Nazarene Space

Codex Phillipps 1388

This codex is one of the oldest extant copies of the Peshitta version of the Four Gospels dating to the 5th to 6th centuries. It is in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin which sheds some important light on NT origins, especially for those of us who subscribe to Aramaic Primacy for much of the NT.

Now you may have heard from certain Peshitta Primacists that all Peshitta manuscripts agree exactly, or that the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions are totally independent textual traditions. I have long maintained that both of these claims are false.

Peshitta manuscripts contain variants, just like Greek manuscripts. In fact the oldest Peshitta manuscripts contain even more variants.

Moreover the Peshitta version is not an independent textual tradition, but a revision of the Old Syriac version, created to bring the Aramaic into closer harmony with the Byzantine type Greek text.

I have made both of these points in my book The Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament ( ) which was originally published under the title Ruach Emet in 2005.

In my recent research I have been taking a closer look at Codex Phillipps 1388. This is one of the oldest Peshitta manuscripts, and it contains a great many variant readings. More importantly, many of these variant readings are Old Syriac readings, thus providing “freeze frame” manuscript evidence that the Peshitta and Old Syriac are in fact part of the same Aramaic textual tradition. Thus confirming the textual theories laid out in my book.

This information is truly exciting. It means that there is much to be gained through a critical analysis of the variant readings found in the oldest Peshitta manuscripts. Using these Peshitta manuscripts and the Old Syriac together, a critical edition could be compiled creating a critical text, which as closely as possible, reproduces the original Aramaic text.

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