Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Joe Glynias on Syriac Melkite Monasticism at Mount Sinai in the 13th 14th Centuries

This is an extremely valuable article that maps out literary and liturgical use of Syriac among Chalcedonian Orthodox in the Mamluk period.


There are about 80 extant dated Syriac manuscripts, predominately liturgical, from the medieval period that were present in the library of the monastery of Mount Sinai in the modern era. About half were written in the Sinai between 1233 and 1322, while the other half were written elsewhere (10th - 14th centuries) and brought there. I analyze two types of notes found in these manuscripts: the colophons that inform us when, where, and for whom they were written, and the waqf statements that indicate the Sinai monastery’s ownership of them. While previous scholars have analyzed the colophons in isolation and attempted to explain aspects of the Syriac efflorescence on Sinai in the 13th century, I use these notes to provide a more comprehensive picture of the role of Syriac liturgy at the Sinai and of this period of Syriac Melkite monasticism.

Furthermore, I build a model of where Syriac scribes who worked at the Sinai came from over time, in comparison to a model of where the manuscripts from outside the Sinai were produced over time. Because Sinai is such an important modern receptacle for Syriac Melkite manuscripts, I utilize its collection to illustrate the various centers of Melkite Syriac manuscript production from c. 1000- 1300, focusing on the wider regions of Antioch and Mount Lebanon, and monastic sites such as the Black Mountain, Qāra, and Ṣaydnāyā. In conjunction with this, I use the waqf statements that often give the name of a bishop and the institutional beneficiary of the manuscript within Sinai, to reveal the centers of Syriac liturgy at the mountain in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the symbiotic relationship  between Syriac and Arabic manuscripts in locations around the mountain.

Read the whole article here.

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