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Murdock explains it all! (Pt 2)
Shlama all--here is the rest of what Murdock has to say...


In his Novi Test. Versiones Syriacae, Hafn. 1789, 4to., J. G. C. Adler divides the manuscripts of the Peshito New Testament into two classes, the Jacobite and the Nestorian, the former written in Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, the latter written in Persia and in the East Indies; but there is very little difference between the texts of the two. Most of the copies of both omit the 2d Epistle of Peter, the 2d and 3d Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. They likewise generally omit the story of the Adulteress, John, vii. 53 to viii. 11; and the disputed text, 1 John, v. 7; and also Luke, xxii. 17, 18.
The Nestorian manuscripts arrange the books of the New Testament in an order peculiar to themselves. After the Four Gospels, which they commonly put into a separate volume, and denominate the GOSPEL, they arrange the other books, which they call the APOSTLES, in the following order: (1) the Acts; (2) the three Catholic Epistles, (1st Epistle of Peter, 1st Epistle of John, and the Epistle of James); (3) the Fourteen Epistles of Paul, in the same order as in our Bibles.
Both the Jacobites and the Nestorians divide all these books into LESSONS for public worship, and in such a manner, that the whole are read over once a year. The Lessons from the Gospels are 248; and those from the Acts and Epistles are 245. The length of the Lessons varies, according to the solemnity of the days for which they were appointed, and the connection and sense of the passages. The average length of the Lessons is about 15 &
1/4 of our verses, or half the average length of our chapters, Besides this division into Lessons for the public worship, there is a division into Chapters or Paragraphs, according to the sense. One Nestorian manuscript divides these books in 165 Chapters; each, on an average, being equal to one and a half of our chapters. Another, a Jacobite Codex Evengeliorum, divides the Four Gospels into 1389 short Chapters or Paragraphs, averaging less than three verses each.
Till recently, the greatest collection of Syriac manuscripts was to be found in the Vatican Library at Rome, of which Asseman has given a good account in his Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementina Vaticana. But others were to be found at Florence, Milan, Paris, Vienna, Oxford, and elsewhere. Adler (in the work above mentioned) gives account of fourteen Peshito manuscripts of the New Testament, eight of them Jacobite, and six Nestorian. Of the eight Jacobite, seven contained only the Four Gospels, and the eighth only the Acts and Epistles. Of the six Nestorian, three contained all the books of the proper Peshito Canon; one contained only the Four Gospels; and two contained only the Epistles of Paul. The dates of these fourteen manuscripts ranged from A. D. 548, down to the Reformation. Those written before A. D. 800, were all in the Estrangelo character. Those of later date, if Jacobite, slide more and more into the cursive character terminating at last in the modern Syriac letters. The Nestorian manuscripts since A. D. 800, are written in the character still in use among the Nestorian Christians, a modified form of the Estrangelo, differing considerably from our printed Syriac.
Dr. Buchanan, who travelled extensively among the Syrian Christians of India, in the years 1806 and 7, "discovered and obtained," (says Dr. Horne,) "numerous ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures, which are now deposited in the public library at Cambridge. One of these, which was discovered in a remote Syrian church near the mountains, is particularly valuable. It contains the Old and New Testaments, engrossed with beautiful accuracy in the Estrangelo character, on strong vellum, in large folio, and having three columns in a page." "In the opinion of Mr. Yeates, who has published a collation of the Pentateuch, it was written about the seventh century." Mar Johanan, the Bishop of Gavalan in Oroomiah, who visited this country a few years since, brought with him a Syriac New Testament, written on vellum, in the Nestorian character, and forming a very thick 4to. volume. Its date is not ascertained, but from the character of the writing, it is probably not very ancient. This, and some other Syriac manuscripts, are lodged in the Missionary Rooms of A. B. For. Miss. at Boston. The Library of the American Oriental Society, at Boston, likewise contains some Syriac manuscripts.
The " London Quarterly Review," for December, 1845, has an article on Valuable Manuscripts recently brought to England from the Monasteries of Egypt. This treasure was first discovered by Lord Prudhoe, in 1828, and has since been almost wholly bought up and transported to England. The manuscripts are in Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, and Arabic. Their ages vary from A. D. 411 downwards. A manuscript, dated A.D. 464, of the Syriac Peshito Pentateuch, is the oldest biblical manuscript. There are about thirty volumes of this version of portions of the Old Testament, dated about the sixth century. Of the Peshito New Testament, there are forty manuscripts, of about the same date. The age of these, and the authority of this version, will make them of great value to critical students of the Bible. Among other works in this collection, there is said to be "the Recension of the Old and New Testament, by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Edessa" (in the seventh century.) Besides these biblical works, in this rich collection there is a large number of theological productions, of the same ancient times.


