A collection of Syriac manuscripts available on-line

If you find other legible images of Syriac manuscripts on-line, please let me know.

I would like to express my gratitude to all those institutions and individuals who have made these resources freely available to all. Prior copyright may exist on some of these Ms images, so it would be best to consult the Ms owners if you intend to do anything with these images other than read them on-line.

Syriac manuscripts available on-line

This selection of Syriac manuscripts includes examples of legible handwritten Syriac texts and also some illuminated pages dating from the 5th century until the 19th century AD. The listing begins with on-line Syriac Ms collections and then some Syriac manuscripts are mentioned individually and placed in chronological order, oldest first:


Authors

Ms title

Ms description & comments


The Schøyen collection

An important private Ms collection which contains 720 Mss from many periods including some Syriac Mss with folio images available on-line.

Biblical, liturgical and patristic Mss are all included in this Melkite Syriac Ms collection.

Sinai Syriac Ms microfilms – note that the list of Mss imaged extends to 2 pages.

In the 1950's the US House of Congress funded an expedition to photograph ancient Mss in the Middle East. Many Syriac Mss were filmed on this occasion, including Mss then housed at St Catharine's Monastery, Sinai and at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. Recently, some of these Sinai Ms microfilms have been digitized by les bibliothèques de l'Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste who have very kindly placed these images on-line. Several catalogues have been written for the Sinai Syriac manuscripts and these are mentioned on the UCL site in the Ms metadata. The catalogue of the Sinai Syriac Mss by Agnes Smith Lewis is available on-line, details:

Lewis, Agnes Smith 1894, ‘Catalogue of the Syriac MSS. in the convent of s. Catharine on Mount Sinai’ Studia Sinaitica 1, C.J. Clay and Sons, London. Link to on-line resource.

A large collection, mainly consisting of hundreds of Syriac liturgical manuscript fragments

The Syriac fragments from Turfan, China

Hundreds of the Turfan Syriac fragments are accessible from this International Dunhuang Project website. To access the Syriac fragments, put the text string: SyrHT into the IDP database search box on the left hand side and press enter. The Syriac fragments are physically located in Berlin.


Bodleian Library Syriac Ms photos

A few selected images are available from nine Syriac Ms and one Mandaic Ms from a larger survey of manuscript conservation status which includes Ms images courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, UK, (see below). The copyright of these images remains with the Bodleian Library, see details on their site. The identifications and descriptions of these Mss are however the work of the present author.

Moshe Bar Kepha, († AD 903)

John Bar Zubi, (13th century)

Birmingham, Birmingham University Library, Mingana Syriac Mss.

Only 11 digitized Mss from the Mingana collection have been put on line here. However, there is an ongoing project to digitize all the Mss in the Mingana collection and to put the whole collection on-line. Highlights are several early copies of the Harklean NT and Ms Syriac 112 which contains the Festal homilies of Moshe Bar Kepha.

Cyriaqos patriarch of Antioch († AD 817).

Gregorius Abu al-Faraj Bar `Ebroyo, Maphrain of the East, († AD 1286).

BYU, digitized Syriac Mss from the Syrian Orthodox Convent of Saint Mark in Jerusalem.

A significant number of Syriac Mss with some Garshuni codices, (Garshuni means the Arabic language written using Syriac letters). The same site also carries a useful catalogue of these filmed Mss written by William Francis Macomber, 2005. Highlights include some old bibles and liturgical Mss from the 9th century onwards and early copies of works by Bar `Ebroyo, including his Aoar Raze (his whole-bible commentary) and his Chronography (an important historical work).

The Syriac Old Testament
(This is the oldest dated Syriac biblical Ms)

BL Add. MS 14425, f. 31

A copy of the first five books of the Bible in Syriac, Amid, Turkey. This Ms is dated 463 or 464 AD. The folio in the image contains Genesis 29.25-30.2.

The Apostle Paul of Tarsus

Schøyen Ms 2530

Probably a 5th, or a very early 6th century Ms of the Pauline epistles originally from St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai where it was, designated Sinai Syriac 3. The Estrangela writing is particularly elegant. It is a fragment from Paul's letter to the Romans; the text opens in Rom8.27b and continues until Rom9.9a exhibiting a number of variants versus the text of the Peshitta as edited by the BFBS. There is an interesting Hugoye article by Andreas Juckel describing this Ms and the important variants it contains.

