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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
The Diatessaron of Tatian.: Section II

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Section II.

[1] [Arabic, p. 7]  173 Now 174 the birth of Jesus the Messiah was on this wise:  In the time when his mother was given in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, [2] she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.   175 And Joseph her husband was a just man and did not wish to expose her, and he purposed to put her away secretly.  [3]  176 But when he thought of this, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, and said unto him, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary thy wife, for that [4] which is begotten 177 in her is of the Holy Spirit.   178 She shall bear a son, and thou shalt [5] call his name Jesus, and he shall save 179 his people from their sins.   180 And all this was that the saying from the Lord by the prophet might be fulfilled:

[6]  181 Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,

And they shall call his name Immanuel,

[7] which is, being interpreted, With us is our God.   182 And when Joseph arose from his [8] sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife;  183 and knew her not until she brought forth her firstborn son.

[9]  184 And in those days there went forth a decree from Augustus Cæsar that all the p. 46 [10] people of his dominion 185 should be enrolled.  186 This first enrolment was 187 while Quirinius [11, 12] was governor of Syria.   188 And every man went to be enrolled in his city.   189 And Joseph went up also from Nazareth, a city of Galilee, to Judæa, to the city of David [13] which is called Bethlehem (for he was of the house of David and of his tribe),  190 with [14] [Arabic, p. 8] Mary his betrothed, she being with child, to be enrolled there.   191 And while [15] she was there the days for her being delivered were accomplished.   192 And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them where they were staying.

[16]  193 And there were in that region shepherds abiding, keeping their flock in the watch [17] of the night.   194 And behold, the angel of God came unto them, and the glory of the [18] Lord shone upon them; and they were greatly terrified.   195 And the angel said unto them, Be not terrified; for I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to the [19] whole world;  196 there is born to you this day a Saviour, which is the Lord the Messiah, [20] in the city of David.   197 And this is a sign for you:  ye shall find a babe wrapped [21] in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger.   198 And there appeared with the angels suddenly many heavenly forces praising 199 God and saying,

[22]  200 Praise be to God in the highest,

And on the earth peace, and good hope to men.

[23]  201 And when the angels departed from them to heaven, the shepherds spake to one another and said, We will go to Bethlehem and see this word which hath been, as [24] the Lord made known unto us.   202 And they came with haste, and found Mary and [25] Joseph, and the babe laid in a manger.   203 And when they saw, they reported the word [26] which was spoken to them about the child.   204 And all that heard wondered at the [27] description which the shepherds described 205 to them.   206 But Mary kept these 207 sayings [28] and discriminated 208 them in her heart.   209 And those shepherds returned, magnifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard, according as it was described unto them.

[29] [Arabic, p. 9]  210 And when eight days were fulfilled that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, being that by which he was called by the angel before his conception in the womb.

[30]  211 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were [31] completed, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him before the Lord  212 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male opening the womb shall be called the [32] holy thing of the Lord),  213 and to give a sacrificial victim as it is said in the law of [33] the Lord, A pair of doves or two young pigeons.   214 And there was in Jerusalem a man whose name was Simeon; and this man was upright and pious, and expecting [34] the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.   215 And it had been said unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death till he had seen with [35] his eyes the Messiah 216 of the Lord.   217 And this man came by the Spirit to the temple; and at the time when his parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might [36] present for him a sacrifice, as it is written in the law,  218 he bare him in his arms and praised God and said,

[37]  219 Now loosest thou the bonds of thy servant, O Lord, in peace, 220

According to thy saying;

[38]  221 For mine eye hath witnessed thy mercy,

[39]  222 Which thou hast made ready because of the whole world;

[40]  223 A light for the unveiling 224 of the nations,

And a glory to thy people Israel.

