Tatian, Diatessaron, Harmony of the Gospels (150-172 A.D.)
Last Updated: Feb 15, 2009
Introduction: - Tatian and the Diatessaron
Tatian: - A Synopsis from earlychurch.org
The Diatessaron: Origin and Date - from Yuri Kuchinsky
Textual Omissions: in the Diatessaron - from Petersen
John 8:1-11: - Tatian and the Pericope De Adultera
John 8:1-11: - Not Omitted! - from Yuri Kuchinsky
Diatessaron: - Translator's Introduction
The Text Translated.
The Present Translation
The Arabic Text.
The Arabic mss
Condition of the Arabic Text
Origin of the Arabic Text
The Arabic Editor & his Method
The Syriac Text Translated
Other Traces of a Syriac Text
Statements about the Diatessaron
Non-Syriac Texts of the Diatessaron
Accretions to the Diatessaron
Passages Lost from the Diatessaron
Presentation of the Text
Checkered History of the Diatessaron
The Author of the Diatessaron
The Diatessaron as a Harmony
Problems Connected with the Work.
The Present Translation.
Backgrounder for Tatian
"A second-century apologist about whose antecedents and early history nothing can be affirmed with certainty except that he was born in Assyria and that he was trained in Greek philosophy.
While a young man he travelled extensively. Disgusted with the greed of the pagan philosophers with whom he came in contact, he conceived a profound contempt for their teachings.
Repelled by the grossness and immorality of the pagans and attracted by the holiness of the Christian religion and the sublimity and simplicity of the Scriptures, he became a convert, probably about A.D. 150. He joined the Christian community in Rome, where he was a "hearer" of Justin. There is no reason to think he was converted by the latter.
While Justin lived Tatian remained orthodox. Later (c. 172) he apostatized, became a Gnostic of the Encratite sect, and returned to the Orient. The circumstances and date of his death are not known.
Tatian wrote many works. Only two have survived. One of these, "Oratio ad Graecos" (Pros Hellenas), is an apology for Christianity, containing in the first part (i-xxxi) an exposition of the Christian Faith with a view to showing its superiority over Greek philosophy, and in the second part a demonstration of the high antiquity of the Christian religion. The tone of this apology is bitter and denunciatory. The author inveighs against Hellenism in all its forms and expresses the deepest contempt for Greek philosophy and Greek manners.
The other extant work is the "Diatessaron", a harmony of the four Gospels containing in continuous narrative the principle events in the life of Our Lord.
The question regarding the language in which this work was composed is still in dispute. Lightfoot, Hilgenfeld, Bardenhewer, and others contend that the original language was Syriac. Harnack, Burkitt, and others are equally positive that it was composed in Greek and translated into Syriac during the lifetime of Tatian.
There are only a few fragments extant in Syriac but a comparatively full reconstruction of the whole has been effected from St. Ephraem's commentary, the Syriac text of which has been lost, but which exists in an Armenian version.
Two revisions of the "Diatessaron" are available: one in Latin preserved in the "Codex Fuldensis" of the Gospels datin from about A.D. 545, the other in an Arabic version found in two manuscripts of a later date. The "Diatessaron" or "Evangelion da Mehallete" (the Gospel of the mixed) was practically the on ly gospel text used in Syria during the third and fourth centuries. Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa (411-435), ordered the priests and deacons to see that every church should have a copy of the separate Gospels (Evangelion da Mepharreshe), and Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (423-457), removed more than two hundred copies of the "Diatessaron" from the churches in his diocese.
Several other works written by Tatian have disappeared. In his apology (xv) he mentions a work "on animals" and (xvi) one on the "nature of demons". Another work in refutation of the calumnies against the Christians (xl) was planned but perhaps never written. He also wrote a "Book of Problems" (Eus., "Hist. Eccl.", V, 13), dealing with the difficulties in the Scriptures, and one "On Perfection according to the Precepts of Our Saviour" (Clem. Alex., "Strom.", III, 12, 81).
- Catholic Encyclopedia Online, Tatian
The following additional details for Tatian have been provided by Rob Bradshaw, from earlychurch.org :
Tatian referred to himself as "an Assyrian," 1 "born in the frontier district between the Roman Empire and Parthia". 2 Trained in "mythology, history, poetry, and chronology" 3 he became disgusted with paganism. He travelled first to Antioch and then to Rome, where he was converted by reading the Hebrew Scriptures. 4 In Rome he joined the school of Justin Martyr, (between 150-165) 5 whom he held in high regard. 6 Tatian was a man of fiery temperament and seems to have found in Christianity a means by which to attack not only "pagan religion, but also… the Roman system of law and government." 7 He was apparently the first Christian writer to declare that God created matter by the power of the Logos: 8 "And as the Logos, begotten in the beginning, begat in turn our world, having first created for Himself the necessary matter..." 9 From this it was only a small step for later Christian thinkers to arrive at the doctrine of creation out of nothing. 10 Unlike his teacher Justin he did not link the Greek hero Deucalion with Noah. 11
After Justin’s martyrdom Tatian’s teaching gradually became more and more ascetic, until he broke with the Church in about 172 and returned to Mesopotamia. 12 Here (according to Eusebius and Jerome) he founded the sect of the Encratites. 13 Who, it was alleged, abstained from meat and rejected worldly goods, substituting water for wine in the Eucharist. 14 He was opposed by many of the early church fathers, including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, 15 Hippolytus 16 and Origen. 17 This probably explains why all but two of his numerous works have perished, so we have little opportunity to examine at first hand the claims of heresy levelled at him. 18 Irenaeus summarises the false teachings of Tatian as follows:
"He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons [or powers], like the followers of Valentinus..."
"Like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication..." 19
"...his denial of Adam’s salvation..." 20
Irenaeus notes that Tatian was the source of this last heresy. Robert M. Grant explains Tatian’s reasoning in the Address as follows: "...since immortality is obtainable only where a soul forms a union… with the divine Spirit (13.2), and since the divine Spirit was lost by the same man (7.3), the first man Adam cannot have been saved." 21 Perhaps more interesting than Tatian’s reasoning is the obvious inference that if Irenaeus was able to class the denial of Adam’s salvation as heresy (and Scripture is silent on this point) then the orthodox position at that time must have been that Adam was saved after the fall. It may well be that this doctrine was considered important because it countered Gnostic teaching to the contrary.
It is not surprising that Tatian’s teaching on creation was misinterpreted when he made use of Gnostic terminology. An example of this is Tatian's statement that the Logos, begotten by the Father, in turn 'begot' the creation (5.2). 22 Further evidence of allegedly Gnostic teaching is found in Address 20:
The demons were driven forth to another abode; the first created human beings were expelled from their place: the one, indeed were cast down from heaven; but the other were driven from the earth, yet not out of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things than exists here now.
The phrase "not of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things..." may suggest to some a higher level of existence, 23 but could equally be well be taken as a reference to the physical Eden, which is no longer part of this world. 24 In defence of Tatian, Gerald F. Hawthorne has made the following points 25 :
"It is quite possible that Irenaeus’ catalogue of heresies is derived solely from his acquaintance with the Discourse."
"Subsequent references to Tatian as a heretic among the early fathers seem to be based upon Irenaeus’ remarks with very little evidence for his heresy." 26
"Some of the things for which Irenaeus condemned Tatian can hardly be classed a heresy..." An example of this is the subject of Adam’s salvation - or lack of it - as noted above.
"Some orthodox teachers of the early church… spoke of him as the champion of orthodoxy. Rhodo, for example, Tatian’s own pupil, testifies that he combated the heresy of Marcion." 27
Given these considerations it is less easy to dismiss Tatian out of hand as a heretic. The charge that Tatian was a Gnostic is difficult to substantiate. Tatian clearly declared his belief in Christ’s incarnation, 28 His suffering 29 and bodily resurrection. 30 We can only guess at the real reason for Tatian’s condemnation at the hands of Irenaeus. Some have suggested that it may have been his status as an independent Christian teacher. In such a position he was outside of the control of the church hierarchy and may well have been seen as a threat to orthodoxy; "orthodoxy" at that point in history being increasingly defined as that which the bishops believed.
- Rob Bradshaw, - earlychurch.org
1. Tatian, Address, 42 (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, 81-82).
2. Frend, The Rise of Christianity. (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1984), 175.
3. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 2, 1910. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 727.
4. Tatian, Address, 29 (ANF, Vol. 2, 77).
5. "Justin Martyr", Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3rd edn., 1341.
6. Tatian, Address, 18 (ANF, Vol. 2, 73).
7. Frend, Rise, 175; Tatian, Address, 28 (ANF, Vol. 2, 77).
8. B. Studer, "Creation," Angelo D. Bernardino, ed. Encyclopedia of the Early Church, Vol. 1. (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1992).
