Previously I have highlighted some Georgian manuscripts that the Bibliothèque nationale de France has graciously made freely available online. Here is a list of Judeo-Persian manuscripts from the BnF that I have been able to find at Gallica. (If I happen to have missed one, please let me know.) They mostly come from the fifteenth-seventeenth centuries, some of them with colophons. While these manuscripts obviously fall outside of the delimiter “eastern Christian” that guides most of the posts appearing here, I know that at least some readers of the blog have, just as I do, broader interests than that delimiter allows. Most of the texts here are biblical; for details about published biblical texts in Persian (Judeo-Persian and otherwise), see my hitherto incomplete bibliography here.
These manuscripts often have a verse in Hebrew followed immediately by a Persian translation. For the Catalogues des manuscrits hébreux et samaritains de la Bibliothèque Impériale (Munk, Derenbourg, Franck, and Zotenberg) see at Gallica here and archive.org here. The few remarks I give below rely on this volume.
Un grand merci à la BnF de partager ces manuscrits!
70 Pentateuch http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9002771d (catalog)
BnF héb 70, f. 22v, end of Gen 14 in Heb and Judeo-Persian
71 Pentateuch http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90027700 (catalog)
- The Persian text of №s 70-71 is said to follow Targum Onqelos closely.
90 Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064442x (catalog)
- Probably the same scribe as №s 70-71.
97 Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (to 10:3), with David Kimḥi’s commentary http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064631t (catalog)
100 Jeremiah http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90644470 (catalog)
- Different from the version in № 97. Like some of the other JP translations, this one follows Onqelos more than the MT.
101 Minor Prophets, Lamentations http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90644151 (catalog)
- The margins have some of the Persian in Perso-Arabic script.
116 Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Esther http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064448d (catalog)
117 Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064446k (catalog)
BnF héb 117, f. 1v, the beginning of Proverbs in Heb and Judeo-Persian
118 Job, Lamentations, Jeremiah http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90644544 (catalog)
120 Job http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064420b (catalog)
121 Job http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90644188 (catalog)
127 Esther, benedictions, and a Purim song (Heb and Pers) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064444r (catalog)
129 Daniel http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90645658 (catalog)
130 Tobit, Judith, Bel and the Dragon, Megillat Antiochos http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9064465x (catalog)
BnF héb 130, f. 58r, colophon in Persian in Perso-Arabic and Hebrew script
The colophon (f. 58r) reads as follows:
نبشتة (!) شد این کتاب در موضع لار سال هزار و نوه صد ودوازده
נבשתה שוד אין כתאב דר מוצׄע לאר סאל הזאר ונוה צד ודואזדה
nevešte šod in ketāb dar mawẓiʿ-e Lār sāl-e hezār o noh sad o davāzdah
This book was written in the village of Lār in the year 1912 [AG, = 1600/1].
 The Aramaic text, for whatever it’s worth (Kaufman’s comments here), is available at the CAL site sub Late Jewish Literary Aramaic, text 81406.
While looking lately at the records for some Judeo-Persian manuscripts in Margoliouth’s Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, I stumbled across the record for BL Add. 19342 (№ 158 in the catalog, p. 119), a manuscript with parts of the Psalter in Hebrew, but written in Gǝʿǝz script (Fidäl), something we can call Ethio-Hebrew on the pattern of the descriptors Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, etc. (We could also call Garšūnī Syro-Arabic, but custom has deemed otherwise.) Until this, I had never encountered this particular phenomenon, but as Margoliouth notes, Wright had previously described the manuscript as part of the Ethiopic collection (№ 127, p. 81). It so happens that this manuscript is among the many already made available through the British Library’s digitization project: see here. Following Wright, Margoliouth dates the manuscript to the 18th century. It contains Pss 1-11:4, 51, 121, 123, 130, 140. Unlike most Ethiopic manuscripts, this one is on paper, not parchment.
The beginning of Ps 1 is in both catalogs mentioned above, but we can now look at the manuscript itself, and in its entirety, thanks to the BL’s having made the images freely accessible. Here are some examples (Heb text below from BHS):
וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר פִּרְיֹ֨ו׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתֹּ֗ו וְעָלֵ֥הוּ לֹֽא־יִבֹּ֑ול וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַ׃
Ps 1:3 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1r. Source.
לָ֭מָּה רָגְשׁ֣וּ גֹויִ֑ם וּ֝לְאֻמִּ֗ים יֶהְגּוּ־רִֽיק׃ יִ֥תְיַצְּב֨וּ׀ מַלְכֵי־אֶ֗רֶץ וְרֹוזְנִ֥ים נֹֽוסְדוּ־יָ֑חַד עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֹֽו׃
Ps 2:1-2 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1v. Source.
שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲלֹ֥ות אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃
עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃
אַל־יִתֵּ֣ן לַמֹּ֣וט רַגְלֶ֑ךָ אַל־יָ֝נ֗וּם שֹֽׁמְרֶֽךָ׃
הִנֵּ֣ה לֹֽא־יָ֭נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שֹׁ֝ומֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
יְהוָ֥ה שֹׁמְרֶ֑ךָ יְהוָ֥ה צִ֝לְּךָ֗ עַל־יַ֥ד יְמִינֶֽךָ׃
יֹומָ֗ם הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ לֹֽא־יַכֶּ֗כָּה וְיָרֵ֥חַ בַּלָּֽיְלָה׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָרְךָ֥ מִכָּל־רָ֑ע יִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָר־צֵאתְךָ֥ וּבֹואֶ֑ךָ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עֹולָֽם׃
Ps 121 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 9r. Source.
More could be certainly be said, but here are a few scattered observations:
- The Hebrew h marking final -ā or -e is written (e.g. ሀያህ, ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]).
- Hebrew ṣ is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ፀ (e.g. ክዔፅ, ኤሬፅ) or ጸ (e.g. ይትያጽቡ).
- Hebrew š is generally spelled with Gǝʿǝz ሠ (e.g. ሣቱል, አሤር, ሦምሬካ), as is Hebrew ś (ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]). In at least one place (Ps 121:6), though, the Ethiopic letter ሸ (not used in Gǝʿǝz, but used in other Ethiosemitic languages) is fittingly used for š: ሀሸሜስ häšämes, but note that the last consonant here, which should also be š, is here a simple s (not ś as usual elsewhere in the manuscript), so that we end up with a form like Arabic šams.
- Spirantized Hebrew k is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ኀ (e.g. ውኁል, also note the vowel, wǝxul). Spirantization in the other BGDKPT letters is not marked (e.g. ያቦእ).
- The Hebrew ḥ in yārēaḥ is written with Gǝʿǝz ሀ (ውያሬሀ).
- The Hebrew impf prefix yi- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yǝ- (e.g. ይቴን, ይቦል). The prefix ye- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yä- (የሄጉ; note the incorrect vowel on the h).
- The tetragrammaton is written ይሁዋህ yǝhuwah.
- The Gǝʿǝz vowel i often appears where we expect e. The latter vowel is used for Heb segol (e.g. ኤሬፅ, ኤል, ኤት); for the pausal form ā́reṣ we have አሬፅ.
- An Ethiopism is ሚኵል for Heb mikkol.
- There are some mistakes, such as ወዓላሁ for וְעָלֵ֥הוּ. The first two words of Ps 2 are missing.
The Apocalypse of Paul (BHG 1460, CANT 325) is one of the more well known New Testament apocrypha in Syriac, with an edition and with translations into Latin, German, and English available (see bibliography below). The collection of Syriac manuscripts at the Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Tehran, which I recently mentioned in another post, has two witnesses to the Apocalypse of Paul, one of which has been known, but the other, as far as I know, has escaped the notice of scholars who might be interested in the text.
The known copy is in manuscript № 8, a manuscript to which Alain Desreumaux (1995) has devoted an article with a detailed catalog of the texts in the manuscript. In this manuscript, the preface to the Apocalypse of Paul is on ff. 136r-140r, and the Apocalypse itself on ff. 140r-171v. (The foliation given here, based on the file names of the photographs, differs slightly from Desreumaux’s. The manuscript is not physically foliated.) Here is a folio spread from this copy (ff. 162-163r).
Tehran, St. Jos., 8, ff. 162-163r
…a servant from among the angels, and he had in his hand a pitch-fork that had three tines, and [with it] he was pulling the old man’s guts out through his mouth. … (f. 162v, lines 1-3)
The other witness, manuscript № 17, is fragmentary, consisting only of two loose and torn folios, but they are contiguous. The page numbers were marked out of order and should be read as follows: 2, 1, 4, 3. This fragment corresponds to parts of §§ 32-34 (pp. 132, 134) in the edition of Ricciotti (cf. Perkins, pp. 203-204 / Zingerle pp. 164-165 / ≈ Tischendorf pp. 57-58). In this order, then, here are the images:
p. 2 corr. to Ricciotti 132.2-132.10
p. 1 corr. to Ricciotti 132.10-132.18
p. 4 corr. to Ricciotti 132.18-132.25
p. 3 corr. to Ricciotti 132.26-29, 134.1-6
A cursory comparison with Ricciotti’s text reveals very few differences between them.
(see further the Comprehensive Bib. on Syriac Christianity here)
Desreumaux, Alain. “Des symboles à la réalite: la préface à l’Apocalypse de Paul dans la tradition syriaque.” Apocrypha 4 (1993): 65-82.
