Syriac Text Reading Seminar

Course Status: 
CEU code: 
MEDS 6025
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
17 Jan 2014 - 4 Apr 2014
Co-hosting Unit(s) [if applicable]: 
Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies (CEMS)
Non-degree Specialization: 
EMS—Advanced Certificate in Eastern Mediterranean Studies
István Perczel
Sebastian Brock
Learning Outcomes: 
By the completion of this course, participants will feel fairly safe in reading Syriac sources. Their linguistic skills would be enhanced and they would get an insight into the complicated texture of Syriac historical sources.
Assessment : 
Regular attendance (at least ten sessions out of twelve) is mandatory. So is also the work at home on the prescribed readings. No test will be written, the only criterion for the assessment is oral performance at the translation seminars. Preliminary knowledge of the Syriac language is not a criterion of assessment but only preparation and effort. Students will be assessed according to the progress made by them during the term.

This course is designed for students wishing to deepen their skills in using Syriac texts as historical sources. The format of the course is that of translation seminars. Every participant is expected to read the prescribed readings at home and translate part of it during the joint reading of the text at the seminar. At the translation seminar grammatical, contextual, text critical and historical questions will be discussed. During the term we will read some selected texts from a range of sources: the Old Syriac and the Peshitta Gospel texts, as well as texts from Syriac chronicles, namely the Chronicle of Michael the Great.

Level and requirements

The seminar is open to both Ph.D. and MA students.

 Reading knowledge of Classical Syriac is required.

 Course outline

 As it is impossible to predict the pace of reading, which depends on the level and interest of the participants and the development of the class discussions, the outline given here-below is tentative.

 1-5. week: First text, John 6-8 and parallel texts in the Old Syriac, the Peshitta and the Harclean versions, from G. Kiraz (ed), Comparative Edition of the Syriac Gospels: Aligning the Old Syriac (Sinaiticus, Curetonianus), Peshitta and Harklean Versions (Leiden: Brill, 1997)

 6-9. week: Second text: from a dossier against Saint Maximus the Confessor (7th c.), compiled by Shem’un of Qenneshre and transmitted by Michael the Great, from the facsimile of a manuscript edited by J.-B. Chabot, La Chronique de Michel le Syrien, vol. 4, Paris, 1899, p. 423-26.

10-12. week: Third text, from the Ecclesiastic Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah of Mitylene, on the events of the year 532, from J. P. N. Land, Anecdota Syriaca vol. III, Leiden, 1870, p. 272 ff.

Course goals

 The course intends to deepen the linguistic and historical knowledge of its participants. It presents an array of different linguistic layers and historical subjects. It also provides some glances into source criticism.