The Sentences of the Syriac Menander 1611434882, 9781611434880

The Sentences of the Syriac Menander appears in two Syriac manuscripts in the British Library, a full version in one cod

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Table Of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Text and Translation
3. Commentary
4. Conclusion
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The Sentences of the Syriac Menander

Gorgias Studies in Classical and Late Antiquity


Gorgias Studies in Classical and Late Antiquity contains monographs and edited volumes on the Greco-Roman world and its transition into Late Antiquity, encompassing political and social structures, knowledge and educational ideals, art, architecture and literature.

The Sentences of the Syriac Menander

Introduction, Text and Translation, and Commentary

David Gregory Monaco


34 2013

Gorgias Press LLC, 954 River Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA Copyright © 2013 by Gorgias Press LLC

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. 2013



ISBN 978-1-61143-488-0 Second Printing

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A Cataloging-in-Publication Record is Available from the Library of Congress. Printed in the United States of America

TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents.....................................................................................v Preface......................................................................................................vii Acknowledgments ...................................................................................ix Abbreviations ...........................................................................................xi 1 Introduction .....................................................................................1 History of Scholarship on The Sentences of the Syriac Menander....3 The History of the Document and its Modern Acquisition...12 Dating The Sentences of the Syriac Menander ...................................19 The Provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander .............26 The Language of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander .................35 The Organization of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander...........42 The Genre of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander .......................43 The Attribution of the Text to Menander.................................47 The Sentences of the Syriac Menander - A Jewish Pseudepigraphon?.................................................................49 Parallels with Biblical Books........................................................55 Parallels with Jewish Apocryphal Books....................................56 Parallels with Jewish Pseudepigraphical Books ........................56 Concluding Remarks.....................................................................57 2 Text and Translation.....................................................................59 Text Or. Add. 14.658: ...................................................................59 Or. Add. 14.614: ...................................................................74 Translation Or. Add. 14.658: ...................................................................76 Or. Add. 14.614: ...................................................................91 3 Commentary...................................................................................93 4 Conclusion....................................................................................205 Bibliography ..........................................................................................221 Index.......................................................................................................245


PREFACE This work was essentially born out of a seminar entitled “Wisdom Traditions in Greece and Israel” at the University of Chicago when Prof. John J. Collins, then of the Divinity School, suggested that I “take a look” at The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a research paper topic. The text intrigued me enough that it launched me on a journey that culminated in my doctoral dissertation at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. This work has afforded me the singular privilege of delving into Syriac manuscript research at the British Library in London as well as some related work at both the Vatican Library and Oxford University. The fruits of that work will be apparent throughout the pages of this book. The opportunity to have direct contact with this material forced me to change almost all of the initial thoughts that I had in my original work for Prof. Collins, gave me the opportunity to challenge some of the scholarly presuppositions concerning the text, and enabled me to learn some tools of the trade of manuscript work that can enrich this type of specialized study and give greater insight into such ancient documents. There is simply no replacement for direct access to the material, and despite countless hours in front of the codex, I am still struck with awe each time that I open its covers and consider all that it has survived in the course of the roughly 1400 years of its existence. It is an irreplaceable treasure, found in only two manuscripts at the British Library, the full version in Or. Add. 14.658, and the far shorter version, comprising only a small fraction of the text, in Or. Add. 14.614. The goal of this work is to present a commentary on the text in its complete version focusing on parallels from both Jewish tradition and from the Greco-Roman world, and advancing the thesis that the text is a Jewish pseudepigraphon composed in Syriac in Edessa and preserved within Christian monastic circles. The first chapter will trace previous scholarship on the document, reconstruct the history of the manuscript itself and explain how it ended up at the British Library, attempt to date both the text as it presently stands and the vii

THE SENTENCES OF THE SYRIAC MENANDER text underlying it, give information concerning the provenance of the material, its organization, and the language of the text, comment on the genre of the material, the attribution of the text to the Greek author Menander, and discuss The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a Jewish pseudepigraphon. In the second chapter, I will present the first rendition of the Syriac text since the mid-19th century work of J. P. N. Land, taken from an observation of the manuscript itself and with the benefit of modern lighting and visual aids, along with philological and other textual notes on the Syriac text of the treatise itself, and present a new English translation of the material. A continuous commentary on the full text will follow in the third chapter, and the conclusion will attempt to show what the parallels and comments presented in the third chapter have to teach about the text and how it would have aided in the reception of biblical and extra-biblical literature in a part of the world of early Christianity about which not a great deal is known, situating the material in the political and religious milieu into which The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was born. David G. Monaco August 5, 2012


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The composition of this book would have been impossible without the help of quite a number of individuals, all of whom I would like to take the opportunity to thank. First and foremost to the professors who comprised my dissertation committee when this material was still just that, in particular Prof. Hans-Josef Klauck of the University of Chicago, who graciously agreed to direct my work, and my readers Prof. David Martinez of the University of Chicago and Prof. Robin Darling Young of the University of Notre Dame. I offer to each of them my heart-felt thanks and gratitude. I would like to thank Prof. John J. Collins of Yale University who first introduced me to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Stuart Creason of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and to Prof. Sebastian Brock of the Oriental Institute at Oxford University for suggestions about problematic passages in the Syriac text. I thank Dr. Vrej Nersessian, former curator of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, and the staff at the British Library for their always professional and courteous assistance, and especially for allowing me the privilege of viewing the original material under video magnification. I am grateful to the Nicholson Center for British Studies at the University of Chicago for their generous assistance with research both in London and Oxford. I wish to express my thanks to Prof. William Schweiker and Prof. Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago Martin Marty Center and to my Dissertation Fellowship colleagues of 2007-2008 for their helpful critique and suggestions. Thank you to my former faculty colleagues and students at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, where I found a second academic home during the time in which I worked on my dissertation, and to my present faculty colleagues and students at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, where I am privileged to serve on the Bible faculty. I thank Steve Rippon and Jerrod Sanders at the Passionist Province Pastoral Center for their help in the last few frantic weeks of editing and revising this work. ix

THE SENTENCES OF THE SYRIAC MENANDER A special thanks to my editor, Katie Stott of Gorgias Press for her swift, knowledgeable, and courteous responses to my emails whenever I seemed to run up against problems or needed practical suggestions. Finally, I would like to thank and dedicate this work to my family and to my religious congregation. To my father Richard and my mother Marie, my brother Richard, my sister-in-law Andrea, and my nephews Eric and Logan, and my sister Gracelyn for their constant love and support. To my religious family, the Passionist Community, particularly Fr. Robert H. Joerger, C.P. and the leadership of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, for their consistent trust and support in making it possible for me to pursue these studies.


ABBREVIATIONS A.S. Cod. Sach. Or. Add. P. Edg. P. Tebt. Vat. Sir.

Anecdota Syriaca Codex Sachau Oriental Additional Papyrus Edgar Papyrus Tebtunis Vaticani Siriaci




The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is a document which appears in two versions in two separate Syriac manuscripts located at the British Library in London. There is only one copy of the full version, Or. Add. 14.658, folios 163v.II.71 through 167v.II.35. A shorter version, comprising only a fraction of the full text, is contained in Or. Add. 14.614, folios 116r.152 through 117r.4. In the following pages, reference will be made primarily to the full version of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, and designations of individual sayings from the text will be referenced either as above, by page, side, column, and line of the actual Syriac text or by paragraph and number as appears in the English translation from Chapter 2: Text and Translation of this present work (cf. Chapter 2: Text and Translation, footnote 137). This book will present a commentary on the text in its complete version. The shorter text from Or. Add. 14.614 will prove to be important mainly for the critical examination of the parallel logia, given the fact that it represents the only extant verification of the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, but unfortunately, as noted, this version is very short. The second chapter will present a new English translation of the material, the first rendition of the material taken from a direct observation of the document itself since the initial work of J. P. N. Land, following a new rendering of the Syriac text and philological and other textual notes on the Syriac wording of the treatise itself. The third chapter will be a continuous commentary on the full text, and The designation indicates page number, verso or recto, column number, and line in the text. The text is written in two columns of 38-39 lines each with the exception of the two partial columns at the beginning and the end of the text (respectively 32 and 35 lines each) and comprises 17 columns of roughly 3-4 words per line. In total, there are 3 words to the heading, 2067 words of actual text, and 2 words of conclusion. 2 The text contained in Or. Add. 14.614 is written in only one column and comprises only 30 single lines of roughly 5-6 words per line. In total, there are 2 words to the heading and only 149 words of actual text. 1




the concluding material will attempt to set forth what the parallels and comments in the third chapter have to teach about the reception of biblical and extra-biblical material in a part of the world of early Christianity about which not a great deal is known. The present chapter traces the history of the document and the previous scholarship on The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. In this chapter, I will explain how the text ended up in England at the British Library, give information concerning the provenance of the material, the language of the text, its attribution to the Greek comic poet Menander, the genre of the material, and the organization of the sentences. One of the more difficult aspects of the present chapter will be the attempt to date both the text as it presently stands and the text that underlies it. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is a text about which very little has been written. The bibliography related to the document is not very extensive at all. There has yet to be a monograph written concerning it, which could reflect as much the difficulty in classification that the text presents as any lack of scholarly interest therein. My goal in writing this work is to offer a contribution to the study of this fascinating text and to the reception history of biblical material in the Syriac-speaking region of the ancient world. Key to this study is the extensive work that I have done with the Syriac material itself and with other documents that stem from the collection of which Or. Add. 14.658 and Or. Add. 14.614 were a part, both at the British Library and the Vatican Library. I have had the benefit of the use of scientific tools that were unavailable to my predecessors in the study of this material. When J. P. N. Land first worked with The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, he did so at a time in which the electric light bulb was more a dream than a reality. Thanks to the courteous assistance of Dr. Vrej Nersessian, former curator of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections at the British Library, and his gracious staff, I have had the opportunity to view the material under video magnification, a system not designed for manuscript work, but rather to assist people with severe visual impairment in reading. The material to be viewed is placed on a moving table below a lens and strong lighting mechanism. The image of what one wishes to read is projected onto a large monitor with the ability to enhance the size of the material dramatically and to change gradations of color to whatever best suits the individual’s disability. In my case, I was able to view



individual letters at the size of an entire video screen and to change coloring, background, lighting, and tone from the actual image to what is essentially a photographic negative. This has helped to reveal a variety of details which would otherwise not have come to light, as will be evident throughout the course of the present work. An example of the benefit of such a tool over and against previous work done on this text is found in Or. Add. 14.658 165r.II.28 where Land read wmryr’ ‫ܘܡܪܝܪܐ‬. All other commentators have followed his lead, and reasonably so, given what the naked eye sees on the manuscript itself. This was, in fact, my original reading of the text. Video magnification, however, revealed that what appears to be the diacritical mark of a second resh is, in fact, an almost perfectly formed drip, while what appears on the page to be a lower smudge is actually the smudged original diacritical mark of a dalath. The text actually reads: wmryd’ ‫ܘܡܪܝܕܐ‬. The benefits of such analysis of the text will be apparent throughout the course of this work.



After the acquisition of the bulk of the Nitrian Collection by the British Museum, the first person to comment about The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was Ernest Renan in his “Lettre à M. Reinaud,” which appeared in the Journal Asiatique in 1852. In the article, he deals with three of the manuscripts at that time recently acquired by the British Museum. Renan mentions The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as differing from what is already known of Menander,3 calling it a collection of extracts from Menander’s comedies and noting the difference between the text and the gnomic material attributed to Menander.4 Renan transcribed the first twenty-four lines of the text, making a mistake on his reading of the title and “correcting” it in his transcription to what is actually there in the Syriac. He then translated this small section into Latin, but made no further comment on the treatise itself.5

3 E. Renan,“Lettre à M. Reinaud,” in Journal Asiatique. IV, 19 (1852), 293-333. 4 Ibid., 302. 5 Ibid., 302-303.



The next person to work with the document was Jan Pieter Nicolaas Land, in his Anecdota Syriaca I, published in 1862. The work of Land is monumental and to this date is the only presentation of the full Syriac text that has ever been made available. The rendering of the Syriac was quite faulty however, a situation addressed by William Wright only one year later in his 1863 review of Anecdota Syriaca I, in The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record. Wright offered a number of corrections to the transcription, and Land himself picked up on the corrections in detail in his 1868 work Anecdota Syriaca II. Robert Payne Smith also offered some critique of Land’s work, of which Land himself made note in Anecdota Syriaca II, in a review of Anecdota Syriaca I published in the same volume of The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record as that of Wright. In Anecdota Syriaca I, Land presented a transcription of the work and offered a translation of the Syriac material into Latin, together with eight pages of examples from the text and parallels from quotations mainly from Menander. Land claimed that he was not able to find a single original fragment of Menander, and used the examples that he chose in order to demonstrate his thesis that a Syrian Gentile put together the sentences as they now stand mainly from the actual work of Menander, expanding them with other material such as popular proverbs.6 Land’s conclusion aside, the work itself is astounding in that the material regarding The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is only a small portion of the book. He presents a great deal more material in Anecdota Syriaca I, and despite whatever mistakes are evident in his transcription, given the lack of technical tools that would have been at his disposal, it is a remarkable scholarly achievement. In 1863, in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Abraham Geiger reviewed not only Land’s work, but also worked with the reviews of Wright and R. Payne Smith of Land’s Anecdota Syriaca I. His work, like that of Wright and Payne Smith, dealt almost exclusively with grammatical points from Land and his translation. Nonetheless, he offered the opinion that The Sentences of the Syriac Menander had little to do with classical literature and


J. P. N. Land, Anecdota Syriaca I. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1862), 198-205.



disagreed with Land’s opinion that the author of the text was a Syrian Gentile.7 In 1870, the only presentation to date of the Syriac text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander contained in Or. Add. 14.614 was published by Eduard Sachau. In his introduction, he makes mention of the treatise itself and, in relation to our text, he notes variants from the text published by Land in Anecdota Syriaca I,8 but his work was only to offer a Syriac transcription of that document. He presents neither a translation nor a commentary. In the same year, Sachau published an article entitled “Über die Reste der syrischen Übersetzungen classischgriechischer, nichtaristotelischer Litteratur unter den nitrischen Handschriften des brittischen Museums,” in which he refers to the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander which appears in Or. Add. 14.658. He puts forth a theory that it was translated by Sergius of Resh‘aina,9 to whom we will return below, one of the most important early Syriac translators of Greek philosophy and, particularly, medicine, who died in 536.10 Sergius, as will be evident from the list of documents found in Or. Add. 14.658 in a later section of the present chapter, figures prominently in a large percentage of the material contained therein. In 1894, Anton Baumstark published his “Lucubrationes Syro-Graecae,” in which he offered his own translation of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander into Latin. Baumstark particularly took issue with Land’s thesis of a Syrian Gentile who expanded the work of Menander to craft the material as it stands. For him, the material does reflect the actual work of Menander, and that which does not seem to reflect what is known of Menander is explained as material that has simply not yet been discovered.11 7 A. Geiger, “Bibliographische Anzeigen,” in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft 17 (1863), 753. 8 E. Sachau, Inedita Syriaca. (Vienna: Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses in Halle, 1870), iv-v. 9 E. Sachau, “Über die Reste der syrischen Übersetzungen classischgriechischer, nichtaristotelischer Litteratur unter den nitrischen Handschriften des brittischen Museums,” in Hermes 4 (1870), 78. 10 S. Brock, “The Syriac Background to Ḥunayn’s Translation Techniques,” in ARAM 3 (1991), 141. 11 A. Baumstark, “Lucubrationes Syro-Graecae,” in Jahrbücher für classische Philologie 21, (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1894), 487.



