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News & Notes

Dr Abdul Saadi has contributed this report on efforts at conservation of Christian manuscripts in Aramaic, Syrian and Arabic: 

Lib Abdul

Against the axiom of his day, that “all the important records of Syriac literature are in great libraries in Rome, London, Paris and Berlin,” the late Professor Arthur Voobus (d. 1988), in his 40 years of searching for Syriac manuscripts in the Middle East, proved the opposite.  When permission was granted, Voobus photographed only documents either totally ‘unknown’ or unknown in their different recensions in the West; he wrote, “now there are more than 200,000 pages of unknown documents on film in my collection.”

During his graduate studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where Voobus’ collection is housed, Dr. Saadi researched and catalogued the entire collection.  Later, he aspired to reach out to the original manuscripts in their entirety, recording all extant collections.  Thankfully, after concerted effort

with technically competent personnel, including his former colleagues, teachers and students, he was able to encourage eight important libraries in Syria, Turkey and Iraq to digitize their entire collection and store the copies in various safer places.  Now, only a few years later, the precious libraries of Homs (Syria) and Mosul (Iraq) have been totally destroyed in the ongoing fight in that region; three other libraries in Syria remain extremely vulnerable, while the stability in the neighboring region of Turkey is only a little better.
We may be grateful that the Syriac manuscripts have survived; but the Syriac Christians and other minorities are facing eradication of their very existence in their historical region of “Mesopotamia,” in which they have been rooted since the dawn of recorded cultural history.

William P. Weaver awarded prestigious fellowship:weaver copy

Associate Professor of Literature in the Honors College, was recently awarded a prestigious Humboldt Fellowship for his scholarship on Renaissance rhetoric and note-taking practices. The award, which carries funding for up to 18 months, annually attracts leading international scholars from all disciplines to conduct research at one or more host institutes in Germany. Dr. Weaver will be a guest researcher of two institutes, the Institute for Late Middle Ages and Reformation, at the University of Tübingen, and the European Melanchthon Academy Bretten, in the birthplace of the reformer. There he will research and publish Collected Writings on Rhetoric, volume 2 of the Opera Philosophica of Philip Melanchthon. This volume will include the first modern editions of two of Melanchthon’s major works on rhetoric. As part of his research, Dr. Weaver will consult printed and manuscript copies of six works on rhetoric. He is interested to see what manuscript notes reveal about the teaching of Melanchthon’s rhetoric in the sixteenth century.

Important new Sappho discoveries:

Saffo

Research on a papyrus belonging to the Green Collection has significantly increased our knowledge of the works of Sappho, the famed 7th century poetess of Lesbos.  These findings resulted from the trans-Atlantic collaboration of Jeff Fish and Simon Burris of the Baylor Classics Department, and Dirk Obbink, Director of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project at Oxford University and Visiting Professor with Baylor Classics.

Their research, done under the aegis of the Green Scholars Initiative and involving advanced digital imaging, has led to new readings in several fragmentary poems —some previously unknown— covering topics both personal and religious.
Burris, S., J. Fish and D. Obbink. “New fragments of Book 1 of Sappho.”  Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigrafik 189 (2014) 1-28.
Burris, S. and J. Fish.  “Sappho 16.13-14 and a marginal annotation attributed in PSI 123 to Nicanor.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigrafik 189 (2014) 29-31.