Posted by on Mar 17, 2018 in Articles, Library | Comments Off on SYRIAC SOURCES AND RESOURCES FOR BYZANTINISTS / Sebastian Brock



Sebastian Brock

Oriental Institute, Oxford, UK

All the Oriental Christian languages have a great deal of interest to offer to the Byzantinist, but of them it is perhaps Syriac which has the most, especially for the early and middle Byzantine periods. It so happens that the last quarter century has witnessed a burgeoning of studies in the general field of Syriac studies.1 The present survey is organised under the following main headings: New developments; Where to find publications; How to find them; Some recently published texts and translations; and Tools.

New developments

Like every other area of study, Syriac studies have greatly benefited from developments in computing and information technology. Here a key role has been played by The Syriac Institute / Beth Mardutho (Piscataway NJ), founded by Dr George Kiraz. Three particular areas have seen great advances.

(1) Computer generated Syriac fonts. After a period when a large number of mutually

incompatible Syriac fonts of varying quality were circulating, there is now a Unicode

estrangelo font, for which Beth Mardutho has developed fonts in the two other main Syriac scripts, in a variety of different styles.

(2) The use of computer Syriac scripts has greatly improved the ease (and cost) of

publishing Syriac texts. Among other things, this has given rise to small-scale publishing

enterprises in unexpected places; some examples of this will be found below.

(3) Concordances in the field of Syriac studies have hitherto been almost entirely lacking. Some notable examples of how this is now beginning to be remedied by means of computer generated concordances are given below.

Where to find publications: relevant series, journals, encyclopaedias

Series with texts Two venerable series, both started in 1903, provide standard editions of Syriac texts, together with translations: the Patrologia Orientalis (PO; originally Paris, but now Rome) and the Scriptores Syri series of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium (CSCO SS; (Leuven). Both these also provide translations (in CSCO in the second of each pair of volumes). Series with studies The following (in alphabetical order) are wholly, or predominantly, concerned with Syriac studies: Göttinger Orientforschungen, Reihe Syriaca (GOFS, 1971– ); 35 volumes to date, several

of which contain editions of texts. Moran Etho: this monograph series is published by the St Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute (SEERI), in Kottaym, India; some 25 volumes have appeared so far. Patrimoine Syriaque (Antelias, Lebanon): papers from annual colloquia on different topics are published (since 1993) under this title by the Centre d’études et de recherches orientales .1 A survey of Syriac studies c. 1960-1990 can be found in VI Symposium Syriacum (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 247; 1994), pp.13-29.


(CERO), at Antelias (Lebanon). Vol. IX (2005) deals with the role of Syriac translators in

ninth-century Baghdad.

Patrimoine Syriaque (Kaslik, Lebanon): this is a monograph series published by

l’Université Saint-Esprit, Kaslik.

Peshitta Institute (Leiden) Monographs: these primarily concern the Peshitta Old

Testament, though other Syriac versions (notably Jacob of Edessa’s) are sometimes covered.

Pro Oriente, Syriac Dialogue: in 1994 the PRO ORIENTE Foundation (Vienna) for

Ecumenical Dialogue with the Christian East initiated a series of ‘Syriac Dialogues’,

involving all the Churches of Syriac tradition. The main papers from these meetings are

published under the title Syriac Dialogue; six volumes have appeared so far.

Symposia Syriaca: starting in 1972 an international Syriac conference has been held every four years in a different locality; the main papers for these, under the title Symposium Syriacum, I-VII, have been published in Orientalia Christiana Analecta (Rome), vols. 197 (1974), 205 (1978), 221 (1983), 229 (1987), 236 (1990), 247 (1994), and 256 (1998). Papers from the Eighth Symposium Syriacum, however, have been published as volume 46 of the Journal of Eastern Christian Studies (Nijmegen, 2004).

Syriac Patrimony (Aleppo): a description of this valuable monograph series (in Arabic) is

given by A.N. Palmer in Parole de l’Orient 23 (1998), 217-31. Three volumes are mentioned below, under Tools: Catalogues of manuscripts. Other series of recent origin which are often of relevance include: Eastern Christian Studies (Leuven); Sprachen und Kulturen des Christlichen Orients (Wiesbaden); Studien zur Orientalischen Kirchengeschichte (1995–, Münster). Three volumes of the last of these contain select papers from the annual meetings of German Syriacists: 9 (2000), 17 (2002), and 33 (2004). Festschriften and collections of articles. A number of these deal wholly, or very largely, with Syriac studies. In alphabetical order of the honorand/author, these are: Mar Aprem (Metropolitan of Trissur): Festschrift = The Harp 15 (2002). J. Assfalg: Festschrift = (ed. R. Schulz and M. Görg), Festgabe f. J. Assfalg (Aegypten und

Altes Testament 20, 1990), with an index in Oriens Christianus 76 (1992), 275-9.

S. P. Brock, Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity (Variorum Reprints, 1984).

—, Studies in Syriac Christianity (Variorum Reprints, 1992).

—, From Ephrem to Romanos: interactions between Syriac and Greek in Late Antiquity

(Variorum Reprints, 1999).

—, Fire from Heaven: studies in Syriac theology and Lliturgy (Variorum Reprints,


—: Festschrift = Aram 5 (1993).

H.J.W. Drijvers, East of Antioch: studies in early Syriac Christianity (Variorum Reprints,


—: Festschrift = (ed. G. J. Reinink and A. C. Klugkist), After Bardaisan (Orientalia

Lovaniensia Analecta 89, 1999).

J. M. Fiey, Communautés syriaques en Iran et Iraq des origines à 1552 (Variorum

Reprints, 1979).

—, Memorial volume = In Memoriam Prof. J.M. Fiey (Annales de Département des

Lettres Arabes, Université Saint-Joseph, 6-B. 1991/2 [1996]).

F. Graffin: Festschrift = Parole de l’Orient 6/7 (1975/6).

A. Guillaumont: Festschrift = (ed. R.-G. Coquin and E. Lucchesi), Mélanges Antoine

Guillaumont (Cahiers d’Orientalisme 20; Geneva, 1988).