9. Tatian, Address, 5 (ANF, Vol. 2, 67).
10. May, 154.
11. Jack P. Lewis, A Study of the Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1968), 107: "Though Tatian does not specifically mention Noah's flood, his chronology would make it impossible for him to identify Deucalion with Noah (Address to the Greeks 39.2)."
12. Eusebius, History, 4.29.3 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 1, 208.
13. Eusebius, History, 4.29.6 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 1, 209); Jerome, Lives, 29 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 3, 369); Against Jovinian 1.3 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 6, 347); cf. Irenaeus, who writes that this sect came from Saturinus and Marcion (see Heresies 1.28.1 [ANF, , Vol. 1, 353]). Hendrik F. Stander, "Encratites," Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 298.
14. Stander, "Encratites," Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 298.
15. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 3.7; ANF, Vol. 2, 396, 406-407 (text in Latin).
16. Hippolytus, Refutation, 8.9; 10.14 (ANF, Vol. 5, 122, 146).
17. Oxford Dictionary of the Chriatian Church, 3rd edn., 1341.
18. ANF, , Vol. 2, 61.
19. Tatian rejected marriage on the basis of 1 Cor. 7:5 & Gal. 6:8; Tatian, Address, 8 (ANF, Vol. 2, 68); Irenaeus, Heresies 1.28.1 (ANF, Vol. 1, 353). See further R.M. Grant, "Tatian and the Bible," Kurt Aland & F.L. Cross eds. Studia Patristica, Vol. 1. (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1957), 300-301.
20. Irenaeus, Heresies, 1.28.1 (ANF, Series 1, Vol. 1, 353).
21. Robert M. Grant, "The Heresy of Tatian," Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 46 (1954): 64.
22. Grant, "Heresy," 64.
23.Grant, "Tatian," 305.
24. Robert C. Newman, Personal Communication, November 1995.
25. Gerald F. Hawthorne, "Tatian and His Discourse to the Greeks," Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 57, No. 3 (1964): 165-166.
26. Eusebius, History, 4.29 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 1, 207-209); Hippolytus, Philosphumena, 8.16.
27. Eusebius, History, 5.13.1 (NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 1, 227).
28. Tatian, Address 21 (ANF, Vol. 2, 74).
29. Tatian, Address 15 (ANF, Vol. 2, 71-72).
30. Tatian, Address 13 (ANF, Vol. 2, 70-71).
- earlychurch.org, Tatian
Because some opponents of John 8:1-11 want to make the omission of the Diatessaron significant, it is necessary to ask hard questions about both its authorship and date.
When we do this we find some remarkable but disappointing facts:
I quote a public posting from Yuri Kuchinsky on this subject, actually an abridged exerpt from his book:
It's repeated over and over again in any standard introduction to early Christian history that "Tatian produced the Diatessaron around 170 CE".
But was this really so?
So what is the actual evidence that Tatian really wrote the Diatessaron, and why is this idea still accepted by so many without any questions?
It is a general view that Justin Martyr [100-165 A.D.] used a harmony of 3 Synoptic gospels as his main gospel text. He probably was not the author of this, but used a text that was already well established. Soon after his time, GJohn (probably some early version of it) was also integrated into that to produce the Diatessaron.
There's no evidence that Tatian had anything to do with GJohn being added to Justin's Harmony. He certainly wasn't the author of Justin's Harmony. So then in what sense can it be said that Tatian was the author of the Diatessaron? The evidence for this seems to be extremely thin, and there's considerable evidence to the contrary.
The biggest unanswered question in this general area is, What was the earliest gospel to have been widely published in Syria? It's widely believed that this was a gospel harmony of some sort. Some scholars proposed that this was the Gospel of the Hebrews, which may be the same thing as Justin's Harmony. If so, it's clear that Tatian had nothing to do with this publication, that must have taken place much before him. Thus, Tatian's role in creating the Diatessaron could not have been so great even on the surface of things. So why does every standard reference book still insist that Tatian wrote the Diatessaron?
The following is based on Chapter 35 ("The Earliest Gospel to Have Been Widely Published") of my new book THE MAGDALENE GOSPEL: a Journey Behind the New Testament, (Roots Publishing, Toronto, 2002). This is a much abridged version of this chapter.
The only real evidence for Tatian producing the Diatessaron is just one short quote from Eusebius, and even this is disputed, because the original wording is not so clear. This passage survives in Greek, Syriac, and Latin, and each version is somewhat different (Petersen supplies and discusses all three versions in his Tatian's Diatessaron, 1994, p. 36). [this is online at Google books]
Here is the translation of the Greek version of Eusebius' comment, which seems to be considerably more dismissive of the Diatessaron that the other two versions,
[Tatian, the first leader of the Encratites] "... arranged a kind of joining together and compilation of the Gospels, I know not how, to which he gave the title The Diatessaron; and it is still to this day to be found in the hands of some."
(Eusebius, The History of the Church, IV.29.6, Lawlor and Oulton translation)
To be noted here is a clear political colouring of Eusebius' comment, viz. Tatian is firmly identified as an Encratite heretic. As a result, this necessarily casts doubt on the Diatessaron itself, and on its validity as a gospel text.
Indeed, this may have been the main idea behind this whole comment by Eusebius. Right away, we see that there may have been some political agenda that was being pursued in saying what he was saying. It stands to reason that his aim in writing what he wrote (whatever it was, exactly) may have been -- at least in part -- apologetical, and that his real intention was to dismiss the Diatessaron as a "heretical gospel" that should be viewed with suspicion.
All other attributions of the Diatessaron to Tatian are even later, and were probably based on what Eusebius said. Of course, it's well known that, soon after Eusebius, the Diatessaron will be rejected by most orthodox theologians; it will be seen as a "heretical Judaizing text".
Moreover, the validity of this remark by Eusebius tends to be diminished rather significantly, considering that elsewhere he actually says that someone else wrote the Diatessaron! Because in his EPISTLE TO CARPIANUS, Eusebius also said that the Diatessaron (to dia tessaron euaggelion) was written in Alexandria by one Ammonius (Petersen 1994:37). Ammonius flourished at the beginning of the third century, around the time of Origen, and thus some time after Tatian... So now it sure may seem like Eusebius, himself, was not all that sure who was it exactly that wrote the Diatessaron.
OTHER ANCIENT TESTIMONIES GO CONTRARY TO EUSEBIUS
And yet Tatian was certainly very well known within the movement even in his own time. For example, we have Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria -- all Tatian's contemporaries -- as well as Origen and Jerome, all referring to Tatian, and mentioning him writing his ORATION TO THE GREEKS (Contra Gentes, also known as AGAINST THE NATIONS).
But never do they mention either the Diatessaron, or Tatian writing it (Metzger, EARLY VERSIONS, Oxford, 1977:32). And this would certainly be a most curious omission in their testimonies, seeing that many of these same writers travelled in Syria, and knew the affairs of Syrian Church quite well.
Moreover, in actual fact, Jerome (347-419 CE) says specifically -- or at least implies very strongly -- that, by his own time, out of all literary productions of Tatian, only the ORATION TO THE GREEKS still survived! So then why did he not mention the Diatessaron? If indeed Tatian wrote it, surely Jerome would have known about it?
This is what Jerome says,
"Tatian wrote ... innumerable volumes, one of which, a most successful book AGAINST THE NATIONS, is extant, and this is considered the most significant of all his works."
(Jerome, LIVES OF ILLUSTRIOUS MEN, Ch. 29)
LIVES OF ILLUSTRIOUS MEN is believed to have been written by Jerome in 393 A.D., when the Diatessaron would have still been the main gospel of Syria, and perhaps elsewhere as well.
So I think it stands to reason that, if Jerome knew anything about Tatian writing it, he would have seen it as "the most significant of all his works", rather than AGAINST THE NATIONS... (Writing long ago, T. Zahn, a leading Diatessaronic scholar of his time, already referred to this quote from Jerome in one of his articles [HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS, in "The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge", v. 5], while, interestingly enough, also expressing some uncertainty that Tatian really wrote the Diatessaron.)
AN IMPORTANT QUOTE FROM EPIPHANIUS
Also, the testimony of Epiphanius about the Diatessaron is certainly most interesting. He wrote the following ca 400 CE,
"He [Tatian] is said to be the author of the Diatessaron, which some call the Gospel According to the Hebrews".
(Epiphanius, PANARION, 46.1.9)
This identification, as was made by some commentators in Epiphanius' time, seems very important. So this may cast light on the real identity of the Diatessaron -- it was probably known early on as the Gospel According to the Hebrews.
Now, we can come back to Syria, and look again at what was the earliest gospel used there.
