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“Sinking in the sea of sin”, pt. II: Ephraem Armeniacus Adorator   Leave a comment

Some time ago I pointed out an Arabic/Garšūnī colophon with the phrase, “sinking in the sea of sin,” and I have since found another example from the fourteenth century (SMMJ 250, dated 1352, f. 246r, image below; sim. on f. 75r of the same manuscript).

SMMJ 250, f. 246r

SMMJ 250, f. 246r

Ephrem the Syrian, Mosaic in Nea Moni, 11th cent. Source. The lines at the bottom are from Lk 6:21: "Blessed are those who weep now, because you will laugh."

Ephrem the Syrian, Mosaic in Nea Moni, 11th cent. Source. The lines at the bottom are from Lk 6:21: “Blessed are those who weep now, because you will laugh.”

From the pen of my colleague, Edward G. Mathews, Jr., has recently appeared a little book of the collection of Armenian prayers attributed to Ephrem (vol. 4 of the Mekhitarist ed., [Venice, 1836], pp. 227-276; the prayers are also in an edition from Jerusalem [1933], and others), with Armenian text and facing English translation: The Armenian Prayers (Աղօթք) attributed to Ephrem the Syrian, TeCLA 36 (Gorgias Press, 2014). A concise and helpful introduction opens the book, and it concludes with indices for scripture and subject.

There is a lot of sin in the Armenian prayers attributed to Ephrem the Syrian. And there are a lot metaphors for sin in them, too, which may be wholesome fodder for certain classes of philologist. As I was going through this new book, it seemed like a fine idea to highlight some of the places in these ps.-Ephremian prayers that are similar to the Arabic phrase mentioned above. Some of the lines below have vocabulary similar to the “peaceful harbor” imagery that is used in colophons, on which see my paper, “The Rejoicing Sailor and the Rotting Hand: Two Formulas in Syriac and Arabic Colophons, with Related Phenomena in some Other Languages,” Hugoye 18 (2015): 67-93 (available here). This kind of language also reaches beyond biblical, patristic, and scribal texts. We hear Jean Valjean uttering “whirlpool of my sin” in “What Have I Done?” from Les Misérables.

Now for our examples from these Armenian prayers attributed to Ephrem. For these few lines I’m giving the Armenian text, Mathews’ English translation, and for fellow students of Armenian, a list of vocabulary.

I.1

…եւ ի յորձանս անօրէնութեան տարաբերեալ ծփին,

եւ առ քեզ ապաւինիմ,

որպէս Պետրոսին՝ ձեռնարկեա ինձ։

  • յորձան, -աց torrent, current, whirlpool
  • անօրէնութիւն iniquity, impiety
  • տարաբերեմ, -եցի to shake, agitate, move, stir
  • ծփեմ, -եցի to agitate, trouble
  • ապաւինիմ, -եցայ to trust, rely, take refuge, take shelter
  • ձեռնարկեմ, -եցի to put one’s hand to

…I am floundering and tossed about in torrents of iniquity.

But I take refuge in You,

Reach out Your hand to me as You did to Peter.

I.2

Ո՛վ խորք մեծութեան եւ իմաստութեան,

փրկեա՛ զըմբռնեալս՝

որ ի խորս մեղաց ծովուն անկեալ եմ.

  • խորք, խրոց pit, depth, bottom, abyss
  • փրկեմ, -եցի to save, deliver
  • ըմբռնեմ, -եցի to seize, trap, catch
  • մեղ, -աց sin
  • ծով, -ուց sea

O depths of majesty and of wisdom,

Deliver me for I am trapped,

and I have fallen into the depths of the sea of sin.

I.7

նաւապետ բարի Յիսուս՝ փրկեա՛ զիս

ի բազմութենէ ալեաց մեղաց իմոց,

եւ տո՛ւր ինձ նաւահանգիստ խաղաղութեան։

  • նաւապետ captain
  • ալիք, ալեաց wave, surge, swell
  • տո՛ւր impv 2sg տամ, ետու to give, provide, make
  • նաւահանգիստ port, haven, harbor
  • խաղաղութիւն peace, tranquility, rest, quiet

O Good Jesus, my Captain, save me

from the abundant waves of my sins,

and settle me in a peaceful harbor.

