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Appendices and Epilogue from the First Edition of The Ascetical Homilies

Omitted from the Second Edition (see pp. 105–6 of Introduction)

Appendix B: Part I, Selection from the Book of Grace; Part II, Epistle to Abba Symeon of Caesarea

Color, high-resolution PDF, 19.3 MB

Black & White, lower-resolution PDF, 6.7 MB

Appendix D: Mar John the Solitary: Epistle on Stillness

Color, high-resolution PDF, 3 MB

Black & White, lower-resolution PDF, 1 MB

Epilogue: A Brief Historical and Theological Introduction of the Church of Persia to the End of the Seventh Century

Color, high-resolution PDF, 24.4 MB

Black & White, lower-resolution PDF, 8.5 MB

Texts of The Ascetical Homilies

Bedjan’s Syriac Text

Scanned by Brigham Young University & The Catholic University of America

It is posted here. To download the PDF (168 MB) click on the bottom link in the right-hand column, “Printing Version.” [Mar Jacob of Serug’s Homilies in Syriac are here.]

Printed copies can be purchased here and here and here.

Wensinck’s English Translation

The 1923 translation made from Bedjan’s Syriac.

PDF (it omits Wensinck’s Introduction)

Printed copies can be purchased here and here.

Latin Edition printed in Barcelona in 1497

The edition mentioned here can be seen here.

DVD of Vatican Syriac Manuscripts

This includes Vatican Syriac 124 which we consulted for our translation, and Vatican 125, which we never saw, and many other MSS. N.B. A translation of the Syriac is not included.

Contents of DVD. Vat. Syr. 124. Buy.

On John Saba or Dalyatha

Dr. Brian Colless’s dissertation on John Saba or Dalyatha, the author of what are Homilies 15, 16, 17, and 31 in our edition. This dissertation includes the Syriac text of his homilies that was used to revise our translation of them from the Greek text.

Click here then click at left on the icon of one large page connected to two smaller pages, or the smaller version of the same icon at “Object.”

Scholarly Resources Cited in the Introduction to The Ascetical Homilies

Chabot’s Synodicon Orientale

Mentioned in the Introduction, p. 52, n. 2; p. 54, n. 7; p. 57, n. 18, this gives the Syriac text of the Synod of Dayrin in northeastern Arabia that brought thither George, Catholicos of Persia, who ordained St. Isaac Bishop of Nineveh, with a French translation of it and a biography of Catholicos George in French. PDF

Chabot’s De S. Isaac Ninivitae

Mentioned frequently in the Introduction, this is Chabot’s 1892 work, written in Latin, about St. Isaac’s life and writings. PDF

Chabot’s Le Livre de la Chasteté

On p. 53 of the Introduction we mention one of the few sources of a life of St. Isaac, found in a work entitled The Book of Chastity, comprising short histories of famous monks of the Persian Church, by the ninth-century East Syrian author Isho‘denah.

Chabot’s edition of this work, providing both the original Syriac text and his French translation of it, is available here.

Sebastian Brock’s From Qatar to Tokyo

An outline of the history of the text of The Ascetical Homilies: About St. Isaac, the earliest known MSS of translations of his homilies into Greek and other languages, and how writings by a Saint from Qatar have been made known as far away as Tokyo.

Bibliographical information: From Qatar to Tokyo, by way of Mar Saba: the Translations of Isaac of Beth Qatraye (Isaac the Syrian), Aram Periodical, Vol. 11–12 (1999–2000)

Sebastian Brock’s Syriac into Greek at Mar Saba

Subtitle: The Translation of St. Isaac the Syrian, in The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present. Presents fascinating information about the relations between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Church of the East, explains some of the complications with the MSS, and discusses the history of the translation of The Ascetical Homilies into Greek and other languages.

Available here among other places. Dr. Brock’s article is pp. 201–8.

Thomas of Marga’s Book of Governors

Mentioned in the Introduction, p. 52, n. 3; p. 57, n. 18, this includes a history of the Monastery of Beth Abe, where St. Isaac was ordained Bishop.

