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2023-05-04 12:31:50 Views : 511 |

Fragment of Old Syriac translation of New Testament discovered

Grigory Kessel identified the Old Syriac text using UV light. IMAGE: © Vatican Library, courtesy of ‎the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Ishtartv.com - the-past.com
May 3, 2023‎

The text represents one of the earliest-known translations of the Gospels.‎

An early Syriac translation of the New Testament has been discovered in fragments of a 6th-‎century AD manuscript from the Vatican Library‏.‏
The text represents one of the earliest-known translations of the Gospels.‎
The folios had originally belonged to a manuscript kept at the monastery of Saint Catherine on ‎Mount Sinai, before being acquired by the Vatican Library in the mid-20th century‎‏.‏
Considered lost for several decades, the manuscript (known as Vat. iber. 4) was rediscovered in ‎‎2010‎‏.‏
Medievalist Grigory Kessel from the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) examined the folios ‎using ultraviolet photography, revealing the manuscript to be a palimpsest, with the Syriac ‎translation identified as the third layer of text‏.‏
During the Middle Ages, parchment was scarce in the desert, and manuscripts were often erased ‎and reused‏.‏
According the study, the results of which have been published in the journal New Testament ‎Studies, comparison with dated Syriac manuscripts indicates the translation was copied down on ‎parchment in the 6th century AD. Two centuries later, a scribe in Palestine then erased and wrote ‎over the text‏.‏
It is now one of only four manuscripts known to contain the Old Syriac translation of the Gospels‏.‏
The Curetonianus Gospels, now kept in the British Library, was found at the Syrian monastery of ‎Saint Mary Deipara in Lower Egypt‏.‏
The Sinaitic Palimpsest and the fragment of another manuscript were also discovered at the ‎monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai. The latter was identified by the Sinai Palimpsests ‎Project, aimed at deciphering and digitising the manuscripts in the monastery’s collections.‎
According to Kessel, the newly discovered text – which contains the Gospel of Matthew verses ‎‎11:30-12:26 – is virtually identical to that in the Curetonianus manuscript, and so offers new insight ‎into the history of the textual transmission of the Gospels in Syriac‏.‏
The Old Syriac translation predates the oldest Greek translation of the Christian testaments by at ‎least a century. This includes the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest-known complete copy of the New ‎Testament, which is thought to have been written in the mid-4th century‎‏.‏
Claudia Rapp, Director of the Institute for Medieval Research at the OeAW, said: ‘This discovery ‎proves how productive and important the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic ‎research can be when dealing with medieval manuscripts.’‎

The UV images of the manuscript fragments have been added to the Digital Vatican Library. ‎IMAGE: © Vatican Library, courtesy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

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