Samer Soreshow Yohanna. The Gospel of Mark in the Syriac Harklean Version: An Edition Based upon the Earliest Witnesses. Biblica et Orientalia 52. Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2015. xi + 196. €48 (hardback); £5.75 (e-book)
Although the youngest of the Syriac translations, the Harklean has proven to be one of the most fruitful for textual criticism. This is due to Thomas’s innovation as a translator. His colophon tells us that he based his work on the Philoxenian but revised it with the help of what he considered to be “well proven and accurate” (ܣܓܝ ܒܚܝܪܝܢ ܘܚܬܬܝܬܝܢ) Greek manuscripts. These he represents with an exacting translation style designed to give the Syriac reader as much access to the Greek as possible. To this end he adopted the text critical symbols made famous by Origen (the asterisk, metobelus, and obelus) to mark words not found in his Greek manuscripts but either required by Syriac idiom or found in his Philoxenian predecessor. In the margin he adds more detail, supplying textual variants, translation notes, word meanings, and often simply giving the Greek word itself. In short, Thomas holds the distinction of producing the very first critical edition of the Syriac New Testament.
“No other branch of the church has given so much effort to spread and to accurately transmit the Gospel. From the hills of Lebanon and Kurdistan, from the Mesopotamian plains and the coast of Malabar, even from faraway China, Syriac manuscripts that are valuable for textual criticism have come to the European libraries.” —Eberhard Nestle
1. BackgroundThe Syriac speaking church has left us one of the richest traditions of Biblical translation. The translation of the New Testament starts with the Gospels as early as the second and third centuries with Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Old Syriac Gospels. The Peshitta came next and was to become the most prominent of all the Syriac translations. Even so, the heat of theological controversy led to a number of more exacting translations which were intended to help settle matters of exegetical dispute. The Philoxenian was completed in 508 and was the first to include the small Catholic Epistles and possibly Revelation, the former being all that survives to us today. The last of the major translations and the most literal was that of Thomas of Harkel who finished his work in 616, shortly after Paul of Tella’s completion of the Syro-hexepla.
|Even with native Aramaic, Thomas gives|
the Greek (e.g., μαραναθα in 1 Cor 16.22)