I.20

Ձգեա՛ Տէր՝զձեռս քո ի նաւաբեկեալս՝

որ ընկղմեալս եմ ի խորս չարեաց,

եւ փրկեա՛ զիս ի սաստիկ ծովածուփ բռնութենէ ալեաց մեղաց իմոց։

  • ձգեմ, -եցի to stretch, extend, draw
  • նաւաբեկիմ to run aground, founder, be shipwrecked
  • ընկղմեմ, -եցի to sink, submerge, drown, bury
  • շարիք, -րեաց, -րեօք evil deeds, iniquity; disaster
  • սաստիկ, սաստկաց extreme, intense, violent, strong
  • ծովածուփ tempestuous, stormy
  • բռնութիւն violence, fury (< բուռն, բռանց fist, with many other derivatives)

Stretch forth, O Lord, Your hand to me for I am shipwrecked

and I am drowning in the abyss of my evil deeds.

Deliver [me] from the stormy and violent force of the waves of my sins.

I.64

Խաղաղացո՛ զիս Տէր՝ ի ծփանաց ալեաց խռովութեանց խորհրդոց,

եւ զբազմւոթեան յորձանս մեղաց իմոց ցածո՛,

եւ կառավարեա՛ զմիտս իմ ժամանել

յանքոյթ եւ ի խաղաղ նաւահանգիստն Հոգւոյդ սրբոյ։

  • Խաղաղացո՛ impv 2sg խաղաղացուցանեմ, խաղաղացուցի to calm
  • ծփանք wave, billow
  • ձորձան, -աց current, torrent, whirlpool
  • ցածո՛ impv 2sg ցածուցանեմ, ցածուցի to reduce, diminish, soften, calm, humiliate
  • կառավերեմ, -եցի to guide, direct, govern
  • միտ, մտի, զմտաւ, միտք, մտաց, մտօք mind, understanding
  • ժամանեմ, -եցի to arrive, be able, happen
  • անքոյթ safe, secure

Grant me peace, O Lord, from the billowy waves of my turbulent thoughts,

Abate the many whirlpools of my sins.

Steer my mind that it may come

To the safe and peaceful harbor of Your Holy Spirit.

In I.81, we have, not the sea, but, it seems, a river (something fordable):

Անցո՛ զիս Տէր՝ ընդ հուն անցից մեղաց…

  • Անցո՛ impv 2sg անցուցանեմ, անցուցի to cause to pass, carry back, transmit
  • հուն, հնի ford, shallow passage
  • անցք, անցից passage, street, channel, opening

Bring me, O Lord, through the ford of the river of sins…

The sea and drowning are by no means the only metaphors for sin in these prayers. Others from pt. I include ice (15), dryness (21), thorn (23; also p. 120, line 8), sleep (25), darkness (39, 102), nakedness (44-45), bondage and prison (54, 93), a quagmire (62), an abyss (71), “dung and slime” (72), and a weight and burden (123, 125, 129). From pt. III, p. 106, ll. 29-30:

հա՜ն զիս ի տղմոյ անօրէնութեան իմոյ,

զի մի՛ ընկլայց յաւիտեան։

  • հա՜ն impv 2sg հանեմ, հանի to remove, dislodge, lift up
  • տիղմ, տղմոյ mire, mud, filth
  • ընկլայց aor subj m/p 1sg ընկլնում, -կլայ (also ընկղմիմ, -եցայ!) to founder, sink, be plunged
  • յաւիտեան, -ենից eternity

Remove me from the mire of my iniquity

lest I sink in forever.

Metaphors from nature for things other than sin are “the ice of disobedience,” “the fog of mistrust,” “the raging torrents of desires for pleasures,” and ” the spring of falsehood” in pt. VI, p. 136, ll. 23-26.

Whether these places are of interest to you spiritually, conceptually, philologically, or some combination of those possibilities, I leave you to ponder them.

A scribe addressing a reader’s spiritual condition   Leave a comment

Here is a colophon from a manuscript I cataloged last week (CFMM 155, p. 378). It shares common features and vocabulary with other Syriac colophons, but the direct address to the reader, not merely to ask for prayer, but also to suggest that the reader, too, needs rescuing is less common. We often find something like “Whoever prays for the scribe’s forgiveness will also be forgiven,” but the phrasing we find in this colophon is not as common.

