2014. márc. 15.

Sebastian Brock: The Case of Syriac

Charting the Hellenization of a Literary Culture: The Case of Syriac

Monday, March 24, 20145:30pm to 7:00pm
CEU Nador u. 13 Room: 002
The extent to which Syriac literary culture had been hellenized over the course of the fourth to seventh century AD is clearly illustrated by the change in epistolary greeting formulae, moving from the Semitic ‘peace’ (shlam) to the Greek ‘to rejoice’ (chairein). After some preliminary remarks on the term hellenization in the context of Syriac literary culture, some different ways of charting its advance are indicated by examples provided by sondages in four different areas: 1. The shift in attitudes towards translating Greek into Syriac over the course of time, with the move from reader-oriented to text-oriented translations. This is most clearly illustrated by the successive translations/revisions of the Gospels, where an important role was also played by the christological controversies. The same shift, with the same turning point of c. AD 500, is equally observable with translations of patristic and secular literature (notably Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Severus and Ps. Dionysius for the former; Porphyry’s Eisagoge and Aristotle’s Categories for the latter). The altered situation at the time of the ‘Translation Movement’ (8th/9th cent.), however, required a return to reader-oriented translations; the same applies to translations of Byzantine hymnography at much the same time; 2. The growing number of Greek loanwords taken over into Syriac, and 3. the growing number of adjectival forms in use. The dramatic growth in both these cases can be charted diachronically, thanks to the existence of sufficient dated or datable texts; 4. The adoption of Greek literary genres and imagery. An excellent example of the former is the adoption of the Preface, and of the latter, athletic and nautical imagery.
Dr. Sebastian Brock was formerly Reader in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford and is a Professorial Fellow of Wolfson College. His interest extends to almost all fields connected to Syriac studies, including linguistics, manuscript studies, translation theory, historiography, history of philosophy, spirituality, theology. Among Syriacists he is called Malfono d-malfone, that is, the teacher of all the teachers as there are virtually no Syriaci scholars who would not be his pupils in one way or another.

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