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Earliest known date attached to four Gospels
"The Vatican Library is closed to the public since July 14, 2007 for important refurbishment works which are expected to last for three years."

1. How do we know the manuscript still exists and has not shared the fate of a lot of Assemani's own written works? Could have had it in his apartment at that night, or the fire reached the library next door?

3. What would be the name, some identifier of this manuscript ?

Maybe it is here: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... searchstr=</a><!-- m --> ...

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Shlama all==

Yes, this is an outrageous situation, but no, it is hardly a bombshell. I have known about this for many years, since first seeing this entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

(Arabic, Sam'an, i.e. Simeon)

The name of an illustrious Maronite family of Mount Lebanon, Syria, four members of which, all ecclesiastics, distinguished themselves during the eighteenth century in the East and in Europe. For their zeal, learning, and unbounded attachment to the Roman See, they were held in great esteem by the Popes, who conferred upon them many well-merited ecclesiastical dignities and offices. Oriental, but especially Syriac, studies owe more to them than to any others; for it was through their researches, collection of manuscripts, and voluminous publications that Syriac studies, and in general the history, hagiography, liturgy, and literature of the Oriental Churches were first introduced into Europe. Therefore they can be justly regarded, if not as the creators, certainly as the most illustrious pioneers, of modern Oriental studies. In this work they were preceded by other Maronite scholars, known to Orientalists under their latinized names of Echellensis, Sciadrensis, Sionita, and Benedictus. To these and to the Assemanis we owe the fact that the characters, vowels, and pronunciation of Syriac, first introduced by them in Europe, were after the so-called Western Syriac, or Jacobite system, and not as would have been more original and correct, of the Eastern Syriac, or Nestorian. This anomaly, however, is easily explained by the fact that, as the Western Syriac system is the one used by the Maronite Church, to which these scholars belonged, it was but natural that they should adopt this in preference to the other. The four Assemanis are the following:

