Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.02.02 Diatessaron of Tatian - Introductory Notes

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.02.02 Diatessaron of Tatian - Introductory Notes

TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 9.02.02 Diatessaron of Tatian - Introductory Notes

Other Subjects in this Topic:

The Diatessaron of Tatian (Cont.)

Introductory Notes.

1. In the Borgian ms.

In the name of the one God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to him be the glory for ever. We shall begin, with the help of God most high, the writing of the pure gospel, the blooming garden, called Diatessaron (a word meaning “fourfold”), the work compiled by Titianus the Greek out of the four evangelists — Matthew the elect, whose symbol is M, Mark the chosen, whose symbol is R, Luke the approved, whose symbol is K, and John the beloved, whose symbol is H. The work translated from Syriac into Arabic by the excellent and learned priest, Abu’l-Faraj ‘Abdulla ibn-at-Tayyib, 1 may God grant him his favour. He began with the first of2 And he said: The Beginning3 of the Gospel of Jesus the Son of the living God. John:4 In the beginning, etc.

In the Vatican ms.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, giver of life, the God that is one in substance in his essence, and three in persons in his attributes. The first of his Gospel is He began the first of his Gospel with Mark. And he said: The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. John: In the beginning, etc.


1 The ms. here has Tabib, but the name is correctly given in the Subscription (q.v.).

2 i.e., simply He began with.

3 The vowel signs as printed by Ciasca imply some such construction as And he said as a beginning: The Gospel, etc. But the vocalisation is of course not authoritative, and a comparison with the preface in the Vatican ms. suggests the rendering given above. The word translated Beginning in the two Introductory Notes is the very word (whichever spelling be adopted) used by Ibn-at-Tayyib himself in his comments on Mar_1:1-45. (at least according to the British Museum. ms.), although not in the gospel text prefixed to the Comments as it now stands, or indeed in any ms. Arabic gospel in the British Museum. This would seem to militate against our theory of the original form of this much-debated passage in the Introductory Notes, as indicated by the use of small type for the later inserted phrases . and the difficulty appears at first to be increased by the following words in Ibn-at-Tayyib’s comments on Mar_1:1-45. British Museum ms., fol. 190a, “and some say that the Greek citation and in the Diatessaron, which Tatianus the pupil of Justianus the philosopher wrote, the quotation is not written, “Isaiah” but, “as it is written in the prophet” This is a remarkable statement about the Diatessaron. But the sentence is hardly grammatical. Perhaps the words printed in italics originally formed a complete sentence by themselves, possibly on the margin. If this conjecture be correct we might emend, e.g., by restoring them to the margin, and repeating the last three words or some equivalent phrase in the text. It would be interesting to know how the Paris ms. reads. See Suggested Emendations.

4 Ciasca does not state whether the word John. occurs here in the Borgian ms. or not.