Pages 77–80 of the Introduction discuss the two principal manuscript families of the Syriac text, the Eastern and the Western.
Vatican Syriac MS 124 of the Ascetical Homilies is dated to the 14th century. It comes from the Western Syriac manuscript tradition from which the Greek translation was made.
It contains fewer homilies than the Eastern Syriac MSS, but with them it also contains a number of homilies that are not in any of the Greek translations, suggesting that either the Syriac MS used by the Greek translators lacked these homilies, or that the pages containing them were so damaged that these homilies could not be translated.
The very first page is shown at left. Syriac, like Arabic and Hebrew, is written from right to left.
The Arabic inscription at the top says, “The Book of the Blessed Saint, my Mar Isaac. May his prayers be with us. Amen. Amen. Amen.”
Syriac script begins in the bottom half of the page, and the first homily itself begins on the reverse side, shown below.
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Shown at left is the verso side of the page shown above.
The first five lines in lighter ink, which is almost certainly red, are the title. Homily One begins where indicated.
Note the extreme mutilation of this first folio. The following three folios are mutilated almost to the same degree.
If the families of homilies mentioned here were copied from a Greek manuscript that was similarly mutilated in the first two or three homilies, it would explain why these copies began with Homily Four; and from one of these, the Latin translation was made, which is why all the Latin editions, and the translations made from them, also begin with Homily Four.