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Notes on the Beirût Syriac Codex.


I. History and External Description. Some months after the discovery of this MS., or rather, of the character of its contents, I published a hasty account in The (London) Academy, ad vol. of 1877, p. 170, and in The Independent (New York), August 23, 1877; and later, a rather more extended summary in the Proceedings of the American Oriental Society for October, 1877, pp. xvi. ff. As all these accounts contain a few errors, partly of oversight, partly inevitable, it will not be out of place to begin from the beginning, although that course involves some repetition.

The codex I found in the library of the Syrian Protestant College at Beirût, kept as an unknown curiosity, and kept no more carefully than the other books there. No one there had skill to read it, except perhaps Dr. Van Dyck, and he was not aware of its existence, much less of its presence in the library. As the manuscript had suffered from some former exposure to water, and was still suffering from incipient renewed decay, I took measures for its more careful keeping, and at the same time proceeded to read and examine it. When Dr. Bliss, the president of the college, returned in the autumn of 1876 from a two years' stay in England and America, he informed me that it had been brought from Mardîn by one 'Abd ul-Messiah (not the man of the same name who accompanied the explorer Layard), who had been employed as superintendent of the native workmen in the erection of the main college building; and that he (Dr. Bliss) had induced him to present it to the college.

Proceeding with my examination, I found that the Gospels were evidently of the Philoxenian or Harklensian version, though I had of that version at that time only the specimens in Bernstein's Kirsch's Chrestomathy (Lips., Knobloch, 1832), and Tychsen's Elementare Syriacum (Rostoch, 1793.) The rest of the codex was the Peshitto. From its state, material, and style of writing, I judged it to belong to a period limited by the eighth and tenth centuries. But wishing to have a more competent judgment, I mailed six loose leaves* to Dr. Antonio M. Ceriani, the well-known critic at the Ambrosian Library at Milan, to whom I was already indebted for valuable favors, and requested his opinion. He soon replied, saying, "immediately I saw the fragments are part of a New Testament of about the IX. century, of Jacobite origin.” Some days later he returned the leaves with a longer comment. A quire signature on one of the leaves had enabled him to compute very closely the size of the manuscript, with a number of interesting particulars beside. He concluded with the remark: “Omnino inspiciendum si habet Apocalypsim, quia fortasse esset antiquissimus omnium codicum pro hoc libro. Contuli folium tertium (third of the one I sent, No. 128 of the codex as it is] cum edita Harklensi translatione, et lectionibus variis in vetustissimis libris; textus in summa melior est illo editionis White.”

The codex at present, or as found, consists of 203 leaves of pretty fine parchment, though the fineness is not uniform; two of them mere fragments. The size of the leaf is 1072x772 inches in length and breadth; the writing in two columns to a page, each column 7 inches high by 2 to 24 inches wide, and regularly 32 lines to a column. Very rarely the lines in a column number 31 or 33. The margin or space between the columns is about half an inch wide, so that the whole written portion of the page is generally 772 x 5 inches in height and width. The codex is made up of quiniones, that is, in quires of five folios, or ten leaves, each; each quinio numbered on the middle of the lower margin, at beginning and end, after the common fashion of Syriac MSS. From the general appearance of the codex, and other obvious reasons, I conclude that it originally consisted of 24 quiniones, and contained the books which compose the ordinary Peshitto version; that is, all the New Testament except the second and third Epistles of John, the second Epistle of Peter, Jude, and the Apocalypse.

In its present state the codex begins in its original quinio 2, in Matthew xii. 20; and ends in its original quinio 24, in Titus i. 9. The order of the books is the following: the Gospels in the usual order; then Acts, James, i Peter, 1 John; then the Epistles of Paul

* These leaves were numbers 1, 62, 98, 128, 202, 203, of the codex in its present condition.

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