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3125[textualcriticism] Book of Revelation & Folio 129a of Sinaiticus

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  • Mark Thunderson
    May 10, 2007
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      Dear Jean:

      First of all, thank you very much for taking the time
      and effort to translate this Arabic note from
      Sinaiticus. Your comments and expertise are well
      taken. However, perhaps I can elucidate more on my
      curiosity regarding this particular note.

      1. That Arabic was common-place on the Sinai
      Peninsula is true enough. However, my question
      regarding the language of the note in Revelation
      arises on account of the history of Codex Sinaiticus.
      For instance, as far as I can recall, my understanding
      is that Sinaiticus is ÒlostÓ to the common memory
      somewhere around the 7th or 8th century AD.
      Presumably, this would imply that it was either
      intentionally hidden or simply forgotten about within
      the Monastery library of Saint CatherineÕs. As you
      can certainly deduce from this line of logic, this
      would imply that the Arabic notes within Sinaiticus
      would have to have been written prior to the 7th or
      8th century.

      2. Regarding your second comment, perhaps it is the
      faded nature of the hand-writing or just poor style.
      If the above be true or have plausibility then
      regardless of style, it must be prior to the 13th
      century AD (which is where you placed it). In other
      words, as you can see, the issues surrounding the
      hand-writing are not easily pinned down. My own
      inclination would be to try to locate a time period
      for the hand writing based upon content. For example,
      the Arabic names of the stars which are mentioned.
      Your own translation yielded the names ÒAghrosÓ and
      ÒAfsintos.Ó However, another Arabic source which
      translated the passage came up with ÒAÕarneyounÓ and
      ÒAl-Sofleen.Ó Can you comment on this semantic flux
      in the meaning of these stars? Moreover, the 7th
      millenium does so far as I know have correspondance
      with the Sunnah. Can you comment on this?

      3. Once again, you mention the prominence of Arabic
      among the Christian churches. This is true enough for
      the later centuries. Yet, what about the early
      centuries? In particular we are back to the elusive
      history of this particular ancient manuscript, which
      pre-dates Islam and Mohammad. Moreover, itÕs the
      location of the manuscript that is of particular
      interest. For instance, Saint CatherineÕs has a
      peculiar history about it. As I mentioned previously,
      it houses the Fatimid Mosque within the Monastery
      walls, as well as the Letter from Mohammad promising
      protection. WouldnÕt you agree this is rather
      unusual? In other words, there is an unmistakable
      Islamic footprint upon this particular monastery,
      unlike many others. Hence, it does seem worthwhile
      pursuing this line of questioning until it is
      complete.

      Sincerely,

      Mark Thunderson.


      --- "Jean G. Valentin" <jgvalentin@...> wrote:

      > I'll quickly make a few points and come back later:
      >
      > 1. Why in Arabic? Simply because many christians in
      > the middle east were
      > speaking and writing in that language. The first
      > versions of the Gospels in
      > Arabic date from around the IXth century if my
      > memory serves me well. It was
      > simply the language of all people there, not only
      > muslims. Don't associate
      > too quickly the Arabic language to islam, there have
      > always been Arabic
      > Christians. And if you live in Europe or in America,
      > there's surely a
      > melkite catholic (http://www.mliles.com/melkite/) or
      > an antiochian orthodox
      > parish not far from your home, where divine liturgy
      > is celebrated in Arabic.
      >
      > 2. Judging from the handwriting, the notes are not
      > earlier than the XIIIth
      > century. Just my two cents of course!
      >
      > 3. Connection of Sinai with Arabic: just see my
      > first paragraph. If you look
      > a the list of manuscripts of the library at St
      > Catherine's, you'll find
      > scores of biblical, patristic and liturgical texts
      > in Arabic because it was
      > the language of everyday life. Of course there's an
      > evolution and it differs
      > according to time and place, but most of the eastern
      > churches were
      > completely arabized by the XIIIth century (the
      > Antiochian-Malkite church
      > still undivided had translated all of the Byzantine
      > liturgical books by the
      > XIth century). Greek remained as a hieratic
      > language, and Syriac resisted
      > better, specially in the mountains of Lebanon (till
      > the XVIIth century?) and
      > Northern Mesopotamia where it is still alive today
      > in a modern dialectal
      > form - not to forget a few villages north of
      > Damascus in the mountains of
      > Antilibanonn, among which Maalula.
      >
      > 4. So to me there's nothing curious about notes in
      > Arabic inside a Greek
      > codex of the Sinai convent. In my opinion there's no
      > point in trying to find
      > islamic influences: the annotator was certainly an
      > orthodox monk whose
      > mother tongue was Arabic.
      >
      > 5. For more on Arabic in the Church, there's a
      > chapter in Metzger "Versions"
      > and you can find my examination of the Arabic Gospel
      > manuscripts in Le
      > Muséon of 2003. There's plenty of footnotes in both
      > if you need more
      > sources.
      >
      > I'll come back later.
      > Jean V.
      >
      > --
      > Jean Valentin - Bruxelles - Belgique
      > jgvalentin@...
      >
      > "Le rite est l'écorce de la sincérité et de la
      > fidélité,
      > Mais aussi la source du désordre"
      >
      > (Lao Tzeu, Tao-te-king 38)
      >
      >
      > > De : Mark Thunderson <mark.thunderson@...>
      > > Répondre à : textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date : Wed, 9 May 2007 04:40:19 -0700 (PDT)
      > > À : textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > > Objet : [textualcriticism] Book of Revelation &
      > Folio 129a of Sinaiticus
      > >
      > > Dear List:
      > >
      > > The notes here are definitly instriguing to say
      > the
      > > least. The questions leaping to my mind are the
      > > following:
      > >
      > > 1. What would be the motive(s) for writing these
      > > notes, and why in Arabic?
      > >
      > > 2. Closelyas sociated with the above questions,
      > Why
      > > these notes at Revelation 7:12 -8:12?
      > >
      > > 3. What date might we assign this editorial note?
      > > Daniel Buck has suggested the Muslim period -
      > perhaps
      > > 7th century?
      > >
      > > 4. What connection is there between the
      > Manuscript
      > > history of Sinaiticus and these Arabic notes? For
      > > example, Kirssop Lake outlines two possible
      > histories:
      > > one originating in Ceasarea, the other Alexandria.
      > > Still more, What connection is there between Saint
      > > Catherines Montastery and these Arabic notes? For
      > > example, the presence of the Fatimid Mosque within
      > the
      > > Monastery as well as the Letter from Mohammad
      > > promising protection, suggests a close link
      > between
      > > Mohammad and the Monastery that housed this great
      > > manuscript. One might even ponder if Mohammad
      > himself
      > > is the author of these editorial notes???
      > >
      > > 5. This lines of questioning finally leads to the
      > > question: Is there any connection between the
      > > editorial notes and the Quran and/or Sunnah? In
      > other
      > > words, does the content of the Arabic note have a
      > > parallel in the Quran and/or Sunnah?
      > >
      > > Any help from the list, would be greatly
      > appreciated.
      > >
      > > Mark Thunderson.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > __________________________________________________
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      >
      >


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