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A general introduction to the study of the Diatessaron of Tatian

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Chapter Summary

The Gospel harmony called Diatessaron or Diapente, which the Christian apologist Tatian wrote about 170 C.E. in Syriac somewhere in the Near East, welding together the four now canonical gospels with a Judaic Christian Gospel tradition, was the most widely read book after the Bible during the early Christian period and the Middle Ages. The real aim and purpose of this chapter is to bring us nearer to the words which Jesus once spoke. It was a very deviant and primitive version of the Diatessaron, which inspired the exquisitely beautiful poem which is called the Heliand (the Saviour) and describes the Life of Jesus. Most remarkable is an Islamic Gospel, which is called the Gospel of Barnabas. It is based upon a Diatessaron, which it assimilated mainly by omitting passages which were offensive to the Muslim ear, especially texts from the Gospel of John.

Keywords: Diatessaron; Gospel harmony; Heliand; Islamic Gospel; Judaic Christian Gospel tradition; Tatian



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