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_M e pharr"she and M'phordsh. — By Dr. Chables Cutleb Tok- 
bey, Andover Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass. 

The publication of the Lewis palimpsest of the Syriac Gospels 
has called attention anew to the problematic ) * i qVl , which has 
so long been the subject of controversy. The word first came 
prominently into notice when Cureton edited his " Antient Recen- 
fion" of the four Gospels, in 1858. Prefixed to the First Gospel, 
in his manuscript, was the title -&ie W^r^? <* , v> ^ °1 • Cureton 
confessed himself puzzled hy this, but proposed to read ? before 
-W* ,' and translate, " The distinct Gospel of Matthew." Con- 
cerning this designation he said (Preface, p. vi) : " It seems to 
me that whatever meaning is to be given to the word ) » i i^ 1 , it 
is intended to denote that, in some way or other, the Gospel of 
St. Matthew is to be regarded as distinct from the other three 
Gospels in this copy." He then argues that it is 'distinct' from 
the others, inasmuch as its text is superior to theirs, being proba- 
bly translated directly from the original Aramaic of St. Matthew. 

As might be expected, this interpretation of 1 »' i * > **> did not 
meet with favor. Aside from the objection to the reading ^z^? 
(see note above), the theory of such a title of the First Gospel 
was too improbable in itself. Bernstein, to whom Cureton sub- 
mitted the problem, preferred to translate, "Evangelium per 
anni circulum dispositum," i. e., divided into lections; appealing 
in support of this to Assemani's rendering of the same expres- 
sion, i-^r 3 ^? ^-»^-^ ', in his Bibliotheca Orientalis, ii. 230. 
But to this Cureton replied, that in his manuscript there were no 
traces of an original division into lections, and that therefore 
Assemani's rendering would be quite inapplicable." This objec- 
tion was very hard to meet ; still, Bernstein's explanation was 
adopted by many, as being at any rate better than Cureton's. 

The recently discovered Lewis palimpsest furnishes important 
evidence at this point. At the end of the Gospel of John there 

1 What seemed to furnish ground for the conjecture was the presence 
of a small hole in the parchment at just this point, evidently made 
after the writing was finished, as it destroyed part of the last letter of 
the preceding word. But scholars since Cureton have been unanimous 
in the opinion that the remaining space is too narrow to have con- 
tained the letter j . See Wright's Catalogue of the Syriac MSS. in the 
British Museum, p. 74 ; and the fac-simile in Land, Anecdota Syriaca, 
vol. i. 

* For further notice of the passage in Assemani, see below. 



Vol. xviii.] Torrey — M e pharr e she and M e phorash. 177 

is a colophon, beginning as follows : U»='1 I ^p^ ? < [> » N ^ M >a^k- 
• ls - pw | "Here ends the [...?...] Gospel, four books." This puts 
an end at once to the theories of both Bernstein and Cureton ; 
for in this manuscript also there are no traces of an original 
division into lections. It is equally decisive against the theory 
advocated by Gildemeister in the Z.D.M.G., xiii. 472 ff., that 
the title in Cureton's recension should be translated, "Evan- 
gelium des auserlesenen [Evangelisten] Matthaeus"; a designa- 
tion which he explained by comparing Rom. i. 1, "set apart for 
the Gospel," and supposed to have been especially applied to 
the evangelist Matthew by the early Christian church. 1 

Some of the examples cited by Gildemeister in the course of 

his argument showed that derivatives of the verb >-A-r s are fre- 
quently used in titles of Syriac lectionaries (I. c, p. 473). A 
manuscript containing the prescribed readings for the year, made 
up of sections from the Gospels following one another in arbi- 
trary order, is described in its title as 1 * yiV' U-i-f-o? ^ « \ ^Jo) j or 
]L1± oi^s? J-^rS^ ,a- 1 ^^o); r simply by the term 1— »<'a— a, or 

iJ-r <-*<»as ; and so on. On the other hand, Gildemeister recog- 
nized the fact that in the case of a manuscript like Cureton's any 
such explanation of the title is out of the question. 

