Peshitta Bible Version – Peshitta Evaluation

I am basing my evaluation here on some things I have seen over the years, and also on this post (below “Problems with Peshitta Primacy“).

Problems With Peshitta Primacy

From Tyndale

Since men carry over the truth into another language only so far as they grasp it themselves, no translation can be fully satisfactory. The compiler of this version, the late A. E. Knoch, was aware of his shortcomings in this regard. To keep from emphasizing his personal views and traditional errors, he developed the concordant method of translation.

The purpose of the compiler was to make a translation that agreed as closely as possible to the original language, yet be presented in readable English. This method recognizes the importance of the vocabulary of Scripture keeping distinct the well-chosen words of God in His revelation of truth. There is an effort to keep to a minimum the confusion resulting from translating different Greek words with only one English word. Thus, phileo is rendered “be fond” and agapao is rendered “love.” Except for a few idiomatic usages, each English word stands for only one Greek word in this version.

The word order and sentence structure of the early Greek manuscripts are followed more in this version than in most others. However, when needed, the Greek sentence structure is altered in order to achieve acceptable English.

Concordant Publishing Concern (1926)

[Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom]

My Evaluation

First of all some context. The Battle of the Bibles is a gruesome battlefield where people take extreme positions to defend or satanize one Bible or another. In this I am just making some observations, but every side has issues and problems that make a complete slam-dunk not possible for me.

Secondly, some are trying to push the Peshitta version in Syriac as being more faithful to the originals that the Greek manuscripts we have. This is curious but just wrong. The church history that we have has a universal testimony that the New Testament was written in Greek, not aramaic nor Syriac. Given that some of the Jews of Paletine did speak aramaic and those language peculiarities of aramaic may have had influence in how they spoke Greek, but that doesn’t prove the Bible was originally written in Aramaic, and equally this applies to the Syriac versions. For me to accept the authority of Peshitta version over any Greek manuscript, I would need to see a great sum of references in the church fathers where they are debating or mentioning the Peshitta or Syriac versions over Greek. The opposite is true, they either quote the Scripture in Greek or Latin, and to my limited knowledge very few references actually in Aramaic or Syriac.

Thirdly, Syriac was not widely spoken in Galilee and Jerusalem, so at best, this version can be a secondary testimony to what we have in Greek documents, but really not much more.

The author of this article continues to delineate problems with putting too much importance on the Peshitta, but with these, I am just convinced and don’t need to get into this deeper.