Syriac Christian Pearlers

Off the Street Arts and Theology Centre
Methodist Church
264 Broadway Avenue
Palmerston North
New Zealand/Aotearoa


SUNDAY 15th JUNE 2008 at 3 pm


will introduce his new book

An Anthology of Syriac Christian Mysticism

A collection of readings from early Christian monks of
Mesopotamia and Persia (ancient Iraq and Iran)
translated from Syriac manuscripts

Syriac, or Aramaic, is the language Jesus spoke

The highlight is the beautiful poem known as
 The Hymn of the Pearl
an allegory of the Christian life

Wesley Broadway Methodist Church
264 Broadway Avenue (opposite Carncot School)

SUNDAY 15th JUNE 2008 at 3 pm 

Brian Edric Colless was born in Sydney in 1936. He studied ancient and
modern languages at Sydney University, and received his doctorate from
Melbourne University for his work on editing and translating Syriac
Christian mystical writings.

In 1970 he founded the Religious Studies department at Massey University in
Palmerston North. Since his retirement from teaching in 2001 he has been a
research associate in the School of History at Massey University.  He is
also active in the local University of the Third Age (U3A). And he has his
own Gerontius University, which usually operates through the Methodist Arts
and Theology Centre.

He has a variety of websites: collesseum (for his lectures and articles),
cryptcracker (for the origin of the alphabet), operawonk (for dissecting
operas), choirquire (for the Palmerston North Choral Society).

The book has had a long gestation. It began with the aim of showing how the
pearl was used as a symbol in eastern churches. 

Thus in the Syriac poem The Song of the Pearl, it represents faith, which is seized from a serpent (the Devil). 

Saint Ephraim wrote a set of poems on faith, and used the pearl as a multi-faceted symbol of all aspects of Christianity.

The publishers left it to languish idly on the assembly line for decades,
but they argue that its time is now ripe: Iraq and Iran (where most of the
monks lived) are in the news every day; and the Pope gave a pronouncement
(not quite a papal bull) that Christianity was not founded in Rome but in
the East, and he named such authors as Ephrem the Syrian and Aphrahat the
Persian (both appear in my book).

This brand-new book ( but already you can get "used" copies) is  announced on various websites. 

Notice the way some of them spell my personal name. They are either writing it foneticliy (phonetically) or making a cryptic allusion to my intelligence.

This one tells you which American book-suppliers would let you have one.

I don't see a connection between mysticism (spirituality and worship) and
magic, but these warrior women from the jungle do; originally they were
offering the book in a bargain package with the DVD of *Harry Potter and the
Ordure of the Phoenix* (if you'll pardon my French).
The purple cover they depict is now officially olive green, as you would
have noted; and the picture has been changed, though the description of it
as the Transfiguration still stands(!). They offer a peep inside, and already there is a review of it .

And good old stonewall-mart offers it at a massive 37% reduction, only they
won't sell it to you.

This kindly Christian bookseller provides a good look at the correct front
cover (green) but incorrect back cover, and some samples of the interior, on
a peep-show

If you live in my town (Palmerston North, New Zealand) you may have
difficulty getting it locally; the suppliers do not deal in such material;
it is not only academic but also religious.

However, there is one helpful bookshop in George Street:


 Shalom / Shelama / Salaam

Brian Colless PhD ThD