Gannat Bussāme (between the 10th and beginning of the 13th cent.) [Ch. of E.]

The Gannat Bussāme ‘Garden of Delights’ is an extensive commentary on the E.-Syr. lectionary. Tradition ascribes the work to an otherwise unknown ‘Interpreter of the Turks’. The date and place of the composition are uncertain. Although some modern scholars hold to the 13th cent. as the date of its composition, there may be some arguments for the assumption that the Gannat Bussāme was composed in the 10th cent. in the city of Beth Lapaṭ (Gondeshapur). The text tradition shows two lines of transmission: one going back to a lost ‘Vorlage’ of the old ms. ( olim ) Urmi 180, the other to a lost ms. from the monastery of Abraham (the Upper Monastery in Mosul). The latter represents a revision of the lectionary allowing the work’s adaptation to the practice of the Upper Monastery in Mosul. The original lectionary of the Gannat Bussāme, however, shows correspondences both with the monastic usage and with the practice in the Cathedral Church of Kokhe in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, but it also has lessons found in neither. It is, therefore, likely that the Gannat Bussāme was originally based on a lectionary system that reflected a specific local usage. The Gannat Bussāme is a very important source for the E.-Syr. exegetical tradition, since its commentary, apart from its use of the commentaries of Ishoʿdad of Merv, is based on sources and the works of authors that are lost or inaccessible today. In particular two authors should be mentioned here. Firstly, the exegetical prose homilies written by Aba II of Kashkar (7th–8th cent.), of which many fragments and extracts have been preserved in the Gannat Bussāme, containing the exegesis of passages from Gen., Num., Isa., and the four Gospels. Secondly, the commentaries of Ṣliba Zkha Ṣharbokht bar Msargis, an author who is not known in the Syriac tradition outside of the Gannat Bussāme. It is, however, very likely that we may identify Ṣharbokht with Ṣahārbukht b. Māsarjīs, known from the Arabic-Islamic tradition as a medical author from Beth Lapaṭ, who lived in the 9th cent. The excerpts from Ṣharbokht in the Gannat Bussāme concern the exegesis of pericopes from the four Gospels, Acts, and Rom. It appears from these excerpts that Ṣharbokht’s commentaries are typical representatives of exegetical compilation works (comparable, for example, with the genre of Ishoʿdad of Merv’s commentaries on the OT and NT). Unique is the way in which Ṣharbokht incorporates theoretical medical knowledge in his exegesis. It is possible that he as a teacher was connected with both the Theological School and the Medical School in Beth Lapaṭ.


  • W. F.  Macomber, ‘The Chaldean Lectionary System of the Cathedral Church of Kokhe’, OCP 33 (1967), 483–516.
  • G. J.  Reinink, ‘Die Textüberlieferung der Gannat Bussame’, LM 90 (1977), 103–75.
  • G. J.  Reinink, Studien zur Quellen- und Traditionsgeschichte des Evangelienkommentars der Gannat Bussame (CSCO 414; 1979).
  • G. J.  Reinink, Gannat Bussame, vol. 1. Die Adventssonntage (CSCO 501, 502; 1988).
  • G. J.  Reinink, ‘Theology and Medicine in Jundishapur. Cultural Change in the Nestorian School Tradition’, in Learned Antiquity. Scholarship and Society in the Near-East, the Greco-Roman World, and the Early Medieval West, ed. A. A. MacDonald, M. W. Twomey, and G. J. Reinink (Groningen Studies in Cultural Change 5; 2003), 163–74.
  • J.-M.  Vosté, ‘Le Gannat Bussame’, RB 37 (1928), 221–32, 386–419.
  • J.-M.  Vosté, ‘À propos de la date du Gannat Bussame’, RB 42 (1933), 82.

How to Cite This Entry

Gerrit J. Reinink , “Gannat Bussāme,” 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,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Gerrit J. Reinink , “Gannat Bussāme,” 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),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Reinink, Gerrit J. “Gannat Bussāme.” 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.

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