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Barlaam & Josaphat

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    The story of Barlaam & Josaphat is an interesting text which, where its original form is secure, is a significant patristic witness. Not only does B&J
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 10, 2008
      The story of Barlaam & Josaphat is an interesting text which, where
      its original form is secure, is a significant patristic witness. Not
      only does B&J incorporate the "Apology of Aristides," thus preserving
      the gist of a second-century text (parts of which were among the
      Oxyrhynchus Papyri, 15:1778, P.Oxy. 2486), but it includes a
      substantial number of NT citations. It exists in Greek, Georgian,
      Armenian, Latin, Ethiopic, and Old English (MS Egerton 876) forms.

      B&J is sometimes attributed to Euthymius, but since the oldest
      Armenian MS of B&J is dated to 981 (I think; an article by G.C.
      O'Ceallaigh in Harvard Theological Review 1958, Vol. 51 #4, pp. 227-
      254 has details), that seems impossible. Perhaps Euthymius made a
      more lively paraphrase of an earlier form of the book. B&J is, I
      think, a part of the Georgian text called the Balavariani ("Balavar"
      = Barlaam).

      If someone were to
      (a) look over B&J in the individual languages in which it exists,
      (b) identify passages which clearly use or incorporate NT passages,
      (c) identify shared readings, and readings unique to a single

      then one could
      (a) discern what NT passages were incorporated into the oldest form
      of B&J (which, if the "John-of-Sabas" in the sub-title in some
      witnesses = John Damascene, might date to the early 700's), and
      (b) discern what NT passages were available to gloss-makers in each

      I don't have the time for such a project, but I did manage to find
      one interesting reading that is shared by the Ethiopic form of B&J,
      as presented by E.A. Wallis Budge, and another form of B&J (Greek, I
      think, or maybe Georgian, or a Greek translation of a Georgian copy)
      that was presented by G.R. Woodward & H. Mattingly in 1914. (At the
      moment I can only access these sources piecemeal, but I hope to the
      Woodward-Mattingly text in hand soon, and will sort out that little
      detail. For the moment I'll just refer to the Woodward-Mattingly

      The Woodward-Mattingly form distinctly uses Mark 16:20 in its first
      chapter. Describing the missionary work of Thomas in India, it
      says, "Thomas was sent out to the land of the Indians, preaching the
      gospel of salvation. The Lord working with him and confirming the
      word with signs following, the darkness of superstition was banished."

      The Woodward-Mattingly form and the Ethiopic form, as presented by
      Budge, both distinctly use Mark 16:16 twice -- once in ch. 8 and
      again in ch. 10. (Online, you can search for "baptize" at the
      OMACL's presentation of B&J, and run a search of the text of Budge's
      book, right before you purchase it, of course.)

      I can't help noticing, cautiously, that if it turns out that the
      earliest form of B&J is Georgian (translated into Greek by, or under
      orders from, John Damascene (d. 749), and later paraphrased by
      Euthymius?), then this might be the earliest Georgian usage of
      material from Mark 16:9-20 -- at least 130 years earlier than the
      Adysh MS, which does not contain Mk. 16:9-20.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
      Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
      Tipton, Indiana (USA)
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