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e-Gorgias (Issue 53, April 2012)


Issue 53
April 2012
Reading Time: 18 minutes

This month we have so much to talk about as we prepare for the summer mayhem of conferences and new projects. First, we would like to take the time and welcome our newest acquisitions and production editor, Melonie Schmierer. We’re so glad to have you on board and on behalf of the Gorgias staff and myself, I offer my congratulations and welcome you to the Gorgias team. Be sure to read more about Melonie in the GP News column.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the recent promotion of Gorgias author and series editor Geoffrey Khan to Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. Please read more about Prof. Khan, and his most recent publication in our new Gorgias Distinguished Author column.

This month we are highlighting our exciting new series Surath Kthobh in our Acquisitions column. This series presents the Syriac Peshitta Bible in a fresh English translation and is intended for academics and non-specialists alike. Be one of the first 100 individual subscribers and receive each volume at 50% off the list price. For more details please read the acquisitions column or click here.

It is also the beginning of conference season, a particularly hectic time around the office, but a rewarding experience in the end. While we prepare in the office, George has already embarked on his first exciting adventure in Turkey. Be sure to track his travel log through Mardin and Tur Abdin in our conferences section. For our full conference schedule, also check our conferences section and mark your calendars.

I am happy to announce that we have finally come to a consensus on our book grant winners. The application process was particularly difficult this year as we had the largest applicant pool in Gorgias Book Grant history, but we’re not going to announce them just yet! We beg your patience for a bit longer as we inform our applicants of their status.

Happy reading,

Christine Kiraz


  • Recently Released
  • Coming Soon
  • From the Acquisitions Desk
  • GP News
  • Gorgias Distinguished Author: Professor Geoffrey Khan
  • Conferences: George Kiraz's Travelogue in Turkey!



Below is a select list of recent releases. For the complete list, please visit our Just Published page.


The Monks of Kûblâi Khân Emperor of China
By E.A. Wallis Budge

ISBN 978-1-61719-508-2
Hardback, $205.075 <!-(BiblioPerks™ $123.05)-->

This volume contains the English translation of the histories of Rabban Sawma and Mar Yahbalaha III (ca. 1230-1300) and their travels from China across Persia into Iraq. The translator also offers over 100 pages of prefatory material.

The Ottoman Empire
By Eugenia Kermeli

ISBN 978-1-61719-141-1
Hardback, $157.45 <!-(BiblioPerks™ $94.47)-->

This volume in honour of Colin Imber (University of Manchester) contains essays by many leading Ottoman historians.

Syriac Grammar
By Eberhard Nestle

ISBN 978-1-61719-182-4
Hardback, $109 <!-(BiblioPerks™ $65.40)-->

Grammar of Syriac, prepared by the celebrated editor of the New Testament, with bibliography of nineteenth-century works on Syriac, three Syriac texts, and glossary.

Terrorism, Religion, and Global Peace: From Concepts to Praxis
By Karikottuchira Kuriakose

ISBN 978-1-4632-0164-7
Hardback, $156.7 <!-(BiblioPerks™ $94.02)-->

The contributors of this volume investigate not only human beings’ potentialities for violence and terrorism, but also for counter-terrorism and peace. They share with the reader their understandings, knowledge, and experiences of peace and nonviolence experiments set within different religious/cultural traditions, and the possibility of building peace communities around the world


Here is a select list of forthcoming publications. Click here for a complete list.


