Archive for the ‘Gospels’ Tag
While reading in the Gospel of Mark in Old Georgian (Adishi) recently, I came across the words არღარა გაქუნს სარწმუნოებაჲ? (Mk 4:40) Since I knew the story and also had the Greek New Testament open beside me, I knew the text there was οὔπω ἔχετε πίστιν. In the verb გაქუნს I recognized ა-ქუ-ს “to have”, a so-called indirect verb, which for this verb has the possessor marked with the series of prefixes that are also used to mark Georgian objects in other instances (O1 მ-, O2 გ-, etc.) and the thing possessed in the nominative case. This Georgian verb is perhaps first retrieved mentally as the present, აქუს “he has”. But what about the -ნ- in our form, particularly the combination -ნ-ს?
First, let’s look at some other forms of the verb. For accessibility and clarity, we will use examples from the Gospels, in this case all from the Adishi text (available at TITUS). The pres has -ქუ-, as in მ-ა-ქუს I have, გ-ა-ქუს you have, etc.
Σίμων, ἔχω σοί τι εἰπεῖν
სიმონ, მაქუს რაჲმე სიტყუად შენდა
ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα
გაქუს თქუენ მარილი
πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον
ყოველი, რაჲ გაქუს, განყიდე
ἡμεῖς νόμον ἔχομεν
ჩუენ შჯული გუაქუს
The impf has -ქუნ-, as in X-ა-ქუნ-დ-ა:
ἰδοῦ ἡ μνᾶ σου ἣν εἶχον ἀποκειμένην ἐν σουδαρίῳ
უფალო, აჰა, ვეცხლი შენი, რომელი მაქუნდა დაკრძალული სუდარსა
οὐκ ἂν εἴχετε ἁμαρτίαν
ცოდვაჲმცა არა გაქუნდა
μὴ ἔχοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἀποδοῦναι
და ვითარ არარაჲ აქუნდა გარდაჴდად
For the -ნ-, NB also ქონებაჲ “(the fact of) having, possessing” and derivatives (Sarjveladze and Fähnrich, Altgeorgisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch, p. 1279). In addition, when the possessed thing is plural, we have (with third person possessor) ჰ-ქონ-ან, also showing the loss of the version vowel ა-. Kevin Tuite (p.c.) points out a sentence illustrating both forms (singular possessed and plural possessed):
Sinai Mravaltavi, p. 167.35-36 (at TITUS here)
პეტრეს კლიტენი ჰქონან ცათა სასუფეველისანი და ბრძანებაჲ აქუს
Peter has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and has the command.
Now for some forms in various persons with ა-ქუნ-ს:
οὐχ ἔχομεν ὧδε εἰ μὴ πέντε ἄρτους καὶ δύο ἰχθύας
არა გუაქუნს აქა, გარნა ხუთი პური და ორი თევზი
οὐχ ἔχουσιν τί φάγωσιν
არაჲ აქუნს, რაჲმცა ჭამეს
πόσους ἄρτους ἔχετε;
რაოდენი პური გაქუნს აქა?
πάντες γὰρ ὡς προφήτην ἔχουσιν τὸν Ἰωάννην
რამეთუ იოვანე ყოველთა წინაწარმეტყუელად აქუს (variant: აქუნს)
გაქუნს თქუენ დასი
ὅτι υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας
რამეთუ ჴელმწიფებაჲ აქუნს ძესა კაცისასა ქუეყანასა ზედა მიტევებად ცოდვათა
ψυχή, ἔχεις πολλὰ ἀγαθὰ κείμενα εἰς ἔτη πολλά
სულო, გაქუნს ყოველი კეთილი დაუნჯებული მრავალთა წელთაჲ
And finally, our sentence that started this inquiry:
οὔπω ἔχετε πίστιν;
არღარა გაქუნს სარწმუნოებაჲ
These all have present meaning and they all translate a Greek present. (მ-/გ-/გუ-)აქუნს would seem to be, then, an allomorph of (მ-/გ-/გუ-)აქუს with the -ნ- of the root kept intact.
(Very many thanks to Kevin Tuite for discussing some of these forms with me.)
In Sarjveladze-Fähnrich, 960a, s.v. რაკა (and 1167b, s.v. უთჳსესი), the following line is cited from manuscript A-689 (13th cent.), f. 69v, lines 20-23:
კითხვაჲ: რაჲ არს რაკა? მიგებაჲ: სიტყუაჲ სოფლიოჲ, უმშჳდესადრე საგინებელად უთჳსესთა მიმართ მოპოვნებული
Frage: Was ist Raka? Antwort: Ein grobes Wort, den nächsten Angehörigen gegenüber als leiser Tadel gebraucht.
This is a question-and-answer kind of commentary note on the word raka in Mt 5:22. There is probably something analogous in Greek or other scholia, but I have not checked. For this word in Syriac and Jewish Aramaic dialects, see Payne Smith 3973-3974; Brockelmann, LS 1488; DJPA 529b; and for JBA rēqā, DJBA 1078a (only one place cited, no quotation given). For the native lexica, see Bar Bahlul 1915 and the quotations given in Payne Smith.
