Severian of Gabala in Arabic

Some materials by the 4th century bishop made their way into Arabic.  Here is what Georg Graf says.  German is not a language I find easy, but I have attempted a translation and placed it below.

92. Severianus, Bischof von Gabala (gest. nach 408).

1. Von seinem reichen Homilien schätz ist nichts vollständig in arabischer Uebertragung vererbt worden. Auch musste gerade in dem wenigen, was als Ausbeute aus seinen Schriften übrigblieb, sein Name demjenigen des von ihm angefeindeten, aber berühmteren Johannes Chrysostomus weichen, wie schon in der griechischen Ueberlieferung.

1. Of his many and popular homilies nothing has been transmitted in a complete form in Arabic. Also the very few portions that survived of his writings were not attributed to him, but to the more famous John Chrysostom, as already in the Greek tradition

Noch als Eigentum des Severian war dem Enzyklopädisten Abu’l-Barakät in seinem Katal. 648 (678) “das Buch Hexaemeron” (Kitäb aksimärus) bekannt; er führt es als einziges Werk von ihm an. Zweifelhaft aber ist, ob damit eine vollständige Uebersetzung der 6 Reden über die Erschaffung der Welt (P. gr. 56, 429-500) gemeint ist, von der wir keine Hs kennen, oder schon eine Neubearbeitung dieser Eeden zusätzlich einer siebenten, die mit dem griechischen Original nicht viel mehr als das Thema und einige gedankliche Anklänge gemein hat. — Die anderen, zu einer einzigen Homilie zusammengezogenen Auszüge können mit dem “Buch” des Abu’l-Barakät kaum zu identifizieren sein.

The encyclopedist Abu’l-Barakat in his Catalogue 648 (678) stated that “the book Hexaemeron” (Kitab aksīmārus) was known as being by Severian; he gives it as a single work by him. It is doubtful, however, whether a complete translation of the 6 speeches about the creation of the world (PG 56, 429-500) is meant, of which we know no manuscript, or instead a new edition of these discourses with a seventh, which have in common with the original Greek not much more than the subject, and some echoes of thought. – The latter, a collection of extracts from a single homily, is difficult to identify with the “book” of Abu’l-Barakat.

Die 7 Reden in Paris arabe 68 (J 1339), ff 36 r-67r tragen die Ueberschrift: “Aus den Worten (qaul) des Severianus (Name verstümmelt), Bischofs von Gabala, die er zur Erklärung der sechs Tage, in denen Gott den Himmel und die Erde erschuf, gesprochen hat, eine zusammengelesene Abhandlung (kaläm multaqat), Zeugnisse und feststehende Tatsachen (umür täbita?) für die, welche Erkenntnis wünschen”. Siehe Joh. Zellinger, Die Genesishomilien des Bischofs Severian von Gabala, Münster i. W. 1916, S. 17-19 mit Textproben aus der 7. Homilie in Uebersetzung. – Die “Homilie zur Erklärung der 6 Schöpfungstage” siehe oben bei Johannes Chrysostomus.

The 7 speeches in ms. Paris arabe 68 (J 1339), ff 36 r-67r bear the inscription: “From the words (qaul) of Severianus (name mutilated), Bishop of Gabala, which he spoke in explanation of the six days that God created the heavens and the earth, gathered into a treatise (multaqat Kala), with evidence and established facts (umür täbita?) for those who desire knowledge.” See Johannes Zellinger, Die Genesishomilien des Bischofs Severian von Gabala, Münster i. W., 1916, p. 17-19 with samples of the text of the 7th Homily in translation. – For the “homily to explain the 6 days of creation,” see above under John Chrysostom.

Die Homilie über den verfluchten und vertrockneten Feigenbaum ebd.

The homily on the cursed and withered fig-tree, likewise.

2. Unterschobene Homilien. – “Ueber die Erscheinung Gottes, unseres Erlösers, und seine Geburt aus der Jungfrau, aus dem Syrischen übersetzt von Gregorius, Oberen des Klosters Däfnünä in den Schwarzen Bergen”: Bairut 510, S. 500-509 (verschieden von Oratio in Dei apparitionem, P. gr. 65, 15-26). H. zum Mittwoch in der Karwoche: Borg, ar. 57 (J. 1739), ff. 135 v, 136 r. Kairo 170 (15. Jh.), ff. 53 v-54 v; kopt. und ar.; zum Karfreitag ebd. in 91 (17. Jh.).

