Crawford Aramaic New Testament manuscript

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The Crawford Aramaic New Testament manuscript is a 12th-century Aramaic manuscript containing 27 books of the New Testament. This manuscript is notable because its final book, the Book of Revelation, is the sole surviving manuscript of any Aramaic version of the otherwise missing Book of Revelation from the Peshitta Syriac New Testament. Five books were translated into Syriac later for the Harklean New Testament.[1]

It is held in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, and is sometimes called the "Crawford MS" because it is so inscribed on the backstrip after having previously been in the library of the oriental manuscript collector Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.[2] The library was sold by the 26th Earl of Crawford to Enriqueta Rylands in 1901, and there are other manuscripts from the Earl's collection at John Rylands also called Crawford manuscripts, including the "Crawford Codex" a Latin translation of the Almagest from Arabic by Gerhard of Cremona.[3]

The Irish Syriacist John Gwynn having compiled an edition of the Catholic Epistles, also missing from the Peshitta from 20 manuscripts, (1893) used this single manuscript to supply the missing Book of Revelation (1897). Gwynn's editions comprised the third and final section of the 1905 United Bible Societies Peshitta, still the standard scholarly edition today.[4] Gwynn considered that this Aramaic Revelation was not from the original Peshitta version but one which Gwynn identified as being from what he called the Philoxenian Version, an Aramaic revision of the Syriac Bible made under the auspices of Philoxenus, bishop of Mabbug circa 507.[5] Basing his opinion on the testimony of Moses of Aghel, Gwynn considered that Philoxenus' chorepiscopus Polycarpus made a new translation from the Greek New Testament of the missing books.[6]

The text of the Aramaic New Testament[edit]

The Aramaic manuscript contains some notable differences from the Greek, indicating variant Greek originals or conflation.[7]


  1. ^ Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. John Rylands University Library of Manchester - 1999- Volume 81 - Page 41 "Possibly what was actually exhibited in 1935, and indeed in 1925 as well, was Rylands Syriac 66, a Harklean Syriac ... Among the Syriac manuscripts remaining in Manchester, the following two Crawford manuscripts are important: 1 Syriac 2. This is a full New Testament, a rarity among Syriac manuscripts, because the Peshitta lacks the lesser Catholic epistles (2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude) and Revelation. These books are absent from the Syriac church's canon, although they were translated later, and are in the Harklean version. This manuscript of the twelfth century, has the Peshitta text of those books found in the Syriac canon and a later form of the Syriac for the rest. The Apocalypse found in this manuscript is unique; no other surviving manuscript contains is unique; no other surviving manuscript contains Revelation in this form. The manuscript has the texts in the following order: Gospels, the Harklean Passiontide Harmony, Revelation, Acts, Catholic ....."
  2. ^ J. N. Birdsall (Birmingham) The Recent History of New Testament Textual Criticism article in English in Aufsteig und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur 1992 Volume 2, Partie 26 - Page 131: Joseph Vogt, Hildegard Temporini, Wolfgang Haase - 1992 "The Catholic Epistles lacking in the Peshitta have been edited from twenty manuscripts by John Gwynn, an Irish scholar ... a single manuscript, now preserved in the John Rylands University Library, Manchester.138 On the backstrip of the editio princeps...Crawford MS"
  3. ^ Ptolemy Der Sternkatalog des Almagest: Die lateinische Übersetzung 1990 Page 21 "Weitere Gerhard-Handschriften 1. ... Almagest, Ubersetzung Gerhard von Cremona. ... 5; Ubicumque (a.R.); 114r-124v 76 Dies ist das Ms., das Peters - Knobel S.22, Nr. 27 unter der Bezeichnung „Crawford Codex" aufführen und beschreiben."
  4. ^ John Gwynn (1897). The Apocalypse of St. John, in a Syriac version hitherto unknown; edited, (from a ms. in the library of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres), with critical notes on the Syriac text, and an annotated reconstruction of the underlying Greek text,. Hodges, Figgis, and co. pp. 1, 25. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Matthias Henze The Syriac Apocalypse of Daniel: Introduction, Text, and Commentary 2001- Page 16 "The book of Revelation was initially not included in the Peshitta and only slowly won canonical esteem in Syrian Christianity. John Gwynn prepared a critical edition of the Syriac text of the book of Revelation and proposed that this text does not stem from the Peshitta, but from the Philoxenian Version, a version of the Bible made in the year 507/08 under the auspices of Philoxenus, bishop of Mabbug."
  6. ^ John Gwynn The Apocalypse of St. John, in a Syriac version hitherto unknown 1897 Page xcvi "We are told by Moses of Aghel, that he translated " the New Testament"b (no Book or Books being excepted) ; and inasmuch ... was constructed on the basis of a prior version forming part of the New Testament as translated by Polycarpus."
  7. ^ John Gwynn The Apocalypse of St. John: In a Syriac Version Hitherto Unknown 2005 Page 51 "... all which three variations imply a different Greek original (see note on Greek text). But the true explanation of the facts proves to be that S here represents a conflate Greek text. The ms. 152 of Apoc. (Vatican, 370) reads here (see supr., Part "