The Book of Governors: The Historia Monastica of Thomas of Marga AD 840 9781463208882

This narrative forms a history of the monasticism and asceticism of the Church of the East in the countries east of the

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The Book of Governors: The Historia Monastica of Thomas of Marga AD 840
 9781463208882

Table of contents :
CONTENTS
THE BOOK OF GOVERNORS
LIST OF CHAPTERS
BOOK I.
BOOK II.
BOOK III.
METRICAL HOMILY ON MÂRAN-ἉMMEH
BOOK IV.
BOOK V.
BOOK VI.
LIST OF BIBLE PASSAGES QUOTED
ENGLISH INDEX

Citation preview

THE BOOK OF GOVERNORS BY

THOMAS, BISHOP OF MARGÀ

THE BOOK OF GOVERNORS"THE HISTORIA MONASTICA OF THOMAS BISHOP OF MARGÄ A. D. 840 EDITED FROM SYRIAC MANUSCRIPTS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM AND OTHER LIBRARIES BY

E. A. WALLIS BUDGE, LITT. D., F. S. A., FORMERLY SCHOLAR OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, AND TYRWHITT SCHOLAR, ACTING ASSISTANT-KEEPER IN THE DEPARTMENT OF EGYPTIAN AND ASSYRIAN ANTIQUITIES, BRITISH MUSEUM.

VOL. II.

THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION.

A

M GORGIAS PRESS 2003

First Gorgias Press Edition, 2003. The special contents of this edition are copyright €> 2003 by Gorgias Press LLC. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States of America by Gorgias Press LLC, New Jersey. This edition is a facsimile reprint of the original edition published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., London, 1893.

ISBN 1-59333-009-X (Volume 1) ISBN 1-59333-010-3 (Volume 2)

GORGIAS PRESS

46 Orris Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA www.gorgiaspress.com

Printed and bound simultaneously in the United States of America and Great Britain.

CONTENTS PAC-.E

THE BOOK OF GOVERNORS: LIST OF CHAPTERS

3

BOOK

1

17—116

BOOK



1 6

II

117—285

BOOK I I I

286—344

METRICAL HOMILY ON MARAN-'AMMEH

34S—375

BOOK I V

376—466

BOOK

V

467—568

BOOK V I

569—685

LIST OF BIBLE PASSAGES QUOTED

686—689

ENGLISH INDEX

690—732

T H E BOOK OF GOVERNORS OR, TIIE EXCELLENT HISTORIES AND STORIES CONCERNING T H E 1IOLY MEN AND MONKS WHO LIVED, GENERATION AFTER GENERATION, IN TIIE IIOLY MONASTERY OK BETH C

ÂBIIÊ,

WHICH

WERE

COMPOSED

BY

TIIE

PIOUS MAR THOMAS, BISHOP OF MARGA.

[P. 3.] By the might of our Lord Jesus Christ we begin to write the excellent histories and stories concerning the holy men and monks who lived, generation after generation, in the holy monastery of Beth 'Abhc, 1 which were composed by the pious Mâr Thomas, 2 Bishop of Margâ. First, we write the headings and contents of the Books in which all the histories are set forth. 1

The geographical positions of the countries, towns, etc., will be described in the notes to the chapters in which they occur. 2 Thomas of Marga was the son of one Jacob of Beth Shirwänaye, or I3eth Shärönaye, in the district of Salakh; cf. Akätia ¿aNßjoäa }oaj »oröojal ,*> 'consecutive order*. St. Matthew xxi. 22.

20

THOMAS OF MARGA, TIIE BOOK OF GOVERNORS.

A n d since His treasury is open to faith, "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, ancl it shall be opened unto you," 1 I will become a stranger unto all doubt, and I will believe that His graciousness will not repulse me, and that He will not shut the door of His gift in my face, and that H e will shew forth in my ignorance a free and full gift beyond my m e r i t 2 — even 3 as in times past His all-sufficient power made manifest speech in the she-ass of the soothsayer, 4 out of the course of her nature, 5 —and that through me H e will display the glory of His saints, in the one case by His working, in the other by the praise of His majesty, for the glorification of excellent men is the glorification of God W h o made them victorious. For without Him they are nothing, and are even like unto the tools 6 of a craft without the craftsman, and without Him they are incapable 7 of anything, and are like unto the clay which 8 can neither contend with him that mouldeth it, nor can of its own self choose 9 that it may be fashioned according to its own will. 2 St. Matthew vii. 7. for «muos. •3 Hoffmann prefers the reading o^ikii,?. i /. e., Balaam, ¡oila, (Numbers xxii. 28), the son of Beor, who is describèd as a "Priest of idols" ¿ïaNâi ;&ooa from Harran in Mesopotamia. See Duval, Lex. Syr. anctore Bar Bahlulc, col. 401, and Payne Smith, Thesaurus, col. 540. Zoroaster was called the "second Balaam" because he prophesied concerning the stars; see Budge, Book of the Bee, p. 82. s Literally 'above her nature'. 6 We must read striking out B reads, "the 1

instruments of the craft of the craftsman". 7 001 - ^eofeji.2 oSs. 9

¿ai^o for ¿ai^o.

