New Data for Re-Attribution of Early Syriac Monastic Lirerature

Kessel Grigoriy M.

Turning to works by Aphraates (ca. 270–345), John of Apamea or the Elder (the 1st half of the 5th c.) and the anonymous Liber Graduum, the author considers various possibilities of attributing early Syriac texts. New data are added to the well-known facts summed up in the article. Some fragments of Aphraates’ works were ascribed to Abraham of Nathpar (6th– 7th c.) by the Eastern Syriac tradition and to John the Elder in the Western Syriac tradition. Some parts of the Liber Graduum are found attributed to Evagrius Ponticus, John the Elder, Macarius the Great, Abraham of Nathpar (the only known example of citation from the Liber Graduum in the east-Syrian tradition) and included in the Epistle of monk Thomas (ca. 12th c.). John the Elder’s work On Prayer was ascribed in the Western Syriac tradition to Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523) and Basil the Great, while in the Eastern Syriac tradition its abridged version was ascribed to Abraham of Nathpar. Popularity of this work in the Western Syriac tradition is attested by the citations in the Epistles of Sergius the Anchorite (not before 6th–7th c.) and monk Thomas (12th c.). The examples quoted prove that early Syriac ascetic writings were still in demand later, transcended the borders of ecclesiastical jurisdictions and became important both for the Western and Eastern Syriac tradition. Most editors studying the manuscript tradition of Syriac texts come across the facts of reattribution and problems of authenticity. The situation is especially difficult with the Syriac literature because thousands of manuscripts were destroyed in the Middle Ages. As a result, the information concerning reception and interpretation of earlier text in the later tradition is extremely scarce.

Keywords: Syria, eastern christianity, John of Apamea, Syriac texts