For this word in this verse, the Syriac versions (S, C, P, H) all have raqqā, Armenian has յիմար (senseless, crazy, silly), and in the Georgian versions, the earlier translations have შესულებულ, but the later, more hellenizing translations have the Aramaic > Greek word რაკა on which the scholion was written. Before returning to the Georgian scholion above, let’s first have a look at parts of this verse in Greek and all of these languages. Note this Georgian vocabulary for below:
გან-(ხ)-უ-რისხ-ნ-ეს 3sg aor conj (the -ნ- is not the pl obj marker) განრისხება to become angry | ცუდად in vain, without cause | შესულებული dumbfounded, stupid | ცოფი crazy, fool
- πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ
- kul man d-nergaz ʿal aḥu(h)y iqiʾ
- ամենայն որ բարկանայ եղբաւր իւրում տարապ֊արտուց
- A89/A844 რ(ომე)ლი განხოჳრისხნეს ძმასა თჳსა [ცოჳ]დად
- Ad ყოველი რომელი განურისხნეს ძმასა თჳსსა ცუდად
- PA რომელი განურისხნეს ძმასა თჳსსა ცუდად
- At რომელი განურისხნეს ძმასა თჳსსა ცუდად
- ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· ῥακά
- kul d-nēmar l-aḥu(h)y raqqā
- որ ասիցէ ցեղբայր իւր յիմար
- A89/A844 რ(ომელმა)ნ ხრქ(ოჳ)ას ძმასა თჳსსა შესოჳლებოჳლ
- Ad რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა: შესულებულ
- PA რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა რაკა
- At რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა რაკა
- ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· μωρέ
- man d-nēmar lellā (P, H; while S, C have šāṭyā)
- որ ասիցէ ցեղբայր իւր մորոս
- A89/A844 NA
- Ad და რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა: ცოფ
- PA რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა ცოფ
- At რომელმან ჰრქუას ძმასა თჳსსა ცოფ
So now we return to the scholion given above.
კითხვაჲ: რაჲ არს რაკა? მიგებაჲ: სიტყუაჲ სოფლიოჲ, უმშჳდესადრე საგინებელად უთჳსესთა მიმართ მოპოვნებული
- კითხვაჲ question
- მიგებაჲ answer
- სოფლიოჲ worldly (< სოფელი)
- უმშჳდეს-ად-რე < უმშჳდესი quiet, peaceful, calm adv + -რე a particle meaning “a little, slightly”
- საგინებელად to berate, chide, scold
- უთჳსესი neighbor, nearby person
- მოპოვნებული found
Finally, here is an English translation of the scholion:
Question: What is raka? Answer: An impolite word found [when one wants] to berate one’s neighbor in a slightly gentle way.
That is, according to the scholiast there are harsher, stronger vocatives with which to berate someone, but when just a little verbal aggression is needed, raka is the word to choose!
Since we talked about camels here in the last post, here’s a simple verse from elsewhere for our next OGPS.
Mt 23:24 Adishi
წინამძღუარნო ბრმანო, რომელნი დასწურავთ კურნაქსა და აქლემსა შთანსთქამთ!
- წინამძღუარი leader, guide
- ბრმაჲ blind
- და-ს-წურავ-თ pres 2pl O3 დაწურვა to press, sift
- კურნაქი gnat, mosquito, etc.
- შთა-ნ-ს-თქამ-თ pres 2pl O3 შთანთქმა/შთათქმა to swallow, gulp down
For good measure, here’s the Greek and Armenian:
ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοί, οἱ διϋλίζοντες τὸν κώνωπα, τὴν δὲ κάμηλον καταπίνοντες.
Առաջնորդք կոյրք, որ զմժղուկս քամէ́ք, եւ զուղտս կլանէք։.
- առաջնորդ, ի, -աց guide, director, leader
- կույր, կուրաց blind
- մժղուկ gnat, mosquito, etc.
- քամեմ, -եցի to press, squeeze, sift
- ուղտ, -ուց camel
- կլանեմ, կլի to swallow, devour (NB aorist form!)