The next person to address The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was Wilhelm Frankenberg, in 1895. While he did not offer a translation of the entire document, his particular contribution to the study of the text was to detail a variety of parallels from Jewish tradition to the material that he chose. These parallels led him to the conclusion both that the treatise is an example of Jewish Wisdom Literature along the lines of Proverbs and Ben Sira in particular, and that the original text was Hebrew rather than Greek12 as has generally been presumed concerning the manuscript. In the second edition of his monumental Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi in 1898, Emil Schürer, while not presenting a full article about The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, did make mention of the text and the work that had been done on it up to that point by Land, but more so, by Frankenberg. Picking up precisely on Frankenberg’s work, he included it in his section on Hellenistic Jewish Literature in the subsection of “Jüdische Propaganda unter heidnischer Maske” and wrote of the text as either a Jewish and Gentile mixture or a Gentile insertion into a Jewish original.13 The English revision of Schürer’s work, published in 1987, picked up on the original and brought it up to date with later scholarship, taking a somewhat more cautious stance as to whether or not the work is of Jewish origin, by referring precisely to the mention of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in pages 476477 of Wilhelm Schmid and Otto Stählin’s 1911 Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, where they expressed some reservation in this regard.14 In 1909, François Nau devoted a short section of his Histoire et Sagesse d’Aḥikar l’Assyrien to a comparison between the Ahiqar material and correspondences with the tradition of Menander.15 He felt that the Greek version of Ahiqar corresponded to the Greek 12 W. Frankenberg, “Die Schrift des Menander (Land anecd., syr. I, S. 64ff.), ein Produkt der jüdischen Spruchweisheit.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 15 (1895), 264. 13 E. Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi. (Leipzig: Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1898), 476-478. 14 E. Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. A New English version revised and edited by G. Vermes, F. Millar, and M. Goodman. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, Ltd., 1987), 693. 15 F. Nau, Histoire et Sagesse d’Aḥikar l’Assyrien (Paris: Letouzy et Ané, Éditeurs, 1909), 42-45.



version of Menander, and the Syriac version of Ahiqar to the Syriac version of Menander.16 Nau listed fourteen places in the Ahiqar material where he saw parallels in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. In 1912, Friedrich Schulthess did the first modern language translation and commentary on The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in an article appearing in Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. He took to task both Baumstark and Frankenberg, whose arguments he characterized respectively as “gänzlich aus der Luft gegriffen” and “noch schlimmer.”17 For him, the original was Greek and The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is, essentially, a type of anthology of international Wisdom Literature culled from both the Near East and Greece.18 In his commentary following each individual phrase, Schulthess was able to work in the shorter text from Or. Add. 14.614, and his textual notes were particularly helpful, given the fact that he was able to make use of photographs of the actual document.19 Paul Riessler next translated the text into German in 1927 and added a two-page commentary in which, picking up particularly on the work of Frankenberg, he maintained that the author of the text was Jewish and lived in Roman times. He makes note of what he calls “Hebraisms” in the text and gives a number of examples from Jewish Wisdom Literature, particularly Proverbs and Ben Sira, along with a parallel from Solon mentioned in Herodotus.20 In 1952, Jean-Paul Audet did a translation of the text into French together with a commentary in an article appearing in Revue Biblique. Audet was able to correct much of the text, since he too, like Schulthess, had access to photographs of the material.21 As the title of his article betrays, Audet held the author of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander to be from Egypt, living under Roman rule, but more importantly for purposes of characterizing the authorship of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, Audet placed the original author Ibid., 42. F. Schulthess, “Die Sprüche des Menanders.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 32 (1927), 202. 18 Ibid., 202. 19 Ibid., 200. 20 P. Riessler, Altjüdisches Schriftum ausserhalb der Bibel. (Freiburg/Heidelberg: F.H. Kerle, 1928), 1328-1329. 21 J.-P. Audet, “La sagesse de Ménandre l’Égyptien.” Revue Biblique 59 (1952), 57. 16 17



within the wider realm of Judaism, but not fully so, identifying him as a Gentile God-fearer from Roman times.22 In 1979, in his book Frühjüdische Weisheitstraditionen: zum Fortgang weisheitlichen Denkens im Bereich des frühjüdischen Jahweglaubens, Max Küchler considered a Greek original to be clear.23 As regards provenance and dating of the text, he was in basic agreement with Audet. For him, the work is Jewish, from Egypt in the Roman era, and essentially the close of the Jewish Alexandrian Wisdom movement, a text that stands as well in an international milieu of Wisdom Literature of its age.24 Küchler describes the genre of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a Collection of Logia marked by a loose unity of material.25 His tracing of the history of scholarly work on the text is very helpful as is, particularly, his lists of various themes in the treatise keyed to sentence numbers from Audet’s rendering of the text.26 The first English translation of both the full and the shorter versions of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was done by Tjitze Baarda for The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha edited by James H. Charlesworth, which appeared in 1985. Unfortunately, Baarda had problems obtaining access to copies of the document, so he was forced to reconstruct the text using Land’s transcription and the comments thereon by Wright, Schulthess, and Audet.27 His introduction is particularly useful as he summarizes various possibilities concerning language, date, and provenance, recognizing the problems involved in taking a firm stand on any of these issues, given the lack of specific mention in the text. Another very helpful portion of Baarda’s work is the latter section of the introduction in which he mentions the theological import of the text and its relation to Jewish literature and to the work ascribed by tradition to Menander. Ibid., 80. M. Küchler, Frühjüdische Weisheitstraditionen: zum Fortgang weisheitlichen Denkens im Bereich des frühjüdischen Jahweglaubens. Orbis biblicus et orientalis 26. (Freiburg: Universitätsverlag, 1979), 316. 24 Ibid., 316-318. 25 Ibid., 309. 26 Ibid., 307-312. 27 T. Baarda, “The Sentences of the Syriac Menander.” Pages 583-606 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Edited by J. H. Charlesworth. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1985), 584. 22 23



Since that time, there have been four longer articles28 and the chapter of a book written about the text.29 The first was “The Composed Life of the Syriac Menander,” written by Alan Kirk in 1997, and the second was written by Juan José Alarcón Sainz, “Algunos apuntes sobre los Proverbios siriacos de Menandro” in 1999. Kirk’s article, as will be detailed in a later section of this chapter, focuses particularly on the organization of the sayings as a life trajectory,30 and dealing with the provenance of the text, he concludes that the author was Jewish and conscious of both Jewish tradition in general and Jewish paraenesis in particular.31 While not writing another article dealing only with the Syriac Menander material, in his 1998 work, The Composition of the Sayings Source: Genre, Synchrony, & Wisdom Redaction in Q, Kirk devotes several very interesting pages of a section entitled “Hellenistic-Jewish Instructional Speeches” to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander and 28 In 2010, my own article entitled “Menander, Sentences of the Syriac” appeared on pages 934-935 of The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Edited by J. J. Collins and D. C. Harlow. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010). One of the delightful, yet in my case very unfortunate, consequences of manuscript work is that a simple discovery that one cannot make without physical access to the material can literally change one’s own presuppositions or conclusions. Additionally, without being able to verify a suspicion by having direct access to the original material, it is difficult to attempt to overturn what might be a prevalent scholarly opinion concerning that very material. This was, in fact, the case with my own work. My only access to the British Library was during summer breaks from teaching and writing responsibilities in Chicago, therefore, it was impossible to make what would have been drastic changes to the article as regards both original language and provenance, as certain key discoveries in the text were made only after the dictionary was already in its first print run. 29 While it is neither an article directly concerning The Sentences of the Syriac Menander nor is there a precise section that deals with the text, it is worth noting the 2005 book by Walter T. Wilson entitled The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides. Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature XIV. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005). In a number of places, he makes reference to the Syriac Menander, which will be instructive as regards the choice of name, style of writing, and organization of certain portions of the text, cf. pages 78, 165, and 179. 30 A. Kirk, “The Composed Life of the Syriac Menander.” Studies in Religion 26 (1997), 173-179. 31 Ibid., 183.



refers to the text as “made up of serialized instructional speeches which elaborate specific themes by means of juxtaposed admonitions, motive clauses, and gnomic sayings.”32 He uses four examples of different lengths from the text of the Syriac Menander in order to show how this dynamic of juxtaposition works. Alarcón Sainz presents ideas concerning the authorship, place, and date of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, and shows some parallels between the treatise and texts such as Ben Sira. While there is no Spanish translation of the entire text, the examples that he culls have the benefit of being the first presentation of any of the sayings in Spanish. What is particularly helpful, however, is the final section that deals with sayings under six different themes: parents and family, good comportment and healthy habits, richness and poverty, relations with other people (elders, slaves, enemies, etc.), adultery and adulterous and garrulous women, and God.33 The third article written by Paolo Bettiolo appeared in 2003 in the first volume of Aspetti di Letteratura Gnomica nel Mondo Antico. The article, entitled “Dei Casi della Vita, della Pietà e del Buon Nome Intorno ai ‘Detti’ Siriaci di Menandro,” presents a translation of a few of the sayings using Land’s Syriac transcription, and has the great benefit of being the only presentation of any of the material in the Italian language. The article discusses prior scholarly work done on the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, but the most important dynamics of Bettiolo’s work are both his references to the other documents found in Or. Add. 14.658, which he sees as important for understanding the origins of the individual text, and his theory that The Sentences of the Syriac Menander may have been translated and handed on in elite Christian circles by people such as the aforementioned Sergius of Resh‘aina.34 In fact, Bettiolo’s discussion of the other material 32 A. Kirk, The Composition of the Sayings Source: Genre, Synchrony, & Wisdom Redaction in Q. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1998), 137. 33 J. J. Alarcón Sainz,“Algunos apuntes sobre los Proverbios siriacos de Menandro.” Pages 252-259 in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Proceedings of the 6th EAJS Congress, Toledo, July 1998. Volume I: Biblical, Rabbinical, and Medieval Studies. Edited by J. Taragona Borrás and A. Sáenz-Badillos. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999), 257-259. 34 P. Bettiolo, “Dei Casi della Vita, della Pietà e del Buon Nome Intorno ai ‘Detti’ Siriaci di Menandro.” Pages 83-103 in Aspetti di Letteratura Gnomica nel Mondo Antico I. Edited by M. S. Funghi. (Florence:



contained in Or. Add. 14.658 is something which has been done by precious few commentators on the text. The most recent work on The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was done in Russian by Yury Arzhanov. An article appeared in СИМВОЛ in 2010 entitled “СИРИЙСКИЕ СЕНТЕНЦИИ МЕНАНДРА В ИХ СВЯЗИ С ГРЕЧЕСКИМИ И АРАБСКИМИ ГНОМОЛОГИЯМИ.” This was followed in 2011 with a book entitled СИРИЙСКИЕ ВЕТХОЗАВЕТНЫЕ ПСЕВДОЭПИГРАФЫ: Апокрифические псалмы Давида Апокалипсис Баруха Сентенции Меиандра, in which Arzhanov devotes the entire third section to the Syriac Menander. An immediate benefit of his work is to open up the text to an entirely new language group,35 as well as to give him the chance to develop a fascinating theory that tries to take into account the rapport between the two versions from Or. Add. 14.658 and Or. Add. 14.614, something which few scholars have done in any great detail, and explain connections with the material from both Greek and Jewish thought. He sees links with the Greek tradition of the Menandri Sententiae in both the text of the document in Or. Add. 14.658 and, more clearly on a level of form, in the whole text of Or. Add. 14.614. He believes that in the longer text, there is much free reworking of the Greek sentence material attributed to Menander in the light of Jewish Wisdom ideas. Noting that the Old Church Slavonic and Arabic traditions of the Menandri Sententiae tend to be quite close to the Greek, he points out that there are certain Arabic phrases in which there does not seem to be a link with the extant Greek sentences, but that they demonstrate a rapport with the Syriac Menander and posits that an Arabic translator had the same Greek Vorlage before him as did the author of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. The Arabic translator, however, did not expand the material as did the Syriac author. In the Syriac Menander tradition, Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2003), 103. Bettiolo cites Alberto Camplani, who posits the overall influence of Sergius of Resh‘aina in Or. Add. 14.658, though not specifically mentioning The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, in his article “Rivisitando Bardesane,” in Cristianesimo nella Storia 19 (1998), 519596, cf. pp. 543-544. 35 The fact that all of his material is not more fully elaborated in this present book is due mainly to my own unfortunate incapacity as regards the Russian language, a situation that I am attempting at present to remedy.



he sees Jewish teaching set forth under the name of Menander, the author having taken the Greek material and freely expanded it from the Jewish Wisdom Tradition with an apologetic goal, that of demonstrating a rapport in practical moral teaching between Judaism and Greek philosophy much as one finds in a work such as Pseudo-Phocylides.36

THE HISTORY OF THE DOCUMENT AND ITS MODERN ACQUISITION At this point, it would be helpful to get a sense of the physical material about which these authors wrote and how it eventually managed to find its way over to London and to the British Library. The story is a bit convoluted and involves some detective work on our part. Nonetheless, it is interesting, involving a classic “death on the Nile” (albeit it only at the hands of Mother Nature) and a bit of what one might probably term “black marketeering” thrown into the bargain. In order to put the history of the document itself into proper perspective, it is necessary to turn to the tenth century and to an Egyptian monastery that exists to this day, from which the British Museum37 made the purchase of what is known as “The Nitrian Collection,” and, particularly, to an abbot of that monastery, a man to whom posterity owes a virtually incalculable debt. No examination of the earliest extant Syriac manuscripts can be done without taking into account the library of this single monastery, the monastery of Deir es-Suriani in the Wadi Natrun in northwestern Egypt. Granted that the records are not absolutely precise, it would appear that this monastery was originally a Coptic monastery

36 I owe my characterization of Arzhanov’s work to his great personal kindness in sending me a summary of his thought on the matter. 37 While the Syriac manuscripts are held today at the British Library in London, their original purchase was under the aegis of the British Museum.



purchased by Syrians in the early eighth century38 or possibly the early ninth century after the Bedouin sack of the region.39 It is from this monastery alone, mainly due to the diligence and erudition of one particular abbot, that the bulk of the most ancient extant Syriac material is preserved. The monastery had a library, as records from the ninth century reflecting the rebuilding of the monastery show.40 It was, however, in the next century that the library was to receive its greatest benefactions, due to the abbot, one Moses of Nisibis. In 927, Moses of Nisibis was sent on a diplomatic mission as a representative of the various monasteries of the region. Vizier ‘Alî Isa Ibn al-Jarrah came to Egypt in 925-926 and after examining the region, decided to impose a tax on bishops, monks, and sick Christians,41 who were previously considered exempt.42 Moses was sent on this mission in 927 to meet with the Caliph Al-Muctadir-Billah in Baghdad, who eventually lifted the tribute, but the mission took until 932.43 Fortunately, for the sake of posterity, Abbot Moses did not waste any time during his five-year absence, but spent much of his energy in travel collecting manuscripts, particularly throughout northern Mesopotamia.44 When he returned to the monastery of Deir esSuriani, he brought with him about two hundred and fifty manuscripts, both purchased and received as gifts in the course of his travels, and he did not cease in his efforts to increase the library during the course of his long tenure as abbot of the monastery.45

38 H. G. Evelyn White, The Monasteries of the Wâdi ’N Natrûn. Part II: The History of the Monasteries of Nitria and of Scetis. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications, 1932), 318. 39 L. van Rompay and A. B. Schmidt, “Takritans in the Egyptian Desert: The Monastery of the Syrians in the Ninth Century.” Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies 1 (2001), 52. 40 Ibid., 46-47. 41 Evelyn White, 337-338. 42 S. Brock, “Without Mushē of Nisibis, Where Would We Be? Some Reflections on the Transmission of Syriac Literature.” The Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 56 (2004), 16. 43 Evelyn White, 337-338. 44 Ibid., 337-338. 45 W. Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum Acquired Since the Year 1838. (London: The British Museum, 1870-1872), iv.



