Glossary of Terms

The Peshitta


Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Peshitta. The Peshitta (Syriac, ‘simple’) was prepared in the early part of the fifth century and became the standard version of the Syriac church. It contains also the OT. The Pentateuch seems to have been translated in the second or third century a.d. Whether Jewish scholars were involved in the first attempts to translate the OT into Syriac is not altogether certain. In contrast to the LXX and the Latin Vulgate, the Peshitta originally omitted the Apocrypha. These books were added later. In its official form, the Peshitta included only twenty-two books of the NT. More than three hundred and fifty Peshitta mss of the NT are available to scholars today.

In a.d. 509, Philoxenus, bishop in eastern Syria, asked a certain Polycarp to revise the Peshitta. His effort was in turn revised again in 616 by Thomas of Harkel. These revised vss include also the five books of the NT [2Pe, 2Jo, 3Jo, Jude, and Rev] absent from the Peshitta. There is also the Palestinian Syriac vs in the Aramaic dialect of Christians in Palestine. It dates from the fifth century and is known chiefly from lectionaries of the Gospels, preserved in several mss from the eleventh or twelfth centuries.

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Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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