The first edition was printed at Vienna, in Austria, A. D. 1555, at the expense of the Emperor Ferdinand I., prompted by his Chancellor, Albert Widmansted. It was intended for distribution among the Jacobite Christians in the East, whose Patriarch, in the year 1552, sent Moses of Marden as his envoy to Europe, for the twofold purpose of cementing a union with the See of Rome, and procuring the printing of the Syriac New Testament for the use of his people. Moses of Marden brought with him a manuscript copy, prepared in the East; and likewise superintended the press. One other manuscript, containing the Four Gospels, was also consulted. The edition was neatly and accurately printed in 4to., containing the simple text, and embracing all the Books of the New Testament, except the 2d Epistle of Peter, the 2d and 3d of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. It also omitted the story of the Adulteress. As this edition was nearly all sent to the East, copies of it are rare in Europe.
2. In 1568, Emanuel Tremellius republished, at Heidelberg, in folio, the edition of Vienna, in Hebrew characters, and accompanied it with a Latin translation made by himself. He likewise had a Syriac manuscript, but he made little use of it.
3. In 1571, Guy le Fevre de la Boderie, (Boderianus,) reprinted the same text, both in Syriac and Hebrew letters, accompanied with a Latin translation, in the third volume of the Antwerp Polyglott Bible. Boderie also had a Syriac manuscript, brought from the East by William Postell, from which he drew some various readings.
4 and 5. The fourth and fifth editions were in Hebrew letters, and without points, printed at Antwerp, by Plantin, in 1573 and 1575; the first in 8vo. the other 18mo.
6. In 1584, La Boderie reprinted, at Paris, 4to., the Syriac text in Syriac letters, with an interlineary Latin translation.
7. In 1579, Elias Hutter inserted Tremellius Hebrew-Syriac text in his Polyglott New Testament, and supplied the deficient Books by Syriac of his own making.
8. In 1621, Martin Trost, at Kothen, in Anhalt, reprinted the Syriac text of the Vienna edition, in fair Syriac types, with a Latin translation; 1 vol. 4to.
Hitherto, the 2d Epistle of Peter; the 2d and 3d of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse, had not been printed from manuscripts. But in 1627, Lewis de Dieu published, at Leyden, the Apocalypse, from a manuscript brought from India, which had been the property of Scaliger; and in 1630, Edward Pocock published, also at Leyden, the four lacking Epistles, from a manuscript in the Bodleian library at Oxford. And since that time, the editions of the Peshito New Testament have contained all the books that compose the New Testament Canon.
9. In 1645, the Peshito New Testament was inserted in the Paris Polyglott, copied from the Antwerp Polyglott, and enlarged by the insertion of the wanting Epistles and the Apocalypse; the whole being revised and corrected by Gabriel Sionita.
10. In 1653, the London Polyglott republished the entire Syriac New Testament from the Paris Polyglott, and added, for the first time, the history of the Adulteress, from a manuscript belonging to Archbishop Usher.
11. In 1664, Giles Gutbir published his Syriac New Testament at Hamburg, in a moderate sized 12mo. volume, for common use. His text is that of Trost, with some amendments, and is followed with a list of various readings, chiefly derived from the printed editions. This is a cheap edition and very common, and it would be a good edition, if the typography were what it should be. It is generally accompanied with a good compendious Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament.
12. In 1684, Christian Knorre reprinted, in 12mo., at Salzbach, Plantin's edition of 1573, in Hebrew letters.
13. In 1713, the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, at Rome, printed the New Testament, Syriac and Arabic, in 2 vols., folio, for the use of the Maronites.
14. In 1708, John Leusden and Charles Schaaf published at Leyden their excellent edition, Syriac and Latin, in large 4to., with a copious list of the various readings in different editions. This edition was reprinted by Schaaf in 1717. He also published, with both editions, his highly esteemed Lexicon Syriacum Concordantiale in Novum Test. Syr., in large 4to.
15. In 1713, the Schaafian text was inserted in the Biblia Quadralinguia of Christian Reineccius, Leyden, folio.
16. In 1805, Richard Jones republished, at Oxford, in 4to., the Schaafian text, corrected by two Syriac manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, and by the Commentary of Bar-Hebraeus, existing in the same library.
17. In 1816, the British and Foreign Bible Society published at London, (Richard Watts, printer,) a very beautiful edition of the Syriac text, corrected by manuscripts, in 552 pages, 4to., intended for distribution in India. " This edition" (says Mr. Horne) " was corrected for the press, as far as the Acts of the Apostles, by the late Rev. Dr. Buchanan, and was completed by Rev. Samuel Lee, D.D., Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge."
18. In 1826, the British and Foreign Bible Society reprinted their edition of 1816, in a fair, but smaller type, in 360 pages, 4to. This edition was, probably, superintended by Professor Lee.
19. Lastly : In 1846, the Missionaries of the A. B. C. F. M., at Oroomiah, in Persia, having completed their translation of the New Testament into the vernacular dialect of the modern Nestorians, printed it, with the Syriac text, in parallel columns, and both in the modern Nestorian character, with a marginal notice of all the deviations of the Syriac from the Greek text: printed at Oroomiah, in one vol., large 4to. The Syriac text of this edition appears to coincide with that of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
It has often been regretted, that the editors of the Peshito New Testament have taken so little pains to collate manuscripts, and to obtain a correct text. They have, for the most part, followed the editio princeps, with some changes in the vowel points, and have admitted but few changes of words on the authority of manuscripts. The received text, it is said, appears to have been derived chiefly from the Nestorian family of manuscripts, and needs a thorough collation, especially with manuscripts of the Jacobite family.



