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Age / Antiquity / Dating of Peshitta Aramaic
Great day everyone,

My current understanding is that the earliest manuscripts of the Peshitta date back to the 4th century. I have seen numerous pieces of evidence to suggest that Peshitta dates back to much earlier, and I'm wondering if anyone would be willing (or has) assembled a list of evidence that could neatly be used to argue the antiquity of the Peshitta to the earliest date.

If this has already been done, pardon my request, and please direct me to where. However, it would be nice to have a concise and neat arrangement of evidence to show that Peshitta goes back much early than the 300's CE. Thanks so much,

i'm not sure this will help your request at all, but i believe it is commonly accepted that Tatian's Diatessaron (ca. 175AD) was originally in Syriac (imho it was based on the Peshitta, but that is not generally accepted, and a bit besides the point <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> ).

As far as i know, it is also accepted by some (many?) scholars that the Peshitta OT and / or NT were translated in the 1st and 2nd century (which imho is also wrong concerning the NT, but again besides the point).
Thank you kindly, Andre.
No problem. Since no one else said anything, maybe this would help you as well (it is not Peshitta specific, but hints an early Aramaic NT):

1) A Syriac NT Manuscript supposedly from 78CE is in the Vatican Archive, unfortunately unreleased:
JS Assemane, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana. Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae codicum manuscriptorum catalogus in tres partes distributus: in quarum prima Orientales, in altera Graeci in tertia Latini Italici aliorumque Europaeorum idiomatum codices. vol. 2-3. (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1926)
Part 1, Vol 2, Codex XC, Page 492, 48, Translation from Latin and Syriac:
"On this old Gospel upon the altar of the Holy Church that is in the temple of the Romans from the city of Baghdad. There was an Old Edessan Gospel that was clear with no missing letters, and was said to be better than any new Books. Only the first section was lost from it from that time period and at the end was written:
This Holy Book was finished on the 5th day in the week, the 18th in December of the year 389 of the Greeks (i.e. 78 AD). Handwriting by the hand of the apostle AHay friend of Mor Mori the student of Mor Aday (Thaddaeus) the Apostle; his prayer be with us Amen!"
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3) A 1st/2nd c. Jewish tradition concerning the handling of texts containing the sacred Name in case of fire speaks of the Christian Gospels containing references to the Name:
"The books of the Evangelists and the books of the minim they do not save from a fire [on the Sabbath]. They are allowed to burn up where they are, they and [even] the references to the Divine Name that are in them."
Rabbi Tarfon (~70-135CE), Tosfeta, Shabbat 13:5-A, cf. Babylonian Talmud Shabbath 116a, Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 15c

4) It is well-known that Tatian developed the Syriac Diatessaron (Gospel harmony) ca. 175CE. Of course many today assume he translated them from the Greek, which of course makes little sense, as in 175CE a Semitic NT would have been readily available for the vast part of Christianity in and eastward of Israel. Tatian did not use Greek Gospels and both translated and rearranged them at once, he simply used his Syriac Gospels and made a harmony (but of course that is opinion).

5) Epiphanius of Salamis tells us the story of Josephus of Tiberias, who apparently opened a sealed treasury, in which he "found no money, but books money could not buy", among them the Gospels of Matthew and John, and the Acts of the Apostles, all in Hebrew. Epiphanus says John and Acts are translations, but it seems he is giving his opinion, as the story makes no hint to the origin of the texts. He doesn't say what else was in the treasury, but seems to imply his readers may already know of these Hebrew texts.
The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, 374?377CE, Part 30 ("Epiphanius Against the Ebionites") 3:7-9, 5:4, 6:7-9, 12:10
6) Statements concerning the language of the NT writings from the Church Fathers:
Please note that these people mostly know "Hebrew" and the Hebrews from their Christian faith. Like the NT, many of them make no distinction between Aramaic and Hebrew in name.

Concerning the language of Paul's letters:
"He [Paul] being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew, that is, his own tongue and most fluently while things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek."
Jerome (380CE), Lives of Illustrious Men, Book V

Concerning the language (and authorship) of "Hebrews":
"The epistle to the Hebrews he asserts was written by Paul, to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks."
Clement of Alexandria, Hypotyposes (198-203CE), referred to by Eusebius in Eccl. Hist.6:14:2

"For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews in the language of his country; some say that the evangelist Luke, others that Clement, translated the epistle."
Eusebius, 315CE, Eccl. Hist. 3:38:2-3

Concerning the language of Matthew:
"Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able."
Papias, 150-170 CE, quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3:39

"Matthew also issued a written gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect."
Ireneus, 170 CE, Against Heresies 3:1

"The first is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, who having published it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew."
Origen, 210 CE, quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 6:25

"Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to the other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings."
Eusebius, 315 CE, Eccl. Hist. 3:24

"Pantaenus (...) penetrated as far as India, where it is reported that he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had been delivered before his arrival to some who had the knowledge of Messiah, to whom Bartholomew, one of the emissaries, as it is said, had proclaimed, and left them the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters."
Eusebius, 315 CE, Eccl. Hist. 5:10

"They [the Nazarenes] have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters."
Epiphanius, 370CE, Panarion 29:9:4

"Matthew, who is also Levi, and from a tax collector came to be an emissary first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Messiah in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained.
Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist (...) makes use of the testimonies of the Old Scripture, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators [The LXX], but that of the Hebrew."
Jerome, 380 C.E., Of Illustrious Men 3

"Pantaenus found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve emissaries, had there [India] preached the advent of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah according to the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Hebrew letters, and which, on returning to Alexandria, he brought with him."
Jerome, 380 C.E., De Vir. 3:36

7) There is also the "Jerusalem Colophon", a statement found in a number of Greek Manuscripts (39, 20, 164, 215, 262, 300, 376, 428, 565, 686, 78, and 1071) that they were copied and corrected "from ancient manuscripts at Jerusalem". Though there is no language mentioned, it is possible that "ancient manuscripts at Jerusalem" was supposed to imply Hebrew / Aramaic texts.
Awesome, thanks for posting those.
Yes, thank you very much Andre. You went all out on this, and it is a great help.


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