In the example cited from Assemani's Bibl. Or., ii. 230, there 
is nothing to indicate that a lectionary is intended. The passage 
is in a document, written at the end of the fifteenth century, in 
which the writer narrates how he and his brethren had been 
obliged to sell some of the books belonging to their convent, 
among them an i-^r 3 ^? <? > V > ^°^ In view of what we already 
know of this singular expression, we can hardly doubt that he is 
here designating the codex by its own written title, and that we 
thus learn of a third copy of the Gospels bearing the same per- 
plexing title as the Lewis palimpsest and the Curetonian manu- 
script — for it is now generally agreed that in the last-named codex 
the words in question formed the title of the whole book, not of 
the first Gospel. 

To these examples is to be added, further, the gloss in Bar 
Bahlul, cited by Payne Smith, Thesaurus, col. 579. It reads: 

A«Xjcl2 >^ZuLs ,_-? ,-231 .\£>\ -fSi jjoi )o01 l^C&iO ^OJLj . tS . \^\ ^ 

. ^*o wfioZ Vi-y->o . 2 j t' jpV' ?. From this gloss we learn nothing 
more than this, that at the time when it was written the reading 
that inserts the name Jesus at this point was adopted in at least 



1 His chief argument in support of this was the fact that in a few 
Arabic codices Matthew is called a fci *-> t I I ^Cx . 

2 Viz. in Matt, xxvii. 16. See the Lewis palimpsest. The reading is 
also found in the Jerus. Syriac (ed. Erizzo, 1861, p. 393 ; also in vs. 17), 
in the Armenian version, and in a few Greek minuscules. 

vol. xviii. 12 



178 C. C. Torrey, [1897. 

one well-known Syriac recension of the Gospels. It is plain, 
moreover, that the explanations of the term i * i iV above noticed 
cannot possibly be made to apply here. 

One more attempted explanation of the term remains to be 
considered ; namely, that defended at length by Th. Zahn in his 
Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, 
1881, p. 105-111 ;' also adopted, with some hesitation, in 
Wright's Syriac Literature, 1894, p. 8f. s According to this view, 
) > y° i Si > < n t N ^ o) , ' separate (?) Gospels,' was employed as the 

opposite of I^ N m Sp ? '] t < mixed Gospels,' 1 a term used in describ- 
ing Tatian's Diatessaron (see Zahn, Forschungen, p. 98-105). 
In support of this translation a single passage is cited, found in a 
code of church laws promulgated by Rabbula of Edessa (412- 
435 A. D.).' A long series of commonplace regulations for the 
guidance of the clergy contains the following :." Let the elders 
and deacons take care that there be in every church a copy of the 
1 > T° lSn ? <P ' v - ^°i , and that it be read." This is interpreted as an 
utterance belonging to the reaction against the general use of 
Tatian's Harmony in the churches of that region, as though 
Rabbula would say : ' See to it that the separate Gospels are not 
neglected for the Diatessaron." 4 

It should be noticed that this interpretation of the word in the 
passage quoted is not in any way suggested by the context. The 
rules immediately preceding and following are of the most com- 
monplace character. If the word I-^r 3 ^ ? were omitted alto- 
gether, the passage would still read smoothly, and yield a sense 
well suited to its surroundings. 

Moreover, ) t yiSr ? < n » N ^ Jo] would be a singular way of express- 
ing the idea ' separate Gospels.' For ' separated Gospels ' the 
expression might serve, though a little unusual. But there could 



1 See also his Geschichte des neutestl. Kanons, 1888, i. 392 ff . 

2 Duval, in Brockelmann's Lex. Syr., p. 507, cites as a supporter of 
this view Tixeront, Les Origines de I' Eglise d' Edesse, p. 131, a book 
which I have not seen. 

