Peshitta

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by amity, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. amity

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    I have become interested in the Peshitta, the Syriac Bible that is written essentially in the language spoken by Christ. There are apparently some arguments that much of the Greek New Testament was in fact a translation from original manuscripts in Aramaic. Reading the Bible in Aramaic evidently throws new light on the expressions used in the Bible.

    Has anyone been down this road before and asked all the questions I am now asking.. and found answers?

    Also, does anyone here believe that Christ in fact spoke Greek? I would like to hear arguments for and against that belief, as well. The only evidence one way or another that I know is that of Josephus, who says that Greek was not a commonly spoken language among the ordinary people of Palestine.

    This is an entirely new subject for me, and something that I have just gotten interested in within the last week or so. I have been made aware that there is some controversy connected with all this, but am unaware of what that controversy is, so feel free to enlighten me. I had always understood that Christ spoke Aramaic, and that some of the New Testament was written in Aramaic originally, and never questioned that belief or its significance until now.
     
  2. franklinmonroe

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    I have the Lamsa Bible supposedly translated from the Peshitta. It seems very similar to the KJV except in a few infamous passages. Syriac is different from Aramaic, and these languages (like our English) have changed over time.

    I do think that Jesus, his disciples, and people of the times did know Greek as a second language. There are some clues in the Bible (like the posting on the cross being in three languages). Also, the earliest NT writings were made in Greek within 30 or so years of Christ's resurrection. I am not aware of any serious and reputible scholars that think the NT was originally written in Aramaic.
     
  3. amity

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    What are the infamous passages? I don't even know that yet!

    Do you know of early Aramaic manuscripts? Are these as early as the earliest Greek manuscripts?

    The evidence against is that Josephus says that Greek was not commonly spoken by the ordinary Palestinian Jews in that day. In fact, he himself needed help to write his histories in Greek. The evidence for seems to be that if Christ was able to converse with Pilate, etc., that He must have done so in Greek. Would Pilate not have spoken Aramaic and/or Hebrew himself?

    My understanding so far is that Matthew is commonly agreed to have likely been written in Aramaic, and now there are some who think Mark might have been originally written in Aramaic as well.

    I will just link to this Wikipedia article. It has other links to websites as well:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramaic_primacy
     
  4. TCassidy

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    I am sorry but that is simply untrue. The only "evidence" that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic was a vague statement allegedly made by Papias and quoted by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. In that vague statement Papias is alleged to have said, "Matthew wrote the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each one interpreted as he could." The term "Hebrew dialect" was explained as referring to an Aramaic original (without any linguistic or historic warrant).

    However, that statement does not bear up under scrutiny for several reasons the least being the secondary nature of the quote. More importantly the Greek text does not bear the indicators of a translation and the absence of any trace of an Aramaic original seems to defy the assertion. The inclusion of statements saying, in effect, "being interpreted" referring to Aramaic words seems to indicate the original was, in fact, in Greek. It would be silly to tell Aramaic speakers what an Aramaic word meant if it were written in Aramaic. :)
     
  5. amity

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    Thanks. Do you think understanding the Peshitta is an avenue worth pursuing?
     
  6. franklinmonroe

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    Two passages I remember are: instead of it being like a 'camel' passing through the eye of a needle, the Peshitta supposedly has 'rope'; and the words that Jesus' spoke on the cross instead of "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" in the Peshitta is different.
     
  7. TCassidy

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    Yes. I have a couple of them including Lamsa's translation.
     
  8. Eliyahu

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    I would like to add some of my understanding on this issue here.

    First of all, I believe we must distinguish between Hebrew and Aramaic.
    Aramaic and Hebrews are very close and can be called sister languages, but they have their own, separate alphabets, but the same language structure.

    I notice NIV translated Hebraisti in NT into Aramaic, in 5 verses:
    NIV translated Jesus spoke in Aramaic, in Acts 26:14, and it replaced Hebrew with Aramaic in John 5:2, John 19:20, and it says Paul spoke in Aramaic in Acts 21:40, 22:2, which are totally ignorant replacement. NIV may excuse that Hebrew and Aramaic are the same. That's more ridiculous. Aramaic and Hebrew are the separate, independent language. Today Syrian language is different from Hebrew, Peshitta Aramaic is different from Hebrew, they have separate alphabet ( Alephbet). In Aramaic, there is Jot mentioned by Jesus (Mt 5:18), but Aramaic Jot is much bigger than Hebrew Jot, and there is no tittle in Aramaic. Apparently Jesus was talking about Hebrew Bible. Someone may excuse that the two languages were more similar each other in ancient times before they were diverged in modern days. However, there is one witness here:

    2 Kings 18:26-28
    26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, "Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall." 27 But the Rabshakeh said to them, "Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?" 28 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! ( NKJV-crosswalk.com)


    Aramaic was understood by learned Israelites, not by average Jews.

