Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Onnik Kiremitlian: Newly-discovered gems from Syriac literature: Armenian translations of Syriac works by Marutha of Tagrit.

During the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia (1080-1375), a long period (11th-13th cc., and notably from ca. 1103 to 1271) saw a renaissance of intellectual and cultural activities among Armenians, including a special interest and translation of the works of Syriac authors into Armenian, for which we can delineate four phases. Through the collaborative efforts of Syriac and Armenian intellectuals and ecclesiastics numerous works from Syriac literature were translated into Armenian. Among the works of authors translated in this period was Marutha of Tagrit (7th century), to whom a series of homilies are ascribed in the Armenian manuscript tradition. Among these homilies the one on the New Sunday has a complete Syriac original, while the others, except for few fragments in Garshuni Arabic, are not attested in Syriac manuscripts, and the conjecture is that they are preserved only in Armenian, such as the homily on the Resurrection of Christ.The comparison of the Armenian homily on New Sunday with that of the Syriac original reveals idiosyncrasies of the Armenian translated text, where we witness special translation techniques adopted by the Armenian and Syriac translators.Armenian manuscript evidence would point to the high probability that these translations were achieved in the fourth and last great phase of the translation activities thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Armenian erudite scholar, ecclesiastic and court envoy Vardan Areweltsi and an unknown Syriac scholar who was active in the period’s intellectual life in Cilician Armenia.

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