Braun, Oskar (1862–1931)

Syriac scholar, professor at the University of Würzburg, Germany. Born in Dillingen on the Donau, in Bavaria, Braun studied theology in Munich and was ordained a catholic priest in 1885. Following his ordination, he worked as a chaplain in the German Church of Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome. During this time, he studied Syriac, Armenian, Arabic, and Ethiopic with Ignazio Guidi and laid the ground work for his doctoral dissertation on Mushe bar Kipho’s ‘Book of the Soul’, a German translation of which he published in 1891. After obtaining his doctor’s degree from the University of Munich in 1890, he returned to Rome. In 1894 the University of Würzburg created for him a position as extra-ordinarius professor in Semitic languages and literature. In 1907 he became full professor in Patristics at the same university, from which he retired in 1929.

Much of Braun’s scholarly work focuses on a Syriac ms. (in two volumes) to which Guidi drew his attention in Rome and which contains a collection of authoritative juridical texts of the Ch. of E., i.e., ms. Museo Borgiano K. VI, 4 and 3 (later incorporated into the Vatican Library as Borg. Syr. 82 and 81), a 19th-cent. copy of a 13th- or 14th-cent. ms. from Alqosh (see Synodicon Orientale). Braun’s work on this ms. led to a number of individual studies, e.g., on Papa, Barṣawma of Nisibis, and Marutha of Maypherqaṭ, as well as to his annotated GT of the Acts of the E.-Syr. councils (Das Buch der Synhados [1900]). The French scholar J. B. Chabot studied the same texts and published the Syriac along with a French translation in his Synodicon Orientale (1902). Chabot primarily based his work on the same Roman mss. as Braun, but was able to obtain a second late 19th-cent. copy of the Alqosh ms. Even in the light of Chabot’s more comprehensive edition, Braun’s work retains its value, since the two scholars worked independently of one other.

Another major achievement is Braun’s edition and Latin translation of the letters of the E.-Syr. Cath. Timotheos I (1914–15), again primarily based on ms. Borg. Syr. 81. Only the first volume (39 letters) appeared; the second volume, which would have contained about 20 additional letters, remained unpublished, although some of these letters were published separately by Braun or others. Finally, Braun’s German translation of select Persian martyr acts (1915), based on P. Bedjan’s edition, should be singled out as another of his works that even after nearly a century has not been replaced and continues to be extremely useful.

    Select publications by Braun

    • Moses bar Kepha und sein Buch von der Seele (1891).
    • Das Buch der Synhados oder Synodicon Orientale (1900; repr. 1975).
    • ‘Der Katholikos Timotheos I. und seine Briefe’, OC 1 (1901), 138–52.
    • Ausgewählte Akten persischer Märtyrer. Mit einem Anhang: Ostsyrisches Mönchsleben (Bibliothek der Kirchenväter 22; 1915).
    • Timothei Patriarchae I Epistulae, vol. 1 (CSCO 74–75; 1914–15).

    Secondary Sources

    • A.  Bigelmair, ‘Oskar Braun†’, Literarische Beilage der Augsburger Postzeitung, No. 34 (26 Aug. 1931). (biography)

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Braun, Oskar,” in Braun, Oskar, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Braun, Oskar,” in Braun, Oskar, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Braun, Oskar.” In Braun, Oskar. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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