I have just been informed that my paper has been accepted for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. The session focuses on childhood stories of Jesus. I decided to present on my ongoing efforts to compile critical editions of childhood stories in Syriac. Here is the abstract:
"The Childhood of Jesus in the East Syriac Life of Mary"
The East Syriac Life of Mary, published for the first and only time by E. A. Wallis Budge in 1899, is a combination of a variety of non-canonical texts, including the Protoevangelium of James, the Dormition/Transitus of Mary, sections from the Abgar Legend and the Acts of Pilate, and, in some manuscripts, much of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Also included in the text, but not often discussed, is a series of stories of the holy family during their time in Egypt. The source of these tales is unknown. The same stories occur in the more widely published Arabic Infancy Gospel, long believed to be a translation of the Life of Mary, perhaps from an earlier stage in its development. Scholars interested in the childhood of Jesus and the life of Mary would be better served reading the stories in the Syriac Life of Mary than in its Arabic translation. To that end, this paper provides a new edition and translation of the Egyptian childhood tales based on a pool of over fifteen manuscripts. It represents a considerable advance on Budge’s edition, which employed only two manuscripts, one of which is now lost. The paper includes also a full description of all the manuscripts available today and information on those that have been lost in the turmoil faced in the east over the past century.