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The Peshitta, the Armenian Bible & the "Caesarean" Text
I have been reading some stuff on the Armenian Church lately and their history seems to be quite intertwined with that of the CoE:

From: Armenian History


Apostles in Armenia.

Abgar died after 38 years of ruling. After his death the Armenian kingdom was split in two. His son Ananun(Nameless) mounted the throne in Edessa, while his nephew Sanatruk ruled in Greater Armenia. At that time, the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew traveled through Armenia to preach the word of God. Many people were converted and numerous secret Christian communities were established. However, the Apostles suffered martyrdom. Around 66, Ananun ordered to kill St.Thaddeus in Edessa. According to tradition, two other Apostles also met their death in different places of Armenia: St.Bartholomew was skinned alive in Alvanapolis, and Judas was pierced with arrows in Artaz region. In Armenia, the Apostles Thaddaeus and Bartholomew are particularly revered. They are considered the first preachers of Christianity in Armenia and the Armenian Church is called Apostolic in their honor.

From: Atour

Assyrians and Armenians: The History of Interrelations and Interactions for Centuries

The Assyrian-Armenian interrelations and interactions history numbers many centuries, both in pre-Christian and post-Christian eras. For times, Armenians and Assyrians were the closest neighbours, and this neighbourhood is reflected in the relations: they share many common points in culture, ritualism, life and manners.

Armenian sources are the most important and the most valuable certifications on the history of Assyrians (Syrians). The Assyrian (Syrian) culture importance for Armenian people during Armenian writing and the Christianity formation in Armenia has marked in his work ???The history of Armenia ??? ???the Father of Armenian history??? M. Khorenatsi, where he speaks about interrelations between Assyrians and Armenians in the pre-Christian and post-Christian epoches. Since the Armenian alphabet origination, the first Armenian translation of the Bible is made from Syriac and after M. Khorenatsi the Armenian historians in their works always mentioned Assyrians (Syrians).

So the first Armenian Bible was translated from Aramaic instead of Greek? More info on the Armenian Bible:

From Armenian Bible

History of Armenian Bible

Armenia was in large measure Christianized by Gregory Lousavorich ("the Illuminator": consecrated 302 AD; died 332), but, as Armenian had not been reduced to writing, the Scriptures used to be read in some places in Greek, in others in Syriac, and translated orally to the people. A knowledge of these tongues and the training of teachers were kept up by the schools which Gregory and King Tiridates had established at the capital Vagharshapat and elsewhere. As far as there was any Christianity in Armenia before Gregory's time, it had been almost exclusively under Syrian influence, from Edessa and Samosata. Gregory introduced Greek influence and culture, though maintaining bonds of union with Syria also.

When King Sapor of Persia became master of Armenia (378 AD), he not only persecuted the Christians most cruelly, but also, for political reasons, endeavored to prevent Armenia from all contact with the Byzantine world. Hence his viceroy, the renegade Armenian Merouzhan, closed the schools, proscribed Greek learning, and burnt all Greek books, especially the Scriptures. Syriac books were spared, just as in Persia itself; but in many cases the clergy were unable to interpret them to their people. Persecution had not crushed out Christianity, but there was danger lest it should perish through want of the Word of God. Several attempts were made to translate the Bible into Armenian. In 397 the celebrated Mesrob Mashtots and Isaac (Sachak) the Catholicos resolved to translate the Bible. Mesrob had been a court secretary, and as such was well acquainted with Pahlavi, Syriac and Greek, in which three languages the royal edicts were then published. Isaac had been born at Constantinople and educated there and at Caesarea. Hence he too was a good Greek scholar, besides being versed in Syriac and Pahlavi, which latter was then the court language in Armenia. But none of these three alphabets was suited to express the sounds of the Armenian tongue, and hence, an alphabet had to be devised for it.

From: Versions of the New Testament


The Armenian translation of the Bible has been called "The Queen of the Versions."

The title is deserved. The Armenian is unique in that its rendering of the New Testament is clear, accurate, and literal -- and at the same time stylisticly excellent. It also has an interesting underlying text.

The origin of the Armenian version is mysterious. We have some historical documents, but these may raise more questions than they solve.

The most recent summary on the subject, that of Joseph M. Alexanian, states that the initial Armenian translation (Arm 1) was made from the Old Syriac in 406-414 C.E. This was followed by a revised translation (Arm 2) made from the Greek after the Council of Ephesus in 431. He suggests that further revisions followed.