The Book of Isaiah According to the Syriac Peshitta Version with English Translation
This volume is the first in a series of English translations of the Syriac Peshitta along with the Syriac text carried out by an international team of scholars. Greenberg and Walter have produced an annotated translation of the Peshitta version of the Book of Isaiah, while Kiraz and Bali have edited the Peshitta text. The English translation and the Syriac text are shown on facing pages so that both can be studied together.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0155-5, Cloth, $150

The Gospel of Matthew According to the Syriac Peshitta Version with English Translation
This volume is part of a series of English translations of the Syriac Peshi?ta along with the Syriac text carried out by an international team of scholars. Childers has translated the Peshi?ta of Matthew, while Kiraz has prepared the Syriac text in the west Syriac script, fully vocalized and pointed. The translation and the Syriac text are presented on facing pages so that both can be studied together. All readers are catered for: those wanting to read the text in English, those wanting to improve their grasp of Syriac by reading the original language along with a translation, and those wanting to focus on a fully vocalized Syriac text.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0174-6, Cloth, $150



Gorgias Press is proud to announce The Antioch Bible, a fresh new idiomatic English translation based on the Aramaic text of the Syriac Peshitta.

The Peshitta Bible is one of the earliest versions of Scripture dating back to the times of the Early Church, and is the only version that is written in a Semitic setting similar to that of the ancient Israelites and the early Christians. In fact, Syriac, the language of the Peshitta, is a dialect of Aramaic akin to the Aramaic of the Jewish exile and the Palestinian Aramaic of Jesus Christ. This sociolinguistic connection with the Semitic world gives new insights into the words of the Bible (see the Matthew example below) currently undisclosed by Western languages. Moreover, the Peshitta Bible is full of distinctive readings that are absent in other versions.

The Antioch Bible makes the Syriac Bible available to the modern reader in an easy-to-read idiomatic English translation, with ample footnotes that point out literal expressions in the original Syriac. While the edition caters to the non-specialist, it is a particularly expansive tool in the repertoire of a specialist. In this set the specialist can easily consult the original text, fully pointed and vocalized, alongside the translation on facing pages. The translation is the work of an inter-faith international team of scholars from North America and Europe. The original text was prepared by individuals who grew up using the Peshitta Bible, in consultation with leading Biblical scholars in North America and Europe. This special limited inaugural edition will appear in ca. 28 volumes at the rate of 4 or 5 volumes per year starting from 2012. Each volume is bound in special cloth and is printed on matte paper with ornate end-sheets.


Isaiah, Chapter 42, The Praise of Isaiah

10 Praise the Lord with new praise, his praise from the ends of the earth, those who go down to the sea in its fullness, the islands and those who dwell in them. 11 Let the wilderness and its cities rejoice, let Kedar become meadows, let the dwellers in the crags sing praises, let them cry out from the highest mountain. 12 May they give praise to the Lord, may they proclaim his praises in the islands. 13 The Lord will go forth as a mighty man, as a warrior he will arouse zeal; he will cry out, he will conduct himself manfully, he will kill his enemies.

Matthew, Chapter 6, The Lord’s Prayer

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, because yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.’

Whereas the Greek text at this point has ‘debts’ (t? ?fe???µata) and ‘debtors’ (t??? ?fe???ta??), but in the parallel Luke 11:4 we find ‘sins’ (t?? ?µa?t?a?), the Syriac uses a term that means both ‘debts’ and ‘sins’. The Syriac provides a telling clue as to the original wording Jesus was likely to have used, in his own Palestinian Aramaic dialect, where the same root carries both meanings. —From the translator’s introduction.

Limited Subscription Offer at a Huge Discount

The first 100 non-institutional (i.e., individual) subscribers can get The Antioch Bible at $75 per volume as opposed to the list price of $150 per volume. To lock your subscription now, Click here.

The first 100 institutional subscribers can get The Antioch Bible at $100 per volume as opposed to the list price of $150 per volume. To lock your subscription now, Click here.



We are pleased to introduce our newest member of the Gorgias Press staff, Melonie Schmierer!

Born in North Queensland, Australia, and now based in the United Kingdom, Melonie will graduate this year with a PhD in Aramaic linguistics from the University of Cambridge, after gaining a BA in Hebrew and Semitic languages from University College London and an MPhil in Aramaic linguistics from the University of Cambridge. While studying, she has worked part time for the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit cataloguing Aramaic and Hebrew documentary material (letters, legal documents) from the Cairo Genizah. Her main research interest is the linguistic and sociolinguistic background to the Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects. She also retains a keen interest in her first love, the archaeology of the Ancient Near East, and has participated in a number of digs and spent a year as an intern for the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.

