Image for banner reproduced by kind permission of the President and Fellows of Queens' College, Cambridge. [Psalm 23 in Syriac. Psalmi Davidis, edited by Thomas van Erpe (Leiden 1625)]

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephrem translated into Syriac by Ninos Oshaana

Reposted here for posterity from his Wordpress blog (

"Every year during Great Lent, Orthodox Christians recite a short yet deeply poignant prayer attributed to Saint Ephrem the Syrian.
O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of  chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen
Friends and colleagues have asked if I know the original Syriac version of this prayer. I’m assuming it exists somewhere although I personally have not seen any references to a Syriac manuscript which contains the prayer in this form. Many of Saint Ephrem’s prayers have similar wording and structure. The attribution to Saint Ephrem is also very old.

Working from the English text, I translated the prayer back into Syriac. Please note that this is only an approximation of how the prayer would be written in Syriac and not the actual text by Saint Ephrem. I have also transliterated the Syriac text to demonstrate the pronunciation."

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Targum: Translation And Transmission

A new 2018-19 series of articles shared on the roots and the prospects that unite Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Traditions to the realm of Jewishness and Hassidism, Compared semantics and exegetical “paysages” by archpriest Alexander A.Winogradsky Frenkel (Patriarchate of Jerusalem). Below the tenth article...

"...Nowadays, the Yemenite Jewish communities are the only ones that systematically read the weekly portions in Hebrew, then in Aramaic in the targum of Onkelos the proselyte and finally in Arabic, i.e. the vernacular tongue. This method of translating/interpreting can lead to complete estrangement, a process that drifts away from the basic meaning of the sacred texts."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Found: Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James

Dr. Landau has taken UT Austin's program to a new level. Nice work, sir! (No one in Oklahoma would've supported the development of religious studies to this extent.)
only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library — a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in 1945 in Upper Egypt — have been found in Greek, their original language of composition. But earlier this year, UT Austin religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau added to the list with their discovery of several fifth- or sixth-century Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, which was thought to have been preserved only in its Coptic translations until now.

“To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.”

The ancient narrative describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his brother James, in which Jesus reveals information about the heavenly realm and future events, including James’ inevitable death.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

NEW: The Digital Syriac Corpus

Digital Syriac Corpus is a curated digital repository of TEI encoded texts written in classical Syriac. The interface provides effective browse and search functionality.


Individual texts may be downloaded to facilitate publishing projects, such as the production of critical editions, and research, such as more advanced corpus linguistic analysis.

John Ma: The Maccabees and Religious Persecution

Dr. John Ma of Columbia University discusses religious persecution and the accounts of the Maccabees.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017