The Syriac Old Testament

Codex Ambrosianus B. 21
NB: This image is very large: 530 MBytes.

A prestigious, folio size Ms of the Syriac OT in the Peshitta version which originates from the Monastery of the God-Bearer, also known as Dier Al-Suryani (Arabic: “The Monastery of the Syrians”) situated in the Wadi Nitrun in the desert of Scetis south of Alexandria, Egypt. In addition to the usual books, the Ms includes some of the OT Apocrypha and even a copy of book VI of Josephus' Jewish War at the end. The writing is a very elegant Estrangela book hand of the 6th century AD, arranged in three columns per side. There are only five missing folios which are noted in the Latin preface. The images are taken from the facsimile edition published by A. M. Ceriani, 'Translatio Syro Pescitto Veteris Testamenti ex codice Ambrosiano' which was published in Milan: Angeli della Croce, 1876-1881. The manuscript contains 330 folios and all surviving Ms folios have been imaged from this edition. An electronic version of the canonical Syriac OT books can also be found on the CAL database courtesy of the Peshitta Institute, Leiden.

Luke the Evangelist -
Book of Acts

University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection
Ms. 716

A large fragment of the book of Acts written in an elegant East Syrian Estrangela script and dating from the 6th or 7th century AD. The folios appear to be numbered in reverse order, but they are easily legible. The Ms reflects the Peshitta text, with very few variants compared to the Bible Society edition.
The vowel points used in this Ms and the vowels themselves, indicate that this is a Ms of the Church of the East. It is one of the earliest eastern Syriac Ms I have ever seen.

Gregory bishop of Nazianzus

London BL Add 14548

A work on 'the holy light' by Gregory Theologos, bishop of Nazianzus translated from Greek into Syriac and written in a handsome regular Serto script. The Ms has a colophon which states that it was completed in the month of Tammuz in the year of the Greeks 1101 which equates to July, AD 790. This link is currently broken, but the folio is visible on-line. It appears as Plate VIII in volume 3 of Wright's catalogue of the London manuscripts as digitized by the Microsoft Corporation, (but not in the other digital copy).

Old Testament book of Job & the book of Exodus

Paris Syriac Ms 341 f. 46R
Paris Syriac Ms 341 f. 8R

Some lines from the Peshitta version of the book of Job chapter 1.1, 6, 7a with high resolution images of illuminated Syriac Ms pages. The second shot has the first few words from the book of Exodus. The Syriac text is written in an Estrangela book hand from the 7th or 8th centuries AD. For further details, see F. Nau, "Notice des manuscrits syriaques, éthiopiens et mandéens, entrés à la Bibliothèque Nationale depuis l'édition des catalogues (syriaque 289-355)", Revue de l'Orient chrétien 2e série, tome VI (XVI), 1911, p. 271-310. My thanks to Dr. Françoise Briquel Chatonnet who kindly provided this reference.

Paul of Tarsus
Extracts from the epistles

University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection
Ms. 829

Two folios extracted from a NT manuscript dating from the 7th or 8th century AD. One folio (labelled f. 134a) begins with the text of the Peshitta at Romans 7.19, (there are minor variants versus the Peshitta visible). The second imaged folio, from nearer the end of the codex, (but numbered f. 101a) begins with 1Peter 1.9.

Liturgical prayers

Codex Armenicus Rescriptus, Ms 575

A Syriac palimpsest Ms from Sinai included on a French language site. The Syriac prayers are written in an Estrangela script of the 8th or 9th century as the over-writing above a 6th century Armenian Ms.

John Chrysostom in Syriac translation

Schøyen Ms 574

A Ms originally from the St Catherine Monastery, Mt Sinai. A 9th century Ms of John Chrysostom's commentary on the gospel of John. The chevron marks in the margins indicate scriptural quotations.

Addai the Apostle

Schøyen Ms 1644

Syriac written on papyrus using the Serto script. A 9th or 10th century Ms originally from Dier Al-Suryani, Nitria, Egypt. A fragment from the preaching of Addai the Apostle.