The history of this version is given in the Syriac Indorsements on its manuscripts. One of the fullest of these Indorsements is subjoined to a manuscript of the Four Gospels, in the Bibliotheca Angelica of the Augustinians at Rome. It may be thus rendered in English:-" This Book has been collated with two approved manuscripts.-This Book of the Four Holy Evangelists was translated from the Greek tongue into Syriac, with much accuracy and great labor; and first, in the city of Mabug (......), in the days of the holy PHILOXENUS, Confessor, and Bishop of that city. It was afterwards collated, with much care, by me, THOMAS, a poor sinner, with two highly approved and correct Greek copies, at Antonia, of the great city Alexandria, in the Monastery of St. Anthony. Its completion will, surely, conduce to the benefit of my sinful soul, and of the many who love and desire to know and preserve this accuracy in the sacred books. It was written and collated, at the place above named, in the year 927 of Alexander, in the 4th Indiction. But, how much labor and anxiety I had, in this and the other [books], the Lord only knoweth, who will recompense every man according to his works in the day of his righteous judgment.'' -The Indorsements on two other manuscripts, as cited by Adler, are substantially the same with this, although more concise. Instead of the two first sentences, they simply say:-" This is the Book of the Four Holy Evangelists, which was translated from the Greek tongue in the year of Alexander the Macedonian, 819, in the days of the holy Mar PHILOXENUS," &c.
From these Indorsements, it appears that this translation was made at MABUG, or Menbij, as it is called in Arabic, the Hierapolis of the Greeks, a city of Syria, near the Euphrates, and the See of both a Nestorian and a Jacobite Bishop: and that it was made in the year 819 of Alexander, that is, A. D. 508, and in the days of Philoxenus, the Bishop of Mabug. It is not said that it was made by Philoxenus, but only in his days. This Philoxenus, otherwise called Xenaias, was the Monophysite Bishop of Mabug, from A. D. 488 to A. D. 518, (see Asseman's Bibliotheca Orient. tom. ii. p. 10-46 <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/wink1.gif" alt="Wink" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> but he did not sit quietly on his throne. Being a warm partisan of Peter Fullo, he was in sharp conflict nearly all his life, and he could have had but little leisure for biblical studies. The persecutions he suffered, procured for him the title of Confessor among his own sect. According to Moses Aghaeus, (in Asseman's Bibliotheca Orient. tom. ii. c. 10,) one POLYCARP, a rural Bishop under Philoxenus, made this translation; and dedicated it, in the year specified, to Philoxenus, by whom he had been prompted to undertake the work. And hence this version is often called the Translation of Polycarp.
It further appears, from these Indorsements, that about 100 years after this version was made by Polycarp, one Thomas, a monk, at Antonia, a quarter in the city of Alexandria, and in the monastery of St. Anthony, in that city, revised and re-wrote this translation, collating it with two (or some indorsements say, three) highly approved Greek manuscripts. This was in the year of Alexander 927, or A. D. 616. Who this Thomas was, and when and where he lived, we learn from Bar-Hebracus' Chronicon, (year of the Seleucidae 927, or A. D. 616.) Bar-Hebraeus there says:- "About this time flourished Thomas Harclensis, (i. c. Thomas of Harkela, or Harkla, . . . , an obscure village in Palestine,) a monk of the monastery of Taril; who, in his childhood, learned Greek in the Kenserine monastery, and was afterwards Bishop of Mabug. Being, persecuted by Domitian, the Meletian, he went to Egypt, and resided in Antonia of Alexandria, in the holy monastery of the Antonies; where, with praiseworthy diligence, he restored, by a very exact and accurate emendation, the holy Codex of the Gospels, and the other Books of the New Testament, after the first version of them by the procuration of Philoxenus, of Mabug."-From this statement, and from an inspection of the manuscripts, it appears, that Thomas Harclensis corrected the text of Polycarp's translation; added various readings, derived from his collation of Greek manuscripts; and subjoined other marginal notices, especially the division into Lessons for the public worship through the year. That he did not materially alter the text of Polycarp, Adler infers from a manuscript that he examined at Florence, which had none of the marginal notes and indorsements of the Harclension recension, yet contained almost precisely the same text; whence he concluded, that it was copied from an ancient manuscript of Polycarp's version, written before its revision by Thomas Harclensis.
Such is the origin of the so called Philoxenian version. It is the translation of Palycarp, as revised, and furnished with marginal notes, by THOMAS HARCLENSIS. It was exclusively of Jacobite origin; and it never obtained currency among the other oriental sects. Yet it was not made for any sectarian purposes; nor in hostility to the Peshito version. The sole aim of its author and reviser, was, to produce a Syriac version, which should more perfectly resemble the Greek original as it existed in their times.-It embraces all the books of the New Testament, except the Apocalypse. The history of the adulteress, is also wanting; but not so, the 2d Epistle of Peter, the 2d and 3d of John, and the Epistle of Jude; which are here found in the same style with the other books, and differing from the style of the same Epistles in the Peshito version.


