Tag Archives: Arabic Didascalia

Qilada, Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah and Borg. Ar. 22

In my dialogue with Dani Vaucher below (the one in which I get rained on in Oxford) I make reference to Wilyam Sulayman Qilada (ed.), Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah: taʿālīm al-rusul (Cairo : Dār al-Jīl lil-Ṭibāʿah, 1979).

My parishioner Mohammed Basith Awan (remember that in the Church of England even Muslims are parishioners… they just have to live in the parish!), a far better Arabist than I, has had a look at it, and has determined that this is the “lost Coptic Didascalia” (again, see posts below) described by Baumstark and found in Codex Borg. Ar. 22. This ms also contains an Arabic version of the Testamentum Domini.

Specialists in this field (among whom I do not count myself) may learn with interest that the Vatican Library has digitized this codex. It may be read at
http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Borg.ar.22. Coptic marginal annotations clearly indicate an Egyptian provenance.


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Another Stewart-Vaucher dialogue, in which Dr Vaucher identifies a forgotten church order and Dr Stewart goes to Oxford and gets wet

In the comments on my post Some updates there has been something of a pooling of perplexity between myself and Daniel Vaucher. Editing the comments today I managed accidentally to delete a bunch of them. So to preserve the dialogue I have edited them all out (deleting the rest) and present them here as another Socratic dialogue in which I am reduced to aporia on one point at least. It may even continue!

DV: Thanks for updating the conspectus. I do have some more for you:

Testamentum Domini: you could add the edition by A. Vööbus, The synodicon in the West Syrian tradition. 2 vols. Louvain 1975, as well as the translations by J. Cooper and A.J. Maclean. The Testament of Our Lord Translated into English from the Syriac. Edinburgh 1902 and F. Nau, La version syriaque de l’Octateuque de Clément. Paris 1913 (where TD is book I-II)

Didascalia Apostolorum / CA I-VI: as I learn, according to M.E. Johnson, there is an edition of the arab version by H. Dawud, Ad-dasquliyah aw ta’atim ar-rusul. Cairo 1924; 3rd ed. 1967. This is beyond my language skills and needs further check.

Canons of Ps.-Basil: you could add the coptic fragments by W.E. Crum, The Coptic Version of the ‚Canons of S. Basil‘, in Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 26 (1904), 57-62.

ACS: Thank-you. Perhaps you could add the Testamentum material appropriately (NB however the Synodicon does not contain the full text of the Testamentum, only excerpts.) And certainly the Canons of Basil fragments; there are also some other fragments, see my post below from March 2014.
I am intrigued by this mention of the Arabic Didascalia however, though I cannot find the book in the Bodleian library or on COPAC, which means it will be hard to check it in person; Beyond Johnson’s bibliography the only reference I can find is an Indonesian (!) website which (having passed through Google translate!) states that this is a modern Arabic translation (ergo not a textual witness) of “The Didascalia of the apostles (the Apostolic Constitutions) edited by Hippolytus in 215.” (sic) I’m not sure which of an anonymous Indonesian website or Maxwell Johnson is the the more trustworthy source.

DV: OK. I have another one though: Canones Petri or Canones by Clement or Letter by Peter… according to Georg Graf, there is an Arabic ed. by P. Fahed, Kitab al-huda, ou Livre de la Direction: Code Maronite du Haut Moyen Age, traduction du Syriaque en Arabe par l’evêque Maronite David, l’an 1059, published 1935. And then, it is part of the Ethiopian Senodos, published by Bausi 1995. I wonder then, where are the Sahidic versions?

ACS: The Canones Petri should certainly be included… Actually it’s there already! Note there is a translation in Riedel KRQ, 165-175. Riedel opines that the work was composed in Arabic, and that the Syriac and Ethiopic are translations from Arabic.

DV: Contra Riedel, Graf, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, opines that the work goes back to a lost Greek original. I leave the question to the learned scholars with expertise in Arabic

ACS: I certainly don’t have that kind of expertise. However, I realize that if David the Maronite made a translation from Syriac to Arabic, then if it was Arabic to start with somebody must have translated it from Arabic to start with, which seems a rather strange proceeding. Presumably the Syriac (and a presumed Sahidic) are both lost. Puzzling, certainly.

