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Notes on some manuscripts of the Mar Behnam Monastery   Leave a comment

Readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware of the recent reports of the destruction of the Monastery of Mar Behnam and Sara (see here, here, and elsewhere). The fate of the monastery’s manuscripts is now unknown. Not long ago, at least, HMML and the CNMO (Centre numérique des manuscrits orientaux) digitized the collection. A short-form catalog of these 500+ manuscripts has been prepared for HMML by Joshua Falconer, and I have taken a more detailed look at a select number of manuscripts in the collection. From this latter group I would like to highlight a few and share them with you. The texts mentioned below are biblical, hagiographic, apocryphal/parabiblical, historical, poetic, theological, medical, lexicographic, and grammatical. Here I merely give a few rough notes, nothing comprehensive, along with some images, but in any case the value and variety of these endangered manuscripts will, I hope, be obvious.

These manuscripts, together with those of the whole collection, are available for viewing and study through HMML (details for access online and otherwise here).


Syriac Pentateuch. Pages of old endpapers in Syriac, Garšūnī, and Arabic. Very many marginal comments deserving of further study to see how they fit within Syriac exegetical tradition. The comments are anchored to specific words in the text by signs such as +, x, ~, ÷. According to the original foliation, the first 31 folios are missing.

  • Gen 1r-58v (beg miss; starts at 20:10)
  • Ex 59r-129v
  • Lev 129v-180v
  • Num 181r-241r
  • Deut 241r-283v (end miss; ends at 28:44)
MBM 1, f. 105v, with marginal note to Ex 28:37, with the Greek letter form of the tetragrammaton.

MBM 1, f. 105v, with marginal note to Ex 28:37, with the Greek letter form of the tetragrammaton.

MBM 1, f. 275v, with marginal note on Dt 25:5 explaining ybm as a Hebrew word.

MBM 1, f. 275v, with marginal note on Dt 25:5 explaining ybm as a Hebrew word.

MBM 20

Syriac texts on Mary and the young Jesus. Folio(s) missing, and the remaining text is somewhat disheveled. In addition, some pages are worn or otherwise damaged. Colophon on 79v, but incomplete.

  • The Book of the Upbringing of Jesus, i.e. the Syriac Infancy Gospel, 1r-12v. Beg. miss. See the published text of Wright, Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature of the New Testament, pp. 11-16 (Syr), available here.
  • The Six Books Dormition 13r-79r (beg and end miss?). See Wright, “The Departure of my Lady from this World,” Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record 6 (1865): 417–48; 7: 110–60. (See also his Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature) and Agnes Smith Lewis, Apocrypha Syriaca, pp. 22-115 (Syr), 12-69 (ET); Arabic version, with LT,by Maximilian Enger, Ioannis Apostoli de transitu beatae Mariae Virginis liber (Elberfeld, 1854) available here. In this copy, the end of the second book is marked at 24v, and that of the fifth book on 30v. As indicated above, there are apparently some missing folios and disarranged text.
MBM 20, f. 24v. End of bk 2, start of bk 3 of the Six Books.

MBM 20, f. 24v. End of bk 2, start of bk 3 of the Six Books.

MBM 120

Another copy of Eliya of Nisibis, Book of the Translator, on which see my article in JSS 58 (2013): 297-322 (available here).

MBM 141

Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Metrical Grammar. Colophon on 99r: copied in the monastery of Symeon the Stylite, Nisan (April) 22, at the ninth hour in the evening of Mar Gewargis in the year 1901 AG = 1590 CE.

MBM 144

Bar ʿEbrāyā’s Metrical Grammar, d. 1492/3 on 78v. Clear script, but not very pretty.

MBM 146

Bar ʿEbrāyā, Book of Rays. Lots of marginalia in Syriac, Arabic, and Garšūnī.

MBM 152

Bar Bahlul’s Lexicon, 18th cent. Beg. miss. Some folios numbered by original scribe in the outer margin with Syriac letters, often decorated. Nice writing. Beautiful marbled endpapers, impressed Syriac title on spine.

MBM 152, spine.

MBM 152, spine.

MBM 152, marbled endpapers.

MBM 152, marbled endpapers.

MBM 172

The Six Books Dormition, Garšūnī, from books 5-6, 16th cent. (?).

MBM 207
Hagiography, &c., Garšūnī, 16th/17th cent. According to the original foliation, the first eleven folios are missing from the manuscript.

