Author: Sebastian P. Brock
One of the finest pieces of early Syriac hagiographical writing is the narrative concerning the late fourth-century solitary Abraham of Qidun (near Edessa), in which one can read a dramatical section concerning Abraham’s niece, Mary, who abandoned the ascetic life and ended up as a prostitute. The narrative caught the imagination of later generations, and Mary was provided with a couple of verse laments, bewailing her fall from her former ascetic life. Curiously, the two different laments share the same first verse. Parts of these laments survive in certain manuscripts of the Fenqitho, or festal hymnary, at various points during Lent, although usually in incomplete forms. Fortunately, however, the two poems, each with an alphabetic acrostic, do survive complete in a few manuscripts, and it is these that are edited and translated here.
Keywords: Abraham of Qidun, Mary, fall, lament, soghitha