Congrats to my Leuven colleagues Bert Jacobs and Jean Fathi for their freshly published articles in the latest issues of respectively Le Muséon and Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. The same goes for the Zaroui Pogossian, the TeTra speaker at the end of May, and the TeTra co-convenor, Andy Hilkens. Below I simply pasted the abstracts for a quick look.
Zaroui Pogossian, “The Armenian Version of Ps.-Hippolytus De Consummatione mundi and its Impact on the Armenian Apocalyptic Tradition,” Le Muséon 133.1-2 (2020).
This article presents for the first time the Armenian version of an eschatological composition known as Ps.-Hippolytus De Consummatione Mundi (BHG 812z, CPG 1910) in comparison with its Greek original, and evaluates its possible impact on other Armenian apocalyptic texts, particularly Agat’angel On the end of the world. It first discusses briefly the textual tradition of the Armenian Ps.-Hippolytus and reveals that it is extant in at least two recensions. Their distinctive features are exposed. Then, the article explores some common themes, the so-called ‘eschatologically sensitive formulae’, that Ps.-Hippolytus and Agat’angel On the end of the world share, emphasising both text’s engagement in anti-Jewish polemic. Such topoi, particularly in relation to the function of the Jews in the eschatological drama and their fate during the Last Judgement, are significant given that they are attested only in very few other texts. This could lead to the hypothesis of a direct dependence between these two texts. However, a more detailed comparison provides grounds to refuse this possibility. Nevertheless, a shared cultural-geographical milieu of the two texts’ redaction may be hypothesised and a possible relative and absolute dating proposed, suggesting a date of the composition of Agat’angel On the end of the world at the time of Emperor Heraclius and the so-called last great conflict of Late Antiquity – the Byzantine-Persian wars.
Andy Hilkens, “Language, Literacy and Historical Apologetics
Hippolytus of Rome’s Lists of Literate Peoples in the Syriac Tradition,” JEastCS 72.1–2 (2020).
In Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the Syriac language was part of several debates, including one about the identity of the language of Creation. Not surprisingly, many Syriac authors argued for the primacy of Aramaic over Hebrew. One genre of texts whose contribution to this debate has been neglected until now is that of lists of the literate peoples of the earth, categorized as descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth. We encounter these lists, which are based on material that stems from the Greek chronicle tradition and that was eagerly appropriated by Syriac historical and exegetical authors, in manuscripts that date from the ninth to the nineteenth century. Sometimes they are transmitted independently, for instance under the name of Eusebius of Caesarea or Epiphanius of Salamis. Sometimes they are part of a larger context where more material on the division of the earth (the Diamerismos) was transmitted into Syriac. This article draws two important conclusions. First, a division can be made in the material between a conservative ‘Greek’ tradition, represented by the Chronicle of Michael the Elder (d. 1199 C.E.), and a progressive Syriac tradition. Several changes can be tracked, not only in the process of transmission from Greek into Syriac, but also an internal Syriac evolution. These lists were often updated, so much so that different traditions within the progressive Syriac tradition emerge. What connects the Syriac tradition, however, and this is the second conclusion that this study offers, is that the progressive Syriac tradition clearly offsets the Syriac language (or at least the written language that was used by the Syrians) against that of the Hebrews and the Greeks. Without explicitly going into the issue of the identity of the primeval language, these lists imply the old age of the Syriac language, similarly to Hebrew and Greek.
Jean Fathi, “D’Orient à L’Orient: Don Élias Fathalla, interprète de Napoléon, et la première Église syrienne-catholique,” JEastCS 72.1–2 (2020).
The documents of the French Campaign in Egypt mention a certain ‘Don Elia Fatalla’ from the city of Diyarbakır, an interpreter heading the Oriental Press and a member of the Commission des Sciences et des Arts. Despite his association with one of the most inspiring adventures of Napoleon, this ancient-Syrian priest turned Catholic, editor of the Syriac breviary in Rome in 1787 and chair of the Syriac and Chaldean languages at the College of Propaganda, has never been the subject of any investigation. Several funds, in particular those of the Archivio Storico di Propaganda Fide in the Vatican and the Syrian Catholic patriarchal monastery of Charfet in Mount Lebanon, reveal his notable role in the history of the early Syrian Catholic church, during the period of the restoration by Patriarch Mīḫāyīl Ğarweh in 1782 of the Uniate patriarchal line, established in the preceding century but interrupted for eighty years. This French-language study is subdivided in four parts; the first three encompass the principal phases in the life of Elias: his upbringing in the East (up to 1771), his career in Rome (1771-1798), and his participation in the Egyptian Campaign in 1798; while the fourth clarifies certain ambiguities regarding his identity, notably the amalgam between him and another cleric named Rabbān Elias Amīrḫān, and the question of his kinship with the family of the deacon Amīršāh Fatḥallah.
Bert Jacobs, “The Rise of Islam According to Dionysius of Tell-Maḥrē: Tentative Reconstruction through Three Dependent Texts,” Le Muséon 133.1-2 (2020).
It is commonly believed that of the two West Syriac chronicles that have preserved large parts of the now lost Chronicle of Dionysius of Tell-Maḥrē (d. 845), the account of the rise of Islam is better preserved in the anonymous Chronicle up to the Year 1234 than it is in the Chronicle of Michael Rabō (d. 1199). In addition to the overall preference for Chron. 1234 over Michael’s Chronicle that has emerged in recent scholarship, this view is based on the assumption that the polemical elements found only in Michael’s version are more likely his own additions than omissions by the Anonymous Chronicler. On the basis of a new dependant, Dionysius bar Ṣalībī (d. 1171), this article argues that Michael, followed by Bar Ṣalībī, rather than the Anonymous Chronicler, have more fully and faithfully preserved the original account on the rise of Islam. This argument is developed in three steps. First, evidence is presented that Bar Ṣalībī borrowed his account of the rise of Islam as narrated in the opening chapter of his Disputation against the Muslims directly from Dionysius of Tell-Maḥrē. Secondly, the redactions by the three dependants are assessed. Having sifted the dependants’ adaptations from what is most likely original, finally a tentative reconstruction of Dionysius’ account in English translation is provided. A synopsis of the three dependent texts in English translation is appended.