Syriac NT

Khabouris Codex

A Ms of the Syriac NT in the Peshitta version. The oldest part of the Ms is written in an Eastern Estrangela handwriting of about the 10th century AD. Every opening of this Ms seems to be available on-line and most of the text is legible.

Melkite Hermologion

Schøyen Ms 577

A Ms originally from the St Catherine Monastery, Mt Sinai. This Ms dates from about the 11th century. The right hand page discusses the creation and mentions the first few verses in Genesis.

The Apostle Paul of Tarsus

Schøyen Ms 2080 or try:
An alternative source

The NT in East Syrian Ms written using the Estrangela script. More or less fully vocalized. The angular Estrangela handwriting would indicate a codex dating from about the 12th century AD. The text shown is a fragment from the end of 1 Corinthians and the beginning of 2 Corinthians.

Liturgical hymns

Bodleian Ms. Dawkins 40

Survey number 99. I have now had the time to consult this Ms and to check its description in the catalogue by Payne-Smith 1864. It is a Melkite collection of rites for the month of Illul, (September) written in an East Syrian Serta script, dating from about the 12th century. The images show one hymn and part of another. The terminology used in the first song is particularly archaic, drawing as it does from the ancient Syriac gospel tradition, rather than from the Peshitta version. An enlarged image of the first page can be found here.

Syriac gospels

Bodleian Ms. Huntingdon 587

Survey number 172. According to Payne-Smith 1864 col. 90, this codex is a 12th century lectionary of the four gospels in the Peshitta version. The Ms is written on paper, using a regular West Syrian Serto script. Several legible pages are provided. The gospel readings are arranged according to the liturgical calendar for the whole year.

Hippocrates

Paris Arab Ms 6754

Hippocates translated from Syriac into Arabic by Honian Ibn Ishaq. This Ms is a copy dated AD 1205.
BNF description, “Hippocrate, Aphorismes, ou Kitâb al-Fusûl, traduction par Hunayn b. Ishâq (808-873). Copié par le médecin Bihnam b. al-Haddâd, 1205. Manuscrit sur papier (128 feuillets, 16,5 x 12,5 cm). BnF, Manuscrit (Arabe 6734 fol. 29v- 92v).”

OT & NT Syriac massora
Epiphanius bishop of Salamis
Gregory bishop of Nazianzus
Jacob bishop of Edessa

Lund University
Medeltidshandskrift 58

There is an on-line description here. This Jacobite Ms was copied in Tikrit, Iraq about AD 1205. Paper codex, 326 ff. All folios are visible, but there is a systematic collation error; Images listed as verso, are in fact the recto sides and vice-versa. Otherwise, the folio numbering seems OK.

Syriac gospel lectionary

BL Add. MS 7170, f. 160 (detail)

An illuminated East-Syriac Gospel Lectionary, Northern Iraq, dated AD 1216–20. Holy Women at the Tomb

Syriac NT lectionary

Borgia Syriac Ms 13

A liturgical lectionary of the gospels and the Pauline epistles written as part of an Euchologion according to the Melkite rite. The script is a neat regular Melkite Serto of the 13th century AD. The lections shown are from Paul's letter to the Philippians and from Luke's gospel. The image opens in Phil2.7b and this lection ends with 2.11 and the reading is taken from the Peshitta version. This is followed by a lection from Lk10.38-42 where the reading agrees mostly with the Peshitta, but there are some significant variants.
This interesting photo can be found in the Zinda magazine archive. If you have an image editor, this opening of the Ms from f. 49b to f. 50a can be made comfortably legible by cropping the shot, rotating it right through 145 degrees and finally by skewing the image.
This is now a Vatican Syriac Ms, which along with thirty two others has been digitized and published on a DVD by the Brigham Young University in collaboration with the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, (2005). This is an excellent DVD which makes many Syriac manuscripts available for a very reasonable price. Other example folios from two more Mss can be found listed below.

Syriac gospels

Bodleian Ms. Can. Or. 130

Survey number 13. The Ms can be found by using the 'damaging repairs' link. From the available images and the description in Payne-Smith 1864, this codex is a 12-14th century set of the Four Gospels and a part of the Acts in the Peshitta version written in a regular West Syrian Serto. The codex is written on paper. Links for several legible pages are as follows; first, second, third, fourth image. According to Payne-Smith, col. 77, the gospel readings are taken from the Harclean version.

