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2932Re: *Romanos* and the TR? (Was: Erasmus)

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  • Matthew Johnson
    Jul 12, 1997
      On Tue, 1 Jul 1997, William L. Petersen wrote:

      > Matthew Johnson writes:
      > >
      > >In fact, as I have hinted before, the widespread acceptance of the TR owes
      > >much to the high esteem for Syrian scholars of great holiness, such as St.
      > >John Chrysostom, St. Isaac the Syrian, Theodoret (the one from Syria), St.
      > >John Climacus, St. Romanus the Melodist... As Syrians, they lived and
      > >breathed the Syrian text-form of the Scriptures.
      > Hmmm. There are a couple things in this paragraph which confuse me.
      > (1) The oldest Syrian text was the Diatessaron, whose "widespread
      > acceptance" was such that it was commented upon by St. Ephrem (a doctor of
      > the church), and was the text (often? usually?) used by Aphrahat--both
      > mid-fourth cent. writers.

      A couple of corrections here: 1) the DIatessaron is a different text: it
      is (of course), the text of the DIatessaron, not of the Canonical Gospels.
      2) According to the historians of the Syrian Church I have read, the
      history of Western Syria (sphere of influence of Antioch) and Eastern
      Syria (sphere of influence of Edessa) are somewhat distinct: it is in
      Eastern Syria that the Diatessaron enjoyed such popularity.

      If you are aware of more recent work that has overturned this version of
      history, please feel free to make reference to it in your reply.

      > gravity (Jerusalem [and the line of Addai and Aggai]) was replaced by a
      > Hellenistic center of gravity (Rome [and the line of Palut]). And the
      > Peshitta is most certainly not a TR form of text... The text of the authors
      > who wrote (or are preserved) only in Greek is also not quite so simple...to
      > wit, Romanos:

      > (2) Your statement, "... the widespread acceptance of the TR owes much to
      > the high esteem for Syrian scholars of great holiness, such as...St. Romanus
      > the Melodist," gives me pause. Having identified each and every gospel
      > citation and allusion in all of Romanos hymns (*genuina* as well as
      > *dubia*--5 vols. in the SC ed. [2 in the Oxford ed.]), and compared them
      > with the various traditions, Romanos' text can hardly be called the TR. His
      > most distinctive readings are Syriac (= vetus syra) and Diatessaronic. See
      > my monograph *The Diatessaron and Ephrem Syrus as Sources of Romanos the
      > Melodist* CSCO 475 [Subsida 74] (Louvain: Peeters, 1985), or an article in

      This is an interesting point, I am glad you mentioned it. But there is an
      important distinction you have still not mentioned: when you counted these
      citations and allusions, did you take into account which of them were in
      hymns that have never been widely used in the Church vs. which found an
      established place? There might be a dramatic difference in text-type.

      > *NTS* 29 (1983), pp. 484-507. Lest I be given the credit for noting
      > Romanos' dependence upon the Diatessaron: the observation was first made by
      > Curt Peters in *OrChrP* 8 (1942), pp. 468-476; it was also remarked upon
      > (and new readings adduced) by Gilles Quispel in the Metzger FS (edd. Epp and
      > Fee, 1981), pp. 305-311. (I should also point out that Romanos appears to
      > make use of obscure traditions from the Judaic-Christian gospels; see my
      > article "A New Testimoninum to a Judaic-Christian Gospel Fragment from a
      > Hymn of Romanos the Melodist," *VigChr* 50 [1996]; it seems he knows a
      > passage otherwise known only from the Latin *Historia passionis domini*, a
      > fourteenth cent. source--which attributes it to the Gospel of the Nazoraeans...)
      Thanks for the references. I will look them up.

      > What is your evidence for your assertions?

      1 - The comments of Rostovcev "The History of the Byzantine Empire" (I
      know, o-l-d, which is why I didn't realize Romanos had been published)
      concerning the explosion of religious poetry in the Byzantine empire -
      poetry written by Syrian Orthodox Christians.

      2 - Amphoux's "An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticsim" p 95
      "but this sophisticated kind of coded writing is not suitable for the
      general circulation. For wider distribution, the text had to be adapted
      to the mentatlity of the people who werer going to receive it".

      True, he had in mind the Western text, but why should this process have
      stopped then?

      3- General observations in the Orthodox Church today, which still
      preserves much (but not all) of an older attitude to the Scriptures than
      Protestants and Textual Critics: if you really want to understand the
      mind of the scribes, learning the mind of the modern Orthodox is a big

      > >The TR is _still_ easier for the average
      > >modern man to understand than the Alexandrian text, much as it was easier
      > >for people to understand in the days when the text-form evolved.
      > This statement of yours perfectly illustrates why the more awkward (or more
      > difficult, or the theologically "non-standard") reading is preferred in many
      > situations (not in all) by many (not all) textual critics...
      > --Petersen, Penn State University
      > PS: BTW, if you delve into the critical biographies of many of the
      > ancients--including saints--one quickly sees that "holiness" is usually
      > highly subjective, and often only in the eye of the beholder.... ;-)

      As for holiness being subjective, if so, then remember that the book all
      of us devote so much effort to studying commands us in quite unequivocal
      terms to be subjective: "be holy, for I am Holy".

      Matthew Johnson
      Waiting for the blessed hope and the appearance of the glory of our
      great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Ti 2:13).
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