Archive for the ‘patristics’ Tag

A camel or a rope in the eye of a needle? The Old Georgian witness   2 comments

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.)

Mt 19:24

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.

აქლემი camel

Mk 10:25

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.

Lk 18:25

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։.

դիւրագոյն easier

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

Mt 19:24

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”]

Mk 10:25

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.

Lk 18:25

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

Conclusion

So here is how the witnesses stand:

Camel Rope
Greek
Some Greek exeg.
Armenian
Syriac
Geo early, PA
Geo Athonite ✓ (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.

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Old Georgian phrases and sentences 43 (on natural transformations)   1 comment

I was first led to a sentence in the passage below thanks to a citation in the Georgian dictionary of Sarjveladze and Fähnrich (2005), 632, s.v. მბუვარეჲ, “Insekt”, the sentence coming from the Georgian version of Basil’s nine homilies on the Hexaemeron, ed. Ilia Abuladze — უძველესი რედაკციები ბასილი კესარიელის «ექუსთა დღეთაჲსა» და გრიგოლ ნოსელის თარგმანებისა «კაცისა აგებულებისათჳს» X-XIII სს-ის ხელნაწერთა მიხედვით / Древнейшие Редакции «Шестоднева» Василия Кесарийского и Толкования «Об Устроении Человека» Григория Нисского по Рукописям X-XIII вв. (The Oldest [Georgian] Versions of the Hexaemeron of Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa’s De Natura Hominis in 10th-13th -century Manuscripts) — p. 121.3-7. (S. & F. translate the sentence in question, “Man berichtet uns über den Wurm Indiens, der Hörner hat, daß sie zuerst Würmer sind und dann Insekten werden.”) Here now is that sentence with its fuller context, together with the Greek text, and, as usual, Georgian lexical and grammatical aids. The Greek (§ 8.8.12-25) is from S. Giet, Basile de Césarée. Homélies sur l’hexaéméron, 2nd edn., Sources chrétiennes 26 bis (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1968), the 19th-cent. ET of which will be found here and elsewhere online. The Georgian text, from which here p. 121.1-11, is available at TITUS here. (NB a typo in the first two lines there: განცხადები. სათჳს > განცხადებისათჳს.)

Τί φατε, οἱ ἀπιστοῦντες τῷ Παύλῳ περὶ τῆς κατὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν ἀλλοιώσεως, ὁρῶντες πολλὰ τῶν ἀερίων τὰς μορφὰς μεταβάλλοντα;

რასა იტყჳთ, რომელნი-ეგე უარ-ჰყოფთ პავლეს განცხადებისათჳს აღდგომისა, რაჟამს იხილნეთ განახლებად მრავალნი ცხოველნი ჰაერისანი?

  • ი-ტყუ-ი-თ pres 2pl სიტყუა to say, speak
  • უარ-ჰ-ყოფ-თ pres 2pl უარ-ყოფა to deny, disbelieve
  • განცხადებაჲ revelation (also Epiphany)
  • აღდგომაჲ resurrection
  • ი-ხილ-ნ-ეთ aor 2pl N ხილვა to see
  • განახლება to renew
  • ცხოველი living
  • ჰაერი air

Ὁποῖα καὶ περὶ τοῦ Ἰνδικοῦ σκώληκος ἱστορεῖται τοῦ κερασφόρου· ὃς εἰς κάμπην τὰ πρῶτα μεταβαλὼν, εἶτα προϊὼν βομβυλιὸς γίνεται,

ვითარცა-იგი გუაუწყებენ ჩუენ მატლისა მისთჳს ჰინდოეთისა, რომელსა-იგი ასხენ რქანი, რომელი-იგი პირველ არიან მატლ, და შემდგომად მისა იქმნის იგი მბუვარე,

  • გუ-ა-უწყებ-ენ pres 3pl O1pl(inclusive) უწყება to tell, inform
  • მატლი worm. In this sentence the word serves both for Greek σκώληξ “worm” and κάμπη “caterpillar”.
  • ჰინდოჲ Indian, Ethiopian
  • ა-სხ-ენ pres 3pl (ind. vb.) სხმა to have
  • რქაჲ horn
  • არ-ი-ან pres 3pl ყოფა to be. I am not sure why this should be plural. Note that the A ms (see the apparatus) here has არ-ნ iter pres 3sg after მატლი.
  • ი-ქმნ-ი-ს iter aor 3sg ქმნა to make
  • მბუვარეჲ (buzzing) insect (cf. Rayfield, et al., Dictionary, vol. 2, 873a)

καὶ οὐδὲ ἐπὶ ταύτης ἵσταται τῆς μορφῆς, ἀλλὰ χαύνοις καὶ πλατέσι πετάλοις ὑποπτεροῦται.

