Mushe of Mardin (16th cent.) [Syr. Orth.]

Priest, scribe, and bp. A native of the village of Qāluq, in the region of Ṣawro, near Mardin, Mushe was sent by Patr. ʿAbdullāh I bar Sṭephanos to Rome, where he arrived with a few mss. in or shortly before 1549. The aim of the mission was to search for Syriac printed books or for opportunities to produce them. Whether Mushe was additionally entrusted with the delicate task of improving relations between the Syr. Orth and the Roman Catholic Church remains disputed. Mushe lived in Rome and traveled through Europe until some time after 1556.

In Rome, he established contacts with some of the earliest Western scholars interested in Syriac. Among them were Guillaume Postel, Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter, and Andreas Masius. He collaborated with Widmanstetter in the publication of the first edition of the Syriac NT, which appeared in Vienna in 1555 and whose Syriac typeface derived from Mushe’s handwriting. Mushe served as Masius’s Syriac teacher in Rome, and the latter frequently consulted him, in particular while he was preparing his Syrorum Peculium, a Syriac glossary that was included in vol. 6 of the Antwerp Polyglot (1571). Mushe and Masius corresponded in Syriac; a number of letters, belonging to the period 1553–55, are preserved. Masius also translated into Latin a profession of faith that Mushe is said to have made in 1552 and which Masius included in one of his later publications; its exact status remains unclear.

During his time in Europe, Mushe copied many Syriac mss. Several of these are extant, including the remarkable ms. London, Brit. Libr. Harley 5512, which contains parts of the Roman Missal in Latin, written in Serṭo script, along with three Syriac Anaphoras. Mushe wrote it for the bp. of the Abyssinian Convent (San Stefano) in Rome, where he often resided, and it shows his interest in, and familiarity with, the Catholic liturgy.

After 1556 Mushe returned to the Middle East, where he copied some further mss. (among them Michael Rabo’s Chronicle, probably from the author’s autograph) and where the (solely honorific?) title of metropolitan bp. was conferred on him. He returned to Rome, probably in the company of Patr. Niʿmatullāh, following the latter’s abdication, in 1578. In Rome he copied and annotated several more Syriac and Arabic mss. He died in or shortly after 1592, possibly in Rome.


  • J. F.  Coakley, The typography of Syriac. A historical catalogue of printing types, 1537–1958 (2006), 31–3.
  • H.  Kaufhold, ‘Review of H. Anschütz, Die syrischen Christen vom Tur ʿAbdin’, OC 70 (1986), esp. 207–8.
  • G. A.  Kiraz, ‘Introduction to the Gorgias Reprint’, in The Widmanstadt—Moses of Mardin Editio princeps of the Syriac Gospels of 1555 (2006).
  • J.  Leroy, ‘Une copie syriaque du Missale Romanum de Paul III et son arrière-plan historique’, MUSJ 46 (1970–71), 353–82.
  • G.  Levi Della Vida, Ricerche sulla formazione del più antico fondo dei manoscritti orientali della Biblioteca Vaticana (SeT 92; 1939), esp. 205–15.
  • Weltecke, Die «Beschreibung der Zeiten», 158–9.
  • J. W.  Wesselius, ‘The Syriac correspondence of Andreas Masius: A preliminary report’, in SymSyr V, 21–9.
  • R. J.  Wilkinson, Orientalism, Aramaic and the Kabbalah in the Catholic Reformation. The first printing of the Syriac New Testament (Studies in the History of Christian Traditions 137; 2007), 64–85.

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Mushe of Mardin,” 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:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Mushe of Mardin,” 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:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Mushe of Mardin.” 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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