Scientists Find Hidden Bible Chapter Written More Than 1500 Years Ago

Credit: Vatican Library


Whether you are religious or not, there is no denying that history can be absolutely fascinating at times, as evidenced by the recent discovery of a ‘hidden chapter’ of the Bible.

It is regarded as ‘an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle in New Testament history,’ as a medievalist from the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) discovered it using an ancient technique.

The layered Palestine manuscript was thought to have been inscribed 1,500 years ago with a Syriac text, which was frequently erased and reused.

Grigory Kessel, however, was able to discover one of the earliest translations of the Gospels, made in the third century and copied in the sixth.

“The tradition of Syriac Christianity knows several translations of the Old and New Testaments,” Kessel explains.

“Until recently, only two manuscripts were known to contain the Old Syriac translation of the gospels.”

Credit: Vatican Library

Despite researchers being unable to reveal a complete translation of the newly found chapter, they shared some of their findings.

Taking a look at the original Greek of Matthew chapter 12, verse 1, it reads: “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.”

But after discovering the Syriac wording, it translates to: “[…] began to pick the heads of grain, rub them in their hands, and eat them.”

Claudia Rapp, Director of the Institute for Medieval Research at the OeAW, said: “Grigory Kessel has made a great discovery thanks to his profound knowledge of old Syriac texts and script characteristics.

“This discovery proves how productive and important the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic research can be when dealing with medieval manuscripts.”

“As far as the dating of the Gospel book is concerned, there can be no doubt that it was produced no later than the sixth century,” scientists wrote in the study.

“Despite a limited number of dated manuscripts from this period, comparison with dated Syriac manuscripts allows us to narrow down a possible time frame to the first half of the sixth century.

Rapp adds that the newly-discovered text will now be studied and analyzed by religious scholars.

She states: “It goes without saying that a discovery of a new witness to the Old Syriac version, and specifically its remarkable agreement with the Curetonianus, deserves to be studied in the context of the transmission history of the Gospel text in Syriac.”

“The earliest surviving manuscripts with this Syriac translation date from the 6th century and are preserved in the erased layers, so-called palimpsests, of newly written parchment leaves.”

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