და არცაღა ამას სახესა ზედა დაადგრის, არამედ ფრინავნ იგი ფრთითა ლბილითა და ვრცელითა.

  • სახეჲ nature, circumstance, thing
  • და-ა-დგრ-ის pres 3sg დადრომა to remain, stay
  • ფრინ-ავ-ნ iter pres 3sg ფრინვა to fly
  • ფრთეჲ/ფრთაჲ wing
  • ლბილი smooth, soft
  • ვრცელი wide, broad (as adj); muscle (as noun)

Ὅταν οὖν καθέζησθε τὴν τούτων ἐργασίαν ἀναπηνιζόμεναι, αἱ γυναῖκες, τὰ νήματα λέγω ἃ πέμπουσιν ὑμῖν οἱ Σῆρες πρὸς τὴν τῶν μαλακῶν ἐνδυμάτων κατασκευὴν,

ჵ დედანო, რაჟამს დასხდეთ რცხად სთულისა მის თქუენისა, რომელი-იგი გიქმნის თქუენ ჭიამან ყაჭისამან საქუსლად სამოსლისა ლბილისა,

  • და-სხდ-ე-თ aor 2pl დასხდომა to sit
  • რცხა to wash, clean. Greek ἀναπηνίζεσθαι means “to unwind”. Did the Georgian translator read a form of ἀπονίζειν instead (ἀπονιζόμεναι)?
  • სთული thread, string
  • გ-ი-ქმნ-ი-ს iter aor 3sg O2 ქმნა to make
  • ჭიაჲ worm. Greek Σῆρες may either be “Chinese (people)” or “silkworms”; the Georgian translator took it to be the former here, and with a generic singular rather than a plural.
  • ყაჭი silk
  • საქუსალი The lexicon in Abuladze’s edition, p. 252, cites from Orbeliani the definition ქსელი საქსოვი warp (for weaving); the form საქსუსალი (with additional -ს-) is in Rayfield, et al., Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 1166, “web, weft, woof”. Cf. also the verb ქუსვა to braid, weave. It must function here almost like a v.n. for “to weave”.
  • სამოსელი garment, clothing

μεμνημέναι τῆς κατὰ τὸ ζῷον τοῦτο μεταβολῆς, ἐναργῆ λαμβάνετε τῆς ἀναστάσεως ἔννοιαν, καὶ μὴ ἀπιστεῖτε τῇ ἀλλαγῇ ἣν Παῦλος ἅπασι κατεπαγγέλλεται.

მოიჴსენეთ თქუენ განახლებაჲ ცხოველისაჲ მის და მოიპოვეთ ჭეშმარიტი განზრახვაჲ განახლებისათჳს აღდგომისა და გრწმენინ განახლებაჲ იგი, რომელ თქუა პავლე.

  • მო-ი-ჴსენ-ე-თ aor imv 2pl მოჴსენება to remember
  • მო-ი-პოვ-ე-თ aor imv 2pl მოპოვნება to get, acquire, earn
  • ჭეშმარიტი true. Greek ἐναργής means “clear, manifest, distinct”.
  • განზრახვაჲ thinking, reasoning (v.n.)
  • გ-რწმენ-ინ aor imv 3sg O2 (ind. vb.) რწმენა to believe, trust
  • თქუა aor 3sg თქუმა to speak, say

Finally, for what it’s worth, here is an ET of the Georgian text:

What do you say, you who deny Paul concerning the revealing of the resurrection, when you see many living things of the air being renewed? As they tell us about that worm of the Indians [or Ethiopians] that has horns, the one which at first is a worm and afterward becomes a buzzing insect. And it does not remain in this shape, but flies with soft and broad wings. O women, when you sit to wash your thread, which the silk worm makes for you to weave soft garments, remember the renewal of that which is living, acquire the true conception concerning the renewal of the resurrection, and believe in that renewal that Paul speaks of!

