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The Khaboris Manuscript

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About The Khaboris Manuscript

Discovery is the primary business of archaeology.

When we discover something one often says we disclose it, reveal it, make it known and even exhibit it. Ancient and primitive artifacts and manuscripts are discovered for us today though they were once known to peoples of past ages.

Examples are the discoveries of the Qumran Caves (Dead Sea) Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Codices, the Amarna Tablets, the Ras Shamrah texts, all of which shed considerable light on the beliefs and life of people long since past. "Shedding light" is another business of archaeology. Discovery and knowledge of our past appears critically important to self understanding.

This brings us to a 'discovery' with roots in Mesopotamia, an area in modern southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq/Iran. One does not have to travel a great distance in time to understand how this may have come about. In the late 1800's southeastern Turkey became the sight of several massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Turks. Even the Kurds of this area, wanting no Christian presence, participated in the aggressive struggle against the Armenians. The Armenians were not alone in this Turkish and Kurdish assault against an ancient Christian homeland. The Assyrian Christians, often misnamed the Nestorians, found themselves progressively pushed from their mountain range and southern valley homes and churches. By the 1960's this area became the stronghold of Kurdish rebellion against the Turks and the ancient Christian homeland with its rich history was mostly lost the the western world. The churches were turned into storage and cattle barns.

In this area, the head waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers send the ancient waters down through Iran and Kuwait to the Persian Gulf. This is the piece of real estate where the Assyrians displaced the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th century B.C.E. This is where the great Church of the East had its beginnings and a history extending back to the missionary efforts of the Apostles Thomas and Thaddeus. This is the home territory of Nestorius. This is the area from where our archaeological discovery made its way to America in 1966.

The discovery is called the Khaboris Manuscript/Codex.

The Khaboris Codex was secured by the Yonan Foundation, Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) in 1966, by two Americans who wanted to preserve an important text of the New Testament, written in the ancient Aramaic Estrangelo script. Almost all of the Gospel according to Matthew is presented on the original animal skin (vellum). The whole of the New Testament canon is included. The Yonan Foundation has believed the Khaboris Codex to originate from the library of a small church, atop one of the mountains of Kurdistan, thought to be a member of the ancient religious sect known to modern scholars as Nestorian. They are a surviving remnant of the See of Babylon of the Church of the East.

The contents of the library were seized by Turkish authorities in 1966 and are now in Ankara, Turkey (Istanbul Gazette, June 11, 1966) complete with pictures of the church and some of the documents then in hand. The Khaboris Codex safely made its escape to our shores.

The Khaboris Codex is a manuscript of the whole New Testament of the Eastern Canon's 26 books in Syriac-Aramaic written on 254 leaves (folios) of vellum. The writing is in black ink, somewhat brownish from fading, and is in one column of 29 lines to a page. Titles and subscriptions of books are in red ink, as well as the places where they were written. The handwriting is uniform and very skillful, possibly supporting the identity of one scribal hand. The binding and cover, though very old, are not coeval with the manuscript. There is an additional leaf at the end on which the scribe has written a resume of the subscriptions and titles.

The Khaboris Codex is named after the Khabur river flowing through the district of Gozan, a tributary, a companion canal, of the Euphrates.

Note: There doesn't seem to be agreement on the spelling of "Khaboris", and it often appears also as "Khabouris".

Forward to Selected Excerpts from the Translation of the Khabouris Manuscript:

The Khaboris Manuscript - at

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