Do the Old Syriac and Peshitta NT use a Greek Word for “Covenant”?

Do the Old Syriac and Peshitta NT use a Greek Word for “Covenant”?
James Scott Trimm

Recently I wrote a blog titled Do the Old Syriac and Peshitta NT use a Greek Word for “Torah”? Today I want to address a similar concern about a word used for “Covenant” in the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of the NT books.

It has been suggested to me that the Old Syriac and Peshitta Aramaic versions of “New Testament” books had to be translations from a Greek source, because in some places they use the Greek word דיתיקא (diyatiki) for “covenant/testament”.

Diyatiki is an Aramaic Word

While “diyatiki” is a Greek word, it is also an Aramaic word, just as “ballet” is a French word, but it is also an English word. Diyatiki is what is called a “loan word”, a word that originated in one language, but was fully adopted into another language. In fact the word “diyatiki” even appears in the Aramaic Rabbinic literature. For example in the Talmud we read:

WILLS, DEEDS OF GIFT, etc. Our Rabbis taught: What is meant by WILLS (דייתיקי) (diyatiki)? — [Documents which contain the words:] ‘This shall be established and executed,’ so that when [the author of the document] dies, his property becomes the possession of the person named [in the document!.
(b.Babba Metzia 19a)

Many more examples could be cited from the Aramaic Rabbinic literature.

Diyatiki also appears in the Peshitta Tanak (“Old Testament”), which we know to have been translated from Hebrew. For example in Jeremiah 31:31:

Behold, the days come, says Marya, that I will make with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, a new covenant (דיאתיקי):
(Jer. 31:31)

Certainly the Talmud and Peshitta Tanak were not translated from Greek source texts.

The fact is that the Peshitta Syriac Aramaic version is a revision of the Old Syriac version (towards greater agreement with the later Byzantine tyope text) and that the Old Syriac is a Syriac version of prior Western Aramaic and/or Hebrew versions of the books of the “New Testament” and as such they are important sources for restoring the original Hebrew and Aramaic of the books of the “New Testament”.

I have recently been given (by Dr. Al Garza) a thumb drive containing literally thousands of pages of Hebrew manuscripts of “New Testament” books, and their relationships to the Old Syriac Aramaic will be important clues, as I sort out those that are merely medieval Hebrew translations from Greek or Latin, from those that may actually play an important part on Hebrew and Aramaic NT origins.

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