Volume I is the Syriac text with Budge’s lengthy and valuable Introduction (in English) and Volume II is the English translation of the Syriac text.

Pages 179–97 of Vol. II include a life of Catholicos George and how Anan-Isho, commissioned by him, made the Syriac collection of The Paradise of the Holy Fathers which was also translated by Budge (see below).

PDF of Volume I • PDF of Volume II

Printed copies can be purchased here and here and here.

Budge’s Paradise of the Holy Fathers

This collection of sayings of the Holy Fathers of the Egyptian Desert is recommended reading for all. It was commissioned by George, the Catholicos who ordained St. Isaac Bishop, and formed part of the Saint’s spiritual reading.

In the second edition of The Ascetical Homilies the references to this are for the edition printed by Chatto & Windus in two volumes in 1907, which is available in reprint.

PDF of Volume I • PDF of Volume II

For the first edition the references were made to the earlier edition of Budge’s work printed in 1904, which includes the Syriac text with the English translation. Only 500 copies were printed, but now it is also available as PDFs:

PDF of Volume I • PDF of Volume II

Homilies of St. Macarius the Great

Spiritual reading of the highest caliber, recommended for all.

On p. 109 of the Introduction we discuss the Epistle of St. Macarius included in Appendix B, and refer the reader to A.J. Mason’s 1921 translation of his homilies, which is available here. His introduction ably defends St. Macarius’s authorship of the homilies.

Thomas Haywood, identified on the title page simply as “A Presbyter of the Church of England,” translated these homilies of St. Macarus in 1721, in a language that is more colorful than Mason’s, though often rougher on the modern reader. He begins his Introduction with a remarkable defense of the doctrine of the deification of man. It was the scriptural references placed in the margins that inspired us to do the same for our second edition of the Ascetical Homilies. PDF

Br. Sabino Chialà’s Work on St. Isaac

Full title: Dall’ascesi eremitica alla misericordia infinita, Ricerche su Isacco di Ninive e la sua fortuna, by Sabino Chialà, L.S. Olschki (Florence, 2002). This is by far the most comprehensive, or rather exhaustive work on St. Isaac done to date, recapitulating the scholarly work on St. Isaac already done, and greatly adding to it, especially with information about the editions of his Homilies in Western Europe. It is in Italian; unfortunately we know of no English translation of it in preparation.

Dr. Sebastià Janeras’s Works on St. Isaac

The article upon which we most depended in our Introduction for the popularity of the Ascetical Homilies in Spain and Portugal was Dr. Janeras’s La diffusion d’Isaac de Ninive dans la Péninsule Ibérique, in Eastern Crossroads, ed. Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, Gorgias Press, 2007, pp. 247–74. It is in French; unfortunately we know of no English translation of it in preparation.

An article by Dr. Janeras in Catalan covering much of the same ground is available here.

He has written two further articles on St. Isaac, both in Catalan:

1. How a passage of the Latin translation of the Greek translation of the Homilies was misunderstood and progressively transformed into a quite different meaning. PDF.

2. Three passages in the writings of Arnaldus de Villa Nova (c. 1238–1311) that are taken from St. Isaac’s writings. PDF.

Wright’s Short History of Syriac Literature

The work mentioned in the last page of the Introduction is available here.

The Ascetical Homilies in The Brothers Karamazov

A discussion of Dostoevsky’s references to St. Isaac’s Ascetical Homilies in The Brothers Karamazov has been posted here.

On the Syriac Language

Sebastian Brock’s Introduction to Syriac Studies

An excellent and very comprehensive introduction to the history and literature of Syriac and the many sources for learning and studying it. Here

Payne Smith’s Compendious Syriac Dictionary

The standard Syriac-English Dictionary, originally published by Oxford University Press but now in the public domain. It is what we use in translating Syriac, and was shown here and here. PDF

Eisenbraun’s hard cover facsimile reprint.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery Publications, Inside our Books and the Sources behind them, is a companion site to www.thehtm.org.

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