In his 1951 monograph (STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF THE GOSPEL TEXT IN SYRIAC) Voobus outlines considerable historical evidence indicating that GHeb was the earliest Syrian gospel. For example, this is what he says,
"I have had a thought which has forced itself upon me again and again in the course of my studies, which is that the Gospel According to the Hebrews might have been used here. Several observations seem to support this view. It appears quite natural, if we study the beginnings of Christianity in Mesopotamia and Persia, that we should meet with a Jewish Christian origin of the church." (1951:17-18)
In particular, his case seems to be well supported by the following quote from Eusebius,
"...from the Syriac Gospel According to the Hebrews he [Hegesippus] quotes some passages in the Hebrew tongue."
(Hist. Eccl. IV. 22.8; although the exact translation of this text has been disputed, the basic meaning seems to be reasonably clear.)
It's clear that, in ancient times, the Diatessaron was a very important and very wide-spread gospel. There are about twenty languages in all in which the Diatessaron is now believed to be attested -- languages that were spoken in all sorts of places all over the world. And, moreover -- just like with the situation in Syria -- often one learns that, for many of these places, the Diatessaron was the first gospel ever to make it there.
But we should also keep in mind that Tatian had been expelled from the Church already in 170 CE, having been declared a heretic in Rome.
So, even on the surface of it, it is hardly likely that Tatian could introduce some brand-new gospel in 170, and then it would have spread around the world like wildfire.
A much likelier possibility is that this gospel had already been around well before him -- so that it could spread so far and wide. So this is how it could leave its traces all over the place -- from Armenia to China in the East, and all the way to Tunisia and England in the West.
Thus, when one considers all such evidence objectively and without any presuppositions, it seems like Tatian had very little to do with the Diatessaron -- if he had anything to do with it at all.
Indeed, the reason why, in later times, the Diatessaron was widely attributed to Tatian seems clear enough -- this was an effective way to discredit this ancient gospel, and to deny it any validity.
All the best,
- Yuri Kuchinsky, on Tatian
One important thing we learn from Yuri's review of the historical evidence for Tatian's Diatessaron is this:
It was originally only a "Synoptic Harmony", that is a combination or harmony of the first three gospels, probably in Syriac.
Whoever then later introduced the Gospel of John into this harmony (not likely Tatian, and much later than the proposed dates currently popular for the Diatessaron) may have had to do so at the peak of the controversy concerning these very verses (John 8:1-11).
Thus, knowing that the ('Tatian's) Diatessaron was actually composed in the early 3rd century goes a very long way toward explaining why, like its contemporary MSS (P66, P75), this work deliberately left out the Pericope de Adultera.
Petersen on Omissions in the Diatessaron
Before leaving the subject of Tatian's Diatessaron, it might be worthwhile to consult W. L. Petersen, arguably one of the world's leading experts on Tatian's Diatessaron, before his recent passing.
In his Opus Work, Tatian's Diatessaron: Its Creation, Dissemination, Significance, and History (Brill, 1994), Petersen speaks at length on the significance of "omissions" in the Diatessaron:
A. Arguing from Omissions
An argument from omission is, of course, e silentio. Therefore, it cannot be used as primary evidence. Once a pattern of dependance has been established by identical interpolations, substitutions, and sequence, then one may use omissions as evidence of a second order, which the reader may accept or reject.
The case being argued however, cannot rest upon omissions.
Unfortunately, some genuine Diatessaronic readings undoubtedly are are omissions. They will, however, be extremely difficult to prove beyond dispute. Because Diatessaronic research is difficult, the scholar will sometimes be tempted to use omissions: since only about five percent of the readings examined will pass muster as Diatessaronic, why not inflate the number by including omissions?
This temptation is to be resisted under all circumstances.
Omissions could have arisen from any number of causes: a scribal error, chance, context. Unlike the assertive act of commission required to create an interpolation, substitution, or resequencing of a passage, the reason for an omission can rarely - if ever - be stipulated unequivocally.
- W. L. Petersen, pg 359-360 (emphasis Petersen's)
So the weighty opinion of one of the world's leading scholars' views on "omission" in the Diatessaron as hard evidence.
Tatian's Diatessaron has often been cited as a 'witness' for omission of the Pericope de Adultera (John 8:1-11). Yet when it is closely examined, several startling facts surface that bring the exact meaning of the evidence from the Diatessaron into question.
As with most other early witnesses, including MSS, the Diatessaron actually provides ambiguous and at the same time intriguing evidence regarding John 8:1-11.
The fact is, this evidence, like so many other cases, appears tainted. While the Diatessaron does omit John 7:53-8:11, it does not do so in a 'seamless' fashion, but rather it substitutes a passage from Matthew where the Pericope de Adultera would have sat.
Evidence of a 'Seam'
This indicates that the two "halves" of John, the portions immediately preceding (7:45-52) and the the section immediately following (John 8:12-20) were not perceived as very well connected by the author of the Diatessaron. The harmonizer (Tatian) had no problem at all leaving the text physically divided at this point, and inserting a block of fairly unrelated material from Matthew.
Although this by no means proves that John 7:53-8:11 was present in Tatian's copy of John, it does show an awareness of a break in the text where the passage was known to rest from early times (cf. the testimony of Jerome, who painstakingly sought out the most ancient MSS in his time to make his Latin Vulgate translation).
A Lone Insertion
Perhaps even more remarkable is that this insertion comes in the middle of a large unbroken block of over 50 verses of John's gospel, a block that Tatian felt no reason to divide otherwise, in spite of his pressing task of blending four different gospels.
If Tatian himself had removed the Pericope de Adultera from John's text, in order to make a more 'harmonious' block of John appropriate for the Pentacostal services, then the act of inserting a more neutral substitute makes perfect sense. Without the distracting and controversial story of John 8:1-11, the section functions very nicely as an edifying and inspiring set of readings regarding the Messiah and His earthly ministry.
The Pericope de Adultera is skipped over during Pentecost to this very day in the Lectionay readings, and this appears to be an ancient practice of unknown antiquity. Furthermore, the Diatessaron is known to have been used by the Syrian Church as its Lectionary from early times. Our earliest copies of Tatian's Diatessaron come from the 4th century, and so it is quite possible that this omission of John 8:1-11 may have occurred after Tatian composed his Diatessaron.
The Word "ADULTERY" inserted!
In any case, an even more remarkable circumstance occurs in the Diatessaron. The word "ADULTERY" has been substituted for "fornication" in verse 8:41, a seemingly deliberate signal regarding the omission and substitution of Matthew 22:41-46, at least in the textual version preserved in the Borg. MS.
Once again, we have something which was hoped to be a primitive source showing a seamless join between 7:52 and 8:12, but which turns out to be yet another 'tainted' witness. The Diatessaron of Tatian seems to evidence guilty knowledge of the omission of John 7:53-8:11.
Recently Yuri Kutchinsky has added some important information about the surviving manuscripts for Tatian's Diatessaron. The details reveal that only one Arabic copy actually leaves out the Pericope de Adultera. All the other extant copies INCLUDE John 8:1-11, including the Eastern manuscripts:
Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:41 pm
Message #1629 TC-Alt List
I did some more research on this subject, and some corrections will be necessary. See below.
--- In TC-Alternateemail@example.com, "Yuri Kuchinsky"
> --- In TC-Alternatefirstname.lastname@example.org, "Ben Davidson"
> > Dear Yuri: you wrote:
> > > I understand that Nazaroo's primary concern is to examine to what
> > > extent the Diatessaron may cast light on the history of the Pericope
> > > de Adultera. Often, it is alleged that the Diatessaron can somehow
> > > be > > > used as an argument against the authenticity of PA. But I totally
> > > disagree with that.
> > >
> > > The simple fact is that we don't have any such thing as
> > the 'authentic
> > > Diatessaron, as produced by Tatian'. What we do have is a bunch of
> > > rather late Diatessaron MSS in a variety of languages, all
> > disagreeing
> > > with each other. Some of these MSS omit PA, but most of them do
> > > include it AFAIK. Thus, if anything, Diatessaron does in fact
> > >support the authenticity of PA at least to some extent.
> > >
> > Can you provide the details about the TD manuscripts which INCLUDE
> > the PA? and those which exclude it?
> Hello, Ben,
> There are about 10 Diatessaron manuscripts that can be considered as
> very important. These would include,
> Arabic (2 MSS),
> Latin (Fulda, plus some other),
> Tuscan (actually numerous MSS, but all quite similar),
> Middle Dutch (various MSS, falling in 3 traditions),
> Middle English (the Magdalene Gospel).
> THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, Aland et al, UBS, 1966 typically cites
> Arabic, Fulda, Persian, Venetian, Tuscan and Dutch Diatessaron
> manuscripts in its apparatus.
> (Also various Diatessaron fragments are available, in a variety of
> languages. This includes the Syriac citations from Ephrem and
> Aphrahat, some very important Latin citations from certain medieval
> commentaries, etc.)
> Now, THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, 1966, in its listing for Pericope
> Adultera (p. 413) only notes Arabic and Fulda as lacking PA.
After checking some more, I have now discovered that the Fulda
Diatessaron in fact does contain PA.
