Book Series Berliner Turfantexte, vol. 42

An Ascetic Miscellany: The Christian Sogdian Manuscript E28

Nicholas Sims - Williams (ed)

  • Pages: 396 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:35 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2017

Out of Print
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57878-1
  • Paperback
  • Out of Print

Edition of Christian Sogdian manuscript in Syriac script E28 discovered in Turfan


« Comme tous les travaux de l’A. publiés dans cette collection, il s’agit d’une édition référente qui vient aussi apporter de nouvelles lectures et des précisions par rapport aux publications précédentes. » (Florence Jullien, dans Abstracta Iranica, 40-41, 2019)



Nicholas Sims-Williams is an Emeritus Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies at SOAS, specializing in Iranian and Central Asian philology, Christian and Manichaean texts from Central Asia.


The Christian Sogdian manuscripts in Syriac script which were found at a Central Asian outpost of the “Church of the East”, the monastery at Bulayïq in the Turfan oasis, and are now preserved in the Berlin Turfan collection, include a large number of fragments in a distinctive handwriting which have been catalogued under the designation “E28”. Through his choice of texts to translate or to copy the scribe demonstrates his interest in the practice and traditions of monasticism, originating with St Anthony and the other “Desert Fathers”, the solitaries and monks of the Egyptian desert, and transplanted to Mesopotamia and Iran, according to legend, by Mār Awgen (Eugenius). In addition to works whose Syriac sources have been identified, such as passages from the spiritual writings of Šemʿon d-Ṭaibuteh, Isaac of Nineveh and Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā, as well as from the life of Mār Awgen, “E28” contains a number of unidentified texts, also no doubt translated from Syriac, many of which deal with aspects of the ascetic life. This volume contains an edition and translation of all the texts, most of them previously unpublished, together with a commentary, glossary and 35 plates. An appendix contains critical editions of some of the parallel Syriac passages.