morgan reed's blog

Digitized Syriac Manuscripts at St. Mark's Monastery in Jerusalem

Catalogs and Digitizations

St. Mark's Monastery in Jerusalem houses hundreds of Syriac manuscripts, which have been digitized twice and cataloged at least four different times. For more on the history of this monastery, see the article in e-GEDSH: G. A. Kiraz, Mark, Monastery of St., in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, Electronic., S. P. Brock, Butts, A. M., Kiraz, G. A., and Rompay, L. van, Eds. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2018.

In the late 19th century, Frédéric Macler visited the Monastery of St. Mark to research the mansucript which contained the life of St. Azazel. While looking at the manuscripts, he published a short catalog of 24 manuscripts in Syriac and Garshuni held at the Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem:

Nearly a decade later, Anton Baumstark published a larger catalog of just over 80 of the Syriac and Garshuni manuscripts in three parts in Oriens Christianus:

In 1987/88, as part of an NEH funded project, under the direction of Professor S. Kent Brown, 30 manuscripts were microfilmed. In 1990, W. Macomber created an inventory of microfilmed manuscripts and these digital images have now been placed on the Internet Archive.

In 1994 F. Dolabani wrote a handwritten catalog of 289 of the manuscripts. Unfortunately, his catalog has not yet been made available in the public domain. He organizes his catalog by shelf mark:

More recently, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library has digitized and cataloged the 256 manuscripts available in Dolabani's catalog, making the images available through vHMML. Unfortunately, neither Macler nor Baumstark included the shelf marks of the manuscripts they were cataloging. Therefore, as a result, the numbers in Macler, Baumstark, Macomber, and Dolabani do not match. It will still remain a desideratum to have Baumstark's entries matched to Dolabani's, but we have created a helpful relatable table which coordinates the Macomber numbers with the vHMML entries (based on the shelf mark). Where possible we have also attempted to include Baumstark's and Macler's entries. The Digitized Manuscripts page gives a full listing (with contents) of the manuscript images made available online here.

St. Mark's Monastery Table

Click here to use the SMMJ Table. The columns are as follows (left-to-right):

  1. SMMJ number: This column presents the shelf mark used by Dolabani (and vHMML).
  2. entry: This column contains links to the specific pages of information for individual manuscripts available at
  3. vHMML entry: This column provides the links to the vHMML entry for individual manuscripts.
  4. Microfilm images: This column links to the 1987/88 microfilm images available at the Internet Archive.
  5. Macomber entry: This column links to the individual entries available in Macomber's catalog.
  6. Baumstark entry: This column links to the individual entries available in Baumstark's catalog.
  7. Macler entry: This column links to the individual entries available in Macler's short catalog.

If you would like to contribute links to Baumstark's and Dolabani's catalog, or to suggest a comment or correction, please contact us

Our New 'Digitized Manuscripts' Page

The idea

I was asked to prepare a translation of one of Mar Narsai's homilies earlier this year which prompted me to search for which manuscripts contained the particular homily I was translating. I looked first at our manuscript catalogs page, then at E-Ktobe, and finally at the Russian State University for the Humanities. All these resources provided a great list of collections which are digitally available online. Even with all this information, there was great difficulty in finding an author or a work amidst the available manuscripts online (not to mention the amount of time that it would take). I began to think about ways that might be able to expand the manuscript catalogs page in a way which provides easier access to manuscript contents available online.  

Digitized Manuscripts Page

Because I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the throes of writing my dissertation, a desideratum of my own research was to have a way to search the contents of available manuscripts. To aid my own research and help others who work in similar academic fields, we created searchable tables that grant easy access to the digitized collections, dates, shelf-marks, and contents of individual manuscripts which are freely available online. You will find these tables on our new page of digitized manuscripts. You will notice that we have honored each of the digital collections by including the logo of those who house the images and this logo links directly to the digitized manuscript. 

We have included the entirety of most digital collections available online, but the collections of vHMML and the Dunhuang Project will be ongoing because of the sheer number of manuscripts in these collections. As far as possible, I included in each entry a link to each manuscript's corresponding catalog record for ease of access. For many of the manuscripts which were previously uncatalogued (especially liturgical texts) we have made a quick list of their contents, however, there still remain several manuscripts which are still uncatalogued and this is exactly why this type of resource should be made available freely to the scholars who have the capability of cataloging these manuscripts. This page creates a dialog so that scholars across various fields can help one another succeed.

If you catalog any of the manuscripts and would like to share the contents, or if you find any errors or have comments about a manuscript, please let us know through our contact form.

New Editions in Progress Table

We have made some exciting changes to our Editions in Progress table: The new table is sortable by author, edition/translation, editor/translator, language of translation, institution and whether or not the work has been published. There is now a search function to the top-left of the table which searches the content of the table by keyword. One of the helpful new additions to this table is the ability to keep records for published works. We will now preserve this data rather than deleting records once an item is published.

New Chronicles of Bar Hebraeus Page

I am excited to announce that our new "Chronicles of Bar Hebraeus" page has gone live at It is found in the menu of links between "Councils and Canon Law" and "Chronicles and Hagiography".

Bar Hebraeus (1226–86) wrote two major Chronicles (the Chronicon Syriacum and the Ecclesiastical History) covering the history of the world and the history of the church. After his death, others took up his labors and the histories stretch into the 16th century. His works are available in Syriac and Latin in the public domain and our new Chronicles of Bar Hebraeus page breaks each work down by paragraph, creating a robust table of contents with hyperlinks to a corresponding page of Syriac/Latin. For the Chronicon Syriacum, W. Budge has completed an English translation which is not yet fully available in the public domain and therefore the page makes hyperlinks available to the transcribed portions which exist online. 

If you discover any errors or hyperlinks that are incorrect, please let us know through our contact form.

New Chronicle of Seert Page

The Chronicle of Seert, though extant in Arabic, has been included at because it preserves a glimpse of Persian and Byzantine history from the 5-7th centuries through the lens of Christians in late antique Iraq. Addai Scher has edited this document in four parts and given a translation into French. Our Chronicle of Seert page has compiled all four parts of Scher's work into one page and we have provided a translation of the French titles into English. Scher's edition has provided many helpful cross-references to various outside works or to parallel material in other Syriac-speaking chroniclers. As far as we were able, the cross-references have been placed next to chapter titles with hyperlinks to the appropriate page numbers.

If you discover any errors or hyperlinks that are incorrect, please let me (Morgan) know through our contact form here.

Plerophories of John Rufus

This is a short note to say that we have recently translated the titles of Nau's version of the Plerophories of John Rufus in our Hagiography page. The text is taken from F. Nau, Jean Rufus. Évêque de Maïouma: Plérophories. Patrologia Orientalis, 8 (Paris, 1912). Pages 5-206. The titles have been translated from French to English and hyperlinks have been created for each chapter. If you find any errors, please let me (Morgan) know through the contact form here.

Keep your eyes out for our Chronicle of Seert page which will be coming shortly!

Subscribe to RSS - morgan reed's blog