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 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.
Aaron M. Butts is Lector of Semitics in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at Yale University. His research focuses on the dialectology and reconstruction of the Semitic language family. Among the Semitic languages, he specializes primarily in Aramaic (including Syriac) and secondarily in Arabic, Classical Ethiopic, and Northwest Semitic more broadly (Hebrew, Ugaritic, Phoenician, etc.). Alongside his research in Semitic linguistics, he has interests in the history and literature of Christianity in the Near East, especially Syriac and secondarily Arabic and Ethiopic. Butts is translating Ben Sirach, Judith, and Tobit.
Jeff W. Childers is the Carmichael-Walling Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, Texas). 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. 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 is a doctoral student at Princeton Theological Seminary in the History of Christianity. Within the Syriac tradition, his research focuses on preaching, exegesis, biblical translation, and hagiography. He is translating 1-4 Maccabees.
Anthony Gelston (D.D., Oxford) is Emeritus Reader in Theology, University of Durham. 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.
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 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. He is currently Lecturer in Semitic languages at Cardiff University, UK. 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. He is translating Acts.
Jonathan A. Loopstra teaches the history of the Middle East and Mediterranean in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. His graduate degrees include a M.St. degree in Syriac Studies from the University of Oxford, a M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from the Early Christian Studies program at the Catholic University of America. His research interests include the history, theology, and languages of Eastern Christianity, with a special interest in the translation and interpretation of the Syriac bible. Dr. Loopstra is translating Job.
Jerome A. Lund 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 authored and co-authored books on Aramaic texts found in Egypt and on Syriac. 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.
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.
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 is an assistant professor in the History Department at Princeton University. He 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).
Donald M. Walter 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. 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 is currently a doctoral candidate at 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.