Thus, THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, Aland et al, UBS, 1966 (GNT) was in
error on this point. The mistake was also printed in subsequent
editions of GNT. Yet the latest edition of GNT omits all details about
Diatessaron manuscripts in regard to PA... Instead, it proclaims
without any further elaboration that 'the Diatessaron omits PA', which
is even a greater error!
In fact, the truth seems to be the opposite.
> This certainly seems to mean that the most important Diatessaron
> manuscripts do include PA.
Originally, I thought that the majority of the most important
Diatessaron manuscripts do include PA. But now, in light of the
situation with Fulda, the correct statement should be as follows,
With one exception only, namely, the Arabic Diatessaron, all important
Diatessaronic manuscripts do include PA. Thus, the evidence is
overwhelming that the earliest versions of the Diatessaron did include PA.
NT scholarship has been terribly confused in this area, as well as
clearly biased against PA...
> The current Wikipedia article for Diatessaron is of a very poor
> quality. It doesn't even have basic info on the Diatessaron
> manuscripts. (I have a very poor opinion of the Wikipedia in general,
> seems like the Big Brother in action.) In general, there's very little
> reliable info on the Diatessaron on the Net.
> Of course I can investigate this matter further, and ascertain which
> Diatessaron manuscripts do or don't include PA. I have some doubts
> about the Persian MS,
In fact, the Persian Diatessaron does include PA, as I've now confirmed!
> but other than that I'm pretty sure that THE
> GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, 1966 is correct in its assessment.
> > Is this partly based on the language of the translation?
> This shouldn't really matter so much. The most important factor would
> be if the manuscript is of eastern or western provenance.
Since the Persian Diatessaron is of eastern provenance, and does
include PA, this is very important in confirming that the early
eastern Diatessaron versions must have included PA.
> > Has anyone discussed this?
> Plooij Diatessaronic commentary would have some more comments, I'm
> sure. I can look it up.
I have now consulted Plooij Diatessaronic commentary, where indeed
some interesting info is available.
> > Do those which include the PA also include the insertion from
> > Matthew? or is the that only found in the versions without the PA?
> My guess is that this feature would only be limited to the Arabic
According to Plooij, some Diatessaron versions place PA just before Mt 21:18-21. But the Arabic Diatessaron is clearly the only one to insert Mt 22:41-46 _instead_ of PA (it also being apparently the only important Diatessaronic manuscript to omit PA).
> > Where can we get more detailed info on this?
> Petersen's Diatessaron book might also have some more info on this.
I now checked and, unfortunately, Petersen's Diatessaron book has nothing to add to this area.
> > Thanks in advance
> > mr.scrivener
> All the best,
I now conclude that it is highly likely that the earliest versions of the Diatessaron did include PA. The vote of the manuscripts is something like 9 to 1 to this effect (counting Arabic Diatessaron as one manuscript). But, unfortunately, mainstream NT scholarship has been asleep at the wheel in this area. They still all proclaim the opposite of the truth.
Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:41 pm
Message #1629 TC-Alt List
The aim of the following introductory paragraphs is neither to furnish a detailed restatement of facts already known, nor to offer an independent contribution to the discussion of the problems that arise, although in other circumstances such an attempt might be made with advantage. All that is needed and practicable here is to describe briefly, if possible, the nature of the connection between the English treatise forming the next part of this volume and the ancient work known as the Diatessaron of Tatian; and then to indicate in a few words some of the more important or interesting features of the work itself, and some of the historical and other problems that are in one way or another connected with it.
1 The Text Translated. —What is offered to the reader is a translation into English of an Arabic text, published at Rome in 1888, in a volume entitled in Arabic Diatessaron, which Titianus Compiled from the Four Gospels, with the alternative Latin title, Tatiani Evangeliorum Harmoniæ, Arabice. The Roman volume consists of two parts—the text, covering a little over 209 very clearly printed Arabic pages, and a Latin half, comprising a scholarly introduction (pp. v.–xv.), a Latin translation (pp. 1–99), and a table showing the order in which the passages taken from the gospels occur in the text. The editor is P. Agostino Ciasca, a well known Orientalist, “scriptor” at the Vatican Library.
2 Former Translations. —In his Introduction (p. xiv. f.) Ciasca explains that in his translation he aimed at preserving quantum, salva fidelitate, integrum fuit, indolem stylumque Clementinæ Vulgate. This Latin version was in its turn translated into English by the Rev. J. Hamlyn Hill, B.D., and published in 1894 in a volume entitled The Earliest Life of Christ, with an interesting introduction and a number of valuable appendices. The ms. of Mr. Hill’s translation of the Latin of Ciasca was compared with the Arabic original by Mr. G. Buchanan Gray, M.A., lecturer in Hebrew and the Old Testament in Mansfield College, Oxford.
3 The Present Translation. —The translation offered here is quite independent of either of these two. Ciasca’s Latin was seldom consulted, except when it was thought the Arabic might perhaps be obscured by a misprint. After the translation was completed, Hill’s English was compared with it to transfer Mr. Hill’s valuable system of references to the margin of this work, and to lessen the risk of oversights passing the last revision unnoticed. In two or three cases this process led to the adoption of a different construction, and in a few of the more awkward passages a word was borrowed as being less harsh than that which had originally been written. Speaking generally, the present version appears to differ from Mr. Hill’s in adhering more closely to the original. 17
4 The Arabic Text. —Only two Arabic mss. are known to exist. Ciasca tells us (p. xiv.) that he took as the basis of his text that ms. which is more careful in its orthography, the Cod. Vat. Arab. No. 14. He, however, printed at the foot of the page the variants of the other ms., and supplied from it two lacunæ in the Cod. Vat., 18 substituted its readings for those of the Cod. Vat. where he thought them preferable, and followed its testimony in omitting two important passages. 19 Here and there Ciasca has emended the text, but he does not profess to have produced a critical edition. 20
5 The Arabic mss. —Unfortunately, the present writer has not had an opportunity of examining these two mss.; but they have been described at some length by Ciasca; Codex XIV. in Pitra’s Analecta Sacra, iv., 465 ff., and the other codex in the volume with which we are dealing, p. vi. ff.
I. The former, which we shall call the Vatican ms. (in Ciasca’s footnotes it is called A), was brought to the Vatican from the East by Joseph S. Assemani 21 about a.d. 1719. It was described by Stephen E. Assemani, 22 Rosenmüller, and Akerblad, 23 and then at length by p. 36 Ciasca, to whose account the reader must be referred for the details. It consists of 123 folios, of which the first seven are somewhat spoiled, and of which two are missing, 24 and is supposed by Ciasca, from the character of the writing, and from the presence of certain Coptic letters 25 by the first hand, to have been written in Egypt.
S. Assemani assigned it to the twelfth century, and Ciasca accepts his verdict, while Akerblad says the thirteenth or fourteenth century. The text of the ms. is pretty fully vocalised, but there are few diacritical points. There are marginal notes, some of them by a later hand, 26 which Ciasca classifies as (1) emendations, (2) restorations, (3) explanations.
II. The second ms., which we shall call the Borgian (in Ciasca’s footnotes it is called B), was brought to the Borgian Museum from Egypt in August, 1886. It has at the end the following inscription in Arabic: “A present from Halim Dos Ghali, the Copt, the Catholic, to the Apostolic See, in the year of Christ 1886.” 27 Antonius Morcos, Visitor Apostolic of the Catholic Copts, when, in the beginning of 1886, he was shown and informed about the Vatican ms., told of this other one and was the means of its being sent to Rome.
The Borgian ms., which Ciasca refers to the fourteenth century, consists of 355 folios. Folios 1–85 28 contain an anonymous preface on the gospels, briefly described by Ciasca, who, however, does not say whether it appears to have been originally written in Arabic or to have been translated into that language.
With folios 96b, 97a, which are reproduced in phototype in Ciasca’s edition, begins the Introductory Note given in full at the beginning of the present translation. The text of the Diatessaron ends on folio 353a, but is followed by certain appendices, for which see below, §55, 17, note. This ms. is complete, and has, as we shall see, 29 in some respects a better text, though it is worse in its orthography than the Vatican ms.
6 Condition of the Arabic Text. —Ciasca’s text does not profess to be critically determined, for which purpose a more careful study of each of the mss. and an estimate of their respective texts would be indispensable. Although the Borgian ms. is supposed by Ciasca to be a century or two later than the Vatican ms. it is clearly not a copy of the latter, for not only does it sometimes offer more original readings, but, as we shall see, its text in some points coincides more exactly in scope with the original work. The list of various readings supplied by Ciasca, 30 which is equal to about a fifth or a quarter of the text itself, ought to yield, on being analysed, some canons of criticism. The footnotes of the present edition are enough to show that a number of the peculiar features of Ciasca’s text do not belong to the original Arabic ms.; and further study would dispose of still more. On the other hand, there are unfortunately some indications 31 that the common ancestor of both mss., though perhaps less than two centuries removed from the original, was not the original itself, and therefore emendation may be necessary even where both mss. agree. From first to last it has to be borne in mind that a great deal of work was done at Arabic versions of the gospels, 32 and the text of the copy from which our two mss. are descended may already have suffered from contact with other versions; while the special activity of the thirteenth century may have left its mark in some places on the text of the Borgian ms., supposing it to be chronologically the later.