W. Hage: Festschrift = (ed. M. Tamcke and others), Syrisches Christentum Weltweit

(Studien zur Orientalischen Kirchengeschichte 1, 1995).

H. Hugonnard-Roche, La logique d’Aristote du grec au syriaque (Paris, 2004).


G. Khouri-Sarkis: Memorial volume = (ed. F. Graffin), Mémorial Mgr Gabriel Khouri

Sarkis (Louvain, 1969).

G. Panicker: Festschrift = The Harp 16 (2003).

J.-M. Sauget (ed. L. Duval-Arnould and F. Rilliet), Littératures et manuscrits des

chrétientés syriaques et arabes (Studi e Testi 389, 1998).

W. Strothmann: Festschrift = (ed. G.Wiessner), Erkenntnisse und Meinungen, II

(Göttinger Orientforschungen, Reihe Syriaca 17; 1978).

A. Vööbus: Festschrift = (ed. R.H. Fischer), A Tribute to Arthur Vööbus (Chicago, 1977).


Apart from the now defunct L’Orient Syrien (Paris, 1956-67), until recently no journals were

devoted solely to Syriac studies, though journals such as Le Muséon, Oriens Christianus

(which has a wonderful separate Gesamtregister, by H. Kaufhold, 1989), and Orientalia

Christiana Periodica quite often contain articles of relevance, while Parole de l’Orient also

covers Christian Arabic studies as well as Syriac. In recent years, however, three journals

specifically concerned with Syriac studies have come into being:

The Harp. A Journal of Syriac and Oriental Studies (Kottayam; 1987– ), published

annually by the St Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute (SEERI).

Hugoye/Journal of Syriac Studies (Piscataway NJ; 1998-): this is an internet journal

(, published twice annually by Beth Mardutho. In due course it

is hoped to make it available in printed form as well, but so far only vol. 5 (2002) has been

published in this way.

Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (Toronto; 2001– ), published annually.

Some other journals of recent origin often have coverage of Syriac relevance, notably Aram

(Leuven), Aramaic Studies (London), Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (Des Plaines IL),

Journal of Eastern Christian Studies (Leuven; formerly Het christelijk Oosten).


An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage is currently being planned by Beth

Mardutho. Until this appears it is necessary to resort to the uneven coverage in the standard

encyclopedias, some of which have quite good coverage of Syriac matters (e.g LThK (3rd

edn, 1993-2001), and the various encyclopedias of the Christian East..

How to find publications

Syriac studies are quite well provided with bibliographical aids. Most relevant literature

published prior to c. 1960 can be found in C. Moss’s Catalogue of Syriac Printed Books and

Related Literature in the British Museum (London, 1962), arranged alphabetically under

author (both ancient and modern), with a few subject headings, such as Bible, Liturgy.

Publications from 1960 onwards are covered by the classified bibliographies published as

follows in Parole de l’Orient:

196070: 4 (1973), 393-465

1971-80: 10 (1981/2), 291-412

1981-5: 14 (1987), 289-360

1986-90: 17 (1992), 211-301

These four have been combined into a single volume: S. P. Brock, Syriac Studies: a

Classified Bibliography (1960-1990) (Kaslik, 1996).

1991-5: 23 (1998), 241-350

1996-2000: 29 (2004), 263-410.

That for 2001-5 is in preparation. An annual listing of new books of Syriac relevance is

provided in the first number of Hugoye for each year.


Specialized bibliographies are available for the following:

Peshitta Old Testament: P.B. Dirksen, An Annotated Bibliography of the Peshitta of the

Old Testament (Leiden, 1989).

Barhebraeus: J. M. Fiey, in Parole de l’Orient 13 (1986), 279-312; and H. Takahashi,

Barhebraeus, a Bio-Bibliography (Piscataway NJ, forthcoming).

Ephrem: K. den Biesen, Bibliography of Ephrem the Syrian (Giove in Umbria, 2002). This

is an invaluable work for anyone concerned with writings of Ephrem in Greek and Slavonic,

as well as in Syriac (and other oriental languages).

Isaac of Antioch: E. G. Mathews, in Hugoye 5:1 (2002), 3-14.

Jacob of Edessa: D. Kruisheer and L. van Rompay, in Hugoye 1:1 (1998); an updated

version of this will be found in a forthcoming monograph on Jacob of Edessa.

Jacob of Serugh: Kh. Alwan, in Parole de l’Orient 13 (1986), 313-83.

Liturgy (East Syriac): P. Yousif, A Classified Bibliography on the East Syrian Liturgy

(Rome, 1990); new edition in preparation.

Some recently published texts and translations

Hitherto unpublished texts:

It is a sad fact that many works by major Syriac authors remain unpublished; the process of

remedying this is understandably slow, given the small number of specialists in the field. The

following listing is confined to editions and translations appearing as separate volumes within

the last 25 years; the sequence is in alphabetical order of Syriac author (or Greek author in

Syriac translation). Apart from the PO and CSCO, the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St

Ephrem (Netherlands) has been particularly active in publishing Syriac texts, most of which

are edited by Metropolitan Julius Y. Cicek; since 1986 their publishing house has been

entitled the Barhebraeus Verlag. All texts published in CSCO and PO, and most others, apart

from those edited by Cicek, are accompanied by translations. It should be noted that the

following lists do not include translations of Syriac authors into Greek and other languages.

Anonymous: (1) Prose homilies of 6th cent., ed. F. Graffin (PO 41:4; 1984). (2)

Commentary on Gen.-Exod. 9:32, ed. L. van Rompay (CSCO 205-6; 1986); this is an

especially important work in the East Syriac exegetical tradition. (3) Gannat Bussame

(Commentary on the Lectionary), Advent Sundays, ed. G. J. Reinink (CSCO 212-3, 1988).

(4) Finding of the Cross (Judas Cyriacus legend), ed. H. J. W. and J. W. Drijvers (CSCO

Subsidia 93; 1997). (5) Dialogue poems, and Narrative poems on biblical figures, ed. (without

translations) S. P. Brock (Monastery of St Ephrem, NL (1983, 1993). (6) Monastic texts,

partly hitherto unpublished, ed. S. P. Brock (Barhebraeus Verlag, 1988); translations can be

found in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life (Kalamazoo, 1987).

