Simon Magus and Simon Peter in Rome: The Sureth Version of a Late East-Syriac Hymn for the Commemoration of Saints Peter and Paul


A Sureth (Christian North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic) version of an East-Syriac hymn on Simon Magus and Simon Peter in Rome and its late Classical Syriac Vorlage are here published for the first time. The text is part of a small group of hymns on Peter and Rome that belong to the East Syriac liturgy for the commemoration of Saints Peter and Paul. The episode of the public contest and specific narrative details derive from the Syriac History of Simon Cephas, the Chief of the Apostles. These narrative and poetic texts on Peter have their ultimate roots in literary works, such as the Acts of Peter and the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions, that circulated in various languages from the Antiquity onwards and forms the genuine lore of Christian culture, in Europe as well as in Africa and the Near East. More or less consciously adopting a rather narrow-minded, confessional point of view, we are used to label as apocryphal this kind of foundational Christian literature. An attempt is made to contextualize the two versions of the hymn and their text transmission in the histories of both Classical Syriac and Sureth literatures.


Sureth; Neo-Aramaic; Syriac; Simon Magus; St Peter; hymnology; apocrypha

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