  • 1r end of the Protoevangelium Jacobi (for the corresponding Syriac part, cf. pp. 21-22 in Smith Lewis’s ed. here). Here called “The Second Book, the Birth”.
  • 1r-31v Vision of Theophilus, here called “The Third Book, on the Flight to Egypt…” Cf. GCAL I 229-232; Syriac and Arabic in M. Guidi, in Rendiconti della Accademia dei Lincei, Classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, 26 (1917): 381-469 (here); Syriac, with ET, here.
  • 31v-37v book 6, The Funeral Service (taǧnīz) of Mary
  • 37v-39r Another ending, from another copy, of this book 6
  • 39r-62r Miracle of Mary in the City of Euphemia
  • 62r-72v Marina and Eugenius
  • 72v-96r Behnam & Sara (new scribe at ff 83-84)
  • 96r-104r Mart Shmoni and sons
  • 104r-112v Euphemia (another scribe 112-114)
  • 112v-124v Archellides
  • 124v-131r Alexis, Man of God, son of Euphemianus
  • 131v-141v John of the Golden Gospel
  • 141v-147v Eugenia, Daughter of the King/Emperor (incom)

MBM 209

19th cent., Garšūnī, hagiography. Not very pretty writing, but includes some notable texts (not a complete list):  Job the Righteous 3v, Jonah 14v, Story of the Three Friends 24r (?), Joseph 73r, Ahiqar 154v, Solomon 180v, and at the end, another Sindbad text 197v-end (see the previous posts here and here).

MBM 209, f. 197v. The Story of Hindbād and Sindbād the Sailor.

MBM 209, f. 197v. The Story of Hindbād and Sindbād the Sailor.

MBM 250

Medical, very nice ES Garšūnī. Includes Ḥunayn’s Arabic translation of the Summary of Galen’s On the Kinds of Urine (fī aṣnāf al-bawl), ff. 1v-8r; cf. here. For a longer Greek text, see Kuehn, Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia (Leipzig, 1821-33), vol. 19, pp. 574-601. These now separate folios seem originally to have been the eighth quire of another codex.

MBM 250, f. 1v. Beg. of Ḥunayn's Arabic translation of the Summary of Galen's On the Kinds of Urine.

MBM 250, f. 1v. Beg. of Ḥunayn’s Arabic translation of the Summary of Galen’s On the Kinds of Urine.

MBM 270

John of Damascus, De fide Orthodoxa, Arabic (cf. Graf, GCAL II, p. 57, this ms not listed). Fine writing. 16th/17th cent.

MBM 270, f. 5v. John of Damascus, Arabic.

MBM 270, f. 5v. John of Damascus, Arabic.

MBM 342

A late copy (19th cent.), but with a fine hand, of the Kitāb fiqh al-luġa, by Abū Manṣūr ʿAbd al-Malik b. Muḥammad al-Ṯaʿālibī, a classified dictionary: e.g. § 17 animals (82), § 23 clothing (155), § 24 food (173), § 28 plants (205), § 29 Arabic and Persian (207, fīmā yaǧrá maǧrá al-muwāzana bayna al-ʿarabīya wa-‘l-fārisīya).

MBM 364

Syriac, 15th cent. (?). F. 10v has quire marker for end of № 11. The manuscript has several notes in different hands:

  • 29v, a note with the year 1542 (AG? = 1230/1 CE); Ascension and Easter are mentioned
  • 31v, note: “I had a spiritual brother named Ṣlibā MDYYʾ. He gave me this book.” (cf. 90v)
  • 66v, note: “Whoever reads this book, let him pray for Gerwargis and ʿIšoʿ, the insignificant monks.”
  • 90v, note: Ownership-note and prayer-request for, it seems, the monk Ṣlibonā (cf. 31v)
  • 132v, longish note similar to the note on 168v
  • 157r, note: “Theodore. Please pray, for the Lord’s sake.”
  • 168v, note: “I found this spiritual book among the books of the church of the Theotokos that is in Beth Kudida [see PS 1691], and I did not know [whether] it belonged to the church or not.”

For at least some of the contents, cf. the Syriac Palladius, as indicated below.

