The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Toward a first edition of Tannous's book

If Jack BV Tannous is planning on making a true book of his epic thesis, I can suggest some corrections in the interim. I mean, besides typoes like "Baghad", and besides updating the references with the last five years of work. Obviously.

In terms of fact, at least a mention of Trajan the Patrician would be fair if we're discussing the contemporary Greeks, especially given that the book does give us Constantine IV's oecumenical council as an example of Greek scholarship; to omit Trajan smacks of ignorance or, worse, of rhetoric. Also: John of Phenek (p. 273) is technically bar Penkaya, son of the man of Phenek; and also I believe he has been more narrowly dated to 686 AD, since Brock's work in 1987 (at least see Hoyland, 200). On that topic, the book dates Kindi's apology to the early 800s based on a 1985 paper; much has been done since then on that topic, too - PS van Koningsveld (2004) suggests the late 800s.

Stylistically: lose the cliches, metaphors, and strained jokes in the text and especially in the chapter-names (yes, we've read "canon fodder" before - many, many times).

I also felt like the author was repeating himself. That quote antiquité post-romaine, une deuxième phase de l’Antiquité is a good one but stuff like that should be brought up earlier. For comparing the Syriac literary tradition to that of the Armenians (and of the Copts), pages 206-7 and their footnote 509 are pretty much all we got; this should be argued more formally. Severus himself (p. 354) rebutted a Greek that the Syrians didn’t know anything – by reference to the “Babylonians” who “were Syrian”, that is Aramaic. [Although I am unsure how much Aramaic survived from the Neo-Babylonian Empire.] Perhaps all of it could be made into an early "apologia" chapter arguing, why Syriac (and not Coptic or Armenian).

UPDATE 9/15/2017: Dimiti E. Afinogenov has his own theories, which I'd thought were compatible with Trajan; but he has since proposed that Trajan was a phantom: "Новые следы патрикия Траяна?" Индоевропейское языкознание и классическая филология 18 (2014), 13-21.

posted by Zimri on 17:41 | link | 0 comments

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