DV: I’m puzzled too, and I can’t find Fahed anywhere in Switzerland, but I have Graf in front of me. He writes p. 580 f.: “das Werk gehört einer jüngeren Zeit an, ist aber nicht (wie Riedel will) arabisches Original, sondern Ableitung aus einer oder mehreren griechischen Schriften. Eingehende Untersuchungen über Quellen und Alter fehlen noch.” (footnote 1: Vansleb, Hist. S. 259: L’épitre de saint Pierre à saint Clément, mais parce qu’elle est pleine d’absurdités, je n’ai pas voulu la mettre ici).
I think, with Vansleb he refers to the Ethiopian version, which Bausi, Il Sēnodos etiopico, vol. I, p. 284-306, vol. II, p. 109-118 edited and translated. I don’t have Bausi in front of me, but his comment on the piece might be worth a check. And Kaufhold, “Sources of Canon Law in the Eastern Churches” in Hartmann/Pennington, The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law 2012, 235 and 270, refers to a Syriac version. I wonder now whether this was the piece that Maronite priest David was translating into Arabic, and whether that David’s Arabic version was the same that Riedel refered to. This is far beyond my understanding and knowledge of the Eastern languages, but it’s at least plausible that there was a now lost Greek original, which was then translated into Syriac (only: where is this version now? – I check Kaufhold again), and from there into Arabic and Ethiopic. Given the date of the translation, anno 1059, I think it would be unsafe to assume a much earlier arabic version anyway?

ACS: I will have to look into this. Gorgias has reprinted Fahed, which is a start.

DV: To make you and us wonder some more: In 2005, Kaufhold wrote in “La littérature pseudo canonique syriaque” in: Débie (ed): Les apocryphes syriaques. Paris 2005, p. 147-168 of a yet unpublished pseudo-canonique piece in Syriac with the following title: Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangeliste qui enseigna à Éphèse et prêcha de Pâcques, au sujet des choses commises de manière mauvaise et désordonée par des prêtres et des chrétiens à l’interieur de l’Église, et admonition du peuple.” With the short summary he gives, this could well be church order! It’s found in Ms Cambr. Add. 2023, fol. 83r – 159r, and, Kaufhold refers to an Arabic version which can be found in, guess, Fahed 1935…

ACS: I recognize that catalogue number! Really, I do. It is a collection of canonical material so could well contain a church order.

DV: I note in the translation of the Didascalia by Ragucci, which you just posted, the following comment:
Le recensioni arabe sono due e sono derivate e mediate da un testo copto oggi perduto, entrambe queste recensioni sono più vicine a CA, – di cui riportano anche la stessa prefazione–, che non a DA latina o siriaca.
La prima recensione è più antica ed è la più conosciuta, è detta anche Vulgata. Potrebbe essere stata tradotta da un testo copto nell’XI secolo, è suddivisa in 39 capitoli e rielabora CA I-VI, sebbene ci siano alcune omissioni in cui si verifica una significativa alterazione nella disposione del materiale e l’aggiunta del VI capitolo. Queste differenze nella disposizione degli argomenti la rendono una traduzione poco fedele. Di questa recensione Vulgata esiste un’edizione di Dāwud del 1924 che si basa su un manoscritto del patriarcato copto e su due manoscritti privati.
but she does not indicate Dawud’s edition, but refers instead to D. Spada-D. Salachas, Costituzioni dei Santi Apostoli per mano di Clemente, Urbaniana University press, Roma 2001, p. XXVII.

ACS: OK, that’s it, enoujgh confusion! I shall have to make a pilgrimage to the Bodleian and brave the hordes of tourists, the foul weather, and the horrible traffic.

