Ultra-violet light has revealed a hidden fragment of a Syriac Christian New Testament translation dating back 1,750 years, according to a study published by the Journal Of New Testament Studies.
Grigory Kessel, a medievalist from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, was able to decipher a lost fragment of the Gospels that had been written in Syriac text 1,750 years ago. Because parchment was scarce in the Middle East at the time, manuscripts were often erased and reused. By using UV light on a 6th century manuscript, Kessel was able to uncover one of the earliest translations of the New Testament thought to have been erased 1,300 years ago, according to Phys.org.
One of the oldest fragments that testifies ancient Syrian version
“The tradition of Syriac Christianity knows several translations of the Testaments,” says medievalist Grigory Kessel
Fragment of a 1,750-year-old New Testament translation discoveredhttps://t.co/mrM0cht4GO
— Ayman Abdel Nour (@aabnour) April 9, 2023
The foundations of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, “can be traced back to the very dawn of Christianity” when followers of Jesus Christ were dubbed Christians in the city of Antioch. “The tradition of Syriac Christianity knows several translations of the Old and New Testaments,” Kessel explained, according to the outlet.
The discovery of the hidden text, an Old Syriac translation of the New Testament, is significant because “until recently, only two manuscripts were known to contain the Old Syriac translation of the gospels,” Kessel told the outlet. As American biblical scholar Bruce Metzger reported in 1977, ‘[e]xcept for the Sinaitic and Curetonian manuscripts no other copy of the Gospels in the Old Syriac version has been identified with certainty,” according to the Journal of New Testament Studies.
The Syriac translation uncovered by Kessel is believed to have been written “at least a century” before the oldest Greek translations of the New Testament. (RELATED: The Final Pieces Of The Dead Sea Scrolls Are Finally Decoded)
“Grigory Kessel has made a great discovery thanks to his profound knowledge of old Syriac texts and script characteristics,” Claudia Rapp, director of the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences told Phys.org.
“This discovery proves how productive and important the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic research can be when dealing with medieval manuscripts,” Rapp continued.