Friday, December 08, 2006

Avoiding blasphemy in Syriac

It is rather peculiar that the Harclean Syriac is quoted as supporting the spelling Μαριαμ in NA27 to Luke 2:19. The Harclean uses the Syriac form Mariam regardless of the Greek spelling. To do otherwise might lead to blasphemy in Syriac.

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it even stranger that I can't find mariam in Luke 2:12. -Jq

Brikh Mario

P J Williams said...

Good point. With the typo 2:12 for 2:19 my comment makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

I figured it was a typo... but I couldn't figure out what passage it was supposed to be. I should have read a little farther down. :-)

Is there any other evidence for a tendency to avoid blasphemy in this way? -Jq

P J Williams said...

The phrase 'avoiding blasphemy' was only for the purpose of a catchy title. I think that there are obvious reasons why a language using a consonantal script and which has assigned the consonants mry' to a divine title should not wish to use these consonants again for a human female proper name.

Gie Vleugels said...

My problem with this explanation: there must be many other passages were a similar 'blasphemous' reading would be possible. Why here?

P J Williams said...

Of course. There is a natural tendency to try not to let a divine name appear for other purposes. Thus you can't have the sequence of letters GOD on a British car number plate, you can use yodh he as a Hebrew number 15 and you can't use mry' in Syriac as a proper name of an ordinary person.