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A Syriac note (after 1965) from Tehran about manuscripts purchased from a Jewish bookseller   6 comments

Among the few manuscripts of the Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Tehran is a late (1896), huge codex (№ 5) with 71 memre of Narsai. A typewritten note by Ph. Gignoux (dated Mar 23, 1966) accompanies the book, saying that it is a copy of BL Or 5463 (on which see Margoliouth, Descriptive List, pp. 49-50), which is dated 1893 and was copied in Urmi. (In his edition of the homilies of Narsai on creation, Gignoux calls this manuscript Téhéran № 1 and uses the siglum F; see PO 34: 520 [102].) At the beginning of the book is a very interesting note in Syriac that was written some time after 1965.

Tehran, Chaldean Church of St. Joseph, № 5, p. [iii]

Tehran, Chaldean Church of St. Joseph, № 5, p. [iii]

Transliteration (with vowels):

zebnet l-aṣṣaḥtā hādē d-mēmrē d-narsay ʿam ʿesrā ṣḥāḥē (ʾ)ḥrānē ktibay idā menhon ḥdattā mšamlaytā d-dārā da-tlāt-ʿsar w-hākwāt orāytā d-yattir qallil d-hu kad hu zabnā. d-šaddret enon l-bēt arkē d-watiqan l-appay šnat 1965 l-māran men gabrā ihudāyā ba-šmā d-sulaymān ahron [hārūn?] d-ḥānutēh simā (h)wāt qallil l-ʿel men l-qublā d-izgaddutā d-england da-b-plaṭṭiā d-ferdawsi b-tehran mdi(n)tā

✝ yoḥannān simʿān ʿisāy

miṭropoliṭa d-kaldāyē d-tehran [transp.]

English translation:

I bought this copy of the homilies of Narsai together with ten other manuscripts — including a complete New Testament of the thirteenth century, and similarly an Old Testament, more or less of the same time, which I sent to the Vatican Library — about the year 1965 AD from a Jewish man named Solomon Aaron, whose shop is situated a little up and across from the English embassy on Ferdowsi Avenue in Tehran.

Yoḥannān Simʿān ʿIsāy

Metropolitan of the Chaldeans of Tehran

[Thanks to Grigory Kessel for the suggestion that watiqan refers to the Vatican Library.]

For some photos along Ferdowsi Avenue, including an old picture of the British embassy, see here. It is unknown exactly where the bookseller’s shop was located, but both the church and the embassy are easily discovered on the map:

 

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Documentary on the Encyclopaedia Iranica and Prof. Yarshater   Leave a comment

A friend of mine shared this documentary from BBC Persian on Prof. Ehsan Yarshater (b. 1920) and the amazing work of the Encyclopaedia Iranica (online here). It’s in Persian, but English subtitles are available. Knowing the background and looking behind the scenes of major research projects such as this — or the CAD, for another example, volumes of which, like the Encyclopaedia Iranica, have also for some time been freely available online  — is not an opportunity to be missed even by those remotely interested in whatever field the project concerns. In this case, the field is the full breadth of Persian history, languages, literatures, and connections with cultures across a long time period. We can be very grateful that the Encyclopaedia is freely accessible online, rather than hidden behind extortionate tomes in perhaps too distant libraries to multitudes of would-be readers, so interested researchers of all kinds have an ever fruitful resource at their fingertips. But even more than on the Encyclopaedia itself, we get to hear firsthand from a hard-working and experienced scholar. Yarshater mentions his studies many years ago with W.B. Henning and Mary Boyce. I always enjoy seeing scholars’ workspaces, and we have that here, too. We hear him using Persian proverbs and reciting some lines of poetry. In his voice and memories we see an inspiring gentleman. These twenty-five minutes, then, will make for worthy time to anyone interested in Persian culture and intellectual biography.

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