    I wonder what spirit drove NIV to translate Hebrew into Aramaic!


    Jesus spoke to Paul in Hebrew ( Acts 26:14)
    Jesus was mentioning Hebrew Bible when He mentioned Mt 5:18 as there is no tittle in Aramaic, no jot in Greek, and the jot of Aramaic is a big size letter than Hebrew's.
    Many words in NT are related to Hebrew, not to Aramaic, as we read John 5:2 ( Bethesda= Bet-Heseda : House of Mercy and Grace) Jesus who was himself the Mercy and Grace came to that house!

    Title of Jesus at the Cross was written in Latin, Greek and Hebrew ( Luke 23:38) : NIV omited this important phrase!
    It is also mentioned in John 19:20: Hebrew, Greek, Latin - NIV changed Hebrew into Aramaic ( maybe NIV dislike the word Hebrew!)

    Paul delivered the address to the audience of Jerusalem in Hebrew ( Acts 21:40 and 22:2). Paul confessed he himself is a Hebrew of the Hebrews. ( Ph 3:5).
    Some people couldn't understand when Jesus cried Eli, Eli Lama Sabachtani, in Aramaic, which tells Aramaic was not so much popular as some people claim today. Jesus may have spoken in Aramaic in the region like Decapolis or magadan area which were more dominated by Aramaic speakers.
    Jesus who is the Creator of all human races could command any languages necessary for Him, I believe. I don't think he spoke to Pilate thru a translator, in Latin or in any other language like Greek. Though I cannot prove this, the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in many languages as in Acts 2:4-7.
    So the common and living language at the time of Jesus in Israel was Hebrew, I believe, though Greek may have been popular in Galilee, or Aramaic in Decapolis area, East of Jordan River.

    I don't think the disciples were so lazy to write down the Gospels only after 30 years of Jesus Ascension. They were so diligent and devoted their full life to the gospel, quite different from today's Christians. We notice there is a Christian monument in China dating back to 86AD, which supports some people saying Apostle Thomas came to India carrying Gospel Matthew, then went to China further, returned to India, where he martyred. I believe Gospels were written immediately, around the time of Pentecostal Church or even before that. Paul preached the Gospel to Yugoslavia ( Romans 15:19) and further wanted to preach in Spain ( 15:24). We notice there were Christian believers already in Rome before Paul was converted ( Romans 16:7). I don't think Romans, Yugoslavians, Spanish had to read the Gospel in Aramaic. Then I believe there was a translation into Latin even before the end of 1 c, may be around 60AD, far earlier than Old Latin 157AD or Jerome's Latin in 4 century AD.

    Even today, some Messianic Jews are very much diligent in preaching and following the teachings. They believe most of the NT was written in Hebrew, e.g. Matthew was written in Hebrew and was translated by James, Brother of Jesus, Hebrews was written by Paul and translated by Luke, and so on. Some portion of NT might have been written in Greek from the beginning, such as Corinthians I.II. Aramaic might have been the first language into which NT was translated from Hebrews because it was so easy for the Hebrew speakers.

    But there are good arguments from Aramaic Primacy'ists who claim that NT was written in Aramaic first, then translated into Greek later.
    The arguments come from the Bible itself.

    1) Mt 26:6 - Now even Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper - The story doesn't tell us how the Leper was healed or it doesn't say Simon who was once a Leper. But according to OT, the lepers should not reside in the village or in towns, but should live in a segregated places. (Lev 13:1-14:57, especially 14:45). It doesn't make sense that Jesus ate the food with a leper in a village, without healing him. If translate it from Aramaic, it could have been Garibo ( Potter). As the Aramaic was written without vowels at that time, it could have been misunderstood as Garobo ( Leper). If we translate the verse as the Simon the Potter, then we can understand it without problem. This applies to Mark 14:3 as well.

