440, is incomplete and lacks a name and date, while the date of the later part (1757/8) is on p. 464. The original part is perhaps of the 16th century. A careful comparison is necessary, but the contents of CFMM 261 and the list of stories in the colophon are very close to the original contents of BL add. 14732 (Wright, Cat., pp. 1141-1146). As the scribe says in the colophon, he found his exemplar for this manuscript among the Syriac books of Dayr al-Suryān, which ceased to have a major Syriac presence in the early seventeenth century (L. Van Rompay in GEDSH 386-387).

Here are the last two pages of Jerome’s Life of Paul the Hermit in the CFMM manuscript.

CFMM 261, pp. 12-13

CFMM 261, pp. 12-13

And now the colophon, which will be of interest to readers well beyond those concerned especially with Jerome, together with an English translation.

CFMM 261, p. 439

CFMM 261, p. 439

Ended, completed, lined, and concluded are these confused and mixed up lines, altered [for the worse] in every way, inasmuch as I am not a scribe, but for lack of scribes, for necessity, I was compelled to corrupt these pages, because I was sojourning [or in exile] in the d[esert] of Scetis, in our monastery of the Syrians, and when I went up the large tower that is in the holy monastery and saw the Syriac books that were in it, countless and numberless in their quantity, I saw a large book that had stories of all the holy fathers, as for my consolation. So I took it to my cell and was greatly consoled by it. I read the stories, but not all of them, and according to the power that the Lord gave us — me and my spiritual father, the monk and priest Šams al-Dīn — we left the city of Egypt [meṣrēn] and brought with us a few pages [qallil waraqē], and as we read these stories of holy people, at the beginning of the book was written the story of our lady, the Theotokos, Mary, and after that, the story of Paul, the story of Antony, chief of monks,

CFMM 261, p. 440

CFMM 261, p. 440

and all the perfect fathers, one after another according to their times, leaders of monasteries, cells, and deserts. I selected a few of the stories, according to my ability and according to the demand of my spiritual father, and these are the stories that I copied:

  1. first, Paul, [the fi]rst and the firstborn of solitaries, ascetics, and mourners,
  2. Paul the simple, the disciple of Anba Antony,
  3. Paul the bishop,
  4. John the priest,
  5. the holy, blessed and exalted martyr Anba Moses the Ethiopian, monk and master among ascetics,
  6. the holy, god-clothed master among ascetics, Anba Paul, concerning his labors and exhaustion,
  7. the holy, god-clothed, and blessed Anba John Kama [ⲕⲁⲙⲉ],
  8. the holy Mary of Egypt [igupṭāyā meṣrāytā],
  9. on the life of the blessed Evagrius,
  10. the holy John, bishop of Tella,
  11. the holy Šāhdōst, catholicos, together with those who were with him,
  12. the blessed Ephrem the teacher and pride of the Syrians,
  13. the holy and blessed Symeon, who was called a fool [Salos] on account of Christ,
  14. John, his spiritual brother,
  15. the martyrdom of the holy Cyprian and Justina, his holy daughter

Bibliography

Here is one resource specifically on Jerome and Syriac, with two more general excellent studies:

Adam Kamesar, Greek Scholarship and The Hebrew Bible: A Study of the Quaestiones Hebraicae in Genesim, Oxford Classical Monographs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).

Daniel King, “Vir Quadrilinguis? Syriac in Jerome and Jerome in Syriac,” in Andrew Cain and Josef M. Lössl, eds., Jerome of Stridon: His Life, Writings, and Legacy (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 209-223.

Stefan Rebenich, Jerome, The Early Church Fathers (London:  Routledge, 2002).

 

“Sinking in the sea of sin”   1 comment

Christian scribes typically trumpet their sinfulness, and there is no shortage of creative self-deprecation. In a colophon to a text in SMMJ 170 (also mentioned in the previous post) the scribe asks colorfully for prayer from his reader with memorable imagery.

SMMJ 170, f. 218r

SMMJ 170, f. 218r

Here is the same in Arabic script:

كملت امثال الحكيم يوسيفوس بعون الله وعلينا رحمته اجمعين امين. يا ايها القاري لا تنسا الكاتب الخاطي من صلاتك لاجل الله لاني غارق في بحر الخطيّة وخص نفسك بالف سلام امين. وذلك في سنة ١٩٠٧ ٢٣ يوم من تموز

This imagery even becomes alliterative in English:

Ended are the Parables of Josippos the Sage with God’s help: his mercy be on us all, Amen. Reader! Do not delay the sinful scribe from your prayer, for God’s sake, because I am sinking in the sea of sin, and may he grant your soul peace a thousandfold. This is in the year 1907 [AG], the 23rd day of Tammuz.

The text that ends here contains sixty-two parables (amṯāl) with explanation, presented as a dialogue between “Josippos” and King Nebuchadnezzar.

Any other examples of sea-imagery (cf. Ps 69:1-2), with sin and otherwise? Feel free to mention them in the comments.

A taʿlīq Arabic colophon in a Garšūnī manuscript   2 comments

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

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

 

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