Anton of Takrit (9th cent.?), Book 5 of his Rhetoric, on Poetics, has now been published

in CSCO SS 203-4 (1986), by J.W. Watts. A vocalized text of the entire work, though not in a

critical edition, has also been provided by Elia Seven (Stockholm, 2000).

Athanasius, Ps., On Virginity, ed. D. Brakke (CSCO SS 232-3; 2002).

Barhebraeus (d. 1286): (1) The last three books of the edition of his theological

compendium, The Candelabrum of the Sanctuary, fall into this period: Book IX (ed. P.-H.

Poirier, PO 43:2; 1985), Book X (ed. N. Sed; PO 40:3; 1981), and Book XI (ed. N. Sed. PO

41:3; 1983). The entire work has also been published as single volume by the Barhebraeus

Verlag (ed. J. Y. Cicek, 1997). (2) Commentary on Kings, ed. A. Sauma (Uppsala, 2003); his

complete Commentary on the Bible (only parts of which have hitherto been available) is

published in its entirety by the Barhebraeus Verlag (ed. J. Y. Cicek, 2003). (3) Two sections

of his great philosophical encyclopedia, the Cream of Wisdom, have appeared: H. Takahashi

(Minerals and Meteorology) and N. P. Joosse (Ethics, Economy, Politics), in the series

Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus, vols 15 and 16 (2004).

Basil: the early Syriac translations of his Hexaemeron and De Spiritu Sancto have been

edited by R. W. Thomson (CSCO SS 222-3; 1995) and D. G. K. Taylor (CSCO 228-9; 1999).


Daniel, Apocalypse of (7th cent.?): two editions appeared in close succession, by M.

Slabczyk, with Esperanto translation (Vienna, 2000), and M. Henze, with English translation

and commentary (Tübingen, 2001); the latter should become the standard one. The

Apocalypse is unrelated to the Greek, Armenian and other Apocalypses of Daniel, but partly

overlaps with the Syriac text entitled ‘The Young Daniel’.

Daniel of Salah (6th cent.), Commentary on the Psalms: this has been published (ed. J.

Cicek) by the Barhebraeus Verlag in 2004. A critical edition of this long and important work,

by D. G. K. Taylor, is in preparation.

Dionysius bar Salibi (d. 1171): (1) Commentary on Psalms 73-82, ed. S. D. Ryan

(Cahiers de la Revue Biblique 57; 2004). (2) Commentary on Ecclesisastes (Syrohexapla

version), ed. (without translation) W. Strothmann (GOFS 31; 1988). (3) Commentary on

Evagrius’ Centuries, ed J.Y. Cicek (Barhebraeus Verlag, 1991) [taken from Berlin,

Petermann 26].

Dioscorus of Gozarto (14th cent.), Verse Life of Barhebraeus, ed. J. Y. Cicek

(Barhebraeus Verlag, 1985), taken from Oxford, Bodleian, Marsh 74.

Elia of Anbar (10th cent.): Books 1-3 of his (verse) Book of Centuries, ed. A. Juckel

(CSCO SS 226-7; 1996).

Elia (8th/9th cent.), Letter to Leo of Harran, ed. A. van Roey (CSCO SS 201-2; 1985).

Ephrem, Comm. on the Diatessaron: L. Leloir, Saint E, Comm. de l’Évangile

concordante. Folios additionels (Chester Beatty Monographs 8; 1990).

George, bishop of the Arab tribes (d. 724): Verse Life of Severus, ed. K.E. McVey

(CSCO SS 216-7; 1993).

Gregory of Nazianzus: the Syriac translation, and seventh-century revision, of

Discourses 40 (ed. J.-C. Haelewyck) and 13 and 41 (ed. A. B. Schmidt) are edited in the

Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 14 (2001) and 14 (2002).

Isaac of Nineveh (late 7th cent.): chapters 4-41 of the newly recovered ‘Second Part’, ed.

S. P. Brock, CSCO SS 224-5 (1995). For translations of further unedited parts, see below.

Isho`dad of Merv (9th cent.), Comm. on OT, VI, Psalms, ed. C. van den Eynde (CSCO SS

185-6; 1981). (This volume completes his edition of the Comm. on the OT).

Isho`yahb II (d.646), Christological letter, (photographic) ed. L. R. M. Sako (Rome,


Jacob of Edessa (d. 708): his revision of the Syriac translation of 1-2 Samuel is edited

(with English translation) by A. G. Salvesen (Leiden, 1999).

Jacob of Serugh (d. 521): (1) 6 prose Festal Homilies, ed. F. Rilliet (PO 43:4; 1986); also

ed. (without translation) S. P. Brock (Monastery of St Ephrem, 1984). (2) 4 verse homilies on

Creation, ed. Kh. Alwan (CSCO 214-5; 1989). (3) Verse homily on Ephrem, ed. J. Amar (PO

47:1 (1995).

John Chrysostom, Homilies on John (select): ed. J. Childers (DPhil thesis, Oxford,

1996); edn in CSCO in preparation.

John of the Sedre (d. 648): works ed. J. Martikainen (GOFS 34; 1991).

John the Solitary, of Apamea (5th cent.): Commentary on Ecclesiastes, ed. (without

translation) W. Strothmann (GOFS 30, 1988).

Khamis (13th cent.): his poems have been published by Shleymon Isho Khadbeshaba

(Nuhadra, Iraq, 2002).

Macarius, Ps., Homilies (Syriac collections), ed. W. Strothmann (GOFS 21:1-2; 1981).

Marutha, Canons ascribed to, ed. A. Vööbus (CSCO SS 191-2; 1982).

Methodius, Ps. Apocalypse (c. 692): ed. G. J. Reinink (CSCO SS 220-221; 1993).

Moshe bar Kepha (d. 903), Commentary on John, ed. L. Schlimme GOFS 18.I-IV;

[1978] -1981). Commentary on Romans, ed. J. Reller (GOFS 35; 1994). For translation

(alone) of an unpublished work, see below.

