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Re: [textualcriticism] Peshitta confluence with the Greek TR/Byzantine text

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  • David Robert Palmer
    Steven, I am no authority on the Syriac New Testament. But I think you might respect F. H. A. Scrivener, so here are some tidbits from Scrivener: A Plain
    Message 1 of 16 , Jul 7, 2007
      Steven, I am no authority on the Syriac New Testament.  But I think you might respect F. H. A. Scrivener, so here are some tidbits from Scrivener: A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Volume Two, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, 1887; Chapter One, on the Syriac versions of the New Testament:
       
      The Peshitto (or Peshitta) as a name, according to Dr. Field and to Tregelles, came about in the following way.  Originally only the Syriac Old Testament was called this, which means "straight, simple."  It was called this in contrast to those Syriac edtions that had an apparatus with obeli and asterisks.  In In other words, it was "straight, simple Syriac text" without marginal notes, and without the other languages in parallel like the Hexaplas.  Scrivener thought the above men were the authoritative opinion on the source of this Name, especially Dr. Field.
       
      "Of this version again [Peshitto] there are many codices, of different ages and widely diffused;"  But he dates the earliest Peshitto to around the 4th century.  Though he says there must have been some form of Syriac New Testament as early as the year 150.  He says that the Syriac "Received Text" is not the oldest form of the Syriac N.T.
       
      Scrivener says that those editions of the Peshitta that contain the Pericope of the Adulteress, have it in them as "interpolated matter," (p. 15) under which also he categorizes the 1 John 5:7-8 pericope when found in Peshitta editions.  This agrees with what the UBS textual commentary said, that the better manuscripts of the Peshitta omit the Pericope of the Adulteress.
       
      Scrivener discusses Dr. Cureton's theory of the primacy of his Syriac text before the Peshitto, and Scrivener points out how the Curetonian has more wild renderings, and that that is a pointer in favor of the Curetonian being older; since the tendency would be to refine and standardize later.  Yet Scrivener was not convinced to a strong opinion either way as to which version was older v v the Peshitto and Curetonian, though I gather from some of his comments that he leant toward the Peshitto.  But, he says, "It is, no doubt, a grave suggestion, that the more polished, accurate, faithful, and grammatical of the two versions--and the Peshitto richly deserves all this praise--is more likely to have been produced by a careful and gradual revision of one much its inferior in these respects, than the worse to have originated in the mere corruption of the better (Cureton , Pref. p. lxxxi).  A priori, we readily confess that probability inclines this way..."  But, on pp. 23-24 Scrivener gives some of examples of what he calls emendations coming from Church tradition rather than from "sacred records."  He says for example that the Curetonian has distinct omissions the sole reason for which appears to be to uphold the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.  Matt. 1:16 in the Peshitta: "Joseph the husband of Mary" is changed in the Curetonian to "Joseph to whom was espoused Mary the Virgin."  Matt. 1:19 Peshitta: "Joseph her husband, being a just man," changed to "Joseph, because he was a righteous man."  Matt. 1:20 Pesh.: "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife" is changed to "Mary thy espoused."  Matt. 1:24 Peshitta: "Joseph...took unto him his wife" changed in Curetonian to "took MARY."  Scrivener concludes: "The Curetonian translator, for dogmatic purposes, makes four distinct and separate omissions, in three of which he stands unsupported--of the word 'husband' in two places, of the word 'wife' in two others."  He says it is not worthy to be set above the Peshitta.  (He gives no reason why those emendations could not have been made earlier, regardless of the Peshitta.)
       
      Scrivener says the Peshitto is a free and loose translation, mostly of Codex Alexandrinus, whereas Harklensis is a tight, close rendering of its Greek original (Codex Bezae in Acts, Bezae and B, L 1, 33, 69 elsewhere), and the Curetonian is more like a translation sometimes similar to Codex Bezae, or to the Old Latin, and sometimes standing alone.  His exact words re tightness are: "In comparison with the Harkleian, it [Peshitto] is the very reverse of a close rendering of the original."  (If he is right, could a "Dynamic Equivalent" type text really be the original and source of the Greek text instead of the other way around?)  On p. 28, he says of the Harkleian Syriac, "probably the most servile version of Scripture ever made."
       
      A footnote on p. 16 says about Scrivener's statement that the Peshitto is a translation from Codex Alexandrinus, "This fact is notoriously true, and of course rests not on Scrivener's evidence, but on universal consent."
       
