Monday, February 18, 2008

New Finds at Deir al-Surian monastery

There is an interesting story in the Independent about a recent manuscript discovery at Deir al-Surian monastery: here.
They found a single page (from a manuscript in the British Library) dated to November 411, which would make it (according to S.P. Brock as quoted in this article) 'the oldest dated Christian text in existence'. I guess this would be true so long as we meant 'literary text' rather than 'documentary text'.


  1. I discovered a related article at FORBES.COM. It covers some of the background information on the monastery and the inhospitable conditions (at least for manuscripts) in their library. There are several photos as well. You can access the article here: LINK. Happy reading!


  2. We have mentioned the find generally before here. The new news must reflect some press release on progress in studying the material

  3. What documentary text would be dated earlier?

  4. It depends what you mean by dated. Typically, receipts are the documents which have a formulaic date. Some letters are written on the backs of receipts or make mention of events which can date them. Others are dated by their orthographic resemblance to a dated receipt. I assume that you (ANON) are interested in what documentary text has a date in the text as this Syriac MS does.

    The Macquarie folks have constructed a conspectus of possible early Christian documents which you can download, here. Sections I-V have a number of dated MSS.

  5. Hi,

    That is a question i also ask myself sometimes. That list is real useful but only deals with papyri located in Egypt.

    Are comparable lists avilable that list epigraphic texts and other objects apart from Papyri?

    There may be so but i am not aware of any at the moment. These at a glance lists can really save enormous amounts of time where thet are avilable.


  6. Thanks, Christian.
    Among the interesting items on that link were quotations of autographa with and without the Nomina Sacra.

  7. And I notice that you identified it as a Syriac ms. Can you read it that closely or is this a guess based on where it was found?

  8. From the picture, I would assume that it is Syriac, although I can not make out what it is saying -- the article, of course, tells us that it is a martyr list. There is also the reference to Sebastian Brock as the leading Syriac scholar involved in the find.