Tag Archives: Christian Sogdian

An Ascetic Miscellany

Sims-Williams, Nicholas (ed.). 2017. An ascetic miscellany: The Christian Sogdian manuscript E28. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

The Christian Sogdian manuscripts in Syriac script which were found at a Central Asian outpost of the “Church of the East”, the monastery at Bulayïq in the Turfan oasis, and are now preserved in the Berlin Turfan collection, include a large number of fragments in a distinctive handwriting which have been catalogued under the designation “E28”. Through his choice of texts to translate or to copy the scribe demonstrates his interest in the practice and traditions of monasticism, originating with St Anthony and the other “Desert Fathers”, the solitaries and monks of the Egyptian desert, and transplanted to Mesopotamia and Iran, according to legend, by Mār Awgen (Eugenius). In addition to works whose Syriac sources have been identified, such as passages from the spiritual writings of Šemʿon d-Ṭaibuteh, Isaac of Nineveh and Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā, as well as from the life of Mār Awgen, “E28” contains a number of unidentified texts, also no doubt translated from Syriac, many of which deal with aspects of the ascetic life. This volume contains an edition and translation of all the texts, most of them previously unpublished, together with a commentary, glossary and 35 plates. An appendix contains critical editions of some of the parallel Syriac passages.

From Liturgy to Pharmacology

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2019. From liturgy to pharmacology. Christian Sogdian texts from the Turfan Collection. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

Containing a variety of texts ranging from liturgy to pharmacology via hagiography, calendars and ascetical works by Isaac of Nineveh, this volume completes the publication of all known Christian Sogdian texts.

This volume completes the publication of the Christian Sogdian texts of the Berlin Turfan Collection begun by F. W. K. Müller in 1907. Several Syriac texts are also included, in particular a series of liturgical texts in Syriac with Sogdian rubrics (edited in collaboration with J. F. Coakley).

The texts edited here are mostly short but extremely varied and interesting. The Syriac liturgical fragments are some of the earliest surviving witnesses to the liturgy of the “Church of the East”, though the Sogdian rubrics which accompany them show that those who performed them were not native speakers of Syriac. Other texts connected with the liturgy include a Sogdian version of the Gloria in excelsis and a text explaining how to calculate the date of Easter or Lent. Hagiographical texts include fragments of the martyrdoms of St George and of Cyriacus and Julitta as well as part of the so-called “Six Books” on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Two pharmacological fragments (edited in collaboration with Dieter Maue) show familiarity with Indian medicine, while a “prayer-amulet” belongs rather to a Syriac tradition. Finally, a chapter contributed by Adrian Pirtea contains the re-edition of a well-preserved folio identified by him as a Sogdian version of a work by Isaac of Nineveh.

Sogdian Christianity

A Sogdian silk brocade textile fragment, dated c. 700 AD. Photo courtesy of Andy Lloyd (rare rugs and textiles).

Ashurov, Barakatullo. 2018. ‘Sogdian Christianity’: Evidence from architecture and material culture. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1–42.

This article aims to discuss the question of the inculturation of Syriac Christianity in Central Asia, based on archaeological examples including architectural evidence from a particular ethnocultural area: Sogdiana. It questions to what extent the Eastern Syriac Church has become rooted in local culture, thus enabling Christian communities to express their faith in both material and artistic ways. This article is divided into two sections which present a comprehensive study of the medieval sources relevant to the spread and establishment of Christianity in the Central Asian landmass by considering and analyzing existing tangible evidence. In doing so, it provides assessment of comparable evidence, which demonstrates both the “extended” and an “immediate” context in which Eastern Syriac Christianity was accepted, adapted and transformed into a localised expression of Christian faith.

The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context

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The monastery at Bulayïq, Dafusan’gaicum, Tulufan/Turpan, Xinjiang © Chiara Barbati 2015

Lecture and Book Presentation at Tehran University

The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context

Department for Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran in cooperation with The Austrian Academy of Science (ÖAW) present:

Lecture : “The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context
By: Dr. Chiara Barbati (Institute of Iranistik, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Date: Wednesday, 5th October, 2016
Place: University of Tehran, Faculty of Literature, Kamal Hall (4th floor)

On the basis of a thorough philological-linguistic study, the book aims primarily at reintegrating the complex whole of the various phenomena that have contributed to creating what in modern scholarship runs under the name of Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5, a set of manuscript fragments preserved in the Turfan Collection in Berlin. The study applies a precise methodology that puts various disciplinary approaches on the same level in order to relate and interconnect textual, material and historical-cultural aspects. Specific codicological characteristics are considered in correlation with the broader manuscript tradition to which the fragments belong. The discussion of the Gospel lectionary leads to reflections on the transmission, reception and development of a specific body of religious knowledge, namely that of the Church of the East. The exploration of linguistic phenomena takes also into consideration the processes at work in the missionary history of the Church of the East in Central Asia between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages in the Oasis of Turfan in present-day Xinjiang, China. The book therefore addresses Iranologists as well as students of Eastern Christianity and of manuscript cultures.