3 The text in Overbeck, S. Ephraemi Syri aliorumque opera selecta, 
p. 220. 

4 Zahn's theory of the Diatessaron and its importance for the history 
of the Syriac Gospels is much overworked by him. See for example 
his Forschungen, p. 108, note 1, where he refers to Bibl. Or., ii. 225, 

Jicjjco isoifA )Jn »\ -le) \^£>'i\ .-oiyao , saying : " Ich weiss nicht, ob 

dieser befremdliche Ausdruck quatuor parva evangelia [Assemani's 
trans.], ftir welchen auch P. Smith nur dieses Beispiel hat, einen 
Gegensatz bilden soil zum Diatessaron." On the contrary, this is a 
very natural way of writing quatuor tetraevangelia ; a combination 
that would very seldom occur, and for which the usual ] » 'N ^o) could 
not be used, as it would certainly be misunderstood. 



Vol. xviii.] M e pharr e she and M'phorash. 179 

be no reason for speaking of the four Gospels as 'separated'; 
least of all if they were to be contrasted, as the original form, 

with a mixture like the Diatessaron. The appeal to 14 ^"^ ? '1 
is not justified. The Syriae has its recognized ways of express- 
ing the idea supposed to be intended here (the opposite of 
* mixed '), and the phrase under discussion is not among them. 

Finally, Zahn's interpretation is disposed of once for all by the 
fact that the Psalms, as well as the Gospels, are given this same 
perplexing title. In Wright's Catalogue of the Syriae MSS. in 
the British Museum, No. 168, a copy of the Peshitto Psalms 

(dated A. D. 600), bears this superscription : j-«o» ]2jia*z> l^iij 
U*a5*?, "Book of the [...?...] Psalms of' David." Wright 
translated, " of the Interpreters," or " of the Translators," but 
added that this would be a very strange title. 

In the superscription of the next following MS. (No. 169) in 
this Catalogue, also a copy of the Peshitto Psalms, the word 
appears again, used in precisely the same way. 

This seems to defy translation. These copies of the Psalms 
are not 'divided' into lections. They are not 'separated' or 
'distinguished' from anything else. Wright's rendering, "of 
the Interpreters, or Translators," is, as he confesses, only a make- 
shift, lacking all external support or internal probability. Besides, 
the nomen agentis of >-*<i-s would be M-^j-aio, not 1 » fr°iVi . 

It must be beyond all question that the use of U^f 3 ^? as here 
applied to the Psalter is identical with that described above, 
where it is applied to the four Gospels. The fact suggests what 
is apparently the only solution, namely, that the troublesome 
word is simply one form of the adjective ' sacred, holy,' which 
so often occupies this place in titles of books of the Bible. That 
is, t-k-ir^? ^ u *- i ^ l is equivalent to V^-r* <a-».^^o| .' So far as 
etymology is concerned, the hypothesis has everything in its 
favor. In the speech of the Jews, the 'sacred' thing was that 
which was ' separated, set apart,' as the history of the root tJ^p 

illustrates. The root {J^f) also, in both Hebrew and Aramaic 
usage, furnishes analogies of its own, as will be seen. The single 
objection, which at once suggests itself, is this : If the participle 

V V 

' *- i g ''^ was thus fixed in usage, in the signification ' holy,' how is 
it that so few examples of the usage have reached us ? And 
why did tradition fail to preserve the meaning of the word ? 

Before attempting to answer these questions, there is another 
series of facts of which notice must be taken ; namely, those 



1 Thus Cureton's MS. bears the former of these two titles in the 
original hand ; the other is added in another place by a later hand. 
See his edition, p. iv. 