  • Mamllā of Mark the Solitary, Admonition on the Spiritual Law 1r-17r
    Second memra 17r
    Third memra 41v
    Fourth memra 48r
  • Letters of Ammonius 67r-78v (see here; cf. with Kmosko in PO 10 and further CPG 2380)
  • “From the Teaching of Evagrius” 78v-100r
  • Confession of Evagrius 100v
  • Abraham of Nathpar 101r-117v
    2nd memra 105r
    3rd memra 109v
    4th memra 110v
    5th memra 115v
  • Teachings of Abba Macarius 117v
  • Letter (apparently of Macarius) 130r-130v
  • Letter of Basil to Gregory his Brother 131r-139v
  • Letter from a solitary to the brothers 139v-142r
  • Sayings of Evagrius 142r-146v
  • Gluttony 147v
  • The Vice of Whoring (ʿal ḥaššā d-zānyutā) 147v
  • Greed 148r
  • Anger 149r
  • Grief 149v
  • On the Interruption of Thought (ʿal quṭṭāʿ reʿyānā) 149v
  • Pride 150r
  • From the Tradition (mašlmānutā) of Evagrius 151r
  • On the Blessed Capiton (here spelled qypyṭn) 151r (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 223)
  • The Blessed Eustathius 151v
  • Mark the Mourner 151v
  • A student of a great elder in Scetis 152r
  • A student of another elder who sat alone in his cell 155v
  • A student of a desert elder 156r
  • (more short saint texts) 157v-161r
  • Tahsia 161r-164r (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 173)
  • An Elder named Zakarya 164r
  • Gregory 168r
  • Daniel of Ṣalaḥ 180v
  • Philemon 180v (cf. Budge, Book of Paradise, vol. 2, Syr. text, p. 427)
  • One of the Blessed Brothers 181r
  • Pachomius, with various subtexts and miracles 182v
  • Didymus 188v-190v

MBM 365

Arabic, 15th century (?). Second, but probably contemporaneous with the first, scribe begins at 80r.

  • 1r-34r Pss 38:17-150 (end)
  • 34r-79v maqāla 11 by Saint Simʿān, maqāla 12 by Simʿān, … maqāla 16 by Simʿān on 67r. There is some apparent disarray and missing folios: the end of this group of texts seems really to be 78v, but 79r has “Sayings and Questions of Abū ‘l-qiddīs Simʿān”
  • 80r-114r Jn 7:20-21:25 (i.e. end of the Gospel)
MBM 365, f. 79r, the beginning of the Saying and Questions of Saint Simʿān

MBM 365, f. 79r, the beginning of the Saying and Questions of Saint Simʿān

MBM 367

Two loose folios of an Arabic tafsīr of the Gospels, one of which has the quire marker for the original thirty-first quire (so numbered with Syriac letters). Perhaps 16th cent. From Mt 10, with commentary (qāla ‘l-mufassir), on 1v (image below); Lk 6:20 ff. on f. 2r.

MBM 367, f. 1v. Mt 10:19-23 with the beginning of the commentary.

MBM 367, f. 1v. Mt 10:19-23 with the beginning of the commentary.

MBM 368

Garšūnī (very nice, clear script). Memre and other texts on theological, monastic, and spiritual subjects.

MBM 386

17th cent., Garšūnī, hagiography. Note the Qartmin trilogy beginning on 105v.

  • The Book of the Ten Viziers / Arabic version of the Persian Baḫtīār Nāma 1r (beg miss). (On this work, see W.L. Hanaway, Jr., in EIr here.) It is a frame story spread over several days with a boy (ġulām) telling smaller stories (sg. ḥadīṯ) to a king. As it now stands in the manuscript, it begins in the eighth day, ending on the eleventh. (ET of the Persian here by William Ouseley; ET by John Payne of an Arabic version with Alf layla wa-layla here, eighth day beg. on p. 125). Here are the subdivisions:
    The Story of [the city of] Īlān Šāh and Abū Tamām 1v
    Ninth day 7r
    King Ibrāhīm and his son (on 9r, marginalia in Arabic: “this is an impossible thing!”)
    Tenth day 14r
    Story of Sulaymān 15v
    Eleventh day, 29v
  • Infancy Gospel of Jesus 33v-55r
  • John of Dailam 55r-68v
  • Behnām and Sara 68v-73v
  • Mar Zakkay 73v-105r (at 105r it says Mar Malke)
  • Mar Gabriel 105v-132r (much of f. 111 torn away; partly f. 127, too)
  • Mar Samuel 132v- (folios miss. after ff. 141, 157)
  • Mar Symeon -163v (begins where?)
  • Memra of Ephrem on Andrew when he entered the land of the dogs 163v
  • Miracle of Mary 170v
  • Miracle of Mark of Jabal Tarmaq 172v

MBM 388

17th cent., ES Garšūnī, mostly hagiography. Colophon on 135v.

