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Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels


Although scholars have often made inferences about the Greek texts that lay behind the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of the Gospels, very few have ever attempted to formulate systematic rules for such inferences. This volume investigates a wide range of textual phenomena and formulates clear and simple rules for the use of Syriac texts as witnesses to the underlying Greek. It becomes possible to uncover errors that have accumulated during the evolution of the Greek New Testament textual apparatus. Williams argues these errors generally stem from the unjustified use of Syriac witnesses.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-096-5
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Publication Status: In Print

Series: Texts and Studies 2
Publication Date: Oct 28,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 354
Languages: English, Syriac
ISBN: 978-1-59333-096-5
$95.00
$57.00

Although scholars have often made inferences about the Greek texts that lay behind the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of the Gospels, very few have ever attempted to formulate rules for how such inferences might be made. Scholars have tended to assume that translators worked fairly literally and also had access to many Greek readings which now no longer survive. In the most extensive study of its kind, Williams systematically investigates a wide range of textual phenomena and formulates clear and simple rules for the use of Syriac texts as witnesses to the underlying Greek. With these rules it is possible to uncover a large number of errors that have grown up during the long evolution of the textual apparatus of the Greek New Testament. These errors generally consist of the use of Syriac witnesses where we cannot really know what Greek text lay before the translators. The recommended deletion of the Syriac witness from the apparatus can shift the weight of evidence, sometimes leaving the support for a variant drastically reduced, or occasionally, non-existent. While this monograph raises fundamental questions about how we treat early versions of the New Testament, it also casts fresh light on the relationship between the Syriac Gospels and the famous Greek manuscript Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis. Though some sort of relationship between Codex Bezae and the Syriac is undeniable, the assumption that an agreement could only result if the Syriac were translated from a base with a Bezan reading is shown in dozens of cases to be false.

P.J. Williams is author of Studies in the Syntax of the Peshitta of 1 Kings (Leiden: Brill, 2001). For five years he was Affiliated Lecturer in Hebrew and Aramaic in Cambridge University and Research Fellow in Old Testament at Tyndale House, Cambridge. He is now Lecturer in New Testament in Aberdeen University.

Although scholars have often made inferences about the Greek texts that lay behind the Old Syriac and Peshitta versions of the Gospels, very few have ever attempted to formulate rules for how such inferences might be made. Scholars have tended to assume that translators worked fairly literally and also had access to many Greek readings which now no longer survive. In the most extensive study of its kind, Williams systematically investigates a wide range of textual phenomena and formulates clear and simple rules for the use of Syriac texts as witnesses to the underlying Greek. With these rules it is possible to uncover a large number of errors that have grown up during the long evolution of the textual apparatus of the Greek New Testament. These errors generally consist of the use of Syriac witnesses where we cannot really know what Greek text lay before the translators. The recommended deletion of the Syriac witness from the apparatus can shift the weight of evidence, sometimes leaving the support for a variant drastically reduced, or occasionally, non-existent. While this monograph raises fundamental questions about how we treat early versions of the New Testament, it also casts fresh light on the relationship between the Syriac Gospels and the famous Greek manuscript Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis. Though some sort of relationship between Codex Bezae and the Syriac is undeniable, the assumption that an agreement could only result if the Syriac were translated from a base with a Bezan reading is shown in dozens of cases to be false.

P.J. Williams is author of Studies in the Syntax of the Peshitta of 1 Kings (Leiden: Brill, 2001). For five years he was Affiliated Lecturer in Hebrew and Aramaic in Cambridge University and Research Fellow in Old Testament at Tyndale House, Cambridge. He is now Lecturer in New Testament in Aberdeen University.

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Contributor Biography

P. J. Williams

pjw1004@cam.ac.uk

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