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tc-list Semitic NT texts

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  • James Trimm
    Several Semitic versions of New Testament books have come down to us which may have some claim to being decendants of the original Semitic text. These include
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 1998
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      Several Semitic versions of New Testament books have come down to
      us which may have some claim to being decendants of the original Semitic
      text. These include the Shem Tob and Du Tillet Hebrew versions of Matthew;
      the Old Syriac Aramaic version of the four Gospels; The Peshitta Aramaic
      New Testament and the Crawford Aramaic version of Revelation.
      The DuTillet Hebrew version of Matthew is taken from a Hebrew
      manuscript of Matthew which was confiscated from Jews in Rome in 1553. It
      was brought to Paris by Bishop DuTillet and placed at the Biblioteque
      Nationale where it remains to this day as Hebrew ms. mo. 132. Both Hugh
      Schonfield and George Howard have stated that an ancestor of this Hebrew
      text underlies our current Greek text. Schonfield writes:

      ...certain linguistic proofs... seem to show that the Hebrew
      text [DuTillet] underlies the Greek, and that certain
      renderings in the Greek may be due to a misread Hebrew
      (An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's Gospel; 1927, p. 17)

      The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew was transcribed by Shem Tob
      Ben Yitzach Ben Shaprut into his apologetic work Even Bohan sometime around
      1380 C.E. While the autograph of Shem Tob's Even Bohan has been lost,
      several mss. dating between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries still
      exist. George Howard states of the Shem Tob version of Matthew:

      ...an old substratum to the Hebrew in Shem Tob is a prior
      composition, not a translation. The old substratum, however,
      has been exposed to a series of revisions so that the present
      text of Shem-Tob represents the original only in an impure
      (The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text; 1987;p.223)

      It might appear from the linguistic and sociological
      background to early Christianity and the nature of some
      theological tendencies in Shem-Tob's Matthew that the
      Hebrew text served as a model for the Greek. The present
      writer is, in fact, inclined to that position.
      (ibid p. 225)

      Shem-Tob's Matthew... does not preserve the original in a pure
      form. It reflects contamination by Jewish scribes during the
      Middle Ages. Considerable parts of the original, however,
      appear to remain...
      (Hebrew Gospel of Matthew; 1995; p. 178

      In addition to the Hebrew versions of Matthew we also have an
      Aramaic version of the Four Gospels known as the Old Syriac. Two
      manuscripts of this version have been discovered dating back to the 4th
      century. The firstwas discovered by Dr. William Cureton in 1842. The
      second was discovered by Mrs. Agnes Smith Lewis in 1892. After making his
      profound discovery, Dr. Cureton studied the Old Syriac text in detail. He
      concluded that at least
      the version of Matthew found in the Old Syriac has its basis in the Orginal
      Semitic text and was not merely at translation from the Greek. Cureton
      published his findings to the world saying:

      ...this Gospel of St. Matthew appears at least to be built upon
      the orginal Aramaic text which was the work of the Apostle
      (Remains of a Very Ancient Recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac; 1858;
      p. vi)

      In my book the Semitic Orgin of the New Testament I show
      edivence that this is true of the whole of the Old Syriac.
      The Peshitta New Testament is the Aramaic version of the New
      Testament which has been preserved by the Church of the East (mentioned
      above). It includes all of the books except 2Peter; 2John; 3John; Jude
      and Revelation. These books were not canonized by the Church of the East
      until 508 C.E.. The Peshitta is not merely a translation from the Greek
      text, but rather a revision of the Old Syriac, as Arthur Voobus writes:
      "... the Peshitta is not a translation, but a revision pf an Old Syriac
      version." (Studies in the History of the Gospel Text in Syriac; 1951; p. 46
      see also pp. 54-55).

      The Crawford Aramaic version of Revelation is a very rare, little known
      How the ms. made its way to Europe is unknown. What is known is that th ms.
      was purchased by the Earl of Crawford around 1860. In his possession it
      catalogued Earl of Crawford's Haigh Hall, Wigin, no. 11. It has since been
      at the John Rylands Library. Concerning the variants of this version John

      Two or three... are plausible readings; and might well be
      judged worthy of adoption if there were any ground for
      supposing the Apocalypse to have been originally written,
      or to be based on a document written, in an Aramaic idiom.
      (The Apocalypse of St. John in a Syriac Version Hitherto Unknown; 1897; p.

      Several scholars have proposed an Aramaic or Hebrew original for this book.

      James Scott Trimm

      For further reading the following two books are currently available:
      by James Scott Trimm
      Available from:
      Heb/Aram NT Research Inst
      PO Box 471
      Hurst, TX 76053

      by George Howard
      Mercer University Press
      6316 Peake Rd.
      Macon, GA 31210-3960

      James Trimm
      He who seeks will not cease until he finds,
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      and having reigned he will rest.
      - The Goodnews according to the Hebrews
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