Joseph Simeon
Born in the Mountains of Lebanon, Syria, 1687; died at Rome, January, 1768. In 1703, he entered the Maronite College, Rome, to study for the priesthood. Soon after his ordination he was given a post in the Vatican Library, and in 1715-17 sent by Clement XI to the East for the purpose of collecting Oriental manuscripts; he accomplished his task successfully, visiting Cairo, Damascus, Aleppo, Mount Lebanon, and especially the Nitrian desert. He brought these manuscripts to Rome, and they were placed by order of the Pope in the Vatican Library, where they formed the nucleus of its subsequently famous collection of Oriental manuscripts. In 1735-38 he was sent again to the East, and returned with a still more valuable collection. On his return, he was made titular Archbishop of Tyre and Librarian of the Vatican Library, where he devoted the rest of his life to carrying out a most extensive plan for editing and publishing the most valuable Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Persian, Hebrew, and Greek manuscripts, treasures of the Vatican. His published works are very numerous, besides others (about one hundred in number) which he left in manuscript form. The majority of these, however, were destroyed by a fire, which, in 1768, broke out in his Vatican apartment, adjacent to the Library. His published works are the following: ??? (1) "Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana in qua manuscriptos codices Syriacos, Arabicos, Persicos, Turcicos, Hebraicos, Samaritanos, Armenicos, Aethiopicos, Graecos, Aegyptiacos, Ibericos et Malabaricos. . .Bibliothecae Vaticante addictos recensuit, digessit Josephus Simonius Assemanus" (Rome, 4 vols. fol., 1719-28). This gigantic work, of which only the first four volumes appeared, was to comprise twelve volumes, of which the unpublished ones were as follows: Vol. V, "De Syriacis sacrarum Scripturarum versionibus"; Vol. VI, "De libris ecclesiasticis Syrorum"; Vol. VII, "De Conciliorum collectionibus Syriacis"; Vol. VIII, "De collectionibus Arabicis"; Vol. IX, "De Scriptoribus Graecis in Syriacum et Arabicum conversis"; Vol. X, "De Scriptoribus Arabicis Christianis"; Vols. XI and XII, "De Scriptoribus Arabicis Mahometanis." Considerable preparation for these unpublished volumes was made by the author, a portion of which was destroyed by fire. The four published volumes are divided as follows: Vol. I, "De Scriptoribus Syris orthodoxis"; Vol. II, "De Scriptoribus Syris monophysitis"; Vol. III, "Catalogus Ebedjesus Sobensis" (of Nestorian writers); Vol. IV, "De Syris Nestorianis." ??? (2) "Ephraemi Syri opera omnia quae extant graece, syriace et latine," six volumes, folio. The first three volumes were edited by our author, the fourth and the fifth by the Maronite Jesuit Mubarak, or Benedictus, and the sixth by Stephanus Evodius Assemani (see below). ??? (3) "Italicae historiae scriptores ex bibliothecae Vaticanae aliarumque insignium bibliothecarum manuscriptis codicibus collegit," etc., four volumes, folio (Rome 1751-53). ??? (4) "Kalendaria ecclesiae universae," etc., to consist of twelve volumes, of which only the first six appeared (Rome, 1755), treating of "Slavica Ecclesia sive Graeco-Moscha"; the other six, which were to treat of the Syrian, Armenian, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, and Roman saints, were partly prepared, but destroyed by fire. ??? (5) "De sacris imaginibus et reliquiis," destined to comprise five volumes. Parts of the manuscript were saved and extracts from it given by Bottarius (Rome, 1776). ??? (6) "Bibliotheca juris Orientalis canonici et civilis," five volumes, quarto (Rome, 1762-66). ??? (7) "Abraham Echellensis; Chronicon Orientale," printed in "Scriptores Historiae Byzantinae," vol. XVII. ??? (8) "Rudimenta linguae Arabicae" (Rome, 1732). ??? (9) Several dissertations, in Italian, on Oriental Churches, published by Cardinal Angelo Mai in his "Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio" (Rome, 1831). From two Maronite writers, viz., G. Cardahi (Liber Thesauri de arte poetica Syrorum, pp. 171-183) and Msgr. Joseph Dibs, Archbishop of Beirut, Syria ("Spiritus Confutationis," etc., in Latin and Arabic) we learn that J.S. Assemani had in preparation four more gigantic works. The first on "Syria vetus et nova," in nine volumes; the second a "Historia Orientalis," in nine volumes; the third, "Concilia ecclesiae Orientalis," in six volumes; and the fourth "Euchologia seu Liturgia ecclesiae orientalis," etc., in seven volumes. From his "Bibliotheca juris Orientalis," etc. we learn that our author was: "Utriusque Signaturae Apostolicae Referendarius, Bibliothecae Vaticanae Praefectus, Basilicae Sancti Petri de Urbe Canonicus; Sanctae Romanae et Universalis Inquisitionis Consultor"; also "Sacrae Poenitentiariae Apostolicae Sigillator", etc. All our author's works, but especially his "Bibliotheca Orientalis," which has been till recently, and which to a great extent is still, our main guide on the subject, needs thorough revision in the light of the many newly discovered and edited Syriac manuscripts.
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Shlama alokhun,

Just to chime in... I was speaking to my Priest about a month ago about the origins of the Peshitta, and he mentioned that he has personally seen something similar (if not the actual text) to which you are refering. I never thought to ask when or where at that time, but now this is definitely of interest. I say this becasue he specifically stated the year 78 A.D. I will be in contact with him this Thursday night and will ask him if this is the same text to which we are discussing.

Push b'shayna,

-Nimrod Warda-
Paul. Andrew, and other Aramaic scholars:

Contact your local Roman Catholic Bishop, and politely ask him if to be allowed to make a scholarly study of the 78 A.D. Syriac book located in the Vatican Archives. If direct access is not available, ask if a photocopy has been made of the pages or could be made for research purposes.