Narsai (d. c. 500): (1) 5 verse homilies on Gospel parables, ed. E. P. Siman (Paris, 1984);

only the first and third feature in Mingana’s edition of 1907. (2) 6 verse homilies on Old

Testament topics, ed. J. Frishman (Diss. Leiden, 1992).


Peter of Kallinikos (6th cent.): his massive theological polemic against Damian of

Alexandria has been edited, with facing English translation, by R. Ebied, L. Wickham, A. van

Roey (and, for the final volume, J. Noret) in the Corpus Christianorum, Series Graeca 29

(1994), 32 (1996), 35 (1998), 54 (2003). What may be part of the lost first book appeared

under the title Peter of Callinicum, Anti-Tritheist Dossier (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta

10; 1981).

Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523): the last fascicle of his Discourses against Habbib,ed. By M. Brière and F. Graffin, appeared in 1982 (PO 41:1).

Sententiae Syriacae: ed. W. Selb (Sb. Öst. Ak. Wiss., phil.-hist. Kl. 567; 1990).

Shubhalmaran (fl. c. 600): this important new collection of East Syriac monastic

discourses was edited by the late D. J. Lane, CSCO 236-7 (2004).

Theodore of Mopsuestia: (1) Commentary on Pss 118, 138-148, ed. L. van Rompay

(CSCO SS 189-90; 1982). (2) (Fragmentary) Commentary on Ecclesiastes, ed. W.

Strothmann (GOFS 28; 1988); with further Catena fragments in GOFS 29 (1988).

Theodosius of Alexandria (d. 566), Theological discourses, ed. A. Van Roey, in A. Van

Roey and P. Allen, Monophysite Texts of the Sixth Century (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta

56; 1994).

Timothy I (d.823), Letter on dialectic and language about God, ed. with FT, H.P.J.

Cheikho (Rome, 1983). This Letter also figures as Letter 37 in ed. T. Darmo (Trichur, 1982).

Photographic reprints are not included in the above list; several have been published by the

Gorgias Press (Piscataway NJ;

New editions of already published texts

`Abdisho` (d. 1318), Catalogue of authors, ed. J. Habbi (Baghdad, 1986).

Acts of Thomas, Hymn of the Pearl: ed. (also with Greek) J. Fereira (Sydney, 2002).

Alexander, poem on (early 7th cent.): ed. G. J. Reinink (CSCO 195-6; 1983).

Anonymous: (1) Teaching of Addai, ed. E. N. Meschcherskaya (Moscow, 1984). (2)

History of the Virgin Mary, ed. J. Y. Cicek (Barhebraeus Verlag, 2001); this is the work in 6

Books, previously edited by E. A. W. Budge (1899).

Aristides, Apology: ed. M.-J. Pierre, in Sources chrétiennes 470 (2003).

Athanasius, Index of Festal Letters: ed. M. Albert (Sources chrétiennes 317; 1985). (For

an Italian translation, see below.)

Barhebraeus: (1) Book of the Dove, ed. J. Y. Cicek (Barhebraeus Verlag, 1983). (2)

Amusing Stories, ed. J. Y. Cicek (Barhebraeus Verlag, 1984). Chapter 10, on animals, is also

ed. (with FT) by P. G. Borbone (Torino, 1991). (3) Nomocanon, ed. J. Y. Cicek (Barhebraeus

Verlag, 1986), based on several manuscripts not used by Bedjan in his edition of 1898. (4)

Ethicon, Books I, ed. H. Teule (CSCO 218-9; 1993). The Barhebraeus Verlag has also issued

the entire work (1985), taken from Bedjan’s edition of 1898. (5) Bedjan’s edition (1890) of

the Chronicle also served as the source (along with Budge’s of 1932) for the Monastery of St

Ephrem’s edition of the Chronicle (1987). (6) The Monastery has also produced a

photographic reprint (1983) of the rare 1929 (Jerusalem) edition of his poems.

Bible: Peshitta Old Testament: 5 further volumes of the Vetus Testamentum Syriace,

based on the oldest manuscripts and published by the Peshitta Institute, Leiden, have appeared

within the last 25 years.

Syriac Gospels: Comparative edition of Old Syriac, Peshitta, and Harklean, ed. G. Kiraz (4

vols, Leiden, 1996).

Peshitta and Harklean Epistles: a critical parallel edition, including citations, has been

edited in four volumes (I, II.1-3) by B. Aland and A. Juckel (Münster, 1986-2002.

Lectionaries: photographic editions of two important manuscripts have been published by

A. Vööbus (CSCO Subsidia 73, 76; 1985, 1986).

(For reasons of space, a number of other editions of (e.g.) individual books are passed over


Cave of Treasures, ed. S.M. Ri (CSCO SS 207-8; 1987).


Chronicle of Arbela, ed. P. Kawerau (CSCO SS 199-200; 1985).

Dadisho` (late 7th cent.), On Stillness, ed. F. Del Rio Sanchez (Barcelona, 2001).

Ephrem, select poems: ed. S.P. Brock and G. Kiraz (Provo, Utah, forthcoming).

Hagiography: Acts of Mari, ed. C. and F. Jullien (CSCO SS 234-5; 2003); Life of Peter

the Iberian, ed. C. Horn and R. Phenix (forthcoming); Samuel, Simeon and Gabriel of

Qartmin, ed. (without tr.) A. N. Palmer (St Ephrem Monastery, 1983).

Jacob of Edessa, Commentary on the Hexaemeron: ed. J.Y. Cicek (Monastery of St

Ephrem, NL, 1985).

John of Dalyatha, Letters: ed. M. Hansbury (Provo, Utah, forthcoming).

John Maro: works, ed. M. Breydy (CSCO SS 209-10; 1988).

Joseph Hazzaya, Letter of the 3 stages of monastic life, ed. P. Harb, F. Graffin, M. Albert

(PO 45:2; 1992); earlier editions were wrongly attributed to Philoxenus.

