the Peshitta confluence with the Greek Byzantine manuscripts

Steven Avery

Major elements of Peshitta studies

Early date of Peshitta supports early date of Greek pure Bible readings - the Peshitta generally supports the Byzantine over the Alexandrian

Hortians had to try to change the date of the Peshitta from 2nd century to 4th century

Hort tried to claim a [URL="[/URL] (or two) that would also be in league with the phantom Syrian (Lucian, Byzantine Greek) recension

Burgon gave an incredible double decimation of the Hortian nonsense, ahistorical and a special classical ad hominem section as well.

Oxford Debate of 1897 focused largely on Peshitta date


(It is hard to determine definitively when the Peshitta was translated from the Greek from 150-350 AD)

The missing five books are a strong indication closer to the 2nd century.
Also the fact that the OT is thought to be quite early, perhaps 2nd century


Confluence with Greek manuscripts - 75-80% - my study using omission variants from the Magic Marker page on textualcriticism forum

Peshitta has some important corruptions (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:16, omissions in Pericope Adulterae, Acts 8:37, heavenly witnesses)

Peshitta can be said to be on a "good line" of manuscripts .. up to a point.


Aramiac primacy approach - some good points (belief in Bible, arguments support early date for Peshitta)

Five books (2-3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation) only came to the Syriac later (Philoxenian, Harklean updates)

Philoxenian, Harklean updates helped bring some more pure Greek readings into the text.

Aramaic primacy has many fundamental, conceptual errors, they really are fighting the Alexandrian corruptions, and their text is far superior to Alex.

The internal translations within the text of Aramaic and Hebrew words, explained in the Greek and Latin manuscripts, shows the text was not written in the Semitic language. Rather Greek (and Mark may have Latin elements).

The differences between the western and eastern Peshitta mss (beyond the canon issue) are relatively small


The Diatessaron Gospel harmony originally may have been Syriac, and is thought to be an early Syriac edition, 2nd century.

The two "Old Syriac" manuscripts (Curetonian, Sinaitic) are interesting junque manuscript curiosities. They are highlighted by confused textual critics in much the same way as their blindness latches on to Vaticanus veneration.

There are early Syriac writers like Ephrem and Aphraates who are studied historically and textually.

The Aramaic primacists can be helpful on the scholarship of the issues above.

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Steven Avery

Peshitta confluence with the Greek TR/Byzantine text

Facebook - New Testament Textual Criticism - Aug 30, 2015
How close is Lamsa's translation of the Peshitta to the Byzantine text?{tn:R}

Back to the OP, all Peshitta translations agree with the Byzantine text and the TR about 75%-80% against the Alexandrian-CT (Vaticanus usually) variant 20-25%. However, some of the differences are qualitatively very significant, like the Pericope Adulterae and 1 Timothy 3:16.

The Lamsa edition rarely fudges that aspect of the text, it is usually criticized for sounding more AV-like in English translation than you would expect from a clean-room translation, which is not really a variant issue. However there might be a couple of fudges.

I did a study once of about 200 significant omission variants (from the Westcott-Hort Magic Marker binge) where the Byz-TR text differs from the CT and got those pcts and posted it on the textualcriticism forum and basically got agreement.

This is an example of triangular 3-way comparisons that can have a sound comparison methodology of affinity, which is difficult with 2-way. The study checked Murdock and Etheridge, from the 3-version site given above, to be sure it was not getting a Lamsa fudge.

(I don't think the small differences in Eastern and Western Peshitta arose in the omission verses. There are differences when you get to the Harklean, so I am going to conjecture that the western text of Murdock is non-Philoxenian and non-Harklean. If I revisited the issue, I would go into this more.)


The Peshitta agrees about 75% with the TR-AV Reformation Bibles contra the Vaticanus corruptions in the Critical Text. The Vulgate is more on the 50% mark, although it lacks the really horrid corruptions like the loss of the Mark ending and the Pericope Adulterae and most of the hard errors (although it does have Gerasa for the swine marathon in three spots, still different than Vaticanus).

My numbers come from a study I did of major variants, simply using the Magic Marker omission variants and comparing the English of the Peshitta translations. And I posted it on the Textualcriticism forum as well.

[textualcriticism] Peshitta confluence with the Greek TR/Byzantine text
July, 2007
Change the last numbers to 3259, 3264, 3265 and 3270 although it is more funky now under Neo.

And I also broke it down by book, the bottom line is that the Peshitta is in the 75% TR-Byzantine plus range when compared to the Critical Text.

(Numbers are sensible when done in triangular comparisons, often such numbers are gobble-speak since methodologies in straight-line dual comparisons are so variable.)

AV defenders often put the Peshitta on the good tree line of Bibles. That is a bit of an oversimplification, since it has various significant corruptions (1 Timothy 3:16, Pericope, heavenly witnesses, etc) however it is far more sensible than Dr. Hooey.

The real studies on the Peshitta were in the early 1900s. My view is that all ideas that it is in some sense derivative of the Diaessaron or the Old Syriac are ultra-problematic. The originally missing five books is very strong evidence that it was translated from the Greek in the 2nd or 3rd century rather than the 4th, by which time the canon was far more settled.

Textual theories used to agree with an early Peshitta, this was changed because of the bogus theories of Hort, such as the Lucian recension (he also proposed a bogus Syriac recension). Hortian nonsense could not accept an early Peshitta, the text is far too Byzantine, so their trickster "solution" was to call the Peshitta late.