Please don't suggest that the book was stolen. Ethics and practice of Archaeology have changed over the years, so that such finds formerly became the property of the finder. The German archeologists who found the ancient city of Pergamon, took the buildings apart and carefully reconstructed them in the "Pergoaon" museum located in east Berlin.

enarxe Wrote:1. How do we know the manuscript still exists and has not shared the fate of a lot of Assemani's own written works? Could have had it in his apartment at that night, or the fire reached the library next door?

+Shamasha Paul bar-Shimun de'Beth-Younan
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Shlama Akhi Otto,

I don't have any contacts with the RCC, local or otherwise. As for it being stolen, they admitted stealing it or other mss like them. That theft does not go away with the passage of time. I YHWH change not. Thou shal't not steal. Do you rob Temples--they did. Literally.

For example, read the testimony of Hegisippius. He admits he took some mss from Jerusalem after the last Jewish leader of the See of Jerusalem stepped down in the year 135. Eusebius was also once headquartered in Caesarrea and Jerusalem and refers to copies of mss he saw there.

Nor is this just a theft from the Jewish people or the Nazarenes who wrote and cherished these mss in the Aramaic language. It is a theft from the entire civilized world. Lamsa even talks about it Otto so this should be self-evident. But if the RCC will show what I know that they have (or had at one time) I will be the first one to hail it as a miracle and mitzvah of the highest order.
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Dear Andrew,

No one living today was responsible for stealing the volume in question, so I think the possibly fruitful approach is to inquire about it for scholarly study fully acknowledging that the current custodian is the Roman Catholic Church.

I would expect that they might be receptive to a scholarly inquiry at least to determine whether it still exists. Going through the chain-of-command starting with a Bishop might work.

Shlama Akhi Rafael,

Rafa Wrote:What if the manuscripts were just brought there for safe keeping?

+Shamasha Paul bar-Shimun de'Beth-Younan
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Shlama all---Theft is theft. I would like to see even one example where any Semite group--Hebrew or Aramean--who needed and/or found desirable having their mss taken from them and hidden away forever. Trust me we Semites are quite capable--Jews, Christians and Arabs--of keeping our traditions safe without the help of other nations. To suggest otherwise is preposterous and borders on the insulting.

And I am supposed to ask those who admit doing the deed, pretty please, I would really, really appreciate it if you would just let me see what never should have been taken from my people in the first place?

What if the roles were reversed? What if I had an autographed copy of Jerome's Vulgate and locked it away so that no Catholic would ever see it? How would they feel? How do you think the Scots felt when the British took their Stone of Skoon from which all Scottish kings were sworn in on and the Brits just used that stone for themselves until thiS Queen finally returned it after 700 years? But during that time, how do I feel if I am Scottish?

You see, it all depends on your perspective. If you either don't have your ancestral home (Paul) or are asked to give it up to avoid genocide (me) then you have no idea what it is like and you can just sit there and wonder why we Semites are so sensitive. Walk 2000 years in our shoes and maybe you will understand.

Pretty please my Jewish behind. Give me back MY PESHITTA and give it back NOW.
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
shlomo 'amkhun,

I've sent an email to the Vatican Library's manuscript department asking them for the procedure on obtaining access/a copy of this manuscript.

But at the same time I'm still waiting on aHun Nimrod to see if he is able to obtain better information from the priest. Maybe the priest has access to a copy of this manuscript.

push bashlomo,
keefa bar morun
Hello all,

I did speak to my priest, but need to find out more details before getting anyone's hopes up. Hopefully I will know more in the next week or so.


Nimrod Warda Wrote:Hello all,

I did speak to my priest, but need to find out more details before getting anyone's hopes up. Hopefully I will know more in the next week or so.