    2) Mt 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25- Camel thru Needle's Eye?
    In Aramaic, Gamlo could have both meanings, Camel or any Rope made of Camel's tail-hair. I think this applies to the Hebrew as well, Gamel meant Camel in Hebrew and the ropes made of Camel's tail hair was also called gamel. As Greece had no camel used for daily life, when the words came in there, the secondary meaning of gamel (rope) in Hebrew disappeared after some hundred years, then only the primary meaning of gamel (camel) remained in the contexts of Mt 19:24 and so on.
    I heard Camel's tail hair was strong and often used for the ropes used in fishing industry at tha time.

    3) Acts 8:27 -Eunuch
    Eunuch cannot worship in the temple of Jerusalem as the demasculated men cannot enter the congregation of the Lord ( Deuteronomy 23:1). When Jews read this story, they laugh at it.
    But if we translate it according to Aramaic, it can be " Servant or Minister"

    4) Philemon 1:1
    Paul, a Prisoner of Jesus Christ- we have some difficulty in understanding this, Prisoner of Christ as we know that Christ sets us free, though we can interpret "Captive of Jesus Christ, bound upon with Holy Spirit"

    There can be some more verses arguable, like Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani ( why hast thou foresaken me vs why hast thou spared me-please go ahead your will as planned), but in such cases we have to look at the OT prophesies like Psalm 69.

    In conclusion, from my survey, Aramaic texts fall behind Greek texts in the preservation of the teachings and gospels. For example we cannot find the precious teaching of Luke 6:1 ( deutro-proton Sabbath) in Aramaic which we can find in Majority Texts or TR. So, I believe NT has been best preserved in the language of Greek. Even though some portion of NT might have been written in Hebrew, it might have been the providence of God that He preserve His words in the best form of Greek.
    My understanding is that Aramaic doesn't have the texts after Epistle John 1.

    However, Aramaic texts are quite worthwhile to study as I illustrated above and as it gives answers to the ambiguous interpretations. I believe Aramaic texts are much more worthwhile to study than Alexandrian texts which have been preserved by Catholic or monasteries who follow the idolatry or goddess worship. I believe TR cannot be challenged by Alexandrian texts, but can be by Aramaic texts.
     
    #8 Eliyahu, Feb 22, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007
  9. Ed Edwards

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    If the NIV is to be damned for using 'Aramaic' then
    the Geneva Bible must be damned as well:

    2 Kings 18:26 (Geneva Bible /1587/ ):
    Then Eliakim the sonne of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Ioah
    said vnto Rabshakeh, Speake I pray thee, to thy seruants
    in the Aramites language,
    for we vnderstand it, and talke not with vs in the Iewes tongue,
    in the audience of the people that are on the wall.

    2 Kings 18:26 f(NIV):
    Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah
    said to the field commander, "Please speak to your servants
    in Aramaic,
    since we understand it. Don't speak to us in Hebrew
    in the hearing of the people on the wall."

    Isn't the 'Jew's Language' Hebrew?
     
  10. Eliyahu

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    I am totally amazed at your misunderstanding!
    Read my post again.
    The Aramaic in OT(especially in 2 Kings 18) by NIV was correct!
    The problem with NIV was in NT, not in OT! I mentioned 5 verses ( jn 5:2, 19:20, ac 21:40, 22:2, 26:14)
    I think this kind of mistake occurred because you are in the habit of Objection for Objection of KJV! or blind support for NIV!
     
    #10 Eliyahu, Feb 22, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007
  11. Deacon

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    Eliyahu, you're basing your theories on a translational issue.
    I don’t think the idea holds up very well.
    It isn’t (as you claim), “a totally ignorant replacement”.

    The NIV and other versions did not replace the word “Hebrew” with “Aramaic”!
    They replaced the phrase “Hebrew dialect” (a transliteration of βραΐδι διαλέκτ) with the word “Aramaic”.

    Acts 21:40 – the Greek text can be translated as “Hebrew dialect” (i.e. Aramaic) OR the Hebrew language
    Acts 22:2 - the Greek text can be translated as “Hebrew dialect” (i.e. Aramaic) OR the Hebrew language
    Acts 26:14 - the Greek text can be translated as “Hebrew dialect” (i.e. Aramaic) OR the Hebrew language
    Get the point?

    Are there indications that Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the language of the Hebrews?