In Mt 19:24, Mk 10:25, and Lk 18:25 Jesus famously paints the difficulty of a rich person’s ability to get into the kingdom of God with the picture of a camel going through the eye of a needle. The strangeness of the image has not been lost on Gospel-readers from early on. Origen, followed by Cyril, reports that some interpreters took the word κάμηλος ≈ κάμιλος not as the animal, but as some kind of thick rope. This interpretation from Cyril is known also in Syriac, both in the Syriac translation of the Luke commentary, and in Bar Bahlul, and probably elsewhere. I noticed recently in my Georgian Gospel reading that the early translations also bear witness to the reading “rope”, but the later translations — not surprisingly, given the predominant hellenizing tendencies of the period — line up with the standard Greek reading, “camel”, in most (but not all!) places. Below I list a few of the Greek exegetical places, followed by the three synoptic Gospel verses in Greek, Armenian, and Georgian; I have translated into English everything quoted below except for the Greek Gospel verses. The Syriac versions (Old Syriac, Peshitta, Harqlean), at least in Kiraz’s Comparative Edition of the Syriac Gospels, all have “camel” (gamlā), not “rope” (e.g. ḥablā). As usual, for Armenian and Georgian I provide a few lexical notes. I’ve used the following abbreviations:
- A89 = the xanmeti text A89/A844, ed. Lamara Kajaia (not extant for the whole of the Gospel of text), at TITUS here (given in both asomtavruli and mxedruli)
- Ad = Adishi, at TITUS here
- At = Athonite (Giorgi the Hagiorite), at TITUS here
- Künzle = B. Künzle, Das altarmenische Evangelium / L’évangile arménien ancien, 2 vols. [text + Armenian-German/French lexicon (Bern, 1984)
- Lampe = G.W.H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon
- PA = Pre-Athonite, see here at TITUS
- PG = Migne, Patrologia Graeca
As a side note, for the Qurʾān verse that cites the phrase in question, see the following:
- W. Montgomery Watt, “The Camel and the Needle’s Eye,” in C.J. Bleeker et al., eds., Ex Orbe Religionum: Studia Geo Widengren, vol. 2 (Leiden, 1972), pp. 155-158.
- Régis Blachère, “Regards sur un passage parallèle des Évangiles et du Coran,” in Pierre Salmon, ed., Mélanges d’Islamologie, volume dédié à la mémoire d’Armand Abel par ses collègues, ses élèves et ses amis (Leiden, 1974), pp. 69-73.
- M.B. Schub, “It Is Easier for a Cable to go through the Eye of a Needle than for a Rich Man to Enter God’s Kingdom,” Arabica 23 (1976): 311-312.
- Samir Khalil, “Note sur le fonds sémitique commun de l’expression ‘un chameau passant par le trou d’une aiguille’,” Arabica 25 (1978): 89-94.
- A. Rippin, “Qurʾān 7.40: ‘Until the Camel Passes through the Eye of the Needle'” Arabica 27 (1980): 107-113.
A similar phrase with “elephant” (pīlā) instead of “camel” appears in the Talmud: see Strack-Billerbeck, Kommentar, vol. 1, p. 828, and Sokoloff, Dict. of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, s.v. qwpʾ.
Some Greek and Syriac exegetical and lexical references
Origen, Fragment on Mt 19:24: οἱ μὲν τὸ σχοινίον τῆς μηχανῆς, οἱ δὲ τὸ ζῷον (cited in Lampe, 700a, s.v. κάμηλος)
Some [say the word means] the rope of some apparatus, others [say it means] the animal [the camel].
Cyril of Alexandria, Fragment on Mt 19:24 (PG 72: 429) Κάμηλον ἐνταῦθά φησιν, οὐ τὸ ζῶον τὸ ἀχθοφόρον, ἀλλὰ τὸ παχὺ σχοινίον ἐν ᾧ δεσμεύουσι τὰς ἀγκύρας οἱ ναῦται.
He says that kámēlos here is not the beast of burden, but rather the thick rope with which sailors tie their anchors.
Cyril, Comm. on Lk 18:23 (PG 72: 857) Κάμηλον, οὐ τὸ ζῶον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐν τοῖς πλοίοις παχὺ σχοινίον.
Kámēlos is not the animal, but rather the thick rope found in boats.
With this Greek line from the Luke commentary we can compare the Syriac version, ed. Payne Smith, p. 338.15-17: gamlā dēn āmar law l-hāy ḥayutā mālon ellā l-ḥablā ʿabyā. ʿyāda (h)w gēr l-hānon d-šappir yādʿin d-neplḥun b-yammā da-l-hālēn ḥablē d-yattir ʿbēn gamlē neqron.
He says gamlā, [meaning] not the animal, but rather a thick rope, for those who know well how to plow the sea are accustomed to call the very thick ropes that they use gamlē.
One more place in Syriac attributed to Cyril has this interpretation, a few lines in the fragmentarily preserved work Against Julian (CPG 5233), ed. E. Nestle in Karl Johannes Neumann, Iuliani imperatoris librorum contra Christianos quae supersunt (Leipzig, 1880), here p. 56, § 21: d-qaddišā Qurillos, men mēmrā d-16 d-luqbal Yuliyanos raššiʿā. mqabbel hākēl l-taḥwitā: ḥrurā da-mḥaṭṭā w-gamlā, w-law ḥayutā a(y)k d-asbar Yuliyanos raššiʿā wa-skal b-kul w-hedyoṭā, ellā mālon ḥablā ʿabyā da-b-kul ellpā, hākanā gēr it ʿyādā d-neqron ennon aylēn d-ilipin hālēn d-elpārē.
Cyril, from book 16 of [his work] Against Julian the Wicked. He accepts, then, the example: the eye of the needle and the gamlā, but not the animal, as the wicked, completely stupid, and ignorant Julian thought, but rather the thick rope that is on every ship, for thus those sailors who are expert are accustomed to call them.
