Friday, 3 April 2015

Michael Muthreich: An Ethiopic manuscript of the „narratio de vita sua" ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite by Michael Muthreich, Patristic Commission, Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany.

Background Under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite we find well known philosophical and theological letters but beyond that the same author - at least if we just focus on his pseudonym - is supposed to have written some other minor texts as well. Among them there is an autobiography ("narratio de vita sua") in which he relates his conversion to Christianity.
Results The autobiography is extant in a variety of versions. The "Clavis Patrum Graecorum" shows textual transmission in five languages: Syriac, Sahidic-Coptic, Arabic, Armenian and Georgian. Some of the texts are already published. Now further research showed that with manuscript EMML 4775 we have at least one Ethiopic manuscript at hand which conveys the text in Ge'ez also. Even if the manuscript is fragmentary - more than half of it is illegible - we are able to compare it to other versions. In so doing we may come a bit closer to what the original of the autobiography has looked like.
Conclusions An analysis of the mentioned Ethiopic autobiography ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite shows that it differs from all other known versions. Its vorlage must have been a text unknown to us yet but related to extant Arabic versions in the Mingana Collection and the Vatican Library even if the Ethiopic manuscript also shares striking similarities with the known Syriac, Georgian and Coptic versions on some significant text passages.

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