The Sogdian Gospel Lectionary C5: new annotated edition with Sogdian-Syriac Glossary

The Sogdian Gospel lectionary C 5 from the Berlin Turfan collection is a unique example of a monoglot lectionary with rubrics and headlines in Syriac. It belongs to a later period, the 9th-10th centuries, when part of the services, such as the readings, was sogdianized. It contains part of the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John intended to be read during the mass. Since he was dealing with a holy text, the translator tried to translate it word for word as faithfully as possible. The result is a Sogdian text which is a very accurate translation of its Syriac sources but which also displays its own features.

Most of the larger fragments of C 5 were published for the first time by Müller in 1913 and then by Sundermann in three articles (1974, 1975, 1981) which completed what Müller had done and also added new fragments. In this new study all fragments will be presented together in transliteration and translation and with philological and linguistic commentary for the first time. Moreover, it adds a new perspective to the analysis of the text by studying it from the viewpoint of “translation literature”. Therefore this work includes an analysis of the Sogdian text in comparison with the original Syriac and a Sogdian-Syriac glossary.

It can be shown that the language of C 5 is de facto a vernacular between its own developments and innovations and the influence of translation literature. On the one hand, we can infer several features concerning phonology, verbal morpho-syntax and nominal morpho-syntax as well as the use of a full Sogdian liturgical terminology which distinguishes this lectionary from most other Christian Sogdian texts. We will demonstrate this process at the example of the use of a Sogdian generic terms or the creation of Sogdian termini ad hoc rather than using Syriac loanwords as termini technici, and also of stylistic choice.
On the other hand, since C 5 is a faithful translation of its Syriac source, it retains the Syriac word-order. The first evident result is an artificial syntax in a language, Sogdian, which is genealogically and typologically different from the Syriac. We also intend to show the reasons for using or avoiding Syriacisms.

Last but not least, this project aims to outline for the first time the main papyrological and palaeographical features of C5 in comparison with other Christians Iranian traditions and, above all, with the Syriac tradition.


Dr. Chiara Barbati


Barbati, Chiara: The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context.
VzI 81/SBph, 874. Band. Wien: Verlag der ÖAW 2016

Barbati, Chiara: “The Emergence of the Allographic Phenomenon within the Christian Sogdian Tradition”, in J. den Heijer, A.B. Schmidt and T. Pataridze (eds.), Scripts beyond Borders. A Survey of Allographic Traditions in the Euro-Mediterranean World, in Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, Vol. 62, Louvain-la Neuve 2013, pp. 177-201.

Barbati, Chiara: “Notes on Christian Sogdian terminology with special references to the Sogdian gospel lectionary C 5”, in The Christians in the East, Conference held in Rome, March 13-14. 09, in Nāme-ye-Irān-e Bāstān, International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies, 11-12, 2011-12, pp. 1-18.

Barbati, Chiara: “The Christian Sogdian manuscript C 5 as an example of translation literature”, in Ancient and Middle Iranian Studies. Proceedings of the 6th European Conference of Iranian Studies, held in Vienna, September 18-22. 07, ed. by M. Macuch, D. Weber and D. Durkin-Meisterernst, Iranica 19, Wiesbaden 2010, pp. 1-10