Theophylact of Ohrid, Ennaratio on Mt (PG 123: 356): Τινὲς δὲ κάμηλον οὐ τὸ ζῷόν φασιν, ἀλλὰ τὸ παχὺ σχοινίον, ᾧ χρῷνται οἱ ναῦται πρὸς τὸ ῥίπτειν τὰς ἀγκύρας.
Some say that kámēlos is not the animal, but rather the thick rope that sailors use to cast their anchors.
Suda, Kappa № 282: Κάμηλος: τὸ ζῷον. … Κάμιλος δὲ τὸ παχὺ σχοινίον.
Kámēlos: the animal. … Kámilos a thick rope.
Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon: Κάμηλος. τὸ ἀχθοφόρον ζῶον. κάμηλος καὶ τὸ παχὺ σχοινίον, ἐν ᾧ δεσμεύουσι τὰς ἀγκύρας οἱ ναῦται. ὡς τὸ ἐν εὐαγγελίοις· κάμηλον διὰ τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν.
Kámēlos: the beast of burden. Kámēlos is also the thick rope with which sailors tie their anchors, as in the Gospels: “for a kámēlos to go through the eye of a needle.”
As mentioned above, Cyril’s report on the verse re-appears among other things in Bar Bahlul: ed. Duval, coll. 500-501, s.v. gamlā: gamlā tub maraš [sic! cf. maras]. ba-ṣḥāḥā Qurillos gamlā qārē l-ḥablā ʿabyā d-āsrin bēh spinātā. Moše bar Kēpā gišrā ʿabyā d-mettsim l-ʿel b-meṣʿat benyānē qārē gamlā, haw da-ʿlāw(hy) mettsimin qaysē (ʾ)ḥrānē men trayhon gabbāw(hy) w-taṭlilā d-a(y)k hākan gamlā metqrā. (ʾ)ḥrā[nē] dēn d-ʿal gamlā d-besrā w-da-kyānā rāmez wa-b-leššānā yawnāyā qamēlos metemar. (ʾ)ḥrā[nē] dēn āmrin d-gamlā haw d-emar māran b-ewangelyon sgidā — da-dlil (h)u l-gamlā l-meʿal ba-ḥrurā da-mḥaṭṭā — l-hānā gamlā d-ḥayy āmar, w-law d-a(y)k (ʾ)ḥrā[nē] šāṭrin l-gamlā. ba-ṣḥāḥā (ʾ)nāšin dēn āmrin d-šawšmāna (h)w arik reglē w-lā šarririn. w-gamlā b-meṣʿat ḥaywātā dakyātā w-ṭaʾmātā itāw(hy), b-hāy gēr d-metgawrar, men ḥaywātā dakyātā metḥšeb, wa-b-hāy d-lā ṣāryā parstēh, men ṭaʾmātā.
A gamlā is also a rope [Arabic]. In one copy: Cyril calls the thick rope with which people tie their ships a gamlā. Moše bar Kēpā calls the thick beam people place at the top of buildings in the middle a gamlā, the one on which other pieces of wood are placed from either side, and a ceiling like this is called a gamlā. Others [say] that it means the natural animal [? lit. of flesh and of nature] gamlā (camel), and in Greek it is called kámēlos. Others say that the gamlā that the Lord mentioned in the Gospel — i.e., “it is easier for a gamlā to enter the eye of a needle” — by this he means a living gamlā, and not, as some foolishly say, a [non-living] gamlā [i.e. a rope, as in the interp. above?]. In one copy: Some people say that it is an ant with long, unstable legs. A camel is midway between the categories of clean and unclean animals: since it chews the cud, it is counted among clean animals, and since it does not split the hoof, among unclean.
[NB with this ant mentioned here cf. Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum, 2d ed., 120b (s.v. gamlā mng. 2c), JBA gamlānāʾāh (Sokoloff, Dict. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, 289-290); also Persian uštur mūr (camel-ant).]
The Gospel verses in Greek, Armenian, and Georgian
(English translations in the next section.)
πάλιν δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
Դարձեալ ասեմ ձեզ· դիւրի́ն է մալխոյ մտանել ընդ ծակ ասղան. քան մեծատան յարքայութիւն ա՟յ մտանել։
դիւրին easy, light | մալուխ, -լխոյ rope (supposedly also “camel”; see note below) | ծակ, -ուց hole | ասեղն, ասղան, -ղունք, -ղանց needle | մեծատուն, մեծատան, -անց rich NB on մալուխ, see Lagarde, Armenische Studien, № 1404; Ačaṙean, 3.226-227; Künzle 2.437 says “Die Bedeutung ‘Kamel’ ist wohl durch diese NT-Stellen irrtümlich in die armen. Lexika eingegangen.” The proper Arm. word for camel is ուղտ, Lagarde, Arm. St., № 1760 (cf. MP uštar, NP uštur; Sanskrit उष्ट्र uṣṭra).
