A. Augustus (Alphonzo Augustus) Hobson.

The Diatessaron of Tatian and the Synoptic problem: being an investigation of the Diatessaron for the light which it throws upon the solution of the problem of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels online

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Online LibraryA. Augustus (Alphonzo Augustus) HobsonThe Diatessaron of Tatian and the Synoptic problem: being an investigation of the Diatessaron for the light which it throws upon the solution of the problem of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels → online text (page 1 of 8)
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Bibliography - - - 7 t 8

Introduction 9-32

1. Review of the Situation.

2. Statement of the Problem of this Dissertation.

3. The Text Employed, its Limitations and Value.

a) General Order.

b) Detailed Readings.

4. Notes on Method.

Chapter I. Tatian's Preference for One Source or Another - 33-40

Chapter II. The Plan of the Diatessaron - - - 41-45

Chapter III. Alterations in Order 46-49

Chapter IV. Additions and Omissions - 50-54

Chapter V. Conflations 55—61

Chapter VI. Rewriting 62-67

Chapter VII. Incongruities and Repetitions - - - - 68-74

Chapter VIII. Comparison of the Methods of Tatian and the

Evangelists 75-8 1





Ba. = Bacon, B. W. : Tatian's Rearrangement of the Fourth Gospel, American

Journal of Theology, Vol. IV, pp. 770-95.
Ca. = Cassels, W. R. : Nineteenth Century, April, 1895, pp. 665-81.
Csc. = Ciasca, Agostino : Tatiani Evangeliorum Harmoniae Arabice (Rome, 1888).
Ful. = Fuller. J. M. : " Tatian," in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian

Hrk. a = Harnack, A. : Texteund Untersuchungen, Bd. I, pp. 213-18 (Leipzig, 1883).
Hrk. b as Harnack, A. : " Tatian," Encyclopcedia Britannica, ninth edition.
Hrk. c = Harnack, A. : Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebius, Bd. I,

pp. 485-96 (Leipzig, 1893); Bd. II, 1, pp. 284-89 (Leipzig, 1897).
Har. a = Harris, J. R. : The Diatessaron (London, 1890).
Har. b = Harris, J. R. : Contemporary Review Vol. LXVIII (August, 1895), pp. 271-78

(also printed in Christian Literature, Vol. XIII, p. 268).
Har. c = Harris, J. R. : Fragments of the Commentary of Ephraem Syrus on the Dia-
tessaron (London, 1895).
H. a = HiLL, J. H.: The Earliest Life of Christ, Being the Diatessaron of Tatian %

(Edinburgh, 1894).
H. D = HlLL, J. H.: A Dissertation on the Gospel Commentary of St. Ephraem, the

Syrian (Edinburgh, 1896).
Hj. sa Hjelt, Arthur : " Die altsyrische Evangelieniibersetzungen und Tatian's

Diatessaron," in Zahn's Forschungen zur Geschichte des neuteslamentlichen Kanons

und der altkirchlichen Litteratur, Theil VII, Heft I (Leipzig, 1903).
Hg. = HoGG, H. W. : "The Diatessaron of Tatian," in Menzies's The Ante-Nicene

Fathers, Vol. IX (New York, 1896).
Lgft. = Lightfoot, J. B. : Essays on Supernatural Religion (London, 1889), pp.

M. sa Moesinger, G. : Evangelii Concordantis Expositio Facta a S. Ephraemo

(Venetiis, 1876).
Mo. = Moore, G. F. : "Tatian's Diatessaron and the Analysis of the Pentateuch,"

Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. IX, Part II, pp. 201-15.
N. ss Nestle, E. : " Syriac Versions," in Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible.
R. = Ranke, E. : Codex Fuldensis (Lipsiae, 1868).
Sel. sa Sellin, E. : "Der Text des von A. Ciasca (Rom, 1888) herausgegebenen ara-

bischen Diatessarons," in Zahn's Forschungen des neutestamentlichen Kanons

und der altkirchlichen Litteratur; Theil IV, pp. 225-46 (Erlangen und Leipzig,

W. = Wace, H.: "Tatian's Diatessaron," Expositor, Series II, Vol.11 (1881), pp.

i-ii, 128-37, 193-205.
Z. a s= Zahn,Th. : Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der

altkirchlichen Litteratur; Theil I: " Tatian's Diatessaron" (Erlangen, 1881).
213] 7


Z. b = Zahn, Th. : Zeitschrift fur kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, 1884,

pp. 618-26.
Z. c = Zahn, Th. : Theologisches Litteraturblalt, January 3, 1896.


