Ephrem of Nisibis is unique among patristic authors for having authored a commentary on Tatian’s gospel commonly known as the “Diatessaron.” In this article I examine Ephrem’s corpus to determine what evidence exists for his knowledge and use of gospel versions beyond that of Tatian, most especially the fourfold, or separated gospel. I point out that Ephrem, in keeping with Greek and Latin authors, occasionally used poetic imagery for the fourfold gospel, and, moreover, that he knew at least the Synoptic genealogies and the Johannine prologue as distinct texts. It is undeniable, therefore, that he knew of and to some degree used the separated, fourfold gospel, even if this remained slight in comparison with his reliance upon Tatian’s version. Furthermore, on six occasions Ephrem refers to an unspecified “Greek” gospel version. Previous scholarship has almost universally interpreted these passages as references to a separated gospel in Syriac, but I argue that these are best taken as references to an actual Greek version, and may well be allusions to a Greek edition of Tatian’s work. Ephrem’s usage of multiple gospel versions suggests that at this point in the Syriac tradition, the concept of ‘gospel’ was fluid and more undefined than would be the case in the fifth century when attempts were made to restrict its sense to the fourfold gospel.
Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Open Access Journal Article
Crawford, M R. (2015). The Fourfold Gospel in the Writings of Ephrem the Syrian. Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies,18(1), 9-51.