SOR Logo
  The Syriac Bible · Translations · Commentaries · Rabbula Gospels
The Philoxenian

Old Syriac


In A.D. 508, a new revision was completed by Chorepiscopos Polycarp, who commissioned by Philoxenos of Mabbug.; hence, the name Philoxenian version. The motivation behind this revision was theological in nature. Philoxenos contended that the rendition of the Biblical text in some of the Peshitto readings gave room for what he called a Nestorian interpretation. "When those of old undertook to translate these passages," he remarks,

they made mistakes in many things, whether intentionally or through ignorance. These mistakes concerned not only what is taught about the Economy in the flesh, but various other things concerning different matters. It was for this reason that we have now taken the trouble to have the Holy Scriptures translated anew from Greek into Syriac.

As we can see, the motivation behind this translation was a theological one. This was caused by the Christological controversies of the fifth century. Philoxenos felt that there was a need for a more accurate and literal translation of the Greek New Testament.

The Philoxenian version did not find favor among the Syriac Christians; as a result, not a single manuscript survives. However, a number of quotations from it are preserved in Philoxenos' commentaries on the Gospels.

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