Posts on the digitized BL Greek manuscripts   Leave a comment

For some time now it has been exciting to watch the progress of digitizing and sharing manuscripts in major collections (BL, BAV, BnF, &c.). Staff at the British Library have provided a lasting service to readers not only by photographing and freely sharing their Greek manuscripts, but also by writing regular blog posts on specific digitized manuscripts at the Medieval manuscripts blog. (See also the Asian and African studies blog for other manuscript highlights.) These posts give a quick survey of what’s available, along with a few example images. Of course, if you’re looking for a specific manuscript, you can search for it, but these posts are a great way to stumble upon new things. So for those who might want to peruse any or all of these several posts on digitized Greek manuscripts by the BL staff, here are links for them all in one place, arranged by date from most to least recent. A hearty thanks to the BL and the sponsors of this project!

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/the-greek-manuscripts-of-robert-curzon-part-ii.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/greek-manuscripts-digitisation-project-the-final-seventy-five-manuscripts-go-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/the-greek-manuscripts-of-robert-curzon-part-i.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/01/greek-manuscripts-digitisation-project-another-thirty-manuscripts-go-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/12/an-early-holiday-present-forty-six-new-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/11/greek-digitisation-project-update-40-manuscripts-newly-uploaded.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/10/another-greek-update-forty-six-more-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/09/forty-four-more-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/08/twenty-four-more-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/07/thirty-three-greek-biblical-manuscripts-added-to-digitised-manuscripts.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/03/codex-sinaiticus-added-to-digitised-manuscripts.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/12/the-constitution-of-athens.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/10/precious-papyri.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/10/fancy-another-giant-list-of-digitised-manuscript-hyperlinks.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/09/the-bounty-of-byzantium.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/08/hooray-for-homer.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/12/new-testament-from-oldest-complete-bible-available-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/03/the-theodore-psalter.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/12/an-early-christmas-present-.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/11/digitised-manuscripts-500-landmark.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/10/digitised-manuscripts-update.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/06/greek-manuscripts-update.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/05/more-greek-manuscripts-digitised-by-the-british-library.html

Jacob of Serug on the Temptation of Jesus: Two homilies   1 comment

12th-cent. mosaic in Basilica di San Marco, Venice. Source.

12th-cent. mosaic in Basilica di San Marco, Venice. Source.

A couple of days ago UPS delivered a box with copies of my new book on two homilies by Jacob of Serug. These homilies are on the Temptation of Jesus (Mt 4:1-11, Mk 1:12-13, Lk 4:1-13), and the book, my second contribution (the first is here) to Gorgias Press’ series for Jacob within Texts from Christian Late Antiquity (TeCLA), includes vocalized Syriac text with facing English translation, introduction, and a few notes. As far as I know, neither homily has been translated before, so hopefully, even with some inevitable imperfections in this first translation, they will both now meet with more readers. The introduction has a few words about manuscripts, broader history of the interpretation of the pericopes on the Temptation, and the Syriac vocabulary Jacob uses for fighting, humility, and the devil.

And for your viewing pleasure, in addition to the one above, here is another representation of the encounter between Satan and Jesus, this one from Vind. Pal. 1847, a German Prayer Book dated 1537 (more info here, and on the image here), a copy of which is available through HMML. (Two more related images from Vivarium I would highlight are this one, with the image of the devil smudged, and this one from the Moser Bible, with a very different kind of Satan.)

Temptation of Jesus. Vind. Pal. 1847 (16th cent.) See further here.

Temptation of Jesus. Vind. Pal. 1847, f. 18v. See further here.

Finally, from Walters 539, an Armenian Gospel-book from 1262, here is Jesus post temptation, being ministered to by angels. The text on this page is Mt 4:8b-411.

Walters 539, p. 52.

Walters 539, p. 52.

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 archive.org), 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

Bibliography

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).

 

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 34 (three exclamations)   Leave a comment

Here are three exclamatory sentences, one from the Sinai Mravaltavi (Polycephalion) and two from the Georgian version of Chrysostom’s homilies on Matthew, all with similar vocabulary.