A89 ႾႭჃႠႣႥႨႪჁႱ ႠႰႱ ႬႠႥႨႱႠ ႫႠႬႵႠႬႨႱႠ ႱႠႡႤႪႨ ჄႭჃႰႤႪႱႠ ႬႤႫႱႨႱႠႱႠ ႢႠႬႱႪႥႠႣ Ⴅ~Ⴄ . . . . . . . ႸႤႱႪႥႠႣ ႱႠႱႭჃႴႤႥႤႪႱႠ Ⴖ~ႧႨႱႠႱႠ
ხოჳადვილჱს არს ნავისა მანქანისა საბელი ჴოჳრელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად ვ(იდრ)ე . . . . . . . შესლვ[ა]დ სასოჳფეველსა ღ(მრ)თისასა
ხ-ოჳ-ადვილ-ჱს easier (< ადვილი easy) | ნავი ship | მანქანაჲ mechanism, machine | საბელი cable, rope, cord | ჴურელი hole | ნემსი needle
Ad მერმე გეტყჳ თქუენ: უადვილესა ზომთსაბლისაჲ ჴურელსა ნემსისასა განსლვაჲ, ვიდრე მდიდრისაჲ შესლვად სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა.
უადვილეს easier (< ადვილი easy) | ზომთ(ა)-საბელი cable, thick rope (cf. Rayfield et al., 695a; ზომი measurement) | მდიდარი rich
PA და მერმე გეტყჳ თქუენ: უადვილეს არს მანქანისა საბელი განსლვად ჴურელსა ნემსისასა, ვიდრე მდიდარი შესლვად სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა.
At და მერმე გეტყჳ თქუენ: უადვილეს არს აქლემი განსლვად ჴურელსა ნემსისასა, ვიდრე მდიდარი შესლვად სასუფეველსა ცათასა.
εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ [τῆς] τρυμαλιᾶς [τῆς] ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν.
դիւրի́ն է մալխոյ ընդ ծակ ասղան անցանել. քան մեծատան յարքայութիւն ա՟յ մտանել։.
անցանեմ, անցի to pass, flow, run
Ad უადვილეს არს ზომსაბელისა განსლვაჲ ჴურელსა ნემსისა, ვიდრეღა <არა> [?] მდიდარი სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა შესულად.
PA უადვილჱს არს მანქანისა საბელი ჴურელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად, ვიდრე მდიდარი სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა შესლვად.
At უადვილეს არს აქლემი ჴურელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად, ვიდრე მდიდარი შესლვად სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა.
εὐκοπώτερον γάρ ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν.
դիւրագոյն իցէ մալխոյ ընդ ծակ ասղան անցանել. քան մեծատան յարքայութիւն ա՟յ մտանել։.
A89 ႾႭჃႠႣႥႨႪჁႱ ႠႰႱ ႫႠႬႵႠႬႨႱ ႱႠႡႤႪႨ ჄႭჃႰႤႪႱႠ ႬႤႫ ႱႨႱႠႱႠ ႢႠႬႱႪႥႠႣ Ⴅ~Ⴄ ႫႣႨႣႠႰႨ ႱႠႱႭჃႴႤႥႤႪႱႠ Ⴖ~ႧႨႱႠႱႠ
ხოჳადვილჱს არს მანქანის საბელი ჴოჳრელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად ვ(იდრ)ე მდიდარი სასოჳფეველსა ღ(მრ)თისასა
Ad უადვილეს არს მანქანისსაბელი ჴურელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად, ვიდრე მდიდარი სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა შესლვად.
PA = Ad
At უადვილეს არს მანქანისა საბელი ჴურელსა ნემსისასა განსლვად, ვიდრე მდიდარი შესლვად სასუფეველსა ღმრთისასა.
English translations of these verses
Arm Again I say to you: it is easier for a rope to enter the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
A89 It is easier for a rope from a ship’s apparatus to go through the eye of a needle than [for the rich] to enter the kingdom of God.
Ad Again I say to you: It is easier for a cable to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
PA And again I say to you: It is easier for the rope of an apparatus to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
At And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. [sic! Not “of God”]
Arm It is easier for a rope to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
Ad It is easier for a cable to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
PA It is easier for the rope of an apparatus to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
At It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
Arm It would be easier for a rope to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
A89 It is easier for the rope of an apparatus to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich [to enter] the kingdom of God.
Ad It is easier for the rope of an apparatus to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
PA = Ad
At ≈ Ad
So here is how the witnesses stand:
|Some Greek exeg.
|Geo early, PA
||✓ (Lk only)
For Greek, I wonder about the real existence of the word κάμιλος (with iota, not ēta, but both words pronounced the same at this period). I don’t know that it is attested anywhere that is certainly unrelated to the Gospel passages. More generally, is there an explanation for the two opposed readings “camel” and “rope”? There is in Arabic a similarity between ǧamal (camel) and ǧuml/ǧumla (“thick rope”, see Lane 460), but it is treading on thin ice to have recourse to this similarity as an explanation for earlier texts with no palpable connection to Arabic. It may simply be the case that, as Cyril says, in nautical argot ropes went by the name “camels”. (And we should remember that there were sailors in Jesus’ circle.)