In assessing Alexanian's claims, one should keep in mind that there are no Armenian manuscripts of this era, and the patristic citations, while abundant, have not been properly studied or catalogued.

Armenia is strongly linked with Syrian Christianity. The country turned officially Christian before Constantine, in an era when the only Christian states were a few Syriac principalities such as Edessa. One would therefore expect the earliest Armenian versions to show strong signs of Syriac influence.

The signs of Syriac influence exist (among them, manuscripts with 3 Corinthians and without Philemon) -- but so do signs of Greek influence. In addition, the text of the Armenian matches neither the extant Old Syriac nor the Peshitta. It appears to be much more closely linked with the "C??sarean" text. In fact, the Armenian is arguably the best witness to that text.

The history of the Armenian version is closely tied in with the history of the written Armenian language. After perhaps an unsuccessful attempt by a cleric named Daniel, the Armenian alphabet is reported to have been created by Mesrop, the friend and co-worker of the Armenian church leader Sahak. The year is reported to have been 406, and the impetus for the invention is said to have been the need for a way to record the Armenian Bible. Said translation was finished in the dozen or so years after Mesrop began his work.

Despite Alexanian, the basis of the version remains in dispute. Good scholars have argued both for Syriac and for Greek. There are passages where the wording seems to argue for a Syriac original -- but others that argue equally forceably for a Greek base.

At least three explanations are possible for this. One is that the Armenian was translated from the Greek, but that the translator was intimately familiar with a Syriac rendering. An alternate proposal is that the Armenian was translated in several stages. The earliest stage was probably a translation from one or another Old Syriac versions, or perhaps from the Syriac Diatessaron. This was then revised toward the Greek, perhaps from a "C??sarean" witness. Further revisions may have increased the number of Byzantine readings. Finally, there may have been two separate translations (Conybeare suggests that Mesrop translated from the Greek and Sahak from the Syriac) which were eventually combined.

The Armenian "Majority Text" has been credited to Nerses of Lambron, who revised the Apocalypse, and perhaps the entire version, on the basis of the Greek in the twelfth century. This late text, however, has little value; it is noticeably more Byzantine than the early text. Fortunately, the earliest Armenian manuscripts are much older than this; a number date from the ninth century. The oldest dated manuscript comes from 887 C.E. (One manuscript claims a date of 602 C.E., but this is believed to be a forgery.)

There are a few places where the Armenian renders the Greek rather freely (usually to bring out the sense more clearly); these have been compared to the Targums, and might possibly be evidence of Syriac influence.

The link between the Armenian and the "C??sarean" text was noticed early in the history of that type; Streeter commented on it, and even Blake (who thought the Armenian to be predominantly Byzantine) believed that it derived from a "C??sarean" form. The existence of the "C??sarean" text is now considered questionable, but there is no doubt that the Armenian testifies to a text which is far removed from the Byzantine, and that it contains large numbers of Alexandrian readings as well as quite a number associated with the "Western" witnesses. The earliest witnesses generally either omit "Mark 16:9-20" or have some sort of indication that it is doubtful (the manuscript shown above may credit it to the presbyter Arist(i)on, though this remark is possibly from a later hand). "John 7:53-8:11" is also absent from most early copies.

In the Acts and Epistles, the Armenian continues to display a text which is not Byzantine but not purely Alexandrian either. Yet -- in Paul at least -- it is not "Western." Nor does it agree with family 1739, nor with H, both of which have been labelled (probably falsely) "C??sarean." If the Armenian has any affinity in Paul at all, it is with family 2127 -- a late Alexandrian group with some degree of mixture. This is not really surprising, since one of the leading witnesses to the family is 256, a Greek/Armenian diglot (in fact, the Armenian text of 256 is one of the earliest witnesses to the Armenian Epistles).

Lyonnet felt that the Armenian text of the Catholic Epistles fell close to Vaticanus. In the Apocalypse, Conybeare saw an affinity to the Latin (in fact, he argued that it had been translated from the Latin and then revised -- as many as five times! -- from the Greek. This is probably needlessly complex, but the Latin ties are interesting. Jean Valentin offers the speculation that the Latin influence comes from the Crusades, when the Armenians and the Franks were in frequent contact and alliance.)

The primary edition of the Armenian, that of Zohrab, is based mostly on relatively recent manuscripts and is not really a critical edition (although some variant readings are found in the margin, their support is not listed). Until a better edition of the version becomes available -- an urgent need, given the quality of the translation -- the text of the version must be used with caution.

