The Peshitta Aramaic “New Testament”


James Scott Trimm in July 1995 At the Reunion Institute
Examining the Codex Khaboris,  an Aramaic Peshitta NT Codex
while serving on a commission to to study the codex.


The Peshitta Bible is an Aramaic version of the Scriptures, which is used throughout the Near East. The birth of the Peshitta looms beyond the horizon of antiquity.

Although one tradition has the Tanak portion of the Peshitta, being translated at the time of Solomon at the request of Hiram, and another ascribes the translation to a priest named Assa, sent by the king of Assyria to Samaria. More likely is that the Peshitta Tanak was prepared at the edict of King Izates II of Abiabene, who with his entire family converted to Judaism. Josephus records that at his request, King Izates’ five sons went to Jerusalem to study the Jewish language and customs. It was probably at this time that the Peshitta Tanak was born.

The New Testament portion of the Peshitta was added to the Peshitta Tanak in the earliest Christian centuries. It is universally used by Jacobite Syrians; Nestorian Assyrians, and Roman Catholic Chaldeans. The Peshitta must predate the Christological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries, since none of these groups would have adopted their rival’s version. Thus, this version certainly originated in the pre-Nicean Church of the East. It includes all of the books except 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. These books were not canonized by the Church of the East. The Peshitta is not merely a translation from the Greek text, but rather a revision of the Old Syriac, as Arthur Voobus writes:

…. the Peshitta is not a translation,
but a revision of an Old Syriac version.
(Studies in the History of the Gospel Text in Syriac;
1951; p. 46 see also pp. 54-55).


Matthew 1:1-17

Matthew 1:18-25