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The Armenian Version of Daniel.

This is the second Armenian version of a book of the Bible to be published in the University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies series, the first being Deuteronomy by Claude Cox (1981). A critical text of Genesis was published in Erevan in 1985. It may surprise those not familiar with the vagaries of the progress of Armenian studies that these represent the first serious scholarly attempts to edit biblical texts since the great 1805 edition of Zohrab. This book is more than an edition of the text; in addition to an extensive discussion of the manuscript tradition in Armenian, it contains valuable chapters on translation technique, the affinities of the Armenian with the Georgian version and the Peshitta, and the citations of Daniel in Armenian literature. Cowe explains in the Preface that this undertaking began as a doctoral thesis, subsequently revised and expanded; it seeks to ~focus attention on the version's contribution to the investigation of Armenia's intellectual and cultural history as on its significance as an embodiment of political and religious trends of the time'. This is a book that must be read not only by those interested in the textual study of the Bible, but also by all students of Armenian literature.

In order to bring order to the vast amount of material, Cowe made sample collations Of 3 passages from I20 manuscripts. Five major groups emerged, none of them predating the Cilician period. The earliest dated manuscript is from 1253-55. Cowe is able to identify the locale and characteristics of these five major groups in the diaspora, which emerged from three text types in Greater Armenia. In the absence of sufficient background investigation of the use of Daniel in earlier Armenian writers, an eclectic critical edition seemed premature. Cowe therefore presents a diplomatic edition of his base manuscript, a representative of his group A which most closely approximates the original. This is Matenadaran 187, written in 1258 at Hromklay on the Euphrates (the site of the Patriarchate from 1147 to 1292), which contains the second half of the Old Testament. (Before the 12th century the Old Testament books circulated in groups, not as one volume.) The text of M187 is reproduced, except for 110 readings in manifest error. The apparatus contains the variants contained in fourteen manuscripts selected as representative of the various groups previously discussed.

Observing that only after the text has been established on internal criteria can comparisons be made between the Armenian tradition as a whole and related versions, Cowe then proceeds to the problems of origin and affinities. The Armenian secondary sources are ambiguous with regard to the first translation (as opposed a later revision on texts brought from Constantinople). A comparison with the Greek, Peshitta, and Old Georgian shows that the first rendering of Daniel was a hybrid: not translated from the Peshitta alone, but containing an interweaving of the Syriac with the Antiochene text. Before its revision on the basis of a Greek text, this original version served as the basis for the Old Georgian rendering.

There are difficulties in using quotations from the Book of Daniel by Armenian authors. In addition to the fact that quotations are easily adapted to fit the context, most Armenian texts have survived only in late codices (often of the seventeenth century or even later). Although there are several allusive reminiscences of Daniel in early writers, the only passages accurately cited indicate that they must have been familiar from liturgical use. But despite the independent transmission history of the readings from Daniel found in the lectionary, breviary, and ritual, there are no distinctive liturgical text types. These few citations confirm that the original translator permitted himself greater freedom with the letter in favour of the sense, whereas the reviser brought the text more closely into verbatim agreement with the Greek text of Constantinople. These conclusions fit well the rather vague information given in Armenian historical texts about the activities of the translators, although Armenian writers were nervous about overt association with Antioch following the condemnation of Theodore of Mopsuestia.

This volume was prepared on a computer as required by the series. Given the complexity of the material more elaborate typesetting would have been extremely expensive. Misprints are rare, but several passages are incoherent - which is probably to be attributed to revision on the computer, rather than revision on a print-out. This book is a notable contribution, not only to our knowledge of the Armenian biblical text but also to the history of early Armenian literature.
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Author:Thomson, Robert W.
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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