      About the Curetonian Syriac, Scrivener says "Dr. Cureton went so far as to persuade himself that he had discovered in these Syriac fragments a text of St. Matthew's gospel that 'to a great extent, has retained the identical terms and expressions which the Apostle himself employed; and that we have here, in our Lord's discourses, to a great extent the very same words as the Divine Author of our holy religion Himself uttered in proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation in the Hebrew dialect...' " (p. xciii): "that here in fact we have to a great extent the original of that Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew of which the canonical Greek gospel is but a translation."  Scrivener a couple sentences later says about Dr. Cureton's arguments for Matthew's gospel being originally Hebrew and not Greek, that "they seem to have convinced no one save himself.
       
      Scrivener says that most of Dr. Cureton's arguments for the Curetonian Syriac being earlier, would apply equally to the other Syriac editions, and that the only argument of his distinguishing the Curetonian, was that his manuscript included the "three Kings" in Matthew 1:8.  Though it still says "fourteen generations" in 1:17.
       
      David Robert Palmer

       
    • Schmuel
      Hi Folks, Thank you David. Most all of what Scrivener says here is complementary to what I shared. David Robert Palmer - Of this version again [Peshitto]
      Message 2 of 16 , Jul 8, 2007
        Hi Folks,

           Thank you David. 
           Most all of what Scrivener says here is complementary to what I shared.

        David Robert Palmer -
        "Of this version again [Peshitto] there are many codices, of different ages and widely diffused;" 

        Just to be clear, the text is generally quite homogeneous (especially compared to the Greek
        text when you include western and alexandrian manuscripts).  Diffused probably refers to
        geographical locale and spiritual provenance.

        But he dates the earliest Peshitto to around the 4th century.  Though he says there must have been some form of Syriac New Testament as early as the year 150.  He says that the Syriac "Received Text" is not the oldest form of the Syriac N.T.

        This is a matter of great debate.  If the Syriac Peshitta is largely based on an early
        enough translation to Syriac it demolishes by itself many alexandrian text supremacy
        and Lucian recension arguments.
         
        Scrivener says that those editions of the Peshitta that contain the Pericope of the Adulteress, have it in them as "interpolated matter," (p. 15)

        More specifically.

        http://www.bible-researcher.com/adult.html
        http://adultera.awardspace.com/DUMB/Tregelles2.html#N05
        Tregelles
        The versions to which this section do not belong are ... (ii.) the Peshito and (iii.) the Harclean Syriac... It is true that, in some of the editions of the Peshito Syriac, subsequent to that in Walton's Polyglot, this section is found; but it does not belong to that version: and so, too, such MSS. of the later Syriac as are cited as exhibiting it at all, mention that it is an addition.

         (interesting footnote below on 2nd site about lectionaries and overall Syriac view)

        Andrew Criddle stated it as thus:
        http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showpost.php?p=2437966&postcount=37
        the Pericope Adultera is not part of the original form of the Harklean text, however it was translated into Syriac at around the same time as the Harklean revision, and often occurs in Harklean manuscripts (and occasionally in late Peshitta manuscripts)

        Scrivener discusses Dr. Cureton's theory of the primacy of his Syriac text before the Peshitto, and Scrivener points out how the Curetonian has more wild renderings, and that that is a pointer in favor of the Curetonian being older; since the tendency would be to refine and standardize later.

        On this of course YMMV (your mileage may vary) dependent on your overall textual paradigms.

        Yet Scrivener was not convinced to a strong opinion either way as to which version was older v v the Peshitto and Curetonian, though I gather from some of his comments that he leant toward the Peshitto.

        And let's remember this is not the date of extant manuscripts, but the date of original translation.

         But, he says, "It is, no doubt, a grave suggestion, that the more polished, accurate, faithful, and grammatical of the two versions--and the Peshitto richly deserves all this praise--is more likely to have been produced by a careful and gradual revision of one much its inferior in these respects,

        And this of course is based to a good extent on the textual criticism idea that the early manuscripts in apostolic times were difficult and errant. 

        ... He says for example that the Curetonian has distinct omissions the sole reason for which appears to be to uphold the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.

        Good information about Curetonian corruption in this account. And this is related as a similar situation to what Augustine said about the deliberate omission of the Pericope Adultera.

        Scrivener says the Peshitto is a free and loose translation, mostly of Codex Alexandrinus, whereas Harklensis is a tight, close rendering of its Greek original (Codex Bezae in Acts, Bezae and B, L 1, 33, 69 elsewhere),

        Maybe someone can explain how the inflated text of Bezae can be the
        original of the Harklensis Acts (which is very close to the Byzantine text)
        when the added text from Bezae is not in the Harklean ?