The monastery became less and less Syrian over the years, and more and more Coptic, until, by the seventeenth century, it was for all intents and purposes solely Coptic,46 as it is to this day. For a time, the library, which Moses of Nisibis helped to make great, fell into decay to the point at which one reads a thirteenth century47 comment in Or. Add. 12.170 “We books are many and there is no person who is reading us. Oh the great pity that we remain idle! See!” As time passed, European libraries and scholars were to become aware of these hidden treasures of the monastery of Deir es-Suriani, and, as was their wont in more recent centuries, the race to acquire the monastic collection began in earnest. The history of this cache of manuscripts is of import as regards The Sentences of the Syriac Menander since both Or. Add. 14.658 and Or. Add. 14.614 were part of that self-same collection. Europeans first became aware of the treasures of the monastery in the early seventeenth century. The first to mention the manuscripts was one Giles de Loche in 1633 who reported that they had more than eight thousand manuscripts, a figure that would appear to be somewhat exaggerated.48 After unsuccessful attempts by Johann Michael Vansleb to acquire the material in 1664 and Robert Huntington in 1678-1679, Gabriel Eva, the abbot of St. Maura monastery on Mt. Lebanon and an envoy of the patriarch of Antioch, after having been sent on to Egypt and then returning to Rome, piqued the interest of Pope Clement XI with his description of the libraries in the region of the Wadi Natrun. The pope then sent Elias Assemani to the monastery in 1707.49 Assemani was able to see some kind of cave or cellar, and took about forty manuscripts with him despite the monks’ fears of the anathemas in the books themselves.50 In a bizarre, ironic twist of 46 A. Cody, “Dayr Al-Suryān.” Pages 876-879 in vol. 3 of The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by A. S. Atiya. (New York: Macmillan, 1991), 878. 47 Evelyn White, 450. 48 W. Cureton, “British Museum - MSS. from the Egyptian Monasteries.” The Quarterly Review 77 (1845), 45. 49 Wright, vi. 50 The anathemas themselves could be quite daunting to say the least, and given what happened after Assemani’s departure from the monastery, one can certainly sympathize with the fear. In Or. Add. 17.208, for example, before the material becomes fragmentary, one finds: “This book is from the Monastery of the Mother of God of the Syrians which is in



fate, the boat carrying the manuscripts sank, and the monk sent with Assemani drowned. Having the material dredged up, Assemani was able to salvage thirty-four manuscripts and bring them back with him to the Vatican Library.51 Having examined a number of those individual manuscripts (every one with a colophon dating it prior to the year 1000), I can personally attest to the visible damage. In some cases, it is worse than others, but the damage is most clear on each one on the outer margins of the manuscripts. In some cases, there are pages that are almost totally affected such as in Vat. Sir. 12. One can only marvel at the ingenuity of Assemani at having recovered as much as he did. While curious about details of the journey such as how the material was packed (given the extent of the damage and differences therein among the individual manuscripts, I wonder if those on top or bottom received the bulk of the damage) and what precisely happened when the boat sank, the only details that I have been able to discover were written some twelve years later by Josephus Simonius Assemani in his Bibliothecae Orientalis ClementinoVaticanae. Unfortunately, the details are somewhat sketchy. He merely refers to the boat being swamped by waves unexpectedly arising from the southern Mediterranean and Elias Assemani being rescued by another boat which happened by after he had been tossed overboard with the manuscripts and his monk companion. It appears that the manuscripts were found later in the mud after the water subsided and then dried off as best as possible.52 Five years prior to the publication of his aforementioned work, in 1714, the pope sent Josephus Simonius Assemani to the monastery, but after the death of one of the community in the previous transfer of material, he was able to return with only about the desert of Scete. Whoever dares and borrows (this book) for himself from this monastery, the curse of the Father of Heaven, and the Son from the Cross, and the Holy Spirit from the River Jordan, and the disciples from the upper room, and of the three hundred and eighteen fathers of Nicaea and of the two hundred twenty from Constantinople and of the one hundred fifty from Ephesus, and of Paul from Rome will be on him and on his fathers and on his departed ones and on his living ones.” 51 Cureton, 45-48. 52 J. S. Assemani, Bibliothecae Orientalis Clementino-Vaticanae. (Rome: Typis Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 1719), preface section vii.



three or four manuscripts that he managed to purchase in a somewhat surreptitious manner.53 Napoleon’s general AntoineFrançois Andréossy later was to arrive at the monastery looking precisely for manuscripts, but it is clear from his memoirs that the monks managed to hide all of the Syriac material from him, as he speaks of seeing only a few manuscripts in Arabic and Coptic.54 The British acquisition of the collection began with a search for Coptic material by Algernon Percy, then Lord Prudhoe, who was seeking manuscripts for the Coptic scholar Henry Tattam. He saw a few, but more importantly for our purposes, reported the existence of a trap door at the monastery in 1828.55 The reported state of the manuscripts when found is frightening, and the fact that they still exist is probably due to three main factors: first and foremost, the remarkable work of Moses of Nisibis; second, the climate in Egypt, and third, the purchase and conservation of the material, which helped to raise the consciousness of its great value and the need to protect it. In noting this latter point, however, there are two important facts that should be acknowledged. First, as regards the monastery of Deir es-Suriani, the present monks of the monastery are a remarkable group of men working at the very forefront of manuscript preservation.56 Finally, it must be stated that while the cataloging and preservation of manuscript material in general has been a tremendous boon to scholarship, the ways in which this was often done by western libraries, museums and collectors was at times scandalous at best, as some of the following material will demonstrate. It is to the credit of Henry Tattam and the British Museum staff at the time that they did compensate the monks of Cureton, 48-49. A-F. Andréossy,“Memoire sur la Vallée des Lacs de Natron et celle du Fleuve sans eau, d’aprés la reconnaissance fate les 4, 5, 6, 7 et 8 Pluviôse, l’an 7.e de la République Française, par le Générale Andreossi,” in La Decade Égyptienne, Journal Littéraire et d’Économie Politique 2 (1800), 111. 55 Cureton, 52. 56 Cf. the article by B. El-Suriany, “The Manuscript Collection of Deir al-Surian: Its Survival into the Third Millennium.” Pages 281-294 in Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millennium. Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Coptic Studies, Leiden, 2000. Edited by M. Immerzeel and J. van der Vliet. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 133. (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Departement Oosterse Studies, 2004). 53 54



Deir es-Suriani for the material that they collected, something which others of the age sought, unfortunately, to avoid. In 1837, Robert Curzon reports that he managed to enter the cellar by plying the abbot with alcohol and found two feet worth of manuscripts strewn all over the floor, and speaks of sneezing and choking on the scattered dust with his companions.57 One year later, in 1838, Henry Tattam arrived at Deir es-Suriani and was allowed to purchase forty-nine manuscripts and bring them back to the British Museum.58 He was then commissioned to return, and working through an Arab sheik, he purchased the remainder of the collection, Or. Add. 14.425-14.739, of which both Or. Add. 14.658 and Or. Add. 14.614 are part.59 The range of these numbers (keeping in mind that that are 26 different manuscripts in Or. Add. 14.658 alone) gives a good idea of what an amazing acquisition this was on the part of the British Museum. Despite the purchase of “the remainder of the collection” at that time, nine years later in 1847, the British Museum once more purchased “the remainder of the collection” with the help of a native Egyptian, Auguste Pacho,60 whom William Cureton of the 57 R. Curzon, Ancient Monasteries of the East or Visits to Monasteries of the Levant. Originally published as A Visit to the Monasteries of the Levant, New York: George P. Putnam, 1849, and later as Ancient Monasteries of the East, New York: A.S. Barnes, 1854. Gorgias Reprint Series 4. (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2001), 76-78. He makes the rather unfortunate comment on p. 76 “Next to the golden key, which masters so many locks, there is no better opener of the heart than a sufficiency of strong drink - not too much, but exactly the proper quantity judiciously exhibited.” 58 Cureton, 57-58. 59 Wright, xiii. 60 Pacho would seem to be an interesting character. Cureton, in the introduction to his The Festal Letters of Athanasius (London: The Society for the Publication of Oriental Texts, 1848), speaks of him as a polyglot well versed in eastern customs who had come to London in search of “confidential employment” (cf. p. vi). Cureton recounts that Pacho painstakingly obtained every fragment of the collection, and details how he managed to be sure that nothing whatsoever was left, yet he also notes that Pacho’s return journey to London involved an unscheduled stop in Paris that “certainly cost me much anxiety: probably it has also cost Her Majesty’s Treasury some additional pounds sterling” (cf. pp. v-xv). Wright, xiv-xv, mentions that he withheld much of the material that he had been commissioned to obtain for the British Museum, some of which



British Museum had met in London. Pacho brought back Or. Add. 17.102-17.274 in 1847, although the fact the he turned over Or. Add. 18.812-18.821 four years later and sold other manuscripts to the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg demonstrates the convoluted twists and turns that the collection has taken even in more recent years.61 An article concerning the conservation project of the year 2000 by a present-day monk of the monastery of Deir es-Suriani mentions that in addition to a huge number of fragments, the monastery still has over nine hundred manuscripts in Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Syriac.62 A knowledge of the history of the collection is of great benefit in the dating of Or. Add. 14.658 or any other of the undated manuscripts of the Nitrian Collection, whether they are at the British Library, the Vatican Library, or anywhere else that one may find such a text that lacks a detailed scribal colophon. A comparison with the known dated material is the key in this regard, and knowing the history of Moses of Nisibis’ acquisitions helps the researcher to choose what material he or she will use in comparison. It is precisely such a comparison through observation of paleography and type of parchment that I was able to do in the course of my work at both the British Library and the Vatican Library where I examined every dated manuscript from the Nitrian Collection with a colophon indicating composition prior to the eleventh century, as previously mentioned. The name Moses of Nisibis would tempt a Syriac scholar to turn immediately to comparative material from eastern manuscripts, since Nisibis was a major center of learning for the eastern Syriac Christian community. Moses, however, belonged to the western branch of Syriac Christianity, and, while there are he later turned over, some of which he sold (illicitly, it would seem), notably four volumes to the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg for 2500 silver rubles, among which is one of the oldest dated manuscripts from the Nitrian Collection. 61 Wright, xiv-xv. On page xvi, Wright speaks of what was then a rumor going about that another 30-40 manuscripts which he believed to have come from the monastery of Deir es-Suriani, were available for sale in Egypt. He does not say through whom, but given his comments about the sale in St. Petersburg in the preceding paragraph, I am curious if the implication is that Pacho was somehow involved. 62 B. El-Suriany, 282-283.



eastern manuscripts in the collection from Deir es-Suriani, he did the vast bulk of his collection work in areas that belonged to western Syriac Christianity such as Edessa, an important referent for both the dating of the material, as will be seen in the next section of this chapter, and for determining the provenance of Or. Add. 14.658, as will be detailed later.

DATING THE SENTENCES OF THE SYRIAC MENANDER Knowing how the document made its way to the British Library is one thing, but what of its origins? Unfortunately, there is no precise statement as regards when the text was written in either the treatise itself or the manuscript as a whole, and even if that were the case, it would be necessary then to distinguish between the date of the text as it stands and that of the original text that underlies what we have in Or. Add. 14.658 regardless of the language of the original. It would seem good to begin first with the date of the text as it stands and then proceed to a dating of the underlying text, as the former involves what is essentially the real art of manuscript studies, while the latter at least has indications within the actual wording of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander itself. Scribes in the Syriac tradition were particularly attentive to the colophon placed at the end of the manuscript. Details such as the date on which it was written, the place in which it was written, the person or persons for whom it was intended, and the name of the scribe replete with his title or status and comments concerning his unworthiness were the norm. There were often comments about his family and place of birth, ecclesiastical office-holders of the time and place (particularly the abbot of the monastery if he was a monk), details concerning the person who owned the manuscript, the price paid for it, the name of the translator (if the original text was in Greek), the binder of the text, and normally a request at the conclusion of the colophon that the reader pray for the scribe.63 The simplest way of dating a Syriac manuscript is, of course, a well-preserved colophon. This is, unfortunately, not what one finds at the end of Or. Add. 14.658 or Or. Add. 14.614 for that matter. While the folios which contain The Sentences of the Syriac Menander are 63 W. H. P. Hatch, An Album of Dated Syriac Manuscripts. New Forward by L. van Rompay. Originally published Boston: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1946. (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2002), 17-18.



very well preserved, the final folios of Or. Add. 14.658, are in very poor condition. Thanks to the gracious staff of the British Library, I was able to attempt to decipher much of the damaged portions of these folios by putting the manuscript under video magnification, only to find that the text was, in fact, the latter part of a previously unknown work attributed to Theano, a text that seems to have virtually nothing to do with the known material of Theano herself, with the exception of a single phrase.64 There is a great deal of import to the treasury of Syriac material in general and the most ancient Syriac material in particular as exemplified in the remarkable collection located at the British Library. Its utility in the field of the textual criticism of biblical material is well-noted, but of particular import is the fact that it is, in many ways, due to the Syriac-speaking world that the treasures of Greek philosophy made their way into western Europe in the course of the Middle Ages.65 Prior to the Arab conquests, Syriac speakers had not only translated the Old Testament, the New Testament, and ecclesiastical writings such as the Church Fathers into their own language, but they had translated a great deal of Greek philosophy as well, and Greek gnomic literature seemed of a particular interest to them.66 As mentioned above, one of the most important early translators of Greek philosophy and medicine was Sergius of Resh‘aina, who died in the early sixth century. In the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Syriac translators did a great deal of work handing on Greek wisdom to their Arab rulers, from whom it eventually was to reach western Europe. The normal method of translation was from Greek to Syriac, due to the long tradition of such work, and then Syriac to Arabic, due to the fact that Syriac

64 Cf. R. Duval, La Littérature Syriaque. (Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1970), 259-260. It seems to me maybe too fortunate a coincidence that in the Syriac tradition, there are only two single manuscripts that present a text entitled The Counsel of Theano, a Philosopher of the House of Pythagoras, in its full form in Or. Add. 14.658 alone and in an extremely abbreviated form without the title in Or. Add. 14.614, the same two manuscripts that present the only versions of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. 65 S. Brock, “Syriac Culture in the Seventh Century,” in ARAM 1 (1989), 268. 66 Duval, 258.



and Arabic are related Semitic languages.67 The translators, as is evident in their translations of biblical materials, had the tendency to be very literal, and struggled for precision in their early translations.68 One traditional approach to the dating of Or. Add. 14.658 lay in the paleography, particularly in the script itself. Syriac grammars have generally proposed the conventional view that the Estrangelo script is the oldest, followed in time by the Serto, or Jacobite, script in the west and the Eastern, or Nestorian, script in the east. However, recent discoveries have nuanced this estimation. At Dura Europos, a Syriac bill of sale of a slave girl was found, and more recently, two Syriac papyri from Mesopotamia have been published, the former a debt transfer,69 and the latter a land lease,70 all of which evidence a type of written cursive script that appears to be a precursor to the Serto script,71 which counters the traditional view that the Serto script was developed later. Estrangelo still appears to be the earliest book hand,72 and Or. Add. 14.658 is written precisely in the Estrangelo script. Or. Add. 14.614, in which the shorter version of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is contained, is also an undated manuscript, but since the script is still Estrangelo, it is possible to determine from the particular Estrangelo style that this manuscript is of a significantly later date than Or. Add. 14.658. Following the conventional wisdom, one might say that Or. Add. 14.614 evidences a time in which the Estrangelo was starting to turn into the Serto, but it would be more accurate to say that it is probably influenced by the later diffusion of Serto as a book hand. The next place to turn in order to provide a date for Or. Add. 14.658 is to an examination of the entire manuscript and the different treatises contained therein. It is at this juncture that we again encounter Sergius of Resh‘aina. Ten of the twenty-six texts are said to have either been composed by him or translated by him, Brock, “Syriac Culture,” 272. Brock, “The Syriac Background,” 144-145. 69 S. Brock, “Some New Syriac Documents from the Third Century AD,” in ARAM 3 (1991), 260. 70 Ibid., 264. 71 Ibid., 259-261. 72 J. F. Healey, “The Early History of the Syriac Script,” in Journal of Semitic Studies 45 (2000), 63-64. 67 68



all of which appear to be the latest texts in the manuscript. Hence, it is possible to use the list of texts in the manuscript itself in order to give a terminus post quem to Or. Add. 14.658. Given the work of Sergius and his death in 536, the manuscript would have to have been composed no earlier than the time of the writing activity of Sergius himself. Wright considered Or. Add. 14.658 to be a seventh century manuscript,73 and the breadth of the man’s knowledge cannot but inspire awe when working with his Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum Acquired Since the Year 1838.74 Nonetheless, during the course of my work at the Vatican Library and the British Library I was able to do a comparative analysis of the paleography and parchment of the dated manuscripts from the Nitrian Collection with the aid of far more sophisticated lighting and scientific tools (such as video magnification) than what would have been available in the late 1860’s to early 1870’s. Of the manuscripts that seemed closest to Or. Add. 14.658 (as detailed by William Henry Paine Hatch75) [Vat. Sir. 111 (522); Or. Add. 12.166 folios 155-283 (553); Or. Add. 14.635 folios 16-18 (554); Vat. Sir. 143 (563); Or. Add. 12.160 folios 1-108 (584); Or. Add. 14.609 (586); Or. Add. 17.152 (593); Or. Add. 12.135 folios 44-207 (611); Or. Add. 14.647 (688); Or. Add. 14.621 (802); and Or. Add. 12.151 (804)], seven of the eleven originate in the sixth century. While Wright’s assessment is certainly quite possible, it can at least be said that the script and parchment type of Or. Add. 14.658 is consonant with that which was produced in the sixth century. The color gradation of the ink is an important clue as well. As Hatch notes, the earlier texts were written with an ink made with tannin and vitriol that over time becomes, as he puts it, a

Wright, 1154. Wright’s catalogue is a three volume work of one thousand three hundred and fifty three pages in addition to thirty eight pages of prefatory material. In the course of the work itself, he does far more than just list each manuscript. He gives a physical description of the entirety of the work, followed by descriptions of each individual treatise, often with details about the material contained therein. The range of authors and topics in the collection with which he was seemingly so conversant is literally staggering. 75 The dating of the manuscripts is taken from Hatch. 73 74



