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Syriac Monastic Anthologies: Reception and Transmission of Syriac and Greek Monastic Literature

Grigory Kessel, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Fellow

During my residence at Dumbarton Oaks, I investigated the circulation of monastic literature in the Christian Syriac milieu. The problem can be summarized as follows: the overwhelming part of Syriac monastic literature including translations of Greek patristic writings is preserved solely in a particular kind of manuscript that I propose to call anthologies (they may contain texts in complete or in fragmentary form). A significant number of monastic texts are no longer extant outside anthologies, so that their importance appears to be self-evident. But it has not yet been established how many of these anthologies are still extant, and these manuscripts have not been thoroughly studied. In particular, it is important to reveal if a circulation of texts within such anthologies presupposed certain changes that those texts had to undergo. And if so, then what were they? So during my stay at Dumbarton Oaks I researched two directions. On the one hand, I described these anthologies; on the other, I familiarized myself with the particularities of the transmission of literature in Late Antiquity and Byzantium. I was able to make some good progress in both directions thanks to the rich library resources available at Dumbarton Oaks. In addition, the general academic environment and, more precisely, regular contact with fellows helped me look at some aspects of my research from new perspectives.


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Byzantine Studies Fellows, 2012/13