Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tremellius' Syriac New Testament

Thanks to Rob Price, who made me aware that a new article on Immanuel Tremellius has just come out in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Tremellius was a sixteenth century philologist who converted from Judaism to Catholicism to evangelicalism (associated with Cranmer and the Prayer Book) and who was for some time Professor of Hebrew in Cambridge. He was also the first person to distinguish between dialects of Aramaic, arguing that Syriac was not the dialect of Aramaic used by Jesus. The first edition of the Syriac NT was 1555. Tremellius’ 1569 edition, using Hebrew script, appeared visually inferior, but sought to use historical linguistics to restore the vocalisation of the Aramaic to its earliest form (and therefore a form closer to that of Jesus).

Robert J. Wilkinson, ‘Immanuel Tremellius’ 1569 Edition of the Syriac New Testament’, JEH 58.1 (2007) 9-25.

Tremellius’ 1569 edition of the Syriac New Testament was a quite distinctive product of Heidelberg oriental scholarship, very different from other sixteenth-century editions produced by Catholic scholars. Tremellius produced his edition by first reconstructing an historical grammar of Aramaic and then, in the light of this, vocalising the text of Vat. sir. 16 which he took to be more ancient than that of Widmanstetter’s editio princeps. Thus in this way he sought to construct the earliest recoverable linguistic and textual form of the Peshitta. The anonymous Specularius dialogus of 1581 is here used for the first time to corroborate this assessment of Tremellius’ achievement and to cast light on the confessional polemics his edition provoked.

1 comment

  1. Help! I cannot find a copy of Tremellius' Aramaic New Testament anywhere. Please tell me where it can be accessed, otherwise, no textual criticism is possible. The assessment of others concerning his work is of no value without access to the work itself. Please, with all due respect, help me. I need this text desperately and I am a poor man!