7 Origin of the Arabic Text. —If some of the uncouthness of the Arabic text is due to corruption in the course of transmission, much is also due to its being not an original work, but a translation. That it is, in the main, a translation from Syriac is too obvious to need proof. 33 The Introductory Notice and Subscription to the Borgian ms., moreover, expressly state that the work was translated by one Abu’l Faraj ‘Abdulla ibn-at-Tayyib, 34 an “excellent and learned priest,” and the inferiority of parts of the translation, 35 and entire absence of any confirmatory evidence, 36 hardly suffice to refute this assertion. Still, the Borgian ms. is a late witness, and although it most probably preserves a genuine tradition as to the author of our work, its statement need not therefore necessarily be correct in every point.
8 The Arabic Editor and his Method. —Ibn-at-Tayyib (d. 1043) is a well known man, a Nestorian monk and scholar, secretary to Elias I., Patriarch of Nisibis (for references to sources see, e.g., Ciasca’s Introduction, p. xi. f. and Steinschneider’s long note in his Polemische und apologetische Lit. in Arabische Sprache, pp. 52–55). As we are here concerned with him p. 37 simply as a link in the chain connecting our present work with its original source, the only point of interest for us is the method he followed in producing it. Did he prepare an independent translation or did he make use of existing Arabic versions, his own or others’? Until this question which space forbids us to discuss here, has been more thoroughly investigated, 37 it must suffice to say that in view of the features in the present text that have not yet been shown to exist in any other Arabic version, it is still at least a tenable hypothesis that Ibn-at-Tayyib’s ms. constituted to a considerable extent a real translation rather than a sort of Arabic parallel to the Codex Fuldensis (see below, 12).
9 The Syriac Text Translated —The eleventh century ms. of Ibn-at-Tayyib, could we reach it, would bring us face to face with the more interesting question of the nature of his Syriac original. The Subscription to the Borgian ms. states, probably copying the statement from its exemplar, that this was a. Syriac ms. in the handwriting of ‘Isa ibn-‘Ali al Motatabbib, pupil of Honain ibn Ishak. This Honain was a famous Arabic physician and medical writer of Bagdad (d. 873), whose school produced quite a number of translations and translators, among whom Ibn-‘Ali, supposed to be identical with the Syriac lexicographer of the same name, is known to have had a high place. The Syriac ms., therefore, that Ibn-at-Tayyib translated takes us back to about the year 900. But the Subscription to each of our mss. 38 states that the work ended is the gospel called Diatessaron, compiled from the four gospels by Titianus; while the Introductory Note to the Borgian ms. adds that this Titianus was a Greek. The next step, therefore, is to inquire whether any traces exist of such a Syriac work, or any statements by which we can check the account just given of it.
10 Other Traces of a Syriac Text. —No copy of a Syriac Diatessaron has yet been shown to have survived. 39 A number of quotations 40 from such a work have, however, been found in a Syriac commentary on the New Testament by Isho‘dad of Merv (circ. 852), a contemporary of Honain, Ibn-‘Ali’s teacher. 41 The value of these extracts is apparent, for they take us back one generation earlier than Ibn-at-Tayyib’s Syriac exemplar. More important still, they do not entirely agree with the text of our Arabic version. To solve the problem thus raised, we must examine some of the statements about the Diatessaron to be found in ecclesiastical writers.
11 Statements about the Diatessaron. —One of the most widely known is that of Isho‘dad himself, who, in his Preface to the Gospel of Mark, says: “Tatian, disciple of Justin, the philosopher and martyr, selected from the four gospels, and combined and composed a gospel, and called it Diatessaron, i.e., the Combined,…and upon this gospel Mar Ephraem commented.” 42 Dionysius Bar Salibi (twelfth century) repeats each of these phrases, adding, “Its commencement was, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’” 43 These statements identify the author of the Diatessaron with a man otherwise known, and tell us that the great Syrian father Ephraem (d. 373) wrote a commentary on it. Unfortunately, no Syriac ms. of Ephraem’s work is known to have survived; 44 but quotations from it, or allusions to it, are being found in other Syriac writers. One further reference will suffice for the present. Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus, four hundred years before Isho‘dad, wrote thus in his book on Heresies (written in 453): “Tatian the Syrian.…This [writer] also composed the gospel which is called Diatessaron, cutting out the genealogies and whatever other passages show that the Lord was born of the seed of David acp. 38 cording to the flesh.” 45 Before examining the testimonials we have now adduced, we must notice certain more remote sources of information.
12 Non-Syriac Texts of the Diatessaron. —Although Ephraem’s Syriac commentary on the Diatessaron is for the present lost, there is an Armenian version of it 46 extant in two mss. dating from about the time of Bar Salibi and our Vat. ms. 47 A Latin translation of this work, published in 1876 by Moesinger, 48 formed the main basis of Zahn’s attempt 49 to reconstruct the Diatessaron. Appendix X in Hill’s Diatessaron (pp. 334–377) contains an English translation of the texts commented on by Ephraem, made from Moesinger’s Latin, but collated with the Armenian by Professor J. Armitage Robinson, of Cambridge. A comparison of this document with our Arabic text shows a remarkable agreement in the order and contents, but just as remarkable a lack of agreement in the kind of text presented. The same phenomenon is met with when we compare our Arabic text with a document that carries us back three hundred years before the time of Isho‘dad, and therefore more than six hundred years before the Armenian mss.—the Codex Fuldensis of the Vulgate. 50 This ms. contains an arrangement of the gospel matter that its discoverer and publisher, Bishop Victor of Capua (d. 554), rightly concluded must represent the Diatessaron of Tatian, but for the text of which was apparently substituted that of the Vulgate. 51 We are now ready to weigh the testimony we have gathered. 52
13 Accretions to the Diatessaron. —The statements we are to consider are: (1) Bar Salibi’s, that Tatian’s Diatessaron began with “In the beginning was the Word”; 53 (2) Theodoret’s, that Tatian cut out the genealogies; and (3) the same writer’s, that Tatian also cut out “whatever other passages show that the Lord was born of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Of these statements 1 conflicts with the Arabic text, which begins with Mark, and the Codex Fuldensis, which begins with Luke, but agrees with the Ephraem source; the same is true of 2; while 3 conflicts with all three texts. Our limits do not admit of our discussing these points in detail. It must suffice to say (1) that, although a more careful examination at firsthand of the introductory notices in the two Arabic mss. seems needed before one can venture to propound a complete theory, a comparison of the two texts, and a consideration of the descriptions given by Ciasca and Lagarde, 54 make it almost certain that the genuine Arabic text of Ibn-at-Tayyib began with John i. 1. Similarly the first four verses of Luke (on which see also below, § 1. 6, note) were probably not in the original text of the ms. that Victor found, for they are not mentioned in the (old) table of contents. We seem thus to detect a process of gradual accretion of material drawn from the ordinary gospel text. (2) The genealogies illustrate the same process. In the Vatican ms. they form part of the text. 55 But in the Borgian ms., although they precede the Subscription, and therefore may have been already in the ninth century Syriac ms. used by Ibn-at-Tayyib, they are still placed by themselves, after a blank space, at the end of the volume, with a title of their own. 56 Here, therefore, we actually see stages of the process of accretion. (3) It is therefore possible that the same account must also be given of 3, although in this case we have no direct proof.
14 Passages Lost from the Diatessaron. —If the Diatessaron has thus been growing so as to represent the ordinary text of the canonical gospels more completely, we have also evidence that suggests that it has been at some time or times purged of certain features that are lacking in these canonical gospels. For one case of this kind see below, §4, 36, note.
15 Presentation of the Text of the Diatessaron. —We have observed already that the Latin, Armenian, and Arabic Diatessarons correspond pretty closely in subject matter and arrangement, but differ markedly in text. The Codex Fuldensis is really a ms. of the Vulgate, although the text that Victor found was probably somewhat different. The Armenian text differs materially from the ordinary Syriac version of the New Testament (the Peshitta), showing a marked connection with another type of Syriac text represented now by the Curetonian and Sinaitic (Lewis) mss. The Arabic text, on the other hand, almost systematically represents the Peshitta. The explanation of the condition of text in the Codex Fuldensis is obvious. On the other hand, the relationship of the Armenian and Arabic texts to the original Diatessaron must be determined by weighing p. 39 very multifarious evidence that cannot be even cited here (see above 6 ff.). The two texts depend, as we have seen, on late mss. but all the earlier references and quotations go to show that the Armenian text 57 stands much more closely related to the original than does the Arabic.