180 C. C. Torrey, [1897. 

connected with the use of the Jewish word {^"llflO • This word, 

which is in form the exact Hebrew counterpart of ' * i° 1 '^ , pre- 
sents also in the history of its use and interpretation a very strik- 
ing parallel to the facts above stated. The root tJHfl, in 
Hebrew, and especially in Aramaic, is in common use in a variety 
of significations corresponding in general to those belonging to 
the Syriac root, being all more or less directly traceable to the 
underlying idea of separating or dividing. In a single well 
known phrase, found not infrequently in the early Jewish litera- 
ture, the use of the root has remained obscure, no one of the 
recognized meanings seeming to meet the requirements. How to 
translate the phrase {JHlfiDH DCJ' , has been a much discussed 
question. Among modern German scholars, in particular, a good 
many different renderings have been proposed and skilfully 
defended, although no one of them has met with general approval. 
Thus: 'der erklarte, ausgelegte Name,' a favorite rendering 
since Martin Luther (see Buxtorf, Lex. Chald., col. 1851); 'der 
unerklarte Name' (see Z.D.M.G, xxxix. 543 f.); 'der ausdrflck- 
liche Name' (Geiger' and many others); 'der deutlich ausge- 
sprochene Name ' (Furst," Levy 3 ); 'der nicht auszusprechende 
Name' (Grtinbaum*); ' der voile Gottesname ' ( Wiinsche 6 ); 'der 
abgesonderte, ausgezeichnete Name' (Nestle 6 ); 'der geheime 
Name,' a rendering which has had many adherents since Bar 
Bahlul's lr-i^ 1^* (see Bernstein in Z.D.M.G., iv. 200). 

The two words tJHflO and ^M>fSie coincide, then, in the fol- 
lowing particulars : 1. In form ; 2. Each defies translation in a 
single fixed expression, where it is used adjectively ; 3. The 
Hebrew adjective is applied to the name of God ; the Syriac, to 
the Scriptures ; 4; In the case of both words, the peculiar use 
seems to belong chiefly to the early centuries of the Christian era, 
after which it disappears, to be resurrected occasionally as an 
antiquity whose original meaning can only be guessed at. These 
coincidences are too many and too striking to be accidental. It 
is plain that we have here Hebrew 7 and Syriac forms of the 
same word in the same unusual signification. That the significa- 
tion is an unusual one, may be inferred from a glance at the 
partial list of attempted translations recorded above. Griin- 
baum, in his exhaustive treatment of the subject, reaches the 
correct conclusion, that LJHlflO in this phrase is an artificial 
word, coined for this particular use (I. c, p. 556). He remarks 

1 Urschrift, p. 264. 

8 Z.D.M.G., xxxiii. p. 297-301. 

3 Neuhebr. u. chald. Worterb. , iv. p. 570. 

4 Z.D.M.G., xxxix. 543-616 ; xl. 234-304. 

5 Der Midrasch Kohelet, p. 47 f . 

6 Z.D.M.G., xxxii. 465-508. 

' Also Aramaic, tfLJHflQ NOB'- 



Vol. xviii.J M e pharr e »he and M'phbrash. 181 

further, that it must have been intended to express the most 
marked characteristic of the Name (ibid., p. 545). But when he 
adds, as the minor premise of his argument, "Nur mit Bezug 
auf das Nichtaussprechen nimmt das Tetragrammaton einen 
hoheren Rang und eine gesonderte Stellung ein " (p. 560), he 
seems to turn aside from the essential fact to follow what is only 
incidental. The Tetragrammaton was absolutely unique, far 
above all other names or words, because it was the peculiar name 
of the holy, unapproachable God. It expressed Him, and was 
invested with His own character. Above all else, it was d^p. 

Similarly, in the Christian church, the Scriptures, dictated by 
Gk>d himself, were holy in a way, and to a degree, that could 
apply to nothing else on earth. 