CFMM 155, p. 378

CFMM 155, p. 378

Brother, reader! I ask you in the love of Jesus to say, “God, save from the wiles of the rebellious slanderer the weak and frail one who has written, and forgive his sins in your compassion.” Perhaps you, too, should be saved from the snares of the deceitful one and be made worthy of the rank of perfection. Through the prayers of Mary the Godbearer and all the saints! Yes and yes, amen, amen.

Here are a few notes and vocabulary words for students:

  • pāgoʿā reader (see the note on the root pgʿ in this post)
  • ḥubbā Išoʿ should presumably be ḥubbā d-Išoʿ
  • pṣy D to save; first paṣṣay(hy) D impv 2ms + 3ms, then tetpaṣṣē Dt impf 2ms
  • mḥil weak
  • tāḥub weak
  • ākel-qarṣā crumb-eater, i.e. slanderer, from an old Aramaic (< Akkadian) idiom ekal qarṣē “to eat the crumbs (of)” > “to slander” (see S.A. Kaufman, Akkadian Influences on Aramaic, p. 63) (cf. διάβολος < διαβάλλω)
  • ṣenʿtā plot (for ṣenʿātēh d-ākel-qarṣā cf. Eph 6:11 τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου)
  • mārod rebellious
  • paḥḥā trap, snare
  • nkil deceitful
  • šwy Gt to be equal, to be made worthy, deserve
  • dargā level, rank
  • gmirutā perfection

Procopius’ pre-martyrdom prayer (Armenian)   Leave a comment

Commemorated on July 8 is the saint Procopius (BHG 1576-1582; BHO 1002-1003). As an exercise for students of Armenian, here is the prayer he is made to utter just before he is decapitated. (Rough English translation at the end.) It contains many imperative forms (addressed to God) and several participles. Most of the vocabulary is fairly common, but I have been liberal in those I have included in the notes below. The text is available from an Armenian synaxarion in PO 21: 688-689. (Stylistically, note the placement of the imperatives: partly at the end of each main clause, partly at the beginning.)

Եւ յորժամ տանէին ի տեղին տարածեաց զձերս իւր յերկինս եւ ասէ. Տէր Աստուած իմ արարիչ երկնի եւ երկրի, հայր Տեառն մերոյ Յիսուսի Քրիստոսի, լո՛ւր աղաչանաց իմոց եւ կատարեա՛ զխնդրուածս իմ։

  • տանէին impf 3pl տանիմ, տարայ to carry away, lead away, bring
  • տարածեաց aor 3sg տարածեմ, տարածեցի to spread, stretch out
  • արարիչ creator
  • լո՛ւր impv 2sg լսեմ, լուայ to hear
  • աղաչանք prayer (pl. tantum)
  • կատարեա՛ impv 2sg կատարեմ, -եցի to accomplish, fulfill
  • խնդրուածք, -ծաց/-ծոց prayer, request (pl. tantum)

Պահեա՛ զքաղաքս զայս եւ սրբեա՛ ի կռապաշտութենէ,

  • պահեմ, -եցի to preserve, keep, watch over
  • սրբեմ, -եցի to sanctify, purify
  • կռապաշտութիւն idolatry

յիշեա եւ զամենայն ժողովուրդս քո եւ սրբեա՛ ի կռապաշտութենէ,

  • յիշեմ, -եցի to bear in mind, remember
  • ժողուորդ, -վդեան, -վրդոց people, assembly

եւ բժշկեա՛ զամենայն հիւանդութիւնս նոցա։

  • բժշկեմ, -եցի to cure
  • հիւանդութիւն illness, infirmity

Նեղելոց անդորրիչ լե՛ր,

  • նեղելոց ptcp gen.pl նեղիմ, -եցայ to be afflicted, troubled
  • անդորրիչ quieting, calming, comforting
  • լե՛ր impv 2sg լինիմ, եղէ to be

որբոց եւ այրեաց օգնական,

  • որբ, -ոց orphan
  • այրի, -րեաց widow
  • օգնական aid(ing), help(er)