The earliest reading may well have been “camel”, but a change to “rope” does not really make for an easier reading: one can put a thread through a needle’s eye, but a rope will go through it no more than a camel will! In any case, some traditions clearly side with “rope”, such that those traditions’ commonest readers and hearers of the Gospel passage would have known nothing of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, only a rope, and apparently one large enough to handle marine functions!
There is no early evidence among the sources above for “camel” in Georgian (or Armenian), while Greek knows both, as does Syriac (via Greek sources, to be sure). This variety of readings, attested without a doubt, adds to the richness of the textual witness of the Bible and the history of its interpretation. There are probably further exegetical and lexical places in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian that bear on this question of what we’re dealing with here, a camel or a rope, but this is, I hope, at least an initial basis for some future work on the question for anyone interested.
I learned earlier this week from a tweet by Matthew Crawford (
@mattrcrawford) that the Rabbula Gospels are freely available to view online in fairly high-quality images. This sixth-century manuscript (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56) is famous especially for its artwork at the beginning of the codex before, surrounding, and following the Eusebian canon tables, including both figures from biblical history and animals: prophets, Mary, Jesus, scenes from the Gospels (Judas is hanging from a tree on f. 12r), the evangelists, birds, deer, rabbits, &c. Beginning on f. 13r, the folios are strictly pictures, the canon tables having been completed. These paintings are very pleasing, but lovers of Syriac script have plenty to feast on, too. The main text itself is written in large Estrangela, with the colophon (f. 291v-292v) also in Estrangela but mostly of a much smaller size. Small notes about particular lections are often in small Serto. The manuscript also has several notes in Syriac, Arabic, and Garšūnī in various hands (see articles by Borbone and Mengozzi in the bibliography below). From f. 15v to f. 19r is an index lectionum in East Syriac script. The Gospel text itself begins on f. 20r with Mt 1:23 (that is, the very beginning of the Gospel is missing).
The images are found here. (The viewer is identical to the one that archive.org uses.)
Rabbula Gospels, f. 231r, from the story of Jesus’ turning the water into wine, Jn 2.
Rabbula Gospels, f. 5r. The servants filling the jugs with the water that will become wine.
For those interested in studying this important manuscript beyond examining these now accessible images, here are a few resources:
Bernabò, Massimò, ed. Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56. L’illustrazione del Nuovo Testamento nella Siria del VI secolo. Folia picta 1. Rome, 2008. A review here.
Bernabò, Massimò, “Miniature e decorazione,” pp. 79-112 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Bernabò, Massimò, “The Miniatures in the Rabbula Gospels: Postscripta to a Recent Book,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 68 (2014): 343-358. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Codicologia, paleografia, aspetti storici,” pp. 23-58 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Il Codice di Rabbula e i suoi compagni. Su alcuni manoscritti siriaci della Biblioteca medicea laurenziana (Mss. Pluteo 1.12; Pluteo 1.40; Pluteo 1.58),” Egitto e Vicino Oriente 32 (2009): 245-253. Available here.
Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “L’itinéraire du “Codex de Rabbula” selon ses notes marginales,” pp. 169-180 in F. Briquel-Chatonnet and M. Debié, eds., Sur les pas des Araméens chrétiens. Mélanges offerts à Alain Desreumaux. Paris, 2010. Available here.
Botte, Bernard, “Note sur l’Évangéliaire de Rabbula,” Revue des sciences religieuses 36 (1962): 13-26.
Cecchelli, Carlo, Giuseppe Furlani, and Mario Salmi, eds. The Rabbula Gospels: Facsimile Edition of the Miniatures of the Syriac Manuscript Plut. I, 56 in the Medicaean-Laurentian Library. Monumenta occidentis 1. Olten and Lausanne, 1959.
Leroy, Jules, “L’auteur des miniatures du manuscrit syriaque de Florence, Plut. I, 56, Codex Rabulensis,” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris 98 (1954): 278-283.
Leroy, Jules, Les manuscrits syriaques à peintures, conservés dans les bibliothèques d’Europe et d’Orient. Contribution à l’étude de l’iconographie des églises de langue syriaque. Paris, 1964.
Macchiarella, Gianclaudio, “Ricerche sulla miniatura siriaca del VI sec. 1. Il codice. c.d. di Rabula,” Commentari NS 22 (1971): 107-123.
Mango, Marlia Mundell, “Where Was Beth Zagba?,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 7 (1983): 405-430.
Mango, Marlia Mundell, “The Rabbula Gospels and Other Manuscripts Produced in the Late Antique Levant,” pp. 113-126 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Mengozzi, Alessandro, “Le annotazioni in lingua araba sul codice di Rabbula,” pp. 59-66 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.
Mengozzi, Alessandro, “The History of Garshuni as a Writing System: Evidence from the Rabbula Codex,” pp. 297-304 in F. M. Fales & G. F. Grassi, eds., CAMSEMUD 2007. Proceedings of the 13th Italian Meeting of Afro-Asiatic Linguistics, held in Udine, May 21st-24th, 2007. Padua, 2010.Available here.
