The Four Gospels in Syriac
Transcribed from the Sinaitic Palimpsest
Introduction by Agnes S. Lewis
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
Robert L. Bensly (1831-93) was sub-librarian of the University Library and later Lord Amoner's Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University.
J. Rendell Harris (1852-1941) was educated at
Clare College, Cambridge. He taught at Johns Hopkins University, Haverford College, and Leiden University. He was renowned for his acquisition and interpretation of ancient manuscripts.
F. Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935) was a New Testament scholar and specialist in Syriac. Among his many publications is an edition of the Curetonian version of the Syriac New Testament.
Agnes Smith Lewis (1843-1926) was a famed hunter of ancient manuscripts. Among her discoveries were Syriac Sinaiticus palimpsest of the Gospels and the lost Hebrew of Ben Sirach.
"The manuscript from which this version of the Four Gospels has been transcribed was found by me in the Convent of St Catharine, on Mount Sinai, in the month of February, 1892. It was shown to me by the late Librarian, Galaktion, amongst a number of other Syriac MSS. and I was attracted by its look of venerable antiquity, also still more by the fact that, as nearly all its leaves were glued together, my eyes were undoubtedly the first which had gazed intelligently on it for centuries. On separating the leaves with my fingers I saw that it was a palimpsest; that the upper, or later writing, was a Martyrology, or collection of lives of women-saints, and that the under, or earlier one, contained a good portion of the Synoptic Gospels. (I did not, at the first examination, recognize any part of the Gospel of John.) . . .
"It was now apparent that the manuscript was of great importance for Biblical criticism, but that the work of extracting the ancient text from it would be a very arduous one. Prof. Bensly and Mr Burkitt continued to work at the photographs, and some thirty pages were deciphered in the course of the autumn. But they soon perceived that a direct inspection of the MS. was necessary, and prepared to travel to Sinai for this purpose. . . ."
--from the Introduction