In the mid-second century C.E., the Christian teacher, theologian and ascetic Tatian wrote the Diatessaron, which is a harmonized account of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Diatessaron means “through the four [Gospels]” in Greek. It is unclear whether Tatian originally wrote this document in Greek or Syriac. The Syriac name for it is Ewangeliyôn Damhalltê, which means “Mixed Gospel.”

Using text from the four Gospels, Tatian aimed to create a single unified account of Jesus’ life and ministry. However, his paraphrase omits certain details from the Gospels, like the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, and adds others, such as naming the Virgin Mary as a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The Diatessaron is about three-quarters the length of the combined four Gospels.

This text was popular among early Christian communities, including the Christians at Dura-Europos. A fragment of the Diatessaron was found outside of the church in 1933 during excavations by Clark Hopkins, who shortly thereafter went on to teach at the University of Michigan. This fragment was written in Greek, and, like the rest of the site of Dura-Europos, it dates before 256 C.E.