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The Peshitto

Old Syriac


In the early fifth century, the long process of revising the Old Syriac came to a halt, culminating in the Peshitto version. Hence, the Peshitto is not a new translation, but rather a revision of the Old Syriac Gospels. However, the Peshitto also contains the rest of the books of the New Testament except for the Minor Catholic Epistles (2 Peter, 2 and 3 John and Jude) and Revelation. To this day, readings from these books are not read in Syriac Churches. In the Peshitto manuscripts, the Catholic Epistles are placed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles.

The word Peshitto in Syriac means 'simple' or 'clear'. It was given this epithet in order to distinguish it from later versions, especially the Harklean which was a literal translation of the Greek resulting in obscure Syriac.

The Peshitto was able to triumph over all its rivals and became the authorized text of all the Syriac Churches to this day: Syrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, Maronite, Chaldaean, etc. Consequently, hundreds of Peshitto manuscripts survive with little variation between them. This, however, did not prevent Syriac churchmen from producing two further revisions: The Philoxenian and Harklean.

Copyright © Syriac Orthodox Resources. All Rights Reserved.
Author: George Kiraz, Ph.D.
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2001