2. Spurious homilies. – “On the epiphany of God our saviour and his birth from the Virgin, translated from the Syriac by Gregorius, Superior of the Abbey of Däfnünä in the Black Mountains”: Beirut 510, p. 500-509 (different to the Oratio in Dei apparitionem, PG 65, 15-26). Homily on Holy Wednesday: Borg, ar. 57 (1739 AD), ff. 135v, 136r. Cairo 170 (15th c.), ff. 53 v-54v; Copt. and Ar.; on Good Friday likewise in 91 (17th c.).

Lobrede auf die Apostel zum 6. hatür, aus dem Koptischen übersetzt: Vat. ar. 536 (15. Jh.), ff. 1 r-32 r. Kairo 717 (J. 1358), ff. 115 v- 130 v. – Eine unbestimmte Rede: Sin. ar. 423, 3 (J. 1626x).

A panegyric on the apostle on the 6th Hatur, translated from the Coptic: Vat. ar. 536 (15th c.), ff. 1 r-32 r. Cairo 717 (1358 AD), ff. 115v- 130v. — A sermon of indefinite content: Sin. ar. 423, 3 (1626 AD).

3. Zwei Scholien zu Mt 25,31-26, 5 in der koptisch-arabischen Evangelien-Katene: Vat. ar. 452, f. 119 r; 410, ff. 98r-99v. – Ein dem Cyrillus von Alexandrien (De recta fide ad reginas) entnommenes Zitat unter dem Namen des Severian im Florileg B. V. 76, siehe dort; J. Zellinger, Studien zu Severian von Gabala, Münster i. W. 1926, S. 118 f.

3. Two scholia on Mt 25:31-26:5, in the Coptic-Arabic gospel catena: Vat. ar. 452, f. 119 r; 410, ff. 98r-99v. — A citation from Cyril of Alexandria (De recta fide ad reginas) appears under the name of Severian in the Florilegium B. V. 76, see J. Zellinger, Studien zu Severian von Gabala, Münster i. W. 1926, p. 118.

Eutychius on the events in Egypt in 820-30 AD

I’ve translated from the German the last portion of the Annals of Eutychius, who was Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria, and whose autograph manuscript has been edited in the CSCO.

33.  EVENTS IN JERUSALEM AND LOWER EGYPT (820-830 A.D.) 

[286]. When morning came, the Patriarch Thomas and his companions were brought.  The Muslims came and testified that the dome had enlarged (=been made larger).  Patriarch Thomas disproved this through the (above-mentioned) argument 1

 [287] Abdallah ibn Daher said to them: he is right.  Explain to me:  How big was the dome, before it was removed, and how big is it now?  They said:  We will think about this.  They went out and the meeting came to an end.  Abdallah ibn Daher then went to Damascus.  Thomas and his companions went merrily to the holy city. 

[288]  Thomas paid the Sheikh in question 1000 (dirhams).  To him and his children after him as well as his  children’s children the compensation was paid continuously, so long as (someone) from his descendants lived, until there was only one daughter (young woman).  Elias ibn Mansur, Patriarch of the holy city, presented her with the compensation. Patriarch Thomas died, and his pupil named Basila (= Basilios) became  Patriarch of the holy city.  It was in the 7th year of the Caliphate of al-Ma`mun.  Basila remained in the see 25 years and died.  Abdallah ibn Daher returned to al-Ma`mun and reported about Egypt and on what he had undertaken (there).  Then the (supporters of the) Emma (Yma) revolted.  Al-‘Emma is a coptic word and means “forty” 2. This is why: when the Romans left Egypt, in the time when the  Muslims arrived, forty men stayed.  In the lower part of the country (=Lower Egypt) they testified, multiplied and continued to do so and were called ‘Y MA, i.e.  the descendants of the forty (men).  They revolted and paid neither excise nor poll tax.  This event was announced to Mamun and he sent his brother  al-Mu`tasim, who was a Amir, to Egypt.  The Emma fought against him . . . 3

1 The previous sentence in Ch. 51, 56,20-22 reads:  A Muslim sheikh had secretly instructed him (to say):  May the Emir ask them,”How big was the small dome, which I took down as you requested, and how big now is the dome, which I have rebuilt  and enlarged?” 

2 If the rebels had been descendants of those Romans left, then they would have used a Greek name, not a Coptic one.  The letters given however do not permit the Coptic reading of HMA (for forty).  Later historians have confounded this revolt with that of the Copts in Basmur, which took place allegedly under Abdel Malek around 750-51.  Scholars are therefore divided on the exact date of the last Coptic revolt, therefore.  See Sylvestre Chauleur, Histoire des Coptes d’Egyple, Paris 1960, 107 (dating the revolt to 216 AH. = 831 AD); item: C. Detlef, G. Müller. Grundzüge des christlich-islamischen Ägypten, Darmstadt 1969, 146 (both giving around 828-30). 