[41]  225 And Joseph and his mother were marvelling at the things which were being said [42] concerning him.   226 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, he is set for the overthrow and rising of many in Israel; and for a sign of contention; [43]  227 and a spear 228 shall pierce 229 through thine own soul; that the thoughts of the p. 47 [44] [Arabic, p. 10] hearts of many may be revealed.   230 And Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, was also advanced in years (and she dwelt [45] with her husband seven years from her virginity,  231 and she remained a widow about eighty-four years); and she left not the temple, and served night and day with [46] fasting and prayer.   232 And she also rose in that hour and thanked the Lord, and she [47] spake of him with every one who was expecting the deliverance of Jerusalem.   233 And when they had accomplished everything according to what is in the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to Nazareth their city.



Matt. i. 18.


This is preceded in Vat. ms. by the genealogy, Matt. i. 1-17 (see Introduction, 13), with the marginal note The Beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.  (Lagarde, op. cit., 1886, p. 154.)  The text presents nothing worthy of note in this place except that verse 16, construed on the same principle as the preceding verses, to which, except in the words printed in italics, it is strictly parallel in construction, reads thus:  “Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, who of her begat Jesus, the Messiah” (cf. the remarkable reading of Sin. Syriac).  As it stands, this is the only possible interpretation of the words, for who is masculine.  But a mistake in the gender of a relative pronoun is very common in Arabic among illiterate people, while in Syriac there is, to begin with, no distinction.  If then we correct the relative, who of her will become of whom (fem.), and begat will of course be construed as passive.  We thus get the text followed in Ibn-at-Tayyib’s Commentary, the ordinary reading of the Peshitta, of whom was born Jesus.


Matt. i. 19.


Matt. i. 20.


The Arabic might even more naturally be rendered born, thus giving us the reading that Isho‘dad tells us was that of the Diatessaron (Harris, Fragments, p. 16 f.); but throughout the whole genealogy (see § 1, 81, note) this word has been used by the Vat. ms. in the sense of begat.  Here the Borg. ms. has of her for in her; but Ibn-at-Tayyib in his Commentary discusses why Matthew wrote in and not of.


Matt. i. 21.


cf. § 1, 78.


Matt. i. 22.


Matt. i. 23.


Matt. i. 24.


Matt. i. 25a.


Luke ii. 1.


The Arabic expression is clearly meant to represent that used in the Peshitta.


Luke ii. 2.


This is the most natural meaning of the Arabic sentence; which, however, is simply a word-for-word reproduction.


Luke ii. 3.


Luke ii. 4.


Luke ii. 5.


Luke ii. 6.


Luke ii. 7.


Luke ii. 8.


Luke ii. 9.


Luke ii. 10.


Luke ii. 11.


Luke ii. 12.


Luke ii. 13.


The Arabic represents Syr. idiom.


Luke ii. 14.


Luke ii. 15.


Luke ii. 16.


Luke ii. 17.


Luke ii. 18.


cf. § 1, 66, note.


Luke ii. 19.


Borg. ms. inserts all above the line, after these.  The meaning ought then to be, these things, namely, all the sayings.


The Arab. might mean set them apart; but the Syriac is against this.


Luke ii. 20.


Luke ii. 21.


Luke ii. 22.


Luke ii. 23.


Luke ii. 24.


Luke ii. 25.


Luke ii. 26.


Or, anointed.


Luke ii. 27.


Luke ii. 28.


Luke ii. 29.


For order cf. (in part) Sin. Syriac.


Luke ii. 30.


Luke ii. 31.


Luke ii. 32.


i.e., becoming manifest.


Luke ii. 33.


Luke ii. 34.


Luke ii. 35.


So also in Syriac versions and the quotation of Isho’dad from Ephraem (Harris, Fragments, p. 34), but not the Armenian version.


The Arabic sides with the Peshitta and Ibn-at-Tayyib’s Commentary, against the remarkable reading of Sin. supported by Isho’dad, as in last note (Syriac text), and the Armenian in Hill, p. 336.  See now also The Guardian, Dec. 18, 1895.


Luke ii. 36.


Luke ii. 37.


Luke ii. 38.


Luke ii. 39.

Next: Section III

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