The prominent characteristic of the Philoxenian version, is extreme servility, even to the habitual sacrifice of the purity and propriety of the Syriac language. It generally copies the Greek phraseology, so exactly, that it would often not be difficult to translate it back again into the identical words of the original. As the Syriac has no Article, the definite Article of the Greek is often expressed by the Syriac pronouns for he, she, and they. The Greek expletives, which could not be expressed in Syriac, are sometimes transcribed in the translation. Greek compounds are awkwardly expressed, by two or more words in strange combination. Greek diminutives are imitated in the Syriac. The Greek construction is followed, as closely as possible, without regard to the laws of Syriac construction. And in all the proper names, even those of Hebrew origin, the Greek orthography is imitated in Syriac letters, though subversive of every trace of the etymology, and perverting the true pronunciation. Even the case endings of these names are retained; which could only serve to puzzle the brains of a Syrian who did not understand Greek.
Of the value of this translation, J. D. Michaelis, (in his Introduction to the New Testament, vol. ii. P. 1. p. 67, &c., ed. Marsh,) says: " The intrinsic worth of the Philoxenian version, admits no comparison with that of the Peshito. The style is much inferior, and more difficult to be understood; the version is less accurate; and the translator was less acquainted with the Greek. It is neither so valuable to a divine, for the purpose of instruction in the Christian religion; nor to the learned expositor, as a means of explaining difficult and doubtful passages. But the version is not devoid of value, and is of real importance to a critic, whose object is to select a variety of readings, with the view of restoring the genuine text of the Greek original. For he may be fully assured, that every phrase and expression is a precise copy of the Greek text, as it stood in the manuscript from which the version was made. But it is not prior to the sixth century; and as the Peshito was written either at the end of the first, or at the beginning of the second century, it is of less importance to know the readings of the Greek manuscript, that was used in the former, than those of the original employed in the latter."


No portion of this version was printed prior to the year 1778. Of course, up to that time, the learned had not the means of examining it, and ascertaining its true character. The Rev. Gloucester Ridley, LL.D., Prebend of Salisbury, about the middle of the last century, received a copy of the entire version, brought from Amida in Mesopotamia, by a Mr. Palmer. Ridley immediately applied himself to the study of Syriac: and in 1761, published a learned Dissertation, de Syriacarum Novi Testamenti Versionum Indole et Usu; in which he gave the first good account of both translations, and a full description of the Philoxenian. He also prepared for the press, a copy of the four Gospels, transcribed from his Amidan manuscript, and collated with another found at Oxford. But he did not live to see it published. It was printed at Oxford, Syriac and Latin, with critical notes &c., by Joseph White, Professor of Arabic, in 1778, 2 vols. in 1, 4to. Professor White then proceeded to prepare the remainder of the work for the press; and published the book of Acts and the seven Catholic Epistles, in 1799; and the fourteen Epistles of Paul, in 1803, uniform with the previous volumes. The whole is ordinarily bound in two large vols. 4to. This edition, so far as I have learned, is the only one ever printed.-The Manuscripts of this version are less numerous than those of the Peshito. Adler examined six manuscripts of the Gospels; and he learned the existence of some others, containing the Epistles. Perhaps some of the forty manuscripts of the New Testament, lately brought from Egypt, will be found to belong to this version.


