A fresh new idiomatic English translation based on the Aramaic text of the Syriac Peshitta in ca. 30 volumes
“No branch of the Early Church has done more for the translation of the Bible into their vernacular than the Syriac-speaking. In our European libraries we have Syriac Bible manuscripts from Lebanon, Egypt, Sinai, Mesopotamia, Armenia, India, even from China.”
— Eberhard Nestle
“[Early Syriac Christianity] offers us a largely unhellenized form of Christianity that is deeply Biblical in character and quite different in many respects from the Christianity of the Greek- and Latin-speaking world of the Mediterranean littoral.”
— Sebastian Brock (University of Oxford)
Why the Peshitta Bible? The Peshitta Bible is one of the earliest versions of the Scripture dating back to the times of the Early Church, and is the only version that is written in a Semitic setting similar to that of the ancient Israelites and the early Christians. In fact Syriac, the language of the Peshitta, is a dialect of Aramaic akin to the Aramaic of the Jewish exile and the Palestinian Aramaic of Jesus Christ. This sociolinguistic connection with the Semitic world gives new insights into the words of the Bible (see the Matthew example below) currently undisclosed by Western languages. Moreover, the Peshitta Bible is full of distinctive readings that are absent in other versions.
The Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible, probably originated as a Jewish targum “translation” and was inherited by the Early Church. It is rich with links to the ancient Jewish exegetical tradition. The New Testament, in particular the Gospels, is a revision of an older Syriac version that dates back to the early centuries of the Early Church.
The Antioch Bible makes the Syriac Bible available to the modern reader in an easy-to-read idiomatic English translation, with ample footnotes that point out literal expressions in the original Syriac. While the edition caters to the non-specialist, it is a particularly expansive tool in the repertoire of a specialist. In this set the specialist can easily consult the original text, fully pointed and vocalized, alongside the translation on facing pages. The translation is the work of an inter-faith international team of scholars from North America and Europe. The original text was prepared by individuals who grew using the Peshitta Bible, in consultation with leading Biblical scholars in North America and Europe. This special limited inaugural edition will appear in ca. 28 volumes at the rate of 4 or 5 volumes per year starting from 2012. Each volume is bound in special cloth and is printed on matte paper with ornate end-sheets.
Isaiah, Chapter 42, The Praise of Isaiah
10 Praise the Lord with new praise, his praise from the ends of the earth, those who go down to the sea in its fullness, the islands and those who dwell in them. 11 Let the wilderness and its cities rejoice, let Kedar become meadows, let the dwellers in the crags sing praises, let them cry out from the highest mountain. 12 May they give praise to the Lord, may they proclaim his praises in the islands. 13 The Lord will go forth as a mighty man, as a warrior he will arouse zeal; he will cry out, he will conduct himself manfully, he will kill his enemies.
Matthew, Chapter 6, The Lord’s Prayer
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, because yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.’
Whereas the Greek text at this point has ‘debts’ (τὰ ὀφειλήματα) and ‘debtors’ (τοῖς ὀφειλέταις), but in the parallel Luke 11:4 we find ‘sins’ (τὰς ἁμαρτίας), the Syriac uses a term that means both ‘debts’ and ‘sins’. The Syriac provides a telling clue as to the original wording Jesus was likely to have used, in his own Palestinian Aramaic dialect, where the same root carries both meanings. —From the translator’s introduction.
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The Antioch Bible is produced by an international, inter-faith team of specialists and Biblical scholars.
Dayroyo Joseph Bali (Ph.D candidate, Philosophy, University of Athens) completed his academic studies in the field of philosophy and then joined St. Ephrem Seminary, Damascus, in 2007. A year later, he became a monk and in 2011 he was ordained as a priest. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy in the University of Athens working on the influence of Greek Philosophy on the works of Bar Hebraeus. He is fluent in Syriac, Arabic, French, English and Greek. His areas of competence include Medieval Philosophy, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Syriac History, Literature and Grammar. His future aspirations are to publish English translations of the works of the Syriac Church Fathers and scholars, especially Bar Hebraeus. Dayroyo Bali is preparing the initial draft of the Syriac text of many Old Testament books.
A.J. Berkovitz (Ph.D candidate, Religion, Princeton University) is currently working on the reception, interpretation and use of the book of Psalms in Jewish and Christian Late Antiquity. Together with Binyamin Goldstein, he is preparing the text of and translating 4 Ezra (2 Esdras).