Paykova, Aza Vladimirovna, “Четвероевангелие Раввулы (VI в.) как источник по истории раннехристианского искусства,” (The Rabbula Gospels (6th cent.) as a Source for the History of Early Christian Art) Палестинский сборник 29  (1987): 118-127.
Rouwhorst, Gerard A.M., “The Liturgical Background of the Crucifixion and Resurrection Scene of the Syriac Gospel Codex of Rabbula: An Example of the Relatedness between Liturgy and Iconography,” pp. 225-238 in Steven Hawkes-Teeples, Bert Groen, and Stefanos Alexopoulos, eds., Studies on the Liturgies of the Christian East: Selected Papers of the Third International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy Volos, May 26-30, 2010. Eastern Christian Studies 18. Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA, 2013.
Sörries, Reiner, Christlich-antike Buchmalerei im Überblick. Wiesbaden, 1993.
van Rompay, Lucas, “‘Une faucille volante’: la représentation du prophète Zacharie dans le codex de Rabbula et la tradition syriaque,” pp. 343-354 in Kristoffel Demoen and Jeannine Vereecken, eds., La spiritualité de l’univers byzantin dans le verbe et l’image. Hommages offerts à Edmond Voordeckers à l’occasion de son éméritat. Instrumenta Patristica 30. Steenbrugis and Turnhout, 1997.
Wright, David H., “The Date and Arrangement of the Illustrations in the Rabbula Gospels,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 27 (1973): 199-208.
In the foretelling of John the Baptist’s birth, the archangel Gabriel tells John’s father-to-be, Zacharias, that John should abstain from drinking alcohol (Luke 1:15):
ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον [τοῦ] κυρίου,
καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ,
καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου πλησθήσεται
ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ
This is all seemingly simple enough, but I was surprised to find an interesting reading here in one of the Old Georgian versions of the text. Here it is in the Adishi, Pre-Athonite, and Athonite texts (this verse not extant in ms A-89 or Vind. georg. 2):
Adishi რამეთუ იყოს დიდ წინაშე უფლისა და ღჳნოჲ და სათრობელი და იყი არა სუას და სულითა წმიდითა სავსე იყოს მიერვე მუცლით დედისა თჳსისაჲთ.
- ღჳნოჲ wine
- სათრობელი intoxicating drink
- იყი strong drink
- სუას aor conj 3s სუმა to drink
- სავსეჲ full
- მუცელი belly
PA რამეთუ იყოს დიდ წინაშე უფლისა და ღჳნოჲ და თაფლუჭი არა სუას და სულითა წმიდითა აღივსოს მიერვე დედისმუცლით მისითგან.
- თაფლუჭი mead (cf. თაფლი honey; see excursus below)
- აღ-ი-ვს-ოს aor conj 3s აღვსება to fill (NB the CV -ი- > to be filled)
At რამეთუ იყოს დიდ წინაშე უფლისა და ღჳნოჲ და თაფლუჭი არა სუას და სულითა წმიდითა აღივსოს მიერვე დედისმუცლით მისითგან.
In addition, here is an image from the Gospel manuscript BnF géo. 28, f. 111v, col. b., ll. 14-20, which is a 13th-cent. witness to the Athonite version:
Here is the text from transcribed from nusxuri into mxedruli and with abbreviations resolved:
რ(ამეთუ) იყოს დიდ წ(ინაშ)ე ო(ჳფლ)ისა და ღჳნოჲ და თაფლოჳჭი არა სუას და ს(უ)ლითა წ(მიდ)ითა აღივსოს მიერვე დედისმოჳცლით მისითგ(ა)ნ.
The Adishi text, then, has three in the list of prohibited drinks, while the Pre-Athonite and Athonite have two, just like the Greek. Furthermore, neither the second nor the third in the Adishi list is თაფლუჭი, which we find elsewhere paired with ღჳნოჲ in the “wine and strong drink” passages of the Bible (e.g. Lev 10:9, Num 6:3). (Of the same root as the second word in the Adishi list, სათრობელი, we see დამათრობელი in Jdg 13:4, which also has ძმარი “vinegar” and ყურძენი “grape”.)
Since, alongside Greek, both Armenian and Syriac enter into discussions of the textual lineage of the Georgian Gospels, I’ll give them both here, too. For Syriac, the Old Syriac (Sinaiticus), the Peshitta, and the Ḥarqlean all have simply ḥamrā w-šakrā lā neštē. In Armenian, this part of the verse reads, գինի եւ աւղի մի́ արբցէ. So the witnesses for this verse in both of these languages give simply a bipartite prohibition, just like the two later Georgian versions, not a tripartite one like that of the Adishi text.
On honey-water, or mead
As pointed out above, the word that stands sometimes in the Georgian versions for σίκερα (traditionally “strong drink”, but probably better, “beer”) is თაფლუჭი “mead”, derived from the word თაფლი “honey”. As is well known, mead is a thing and a word with a long history in at least some Indo-European societies (see Pokorny; Buck, Synonyms, §§ 5.84, 5.91). The modern English “mead” goes back to medu in Old English, where there are many derivatives appearing in Beowulf and elsewhere (all of these in Bosworth-Toller), e.g.