Besides the manuscripts of the Peshito and Philoxenian versions, Adler found in the Vatican at Rome, one manuscript of the four Gospels, in a translation different from either. It is more servile and inelegant than the Peshito; but is not so servile as the Philoxenian. Its idiom also differs from both; for it is not pure Syriac, but is a species of Chaldee, or Jewish Aramaean: and the characters in which it is written, approximate to the Hebrew. Adler supposed it was made by some Jewish Christian about the fourth century. And as it is written in Jewish Aramaean, and not Syriac, he called it the HIEROSOLYMITAN VERSION. It has never been published, and is not considered of any great value.
What some have called the KARKAPHENSlON VERSION, is found not to be a new version, but merely a recension of the Peshito Old and New Testaments, made near the close of the tenth century, by a Jacobite monk named David, residing in the monastery of St. Aaron, on Mount Sigari, in the northeastern part of Mesopotamia. Dr. Wiseman, in his Horae Syriacae, (Rome, 1828, Svo.,) has carefully investigated the history and character of this recension, and he pronounces it to be the Peshito text, with merely a change in the orthography of proper names, and of Graeco-Syriac words, conformably with the orthography of the Philoxenian version. He also declares it to be of Monophysite or Jacobite origin. Dr. Lee, however, defends the old opinion, that it was intended for use among the Nestorians.


PASSING on to the Old Testament, we there find two distinct translations of nearly the whole, as we before found two of the New Testament. One of these is likewise called the Peshito, and is very ancient. The other is more modern, resembles the Philoxenian, and bears the name of the Syriac Hexapla.



This version, as appears from internal evidence, was made directly from the Hebrew, and before the Masoretic points came into use. It is quoted and commented on by Ephraim Syrus, in the fourth century; was received by all the Aramaean Christians, of whatever sect, and is held by them all in high estimation at the present day. They have a tradition, that it is of the same age with the Peshito New Testament, and that it was made in the days of Thaddeus, the Apostle of Mesopotamia. The learned also of modern times, suppose it to be at least as old as the Peshito New Testament, placing its formation in the latter part of the first century, or early in the second. From some diversity in the mode of translating the different books, it is supposed not to have been the work of one man: and from certain peculiarities of diction, and from other considerations, it is concluded that the translators were Christians. It is universally pronounced a judicious and faithful translation. Dathe regarded it as a sure guide to the true state of the Hebrew text, in the second century: and both Dr. Kennicott and De Rossi derived from it many valuable readings. " Indeed," (says Mr. Horne, Introd. vol. i. p. 270,) " De Rossi prefers it to all the other ancient versions, and says that it closely follows the order of the sacred text, rendering word for word, and is more pure than any other." After comparing a large portion of the Syriac Pentateuch with the Hebrew, the Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate, the impression on our own mind is, that the Syriac does not yield precedence, in accuracy or fidelity, to either of the other two versions; while in its style, it is much more easy and natural. It is, undoubtedly, more servile than the Peshito New Testament, and throws less light on the true meaning of the original; yet, on the whole, it is a noble version.-It embraces all the books of the Old Testament; but it arranges them in a different order. First comes the Pentateuch; then the book of Job; then Joshua, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, and the two books of Chronicles; then the Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes; then Ruth and the Canticles; then Esther; then Ezra and Nehemiah; then Isaiah, followed by the twelve minor Prophets; then Jeremiah, followed by Lamentations; then Ezekiel; and lastly, Daniel.-Most of the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament are extant in Syriac; and several of them are found in the Peshito Codices of the canonical books: but I have not the means of ascertaining their character as translations. According to Mr. Horne, four of them, viz.: Tobit, Judith, the third book of Maccabees, and the Story of Bel and the Dragon, were translated from the Greek. Five others are said to be found in Syriac, viz.: Ecclesiasticus, Susanna, Baruch, and the second and fifth books of Maccabees. But I have not learned from what language they were translated.


