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What was the attitude towards the peshitta before Burkitt theorised it was the work of Rabulla?
How old did people think it was?

Why did Burkitt even think it was the work of Rabulla?
[quote="Why did Burkitt even think it was the work of Rabulla?[/quote]

It's basically speculation, based upon circumstantial evidence. Well what evidence scholarship had at the time....

"It is very remarkable that before the time of Rabbula, who ruled over the Syriac-speaking churches from 411 to 435, there is no trace of the Peshitta, and that after his time there is scarcely a vestige of any other text. He very likely acted in the manner of Theodoret somewhat later, pushing the newly made revision, which we have reason to suppose the Peshitta to have been, into prominence, and making short work of other texts, of which only the Curetonian and the Sinaitic are known to have survived to modern times."
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Here's anothr excerpt that states it more forcefully it will be fun to watch Paul debunk this (probably pointing out the difference in jurisdictions etc. of Rabbula vs. the Church of the East).

"Between 411-435 CE, Rabbula altered an already existing Aramaic (Syriac) version of the separated Gospels, the Peshitta, which included Shauls letters and Acts, to replace the Evangelion da-Mechallete [Diatessaron], written by Tatian, around 173 CE. The Peshitta was written in the Estrangela script. It has the same books of what became the Greek Testament, whose canon was determined by the Church, minus the Jewish letters of II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, and the Revelations of John, which were still being debated by the Church. For the Eastern Syrian Church this was the closing of the canon. After the Council of Ephesus, in 431 CE, the East Syrians separated themselves from the Western and declared themselves Nestorians. The oldest confirmed surviving Peshitta manuscripts dates to 442."

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And here's another interesting take I just ran acrossed.

"The version survives in a British Museum MS.; see Wrights C,,,!n,inaw, n ,Tn be read (see Wrights Syr. Lit. p. 9). According to his biographer (Overbeck, p. 172) he himself produced a version (or revision) of the New Testament in Syriac. This may have been, as \Vright suggests,(Syr. Lit. p. II), a first step in the direction of the Philoxenian version. But there is great probability in F. C. Burkitts hypothesis that the product of Rabbulas work, at least as regards the Gospels, is to be found in the current PeshItta text, which represents the Greek text as read in Antioch about 400 A.D. and was prepared by Rabhula . . . and published by his authority as a substitute for the Diatessaron. i"
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So apparently its not only the time when the Peshitta first arrived on the scene as far as the archeological evidence goes. But also the fact the books in it matches those used in the Greek Antioch codex, are some of the pieces of cirmcumstantial evidence that this hypothesis was made.
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But this web site, which is done from a person who seems more knowledgeable disagrees with the Rabbula consencus.

"Rabbula used the Old Syriac and not the Peshitta. In [38] V????bus proves this by demonstrating how Rabbula inserted readings known from the Old Syriac Evangelion daMepharreshe four gospels into a translation he made of one of Cyril's Greek letters, where the underlying Greek of Cyril's letter cannot account for the biblical text Rabbula used. All this shows that the Evangelion daMepharreshe was in use by the sees of Antioch and Edessa in AD 431. This clarifies Rabbula's own rule, or canon which states, ???Let the presbyters and deacons take care that in all the churches there should be the Evangelion daMepharreshe and it be read.??? V????bus shewed that;
1. The four gospels stipulated by Rabbula were the Old Syriac four gospels, not the Peshitta.
2. That Rabbula was suppressing the Diatessaron or 'mixed' gospel during his episcopate, at the same time as Theodoret was doing the same thing, (see under AD 425 above)."

"Bishop Rabbula of Edessa died. He was succeeded by Hiba (also known as Ibas). Rabbula had switched allegiance from Antioch to Alexandria. However, Hiba was an Antiochean bishop elected by the Antiochean clergy of Edessa.

Two different anonymous biographies of Rabbula survive from about this time, one in Syriac and another which survives only in Greek translation from an original Syriac work. The one surviving in Syriac, provides us with a few gospel quotations. These quotations were definitely taken from the Peshitta. However the other biography preserved only in a Greek translation, contains Old Syriac gospel quotations taken from an Evangelion daMepharreshe"
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Anyway like I said before I think the Rabbula theory is just "reading between the lines", basically speculation based upon circumstantial evidence. And not a theory based upon solid scholarship.