BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative

So, when did Brigham Young University become a distinguished publisher of ancient and medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts? Someone help me, because this obviously happened while I was looking away.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) at BYU has undertaken the preparation and publication of truly splendid bilingual editions of such things as the medical works of Maimonides, several works of medieval Islamic philosophy, and a number of Syriac Christian texts. Of particular interest to Yours Truly is a volume of select poems by St Ephrem the Syrian edited by Sebastian Brock and George Kiraz, and whose contents are arranged “according to [St Ephrem’s] concept of salvation history”:

Ephrem the Syrian is the most important poet and theologian of the Syriac Christian tradition. His numerous hymns, homilies, and commentaries were highly influential for later generations, and his poetry continues to be broadly used in the liturgies of Syrian Christian churches. This new translation of twenty poems, the only edition of Ephrem that features a text in vocalized serto script with a facing translation, offers a broad and varied introduction to Ephrem’s work. Arranged according to his concept of salvation history, this book will allow readers to further explore his poetry in both its original language and in a contemporary English translation.

Here is the table of contents:

General Introduction
Text 1: On Reading the Paradise Narrative (Par. 5)
Text 2: On Human Language about God (Fid. 31)
Text 3: The Symbols Depicted by Noah in the Ark (Fid. 49)
Text 4: The Paradox of Mary’s Birthgiving (Nat. 11)
Text 5: Mary’s Invitation to Everyone (Nat. 17)
Text 6: Mary and Eve as the World’s Tow Eyes (Eccl. 37)
Text 7: Christ as Light in Mary and in the Jordan (Eccl. 36)
Text 8: The Paradoxes of the Incarnation (Res. 1)
Text 9: On the Fall (Ieiun. 3)
Text 10: Eyes that are Blind and Eyes that are Opened (Ieiun. 6)
Text 11: The Two Lambs Compared (Azym. 3)
Text 12: Christ, the New Passover Lamb (Cruc. 2)
Text 13: Satan’s Complaint (Nis. 41)
Text 14: A Disputation between Death and Satan (Nis. 53)
Text 15: Joy at the Resurrection (Res. 2)
Text 16: Oil and Its Symbols (Virg. 7)
Text 17: The Mysteries of the Eucharist (Fid. 10)
Text 18: The Eucharistic Marriage Feast (Fid. 14)
Text 19: Nisibis under Siege in Comparison with Noah’s Ark (Nis. 1)
Text 20: The Pearl and Its Symbolism (Fid. 82)
Appendix 1: Main Editions and English Translations of Ephrem’s Works
Appendix 2: Index of Qale Employed in the Present Collection
Index of Scripture Citations
Index of Names

Amazing! The book may be purchased from the University of Chicago Press, who distributes this title for BYU, as well as from Amazon. Other titles from the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative may be purchased directly from the BYU bookstore.

[UPDATE: Those interested in all things Syriac should note that the METI resource page for Eastern Christian texts offers a 31-page introduction to Syriac studies by Sebastian Brock.]

[UPDATE II: Check out the BYU/CUA Syriac Studies Reference Library, a digital collection of “rare and out-of-print titles that are of vital importance for Syriac studies.” H/T: Trevor.]


2 responses to “BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative

  1. Under the rock of biblical studies, apparently! ;-) Thanks for the link. And by the way, when are you going to get back to blogging, mister?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s