“handsome rusty brown colour,”76 which is exactly what one finds in Or. Add. 14.658. The presentation of the columns in a Syriac manuscript is another clue in attempting to date the undated text. While the earliest dated text, Or. Add. 12.150 has three columns, the two-column page tended to be particularly popular in the early production of Syriac manuscripts into the sixth century.77 The ruling of the columns is indicative of age as well, the earliest examples being a set of eight pin pricks with lead rulings drawn on the top and sides of the columns.78 The earlier material does not seem to have a line drawn on the bottom of the columns, and this is precisely the situation with Or. Add. 14.658. All of these indicators, therefore, lend credence to an earlier dating for the material. Another key issue in the dating of Or. Add. 14.658 is the way in which Syriac scribes used diacritical marks and vowels. In later times, particularly in the east, an elaborate system of vowel points and diacritical marks was developed. In the west, diacritical marks were used, such as the seyāmē, two points superscribed over a word which resemble an umlaut and indicate the plural, or the point whose position distinguishes a dalath, ‫ܕ‬, from a resh, ‫ܪ‬. Western scribes began to use Greek vowels in their texts only by around the year 700,79 but that is precisely what we do not see in Or. Add. 14.658, except in certain folios in which they have been clearly added by a later hand,80 to which we will return below. This

Ibid., 11. Ibid., 13. 78 M. Mundell Mango, “The Production of Syriac Manuscripts, 400700 AD.” Pages 161-189 in Scritture, Libri e Testi nelle Aree Provinciali di Bisanzio. Atti del seminario di Erice (18-25 settembre 1988). Edited by G. Cavallo, G. De Gregorio, and M. Maniaci. (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 1991), 174. 79 T. Nöldeke, Compendious Syriac Grammar. Originally published as Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik, Leipzig: T. O. Weigel, 1880. Translated by J. A. Crichton and first published in English, London: Williams & Norgate, 1904. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2001), 8. 80 Wright, 1154. The phenomenon of secondary additions of the sort in Or. Add. 14.658 is easily verified not only by a difference in the way that letters are drawn, but also in the color of the ink that seems to be used, in most cases that I came across, a black tint, as opposed to the normal brownish tint to the ink of the bulk of the manuscript. 76 77



lack of vocalization is another indication of the antiquity of the manuscript. Parchment types are another relative indication of the date of a manuscript, as is the size of the book itself. The older Syriac manuscripts tend to have smoother parchment types, while the later ones tend to be somewhat coarser, as even a cursory analysis of the Syriac material in London and Rome was able to confirm. While I exercised painstaking care at all times as regards having any contact whatsoever with a manuscript, obeying the guidelines and instructions of the individual libraries in which I had the privilege to access this material, it was clear to me that the later texts appeared to often necessitate an even greater level of caution in examining individual folios and manuscripts. To turn to the two versions of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander from Or. Add. 14.658 and Or. Add. 14.614, this dynamic regarding the parchment type is immediately apparent and supports a later date for Or. Add. 14.614. A final indication of the antiquity of a Syriac manuscript is the language actually used in the text. While the paucity of Greek words in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander helps to posit a Syriac original to the text, as will be detailed below, it is also of use in establishing the possibility that the manuscript was compiled earlier than Wright posits. Jacob of Edessa, who died in 708, wrote about words that had come into the Syriac language over the course of the sixth century. The small number of such terms in both The Sentences of the Syriac Menander and in another tract from the manuscript that I was able to examine as a type of control on my text, given its attribution to a Greek philosophical figure, The Counsel of Theano, a Philosopher of the House of Pythagoras, leads me to posit an earlier date than that set forth by Wright. Given the lack of a well-written and preserved scribal colophon, while it is impossible to date Or. Add. 14.658 with precision, it is possible to say that the text as it now stands could, in fact, have been written in the sixth century. To turn now to the text that underlies The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, there are indications in the present text that help to establish parameters within which the original may be placed. The fact that the original was written not in the age of Menander himself, but rather in the Roman era is demonstrated in section VII, where one reads in VII.9. “Theft leads one to a cross.” Two



additional passages in the text enable us to use Roman law to set both a terminus ad quem and a terminus post quem to the underlying material. The former can be determined from I.6, where one finds: “But if your son goes forth from his childhood shameless and an athlete, and headstrong and thieving, and lying and destructive, teach him the business of a gladiator and put a sword and a dagger in his hand, and pray concerning him that he will quickly die and will be killed.” Audet points out that the first measure against the gladiatorial games came under Constantine (306-337) in 325, followed over time by similar laws enacted by Valentinian (364375) and finally by Honorius (395-423), and estimates that the latest date of the text would be the end of the fourth century.81 This provides us with a terminus ad quem for the underlying textual material, although this is a somewhat tenuous terminus ad quem that deserves caution. While the Codex Iustinianus XI.44.1 seems clear that on the kalends of October (October 1) in 325, Constantine abolished the games in an edict issued at Berytus (Beirut), Thomas Wiedemann points out that they did not go away so cleanly and that there is epigraphic evidence as late as the 430’s 440’s concerning gladiators and the munera.82 There is another piece of evidence that the original text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander comes from the time of the Roman Empire, which gives us a terminus post quem: (IV.1) “because just as you have no power to kill a slave, so too, (you have no power) to confine a freedman.” It was under the Antonine emperors that arbitrary torture and execution of slaves was outlawed.83 While the De Vita Hadriani 18.7 of Aelius Spartianus states that it was the Roman emperor Hadrian (117-138) who outlawed the summary execution of slaves without judicial intervention, the Institutiones of Gaius I.52-53 seem to indicate that it was Antoninus Pius (138161). Hence, the earliest date of composition is probably some time after Antoninus Pius, who was certainly assiduous in this regard,84 since the text seems to presuppose the law. With the Audet, 77-78. T. Wiedemann, Emperors and Gladiators, (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 156-158. 83 Audet, 66. 84 Ibid., 66. 81 82



aforementioned caveats regarding both the termini ad and post quem, and barring the possibility that there could be differing chronological layers to the material,85 the underlying text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander can at least reasonably be placed some time around the end of the second century86 or into the third century CE.87



Getting a sense of when the material was written is important in helping us to better understand it, but in order to do so more fully, it would also be helpful to consider its place of origin. In the course of prior work done on the The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, as noted above in the section on the history of scholarship, there is only one commentator, Audet, who has posited a place of origin for the original text preserved in the document. While Baarda feels that there is not enough evidence to posit any specific provenance of the text, he gives some credit to Audet as “the only one who dares to put forward a thesis about the country of the author.”88 Audet develops his theory based upon two particular passages of the text. The weaker of the two passages is the former, the first phrase of the treatise, which reads (I.1): “At the summit of the affairs of a man are all his works: water and seed and planting and sons.” Audet posits Egypt as the provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, and sees this immediate concern for water as a proof thereof.89 Audet’s second major argument for an Egyptian provenance, VII.26, reads: “because if you surpass your father and your mother, and if, during your time and on account of your fate, you are called ‘Master’ and ‘Lord,’ it is because of the name of your father and your mother (that) all people call you (so).” At issue is the term pwsqnk ‫ܦܘܣܩܢܟ‬, that I have translated as “your fate” and Audet translates “ton nome.”90 85 While not impossible, the lack of any direct evidence of the sort makes this idea, in my opinion, less likely to actually be the case. 86 Audet, 77. 87 Baarda, 585. 88 Ibid., 585. 89 Audet, 77. 90 Ibid., 73.



In A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, Jessie Payne Smith defines pwsqn’ ‫ ܦܘܣܩܢܐ‬as such: “rt. ‫ ܦܣܩ‬. m. a portion; a decision, decree, ordinance, fate.”91 Audet feels that the issue at stake is the meaning “decision” or “decree.” He sees a confusion on the part of a Syriac translator regarding the Greek word no,moj, law, for which pwsqn’ ‫ ܦܘܣܩܢܐ‬would be a legitimate translation, for nomo,j, an Egyptian district. He points out that while Herodotus uses the term for Persian satrapies, Scythian administrative districts, and generally for provinces administered by a governor, by the Roman era, the time frame from which the underlying text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander stems (as previously demonstrated), only Egyptian districts were actually referred to with the designation nomo,j.92 Küchler, who disagrees on the issue of the concern over water,93 finds this argument to be quite convincing.94 According to Baarda, though, it is, “safer to conclude that there is too little evidence to endorse a specific provenance.”95 My difficulty with Audet’s thesis lies on several levels. In the first place, a concern for the acquisition of water in the ancient world is not a phenomenon limited to Egypt, although for obvious climatic reasons, it would be particularly acute in that part of the ancient world. Nonetheless, it is not necessarily unique. One could also ask, however, if this is actually a concern with a lack of water or if there is some other dynamic at play. Is it safe to assume that an early mention of water in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is considering the topic from a negative perspective? In the phrase (I.1) “water and seed and planting and sons,” the other elements mentioned are all positive. Could this not also be the case with water? As I will detail in the following paragraphs of this section, it is my contention that the provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is the city of Edessa itself. Edessa was, in fact, famous for its water supplies. The city itself was well-supplied with water by the river Daiṣan, which was known to swell at least once per 91 J. Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 438. 92 Audet, 77. 93 Küchler, 316. 94 Ibid., 316. 95 Baarda, 585.



century in a disastrous manner.96 While in ancient times, a city could be vulnerable if a besieging enemy could dam up the water supply from the outside, this was not the case with Edessa, which had numerous springs of water within the city itself and was famous for its fish pools.97 Edessa had a reputation for the healing properties of one its wells, a place considered holy in Edessa even beyond the Christian era, and for its sacred fish.98 A second problem with Audet’s thesis concerns the presence in the document of the Syriac term nmws’ ‫ܢܡܘܣܐ‬, which is directly based on the Greek word no,moj. The term is used in the text more than once, which leads one to question why, if Audet is correct, the author would have used it as such but then have translated it into another Syriac term in a different spot in the manuscript. In both logia II.3 and VII.12, it is used precisely with the term’s normal range of meaning. On another level, however, as will be detailed in a later section of this chapter, I would take issue with the general presumption that the original language of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was Greek. Finally, as I will now detail, despite the fact that, as noted above, Or. Add. 14.658 comes from an Egyptian monastery, the provenance of the document can be plausibly determined from the history of the collection, from the manuscript work that I was able to do in Rome and London, as mentioned in the previous section, and from an examination of the content of the entire book. In the section on the history of the manuscript, it was noted that Abbot Moses of Nisibis, despite coming from an important center of eastern Syriac Christianity, actually belonged to the western Syriac tradition, and collected a large number of manuscripts from the northern Mesopotamian region. Quite a number of the dated manuscripts in the Nitrian Collection come from the city of Edessa in particular. Since the colophon from Or. Add. 14.658 is no longer extant, there is no direct evidence pointing to precisely where the manuscript was written, but given the area in which Moses of Nisibis did his collection work, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the manuscript could 96 J. B. Segal, Edessa ‘The Blessed City.’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 6. 97 Ibid., 6. 98 Ibid., 54.



have come from the region in and around Edessa, the very city from which the Aramaic dialect known as Syriac stems.99 Scientific analyses such as carbon dating, chemical analysis of the parchment, or analysis of pollen samples from the manuscript, all of which could possibly determine the date and place of origin of the manuscript in a more precise manner were, unfortunately, not available to me due both to the cost-prohibitive nature of such testing and the necessity (particularly in the case of carbon dating) of the destruction of a portion of the manuscript. It was possible, however, to make a visual comparison of the material, which is useful in and of itself. Of the more than one hundred manuscripts that I examined during the course of May to June of 2007, there were a number of manuscripts that seemed particularly close to Or. Add. 14.658 both from the standpoint of calligraphy and the general outlook of the parchment as mentioned above. Dated manuscripts from the Nitrian Collection that seemed particularly close on the levels of paleography and parchment were: Manuscript Date Vat. Sir. 111 522 Or. Add. 12.166 (folios 155-283) 553 Or. Add. 14.635 (folios 16-18) 554 Vat. Sir. 143 563 Or. Add. 12.160 (folios 1-108) 584 Or. Add. 14.609 586 Or. Add. 17.152 593 Or. Add. 12.135 (folios 44-207) 611 Or. Add. 14.647 688 Or. Add. 14.621 802 Or. Add. 12.151 804100 While, unfortunately, not every detail about each manuscript is known, of these particular manuscripts, it has been established at least, that Or. Add. 12.166 was written in Edessa itself,101 and both Or. Add. 12.160 and Or. Add. 17.152 were written by named Edessene scribes.102 While not a precise science, a comparative Nöldeke, xxxi. As above, the dating of the manuscripts is taken from Hatch. 101 Hatch, 74. 102 Ibid., 84-86. 99




visual analysis of Or. Add. 14.658 and related material from the Nitrian Collection, makes it at least plausible to posit an Edessene provenance to the manuscript. Finally, there is the issue of the individual treatises found in Or. Add. 14.658. There are twenty six different texts in the manuscript. They are as follows: 1. A treatise on logic by Sergius of Resh‘aina 2. The Isagoge of Porphyry 3. What is known as the Table of Porphyry 4. The Categories of Aristotle 5. A philosophical discourse probably composed by Sergius 6. Another probable work of Sergius on negation and affirmation 7. A treatise of Sergius to Theodore on the causes of the universe according to Aristotle 8. A translation by Sergius of Aristotle’s Peri. ko,smou pro.j VAle,xandron

9. A tract on the soul ascribed to Aristotle 10. A work of Sergius on genus, species, and individuality 11. The Book of the Laws of the Countries 12. Another treatise of Sergius addressed to Theodore on the action of the moon 13. An appendix concerning the sun 14. The signs of the zodiac according to the school of Bardaiṣan 15. A dialogue simply entitled swqrṭws ‫ܣܘܩܪܛܘܣ‬, (Socrates) 16. Isocrates’ discourse addressed to Demonicus 17. The Hypomnemata of Ambrose 18. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander 19. A series of articles on substance by Sergius 20. A collection of sentences ascribed to Pythagoras 21. A discourse of Melito before Antoninus103

103 The Antoninus to whom the text refers is actually Marcus Aurelius.



22. The letter of Mārā bar Serapion to his son Serapion 23. Sayings of Plato 24. Advice of Plato to His Disciple 25. A section on Platonic definitions of faith, God, love, and righteousness 26. The Counsel of Theano, a Philosopher of the House of Pythagoras.104 The most telling portions of the manuscript for purposes of provenance are the eleventh through the fourteenth individual texts. The Book of the Laws of the Countries, the eleventh document in Or. Add. 14.658, is one of the single most important early Syriac texts, which is not actually written by Bardaiṣan of Edessa, but rather by one of his students named Philippus. Nonetheless, The Book of the Laws of the Countries, presented in the form of a Socratic dialogue, appears to accurately reflect the thought of Bardaiṣan himself.105 The import of Bardaiṣan and his school for purposes of this study will become more apparent as this chapter progresses. Bardaiṣan was an enigmatic and controversial figure in Syriac Christianity. His earlier interests in astrology are clear from The Book of the Laws of the Countries, although, as Ilaria Ramelli points out in her 2009 work on Bardaiṣan, knowledge thereof does not necessarily mean agreement.106 At some point in his life he became

104 Wright, 1154-1160. In an article entitled “Contributions to the History of Greek Philosophy in the Orient, Syriac Texts, IV: A Syriac Version of the lo,goj kefalaiw,dhj peri. yuch/j pro.j Tatiano,n of Gregory Thaumaturgus,” appearing in Journal of the American Oriental Society 35 (1915), 297-317, Giuseppe Furlani took issue with certain details of Wright’s categorization of the material, most notably the ninth manuscript, which he says does not stem from Aristotle, but is rather a Syriac version of the Lo,goj kefalaiw,dhj peri. yuch/j pro.j Tatiano,n of Gregory Thaumaturgus, cf. p. 299. 105 H. J. W. Drijvers, The Book of the Laws of the Countries. Originally published Assen: van Gorcum & Comp. N.V., 1964. New Introduction by J. W. Drijvers. (Piscataway: Gorgias, 2006), viii*-ix*. 106 I. Ramelli, Bardaisan of Edessa: A Reassessment of the Evidence and a New Interpretation. Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies 22. (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2009), 25. She notes on p. 20 that for him, the celestial bodies were, in the final analysis creatures, not divinities, and on p. 71



