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Author Topic: Peshitta New Testament  (Read 2046 times) Average Rating: 0
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searn77
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« on: March 09, 2010, 07:10:22 PM »

I just heard today that the Syriac Orthodox Church's New Testament Peshitta has a few books less than most Church's bibles. I wasn't sure if this is true or not and I couldn't find any past threads on it (although I didn't exactly look that hard) so I was just wondering if anyone knows anything about the Peshitta New Testament or can refer me to another thread on the topic. Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2010, 07:15:09 PM »

Both the SOC/Jacobites, and the COE have 5 less books. The Patriarchs of Antioch never really accepted the Western 5 books (the last five including Revelation). These books were actually brought much later to the Eastern Church, sometimes by missionaries (as in the case of the COE).
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2010, 07:30:24 PM »

Both the SOC/Jacobites, and the COE have 5 less books. The Patriarchs of Antioch never really accepted the Western 5 books (the last five including Revelation). These books were actually brought much later to the Eastern Church, sometimes by missionaries (as in the case of the COE).
Wow. Kinda surprising.
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 07:33:27 PM »

Both the SOC/Jacobites, and the COE have 5 less books. The Patriarchs of Antioch never really accepted the Western 5 books (the last five including Revelation). These books were actually brought much later to the Eastern Church, sometimes by missionaries (as in the case of the COE).
Wow. Kinda surprising.

The last five books aren't in the reading cycle either. The COE has no canon though, it never declared a canon, only these books have considerably less regard then the first 22 of the NT.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 07:48:05 PM »

Both the SOC/Jacobites, and the COE have 5 less books. The Patriarchs of Antioch never really accepted the Western 5 books (the last five including Revelation). These books were actually brought much later to the Eastern Church, sometimes by missionaries (as in the case of the COE).
Wow. Kinda surprising.

The last five books aren't in the reading cycle either. The COE has no canon though, it never declared a canon, only these books have considerably less regard then the first 22 of the NT.
Interesting. Thanks, for sharing.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2010, 11:59:15 PM »

What are the main views regarding these books in the SOC and COE? Why was it accepted by our Churches and not theirs?
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 12:21:35 AM »

I always thought the SOC eventually did accept the last five books into their canon.  Maybe one of our Syriac Orthodox brothers could comment on this, as well as whether they are read liturgically.

As to why there are differences in canons, I think the development of Biblical canons was less "organized" than most people think.  The councils that decreed the canon of 27 books were not even ecumenical in nature, but rather local.  The acceptance of that canon just sort of happened over time.  The Armenians, for example, for a long time had Third Corinthians, and didn't have Revelation until about one thousand years ago.  People who lived on the edge of, or outside of, the empire, would have taken longer to accept all 27.  Communication took a lot longer, and of course you didn't have printing presses.  Things just happened more slowly back then.
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2010, 12:35:58 AM »

Chaldeans and SOC might have re-written the books and then placed them in but they aren't in the reading cycle which has been fixed for centuries before such a decision. These last five books were never really accepted in Antioch. By the way, John Chrysostom quotes very little from them, I think he didn't include them in his canon either (no surprise, he was taught by Diodore of Tarsus and was best friends with Mar Theodore).
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2010, 12:41:32 AM »

Both the SOC/Jacobites, and the COE have 5 less books. The Patriarchs of Antioch never really accepted the Western 5 books (the last five including Revelation). These books were actually brought much later to the Eastern Church, sometimes by missionaries (as in the case of the COE).
Wow. Kinda surprising.

The last five books aren't in the reading cycle either. The COE has no canon though, it never declared a canon, only these books have considerably less regard then the first 22 of the NT.
Plus, 22 might have spiritual significance (the 22 letters in Hebrew alphabet, e.g.).
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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2010, 12:46:07 AM »

Yes. That is a commonly used argument. I'm surprised your familiar with it.

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The Armenians, for example, for a long time had Third Corinthians, and didn't have Revelation until about one thousand years ago.

COE influence  Wink
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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2010, 12:58:44 AM »

No.  I think the Armenians just didn't have much exposure to it until the Crusades.
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 01:39:31 AM »

Revelation of course is still not read liturgically in the Armenian Church, but I think that is the case with all Orthodox Churches. 

I'm wondering about the liturgical use of the four books preceding Revelation in the Syriac Orthodox Church.  Again, I'd like input from one of our SOC brothers.

Rafa,
You're saying that the last five are still not used liturgically in the COE? 
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2010, 02:18:35 AM »

Revelation of course is still not read liturgically in the Armenian Church, but I think that is the case with all Orthodox Churches. 

I'm wondering about the liturgical use of the four books preceding Revelation in the Syriac Orthodox Church.  Again, I'd like input from one of our SOC brothers.

