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Fol. 111. Epistle of Herod to Pilate. 'Fol. 111. vo Epistle of Pilate to Herod.

Fol. 113. vo Epistle of Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem. *Fol. 114. vo History of Clement of Rome.'

Dr. Wright† has very justly remarked that it was a pity that Dr. Land should publish these notes, without ascertaining that the arrangement of the MS, has not undergone any alteration since his notes were taken. The fact is that, for very good reasons, Dr. Wright, in whose care the MSS, now are, has added to the beginning of this MS. a whole quire, so that the pagination or foliation is no longer the same. Thus the treatises catalogued as commencing fol. 7 and fol. 49 are now fol. 16 and fol. 58. This is, however, of little importance; but the fact that a very good Syriac scholar, as Dr. Land no doubt is, has made such blunders in so short a space, shows the difficulty of the work of cataloguing. The History of Father Menna’ is, really, • The History of Father Bin,' and instead of occupying from fol. 49 to fol. 111, as would appear from this catalogue, it extends only to two pages, while the intervening space between these and fol. 111 contains numerous extracts from Palladius and a life of Serapion! Again, in the enumeration of the contents of No. 14,644, Dr. Land mentions a ‘History of Fourteen Men of God from the City of Rome;' whereas the truth is, that the real story is of One Man of God;' but this history is combined with thirteen other histories! Hence Dr. Land's mistake.

It is obvious that circumstances like these encompass the path of the catalogue-maker with difficulties, which nothing but indefatigable industry and the most perfect familiarity with the language itself and its literature can possibly overcome. Dr. Cureton, during the time in which he was employed in the Museum, made great exertions in this direction, and we doubt not that his labours have been made available to his successors. We believe, also, that some advance was made towards a catalogue by two other persons, who for some time w on the staff of the Museum. But these efforts produced no great facilities for those who consult the MSS., and the public will be glad to learn that a catalogue is now in rapid progress under the person, who is, perhaps, the best qualified in England to undertake the task. We mean Dr. W. Wright, formerly Professor of the Arabic Language in the University of Dublin, and now in charge of the Syriac MSS. in the British Museum. Dr. Wright, as we have seen, has full notes, at the present moment, on every MS. in the collection. He has read through every one of them,


* Land, 'Anecdota Syriaca,' p. 19.

† Journal of Sacred Literature.




noted their subjects, and made lists of the authors they quote. And we may add that, to those who really wish to use these volumes, he is always ready with the utmost courtesy to place at their disposal the information he has thus acquired. When he has re-arranged these notes they will furnish matter for another * Bibliotheca Orientalis' of the greatest value to all who pursue inquiries in this department of study. How far the plan of his projected catalogue may admit of a detailed précis of the contents of each volume, and copious extracts from the most valuable of them, we know not; but such a work would be a benefit to Europe, and it would be a source of national glory. It would not pay in a pecuniary point of view, but it would be an object truly worthy of national patronage. But the catalogue itself, even if published with less fulness, will be one of the most valuable contributions ever made to Syriac literature, and the trustees of the Museum have justly earned our gratitude by placing this important trust in hands so eminently qualified to do it justice.

It is quite clear that a new period in the history of Syriac literature is beginning. The study of this language has, indeed, always been carried on in Europe by somewhat spasmodic efforts. From the middle of the sixteenth century, when the first Syriac grammar and the first edition of the New Testament in Syriac * appeared, there have been several periods in which the study of this language has been specially favoured by some providential circumstance, The publication of Walton's Polyglot' and • Castell's Lexicon' in the seventeenth century were favourable circumstances; but in the early part of the eighteenth, the first collection made by the Assemani family from the Nitrian convents was the cause of the greatest advance ever made by this study. This gave occasion to the publication of the Bibliotheca Orientalis,' which is even now the largest storehouse accessible to the student. The publication of the Chronicle of BarHebræus,' from the famous MS, at Oxford, was another epoch in regard to Syriac literature. The Chrestomathy' of Michaelis was almost entirely drawn from the Bibliotheca Orientalis' of Assemani, but Kirsch, who laboured in the same field a few years later, was enabled to incorporate into his 'Chrestomathy' the most interesting portions of Bar-Hebræus,' such as the history of Richard Cour de Lion, and Saladin, Hulaku, Jenghiz Khan, and other Tatar chiefs. Bernstein, the pupil and friend of Kirsch, re-edited the 'Chrestomathy' of his master



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* The grammar was that of Theseus Ambrosius, 1539, and the New Testament that by Widmanstadt in 1555. See a useful Summary of the History of Syriac Literature in the ' Journal of Sacred Literature,' Oct. 1862,



and furnished it with many additional pieces. The Lexicon of Bernstein, which accompanies this volume, is very excellent, although being limited to the words found in the body of the volume, it cannot supply the place of a general lexicon. That of Doepke is very useful also, and its history is curious. He was anxious to edit a Syriac Chrestomathy, when the publishers told him they had five hundred copies of that of Michaelis, which had never been sold. He thought a lexicon might help them off with this dead weight, and accordingly produced his lexicon to a work published forty years before! We ought, in enumerating the strides in this literature made in the eighteenth century, to have mentioned the works of Ephrem Syrus, edited by Stephen Assemani. The text is valuable, but the translation and explanations cannot be implicitly trusted.