Cur. = Cureton, William : Remains of a Very Ancient Recension of the Four Gos-
pels in Syriac (London, 1858).
Ben. ss Bensley, R. L. : Harris, J. R.; and Burkitt, F. C. : The Four Gospels in

Syriac: A Transcription (Cambridge, 1894).
Lew. = Lewis, Agnes Smith : Some Pages of the Four Gospels Retranscribed ;

together with a Complete Translation (London, 1896).
Pusey = Pusey, P. E., and Gwilliam, G. H. : Tetraevangelium Sanctum (Oxford,

Tisch. = Tischendorf, C. : Novum Testamentum Graece, Editio Octava, Critica
Major (Lipsiae, 1872).

This bibliography is not intended to be exhaustive, but to give the most impor-
tant works, and those which should be used in conjunction with this paper. A num-
ber of old and now less important treatises might be added. For additional notices
see the lists of Hill and Nestle.






i. The facts concerning Tatian's Diatessaron, so far as they have been
discovered, are well known to scholars. Since Th. Zahn's work (pub-
lished in 1881) upon Ephraem's Commentary on the Diatessaron, and
especially since Ciasca's publication of the Arabic Diatessaron (1888),
much labor has been expended upon the problems connected with this
important work of Tatian's. The latest, and perhaps the most com-
plete, summary of results in the investigation of the literary notices of
Tatian and his work, and as regards questions arising from such study,
is to be found in Hjelt's work (see Hj.). Though this work is appar-
ently indebted,j£> a great degree, to the earlier publication of Zahn, it
is briefer than the latter and brings the discussion down to the present
time. This recent statement makes it unnecessary to repeat the facts
readily accessible in it. It will suffice to say that scholars have
reached quite general agreement on a number of points, 1 which, so
far as we need mention them, are these : 2 Tatian wrote a gospel
(probably 173-75 A. D.), called Diatessaron, because compiled from
our four canonical gospels. We have trustworthy remains of his work
in Ephraem's Commentary, edited by Moesinger, and in the quotations
of some of the Syrian Fathers, especially in those of Aphraates.
Ephraem's Commentary is accessible only in a Latin translation of an
Armenian version of it. Aphraates's quotations are consumable in
Graffin's splendid new edition of that Syrian Father's Homilies. 3 It is
in these quotations alone that we have remains of the original Syriac
Diatessaron* Both Aphraates and Ephraem wrote in Syriac during
the fourth century, the latter about 350 A. D., the former a little
earlier. In addition to these fragmentary remains of Tatian's gospel,
there is the harmony of the gospels preserved in Codex Fuldensis,
which is really a Latin adaptation of the Diatessaron made by arran-
ging the Vulgate text in the order indicated by Tatian's gospel, but
with considerable modification of that order. This Latin harmony was
known as early as the first part of the sixth century, and was compiled

1 The contention of W. R. Cassels (Ca.) adverse to the items here mentioned requires little attention,
in view of the reply of J. R. Harris (Har.b).

^Hrk.c, I, pp. 486-96; also Hrk.a, pp. 213-18; and, for wider limits of date than are suggested
above, cf. Hrk.c, II, p. 289. See also, upon all the facts mentioned, Hill, Hjelt, Zahn, and others, oj>. cit.

zPatrologia Syriaca, Pars Prima, Tomus Primus.

4 That the Diatessaron was originally written in Syriac seems now to be generally believed. Har-
nack (Hrk.b) followed by W. R. Cassels (Ca.), however, dissents.

215] 9


probably somewhat earlier (ca. 400, according to Hj., p. 58). Still
further, in the Arabic Diatessaron published by Ciasca we have a quite
skilful and faithful eleventh- century translation of Tatian's work, made
from a ninth-century Syriac manuscript, by the quite well-known Ara-
bic writer Abu '1 Faraj 'Abdulla ibn-at-Tayib. 5 This version is, with
some limitations, a trustworthy representation of Tatian's gospel. 6
These facts, generally assented to by those scholars who have given
them consideration, give a solid basis and distinct point of departure
for this dissertation.

2. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relation of
Tatian's Diatessaron to the four canonical gospels, which indisputably
constitute the chief, if not the only, source of that work, with a view to
determining how far this relation resembles that which, on a docu-
mentary theory of the origin of the synoptic gospels, is proved to
exist between the resultant gospels and their sources, and whether this
resemblance is such as to support or discredit that theory. 7 We have
in Tatian's work an attempt, made probably within one hundred, or at
most one hundred and ten, years after the completion of our latest
synoptic gospel, to compile from written sources an account of the life
of Jesus — a gospel, if you please. 8 It would seem, therefore, that we
might expect this gospel to show phenomena that are likely to occur
in gospels which are based on written sources. The degree of sim-
ilarity between these phenomena and those which appear in a compar-
ison of the synoptic gospels with their alleged sources ought,
therefore, to give a helpful basis for determining the probability or
improbability of the documentary theory as a sufficient explanation
of the phenomena of the first three gospels.

3. This task necessitates as a preliminary matter the finding of sure

5 For a brief, yet satisfactory, presentation and discussion of available information concerning the
Arabic Diatessaron see Hogg's treatment (Hg.).

6 For a contrary view see Hrk.c, I, p. 495. The whole matter is discussed below.

7 The documentary hypothesis is often alleged to be insufficient to account for the supposed deviations
of the gospels from their alleged sources. The import of this objection is stated with commendable
brevity by V. H. Stanton in his article on the gospels in Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible: " It is
said that the oral theory alone will account for the differences between the gospels." This objection,
moreover, is the basis of the entire argument of one of the most recent attempts to support the oral -tradi-
tion theory. K. Veit, in the second part of his Die synoptischen Parallelen, devotes his first chapter
to a review of the present situation in regard to the synoptic problem, and also to an unfavorable criticism
of every Kombinationshypothese. He assumes throughout his discussion in this chapter (see in partic-
ular pp. 6, 9, 10) that the differences of the several gospels from one another must, each and every one of
them, have some specific explanation ; and that, if the explanations which have been made by some on the
basis of the " tendencies" of the several evangelists fail at any point, then some other than a documentary
theory must be called in to solve the problem. The results of this investigation will have a direct bear-
ing upon the weight which should be allowed this objection.

8 Syrian church fathers were wont to refer to the Diatessaron as a gospel. For the notices see Hj. ,
pp. 30-47. 216



textual ground. The two terms to be compared in order to determine
the relation of the Diatessaron to its sources are (a) the text of the gospels
possessed by T 9 and employed by him in the work of constructing D,
and {b) the text which from these sources he constructed. If we pos-
sessed these, the one precisely as T had it, and the other precisely as T
made it, all differences between them would be referable to T and would
illustrate his method. But, in fact, neither of them is directly and
exactly given in any existing document. In any comparison between
the original text of the gospels, as this is presumably restored today,
and the text of D, as we have it, allowance must be made, on the one
side, for the possibility that T used a text of the gospels other than
that which is today accepted as approximately original ; and, on the
other, for possible corruption of the text of the Diatessaron in trans-
mission. The materials of which account must be taken, because of
our uncertainty respecting the two elements of the comparison, are as
follows :

I. The Gospel Text

Employed by Tatian.

Possible sources :

a) The Greek gospels
(and their variants).

b) The Sinaitic and
Curetonian Syriac

II. The Original Text of the Diatessaron.

i. Extant witnesses (ar- 2.
ranged in the order of
their respective ages) :

a) Quotations in the
Homilies of Aphra-

b) Quotations in Eph-
raem's Commentary.

c) The gospel harmony
in Codex Fuldensis.

d) The Arabic version
of the Diatessaron.

Possible sources of cor-
ruption :

a) Later Syriac ver-
sions :
a) Peshitta.
j8) Philoxeniana.
7) Harklensiana.

b) Arabic readings (due

a) Arabic translator.
/S) Arabic versions of

canonical gospels.
7) Errors of scribes
of the Arabic Dia-

c) Variants of the text
of the Greek gospels.

9The following abbreviations will be used from this point on:
A = the Arabic Diatessaron.
E = Ephraem's Commentary .

D = the Diatessaron (without reference to any particular witness).
F = the gospel harmony in Codex Fuldensis.
Aph.= quotations in the Homilies of Aphraates.
T = Tatian.

M = Moesinger's edition of Ephraem's Commentary.
P = Peshitta Syriac version.
Ss = Sinaitic Syriac Version.
Sc = Curetonian Syriac version.
S^^ Philoxenian Syriac version.
SO = Harklensian Syriac version.

For the symbols for the Syriac versions I am indebted to Nkstle's article "Syriac Versions," in
Hastings's Dictionary.



