Barker, James W. Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Proliferation of Gospels, The Gospel of Tatian: Exploring the Nature and Text of the Diatessaron, London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.


Previous scholarship on the Diatessaron has asked whether Tatian intended to supplement or replace the fourfold gospel. This essay reconsiders the question by sketching a general theory of Gospel proliferation. Greek, Roman, and Jewish comparanda show that the proliferation and collection of similar works were common reading and writing practices. Accordingly, Gospel writers would not likely discard their sources, and Gospel readers would likely collect and compare multiple texts. On the supposition that ancient writers were attuned to their contemporary reading practices, Tatian likely would have expected the Diatessaron to be read alongside—not instead of—the fourfold gospel, as was the outcome over the next few centuries.


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