Liturgical texts: Anaphorae Syriacae III.1 (Rome, 1981) was the last volume to be

published in this series. Among many other editions, three might be noted here: A. Gelston’s

edition and study of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (Oxford, 1992), the critical edition of

the Anaphora of Theodore of Mopsuestia by J. Vadakkel (Kottayam, 1989), and the bilingual,

Syriac-English, collection of 13 Syrian Orthodox Anaphoras edited by Mar Athanasius

Samuel (Lodi NJ, 1991).

Solomon, Odes of: E. Azar (Paris, 1996); M. Lattke (with commentary; 3 vols,

Göttingen/Fribourg, 1999-2005).

SyroRoman Law Book: there is a magnificent new edition, with long introduction and

detailed commentary by W. Selb and H. Kaufhold, Das syrisch-römische Rechtsbuch, in three

volumes, published by the Austrian Academy (Vienna, 2002).

Theodore bar Koni (late 8th cent.): Urmi recension, ed. J. Hespel (CSCO SS 193-4;


Timothy I, Letters 1-39, ed. (without tr.) T. Darmo (Trichur, 1982).

Translations (alone)

Ahiqar: IT, F. Pennachietti in R. Contini anbd C Grottanelli (eds), Il saggio Ahiqar

(Brescia, 2005), 193-225.

Aphrahat, Demonstrations. ET, K. Valavalonickal (I, Changanassery, 1999); I and II

(Moran Etho 23-4, 2005). Another ET, by Adam Lehto, is forthcoming. FT, M-J. Pierre

(Sources chrétiennes 349, 359; 1988-9). GT, P. Bruns I-II (Freiburg, 1991-2).

Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: Russian tr. E. Meshcherskaya (Moscow, 1997).

Athanasius, Index to the Festal Letters: IT, A. Camplani (Milan, 2003). For FT, see


Barhebraeus, Amusing Stories: Russian tr., K. P. Matveev (Moscow, 1985).

Babai the Great, Useful Counsels: ET, G. Chediath (Moran Etho 15, 2001).

Chronicles: ET, the following have appeared in the series Translated Texts for Historians

(Liverpool): A. N. Palmer, The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles (1993); W.

Witakowski, Ps.Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, Chronicle, Part III (1996); F. R. Trombley and J.W.

Watt, The Chronicle of Ps.-Joshua the Stylite (2000). The last two are both part of the same

eighth-century chronicle, also known as the Zuqnin Chronicle, of which Part III (together

with Part IV) is also translated by A. Harrak (Toronto, 1999). FT, Zuqnin Chronicle, Parts IIIIV:

R. Hespel (CSCO SS 213; 1989). GT, Chronicle of Ps.Joshua the Stylites (A. Luther,


Cyrillonas. FT, D. Cerbelaud, Cyr.: L’Agneau véritable (Chevetogne, 1984).

Dionysius bar Salibi: Comm. on the Liturgy: ET, B. Varghese (Moran Etho 10, 1998).

Ephrem. ET, J. Amar and E. Mathews, Select Prose Works (Washington DC, 1994); S. P.

Brock, Hymns on Paradise (Crestwood NY, 1990); J. M. Lieu, Hymns against Julian

(Translated Texts for Historians, Liverpool, 1986, 2nd edn 1989); C. McCarthy, Comm. on the

Diatessaron (Oxford/Manchester, 1993); K.E. McVey, Hymns on Nativity, Virginity, against

Julian (Mahwah 1989); A. Salvesen, Comm. on Exodus (Moran Etho 8, 1995). Dutch tr., A.


G. P. Janson and L. van Rompay (Comm. on Genesis; Kampen, 1993); G. A. M. Rouwhorst

(selected hymns; Kampen, 1991). FT, F. Cassingena-Trevédy (H. on Epiphany; Spiritualité

Orientale 70; 1997), (H. on Nativity; Sources chrétiennes 459; 2001); D. Cerbelaud (H. on the

Fast; Spiritualité Orientale 69; 1997); D. Cerbelaud and A-G. Hamman (Paschal hymns;

Paris, 1995); P. Féghali and C. Navarre (Nisibene hymns; Paris, 1989); B. Hindo and C.Saleh

(H. on the Nativity; Paris, 1996); G. A. M. Rouwhorst (Paschal hymns; Leiden, 1989). IT, F.

de Francesco (Paschal hymns; Milan, 2001). Romanian tr.: I. Ica (H. on Paradise: Sibiu,

1998); H. on Fast, Paschal hymns: Sibiu, 1999); H. on Nativity, Epiphany: Sibiu, 2000).

Evagrius, Letters, GT, G. Bunge (Trier, 1986).

George, Ps. of Arbela (9th cent.?), Commentary on the Liturgy: ET, R. H. Connolly (ed.

R. Matheus; Kottayam, 2000).

Hagiography: Abgar legend: FT, A. Desreumaux (Turnhout, 1993). Mari, Acts of: FT, C.

and F. Jullien (Turnhout, 2001). Qardagh: J. T. Walker (Berkeley, forthcoming). Simeon the

Stylite: ET, R. Doran, The Lives of Simeon Stylites (Kalamazoo, 1992). Various: ET, S. P.

Brock and S. A. Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient (Berkeley, 1987).

Isaac of Nineveh, Part I: some discourses are translated from Syriac in [D. Miller], The

Ascetical Homilies of St I. the Syrian (Boston, 1984), though Greek is the base for the main

translation. Homilies 1-6: ET, M. Hansbury (Crestwood NY, 1989). Homilies 1-38: IT, M.

Gallo and P. Bettiolo (Rome, 1984). Part II: FT, A. Louf (Spiritualité Orientale 81; 2003);

Romanian tr. (based on English and Italian): I. Ica (Sibiu, 2003); Russian tr., H. Alfeyev

(Moscow, 1998). Kephalaia Gnostica (= ch. 3, edition by P. Bettiolo in preparation): IT, P.

Bettiolo (Magnano, 1985; 2nd expanded edn, 1990. Catalan tr., M. Nin (Barcelona, 2005).

Part III (unpublished): FT, A. Louf (forthcoming); IT, S. Chialà (Magnano, 2004).

