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

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  • William L. Petersen
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 30, 1997
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      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. It was displaced by the Peshitta only in the
      fifth cent., and then only under duress, as shown by the edicts of the
      "outside agitators" Rabbula of Edessa and Theodoret of Cyrrhus ("outside"
      because their allegiance lay with Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome, not
      Edessa and Jerusalem [recall the *Doctrina Addai*]). Thus, the earliest
      "widely accepted" text in Syria was the Diatessaron--whose greatest textual
      sympathies are with the "Western Text" (D, vetus latina MSS a and g1, etc.).
      The displacement of the Diatessaron came about only as the result of a
      "reformation" within the Syrian church, in which the old Semitic center of
      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
      *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...)

      What is your evidence for your assertions?

      >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.... ;-)
    • Matthew Johnson
      ... 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)
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 12, 1997
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        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.

        [snip]
        > 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
        help.

        > >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).
      • Matthew Johnson
        Perhaps if had remembered the saying of Augustus Festina lente , this would not be necessary: but I have two corrections to my own post. 1) Of course, the
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 13, 1997
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          Perhaps if had remembered the saying of Augustus "Festina lente",
          this would not be necessary: but I have two corrections to my own post.

          1) Of course, the History of the Byzantine Empire was written by
          Vasiliev, not Rostovsev.

          2) the much more appropriate citation from AMphoux is p 115 " all that is
          certain is that this type of text [the syro-byzantine] spread very
          rapidly throughout the Greek-speaking world when John Chrysostom and
          other Syrians had occupied the patriarchal see at Constantinople"

          My previous comments concern why I find Amphoux's assertion here so
          credible. His history of the text-type is quite consistent with the
          mentality I find in the Fathers and in the Orthodox today.

          Finally, I might also mention that vonSoden devotes many pages to Joh
          Chrysostom and his influence on the Syro-Byzantine text-type. To be
          sure, his history is not up to date, but has anyone else yet tried to
          write as complete a history of the type as he did?

          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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