Review: The Goodspeed Syriac fragments

Fr. Dale A. Johnson has kindly sent me a PDF of his new book, The Goodspeed Syriac Fragments, Barhanna Monographs 2, New Sinai Press, 2009. ISBN 0-4116-1950-3.  The book is 34 pages long.

One difficulty some may have with it is that it is a little hard to work out what it contains, and what the object of the book is, other than by going through and looking.  An index would have been a very good idea, even for so short a book. 

In fact the purpose of the book is to point out various aspects of these manuscripts that might be of wider interest, and highlight them, while attaching photographs of the source.  The content is therefore similar to a journal article, rather than a monograph.

The book is clearly self-published; although the Library of Congress details at the front and ISBN look very professional, the remainder seems more like a PDF export from a Word document, in Times Roman font.  It would have been better if it had been justified text; but it does bring home to me the limitations of what can be done at home. 

The book consists of three chapters, each with images of excerpts from a manuscript,  Goodspeed Ms. 829, 716, and 823, with notes in English.  No transcription of the material or full translation is given.  The images come from the online website.

For Ms. 829, an introduction is followed by images and translations of the text.  For the other two manuscripts, there is an introduction and then a series of images.

One thing that is not made clear to the reader, is that it does not publish the entire manuscript in any case.  823 for instance is 18 folios long, as I learn from the useful introduction to the chapter about it.  It’s a fragment of a Peshitta NT ms.  Some points of interest are made, and then images given of parts of several pages.

Syriacists interested in the text of the New Testament will doubtless add it to their collection.  But the book seems a little overpriced, considering that it contains only a limited amount of original material.  However this material does highlight some interesting points in these manuscripts.

Copies may be obtained from here.

UPDATE: I have revised the review after becoming aware that the colour images are all online.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Goodspeed Syriac fragments

  1. This sounds an intriguing book on these fragments of the Aramaic Peshitta New Testament, but it is very expensive for only 34 pages (according to its description at Lulu), especially if folios of every page are not even displayed. Are there online links to the images of this Aramaic manuscript?

  2. It is only 34 pages, but all colour of course. Any book sold at Lulu costs a certain amount to manufacture. I don’t know whether any of the images are online, tho.

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