Shlama Akhan Nimrod,

I just spoke with Qasha as well, he told me this manuscript was from the Church of Mar Sawr-Isho in Baghdad, and he has a paper written by a RC Cardinal on it. He is trying to locate it and perhaps that will give us an idea of the exact location/catalog number at the Vatican Library.
+Shamasha Paul bar-Shimun de'Beth-Younan
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Shlama all--

While I am no diplomat here obviously on this sensitive issue, for the record I applaud Nimrod and others who are able to be so and contact their priests. Even if they say no or tell us the mss is gone, that will be revealing in and of itself. One must wonder if the current Pope or JP2 knew about these things. If not, I can have little hope we will have more access/information than they did. It may be the RCC decided long ago that for whatever reason keeping these mss in the dark was better for them than getting some glory from the Jewish and Christian worlds. But on the other hand, we live in remarkable times, and YHWH may bring things into His season that we can't imagine now. Certainly Aramaic Primacy over the past 10 years has proven that to be true.

I need everyone here to remember what we know are facts in this case, what the RCC and other interested parties have said from their own mouths, and most of you know I have this documented in my books and in AENT, so I won't reproduce that here, but just take a look at the Catholic Encyclopedia at <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w --> and know I am not making this up. So here is the review:

1) Around the same time that the oldest Greek NT fragment was written (125 CE) ironically with Pilate's question, "What is truth?" on it, the rabbis of the Talmud testified to seeing Gospels with the specific name of YHWH in them. We know these are NAZARENE Gospels because they say so, even going so far as to distinguish them from Evyonim works which they clearly prefer theologically. The cite in Mas Shabbath 116a is attributed to Rabbis Akiba and Tarfon--and put simply it doesn't get more important or credible than that. Tarfon is the one who debated Justin Martyr in Ephesus and referenced his familarity with what may be a Hebrew form of the book of Revelation (long story). Akiba was the spiritual leader who backed Simon bar Kochba in the Second Jewish Revolt. These are giants in Jewish history, akin to Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, writing about Matthew's Gospel before his death in the year 73.

2) In the years after the Bar Kochba Revolt we know the Romans officially took over the Jerusalem See, and put a guy named Markus as Nasi (supreme assembly leader, like Ya'akov haTzadik). We have an unbroken chain of leaders in Jerusalem from Ya'akov through Markus and beyond that NO ONE questions.

3) During this same time frame we have Papias talking about Matthew writing his Gospel in Hebrew letters. We have Hegisippius talking about a "Syriac Gospel" that he saw in Israel and took back to Rome, and other testimonies of Hebrew/Aramaic Gospels in Caesarrea and as far as India by the time of the 4th century, attributed back to as early as the year 52. The confusion of the Church Fathers between Hebrew style script and actual linguistic dialect and the interchanging of that terminology with Syriac or Aramaic dialects must be viewed as one of the best evidences for these mss that Assemani may be talking about.

4) The diary of Hegisippius (or his bio) tells us plainly that he shuttled these mss from Israel to Rome over a 50 year period, ending I think about the year 185. No more than a quarter century later the first person in the West, Origen, quotes the Peshitta exclusive reading of Hebrews 2:9 and no one blinks an eyelash. Same thing happens when Origen's student, Eusebius, publishes his history on the early church. Then Jerome comes on the scene and confirms that a whole Hebrew collection of even Paul's letters may have existed. We can parse and debate as to how extensive that collection was but remember the canon lists were well established for the most part at this time.

5) Now add to this the fact that when Pantaenus around this same period talks about Hebrew Gospels he saw he also critiques the Nazarenes and includes a statement that, "they use not only the Old Testament but the New as well" with NO FURTHER clarification. The statement, when pieced together with the other evidence here, can only mean that the NT Pantaeunus knew was the SAME NT the Nazarenes knew and that he may have seen in some Semitic script.

These are facts people. This is the history of the RCC, by the RCC. The works I am referring to, things like On Famous Men, Ecclesiastical History, Hypoptyposes, Against Heresies, all these things and hundreds more are some of the best resources we have from the period. So if I am guilty of anything, it's accepting the traditions of the Roman Church! How do you like them apples?

