Philoxenian and Harklean support Greek Byzantine having the true early variants

Steven Avery

Translators & "Approved Greek" manuscripts
• Philoxenus of Mabbug (died 523). Later he devoted himself to the revision of the Syriac versions of the Bible,
and with the help of his chorepiscopus ["rural bishop"] Polycarp produced in 508 the so-called Philoxenian version, which
was in some sense the received Bible of the Syrian Miaphysites during the 6th century. (Philoxenus of Mabbug.
Wikipedia. <>)

• The Philoxenian version (508) is a revision of earlier Syriac versions of the Bible. It was commissioned by
Philoxenus of Mabbug and completed by his chorepiscopus ["rural bishop"] Polycarp. Philoxenos' revisions
were initiated by concerns that some of the Peshitto readings gave support to Nestorian theology.[1] It became
the received Bible of the Syrian Miaphysites during the 6th century. It was followed by the Harklean Version, an Aramaic
language Bible translation by Thomas of Harqel completed in 616 AD in Egypt which was partly based on the Philoxenian
version, and partly a new and very literal translation from the Greek New Testament.[2] (Philoxenian version. Wikipedia.

• [André de Halleux] In "Commentary on the Prologue of John" (CPJ) Philoxenus expressed dissatisfaction with what he
perceived to be the inaccuracy of Peshitta, complaining that “When those of old undertook to translate these
scriptures they made mistakes in many things.” He gives a number of examples of ‘inaccurate’ translations from
the Greek, which seem to him to reflect adversely on his Christological perspective and to lend unwelcome
support to the Nestorians and other theological opponents. Beyond the lexical concessions which he thought
Pershitta had made to his ideological rivals, he was concerned also that a Bible translation should scrupulously
reflect the inspired original so as to verbally preserve and transmit the ‘inscripturated’ revelation: "He who would
translate faithfully must choose carefully, selecting only those phrases and terms which were spoken by God or
by his Spirit through the prophets and the apostles; because those things which are expressed in the Holy
Scriptures are not the product of human thoughts that they should welcome any correction or reconstruction by
the human mind... Anyone who corrupts or translates otherwise the verbs and nouns which were spoken by the
Holy Spirit, not only is worthy of blame and reproach, but also is wicked and blasphemous and a partner of the
Marcionites and Macedonians." (André de Halleux, "Introduction" in Philoxenus Commentaire du prologue johannique,
vol 2, 1977, p. 2, 3)

• [Isaac H. Hall] The history of these versions is given in the Syriac Indorsements on the manuscripts. The following
occurs in a manuscript of the Four Gospels in the Bibliotheca Angelica at Rome: “This Book has been collated with two
accurate manuscripts. This Book of the four Holy Evangelists was translated from the Greek tongue into Syriac,
with great accuracy and much labor, first in the city of Mabug, in the days of the holy Mar Philoxenus, confessor,
bishop of that city. It was afterwards collated with much diligence by me, Thomas, a poor sinner, with three
highly approved and accurate Greek copies, at Enaton of the great city Alexandria, in the monastery of St.
Anthony; in order that its writing might be to me for the profit of my sinful soul, and for that of the many that love
and seek to know and preserve the profitable accuracy of the Divine Books. It was written and collated, at the
place above named, in the year 927 of Alexander, in the 4th Indiction. But how much labor and anxiety I had with
it and with its fellows [i.e., the Acts and Epistles] the Lord only knoweth, He who will recompense to every man
according to his works in [the day of] his just and righteous Judgment." Adler cites two other similar manuscript
endorsements, which, after the words “first in the city of Mabug,” insert “in the year 819 of Alexander the Macedonian, in
the days of the holy Mar Philoxenus, confessor, bishop of that city. It was afterwards,” etc. [PAGE 501] From these
endorsements, it appears that this translation was made at Mabug, or Menbij, as it is called in Arabic, the Hierapolis of the
Greeks, a, city of Syria, near the Euphrates, and the See of both a Nestorian and a Jacobite Bishop: and that it was made
in the year 819 of Alexander, that is A.D. 508, and in the days of Philoxenus, the Bishop of Mabug. It is not said that it was
made by Philoxenus, but only in his days. This Philoxenus, otherwise called Xenaias, was the Monophysite Bishop of
Mabug, from A.D. 488 to A.D. 518, (see Assemani's Bibliotheca Orient. tom. ii); but he did not sit quietly on his throne.
Being a warm partisan of Peter Fullo, he was in sharp conflict nearly all his life, and he could have had but little leisure for
biblical studies. The persecutions he suffered, procured for him the title of Confessor among his own sect. According to
Moses Aghaeus, (in Assemani’s Bibliotheca Orient. tom. ii) one Polycarp, a rural Bishop under Philoxenus, made
this translation; and dedicated it, in the year specified, to Philoxenus, by whom he had been prompted to
undertake the work. And hence this version is often called the Translation of Polycarp. It is this version from
which the epistles published by Pococke were taken. It further appears, from these Endorsements, that about 100
years after this version was made by Polycarp, one Thomas, a monk, at Enaton, at the ninth milestone out of
Alexandria, and in the monastery of St. Anthony, in that city, revised and re-wrote this translation, collating it
with two (or some endorsements say three) highly approved Greek manuscripts. This was in the year of
Alexander 927, or A.D. 616. Who this Thomas was, and when and where he lived, we learn from Bar-Hebraeus’
Chronicon, (year of the Seleucidse 927, or A.D. 616) Bar-Hebraeus there says: “About this time flourished Thomas
Harclensis, (i.e. Thomas of Harkel, the Syriac form of Heraclea, an obscure village in Palestine), a monk of the
monastery of Taril; who in his childhood, learned Greek in the Kenserine monastery, and was afterwards Bishop
of Mabug. Being persecuted by Domitian, the Meletian, he went to Egypt, and resided in the Enaton of Alexandria,
in the holy monastery of the Antonies; where, with praiseworthy diligence, he restored, by a very exact and
accurate emendation, the holy Codex of the Gospels, and the other Books of the New Testament, after the first

version of them by the procuration of Philomenus, of Mabug.” From this statement, and from an inspection of the
manuscripts, it appears that Thomas Harclensis corrected the text of Polycarp’s translation. (Isaac H. Hall, "Appendix II.
The Syriac Translations of the New Testament" in The Syriac New Testament, 1905, p. 500-501)
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