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The Syriac Manuscript of the Union Theo
logical Seminary of New York.
PROF. ISAAC H. HALL, PH.D.
HIS MS. was obtained from the neighborhood of Mardin, in
Mesopotamia, by the Rev. Alpheus N. Andrus, and by him presented to the Union Theological Seminary in March, 1872. It consists, in its present shape, of 146 leaves of rather thick parchment, one of them a mere fragment, but each entire leaf being 7} x 54 inches in dimension. The present binding, very dilapidated, of which only fragments of the back and one (wooden board) side remain, is pretty certainly three centuries old. The middle portions of the MS. are in fair preservation, but toward each end many leaves are more or less decayed, discolored, and obscured by the action of water and dirt. Very few portions of it, however, present any serious difficulty in deciphering, though some of them require a little close and slow work.
The sheets are arranged in quiniones, or quires of five folios or ten leaves each. The writing is in two columns to the page, each column regularly 1 inches wide by 5 inches high, and the space between the columns about šof an inch wide. All these measurements vary somewhat, but the size of the written page is generally 5} x 3inches. The number of lines in a column is usually 24, but it varies from 21 to 26.
At present, the first three quires are gone ; the MS. now beginning with a fragment of the first leaf of quinio 4, in Matt. xx. 22.
This fragment, however, contains only portions of Matt. xx. 22, 23 ; xxi. 4-7. The real beginning is with Fol. 2, at Matt. xxi. 10. No gap then occurs till we pass Fol. 99, after which two leaves are missing, one the last leaf of quinio 13, and the other the first leaf of quinio 14, causing the loss of Luke xxxiii. 2 1 to xxxiv. 9 (latter part of the verse). Of these two missing leaves, the first has doubtless been cut away since the MS. came to America; the other was apparently lost by the natural wearing through of the outer folio of the quinio. The next break occurs in the last quire now present of the MS., the seventh and eighth leaves of the quinio being gone, carrying away John xxi. 17 (latter part of the verse) to the end of the Gospel, and of the Epistle of James from its beginning to ii. 2 (first part of the verse). The present end of the MS. is in James ii. 26, first four words of the verse ; to which a later hand has added the rest of the verse, occupying four lines in the lower margin. This later hand undoubtedly belongs to the same period as the present binding, or about three centuries ago. The addition seems to have been made merely to give a clean end to the already mutilated MS.
The MS. thus contained originally the four Gospels and the Epistle of James, and probably all of the Catholic Epistles used by the Syrians (James, i Peter, 1 John). If it contained no more than that (a supposition favored by the general make and size of the volume), the codex would have been complete with one more quinio ; and would have contained originally 19 quiniones, or 190 leaves, or 380 pages.
The writing is in the old Jacobite character, of a style which seems to be of the twelfth century. (Mr. Andrus, the giver of the MS. to the Seminary, considered it to be about 800 years old; but he seems to me to put it a century too early.) It is much later than the Beirût MS., which belongs to the same general style or class of writing ; for it intermingles much later forms of the letters, besides being written throughout in a later style. Rarely, except in lesson-numbers, a letter occurs in Estrangela. One line, at the bottom of a column (three words of Luke xxii. 29, Fol. 98, b. 2), is written entirely in the Estrangela.
Punctuation is used with the usual significance and insignificance of Syriac MSS. ; the end of a line or the beginning of a churchlesson note being often considered a sufficient indication of punctuation without any further marks. Often, the upper dot of a rish, the lower dot of a dolath, the point which denotes the feminine suffix pronoun, and the like, are made to do extra duty as a punctuation mark; being in such cases pushed forward from their normal positions - either to serve the purpose of a single punctuation dot, or part of a double one. In the case of final nun, a single dot so often coalesces with its heavy end in such ways that it is impossible to tell exactly what punctuation is intended. The red diamond with a black centre occurs frequently, marking rhetorical significance, or sone ecclesiastical or reference division, rather than any syntactical force. Where the diamond of four dots (two vertical red, two horizontal black) is used at the end of a line, the next line often has a red dot at the be
ginning. The verso of each leaf, as in many Syriac MSS., is marked with a diamond of black dots in the upper outer corner.
Abbreviations are rare, except in the church-lesson notes, in which they are the rule. Otherwise, they are confined almost entirely to the words for “ glory," with its derivatives, and to that for “disciples." Vowels of the Greek sort are not rare throughout the MS. Some of these are of the first hand; others were apparently added by some late reader to guide his voice.
Grammatical diacritic punctuation is frequent enough to keep the sense generally clear. Vocalization by points is neither rare nor very
In some portions of the MS. are to be seen specimens of the peculiar compound voweling noted in Wiseman's Hora Syriaca, pages 191-193; which also occurs rarely in the Peshitto portion of the Beirut MS.
The writing is generally done with considerable care and accuracy. Wherever words or letters have been omitted, or other slips made, the correction has been made generally by the original scribe or a contemporary hand, either above or below the line, or in the margin, with a proper reference mark (usually a small diamond of black dots).
Ornaments scarcely occur at all. The only thing of the sort is the diamond, composed of dot-diamonds, which surrounds the quinionumber at the beginning and end of each quire ; besides here and there some dot-diamonds to fill out a line, and a few ornamental tails to letters - likewise attached for the purpose of filling a short blank at the end of a line.
