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Monday, February 18, 2008

SYRIAC: Missing page found at Deir al Suryan

By Andrew Johnson
Sunday, 17 February 2008

A year after the Romans packed up their shields in AD410 and left Britain to the mercy of the Anglo-Saxons, a scribe in Edessa, in what is modern day Turkey, was preparing a list of martyrs who had perished in defence of the relatively new Christian faith in Persia.

In a margin he dated the list November 411. Unfortunately for the martyrs, history forgot them. At some point, this page became detached from the book it belonged to. Since 1840, the volume has been one of the treasures of the British Library. It is known only by its catalogue code: ADD 12-150

The missing page has always been a fascinating mystery for scholars and historians. Now, after an extraordinary piece of detective work, that page has been rediscovered among ancient fragments in the Deir al-Surian monastery in Egypt. It is, according to Oxford University's Dr Sebastian Brock, the leading Syriac scholar who identified the fragments, the oldest dated Christian text in existence.

"It is a list of martyrs and it must have been added to the main book at the last minute," he said. "There were three fragments from the last page. It was a distinctive handwriting, and it was very exciting to identify it. It is very important to complete the book. Many of the names on this list we have not come across before. So it gives us a lot of clues about that half of that century. Rome at the time was officially Christian, so the rival Persians would have persecuted Christians."
etc. at The Independent

A better article at "The Art Newspaper"
An older article in Al Ahram on the Mss of this monastery.
More about Syriac finds at Deir al Suryan
More about the Monastery

The monastery is variously transliterated: Deir / Dair / Dayr, al / as, Surian / Suryan / Souryan

Source: Maia Atlatntis: Tom Elliott's Ancient Studies Blog Aggregator
Google news sv Deir al Surian Palaeojudaica