Jacob of Serugh. ET, M. Hansbury, Verse homilies on Mary (Crestwood NY, 1998); T.

Kollamparampil, Select Festal Homilies (prose and verse) (Rome/Bangalore, 1997). FT, M.

Albert, Les Lettres de J. de S. (Kaslik, 2004); I. Isebaert-Cauuet, J. de S. Homélies sur la Fin

du Monde (Paris, 2005).

John of Dara, Commentary on the Eucharist: ET, B. Varghese (Moran Etho 12, 1999).

John Philoponus, Arbiter: ET, U. M. Lang (Leuven, 2001).

John the Solitary, of Apamea, Dialogues and Treatises: FT, R. Lavenant (Sources

chrétiennes 311; 1984).

John bar Zo`bi (12th/13th cent.), Commentary on the Liturgy: ET, T. Mannooramparampil

(Kottayam, 1992).

Joseph the Seer (8th cent.), Spiritual Letters (including unpublished): GT, G. Bunge

(Trier, 1982).

Liber Graduum (4th cent.). ET, R.A. Kitchen and M. Parmentier (Kalamazoo, 2004).

Liturgy, Commentaries on: GT, A. Heinz, Die Eucharistiefeier in der Deutung syrischer

Liturgieerklerer (Trier, 2000). (For recent English translations of liturgical texts, reference

should be made to the section ‘Liturgy’ in the bibliographies in Parole de l’Orient).

Moshe bar Kepha, Discourse on Paradise (unpublished): Hungarian tr., A. Köver, I.

Lukács, M. Pesthy (Budapest, 2001).

Sauma, Rabban (13th cent.): IT: P. G. Borbone, Storia di Mar Yahballaha e di R.S.

(Torino, 2000).

Selections: ET S. P. Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

(Kalamazoo, 1987); Bride of Light. Hymns on Mary (Moran Etho 6, 1994); and (forthcoming)

A Treasurehouse of Mysteries (poems on biblical topics). FT Le saint prophète Élie

(Spiritualité Orientale 53, 1992); Le saint prophète Élisée (Spiritualité Orientale 59, 1993).

Simeon d-Taybutheh (late 7th cent.): IT (including unpublished texts), P. Bettiolo (Rome,


Solomon, Odes of (2nd cent.?): FT, M-J. Pierre (Turnhout, 1994). GT, M. Lattke

(Freiburg, l995).

Theodore bar Koni, Book of Scholia I-II, tr. R. Hespel and R. Draguet (CSCO SS 187-8;



Theodore of Mopsuestia: There are recent French (M. Debié and others, 1996), German

(P. Bruns, 1995) and Catalan (S. Janeras, 2000) translations of the Catechetical Homilies.

Timothy II, Commentary on Baptism: ET, P. B. Kadicheeni (Bangalore, 1980).

The series of booklets, entitled Testi dei Padri della Chiesa and published by the

Monastero di Bose (Magnano), includes a number of short texts (not listed above) translated

from Syriac.


A more detailed guide to tools will be found in S. P. Brock, An Introduction to Syriac Studies

(Piscataway NJ, 2006). The following selection of topics is given in alphabetic order.

Catalogues of manuscripts

The essential guide is A. Desreumaux, Répertoire des bibliothèques et des catalogues de

manuscrits syriaques (Paris, 1991). It is remarkable that among the important catalogues that

have been published subsequently are three recently published in Baghdad (these three are

essentially just handlists):

Ainkawa (Chaldean Archbishopric of Arbela); J. Isaac (in Arabic; Baghdad, 2005).

Baghdad (Chaldean Monastery): P. Haddad and J. Isaac (in Arabic; Baghdad, 1988). [This

is the collection formerly of Notre Dame de Semences, Alqosh].

Baghdad (Chaldean Seminary): S. Warduni and H. Hermiz, (in Arabic; Baghdad, 1998).

Baghdad (Church of the East): K. Saliwa, (in Arabic; Baghdad, 2003).

Charfet (Lebanon): B. M. B. Sony, (in Arabic; Beirut, 1993).

Damascus, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate: a French translation of a summary handlist (with

a more detailed listing of a few select manuscripts) is published in Parole de l’Orient 19

(1994), 555-661.

Dublin, Trinity College: I. Bcheiry, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in Trinity College

Dublin (Patrimoine Syriaque 5; Kaslik, 2005).

India: (1) J. P. M. van der Ploeg, The Syriac Manuscripts of St Thomas Christians

(Bangalore, 1983). (2) H. Kaufhold, Syrische Handschriften juristischen Inhalts in

südindischen Bibliotheken (Öst.Ak. Wiss. Wien, 1989). (See also under Kottayam).

Iraq: J. Habbi and others (ed.), Catalogue of Syriac mss in Iraq, II (in Arabic; Baghdad,

1981) [vol. I, covering Mosul, appeared in 1977]. (See also under Ainkawa and Baghdad).

Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate: D. A. Johnson (Longview Wa., 1987). [Without

awareness of the catalogues by Chabot (1894) and its derivative by Koikylides (1998)].

Kottayam (St Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute): F. Briquel-Chatonnet, A.

Desreumaux, J. Thekeparampil, Le Muséon 110 (1997), 383-446.

Manchester, John Rylands Library: J. F. Coakley, Bulletin of the John Rylands University

Library of Manchester 75:2 (1993), 105-207.

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale: F. Briquel-Chattonet, Manuscrits syriaques [syr. 356-435]

(Paris, 1997).

Qaraqosh (Irak): B. M. B. Sony (in Arabic; Baghdad, 1988).

Sinai, St Catherine’s Monastery: S. P. Brock, Catalogue of Syriac Fragments (New Finds)

(Athens, 1995). (The catalogue of the main Syriac New Finds, by Mother Philothea of Sinai,

is forthcoming).

Mention should also be made of the photographic publication by Mar Gregorios Y.

Ibrahim, in Syriac Patrimony 8-10 (1994), of a number of detailed handwritten catalogues by

Mar Filoksinos Yohanna Dolabany (died 1969), made early in the 20th century, covering St

Mark’s Monastery (Jerusalem), Deir ez Za`faran (near Mardin), and smaller collections. (It

should be noted that several of the Jerusalem and Mardin manuscripts are now in the Syrian

Orthodox Patriarchate).

