Archive for the ‘Mardin’ Tag

Athanasios (Abū Ġalib) of Ǧayḥān (Ceyhan), d. 1177   1 comment

One of the pleasures of cataloging manuscripts is learning about authors and texts that are relatively little known. One such Syriac author is Athanasios (Abū Ġalib) of Ǧayḥān (Ceyhan). Two fifteenth-century manuscripts, CFMM 417 and 418, which I have recently cataloged, each contain different texts attributed to him. Barsoum surveys his life and work briefly in Scattered Pearls (pp. 441-442), and prior to that Vosté wrote an article on him; more recently Vööbus and Carmen Fotescu Tauwinkl have further reported on him. (See the bibliography below; I have not seen all of these resources.) According to Barsoum, he died in 1177 at over 80 years old. As far as I know, none of his work has been published.

The place name associated with this author is the Turkish Ceyhan. The Syriac spelling of the place in the Gazetteer has gyḥʾn, but in both of these manuscripts it is gyḥn. The former is probably an imitation of the Arabic-script spelling, while the form without ālap in the manuscripts still indicates ā in the second syllable by means of an assumed zqāpā.

Now for the CFMM texts.

CFMM 417, pp. 465-466

An untitled monastic selection. These two pages make up the whole of this short text. As you can see, it follows something from Isaac of Nineveh, and it precedes Ps.-Evagrius, On the Perfect and the Just (CPG 2465 = Hom. 14 of the Liber Graduum). The manuscript is dated March, 1785 AG (= 1474 CE).

CFMM, p. 465

CFMM, p. 465

CFMM 417, p. 466

CFMM 417, p. 466


CFMM 418, ff. 235v-243v

Excerpts “from his teaching”. Here are the first and last pages of the text. This longer text follows Isaac of Nineveh’s Letter on how Satan Takes Pains to Remove the Diligent from Silence (ff. 223v-235v, Eggartā ʿal hāy d-aykannā metparras Sāṭānā la-mbaṭṭālu la-ḥpiṭē men šelyā) and precedes some Profitable Sayings attributed to Isaac. This manuscript — written by more than one scribe, but at about the same time, it seems — is dated on f. 277v with the year 1482, but the 14- is to be read 17-, so we have 1782 AG (= 1470/1 CE; cf. Vööbus, Handschriftliche Überlieferung der Mēmrē-Dichtung des Jaʿqōb von Serūg, III 97).

CFMM 418, f. 235v

CFMM 418, f. 235v

CFMM 418, f. 243v

CFMM 418, f. 243v


Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu, “Abū Ghālib, an Unknown West Syrian Spiritual Author of the XIIth Century”, Parole de l’Orient 36 (2010): 277-284.

Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu, “A Spiritual Author in 12th Century Upper Mesopotamia: Abū Ghālib and his Treatise on Monastic Life”, Pages 75-93 in The Syriac Renaissance. Edited by Teule, Herman G.B. and Tauwinkl, Carmen Fotescu and ter Haar Romeny, Robert Bas and van Ginkel, Jan. Eastern Christian Studies 9. Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010.

Vööbus, Arthur, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Near East, III, CSCO 500, Subs. 81. Louvain: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1988, pp. 407-410.

Vööbus, Arthur, “Important Discoveries for the History of Syrian Mysticism: New Manuscript Sources for Athanasius Abû Ghalîb”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 35:4 (1976): 269-270.

Vosté, Jacques Marie, “Athanasios Aboughaleb, évêque de Gihân en Cilicie, écrivain ascétique du XIIe siècle”, Revue de l’Orient chrétien III, 6 [26] (1927-1928): 432-438. Available here.

Where do solitary monks live? Or, how to name various rocky places in Syriac   Leave a comment

While cataloging the 15th-century manuscript CFMM 152 (on which see also here), I was struck by the long rubric of this mēmrā attributed to Ephrem.

CFMM 152, p. 156

CFMM 152, p. 156

(Students of Syriac may note the construct state before a preposition in ʿāmray b-ṭurē [Nöldeke, Gramm., § 206], as well as in the common epithet lbiš l-alāhā [Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum, 2d ed., 358a].)

Here with English glosses are the nouns in this rubric where monks may dwell. They can all be rocky areas, and there might be some semantic ambiguity and overlap with some of them.