16 Checkered History of the Diatessaron. —What use the Arabic edition of Ibn-at-Tayyib was put to when made we do not know. ‘Abd Isho‘ (d. 1318) speaks in the highest terms of Tatian’s work, saying, “…With all diligence he attended to the utmost degree to the right order of those things which were said and done by the Saviour; of his own he did not add a single saying.” 58 But the leaders of the Syrian church had not always thought so. Theodoret (loc. cit.) some nine hundred years earlier had written thus: “…Even those that follow the apostolic doctrines, not perceiving the mischief of the composition,” used “the book too simply as an abridgment.” A few years earlier Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa (d. 435), had said: 59 “Let the presbyters and deacons give heed that in all the churches there be provided and read a copy of the Distinct Gospel,” i.e., not the harmonized or mixed gospel. But obviously these men were trying to suppress traditional practice due to very different views. Theodoret (loc. cit.) found more than two hundred copies of the work “held in respect in the churches”; and the Doctrine of Addai (Edessa, third to fourth century) seems simply to identify the Diatessaron and the New Testament. 60 Outside of the Syriac speaking churches we find no signs of any such use of the Diatessaron. It would seem, therefore, that at a quite early stage the Diatessaron was very widely if not universally read in the Syriac churches, and commented on by scholars as the gospel; that in time it fell under the condemnation of some at least of the church leaders, who made violent efforts to suppress it; that it could not be suppressed; that a commentary on it was (perhaps in the fifth century 61 ) translated into Armenian; that it was still discussed by commentators, and new Syriac mss. of it made in the ninth century, and thought worth the labor of reproduction in Arabic in the beginning of the eleventh century; that mss. of the Armenian volume continued to be made down to the very end of the twelfth century, and of the Arabic edition down to the fourteenth century; but that this long life was secured at the expense of a more or less rapid assimilation of the text to that of the great Syriac Bible which from the fourth century onwards became more and more exclusively used—the Peshitta.
17 The Author of the Diatessaron. —The Diatessaron is such an impersonal work that we do not need to know very much about its compiler. 62 It will suffice here to say that he tells us himself that he was born “in the land of the Assyrians,” and brought up a heathen. After travelling in search of knowledge, he settled at Rome, where he became a pupil of Justin Martyr, professed Christianity, and wrote in Greek his Address to the Greeks, 63 translated in vol. iii. of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library. He was too independent in his attitude to maintain a permanent popularity, and after Justin’s death left Rome and returned to Mesopotamia. It was probably here that he issued in Syriac his most important work, the Diatessaron, which won such a warm place in the heart of the Syrian church. Among the Greek scholars, however, he became more and more regarded as a heretic, Encratite (ascetic), and Gnostic.
18 The Diatessaron as a Harmony. —Not very much need be said on this subject, as every reader can collect the facts for himself. In its present form the Harmony draws from all the four canonical gospels, and from very little else. Opinions differ as to whether it originally indicated the gospel from which any given piece was drawn, and some uncertainty must remain in special cases as to what gospel actually has been drawn upon. Professor G. F. Moore, in a very interesting article on the Diatessaron, 64 having counted the references in the Arabic mss., states that the Arabic text contains 50 percent of Mark, 66 percent of Luke, 76.5 percent of Matthew, and 96 percent of John. The summation of his figures gives the following result: out of a total of 3780 verses in the four gospels, the Diatessaron quotes 2769 and omits 1011. As to the order in which the whole is arranged, Moore thinks that Matthew has chiefly been followed; while Zahn regards the Fourth Gospel as normative. For a specimen of the way in which words and phrases from the different gospels are woven together, we may refer to § 52, 35 ff., and the notes thereon. In the Arabic mss., and probably in the Syriac exemplar, the work is divided into fifty-four almost equal chapters, followed by one short one—a feature that agrees well with what we have learned of the work as being of old the Lectionary of the Syrian church.
19 Problems Connected with the Diatessaron. —The Diatessaron opens up a very wide field of study. A few points may be here enumerated (see also above, 8, and note there). In what language was it written? On the view favoured by an increasing majority of scholars, that it was written in Syriac, was it a translation or simply a compilation? What precisely is its relation to the Syriac versions and the “Western” text generally? Then there is its bearing on the date and formation of the canonical gospels; the phenomenon of its so long supplying the place of those gospels; the analogy it presents to the Pentateuch, according to the critical view of the origin of the latter. These and other issues make the Diatessaron an important and interesting study.
20 The Present Translation. —The work of translation has been found much more tedious than was anticipated, notwithstanding the fact that considerably more than half of it is the work of my wife, which I have simply revised with special attention to the many obscurities dealt with in the footnotes. We have, however, worked so much together that it is very doubtful whether any one could assign the various parts to their respective sources. My wife also verified the Arabic references to the gospels printed on the margin to the right of the text, 65 and prepared the Index to these references—an extremely laborious and perplexing piece of work. This Index is inserted merely for the practical purpose of enabling the reader to find any given gospel piece in the Diatessaron. When a verse is not found in the Index, an equivalent passage from some of the other gospels should be looked for. On the margin to the left of the text are indicated the pages of the Arabic text and the sections and verses in Hill’s version. 66
The aim has been to make a literal translation. As two freer translations already exist, it seemed best to incline to the side of being overliteral. If, however, features due simply to Arabic idiom have been preserved, this is an oversight. Uniformity could only have been secured by devoting a much longer time to the work than the editor was able to allow. The difficulties are due to the corrupt state of the Arabic text, 67 and to the awkward reproduction 68 or actual misunderstanding 69 of the Syriac original by the author or authors of the Arabic translation. It has been impossible to maintain consistency in dealing with these phenomena. If any rendering seem strange, it will be well to consult the Syriac versions before deciding that it is wrong. A good deal of attention, too, has to be paid to the usage of the Arabic text, which, though it has many points of contact with other Arabic versions of the gospels, e.g., the ms. described by Gildemeister (De evangg. in arab. e simp. Syr., 1865), is as yet for us (see above, 8) a distinct version, possessed of an individuality of its own, one pronounced feature being its very close adherence to its Syriac original. Another revision of the present translation, in the light of a fuller study of these features, would doubtless lead to changes both in the text and in the footnotes. The latter aim at preventing misunderstanding and giving some examples of the peculiarities of the text, and of the differences between the mss. To have dealt systematically with the text and various readings would have required much more time and space than was available. The consequence of this incompleteness has been some uncertainty at times what text to translate. As already stated (paragraphs 4 and 6), Ciasca’s printed text neither represents any one ms. nor professes to be based in its eclecticism on any systematic critical principles. On the whole Ciasca has here been followed somewhat mechanically in deciding what to exhibit in the text and what to relegate to the footnotes. As a rule conjectural emendations have not been admitted into the text except where the ms. readings would hardly bear translation. Italics in the text denote words supplied for the sake of English idiom; in the footnotes, quotations from the mss. It is to be noted that many linguistic usages said, for shortness, in the footnotes to be characteristic of the present work, i.e., as compared with ordinary Arabic, are common in Arabic versions. “Syriac versions” means the three (Pesh., Cur., Sin.), or as many of them as contain the passage in question; if the Peshitta alone is quoted, it may be assumed that Cur. and Sin. are missing or diverge.
In conclusion we may say that an effort has been made to preserve even the order of words; but it must be emphasized that it is very doubtful whether it is wise for any one to use the Arabic Diatessaron for critical purposes who is not acquainted with Arabic and Syriac. The tenses, e.g., are much vaguer in Arabic than in Greek and English, and are, moreover, in this work often accommodated to Syriac idiom. The Greek and the Revised Version have been p. 41 used to determine in almost every case how the vague Arabic tenses and conjunctions should be rendered. It is therefore only where it differs from these that our translation can be quoted without investigation as giving positive evidence.
This is not a final translation. Few books have had a more remarkable literary history than the Diatessaron, and that history is by no means done. Much careful argument will yet be devoted to it, and perhaps discoveries as important as any hitherto made are yet to shed light on the problems that encircle it. If our work can help any one to take a step in advance, we shall not regret the toil.
Oxford, 21st December, 1895.
Original Footnotes from Translator:
35:17 For further explanation of the method followed see 20.
35:18 See notes to § 7, 47, and § 52, 36, of the present translation.
35:19 See below, 12, (2).
35:20 See also below, 6, and 20.
35:21 Bibl. Or., i., 619.
35:22 Mai, Vet. script. nova. collect., iv., 14.
35:23 cf. Zahn, Forschungen, i., 294 ff.
36:24 See below, § 7, 47, note, and § 52, 36, note.
36:25 See below, § 28, 43, note.
36:26 See below, foot-notes, passim.
36:27 The first leaf bears a more pretentious Latin inscription, quoted by Ciasca, p. vi.
