The Syriac “Cave of Treasures”The author of the "Cave of Treasures" called his work "The Book of the order of the succession of Generations (or Families)," the Families being those of the Patriarchs and Kings of Israel and Judah; and his chief object was to show how Christ was descended from Adam. He did not accept the genealogical tables which were commonly in use among his unlearned fellow-Christians, because he was convinced that all the ancient tables of genealogies which the Jews had possessed were destroyed by fire by the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's army immediately after the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The Jews promptly constructed new tables of genealogies, which both Christians and Arabs regarded as fictitious. The Arabs were as deeply interested in the matter as the Christians, for they were descended from Abraham, and the genealogy of the descendants of Hagar and Ishmael was of the greatest importance in their sight, and it is due to their earnest desire to possess correct genealogical tables of their ancestors that we owe the Arabic translations of the "Cave of Treasures." The Nubians and Egyptians were also interested in such matters, for the former were the descendants of Kûsh, and the latter the descendants of Mizraim, and Ham was the great ancestor of both these nations. And it is clear that Syrians, Arabs, Egyptians and Ethiopians regarded the "Cave of Treasures" as an authoritative work on their respective pedigrees.
In the title "Cave of Treasures" which was given to the "Book of the order of the succession of Generations" there is probably a double allusion, namely, to the Book as the storehouse of literary treasures, and to the famous Cave in which Adam and Eve were made to dwell by God after their expulsion from Paradise, and which by reason of the gold, and frankincense, and myrrh that was laid up in it, is commonly called "The Cave of Treasures" (in Syriac, Me`ârath Gazzê, in Arabic, Ma`ârah al-Kanûz, and in Ethiopic, Ba`âta Mazâgebet).
The Syriac "Cave of Treasures" tells us very little about the real Cave, which was situated in the side of a mountain below Paradise, and nothing about Adam and Eve's way of life there. But in the "Book of Adam and Eve" the whole of the first main section is devoted to details of the physical Cave. The "Cave of Treasures" was introduced to the world by Giuseppe Simone Assemani, the author of the Catalogues of Oriental Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, which he printed in Bibliotheca Orientalis in four thick volumes folio. In Vol. ii. page 498 he describes a Syriac manuscript containing a series of apocryphal works, and among them is one the title of which he translates Spelunca Thesaurorum. He saw that the manuscript contained the history of 5,500 years, from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ, and that it was based upon the Scriptures. He says that fables are found in it everywhere, especially concerning the antediluvian Patriarchs, and the genealogy of Christ and His Mother. He mentions that the Patriarch Eutychius alo describes a cave of treasures in which gold, frankincense, and myrrh were laid up, and refers to the "portentosa feminarum nomina," women of Jesus' ancestry. That the Syriac "Cave of Treasures" was known and used by Solomon, Bishop of Perâth Maishân (Al-Basrah) in 1222 is proved by the earlier chapters of his work the Book of the Bee. (The Book of the Bee is a collection of theological and historical texts compiled by Solomon of Akhlat in the thirteenth century. The book consists of 55 chapters discussing various topics including the creation, heaven and earth, the angels, darkness, paradise, Old Testament patriarchs, New Testament events, lists of kings and patriarchs, and the final day of resurrection. Solomon of Akhlat was a bishop of the Church of the East during the thirteenth century. He was bishop of Basrah, Iraq, and was present at the consecration of Catholicos Sabr Isho in 1222. The book was originally written in Syriac and has been translated into English and Arabic.) He excerpted from it many of the legends of the early Patriarchs, although his object was not to write a table of genealogical succession, but a full history of the Christian Dispensation according to the views of the Nestorians. The best manuscript of the "Cave of Treasures" which we have to the Nestorians, for Brit. Mus. MS. Add. 25875, was written by a Nestorian scribe in the Nestorian village of Alkôsh, and was bound up by him in a volume which included a copy of the "Book of the Bee," whose author, Solomon, was the Nestorian Bishop of Al-Basrah early in the 13th century.
This text is attributed to Ephrem Syrus, who was born at Nisibis soon after AD 306 and died in 373, but it is now generally believed that its current form is 6th century or newer.
