Studies of the New Testament traditions in "The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila"

Donal E Nilsson, University of Pennsylvania


The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila (TA) is, in present form, a fifth century CE anonymous Greek Christian work detailing a debate between a Christian and a Jew over the proper interpretation of Jewish ("prophetic") Scriptures. Embedded in this work are New Testament-like forms of text which diverge from the mainstream NT mainstream traditions. This raises the question whence these various forms derive, their nature, their possible witness to an early form of NT tradition and whether they may provide a clue to the age, provenance, and compositional history of TA. This study seeks answers to these questions by means of a source-critical analysis in which these materials are comparatively analyzed for their verbal and subject-content correspondence with NT manuscript traditions and early Christian writings. The TA texts are categorized according as they conform, conflate/harmonize, or diverge from NT forms of text. Explanations of these phenomena are offered in further analysis and comparison with other early Christian writings. The analysis reveals the use, not of a single identical and consecutive NT form of text, but of multiple NT-like sources. In addition to the canonical NT and its scribal variants, these include authorial/editorial alterations and adaptations of the canonical stream, harmonized gospel texts, apocryphal or extra-canonical texts, early Christian anthologies, exegetical traditions, liturgical usages, and possible pre- or proto-canonical traditions. Linkages with Diatessaronic readings and other early Christian writings indicate a possible 2nd c. CE (or earlier) date for some of these traditions. The author of TA remains unknown. The document circulated in an earlier 3rd century CE form and suggests a Syro-Palestinian provenance. TA is an "evolved" piece of literature, a compilation not only of diverse NT-like materials but also of historical and literary traditions from various sources, most of which have had an antecedent history of their own. These materials were collected for apparently catechetical purposes by an individual in a "school" or "community" setting.

Subject Area

Bible|Ancient civilizations

Recommended Citation

Nilsson, Donal E, "Studies of the New Testament traditions in "The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila"" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9727268.