To the Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra: — -- By: Walter Drum

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 075:298 (Apr 1918)
Article: To the Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra: —
Author: Walter Drum


To the Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra: —

Walter Drum, S. J.

Woodstock, Maryland.

1. In your April issue [1917], I asked Mr. Buchanan: “To explain the complete loss of the Old Syriac text, excepting only the Gospels and patristic citations, is there any need to say that, after the revision by Rabbula, 411–435 a.d., all Old Syriac MSS. were burned?” Mr. Buchanan replied with an extract from Theodoret, in which the Bishop of Cyrrhus speaks of finding more than two hundred copies of Tatian’s Diatessaron in use by his churches, and adds: “These I have every one collected and destroyed, and submitted the Gospels of the Four Evangelists [containing the Genealogies in agreement with the Vulgate].”1

Reply: First, it would have been more scientific, had Mr. Buchanan given some reference, — at least by naming the work of Theodoret he was quoting. Secondly, my question had to do with the orthodox Old Syriac MSS., not with the heretical Tatian’s Diatessaron. Theodoret is here summarizing the errors of this heretic;2 and gives, in words omitted by Mr. Buchanan, the reason for setting aside Tatian. This reason is not the omission of “the Genealogies in agreement with the Vulgate,” — words that are not in Theodoret at all, — but the fact that the faithful “did not recognize the fraud of the composition, and in all simplicity used it as a compendium of the Bible.” To preserve the text pure, Theodoret “set aside “the fraud of Tatian, and “submitted the gospels of the four evangelists,” — most likely the Old Syriac text. Thirdly, Theodoret does not say that he “destroyed “the copies of Tatian. Here are his words: “Gathering together all these I set them aside (ajpeqevmhn), and substituted in their stead the gospels of the four evangelists.” It is clear, then, that this single witness, Theodoret, and his setting aside of the text of the heretical Tatian does not explain the loss of the orthodox Old Syriac MSS. any more than Mr. Buchanan explains the loss of Old Latin MSS. by the wild assertion: “If they could say Vulgate, they were saved; if not, they were cast into the fire.”

2. I asked Mr. Buchanan to prove his rather hysterical statement that in “382 a.d. ... the Church of Rome began its policy of enforcing the Vulgate of St. Jerome upon the whole of Christendom.” He replied with two witnesses.

I. The first of these witnesses is the Council of Trent, session iv, whose anathema Mr...

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