A Syriac New Testament

I am currently cataloguing the corner of the Senior Library that houses a small collection of books in Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Syriac and Ethiopic, languages that pose a challenge to even the hardiest antiquarian cataloguer. These books come largely from the library of Thomas Marshall (1621-1685), Rector of Lincoln and a remarkable philologist who left over 1,000 books to the College.  Among this collection are 4 of the earliest works printed in Armenian, translations of the Quran and a variety of polyglot editions of parts of the Bible.

The 16th century edition of the Syriac New Testament (the Peshitta version) I recently catalogued is one of these Marshall books. It was printed in Vienna in 1562 and was a re-issue of an earlier edition of 1555 which was the first book printed in Syriac. The text is printed in red and black with woodcuts throughout, two representing the crucifixion and the Pieta. The Lincoln copy is in a 16th century German binding of alum-tawed pigskin over wooden boards, with a panel design (now rather abraded) stamped on both boards. The binding shows the remains of leather clasps.

What is particularly interesting about this copy is the rather heartfelt inscription on the title-page: as this inscription says, the book was the gift of two brothers, Michael and Johannes Hortin, to their teacher, Benedictus Aretius, in 1571. b-3-162Aretius (1505-1574) was a Swiss Protestant theologian who by 1571 was a professor of theology at Bern. He was the author of several books, one of which is in the library at Lincoln and contains a simple woodcut portrait of him. Michael and Johannes Hortin are proving harder to track down: I have found various references that suggest both were scholars of Hebrew, and teachers in their own right, but have yet to find anything conclusive.

The final mystery is at the end of the inscription where a different hand has written the words “12 decembre accepi. M

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s