3 The continuation of the sentence in Ch. (51, 57.17-18)  reads:  “and he fought them and killed very many of them.  He struck them down and drove out their wives and children and brought them with him to Baghdad.” 

Recent studies on the Coptic catena of de Lagarde?

Looking at the summary of information on catenas on the gospels in Di Berardino’s latest volume of Quasten’s Patrology, I notice an intriguing couple of entries:

E. J. Caubet Iturbe, La Cadena arabe del Evangelio de san Mateo,1 Texto; 2 Version, Vatican City 1969-1970.

and

E. J. Caubet Iturbe, “La Cadena copto-arabe de los Evangelios y Severo de Antioquia”, Homenaje a J. Prado. Miscelanea de estudios biblicos y hebraicos, ed. L.Alvarez Verdes, E.J. Alonso Hernandez, Madrid 1975,421-432.

Now I recall from Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur 1, p. 318, n.1 and p.481-2, that the Coptic catena on the gospels published by Paul de Lagarde also exists in an Arabic version in the Vatican.  I came across this reference while searching for material by Eusebius of Caesarea in Arabic.  He’s listed in Abu’l Barakat’s catalogue:

Eusebius of Caesarea: He has explanations on passages of the holy Gospels and other separate religious treatises.

which Graf discusses, referring to a catena with 6 passages from Eusebius on Matthew and material from Severus of Antioch on Luke.  Page 481f discusses an “anonymous gospel catena”, which turns out to be that of Paul de Lagarde.  I’m not sure I’ve read the entry before.  Written in Bohairic, and almost certainly based on a Greek catena now unknown, H. Achelis dates the catena before 888 AD.  The manuscript used by de Lagarde is incomplete, however.   The manuscript turns out to be Vatican Arab 452, and most of the scholia are at least under the name of Eusebius.  A long quotation from Luke, and five chunks on Matthew, are ascribed to Eusebius, or so Graf says.

It is an interesting sight, therefore, to see this in the modern bibliography, and no mention of de Lagarde’s publication.

Is it possible that Iturbe published a critical text of the Arabic version of the catena?  It looks very much like it.  I wish I could obtain the article and see what he says.

UPDATE: After typing those words, I started searching for the book in Google.  Slightly amazing to find my site listed, and this article listed, less than a minute after I pressed save.  Is Google really watching these words that intently!?

I find in COPAC more details of the book:

A compilation of patristic commentaries, with the text of the Gospel, in the Arabic of Codex Vaticanus ar. 452 and in a Spanish version.

which also aligns with my understanding.  Another states:

Studi e testi 254-5.  Half title: Cod. vat. ar. 452, ff. 6-135. Originally presented as the editor’s thesis, Pontificia Commissio Biblica. Based on a Coptic version entitled: Ermēnia n̄te pieuangelion ethouab kata Matheon. cf. the editor’s introd., v.1, p. [li]-liv; H. Achelis. Hippolytsudien. 1897. p. 163-169. Originally presented as the editor’s thesis, Pontificia Commissio Biblica. Arabic text; Spanish introduction, notes and translation.

So there we have it.  This is indeed a critical edition of the Arabic catena.  The next question is whether I obtain this and include it in the Eusebius!  For there is a copy available for sale online…

UPDATE 2: I cannot resist.  It would be cheaper to order the books by ILL, and copy them, etc; but it is far easier to just buy the things. 

Doing it right – an new edition and Italian translation of a work by Hunain ibn Ishaq

It’s always delightful to see things moving in the right direction (especially when it isn’t because I pushed them).  Quite by accident I came across this site, which is the English-language page of an Italian journal.

The arab version of De differentiis febrium of Galen, edited by Claudio De Stefani, is the first issue of the Collection «Studi di Eikasmós Online».

Galeni De differentiis febrium versio Arabica (Bologna 2004)

Hunain ibn Ishâq di al-Hîra (808-873[?] A.D.), physician and philologist, author of original works and translations into Syriac and Arabic, was the most important arabic translator of the Middle Ages, and one of the best in the world. Because of this celebrity, many translations from Greek were wrongly attributed to him in the arabic mss. Most of his translations from Greek concern the works of Galen of Pergamon (128/131-210/213 A.D.). Here is the translation of one of Galen’s pathologic works on fevers (in two books): it was largely spread in the byzantine Greece (many Greek mss. preserve this work and several summaries on the same subject), in Western Europe (there are some latin translations from Greek, for example that of Burgundius), and in the Arabic East, where the galenic doctrines on fevers were going to survive for a long time. This electronic edition is interesting for people working on Galen, Arabists, historians of medicine.

