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THE HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTA-
MENT CANON IN THE SYRIAN
CHURCH



BY



JULIUS A. BEWER



SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR

THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

IN THE

FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY



CHICAGO

tTbe TUniverditi? of Cbtcago pxcM

1 900



THE HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTA-
MENT CANON IN THE SYRIAN
CHURCH



BY

JULIUS A. BEWER



SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR

THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

IN THE

FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY




CHICAGO

Sbe 'tSXnivetBit^ ot Gblcago pcees

1 900



C^A,



D'^



Aa



PREFACE.

The study of the relation of the various documents which form the
material of the dissertation has something fascinating, when the
religious impulses are seen at work. The Syrians were no great
literary people, but they were aglow for Christ. The throbbing of
their passionate love for the Savior, which distinguishes them later on,
may be felt here already in the various attempts which they made to
translate his gospel into their own language. This recompenses us in a
certain sense for the scanty information which we have of the beginning
of Christianity in Syria. Three translations of the gospels, made at
pretty nearly the same time, evidence the strength of the Christian
life at the very beginning. It is important that this religious element
be not overlooked.

I count myself happy that my teacher. Professor Gottheil, has
allowed me to take this subject for my dissertation, and that he has
always directed my attention to matters of special interest for a theo-
logical student. It is due to this that I could combine my theological
with my oriental studies. I want to thank him most heartily for his
teaching and the kind interest he has always taken in my work.

I am impelled also to thank my teacher, Professor McGiffert. To
him I owe my training in historical criticism ; he suggested the theme
to me, and in his seminar the thesis was first read. His kind interest
has never been wanting.

This dissertation was finished in the spring of last year; therefore
the newer publications could not be consulted. They would, however,
have modified none of the results.

JULIUS A. BEWER.
Basle, Switzerland,
January, 1 900.



207773




THE HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON IN
THE SYRIAN CHURCH.

INTRODUCTORY.

Since the publication of Theodor Zahn's monumental work, Die
Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, a flood of light has been
thrown on the history of the New Testament canon in the Syrian
church by the discovery of the Codex Syrus Sinaiticus, which modifies
the course of the history a good deal. But though this famous codex
has been carefully studied and compared with the other documents,
though its place in the genealogy of the text has been the subject of
controversy, nobody has as yet undertaken a reconstruction of the
history of the New Testament canon in the Syrian church. It is this
that I should like to attempt in this study. But before we can recon-
struct the history, many points have to be considered, for there is lack
of unanimity among scholars in regard to almost all the questions at
issue.

Right at the outset it is best to define clearly what belongs to the
subject and what not. I give, therefore, here a statement of the ques-
tions which will be treated. The cardinal point is : only thai which
bears directly on the history of the canon will be considered. Everything
else, however valuable in itself, will be omitted. Thus it is not neces-
sary for our purpose, e. g., to compare the Syrus Sinaiticus, the Cureto-
nianus, and Peshitta with the Palestinian Syriac, nor to compare the
later revision, the Philoxenian and the Heraclian, with the Peshitta.
The history of the text as such is different from the history of the
canon. The problems to be considered are :

i. As regards the gospels :

1. What is the relation of Syrus Sinaiticus (= Ss) to Syrus Curetonianus
(=Sc)?

2. What is the relation of Ss and Sc to the Peshitta {— P) ?

3. What is the relation of Ss, Sc, and P to the Greek ?

4. What is the relation of Ss, Sc, and P to Tatian's Diatessaron {— T) ?

5. Which gospel did Aphraates (= A) use, the gospel harmony or the
separate gospels, or both ?

6. Which did Ephraim (= E) use ?

T



2 NEW TESTAMENT CANON IN SYRIAN CHURCH

ii. As regards the Acts and epistles :

1. What does the Doctrina Addai say about them ?

2. Does Aphraates use all of them ?

3. Are all the epistles in the Peshitta ?

4. What is the relation of the text of the epistles in Aphraates to that of
P?

5. What that of Ephraim ?

6. Does Ephraim use all the books of the New Testament ?

iii. As regards canonicity :

1. What light does the Doctrina Addai shed on this question ?

2. Did Aphraates have a canon ?

3. If so, on what principle was it based ?

When these questions are answered, we are ready to attempt the
reconstruction of the entire history.

The sources are not many. The lack of historical references makes
the history all the more complicated. The sources are: (i) the
Codex Syrus Sinaiticus (=Ss);' (2) the Codex Syrus Curetonianus
(=Sc);' (3) the Peshitta (=P);' (4) the Diatessaron of Tatian
(=T);' (5) the homilies of Aphraates (=A);3 (6) the works of
Ephraim (=E);2 (7) references to Tatian and the Diatessaron in the
church fathers; 4 (8) the Doctrina Addai. ^

' Cf. E. Nestle, " Die syrischen Bibeliibersetzungen," in Real-Encyclopddie fiir
protestanthche Theologie tind Kirche (= RE), 3. Aufl., Vol. Ill, 1897.