(1.) The first edition was that in the Paris Polyglott, printed A. D. 1645. The manuscript from which this was printed was imperfect, and Gabriel Sionita supplied its deficiencies with translations of his own, from the Latin Vulgate. He also annexed the vowel points to the Syriac of the manuscript. (2.) Walton's Polyglott, A. D. 1657, also contained the Peshito Old Testament, derived from four manuscripts, and from the text of the Paris Polyglott. This edition, therefore, is purged from the factitious additions of Gabriel Sionita. (3.) In 1823, the British and Foreign Bible Society printed, at London, all the canonical books of the Old Testament, in this version; 1 vol. 4to. pp. 705. In this edition, which was intended for circulation among Eastern Christians, the vowel points are not added, except to the proper names, and to here and there an ambiguous word. Prof. Lee, who prepared the work for the press, made use of three manuscripts. One of them, of great value, was brought by Dr. Buchanan from India; and this was collated by Dr. Lee very carefully. Another belonged to the late Dr. Adam Clarke. The third was a Syriac Pentateuch, which Prof. Lee found in a college library at Oxford. This is the edition which I use.-These, so far as I know, are the only editions of the entire Old Testament in this version. Of the book of Psalms only, there have been six editions; the last and best by Dathe, 1768, 8vo. Of the Pentateuch there has also been a separate edition, by Kirsch, 1787, 4to.- Of the manuscripts of this version I can say little more than has already been incidentally mentioned. Among those manuscripts lately brought from Egypt, it is said, there is a Peshito Syriac Pentateuch, dated in the year A. D. 464, besides thirty other volumes of this version, containing portions of the Old Testament, and dated about the sixth century.


Of this version I have heard of only two manuscripts, and one of them containing only a single book. These manuscripts lay hidden at Milan and Paris, or rather were overlooked and not carefully examined, until after the middle of the last century. They contain a Syriac translation of the corrected Greek text of the Septuagint version in Origen's HEXAPLA, with all its marginal notes and various readings, and hence its name, the Syriac Hexapla. From the indorsements on the manuscripts of the Syriac Hexapla, we gather the following facts. The Greek Hexapla of Origen was left by him at Caesarea in Palestine, and fell into the hands of Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, who was bishop of Caesarea; and Eusebius, aided by his friend Pamphylus, early in the fourth century, extracted from this Hexapla a corrected Greek text of the Septuagint, with all its marginal readings and glosses. Of this Eusebian text, with such a margin, a copy, indorsed by Eusebius himself, was found at Alexandria, in the beginning of the seventh century; and Athanasius, at that time the Jacobite Patriarch of Alexandria, caused one Mar Paulus, a monk and bishop, to translate that Greek copy into Syriac, retaining all its marginal readings and glosses. This task Mar Paulus accomplished, at Alexandria, in the year A. D. 616.


The third Indorsement to the second book of Kings. " And (now) this (book) of the four kingdoms, [this second book of Kings,] is added (to this volume), being translated from the Greek into Syriac." And this, here present, is from the Heptapla Codex, which has seven compartments, and which belongs to the library of Caesarea, in Palestine; and from which, likewise, the interpretations [fragments of versions, or the various readings] are annexed. And it was collated carefully, with the Codex of seven compartments, there being at the end of it this inscription:-" Fourth Book of the Kingdoms according to the seventy: and I, Eusebius, have carefully corrected it, Pamphylus having commenced the correction."- Immediately after, follows the fourth Indorsement, thus:-"This book is translated from the Greek tongue into Syriac, from the version of the Seventy -Two, by the religious monk, MAR PAULUS, Bishop of the Faithful, in the great city of Alexandria, by the injunction and solicitude of the holy and blessed ATHANASIUS, Patriarch of the Faithful, in the monastery of Mar Zacchaeus Callinicensis, while they resided at Alexandria, in the days of the religious Mar Theodorus, Prefect of the house of his monastery; in the year DCCCCXXVIII., in the fifth Indiction, [that is, in the year of the Greek, 928, or A. D. 617.] Whoever reads, let him pray for the religious MAR THOMAS, Deacon, and Syncellus of the holy and blessed Patriarch, MAR ATHANASIUS, who labored and was at pains; and for the others who toiled and labored with him, that God may grant them the salvation of their souls, on account of their labor and pains, through the prayers of his [God's] Mother, and of all saints."-At the end of most of the other books are Indorsements of much the same general import: thus, at the end of the Book of Isaiah, there is the following:-" End of the Prophecy of Isaiah. This is annexed (to the other books), from the Codex of EUSEBIUS and PAMPHYLUS, which also they corrected from the Bibliotheca of ORIGEN."_ See also the Indorsements at the end of the twelve minor Prophets, at the end of the Book of Proverbs, end of the Book of Canticles, and of the Book of Ecclesiastes. In all these places, it is stated that the Syriac translation was made from a Codex, set forth by Eusebius and Pamphylus, from the Bibliotheca of Origen, containing various readings and marginal notes.


