Tag Archives: Christian texts

A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period

Amiri Bavandpour, Sajad. 2017. “A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period“, e-Sasanika 19.

This article in Persian reviews all the important Christian Arab sources for the study of Sasanian history. The author studies each of the Syriac and Arabic texts produced by the Christians from the third to the thirteenth century CE which provide important information on the Sasanian Empire.

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.

 

Pahlavi and Judeo-Persian Bible Manuscripts

The Pahlavi Psalter. Ps 5 recto: Psalms 121 (opening is missing) and 122; discovered at Bulayïq/ Turfan oasis. © Turfanforschung (BBAW), Digitales Turfan-Archiv
The Pahlavi Psalter. Ps 5 recto: Psalms 121 (opening is missing) and 122; discovered at Bulayïq/ Turfan oasis.
© Turfanforschung (BBAW), Digitales Turfan-Archiv

Pehlivanian, Meliné, Christoph Rauch & Ronny Vollandt (eds.). 2016. Orientalische Bibelhandschriften aus der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK. Eine illustrierte Geschichte. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.

The volume presents an illustrated history of the Oriental Bible Manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. It includes discriptions of the manuscripts which are among the oldest and most fascinating items in the Oriental Collection of the State Library of Berlin. The overwhelming majority of the manuscripts presented here come from the very cradle of the Abrahamic religions. The texts range across more than 1,500 years of Christian and Jewish history in the Near and Middle East and Africa, from Late Antiquity to the 19th century.
They are written documents which have, not least, also left
traces in the Islamic tradition. Another concern of the volume is to allow readers insights into the extremely extensive and varied collection of Oriental manuscripts in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, whose outstanding treasures are in many cases only known to specialists in the field. The biblical texts, written on leather, parchment, papyrus, and paper bear witness not only to the complexity of the religious and theological traditions, but also impressively document the diversity of materials to be found in the Oriental manuscript culture, and not least the artistic achievements of the “Peoples of the Book”.

Some most related chapters of this book regarding the Iranian Studies are:

  • Dennis Halft OP: “The ‘Book of Books’ in Persian” (pp. 150-154)
  • Dennis Halft OP: “A Persian Gospel Manuscript and the London Polyglot” (pp. 155-157.)
  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “A Middle Persian Pahlavi Psalter-Fragment in the Berlin Turfan Collection” (pp. 114-116).
  • Simone-Christiane Raschmann: “Christian Texts from Central Asia in the Berlin Turfan Collection” (pp. 105-113).
  • Friederike Weis: “Illustrated Persian Tales of the Prophets (Qis.as. al-anbiyāʾ) (pp. 163-172).

Christian-Zoroastrian Dialogue in the Sasanian Period

g13070-9Rezania, Kianoosh. 2015. Einige Anmerkungen zur sasanidisch-zoroastrischen Religionspraxis im Spiegel der interreligiösen Dialoge der Christen und Zoroastrier. In Claudia Rammelt, Cornelia Schlarb & Egbert Schlarb (eds.), Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Beiträge dialogischer Existenz ; eine freundschaftliche Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag von Martin Tamcke, 172–80. Berlin; Münster: LIT Verlag.

The primary sources for Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Period (3rd-7th. CE) are limited to a few inscriptions, coins and a few Zoroastrian Middle Persian works,  which can be dated with some certainty to this time. The majority of the Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts were written or compiled in the early Islamic period and need to be placed in the religious context of the 9th and 10th centuries. In addition to the primary Zoroastrian sources, however, there are couple of Christian works, which comprise valuable information relatied to the Middle Iranian languages, the Sasanian administration and not least the Zoroastrian theology and religious practice. Most of the literatures, datable to the Sasanian Zoroastrianism are intelectual productions of an inter-religious context. They contain reports of dialogues between Christians and Zoroastrians or represent imaginary dialogues between those religious groups. This paper aims to explore some little known Zoroastrian practices as depicted in such interfaith dialogues.

About the Author:
Kianoosh Rezania is a scholar of Zoroastrianism, Ancient Iranian Studies and the history of religions. He is a visiting research fellow of the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

A Dictionary: Christian Sogdian, Syriac and English

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2016. A Dictionary: Christian Sogdian, Syriac and English, Reichert Verlag.

Many works of Syriac literature were translated into Sogdian, a Middle Iranian language originating in the region of Samarkand and widely spoken along the so-called “Silk Road”. This Christian Sogdian literature, which includes biblical, liturgical, ascetic and hagiographic texts, is chiefly known from a cache of manuscripts discovered in 1905 at the site of the ruined monastery of Bulayïq in the Turfan oasis. It is important for Syriac studies, since the Sogdian translations were often made on the basis of earlier recensions than those which survive in Syriac and since some texts are no longer extant in Syriac. It is no less important for Sogdian and Middle Iranian studies, since those texts whose Syriac originals can be identified provide a firm basis for the understanding of the Sogdian language; moreover, the material in Syriac script, with its elaborate system of vocalic points, is a unique source of information on the pronunciation of Sogdian.
The present Dictionary is designed to be accessible both to Iranists, whether or not they know Syriac, and to Syriacists, whether or not they know Sogdian. It consists of two main sections followed by a comprehensive English index. Part 1, arranged by Sogdian lemmata, provides a complete listing of all words attested in published Christian Sogdian texts, both in Syriac and in Sogdian script, including variant spellings, full parsing of all inflected forms, and details of their equivalents in the most closely corresponding Syriac parallel text. In Part 2 the same material is arranged by Syriac lemmata. The two parts together make it possible to see what Syriac form or forms any Sogdian word can represent and how any Syriac word or idiom is translated into Sogdian. The dictionary thus fulfils a range of functions. Firstly, it will provide a reliable guide for anyone who wants to read the extant Christian Sogdian texts; secondly, it will assist future editors in identifying, restoring and translating Christian Sogdian texts; and thirdly, it will contribute to the study of the transmission of literature from Syriac into Sogdian and the techniques of the translators.

For more information see the Table of Contents  and read the Preface of this volume.

About the Author:

Nicholas Sims-Williams, is an Emeritus Professor (2015) of Iranian Philology and Central Asian Studies and Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.