• Cf. A. ClASCA, Tatiani Evangeliorum harmoniae arabice .... edidit, Roma,
1888. — G. MOESINGER, Evangelii concordantis expositio facta a sancto Ephraemo,
Venezia, 1896. — Theo. Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen
Kanons tind der altkirchlichen Literahir. I. Theil: Tatian'' s Diatessaron, Erlangen,
1881 — a famous reconstruction of the lost gospel harmony. See also Zahn's article,
" Zur Geschichte von Tatian's Diatessaron im Abendland," Neue kirchl. Zeitschr.,
1894, No. 2. — J. Hamlyn Hill, The Earliest Life of Christ ever Compiled from the
Four Gospels, being the Diatessaron of Tatian, Edinburgh, 1894. — J. Rendel Harris,
7 he Diatessaron of Tatian. A Preliminary Study, London, 1890, and "The
Diatessaron," Contempo7-ary Review, August, 1895, in answer to R. W. Cassels, " The
Diatessaron of Tatian," A^ineteenth Century, Apn\, 1895. — S. Hemphill, The Dia-
tessaron of Tatian, London and Dublin, 1888. — Also the articles of J. M. Fuller in
the Dictionary of Christian Biography and of Adolf Harnack in the Encyclopedia
Britannic a.

3 Cf. NESTLE in RE, s. v.

■» See J. Rendel Harris and Hill as quoted in footnote 2.

sSee Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents, 1864. — Geo. Phillips in his
standard edition, 1876. — LiPSlus, "Zur edessenischen Abgar-Sage," Jahrb.f protest.
Theologie, 1 880, pp. 187 f., and on "Thaddseus," in the Dictionary of Christian Biog-
raphy.



PRELIMINARY INVESTIGA TIONS 3

PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS.
1. THE GOSPELS.

As we should expect in any newly founded Christian church, the
gospels were the first to be translated into Syriac. Having heard of
Jesus Christ in the sermons preached by the missionaries, the Syrian
Christians had surrendered themselves to him. An ardent longing to
learn more of him than the sermons of these evangelists could give
them must soon have taken hold of them. A translation of his works
and words, as they had already been written down, must soon have
been made. Whether Tatian was one of the early missionaries, or
even the founder of Christianity, in Syria, we do not know. It is
extremely doubtful. If he had been, it would be very strange that not
even the slightest tradition concerning it has come down to us. We
know that he has combined and interwoven the gospels in Syriac in
his Diatessaron ; we know that this gospel harmony was widely used in
Syria ; but we do not know that he was the first to give the Syrians
Christianity and the translation of the Christian documents. Granted
that a translation of the gospels was made early after the establishment
of Christianity, we are at once confronted by the question : Which was
the earlier work, the translation of the four separate gospels or the
Diatessaron ? We have, namely, on the one hand, a gospel harmony,
and, on the other, the four gospels given us in the Syrus Sinaiticus,
Curetonianus, and the Peshitta. That the contrast between the two
was felt in Syria is seen from the title of the separate gospels, .a-kiik^o]
) >. •,■ =1 v ^ , /. e., "the gospel of the separated." But this title cannot be
used as an argument for the later origin of Ss and Sc than T, because
we do not know whether the original translator has used it, or whether
it was not added by the later scribe who wrote when the distinction
between the separate gospels and the Diatessaron was marked, viz., in
the fourth century. There is no external evidence which can be
brought to bear on this question of priority. It is true, we know from
the Doctrina Addai, Aphraates, and Ephraim that the Diatessaron was
widely used, but that does not mean that it was on that account the
earliest text. The decision rests then, unfortunately enough, exclusively
on internal evidence. We must examine the texts themselves, and
there it is necessary to see the relation (i) of Ss to Sc, (2) of Ss and
Sc to P, (3) of all three to the Greek, and (4) to T.

/. The Relation of Ss to Sc.
The order of the gospels is different in the two codices. Ss has the
order (=P): Matt., Mark, Luke, John; Sc has: Matt., Mark, John,



4 NEW TESTAMENT CANON IN SYRIAN CHURCH

Luke. I cannot help feeling that Sc's order seems to be older than
that of Ss. The order varied in the Syrian church at first, which is seen
also from D (Codex Bezge), which is so closely related to the Syriac New
Testament. D has : Matt., John, Luke, Mark.* The Old Syriac may,
therefore, have had the order of Sc. But, on the whole, the order has
very little voice in the decision. It will be seen in the course of this
investigation that Ss has a different Greek original from Sc. It is
unreasonable to suppose that the translators changed the order of the
gospels. They translated in the order which they found in the Greek
MS. used by them. All that can be inferred is that the Greek
original of Ss had the order: Matt., Mark, Luke, John, while the Greek
original of Sc had : Matt., Mark, John, Luke. It would be hazardous
to affirm that a Greek MS. with the order Matt., Mark, John, Luke is
older than one with the order Matt., Mark, Luke, John, if no other
evidence were forthcoming.