From the nature of these materials it is impossible to reconstruct
either the precise text of the gospels as employed by T, or a complete
and exact text of the Diatessaron as it left T's hands ; nor is this neces-
sary. If from the list of passages in which D differs from a standard
Greek text we eliminate all passages of D whose variation from a
standard text of the gospels may be due to a) or b) of Column I, or
whose phenomena may be due to any of the sources mentioned in
Column II, 2, the remaining peculiarities 10 of D may be confidently
ascribed to T's literary method. The construction of such a list, how-
ever, requires a comparative evaluation of the several extant witnesses
of D. We will for convenience consider, first, what witness may be
safely used for the determination of the general order of D, and then,
how details of the text may be used with certainty.

a) The general order of D can be ascertained by a comparison of
A and E. The other witnesses give but little help. In the nature of
their evidence, the quotations in Aphraates's Homilies can give but
supplementary testimony. Such as it is, it has been taken into account
by Zahn in his reconstruction of D from E, and since that reconstruc-
tion has been used in this study, the said evidence of Aph. has
been given sufficient consideration by us. F is the only other witness.
Its general character all but excludes it from consideration as a chief
witness, though at points it serves to corroborate E and A. When F is
compared with E and A, it is clear that its author changed D by omitting
and adding (e. g., the section on the woman taken in adultery) para-
graphs and by rearranging its order." The suspicion against F,
aroused by these facts, is enhanced by a comparison of the order in
the praefatio with that of the actual extant text of F (see R.). Not only
have the chapters of the text been differently numbered, but, if the
praefatio really represents an older order of the text (Z. a , p. 301), addi-
tions (viz., chaps. 21, 69 of the text), substitutions (chaps. 106, 107 of
the text in the place of the repetition of chaps. 95 and 96 of the praefatio
— a repetition probably due, however, to the error of a scribe in copy-
ing the praefatio, in which case these chapters 106 and 107 are really

10 The terms " peculiarities," " deviations," " variants," used with reference to passages in D,
connote throughout this discussion a comparison of such passages with the Greek gospels, unless some
statement to the contrary is made.

« For a verification of the statements made in this paragraph, Appendix I of H.a will be found most
useful. I have verified the references there made, and with one exception there is no inaccuracy that
affects this study. The exception is the attribution of A 6 : 23-24 (marginal number in Hg.) to F, chap. 80
(according to the chapter numbers of the text, not those of the praefatio), whereas F, chap. 80, is par-
allel to A 18 : 1-20 ff. The first -mentioned passage of A is omitted by F.



additions), and changes of order {cf. praefatio, chaps. 102-4, with the
text, chaps. 103-5) nave been made. Accordingly, both by such a
comparison and by that of F with E and A, F is proved to be, as a
whole, untrustworthy for the determination of the general order of D.
Where it agrees with E and A — and this is the case in large part — it
may be used as corroborative of them. If its evidence is opposed by
E and A, combined or independent, it is generally to be rejected.
E and F never, except possibly in one case {cf. pp. 10-14), combine
against A. There are a few instances in which F corroborates A at
least against the inferences drawn from E by Zahn (see discussion
below). There are also some cases of differences between A and F,
which have no corroboration in E for one or the other, because of E's
generally fragmentary testimony to D. The quite invariable unrelia-
bility of the order of F, in contrast to the almost constant trustworthi-
ness of that of A, is alone enough to give the preference to A rather
than to F. But there are some other considerations that lead to the
same conclusion. The passages involved are (1) A 6 : 25-35 — F, chap.
56 I2 ; (2) A6: 46-54 = F, chaps. 20, 49,515(3) A 7: 47-53 = F, chap.
70; (4) A 15 : 27-32 = F, chap. 66 ; (5) A 44 : 10 = F, chap. 155. If these
passages are examined, it will appear that all except the last are in con-
texts of F which also present material in a different order from that of
A, yet for the position of this contextual material A has the support of
E. It would accordingly seem reasonable to suppose that, if Ephraem
had seen fit to quote from the passages noted above (1-4), the position
of these in A would have been supported by E just as the position of
the material of their contexts is. An examination of the passages
reveals also that the order of A is less probably due to a superficial
worker than that of F. For example, it is easier to suppose A 44 : 10
is in an original position and has been changed to that of F, chap.
155, than to explain the reverse process. The examination of these
passages, therefore, added to the consideration of the general character
of A and F respectively, leads inevitably to the rejection of F rather than
A. A similar confidence in A is reached with regard to passages
omitted by both E and F, but retained in A. 13 At first sight, it might
be supposed that the silence of both E and F is evidence against A,
but the fragmentary character of E is in every case sufficient to account

"The numbers referring to A are those which appear in the left-hand margin of Hg. On the same
side of the page Hg. has printed references to the corresponding pages of Csc. References to F are to the
chapter numbering of the text. The sign •= indicates throughout this paper parallel material, though in
some citations the full limits of the parallels are not shown.