Melonie is a great fan of Doctor Who and hopes to reach a grand old age herself, as her grandmother reached 112 last year. In June 2012 she will marry her American fiancé, Travis. She remarks, "I am excited to be joining Gorgias Press as Reprints and Acquisitions Editor, and I look forward to meeting current and new Gorgias authors in the coming months and years."

Welcome, Melonie!


Check out the Gorgias Press Facebook fan page!


Thanks to you we now have over 400 fans! Already many have won free books through our Gorgias Trivia games and have seen updates on the weekly best sellers. Our wonderful Gorgias staff, from Mary Ann, Phoebe, to Hoda and of course George have been updating the Gorgias Press Facebook fan page, daily. So if you are on Facebook, be sure to become a fan of Gorgias and discover special deals, offers and prizes before anyone else!



Gorgias Press wishes to congratulate our dear friend, author, and series editor Geoffrey Khan on his recent election as Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. Prof. Khan shares a long history with us, beginning during our Editor in Chief George Kiraz's days as a graduate student at Cambridge, where he served on George's dissertation committee. In addition to his impressive academic achievements and publications, Prof. Khan has published a number of books with Gorgias Press and serves as Series Editor for the Gorgias Neo-Aramaic Studies Series. Congratulations to Prof. Khan from all of us at Gorgias Press!

In 1984, Geoffrey Khan received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His thesis, entitled Extraposition and Pronominal Agreement in Semitic Languages, was concerned with various aspects of the syntax of Semitic languages relating to word order, and was published as the book Studies in Semitic Syntax (1988). The purpose was to present not only a description of the form of the constructions but also to develop a methodology to elucidate their function. Many of the concepts he developed in this book informed his later work on syntax, especially the syntax sections of his many grammars of Neo-Aramaic.

While in the closing stages of his Ph.D., he was appointed as a researcher in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library. Here he was introduced to the world of medieval manuscripts and his future research would advocate the importance of working with original manuscript sources. Becoming aware of the vast resources for Hebrew philology, biblical and rabbinic studies and Jewish social and intellectual history in the Genizah and other collections of medieval manuscripts, it became clear to the young scholar that the medieval sources and an understanding of their background were of central importance for the study of Biblical and post-Biblical Hebrew. While working on the Genizah material Khan developed an interest in the manuscripts relating to the reading traditions of Hebrew and the activities of the Masoretes. Through his research, it became apparent that the medieval Karaites played a central role in the transfer of ancient oral traditions to the written vocalisation of the biblical text, and in the development of Masora, Hebrew grammar and biblical exegesis. In 1993 his investigations in the field of medieval Karaism and Hebrew philology took him to the Fikovitch collections of manuscripts in St. Petersburg. He found there scores of unpublished Karaite Hebrew grammatical texts, and has published many of these, making them available to the wider research community.

In 1990–91 Khan was invited to participate in a research group on Semitic languages at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Jerusalem. This would prove a watershed in his career. Using the large collections of microfilms at the National Library in Jerusalem, he gathered a great deal of material from manuscripts relating to his projects on Hebrew pronunciation traditions. In addition to this, he embarked on a study of living traditions of Hebrew and spoken Semitic languages, making extensive recordings of living Karaite reading traditions of Biblical Hebrew among the various Karaite communities (Jerusalem, Ramle, Ashdod, Ofaqim). He also developed an interest in the Neo-Aramaic Jewish languages that still survive in Israel. In 1993 he was appointed lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental Studies (now Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) at the University of Cambridge. In 1998 he was appointed Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2002 was appointed Professor of Semitic Philology. From 2004–9, he led a project to compile an electronic database of the highly-endangered North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) dialects, and in 2011 was appointed Honorary Fellow of the Academy of the Hebrew Language.

