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The Dura-Europos Gospel Harmony

At a Glance
Gospel
Genre:
(3/5) ***
Reliability of Dating:
(1/5) *
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 170-200 A.D.

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Information on The Dura-Europos Gospel Harmony

The Dura-Europos Gospel Harmony is known only from fragment 0212. On this fragment, D.C. Parker, D.G.K. Taylor, and M.S. Goodacre state: "It may therefore be concluded that the parchment was produced at some point between the second part of the second century and the building of the embankment [c. 255 CE], and we would prefer a late second century date." (Studies in the Early Text of the Gospels and Acts, pp. 198-199)

They analyse the text of 0212 as compared to the text of the Diatessaron and find that they disagree on many points: "We confess to having felt some surprise when five out of the eight items on which a conclusion could be reached proved to be non-Tatianic. The bulk of evidence is strongly against the fragment's being a part of Tatian's Diatessaron." (op. cit., p. 225)

The authors state: "We conclude that 0212 was originally composed in Greek, probably in the latter part of the second century. It is not part of Tatian's Diatessaron, and so it can shed no light on the origins of the Diatessaron. Since there are no quotations from the Gospel passages corresponding to 0212 extant in Justin, it is also impossible to ascertain whether the fragment might be a copt of Justin's Harmony. Again, whether it is part of a complete harmony or, as Plooij suggested, just a section of a passion harmony cannot be determined." (op. cit., p. 228)

The authors describe the significance of the find: "First, it provides essential, and scarce, information about the theological identity of the early Christian community at Dura-Europos. Second, it is an important witness to the text of the canonical Gospels in the second century. Third, it emphasises the need apparently felt in Syria and Mesopotamia in the second and third centuries for a harmonised text of the Gospels, a need that was to lead to the later success, indeed dominance, in the region of Tatian's Diatessaron. Unfortunately, it also raises an uncomfortable question for students of Tatian's text: how can we be certain that witnesses at present described as 'diatessaronic' are not in fact relics of this, or some other, early harmony? The impact on our methodology could be dramatic." (op. cit., p. 228)

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Kirby, Peter. "The Dura-Europos Gospel Harmony." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/dura.html>.