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on vellum, and seventy on paper, all in Syriac or Aramaic, with one volume of Coptic fragments. These, together with the fortynine previously obtained, make an addition to the national library of three hundred and sixty-six volumes of manuscripts. As many of these contain two, or even three or four, distinct works, written at different periods, but bound up together, and as several are made up of various fragments, it is perhaps not too much to affirm that there are contained in this collection parts of at least one thousand manuscripts, written in different countries—in Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt—and at various times—from the beginning of the fifth to the end of the thirteenth century. The earliest is dated A.D. 411, the latest A.D. 1292. It would be very interesting, if the means were within our reach, to trace the history of this most remarkable collection, perhaps the largest that was ever possessed by any single monastery, especially when we consider the time and labour requisite to produce even one copy, which could not have been less to the Oriental scribes than in the convents of the West. A note at the end of one copy of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, which seems to have been written in the eighth century, states that the transcriber completed his task in the course of one year, which is doubtless intended to be a record of more than ordinary diligence. We have no means, as we have said, of tracing the history of this collection, as indeed we have none either for that of the monastery itself. It was most probably founded in the earliest ages of asceticism, and ransacked by the Arabs, with the rest of the convents, at the beginning of the ninth century. We have already stated that it was again in a flourishing condition at the commencement of the tenth century, and that Moses, its then abbot, brought to its library from Mesopotamia two hundred and fifty volumes, of which fact we are assured by the registry which he made in many, if not in all, of these books. Several bearing this notice are now in the British Museum; several also are in the Vatican, as appears from the account given by J. S. Assemani—some belonging to the collection which he himself made, and others to that obtained by his cousin Elias; and one which was formerly the property of Abraham Ecchellensis, from which it appears that some manuscripts had been brought from this monastery into Europe previously to the expedition of Elias Assemani, but by whom or when we have not been able to discover. Moreover, from various notices on the fly-leaves of several of these volumes, we gather that they once belonged to the convent of Amba-Bishoi, and were afterwards transferred to that of St. Mary Deipara of the Syrians by a person named Abrabam, and incorporated into their library. Other similar notices record the
benefaction of several volumes by various individuals, many of whom appear to have been inhabitants of Tecrit in Mesopotamia; where indeed, and at Edessa, and in the monasteries in the neighbourhood, most of them appear to have been written. Many of these presents seem to have been single manuscripts offered for the salvation of the soul of the donor; but one notice states that no less than eighteen volumes, the property of one individual, came into the possession of the convent upon the death of the owner. There are also records of the purchase of several books for the use of the monastery, and some doubtless were transcribed within its walls. It is only from such incidental notices as these, written at the beginning and end of some of the volumes, that we have any means of forming an estimate of the manner in which the collection was increased to so great a number. There is a note in one of the volumes stating that the manuscripts belonging to the library were repaired in the year of the Greeks 1533 (A.D. 1222). At no very distant period subsequently to this they were probably altogether neglected, the monks becoming too ignorant to make any further use of them. The volume with the most recent date in the collection was written seventy years later, and after this time there seems to have been no effort in these monasteries either at composition or translation into Syriac, or even to reproduce any of their ancient literature by new transcripts. Indeed the examination of this collection brings conviction, that for two or three centuries at least previous to this time little had been done in the way of transcribing further than to copy liturgies, lives of saints, a few homilies, and such parts of the Holy Scriptures as were needed by the monks in the daily services. These, of course, required to be periodically renewed, as by constant use they necessarily became torn and worn out. This circumstance has been the cause of the destruction of some of the finest and most ancient manuscripts which the monks ever possessed. Almost all the manuscripts of this class are palimpsest. When their service-books were worn out, the monks, unable perhaps to obtain vellum elsewhere, had recourse to the expedient of erasing the text of an old volume. In selecting manuscripts for this purpose they seem to have been guided chiefly by the fineness of the vellum, and consequently attacked those which were the most ancient, and in every respect the most valuable. The Greek manuscripts seem to have suffered first, probably because they were unintelligible to the monks; for although there are several Greek palimpsests, as well as Syriac, among the manuscripts now in the British Museum, there is not found in the whole collection one single Greek book, but only a few very . small fragments in some of the volumes, which have been pasted
on to mend the leaves that were torn; but even these are sufficient to show that the Greek manuscripts which they did possess were of the finest class and of the greatest antiquity, closely resembling the famous Alexandrine Bible in substance and calligraphy. It is evident that the monks must have employed some chemical process of erasure, and this in most instances has been so successful as to leave scarcely any perceptible trace of the original writing, but at the same time it has been very injurious to the texture of the vellum : these manuscripts are consequently in the worst condition of any in the collection. Some, indeed, of the others look as fresh as if they had scarcely been used at all -even the original dressing of the vellum still remains; although they have been written more than a thousand years, they seem as if the transcriber had finished his task but yesterday.
The contents of these manuscripts are, as we should naturally expect, chiefly theological, and in this department they are most important. The copies of the Holy Scriptures are some of the oldest in existence, and the translations of the works of the great Fathers of the Church are most valuable, not only because many of them, in all probability, were made during the lifetime of the authors (we have the means of proving certainly that some of them were), but also because the manuscripts in which these Syriac versions are found are the oldest copies of these works now extant, and were written some centuries earlier than any of those in which the original Greek exists. Moreover, this collection contains several really important works, of which the Greek copies have been long since lost, and are now only known to us either by their titles which have come down to us, or by very short extracts preserved by other writers. Besides these there are many original works of Syriac authors.
