Reviews - What do customers think about Thesaurus Syriacus [Ancient Language Resource series]?
The granddaddy of Syriac dictionaries Aug 1, 2009
The first of this pair of enormous tomes was originally published in 1879, and the second in 1901. Author Robert Payne Smith died in 1895, but the second volume was completed by his daughter, Jessie Payne Smith Margoliouth, an accomplished Syriac scholar in her own right. She also published a supplement in 1927 (not included in this W&S set, but see Thesaurus Syriacus Vol III). The original volumes are very large, at 13" x 23". This Wipf & Stock reprint is still big, at 11" x 14.5". Vol. I is 2" thick and vol. II 2 3/4". You won't be toting these around in your backpack!
Payne Smith used Latin for his equivalents to Syriac words, not English, as the this site information says. Happily for us moderns, born after Latin ceased to be the universal language of scholarship, the supplement by Mrs. Margoliouth is glossed in English.
What benefits are there to having the Thesaurus Syriacus in your library?
(1) Its vocabulary is massive. If you can't find the word you want in the usually good A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (also by Mrs. Margoliouth) or in Syriac-English-French-Arabic Dictionary (by Louis Costaz), you can try these volumes or the Supplement.
(2) There are references to the occurrences of each word in the literature. Seeing a word in context can often clarify the sense intended.
Admittedly, though, these volumes will only occasionally prove useful to most readers of Syriac. And their price, while not unreasonable for two such large books printed in a fairly small run, put them out of the range of all but the most devoted scholars of the tongue.