Aaron M. Butts(Assistant Professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, The Catholic University of America) completed his Ph.D at the University of Chicago. His research is focused on the languages and literatures of Christianity in the Near East, especially Syriac as well as Arabic and Ethiopic. He also has interests in Comparative Semitic linguistics and language contact. He is author of Jacob of Sarug’s Homily on the Tower of Babel (2009) and a co-editor of the Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (2011). His articles have appeared in journals such as Aramaic Studies, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Journal of Semitic Studies, Oriens Christianus, and Le Muséon. He is currently completing a book on contact-induced changes in Syriac due to Greek that is entitled Language Change in the Wake of Empire: Syriac in its Greco-Roman Context (Eisenbrauns). He is also editing a volume entitled Studies in Semitic Language Contact (Brill). Butts is translating Ben Sirach, Judith, and Tobit.
Jeff W. Childers (Carmichael-Walling Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University). Jeff received the D.Phil. in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford for his research on Syriac translations of Greek Patristic literature. His primary areas of research and writing include biblical text, New Testament textual criticism, and Syriac Patristics. Childers recently finished an edition and translation of the Syriac Chrysostom in two volumes: The Syriac Version of John Chrysostom’s Commentary on John. I. Mêmrê 1–43. (CSCO 651, 652). He is currently working on an edition and study of the oracular hermeneia materials in a 6th-century Syriac gospel manuscript. Prof. Childers is translating the Gospels.
Edward M. Cook received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1986 under Prof. Stanislav Segert. He is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America. He has been a Research Scholar with the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, and is currently Associate Editor of the Lexicon. He is the author of “A Glossary of Targum Onkelos” (2008) and co-author of “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation” (rev. ed., 2005). Prof. Cook is translating Numbers.
Philip Michael Forness (Ph.D candidate, Princeton Theological Seminary) focuses broadly on theological debates and their consequences during divisive periods in the first seven centuries of Christianity. His research encompasses several interrelated subjects and methodologies, including book culture and manuscript studies, the transmission of ideas across linguistic boundaries, and the relationship between doctrine and religious practices. His dissertation draws on each of these to consider the role that Jacob of Sarug’s homilies played in forming communities around Christological commitments during the post-Chalcedonian controversies. He also holds a particular interest in the reception of the bible and recently published an article on the reading communities for the earliest complete Old Testament manuscript in Syriac. He is translating 1-4 Maccabees.
Anthony Gelston (Emeritus Reader in Theology, University of Durham) received his D.D. at Oxford. He edited the Twelve Minor Prophets for the Peshitta Institute's critical edition of the Syriac Old Testament, and since his retirement has edited the same text for the Biblia Hebraica Quinta, the latter with considerable help from Carmel McCarthy in the final stages of preparation for publication. He also wrote a monograph on 'The Peshitta of the Twelve Prophets' (Oxford, 1987), and has published a number of articles on the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Dr Gelston is English Translation Editor for Deuteronomy.
Binyamin Goldstein (Ph.D candidate, Bible and Semitics, Yeshiva University). His dissertation is on the relationship between the Targum and Peshiṭta Proverbs, including the first full critical text of the former. His current primary focus is on Syriac texts that penetrated, in a more or less redacted form, into Jewish circles. Together with Abraham Jacob Berkovitz, he is preparing the text of and translating 4 Ezra (2 Esdras).
Robert Gordon (Emeritus Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge) studied Hebrew and Aramaic at the University of Cambridge, writing his PhD thesis on Targum Jonathan to the Minor Prophets. He taught Hebrew and Old Testament at Glasgow University, and then at Cambridge. His main research interests include the major versions of the Old Testament, and he edited 1 and 2 Chronicles for the Leiden Peshitta project (publ. 2000). He is also the author of Studies in the Targum to the Twelve Prophets: From Nahum to Malachi (Leiden, 1994). Robert is also translating 1 and 2 Chronicles for the Antioch Bible.
Gillian Greenberg started her career in medicine. After retirement from medicine, she studied languages, particularly those in the Semitic group. She joined the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies in University College London, where she did her PhD on translation technique in the Peshitta under Michael Weitzman. She teaches Syriac there. Together with Donald Walter, she is producing a number of translations from the Old Testament including Isaiah, the Twelve Prophets, Jeremiah, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
John Healey is Professor of Semitic Studies in the University of Manchester, a Fellow of the British Academy and co-editor of Journal of Semitic Studies. His research interests include history of the alphabet, Ugaritic literature, the Hebrew Bible and especially Aramaic epigraphy (Nabataean, Palmyrene and Syriac). Major publications include: Aramaic Inscriptions and Documents of the Roman Period (2009); Leshono Suryoyo: First Studies in Syriac (2005); The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus (2001); The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa and Osrhoene (1999); The Nabataean Tomb Inscriptions of Mada’in Salih (1993). He also translated the Book of Proverbs for The Aramaic Bible project (1991). Prof. Healey is translating Ezra and Nehemiah.