Chiara Barbati (PhD 2009) is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Iranian studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).  She specializes in Ancient and Middle Iranian languages. Her main fields of research are Sogdian language and literature with particular regard to the Christian Sogdian texts in relation to its Syriac sources, history of eastern Christianity through primary sources (Syriac) as well as secondary sources (Sogdian, Middle Persian, New Persian), paleography and codicology of pre-Islamic Iranian manuscripts and Iranian dialectology from an historical point of view.

 

The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary

Barbati 2016Barbati, Chiara. 2016. The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context (Veröffentlichungen Zur Iranistik 81). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

On the basis of a thorough philological-linguistic study, the book aims primarily at reintegrating the complex whole of the various phenomena that have contributed to creating what in modern scholarship runs under the name of Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5, a set of manuscript fragments preserved in the Turfan Collection in Berlin. The study applies a precise methodology that puts various disciplinary approaches on the same level in order to relate and interconnect textual, material and historical-cultural aspects. Specific codicological characteristics are considered in correlation with the broader manuscript tradition to which the fragments belong. The discussion of the Gospel lectionary leads to reflections on the transmission, reception and development of a specific body of religious knowledge, namely that of the Church of the East. The exploration of linguistic phenomena takes also into consideration the processes at work in the missionary history of the Church of the East in Central Asia between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages in the Oasis of Turfan in present-day Xinjiang, China. The book therefore addresses Iranologists as well as students of Eastern Christianity and of manuscript cultures.

Chiara Barbati (PhD 2009) is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Iranian studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).  She specializes in Ancient and Middle Iranian languages. Her main fields of research are Sogdian language and literature with particular regard to the Christian Sogdian texts in relation to its Syriac sources, history of eastern Christianity through primary sources (Syriac) as well as secondary sources (Sogdian, Middle Persian, New Persian), paleography and codicology of pre-Islamic Iranian manuscripts and Iranian dialectology from an historical point of view.

The life of Serapion in Sogdian

Sims-Williams, Nicholas (ed.). 2015. The life of Serapion and other Christian Sogdian texts from the manuscripts E25 and E26. (Berliner Turfantexte 35). Turnhout: Brepols.
The Sogdian texts published in this volume are of interest and importance in various ways. The Life of Serapion is particularly significant from a linguistic point of view, being a close translation of a known Syriac text, so that its rare words and unusual grammatical forms can be interpreted with confidence. The Life of John of Dailam, on the other hand, differs substantially from the surviving Syriac versions and preserves details unrecorded elsewhere concerning the history of western Iran in the early Islamic period. A text on omens represents an extremely ancient, pre-Christian survival, with clear parallels not only in Syriac but even in Babylonian omen texts, while a refutation of Manichaeism sheds light on the attitude of the Christian community in the Turfan oasis towards their Manichaean neighbours. All these texts are provided with translation and detailed commentary, and the volume concludes with grammatical notes, complete glossary, bibliography, index of words discussed, and eleven plates. This work will be of interest to specialists in Iranian languages, mediaeval Iran and Central Asia, Syriac literature and the history of the “Church of the East”.

Biblical and Christian Sogdian texts

Sims-Williams, Nicholas, Martin Schwartz & William J. Pittard (eds.). 2014. Biblical and other Christian Sogdian texts from the Turfan collection. (Berliner Turfantexte 32). Turnhout: Brepols.
This volume in the series Berliner Turfantexte contains the edition, with translation and detailed commentary, of a series of important Christian texts in Sogdian, most of them previously unpublished. The emphasis is on Biblical texts translated into Sogdian from the Syriac Peshitta version: a Psalter in Sogdian script, fragments of Gospel lectionaries, and a double-folio from a lectionary of the Pauline Epistles. Other texts edited in the volume include a retelling of the story of Daniel, a text on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, and the “Wisdom of Ahiqar”, all of them in recensions which differ significantly from any known Syriac version. Two analytical glossaries, one for the Psalter and other texts in Sogdian script and one for the texts in Syriac script, cover not only the works edited in this book but also a number of Christian Sogdian texts published by the author in scattered articles over the last twenty years or so. The volume concludes with a bibliography, an index of words discussed in the commentary, and seventeen plates. This work will be of interest to specialists in Iranian languages, mediaeval Central Asia, Biblical studies, Syriac literature, and the history of the “Church of the East”.