Dr. Thomas Joseph
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Mor Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East (1887-1957). In this issue of eGorgias, we take time to remember his life and recall his scholarly legacy. Several of Barsoum's writings are available from Gorgias Press, including the important The Scattered Pearls: History of Syriac Literature and Sciences.
A full biography of Barsoum can be found on the Syriac Orthodox Resources website. He was born in 1887 in Mosul, Iraq. In addition to his religious training he also studied French, Turkish, Arabic and Syriac. He was ordained as a priest in 1911 and managed the press of Deir al-Za'faran monastery.
Barsoum was active in international politics. After his consecration as Mor Severius, the bishop of Syria in 1918, he was chosen to represent the Syriac community in the peace settlement in Paris in 1919. Here he spoke not only for the rights of the Syrians, but for the rights of Arab nations as well. In the years following, Barsoum was an apostolic delegate to the World Conference on Faith and Order; he also visited the U.S. as an emissary of the Patriarch. Here he consecrated churches, ordained priests, and lectured on the Syriac language, serving at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago until 1929.
In 1933, Barsoum succeeded the late Patriarch Elias III as Patriarch of Antioch, assuming the name Mor Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum. He was active in his position, founding a seminary and establishing new dioceses. At his death in 1957, he was buried in Homs, where he had had to relocate the Patriarchate after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Barsoum wrote extensively in Arabic on matters of theology, church history, liturgy, and lexicography; a volume of his poetry was also published. His most well-known work, The Scattered Pearls: History of Syriac Literature and Sciences, is an extensive survey of Syriac literature. The survey sets itself apart from earlier, similar works in that it covers Syriac sources up to the twentieth century. It is of historical importance because hundreds of the manuscripts personally examined by Barsoum were lost during World War I. Written in Arabic (the title in the original is al-Lul’u al-Manthur), it was translated into Syriac by Mor Philoxenos Dolabani in 1967. In 2000, The Scattered Pearls was translated into English by Matti Moosa, making it available to a large number of new readers. Dr. Moosa relates some of the difficulties he encountered during the translation:
The Gorgias publication of Moosa's English translation (second revised edition, 2003) has been welcomed. Syriac scholar Sebastian Brock states:
Gorgias Press is pleased to have an active role in continuing the scholarly legacy of Mor Ignatius Aphram I Barsoum by providing English translations of his works. The titles we offer are listed below.
Our August Enthusiast of the Month, Thomas Joseph, is a fitting choice for this special issue on Patriarch Aphram I, as he played a significant part in helping Gorgias Press with the preparation of the Patriarch’s The Scattered Pearls.
Thomas Joseph is a native of Kerala, India, but has resided in Southern California for the past 18 years. He holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in engineering from the Institute of Technology, BHU and the University of Southern California respectively, as well as a Ph.D. in Information Systems from UCLA. In 1995 he launched the Syriac Orthodox Resources web site along with Dr. George Kiraz, and this site continues to be widely cited for information on the Syriac Orthodox Church. In 1998, when George launched the academic journal Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, Thomas assumed responsibility as technical editor, a position he has held ever since. He also serves on the board of Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute.
Thomas has the following to say about Gorgias Press.
"In the early 1990s, while a doctoral student at UCLA, I was introduced to the field of Syriac Studies through the books I discovered in UCLA's extensive libraries. Since many of these were out of print, I would make photocopies for my personal reference. However it was George Kiraz who formally introduced me to this academic discipline in 1996 when we started to collaborate to enhance the Syriac Orthodox Resources site. When George and Christine visited me in October 2001 in Orlando and showed me the proof of their first reprint and announced their plans to launch Gorgias Press, I admired his decision. If anyone could successfully establish a publishing house catering to this niche, it was George. I was eager as well to replace my photocopies with bound books. From a part-time operation out of George's study, Gorgias Press has established itself as a premier publisher in the field and has expanded into several others - a testimony to the tenacity and resourcefulness of George and Christine and their unique understanding of the needs of scholarship in these fields. I have been more than a loyal customer since the very early days of Gorgias Press. I have assisted George in the preparation of The Scattered Pearls by Patriarch Aphrem I for press, and recently with George's own New Syriac Primer--both immensely gratifying experiences. I am very glad to learn that Gorgias Press will soon begin publication of the print edition of Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. I congratulate Gorgias Press for its rapid growth into a reputable publishing house and wish George and Christine success in all their endeavors and plans for the Press."
