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A Latin Pictorial Witness to Tatian’s Diatessaron

Preserved in the Gospels of St Augustine of Canterbury (MS. 286) at Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

In: Vigiliae Christianae
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  • 1 Professor, Art History & Asian Studies, Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, Northern Arizona University3356Flagstaff, AZUSA
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Abstract

This study explores the content correlation of two important and well-known early gospel harmonies for the first time – a visual harmony and a textual harmony – that originated within the Roman Empire in the Latin west and the Syriac east some 400 years apart during Late Antiquity. Based on in-depth comparative analyses summarized in tables and diagrams, it identifies four distinctly diatessaronic patterns in the painting that do not accord with any one of the canonical gospels, nor any other possible combination of them, but follow instead the unique construction of the Diatessaron as documented by its Arabic Christian witness. In light of contemporaneous Latin and Syriac evidence about the liturgical rites of pedilavium and eucharist during the Holy Week, this study also contextualizes the choice of the focal vignettes in the painting.

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