*3 There are but three such passages ; cf, footnote above, p. 12, and H.a, App. I.



for its silence, and omission is characteristic of F. Moreover, A's
inclusion of the passages is difficult to explain on the ground of scribal
error, for few scribes would have selected such unexpected positions.
F therefore is to be allowed no independent weight against A, no
matter which of the above classes of passages are considered. If this
be true, then, any further comparison of F with other witnesses is unnec-
essary. This leaves us — since, as already stated, Aph. is practically
taken into account below through our use of Z. a — with only E and A
to be compared.

In the comparison of these two it will be found most convenient
to use Zahn's reconstruction of D as the summation of E's evidence.
With such a method of procedure, the first fact that attracts attention
is the remarkable agreement in order between E and A — a fact which
at once, especially when the corroboration of F is remembered, estab-
lishes the validity of the general order of both. There are really only
six passages where there is disagreement. To make this statement
good, however, there must be taken into account, first, those passages
to which Zahn has given, but on inference alone, a different position
from that which they occupy in A. Zahn had for his placings no evi-
dence in E, since the passages in question do not occur in E. He
was led to arrange the passages as he did, because in our gospels they
stand in connection with other passages which are quoted in E, but, as
quoted are in no disagreement with A. Zahn's inference was natural
in the absence of evidence from A, but is now not to be admitted to
have any weight, especially since A is supported by F in its positions
for some of these passages. There are, in all, seven sections in which
Zahn's order rests solely on the inference referred to. These are:
(i) A 5 133-41 = Luke 4: 14^-220 = Zahn, § 32 = M., pp. 128-31 ; 14
(2) A 7:46=Mark 3:2i = Zahn, §27 = M., pp. 111-13; (3) A
*3 : 3^i 37 = Mark 6:12, i3=Zahn, §24 = M., pp. 90-98; (4) A
14:43, 44 = Mark 6:30, 31 = Zahn, § 34 = M., pp. 132-36; (5) A
20: 12-16 = 12-16 as Luke n: 37-41 = Zahn, § 77 = M., pp. 211-13;

(6) A 27:24, 25 = Luke 12:47, 48 = Zahn, § 79 = M., pp. 213-18;

(7) A 28: 33-41 = Luke 12: 13-21 = Zahn, § 54 = M., pp. 174^ Of
these passages, concerning which, let us remember, E is entirely silent,
five — (1), (3), (4), (5), and (7) — are given the same position by A and
F. This agreement without any adverse testimony of E, is conclusive
against the mere inference of Zahn. Of the remaining passages one

M For a convincing discussion of this section see H.a, App. IX. All references to Zahn's sections
throughout our investigation refer to his reconstruction of D in Forsch., I, pp. 112-219.



— (2) — is entirely omitted by F, and therefore is to be classed and
disposed of together with the passages discussed above, in which A is
to be accepted where E and F are silent. The only other passage —
(6) — is differently placed by A and F, though the difference is not
great (cf. A 26 : 43-45 and 27 : 24, 25 with F, chaps. 109 ff.) But, in so
far as there is difference, A is to be accepted rather than F, on the
principles determined in the preceding paragraph. We may, therefore,
accept the testimony of A as to all seven of these passages rather than
the inference of Zahn. 15 But there is still another passage, not noted
above, which needs separate treatment, because it rests on slightly
more than inference. This is A 31:36-52 = Luke 19 : 1 1-27 = Zahn,
§80= M., pp. 218 f. From the fact that Aphraates brings this passage
into connection with the similar parable of the ten talents, and that F
gives the passage in the same connection, Zahn concludes that, there-
fore, it had this position in the original Diatessaron. E is silent. F
is to be given no more than its usual value. In regard to Aphraates
it may fairly be urged that it would be natural to expect these parables
to be combined in a homily even more than in a work like F, though,
in the latter, the tendency to bring similar material together is marked.
On the other hand, it is difficult to see why a scribe should separate the
parables if they stood together in D, or why he should have put this
one of the pounds at the particular point at which it occurs in A. A
more reasonable explanation of all the evidence than that which Zahn
gave to a part of it is that A correctly represents D, while Aph. and F
are derived from such an order as that of A, and are due to the ten-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryA. Augustus (Alphonzo Augustus) HobsonThe Diatessaron of Tatian and the Synoptic problem: being an investigation of the Diatessaron for the light which it throws upon the solution of the problem of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels → online text (page 1 of 8)