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Jn 2:1-11 in the Persian Diatessaron

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2002
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      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
      found there,
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/2470

      And also, "3 versions of Jn 2:1-11" (Mar 9),
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/2419

      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
      identified.

      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
      disciples.
      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
      thirty gallons.
      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
      it.
      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
      the bridegroom
      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
      until now."
      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
      fill up.

      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.

      Best wishes,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku -=O=- Toronto

      I doubt, therefore I might be.
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