Yawsep d-Beth Qelayta (ca. 1870–1952) [Ch. of E.]

Printer, educator, and scholar. Yawsep came from the village of Marbishu in Hakkari. He was educated by the English mission in Urmia and ordained deacon ca. 1894 by the Matran Mar Isḥaq Ḥenanishoʿ. He taught in the mission school, copied manuscripts (the earliest of his copies for one of the mission clergy, David Jenks, is dated 1891), prepared texts for the press, and learned practical printing. In 1901 he left for the United States (where his activities are unrecorded), but had returned to Urmia by 1906 when an article on divorce law under his name was published in the first issue of the newspaper Kawkba. In 1909 he was the secretary of the ‘Patriarchal Church Committee’ in Urmia. In 1910 he went to England and formed a connection with the Trinitaran Bible Society of London, who reprinted the Urmia edition of the Peshitta Old Testament under his nominal editorship, and supported his ‘Bible Training School’ in Qurana in Tergawar.

Yawsep’s career as a printer had three phases: 1. In Urmia, using the Anglican press, he printed the ‘Paradise of Eden’ (1916) and the Nomocanon of ʿAbdishoʿ (1918). 2. In Mosul, he set up the ‘Assyrian Press’, using money collected from the Assyrians in the Baʿqūba refugee camp in 1919. This collection enabled him to go to India with his cousin Mar Abimalek Timotheus and supervise the cutting of Syriac type there. A price-list of publications shows 16 finished books published ca. 1921–28, including school and religious texts, the most important of the latter being the Qdām w-Bāthar (1923), Margānitā (1924), Ṭaksā (1928), and ‘Paradise of Eden’ (1928). (A Ḥudrā and large Syriac-English dictionary were never finished.) Following Yawsep’s ordination as priest in 1927 by Mar Timotheus (then a figure of opposition to the patriarchal family), Eshai Shemʿon confiscated the equipment of the Assyrian Press in 1928. 3. Yawsep re-equipped his press with locally available types. In 1934 he named his business the ‘Diqlath Press’ and continued to work it until his death in 1952. The publications of this press are not well documented.

As a schoolmaster and scholar, Yawsep had his greatest influence through his ‘Assyrian School’ for boys in Mosul, which he conducted in the same building as the press. The next generation of educated Assyrians were largely his old pupils, making him the ‘father of modern (As)syrian literature in Iraq’ (Macuch). Yawsep was not a critical scholar but a learned and staunch defender of the traditions of the Ch. of E. He drew up the Church’s official patriarchal list (printed as an appendix to the Margānitā) at the behest of Mar Shemʿon in 1924.

Sources

  • Macuch, Geschichte, 261, 279, 495 (Register I).
  • Šarbā d-ḥayye d-Mallpānā Qaššišā Yawsep d-Bet Qellāytā (Baghdad, 1977). (60 pp.)
  • J. F.  Coakley, The typography of Syriac (2006), 235–8.


How to Cite This Entry

James F. Coakley, “Yawsep d-Beth Qelayta,” 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/Yawsep-d-Beth-Qelayta.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

James F. Coakley, “Yawsep d-Beth Qelayta,” 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/Yawsep-d-Beth-Qelayta.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Coakley, James F. “Yawsep d-Beth Qelayta.” 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/Yawsep-d-Beth-Qelayta.

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