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The original title of this beautiful Gnostic Poem has been lost, and it is now generally referred to as The Hymn of the Soul. Preuschen, however, calls it The Song of Deliverance (Das Lied von der Erlösung); while in my Fragments (1900) I ventured to name it The Hymn of the Robe of Glory. I here, also, prefer to retain this title, as it seems the more appropriate.
The original text of the Poem is in Old Syriac, in lines of twelve syllables with a cæsura, and so in couplets, for the most part of six syllables. A text of a Greek version has recently been discovered by Bonnet at Rome (C. Vallicellanus B. 35) and published in his text of The Acts of Thomas (1903). It is partly literal, partly paraphrastic, with occasional doublets and omissions of whole lines. In addition there is a summary in Greek by a certain Nicetas, Archibishop of Thessalonica, who flourished prior to the XIth century (the date of the MS. in which his abridgment is found), but who is otherwise unknown. This seems to be based on another Greek version.
The copy of the original Syriac text is found in a single MS. only (Brit. Mus. Add. 14645), which contains a collection of Lives of Saints, and bears the precise date 936 A.D. Our Poem is found in the text of the Syriac translation from the Greek of The Acts of Judas Thomas the Apostle; it has, however, evidently nothing to do with the original Greek text of these Acts, and its style and contents are quite foreign to the rest of the matter. It is manifestly an independent document incorporated by the Syrian redactor, who introduces it in the usual naïve fashion of such compilations.