  • ṭurā mountain
  • gdānpā ledge, crag
  • šnāntā rock, crag, peak
  • ṣeryā crack, fissure
  • pqaʿtā crack (also valley)
  • ḥlēlā crack

Brock’s list of incipits tells us that this mēmrā, possibly a genuine work of Ephrem, has been published by Beck in Sermones IV (CSCO 334-335 / Scr. Syr. 148-149, 1973), pp. 16-28. (Published earlier by Zingerle and Rahmani; there are two English translations, neither available to me at the moment.) The rubric in Beck’s ed. differs slightly from the one in this manuscript.

For comparison, here is another mēmrā attributed to Ephrem from a later manuscript, CFMM 157, p. 104. (see Beck, Sermones IV, pp. 1-16, for a published edition of the mēmrā).

CFMM 157, p. 104

CFMM 157, p. 104

This one has some of the same words, but the related addition terms are:

  • mʿartā cave (pl. without fem. marker; see Nöldeke, Gramm., § 81)
  • šqipā cliff
  • pe/aʿrā cave

And so I leave you with these related Syriac terms, in case you wish to write a Syriac poem with events in rocky locales!

Trisagion in Turkish (Syriac script)   Leave a comment

I have written before on the page from CCM 10 that has the Trisagion in various languages, all in Syriac script. Let’s take a look specifically at the Turkish part now:

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

CCM 10, f. 8r, trisagion in Turkish written with Syriac letters

The readings of this one are more obvious than the Georgian part we looked at before. Here is a possible transcription:

arı Taŋrı, arı güçlü, arı ölmez

rahmet bizüm ʾwsnʾ eyle!


arı pure, clean (a homonym means bee, wasp). For “holy” in Isa 6:3, Ali Bey has kuddûs, and the same seems to be the norm in related places (e.g. Rev 4:8), too, in Ali Bey’s version and later translations. (For Ottoman translations of the Bible, see here.)

Taŋrı God (< sky). Here spelled tgry. The ŋ in this word (mod. Tanrı) was written in Ottoman with the ڭ (where so marked) or with نڭ. For the earlier history of the word see G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish, pp. 523-524; Turkish and Mongolian Studies, pp. 9-10, 220, 223. It appears in other Turkic languages, too, such as Tatar тәңре. From a Turkic language the word came into Mongolian (sky, heaven, deity; in addition to the above references, cf. N. Poppe, Introduction to Mongolian Comparative Studies, p. 45). The word is listed, of course, in Kāšġarī’s famous work on Turkic languages; see vol. 3: 278-279 of edition available here (PDF); no other edition is available to me now, but for a Russian translation, see № 6418 in the Z.-A. Auezova’s 2005 work (Мах̣мӯд ал-Ка̄шг̣арӣ, Дӣва̄н Луг̣а̄т ат-Турк). (Clauson and others — such as K. Shiratori, Über die Sprache des Hiung-nu Stammes und der Tung-hu Stämme, pp. 3-4 — point to an early occurrence of the word in Chinese garb in the 漢書 Hàn Shū: the form is 撐犁, modern chēng lí < t’ʿäng liei < tʿäng liǝr. The passage is in the last part of the Hàn Shū, the biographies, chapter (94) 匈奴傳上, § 10, available here.) Whether or not there is a real connection, the Turkic word does immediately bring to mind Sumerian diĝir (which we might just as well spell diŋir).

güçlü strong, powerful, mighty. Note in the Syriac script that ç is indicated by a gāmal with an Arabic ǧīm beneath it.

ölmez immortal, undying (the root of ölmek to die + neg. suffix -mAz)

bizüm 1pl pron gen. We might expect the dative bize, but the phrase here (lit. do our mercy) is not altogether unclear; but see the note to the following word. Analogous phrases in Ottoman versions of the Bible do have the dative:

  • Ps 123:3 Ali Bey ʿināyet eyle bize
  • Ps 123:3 Turabi Effendi merhamet eyle bize
  • Lk 18:38 Ali Bey (with 1sg) baŋa merhamet eyle

ʾwsnʾ I’m not immediately sure how to take this word. Possibly a mistake for üstüne upon, a postposition with bizüm for object?

eyle impv of the auxiliary verb eylemek to do, make, here with rahmet: to have mercy, be merciful

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