St Isaac the Syrian: Ascetic Homilies - A Critical Edition by Marcel Pirard

The Ascetic Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian were translated from the original Syriac into Greek at the turn of the 9th century by monks Abramios and Patrikios of St Saba Monastery in Palestine. They were widely read, primarily by monks, and bore crucial influence on all of the spiritual tradition and literature of the Eastern Church. The Ascetic Homilies are preserved in a plethora of manuscripts featuring significant differences. In 1770, Nikephoros Theotokis published an edition of the Ascetic Homilies based on two manuscripts. Theotokis’ edition was reprinted in 1895 by Ioakeim Spetsieris; in 1871, Kallinikos Pantokratorinos produced a vernacular version. To this day our knowledge of St Isaac’s work rests on these editions.

The Holy Monastery of Iviron, Mt Athos, entrusted philologist Marcel Pirard with the task of producing a critical edition of these Homilies based on the entire Greek manuscript tradition which would restore the text and bring it as close as possible to that of the first translators. The task of publishing the volume was entrusted to Domos Editions.

St Isaac’s Ascetic Homilies appear for the first time in a critical edition, where the text is supported by a critical apparatus listing diverse readings found in Greek manuscripts, and testimonia listing quotations from works of church and secular literature.Moreover, the Syriac manuscript tradition has been explored and significant readings of the critical Greek text that still differ from the Syriac have
been pointed out in the footnotes. The critical edition of the text comes with an extensive and thorough introduction which includes: a) Life of St Isaac b) Examination and theology of the sources c) Discussion of the Syriac original, early translations and the language of the Greek translation d) History of the Greek text with description of manuscripts d) Editorial principles. Five homilies attributed to St Isaac and included in certain manuscripts are presented in an Annex.

Source: Holy Monastery of Iviron, Mt. Athos