Now, an examination of the two codices shows at once that they are
related to each other. They are not altogether independent of each
other, as was at once seen by Professor Bensly and F. C. Burkitt, when
Mrs. Lewis showed them some photographed specimens of the Sinaitic
codex.' This has not been questioned since. Nestle, Wellhausen, Holz-
hey, etc., all agree in saying that the two codices stand in a certain
relation to each other. What that relation is we shall see later on. It
is usually thought, e. g., by Wellhausen and Holzhey, that Sc is simply
a recension of Ss ; the revisor adding those parts which were omitted
by Ss and correcting translations which did not correspond exactly to
the Greek, his purpose being to bring this translation into a more inti-
mate harmony with the Greek. Whether this position is tenable or
not will appear as we go on. At all events, so much is certain, that
the two codices stand in a close relation to each other.

Again, it is generally accepted that both Ss and Sc are translations
from the Greek. Cureton showed this long ago for the gospels which
are named after him, in the preface to his edition (1858). If there could
have been any doubt whether this was so, it was removed by the recon-
struction of the Greek text which underlay the Syriac translation by
J. R. Crowfoot, 1 87 1, and Friedrich Baethgen, 1885.

For the Sinaiticus no such reconstruction of the original Greek has
been made as yet, though Adalbert Merx tells us that he began to

* Cf. Carl Holzhey, Der neuentdeckie Codex Syrus Sinaiticus untersucht (Miin-
chen, 1896), p. 45.

^ The Four Gospels in Syriac, p. v.



PRELIM IN A RY IN VES TIG A TIONS 5

translate Matthew into Greek, abandoning, however, this plan to bring
out his German translation. The question whether Ss is a translation
from the Greek is more important than might appear at first glance.
If it can be proved that it is from a Greek original, then its relation to
the Western Text is clearer ; it cannot be that it is a translation from the
old Latin, as I inclined to think for a time,* nor can any other theory
hold good.

Fortunately there are some indications which place it beyond doubt
that the underlying text of Ss is Greek :

1. The version retains Greek words and writes them simply in
Syriac form: John ii : i8, o-raSiov ; ti 144, etc., o-ovSa/aiof ; 11 : 54,
irapprjcria ; 12:3, Xirpa, vapSos, ttio-tikos ; 6:13, k6lvo; (or dyycTu).
Luke 4 : 30, Kpcp-aaai for Kp-qp-vtaai ; 19:4, (tvkos fxoipia'i for avKop-opea ;
21 : 46, iv (TToats for iv aToAats. John 7 : 35, anepixa [cnropd) for SuKnropd.

3. There is at least one interpretatory phrase which shows as clearly
as possible that Ss used a Greek original : John i : 42, "Cephas, which
is being interpreted wfo Greek, Peter."

These arguments are conclusive. It would not be difficult, how-
ever, to point out Greek constructions in the Syriac, if it were neces-
sary. It is already plain that both codices are based on a Greek
original.

But now, though Ss and Sc are closely related to each other, and
though they are translations from the Greek, yet Sc is not merely a
recension of Ss, or 7>ue versa, nor is the Greek text underlying Ss the
same as that which Sc used.

To keep the two points distinct, we will prove each one separately.

* Cf. the interesting colophon in the MS. of the fifth century described by Gwil-
liam in Siudia Biblica, 1 : " Finished is the holy gospel, the preaching of Mark the
evangelist, which he spake in Roman, in the city of Rome."

'For other examples see Holzhey, pp. 10, 11.

''' Cf. Wellhausen, " Der syrische Evangelienpalimpsest vom Sinai," Nachr. v.
d. Kgl. Ges. d. Wis. z. Gott., Phil.-hist. CI., 1895, Heft I ; and especially C. Holzhey,
pp. 10, II.



6 NEW TESTAMENT CANON IN SYRIAN CHURCH

First, then, Sc is not a mere recension of Ss. The texts have, in
spite of their close alliance, so many differences that it is altogether
improbable that the one is simply a recension of the other, occasioned
by the desire of Sc's author to bring the Syriac text more closely into
harmony with the Greek, correcting and adding the omissions of Ss
and omitting the occasional small additions which Ss has allowed itself
to make.

Though this theory is very attractive, and as set forth, for instance,
by Holzhey, seemingly irresistible, because of its forceful logic and its
historical probability, it is not warranted by the facts. If it were a
mere recension, we should not find the many differences in passages
where the Greek is evidently the same in both versions. There are
grammatical, lexical, and material differences in such numbers — as
will be shown — that it is impossible to account for them by the
above theory.

i. Grammatical differences: i. Different tenses. — (a) Perfect for
imperfect: Matt. 11:27; 12:25; 17:20; 18:15; 22:24.
Luke 8 : 2, 35 ; 11:7,18; 14:1,29. John 6 : 26. — (^) Perfect
forparticiple : Matt. 13:3; 15 : 5 ; 19 : 17, 21 ; 21 : 38 ; 22 : 23.
Luke 7 : 44, 47; 8:4, 13, 49; 9 : 41, 45 ; 10 : 26; 11 : 28;
17:6, 12; 18:15; 22: 60; 23:1 4, 40, 42 ; 24 : 18. John 6 : 36,
63; 7:26, 39, 46, 47, 48. — {c) Perfect for infinitive: Matt.
4:17; 5:17; 16:12. Luke 10 : 40. John 7 : 44. — (


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