Thomas leads information architecture at a large financial institution in Southern California. He is married to Renu and has a daughter, Sarah.
|The Scattered Pearls: History of Syriac Literature and Sciences
By Aphram (Ephrem) I Barsoum
Hardback, $124 (BiblioPerks™ $86.80)
The only history of Syriac literature to make use of hundreds of manuscripts from the east.
|Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies (All Volumes Subscription)
By George (ed) Kiraz
Institutional subscription $82.80; Individual $58
Widely regarded as a premier journal dedicated to the study of Syriac, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies was established in 1998 as a venue devoted exclusively to the discipline. An organ of Beth Mardutho, the Syriac Institute, the journal appears semi-annually in its electronic form and will be printed in annual editions. A peer-reviewed journal, Hugoye is a respected academic source for up-to-date information about the state of Syriac studies and for discovering what is going on in the field. Contributors include some of the most respected names in the world of Syriac today.
Gorgias Press will be exhibiting at the conferences and meetings listed below, offering a special discount to conference attendees for not just the books in display but for all items in our current catalog. In addition, our editors will also be present at these meetings should you have a manuscript proposal which you would like to discuss with us.
Gorgias Press will be present at the following conferences:
Dorushe (The Syriac Studies Graduate Student Association) Presents:
The Inaugural Oxford Syriac Patristics Pub Walk
So you think you know all about Syriac language and literature?
Care to match your wits with others while imbibing in Oxford's finest brews?
Then join Dorushe for an entertaining Pub Walk around Oxford on Thursday, August 9th during the XV International Conference on Patristics Studies. We will play a game of Syriac Trivia at each pub we visit. Winners will receive a free book courtesy of Gorgias Press.
Come for trivia and for fun!
We will meet in front of the Examination Schools at 7pm on Thursday, August 9th.
Conference Report: Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting, 22-26 July, Vienna, Austria
Gorgias Press was represented at the SBL International Conference by Jeffrey Volkmer, who shares the following report:
The recent Society of Biblical Literature International Conference met at the University of Vienna and Gorgias Press was on hand to support biblical scholarship and to offer a selection of its ever-growing collection of titles germane to biblical studies. Gone from this year’s conference were questions regarding the type and genre of books published by Gorgias, and this along with a marked increase in interest from prospective authors wishing to be published, demonstrates just how far the press has come in being immediately recognizable and respected for its quality titles. These encouraging observations were not restricted to the content between the covers of our books, however, but there were also quite a number of congregants who took a positive notice to the covers themselves – quite a high compliment given the fact that our book exhibit was in a room festooned with art from the likes of Gustav Klimt and Franz Matsch!
On the whole, when compared to last’s year’s convening of the SBL conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, it was striking to see how much the press’s rapid expansion mirrors the increased level of familiarity and respect among those engaged with biblical studies. Finally, it is worth mentioning that two of our most popular-selling titles from the conference were John Healey’s introductory grammar, Leshono Suryoyo, and Sebastian Brock’s An Introduction to Syriac Studies, a deeply encouraging sign to anyone engaged in Syriac studies and a testament to the effect of making such books widely available. We can only hope that both of these trends continue.
The following books were bestsellers at the conference:
|Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus
By Dirk Jongkind
Hardback, $102 (BiblioPerks™ $71.40)
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most famous and important manuscripts of the Bible. The book studies a variety of textual and non-textual phenomena of this manuscript in order to learn more about the individual scribes who were responsible for copying the text.
|Early Syriac Translation Technique & the textual criticism of the Greek Gospels
By Peter John Williams
Hardback, $98 (BiblioPerks™ $68.60)
This systematic investigation of the relationship between the Syriac Gospels and their Greek Vorlage, formulates clear rules for the use of Syriac witnesses in textual criticism and also shows the errors that can arise if these rules are ignored.
|Leshono Suryoyo: First Studies in Syriac
By John Healey
Hardback w/ CD, $85 (BiblioPerks™ $59.50)
John Healey’s, Leshono Suryoyo, is an introductory grammar for those wishing to learn to read Classical Syriac, one of the major literary dialects of Aramaic and the language of one of the main groups of Middle Eastern churches, including the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Church of the East, and the Chaldaean Church. From the first centuries of the Christian era, Syriac was used by the main theological and historical writers of this tradition (Ephrem the Syrian, Philoxenus of Mabbogh, Thomas of Marga, and Barhebraeus). It also continues to be used in worship.
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