ACS (several days later): Dr Vaucher, you are now the master, and I the troublesome student.
The letter of Peter, aka the canons of Clement, are indeed preserved in Arabic translation (from Syriac, presumably lost) in the Maronite canonical collection Kitab al-Huda. This was translated by the Maronite bishop David. Critical edition, as you gave it: Pierre Fahed, Kitab al-Huda ou livre de la direction: code Maronite du haut moyen age (Aleppo: Imp. Maronite, 1935). They are headed as the Canons of Clement.
The same text, headed Letter of Peter is indeed in the Ethiopian Senodos published by Bausi, as you suggested. I think Riedel must have been wrong, and these are not originally Arabic, since they were rendered from Syriac by David. I suspect that they were from a variety of Greek sources, possibly mediated through Coptic for the Egyptian branch and (obviously) through the Syriac, from which they were rendered for the Kitab al-Huda. Mind you, that’s only a hunch.
Secondly, I went looking for this Arabic Didascalia reported by Johnson. I cannot find the Dawud text, though I am sure that Ragucci’s information was entirely from the translation of Constitutiones apostolorum by Spada and Salachas, which she cites, and they in turn had it from… Graf, Geschichte I, 568. This is also, I suspect, where Johnson got it from. The correct reference as Graf gives it is: Ḥafiẓ Dawud, ad Dasquliya au ta’alim ar-rusul (Cairo, 1924). Although I could not find Dawud, I did find: Wilyam Sulayman Qilada (ed.) Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah : taʿālīm al-rusul (Cairo : Dār al-Jīl lil-Ṭibāʿah, 1979), but the source of this text I cannot say! One can reasonably imagine that it is Egyptian.
Now, M. Kohlbacher, “Zum liturgischen Gebrauch der Apostolischen Konstitutionen in Ägypten”, in J.M.S. Cowey and B. Kramer (ed.) Paramone (Archiv für Papyrusforschung Beiheft 16; Leipzig, Saur, 2004) suggests that there may be even more recensions of the Constitutiones apostolorum in Arabic (we must remember that the Arabic Didascalia is actually the Constiutiones and not the Didascalia at all.) At this point I have to confess that I can go no further with this enquiry for the present.
However, it’s not all bad news. You mentioned Kaufhold’s mention of a Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangeliste. I have checked this out.
It is worth citing Kaufhold in full:
Dans la deuxième partie du Kitāb al- Hudā apparaissent deux séries de “Canons de saint Jean l’Évangeliste” que n’avaient jusque’à présent pas été identifiés. Le première traite du patriarche, des métropolites, des êvêques, des périodeutes, des prêtres, des diacres, et la deuxième concerne le divorce. Pour les deux séries, il est expressement dit dans le Kitāb al-Hudā qu’elles ont été traduites du Syriaque. Il s’agit manifestement d’extraits de la Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangéliste que se trouve dans le manuscrit Cambridge Add. 2023…; dans ce manuscrit, les fonctions ecclésiastiques y sont traités aux f. 129v et suiv. Et les prescriptions sur le divorce aux f. 144v; et suiv., mais les textes ne correspondent pas exactement. On doit encore les regarder de plus près.
One cannot agree more with the last statement. In the footnote he states that he has his information from Desreumaux. One wonders how anyone, even Desreumaux,  knows this, as the Cambridge text is unedited. Nonetheless, Dr Vaucher, you seem to have found us a new church order!
I will update the conspectus.

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A textual conundrum in the mystagogia of the Testamentum Domini

In Testamentum Domini 1.28 (part of the mystagogy) the Syriac reads ܕܡܢܗ ܠܠܒܵܘܬܐ ܕܗܢܘܢ ܕܕܚܠܝܢ ܠܗ. This does not make a lot of sense, and so Rahmani emends ܕܡܢܗ to ܕܡܢܗܪ (thus “illuminates the hearts of those who fear him”). Cooper and Maclean, alternatively, suggest ܕܡܢܝܚ, thus “delights the hearts”, based on a reading of the Arabic Didascalia. Yesterday I checked the readings of O. Burmeister, “The Coptic and Arabic versions of the Mystagogia” Le Muséon 46 (1933), 203-235, to find that the Coptic version from the liturgy of Maundy Thursday is the same as the Arabic Didascalia, thus “delights”. But bafflingly the Arabic of the Borgian Arabic MS of the Testamentum has “illuminates”! Baffling, I should clarify, because this text is in the Egyptian tradition, and so the variation cannot be ascribed to circles of transmission. All very odd, as I cannot see how the confusion might come about in Greek, though clearly two versions were circulating.

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A paschal proclamation embedded in a church order?

Three times a year, states the Testamentum Domini (1.28), the bishop is to instruct the people in the mysteries. This is to take place at Pascha, at Pentecost and at Epiphany.

The instruction concerns in particular the harrowing of hell. The only dedicated study of which I am aware is that of Jean Parisot, ”Note sur la mystagogie du “Testament du Seigneur”” Journal asiatique 9.15 (1900), 377-380, who finds some intriguing but not especially enlightening parallels.

However, this “mystagogy” is also found in the Arabic Didascalia (on which see prior posts) but most interestingly is preserved in Bohairic in the Coptic liturgy, at the consecration of the chrism. These texts are edited by O. Burmeister, “The Coptic and Arabic versions of the Mystagogia” Le Muséon 46 (1933), 203-235. What seems to me significant is the paschal context for this, as for the use in the Testamentum Domini. I am led to wonder whether this is a paschal proclamation in origin.

The “mystagogy” is, moreover, a finely-wrought bit of rhetoric:

Thus note the homoiarcton:
He is wisdom,
he is strength,
he is Lord,
he is understanding…

he is our light, salvation, saviour, protector,
helper, teacher, deliverer, rewarder,
assistance, strength, wall…

passible and impassible,
uncreated Son,
dead (yet) living,
Son of the Father,
incomprehensible and comprehensible…

Ethopoiia (as death cries out, homoiarctically by the way):
“Who is this, clothed in the humanity which was subject to me, and who has however conquered me?
Who is this who is wresting from destruction the flesh which was bound by me?
Who is this who is clothed in earth but who is yet of heaven?…”

Anyone familiar with Melito of Sardis, or indeed Polemo of Smyrna, will recognize the style.

I would hesitate to go beyond this, but am confident in claiming this as ante-Nicene, and as deriving from a paschal liturgical proclamation.

