Here is an interesting detail about the origin of John 7.53-8.11 in the Syriac tradition. Apparently, in the excellent Mingana collection at the University of Birmingham, there is a “handsome and sumptuous” manuscript containing the New Testament and a number of other treatises. So says A. Mingana in his Catalogue (vol. 1, col. 863). One important feature of this manuscript that Mingana reports is this:
This story (ܣܘܢܬܟܣܝܣ = σύνταξις) is not found in all manuscripts. But Abba Mar Paule found it in one of the Alexandrian manuscripts and translated it into Syriac as written here from the Gospel of John.From this, J. de Zwaan, writing in 1958, draws this conclusion:
Paul of Tella, who was the leading spirit in the translation of the Hexaplaric O.T. by order of Athanasius I, and under whose auspices Thomas of Harkel laboured on the N.T. at the same time and the same place, viz. the Enaton-monastery near Alexandria (615-617), is, therefore, responsible for the introduction of John vii.53-viii.11 in MSS. of the Syriac N.T.
This is interesting as it confirms the hypothesis that on Paul’s initiative the Harklean enterprise (whatever it has been: translation, revision, collation or mere annotating) was completed.
And this is important as it adds probability to the surmise that Thomas’ work should be considered as analogous to the O.T. enterprise. For textual criticism e.g. the question, whether ‘Western’ copies could be present in the viith century in Alexandria and be still valued there by experts as authoritative, this point is very important.Now, we know that in most of the NT, Thomas actually used a nearly Byzantine text and in the Catholic Epistles he used something more distinctive, a possible precursor to the Byzantine text (so K. Wachtel). Where Thomas gave “Western” readings, so far as I understand it, is primarily in the margin in Acts.
So I’m not convinced with Zwaan that this remark in Mingana Syr 480 shows that the “Western” text was valued in the 7th century in Alexandria. But it is still significant if Zwaan is right that this confirms Paul of Tella’s involvement in both the Syro-hexapla and the Harklean NT and that he is somehow responsible for the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae in the latter.
You can find this and more discussed in Chris Keith’s excellent book on the Pericope Adulterae. For more on the manuscript sources, see Gwynn.
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For more on the PA in Syriac and Arabic, see Adam McCollum’s blog post on a 17th cent. Garshuni lectionary which has the following note pictured below:
Know, dear reader, that this pericope [pāsoqā] is lacking in our Syriac copy [lit. the copy of us Syriac people], but we have seen it among the Latins [r(h)omāyē], and we have translated it into our Syriac language and into Arabic. Pray for the poor scribe!
|Marginal note in CCM 64, f. 79r, (17th cent.) explaining the origin of the Pericope Adulterae.|