• Prolegomena to a New Edition of Eliya of Nisibis's Kitāb al-turjumān fī taʿlīm luġat al-suryān

    Adam Bremer-McCollum (see profile)
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    Eliya of Nisibis (975–1046), Patriarch of the Church of the East, has earned a noteworthy position among both Syriac and Arabic writers for his works in grammar, lexicography, historiography and theology. His Kitāb al-turjumān, a topically classified (i.e. non-alphabetic) Syriac-Arabic glossary, serves as an important monument to both Syriac and Arabic in a Christian and philosophical setting at an important juncture for both of these languages. In this work, Eliya lists vocabulary in both languages for general topics, as well as theological and philosophico-scientific terms, and at the end he offers a long list of colours, verbs and various phrases. Eliya’s book is relatively well attested in manuscripts from both the western and eastern Syriac traditions, but there has been some confusion on the manuscripts that actually contain the work. In 1636 a version of the work appeared with a Latin translation, but without naming Eliya at all, and in 1879 the industrious Paul de Lagarde published the first real edition of the Kitāb, though with some shortcomings (a not insignificant one being that the Syriac was printed in Hebrew square script and the Garšūnī in Arabic script, instead of the whole work being in Syriac script as it is in most known manuscripts). Eliya’s work has somewhat recently been discussed by scholars, but only cursorily. The aim of this study is to provide a fuller introduction and analysis of the work and its extant manuscripts; this goal is made the more possible by the recent discovery from a collection in Aleppo of what is the earliest dated manuscript known (1523/4), and five more manuscripts from Homs, Mardin, and northern Iraq, only two of which are of relatively recent date. The prospects for a new edition of Eliya’s important lexicographical work are also discussed.
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    2 years ago
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