Both manuscripts of the Syriac Hexapla are written in the Estrangelo character; and are apparently ancient. That of Paris contains only the 4th [2d] Book of Kings: and it was first brought into notice in 1770, by Paul Jacob Bruns. That in the Ambrosian library at Milan, contains nearly or quite all the Old Testament. To this valuable manuscript, John Baptist Branca, a doctor in the Ambrosian college, directed the attention of Dr. Kennicott and of J. P. Bruns, while on a visit to Milan, about the year 1767. A few years after, J. J. Bjornthal, of Sweden, visited Milan, examined the manuscript, sent some specimens of it to England and Sweden, and also published a description of it. De Rossi then became interested in it, and in 1778, published the first Psalm as a specimen, accompanied by a full account of the manuscript. In the same year, Matthew Norberg, of Sweden, visited Milan, and took a copy of a large part of it: and in the year 1787, he published at Lund, in 4to., the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, from his copy. The next year, Cajetan Bugatus, of Milan, published the book of Daniel, Syriac and Latin, 4to. He also commenced the publication of the book of Psalms, about the same time; but it was not carried through the press till 1820. In the mean time, Bruns had procured a copy of the Paris manuscript. But neither he nor Norberg, met with sufficient encouragement to proceed with the publication of their copies. They left their manuscripts in the hands of Eichhorn; who at length transferred them to Henry Middledorpf, a professor in the university of Breslau, in Silesia; and he published so much of these transcripts, as had not before been published,-(viz. the 4th [2d] book of Kings, Isaiah, the twelve minor Prophets, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes,)-in one large vol. 4to., Berlin, 1835; with a learned Preface, containing the facts above stated. The following books, we suppose, have never been published, viz.: the entire Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, first and second of Samuel, first of Kings, the two books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
This Syriac version adheres very closely to the Greek; and therefore will aid us, so far as it extends, in ascertaining what text of the Septuagint was approved by Origen, and by Eusebius and Pamphylus. It may also help us to recover some of the deviations from the Septuagint, in the several Greek versions collated by Origen. Of course, for criticism of the Septuagint Greek text, it is of great value. But for the interpretation of the Scriptures, it cannot be of much use, on account of its servility, and its adherence to the Septuagint. As a translation, it is very like the Philoxenian New Testament: which Thomas Harclensis was revising at Alexandria at the very time, when Mar Paulus was producing this version. As the Peshito New Testament is far more valuable, for exegetical purposes, than the Philoxenian version; so the Peshito Old Testament which is a faithful translation from the Hebrew, must be far more valuable to an interpreter, than the Syriac Hexapla, which is a servile translation from the Septuagint Greek.

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Shlama Akhi Andrew:
This work is comprehensive. James Murdock does a thorough job of documenting the early history of the Peshitta New Testament. This is the URL for Yaaqub Younan-Levine's site and the on-line book,


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Here is an exquisite exerpt from the book.


REV. EZRA STILES, D.D., Pres. of Yale College, in his Inaugural Oration, says: " Kindred with this, [the Hebrew,] or rather a bath-kol, and daughter-voice, is the Syriac, in which the greater part of the New Testament (I believe) was originally written, and not merely translated, in the Apostolic age.... The Syriac Testament, therefore, is of high authority; nay, with me, of the same authority as the Greek."

This fascinating statement by Rev. Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College shows that he is learned in Talmud and Rabbinic literature when he makes his observation know as to the integral importance of the Peshitta New Testament. He calls the Aramaic Peshitta bath-kol and daughter voice. This same title is used in the Talmud Gamara in various places. One reference is in Talmud Masekhta Eruvin 13b.

Quote:R. Abba stated in the name of Samuel: For three years there was a dispute between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, the former asserting, ???The halachah is in agreement with our views??? and the latter contending, ???The halachah is in agreement with our views???. Then a bath kol issued announcing, ???[The utterances of] both are the words of the living God, but the halachah is in agreement with the rulings of Beth Hillel???.

