The editorial of SARA 3 introduces the 8 papers contained in this issue, and recounts a historical event in the modern culture of Syriac Orthodox Church: the first visit of a Syriac-Orthodox patriarch to the Holy Land since the 1967 Six-Day War. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II made a 6- day visit to the Holy Land between May 4-9, 2023, on the occasion of the installation of Archbishop Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, as Syriac-Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar of the Holy Land and Jordan.

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.01

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.02

Author: Sebastian P. Brock

Abstract: This article illustrates the dialogue, as a literary form, frequently encountered in Syriac literature of all periods, in prose and poetry, and covering a wide range of topics, notably philosophical, theological, monastic, and educational. Especially prominent among dialogues on theological matters that take as their starting point the biblical text are those in poetry. Ephrem in the fourth century, in his stanzaic poetry, and above all Jacob of Serugh around the turn of the fifth/sixth century, with his verse homilies, to name but the most prominent practitioners, often introduce direct speech involving dialogues between biblical characters. Liturgical poetry, in particular, is replete with brief (and probably fragmentary) examples of dialogues. Imagined dialogues, by no means always taking their starting point from actual dialogues to be found already in the biblical text, obviously provide ample scope for the phenomenon of ‘apocryphization’.

Keywords: Dialogue poems, transmission, catechetical role, Ephrem the Syrian, Jacob of Serugh, Narsai

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.03

Author: Clare Elena Wilde

Abstract: The Qur’ān names a number of individuals who are also known from the Bible. These biblio-qur’ānic figures include the heroic and malevolent, human and otherwise.  Among these figures are a number of individuals whom Islamic tradition would consider as prophets. Their qur’ānic mentions range from detailed narratives to brief allusions.

“Prophet” is rendered by the Arabic word nabiyy.  The Qur’ān employs two plural forms of this term: the broken Arabic plural (anbiyā’) and the common Semitic plural (nabiyyūn/nabbiyyīn).  In contrast to general Arabic usage, in the Qur’ān, it is the sound – and common Semitic – plural form of the word that is most employed, with nabiyyūn/nabiyyīn appearing 3x more frequently than anbiyā’. And, in four of its five occurrences, anbiyā’ occurs in a refrain of “killing the prophets without right”.

This paper examines the Qur’ān’s employment of anbiyā’ vs. nabiyyūn against a presumed background of Syriac Christian polemics.

Keywords: Qur’ān, qurbān, anbiya/nabiyyūn (prophets), polemics, madroshe

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.04

Author: Erica C.D. Hunter

Abstract: Ms Or. 2480 is a single vellum leaf with 47 lines of text on the recto side in an eastern Estrangela Syriac script.  With a posited 7th century dating, it was written for a woman client Xvarr-Vehg-zad called Yazdan-zadag, who is also the subject of three amulets published by Philippe Gignoux in Inscriptions Syriaques Magiques (Louvain-Paris: 1987). The article offers a translation and commentary of Ms Or. 2480, together with a comparative appraisal of its terminology that clearly situates the amulet within the repertoire of Mesopotamian incantation bowls. Ms Or. 2480 is distinguished by its opening Trinity formula; raising the question of scribal practice: whether he did so in response to Xvarr-Vehg-zad being a Christian? Or was the Trinity formula acting in the capacity of a vox magica?

Keywords: Syriac Amulet, Ms Or. 2480 Cambridge University Library, edition, translation, incantation formulas

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.05

Author: Daniel L. McConaughy

Abstract: This paper marks the 35th anniversary after the death of the great Syriac scholar Arthur Vööbus (d. 1988) and focuses on Dr. Vööbus as the scholar and man of God from the author’s personal experiences with him at the Lutheran School of Chicago. Searching for Syriac manuscripts was in the early and mid-career of Dr Vööbus, like a treasure hunt. It provided new sources that western scholars did not know about. The constant discovery of new manuscripts really energized Dr. Vööbus and provided him with so much to write about. He was always excited about the discoveries, and there was a constant sense of urgency to publish the results.

Keywords: Arthur Vööbus, Lutheran School of Chicago, Syriac class, doctoral students, personal accounts

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.06

Author: Robert A. Kitchen

Abstract: This article is a report of the transfer of the Arthur Vööbus collection from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago to permanent location at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. These include microfilms and photographs of Syriac manuscripts which Vööbus found in numerous Middle Eastern churches, monasteries and libraries, along with his personal papers. Special pages on Vööbus and the contents of the collection are available on the hmml.org website.

Keywords: Institute of Syriac Manuscript Studies, Arthur Vööbus collection, personal papers, HMML

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.07

Author: Iskandar Bcheiry

Abstract: Jean Maurice Fiey provided little but valuable historical information about the Syriac community in the Hattākh region. The present article aims to offer additional information collected from historical colophons, notices, marginalia, registers of ordinations, and endowments found in Syriac, Garshūnī, and Arabic manuscripts and archives about Syriacs in Hattākh. These sources shed light not only on the history of sacred places and clergy but also on the social, and cultural life of the Syriacs and their relationship with their neighbors, particularly the Armenians.

Keywords: Syriac and Garshuni manuscripts, Registers of endowment records, Registers of ecclesiastic ordinations, Colophons and historical notices

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.08

Author: Herman G.B. Teule

Abstract: This paper explores the new, but sometimes problematic way in which Christians themselves try to find a place in the Iraqi political landscape, defining themselves as an ethnic minority rather than as a religious community (Church), a development sometimes criticized by the ecclesiastical authorities, though as we will see the distinction between “religious” and “ethnic” is rather fluid.

Keywords: Chaldeans, Syrian Catholics, Assyrian, ethnic identity, Christian political parties

DOI: 10.59277/SARA.2023.09

Author: Robert A. Kitchen

Abstract: This is a first attempt at reimagining the History of Syriac Asceticism to which Arthur Vööbus devoted three volumes from 1958-1988. In the decades since, a great amount of research on all aspects of Syriac asceticism has emerged. Suggestions are offered regarding the range of new materials which could be included, as well as possible strategies for a renewed narrative of how Syriac asceticism developed and the shapes and varieties it assumed.

Keywords: Arthur Vööbus, History of Syriac Asceticism, prototypes, Syriac scholarship