36:28 Can this be a misprint for 95?
36:29 See below, 13.
36:30 He does not state, in so many words, that the list is absolutely exhaustive.
36:31 See, e.g., below, § 13, 42, note, and § 14, 43, note.
36:32 See the valuable article of Guidi, “Le traduzioni degli Evangelii in arabo e in etiopico” (Atti della R. Accademia dei Lincei; Classe di Scienze Morali, Storiche e filologiche. Serie Quarta, 1888, Parte Prima—Memorie, pp. 5–38). Some of his results are briefly stated in Scrivener, A Plain Introd. to the Crit. of the N.T., 4th ed., ii., 162.
36:33 cf.the foot-notes passim, e.g., § 13, 14, § 14, 24.
36:34 See below, note to Subscription.
36:35 See a glaring case in § 52, 11.
36:36 The references to the readings of the Diatessaron in Ibn-at-Tayyib’s own commentary on the gospels (see next note) are remarkably impersonal for one who had made or was to make a translation of it.
37:37 A specially important part of the general question is this, What are the mutual relations of the following: (1) a supposed version of at least Matthew and John made from the Syriac by Ibn-at-Tayyib, mentioned by Ibn-al-‘Assal in the Preface to his scholarly recension of the gospels (ms. numbered Or. 3382 in Brit. Mus., folio 384b) and used by him in determining his text; (2) the gospel text interwoven with the commentary of Ibn-at-Tayyib on the gospels, a commentary which De Slane says the author wrote in Syriac and then translated into Arabic; (3) our present work. Of mss. testifying to No. 1 we have some dating from the time of Ibn-al-‘Assal himself; of No. 2 we have, in addition to others, an eleventh-century ms. in Paris, described by De Slane (catalogue No. 85) as being “un volume dépareillé du ms. original de l’ouvrage”; of No. 3 we have of course the Vatican and Borgian mss. What is the mutual relation of these texts; were any two of them identical? The Brit. Mus. ms. of the second has many points of contact with the third, but is dated 1805 a.d. Does the older Paris ms. stand more or less closely related? Did Ibn-at-Tayyib himself really translate any or all of these texts, or did he simply select or edit them? Space does not permit us to point out, far less to discuss, the various possibilities.
37:38 The text is given below in full at its proper place.
37:39 Prof. Gottheil, indeed, announced in 1892 in the Journal of Biblical Literature (vol. xi., pt. i., p. 71) that he had been privately informed of the existence of a complete copy of the Syriac Diatessaron. Unfortunately, however, as he has kindly informed me, he has reluctantly come to the conclusion that the ms. in question, which is not yet accessible, is “nothing more than the commentary of Isho‘dad” mentioned in the text. A similar rumor lately circulated probably originated simply in the pamphlet of Goussen mentioned in the next note. S. Bäumer, on the other hand, in his article, “Tatians Diatessaron, seine bisher. Lit. u. die Reconstruction des Textes nach einer neuentdeckten Handschrift” (Literarischer Handweiser, 1890, 153–169) which the present writer has not been able to see, perhaps refers simply to the Borgian ms.
37:40 Attention was called to these by Profs. Isaac H. Hall and R. J. H. Gottheil (Journ. of Bibl. Lit., x., 153 ff.; xi., 68 ff.); then by Prof. J. R. Harris (Contemp. Rev., Aug., 1895, p. 271 ff., and, more fully, Fragments of the Com. of Ephr. Syr. on the Diatess., London, 1895) and by Goussen (Studia Theologica, fasc. i., Lips., 1895).
37:41 Prof. Harris promises an edition of this commentary.
37:42 Harris, Fragments, p. 14, where the Syriac text is quoted.
37:43 Bib. Or., ii., 159 f. Most of them are repeated again by Bar Hebræus (d. 1286), although some confusion is produced by his interweaving some phrases from Eusebius of Cæsarea. (Bib. Or., i., 57 f., and a longer quotation in English in Contemp. Rev., Aug., 1895, p. 274 f.)
37:44 Lagarde’s statement (Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellsch. der Wiss., etc., zu Göttingen, 1891, No. 4, p. 153) that a ms. had been discovered, appears to have been unfounded. Prof. Rahlfs of Göttingen kindly tells me that he believes this is so.
38:45 Migne, Patrol. græc., tom. lxxxiii., col. 369, 372.
38:46 Published at Venice in 1836.
38:47 The two Armenian mss. are dated a.d. 1195.
38:48 Evangelii Concordantis Expositio, facta a S. Ephraemo (Ven., 1876).
38:49 Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, I. Theil.
38:50 Edited by Ernestus Ranke, Marb. and Lips., 1868.
38:51 For other forms of the Diatessaron, of no critical importance, see S. Hemphill, The Diatessaron of Tatian (London, 1888), Appendix D and the refs. there.
38:52 Further references, chiefly repetitions in one form or another of the statements we have quoted, may be found in a convenient form in Harnack, Gesch. d. altchrist. Lit. bis. Euseb., 493–496; cf. also the works mentioned by Hill (op. cit.) p. 378 f.
38:53 cf. the words of Aphraates, senior contemporary of Ephraem: “As it is written in the beginning of the Gospel of our Vivifier: In the beginning was the Word.” (Patrol. Syr., pars i., tom. i., 21, lines 17–19).
38:54 Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellsch. der Wiss., etc., March 17, 1886, No. 4, p. 151 ff.
38:55 See notes to § 1, 81, and § 4, 29.
38:56 See note to § 55, 17.
39:57 The Armenian version of Ephraem is supposed to date from the fifth century.
39:58 Mai, Script. vet. nov. Coll., x., 191.
39:59 Overbeck, S. Ephraemi, etc., Opera Selecta, p. 220, lines 3–5.
39:60 Phillips, Doct. Add., p. 36, 15–17 [E. Tr. p. 34].
39:61 Moesinger, Evang. Concord., etc., p. xi.
39:62 The latest discussion of the question whether this really was Tatian is Mr. Rendel Harris’s article in the Contemp. Rev., Aug., 1895.
39:63 Best ed. by Eduard Schwartz, in Texte und Untersuchungen, IV. Band, Heft 1.
39:64 “Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Analysis of the Pentateuch,” Journ. of Bibl. Lit., vol. ix., 1890, pt. ii., 201–215.
40:65 The refs., except where the foot-notes indicate otherwise, are to the verses of the English or Greek Bible. The numbers of the Arabic verse refs. (which follow the Vulgate and therefore in one or two passages differ from the English numbers by one) may, however, have been occasionally retained through oversight. It is only the name of the gospel that can possibly be ancient.
40:66 It may be mentioned that it has been found very convenient to mark these figures on the margin of the Arabic text. An English index (that given here, or that in Hill’s volume) can then be used for the Arabic text also.
40:67 e.g., § 8, 10. For a list of suggested emendations see at end of Index.
40:68 e.g., § 52, 11.
40:69 e.g., § 45, 33.
