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The Gates/Bars of Sheol Revisited

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Chapter Summary

The interpretation of the "gates of Hades" in Matt 16:18 has played a comparatively minor role in the discussion of Jesus' reply to Peter's confession (Matt 16:16-19); while a survey of the considerable variety of opinions, both ancient and modem, concerning the phrase would no doubt be instructive, this chapter is deliberately confined to one particular strand of interpretation in early Christianity, first witnessed in the Diatessaron. The appearance of "bars of SheoI" in the Syriac Diatessaron text commented upon by Ephrem has certain implications for the early history of the Diatessaron, since there seems to be absolutely no support for such a reading in any western Diatessaron witness, whether in Greek, Latin or medieval vernacular language. If the Diatessaron was first composed in Syriac, then there is still the puzzle of why no trace of it has been left in the western Diatessaron tradition.

Keywords: bars of Sheol; Christianity; Diatessaron; gates of Hades; Greek; Jesus; Latin; medieval vernacular language



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