  • Story of Susanna
  • Ephrem on Elijah 14r
  • Story of a Jewish Boy and what happened to him with some Christian children 31v (hands change at 34r)
  • Story of some royal children 40v (some Syriac, hands change at 47r)
  • Story of Tatos the martyr (f.), martyred in Rome 51r
  • Story of a Mistreated Monk 58v
  • Story of Arsānīs, King of Egypt 66v
  • John of the Golden Gospel 70v (folio(s) missing after 70v)
  • Elijah the Zealous 88v
  • Andrew the Apostle 100v
  • Text by Eliya Catholicos, Patriarch 111r
  • Zosimus and the Story of the Rechabites 116r
  • Story of the Apple 131r (several other copies at HMML: CFMM 350, pp. 717-722; CFMM 109, ff. 179v-182r; CFMM 110, 182v-185v; ZFRN 73, pp. 382-390 and more)

MBM 390

17th cent., WS Garšūnī, some folios missing, hagiographic, homiletic, &c.

  • Ahiqar 1r (on 27r dated 2006 AG in Arabic script)
  • Merchant of Tagrit and his Believing Wife 27v
  • Chrysostom, On Receiving the Divine Mysteries 34r
  • Chrysostom, On Repentance and Receiving the Divine Mysteries 44v (s.t. miss. after 51v)
  • Ephrem, (beg. miss.) 52r ? (s.t. miss. after 67v)
  • Jacob of Serug, On Repentance 69v (s.t. miss after 69v)
  • Ephrem ? 94r
  • From the Fathers, That everyone has a guardian angel 102v (hands change just b/f this)
  • Story of Petra of Africa 110r (no other Arabic/Garšūnī at HMML; for Syriac, see CFMM 270, pp. 291-302)
  • Zosimus and the Story of the Rechabites, 119v-132r
  • Life of John the Baptist 132r
  • Five Miracles of John the Baptist 150r
  • Story of Macarius (end miss) 152v-153v

MBM 469

Ecclesiasticus, Garšūnī, with some Turkish-Arabic/Garsh equivalents at beginning.

MBM 469, f. 1v. Turkish words with Arabic/Garšūnī equivalents.

MBM 469, f. 1v. Turkish words with Arabic/Garšūnī equivalents.

Here are the forms on this page, first in Turkish, then Arabic:

  • ıslattı naqaʿa [he soaked]
  • aramış fattaša [he searched]
  • aradın fattašta [you searched]
  • aradım fattaštu [I searched]
  • aramışlar fattašū [they searched]
  • işitti samiʿa [he heard]
  • içti šariba [he drank] *The Turkish root here is written with š for ç, as in Kazakh; on the previous page the verb also appears and is spelled ʾyǧty, i.e. içti (Garšūnī ǧīm = Turkish c or ç.)

Note that for the forms of aramak [to search], the third person forms are past indefinite, while the first and second person forms are past definite.

MBM 485

From a Gospel lectionary, Syriac, Estrangela. Here is f. 6v, with Mt 18:15-17, 20:1-3.

MBM 485, f. 6v. Mt 18:15-17, 20:1-3.

MBM 485, f. 6v. Mt 18:15-17, 20:1-3.

MBM 489

French drama translated into Syriac by Abraham ʿIso in Baghdad, 1972-1974.

  • [5r] title page
  • [6r-7v] introduction
  • pp. 5-122 Athalie by Racine
  • pp. 125-244 Le Cid by Corneille
  • pp. 247-380 Polyeucte by Corneille
  • pp. 381-463 Esther by Racine
MBM 489, f. 74r = p. 125. Title page to the Syriac translation of Corneille's Le Cid.

MBM 489, f. 74r = p. 125. Title page to the Syriac translation of Corneille’s Le Cid.

With the first page of the Syriac Le Cid cf. the original text here. Note that the Syriac translation is in rhyming couplets like the French.

MBM 489, f. 77r = p. 131. The beginning of the Syriac Le Cid.

MBM 489, f. 77r = p. 131. The beginning of the Syriac Le Cid.

