Book of the Conversation of Wisdom, and Other Works


The major part of this 18th-century manuscript is taken up by the text of Ktaba da-swad sofia (Book of the conversation of wisdom), a philosophical work by the famous Syriac Orthodox bishop and author, Gregory Bar ‘Ebraya (also seen as Bar Hebraeus, 1226–86). Of special interest is the fact that the work was copied here not only in Syriac, but also in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script) in a parallel column on each page. The manuscript contains numerous marginal and interlinear annotations in both Garshuni and Arabic. After the main work by Bar ‘Ebraya come (in one column, and only in Syriac) two texts in response to "Nestorians" followed by a series of poems also by Bar ‘Ebraya: "On Divine Love," "On the Marvelous Arrangement of the Heavens," and one on Bar ‘Ebraya's near contemporary, Maphrian and Patriarch John Bar Madani (died 1263). Following this is a poem on the soul by the same Bar Madani, inspired by certain works of the Muslim polymath Ibn Sīnā, or Avicenna (980–1037), and then a poem by Bar Madani, “On the Excellent Way of the Perfect." The manuscript ends with a heavily rubricated list of patriarchs in Garshuni, and with colophons.

Last updated: August 28, 2012