եւ որոց ի բանդին այցելու,

  • բանդ/տ, -ից prison
  • այցելու, ,-ուի, -աց visitor

զնաւակոծեալս ի ծովու խաղաղութեամբ հասո՛ ի նաւահանգիստն,

  • նաւակոծեալս ptcp acc.pl. նաւակոցիմ to suffer shipwreck
  • խաղաղութիւն peace
  • հասո՛ impv 2sg հասուցանեմ, հասուցի to cause to reach, bring to (caus. of հասանեմ, հասի to arrive at, reach, the impv 2sg of which is հա՛ս)
  • նաւահանգիստ port, haven

ճանապարհորդաց ուղեկից, փախուցելոց ի բռնաւորաց ապաւէն,

  • ճանապարհորդ traveler, wayfarer
  • ուղեկից fellow traveler
  • փախուցանեմ, -եցի to put to flight, cause to flee
  • բռնաւոր violent; usurper, tyrant
  • ապաւէն, -ւինի, -նաց asylum, refuge

զիտանգեալսն ի ծառայութենէ ազատեա՛,

  • վտանգիմ, -եցայ to be in danger, peril, etc.
  • ծառայութիւն slavery, captivity
  • ազատեմ, -եցի to free, liberate, save

զդեւս ի մարդկանէ հալածեա՛,

  • մարդիկ, gen.sg. մարդկան humanity, the human race, people
  • հալծեմ, -եցի to expel, cast out, persecute, chase

զգլորեալսն կանգնեա՛,

  • գլորիմ, -եցայ to sink, fall
  • կանգնեմ, -եցի to raise, lift up, re-establish

զմոլորեալսն դարձո՛,

  • մոլորիմ, -եցայ to wander, go astray, err
  • դարձո՛ impv 2sg դարձուցանեմ, -ուցի to return, restore, bring back

մեղաւորաց թողութիւն շնորհեա՛,

  • մեղաւոր sinful, sinner
  • թողութիւն forgiveness, release
  • շնորհեմ, -եցի to give, grant, forgive

զսատանայական խորհուրդս խափանեա՛,

  • խորհուրդ, -ոց thought, intention
  • խափանեմ, -եցի to hinder, impede, intercept

բա՛ց զարքայութիւնդ քո ամենայն հաւատացելոց քոց,

  • բա՛ց open
  • հաւատամ, -տացի to believe

եւ որոց յանուն իմ եկեղեցի շինեն կամ յոսկերաց իմոց մասն առնուցուն, կամ զիշատակս իմ կատարեն,

  • շինեն, -եցի to found, built, construct
  • ոսկր, -աց bone
  • մասն, -սին, -սանց part, piece, relic
  • առնուցուն pres subj 3pl առնում, առի to take
  • յիշատակ, -աց commemoration, remembrance

պարգեւեա՛ նոցա զքո անբաւ ողորմութիւնդ,

  • պարգեւեմ, -եցի to give, present with
  • անբաւ, -ից infinite, innumerable
  • ողորմութիւն pity, mercy

եւ մի՛ եկեսցէ ի վերայ նոցա սատանայական փորձութիւնք,

  • եկեսցէ aor subj 3sg գամ, եկի to come
  • փորձութիւն temptation

եւ մի՛ բռնութիւնք ի թշնամեաց եւ յիշխանաց,

  • բռնութիւն violence, tyranny, assault
  • թշնամի, -նւոյ, -մեաց enemy, foe
  • իշխան, -աց sovereign, magistrate, ruler, governor

եւ ընկա՛լ զհոգիս իմ խաղաղութեամբ։

  • ընկա՛լ impv 2sg ընդունիմ, ընկալայ to receive

An English translation:

And as they were bringing him to the place [of his martyrdom], he spread his hands to heaven and said: Lord, my God, creator of heaven and earth, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hear and fulfill my request. Watch over this city and cleanse it of idolatry. Remember, too, all your people: cleanse [them] of idolatry and cure every infirmity. Be a comforter to the afflicted, a helper to orphans and widows, a visitor to those in prison. Bring those who have suffered shipwreck on the sea to the haven in peace. [Be] a fellow traveler to wayfarers, a refuge to those put to flight by the violent. Free those in peril in slavery. Cast out demons from humanity. Raise up the fallen. Bring back those who are astray. Grant forgiveness to sinners. Impede satanic intentions. Open your kingdom to all who believe in you, those who will build a church in my name, take up the relics of my bones, or celebrate my commemoration. Grant them your infinite mercy. Do not let satanic temptation come upon them, nor violence from foes or magistrates. And receive my spirit in peace.