Book I,1-8
(file.pdf)
Book I,9-14
(file.pdf)
Book II,1-7
(file.pdf)
Book II,8-18
(file.pdf)

The text (as a pdf file) can be scrolled or free downloaded (clic the file name and choose “Save as”), and printed for study. All rights are reserved for commercial reasons and aims.

Now this is simply splendid!  The files contain an electronic Arabic text with Italian translation.  And quite rightly too!  For the subject is so obscure that very few people will be interested. 

Most such pieces of work vanish into specialist libraries and never become known to the public.  Here someone — who? — has realised that there is another audience out there, one that will never see the printed paper journal, will never buy it, will never read its contents or know of them; the general educated public.  People like us, in fact.

Well done, the Italians!  In one stroke they have probably multipled by ten the number of people who can read this.

Thanks to this site.

Abu’l Barakat’s Catalogue of Christian Literature in Arabic now online

Adam McCollum has kindly translated for me Riedel’s text of the catalogue of Arabic Christian literature by Abu’l Barakat.  It’s here: Abu l-Barakat’s Catalog (trans) 

I’m placing this file and its contents in the public domain.  Please do whatever you like with it, for personal, professional, educational or commercial purposes.  It’s free to use for any purpose.  Adam also invites comments.

I intend to get an HTML version together as well, but this will take a day or so for me to do.  Then I hope to make people in various email lists aware that it exists, and particularly classicists and patristics people, who might be interested to see what has made its way into Arabic.

Last section of Abu’l Barakat

Good news!  An email tells me that another of my projects is coming in.  The catalogue of Arabic Christian books, by the 13th century writer Abu’l Barakat, is progressing nicely.  The whole thing has now been translated into English, in first draft.  The wording will now be revised over the next two weeks, and then comment invited from others.

Once the whole thing is complete, I will post it online and make it public domain.

This is such an important text.  When you come into a literature, all is confusion.  What we need is a map, a list of major writers and what they wrote.  This acts as a skeleton, on which we can hang all the rest of our knowledge.  A modern list would be good, but none exists in English.  This ancient list is also good, as it probably refers to stuff no longer extant and tells us what might be out there.

The translation has been made from the older 1902 edition of Riedel.  But apparently there is somewhere a critical edition made by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ.  I think this was published in Cairo.  The text is so important that I have suggested to the translator that he acquire a copy of Samir’s publication, and do a revised version for formal publication on his own, so that scholars can reference it in their bibliographies.  This will happen, I think.

Abu’l Barakat update

The translation of the 13th century list of books extant in Christian Arabic by Abu’l Barakat is still progressing.  The translator has now sent me a schedule for the remaining half of the work still to translate:

  • pp. 653-659  – Jan 19
  • pp. 660-666 – Jan 26
  • Final revision – Feb 8

This is all good news, and will go online when it is all done.

BBKL article on Ibn al-Tayyib

The post on the Nestorian monk Ibn al-Tayyib and his commentary on the gospels, a source for the Diatessaron, has led to a very interesting set of comments and a large bibliography.  This is a text that really does need to be in English.  I shall continue to explore this in the comments on that article.

Today I learn that there is a BBKL article in German on Ibn al-Tayyib.  Since a lot of people find German difficult, I thought I would smarten up the Google translation and place it here.

Volume II (1990) Columns 1238-1239 Author: Michael Tillly

Ibn al-Tajjib, full name “Abu’l Farag Abdallah ibn at-Taiyib al Iraqi”, Nestorian monk, writer, philosopher, physician, priest, b. towards the end of the 10th century, † in October 1043 in Baghdad. – After studying medicine he worked ca. 1015 as a doctor in the hospital named after its founder Adud al-Dawla al-Adudiya in Baghdad. As a physician and teacher, over time Ibn al-Tayyib gathered a large group of disciples. He presided at the election-Synod of the Syrian Nestorian Church, which elected Elias I as Catholicos. As secretary he composed in 1028 the church’s approval of the report of Elias of Nisibis on his “Seven meetings”. Under the Catholicos Yuhanna ibn Nazuk he became Patriarchate secretary.

Ibn al-Tayyib wrote in Arabic many dogmatic, exegetical, and canonical works, as well as making translations from Syriac. However, of his literary work, only a fraction has been preserved. He wrote numerous works on teaching and explaining the scientific and medical works of Hippocrates and Galen, as well as on the logical and metaphysical works of Aristotle.