The writing is continuous, without any break from the beginning to the end of a book. The (Jacobite) church-lessons are noted in vermilion letters (with the diacritic points in black), in the body of the text; these rubrics being much abbreviated. The numbers of these lessons, as they now appear, though written in Estrangela, are in a different ink and a much later hand than the rest of the MS.; and in many places there are evidences in them not only of a re-writing, but of an erasure before re-writing. In a few places the older number is still legible ; but whether its writing is contemporary with the first scribe cannot now be determined.
The MS. was doubtless originally provided with the Syriac section
Luis ) numbers, written mostly in red. But of these numbers only the following now remain : In Matthew, 17, 19, 20, 22; in Mark, 1 (written in black), 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, II, 12 ; in Luke, 2, 6 (written in black), 11, 22 (written erroneously 25 or 26, it being uncertain whether an Estrangela he or waw has accidentally replaced the re
quired beth); in John, 12. These numbers are generally, but not always, written exactly at the beginning of the section to which they belong; but they always mark the page or column on which the division occurs.
The titles and subscriptions to the Gospels are very simple in form. The following is a translation of those that are still present:
Subscription to Matthew : “Ends the Gospel of Matthew the Apostle, which he spoke in Hebrew in Palestine.”
Title to Mark : “Holy Gospel, the preaching of Mark the Evangelist.”
Subscription to Mark : “End of the preaching of Mark, which he spoke in Latin in Rome.”
Title to Luke : “Holy Gospel, the preaching of Luke the Evangelist.”
Subscription to Luke : "Ends the Holy Gospel, the preaching of Luke, which he spoke in Greek in Alexandria the Great."
Title to John : "Holy Gospel, the preaching of John the Apostle.”
Besides the titles and subscriptions, it seems best to give the churchlesson notes in full. Technical students will find it of value. The numbers are given as they occur in the MS. ; in which the reader will perceive some continued mistakes. Generally, the numbers are those of a late hand; but the few instances in which they are (still) legible in an older hand are marked with a *. Sometimes, but very rarely, the older and the later hands are both legible. In a few instances there is an illegible spot. Such are denoted either by ... or by a conjectural supply of the deficiency in brackets.
List of Church-Lessons.
xxi. 23. Of Tuesday of [Passion] week, at vespers; and 13th of
Resurrection.1 xxi. 33. Of Stephen, at vespers; and of the martyrs, at vespers. xxii. 1. Of the fifth Sunday of Epiphany; and Monday of Passion
week. xxii. 15. Of Passion Monday, at midday. xxii. 23. Of the Saturday of Rest, at matins; and of the departed,
at vespers. xxii. 34. Of Passion Tuesday, at matins. xxiii. 1. Of Passion Monday, at matins. xxiii. 25. And Monday of Passion week, at the third hour; and of
the martyrs, at the oblation. xxiv. I. At vespers of the Feast of the Cross; . . . of the Resurrec
tion, at matins.
1 That is, 13th Sunday; 12th Sunday after Easter. Where a number occurs without the name of the day, it stands for a Sunday,
60. Matt. xxiv. 34. Of the Supplication. 61.
xxiv. 41. Of the Priests, at vespers. 62.
1. Approach to the gate ( Lisesa sor).7 63.
xxv. 13. Of Bishops and Priests, at the oblation. 64. xxv. 31. Of Friday of Confessors, at matins; and of the vigils of the
brethren, at vespers. 65. xxvi. 6. Of Thursday of the Mysteries, at vespers. 66. xxvi. 17. Of Thursday of the Mysteries, at matins. 67. xxvi. 31. Of the great season of the night of the Crucifixion. 68.
xxvi. 46. Of the third ministration of the night of the Crucifixion. 69. xxvi. 59. Of the ... ministration of the night of the Crucifixion. 70. xxvii. 1. Of matins of the Friday of the Crucifixion. 71. xxvii. 27. Of the third hour of the Crucifixion. 72. xxvii. 57. Of the Saturday of Annunciation, at vespers. 73 xxvii. 63. Of the Saturday of Annunciation, at matins. 74.
xxviii. 1. Of the second Sunday of the Resurrection, at vespers. 75.
xxviii. I. Of the second of Rest, at matins.
xxviii. 16. Of the Ascension, at the oblation. 1. * Mark
Of the Season of the Epiphany, at vespers.
ii. 23. Of the fourth Saturday of Lent. 6.
iii. 13. Of the Mother of God (Deipara), at vespers. 7.
Of the sixth Sunday after Epiphany, at matins. 8.
iv. 35. Of the third Sunday of Lent, at matins. 9.
Of the fourteenth Sunday, at vespers.
vii. 17. Of the eleventh of Resurrection, at vespers. 13. .
viii. 1. Of the oblation, of any day. 14.
viii. 11. Of the Tuesday of Rest, at vespers. 15.
viii. 28. Of the Dedication of a church, at the oblation. 16. viii. 34. Of the Resurrection, at vespers; and of the Prophets, at
matins; and of the Tabernacles. 17
ix. 9. Of the Saturday of Rest, at vespers. 18.
ix. 30. Of the tenth Sunday of the Resurrection, at matins. 19. ix. 42. Of the twenty-fourth of the Resurrection, at vespers; and
of the Supplications.
1 In explaining this term, Castel's Lexicon makes a very gross mistake in citing J. S. Assemani, under the word lado, p. 237. For Castel's (or Michaelis's)
usque ad hanc dominicam,” read -- usque ad hoc tempus appellatur Syris.” This feast was one day only. To explain the matter fully would take too much space here.