The East Syriac Psalm Headings in Manuscript 18>8dt1: Manchester, John Rylands Library, Rylands Syriac Manuscript 4

  • Herrie van Rooy Faculty of Theology, North-West University


Manuscript 18>8dt1 dates from AD 1727 and was copied from an earlier Eastern manuscript, now lost. The oldest manuscript that contains the East Syriac headings is 6t1, a Western manuscript with Western orthography. The oldest Eastern manuscripts that contain these headings date from the twelfth century. The John Rylands manuscript contains the headings in a form 400 years older than the oldest of the other Eastern manuscripts, giving new insight into the history of these headings. The value of this manuscript can be judged when its headings are compared to those in 6t1 and 12t4. Many headings have shorter and longer versions. This paper explores the place of 18>8dt1 in the history of the East Syriac Psalm headings to demonstrate the originality of many of the readings in this manuscript. The conclusion is the headings in 6t1 cannot always be regarded as reflecting the original headings.

Author Biography

Herrie van Rooy, Faculty of Theology, North-West University
Professor emeritus, Ancient Languages


Author 1999 (2X)

Author 2013

Baethgen, Friedrich. “Der Psalmencommentar des Theodorus von Mopsuestia in syrischer Bearbeitung.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 5 (1885): 53-101.

Bloemendaal, Willem. The Headings of the Psalms in the East Syrian Church. Leiden: Brill, 1960.

Coakley, James F. “A Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library.” BJRL 75, 2 (1993): 105-207.

De Sacy, A. I. Sylvestre. “Notice d’un manuscrit syriaque écrit à la Chine, contenant une portion de la version Syriaque de l’Ancien Testament, des Cantiques, e diverses priéres.” Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothéque du Roi XII (1831): 277-286.

Hill, Robert C. Diodore of Tarsus: Commentary on Psalms 1-51 (Writings from the Greco-Roman World 9. Atlanta: SBL, 2005.

Hill, Robert C. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on Psalms 1-81 (Writings from the Greco-Roman World 5. Atlanta: SBL, 2006.

Mingana, Alphonse. “The Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the Far East: a New Document.” BJRL 9 (1925): 297-371.

Peshitta Institute, List of Old Testament Peshitta Manuscripts (Preliminary issue). Leiden: Brill, 1961.

Vosté, Jacques-Marie. “Sur les titres des psaumes dans le Pešitta, surtout d’aprés la recension orientale.” Biblica 25 (1944): 210-235.

Walter, Donald M. The Book of Psalms. The Old Testament in Syriac II 3. Leiden: Brill, 1980.

Wright, William. Catalogue of Syriac MSS in the British Museum acquired after the year 1838 I. London: British Museum, 1870.