NT lectionary

Bodleian Ms. Huntingdon 133

Survey item 146. This appears to be a mediaeval West Syrian Ms with an arrangement of readings from the gospels and from the Pauline epistles. The codex is written on paper and the script is a neat West Syrian Serto approximately dating from the 14th or 15th centuries. The right hand page until the top of the left hand page has a reading from 1 Corinthians 12.28 – 13.3 in the Peshitta version. After this, there follows part of a reading from the gospel of Luke 9.1-5 in the Harklean version, (see the edition by Kiraz, 'Comparative edition of the Syriac Gospels', volume 3, page 167 f.). According to Payne-Smith 1864, col. 467, the wider Ms is essentially a priest's manual or missal.

Liturgical hymns

Bodleian Ms. Syriac d. 35

Survey number 436. Owing to the kindness of the conservation department of the Bodleian Library, I have been able to consult this Ms myself and it turned out to be an East Syrian hymn book in very poor condition. The photos show some folios near the end and part of a second hymn from a cycle of 28 hymns also to be found at the end of the East Syrian festival breviary called the Hudhra. The script is a Nestorian Estrangela-Serta hybrid resembling a Ms dated AD 1484 in Hatch, p. 229 and so this Ms would also appear to be 15th century.

`Anan Isho` of Hedhaiyabh

Vatican Syr 83

A page from a paper Ms copy of the East Syrian Hudhra which is dated AD 1538. This Vatican Syriac Ms along with thirty two others have been digitized and published on a DVD by the Brigham Young University in collaboration with the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, (2005).

Unidentified

Bodleian Ms. Syriac f. 1

Survey number 473. A 16th century East Syrian Ms with quotations from the Nativity and the Last Supper accounts found in the gospels.

The East Syrian Beth Gazza

Borgia Syriac Ms 60
Or try an alternative source.

Folio 423a of Borgia Syriac Ms 60, an East Syrian Beth Gazza. This Ms is dated AD 1687 or 1688 and it is an example page from another Ms contained on the Vatican/BYU DVD mentioned above. The page shown announces the services and canons for the festival of the Adorable Cross.

The story of Rabban Hormizd composed by Mar She`mon the disciple of Mar Yozadeq.

Bodleian Ms. Syriac e. 25

Survey number 462. This is an East Syrian Ms in very good condition. Based upon the Serta script type, the Ms dates from the 17th century. One of the images shows the illuminated Ms title page from which I have translated the title reproduced here. This work may have been edited (but I have not yet checked), see 'The histories of Rabban Hormizd the Persian and Rabban Bar Idta' edited by E. A. W. Budge in 3 volumes, 1902






Miscellaneous manuscripts

Sharh d-Parwanaiia, scroll for the Mandaic five-day feast

Bodleian Ms. Syr. f. 2 (R)

Survey number 530. I am grateful to Dr. Erica Hunter who confirms that this a Ms written in Mandaic, another dialect of Aramaic. My thanks are also due to Marek Vinklát for identifying this work. The title of this Ms is written on the second line.

Unidentified

Bodleian Ms. Syr. g. 3 (R)

Survey number 536. An illuminated Syriac scroll with a good luck charm and a childish picture drawn of St George slaying the serpent. Again I am indebted to Dr Erica Hunter who has edited this Ms. She describes it as a 'Book of Protection', i.e. a series of amulets written for a named person. It is dated to the early nineteenth century AD. The text has been published as a commemorative paper in honour of Dr. Sebastian Brock: 'A Scroll Amulet from Kurdistan' in the ARAM Periodical, 5 (1993) 243 – 254. Similar types of amulets can be found in H. Gollancz, 'The Book of Protection'. Other similar roll manuscripts can be found in the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Unidentified

Bodleian Ms. Syr. c. 1

Survey number 686. A few fragments with some indistinct mediaeval West Syrian Syriac writing in the Serto script.

Unidentified

Sinai Syriac 89?

A Sinai Syriac codex written on parchment in an early Estrangela script, but only partially legible and difficult to date. The identification of this codex as Sinai Syriac Ms 89 is very doubtful. Courtesy of the St Catherine Monastery, Sinai.


Return to home page