- medoærn banquet-house, place to drink mead
- medubenc mead-bench
- medoburg city of mead-drinkers
- medudrēam mead-revelry
- medoful mead-cup
- medoheal mead-hall
- meoduscenc mead-draft
- meodosetl mead-seat
- medostīg path to the mead-hall
(“Honey” itself in OE is unrelated: hunig; see PIE *kₑnəkó- “golden” in Pokorny.) Here are a few other words of the same origin as this word medu in other IE languages (PIE *médhu-). Sanskrit madhu- was used for sweet drinks, including soma, and in line with Avestan maδu- is the Middle and later Persian may “wine” (Mackenzie 55, Steingass 1357). Greek μέθυ (> μεθύω to be drunk > μεθύσκω to make drunk) is a poetic word for wine; it does not mean “mead”. (The latter is μελίτειον, as in Plut. Quaest. Conv. 672b: καὶ μέχρι νῦν τῶν τε βαρβάρων οἱ μὴ ποιοῦντες οἶνον μελίτειον πίνουσιν. Mod. Gr. has ὑδρόμελι like Latin hydromeli, with derivatives in the Romance languages). In Russian, “honey” is мёд (for the color, cf. медь “copper”). The Slavic words for “bear” derive partly from this root, e.g. Russian медведь (honey-eater; cf. Buck, § 3.73). (In Old Georgian, “bear” is დაფჳ [modern დაფვი], as in 1Sam 17:34 JerLect. The word does not sound dissimilar to თაფლი “honey”: should we posit a direct etymological link?) Note that Chubinov/ჩუბინაშვილი (Грузинско-Русско-Французскій Словаръ/Dictionnaire géorgien-russe-français [Saint Petersburg, 1840], 220) defines თაფლუჭი with “сикера” — σίκερα! — and “медовика”.
Lastly, for one more (non-mead) term for drinks, to return to Lk 1:15, Gothic has
jah wein jah leiþu ni drigkid
The first noun is, of course, “wine”, and the second is cognate with OE līþ, “strong drink” (cf. the first element in German Leithaus).
Just over a year ago I wrote on the Pericope adulterae in an East Syriac manuscript in our collections (CCM 64; see here). I’ve recently read over the passage in the two Old Georgian versions that include it (Pre-Athonite and Athonite; not in Adishi). Birdsall wrote on it, and Chris Keith discusses the passage in Georgian a little, especially its placement, in his 2009 book (pp. 124-126). As far as I know, the texts have never been published together, nor is any English translation available, so I have prepared a document with a synoptic presentation of each verse of the passage in Greek (NA27) and the two Georgian versions together with some verse-by-verse vocabulary and grammatical notes (file here). I offer no full textual commentary, but some sense of the distinctive readings of each version compared with each other (and with Greek) will also be evident in the English translation of each Georgian version I give below. These English translations are literal, but nevertheless not every difference between the two versions can be indicated.
J. Neville Birdsall, “The Pericope Adulterae in Georgian,” Studia Patristica 39 (2006): 185–92.
Chris Keith, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (Leiden, 2009).
(See some artwork from HMML collections related to the scene here, here, here, and here.)
PA 7:53 And each one left for his home.
At 7:53 And each one left for his home.
PA 8:1 But Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives.
At 8:1 But Jesus left for the Mount of Olives.
PA 8:2 And the next day [OR in the morning] he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he was teaching them.
At 8:2 And at dawn he went again to the temple, and all the people were coming to him, and he sat down and was teaching them.
PA 8:3 The high priests and Pharisees brought a woman and stood her in their midst.
At 8:3 But the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman, who was caught in adultery openly before the people, and they stood her in their midst.
PA 8:4 And they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught seen in adultery.
At 8:4 And they said, because they were testing him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery openly.
PA 8:5 And in the Law of Moses, for such [women] he commands us to throw stone[s]. Now, what do you say?“
At 8:5 And Moses commanded us in the Law to throw stone[s] at such [women]. What, then, do you say?“
PA 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of, but Jesus was looking downward and was marking on the ground with his finger.
At 8:6 But they said this and were testing him, that they might have [something] to accuse him of, but Jesus bent down to the ground, was marking on the ground with his finger, and he was saying nothing.
PA 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, then he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever among you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”
At 8:7 And when they stood there a while and were looking at him, he straightened up and said to them, “Whoever of you is sinless, let him first throw a stone at that [woman].”
PA 8:8 And he again bent down to the ground.
At 8:8 And he again bent down and was marking on the ground.
PA 8:9 But when they heard it, the elders and scribes began, and one by one they were going away, and he himself was left alone, and the woman stood before Jesus.
At 8:9 But when they heard it, exposed from their conscience, they were going away one by one. They began from the elders, until he himself was left alone, and the woman stood in the midst.
PA 8:10 And Jesus looked and said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? No one accuses you?”
At 8:10 And Jesus straightened up and saw no one except the woman, and he said to her, “Where are your accusers? No one accused you?”
PA 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”
At 8:11 But she said, “No one, Lord!” But Jesus said to her, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin.”