We have now mentioned the chief works likely to come before a reader of Syriac till within the last twenty years, when, like an avalanche, the Nitrian collection was suddenly thrown upon Europe. The world was hardly prepared to receive it. There is no lexicon extant which can help a student through many of the volumes there found, -John of Ephesus, for instance,-and the consequence is, that the interpretation is a matter of reasoning from the context and from the etymology of the words. The want of a tolerable dictionary of the language throws the greatest difficulties in the way, even of good Syriac scholars, for new words crop up in almost every page. But, happily, this want is likely to be supplied before any very long time shall have elapsed. Mr. Payne Smith, the second librarian of the Bodleian, and one of the ablest, if not the ablest, Syriac scholar in England, has long been hard at work on a lexicon, which we have reason to believe will be worthy of his reputation and quite capable of satisfying the requirements of the present condition of the language. For this lexicon the University of Oxford has obtained the papers left by the late M. Quatremere. It is in a state of forwardness, which will enable Mr. Smith to begin printing it at once; but its publication will probably not be completed for some years.

Mr. Cowper has also made considerable progress in a lexicon to the Peshito Version of the Old and New Testaments, but this limitation would be very damaging to his work, and, as Syriac publications can seldom have a large sale, he may not be disposed to run the risk of a loss. The liberality of the delegates of the Oxford Press will remove all fear of such responsibility from Mr. Smith.

This is clearly one of the first desiderata for those who wish to work the rich mine now open to their researches in the


Nitrian MSS. ; and we cannot but rejoice that it is in the way of being satisfied. But in the mean time there will always be considerable difficulties in editing these remains for want of a good dictionary. We shall give specimens, in the course of these remarks, of the extreme variations which occur between different commentators.

In England the chief labourers in this department have been Dr. Cureton, Mr. Payne Smith, and Mr. B. H. Cowper. They have each done good service-both in editing original texts and in translation. And it is to their labours that we would now principally direct our attention.

First in the field among these scholars comes Dr. Cureton, who has largely enriched our literature with treasures from this mine of intellectual wealth. Two of Dr. Cureton's publications, although they are of interest and value, we do not propose to review here. We mean his ‘Ignatius' and his ‘Gospels. We do not agree in his conclusions as to the authority of the Syriac Epistles in determining the genuineness of the Greek ; and we think their chief value is as a contribution to the knowledge of Syriac, and a means of judging of the manner in which Greek texts are handled by Syriac writers. When we consider that this volume was published by Dr. Cureton nearly twenty years ago, when the Nitrian collection had scarcely been arranged, the merit of entering so early on the great work of publishing its most valuable documents may compensate for any hasty conclusions to which we think the editor has come.

Nor, again, can we accede to the views propounded by him as to the value of the ancient recension of the Gospels which he published from a MS. in the Nitrian Collection.* The questions connected with both these publications are of considerable interest in a theological point of view, but they relate to matters so well known that they do not invite us to dwell upon them; and we pass on to the two great works edited by Dr. Cureton.

His · Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus' is undoubtedly the greatest work which has been published from this collection. It was entirely unknown, and, although it relates to a period of short duration, it is valuable as being the work of a contemporary and actor in the scenes which he describes. The work which we have is called the Third Part of the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus,' because it follows on two others which contained an ecclesiastical history in twelve books, commencing with •Julius Czesar' and ending with The Sixth Year of Justin

* We do not believe this version more ancient than the Peshito. On the contrary, we believe that it contains a mere varied copy of that version.


the Younger,' the son of the sister of Justinian. The third part comprises the history of only about fourteen years, from A.D. 571 -A.D. 584. The reader of Gibbon will easily call to mind some of the thrilling scenes described in his pages during the reign of Justinian and his nephew. The reign, indeed, of Justinian had been signalised by the most remarkable work on jurisprudence ever produced; but the monarch, whose fame rests on so bright a monument of morality, was, by a strange anomaly, the promoter of the most flagrant immorality by his marriage with the infamous Theodora. The circumstances under which his nephew was raised to the throne, the midnight procession to his house, and the hurried investiture of the fortunate Justin with the imperial garments, all rise up at once to the memory and give an interest to the history of this reign which cannot fail to be heightened by the discovery of a new work throwing a little additional light upon some of its more difficult problems. The period in question is not overburdened with contemporary evidence, and a new witness is of value to us.

John of Ephesus was a native of Amid in Mesopotamia, and was born about A.D. 516. For thirty years he dwelt in Constantinople and was in favour with the Emperor Justinian, under whose orders he undertook a very successful and important missionary enterprise. The period to which the history of John of Ephesus relates has some questions of intricacy; but the narrative of the ecclesiastic does not effect much towards their elucidation. The history itself appears to have been written at various times and under circumstances so unfavourable to continuity in the narrative, that the story is sometimes rather confused. Dr. Cureton observes in his short preface the dates at which certain portions of the history were written, which range from A.G. 888 to A.G. 896, i.e. from A.D. 577-585. The A.G., it is hardly needful to say, is the Greek Era, or the Era of the Seleucidæ, and requires the subtraction of 311 to bring it to the common computation.

The reigns of Justinian and his successors were not seasons of tranquillity and peace, but of great agitation. The great wars, indeed, which distracted the whole empire and resulted in the extinction of the western empire had died away, but Italy was still a troubled kingdom, and in Constantinople the battles of the factions of the Circus were in full vigour.

During the reign of Justin II, the incursions of the Gepidæ induced the emperor to engage the assistance of the Lombards, and the awful episode of Alboin and the daughter of Cunimund produced a war fatal to the Gepidæ, and productive of a new element of weakness and disturbance in the neighbourhood of


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