Desreumaux, Alain. “Un manuscrit syriaque de Téhéran contenant des apocryphes.” Apocrypha 5 (1994): 137-164.
Desreumaux, Alain. “Le prologue apologétique de l’Apocalypse de Paul syriaque: un débat théologique chez les Syriaques orientaux.” Pages 125-134 in Entrer en matière. Les prologues. Edited by Dubois, Jean-Daniel and Roussel, Bernard. Patrimoines: Religions du Livre. Paris: Cerf, 1998.
Desreumaux, Alain. “L’environnement de l’Apocalypse de Paul. À propos d’un nouveau manuscrit syriaque de la Caverne des trésors.” Pages 185-192 in Pensée grecque et sagesse d’Orient. Hommage à Michel Tardieu. Edited by Amir-Moezzi, Mohammed-Ali and Dubois, Jean-Daniel and Jullien, Christelle and Jullien, Florence. Bibliothèque de l’École des Hautes Études, Sciences religieuses 142. Turnhout: Brepols, 2010.
Perkins, Justin. “The Revelation of the Blessed Apostle Paul Translated from an Ancient Syriac Manuscript.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 8 (1866): 183-212. (available here)
Ricciotti, Giuseppe. “Apocalypsis Pauli syriace.” Orientalia NS 2 (1933): 1-25, 120-149. [ed. of Vat. Syr. 180 and Vat. Borg. Syr. 39, with facing LT]
Zingerle, Pius. “Die Apocalypse des Apostels Paulus, aus einer syrischen Handschrift des Vaticans übersetzt.” Vierteljahrsschrift für deutsch- und englisch-theologische Forschung und Kritik 4 (1871): 139-183. [tr. on the basis of Vat. Syr. 180] (available here)
My colleague, Ted Erho, has informed me of twenty-one Ethiopian manuscripts (or related to Ethiopia, at least) in Frankfurt that have been digitized and made available: http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/msorient/nav/index/all. Basic information about each item is in the main list, and on the page for each item, click on “Ausführliche Beschreibung” for the appropriate page(s) from the printed catalog. The manuscripts are readable online or downloadable as PDFs. Included are books mostly copied in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, even a couple written by the greatest early European éthiopisant, Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704). Hearty thanks to those in Frankfurt who made these items available: they are another reminder of how grateful we can be to have so many manuscripts at our fingertips nowadays, no matter where we are on the planet! So let’s get to work reading them!
Some time ago I posted a query on academia.edu about places to find freely accessible digitized Georgian manuscripts,* and someone — thanks to შოთა გუგუშვილი! — finally gave an answer with this link from Gallica:
This link points to nine manuscripts, all cataloged and all with quality color images: one may view or download the books. There is a Gospel book, Chrysostom, a synaxarion, four hymnbooks, and a catechism. For full details, see the descriptions available on the site, but here’s a précis for each one:
Included with these eight manuscripts in the search results is also a handwritten catalog of these manuscripts in Georgian by Ekvtime Taqaishvili (1863-1953) from 1933. While these manuscripts do not have the antiquity of some other collections (Sinai and Athos, for example), with the exception of the catechism and the modern catalog, these are nevertheless some old codices.
It seems that the BnF is continuing to add new manuscripts, so we may have even more to look forward to in the same place as time goes by. Many thanks to them for making these manuscripts available for study!
*That is, in addition to the Sinai manuscripts available through E-Corpus.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) announces grants available for cataloging work in its eastern Christian collections in Arabic/Garšūnī, Armenian, Old Church Slavonic, and Syriac. These grants are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Many of these collections are greatly understudied and catalogers thus have prime opportunities for new and further research, as well as the satisfaction of making a contribution to our knowledge of the literature and of manuscript traditions. The grants support full-time cataloging work for periods of one to six months, and are renewable. The work may be done anywhere; residence at HMML is not expected. Catalogers will be expected to prepare text-level records for, ideally, 75 manuscripts per month (with these numbers adjusted for genres with multiple texts per manuscript, such as hagiography and homilies). A sample record may be viewed here. A brief report summarizing completed work (numbers, notable finds, etc.) will be sent twice a month to HMML’s lead cataloger of eastern Christian manuscripts, Adam McCollum. Completed records will be submitted on a monthly basis. The grants offer a stipend of $2500/month, with the added benefit of copies of two digitized manuscripts from HMML’s collections each month at no cost, which may be used for personal research. Those who wish to apply for a cataloging grant may send their CV and a cover letter to Adam McCollum (email@example.com), to whom also any informal enquiries may be sent.
APIB 27, p. 19
CFMM 420, p. 15