Frantsuzov Sergei

Four Deaths of Saint George

Frantsuzov Sergei (2016) "Four Deaths of Saint George ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2016, vol. 49, pp. 87-95 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201649.87-95


The present article is based on two Arab Orthodox versions of the life of St. George: the shorter one, found in a manuscript collection of hagiographic tales dated from the late 18th century AD and kept in the funds of the Academia Romana in Bucharest (B. A. R. Ms. Orientale 365, fol. 217v.7–228r.8) and the larger one, discovered in a manuscript of the National Library of Russia copied in Palestine in the mid-19th century AD (Arab. n. s. 91, fol. 58r, col. 1.1 — 70v, col. 2.8). The author succeeded in establishing that the roots of those two versions, the Coptic recension of that saint’s life as well as of the Arab Islamic legend on him are to be looked for in the Greek hagiographic tradition. All of them belong to the apocryphal group of variants of that tale, in which the motive of four deaths befell to the great martyr by God’s will is inherent. The discovery of two Arab Orthodox versions of that life resulted in reconsideration of the conclusions of the greatest Russian Arabist Ignatius Krachkovsky on the existence of two independent versions of the legend about St. George, genuine Christian and Islamic, and on the lack of any interdependence between Coptic (Copto-Arabic) and Syriac versions of his life. The text of the shorter Arab Orthodox version is examined in detail: as a result some peculiarities of its language and spelling, which are typical in general for the Arab Christian written tradition of the late Middle Ages, are marked out. However a purely phonetic spelling of the numeral arba‘at alaf “four thousand” (with the ta’ at the beginning of the second word) is worthy of noting: it indicates a lower level of the copyist’s literacy.


Arab Orthodox hagiography, St. George, apocryphal versions of his life, his four deaths, language of Arab Christian written heritage


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Frantsuzov Sergei