21 September 2023
Aaron Butts will speak at the The Text and Transmission Joint Research Seminar (TeTra), hosted at the University of Leuven, on September 21, 2023, on "The Ethiopic Version of the Life of Abraham of Qidun (CPG 3937): A New Trajectory in the Ethiopic Reception of Syriac Literature" (also streamed online).
A sizeable body of Ethiopic literature is attributed to Syriac authors and/or ultimately goes back to Syriac originals, including texts associated with Aphrahaṭ (fl. 336–345), Ephrem (d. 373), Jacob of Serugh (d. 521), Philoxenos of Mabbug (d. 523), Isaac of Nineveh (seventh century), Dadishoʿ Qaṭraya (seventh century), John of Dalyatha (eighth century), Theodore bar Koni (eighth century), and Ishoʿdad of Merv (ninth century), not to mention a number of anonymous texts. As a rule, Arabic served as the bridge by which Syriac texts reached Ethiopic. In this paper, I present an Ethiopic version of a Syriac text that has until now remained virtually unknown: the Life of Abraham of Qidun (CPG 3937). I argue that the Ethiopic version of the Life of Abraham of Qidun was translated from Greek during Late Antiquity and therefore that it is the proverbial exception that proves the rule in the Ethiopic reception of Syriac literature, in that it was transmitted from Syriac to Ethiopic via Greek (instead of via Arabic, like all other known cases). The research presented in this paper has been carried out within the context of the ERC-funded project “BeInf – Beyond Influence: The Connected Histories of Ethiopic and Syriac Christianity” and in close collaboration with Ted Erho, who inter multa alia is to be credited with discovering the Ethiopic version of the Life of Abraham of Qidun.