A New Witness to the Original Hebrew Synoptic Gospels
James Scott Trimm
As many of you know, I have been working for over a year, on a project with Dr. Albert Garza, analyzing some 4,000 pages of Hebrew manuscripts of “New Testament” books. The vast majority of these manuscripts have appeared to be Hebrew translations on the Greek, the Latin Vulgate or even the Peshitta Aramaic. However, a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Garza sent me a new text for analysis (Ms. Or 150 from Zentralbibliothek Zurich (Zurich Central Library)). As I studied this text very carefully, I realized it is very different.
This text, which I have named the “Garza-Trimm” text, is a manuscript of the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke Chapters 1-17). The book of Matthew in this manuscript is titled תורת המשיח “The Torah of the Messiah,” just as it is in the version published by Sebastian Munster in 1537, which he said he “obtained from among the Jews.” This is not surprising, because the Hebrew Matthew in this manuscript is a manuscript of the same family and that of Munster and DuTillet, but it does not agree with either of them precisely. Sometimes it agrees with DuTillet, sometimes with Munster, and sometimes it departs from both, often agreeing with the underlying Hebrew text behind the Greek, and even with the Shem Tob text.
A colophon on the final page of the text reads:
The Torah of the Messiah and the Brit Chadashah, the First Portion. The sacred and perfect. And this is the Torah of Yeshua, our Adon and our Messiah. Written by the hand of Matti the Evangelist in the Greek tongue and at a later time, translated into the sacred tongue. Finding light, of the underground hiding place of the Jews they that were hidden in their testimonies; here in Arana. In the year Messiah came in peace to command by the hand of a faithful man and righteous proselyte in Yeshua the Messiah. Rotherwolf Bernhardt a medical doctor from Prague,( a healer of ailments of their mouths, swallowed?) In the place of Bern, the the country of Switzerland.
Some of this Hebrew of this colophon is difficult, but I have done my best to render it into English. It expresses the scribes opinion that Matthew was originally written in Greek, and later translated into this Hebrew text. This opinion is of limited value to us. What is important, is the source of the text itself. We are told that was מוצאת לאור כמוסה היהודים הנחבאו במעדותם “Finding light, of the underground hiding place of the Jews they that were hidden in their testimonies.” The word כמוסה is of special interest. I have translated it “underground hiding place” and in fact, this word can mean “cave”.
The colophon seems to say that a medical doctor named Rotherwolf Bernhardt, who became a “proselyte in Yeshua the Messiah” published this Hebrew text, which was held among secret Jewish believers in Yeshua, and had been hidden away in caves.
The analysis of this text has just begun, but the following observations are enough to demonstrate that it is a new witness to the same family of Hebrew manuscripts as DuTillet and Munster, and that, as such, it is part of the scribal tradition of the original Hebrew of Matthew:
Here the Greek reads:
… for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
However the DuTillet Hebrew reads:
כי מה שילד ממנה מרוח הקדש הוא כי מרוח הקודש היא הרה
…for that which will be born of her is from the Ruach HaKodesh; for from the Ruach HaKodesh she has conceived.
And the Old Syriac Curetonian Ms reads:
הו גיר דמתילד מנה מן רוחא הו דקודשא בטין
…for that which is born of her, from the Ruach HaKodesh is conceived.
This is very significant, because the Old Syriac Aramaic was lost from ancient times, until its 19th Century rediscovery. It was simply not available to Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Even Munster does not have this reading, instead reading:
כי מה שילד בתוכה מאת רוח הקודש הוא
For that which is born of her, is from the Ruach HaKodesh.
In fact no other version of Matthew except the Old Syriac Aramaic and the DuTillet Hebrew Manuscript of Matthew, contain this reading… until now.
The Garza-Trimm text agrees almost word for word with DuTillet, and with the Old Syriac, reading:
כי מה שיולד ממנה כי מרוח הקודש היא הרה
For that which is born from her, that from the Ruach HaKodesh is conceived.
DuTillet Hebrew version of Matthew says not “like a dove” but כדמות יונה “in the likeness of a dove” in agreement with בדמותא דיונא of the Old Syriac S manuscript. This also corresponds with the reading in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.
The Garza-Trimm Hebrew Matthew, agrees with DuTillet in this wording, and the Hebrew of Luke 3:22 in this manuscript has this same reading as well.
Here Yeshua quotes from Deut. 8:3 where the Greek Septuagint and Greek Matthew read “God” but DuTillet and Munster have “YHWH” (in DuTillet this appears as an abbreviation) in agreement with the Masoretic Text, as well as the Old Syriac (which has מריא the Aramaic word that the Old Syriac and Peshitta use for YHWH). Here our new manuscript, agrees with the Masoretic Text against the Greek, as well.
The same is true in Luke 4:4 of this Hebrew version of Luke, where the Greek has “God” but the Garza-Trimm Hebrew has “YHWH”
Here DuTillet (but not Munster) repeats the word “Arise” (as it is in Mark 5:41), as does the Garza-Trimm Hebrew Matthew.
In the ancient Nazarene Commentary to Isaiah 9:1-4 preserved only in Latin, in a fourth century quotation by Jerome, re read that when Yeshua came to the Land of Zebulon and the Land of Naphtali that he “scribarum et pharisaeorum est erroribus liberata, et gravissimum traditionum Iudaicarum iugum excussit de cervicibus suis.” or in English that he “He shook off of their shoulders the yoke of the heavy decrees of the Scribes and Pharisees” (I have rendered “traditionum” as “decrees” based on Jerome’s use of that Latin word in the Latin Vulgate in Matthew 15 where the DuTillet Hebrew has גזרתכם “your decrees, judgements, sentences”.)
