Jn 2:1-11 in the Persian Diatessaron
- Dear friends,
This is to follow up on my previous post of Mar 26, where I brought up the
subject of the Persian Diatessaron, and the version of Jn 2:1-11 that is
And also, "3 versions of Jn 2:1-11" (Mar 9),
I have now located 10 agreements between the Persian DT and the Magdalene
Gospel -- some of them also attested in some other Western DTs. So it's
quite likely that in these instances the pre-canonical text of Jn is now
Here, once again, is the canonical text, followed by the Persian version.
John 2:1-11 :: Revised Standard Version (RSV)
1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana
in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his
3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said
to him, "They have no wine."
4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have
you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever
he tells you."
6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the
Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or
7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water."
And they filled them up to the brim.
8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and
take it to the steward of the feast." So they took
9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water
now become wine, and did not know where it
came from (though the servants who had drawn
the water knew), the steward of the feast called
10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good
wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then
the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine
11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in
Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples
believed in him.
The Persian Diatessaron. (DIATESSARON PERSIANO, ed. G. Messina, "Biblica
et Orientalia" 14, Rome, 1951, p. 47, as translated into the Italian;
translation from the Italian is mine.) The 10 parallels are numbered, and
then analysed one by one.
On the third day there was a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, and the
mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus and his disciples were invited to the
wedding feast. The wine was running out. The mother of Jesus said, "They
have no wine." He said, (1) "WHY DO YOU SAY THIS, MOTHER? [Perche (lo)
dici, o madre?] The time has not yet come." The mother said to the
servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." And there were six stone jars
there, that they had placed there for the ablutions of the Jews [che
avevano posto per l'abluzione dei giudei], each holding two or three (2)
MEASURES. And the people were seated in the banquet room [E la gente eran
seduti nella sala del banchetto].
Jesus said to them, "Fill these jars with water." And they filled them up
to the brim. (3: omission) "And give [this] to (4) THE HEAD OF THE
ASSEMBLY." [E date al capo dell'adunanza.] They (5) CARRIED and gave
[this] to the head of the assembly. He tasted the water now become wine,
and did not know where it came from (though the mixers [i mescitori] who
had filled the [jugs with] water knew).
The head of the assembly (6) CALLED the bridegroom, and says to him,
"Every man brings out the good wine first; when men have drunk freely,
then he (7) BRINGS OUT inferior [cattivo] wine. You have kept the good
wine until now." This (8) WAS the first (9) MIRACLE, that Jesus did in
Cana in Galilee, and [he] manifested the (10) POWER of God; and his
disciples believed in him.
And now, here's the analysis.
1. While MG completely lacks the harsh words that Jesus says to his
mother, as found in the canonical Greek Jn 2:4, the Persian DT includes
some generally kind words instead.
2. The size of the jugs seems smaller in the Persian version. There's a
parallel with the Dutch DT here. In connection with this, in his apparatus
for the Dutch DT, Plooij supplies the following Latin version as found in
Zacharias Chrysopolitanus, "binae vel ternae mensurae".
3. The Persian DT omits "Now draw some out". This seems to indicate that,
just like in MG, rather than just a sampling of the wine, the jugs
themselves are being carried over to be tasted by the "head of the
assembly" (since they are smaller and more portable).
4. The "head of the assembly" seems pretty close to both MG and the Dutch.
5. The word "to carry" is pretty close to both MG and the Dutch.
6. The past tense is used here in all three of our DT texts (CALLED the
bridegroom), as opposed to the present tense in both Greek and Latin
canonical versions. Normally, I wouldn't have picked up on such a small
parallel, but Plooij also lists in his apparatus a whole range of
additional support for this in the Syro-Latin tradition.
7. The words "to bring out" are used twice, unlike in the canonical
version. A similar construction is also found in both MG and the Dutch.
Quispel also lists a few more witnesses for this repetition of "to bring
out/to set forth" in this verse, including the Arabic DT, and the
following Latin version from Ludolph of Saxony, "tunc apponit id quod
deterius est" (TATIAN AND THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS, 1975, p. 169). Plooij
missed this parallel in his apparatus.
8. In the Persian text, "this WAS the first miracle". The same expression
is found both in MG and the Dutch.
9. Just like the Persian DT, both MG and the Dutch use the word "miracle",
rather than the canonical "sign".
10. The word "power" is, again, found in all three of our texts, the
Persian DT, MG, and the Dutch DT.
Thus, we have 10 parallels altogether between MG and the Persian DT; 8 of
them are also shared by the Dutch, at least to some extent.
NOTE: The parallels here numbered 6, 7 and 9 have not been mentioned
before. These are some additional parallels between MG and the Dutch, in
addition to the ten that I have already itemised in my previous article on
the subject. So this brings to 14 the total number of the parallels
between MG and the Dutch in this pericope (also one additional parallel in
the Dutch wasn't specifically numbered in my previous analysis).
In regard to #10 above, the word "power" is found in MG in connection with
Jesus towards the beginning of the story, so this is why I overlooked it
before. (In the canonical version it is "glory = doxas" instead.)
Also to be noted is the expression in the Persian DT, "and [he] manifested
the _power of God_". (In the Dutch DT, it is "his divine power".) This
seems like an additional indication that Persian DT sees Jesus in a
Jewish-Christian Ebionite sort of way, or, in other words, there's a
leaning towards the low Christology in the Persian text.
There's one more very interesting parallel there that can be noted. This
is a very clear parallel between the Persian and the Dutch in the phrase
"but the servants who had _filled the jugs with water_ knew". In the
canonical version, it is,
"the servants who had _drawn the water_ knew".
So, in Latin, this would be hauserant/to draw out against impleverant/to
This parallel is noted by Plooij in his apparatus. Of course he didn't yet
know about the Persian DT when he produced his analysis, but he noted the
parallels here between the Dutch DT and the Syriac, Arabic, Sahidic, and
Bohairic versions. And yet the Magdalene Gospel lacks this whole long
passage, that seems like a later expansion.
The two parallels that are shared by MG and Persian (#1 and #3) seem very
primitive. The few parallels that may be found between the Persian and the
Dutch against MG generally seem less primitive.
Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku -=O=- Toronto
I doubt, therefore I might be.