That the Hebrew-Aramaic root EHfl was not infrequently used 
in designating that which was ' set apart, sacred, holy,' is a fact 
that scarcely needs extended illustration. In the Midrash Way- 
yiqra H., sec. 24, 1 the words of Lev. xix. 2, '0 VHD D'EHp 
03*ff?N HUT \3N BTlp are paraphrased as follows : DC3 

vnn "p tsmp *JNt? dbo D*enfi vnn "p ems »jNe> 

D'emp. Cf. also the name of the sect of the Pharisees, 
D'JjmS (D'TOIl)- Other examples are given by Grunbaum, p. 
556. There are not wanting passages, moreover, in which the 
Aramaic XBHSD NDtT is used in such a way as to leave no 
doubt that it is intended as an equivalent, or something more 
than an equivalent, of NLJ'Hp NQ£5>. Thus in the Palestinian 

Targums on Ex. xxviii. 30, xxxii. 25, cited by Buxtorf, Lex, 
col. 2438 f., NEHflO NOC is used interchangeably with NO£> 
(NTpn) NCHpi NT\ This is also the case in the Targums 

on Lev. xxiv. 11." Another most interesting illustration, of 
a somewhat different character, is furnished by the Targ. on 
Judges xiii. 18 : " Why dost thou ask my name, seeing that 
it is eHSO?" The word here represents the Heb. 'N^fl, which 
is used as in Ps. cxxxix. 6 for that which is beyond the reach 
of human comprehension, high above all earthly things. Here, 
again, the idea is closely akin to that underlying the word 
emp. In this passage, {JHflO could hardly be called a 

translation of 'X^fl ; it was probably suggested by BHflQn DC ; 
still, the two adjectives cannot be far removed from each 
other in signification, for the context, taken in connection 
with the evident meaning of i&Q, leaves small choice. In 

1 Cited by Grunbaum, as are most of the other passages referred to 
in the sequel. 
8 Cf. further, Targ. on Deut. xxviii. 58. 



182 G. C. Torrey, M^phar^she. [1897. 

fact, this passage gives us unquestionably one of the best aids to 
determining just what the Jews meant by BHlflOn OtJ'.' The 
word tJ^np was applied to a great variety of beings, objects, 
and names. But the ineffable Name was more than {^np, or at 
least, was tJ^llp in an especial sense; it was 'N^fl. Thus it 

came about most naturally that for the Name, separate and 
unapproachable in its sanctity,' incomprehensible to mortals^ 
the special adjective E^lflQ > Heb. £^"li£3JD > holy, was coined. 

The borrowing of the word by the Syriao church, as a special 
designation of the Holy Scriptures, is one more striking illustra- 
tion among many of the extent to which this branch of the early 
Christian church availed itself of Jewish instruction and Jewish 
training. This use of l^'fai*, however, seems to have been at 
least as short-lived as was the use of its original in Jewish liter- 
ature. It was probably never very widely employed, and can 
have been actually current only during a comparatively brief 
period. 

The disappearance of the word from usage and tradition,, 
among both Jews and Christians, is easily accounted for. Being 
an artificial coinage, and belonging to a root employed in so many 
ways as t£>"10 '-^'r s , its original signification easily became 
obscured, and it soon lost its hold. We have abundant illustration; 
of the fact that the same form BHflO, bearing meanings totally 
different from the above, can be used in connection with the name 
of God in a way that is most bewildering. Such passages as the 
Targums on Eccles. iii. 11 ; Cant. ii. 17 ; Lev. xxiv. 11, cf. 
Sanhedr. vii. 7 ; Jer. Targ. on Ex. xxxii. 25, &c, have often led 
investigators astray. In the case of some of these passages, it i» 
difficult to avoid the impression that there is an intentional play 
upon the word. For illustration of similar possibilities of con- 
fusion in the use of the Syriac form i-^r 3 ^, see the colophon to 
MS. Hunt. 109 in the Bodleian Library (Payne Smith, Gated., no. 
7, col. 42), and the examples collected by Gilderaeister, cited 
above. 



1 See Moore, Judges, p. 322. 

2 Cf. also the phrases ^"DJn DLP i IfTOH OtP ( see references in. 
Nestle, I. c, p. 505 ; Buxtorf, col. 2433 f.).