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The additional chapters of the Arabic Didascalia

As part of my work on Testamentum Domini I have been trying to get my head around the various Arabic versions of this text. Here I have been greatly aided by the extraordinary scholarship of R-G Coquin, “Le Testamentum Domini: problemes de tradition textuelle” Parole de l’Orient 5 (1974), 165-188. Coquin notes three distinct Arabic versions, based on distinct Greek recensions of the text. This to add to the Ethiopic version and the Syriac recension published by Rahmani.

What is particularly interesting to note, in what amounts to a throwaway remark from Coquin on p. 184 of his article, is that the additional chapters of the Arabic Didascalia (see previous posts), whilst taken from Testamentum Domini, reflect a distinct Arabic version of this material.

My own Arabic is somewhat limited. All this steels my determination, however, to improve its standard so that, even if as a retirement project, I can bring this material to publication. In the meantime I hope nonetheless that somebody else does it. So if there is any Arabist reading this blog who is looking for a research project…


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The Arabic Didascalia

Some recent posts have moved some to ask me further about the Arabic Didascalia.

There are two recensions.

The first corresponds to Constitutiones apostolorum 1-6, with some omissions and re-arrangements. In addition it has a preface and six additional chapters. This preface is that which also appears in the E recension of the Syrian Didascalia.

The opening of this recension was given by Thomas Pell Platt (The Ethiopic Didascalia; or, the Ethiopic version of the Apostolical constitutions, received in the church of Abyssinia. With an English translation (London: R. Bentley, 1834) from one of two MSS in London. Platt further gives an account of a controversy between Whiston and Grabe in the early eighteenth century, which led to Grabe’s examination of two Arabic MSS at Oxford. (Platt, Ethiopic Didascalia, ii-viii.) Grabe gave a description of the contents of these without any publication,seeing the versional aspects of these MSS as simply corruption of the Greek.

As far as I can see the next published treatment of this material is that of Funk, who lists eight MSS for the Arabic Didascalia, giving a description of the contents, and a German translation of the preface and the additional chapters. (F.X. Funk, Die apostolischen Konstitutionen: eine litterar–historische Untersuchung (Rottenburg: Wilhelm Bader, 1891), 215-242. Two of these, in London, are mentioned by Platt, Ethiopic Didascalia, xi. The former is in Karshuni script, the latter was the source of his printing of the opening.) A Latin version of this material, with extensive annotation, is to be found in Funk’s Didascalia et constitutiones apostolorum (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 1905), 120-136. The reason for stressing that this was published is that Wilhelm Riedel, Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig: Deichert, 1900), 164-165, reports that Lagarde had studied the Parisian MSS and made a collation, but that this was never published! (According to Riedel this MS may be found as Lagarde 107 in the University Library at Göttingen.)

The other recension, discovered by Baumstark, is close to Constitutiones apostolorum in books 1-6, also contains most of book 7, does not include the additional chapters but does include the preface. The colophon states that this version was translated from Coptic in the thirteenth century. As such it is less a witness to the Arabic Didascalia as to a lost Coptic Didascalia. (See Anton Baumstark, “Die Urgestalt der ‘arabischen Didaskalia der Apostel’” Oriens Christianus 3 (1903), 201-208.)

Lagarde had opined that the Ethiopic version was a translation of the Arabic (my source for this being Riedel’s brief report.) Given that this is likewise unpublished, though edited and translated into English (by J.M. Harden, The Ethiopic Didascalia (London: SPCK, 1920)), it does seem extraordinary that no effort appears to have been made since that of Lagarde to study and to bring this material to light.

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Another e-rratum

Another e-rratum from the Didascalia:

On 265, footnote 8 the Syriac has been reversed, reading left to right! The note should read: Reading here ܐܪܙܐ with Testamentum Domini, as against the MSS of DA which read ܪܐܙܐ

I came across this as I re-read this portion of my own work. The reason for doing so illustrates well the horrible complexity of the interrelated church orders to which Dani Vaucher alluded in one of his recent comments.

I am now translating Testamentum Domini for St Vladimir’s. In doing so I noticed a footnote in Maclean’s translation referring to Funk, Apostolischen Konstitutionen, which in turn is discussing a then unpublished (still unpublished!) Arabic Didascalia. Parts are given in a German translation and are clearly related, probably indebted, to Testamentum Domini. The first chapter is not, however, in Testamentum Domini, but nonetheless sounded horribly familiar. I tracked it down to this section of  the Didascalia… and reading saw the error. The confusion is exacerbated because this is found only in a secondary recension of the Didascalia, containing a strange collection of assorted church order material.

A final, odd, note: both Rahmani and Maclean render ܐܪܙܐ at this point as though it were ܪܐܙܐ!

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