The assertion that the Cave of Treasures was written in the 4th century is supported by the general contents of the work. These reproduce Ephraim's quaint and sometimes fanciful methods of exegesis and supply many examples of his methods in religious argument, with which we are familiar from his other writings. His pride in the antiquity of the Syriac language also appears in this work. That it was written in Mesopotamia by a Syrian, there is no doubt, and if Ephraim was not the author, the original author, or perhaps later editor, belonged to the school of Ephraim.
The oldest Christian work on the history of God's dealing with man from Adam to Christ is probably the anonymous Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, which, in its original form, is from the 5th or 6th century AD. The writer of the Cave of Treasures borrowed largely from the Conflict of Adam and Eve, or shared a common source with it.
Encyclopedia of Syriac Literature
Check out this excellent web-site:
First through 3rd Century AD
- The Diatessaron
- The Old Syriac Gospels
- Bardaisan and the Book of the Laws of the Countries.
- The Odes of Solomon
- The Acts of Thomas
- Pseudo-Melito's Apology
- The Syriac Sentences of Menander
- The Letter of Mara
- The Story of the 'Aramaean sage' Ahikar
The 4th Century
- Aphrahat (Aphraates, 'Jacob of Nisibis')
- Ephrem (Ephraim Syrus)
- Liber Graduum (The Book of Steps)
- John the Solitary (John of Apamea)
- Anonymous prose hagiography
- Marutha of Maiperkat
- Isaac of Seleucia-Ctesiphon
- Jacob of Serugh (W)
- Simeon the Potter (W)
- Philoxenus (W)
- Isaac of Antioch -- a name covering more than one person
- Symmachus (W)
- Joshua the Stylite (W) - author of an eyewitness Chronicle of the Persian war of Anastasius.
- Stephen bar Sudhaili (W) - a pantheist
- Sergius of Resh`aina (W) - the translator
- Simeon of Beth Arsham (W) - wrote to those persecuted by Jewish Arabs in Yemen
- Elias (W)
- Daniel of Salah (W)
- Thomas of Edessa (E)
- Cyrus of Edessa (E)
- The Chronicle of Edessa (W)
- John of Ephesus (W) - Justinian's evangelist to pagans. Author of two histories
- Peter of Kallinikos (W)
- Zacharias Rhetor (W)
- Abraham of Nathpar (E)
- Anonymous literature of the 6th century
- Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya (E)
- Barhadbeshabba of Halwan (E)
- Shubhalmaran (Subhalmaran) (E)
- Babai the Great (E)
- Martyrius (Sahdona) (E) - Tried to introduce ideas of Chrysostom.
- Isho`yahb II (E)
- John of the Sedre (W)
- Marutha (W)
- Gregory of Cyprus (E) - A Persian monk who spent time in Cyprus
- Anonymous literature of the early 7th century
Second half of the 7th century
- Severus Sebokht (W) - greatest scientist and astronomer of his day
- Gabriel of Qatar (E)
- Abraham bar Lipeh of Qatar (E)
- The Khuzistan Chronicle (E) - covers end of Sassanid and start of Arab periods.
- Isho`yahb III (E)
- Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian) (E) - most influential Syrian ascetic writer in the Greek and Latin west.
- Shem'on the graceful (Shem'on d-Taybutheh) (E)
- Dadisho' (E)
- John bar Penkaye (E) - world history includes eye-witness account of Arab conquest
- The Apocalypse of Methodius
- Hagiography of the 7th century
- Jacob of Edessa (=James of Edessa) (W) - translator from Greek
- George, bishop of the Arab tribes (W) - pupil of Severus Sebokht
- The Diyarbekir Commentary (E)
- Sergius the Stylite of Gusit (W) - apologist against the Jews
- Elia (E)
- John of Dalyatha (=John Saba) (E)
- Joseph Hazzaya, "the seer" (E)
- Abraham bar Dashandad, "the lame" (W)
- The Chronicle of Dionysius of Tel-Mahre (Chronicle of Zuqnin) (W)
- Theodore bar Koni (E) - Author of the Liber scholiorum
- Job of Edessa (E)
- John of Dara (W)
- Isho`dad of Merv (E)
- Nonnus (W)
- Antony of Tagrit (W)
- Ps.George of Arbela (E)
- Thomas, bishop of Marga (E) - Author of the Book of the Governors
- Isho`dnah (E)
- The anonymous commentary on the Old and New Testament (E)
- Moshe bar Kepha (W)
- Chronicle of Seert
- Dionysius bar Salibi (Dionysius Syrus / Jacob bar Salibi) (W)
- Elijah III Abu Halim (E)
- Michael the Great (Michael the Syrian) (W) - Author of a massive Chronicle
- John bar Zo`bi (E)
- Solomon of Bosra (E)
- Giwargis Warda (E)
- The Chronicle of 1234 (W)
- Jacob Severus bar Shakko (W)
- Gregory Barhebraeus (Bar'ebroyo / Abu 'L Faraj / Gregorius Abulpharagius) (W)
Syriac is displaced by Arabic in the West in this period.