MBM 509

19th cent., Arabic. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī. Starts with excerpt from Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa on him (cf. the end of the ms). On 14r begins the K. al-Ifāda wa-‘l-iʿtibār fī ‘l-umūr wa-‘l-mušāhada wa-‘l-ḥawādiṯ al-muʿāyana bi-arḍ Miṣr. See De Sacy’s annotated FT here.

Here is the part from ch. 4, on monuments (beg. 30r), about the burning of the library of Alexandria by ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ “with the permission of ʿUmar” and on the Pharos of Alex (bottom of 34v = de Sacy p. 183).

MBM 509, f. 34v.

MBM 509, f. 34v.

MBM 514

Printed work. Mariano Ugolini. Vasco de Gama al Cabo das Tormentas, dodecasillabi siriaci con versione italiana. Rome, Tipografia Poliglotta, 1898. “Poesia letta in Roma nella solenne accademia per le feste centenarie della scoperta delle Indie, il giorno 21 Maggio 1898.” 6 pages. Bound with Rahmani’s Testamentum Domini.

Here are the first six lines:

MBM 514, p. 4.

MBM 514, p. 4.

And the same in Italian:

MBM 514, p. 5.

MBM 514, p. 5.

Antony and the death of Paul the Solitary (from the Armenian synaxarion)   Leave a comment

Mainly for students of Armenian, here are two paragraphs from the commemoration of Paul the Solitary (of Thebes; cf. BHO 909-916) in the Armenian Synaxarion for Trē 23/Dec. 1, PO 16: 154-155. As before, I give the text, some glosses and grammatical notes, and Bayan’s French translation.

Եւ յարուցեալ ընթանայր արար ըստ նմանութեան թռչնոյ. եհաս մինչեւ ի տեղին եւ մտեալ յայրն՝ տեսանէ զսուրբն Պօղոս կանգնեալ ի վերայ ծնկացն եւ զձեռս տարածեալ յերկինս։

  • յարուցեալ aor ptcp յարուցանեմ, -ցի to raise
  • ընթանայր impf 3sg ըթանամ, -ացաց to run
  • արար aor 3sg առնեմ to make, do
  • նմանութիւն similarity, likeness
  • թռչուն, -չնոց bird
  • եհաս aor 3sg հասանեմ, -հասի to arrive at, reach
  • մտեալ aor ptcp մտանեմ, մտի, մուտ to enter
  • այր, -ից cave (dist. from այր man!)
  • տեսանէ pres 3sg տեսանեմ, տեսի to see
  • կանգնեալ pres ptcp կանգնեմ, -եցի to raise
  • ծունկք (also ծունգք) knee (plurale tantum)
  • տարածեալ pres ptcp տարածեմ, -եցի to spread, stretch out

Il se releva, se mit à courir précipitamment comme un oiseau, arriva jusqu’à l’endroit, pénétra dans la grotte et aperçut saint Paul dressé sur ses genoux, les bras levés vers le ciel.

Եւ կարծեցեալ եթէ կենդանի եւս իցէ, ուրախ եղեւ յոյժ, եւ կացեալ մերձ՝ ծանեաւ եթէ հանգուցեալ է. պատեաց զնա պատմուճանաւն, եւ եդ առաջի ըստ կարգի քրիստոնէից՝ սաղմոսիւք եւ օրհնութեամբ։

  • կարծեցեալ aor ptcp կարծեմ, -եցի to think, believe
  • կենդանի alive
  • եւս still
  • իցէ pres subj 3sg եմ to be
  • ուրախ joyful, cheerful
  • եղեւ aor 3sg եղանիմ to become
  • յոյժ very much, a lot
  • կացեալ aor ptcp կամ, կացի to stand, remain, continue
  • մերձ near
  • ծանեաւ aor 3sg ճանաչեմ, ծանեայ to know (NB! cf. Meillet, Altarm. Elementarbuch § 111)
  • հանգուցեալ reposed, dead (aor ptcp հանգուցանեմ to leave to rest, to put, to finish, to bury)
  • է pres 3sg եմ to be
  • պատեաց aor 3sg պատեմ, -եցի to surround, enclose, gird (wrap up)
  • պատմուճան, -աց garment
  • եդ aor 3sg դնեմ, եդի to put place
  • կարգ, -աց order, rank, arrangement
  • սաղմոս, -աց ψαλμός
  • օրհնութիւն blessing, doxology, hymn

Il le crut encore en vie et en ressentit une grande joie; mais lorsqu’il s’en fut approché, il reconnut qu’il était décédé. Il l’ensevelit avec le vêtement et l’étendit devant lui, selon la coutume des chrétiens, avec psalmodies et bénédictions.

