Harklean Gospels


A 10th century copy of the New Testament translated into Syriac.

The manuscript

The Gospels and Eusebian Canons were copied in a large angular Estrangela hand (meaning ‘rounded’; the oldest form of the Syriac alphabet) with the occasional Greek vowels. An index of chapters precedes each Gospel, except St Matthew’s. An inscription at the end of St John’s Gospel states that it was written in the desert of Sete by a priest named John, for the abbot Moses of Nisibis.

Why is the manuscript important?

This is the Harklean version of the Syriac Gospels, named after Thomas of Harqel a 7th century Syrian bishop. Thomas was commissioned to work on a translation of the Greek Bible into Syriac, which he completed in 616 CE. He aimed at providing a literal translation of the Greek, even though the Syriac was rather obscure and difficult to understand. It was what modern scholars consider a masterpiece in ‘mirror’ translation. The Harklean version is the only translation of the complete text of the New Testament into Syriac.

Full title:
IIE GOSPELS of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, of the version of Philoxenus; imperfect.
936 CE
Manuscript / Codex
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 14469

Full catalogue details

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