        Full English translation of Bezae Acts is online courtesy of Roger Pearse.

        http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/acts_long_01_intro.htm
        The Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (1923) - J. M. Wilson

        Similar questions can arise as to the Peshitto being a "free and loose translation, mostly of Codex Alexandrinus".  Even just a few examples where Alexandrinus agrees with the Peshitto against the Byzantine text can be helpful.

        Also re: the term "Peshitto" here, some writers make a distinction between Peshitta (eastern text) and Peshitto (later western revisions closer to the Byzantine text).  This may be a more recent distinction.  And some don't, apparently including Scrivener.

        The actual Scrivener book is here.

        http://tinyurl.com/2thmwk
        A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. For the Use of Biblical Students ...
        By Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener

        So it might be a good research to try to find what he precisely says.

        I haven't had a chance to look up the Dr. Field material.
        Is that Otium Norvicense and is it in English ?

        and the Curetonian is more like a translation sometimes similar to Codex Bezae, or to the Old Latin, and sometimes standing alone.  His exact words re tightness are: "In comparison with the Harkleian, it [Peshitto] is the very reverse of a close rendering of the original."  (If he is right, could a "Dynamic Equivalent" type text really be the original and source of the Greek text instead of the other way around?) 

        Again, most of this is of little use without a few specific examples.  How can someone talk about the Peshitto being a "close rendering of the original" when the very issue on the table is that we don't know precisely what or when was the Peshitto original source ?

        On p. 28, he says of the Harkleian Syriac, "probably the most servile version of Scripture ever made."

        A difficult quote without context. 
        Probably he means servile to its Greek exemplar as described here.

        http://sor.cua.edu/Bible/Harklean.html
        The Harklean
        In A.D. 616, Thomas of Harqel completed another revision based on the Philoxenian version. The motivation in this case was a philological one. Thomas aimed at providing a literal translation of the Greek even if that meant unintelligible Syriac. The Harklean is considered a masterpiece in mirror translation: every particle in the original Greek is somehow represented in Syriac. As is the case with all the previous versions, the Harklean is not a new translation, rather a revision. The Harklean is the only version which includes the entire text of the New Testament.

        A footnote on p. 16 says about Scrivener's statement that the Peshitto is a translation from Codex Alexandrinus, "This fact is notoriously true, and of course rests not on Scrivener's evidence, but on universal consent."

        Again, first, is this referring to a western text (Philoxenian, Harklean) or the older eastern ?

        And again, where are the examples where Alexandrinus diverges from the Byzantine text in agreement with the Peshitta. That would be fascinating to read.  Any papers ?  Any section
        of documentation in the book ?

        David, you really would do well to retract your statement that implied that I had been
        involved with "spin" in sharing accurate numbers derived in the most objective and
        simple and straightforward and transparent methodology.

        Shalom,
        Steven Avery
        Queens, NY
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Messianic_Apologetic
      • Jovial
        (((((((((((((((((((((((((( This is a matter of great debate. If the Syriac Peshitta is largely based on an early enough translation to Syriac it demolishes by
        Message 3 of 16 , Jul 8, 2007
          ((((((((((((((((((((((((((
          This is a matter of great debate. If the Syriac Peshitta is largely based
          on an early
          enough translation to Syriac it demolishes by itself many alexandrian text
          supremacy
          and Lucian recension arguments.
          )))))))))))))))))))))))))))

          Since Peshitta = Byzantine (most of the time)
          and Old Syriac = Western (most of the time)
          and nothing = Alexandrian (usually), the Aramaic definitely does not support
          the Alexandrian text.

          In Latin, the Old Latin = Western = Old Syriac (usually)
          The Vulgate splits between Byzantine and Alexandrian, and we know the
          Vulgate's exact date. We also know it was not a fresh translation, but a
          coorection of the Old Latin against something (Byzantine or Alexandrian).
          But there's no Latin Byzantine text anywhere.

          The only thing that is really testified to in all 3 languages is the Old
          Syriac = Old Latin = Western, which is also what the majority of early
          quotes are. Ought to seem logical then that the original was perhaps the
          Old Syriac = Old Latin = Western.
        • idou747
          ... When you talk about the Alexandrian text, are you talking about all Alexandrian texts, some Alexandrian texts, or are you really talking about the NA27
          Message 4 of 16 , Jul 8, 2007
            >The other element is that my 180 variants are cases where there are
            >phrases and verses that are in the TR text that are not in the Alexandrian
            >text.