Looks like the Alexandrian Zorban school is contradicting themselves as usual but what exactly is this mysterious "Caesarean Text"? Apparently there's much doubt that such a Greek text even existed:

From: Concerning the "Caesarean Text"

In recent years many scholars have expressed doubts about the existence of a "Caesarean text." In 1963 Bruce Metzger surveyed the history of investigations up to that time and concluded, "By way of summary, it must be acknowledged that at present the Caesarean text is disintegrating. There still remain several families--such as family 1, family 13, the Armenian and Georgian versions--each of which exhibits certain characteristic features. But it is no longer possible to gather all these several families and individual manuscripts under one vinculum such as the Caesarean text. The evidence of Papyrus 45 clearly demonstrates that henceforth scholars must speak of a pre-Caesarean text as differentiated from the Caesarean text proper. Future investigators must take into account two hitherto neglected studies, namely Ayuso's significant contribution to Biblica in 1935, in which he sets forth fully the compelling reasons for bifurcating the Caesarean text, and Baikie's M. Litt. dissertation in 1936, the implications of which suggest that the Caesarean text is really a textual process." (Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963], p. 67.) More recently, Kurt Aland has expressed an even more skeptical opinion. He acknowledges only the Alexandrian and Byzantine text-types. While the "theoretical possibility" of a Caesarean text-type "must be conceded," Aland says that it is "purely hypothetical." He warns that text-critical arguments which are based on the idea of a Caesarean text-type are "based on dubious foundations, and often built completely in the clouds." (The Text of the New Testament [Eerdmans, 1989], pp. 66-7). --M.D.M.

From: Caesarean text-type - Wikipedia

Caesarean text-type is the term proposed by certain scholars to denote a consistent pattern of variant readings that is claimed to be apparent in certain Greek manuscripts of the four Gospels, but which is not found in any of the other commonly recognized New Testament text-types; the Byzantine text-type, the Western text-type and the Alexandrian text-type. In particular a common text-type has been proposed to be found: in the ninth/tenth century Codex Koridethi; in Minuscule 1 (a Greek manuscript of the Gospels used, sparingly, by Erasmus in his 1516 printed Greek New Testament); and in those Gospel quotations found in the third century works of Origen of Alexandria, which were written after he had settled in Caesarea.[1] The early translations of the Gospels in Armenian and Georgian also appear to witness to many of the proposed characteristic Caesarean readings, as do the small group of minuscule manuscripts classed as Family 1 and Family 13.

Perhaps the reason that it cannot be determined that such a Greek text-type ever existed is because this mysterious "Caesarean text" is not a Greek text at all but the Peshitta itself? Could there be reason to at least connect the "Caesarean text" to the Peshitta, if not identify it as the Peshitta?
Shalom, Shlama, Salaam & Yiasou.
Great info, Christina!

I've been curious about the common sources myself, and this helps explain some of the threads.

Thanks for putting that together.

I just found a rather fascinating quote from the Cambridge University Journal. I can't view the whole article for some reason (probably have to register) but here's a snippet (emphasis mine):

A Caesarean Text in the Catholic Epistles?

Muriel M. Cardera1
a1 Rajahmunory, India

In giving their appraisal of the host of then unexamined minuscule codices of the Greek New Testament, Westcott and Hort wrote these intriguing words: ???Valuable texts may lie hidden among them; many of them are doubtless sprinkled with relics of valuable texts now destroyed.???. 1 Beside this supposition should be set a well-attested fact, that ???the Precedence of manuscripts depends, not on their age, but on their Pedigree???. 2 These two statements kept on recurring to the writer's mind as she concentrated on a group of six minuscule codices in the area of the Catholic Epistles: MSS 69, 1243, 1319, 1424, 1739, and 1874. 3 The Leicester Codex, MS 69, has long been known to Preserve an ancient lineage even though it was actually copied in the fifteenth century. Might not others of this group, less well known, also Perpetuate a rich heritage? It is the opinion of this writer that one of them does.4

Muriel M. Carder (1970). A Caesarean Text in the Catholic Epistles?. New Testament Studies, 16 , pp 252-270

I think that point 2 needs repeating:

the Precedence of manuscripts depends, not on their age, but on their Pedigree

And we all know which textual tradition has the finest pedigree <!-- s:biggrin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/biggrin.gif" alt=":biggrin:" title="Big Grin" /><!-- s:biggrin: -->
Shalom, Shlama, Salaam & Yiasou.

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