I suggest that this title, kol / a voice is in it's shortened form when a voice speaks to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4, 7)and to Peter at the occasion of Cornelius the Centurion. (Acts 10:13, 15, 11:7, 11:9. The false proclamation by admirers, that Herod's voice is benot kol , is the cause of his miserable death by divine intervention. (Acts 12:22)

Remember that this book by Dr. James Murdock was written in 1852. The understanding of Aramaic New Testament Primacy is ni a time of revival and renewal. These 19th century scholars are a great boost in our present quest in documenting the Aramaic primacy of the New Testament.

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Murdock uses the term "Peshitto" to refer to the original 22 books rather than "Peshitta".

Murdock refers to the original 22 books as a"translation" while seeming to argue that it is the "original" New Testament. Maybe in his time the word "translation: was generically used to mean "version".

Comments please....

ograabe Wrote:Murdock uses the term "Peshitto" to refer to the original 22 books rather than "Peshitta".

Murdock refers to the original 22 books as a"translation" while seeming to argue that it is the "original" New Testament. Maybe in his time the word "translation: was generically used to mean "version".

Comments please....


Shlama Akhi Otto:
The intense peer pressure within western Christian scholarship, founded upon Greek Primacy since the Reformation was formidable. In order to do the kinds of exhaustive work with the Peshitta text would presuppose James Murdock's affirmation of Greek Primacy, even against his better scholarly judgement. This same type of pressure from the Catholic church, 400 years earlier, affected the reports by Galileo concerning his astronomical observations. The Protestant Reformation had strong influence on the American colonies.

MURDOCK, James, author, born in Westbrook, Connecticut, 16 February, 1776; died in Columbus, Mississippi, 10 August, 1856. He was graduated at Yale in 1797, and became successively preceptor of Hopkins grammar-school at New Haven, and of Oneida academy (now Hamilton college), New York He studied theology under Timothy Dwight, and was licensed to preach as a Congregational minister in January, 1801, and settled as pastor of the church at Princeton, Massachusetts, in June, 1802, where he remained thirteen years. In 1815 he became professor of ancient languages in the University of Vermont, and from 1819 till 1828 he was professor of sacred rhetoric and ecclesiastical history in Andover theological seminary. In 1829 he removed to New Haven and devoted the rest of his life to study, principally that of ecclesiastical history, the oriental languages, and philosophy. He was president of the Connecticut academy of arts and sciences, vice-president of the philological society of Connecticut, and one of the founders of the American oriental society. He received the degree of D. D. from Harvard in 1819. He published a translation from the German of Munscher's 'Elements of Dogmatic History" (New Haven, 1880): a translation of Mosheim's "institutes of Ecclesiastical History," with copious notes (3 vols., New York, 1832); an edition of Milman's "History of Christianity," with preface and notes (1841) ; "Sketches of Modern Philosophy, especially among the Germans " (Hartford, 1842) ; a " Literal Translation of the Whole New Testament from the Ancient Syriac Version," with a preface and marginal notes (New York, 1851); and a translation from the Latin of Mosheim's " Commentaries on the Affairs of the Christians before thee Time of Constantine the Great " (2 vols., 1852).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright ?? 2001 VirtualologyTM

Stephen Silver
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Shlama Akhi Otto,

While we can't know this precisely, I can say I agree with Stephen Silver. Murdock was under pressure during his life and he got assailed after his death for his views too. By the time he did his translation, Murdock was in his 80's and had done almost everything a bible scholar could have done in his period. His life story is quite remarkable.

But in the 1915 ninth edition that I gave a link for yesterday there was a new preface by a guy writing almost 50 years after Murdock had died. This new scholar was very erudite in many ways and brought a impressive case to bear for the greater sutdy of the Aramaic NT. But, at the same time, he also tried to show why Murdock had a "limited view" because of all the new mss they had found since Murdock died. Read between the lines a bit though and you will see the implication being though "we are kind of backing away from the Aramaic NT primacist position of Murdock".

I see Murdock himself being very careful to praise the Greek NT for his audience but slipping in his real message about "oldest surviving NT" if not original NT as Peshitta. It is also very evident that he identified with the Aramaic assemblies that he knew of and has a lot of praise for both Jewish and Aramaic Christian scholarship.

Finally, remember that this has happened since Murdock too. While Harper Collins did not ask Lamsa to water down his clear Peshitta primacist views, they did suppress his original notes that clearly documented the differences between KJV and the Peshitta, and I only found those notes in the ABS Reprint of 1998, 25 years after Lamsa had died. It seems that for Harper Collins, just testifying to how the text contrasts with what they knew was dangerous. How much more entrenched would these same prejudices been in Murdock's day almost a century earlier?
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth

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