During this time he has also continued research on Arabic papyrology and Arabic documents from the Genizah. He has published several volumes of such texts and has been invited to teach master classes on the subject in Princeton, Vienna and Alexandria. His work on Arabic documents has elucidated many aspects of his philological research on Hebrew.

In March 2012 Khan was elected Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge, a chair founded in 1540 by Henry VIII. Currently, Prof. Khan is devoted to two projects. The first is The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language, on which he has been working for the past two years as editor-in-chief with a team of associate editors. The project will produce a series of volumes bringing together the current state of knowledge of Hebrew from all periods and traditions and all methodological approaches to its study. The second project, the Oxford Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, is a thorough revision and reworking of the 28th edition of Gesenius’ Grammar. The 28th edition is still used today as a standard reference grammar, but several sections are now badly in need of updating to bring them into line with the latest research on the Hebrew language. He is also working on a smaller volume that deals specifically with the pre-modern pronunciation traditions of Biblical Hebrew, from the ancient to the medieval periods.


A Short Introduction to the Tiberian Masoretic Bible and its Reading Tradition
By Geoffrey Khan

ISBN 978-1-4632-0166-1
Paperback, $39 (BiblioPerks™ $23.40)

This book is intended to provide a quick introductory overview of the Tiberian Masoretic tradition of the Hebrew Bible and its background. It was this tradition that produced the great Masoretic codices of the Middle Ages, which form the basis of modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. Particular prominence is given to the multi-layered nature of the Masoretic tradition. The volume contains a section describing the Tiberian reading tradition, which is essential for a correct understanding of the vocalization system.

The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Sanandaj
By Geoffrey Khan

ISBN 978-1-60724-134-8
Hardback, $197.5 (BiblioPerks™ $118.50)

This volume presents a description of the Neo-Aramaic dialect that was spoken by the Jews of Sanandaj in western Iran, but which is now virtually extinct. The material for the volume was gathered firsthand in fieldwork conducted with the last remaining speakers in Israel. The volume consists of a detailed grammatical description, a corpus of transcribed texts, including folktales, historical accounts and portrayals of customs, and an extensive glossary.

Neo-Aramaic Dialect Studies
By Geoffrey Khan

ISBN 978-1-59333-423-9
Hardback, $115 (BiblioPerks™ $69.00)

This volume contains a collection of papers presented at the workshop on various aspects of the grammar of Neo-Aramaic, with special attention to the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialect group. The papers include descriptions of several hitherto undescribed dialects together with sample texts and also studies of various aspects of phonology, morphology and syntax of the dialects.

The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Urmi
By Geoffrey Khan

ISBN 978-1-59333-425-3
Hardback, $196.25 (BiblioPerks™ $117.75)

This volume presents a description of the Neo-Aramaic dialect that was spoken by the Jews of Urmi in north-western Iran but which is now virtually extinct. The material for the volume was gathered firsthand in fieldwork conducted with the last remaining speakers in Israel. The volume consists of a detailed grammatical description, a corpus of transcribed texts, including folktales, historical accounts and portrayals of customs, and an extensive glossary.



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.


Conference and Travel Report-Back from George Kiraz! Mardin Syriac Studies Symposium in Mardin, Turkey. April 20-22, 2012.

(Left: Mor Timothy Samuel Aktas immersed in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage.)

George Kiraz, GP's Editor-in-Chief, shares a most delightful report, put together in journal-style format:

April 21: This is the second and last day of the meeting. The opening session was attended by the local bishops. A surprising invitation was given by the University Rector to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch to return the Patriarchate to Mardin after saying that mistakes were committed by the early Republic. I talked yesterday about the Globalization of Syriac studies. I enjoyed today the talks of Werner Arnold on Neo-Aramaic, and Sagon Donabad on the Kharputlis of MA. The food is amazing. Christine Kiraz, expect 10 extra pounds!

April 22: Leaving Mardin to Mor Awgin. Today is the feast of Mor Awgin, we were told.