Եւ տրտմէր յոյժ զի ոչ ունէր ընդ ինքեան բրիչ որով հատեալ զերկիր՝ թաղեսցէ զնա. եւ տարակուսեալ յանձն իւր ասէր. Մեռայց եւ ես մերձ մարմնոյս Պօղոսի։

  • տրտմէր impf 3sg տրտնիմ, -եցայ to be grieved, afflicted
  • ունէր impf 3sg ունիմ, կալայ (NB!) to have, hold
  • ինքեան G/D/L sg ինքն self
  • բրիչ, -աց hoe, pickaxe, mattock, etc.
  • հատեալ հատանեմ, հատի to cut (> dig)
  • թաղեսցէ aor subj 3sg թաղեմ, -եցի to bury
  • տարակուսեալ pres ptcp (աա- is a typo in the PO text) տարակուսիմ, -սեցայ to have doubts, hesitate
  • անձն, ձին, ձանց person, self
  • ասէր impf 3sg ասեմ, ասացի to say
  • Մեռայց aor m/p subj 1sg մեռանիմ, -այ to die
  • մարմին, -մնոց body

Et il s’attristait beaucoup de ne pas avoir une bêche sous la main, pour creuser le sol et l’inhumer, et se trouvant dans l’embarras, il dit: «Je veux mourir, moi aussi, près du corps de Paul.»

Եւ մինչեռ զայս խորհէր՝ եկեալ երկու առիւծք յանապատէն, եւ մերձ երթեալ՝ լիզուին զոտս ծառային Աստուծոյ, եւ ողբային որպէս բանաւորք։

  • խորհէր impf 3sg խորհիմ, -եցայ to think
  • եկեալ aor ptcp գամ, եկի to come
  • առիւծ, -ոյ/ու, -ոց/ուց lion (for a lion in another Armenian passage from the synaxarion, see here)
  • անապատ, -ից, -աց desert
  • երթեալ pres ptcp երթամ, չոգայ (NB!) to go, walk
  • լիզուին impf 3pl լիզում/լիզանեմ/լիզեմ, լիզի to lick
  • ոտն foot
  • ծառայ, -ից servant, slave, subject
  • ողբային impf 3pl ողբամ, -ացի/ացայ to mourn, lament
  • բանաւոր intelligent, rational (λογικός)

Pendant qu’il faisait ces réflexions, deux lions arrivèrent du désert, s’approchèrent, léchèrent les pieds du serviteur de Dieu, et gémirent comme s’ils étaient doués d’intelligence.

Ասէ ցնոսա Անդոն. Վասն որոյ եկեալ էք զհրամայեալսն ձեզ կատարեցէք։

  • Ասէ pres 3sg ասեմ, ասացի to say
  • էք pres 2pl եմ to be
  • հրամայեալ pres ptcp հրամայեմ, -եցի to command
  • կատարեցէք aor imv 2pl կատարեմ, -եցի to accomplish, fulfill, perform

Antoine leur dit: «Pourquoi êtes-vous venus? Faites ce qui vous a été ordonné.»

Եւ սկսան ոտիւքն փորել զերկիր, եւ բրեցին ըստ բաւականի թաղմանն, եւ երթեալ առ Անտոնիոս՝ խնդրէին վարձս ըստ վաստակոցն, խոնարհեցուցեալ զգլուխս իւրեանց զի օրհնեսցին ի նմանէ։

  • սկսան aor 3pl սկսանիմ/նում, սկսայ to begin
  • փորել inf փորեմ, -եցի to dig
  • բրեցին aor 3sg բրեմ, բրեցի to dig (cf. բրիչ above)
  • բաւական sufficient (ըստ բաւականի tolerably, passably, sufficiently)
  • թաղումն burial
  • խնդրէին impf 3pl խնդրեմ, -եցի to seek for, ask, demand, claim
  • վարձ, -ուց payment, recompense
  • վաստակ, -ոց work, labor, trouble
  • խոնարհեցուցեալ pres ptcp խոնարհեցուցանեմ, -ուցի to lower (խոնարհ low)
  • օրհնեսցին aor m/p subj 3pl օրհնեմ, -եցի to bless (cf. օրհնութիւն above)

Alors ils se mirent à gratter le sol avec les pieds et creusèrent assez pour l’inhumation, puis, venant à Antoine, ils lui demandèrent la rétribution de leur travail, baissant la tête pour être bénis pour lui.