Thus the Metzger garble-talk. The "6th or 7th century translations" refers to the Philoxenian and Harklean revisions, which were not a factor in my studies, as Lamsa's English (actually reliable for these purposes and it can be checked with Etheridge and Murdock) was based on the earlier Peshitta. Despite the Metzger garble-talk, the early Peshittas were very Byzantine, and were likely Ante-Nicene, thus they represent a text from quite a bit before Vaticanus.

(Although to be fair, Vaticanus represents an Egyptian 3rd-century Origenic or post-Origenic gnostic-region, sloppy text, also allowing that Origen could have -- possibly -- inherited errors from earlier sloppy scribes, who skipped over thousands of words. In this type of analysis "two lines" makes some sense, but the Old Latin and Vulgate are in the middle, they are not in either the good and bad lines.)

[KJBD] Peshitta --> 75% Byzantine, over Alex
Steven Avery - Aug 20, 2006

Hi Folks,

A little study this AM.
Small changes for here.
Peshitta - Bzyantine mostly, or split even ?

The Peshitta is a lot more Bzyantine than is being acknowledged here on the (Crosswalk) forum
And it really is pretty easy to do a good fundamental check.

First take a couple of biggies, sections, and discuss them separately.
The two full sections are split...

Ending of Mark, always in Peshitta,
Pericope Adultera, generally not.
1-1 split.

We can easily check the multiple verses and phrases that are in the Byzantine Text and not in the Alexandrian. Which really is a good chunk of the significant variants.

(Yes, it would be good to augment this with about 25-50 "alternate" word choices, to see if the % is similar, where one word or phrase is replaced with another. My conjecture is that the proportion would be quite close to what we find here.)

Use the Magic Marker page of Brandon Staggs as a guide.
Would you take a magic marker to your Bible and cross out words from passages?

(and a couple of these variants could be the TR non-Majority variants, however that would help the Alex side so we will ignore that for now, since the Byz wins hands down anyway.)

Compare it to the Lamsa Peshitta (or Etheridge or Murdoch) and the numbers are very clear. I worked by hand with Lamsa, although it is on the Net, too. There were about three that were "grey" areas in about 170 variants, such as if the Peshitta reading were different from both the Byz and Alex.



Matthew 16-6 Byzantine over Alex.
Mark..... 15-3 (handling ending separately)
Luke..... 16-5 (one unclear, some are multiple on a verse)
John..... 10-1
Acts..... 13-3

GOSPELS-ACTS 70-18 80% Byzantine

Romans.. 6:4 Byzantine.
1 Cor..... 8:2
2 Cor..... 2:1
Galatians 5:1
Ephes.... 4:1
Phillip.... 1:0
Colosians 4:1
1 Thes.... 3:1
2 Thes.... 1:0
1 Timothy 1:5 (I added 1 Tim 3:16 for Alex)
2 Timothy 3:0
Titus....... 1:0
Philippians 2:0
Hebrews... 7:0
1 Peter..... 3:2
2 Peter..... 1:0
1 John...... 5:1 (Comma included - 4:19-'love God' unique, close to Byz, omitted)
Jude........ 0:1

EPISTLES 51:16 = 76% Byzantine

Revelation 7:6 = 54%

TOTAL 128:40 = 76 %

And the two sections make a small adjustment ..

General figure ..
Peshitta is 75% Byzantine to 25% Alexandrian


The TR/KJB view of this is correct,
although of course the 25% difference
should not be minimized or trivialized.


Also a related point that is in these discussions is the date of the original Peshitta translation from Greek.

(Not the date of 6th century updates .. the differences between these two (sometimes called Peshitto and Peshitta) are well known and generally do not effect our analysis .. except that we have included the five books that were not in the original translation in our analysis above).

These 75%-25% numbers are very significant even on the late date (c. 400 AD) since that is the time of a supposed Alexandrian text supremacy, per modern textcrit. If so, then why was the translation to Aramaic essentially Byzantine ?

On top of that there is a good case for the Peshitta translation being much earlier (c. 200 AD). Some have stated that the reason for moving back the dating later till the 5th century was not so much any external or historical or manuscript reasons but that the early date was discomfiting for the alexandrian Westcott-Hort 'modern scientific textual criticism'. I do not claim to be at all an expert on this question, but would love to see a fair discussion of the history and positions.

Even the later date is very discomfiting for modern version proponents who really care about the textual evidence. While the earlier date, combined with the 75% Byz figure, would be simply a death-blow to all their theories (if yet another were needed).

btw, this is the type of straight-forward study that is in a sense too easy for the textcrit scholars and professionals and seminarians. Hard to morph into a doctorate paper since you don't need theological words, years of microscopic analysis, ancient languages, and high-falutin words. :) Simple analysis, direct. And it is methodologically sound, although of course folks can always raise a couple of issues and counterpoints. Any good study can use a bit of tweaking and follow-up.


Note to KJB forum.

It would be interesting to do the same with the Vulgate, but the problem is we don't
have in English the early texts as consistently as with the Peshitta, which was quite
a uniform text. It is still doable, simply needs a little searching, checking, deciding,
maybe some extra nuance.

[textualcriticism] Peshitta confluence with the Greek TR/Byzantine text - July, 2007
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