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THE SYRIAN CHURCHES :

THEIR

EARLY HISTORY, LITURGIES, AND LITERATURE.

THE SYRIAN CHURCHES.

In a former publication,* along with a translation of some parts of the Syriac New Testament, I submitted an account of the several versions of holy scripture extant in that language. This consisted of successive notices of the Old Testament in Aramean, that, namely, in the possession of the Syrians, and the various Targums of the Hebrew synagogue ; the versions of the New Testament, the Philoxenian, Jerusalem, and Karkaphensian ; and, more largely, the Peschito, or “old Syriac ;”— in illustration of its great antiquity ; its relation to the original Greek, and to certain oriental versions ; the critical uses to which it mayo

yo be applied, and the different editions of it which have been printed since its introduction into Europe.

Encouraged by the kind reception given to that work, I have ventured to present to the consideration of the biblical reader an entire translation of the holy Gospels from the same venerable text; a text which, among various ancient Christian communities dispersed through the vast regions of the East, from Palestine to China, for a long train of centuries, has been regarded with an unchangeable reverence as their common standard of the divine records, and which has commended itself to the highest esteem of the learned in our own day, as a faithful index of apostolic inspiration, an interesting and irrecusable witness of the uncorrupted integrity of the Christian scriptures, and a most useful aid to the profit

* “Horæ Aramaicæ : comprising concise Notices of the Aramean Dialects in general, and of the Versions of holy Scripture extant in them,” &c. &c. London, Simpkin and Marshall, 1843.

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able study of them. But in doing this it seemed desirable, for the convenience of any whose reading has not been directed to such subjects, to convey at the same time a general idea of the history and leading characteristics of those oriental churches themselves ; and this, to the extent which our restricted limits will allow, will be attempted in the following pages.

THE HEBREW-CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF

JERUSALEM.

ALTHOUGH the ecclesiastical bodies which for many centuries have nominally represented in reality misrepresented) Christianity in the metropolis of Palestine must not be classed among the churches which we proceed to enumerate, yet the Hebrew-Christian society that subsisted in Jerusalem in the apostolic and subsequent age may claim an interest in our retrospections, not indeed as belonging, strictly speaking, to those which have held the Peschito as their standard scripture-text, but in consequence of its affinity to them in language, and some peculiar customs, and as having been, in the phrase of the sacred writer, “the mother of them all.”

The history of this community, as a body ecclesiastical, begins at the epoch of the Pentecost; at that memorable day, when (as at the first creation the breath of the Deity gave a soul to the frame of man already organized) the Spirit of God descended to inform with the principle and faculties of spiritual life that mystical body to which the personal ministry of Christ had recently given a being “ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost : and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul ; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed

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