Եւ Անտոնի զձեռս յերկինս համբարձեալ ասէ. Տէր Աստուած՝ որ եւ տերեւ մի ի ծառոյ ոչ անկանի առանց գիտութեան քո եւ հրամանի, տո՛ւր սոցա զպէտս իւրեանց։

  • համբարձեալ aor ptcp համբառնամ, համբարձի (NB!) to raise
  • տերեւ, -ոց leaf
  • ծառ, -ոց tree
  • անկանի pres 3sg անկանիմ, անկայ to fall
  • գիտութիւն knowledge (գիտեմ, -ացի to know)
  • հրաման, -աց command
  • տո՛ւր aor imv 2sg տամ, ետու to give
  • պէտք, պիտոյից needs (plurale tantum)

Antoine éleva ses bras vers le ciel et dit: «Seigneur Dieu, toi, sans la connaissance et la permission de qui aucune feuille ne tombe de l’arbre, donne à ces lions ce dont ils ont besoin.»

Եւ ձեռամբ նշանակեաց նոցա գնալ դարձեալ յանապատն. եւ գնացին։

  • նշանակ, -աց sign, signal (cf. նիշ and նշան, Georgian ნიში and ნიშანი, Middle Persian nīšān, Aramaic nīšā and nīšānā)
  • գնալ inf գնամ, գնացի to go
  • դարձեալ back, again (with գնալ to return)
  • գնացին aor 3pl գնամ

Et il leur fit signe de la main de retourner de nouveau au désert; et ils s’en allèrent.

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, 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


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).


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!

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, 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
1 Mäskäräm 43.3 Colin  
2 Ṭǝqǝmt 44.1 Colin  
3 Ḫǝdār 44.3 Colin  
4 Taḫśaś I 15.5 Grébaut
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
11 Ḥamle 7.3 Guidi
12 Näḥase and 13 Pagʷämen 9.4 Guidi et al.
Index, annexes 48.3 Colin  
1 Navasard 5.3 Bayan
2 Hoṛi 6.2 Bayan
3 Sahmi 15.3 Bayan
4 Trē 16.1 Bayan
5 K’ałoc’ 18.1 Bayan
6 Arac’ 19.1 Bayan
7 Mehekan 21.1 Bayan
8 Areg 21.2 Bayan
9 Ahekan 21.3 Bayan
10 Mareri 21.4 Bayan
11 Margac’ 21.5 Bayan
12 Hrotic’ and 13 Awelik’ 21.6 Bayan
1 Tout and 2 Bāba 1.3 Basset
3 Hatūr and 4 Kīhak 3.3 Basset
5 Ṭūba and 6 Amšīr 11.5 Basset
7 Barmahāt, 8 Barmūda, and 9 Bašuns 16.2 Basset
10 Baʾūna, 11 Abīb, and 12 Misrá 17.3 Basset
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.

The Martyrdom of Macrobius in Gǝʿǝz (and Arabic)   5 comments

Yesterday Alin Suciu posted a notice of a Bohairic Coptic leaf with some lines from the martyrdom of Macrobius that was recently found in a Syriac manuscript from Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem. He also mentioned the entry for that martyr in an Arabic synaxarion (published in PO 16.2, 190-193). The same entry also exists in the Gǝʿǝz synaxarion (published in PO 46.3, 304-309). The saint is commemorated on 2 Baramhāt (ⲡⲁⲣⲉⲙϩⲟⲧⲡ; see Crum 269a for the forms) in the Copto-Arabic synaxarion and 2 Mäggabit in the Gǝʿǝz synaxarion. (According to the Mensium tabulae in BHO, this date corresponds to Feb. 26 — “15 février” in the FT of PO 16 is an error; it is correctly given as “26 février” in the running title — but according to Colin’s table in PO 48.3, the Ethiopian date is Mar. 11.)