His main work in theology is the commentary on the whole Bible “Firdaus an-Nasraniya (Paradise of Christianity), the largest exegetical work in Christian Arabic literature. Other works are his exegetical commentary on the Psalms “Arraud an-nadir fi tafsir al-mazamir” (The flower garden – Explanation of the Psalms), with an introductory essay on the classification, origin and purpose of the Psalms and on the reading and linguistic peculiarities of the Psalms, a Translation and Explanation of the four Gospels, as well as several smaller exegetical commentaries. The most important among the dogmatic, ethical and canonical works is the apologetic compendium “Al-usul ad-diniya ar-rabbaniya” (The Basics of the religion of the Lord).

In the legal collection “Fiqu an-Nasraniya” (The law of Christendom), I translated and compiled the ancient Syrian collections of canons and compendia of laws, which he joined together in a collected work.

I. is the focus of current research as the translator of the Syriac Diatessaron of Tatian into Arabic.

The importance for Church history of the versatile and learned Nestorian Ibn al-Tayyib is justified by his rich and diverse literary work on natural scientific, philosophical, theological and ecclesiastical matters.  His great tradition of teaching and interest is representative of the Nestorians as a zealous agent of Greek science, philosophy and theology among the Arabs.

Works: Diatessaron, ed. Augustinus Ciasco, Rome 1888; Firdaus annasranija (Paradise of Christendom), ed. v. fransis Miha’il, Cairo 1898, 49, 236-240; Ar-Raud an-nadir fi tafsir al-mazamir (The flower garden – Explanation of the Psalms), ed. Yusuf Manqurius and Habib Girgis, Cairo 1902; Tafsir al-machriqi, ed. Yusuf Manqurius, Bd. 1, Cairo 1908, Bd. 2, Cairo. 1910; Maqala fi ‘l-‘ilm wal-muchiza (Treatise on science and miracles), ed. Paul Sbath, Vingt Traités, Cairo 1929, 179 f.; Fiqu an-Nasraniya (The law of Christendom), ed. W. Hoenerbach and O. Spies, in: CSCO 16 1-162 (1956), 167-168 (1957).

Lit.: G. Chr. Storr, Dissertatio … de evangeliis arabicis, Tübingen 1775, 44-47; – Paul de Lagarde, Die vier Evangelien, Leipzig 1864, 16 f.; – Karl Georg Bruns and Eduard Sachau, Syrisch-römisches Rechtsbuch aus dem 5. Jh., Bd. II, Leipzig 1880, 176 ff.; – Ignazio Guidi, Le traduzioni degli Evangelii in arabo e in etiopico, Rom 1888, 14, 19, 23 f.; – Ernst Sellin, in: Theodor Zahn (Ed.) Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentl. Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur IV, Leipzig 1891, 243-245; – O. Braun, Das Buch der Synhados, Stuttgart 1900, 315 ff.; – Arthur Hjelt, Die altsyrische Evangelienübersetzung und Tatisna Diatessaron, in: Theodor Zahn (Ed.), Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altkirchl. Literatur VII, Leipzig 1903, 68 f.; – Georg Graf, Die Philosophie und Gotteslehre des Jahja ihn ‘Adi und späterer Autoren, Münster/Westf. 1910, 48-51; – Eduard Sachau, Syrische Rechtsbücher, Bd. 2, Berlin 1908, 23, 190-204, Bd. 3, Berlin 1914, 16 f., 289-344; – A. J. B. Higgings, The Arabic Version of Tatians Diatessaron, in: JThS 45 (1944), 187-199; – Brockelmann I, 482, I2, 635, Suppl. I, 884; – Graf I, 152 ff.; II, 162-176; – DThC XI, 276 ff.; – LThK V, 591. 

The last bit of biblio is interesting:

Samir Khalil Samir, I .- La place d’al-T. dans la pensée arabe, in: JEChSt 58.2006, p. 177-193.

Another bit of Sbath commissioned

A while ago I commissioned translations into English (with transcription of the text) of some of the Arabic Christian texts in Paul Sbath’s Twenty Philosophical and Theological Treatises.  Treatises 15-19 were translated by Sam Noble, and I placed them online and into the public domain.  You can find them here.  So do as you like with them. 

The first five pages of treatise 20 (by Hunain ibn Ishaq, with a commentary by Youhanna someone-or-other) were partly translated, but from a more modern text which is not in the public domain.  This limits the circulation of what was done.  ThenI had to stop commissioning stuff back in October, as I joined the ranks of the unemployed. 

Now that I seem to be employed again, at least for a few months, I have decided to commission a translation from Sbath’s public domain text of the whole of treatise 20, including the commentary of Youhanna, with a transcription of the text.  In this way I can place that in the PD as well.  It’s a small thing, but will round out the texts nicely.