    >In the later books of the Bible parts of Ezra and Daniel were written in Aramaic
    > The Dead Sea Scrolls were written mostly in Hebrew but several were written in Aramaic, e.g. the Book of Enoch [LINK]

    Aramaic was the ‘common language’ in the area where Christ ministered.
    Eliyahu, we’ve interacted a number of times here examining various NT quotes that are closely related to reading found in the Septuagint; some scholars are finding that the readings are related to early Targum readings. The Targums are ancient Aramaic translations of the Hebrew scriptures.

    The Greek text reads “iota” not “jot” (the “iota” is a small Greek letter), there’s more than an iota of difference. At least in our text Jesus mentions a Greek letter NOT a Hebrew letter.


    Rob
     
  12. Eliyahu

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    You missed John 5:2, which says " Hebrew", John 19:20 " Hebrew", But NIV translated them as Aramaic, right?
    Then Luke 23:38, which says Greek, Roman, Hebrew, the entire phrase is omitted in NIV, but the most of the manuscripts even including Aleph have it, right?
    Then, you may argue that Hebrew Dialect in Acts 21:40, 22:2, 26:14 are not Hebrew, but the Lexicons say that Dialectow can mean Speech, manner of speech, peculiar language ( as in Acts 2:6, 8 at the time of Pentecost), so the translation of Hebrew language cannot be wrong. But if NIV was not sure about dialectow, then it could stay with Hebrew dialect. There is no word for Aramaic in ac 21:40, 22:2, 26:14, but the words are only Hebrew dialectow. I believe if it meant the Hebrew dialectow of Aramaic, Aramaic must have been mentioned there.

    Again you are bringing wrong idea about Septuagint. I already explained enough on this BB that NT didn't quote LXX. How many times should I explain you about it? Check and compare each of NT quotes with LXX, then you will find every verses contain one word different ( as an average) each other.
    Does Greek have tittle(keraia)? Why can iotta be the smallest charactor in alphabet? Hebrew Yod is the smallest character in their Alephbet.
    Mt 23:35 tells us the first martyr Abel down to the last martyr Zechariah. According to the Hebrew Masoretic Text, Zechariah was the last martyr. If you follow Greek Septuagint, the order of OT is similar to today's Bible, but Hebrew OT had the second Chrionicles as the last book of OT.
    Jesus also mentioned the Law, Prophet, Psalm, as the old testament, which consists of the Hebrew OT, as we read Luke 24:44.

    Yes, OT includes some portion in Aramaic, such as Daniel 2:8-7:28, and some portion in Nehemiah-Ezra, which is more less 1% of the OT. Aramaic was not common language of Israel people, even though it might have been popular in the region of Syria and Iraqi area, while Greek was popular in the business and philosophy and other academic area.
    Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in Hebrew, which tells us that Hebrew was used as a living language at the time of 2c.BC-1c.AD, not the Aramaic.

    NIV replaced the words" Hebraisti" in John 5:2, 19:20, omitted Luke 23:38.
    With such idea, NIV continued to replace " Hebraidi Dialectow" with Aramaic. Can you disprove this? In your theory, Hebrew Dialectow means Aramaic? Very strange Logic! Why not English? Then read Acts 2:6, Te idia dialectow, verse 8 te idia dialectow.
     
    #12 Eliyahu, Feb 22, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007
  13. Logos1560

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    Along with George Lamsa's 1933 English translation of the Peshitta, James Murkock translated the Peshitta N. T. into English in 1851. It is possible that Lamsa's translation was influenced by the KJV, but it does seem to have the renderings that are said to be in the Peshitta. Here are some examples of some of the different renderings in the Peshitta.

    The Peshitta has the different reading "Titus" at Acts 18:7. It does not have "God" at Mark 12:32 and the last half of Matthew 27:35. At Matthew 28:18, the Peshitta Syriac added the following words as translated in the Lamsa Bible: "just as my Father has sent me I am also sending you." Because of a likeness of ending, a line of Greek was omitted from some manuscripts at John 6:11 and this mistake can be found in the Peshitta Syriac Version. Thus, at John 6:11 the Lamsa Bible has Jesus distributing the bread to the multitude rather than to the disciples who distribute it to the multitude. At Acts 14:10, the Lamsa Bible has the phrase "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" which is not found here in the KJV. At Luke 8:12, the Lamsa Bible and Murdock's New Testament have "the enemy" where the KJV has "the devil." Bob Ross cited John Gill as noting: "The Syriac version here [John 1:18] renders it, 'the only begotten God'" (Trinity and the Eternal Sonship of Christ, p. 257). The Lamsa Bible has "firstborn of God" at John 1:18 while Murdock's translation of the Syriac has "the only begotten God."

