ephrem commentary on diatessaron

The Diates­saron And Its Con­flict With The New Tes­ta­ment Gospels

The Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary Sam Shamoun writes in his rebut­tal” to the arti­cle, Is the Bible in Our Hands the Same as Dur­ing the Time of Muham­mad?” as follows :

It seems that Sai­ful­lah con­fus­es two issues when address­ing the claims of Jochen Katz that the Holy Bible of Muham­mad’s day is the same as our present day Bible. Sai­ful­lah con­fus­es the con­tent of Scrip­ture with the canon of Scrip­ture. The point is not the canon per se, but whether the con­tent of our present day Bible is the same as in the days of Muhammad.

Let us exam­ine the claim made by the mis­sion­ary. Before we pro­ceed fur­ther it is impor­tant to make it clear the Mus­lim posi­tion on the Bible. There is ample proof to the believ­er that Islam­ic the­ol­o­gy does indeed con­sid­er the Bible as cor­rupt and the Qur’an is the Guardian (muhaymin) over all oth­er scrip­tures to fil­ter out false­hood from the truth, regard­less of how the mis­sion­ar­ies mis­in­ter­pret the Qur’an and ahadeeth.

The pur­pose of this rebut­tal is only to prove that the con­tent of the Diates­saron is not the same as the cur­rent con­tent in the New Tes­ta­ment gospels.

A. Voobus, a Bib­li­cal schol­ar, informs us that thus :

Tat­ian did not only re-arrange the evan­gel­i­cal tra­di­tion into a har­mo­ny, but when com­pos­ing the Diates­saron left his fin­ger­prints on its pages.1

Let us take this oppor­tu­ni­ty ana­lyze what these fin­ger­prints were.

Divin­i­ty of Christ is a cor­ner­stone of Chris­tian­i­ty ; there­fore it is safe to con­clude that if the divin­i­ty of Christ is not men­tioned in the Diates­saron, then a major part of Chris­tian­i­ty is missing. 

Let us see what schol­ars have to say about the Diates­saron :

Ishodad of Merv (bish­op of Hed­hat­ta ca AD 850) in his descrip­tion of the Diates­saron said : Tatianos…selected from the four gospels and com­bined and com­posed a Gospel and called it Diates­saron…and on the Divin­i­ty of Christ he did not write.“2

It is an indis­putable fact that Tat­ian was con­sid­ered a heretic due to his Encratite ten­den­cies. Let us now analyse whether Tatian’s Diates­saron reflects his Christology.

Such touch­es have often been not­ed in the area of Tatian’s atti­tude towards mar­riage and in par­tic­u­lar to the par­ents of Jesus3. So, for exam­ple, the fol­low­ing changes were made :

Matt 1:19 : her hus­band Joseph, being a just man…”
Diates­saron : Joseph, because he was a just man…“4

Luke 2:33 : his father and his mother”
Diates­saron : Joseph and his moth­er“5

Luke 2:41, 43 : his parents”
Diates­saron : his kinsfolk…Joseph and his moth­er.“6

By means of these changes Tat­ian obscures the rela­tion­ship between Joseph and Mary.7

Anoth­er notable ten­den­cy found in the Ara­bic Diates­saron is the sub­sti­tu­tion of Jesus” for Luke’s ref­er­ences to the Lord” in the nar­ra­tive settings :

Luke Ara­bic Diates­saron :8

7:13 : when the Lord saw her…”
11.19 Jesus saw…“9

7:19 : sent them to the Lord…”
13.39 he sent them to Jesus“10

10:1a : the Lord appoint­ed seventy”
15.15 Jesus appoint­ed…“11

10:41 : the Lord answered her…”
13.34 Jesus answered…“12

11:39 : the Lord said to him…”
20.14 Jesus said…“13

12:42 : And the Lord said.…”
43.2 : Jesus said…“14

13:15:“Then the Lord answered…”
27.45 Jesus answered…“15

19:8 : and said to the Lord…”
31.22 “…said to Jesus“16

22:61 : And the Lord turned…”
49.16 Jesus turned…“17

Although this short expo­si­tion is not intend­ed as an exhaus­tive rebut­tal, it is suf­fi­cient to show that the mis­sion­ar­ies are either patho­log­i­cal liars or extreme­ly igno­rant about the sub­ject mat­ter. The Diates­saron was in fact dif­fer­ent at the time of the Prophet Muham­mad(P). There­fore, it is also equal­ly clear that if the Diates­saron did indeed dif­fer in con­tent and canon, his whole argu­ment falls flat on its face.

And Allah knows best.Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Jun­dul­lah, The Diates­saron And Its Con­flict With The New Tes­ta­ment Gospels,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 14, 2005, last accessed April 14, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​b​i​b​l​e​/​d​i​a​t​e​s​s​a​r​o​n​-​c​o​n​f​l​i​ct/
  1. A. Voobus, Ear­ly Ver­sions of the New Tes­ta­ment (PETSE 6 ; Stock­holm, 1954) 22[]
  2. J.R. Har­ris, Frag­ments of the Com­men­tary of Ephrem Syrus upon the Diates­saron (Lon­don, 1895) 14[]
  3. cf. Met­zger, Ver­sions, 34f[]
  4. Ephraem (Hill, Dis­ser­ta­tion, 7:8 ; Per­sian I.4 (Messi­na, 17).[]
  5. Ara­bic Dia. 2.41 ; Per­sian I.6 (Messi­na, 23); Dutch : Joseph and Mary” (Liege, 29).[]
  6. Ara­bic Dia. 3.25, 27 ; Per­sian (I.13 ; Messi­na, 31) fol­lows the Ara­bic exact­ly, the Dutch sup­plies Joseph and Mary” for the first, and sim­ply they did not know of it” for the sec­ond (Liege, 35f).[]
  7. For bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion see J.M. Fuller, Tatianus, DCB IV (1887) 783 – 804 ; E. Preuschen, Unter­suchun­gen zum Diates­saron Tatians, S.H.A.W. (Ph‑h. Kl) IX:15 (1918) 8 – 30 ; Whit­tak­er, Tat­ian, ix-xvii.[]
  8. None of the fol­low­ing are attest­ed in Ephrem’s com­men­tary. But all are sup­port­ed by the Ara­bic and at least one of the oth­er ver­sions.[]
  9. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 108); Per­sian : Jesus” (I.69, Messi­na, 90f)[]
  10. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 143); Per­sian : Jesus” (I.70, Messi­na, 90f)[]
  11. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 151); Per­sian : Jesus” (III.7, Messi­na, 202f)[]
  12. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 142); Per­sian : Jesus” (III.26, Messi­na, 226f)[]
  13. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 215); Per­sian : no intro (II.10, Messi­na, 112f)[]
  14. Dutch : not attest­ed ; Per­sian : Jesus” (I.63, Messi­na, 82f)[]
  15. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 329); Per­sian : Jesus” (II.22, Messi­na, 128f)[]
  16. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 398); Per­sian : Jesus” (III.32, Messi­na, 232f)[]
  17. Dutch : Jesus” (Liege, 701); Per­sian : Jesus” (IV.40, Messi­na, 342f)[]

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One response to “The Diates­saron And Its Con­flict With The New Tes­ta­ment Gospels”

  1. bornemix Avatar
    bornemix

    Salam Alekom…

    I’d like to know what your source is for quot­ing or com­par­ing with the Diatesseron.

    Mail me, please. Also please give me con­tact info to Shi­b­li Zaman, if you have it.

    اخوكم على السويدي

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