8

Read

Hoffmann prefers the reading

BOOK I.

CHAPTER

II.

TIIE

PROLOGUE.

21

Now, I am commanded1 by the holy brethren of the holy Monastery of Beth 'Abhe, 2 in which I have ministered for many years, that of the written and unwritten histories, and excellent stories of the holy men who have lived therein, and have been victorious, I should spin a thread of the stories concerning them, formed of the matters omitted by the compilers of written and unwritten histories, and of a small selection of stories which I have heard from approved and venerable men, with whom I have become acquainted there, and that I should set forth in writing, with much brevity, such accounts as I should find scattered here and [p. iS] there in the narratives of others, and in the ecclesiastical histories of ancient authors. And since in the stories which are my own I do not repeat untrue things, I shew forth the trustworthiness' of theirs. And behold I will go into the gardens of 1 An extract from this chapter (p. 17. I. 15—p. 16 1. 2) has been printed with a Latin translation in B. 0., iii. 1. 466. col. 2. 2 The famous Monastery of Beth 'Abhe was situated near the town of Beth 'Abhe (probably the Bithaba of Ptolemy vi. 1) under Mount Niphates, (B. O., ii, p. 420, note 2) to the south of ITerpa in Saphsapha, on a mountain, not far from the right bank of the Great Zab; it was founded by Bar-Hadh-be-shabba, and was afterwards greatly enlarged and became famous under Jacob of Beth c Abhe (Z>\ 0., iii. 2, pp. 730 and 876). It was one of the monasteries exempted from the jurisdiction of the bishop by Isho-yahbh of Gcdhala as»» ¡aj^oida acj* ¿»ox*

U b (B. 0-, ii, p. 420 note 2) or ^ U b (Hoffmann, Ausziige, p. 226, note 1798). Beth 'Abhe means "the house in the forest"; in I Kings vii. 2 and Isaiah xxii. 8 it is the rendering of 1}T JT3 and "ly'nVP?. 5 Read ¿^'¿i.

22

THOMAS OF MARGA, THE BOOK OF

GOVERNORS.

their victorious deeds as into a field, and, as it were, I will glean and gather up together the choice and well-filled ears of corn, and I will pile up into one sheaf the heap of their bundles, that from thence they may go into the threshing-floors of hearing, and be ground in the mill of discernment, and be kneaded in the kneading-trough of belief, and be baked in the oven of love, and laid as a glorious offering upon the altar of the mind1 of the Holy of Holies. For it is said, "The mincl which journeyeth to and fro in its state of nature is able to perceive, and to see, and to believe the glorious things of glorious men, and the accounts of the contests of mighty warriors, at the same time adding to its knowledge belief", even as spake he that saith, "and to belief also, confidence; and to confidence, excellence; and to excellence, righteousness; and to righteousness also, holiness; and to holiness also, constancy; and to constancy, hope; and to hope, stability; and to stability, strength; and to strength, love;2 which is the crown of the completion of the excellent things, in which standeth our profession, and upon which is laid the foundation of our doctrine." And all things which have been, and which are, and which shall be, inasmuch a we have not been spectators 3 of them, we 1 2

Read jioo??

"In the law is bound up faith, and in faith is true love established". Wright, Aphraatcs, p. ^ 11. 12. 13. "A man should first build his building upon the rock, which is Christ, on the rock faith should be laid, and upon faith should the whole building rise up." Wright, Aphraates, p. 11. 15, 16. * "To speak briefly, every thing is of the Spirit, and the whole world of spiritual things is seen and perceived by faith. For if we do not take faith in our souls, we shall be

BOOK I.

CHAPTER

II.

TIIE PROLOGUE.