Christian, as The Book of the Laws of the Countries reflects, and attacked the teaching of Marcion, but what form his Christianity took is uncertain,107 although it would seem from statements in The Book of the Laws of the Countries that he sought in some way to bring together what he learned of astrology with his Christian faith.108 What is certain is that Ephrem the Syrian, while respecting his capacity as a writer, considered Bardaiṣan particularly dangerous and sought to counter his influence on two fronts: composing hymns to appeal to the common person who would have enjoyed Bardaiṣan’s hymns, and using prose works to appeal to intellectuals.109 While details of the life of Bardaiṣan are not known with great precision, it would seem that he was born at Edessa in 154 and died around 222, and that, as is known from Sextus Julius Africanus and Ephrem the Syrian, he spent a good portion of his life as a member of the court of his friend, King Abgar VIII of Edessa.110 It is this Abgar, known as Abgar the Great, who is most likely conflated with Abgar Ukkama, the Black, in the famed Abgar Legend that comes down from the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, a legend concerning an exchange of letters between the king of Edessa and Jesus himself, that was to cement the ancient reputation of Edessa as the first official Christian kingdom. In seems more likely that Abgar the Great, in whose court Bardaiṣan was present and active, was reasonably well-disposed toward Christianity whether he actually converted, as The Book of the Laws of the Countries as it stands seems to imply, or merely that he maintained a good rapport with a growing number of Christian subjects for practical political reasons.111 The whole ethos of The Book of the Laws of the Countries, and the fact that it was written in Socratic dialogue form by a disciple demonstrates that Bardaiṣan had a group of followers around him that, in fact, he fought a sense of determinism based on astrology, because the worship of the celestial bodies was popular in Edessa. 107 H. J. W. Drijvers, Bardaiṣan of Edessa. Studia Semitica Neederlandica, 6. Translated by G. E. van Baaren-Pape. (Assen: van Gorcum & Comp. N. V., 1966), 217-218. 108 Ibid., 83. 109 Ibid., 128-129. 110 Drijvers, The Book of the Laws of the Countries, v*. 111 Segal, 62-71.



during his lifetime that it would seem was not of one mind from the very start.112 The group was to continue to move further apart from orthodox Christianity and was still in existence in some form as late as the life of Jacob of Edessa who died in 708.113 The eleventh document in Or. Add. 14.658 would seem to reflect this as does the fourteenth text dealing with the signs of the zodiac. While the twelfth and thirteenth documents are ascribed to Sergius of Resh‘aina, it is difficult to miss the convergence with the interest of the followers of Bardaiṣan, and given that Resh‘aina was close enough to Edessa to have been at least at the edge of its sphere of influence as capital of the Roman province of Osrhoene,114 I would posit that the contents of Or. Add. 14.658 also lend credence to an Edessene provenance (possibly linked in some manner with the descendants of the school of Bardaiṣan) to the manuscript in general and to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in particular. Without a detailed colophon, this theory cannot be definitively demonstrated. Nonetheless, the evidence educed in these preceding paragraphs makes it a good possibility at the very least that Or. Add. 14.658 was produced at Edessa, especially when discussing such material from the early centuries of Syriac literary production. With this said, though, as noted above, the city of Nisibis was a center of learning for eastern Syriac Christianity, and there was, in fact, a particularly famous Syriac school in the city of Nisibis at the time in which Or. Add. 14.658 was likely to have been put together. The argument could, then, be made that the material might have been produced there. There are, however, certain reasons that would lead to the conclusion that this is probably less likely the case than is an Edessene provenance to the text. The school of Nisibis was founded in 489 after what is known as the “School of the Persians” was closed in Edessa itself by Cyrus, the bishop, acting under the orders of the emperor Zeno, although it would seem that there was already some gathering for learning in Nisibis that predates the founding of the school. These locals would have possibly joined together with those who left Drijvers, Bardaiṣan, 227. Ibid., 228. 114 S. K. Ross, Roman Edessa. (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), 22-28. 112 113



Edessa to form what came to be the school of Nisibis.115 As noted above, this school was particularly important in the intellectual development of eastern Syriac Christianity. It is among the eastern Syriac Christians that vowel signs were first developed on a more comprehensive basis, using a system of single and double points for the most part. Only later did western Syriac Christianity develop a system of vowel pointing marked by the use of small Greek letters.116 This is a key piece of evidence supporting a possible Edessene provenance for Or. Add. 14.658 over and against the possibility that it was put together in Nisibis. The text as it stands predates the widespread use of vowel designations in Syriac, but in thirty-one clear pages of the manuscipt, and in a possible thirty-second, a later hand has written in some Greek vowels. The vowels are extremely few and far between even on the very few pages in which they do actually appear. How few and far between is demonstrated by what one finds on the first page of The Book of the Laws of the Countries, folio 129r, in which Greek vowels are found on only two single words, two vowels on one word and only one on the second. The fact that they are vowels from the western Syriac system, while not ruling out production of the document in Nisibis, makes it, nonetheless, much less likely as the preservation of the material would clearly be at the hands of western Syriac Christians. A final piece of evidence to support the possibility of an Edessene provenance to the text as opposed to an origin with the school of Nisibis is again the figure of Sergius of Resh‘aina himself. Most of what is known of Sergius comes from the writings of Zacharias Rhetor, who recounts Sergius’ erudition along with some less-than-complimentary comments about his moral character. Nonetheless, the text does seems to point to his orthodoxy.117 As 115 A. H. Becker, Sources for the Study of the School of Nisibis. Translated Texts for Historians, 50. (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008), 2. 116 Nöldeke, 7-8. 117 A. C. McCollum, A Greek and Syriac Index to Sergius of Reshaina’s Version of the De Mundo. Gorgias Handbooks, 12. (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2009), 3-4. The Syriac text of Zacharias Rhetor was published by J. P. N. Land in his Anecdota Syriaca III (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1870), and an English translation published by F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks, The Syriac Chronicle Known as That of Zachariah of Mitylene (London: Methuen & Co., 1899).



the list of texts found in Or. Add. 14.658 in the above section on “Dating The Sentences of the Syriac Menander” clearly demonstrates, Sergius is involved in a large percentage of the material found in the manuscript. Given his link with the orthodox Christian community, while not ruling out the possibility that Or. Add. 14.658 was produced in Nisibis, the city of Edessa is certainly the more likely candidate of the two for the provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander.



If, as I would maintain, the material originates in Edessa, it stems from the place from which Syriac, as noted above, has its origins. What of the language of the document, then? Does what we find in the manuscript show it to have been written, in fact, in Syriac, and does this then help to give evidence of its provenance as the kingdom of Edessa? Given that the title of this work speaks of the “Syriac” Menander, it would seem to be rather simple to discuss the language of the collection of sayings, but this is deceptive. The actual reference is to the fact that the preserved text is written in the Syriac language, but the claim of authorship of the document could just as easily lead to the conclusion that the original text underlying the Syriac material that we now have in Or. Add. 14.658 was Greek, and this is, in fact, the presumption of most scholars who have worked on The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, as is forcefully stated by Küchler: “Dass PseuMen eine Uebersetzung einer griechischen Vorlage ist, unterliegt keinem Zweifel,”118 despite the fact that Frankenberg viewed that same Vorlage of the Syriac text as Hebrew.119 It is, however, my contention that the original text was, in fact, written in Syriac, as I hope to demonstrate by taking an analysis of the vocabulary of the treatise as it stands together with the material on the provenance of the manuscript detailed in the immediately preceding section of this chapter. Jacob of Edessa, who was particularly active in the seventh century, wrote to bishop George of Serug that he should not be afraid to use new terms that had come into the language over the previous century due to the increased activity of translation work 118 119

Küchler, 316. Frankenberg, 264.



from Greek into Syriac. He speaks of a variety of different terms, among which is the use of adverbs with the ending -’yt ‫ܐܝܬ‬-. Working through the vocabulary of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, I was only able to find two adverbs of this particular type, the term ḥkym’yt ‫ܚܟܝܡܐܝܬ‬, “wisely,” and the term mtyn’yt ‫ܡܬܝܢܐܝܬ‬, “slowly.” Instead, for example, the way in which the author expresses the term “very badly” is not by use of an adverbial form to which Jacob signals like byš’yt ‫ܒܝܫܐܝܬ‬, but rather a doubling of the adjective in its absolute state, byš byš ‫ ;ܒܝܫ ܒܝܫ‬the term “properly” or “excellently” in the text is expressed as špyr ‫ܫܦܝܪ‬ rather than špyr’yt ‫ ;ܫܦܝܪܐܝܬ‬and the adverb “all the more” or, in context of its use in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, “needlessly,” appears as mn ytyrw ‫ ܡܢ ܝܬܝܪܘ‬rather than ytyr’yt ‫ܝܬܝܪܐܝܬ‬. More importantly, there is the issue of words that come directly from the Greek, of which there is a long-standing tradition in Syriac. It would be surprising not to find any in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, given an influence of Greek terms on the Semitic language families of which Syriac is, of course, a part, that dates back as early as the end of the fifth century BCE.120 Since the text purports to be written by the Greek comic poet Menander, it would seem all the more likely for there to be more Greek terms than one actually finds, or, at the very least, more terms that would indicate a translation from the Greek. In the course of working with the original material, I have been able to identify clearly only ten certain Greek terms in the full version of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in Or. Add. 14.658. Of the ten clear items, two were the simple conjunctions gyr ‫(ܓܝܪ‬ga,r) and dyn ‫( ܕܝܢ‬de,); two were the proper names Menander mnndrws ‫( ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ‬Me,nandroj) and Homer, which is spelled differently in the two times (within the same logion) that we find the name used, hmrs/hwmrws ‫ܗܡܪܣ‬/‫[ ( ܗܘܡܪܘܣ‬Omhroj); and two were terms that involved competitive activity, ’tlṭ ‫( ܐܬܠܛ‬avqlhth,j) for “athlete” and lwdrwt’ ‫( ܠܘܕܪܘܬܐ‬louda,rioj) “the business of a gladiator.” In the shorter version from Or. Add. 14.614, there are only two terms: dyn ‫( ܕܝܢ‬de,) and the proper name Menander mnndrws ‫ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ‬ (Me,nandroj). Given the paucity of Greek terms in a document ostensibly written by a Greek author and the likely provenance of 120 S. Brock, “Greek Words in Syriac: Some General Features,” in Scripta Classica Israelica 15 (1996), 251.



the text itself, as detailed above, it is my contention that the original language of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is, in fact, Syriac rather than Greek. There is another piece of evidence that I would present in support of a Syriac original to the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, and this is something which was only discernible through my work with the original material under magnification. In Or. Add. 14.658, folio 164v.II line 10, one finds dkrs’ ‫ܕܟܪܣܐ‬, and in 165r.II, line 8, one finds lmzgr ‫ܠܡܙܓܪ‬. It was only with the aid of both strong lighting and magnification that I was able to determine that there is a secondary hand involved in both cases. In the former, the original hand presents the relative article dalath and the first and last letters of the Syriac word krs’ ‫ܟܪܣܐ‬. The intervening letters are written in a darker, blackish ink as opposed to the richer brown original. The original hand appears with empty spaces as such: dk[ ]’ ‫ܕܟ] [ܐ‬. In the second situation, the original has only the first two letters lm[ ] [ ]‫ ܠܡ‬followed by a slight upsweep of the pen on the mim. The final three letters zgr ‫ ܙܓܪ‬are written in the same darker, blackish ink as in the first case. To the naked eye, however, the former looks fine as is, and the latter looks almost identical to the same term directly below it in line 9. Of the different scholars who have worked on the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, not one has noticed the secondary addition at either point, but without benefit of seeing the document directly and having appropriate tools with which to do so, this is not a surprise. The scribe who added the two letters in the first case and the final three letters in the second case (the hand and ink seem identical) did so in a very competent manner, making both appear original. If the underlying text of the treatise were Greek and a later scribe was translating it from a lost original, it makes no sense whatsoever for the text to appear as it does. In the first case, the letters are placed with the appropriate spacing as if awaiting the addition of the other letters, and in the second case, the first two letters are placed appropriately and there is an uncharacteristic upturn on the mim not capable of being reproduced with a Syriac printing font, again as if awaiting the additional letters. It is more likely that the scribe was copying from a Syriac original and had difficulty making out what followed but rendered the portions of which he was certain. Possibly there were



erasures or some smudging or the like at these points. Had the original terms been Greek, it is more likely that the scribe would have left the entire space blank rather than make a good beginning and leave the remainder to be filled in later. The preceding paragraphs, particularly the final material concerning the secondary hand that I found in the treatise, have, I would maintain, offered significant proof that the text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in Or. Add. 14.658 as it stands was copied from a Syriac document. The argument could be proferred, however, that the previous text from which it was copied was not the original, but rather a translation from an earlier Greek original. In order to answer this objection, a brief look at the syntax of the document is in order. An examination of Syriac syntax is not so simple, though. As Nöldeke points out, the arrangement of the parts of a Syriac sentence was actually quite free.121 The nature of the language lends itself to more stylistic variation than does English, for example, but there are certain tendencies in the way in which Syriac texts are composed that would be helpful as regards our text. At the same time, one problem as regards our text must be recognized, namely that the material is diverse. There are phrases that range from the very brief, such as logion IX.14, to much longer passages, such as logion I.6. Nonetheless, for the purpose of determining the likelihood that the original language was Syriac as opposed to Greek, it is important to determine if there are any indications in the syntax of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander that seem to indicate either a precisely Syriac or at least a Semitic background to the material. One example in which one finds a good use of syntax is in logion II.2, in the phrase “wine is soothing and sweet,” which is rendered well in the Syriac. As Gideon Goldenberg notes, “where the predicate consists of more than one word, it is only the first word that would normally enter the basic construction with the pronominal subject, thus leaving any further part of the predicate to be supplemented after the essential P + pron. S nexus-


Nöldeke, 258.



expression.”122 One sees this in the arrangement of the Syriac: mṭl dḥmr’ mtyn hw wbsym ‫ܡܛܠ ܕܚܡܪܐ ܡܬܝܢ ܗܘ ܘܒܣܝܡ‬, where the terms for “soothing and sweet,” are broken up by the hw ‫ ܗܘ‬according to Goldenberg’s comments regarding good Syriac usage. In his analysis of Syriac sentence structure, Goldenberg sees the basic presentation of a non-verbal sentence in the language as what he calls “Pattern A,” a situation in which the first element of the sentence is a predicate and the second is a subject.123 As noted above, there are a variety of passages of differing length in our text, but this “Pattern A” of Goldenberg is precisely what one finds in the sections of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander where one finds the majority of short non-verbal sentences, namely logia IX.1-X.2. It is also evident in other parts of the text such as logia VII.11-12. Precise examples of this Syriac construction are evident in logion VII.12 qry’ ’lhy’ nmws’ ‫ܩܪܝܐ ܐܠܗܝܐ ܢܡܘܣܐ‬, “the law is a divine call,” in which the predication regarding the subject “law” appears as the first element in the sentence, and in logion IX.14 mṣ‘rnyt’ krs’ ‫ܡܨܥܪܢܝܬܐ ܟܪܣܐ‬, “the appetite is a shameful thing,” in which the same dynamic is operative. Another such example in the syntax of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander that has a clear Semitic parallel is the three-fold use of the Infinitive in place of the Imperative in logion I.2, particularly as it appears in the third case. In Wilhelm Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, the point is made that Hebrew can make use of the Infinitive as an “emphatic imperative.”124 Two classic uses of the Infinitive as such are the parallel commandments in Exodus 20:8 to ‫זָ כוֹר‬, “remember,” and Deuteronomy 5:12 to ‫ ָשׁמוֹר‬, “keep” the Sabbath, the import of which, particularly for the Priestly authors in the Exodus version, virtually goes without saying.125 122 G. Goldenberg, “On Syriac Sentence Structure.” Pages 98-140 in Arameans, Aramaic and the Aramaic Literary Tradition. Edited by M. Sokoloff. (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1983), 100-101. 123 Ibid., 98-101. 124 W. Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar. Edited and expanded by E. Kautzsch. Translated by G.W. Collins and A.E. Cowley. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1898), 362. 125 The use of the Infinitive as an Imperative is not unknown in Greek, although it is found more frequently in poetry. In prose, it would be used with “a solemn or formal force,” cf. Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920), 448.