Scott Johnson is Dumbarton Oaks Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Byzantine Greek at Georgetown University. His research concerns the language, literature, and religions of the eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity. He works primarily on Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Latin texts. He has written a book on the fifth-century Greek Life and Miracles of Thekla (Harvard University Press, 2006); has edited a book on Greek Literature in Late Antiquity (Ashgate, 2006); has translated the Miracles of Thekla for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (Harvard University Press, 2012); and has most recently edited the Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2012). Alongside a monograph project on travel and geography in Late Antiquity, he is also editing a volume on the role of Greek among eastern Christians in the late antique Middle East. At Georgetown he teaches courses in the Classics department on Byzantine language and literature. Dr. Johnson is translating 1 & 2 Kings.
Andreas Juckel is Research Associate at the Oriental Department of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Muenster, Germany). He studied Protestant Theology, Semitics and Oriental Christianity at Bonn University (Germany). He edited (based on his Ph.D. dissertation) the first part of the “Book of Instruction” (Ktobo d-Durrosho), a didactic poetry of the 10th-century Bishop Eliyah of Anbar (CSCO 559/560). His special area of research is the textual criticism of the Syriac NT versions, their revisional development, and their relation to the Greek. He is currently editing the Peshitta Gospels (a remake of the Pusey-Gwilliam-volume published in 1901), and the Harklean Gospels in team-work with several volunteers. His critical edition of the Corpus Paulinum in the Peshitta version will be published by Gorgias Press at the beginning of 2013. He is co-editor of the Antioch Bible.
Daniel King (Lecturer in Syriac Studies and Semitic Languages, & Translation Advisor SIL International, Dept: Religious Studies, Cardiff University) studied classical languages at Cambridge before moving into the fields of Syriac studies and theology. He specializes in the period of Greek-Syriac translations in late antiquity, in both the theological and philosophical fields. He has published on the Syriac reception of Cyril of Alexandria, Aristotle, and John Philoponus, amongst others, and his recent works include The Earliest Syriac version of Aristotle’s Categories. Text and Commentary (Leiden, 2010) and The Syriac Versions of the Writings of Cyril of Alexandria. A Study in Translation Technique (Leiden, 2008). Dr. King is translating the Pauline Epistles with J. Walters.
George A. Kiraz is the Director of Beth Mardutho (The Syriac Institute) and Editor-in-Chief of Gorgias Press. He received an M.St. in Syriac studies from the University of Oxford under Sebastian P. Brock and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in Computational Linguistics. He was a research scientist at Bell Laboratories from 1996–1999 and after a short .com career co-founded Gorgias Press. His publications include Concordance to the Syriac New Testament (Brill, 1993), Comparative Edition to the Syriac Gospels (Brill, 1996), and most recently a monograph on Syriac Orthography (Gorgias, 2012). Dr. Kiraz prepares the Syriac text for the Antioch Bible and together with Andreas Juckel edits the series.
Robert Kitchen is the Minister of Knox-Metropolitan United Church, Regina, Saskatchewan. His interest lies in early Syriac ascetical and monastic literature, having translated The Book of Steps (with Martien Parmentier) (Cistercian, 2004) and The Discourses of Philoxenos of Mabbug, also for Cistercian (2014). With Kristian S. Heal he has co-edited Breaking the Mind: New Essays in the Syriac Book of Steps (Catholic University of America Press, 2013). He is translating Acts.
Jonathan A. Loopstra (Assistant Professor, History Department at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio) teaches the history of the Middle East and Mediterranean in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Through his research and teaching, Jonathan endeavors to shed light on the history, theology, and languages of various Christian communities in the Near East. Besides having a strong interest in all things Syriac, he also enjoys working with Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Armenian literature. His most recent monograph is a two-volume introduction and reproduction of a ninth-century guide to the recitation of the Bible in Syriac titled An East Syrian Manuscript of the Syriac ‘Masora’ Dated to 899 CE’ (2014). He has also co-edited Foundations for Syriac Lexicography V (2013). Dr. Loopstra received a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, a Masters of Studies (Mst) in Syriac from Oxford University, and a Masters of Arts from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Loopstra is translating Job.
Jerome A. Lund (Academic Consultant, Accordance Bible Software) studied Christian theology including New Testament textual criticism and Syriac in the USA (M. Div., Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary) and Semitic philology in Israel (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem). He has published articles on various Aramaic dialects including Syriac and on Hebrew in peer reviewed journals and written a number of encyclopedic type articles. He has also authored and co-authored several books including Aramaic Documents from Egypt, A Key-Word-in-Context Concordance (Eisenbrauns, 2002). Dr. Lund is translating Revelation.
Carmel McCarthy is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), having taught Hebrew and Syriac in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at University College Dublin since 1968. It was at this same university that she received her initial degrees of BA and MA in Near Eastern Languages in 1966 and 1968 respectively, in both cases attaining first class honours. Prof. McCarthy is translating Deuteronomy.