Alin notes that the new Coptic leaf has “part of the episode when Macrobius is boiled by the governor Armenius in grease, oil and pitch.” Saints’ lives sometimes exist in two lengths: a shorter notice in the synaxarion and a longer — sometimes considerably longer — one, which may be a vita (or sīra), collection of miracles, martyrdom account, an encomium, or a combination of these types, and which may circulate on its own, that is, not in a calendrical series like the synaxarion. Naturally, many more saints are listed in the synaxarion than have their own separate stories, and when more than one kind of hagiographic text exists for a particular saint, the episodes of the stories may vary more or less, whether in the same language or across languages. The Copto-Arabic and the Gǝʿǝz texts referred to above for Macrobius are essentially the same, but distinct from that of the longer encomium published by Hyvernat. Here is the beginning, with an ET of the Arabic and different readings in the Gǝʿǝz in brackets, of the synaxarion entries:

  • في مثل هذا اليوم استشهد القديس الطوباني انبا مكراوي الاسقف كان هذا الاب من اهل اشمون خريسات من اكابرها فجعل اسقفا على مدينة نقيوس
  • በዛቲ ፡ ዕለት ፡ ኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ወብፁዕ ፡ አባ ፡ መክራዊ ፡ ኤጲስ ፡ ቆጶስ ፡ ሰማዕት። ዝንቱ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ኮነ ፡ እምሰብአ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ እስሙንዙራይስ ፡ እምልሂቃነ ፡ ዚአሃ ፡ እምደቡበ ፡ ግብጽ።ወተሰይመ ፡ ኤጲስ ፡ ቆጶሰ ፡ ላዕለ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ ነቂዮስ።
  • On the same [G. “this”] day the blessed saint Anba Macrobius the bishop was martyred [G. “became a martyr”]. This father [G. “saint”] came from the chiefs of Ešmūn-Ḫarīsāt [G. ʾƎsmunzurayǝs] and he was made bishop over the city of Nikiu.

The synaxarion entries do not have the detail of the longer martyrdom text that partially survives in the Coptic leaf, and there is nothing about boiling the martyr. All they have to say about Armenius, governor of Alexandria (والي الاسكندرية, መኰንነ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ እስክንድርያ፡), and his tortures at this point is the following. The texts are formally different enough that they merit separate translations.

  • فلما بلغ ارمانيوس ما يصنعه القديس من الايات امر ان يعذب بانواع العذاب بالعصر وبقطع الاعضاء وان يلقى للاسد الضارية وان يغرق في البحر وان يوضع في اتون النار وكان صابرا على هذا جميعه غالبا بقوة المسيح
  • When news of the miracles the saint was doing reached Armenius, he commanded that he be tortured with various kinds of torture — by pressing and by cutting off limbs — that he be thrown to the savage lions, that he be drowned in the sea, and that he be placed in a furnace of fire. He was enduring all of this, conquering in the power of Christ.
  • ወሶበ ፡ ሰምዐ ፡ ሄርሜንዮስ ፡ መኰንን ፡ በእንተ ፡ ተአምራት ፡ ዘገብረ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ አባ ፡ መክራዊ ፡ ወአዘዘ ፡ ከመ ፡ ይኰንንዎ ፡ በዘዘዚአሁ ፡ ኵነኔ ፡ ወኰነንዎ ፡ በመንኰራኵራት ፡ ወመተሩ ፡ መልያልያቲሁ ፡ ወወገርዎ ፡ ለአናብስት ፡ መሠጥ ፡ ወአስጠምዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ባሕር ፡ ወወደይዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ እቶነ ፡ እሳት። ወኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ኵሉ ፡ ኵነኔ ፡ መዋዒ ፡ ወጽኑዕ ፡ በኀይሉ ፡ ለእግዚእነ ፡ ክርስቶስ ፡ ወያነሥኦ ፡ ጥዑየ ፡ ዘእንበለ ፡ ሙስና።
  • When Armenius the governor heard about the miracles that the holy Anba Macrobius had done, he commanded that he be tortured with various kinds of torture, and they tortured him with wheels, cut off his limbs, threw him to savage lions, drowned him in the sea, and put him in a furnace of fire, and the saint was prevailing in all of this torture, strong in the power of our Lord Christ, and he will raise him whole without decay.

In addition to the obvious text-critical interest that studying multiple versions of this or that hagiographic text might conjure, in the case of probably or definitely dependent texts, questions of translation technique might be asked (and, hopefully, answered). Those interested more in the narrative content of the stories and in their use in cult and devotion, too, have plenty of material for study in eastern Christian hagiography. And while there is already far more available across these languages than any one person could completely study, new pieces continue to appear, especially in previously unploughed fields of manuscript collections, as this Coptic leaf shows, a textual witness to a particular continuum that spans Coptic, Arabic, and Gǝʿǝz.

Thanks to Alin for his notice and discussion of the Coptic fragment!

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