    Murdock's and Lamsa have "Isaiah the prophet" at Mark 1:2. Murdock's and Lamsa have "eagle" at Revelation 8:13 instead of "angel." Instead of “bishops” at Philippians 1:1, Murdock’s and Lamsa have “elders.“ At John 1:28, Murdock’s and Lamsa have “Bethany” instead of “Bethabara.“ Murdock’s has “Joseph of Ramath” at John 19:38 instead of “Joseph of Arimathaea.“ At Matthew 27:9, Murdock’s and Lamsa omits “Jeremy.“ Two phrases [“by them of old time”] are omitted at Matthew 5:27. These two English translations of the Peshitta add “the river” at Matthew 3:6 and “in Hebrew” at John 20:16. At Mark 11:20, they omitted the phrases “in the name of the Lord.“
    At Matthew 10:8, the Lamsa Bible does not have "raise the dead," which is also not found in the Greek Majority Text. Dean Burgon believed that this clause "raise the dead" did not belong in the text since it is only found in one out of every twenty manuscripts (The Revision Revised, p. 108). In Edward Miller's Textual Commentary, the Peshitta, Sahidic, Armenian, and Ethiopic versions are listed as not having this clause along with many Greek manuscripts (p. 75). Edward F. Hills listed this clause "raise the dead" in his list of readings where Erasmus followed the Latin Vulgate, and he also noted that this clause "is omitted by the majority of Greek manuscripts" (KJV Defended, p. 200).

    In the books of Samuel alone, S. R. Driver listed several additions, omissions, and paraphrases where the Syriac Peshitta differed from the Masoretic Text (Notes on the Hebrew Text, pp. lxxii-lxxvi). The Peshitta as translated in the Lamsa Bible has the following addition at 2 Samuel 18:4: "And the servants of David said to him, we will go forth quickly to fight against him." At 1 Samuel 2:13, the Lamsa Bible added: "and they made for themselves meat-forks with three prongs." Emanuel Tov indicated that the Syriac Peshitta was missing some verses found in the Masoretic text in 1 Chronicles and that it also had “several substantial additions” such as after 1 Chronicles 12:1 (Textual Criticism, p. 152). The Syraic as translated in the Lamsa Bible added the following to the end of 1 Chronicles 12:1: “If David had wished, they would have slain Saul the son of Kish, for they were mighty men of war, but David would not permit them to slay Saul.” At the beginning of 1 Chronicles 29:19, Lamsa added: “And I David answered and said thus: O LORD my God.”

    The Syriac as translated in Lamsa at the end of Psalm 145:13 added: "The LORD is faithful in his words and righteous in all his works." The Lamsa Bible has an addition at the end of Psalm 119:48: "and I will be glorified in thy faith." At Genesis 2:2, the Lamsa Bible has "sixth day' while the KJV has "seventh day." Instead of "seventh day," Lamsa has "fourth day" at Judges 14:15.

    At 1 Samuel 1:24, Lamsa has "three-year old bullock" instead of "three bullocks." The Lamsa Bible has "three thousand chariots" at 1 Samuel 13:5 instead of "30,000 chariots" as in the KJV. It has “came” at 2 Samuel 14:4 instead of “spake.“ At 2 Samuel 15:7, the Lamsa Bible has the reading "four years" instead of the KJV reading "forty years" and "twenty cubits" at 2 Chronicles 3:4 instead of "one hundred twenty." It has "twenty-two years old" (2 Chron. 22:2) instead of "forty and two years old" and "eighteen years" (2 Chron. 36:9) instead of "eight years." It has "Jehosphaphat king of Judah" (2 Chron. 21:2) and "Ahaz king of Judah" (2 Chron. 28:19). At 1 Kings 5:11, the Lamsa Bible read "twenty thousand measures of pure oil" instead of "twenty measures" as in the KJV. Lamsa has "Zedekiah" at Jeremiah 27:1 in agreement with the Syriac and some Hebrew manuscripts.
     

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