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"so sacred a deposite"

Here's an interesting quote from Lyman Coleman's book Ancient Christianity Exemplified in the Private, Domestic, Social and Civil Life of the Primitive Christians:

Quote:Among the books of the Nestorians are some very ancient manuscripts. There are copies of the New Testament, for instance, written, some on parchment and some on paper, which date back about six hundred years. Some of these are written in the Estrangelo, and some in the common Nestorian character.

The very ancient copies of the Scriptures are regarded by the Nestorians with much veneration, and are used with great care. They are kept wrapped in successive envelopes, and when taken into the hands are reverently kissed, as very hallowed treasures.

In the village of Kosee is a copy of the New Testament which purports to be fifteen hundred years old. A few of the first parchment leaves are gone and their place is supplied by paper, on which that early date is recorded, with how much authority is uncertain. The rubrics, in most ancient copies, moreover, betray a later origin than tradition or their dates would claim for them.

I tried to borrow the revered copy here mentioned, to bring with me to America as an object of interest, but the Mohammedan master of the village interposed and forbade its being taken away, apprehending that some dire calamity would befall the inhabitants should so sacred a deposite be removed from among them. And such is the reputation of its antiquity and sanctity that Mohammedans, as well as Nestorians, are sometimes sworn upon that New Testament.

Coleman's book was published in 1852. That would make the claim for this particular Peshitta New Testament manuscript date back to around 352 AD.

Concerning veneration and guardianship of the Peshitta, what a contrast I saw when visiting with a friend at her family's Messianic congregation a couple of weeks ago. There were Bibles, Torah and New Testaments sitting in the floor under the chairs getting kicked by shoes being shuffled back and forth. One child was coloring in the pages of a Chumash! Call me old fashioned but I was utterly shocked at the carelesness and blatant lack of respect for such holy texts! <!-- sConfusedhocked: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/shocked.gif" alt="Confusedhocked:" title="Shocked" /><!-- sConfusedhocked: -->

The book quoted above is on Google books for those interesting in downloading a copy.

Ya'aqub Younan-Levine

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