Mark R. Meyer (B.S.E.E., North Carolina State University; M.S.E.E., The John Hopkins University; M.Div., Capital Bible Seminary; M.A., Ph.D., The Catholic University of America) is Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Maryland, where he has been teaching since 1993. He is conversant in the Semitic languages and has taught nearly all of them throughout his tenure at the seminary. Meyer has recently written a book, A Comparative Dialectical Study of Genitive Constructions in Aramaic Translations of Exodus (Gorgias Press, 2012). Prof. Meyer is translating Exodus.
James D. Moore (Ph.D candidate in Bible and Near Eastern Studies, Brandeis University) His primary research interests are in ancient Near Eastern scribal culture and the development of religious texts. He teaches writing seminar courses at Brandeis University on ancient scribal culture and on ancient myth and legend in modern cinema. He has published on the sacrificial system found in the Hebrew and Syriac versions of Leviticus, and he has contributed to Oxford Biblical Studies Online and The Routledge Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religions among other publications. James is translating Leviticus.
Craig E. Morrison (Associate Professor in Syriac and Aramaic, Pontifical Biblical Institute) received his S.S.D. from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in 2001. He is the author of The Character of the Syriac Version of The First Book of Samuel (Brill 2001) and co-edited with Richard Taylor Reflections on Lexicography: Explorations in Ancient Syriac, Hebrew, and Greek Sources. (Gorgias Press, 2014). Dr. Morrison is translating Genesis.
Robert Owens (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins) is Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The General Theological Seminary in New York. He has published a number of studies relating to the ancient Syriac Bible, including The Genesis and Exodus Citations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage (Brill, 1983), and has contributed Syriac materials to the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon. He is currently preparing Numbers for the Bible of Edessa project of the Peshitta Institute. He is a member of the International Syriac Language Project. He is translating Proverbs, Qoheleth, and Song of Songs.
James Prather is an instructor of computer science at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, Texas). He also holds a Master of Divinity and is working to complete a Master of Arts in Hebrew Bible. His primary areas of research include Human-Computer Interaction, Ethiopic 3 Reigns, and the War Scroll (1QM). Together with Jeff Childers, he is translating the Gospel of John.
Morgan Reed is a M.A./PhD student at the Catholic University of America. He received a B.A. in Pastoral Studies from Moody Bible Institute and continued graduate coursework at Dallas Theological Seminary in Hebrew Bible, Greek, Syriac and textual criticism. His research focuses on the reception of the Hebrew Bible into the Syriac tradition. Morgan collates the text of Mosul against the Leiden edition.
Jack Tannous (Assistant Professor in History, Princeton University) studies the Late Antique and early Islamic Middle East. He is interested in all periods of Syriac literature, but has focused particularly on Syriac authors in the sixth to eighth centuries, especially those associated with the monastery of Qenneshre. Prof. Tannous is translating Bel and the Dragon, Susanna, Apoc. of Baruch, and 5 Maccabees (= Josephus 6).
Richard A. Taylor (Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary) is translating Psalms. He holds a PhD in Semitic languages and literatures from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. His research interests include the Hebrew Bible and its ancient versions, especially the Peshitta. His doctoral dissertation was a text-critical analysis of the Syriac version of the book of Daniel, a revised form of which appeared in the Brill series entitled Monographs of the Peshitta Institute, Leiden.
Eric Tully(Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is translating Ruth. Dr. Tully is interested in linguistic approaches to Biblical Hebrew, textual criticism, and the latter prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and his book The Character of the Peshitta Version of Hosea is forthcoming from Brill.
Donald M. Walter (Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Religion, Davis and Elkins College) completed his doctoral dissertation under Charles T. Fritsch, James Barr, and Philip C. Hammond, and became the editor of Psalms and later Jeremiah for the Peshitta Institute’s critical edition of the Old Testament. He has served as an editor of the first volume of the Concordance to the Torah also issued by the Institute, and his major works include Studies in the Peshitta of Kings (Gorgias Press, 2009). With Gillian Greenberg, Dr. Walter is producing a number of translations from the Old Testament including Isaiah, the Twelve Prophets, Jeremiah, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
James Walters (Ph.D candidate, Princeton Theological Seminary). He works primarily with the early Syriac tradition and focuses on the literature of the fourth-century. He is also particularly interested in the transmission of biblical texts both in early Christianity in general and specifically in Syriac translations. James' previous work on the Syriac New Testament includes a study of the text of the Gospels in the Philoxenian Version. In addition to his translation work for the Antioch Bible, James has also published a translation of Ephrem's "Hymns on the Unleavened Bread," and he is currently involved in a number of other translation projects. Walters is translating the Pauline Epistles with Daniel King.