Old Georgian phrases and sentences 33 (A scribal note by Iovane Zosime)   Leave a comment

For students of the languages, literature, and history of Christianity, the horde of manuscripts written or preserved at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai is among the most valuable collections. Manuscripts there were microfilmed several decades ago, and we can be very grateful that scans of those microfilms have been made accessible through E-corpus. While the images are bitonal, and thus not everything is as readable as we might like, in general the writing is clear (at least in black ink, others less so).

Below is an image from Sin. Geo. 62 (Garitte, Catalogue, pp. 197-209), a hagiographic manuscript of the late tenth century written by Iovane Zosime, from whose pen several manuscripts survive. Here is a note at the end of a text in which he requests prayer.

Sin. Geo. 62, f. 138vb

Sin. Geo. 62, f. 138vb

With abbreviations resolved, it reads in nusxuri (and an asomtavruli initial):

Ⴜ(ⴋⴈⴃⴀ)ⴌⴍ ⴋⴍⴜⴀⴋⴄⴌⴍ ⴋⴍⴋⴈⴤⴑⴄⴌⴄⴇ ⴜ(ⴈⴌⴀⴘ)ⴄ ⴖ(ⴋⴐ)ⴇⴈⴑⴀ ⴋⴄⴍⴞⴄⴁⴈ

ⴇⴀ ⴇⴕ(ⴍⴣⴄ)ⴌⴈⴇⴀ ⴈⴍⴅⴀⴌⴄ ⴔ(ⴐⴈⴀ)ⴃ ⴚⴍ<ⴃ>ⴅⴈⴊⴈ : ⴊ(ⴍ)ⴚⴅⴀⴗ(ⴀⴅ)ⴊ

In mxedruli:

წ(მიდა)ნო მოწამენო მომიჴსენეთ წ(ინაშ)ე ღ(მრ)თისა მეოხებითა თქ(უე)ნითა იოვანე ფ(რია)დ ცო<დ>ვილი ლ(ო)ც(ვა)-ყ(ავ)თ

The missing ⴃ in ⴚⴍ<ⴃ>ⴅⴈⴊⴈ may be due to an abbreviation, but there is no abbreviation-mark, so I have considered it an accidental omission. (It be must be stated, though, that every single abbreviation is not always so marked.)

Vocabulary and grammatical remarks:

  • მოწამეჲ martyr
  • მო-მ-ი-ჴსენ-ეთ aor impv 2pl O1 მოჴსენება to remember
  • მეოხებაჲ intercession, help
  • ცოდვილი sinner
  • ლოცვა-ყავ-თ aor impv 2pl ლოცვის-ყოფა to pray (< to make a prayer)

Garitte’s LT (209):

Sancti martyres mementote mei coram Deo intercessione vestra, Iohannis valde peccatoris; orate.

My ET:

Holy martyrs, remember me before God, John, the great sinner, through your intercession! Pray!

“Sinking in the sea of sin”   1 comment

Christian scribes typically trumpet their sinfulness, and there is no shortage of creative self-deprecation. In a colophon to a text in SMMJ 170 (also mentioned in the previous post) the scribe asks colorfully for prayer from his reader with memorable imagery.

SMMJ 170, f. 218r

SMMJ 170, f. 218r

Here is the same in Arabic script:

كملت امثال الحكيم يوسيفوس بعون الله وعلينا رحمته اجمعين امين. يا ايها القاري لا تنسا الكاتب الخاطي من صلاتك لاجل الله لاني غارق في بحر الخطيّة وخص نفسك بالف سلام امين. وذلك في سنة ١٩٠٧ ٢٣ يوم من تموز

This imagery even becomes alliterative in English:

Ended are the Parables of Josippos the Sage with God’s help: his mercy be on us all, Amen. Reader! Do not delay the sinful scribe from your prayer, for God’s sake, because I am sinking in the sea of sin, and may he grant your soul peace a thousandfold. This is in the year 1907 [AG], the 23rd day of Tammuz.

The text that ends here contains sixty-two parables (amṯāl) with explanation, presented as a dialogue between “Josippos” and King Nebuchadnezzar.

Any other examples of sea-imagery (cf. Ps 69:1-2), with sin and otherwise? Feel free to mention them in the comments.

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