- `Abdisho` bar Brika (Ebed Jesu) (E) 1250-1318 AD. - wrote list of Syriac writers
- Khamis bar Qardahe (E) Late 13th/early 14th century.
- Dioscorus of Gozarto (E) Late 13th/early 14th century.
- The History of Yahballaha and Rabban Sauma (E). Soon after 1317.
- Timothy II (E) Died 1353 AD.
15th century writers
- The priest Isaiah of Bet Sbirina (=Tur 'Abdin) and his son Yeshu (West Syriac/Monophysite; died. 1492). Some of the poems of Isaiah describe contemporary events, including the devastations of Timur Leng who died in 1407.
- Ishaq Qardahe Sbadnaya (East Syriac/Nestorian) wrote in the middle of the 15th century. His works include several acrostic 'Onyata, a 12-syllable poem on the Divine Economy, together with a prose commentary containing many quotations from earlier writers.
- Mas'ud of Tur 'Abdin (West Syriac/Monophysite) wrote a theological poem The Spiritual Ship at the end of the 15th century. The work is a collection of lectures, written so that the monks "should arrive safely in the port ... of heaven." (A Latin translation exists of this).
- There are three important poets at the end of the 15th/start of the 16th century: the Patriarch Nuh (West Syriac/Monophysite; d. 1509), David 'the Phoenician' (West Syriac/Monophysite), and Sargis bar Wahle (East Syriac/Nestorian). Sargis wrote a verse life of Rabban Hormizd, of which an English translation exists.
Late 16th - early 17th century writers
Modern Syriac writing begins in this period. Several poems written in the dialect of Alqosh are extant today. But otherwise there is little original writing again until the 19th century.
In this period there were two outstanding writers, and also some translations from western texts into Syriac.
- The Chaldaean patriarch Joseph II (East Syriac/Nestorian; d. 1731) resided in Amida(=Diarbekir) and wrote The Magnet and The Shining Mirror which both circulated widely in manuscript.
- Metropolitan Basileios Shem'un of Tur 'Abdin (West Syriac/Monophysite; martyred in 1740) wrote a Book of Theology in 1714; a verse work on theological topics called The Ship of Mysteries in 1727/9; The Armour of Thanksgiving and Hope of Faith in 1723, which was translated into Arabic; and many homilies and poems. He also compiled a Syriac dictionary based on the late 10th century one by Bar Bahlul.
Several western texts were translated into Syriac in this period.
American missionaries arrived at Urmiah and set up a press there, printing Syriac texts. This led to a revival of Modern Syriac, and it became quite widely used as a written language.
Literary activity in Syriac revived greatly in the late 19th century. Notable figures include:
- T'omo Audo, Chaldaean metropolitan of Urmia (East Syriac/Nestorian; 1853-1917) who compiled a very valuable Syriac-Syriac dictionary (1896, reprinted 1985) among other things.
- The Syrian Catholic Patriarch Rahmani (West Syriac/Catholic; 1848-1929)
- The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ephrem Barsaum (West Syriac/Monophysite; 1887-1957)
- Metropolitan Philoxenus Yuhanon Dolabani (West Syriac/Monophysite; 1885-1969) who translated two works from Arabic into Syriac: Barsaum's important History of Syriac literature and Paulos Behnam's drama Theodora.
