Thursday, November 04, 2010

Birmingham Thesis on Arabic Versions of the Gospels

The Center for New Testament Textual Studies (New Orleans) is pleased to have received Hikmat Kachouh's thesis entitled "The Arabic Versions of the Gospels: The Manuscripts and their Families."

The thesis was submitted to the University of Birmingham in fulfillment of the PhD, and was supervised by D.C. Parker.

At first glance, what impresses the reader is the sheer size of the thesis. In three volumes, it comes to 1012 pages.
  • Vol. 1: Thesis
  • Vol. 2: The Abridged List of the Arabic Gospel Manuscripts and the Collation of the Test Passages
  • Vol. 3: Textual data and stemmas


  1. As he writes in the foreword many think that the Arabic version is "textually irrelevant".
    Does this thesis change this view or is it still correct?
    Any noteworthy readings?

  2. Wieland, I think Hikmat had an article in NTS a few years ago in which he presented findings from a very interesting Arabic MS, and there you can read his views about those current prevailing attitudes to the Arabic version (if we should use "version" in this case).

  3. Ah, thanks for the reminder!
    Yes, that was in NovT 50(2008)28-57 and I even added about 20 readings in the TCG commentary.

  4. Instructions for downloading it as a free 'purchase' are here.

  5. Wieland, you will no doubt find his discussion of the PA interesting, on page 127-128 of vol. 1.
    Operating on the premise that the PA was never a part of the Peshitta, he then goes on to account for its presence in Arabic family g (which is a translation of the Peshitta) by showing that certain words in the PA are foreign to family g in John and therefore the PA must have been interpolated from another Arabic version.

  6. Another thing I gleaned from this thesis is that the Arabs were much better than the Greeks at dating their manuscripts. They usually gave two dates, some combination of AM, AD, AH, and even the Selucid Era. They tended to be off in their calculation of the current AH date--understandably, as it is both lunar and Islamic.
    The upshot of this is that we have a manuscript of the gospels dated in 859--quite early for a dated ms in any language. Furthermore, g5, although it was copied as recently as 1885, gives its ancestry as a 1636 copy of an 1189 copy of a 984 copy of an undated (probably 9th century) manuscript. Thus 450 years elapsed between generations.
    What's interesting is that the 1189 copy, no longer extant, was known in 1904, at which time we would have had a ms and its known 2nd generation ancestor.

  7. Here's a question. He identifies his manuscript ja1 (a 12th-century Greek-Arabic diglot) as Venice Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana Gr. 539 (1), containing the same text as ja3, which he identifies as Codex Par Suppl. Gr. 911 (GA#609).

    Can anyone identify the GA# of ja1?

  8. 211

    Wikipedia is your friend. :-)

  9. Found it--it's GA#211, von Soden's e234.