Rafa,
You're saying that the last five are still not used liturgically in the COE? 

Not in reading cycle, but recorded as "pious books" worthy of veneration and study.
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2010, 04:58:07 AM »

http://sor.cua.edu/Bible/Peshitto.html

As far as I know, the readings from the last 5 books, are not included the in the lectionary.  I just glanced over the Malankara lectionary(which is different from the Syriac one) and I was not able see readings from the last 5 books.

However the canon of scripture is not  particularly a point on which we have a lot of discussion in the day to day life of the Church.  The 5 books are commonly included in all bibles used by the faithful, and even in Malayalam translations of the Syriac text.  Just that they are not used in the readings in Church. I think this particular Syriac version, became popular and the liturgical life of the church was built around it.

The Syriacs produced other versions, which closely followed the Greek text.
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2010, 06:24:03 AM »

Sorry to take this in a different direction but...

I can't help but wonder how these facts are dealt with by Protestant apologists.  In polemics with Protestants it's often said that the Church is what decided the canon and thus placing Scripture outside of the Church is illegitimate.  And I've heard (mainly second-hand) that part of the Protestant defence is that all early Christians were more or less agreed as to the canon.  But clearly the discussion here in this thread would speak against this.

I also wonder why I haven't heard this sort of information used against Protestantism.
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2010, 11:25:35 PM »

I think that most people just don't know much about early Christian history, or it probably would be used as a polemic against Protestantism.  Certainly the popular image of early Christians each owning and reading their own Bibles, as well as the misconception that the Bible as Protestants know it was in existence and universally used during early Christian times is very unhistorical.  I've seen materials from Conciliar Press dealing with it, such as this booklet:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/booklets-brochures/booklets/which-came-first-the-church-or-the-new-testament.html
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2010, 11:34:52 PM »

http://sor.cua.edu/Bible/Peshitto.html

As far as I know, the readings from the last 5 books, are not included the in the lectionary.  I just glanced over the Malankara lectionary(which is different from the Syriac one) and I was not able see readings from the last 5 books.

However the canon of scripture is not  particularly a point on which we have a lot of discussion in the day to day life of the Church.  The 5 books are commonly included in all bibles used by the faithful, and even in Malayalam translations of the Syriac text.  Just that they are not used in the readings in Church. I think this particular Syriac version, became popular and the liturgical life of the church was built around it.

The Syriacs produced other versions, which closely followed the Greek text.

You would have to look at the lectionary of the St.Thomas Christians which you guys descend from to see the original stance. A lectionary previous to the fracturing of the Episcopate too.
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« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2010, 02:04:43 AM »

For the sake of clarity, can we specify precisely which books were originally excluded?  Were they Revelation, Jude, and the three letters of John?  Or were they Revelation, Jude, John 2, John 3, and Second Peter?  I just read something that said it was the latter.
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« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2010, 02:06:14 AM »

Revelation, Jude, John 2, John 3, and Second Peter
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« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2010, 02:10:40 AM »

Thanks.   Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2010, 05:33:49 AM »

Rafa,

I dont think I need to look up anything much.  Trumping the primacy of the Peshitta is a very late concept as far as I understand.  The Syrian Orthodox church has used the Syriac Peshitta for very long, and a number of versions of Scripture like the Harklean and the Philexonian have been produced in that church. The Church of the East cannot make a exclusive claim to the Peshitta.  It is the common treasure of the Syriac tradition pre-dating the theological fracture that occured later.

To me , it is just another instance of the variation and diversity we see amongst the liturgical life of the Orthodox Churches. 

I haven't spoken to a member of the Assyrian church of India, but I am sure that what I said would hold true there also, simply because bibles printed by the Bible Society of India, are the ones most widely used by everybody.

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« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2010, 10:56:30 AM »

Sorry to take this in a different direction but...

I can't help but wonder how these facts are dealt with by Protestant apologists.  In polemics with Protestants it's often said that the Church is what decided the canon and thus placing Scripture outside of the Church is illegitimate.  And I've heard (mainly second-hand) that part of the Protestant defence is that all early Christians were more or less agreed as to the canon.  But clearly the discussion here in this thread would speak against this.

I also wonder why I haven't heard this sort of information used against Protestantism.
Actually, Luther had grave doubts about Revelation, from what I've heard, so he might actually have been happy with these canonic differences among the Churches.
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2010, 08:18:10 PM »

Rafa,

I dont think I need to look up anything much.  Trumping the primacy of the Peshitta is a very late concept as far as I understand.  The Syrian Orthodox church has used the Syriac Peshitta for very long, and a number of versions of Scripture like the Harklean and the Philexonian have been produced in that church. The Church of the East cannot make a exclusive claim to the Peshitta.  It is the common treasure of the Syriac tradition pre-dating the theological fracture that occured later.