In the 20th century some secular works have also been composed. Na'um Fa'yeq (West Syriac/Monophysite; 1868-1930) was one of the first to do this. He founded the periodical Start of the East in 1908.
Various secular western works have also been translated into Syriac:
- Bernardin de Saint Pierre, Paul et Virginie, a romantic novel, was translated by Paulos Gabriel (West Syriac/Monophysite; d. 1971) and Ghatta Maqdasi Elyas (West Syriac/Monophysite) and published in 1955 under the title Myatruto (=Virtue).
- Racine's play Athalie was translated by Abrohom Isu (Baghdad, 1978).
- Machiavelli, The Prince was translated by Gabriel Afram (Sweden, 1995).
There is still a considerable amount of writing in Classical Syriac, in both prose and verse, both in the Middle East and among Syriac-speaking communities around the world.
These notes from Brock's Brief Outline.
Jesus was married Papyrus fragment
I still don't believe it. The report admitted that a master forger could have made the ink and applied it to the manuscript. The manuscript is too small to date test the ink. It has always been known that the papyrus is real-they haven't proven that the writing isn't a modern forgery. This is exactly what the conspiracy folks want. How come they find a "Jesus is Married" writing-but we haven't found a Hebrew Matthew or Discourses upon the Oracles of our Lord by Papias, the Preaching of Peter or some other lost ancient writing? If it is too good to be true-it usually is. Jesus did not marry. If he was married-it would have been in the Bible-or known in some other ancient sources. To my knowledge the Church Fathers did not condemn any heretical group for saying Jesus was married.
The New Blacklist By Patrick J. Buchanan, April 8, 2014-04-09
Whose Side Is God on Now? By Pat Buchanan April 4, 2014
In his Kremlin defense of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin, even before he began listing the battles where Russian blood had been shed on Crimean soil, spoke of an older, deeper bond.Crimea, said Putin, "is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus."Russia is a Christian country, Putin was saying.This speech recalls last December's address where the former KGB chief spoke of Russia as standing against a decadent West:"Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation."Heard any Western leader, say, Barack Obama, talk like that lately?Indicting the "Bolsheviks" who gave away Crimea to Ukraine, Putin declared, "May God judge them."What is going on here?With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God's side. The West is Gomorrah.Western leaders who compare Putin's annexation of Crimea to Hitler's Anschluss with Austria, who dismiss him as a "KGB thug," who call him "the alleged thief, liar and murderer who rules Russia," as the Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins did, believe Putin's claim to stand on higher moral ground is beyond blasphemous.But Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing, and his new claim has a venerable lineage. The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers who exposed Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, was, at the time of his death in 1964, writing a book on "The Third Rome."The first Rome was the Holy City and seat of Christianity that fell to Odoacer and his barbarians in 476 A.D. The second Rome was Constantinople, Byzantium, (today's Istanbul), which fell to the Turks in 1453. The successor city to Byzantium, the Third Rome, the last Rome to the old believers, was — Moscow.Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.Putin is plugging into some of the modern world's most powerful currents. Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America's arrogant drive for global hegemony. Not only in his tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated.He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia's flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a "culture of death."What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes?The West's capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide — the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that she was stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, "They were LGBT.""It was an eye-opening moment," wrote Applebaum. Fear and loathing of the same-sex-marriage pandemic has gone global. In Paris, a million-man Moral Majority marched in angry protest.Author Martha Gessen, who has written a book on Putin, says of his last two years, "Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world."But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia's role, in Putin's words, is to "prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state."Would that be the "chaotic darkness" and "primitive state" of mankind, before the Light came into the world?This writer was startled to read in the Jan-Feb. newsletter from the social conservative World Council of Families in Rockford, Ill., that, of the "ten best trends" in the world in 2013, number one was "Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader."In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers."While the other super-powers march to a pagan world-view," writes WCF's Allan Carlson, "Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12."Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now? - See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/patrick-j-buchanan/whose-side-god-now#sthash.CK58Le1k.dpuf
The New Blacklist
By Patrick J. Buchanan, April 8, 2014-04-09