Denḥa (9th cent.?) [Ch. of E.]

Author of a commentary on the Psalms. On the basis of remarks by Yoḥannan bar Zoʿbi, Wright and Baumstark identify Denḥa as a disciple of Ishoʿ bar Nun, placing him in the first half of the 9th cent. His only extant work is a commentary on the Psalms, which along with the commentary by Ishoʿdad of Merv is an important witness to E.-Syr. interpretation of the Psalms. The earliest ms. of the commentary, Paris Bib. Nat. Syr. 367 (dated 1252; formerly Siirt 29), identifies two authors: ‘Rabban Denḥa, but others say Rabban Grigor, monk of Gamre.’ This double attribution, found in all the extant mss., seems to refer to a new edition of Denḥa’s commentary by the monk Grigor of Gamre, who is otherwise unknown, with the additions having been made in red ink. Van Rompay has shown that the Denḥa-Grigor commentary is in fact an expanded form of the anonymous Psalm commentary found in ms. Sachau 215 (dated 1882), both commentaries preserving elements of the exegesis of the Psalms by Theodore of Mopsuestia. The Denḥa-Grigor commentary was supplemented by material ascribed to Aḥob Qaṭraya and has been preserved in mss. that incorporate, in whole or in part, other works on the Psalms, notably a Book on the Cause of the Psalms of Mar Aḥob Qaṭraya, an introduction to the Psalms by Nathniel of Sirzor (ca. 600), and one of Ishoʿ bar Nun’s ‘Selected Questions’ (dealing with Ps. 119). The commentary appears to have been popular in the E.-Syr. tradition and is found in a number of 19th-cent. mss. (e.g., ms. Mingana Syr. 58 and ms. Cambridge Univ. Libr. Or. 1318). Echoes of the Denḥa-Grigor commentary are found in W.-Syr. commentaries on the Psalms by Dionysios bar Ṣalibi (factual commentary) and Bar ʿEbroyo. A  few extracts of the Denḥa-Grigor commentary dealing with messianism have been published by Vandenhoff.

    Primary Sources

    • B.  Vandenhoff, Exegesis Psalmorum, imprimis messianicorum, apud Syros Nestorianos (1899), 19–63 (Syr.), 30–60 (LT).

    Secondary Sources

    • Baumstark, Literatur, 220.
    • W.  Bloemendaal, The headings of the Psalms in the East Syrian Church (1960), 16.
    • F.  Briquel-Chatonnet, Manuscrits syriaques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (1997), 38–9.
    • C.  Leonhard, Ishodad of Merw’s exegesis of the Psalms 119 and 139–147. A study of his interpretation in the light of the Syriac translation of Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary (CSCO 585; 2001).
    • C.  Van  den  Eynde, Commentaire d’Išoʿdad de Merv sur l’Ancien Testament. VI. Psaumes (CSCO 434; 1981), xxxiii–xxxvii.
    • L.  Van  Rompay, Théodore de Mopsueste. Fragments syriaques du Commentaire des Psaumes (Psaumes 118 et Psaumes 138–148) (CSCO 436; 1982), v–xiv.
    • L.  Van  Rompay, ‘Development of biblical interpretation in the Syrian Churches of the Middle Ages’, in Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: The History of its Interpretation, ed. M. Sæbø et al., I.2 (2000), 572.
    • Wright, Short History of Syriac Literature, 218–9.


How to Cite This Entry

Stephen D. Ryan, O.P., “Denḥa,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Denha.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Stephen D. Ryan, O.P., “Denḥa,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Denha.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Ryan, Stephen D.O.P. “Denḥa.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. 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. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Denha.

A TEI-XML record with complete metadata is available at https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Denha/tei.

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