Tag Archives: Syriac

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.

 

 

A half century of Syriac studies

Image source: http://www.syri.ac/chronicles

Brock, Sebastian. 2016. A half century of Syriac studies. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 40(1). 38–48.

In 1964, when Anthony Bryer and I both started teaching at Birmingham University, Syriac studies were generally considered to be little more than an appendage to Biblical Studies, and any idea of a journal or a conference specifically focused on them was unthinkable. Fifty years later the situation has changed dramatically for the better, although the number of universities (at least in Britain) where Syriac is taught has lamentably decreased.

A half century of Syriac studies

Syriac Historiography

Image from http://www.syri.ac/chronicles

Wood, Philip. Forthcoming. Syriac historiography VI: Historiography in the Syriac-speaking world, 300–1000. In D. King (ed.), Routledge Companion to the Syriac World. Routledge.

Survey of historical writing by and about Syriac-speaking peoples. It aims to lay equal stress on West Syrian and East Syrian contributions. And it emphasises the fact that both groups wrote as subjects of larger imperial systems (Roman, Persian, Arab), of which they were just a part.

This is a draft article posted with the author's permission.

Syriac into Middle Iranian

Detail from the Manuscript Chaldean Cathedral of Mardin (CCM) 13, f. 120r

Barbati, Chiara. 2015. Syriac into Middle Iranian: A Translation Studies Approach to Sogdian and Pahlavi Manuscripts within the Church of the East. Open Linguistics 1(1). 444–457.

Based on a corpus coming from the Turfan oasis (in present-day Xinjiang, People’s Republic of China) and consisting of Christian Middle Iranian literature in several languages (Middle Persian, Syriac and Sogdian) and scripts (East Syriac, Pahlavi and secular Sogdian), the present paper is aimed at identifying and outlining the translation techniques for the transmission of religious knowledge, based on a literary tradition as well as on a manuscript tradition, from one context to another. The religious knowledge is that which belongs to the “Church of the East” and which is written in its official liturgical language, i.e. Syriac in East Syriac script. The general context is that of the missionary activities of the “Church of the East” along the Silk road between late Antiquity and early Middle Age. The particular context is that of the converted Iranian communities.
About the Author:
Chiara Barbati (PhD 2009) is a scholar of Ancient and Middle Iranian languages in the Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna (ÖAW).

A Short Chronicle on the End of the Sasanian Empire and Early Islam

ssssal-Ka’bi, Nasir. 2015. A Short Chronicle on the End of the Sasanian Empire and Early Islam. New Jersey: Gorgias Press.

The Short Chronicle is probably part of a Church History that is no longer extant, and it was written by an Ecclesiastic living in the north of Mesopotamia and belonging to the Church of the East. It is an eyewitness report on a crucial historical period, the mid-7th century that witnessed the demise of two contending world empires, the Sasanian and the Byzantine, and their replacement by Islam, thus signaling the end of Late Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The Chronicle may be the earliest Syriac document which relies heavily on official Sasanian sources, including Khwaday-namag, when it discusses secular history, and on church histories when dealing with ecclesiastical matters. It may also be the oldest Syriac chronicle which deals with the advent of Mu?ammad and the ensuing Arab conquest, and which mentions Arab cities for the first time ever, including Mosul, Kufa, and Basra.

Zoroastrians and Christians in Sasanian Iran

Gignoux, Philippe. 2014. Mazdéens et chrétiens en terre d’Iran à l’époque sassanide. (Ed.) Matteo De Chiara & Enrico G. Raffaelli. (Serie orientale Roma 3). Roma: Scienze e Lettere.
The volume edited by M.D. Chiara and E.G. Raffaelli brings together forty-two articles by Philippe Gignoux on Zoroastrianism and Christianity in Sasanian Iran. The collection represents the Gignoux’s most important  contributions on those subject, written over a period of more than 40 years.
The papers are divided in three cathegories: 1. Epigraphy, Onomastics Toponymy, 2. Comparative history of Zoroastrianism and 3. Syriac Christianity, each include articles with different subjects.
This volume is a valuable collection of articles for the scholars of Zoroastrianism and Chistianity in Sasanian Era.
Table of Contents:

Continue reading Zoroastrians and Christians in Sasanian Iran

The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in the comprehensive book of Rhazes

Kahl, Oliver. 2015. The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in the comprehensive book of Rhazes. Brill.

This work offers a critical analysis of the Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in Rhazes’ (d. 925 CE) Comprehensive Book (or al-Kitāb al-Ḥāwī), a hugely famous and highly unusual medico-pharmaceutical encyclopedia originally written in Arabic. All text material appears in full Arabic with English translations throughout, whilst the traceable Indian fragments are represented here, for the first time, in both the original Sanskrit and corresponding English translations. The philological core of the book is framed by a detailed introductory study on the transmission of Indian, Syrian and Iranian medicine and pharmacy to the Arabs, and by extensive bilingual glossaries of relevant Arabic and Sanskrit terms as well as Latin botanical identifications.

Continue reading The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in the comprehensive book of Rhazes

History of Mar Abba and Mar Yazd-panah

Jullien, Florence. 2015. Histoire de Mar Abba, Catholicos de l’Orient. Martyres de Mar Grigor, Général en Chef du Roi Khusro Ier et de Mar Yazd-panah, Juge et Gouverneur (2Vols.), Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, 254 (Syriac Edition) & Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, 255 (French Translation). Peeters.

The reign of Khusro I (531-579) was a key-period for the history of the Sasanian Empire. Nevertheless, sporadic persecutions of Christians converted from Zoroastrianism are attested. Among these martyrs, there were famous people of civil society such as Grigor Piran-Gusnasp, general-in-chief of the king’s armies, Yazd-panah, a high dignitary and judge, and ‘Awira, a courtier. The most famous was the Catholicos Mar Abba (540-552), who reunified the Church of the East after nearly twenty-five years of schism; canonist and exegete, he also restored ecclesiastical discipline which had been significantly weakened since 484. He is known to have been involved in Mazdeo-Christian controversies and polemical debates with West-Syrian Christians. These narratives written by contemporaries to the events are the only East-Syrian hagiographies of that time in Syriac; they provide valuable informations regarding socio-religious and political situation of the sixth century Orient. A critical edition based on manuscripts from the London, Berlin and Vatican Libraries, including a translation in French with a commentary, is presented for the first time.

 

The martyrs of Mount Ber’ain

Brock, Sebastian. 2014. The Martyrs of Mount Ber’ain (Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 4). Gorgias Press. With an introduction by Paul C. Dilley.

The blessed Simeon bar Sabba’e

Smith, Kyle. 2014. The martyrdom and history of blessed Simeon bar Sabba’e (Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 3). Gorgias Press.

Around the year 339 CE, Simeon bar Sabbae (the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon on the Tigris) was killed by the Persian king Shapur II. Simeon was arrested for refusing to collect taxes from his flock, and he was beheaded for disobeying the king’s order to worship the sun. The bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon was no minor figure. In fact, Simeon’s martyr acts proclaim that he was the leader of the Christians of Persia and the protomartyr of Shapur’s forty-year persecution. Curiously, however, two very different versions of Simeon’s death exist. Each is presented here with an accompanying translation and notes.

Simeon’s Martyrdom and History are fundamental sources for chronicling the history of Christianity in Sasanian Persia. Together, these texts testify to the centrality of martyrdom literature in late ancient Syriac Christianity, and they show how Persian Christians forged their own political and religious identities amidst the ongoing Christianization of the Roman Empire.