Among the many useful reprints published by the Gorgias Press (Piscataway NJ) is the

standard work of reference for Syriac palaeography, W. H. P. Hatch’s Album of Dated Syriac


Manuscripts, whose value is enhanced by an important introductory chapter by L. van

Rompay (2002).


Some recent translations of parts of Syriac chronicles have already been mentioned. There are

now a number of helpful initial guides to the various chronicles that survive: a very summary

guide is given in ch. I of S. P. Brock, Studies in Syriac Christianity (Aldershot, 1992).

Particularly useful are the relevant sections in R. Hoyland’s Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: a

survey and evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian writings on early Islam

(Princeton, 1997). E. I. Yousif’s Les chroniqueurs syriaques (Paris, 2002) is primarily

descriptive; a more critical study of them, by M. Debié, is forthcoming.

A few Syriac chronicles have received individual monograph treatment. J. J. van Ginkel’s

dissertation John of Ephesus: a Monophysite historian in sixth-century Byzantium

(Groningen, 1995) offers a helpful study of this important source for sixth-century history.

The late eighth-century Zuqnin Chronicle has been the object of a number of important

studies by W. Witakowski, beginning with his The Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of

Tel-Mahre (Uppsala, 1887), and followed up by a number of articles identifying its sources.

By far the largest of all Syriac chronicles is that by patriarch Michael I (d. 1199). A critical

study of this much quoted source is now available for the first time in D. Weltecke’s Die

“Beschreibung der Zeiten” von Mor Michael dem Grossen (CSCO Subsidia 110, 2003).


Until recently, these have been almost entirely lacking, but computer technology will

gradually remedy this. So far only the Syriac Bible has benefited from this; here the most

important publications are:

Old Testament: a series of multi-volume concordances has been edited by W. Strothmann,

covering the Pentateuch (1986), the Prophetical Books (1984), the Historical and Wisdom

books (1995; entitled Die Mautbe). An earlier concordance to the Peshitta Psalms was

compiled by N. Sprenger (1976). A second concordance for the Pentateuch, based on

different principles, has been published by the Peshitta Institute in Leiden (P. Borbone and

others; 1997).

New Testament: G. Kiraz, A Computer-Generated Concordance to the Syriac New

Testament (6 vols; Leiden, 1993); those who can read Syriac will enjoy the colophon. There is

also a concordance devoted to the Old Syriac Gospels, edited by J. Lund (3 vols, Piscataway

NJ, 2004).


For those who venture into reading Syriac sources in the original, the most handy dictionaries

remain those of J. Payne Smith (Mrs Margoliouth) and L. Costaz, supplemented where

necessary by the more extensive Lexicon Syriacum by C. Brocklemann and the Thesaurus

Syriacus by R. Payne Smith. An English adaptation of Brockelmann’s Lexicon is currently

being prepared by M. Sokoloff (who has already produced invaluable dictionaries of Jewish

Palestinian and Babylonian Aramaic).

Several other dictionaries have appeared in recent years, notably E. Thelly’s Syriac-

English-Malayalam Lexicon (Kottayam, 1999), based on T. Audo’s important Syriac-Syriac

dictionary of 1897). Thanks to the new opportunities for publishing with Syriac scripts,

several two-way dictionaries have been produced for practical use among the diaspora from

the Syriac Churches in Europe; the most extensive of these is S. Hanna and A. Bulut’s

Wörterbuch Deutsch-Aramäisch, Aramäisch-Deutsch (Heilbronn, 2000): these incorporate

many recent neologisms.

The Syriac Bible has benefited from a number of specialized dictionaries, notably M.

Pazzini’s Lessico concordanziale del Nuovo Testamento siriaco (Jerusalem, 2004), G. Kiraz’s

Lexical Tools to the Syriac New Testament (Sheffield, 1994; providing word frequency lists),


and T. Falla’s A Key to the Peshitta Gospels (two volumes to date, Leiden, 1991, 2000; with

special reference to the underlying Greek).

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed Syriac Lexica, by D. G. K. Taylor, is forthcoming

(Piscataway NJ). A brief guide can be found in S. P. Brock, ‘Syriac lexicography’, in

Aramaic Studies 1 (2003), 165-78.


An excellent survey for the Old Testament commentary tradition given by L. van Rompay in

M. Saebo (ed.), Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: the history of its interpretation I.i (Göttingen,

1996), 612-41, and I.ii (2000), 559-77; and for the New Testament, by J. McCullough, ‘Early

Syriac commentaries on the NT’, Theological Review, Near Eastern School of Theology 5

(1982), 14-33, 79-126.


A planned Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca, announced in Aram 5 (1993), 657-70, has

unfortunately come to a standstill. To some extent this gap is filled by J. M. Fiey’s

posthumous Saints Syriaques, edited by L. I. Conrad (Princeton NJ, 2004). A general

introduction is given by S.P. Brock, in a forthcoming volume edited by S. Efthymiades.

Reasonable coverage of Syriac saints can be found in the Bibliotheca Sanctorum (especially

in the contributions by J.-M. Sauget), and in the more recent Enciclopedia dei Santi. Le Chiesi

orientali, I-II (Rome, 1998-9), where many of the relevant articles are by J. M. Fiey and J.



The early inscriptions, of the 1st- 3rd century, are now conveniently republished by H. J. W.

Drijvers and J. F. Healey, The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa and Osrhoene (Leiden,

1999); this includes the three legal parchments of the early 240s.

Plans for a Corpus Inscriptionum Syriacarum were announced by A. N. Palmer and A.

Desreumaux at the Sixth Symposium Syriacum in 1992. The volume on inscriptions in Iraq,

by A. Harrak, is almost completed. The Syriac inscriptions of Tur `Abdin are collected by A.