Of biblical manuscripts of the Peshito version there are nearly thirty volumes, containing various books of the Old Testament, most of which were written about the sixth century; one copy of the Pentateuch dated A.D. 464. We find also the book of Exodus, written A.D. 697—the books of Numbers, Joshua, and the first book of Kings, transcribed about the same time-of the Hexaplar edition, with the asterisks, obelisks, &c., as corrected by Eusebius; together with part of Genesis, and of two copies of the Psalms, of this same edition, with short scholia by Athanasius and Hesychius of Jerusalem. Here are the first book of Samuel and the first book of Kings, in the version of Mar Jacob of Edessa, written A.D. 703; and a copy of Isaiah, written about the same time, probably translated by the same Mar Jacob. There are upwards of forty manuscripts containing parts of the Peshito version of the New Testament, many of which are of the sixth century,
and some appear to be of the fifth: and also a copy of the Gospels and of the Epistles of St. James, St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, of the Philoxenan version, or, more properly speaking, of the edition corrected by Thomas of Heraclea..
Of the Apocrypha, these manuscripts contain the Book of Wisdom, Baruch, and Maccabees; also the Book of Women, which comprises Esther, Judith, Susannah, Ruth, and the Life of the martyr Thecla. There are also copies of the Gospel of the Infancy; the History of the Holy Virgin, and her Departure from this world ; the Doctrine of Peter which he taught at Rome; and a Letter of Pilate to Herod, and of Herod to Pilate.
To the copies of the Scriptures should be added several Lectionaries, containing portions of Scripture appointed to be read in the churches. This class of manuscripts, for the reason which we have above stated, is more recent than the copies of the Scriptures : some of them are dated in the ninth century, but most in the eleventh. There is a large collection of rituals and servicebooks, with many ancient liturgies; and these also are of the later class of manuscripts: here are found the liturgies of the Apostles, of St. James, St. John, St. Matthew, St. Clement, St. Ignatius, Dionysius the Areopagite; of Celestinus, Julius, Xystus or Sixtus, bishops of Rome; of Basil, of Gregory Theologus; of Cyril, and Dioscorus, bishops of Alexandria; of Eustathius, of Cúriacus, and Severus, bishops of Antioch ; of Philoxenus, bishop of Mabug; of Jacob of Edessa, and Jacob, bishop of Serug; of Maruthas, Thomas of Heraclca, Moses Bar Cepha, John Bar Salibi, and others. Several collections of canons of councils,the Collection of Apostolic canons made by Hippolytus; the Canons of the councils of Nice, Ancyra, Neocæsarea, Gangra, Laodicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon; the Acts of the second council of Ephesus, held under Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria in the time of Theodosius and Valentinian, transcribed A.D. 535. These collections of canons appear to be very important, as they do not seem to have been always translated from the Greek, but to have been arranged and digested by some of the Syrian bishops who attended the councils. To these may be added the canons of several individual patriarchs and bishops for the especial government of their own churches, which may be of great value in tracing the ecclesiastical history of the East.
Of documents which are referred to apostolic times there is found in this collection a small tract bearing the title of the Doctrine of the Apostles. This has been published by the Cardinal Mai, in the tenth volume of his · Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio;' but he assigns it to the thirteenth century. What pretensions it has to refer its origin to apostolic times, as its title indi
cates, we cannot discuss in this place; but we must observe that the Cardinal cannot bave erred less than six centuries in the date which he fixes on; for there are two copies of this tract among these Syriac manuscripts, both of which were undoubtedly transcribed in the sixth century of the Christian era.* Of the Arostolic Fathers there are found in this collection two copies of the Recognitions ascribed to St. Clement, one in the very ancient manuscript which we have spoken of before, and the other in a copy which seems to be of the sixth century; and three epistles of St. Ignatius, to St. Polycarp, to the Ephesians, and the Romans. To these we should add several copies of the works ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite. Of other ecclesiastical writers of the second and third centuries—besides various fragments from their works cited by other authors, we recover in this Syriac collection an oration of Melito, bishop of Sardis, to the emperor Marcus Antoninus; which, however, does not agree with that cited by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (Book iv, chap. 26): the entire Dialogue on Fate by Bardesanes, of which a fragment had been preserved by Eusebius in the 10th chapter of the 6th book of his · Præparatio Evangelica;' and two or three treatises of Gregory Thaumaturgus, which appear to have been hitherto unknown.
Of ecclesiastical writers of the fourth century,–Titus, bishop of Bostra, against the Manicheans. The original Greek is imperfect, and the last book lost; the Syriac version is complete, and was transcribed A.D. 411. In the same manuscript are contained, as we have seen above, two works of Eusebius, on the Divine Manifestation of our Lord, and on the Martyrs of Palestine. We find here also the five first books of his Ecclesiastical History, transcribed early in the sixth century. Of Athanasius, - his Commentary on the Psalms, Life of St. Anthony, and his Festal Letters, but not complete: of these letters Athanasius
* There is another error less excusable committed by the learned Cardinal, which, as it relates to a matter of considerable interest, the testimony to the antiquity of the British Church received in the East, certainly not later than about the year 500, and probably much earlier (for this is the period of the transcript of the manuscript), we must take this opportunity of correcting. At the end of this work, professing to be
the Doctrine of the Apostles,' there is an account of the different channels through which the sacerdotal office was transmitted to the various parts of the then Christian world. The passage to which we allude runs thus :-Rome, the whole of Italy, Spain, Britain, Gaul, and the other countries round about, received the hand of priesthood from Simon Cepha, who came from Antioch, and was ruler and governor of the church which he built there.' This we have translated from the Syriac, as it is correctly printed at page 174. But the Latin version runs thus :- Accepit manum sacerdotalem Roma civitas, et tota Italia, ac Hispania, Bythinia, et Gallia,' &c.-P. 7. VOL. LXXVII. NO. CLIII.