When we look at Isaiah 9:1-4 the Hebrew words for “yoke” and “shoulder” but the verb there is החתת “broken” not “shaken off”. And, in fact, in Biblical Hebrew the idiom is always that a yoke is “broken”. But here the Latin verb is excussit “to shake off”. This points strongly to the Hebrew verb נער
In DuTillet’s Hebrew Matthew 11:29 Yeshua uses the verb נער!
28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will satisfy you.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I shake (נער) [that burden] off and am downcast of spirit, and you will find rest for your souls (Jer. 6:16; Ps. 23:3).
30 For my yoke is gentle, and my burden easy.
(Matthew 11:28-30 DuTillet)
The Graza-Trimm Hebrew Matthew uses this very unusual verb here as well. I know of no other versions of Matthew that use this unusual verb here, except for DuTillet and now the Garza-Trimm Hebrew text. (Not even Munster).
The Greek translator must have misread נער as נעם “to be pleasant”.
No doubt the Nazarene Commentator on Isaiah saw Isaiah 9:1-4 and it brought to mind Matthew 3:14-16 & Matthew 11:28-30. And seeing the verb נער in his Hebrew text of Matthew 11:29 commented that Yeshua “shook off of their shoulders the yoke of the heavy decrees of the Scribes and Pharisees”.
This cannot be a coincidence. The Ancient Nazarene Commentator on Isaiah clearly had a Hebrew Matthew before him that agreed with this unique reading found only in the DuTillet Hebrew Matthew (and our new manuscript). We can now make a definite connection between DuTillet Hebrew Matthew, and the original Hebrew Matthew which was in the hands of the Ancient Nazarene Jews!
Here DuTillet has:
יקבל וישא יסורים מה
“…receive and bear scourgings from them.”|
Whereas the Greek simply has “suffer from them”
The Greek translator must have had a Hebrew manuscript with read יסבל “suffer” instead of יקבל “receive” (an obvious Scribal error within the Hebrew)
The Garza-Trimm manuscript reads:
יקבל וסבל מנה יסורים
“…receive and bear from them, scourgings.”
Which is clearly a conflation of the DuTillet reading and the underlying reading behind the Greek.
The Munster text has ישא יסורים מהם”bear scourgings from them.”
In an interesting twist the Old Syriac (C) has Aramaic נסיבר = Hebrew יסבר (endure) which is also related by scribal error to יסבל (suffer)
Here Yeshua quotes Deut 6:5. Greek Matthew has “mind” (the LXX does not agree) while DuTillet, Munster and the Garza-Trimm texts agree with the Masoretic text (as well as the Old Syriac) have “strength”.
In this passage, Yeshua cries out shortly before his death, “Eli, Eli, Lama Shabachtani” (as the Greek transliterates the Aramaic). This is quoting the Aramaic Peshitta Text of Psalm 22:1. The original Hebrew of Psalm 22:1 is “Eli. Eli, Lama Azbatani”.
Munster reads: אלי אלי למה שבקתני
Iohannes Quinquarboreus, in his 1551 reprinting of the Munster Text has a marginal note to שבקתני, offering the alternate reading עזבתני as we read in Ps. 22:1
DuTillet has a very unique reading here: אלי אלי למה שכחתני
This would have the meaning “why have you forgotten me” rather than “why have you forsaken me” (Perhaps drawn from Ps. 42:9)
So it is indeed interesting that the Garza-Trimm manuscript has a complicated reading:
אלי אלי למה עזבתני (שבקתני) (שכחתני) שבחתני (שחטתני)
This is complicated text. The initial text agrees with the Hebrew of Ps. 22:1 (and Quinquarboreus’ marginal note) then in the first set of parenthesis is the reading of Munster (which is the same as the Aramaic given in Greek Matthew, the Peshitta Matthew and the Peshitta of Psalm 22:1). The next set of parenthesis give a word similar to the DuTillet reading, but with a ב in place of a כ so that the meaning is “glorified me”. This is followed by the reading “forgotten me” as found in DuTillet. Finally this is followed by a word meaning “killed me” in parenthesis.
In a future installment, I will explore analysis of the Hebrew versions of Mark and Luke found as found in the Garza-Trimm manuscript.
Our rent was due yesterday and we do not have it!
As many of you know, my wife is chronically ill, disabled since and dealing with chronic pain daily, since her fifty three day hospitalization in late 2018, and I am her caretaker.
We need more of you to step up to the plate to donate, even in small amounts. I know you are out there.
This work takes hours of my time, and I spend most of my time at home as her caretaker. I work at a desk less than six feet from her bed. So I am in a position to dedicate many hours to this important work that I have been directed to do.
But I also realize that it is not the activity of James Trimm alone who is responsible to do this work, it is all of us together who are charged with the responsibility of accomplishing this work. I very much look on the efforts of this restoration work as a cooperative one with each one of you. We are all joint heirs with Messiah and should always be about our Father’s business. I am honored to be able to be partnered with truth seekers as this restoration of Scripture moves forward in fulfillment of prophecy.