23

must accept the saying concerning them in faith, for without it no single one of the things which are related, without seeing could we accept. Now those who only in a small degree have themselves laboured in the virtues of holy men, and have participated in the smallest degree in the great joy which is bestowed upon prosperous toilers in the ascetic life and upon discreet penitents, [p. 19] possess from within a firm conviction concerning these things which is not an external matter produced by misery and rumour, inasmuch as experience has taught them that these things which are stated are true. Let the reader, then, perceive clearly, and let the listener understand, that the things concerning holy men which my narrative recounts are not vain imaginations of my own, for I have collected the materials for them from the things which have been said concerning them in the living speech, and from the written statements which I have found concerning them in the histories and traditions of others. And I shall finish the contest which I have undertaken at the wish of my brethren, and shall add according to the inclination of my opinión, those things which are accepted by discreet

a b l e t o understand

nothing that is not visible, while for the

things which are visible faith is u n n e c e s s a r y , the e y e seeth t h e m . "

-pxaA^i

for t h e sight of

v i s a r d i rtfftvnt&iQo.i v ^ K t o

r & ^ J u s a (&\sq 1

.GOT

Philoxenus

A d d . 12,163, fol. I2er, col. 1).

ri'AxcU-Sa.ora

iai

c&>ai.i ^iwr^

^Ui^-i*)!

on F a i t h (Brit. Mus.

MS.

24

THOMAS OF MARGA, TIIE BOOK OF GOVERNORS.

and prudent men, provided that they are not prejudicial to the truth in any particular, not the wonderful signs and miracles, and mighty deeds which these holy men have wrought, but to speak as [each] occasion shall require, and to add a word concerning each, one after another, on the things which have been wrought by them, 1 and to arrange all these things, one after another, in one consecutive order, a matter which belongeth to the care of writers, and which the order of historical works requireth. I shall2 not confound story with story, or history with history, in such a manner that the mind of the reader will become confused by the mixture of matters, but I shall, with much brevity, set down each narrative by, and to itself, that from 3 here universal history may arise,4 and I shall add story after story, in the form of chapters [each having] a distinct number. I shall begin my history with Mar Abraham the Great, the father of the fathers of the holy men whom I have made ready my words to praise, as the cause of the effects and as the origin of the orders of ascetics which have sprung up after him, even as the blessed Abraham is considered to be the father of all nations,5 and Israel the father of the Israelites, 6 and Aaron the father of the priests.7 And I ask our Lord, through the prayers of Mar Abraham and of the children of his holiness, [p. 20] and I beg ' W e should read, with B C 2

Lines 1 3 — 2 2 (text, p. 19) have been printed with a Latin

translation b y Assemani, B . O., iii. 1, p. 466. col. 2. 3

R e a d ¿»o; £>.

4

Assemani 'ut inde historiam uniyersalem habeas'.

5

Genesis xvii. 5.

7

E x o d u s xxviii.

0

1.

Genesis xlvi. 8.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER III.

TIIE INTRODUCTION.

and entreat Him to give me of His spirit, even as [He gave] of the spirit of Moses to the elders of Israel,1 that I may hear and relate glorious things of Him; that I may speak of the glorious things of Him in His saints; that the hearing of the listeners may be sanctified by the speech of my mouth; that His holy name may be glorified by my polluted tongue; and that by author and scribe, reader and listener, confessor and believer, may be woven the rope of glorious things for His holy name for ever and ever.

CHAPTER

III.

THE INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY.

In the everlasting knowledge of the wise Creator, the elect are set apart, and the predestined are written down for the kingdom of heaven. And the types of the Divine2 government which were written by the hand of Mbses, testify that they indicated aforetime the things which should happen and should be given at the end, for the confirmation of the fore-knowledge of the election of holiness3. For every matter of Christ our Lord was plainly brought about thereby, and inasmuch as it was given from heaven, it was inscribed on a rock in the face of heaven, for there, on mount Sinai, being overshadowed by a cloud for forty days, Moses wrote down the histories of the worlds which had been, and the commandments which had been given 1

Numbers xi. 17, 2 5 — 2 9 .

3 Hoffmann would read ¿¿.aó?

2

Hoffmann would read "prophecy of the holy

man (Moses)". d

26

THOMAS OF MARGÀ, THE BOOK OF

GOVERNORS.

to the seed of Abraham.1 And there, by the glory with which his face was clothed,2 was it indicated that virginity and holiness3 should spread abroad in later times and be exalted. And that thou mayest know that such is the case, follow after the footsteps of the life and conversation of Christ, and thou shalt find that He expounded [p. 21] and taught "this plainly to His Apostles in taking them up to Mount Tabhor (Tabor), where He was changed to glory (i.