So between Jerome's time and now, what the @!&* happened? They didn't expunge their records but they didn't advertise it either. They neither came right out and said these mss (and perhaps others, like the fact Matthew may have written his Gospel while ministering in Ethiopia or Mark's unfinished Gospel in Alexandrai Egypt that Keefa edited, I could go on) were destroyed nor made them available to the rest of the world.

I will tell you what I think happened. In the year 410 the Visigoth Alaric sacks Rome and this is basically the end of classical civilization and the start of the Dark Ages. Never mind that much of the Christian relics were moved to Constantinople or transferred back to Jerusalem to Constantine's churches. A remnant of this history has always been with the Vatican, and they kept combing the planet to bring these mss into their library on a nearly continuous basis.

The RCC has a long established habit of locking things away. The Shroud of Turin is supposed to only be seen twice3 a century, for example. And like any world class museem, most of the artifacts are kept away from the public until a small amount are released in exhibits.

But it is my opinion that the RCC was afraid that they would be attacked for these holy items by other interests. First there was the rise of Islam which eventually took out Constantinople. Then there was a period of near constant war all across Europe. We're talking Hundred Years War, Napoleonic Wars and in this mix the rise of Protestantism and counter-reformation vis a vis the Jesuits. This stuf is going on without break to the end of the 19th century. Then we get WWI and WWII. So when is the Vatican going to think a good time will be to release this information? When will they feel safe?

Well, maybe, just maybe, right now, or maybe in the near future when some of our crises have abated more. Time will tell. It won't so much be a matter of current global conditions changing as it is the RCC has been changing--or trying to--since Vatican II in 1967. I think they are looking for opportunities to reconcile with groups they used to persecute, as JP2 visited Yad Vashem and issued edicts blessing the Jewish people. This Pope we have now seems at least publicly as open as his mentor John Paul was. I don't know that for a fact of course, but I have read the one book he has written since becoming Pope and it sounds mostly okay. But then I hear about "Plan G" and I don't know what to think.

Still, there is enough going on out there that we can have some hope. If that means being nice (others I mean) then for the moment that will be fine. But if they say no, Paul Younan and I have the history behind us and can easily take pen in hand if need be.
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Maybe this is of some help (if someone can read in German):

Title: E. Renan's Leben Jesu
Author: Daniel Bonifacius von Haneberg
Year: 1864

(I think this book is a comment about another book called The Life of Jesus, by Ernest Renan)

On page 58 we can read:

Quote:N??mlich in einer syrischen Handschrift der Vaticana (Cod. Syr. 91), welche verschiedene kirchliche Schriftst??cke enth??lt, ist vom Schreiber der Handschrift folgende Notiz eingetragen:
De quodam pervetusto Evangelio, quod exstabat in sacra Ecclesia AEdium Romaeorum in urbe Bagdado. Erat quodam Evangelium Edessennum (hoc est, Syriacum Edessae exaratum) pervetustum quidem, sed clarum ac dilucidum, ex quo ne jota quiden unum deletum fuerat, legebatur autem clarius quam libri recens exarati, & unus dumtaxat prior quinternio prae antiquitate ex eo exciderat. Ad ejus vero calcem ita scriptum erat.
Absolutus est sanctus iste liber Feria quinta, die 18. Canun prioris (hoc est, Decembris) Anno Graecorum 389 (Christi 78.) propria manu Achaei Apostoli, socii Mar Maris Discipuli Mar Adaei Apostoli, cujus oratio nobiscum sit Amen.

Translating the German bit with google translator
Quote:Namely, in a Syriac manuscript of the Vatican (Cod Syr. 91), the various church documents, is the writer of the manuscript entered the following note:

So it seems that the manuscript in question is: Cod Syr. 91

You can find this reference clicking here.
William Cureton cites the description of this manuscript in two of his books (and seems to consider it true):

Remains of a very antient recension of the four Gospels in Syriac (1858)
page lxxvii
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Ancient Syriac documents relative to the earliest establishment of...
page 158
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