            When you talk about the Alexandrian text, are you talking about all Alexandrian texts, some
            Alexandrian texts, or are you really talking about the NA27 critical text? You definitely can't
            do a study like this just based on the critical text.
          • Schmuel
            Hi Folks, Steven Avery ... 180 variants are cases where there are ... Alexandrian text. idou747 When you talk about the Alexandrian text, are you talking about
            Message 5 of 16 , Jul 9, 2007
              Hi Folks,

              Steven Avery
              >The other element is that my 180 variants are cases where there are
              >phrases and verses that are in the TR text that are not in the Alexandrian text.

              idou747
              When you talk about the Alexandrian text, are you talking about all Alexandrian texts, some
              Alexandrian texts, or are you really talking about the NA27 critical text? You definitely can't
              do a study like this just based on the critical text.

              Hi idou,

                Greeings.  .. hmm.. do you have an easier-to-use first name we can work with :-) ?
                Excellent question.

                I do discuss this in my previous post just put through.  In my experience of looking at
              individual verses every time there is an omission in the modern version text it is based
              on Vaticanus and/or Sinaiticus, with the weight toward Vaticanus when they disagree.

              (And putting aside any cases where an Alexandrian reading is discarded because of
              ultra-absurdity which are simply not a factor in this study .. it might make an interesting
              adjunct to see how many there are,  the Peshitta will agree with the TR on any of those).

                And I grant that the issue might be more complex on various "alternative textual readings"
              variants rather than the more simple "inclusion/omission'.  A study that I did not do and that
              in the big picture is of lesser significance but still very significant.  (John 1:18 and Acts 20:28
              would be examples of variants that fall in that section but are not in the 180). 

                 I should note in a corrective sense that the list of "inclusion/omission" I used does include
              at least one "alternative variant" which is 1 Timothy 3:16.  Probably there are a handful of this
              nature included.  Any such would be significant alternative readings and if the study was ultimately
              made fuller, including dozens of such alternative readings, any such verses would be put on the
              other side of alternative variants rather than in the inclusion/omission section.

                  I gave the resources I used in the previous post and if there is any substantive objections
              to calling the 180 variants "Alexandrian" I will be very happy to consider them very closely.
              Any input that can help improve the study will be greatly appreciated.

                 Originally I posted the information at:

              http://forums.crosswalk.com/m_1373481/mpage_6/key_/tm.htm#1559126
              Peshitta - Bzyantine mostly, or split even ? 

                 Where you can see the book-by-book breakdown as well.  1 Timothy is actually 1:4
              not 1:5 and I did indicate the one that I excluded from the tally, 1 John 4:19, because it
              did not fall squarely on one side or the other.  Note that it is more proper to speak of the
              TR text than the Byzantine, else the Johannine Comma and Acts 8:37 should be removed,
              although that will have little effect on the final pct.

                 Also note that it is more proper to simply say 75% than 75-80%. 
                 Any amount over 75% is negligible.

              Shalom,
              Steven Avery
              Queens, NY
              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Messianic_Apologetic

            • Ross J Purdy
              http://rpbyztxt.com/RP2005_files/Complete2005RPByzNT.pdf This is a pdf of the Byzantine and the footnotes point out differences with the critical text. In
              Message 6 of 16 , Jul 9, 2007
                http://rpbyztxt.com/RP2005_files/Complete2005RPByzNT.pdf

                This is a pdf of the Byzantine and the footnotes point out differences
                with the critical text.

                In Christ,
                Ross Purdy
              • James Snapp, Jr.
                Dear Albion, My view is that all of the books of the NT were originally written in Greek. However, research into Aramaic and Syriac forms of the text are
                Message 7 of 16 , Jul 10, 2007
                  Dear Albion,

                  My view is that all of the books of the NT were originally written in
                  Greek. However, research into Aramaic and Syriac forms of the text
                  are valuable, especially in the Gospels and Acts and wherever else
                  Aramaic oral traditions and/or Aramaic source-literature may have
                  existed before the Biblical books were composed.