NT Text Jn 7:37 And on the great day, which is the last of the feast, Jesus stood, crying out and  saying, If any man is thirsty, let him come unto me, and drink. Jn 7:38 Every one that believeth in me, as the scriptures said, there shall flow from his belly rivers of pure  water. Jn 7:39 He said that referring to the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet granted; and because Jesus had not yet been  [Arabic, p. 133] glorified. Jn 7:40 And many of the multitude that heard his words said, This is  in truth the prophet. Jn 7:41 And others said, This is the Messiah. But others  said, Can it be that the Messiah will come from Galilee? Jn 7:42 Hath not the scripture said that from the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village of David, the  Messiah cometh? Jn 7:43 And there occurred a dissension in the multitude because of him.  Jn 7:44 And some of them were wishing to seize him; but no man laid a hand upon him.  Jn 7:45 And those officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees: and the priests said  unto them, Why did ye not bring him? Jn 7:46 The officers said, Never spake man thus  as speaketh this man. Jn 7:47 The Pharisees said unto them, Perhaps ye also have gone [12, 13] astray? Jn 7:48 Hath any of the rulers or the Pharisees haply believed in him? Jn 7:49 except  this people which knows not the law; they are accursed. Jn 7:50 Nicodemus, one of them,  he that had come to Jesus by night, Jn 7:51 said unto them, Doth our law haply condemn  a man, except it hear him first and know what he hath done? Jn 7:52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also haply from Galilee? Search, and see that a prophet riseth not from Galilee. Mt. 22:41 [17, 18] And when the Pharisees assembled, Jesus asked them, and said, Mt. 22:42 What say ye of  the Messiah? whose son is he? They said unto him, The son of David. Mt. 22:43 He said unto them, And how doth David in the Holy Spirit call him Lord? for he said, Mt. 22:44  The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand, That I may put thine enemies under thy feet. Mt. 22:45 [21, 22] If then David calleth him Lord, how is he his son? Mt. 22:46 And no one was able to answer him; and no man dared from that day again to ask him of anything. Jn 8:12  And Jesus addressed them again, and said, I am the light of the world; and he that  followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall find the light of life. Jn 8:13 The Pharisees [Arabic, p. 134] said unto him, Thou bearest witness to thyself; thy witness is not true. Jn 8:14 Jesus  answered and said unto them, If I bear witness to myself, my witness is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye know not whence I came, or [26, 27] whither I go. Jn 8:15 And ye judge after the flesh; and I judge no man. Jn 8:16 And even if I judge, my judgement is true; because I am not alone, but I and my Father which [28, 29] sent me. Jn 8:17 And in your law it is written, that the witness of two men is true. Jn 8:18 I am he that beareth witness to myself, and my Father which sent me beareth witness to  me. Jn 8:19 They said unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye know not me, nor my Father: for did ye know me, ye would know my  Father. Jn 8:20 He said these sayings in the treasury, where he was teaching in the  temple: Jn 8:21 and no man seized him; because his hour had not yet come. Jesus said unto them again, I go truly, and ye shall seek me and not find me, and ye shall die  in your sins: and where I go, ye cannot come. Jn 8:22 The Jews said, Will he haply kill  himself, that he saith, Where I go, ye cannot come? Jn 8:23 He said unto them, Ye are from below; and I am from above: ye are of this world; and I am not of this  world. Jn 8:24 I said unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: if ye believe not that I am  he, ye shall die in your sins. Jn 8:25 The Jews said, And thou, who art thou? Jesus said p. 98  unto them, If I should begin to speak unto you, Jn 8:26 I have concerning you many words and judgement: but he that sent me is true; and I, what I heard from him is what [38, 39] I say in the world. Jn 8:27 And they knew not that he meant by that the Father. Jn 8:28 Jesus [Arabic, p. 135] said unto them again, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am he: and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father  taught me, so I speak. Jn 8:29 And he that sent me is with me; and my Father hath not  left me alone; because I do what is pleasing to him at all times. Jn 8:30 And while he was saying that, many believed in him. Jn 8:31  And Jesus said to those Jews that believed in him, If ye abide in my words, truly  ye are my disciples; Jn 8:32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  Jn 8:33 They said unto him, We are the seed of Abraham, and have never served any man  in the way of slavery: how then sayest thou, Ye shall be free children? Jn 8:34 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that doeth a sin is a slave of  sin. Jn 8:35 And the slave doth not remain for ever in the house; but the son remaineth [47, 48] for ever. Jn 8:36 And if the Son set you free, truly ye shall be free children. Jn 8:37 I know that ye are the seed of Abraham; but ye seek to slay me, because ye are unable for my  word. Jn 8:38 And what I saw with my Father, I say: and what ye saw with your father,  ye do. Jn 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus said unto them, If ye were the children of Abraham, ye would do the deeds of Abraham.  Jn 8:40 Now, behold, ye seek to kill me, a man that speak 1 with you 2 the truth, that I  heard from God: this did Abraham not do. Jn 8:41 And ye do the deeds of your father. They said unto him, We were not born of ADULTERY; 3 we have one Father, who is  God. Jn 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: I proceeded and came 4 from God; and it was not of my own self that I came, 5 but he sent  [Arabic, p. 136] me. Jn 8:43 Why then do ye not know my word? Because ye cannot hear my word.  Jn 8:44 Ye are from the father, the devil, 6 and the lust of your father do ye desire to do, who from the beginning is a slayer of men, and in the truth standeth not, because the truth is not in him. And when he speaketh untruth, he speaketh from  himself: for he is a liar, and the father of untruth. Jn 8:45 And I who speak the truth, ye  believe me not. Jn 8:46 Who of you rebuketh me for a sin? And if I speak the truth, ye  do not believe me. 7 Jn 8:47 Whosoever is of God heareth the words of God: therefore do  ye not hear, because ye are not of God. Jn 8:48 The Jews answered and said unto him,  Did we not say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast demons? Jn 8:49 Jesus said unto them, As for me, I have not a devil; but my Father do I honour, and ye dishonour  me. Jn 8:50 I seek not my glory: here is one who seeketh and judgeth.
Original Translator's Footnotes:
1 . Lit. speaketh, according to Arabic idiom.
2 . The Borg. MS. omits "with you".
3 . "The Borg. MS. has here "an adulteress" instead of the standard text ("fornication"), mistaking the less common Arabic word for a clerical error" [ (!?!!) ].
4 . Different words are used in the Arabic; so in the Greek, but not in the Peshitta. Sin. and Cur. are wanting.
5 . Different words are used in the Arabic; so in the Greek, but not in the Peshitta. Sin. and Cur. are wanting.
6 . Lit. backbiter.
7 . This is probably simply a clerical error for the ordinary reading, why have ye not believed me? The Arabic words why and not having the same consonants, one of them was purposely or accidentally omitted by a copyist.
Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.12.81-82
Eusebius, Church History 4.16.7; 4.29; 5.13.8
H.G. Hogg, trans. "The Diatessaron of Tatian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, new edn., Vol. 10.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Hbk. pp.35-138.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.28; 3.23.8
Origen, Against Celsus 1.16
Origen, On Prayer 24.5
Selections from the Prophetic Scriptures 36.
Tatian (Christian Classic Ethereal Library)
Tatian, The Earliest Life of Christ: The Diatessaron of Tatian, J. Hamlyn Hill (Translator). Gorgias Press, 2001. Pbk. ISBN: 0971309728. *****
Craig D. Allert, "The State of the New Testament Canon in the Second Century: Putting Tatian's Diatessaron in Perspective," Bulletin for Biblical Research 9 (1999): 1-18.
T. Baarda, "John 1:5 in the Oration and Diatessaron of Tatian: Concerning the Reading katalambanei," Vigiliae Christianae 47.3 (1993): 209-225.
T. Baarda, "The 'Foolish' or 'Dead' Fig-tree Concerning Luke 19:4 in the Diatessaron," Novum Testamentum 43.2 (2001): 161-177.
G.W. Clarke, "The Date of the Oration of Tatian," Harvard Theological Review 60.1 (1967): 123-126.
F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.53-54, 66-68.
Gerald F. Hawthorne, "Tatian and His Discourse to the Greeks," Harvard Theological Review. Vol. 57 (1964): 161-188.
Roman Hanig, "Tatian und Justin. Ein Vergleich (Tatian and Justin: A Comparison)," Vigiliae Christianae 53.1 (1998): 31-73.
Peter M. Head, "Tatian's Christology and its influence on the composition of the Diatessaron," Tyndale Bulletin 43.1 (1992): 121-137.
Tatian (Patrick J. Healy)
Emily J. Hunt, Christianity in the Second Century: The Case of Tatian. Routledge Early Church Monographs. London: Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd., 2003. Pbk. ISBN: 0415304067. pp.256. *****
Edward A. Johnson, "The First Harmony of the Gospels: Tatian's Diatessaron and its Theology," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 14.4 (1971): 227-238.
Jan Joosten, "Tatian's Diatessaron and the Old Testament Peshitta," Journal of Biblical Literature 120.3 (2001): 501-523.
Jan Joosten, "The Gospel of Barnabas and the Diatessaron," Harvard Theological Review 95.1 (2002): 73-96.
Tatian's Address to the Greeks (Peter Kirby)
Leslie McFall, "Tatian's Diatessaron: Mischievous or Misleading?" Westminster Theological Journal 56.1 (Fall 1994): 87-114. Accompanying tables: Table1a Table1b Table2
Nicholas Perrin, Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship Between the "Gospel of Thomas" and the "Diatessaron". SBL - Academia Biblica. Leiden: Brill, 2003. Hbk. ISBN: 9004127100. pp.218. *****
William L. Petersen, "New Evidence for the Question of the Original Language of the Diatessaron," Heinrich Greeven, ed., Studien zum TExt und zur Think des Neuen Testaments Festschrift... Berlin: de Gruyter, 1986. pp.325-343.
W.L. Petersen, "Tatian's Dependence upon Justin's APOMNHMONEYMATA," New Testament Studies 36 (1990): 512-34.
William L. Petersen, Tatian's "Diatessaron": Its Creation, Dissemination, Significance and History in Scholarship. Vigiliae Christianae Supplements Series. Leiden: Brill, 1994. Hbk. ISBN: 9004094695. pp.528. *****
Gilles Quispel, Tatian and the Gospel of Thomas: Studies in the History of the Western Diatessaron. Leiden: Brill, 1975. ISBN: 9004043160. pp.200. *****
Robert F. Shedinger, "Did Tatian Use the Old Testament Peshitta? A Response to Jan Joosten," Novum Testamentum 41.3 (1999): 265-279.
The Diatessaron of Tatian (Dave Smith)
M. Whittaker, "Tatian's Educational Background," Studia Patristica 13 (1975): 57-59.
- courtesy of earlychurch.org