In like manner, in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, the use of the Infinitive as an Imperative happens but three times, all in the same logion, however, the import of those particular commands are clear both from what follows throughout the document and from the fact that they appear so early in the text. The first such is the use of the Infinitive lmdḥl ‫ܠܡܕܚܠ‬, “to fear,” the second is the use of the Infinitive lmyqrw ‫ܠܡܝܩܪܘ‬, “to honor,” and the third is the Infinitive lmgḥk ‫ܠܡܓܚܟ‬, “to laugh,” each of which is used instead of the normal imperatival forms. The emphasis given on the part of the author as regards the first two should be evident in the commands themselves: “fear God” and “honor both (your) father and mother,” for which he has chosen not to use the normal respective command forms dḥl ‫ ܕܚܠ‬and yqr ‫ܝܩܪ‬. In the third case, however, the emphasis is even more striking by the choice of the Infinitive. Not only does the author use the above-listed Infinitive, but this is all the more strange in that this is not so much a command as it is a prohibition. In Syriac, the Imperative is negated by use of the Imperfect with the negative particle l’ ‫ܐܠ‬.126 This is precisely what one finds all throughout The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as, for example in logion II.5, where in the phrase “and do not scorn your friends,” the negative command is rendered as l’ tbs’ ‫ܐܠ ܬܒܣܐ‬, as is appropriate. Only in the case of the third imperative in logion I.2 is this different. The emphasis throughout the text on respect for one’s elders is borne out beautifully in the prohibition “and do not laugh at old age” by use of the Infinitive instead of the expected l’ tgḥk ‫ܐܠ ܬܓܚܟ‬. Two final observations are in order as regards a Syriac original to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, and these are points made by Jan Joosten in his book The Syriac Language of the Peshitta and Old Syriac Versions of Matthew. Joosten speaks of the “dativus ethicus” as “the preposition l-suffix, with the suffix referring to the subject, immediately following a finite verbal form,” and notes that it “has no formal counterpart in the Greek.”127 This is evident in logion VII.19 in the phrase “and if he does not remember the end, he

Nöldeke, 224. J. Joosten, The Syriac Language of the Peshitta and Old Syriac Versions of Matthew. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 22. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996), 138. 126 127



perishes,” where “he perishes” is rendered with this construction ’bd lh ‫ܐܒܕ ܠܗ‬. The final point is more key and is an example of specifically Semitic syntax, namely the use of the Infinitive Absolute together with another use of the same verb. Joosten calls this “a tautological infinitive which has no formal Greek equivalent. In these cases the infinitive is used with the genuine Syriac function of stressing the pure meaning of the verb.”128 There are five places in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in which this construction is used. It first appears in logion II.12, where “he is surely set free” is rendered by the participial use of the verb gh’ ‫ ܓܗܐ‬together with the Infinitive Absolute: mghyw mgh’ ‫ܡܓܗܝܘ ܡܓܗܐ‬. This construction is used twice in logion VII.20 to render “you should actually assist” by the use of the Infinitive Absolute together with the Imperfect of the verb ‘dr ‫ ܥܕܪ‬in the form m‘drw t‘drywh’ ‫ ܡܥܕܪܘ ܬܥܕܪܝܘܗܝ‬and later on to render the phrase “he will surely revile you” by using the Infinitive Absolute together with the Participle of the verb ṣḥ’ ‫ܨܚܐ‬ in the form mṣḥyw mṣḥ’ ‫ܡܨܚܝܘ ܡܨܚܐ‬. Finally, logion X.5 renders the phrase “he too will surely die” by means of the Infinitive Absolute together with the Participle of the verb mwt ‫ܡܘܬ‬. The phrase appears as mmt m’t ‫ܡܡܬ ܡܐܬ‬. Since the original text of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is lost, as is logical given the above comments concerning the secondary hand in this present section of this chapter, it is not possible to prove definitively that the original text was not written in Greek. Nonetheless, the preceding comments on the syntax of the present version give evidence that would make it far more likely that the Syriac copy from which the present text was made was either the original or was copied from a Syriac original. Given the history of the material and the above comments concerning the dating of the text, to posit an earlier Greek version is essentially to say that there was enough ancient interest in The Sentences of the Syriac Menander for someone at some point to have translated a Greek original dating no earlier than after the Antonine emperors into Syriac, then for someone else as early as the sixth century to have made a Syriac copy thereof, yet for both of the earlier versions to have been lost. It would seem far more likely therefore,


Ibid., 157-158.



that the original version of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander was, in fact, written in Syriac.



Having dealt with the background of our text, we turn now to an examination of the material as it stands, and just as we found with the provenance of the text, so too here, one comes up against a difficult situation. Baumstark was the first to mention some kind of order to the text based on a person’s lifespan,129 but other commentators are not in agreement. Schulthess, for example, considers connections between the various sayings to be somewhat tenuous.130 A more recent work on the topic, that of Kirk, moves more in the direction of Baumstark. Kirk sees the The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a good example of Jewish paraenesis131 that moves in a systematic fashion from childhood to the grave, as was suggested by Baumstark. While I find his take on the text to be intriguing, I believe that the idea of an ordering of the text according to life passages is not quite so precise. As regards childhood, for example, Kirk takes as his premise that “you should listen to the words of your father and your mother each day” in I.4 “can have as its referent only a child at home under the tutelage of mother and father.”132 While this is certainly a possibility, maybe even the logical way to take the phrase in and of itself, is it the only possibility? First, we must consider a cultural situation of far less mobility than in our modern age. An older or adult child could easily have had daily contact with his or her parents. The call for respect of the father would be important in antiquity in general, but all the more in the Roman culture in which the role of the paterfamilias assumed an importance that is far beyond what we moderns take as simple respect for one’s parents, and while The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is not a direct representative of Roman culture per se, the influence of Roman custom and law is reflected in the text, as delineated above, and the likely place of provenance was within the Roman sphere of Baumstark, 488. Schulthess, 202. 131 Kirk, 172. 132 Ibid., 174. 129 130



influence during the time in which the text was originally composed. Additionally, the term, “listen… each day,” could infer obedience to the wisdom that has been taught in prior years, particularly in the case of deceased parents. The ordering of the sentences as presented in the following chapter tries to be faithful to the diacritical marks in the Syriac text. The major paragraph breaks are clear, but there are not many. In fact, there are only ten in the entire treatise. What will be apparent in the translation section of the next two chapters is that certain phrases tend to be linked thematically, but there does not seem to be any really clear order to the sentences. Baumstark’s and Kirk’s suggestions are the most creative, but there is, unfortunately, no clear indication in the text itself, so the ordering can really only be described as loose at best. Wilson, in a footnote to The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, has an interesting description of the organization not of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a whole, but of one portion of the text. He sees logia II.12 through VI.5 as divided into “three major units: (1) counsel concerning ‘outsiders’ and unjust behavior (enemies: vv. 126-132; public arguments: vv. 133-144; theft: vv. 145-147; bad men: vv. 148-153; bad servants: vv. 154-169; lascivious old men: vv. 170-172); (2) advice on dining at banquets and loaning money (vv. 181-188); (3) exhortation about the family (brothers and friends: vv. 189-193; sons and brothers: vv. 194-210; fathers: vv. 211-212; friends: vv. 213-226; and slaves: vv. 227-228).”133



As an overarching category, The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, a text which is filled with practical advice for living in the ancient world, belongs to the general phenomenon of ancient Wisdom Literature, which James L. Crenshaw defines as “the reasoned search for specific ways to ensure personal well-being in everyday life, to 133 Wilson, 165, footnote 2. His enumeration is that of Baarda. The correspondences are as follows: 126-132 = II.12; 133-144 = III.1-2; 145147 = III.3; 148-153 = III.4; 154-169 = III.5-IV.5; 170-172 = IV.6; 181188 = VI.1; 189-193 = the first sentence of VI.2; 194-210 = the remainder of VI.2; 211-212 = the first phrase of VI.3; 213-226 = the remainder of VI.3-4; 227-228 = VI.5.



make sense of extreme adversity and vexing anomalies, and to transmit this hard-earned knowledge so that successive generations will embody it.”134 The closest parallels to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander seem to lie in the realm of both biblical and extra-biblical Jewish Wisdom literature, as will be detailed in the commentary section of this present work. There are sayings in the text that call to mind the books of Proverbs, Qoheleth, and Ben Sira in particular. The final section of this chapter will deal with whether or not this text lies, as it has tended to be classified, among the Jewish Pseudepigrapha under the umbrella of Jewish Wisdom Literature, and this topic will be picked up again in both the commentary section and the concluding material as just noted. The treatise deals, for the most part, with simple, practical advice for everyday living in the era of Greco-Roman antiquity. Some of the advice seems to be eternally valid, such as VII.3. “Riches multiply friends, but if a person’s foot should fall, all his friends come to naught,” while much of the material is more conditioned to antiquity and the presuppositions of life in the Greco-Roman world as, for example, the aforementioned material concerning the gladiatorial contests and the different sayings reflecting a slave culture. Given my thesis concerning the original language of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander and its provenance, it might seem somewhat paradoxical to turn the focus of this section of the chapter to rhetorical figures from the Greek tradition. Nonetheless, if we are to speak with more precision about the way in which the material is presented, that is precisely where we now turn, as the rhetorical handbooks of antiquity, specifically the Progymnasmata, give us some defining characterization from the basic time-frame in which our material was first composed, a time in which, as will be shown in more detail below, Menander was regarded as a sort of wisdom figure (which likely accounts for the adoption of the name for our work) and a time in which Greek learning would almost certainly have had some level of influence on the Syriac world.135 In order to demonstrate this, it is helpful to once more examine the various documents found in Or. Add. 14.658, 134 J. L. Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 1. 135 Ross, 123.



particularly those that would have been of interest to the school of Bardaiṣan. As mentioned above, the manuscript contains The Book of the Laws of the Countries, the signs of the zodiac according to Bardaiṣan’s school, and two treatises attributed to Sergius of Resh‘aina that deal with the moon and the sun respectively. While there is debate over Bardaiṣan’s capacity with the Greek language, a familiarity seems more likely than not, given Han J. W. Drijvers’ picture of Bardaiṣan as “erudite” and “interested in astrology, philosophy, ethnology and history, a composer of religious hymns, a discriminating teacher, a courtier who did not despise the luxury of his day, in short, an aristocrat in every sense of the word.”136 Steven K. Ross, too, points out the presence of Greek philosophical thought in The Book of the Laws of the Countries, and the similarity in presentation of both the opening of the text itself and the opening section of Plato’s Republic and feels that Bardaiṣan at least understood the language.137 There are other problems inherent in trying to determine the genre of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander.138 In the first place, there is the difficulty of the seeming lack of unanimity in classifying precise rhetorical figures that have been used to describe the text. Probably the most useful terms in our regard are gnomē, gnw,mh, or chreia, crei,a, as opposed to terms like the Latin sententia, which was used to translate the Greek term gnomē,139 and the term maxim, which would do the same in English, but there is a problem with precision as regards the individual terms themselves. In addition, one of the difficulties with the text is that there is not a strict uniformity of style throughout the document itself. In the Progymnasmata, it is Theon who directly contrasts the terms chreia and gnomē. For him, there are four major differences: first, the chreia is always attributed to someone while the latter is not; second, the gnomē is a general statement as opposed to the Drijvers, Bardaiṣan, 218-219. Ross, 120-121. 138 In fact, the use of the term “sentence” in the title is not so much a choice of genre based on the Latin term sententia as it is a convenience for speaking about this particular text. 139 K. Horna, “Gnome, Gnomendichter, Gnomologien.” In Pauly’s Real-Enzyklopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Supplement Volume 6. Edited by G. Wissowa and W. Kroll. (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1935), 74. 136 137



chreia, which may or may not be so; third, while the chreia is generally witty, the gnomē is always concerned with utility for living; and finally, the gnomē is always a saying, while the chreia can also be an action.140 The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is attributed only as a whole to Menander, and in one section, questions are asked of and answered by Homer. In the Greek gnomic tradition, Menander, next to Euripides, was, essentially, the standard in Hellenistic times.141 There are examples of gnomic material attributed to Menander, but these are particularly noted for taking the form of mono,sticoi or one-line maxims as, for example: (775) Tou/t v evsti. to. zh/n mh. seautw/| zh/n mo.nw|,142 “This is living: not to live for yourself only.” The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, however, does not evidence such a strict format for the text. There are, of course, short pithy statements in sections of the work, such as section X, where one reads in X.2. “Health and a good heart make the appearance beautiful.” On the other hand, in section II, when the friends of Homer are said to have questioned him, the Syriac passage extends from 164r.II.32 until 164v.I.14. In summation, The Sentences of the Syriac Menander falls loosely into the category of gnomic literature. An additional nuance to this characterization is necessary, however, as this is, basically, a Greek category. At the start of this present section, I noted that it is highly likely that Bardaiṣan himself had a knowledge of Greek, and both here and in the section on the provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, the use of the Socratic dialogue form in his school as evidenced at the beginning of The Book of the Laws of the Countries was mentioned. In the same way, the author of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander would have borrowed the Greek gnomic form for his Syriac presentation, based both on the idea of the utility of the sentences themselves and on the claim of authorship.

140 R. F. Hock and E. N. O’Neil, The Chreia in Ancient Rhetoric. Volume I: The Progymnasmata. Society of Biblical Literature Texts and Translations 27, Graeco-Roman Religion Series 9. (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1986), 83. 141 Ibid., 83-84. 142 The examples of the monostichs of Menander are taken from Carlo Pernigotti, Menandri Sententiae, Studi e Testi per il Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini 15. (Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore), 2008.



This was likely a conscious choice on the part of the original author to place the material in that general sphere of wisdom thought, despite the fact that the phrases vary in length and style, often considerably, another reason why it is necessary to nuance the characterization of this material as gnomic sentences. Wilson, in comparing the Syriac Menander to Pseudo-Phocylides puts the idea well, “the substance and ethical perspective of both texts appear to be primarily Jewish in nature, though both authors benefit significantly from the employment of non-Jewish materials and structures that are consistent with the more universalistic posture that they seek to establish.”143

THE ATTRIBUTION OF THE TEXT TO MENANDER At this point, it would seem useful to examine the purported authorship of the document in its present form. The text itself is, in fact, quite clear regarding its claim of authorship. The full text found in Or. Add. 14.658 begins twice with the phrase mnndrws ḥkym’ ’mr ‫ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ ܚܟܝܡܐ ܐܡܪ‬, “Menander the wise says,” and ends with šlm mnndrws ‫ܫܠܡ ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ‬, “Menander has come to an end,” and the shorter text in Or. Add. 14.614 begins more simply mnndrws ḥkym’ ‫ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ ܚܟܝܡܐ‬, “the wise Menander.” The previous section concerning the clear indications that the text comes from Roman times, however, demonstrates the problem with this designation. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to determine why the actual author or authors of the text would have made the claim of authorship by Menander. Menander himself was an Attic poet, the most important writer of what was known as the “New Comedy,” although he was less successful during his own lifetime than his rival Philemon.144 It is difficult to determine precisely the dates of his birth and death, but it would seem that he was born some time around 342-341 and died no later than 290-289 BCE, possibly 293-292.145 He was the son of a good Athenian family, unlike other Middle and New Wilson, 78. W. G. Arnott, “Menander.” Pages 956-957 in The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 956. 145 A. W. Gomme and F. H. Sandbach, Menander: A Commentary. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 1. 143 144



Comedy poets who settled in Athens from elsewhere,146 and would have been a child of around five years of age during the conquest of Philip of Macedon, much of his life spent in a situation of political turmoil in his native Athens.147 Menander is supposed to have studied philosophy with Theophrastos and playwriting with Alexis, but it is difficult to separate truth from mere tradition as regards the details of his life, as for example the story that Alexis was his paternal uncle.148 He was a friend of another former student of Theophrastos, Demetrios of Phalerum, who was put in charge of Athens by Cassander as evpimelhth,j, supervisor, and ruled from 317-307. After his friend’s expulsion, Menander was spared by the intercession of Telesphoros, the cousin of Antigonos’ son Demetrios Poliorketes, who was seen as having liberated Athens from Menander’s friend.149 The “New Comedy,” for which Menander came to be known, is characterized by the way in which it deals with ordinary life. There is a shift away from earlier comic plays which deal more with political topics, myth, and irreality, to a presentation of more ordinary middle-class existence where problems involved in families that are neither excessively wealthy nor excessively poor are presented, clashing with stock characters from the margins of society, most notably pimps, prostitutes, and soldiers.150 Of Menander’s plays, there are nearly 100 known titles, although it is considered possible that some were alternative titles for plays restaged after his death.151 The study of Menander waned during Byzantine Christian times. Raffaella Cribiore notes that “Byzantine schoolmasters considered the Old Comedy, and Aristophanes in particular, linguistically more interesting.”152 In this Christian context, there Ibid., 1. Ibid., 21-23. 148 Ibid., 1. 149 Ibid., 22-23. 150 H.-G. Nesselrath, “Komödie.” In Der neue Pauly: Enzyklopädie der Antike. Volume 6. Edited by H. Cancik and H. Schneider. (Stuttgart: Verlag J. B. Metzler, 1997), 698-699. 151 Arnott, 956. 152 R. Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 201. 146 147



may also have been a discomfort with the subject matter of love.153 Due to this neglect in the schools, which carried over among the general public,154 and after the Arab invasions, his plays were lost in the seventh to eighth centuries of the common era, however, modern papyrological discoveries which quote Menander attest to his popularity particularly in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.155 Cribiore, in an earlier work on education in Greco-Roman Egypt, states that after Homer, “Euripides and Menander were the next most valued authors.”156 In addition to what remains of Menander’s plays, various authors in antiquity have preserved over nine hundred quotes from Menander, but far more important for the purpose of the present work are the existence of several collections of gnomic sentences that have been attributed to Menander over the centuries.157 The fact that Menander was so widely quoted in the context of gnomic sayings has obvious ramifications for this study. It demonstrates not only that he was, in some manner, held right from ancient times as a figure of Greek wisdom, but more so, outside of the concrete situation of the Syriac texts with which we occupy ourselves, that he was one to whom others in antiquity felt it possible to attribute wise sayings. Audet correctly notes that “Ménandre couvrait-il de son prestige toute une littérature gnomique qui n’était pas sans rapports réels avec son œuvre.”158