ჵ ახალი და დიდებული საქმჱ! Sinai Mravaltavi, 39 (p. 219.17; f. 208r)

O new and excellent thing!

ჵ, ახალი იგი და დიდებული საკჳრველი! Chrysostom, Hom. Mt., hom. 75 (p. 302.27), [on Mt 24:15]

Ὤ καινῶν καὶ παραδόξων πραγμάτων! PG 58.699 (NB singular in Georgian, plural in Greek)

O that new and excellent marvel!

ეჰა, საკჳრველი ახალი და დიდებული, და ჭეშმარიტად სასწაული დიდისა ძლევისაჲ! Chrysostom, Hom. Mt., hom. 87 (p. 433.29-30)

(I do not immediately see anything corresponding to this in the Greek of PG 58.)

Look! A new and excellent marvel, and truly a sign of great power!

Vocabulary

  • ახალი new
  • დიდებული excellent, fabulous, great, fantastic, terrific, superb
  • ჭეშმარიტად truly
  • საკჳრველი wonderful, astonishing
  • სასწაული wonder, sign
  • ძლევაჲ power

A meeting of three languages in the CPA version of Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures   Leave a comment

Among the texts surviving in Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA) that were translated from Greek is a fair amount of Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures (CPG 3585), translations of which also survive in several other languages. In one place (§ 6.14),* Cyril is discussing Simon Magus and says that the emperor Claudius set up a statue to him in Rome, so much did the traditional arch-heretic lead the city of Rome astray. (The story appears in other patristic texts, too.)

Καὶ ἐπλάνησέ τε οὕτω τὴν Ῥωμαίων πόλιν, ὥστε Κλαύδιον ἀνδριάντα αὐτου στῆσαι, ὑπογράψαντα τῇ Ῥωμαίων γλώττῃ, ΣΙΜΟΝΙ ΔΕΟ ΣΑΓΚΤΩ, ὅπερ ἑρμηνευόμενον δηλοῖ, Σίμωνι Θεῷ ἁγίῳ.

So Cyril gives the Latin of this inscription as Simoni Deo Sancto: “To Simon, the holy god.” Turning to the CPA text, we have:

ܘܟܠ ܕܢ ܐܛܥܝ ܪܘܡܐ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ܃ ܠܡܠܘ ܕܐܩܝܡ ܠܗ ܩܠܘܕܝ ܨܠܡ ܘܟܬܒ ܥܠܘܝ ܒܠܝܫܢܐ ܪܘܡܝܐ ܣܝܡܘܢ ܕܐܝܘܣ ܙܢܩܛܘ܃ ܡܐ ܕܗܘ ܡܬܪܓܡ ܘܡܘܕܥ ܣܝܡܘܢ ܐܠܗ ܩܕܝܫ

wkl d<y>n ʔṭʕy rwmʔ mdyntʔ lmlw dʔqym lh qlwdy ṣlm wktb ʕlwy blyšnʔ rwmyʔ symwn dʔyw{s} znqṭw mʔ dhw mtrgm wmwdʕ symwn ʔlh qdyš

The translation is straightforward and makes sense, but the appearance of the Latin inscription, which the CPA translator would have seen in Greek letters, is a bit mangled, not surprisingly. There is no indication of the dative -i in symwn, the -s of dʔyws should be deleted, and the znqṭw, while reflecting the right pronunciation of -γκτ-/-nct-, is a little odd for having a z- at the beginning. In addition, in the CPA version of the Greek translation of the Latin inscription, we really expect the preposition l- to mark the dedication, but there is not one.

Every translation naturally deals with at least two languages, but sometimes, as here, another language also makes an appearance, and, also as here, that appearance may offer an opportunity for some confusion, yet it also grants us an opportunity to have a glimpse at translators and/or scribes with their feet in a more or less complicated labyrinth of more than two languages.

*Greek and CPA published side-by-side in Christa Müller-Kessler and Michael Sokoloff, The Catechism of Cyril of Jerusalem in the Christian Palestinian Aramaic Version, A Corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic Version 5 (Groningen, 1999), here pp. 60-61.

 

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