Book Series Berliner Turfantexte, vol. 39

A Syriac Service-Book from Turfan

Museum für asiatische Kunst, Berlin MS MIK III 45

Erica Hunter, J-F Coakley (eds)

  • Pages: 307 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:17 b/w, 111 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, Syriac
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57471-4
  • Paperback
  • Available

An edition and study of an 8th-9th century Syriac manuscript from Bulayïq near Turfan, the earliest extant witness of the Penqita or ḥudra.


Erica Hunter is Senior Lecturer in Eastern Christianity at SOAS, specializing in Christianity in Mesopotamia and its spread through Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan and China. J.F. Coakley is a scholar of Syriac and founder of The Jericho Press.


In 1905, a substantial Syriac manuscript of 60 leaves, containing a Christian service-book, was discovered by the second German Turfan Expedition at the monastery site of Bulayïq. Since then, although the existence of this manuscript (which has received the signature of MIK III 45) has been mentioned from time to time in the scholarly literature, its text has never been published. The present volume offers ‘for the first time’ an edition of the Syriac text, English translation and critical introduction to MIK III 45. The Syriac text is of the Penqita, the book later known as the ḥudra, containing the variable parts of the daily offices and eucharist, to which have been appended some occasional services of the Church of the East, including the burial service. The 60 folios are the surviving part (about one quarter) of a manuscript datable to the eighth or ninth century and, on account of this dating, can be considered to be the earliest extant witness to the Penqita which was the project of the seventh-century patriarch Isho'yab III who drew up the outline for the ecclesiastical year that is still followed today in the Church of the East.  The editors argue that MIK III 45 was probably written in Merv –it would be the only Syriac manuscript known from that Christian centre – for transport to the Christian church in distant Turfan.