Explicit in the text itself, as noted, is the claim that the author of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander is the Attic playwright Menander, but as was detailed above, it is highly unlikely that this is the case. The passages that make clear reference to laws and customs that existed only in the Roman era help to make this claim untenable. In and of itself, one could make the argument that these are additions Gomme and Sandbach, 2. Cribiore, 201. 155 Arnott, 956. 156 R. Cribiore, Writers, Teachers, and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt. American Studies in Papyrology, 36. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996), 46. 157 Arnott, 956. 158 Audet, 77. 153 154



to a core tradition stemming from Menander himself, but as the foregoing sections notably that on syntax have demonstrated, it is likely that the text was composed in Syriac rather than the Greek which Menander spoke and in which he wrote, and that it probably stems from Edessa. The school of Bardaiṣan could possibly even be involved in its preservation, if not in its composition, although I believe the latter to be less likely. Finally, as the commentary will demonstrate, the large number of parallels stemming from Jewish tradition as opposed to what is known of the writings of Menander himself also speaks against this possibility. At the same time, it seems appropriate to refer once more to Baumstark and his theory, mentioned above, that The Sentences of the Syriac Menander are the work of the actual Menander. Again, as the material concerning dating, provenance, original language, and the like have demonstrated, I do not hold this theory to be tenable, and as the above section on the work of previous scholars as regards the document demonstrates, even those who hold to a Greek original note problems with the idea that the original author was Menander himself. Nonetheless, Baumstark was a scholar of an absolutely prodigious capability, and so it is worth seeing how he tries to prove his theory. As the commentary will show, the parallels that Baumstark educes come from the Menander monostichs and most notably, from the work of ancient playwrights of the Latin New Comedy, particularly Plautus and Terence, who wrote several of their plays on the basis of the actual works of Menander.159 That Baumstark would turn there makes sense in that the material, focusing on more “ordinary” life, lends itself to pithy expressions. In addition, Baumstark is trying to prove his theory over and against what had, as of that point in time, been noted by Land and Geiger and in answer, essentially, to the sense of the earlier comments on the part of Renan, who, despite his take on the original material as Menandrean, did make particular note of differences from what was known from Menander’s extant material.160 The commentary will show the large number of parallels that come not from Greek, but rather from Jewish traditions, for example logion I.2, which uses the traditional Jewish terminology 159 160

Gomme and Sandbach, 2. Renan, 302-303.



of “fear” of God. In fact, none of the parallels to which Baumstark turns at that specific point will use the term, despite the fact that he lists no less than seven such. Another example in which one can see his point being pushed further than the text may legitimately go is in logion VII.1, in which he cites three passages of Plautus, two passages of Terence, and a passage of Alciphron to illustrate his expressed opinion that the phrase comes from the ambient of prostitution,161 while there is nothing either in the phrase itself nor in the context of any of the surrounding logia that would lend themselves to that conclusion, and the take of the Syriac document on prostitution and sexual relations outside of marriage is decidedly negative as is seen, for example, in logia II.1, VI.7, and VII.24. With that stated, as to the actual authorship of the material, there are essentially three possibilities. The author of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander comes either from a Christian background, a Jewish background, or a pagan background. The choice has traditionally been narrowed down by rejecting any Christian background to the text, of which there are no obvious traces,162 hence, the choice has been considered to be twofold: either the author was pagan or Jewish. This out-of-hand rejection is, however, somewhat simplistic, as Bettiolo’s article should demonstrate. Above and beyond the equally simplistic observation that the Syriac language in which it was composed has, over the course of the centuries, proven itself to be more a Christian literary language than not, the text has been preserved, in fact, by Christian monks, and finally, if the school of Bardaiṣan is involved in its composition, then in fact, the authorship would be Christian, somewhat heterodox, but Christian. The least likely candidate for authorship is probably pagan. As mentioned above, for example, within the realm of gnomic literature, it does not conform to the more expected pattern of the one-line maxim. Nonetheless, there are parallels to pagan literature, including material traditionally attributed to Menander himself, as will be detailed in the commentary section. There are, however, much stronger parallels to Jewish material, as will be demonstrated Baumstark, 482. S. Krauss. “Menander.” Pages 473-474 in vol. 8 of The Jewish Encyclopedia. Edited by I. Singer, et. al., (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906), 473. 161 162



in this present section and later in the commentary. To return to the school of Bardaiṣan, it is less likely that its members were involved in the composition of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, though, than that they were responsible for its preservation, and if the text is a Jewish pseudepigraphon as I would also contend, this would be consonant with what is known about Bardaiṣan and his followers. As already detailed above, while Bardaiṣan was an enemy of Marcion, the precise orthodoxy of his Christianity is certainly questionable.163 Nonetheless, the stance of Bardaiṣan toward Marcion is instructive as regards the basic authorship of our text. As Marcion sought to separate whatever smacked of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from his version of Christianity, Bardaiṣan would have likely taken the opposite approach. Hence, if the text came from a Jewish background, as I would posit, Bardaiṣan would not have been automatically disposed to reject it, but would very well have been disposed to maintain what has, as will now be detailed, parallels to both the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament as well as to other non-canonical Jewish material. With regard to a Jewish background to the material, Schürer saw a difficulty in that, while he took the lack of a Christian hand to be an indication of a Jewish origin, he felt that it was not of an orthodox nature.164 Baarda may best reflect the scholarly uncertainty: “Syriac Menander should be included among the Pseudepigrapha until there is decisive proof that it ought to be dealt with under another heading.”165 The reluctance to view The Sentences of the Syriac Menander as a Jewish work has much to do with two particular passages (both of which would also be problematic in seeing the work as a Christian document), lines 164r.II.34164v.I.14 in the Syriac, which refer to Homer, and lines 166r.I.1315 in the Syriac, which twice contain a reference to “gods” rather than to the singular that one would rightly expect from a Jewish author. The first reference to Homer is presented as a series of questions posed to him regarding respect for one’s elders and for one’s mother and father. While this passage has been adduced as a Drijvers, Bardaiṣan, 217-218. Schürer, 477. 165 Baarda, 589. 163 164



problem in seeing the work as Jewish, given the desire of Jews in antiquity to demonstrate that Judaism was in concert with the best of Hellenistic thought,166 it should not come as too great a surprise to see a reference to a Greek figure of the stature of Homer.167 In the case of Philo of Alexandria, for example, the respect that he held for Homer and Homeric allegory is evident in the numerous allusions and direct quotes of Homer as well as a spirited defense of Homer and Hesiod in his De Providentia.168 Another example in which Philo directly cites Homer’s Iliad, and then gives an allegorical interpretation to the passage himself in a seemingly quite positive manner is found in his De Vita Contemplativa 17. The same cannot so easily be said of lines 166r.I.13-15, which translate as (VI.12): “For his great ones honor the king, but their priests, the tutors of a priest who scorns his gods, scorn the gods.” The leitmotif of Judaism is monotheism, hence this passage is problematic. The Syriac clearly uses the plural for “gods” twice, for which there have been a variety of explanations,169 including Frankenberg’s theory, which I share, that it is a reference not to a Jewish, but to a pagan priest.170 In such a case, it would make sense as a referent to these other priests, and an examination of papyrological material may be instructive in this regard. There is a source in which one Toubias, a Jewish official of the Egyptian king from the region around southern Syria, in a letter catalogued as P. Edg. 84 greets Apollonios, a minister of the king, with a reference to thanking “the gods” if he is well.171 Such a referent would not seem to reflect so much upon the faith of Toubias himself as upon that of his addressee. W. Schmid and O. Stählin, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur. (Munich: C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Oskar Beck, 1911), 409410. 167 On the importance of Homer in Greek education in general and in both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity, cf. my comments on logion II.5 in Chapter 3: Commentary, footnote 83. 168 R. Lamberton, Homer the Theologian. The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 9. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 49-50. 169 Baarda, 586. 170 Frankenberg, 266. 171 V. A. Tcherikover, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, v.1 (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1957), 125-127. 166



It is instructive to ask why a Jewish author would wish to attribute such a collection of wisdom sayings to a famous Greek playwright. As Schmid and Stählin point out in their work on Greek literature, in order to increase their stature in the eyes of their pagan neighbors, Jewish people in antiquity developed an apologetic literature that sought to demonstrate, with a concomitant Hellenization of Jewish thought, that Judaism was in accord with the best of Hellenistic thought and the most important of the Hellenistic thinkers.172 This dynamic would be valid even with regard to pseudepigraphical literature.173 Pieter Willem van der Horst, in his treatment of the purpose of the author of the more clearly Jewish work Pseudo-Phocylides, points out that such apologetic could have been internal as well as directed to a non-Jewish audience, with the goal of reinforcing a Jewish sense of pride in their own traditions.174 In this light, one can understand how a mid-sixth century BCE Miletan poet175 can be made to say things such as (Pseudo-Phocylides 54176) “(the) one God is wise, powerful, and, at the same time, also rich in blessings,” or (Pseudo-Phocylides 194) “for Eros is not a god, but a passion destroying all things.” Fragments of Pseudo-Hecataeus are instructive in this regard as well. Carl R. Holladay cites the fragment from Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata, which claims that Hecataeus not only had written a book entitled According to Abraham and the Egyptians, but that in it, he cited Sophocles declaring that “God is one” and that “images of gods” were made by weak mortals as means of comfort.177 Likewise, in Pseudo-Orpheus, one finds, for example, in the material from Clement ( Schmid and Stählin, 409-410. Ibid., 463. 174 P. W. van der Horst, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides. Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 4. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978), 70-72. 175 P. W. van der Horst, “Pseudo-Phocylides.” Pages 565-582 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Edited by J. H. Charlesworth. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1985), 565. 176 Numbering from the Greek text as presented in van der Horst, Sentences. 177 C. R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors Volume I: Historians. Texts and Translations 20 Pseudepigrapha 10 (Chico: Scholar’s Press, 1983), 318-319. 172 173



that God was “known to but one, a Chaldean by race - meaning by this either Abraham or his son.”178 Given this background, the usurpation of the name Menander makes sense. As noted above, together with Euripides, Menander was virtually the standard by which other Greek gnomic literature was measured in Hellenistic times.179 A final argument for the inclusion of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, before we turn to some examples of parallels, refers back to the material cited by Kirk concerning the organization of the text. As noted above, Kirk sees the phrase “you should listen to the words of your father and your mother each day” in I.4 as regards the teaching of both parents in the home.180 Kirk, as mentioned, sees the document as an example of Jewish paraenesis,181 and this passage functions as evidence of the sort. In Israelite Wisdom traditions, as opposed, for example, to Egyptian traditions, the image of the mother as teacher in the home alongside the father is more characteristic,182 and in this respect, The Sentences of the Syriac Menander fits the pattern. At this point, as the chapter concludes and we move on to the text and translation in chapter two, it would seem opportune to present a number of parallels between The Sentences of the Syriac Menander and Jewish literature. In the course of the commentary, there will be many more listed, but for the purpose of demonstrating the likelihood of the material being a Jewish pseudepigraphon, the following examples should suffice.

Parallels with Biblical Books 1. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander IV.6: “for (just as) you have no power to (restrain) the wind,” and Qoheleth 8:8: “There is no human being having mastery over the wind to restrain the wind.” 2. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VI.16: “There is not anything which is more beautiful than silence. Silence is always beautiful. 178 C. R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors Volume IV: Orphica. Texts and Translations 40 Pseudepigrapha 14 (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1996), 118-121. 179 Hock and O’Neil, 83-84. 180 Kirk, 174. 181 Ibid., 172. 182 C. Camp, Wisdom and the Feminine in the Book of Proverbs (Decatur: Almond Press, 1985), 81-82.



Even if a stupid person is silent, he is reckoned wise,” and Proverbs 17:27-28: “The one withholding his words is knowing, and the calm of spirit (is) a man of understanding. Moreover a fool keeping silent is accounted wise. Shutting his lips, he is discreet.” 3. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VI.29: “For the measure of life which God has ordained for people is sorrowful and restricted, and he mixed for them many bad things with few good things,” and Qoheleth 5:17: “In all his labor which he labors under the sun, the number of the days of his life which God gave to him, for it (is) his portion.”

Parallels with Jewish Apocryphal Books 1. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander IV.4: “Love an industrious slave who is active and industrious among his masters,” and Ben Sira 7:20: “Do not harm a servant working in truth, nor a laborer giving his soul (to you). May your soul love an intelligent servant; do not deprive him of freedom.” 2. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VI.9: “Everything that is hateful to you, you should not seek to do to your neighbor,” and Tobit 4:15: “And what you hate, do to no one.” Baarda considers this particular passage to be a possible parallel with the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a: “What (is) hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor,” yet he also notes that such a formulation was not unique to the two, but was also known in both Christian and pagan circles.183 3. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VI.24: “Do not leer at your maidservant in your house,” and Ben Sira 41:24: “From meddling with his maidservant and do not approach her bed.”

Parallels with Jewish Pseudepigraphical Books 1. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VI.27: “for remember (and) see that a person does not use riches in Sheol, and opulence does not go with (one) to the house of the dead,” and Pseudo-Phocylides 109110: “Being rich, do not be sparing; remember that you are mortal. It is not possible to bring wealth and goods for yourself into Hades.” 183 Baarda, 587-588. From the perspective of Christianity, one cannot help but note the similarity to the positive formulation of the phrase in the classic “Golden Rule” of Matthew 7:12 and its parallel in Luke 6:31.



2. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander VII.13: “Talkativeness is hateful,” and Pseudo-Phocylides 20: “Fix (your) mind to (your) tongue. Keep (your) word hidden in (your) heart.” 3. The Sentences of the Syriac Menander IX.4: “Steadfastness is good,” and Pseudo-Phocylides 218: “For faithfulness is better.”

CONCLUDING REMARKS The present chapter serves as an overall study of the important issues concerning The Sentences of the Syriac Menander. Having first traced the history of scholarship on the text, the question of the document’s history and how it came to be a part of the collection of Syriac manuscripts at the British Library was examined in some detail. Both the dating of the underlying text as well as the text in its present form and the provenance of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander present their own problems due to the lack of precise information either in the treatise itself or in the wider manuscript, Or. Add. 14.658, in which it is found. Nonetheless, it is possible to use both clues in the text itself and in related Syriac material to come to some conclusions on both issues. After demonstrating my assertion that the original language of the treatise, despite the prevailing scholarly opinion, was Syriac rather than Greek, I offered a brief examination of the difficulty in identifying a precise organizing principle to The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, then discussed the issue of the text’s overall genre and reasons for its pseudepigraphical attribution to Menander. The final section of this introductory chapter offered comments concerning the classification of the text as part of the Jewish Pseudepigrapha. The second chapter of this work will present both the Syriac text and the first English translation of the material taken from direct observation of Or. Add. 14.658. The third chapter will present a commentary on each successive logion, and this will be followed by a concluding chapter that will focus on what can be learned from the parallels discussed in the commentary as regards the Jewish origins of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander and the reception of such material, both biblical and extra-biblical, in the part of the ancient world from which the document appears to have originated.