We arrived at Mor Awgin in time for the Lord's Prayer. Following the liturgy was an emotional service at the Beth Qadishe (Tombs of the Saints), followed by a service in a small cave of the tomb of Mor Awgin which only fits a few people. We were privileged to be invited: Fr. Baby Varghese, Hidemi Takahashi, Gabriel Aydin, and myself. Present were Mor Samuel Aktash, Rish Dayro Dayroyo Yokin, the Archdeacon, and the Mshamelyono.


We are still at Mor Awgin. We had breakfast followed by a tour. The monastery requires much renovation, but that is forbidden. There are many ascetic caves and these would make nice cells for guests as was done in Mor Moses al-Habashi in Nabak, Syria. I sat in the diwan with the bishop and Dayroyo. Gabriel chanted a few songs. There was a baptism, the first in ca. half a century, followed by lunch.


On the way to Mor Gabriel, we passed by Gremirah and found a Kurdish girl burning wood in a tannour oven by the street. On the way back, the tannour was warm enough and she offered us warm bread. We took some video and pictures. We are now on our way to Gundukshukro, the village of Mor Polycarpus.


We left to Nisibis, the native town of St. Ephrem. We drove by the border with Syria and went to check out the crossing point. The border was closed four months ago. We went to the church of Mor Jacob. There were no lights, so we descended to the tomb of St. Jacob of Nisibis with candles. We said a teshmeshto. We also visited the mosque next door to Mor Jacob. It has the tombs of Zayn al-'Abidin and his sister Zaynab (d. 553 hijri).

(Left: Taksim Square, Istanbul. FolioFlo goes global!)


April 23: We arrived in Mor Gabriel last evening, and before dinner had an enervating discussion on liturgical matters with Bishop Samuel Aktas, Fr. Baby Varghese, Malphono Isa Gares, and Gabriel Aydin. For some time, I have wondered: why is the text of the mawrbo in the Phanqitho not in the actual place where it is recited? Malphono Garis had the answer: there are two mawrbe, one for Lilyo and another for Saphro. On Sundays, we apparently say the Lilyo mawrbo, but using the text of Saphro! Today is the feast of Mor Aho. Morning Prayer started at 5:30 am, followed by Holy Qurbono.

April 24: Yesterday we went to Hah, Zaz, and Salah. The church at Hah has unique architecture, with Beth Slutho (open chapel) in the front yard used in the summer. Zaz has an interesting old monk who believes that his church is the site of an ancient Akkadian and Assyrian fortress. He has collected a good number of stones in various interesting shapes. He finds them in nearby mountains. There are quite a few inscriptions here and there. We then did some shopping in Midyat. It was Mor Aho's feast so all the Suryani shops were closed, except the Suryani wine shop... so I got a bottle!


Still at Mor Gabriel. We spent today "in prayers and studies," as Mor Philoxenos Dolabani wrote a few time in his diaries. Gabriel Aydin and I studied a medieval Phanqitho that contained the entire year cycle, which predates the structure of modern Phanqithos. We looked at two manuscripts of ordinations with Mor Timothy Samuel Aktas. Fr. Baby Varghese was interested in the ordination of archdeacons and we discussed such matters. We then spent some time in the library and saw the digitization efforts. I spent some time on my orthography book... of course, lots of tea during the day and chit-chatting as well!

April 26: Went shopping in Mardin yesterday. While at one of the jewelry shops, the governor and mayor of the city visited. They were pleased to meet tourists. We ate Mardini food at a nice restaurant and listened to local music. This morning, we got up around 5 and spoke with Christine through an online app - it is amazing that all monasteries now have open WiFi! We went to morning prayers and spent some time discussing liturgical matters again with Fr. Baby and Gabriel. Fr. Baby pointed out an interesting phanqitho from the 1700s or 1800s that was brought from Kharput in 1881, according to a colophon. We also studied a Hugoyo volume from the 1700s. Gabriel climbed up the mountain to the monasteries above Deir al-Zaafaran and had an encounter with a big black snake. We will be visiting town and the university later on today.



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