By James Scott Trimm
Recently a short manuscript containing two pages of Hebrew Text was released from the Vatican Library.
The front of the first page contains Luke 1:1-9 (excepting the last word of verse 9).
The obverse of the first page begins with the last word of Luke 1:9 and continues through 1:29a
The front of the second page begins with Luke 1:29b and runs through Luke1:35
The obverse contains John 1:1-13 (which I will discuss in the near future).
The fact that the text ends at Luke 1:35 and resumes on the obverse with John 1:1 is a mystery. It appears that this manuscript was never, itself, part of a complete manuscript of Luke (though it might have been a sample copied from one for some reason).
The manuscript itself dates to a post Masoretic period (no earlier than the 9th Century CE) and probably much later. The manuscript is "pointed" using Masoretric vowel markings, and has the Name of YHWH pointed in the traditional Masoretic fashion (Yehovah).
In the cases of Shem Tob, DuTillet and Munster Matthew, the presence of the name of YHWH (or at least a marker indicating where the Name should appear) was significant, because a Rabbinic Jew would be unlikely to add the Sacred Name to a text which did not contain it. However we have no clear evidence that I am aware of that this manuscript was obtained from the Jewish community, and a Christian Scribe might well have inserted the Name in these texts. (For the record, I don't propose that that is what happened, I am simply saying we cannot use this as evidence as we have with the texts. of Hebrew Matthew listed above).
The title for Luke in the manuscript is "The Set-Apart Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah according to Luke.
Of special interest is that Luke 1:1-4 appears in this manuscript as a colophon or preface, and the designation "Chapter 1" appears after this text, and before Luke 1:5 which is presented as the beginning of Luke Chapter 1.
Initial textual analysis shows some connection between this text of Luke and the ancient Aramaic textual tradition.
For example in Luke 1:10 the manuscript reads: "And all the multitude of the people were standing outside to pray at the time of the incense."
The word "standing" here is unique to this Hebrew text and to the Old Syriac Aramaic text. I do not find this reading in any other witness to Luke 1:10.
Another key variant occurs in Luke 1:28 which has the word "angel" in the text "And the angel having come to her..."
(the word "angel" is not in the traditional Greek text in this verse). This reading is a remarkable agreement with Witnesses of the Western Type Text, (also known as the Syro-Latin Text Type). This reading agrees with the best witnesses to the Western Type of Greek Text (D, f(13)) as well as both the Old Latin and the Vulgate, as well as the Peshitta Aramaic. The Old Syriac reading for this verse is lost, however with an agreement between Western witnesses like the Old Latin, Codex D and f(13) it is all but certain that the lost reading of the Old Syriac was to include the word "angel" here. Anyone familiar with my work on textual origins (as laid out in my book The Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament) will know that an agreement with this text type is a strong evidence for a connection to the Hebrew or Aramaic original of Luke.
Some other points of interest: The word for "virgin" in Luke 1:27 is BETULAH rather than ALMAH.
The conception of the Messiah (1:35) reads: "... the Ruach HaKodesh will come upon you. The power of Elyon will be in your shadow, concerning which will be born the Set-Apart, He shall be called 'Son of YHWH'"
In the near future I will post my complete translation of these verses of Luke (1:1-35) and also I will soon publish my analysis and translation of this text of Yochanan (John).
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