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Vatican. A previously unknown Syriac translation of a passage from the Bible has been discovered

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Previously unknown translation of a fragment of the Gospel of St. Matthew, scientists report. The text was on one of the manuscripts in the collections of the Vatican Museums, but it was hidden under several layers of other writings. Researchers hope that the discovery will shed new light on the circumstances of the translations of the original text of the Gospels.

The discovery, which provides insight into differences in translations of the oldest copies of the Bible, was reported in the April issue of the journal New Testament Studies. A hitherto unknown translation of a fragment of the 12th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew was discovered by Dr. Grigory Kessel from the Austrian Academy of Sciences in the Vatican Museums. It was on a manuscript that was about 1,500 years old.

An unknown translation of a passage from the Bible

The discovered text turned out to be a hitherto unknown translation from Greek, in which the Gospel was originally written, into Syriac. However, its differences compared to the original are symbolic. For example, while in the original Greek text we find the passage “Once upon a Sabbath Jesus was walking among the cornfields. His disciples, being hungry, began to pluck ears of corn and eat”, in the now discovered passage we find that the disciples “…began to pluck grains, rub them in your hands, and eat them.”

At the same time, this text is identical to the fragment of the Gospel of St. Matthew found by William Cureton in the 19th century, also translated into Syriac. Until recently, ‘only two manuscripts containing the Old Syriac translation of the Gospels were known,’ Dr Kassel points out. One of them is in the British Library in London, the other was discovered in the monastery of St. Catherine on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, the oldest existing Christian monastery. Scientists hope that the discovery of a fragment of a new Syriac translation will shed new light on the circumstances of the translations of the original text of the Gospels.

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New Testament manuscripts

Kessel found a new translation of a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew under three layers of manuscript using ultraviolet photography. The researchers estimated that the undated record they described is about 0.6 percent. complete text of all four Gospels and was written no later than the sixth century.

Translations of fragments of the New Testament into Syriac began to appear as early as the 2nd century, i.e. shortly after the creation of the originals, due to which they are valued in comparative studies of the Bible and in scholarly criticism of its translations. The Syriac language is similar to the Aramaic language that Jesus was said to have used.

The discovered fragment was hidden under several layers of newer text due to the scarcity of parchment in the old days. Old manuscripts were therefore reused and rewritten with new text. “This discovery shows how productive and important the interaction of modern digital technologies and basic research can be when dealing with medieval manuscripts,” said Claudia Rapp, director of the Medieval Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

SEE ALSO: They restored two valuable Bibles. Only a few dozen copies of one of them survived

New Testament Studies, The Independent, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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