Page:Compendious Syriac Grammar.djvu/12

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

I had myself noted down in earlier years, from the well-known Nestorian Masora of the year 899 (Wright's Catalogue 101 sqq.) and from the London "Qarqafic" manuscripts (Rosen-Forshall 62 sqq.; Wright 108 sqq.). The deficiency was made up, at least to some extent, by the amiability of Wright, Zotenberg and Guidi, who—in answer to a host of questions about the mode of writing this or that word in the Masoretic manuscripts in London, Paris and Rome—furnished me with information which in many cases had been gained only after prolonged search. A careful collation of the entire Masoretic material, allowing for the chance mistakes of individual scribes, especially if it were accompanied by an attentive observation of good, vocalised manuscripts of the Bible, would let us know pretty accurately and fully how the Jacobites on the one hand, and the Nestorians on the other, were wont to pronounce Syriac in the Church use. Any point in which these two traditions are found to be in agreement must have been in use prior to the separation of the two Churches, that is, at the latest, in the 5th century. Although in the recitative of the Church Service there was doubtless a good deal of artificiality, yet we have in it a reflex at least of the living speech. The Grammar of Jacob of Edessa (circa 700) is unfortunately lost, all but a few fragments. What the later systematisers give, has, generally speaking, no more authority than can be traced to the Church tradition. Even the observant Barhebraeus, towering as he truly does by a head and shoulders over the rest of his countrymen, has not always surveyed this tradition completely, while sometimes he explains it incorrectly. Now and then too, following mere analogy, he presents forms which can with difficulty be authenticated in the genuine speech. Accordingly if here and there I do not notice Barhebraeus' data, I trust it will not be attributed to a want of acquaintance with them on my part. Still less could editions like Bernstein's "Johannes", or Joseph David's "Psalter" (Mosul 1877)—which unfortunately gives an "improved" text of the Peshitā—constitute an absolute authority for me, although I am greatly indebted to them. I need hardly mention that in the matter of vocalisation I have made large use of the well-known complete editions of the Old Testament and the New Testament, and of both the Nestorian