TEXT Or. Add. 14.658:

̇ ‫ ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ ܚܟܝܡܐ‬163v.II.71 ‫ ܀܀‬.‫ܐܡܪ‬ ̇ ̈ 2‫ܡܢܢܕܪܘܣ‬ ‫ ܟܠܗܘܢ‬.‫ܕܒܪܢܫܐ‬ .‫ ܒܪܝܫ ܡܠܘܗܝ‬163v.II.10 .‫ܚܟܝܡܐ ܐܡܪ‬ ̣ ̣ ̈ ̈ ‫̇ܥ‬ ̈ 4‫ܒܕܘܗܝ‬ .‫ ܫܦܝܪ ܠܡܨܒ ܢܨܒܬܐ‬.‫ ܘܒܢܝܐ‬3‫ܘܢܨܒܬܐ‬ . ‫ܘܙܪܥܐ‬ ‫ܐ‬ ‫ܡܝ‬ ̣

1 Notations of page, column, and line taken from the original manuscript located at the British Library in London, England. The actual manuscript is written in two columns. 2 In the margin, to the left of the word, is a vertical ‫ܘܒ‬β that stretches from lines 9-12. The ink is different from what appears in the text of the document, almost black, as opposed to the brownish original, and the script is Serto rather than the Estrangelo of the text. It is clearly secondary and quite likely a later instruction to a scribe, being the imperative form “write out.” For help with the marginal notations, I would like to thank Professor Sebastian Brock of the Oriental Institute at Oxford University for his personal suggestions. In this work, I will only mention those marks that are distinct enough to be seen clearly on the page. There are several that are so indistinct that they are not visible in photocopies of the text and can barely be distinguished on the actual manuscript. Since they are not written in distinctly, nor are they erased or scratched out, it does not seem that they were intended to be read with the text. 3 Land, Anecdota Syriaca I, 64, has ‫ܘܢܨܒܬܐ‬. His correction in A.S. II, 25 is simply the diacritical mark beneath the ‫ܐ‬. Since the majority of his corrigenda are just such and do not effect the translation of the text, I will neither note nor comment upon them throughout the text, but rather present the diacritical marks as they appear in the manuscript. 4 Here, and in a number of places throughout the text, in the only transcription done of The Sentences of the Syriac Menander, J. P. N. Land’s A.S. I, 64-73, has the seyāmē on different letters within the same word. Since these do not effect the translation, I will neither note nor comment




̈ ‫ ܒܪܡ ܐܝܢܐ‬.‫ܫܒܝܚ ܘܫܦܝܪ ܙܪܥܐ‬ 163v.II.15 .‫ܘܗܕܝܪ ܠܡܘܠܕܘ ܒܢܝܐ‬ ܼ ̇ ̈ ݀ ‫ܡܕܡ ܡܢ ܐܠܗܐ‬ ̣ ‫ܗܘ ܗܘ ܡܫܬܒܚ ܡܢ ܩܕܡ ܟܠ‬ ̣ ̣‫ܕܐܬܝܐ ܒܐܝܕܘܗܝ‬ 5‫ ܘܐܠ ܥܠ ܣܝܒܘܬܐ‬.‫ ܘܐܠܒܐ ܘܐܠܡܐ ܠܡܝܩܪܘ‬163v.II.20 .‫ܠܡܕܚܠ‬ ̣ ̇ ‫ܐܢܬ ܘܩܐܡ݀ ܠܕܩܫܝܫ ܡܢܟ ܝܩܪ‬ ‫ܕܥܠܝܗ ܗܘ ܕܪܝܟ‬ ‫ ܡܛܠ‬.‫ܠܡܓܚܟ‬ ̣ ̣ ‫ܩܛܐܠ ܐܠ‬ .‫ ܕܡܣܩ ܠܟ ܐܠܗܐ ܐܠܝܩܪܐ ܘܠܪܝܫܢܘܬܐ‬163v.II.25 ̣ ̈ ‫ܕܣܢܐ ܐܠ‬ ̈ 163v.II.30 ‫ܕܣܝܦܐ‬ ‫ ܡܛܘܠ‬6.‫ܢܥܒܕܢ‬ ‫ܘܐܝܕܝܟ‬ .‫ܬܩܛܘܠ‬ ̣ ̣ ݀ ̇ ‫ ܘܐܠ‬.‫ܒܝܫ‬ ܼ ‫ܒܡܨܥܬܐ ܗܘ ܣܝܡ ܘܠܝܬ ܡܢ ܕܢܩܛܘܠ ܩܛܐܠ ܒܝܫ‬ ̇ 163v.II.35 ‫ܘܐܡܟ ܗܘܝܬ ܫܡܥ‬ ‫ ̈ܡܠܝ ܐܒܘܟ‬.‫ܕܒܥܓܠ ̣ܗܘ ܢܬܩܛܠ‬ ܼ ̣ ‫ ܒܪܐ ܓܝܪ ܐܝܢܐ‬.‫ܟܠܝܘܡ݀ ܘܐܠ ܬܨܒܐ ܠܡܗܪܘ ܘܠܡܨܥܪܘ ܐܢܘܢ‬ .‫ܘܡܨܥܪ‬ ‫ܕܐܠܒܘܗܝ ܘܐܠܡܗ ܡܗܪ‬ ̣ ‫ ܝܩܪ ܐܠܒܘܟ‬.‫ܡܘܬܗ ܘܥܠ ܡܝܫܬܗ ܡܬܪܥܐ‬ ‫ ܐܠܗܐ ܥܠ‬164r.I.1 ̣ ‫ ܘܐܢ‬.‫ܘܠܡܝܩ̈ܪܢܝܟ ܐܠ ܬܨܥܪ‬ 164r.I.5 .‫ܐܠ ܬܒܣܐ‬ ̣ ‫ ܘܒ̈ܪܚܡܝܟ‬.‫ܫܦܝܪ‬ ̣ 7.‫ ܣܦܪܐ ܘܚܟܡܬܐ‬8‫ܢܦܘܩ ܒܪܟ ܡܢ ܛܠܝܘܬܗ ܡܟܝܟ ܘܚܟܝܡ ݀ ܐܠܦܝܗܝ‬ ̣ ̈ .‫ܣܦܪܐ ܠܡܐܠܦܗ‬ ‫ ܘܠܫܢܐ‬.‫ ܗܘ ܢܗܝܪܬܐ‬9‫ܥܝܢܐ‬ ̣ ‫ ܓܝܪ‬164r.I.10 10‫ܛܒ ܗܘ‬ ‫ ܕܚܟܝܡܐܝܬ‬164r.I.15 ‫ ܘܠܫܢܐ‬.‫ܠܡܚܙܐ ܐܠ ܢܬܥܘ̈ܪܢ‬ ‫ ̈ܥܝܢܐ ܕܢܗܝ̈ܪܢ‬.‫ܝܬܝܪܐ‬ ̣ ‫ ܚܨܝܦ‬:‫ ܘܐܢ ܢܦܘܩ ܒܪܟ ܡܢ ܛܠܝܘܬܗ‬11.‫ܡܡܠܠ ܐܠ ܢܬܥܠܓ‬ ܼ upon them throughout the text, but rather present them as they appear in the manuscript. 5 Land, A.S. I, 65, reads ‫ܠܡܐܝܩܪܘ ܘܐܠ ܣܝܒܘܬܐ‬. W. Wright, ̣ “Anecdota Syriaca,” in The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record 3 (1863), 120, notes the correct reading. 6 The seyāmē are missing from Land’s text, and are not noted in Wright. 7 Land, A.S. I, 65, reads ‫ܕܚܟܡܬܐ‬. The error is not picked up by Wright, nor by Schulthess, 204, who reads “so teach him the book of wisdom.” Audet, 60, however, does note the error and translates the text “teach him how to read and philosophy.” 8 Despite the final position, the manuscript does not use the final ‫ ܝ‬form. This appears throughout the text when one finds ‫ ܝ‬at the end of a line. The presentation of the Syriac text will be, as was noted in the case of the seyāmē and the diacritical marks, that of the original manuscript. There will only be a notation in cases in which the word in question does not fall at the end of a manuscript line, as in the present case. ̈ ‫ܣܦܪܐ ܠܡܐܠܦ ܗܝ‬ 9 Land, A.S. I, 65, reads ‫ܥܝܢܐ‬ ̣ , corrected in Wright, “Anecdota Syriaca,” 120. The mistake appears to be the result of bleedthrough from a marginal word on the opposite side of the manuscript page. 10 To the left of the word in the margin, stretching from lines 9-12 is simply bleed-through from the Serto ‫ܘܒ‬β in the margin of 163v.II.9-12 (cf. footnote 2).



‫ ܠܘܕܪܘܬܐ‬164r.I.20 12‫ܘܩܠܚ ܐܠܦܝܗ ̣ܝ‬ ‫ ܘܕܓܠ‬:‫ ܘܡܪܚ ܘܓܢܒ‬13‫ܘܐܬܠܛ‬ ̣ .‫ ܘܨܐܠ ܥܠܘܗܝ ܕܒܥܓܠ ܢܡܘܬ ܘܢܬܩܛܠ‬.‫ܚܪܒܐ ܘܣܟܝܢܐ‬ ‫ܘܣܝܡ ܒܐܝܕܗ‬ ̣ ̇ ̇ ‫ܕܐܠ ܐܢ‬ ̈ ‫ܘܗܘ‬ . ‫ܬܒܐܠ‬ ‫ܘܒܚܘܣ̈ܪܢܘܗܝ‬ 164r.I.25 ‫ܬܘܟܘܗܝ‬ ‫ܒ‬ ‫ܐܢܬ‬ . ‫ܢܚܐ‬ ̣ ̈ ‫ ܘܐܢܬܬܐ‬.‫ܢܡܘܬ ܘܐܠ ܢܚܐ‬ ‫ܒܝܫܐ‬ ̣ ̣ ‫ ܟܠ ܒܪܐ‬.‫ܫܦܝܪ ܐܠܦܝܟ ܐܠ ܢܝܬܐ‬ ̇ ̇ ̇ ̇ ‫ ܡܛܘܠ ܕܒܫܘܬܦܗ ܛܒܐ‬.‫ ܐܠ ܢܬܩܢܢ ܠܗ‬164r.I.30 .‫ܓܝܪܬܐ ̈ܪܓܠܝܗ‬ ‫ ܀‬.‫ ܘܓܒܪܐ ܕܐܠ ܢܬܪܘܨ ܥܡ ܐܢܬܬܗ ܐܦ ܐܠܗܐ ܣܢܐ ܠܗ‬.‫ܡܕܓܐܠ‬ ‫ ܡܛܘܠ‬.‫ܘܥܒܕܟ ܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܣܘܒܐܠ‬ .‫ ܡܢ ܙܢܝܘܬܐ‬164r.I.35 ‫ܐܙܓܪ ܒܪܟ‬ ̣ 14‫ ܚܡܪܐ‬15‫ ܐܫܬܝ‬.‫ܕܬ̈ܪܬܝܗܝܢ ܓܢܒܘܬܐ ܗܘ ܡܠܦܢ‬ ̣ ‫ ܡܛܠ ܕܚܡܪܐ ܡܬܝܢ ܗܘ‬.‫ ܥܠܘܗܝ‬.‫ܒܦܝܣܐ ܘܐܠ ܬܫܬܒܗܪ‬ 164r.II.1 ̣ ‫ ܒܥܓܠ‬.‫ ܘܡܫܬܒܗܪ‬164r.II.5 ‫ܘܒܣܝܡ݀ ܘܟܠ ܓܒܪܐ ܕܢܩܐܠ ܥܠܘܗܝ‬ ‫ ܒܪܡ ܐܠ ܫܒܩܐ‬.‫ ܐܐܠ ܡܐ ܕܡܠܬ ܟܪܣܟ ̇ܥܒܪ ܠܟ‬.‫ܡܨܛܥܪ ܘܡܬܒܣܪ‬ ̈ ‫ ܬ̈ܪܬܝܢ‬16.‫ ܕܟܪܣܐ‬17‫ܬܪܢܗ‬ ̈ ̇ ‫ܐܢܝܢ ̈ܨܒܘܢ‬ 164r.II.10 ‫ܠܟ ܐܟܝܠܬ ܠܟܠܒܐ‬ Land, A.S. I, 65, reads ‫ܢܬܠܥܓ‬. He corrects this in A.S. II, 25. The manuscript is clear, but makes no sense. Both Audet, 60, and Schulthess, 205, note that the term needs to be read as ‫ܢܬܠܥܓ‬, “to stammer,” “to stutter.” They both consider Land’s original reading to be a tacit correction. While this makes sense, Land does not, in fact, state anywhere that he meant to correct the text. The inversion of ‫ ܥ‬and ‫ܠ‬, however, is a simple and understandable scribal error. 12 Land, A.S. II, 25, reads ‫ܘܩܠܝܝ ܐܠܦܝܗܝ‬, a change from A.S. I, 65, in which he reads ‫ܘܩܠܝ ܐܠܦܝܗܝ‬, “and contemptible, teach him...” Schulthess, 205, points out the correct term ‫ܘܩܠܚ‬, but then suggests that it should be taken as Land does in A.S. II, 25, and emended to ‫ܩܪܝܝ‬, “provocative.” 13 Land, A.S. I, 65, reads the manuscript as ‫ܘܐܬܠܛ‬, “and an athlete,” yet corrects it to ‫ܘܡܬܠܛ‬, “and worthless.” The manuscript is unambiguous. 14 There appears to be a large faded Serto ‫ ܗ‬at the bottom of the page beneath the right column. The ink seems to be of the dark secondary variety noted above (cf. footnote 2), but smudged. 15 Despite the final position, the manuscript does not use the final ‫ ܝ‬form. 16 Video magnification of the manuscript reveals that the ‫ ܪ‬and the ‫ܣ‬ are not from the original hand. The ink is of the same dark secondary variety already noted (cf. footnote 2), and the mode of writing each letter, while in the Estrangelo script, differs almost imperceptibly from other incidents of ‫ ܪ‬and ‫ ܣ‬in the rest of the document. There seems to have originally been a blank space in the midst of the word, appearing as such: .‫ܕܟ ܐ‬ 17 Corrected by Land, A.S. II, 25. Agreed upon by Schulthess, 205206. Audet, 61-62, argues that the original reading of Land, A.S. I, 65, 11



̈ ‫ܡܠܬ‬ ‫ ܘܐܢ‬18.‫ܚܣܪܬ ܓܢܒܬ‬ ‫ ܐܢ‬.‫ ܠܗܝܢ‬19‫ܘܗܝ ܪܚܡܐ‬ ܼ ̣ ̣ ‫ܣܢ ̣ܝܢ‬ ‫ ܘܐܠ ܒܥܓܠ ܡܨܛܥܪ‬.݀‫ ܕܒܬܪ ܪܓܬܗ ܘܟܪܣܗ ܢܐܙܠ‬164r.II.15 ‫ܘܠܝܬ ̇ܡܢ‬ ‫ ܥܕܝܪ‬.‫ ܠܓܒܪܐ ܕܚܝܠ ܟܪܣܗ ܘܪܓܬܗ ܐܬܡܨܝ‬20‫ ̇ܛܘܒܘܗܝ‬.‫ܘܡܬܒܣܪ‬ 21‫ ܡܥܐܠ‬.‫ ܣܢܐ ܢܡܘܣܐ ܕܡܕܡܟܐ ܕܐܠ ܒܙܒܢܗ‬.‫ ܗܘ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ‬164r.II.20 ̣ ̣ ̈ ‫ ܥܡ‬22‫ ܡܥܢܐ‬.‫ܠܫܝܘܠ ܫܢܬܐ‬ .‫ ܚܒܢܢܘܬܐ‬164r.II.25 ‫ ܣܢܝܐ‬.‫ܡܝܬܐ ܚܠܡܐ‬ ‫ ܟܡܐ ܗܕܝܪܐ ܘܫܒܝܚܐ‬.‫ܘܥܪܛܠܝܐ ܘܡܬܬܢܚܐ‬ ‫ܟܦܢܐ ܘܨܗܝܐ‬ ̣ ̈ ‫ ܐܦܢ ܐܠ‬.‫ܢ‬ ‫ ܒܟܠ ܙܒܢ ܟܪܣܐ‬.‫ܟܫܝܪܘܬܐ‬ ̣ ܼ ‫ ܢܗܝ̈ܪ‬164r.II.30 ‫ ܘܐܦܐ‬.‫ܡܠܝܐ‬ ̈ ‫ ܘܐܝܕܟ ܥܠ ̇ܡܢ ܕܩܫܝܫ‬.‫ ܐܠ ܗܘܝܬ ܗܪܪ‬.‫ܒܐܝܕܘܗܝ ܐܠ ܥܕܠܝܢ ܠܗ‬ ‫ܐܬܝܐ‬ ̇ ‫ ܕܡܢ‬:‫ ܕܠܗܡܪܣ ܡܫܐܠܝܢ ܠܗ ܚܒ̈ܪܘܗܝ‬164r.II.35 ‫ ܡܛܘܠ‬.‫ ܐܠ ܬܘܫܛ‬.‫ܡܢܟ‬ ̇ ̈ .‫ ܥܝܢܘܗܝ ܢܬܥܘ̈ܪܢ‬.‫ ܐܡܪ ܠܗܘܢ‬.‫ ܡܢܐ ܢܗܘܐ ܠܗ‬.‫ܣܒܐ‬ ‫ܕܢܡܚܐ ܠܓܒܪܐ‬ ̣ ̇ ‫ܘܡܢ‬ .‫ܐܨܛܥܪܬ‬

‫ܬܪܙܗ‬, is both accurate and clear in the text. However, the fact that the preceding ‫ ܢ‬is attached to the following ‫ ܗ‬shows Audet to be mistaken. 18 Audet, 62, claims that the manuscript is clear on the ‫ܓ‬. Land, A.S. II, 25, has ‫ܥܢܒܬ‬. In Land, A.S. I, 65, footnote 2 claims that it is necessary to read ‫ ܐܬܥܝܒܬ‬at this point, while the reading given in the text on the same page is ‫ܥܝܒܬ‬. While not sure that it is as clear as Audet

says, I would side with him in this case based mainly upon the context of the passage and the alternation of persons, 3fs/2ms, i.e. situation of the stomach/response on the part of the reader, in the text. 19 There are two marginal notations to the right and left of line 12. Both are in the dark secondary ink noted above (cf. footnote 2). The mark to the right is the symbol