                  If one were to adjust the Aramaic Primacists' approach so as to argue
                  for the existence of Aramaic source-materials, instead of Aramaic
                  originals of the books themselves, their arguments would be better
                  received. As a whole, I think that what the Aramaic Primacists have
                  noticed and misinterpreted amount to the following:

                  (1) relics of an Aramaic Sayings-source used by Matthew (which was
                  translated into Greek, and then used in its Greek form by Luke).
                  (2) Relics of the Diatessaron.
                  (3) Syriasms in Western witnesses.
                  (4) Places where Greek copyists and Syriac translators both desired
                  to "improve" perceived difficulties in the Greek text.

                  Basically, when I attempt to connect the dots, as identified by
                  Matthew Black and others, it seems a lot easier to form a picture of
                  what I've just described than to form a picture of Aramaic originals
                  of the books.

                  Which, again, is not to say that it is not worthwhile to explore the
                  possible impact of Aramaic and Syriac material on the production and
                  transmission of the text. Some variant-units seem to have origins
                  which are opaque except for where the impact of Aramaic or Syriac
                  seems to shine through. Mark 8:10 might be one example of this.
                  Here's what J. Rendel Harris had to say about it, in "A Study of
                  Codex Bezae" (1893), in a chapter titled, "Does the Codex Bezae
                  Syriacize?" --

                  "Those who have, like ourselves, sought to explain the perplexing
                  textual anomalies of the Western readings, have generally fallen back
                  either upon the hypothesis of reflex Latinism or upon reflex
                  Syriasm. And it has usually happened that the Syriac hypothesis has
                  been taken up, because the Latinizing theiry was supposed to be no
                  longer tenable. Certainly it is not a theory against which we ought
                  to be prejudiced in advance. There are some things in the New
                  Testament that perhaps will never yield to any other mode of
                  elucidation. Take for example Mark viii. 10, which in Cod. D reads
                  [Greek:] KAI HLQEN EIS TA ORIA MELEGADA
                  [Latin:] ET VENIT IN PERTES MAGIDAN.

                  Here most early texts give us [Greek:] DALMANOUQA, so as to read
                  [Greek:] HLQEN EIS TA MERH DALMANOUQA.

                  But since the letters [Greek:] LMANOUQA are an almost exact
                  transcript of the Syriac for [Greek:] EIS TA MERH, we have a text
                  which is equivalent to
                  [Syriac, which I can't replicate here]
                  and it is clear that the text is dittographed and that the real name
                  has dropped out.
                  If this explanation be the right one, we have lighted upon a case in
                  which all Greek MSS. except D have a Syriac error! An astonishing
                  thing, but not an impossibility. Let this instance suffice to shew
                  that it is by no means an unreasonable thing to look for Syriac
                  corruptions in the New Testament."

                  That's just one of the interesting things that can be uncovered by
                  the study of Aramaic and Syriac texts. It's a fine shovel, but the
                  Aramaic Primacists, especially the Peshitta Primacists, are digging
                  in the wrong place.

                  AA: "And how near is the Byzantine Text to the Syriac Peshitta N.T.
                  text?"

                  I'm not a Syriac specialist, but an estimate of 80% agreement, maybe
                  a bit higher, in the Gospels, is probably about right. I don't know
                  about the rest.

                  This should raise a question: if the Peshitta was based on the work
                  of Lucian, then shouldn't the Syriac OT closely agree with the
                  Lucianic OT text? Lucian is *known* to have worked on the OT.
                  Metzger mentioned (in "The Lucianic recension of the Greek Bible," p.
                  33) that Stockmayer (in a work published in 1892) "found more than a
                  score of readings in I Samuel where Lucian agrees with the Peshitta
                  against the Masoretic text and the current Septuagint text." More
                  than 20 readings is evidence of something, yes, but in a book the
                  size of First Samuel I think a lot more is necessary to indicate a
                  very close relationship. Metzger proceeded to say, "Although the
                  exact date of the translation of the Old Testament Peshitta is not
                  known, most scholars believe that it was made in the second or third
                  century of the Christian era. Thus, at least in the Books of Samuel,
                  it too affords evidence of Ur-Lucianic readings."

                  If the producer(s) of the Peshitta incorporated into the text of
                  First Samuel only something like 20 or 30 uniquely Lucianic readings -
                  - preserving, everywhere else, readings older than Lucian -- then why
                  wouldn't a similar approach have been employed in the NT text of the
                  Peshitta, with the result that a small stratum of young readings
                  rests upon an otherwise more ancient text?

                  Yours in Christ,

                  James Snapp, Jr.
                  Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
                  Tipton, Indiana (USA)
                  www.curtisvillechristian.org/KataMarkon.html
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