To me , it is just another instance of the variation and diversity we see amongst the liturgical life of the Orthodox Churches. 

I haven't spoken to a member of the Assyrian church of India, but I am sure that what I said would hold true there also, simply because bibles printed by the Bible Society of India, are the ones most widely used by everybody.




Thing is due to the theological controversies bits and pieces of the original were changed (take the reading of Hebrews 2:9 in both traditions). The ACOE script also resembles much more the original too. The Philoxenian is considered something of an edit job by the COE, a product of the Christological controversies (he was miaphysite).
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2010, 03:12:01 AM »

Well it depends which side of the Syriac tradition you are coming from isn't it.  Polemics were very heavy and every straw that could be used against the other side was.

My point is that,  in the West Syrian tradition  although the Peshitta version was the most commonly used and on which the lectionaries were based; other versions of Scripture that included the extended canon which had been received by the Chalcedonians and indeed other Non-chalcedonian churches were also translated and used.
The Syrian Orthodox did not exhibit a "protestant fundamentalist" mentality with regard to the Canon of Scripture.
I am sure that Church of the East had the same attitude towards the canon, although other versions might not have been produced .

Today we see a tendency to elevate the Peshitta over other versions , claiming a greater semitic and aramaic connection than the greek versions and so on.
Often people who do seem to have another agenda, in some cases they seem to be the messianic jewish types who insist on calling our Lord , Yeshua and so on. 

The broader Syriac tradition, both in the East and West has many things to its credit (inspite of the bitter Christological disputes), we don't need to try and score a few brownie points  where it is not warranted.

BTW the Malankara Lectionary does include a few readings from II Peter , which I am sure were added in the 70's when some minor changes were effected.

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« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2010, 02:21:38 AM »

Today we see a tendency to elevate the Peshitta over other versions , claiming a greater semitic and aramaic connection than the greek versions and so on.
Often people who do seem to have another agenda, in some cases they seem to be the messianic jewish types who insist on calling our Lord , Yeshua and so on.  

Actually, the Peshitta does have a more Semitic character than the other versions which were more of a strict translation of the Greek, to the point of almost harming the meaning in order to follow the translation.  The Syriac Church that would later become the Melkite Church was one that really proponed a literal translation from the Greek, which is understandable...  Nuance is lost went translating from an Indo-European language to Semitic and probably vice-versa.

I think reading the Bible with Semitic colored glasses really helps to understand the nuance of what Jesus of Nazareth was saying.  Some words\phrases for example read in other languages kind of don't make sense.  I'm  biased being Syriac, but I think even other Semitic readers like Arabs etc. would find the same to be true, a Hebrew speaker even more so because of the affinity of Hebrew to Aramaic and Syriac.

Besides the Peshitta the Syriac Churches also have the "Old Syriac" version which can be found in the Sinaitic Palimpset and the Curetonian Gospels.  

The oldest Syriac bible was Tatian's Diatessaron.  This was a working of the 4 gospels into one narrative.  We only know of its existence because of St. Ephrem's prose on this version.  The versions of this bible were collected and burned because some considered Tatian a heretic and were lost forever...
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« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2010, 02:32:32 AM »

Today we see a tendency to elevate the Peshitta over other versions , claiming a greater semitic and aramaic connection than the greek versions and so on.
Often people who do seem to have another agenda, in some cases they seem to be the messianic jewish types who insist on calling our Lord , Yeshua and so on.  

Actually, the Peshitta does have a more Semitic character than the other versions which were more of a strict translation of the Greek, to the point of almost harming the meaning in order to follow the translation.  The Syriac Church that would later become the Melkite Church was one that really proponed a literal translation from the Greek, which is understandable...  Nuance is lost went translating from an Indo-European language to Semitic and probably vice-versa.

I think reading the Bible with Semitic colored glasses really helps to understand the nuance of what Jesus of Nazareth was saying.  Some words\phrases for example read in other languages kind of don't make sense.  I'm  biased being Syriac, but I think even other Semitic readers like Arabs etc. would find the same to be true, a Hebrew speaker even more so because of the affinity of Hebrew to Aramaic and Syriac.

Besides the Peshitta the Syriac Churches also have the "Old Syriac" version which can be found in the Sinaitic Palimpset and the Curetonian Gospels.  

The oldest Syriac bible was Tatian's Diatessaron.  This was a working of the 4 gospels into one narrative.  We only know of its existence because of St. Ephrem's prose on this version.  The versions of this bible were collected and burned because some considered Tatian a heretic and were lost forever...

It survives in Arabic:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf09.iv.html
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