Resolving Genealogical Ambiguity: Eusebius and (ps-)Ephrem on Luke 1.36

In: Aramaic Studies
Matthew R. Crawford Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University

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The earliest formal New Testament commentary in Syriac is the so-called Commentary on the Diatessaron attributed to Ephrem. This commentary is thoroughly at home in the world of Syriac Christianity, as seen not least in the fact that it focuses on Tatian’s idiosyncratic gospel version. Nevertheless, portions of the commentary also exhibit awareness of exegetical traditions shared with contemporary Greek authors. This paper focuses on one of the more striking of these parallels, namely, (ps-)Ephrem’s treatment of Mary’s Davidic lineage and relation to Elizabeth her ‘kinswoman’. Eusebius of Caesarea had taken up this issue in his Gospel Problems and Solutions, and the author of the Syriac commentary argues for the same three points evident in Eusebius’ treatment. Hence, the Syriac commentator has likely been directly or indirectly influenced by Eusebius’ formulation of this tradition, although specifying the manner of this transmission of ideas is impossible.

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