N. Palmer in Oriens Christianus 71 (1987), 53-139.

A bibliography of inscriptions published up to 1977 by S.Brock in Annali dell’Istituto

Orientale di Napoli 38 (1978), 255-71, reprinted in Studies in Syriac Christianity (Aldershot,

1992), no. III. References to some of the more important ones that have been published more

recently can be found in the contributions edited by F. Briquel-Chatonnet, M. Debié, and A.

Desreumaux, Les inscriptions syriaques (Paris, 2004), and in S. Brock, ‘Edessene Syriac

inscriptions in Late Antique Syria’, forthcoming in a volume edited by H. Cotton.


W. Selb’s Orientalischen Kirchenrecht, I-II (Sb. Öst. Ak. Wiss., phil.-hist. Kl, 388, 543;

1981, 1989) deals with the East and West Syriac canon law collections respectively. For the

Syro-Roman Law Book and the Sententiae Syriacae, see above, under recent editions

(republished, and new texts).


A major event has been the publication of an English translation of The Scattered Pearls: a

history of Syriac literature and sciences by the learned Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aphram I

Barsoum (d. 1957) (Piscataway NJ, 2003). Though confined to writers in the Syrian Orthodox

tradition, this is an extremely valuable work, providing information on quite a number of

authors who were not known to Anton Baumstark in his still standard work, Geschichte der

syrischen Literatur of 1922.

M. Albert’s chapter on Syriac in Christianismes orientaux: introduction à l’étude des

langues et des littératures (Paris, 1993) is a very informative guide; likewise P. Bettiolo’s


‘Lineamenti di patrologia siriaca’ in A. Quacquarelli (ed.), Complementi interdisciplinari di

Patrologia (Rome, 1989), 503-603, and his ‘Letteratura siriaca’ in A. di Berardino (ed.),

Patrologia V. Dal Concilio di Calcedonia (451) a Giovanni Damasceno. I Padri Orientali

(Genoa, 2000), 413-93. A helpful collection of introductory surveys of different genres of

Syriac literature is to be found in Nos sources: arts et littératures syriaques, published by the

Centres d’études et de recherches orientales (CERO) (Antelias, 2005). Another recent basic

introduction is S. P. Brock, A Brief Outline of Syriac Literature (Moran Etho 9; Kottayam,

1997); this includes a large number of short samples in translation.


One of J-M. Fiey’s last publications before his death in 1995 was Pour un Oriens Christianus

Novus. Répertoire des diocèses syriaques orientaux et occidentaux (Beiruter Texte und

Studien 49; 1993), which provides a summary, but nevertheless extremely useful inventory.

Fiey’s earlier pioneering works on the topographical history of the Syriac Churches in Iraq

and elsewhere have now been supplemented by D. Wilmshurst’s The Ecclesiastical

Organisation of the Church of the East 13181913 (CSCO Subsidia 104, 2000). This

impressive volume of some 850 pages (including several useful maps) is based on a careful

analysis of information provided by the colophons of well over 2000 manuscripts. Also

valuable (especially for its maps) is J. Sanders, Assyrian-Chaldean Christians in Eastern

Turkey and Iran (Hernen, 1997). A different area of Eastern Turkey (and an earlier period) is

covered by Andrew Palmer’s Monk and Mason on the Tigris Frontier: the early history of

Tur `Abdin (Cambridge, 1990), which combines epigraphic and literary evidence in a

masterly way.

Translations of Greek secular literature

The role of Syriac in the transmission of Greek philosophy to the Arab world has received a

certain amount of attention in recent years, notably in a series of studies by H. Hugonnard-

Roche, most of which are now conveniently collected in a single volume (see above). The

relevant sections on the Syriac background, by P. Bettiolo and C. d’Ancona, in C. d’Ancona

(ed.), Storia della filosofia nell’Islam medievale I (Torino, 2005), 48-100, 180-91, are very

helpful. A summary guide to what translations of Aristotle’s logical works survive can be

found in S. P. Brock, ‘The Syriac Commentary tradition’, in C. Burnett (ed.), Glosses and

Commentaries on Aristotelian Logical Texts (Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts 23,

London, 1993), 3-18 (reprinted in From Ephrem to Romanos (Aldershot, 1999), no. XIII), and

for Syriac translations of popular philosophy, see P. Bruns (ed.), Von Athen nach Bagdad. Zur

Rezeption griechischer Philosophie von der Spätantike bis zum Islam (Hereditas 22; Bonn,

2003), 9-28. The Aristotelian tradition of rhetoric in Syriac is the subject of a number of

articles by J. W. Watt, e.g. in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft 143

(1993), 45-71. A number of relevant articles will be found in Journal of the Canadian Society

for Syriac Studies 4 (2004), and in Patrimoine syriaque, Colloque IX: Les Syriaques,

transmetteurs de civilisations (Paris/Antelias, 2005). A more popular account is given by E. I.

Yousif, La floraison des philosophes syriaques (Paris, 2003), and likewise for medicine, R. Le Coz, Les médecins nestoriens au moyen âge: les maîtres des arabes (Paris, 2004).


Although not directly of concern to Byzantine studies, M. Weitzman’s The Syriac Version of the Old Testament: an introduction (Cambridge, 1999), deserves special mention as

constituting a milestone in scholarship on the Syriac Bible. More of relevance, are various parts of The Hidden Pearl: the Syrian Orthodox Church and its ancient Aramaic heritage, 3

vols (ed. S. P. Brock; Rome, 2001), for which there is some basic annotation in Hugoye 5:1

(2002), 63-112. This work is intended to serve as a sort of encyclopedia of three millennia of the Aramaic/Syriac tradition in a narrative (and illustrated) form; among the topics covered in more detail are manuscripts (including illuminations).


The revival of interest in Syriac studies that the last quarter of the twentieth century

witnessed was in no small part inspired by R. Murray’s Symbols of Church and Kingdom: a study in Syriac tradition (Cambridge, 1975), which served as a marvellous introduction to the world of early Syriac Christianity; nearly 30 years later, in 2004, this has now been

republished in a revised edition, with a completely new first chapter.

Syriac studies owe a great debt to the Gorgias Press, directed by G. Kiraz, for the

reprinting of a number of essential classic works, long unavailable, such as W. Wright’s

magnificent three-volume Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum.