The New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. The Greek New Testament is a translation of the Aramaic New Testament. If Jesus was preaching in Aramaic, would it make more sense to write down what he said in Greek or Aramaic? If Jesus' words were written down in Greek, then that would only be a translation of everything he said. Readers would lose information. Also, Jesus' disciples spoke Aramaic; they didn't know enough Greek to write down whole scrolls of teaching in Greek. Josephus, a Jewish historian of the time, said that he only knew two or three people among the Jews that knew Greek; he was one of them. The Jewish Rabbis also discouraged the Jews from speaking in a heathen language. Josephus said this: “I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and to understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness. For our nation does not encourage those that learn the language of many nations. On this account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors, with great patience, to obtain the Greek learning, there have hardly been two or three who have succeeded herein, who were immediately rewarded for their pains.” (Antiquities XX, X1 2). However, the Apostles Paul and Luke likely knew more Greek in addition to Aramaic. Luke is attributed as translating some of the Holy Scripture into Greek by the Church Fathers.
The Assyrians and Babylonians had settled Aramaic speaking peoples in Israel and Judah and the Assyrians later imposed the Aramaic language on Judah in the 7th century B.C. Aramaic was made the official spoken language of Judah because it was the generally accepted language of commerce and politics there and in Syria (2 Kings 18:26; Ezra 4:7). Thus Aramaic was the language spoken at the time of Jesus in Judea, Syria, Asia Minor, Persia and Egypt (Isa. 19:18). Aramaic was also spoken by the Jews in other places such as Latin Rome (Italy). Remember, the Bible says that the Jews were scattered abroad (James 1:1). Peter writes his first letter from Babylon, which was in Persia [or in modern day Iraq] (1 Pet. 5:13). The language there was Aramaic. Aramaic is the language of Aram (Hebrew & Aramaic pronunciation). Aram is often translated as Syria into English; which this pronunciation has it's origin from the Greek language. Since Aram is translated as Syria, we call the language of this country Syriac. Aramaic is now the generic word to refer to the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac dialects.
There is some debate on what language the Apostles are referring to by their use of the word u-ra-ith (or iw-ra-ith) "Hebraicly, in the Hebrew language." This word has two meanings. It can refer to "the language of the Hebrews (i.e. descendants of Eber), and hence "the Aramaic language." "Hebrew" is similar to another word, "Latin." They both refer to the language spoken by a certain people. Ro-ma-ith literally means the "language of the Romans" i.e "Latin." Notice we don't call Rome's language "Roman" The second meaning is that u-ra-ith refers to the literal Hebrew or Jewish language of the Old Testament.
We do know that the Jews did speak Aramaic because the Book of Acts records that Aramaic was spoken in Palestine (Acts 1:19). Even Paul wrote an Aramaic letter to the Hebrews (Ivrites), which were the descendants of Eber (Ever). However, there is some debate on whether Hebrew was also spoken along with Aramaic in Palestine. It's generally believed that Aramaic was the spoken language and Hebrew was the taught and studied language. Hebrew would have been used in the synagogues for Torah readings, reference, prayer and songs. Thus some see the Hebrew Dead Sea Scroll texts as only reflecting books in their original language to be used for study and that they don't reflect that Hebrew was spoken largely by the common people. However, others view the non-Biblical Hebrew texts or commentary among the scrolls as proof that Hebrew was also spoken in the first century.
It is important for you to know what the writers of the Aramaic New Testament are doing when they write the Aramaic word for "Hebraicly, in Hebrew" in their statements. When you see those words in the New Testament, know that the Apostles are either referring to the Aramaic spoken by the Hebrews and hence their Aramaic words may not exist or be joined with other words in a statement among the other Aramaic speaking places. They have a Biblical Hebrew origin. Otherwise they are translating the meaning of a literal Hebrew word or words into Aramaic. The Aramaic words chosen for their translation share the same root that appears in both the vocabularies of Hebrew and Aramaic, however, the pronunciation is sometimes different. These Aramaic words are either not common or don't appear anywhere else in the Peshitta Old & New Testaments.
Note: At Yeshua's crucifixion, the charge for his condemnation was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin (John 19:20). It wouldn't be right to assume that "Hebrew" refers to the literal Hebrew or Jewish language because this word could refer to the "Aramaic language." It wouldn't have been right for John to use the word Ar-ma-ith "in Aramaic" because this word meant at the time "the language of Aram (Syria)" and not the language of the Hebrews or the people of Palestine.
The following are examples of what I just discussed above:
Revelation 9:11 says " And they have a king over them, the angel of the abyss, whose renown in Hebrew is ow-du (service), and his renown in Aramaic is shre (the released [-one])." Both ow-du and shre are Aramaic words. John may be referring to the Aramaic spoken by the Hebrews by his use of the word ow-du. Ow-du is the shortened spelling of the word ow-du-tha (service, servitude), and hence the full spelling would have been more recognizable elsewhere. Or John may be translating the Hebrew word av-don (service, servitude) into the Aramaic word that shares the same three letter root. That way the Aramaic speaker will be able to know which Hebrew word John is translating.
The baptismal pool in Jerusalem is said to be called in Hebrew Beth Khisda "place of kindness (or mercy)" [Jn. 5:2]. The actual Hebrew pronunciation would be Beth Khesed. They are all the same words. Khisda and Khesed are from the same three letter root of (kh-s-d). The joining of the word Khisda with Beth may have been different than how other Aramaic speaking persons would have worded that statement. Otherwise, John may be translating the meaning of the Hebrew words into Aramaic similarly to how Paul may have translated the Hebrew words of Yeshua into Aramaic (Acts 26:14). Khisda rarely appears in the Peshitta OT (1 Chron. 19:2; 2 Chron. 1:8; Sira 50:26; 51:11, etc.). The normal and often translation of the word for "kindness, mercy" is tai-bu-tha. Tai-bu-tha is used for the translation of khe-sed hundreds of times.
The place where Yeshua was crucified is said to be called in Hebrew Ga-gul-ta "the skull" (Jn. 19:17). The word ga-gul-ta (head, skull) appears only as the name of the hill that Yeshua was crucified on. It's not used in any other context in the whole Aramaic Bible. It wasn't used for the translation of the Hebrew word gulgoleth, which was translated into Aramaic as resha "head" in the Old Testament every time.
Lastly, I want to discuss John 20:16, which states: “Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned around and said to him in Hebrew, Rabbuli! which means, [My] teacher.” Rabbuli is from the Aramaic words Rabbu (greatness) and li (to me); and would hence literally mean: "my greatness" or "my great one (teacher)." "Greatness" can be pronounced with or without the ending part "-tha" (ex. rabbu or rabbutha). Rabbuli apparently represents the Aramaic word Rabbuni "my [great] Master" or "my high Rabi." It is a title of honor and reverence and refers to the top religious leader in Judaism. It is also the translation of the Hebrew word adoni "my Lord" in the Aramaic Targums, and hence also means "Lord."However, Rabbuli follows Aramaic grammar and pronunciation better than Rabbuni (Targum pronunciation/synonym representing the same person). The noun ending part "-ni" to represent "my" is odd based on the various evolutions of Aramaic grammar. It's the only Aramaic noun that I am aware of that does this. - Mary probably knew of the word Rabbuni, but wanted to pronounce that religious title more correctly into Aramaic.
The Greek New Testament has the word Rabbuli transliterated as Rabbuni. The Greek translator substituted the “l” for the “n” because he knew which Hebrew/Aramaic word was being referenced. Moreover, the Hebrew word Rabboni is a loan word from the Aramaic Language.
The Gospel of John may contain the first time that Rabbuli was written down in religious Scripture. It doesn't appear in the Aramaic Targums or anywhere else in the Aramaic Peshitta Bible. Hence, it isn't a common word. Aramaic speakers in Judea and elsewhere perhaps would have been more familiar with the word "Rabbuni." So John translated the Hebrew-Aramaic word Rabbuli into the Aramaic word mal-pa-na "teacher;" to eliminate any confusion on its meaning.
Note: In Chaldean and Assyrian Aramaic, the b is not doubled for "great" (ra-ba) and teacher (ra-bi). Interestingly, the Aramaic word Rabi "my teacher" or just "teacher" in usage or application, appears more times in the Aramaic New Testament where the Greek New Testament translated it as didaskalos "teacher" (Matt. 8:19; Lk. 7:40, etc). Raba (literally: "great one" or "teacher") appears with other pronouns in the New Testament where the b is doubled. Such as its pronunciation of rabbeh "his teacher" (Lk. 6:40), Rabban "our teacher" (Matt. 26:18) and Rab-bu-li "my teacher."
The Aramaic Peshitta New Testament was used as the source behind the Greek New Testament Translation, the Armenian Translation, Malayalam Translation (Indian Language), etc. The Greek New Testament was used as the source behind the Latin Vulgate and other translations because the Greek language has vowels within its words like Latin and English. If someone can’t pronounce the text, then it is very hard to read and make a translation.
The Greek New Testament has many Aramaic words within its contents, such as: Abba, raca, Cephas, eli eli lama sabachthani, Maranatha, talitha cumi, rabbi, mammon, etc. Some of those words are pronounced a little different in the Aramaic language, but nevertheless, they are Aramaic words, not Greek words.
The Greek New Testament is purged of the words “Arameans” and “Aramaic” in the many places that they occur. For example, Romans 1:16 (Lamsa) says this: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation to every one who believes, whether they are Jews first, or Arameans (Syrians).” In the place of Arameans, the Greek New Testament has the word Greeks. The Aramaic New Testament has reference to both Arameans and Greeks in its contents. So it is not about the Aramaic New Testament being biased. However, the Greek New Testament has an obvious purging of the words “Arameans” and “Aramaic.”
The reason why the word Aramean(s) was translated as Greek(s) is because the Greeks didn’t like the Arameans and the translators of the New Testament knew that a holy book praising Arameans wouldn’t be accepted. In history, it was the Greeks that defeated the Aramaic speaking nations of Media and Persia. Also, in the additional parts of Esther, we see some hostility between the Arameans and Greeks. After King Ahasuerus realizes that Haman’s plot to kill the Jews was evil, he wrote this: “…Haman, son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian (or Greek), certainly not of Persian blood, and very different from us in generosity, was hospitably received by us…But, unequal to this dignity, he strove to deprive us of kingdom and of life; and by weaving intricate webs of deceit, he demanded the destruction of Mordecai, our savior and constant benefactor, and of Esther, our blameless royal consort, together with their whole race.” (Esther E:10,12-13 NAB).
In Jastrow’s Hebrew Aramaic Dictionary, he states that Aram (Syria) is also a disguise for “Rome.” For the word “Aramean,” Jastrow says this word also means “a Gentile, Roman.” However, there is no good reason to believe that the word “Aramean - Ar-ma-ya” meant anything other than a “descendant or citizen of Aram (Syria) and /or an Aramaic speaker” in the Aramaic writings of the Old and New Testament. Though it is true that the adverb ar-ma-ith means” “Aramaically” or “as an Aramaen” at Galations 2:14 - “…If you as a Jew are living as an Aramean, and not as a Jew, why are you compelling the Gentiles that they shall live as Jews.” This is because the Aramaeans were more Gentile in there manners and descent.
The Roman Empire allowed freedom of religion and Christianity from its start was thought of being an offshoot of Judaism. There was no need for any code words for “Roman – Ro-ma-ya” or “Rome – Ro-me,” since the Aramaic New Testament uses both those words in its contents. In the Aramaic text at Acts 16:1, Timothy is said to have an Aramean father. Additionally, Titus is said to be an Aramean (Gal. 2:3). Are Timothy’s father and Titus really Romans or Gentiles? By adding additional meanings to the word “Aramean,” it would make the author’s meaning undiscernable. However, the verses in the New Testament are not obscure. Smith’s Compendious Syriac Dictionary and Oraham’s Dictionary don’t define the word “Aramean” as also meaning “a gentile or Roman.”
"Yoshiyah caused Yeconyah and his brothers to be begotten. [They lived] at the time of the captivity of Babylon." (Matt. 1:11 Peshitta). The way Yoshiyah "caused this" is by "fathering" Yehoyaqim (Jehoiakim) who in turn "fathered" Yeconyah. So YEHOYAQIM is the missing name in the genealogy. The FIRST group is from Awraham to David. The SECOND group is from Shelomoh (Solomon) to YEHOYAQIM. Then the THIRD group is from Yeconyah to Yeshua. FOURTEEN people and generations. Thus, there is no error in the Peshitta regarding the missing name in Matthew chapter one.
The Aramaic verb i-lidh "he begot, fathered" is in the causative Apel form as aw-lidh "he caused to be born, fathered." Often this causative form also refers to the more immediate "generating" of a father; such as when he "begets" a son. However, this word can have an extended meaning also (Deut. 4:25; 2 Ki. 20:18; Jer. 16:3; Eze. 47:22). So, it means "to father," as in Awraham fathered Yiẓkhaq (Isaac) [Matt. 1:2], most of the time in Matthew chapter 1. But at verse 11, it has the broader meaning. The text should be translated as "Yoshiyah caused Yeconiah to be born [by his son Yehoyaqim]" based on the Old Testament genealogy record.
Jesus said this: “….But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ (mo-re), shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matt. 5:22 NKJV). Jesus said not to call someone a fool. Later, Jesus called the Pharisees and scribes: “Fools (mo-roi) and blind!…” (Matt. 23:17 NKJV). The Greek word mo-ros (singular - fool) appears in both of these verses. Jesus is recorded as calling the Pharisees and scribes fools, something he told his disciples not to do. If Jesus is an example to his students, then he is not practicing what he preached and is a hypocrite. However, this is clearly a translation blunder that can be explained by the Aramaic text.
The Aramaic text has two different words in the place of “fool(s)” at the above mentioned verses while the Greek text has the same word. Both of these Aramaic words can be translated as “fool(s),” but they also have a different shade of meaning from each other. Lela (at Matt. 5:22) means “a fool, brute” while sach-le (at Matt. 23:17) means “ignorant ones, those lacking understanding, fools.”
“…Do you not remember the five loaves of bread of the five thousand, and how many baskets (Greek singular: ko-phi-nos) you took up? Neither the seven loaves of bread of the four thousand, and how many baskets (Greek singular: spur-is) you took up?” (Matt. 16:9-10 Lamsa). James Strong’s Dictionary says that ko-phi-nos is of uncertain derivation. Ko-phi-nos looks like the Aramaic word qo-pi-na, which is used at the same place in this verse. Qo-pi-na (large basket) looks like the emphatic form for the word qo-pi "basket;" the ending part na being the normal way to make some Aramaic words emphatic. Another related word that also means "basket" is qu-pe (or qu-pa - Assyrian pronunciation). So qo-pi-na looks more Aramaic than Greek to me. Qo-pi-na is probably related to the words q'pa “to collect, gather in heaps” and qo-pa-ya “a carrier, porter.”
The second word looks like it is of Greek origin by the way it is spelled into Aramaic. However, it is clearly a loan word into Aramaic and both Aramaic and Greek share the meaning of this word and its root. The Greek word spur-is (basket) is from the word sphaira ( a sphere, etc), not the Greek word spear-o (to sow) which James Strong connects in error. The Aramaic word is-pri-dha means “a round plaited basket” and the word is-pi-ra means “anything of round shape, a sphere, ball, etc.”
“And if your eye offends you, remove it and cast it away from you; it is better for you to go through life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and fall into the Gehenna of fire.” (Matt. 18: 9 Lamsa). Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word Ge-han-na (Classical Aramaic & Assyrian pronunciation). Ge-han-na is the Aramaic transliteration of the Hebrew words Gey Hin-nom (meaning: Valley of Hinnom). In addition to Ge-han-na meaning the “Valley of Hinnom,” it also means: “[the] place of punishment for the wicked after death; the abode of the evil spirits; the place of the dead” (Oraham). Gehanna also means: “the place of torment” (Smith’s Syriac Dictionary).
There is a variant spelling for Gehanna; which has a yod between the "g" and "h." In Chaldean, both spellings can be pronounced Gee-hana; though the more ancient or Classical Aramaic pronunciation is an alternate Chaldean pronunciation. Geehana (or Greek: Gehenna) is translated as “hell” in the New Testament.
At Matthew 27: 9 (NKJV), it says: ‘Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced,.’ All three of the major Greek texts (Majority [Byzantine], NU and Textus Receptus) says this verse was written by Jeremiah the prophet. But this is incorrect. This verse comes from Zechariah 11:13. The Aramaic New Testament says this: “Then what was spoken by the prophet was fulfilled,…” The Aramaic New Testament doesn’t name the prophet. The Greek translator thought Matthew was quoting Jeremiah, but he was wrong. So the Peshitta New Testament is correct, while the Greek New Testament is wrong.
There was a tradition of naming the prophet quoted in the Greek translation of scripture when the original language that the text was written in didn’t name the prophet. Matthew 27:9 is one example. Another example is at Tobit 14:4. The original Aramaic text says this: “..for faithful are the words of the prophet that spoke in the name of the LORD concerning the Syrians and Nineveh..” Notice that the Aramaic text doesn’t name the prophet. There are two main Greek readings for this verse. One Greek reading names the prophet as Nahum, and another names the prophet as Jonah.
“As it is written in (with) Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before your face, that he may prepare your way, (Mal. 3:1) The voice that cries in the wilderness: Make ready the way of the Lord and straighten his highways (Isa. 40:3).” (Mark 1:2-3 Lamsa). There are many mistranslations (or misinterpretations) in the Lamsa translation, just like there are many mistranslations in every English Bible. The Aramaic preposition beh most of the time carries the meaning of “with.” Interestingly, the Greek word en at this verse also carries the meaning of “with,” but also means “by.” Because the first part of Mark’s quoting is not in Isaiah’s book, later Greek texts were changed to read “As it is written in the prophets..” “As it is written with Isaiah the prophet” is the correct reading because not only is it in the Aramaic text; it also agrees with the oldest Greek manuscripts. Additionally, the Latin Vulgate (4th cent.) says the same thing, but exchanges “with” for “by,” reading: “As it is written by Isaiah the prophet..” Aramaic, like English and other languages, will express a message with words but the whole thought is not contained in those words. The words “Isaiah the prophet” refer to “the writing of Isaiah the prophet.” That verse should read: “As it is written with the writing of Isaiah the prophet..” One example of the Aramaic language using a word that doesn’t contain the complete thought is at the following verse: “…Haman who rules over all the provinces and is second in rank after the King…” (Esther 13:6 / B:6 [NAB]). The Aramaic text literally says that Haman is “…second after the King…” The words “in rank” were needed to complete the thought or give the correct meaning to the verse. The words “in authority” could have also been used.
All Mark is doing is combining a sentence from Malachi with a sentence from Isaiah to establish a teaching. If Mark really was trying to say “as it is written by Isaiah the prophet,” then he would have added an extra word to single out that prophet. Mark would have said “As it is written by the hand of Isaiah the prophet,” like Matthew did at Matthew 4:14. The Aramaic text there literally says: “…that was spoken by the hand of Isaiah the prophet, who said.” Dr. Lamsa translated the words “by the hand” as “by” at this verse and at others (See Matt. 3:3, 8:17, 12:17, etc.).
“And they reached the port on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gadarenes.” (Mark 5:1 Lamsa). The word Gadarenes [KJV pronunciation] also appears at (Luke 8:26,37). I repoint the three letter root [G-D-R] in this word to read "Gederites" or "Gedorites." This word appears in the singular as "Gederite" [Masoretic Hebrew pronunciation] at 1st Chronicles 27:28. The LXX transliterated this word here as "Gedorite." A "Gederite" is an inhabitant of Geder and a "Gedorite" is an inhabitant of Gedor. The words "Geder" or "Gedor" may be different pronunciations of the same place. They are sometimes spelled the same way in Hebrew and Aramaic.
I initially thought the word Gadarenes was the Aramaic understanding of the descendants of Hagar (Hagarites); because of its occurance at Psalm 83:6. However, the Aramaic translator made a mistake in his translation. The three letter root of "Hagarites" is [H-G-R]. Two of the three letters of "Hagar" are found in the word "Geder" [G-D-R]. Who knows what the translator saw but maybe he missed the "H" and saw G-D-R some how. The "R" and the "D" are also written similarly in Hebrew. Maybe the "H" and "G" were reversed in the scroll the scribe was reading and he interpreted the "H" for a "D."
"Hagarites" or Hagarenoi (LXX) is clearly the word used in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Masoretic Hebrew text and the Greek Old Testament at Psalm 83:6. The Aramaic Old Testament doesn't identify the "Hagarites" with the "Gederites" anywhere else so I don't think they refer to the same people or area that they lived in. The word "Hagarites" was translated as "Arabians" in 1 Chronicles 5:10. And at 1 Chronicles 5:19, "Hagarites" was translated as "dwellers in tents [Lit. sackcloth];" but was left out in the following verse (i.e. v. 20). Though the "dwellers in tents" are implied by the pronoun "they" when verse 20 reads: "and they [dwellers in tents] were delivered up into their hands." The singular word "Hagarite" was transliterated as "Hagarite" at 1 Chronicles 27:31. The Hebrew letter he was replaced with a khet (or heth) for the transliteration. The Aramaic Language sometimes calls different races by a different name than is understood by Hebrew, Greek or English speakers. "Ishmaelites" are also called "Arabians" in the Peshitta Old Testament.
The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist this question “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” (John 1:21 NKJV). Many Christians think that the idea of the Messiah being a prophet comes from what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy. However, notice that the priests and Levites didn’t ask John the Baptist if he was the Prophet “spoken of by Moses.” Their idea of the Messiah being a prophet probably came from Isaiah 11:1-2: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him…” (NKJV). The phrase, “the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” is indicating that this person will be a prophet; we see this here: When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied…the people said to one another…“…Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Sam. 10:10-11 (NKJV). The Masoretic Hebrew text and Jonathan Targum both say "they came" here. However, the Aramaic Peshitta and Greek texts of this verse both say “he came.” So the correct pronoun is uncertain.
Note: Dr. Lamsa didn’t update the KJV text to reflect what the Aramaic text says in his translation (i.e. he failed to update “they” for “he” at this verse).
Later, “Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, We have found that Jesus, the son of Joseph, of Nazareth, is the one concerning whom Moses wrote in the law and [who is written about in] the prophets.” (Jn. 1:45 Lamsa). Philip realized that Jesus was the Messiah (see vs. 41-45) and stated that Jesus was written about by Moses and the prophets. Just because Philip mentions Moses first as writing about Jesus doesn’t mean that Jesus is first called the Messiah (Anointed One) by Moses, because that’s not true. The first prophecy calling Jesus the Messiah is written by the prophet David in the Book of Psalms (Ps. 2:2). Philip used a common Jewish expression referring to Scripture. Jesus used the threefold designation for Scripture (the Law of Moses, Prophets and Psalms) at (Luke 24:44) when he explained prophecies concerning himself to his disciples. The writings of Moses that pertain to Jesus being the Messiah are in type. This is how Jesus and his disciples understood them. For example, Jesus said this: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man is ready to be lifted up; So that every man who believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:14-15 Lamsa).
I disagree with Dr. Lamsa’s translation of this verse, which he translated as “.. Are you a prophet?..” (John 1:21 Lamsa). The words at this verse; nwi-ya (the prophet) at (you?) literally translate as: “Are you the prophet?” The way to say “Are you a prophet” in Aramaic is: L’ma (Are) nwi-ya (prophet) at (you?). L’ma is an interrogative particle and translates as “are,” “is,” and “will” into English. L’ma is used to ask a question. John wore the clothing of a prophet (Matt. 3:4), so he clearly knew he was a prophet. He would not have told the priests and Levites that he wasn’t a prophet. So Dr. Lamsa’s translation is clearly incorrect. Jesus said John the Baptist was a prophet (Lucas [Luke] 7:28).
Some nouns in the Aramaic language don’t have an indefinite form, like the words “the prophet,” “the messiah,” et cetera. They don’t lose the final “a” sound to show when they are indefinite. A way to make these words indefinite is to have the noun precede the verb in the sentence. In Aramaic grammar, the verb with the attached singular or plural pronoun has to precede the definite noun to let the reader know if the noun is singular or plural. For the most part, singular and plural nouns are spelled the same way in Aramaic. The attached pronoun lets the reader pronounce the following noun either singular or plural. However, if the noun precedes the verb in a sentence, then the noun is both singular and indefinite plus it retains the full (or definite) spelling.
In the Book of Acts, chapter 3, the word “prophet” is actually indefinite because it precedes the verb. Simon Peter said this: “For Moses said, The Lord shall raise up a prophet like me for you from among your brethren; listen to him in all that he shall say to you. And it shall come to pass that every person who will not listen to that prophet shall be lost (perish) from his people.” (Acts 3:22-23 Lamsa). In the previous verse, Peter said that heaven should receive Jesus until all the things which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets…should be fulfilled. The normal way for God to teach and warn His people was to send a prophet; that is why Peter afterwards says “..The LORD shall raise up a prophet…” In verse 24, Peter said that all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after him…were speaking…and had preached of these days (Peshitta). All Peter was saying is that the prophets in their Scripture (the Tanakh) spoke of Jesus and the then current days. He was saying that they had better listen to them or God will destroy them. This is all in accordance with their office as a prophet as recorded at Deuteronomy 18:15,18-19. Peter was not making a prophecy out of those verses in Deuteronomy.
Note: The words have been moved around in our English translation to accommodate English expression, which is fine. The Aramaic literally says: “..a prophet, the LORD shall raise up..;” though I have put the verb (shall raise up) after the noun (LORD) here for teaching. This translates as: “…the LORD shall raise up a prophet..” If the direct object (prophet) was definite, then it would follow the subject noun (LORD) and literally read: “..the LORD shall raise up the prophet..”
The Greek New Testament translated the words “Jesus the Messiah (M’shi-ha)” as Jesus Christ in a lot of places; leaving out the definite article. In some places, the Greek text does say “Jesus the Christ.” However, the words Jesus Christ sound like a person’s first and last name. The Greek New Testament is incorrect because “Christ” is a title and should have the definite article every time. The Aramaic New Testament text always says: “Jesus the Anointed.” Messiah and Christ both mean “Anointed.” I can see how “Jesus the Messiah” got translated as “Jesus Christ” because the Greek translation doesn’t always translate the word “the” into the translation. This is because the Greek language along with Hebrew and English don’t always say “the” before a noun because it may not sound right or the definite noun may need to be interpreted indefinite to sound right in the particular language.
‘Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).’ (John 1:42 NKJV). Read this verse again and again until you get it. The Greek NT is saying it is a translation of the Aramaic original. The Aramaic NT doesn’t have the last part of: (which is translated, A Stone).
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, El, El, l’ma-na shwaq-tan? which is (or means), My God, my God, why have you left me?” (Mark 15:34 Peshitta). The word El (God) is not the normal word for God in the Peshitta Bible. El (God) occurs in a minority of times in the Aramaic Old Testament and could be construed as a name for God by an Aramaic speaker (see Gen. 33:20). For the translation, Mark uses the word a-la-ha (God). Mark likely wanted his readers to know that Jesus called for "God" and not "Elijah."
There is a final yod after the n in shwaq-tan in written form. It is many times transliterated as i in individual words but it isn't pronounced when it stands for "me or my [singular]" in the Classical Aramaic of the Bible. Shwaqt is “you [have] left.” Shwaq-tan is “you [have] left me.” The Greek text Hebrewnized this pronunciation plus the word El here as Eloi and Eli (Matt. 27:46). Rah-wo-na is another Aramaic word in the New Testament that was Hebrewnized into the Greek NT as ar-rab-on (Eph. 1:22) and Ar-rab-on-a (2Cor. 1:22; 5:5). Rah-wo-na is the Aramaic equivalent to the Hebrew word Ara-von.
Note: I know it may seem weird to you that "me" and "my" aren't pronounced in Aramaic because Hebrew pronounces the yod for "my" or "me." However it's not hard to tell when the word "my" is meant when Classical Aramaic is spoken. Aramaic nouns usually end in "a," so by not pronouncing the a, the hearer knows the speaker is saying "my something." Example: mal-ca (king) and malc (my king). In Modern Aramaic (i.e. Chaldean), the yod is pronounced i for "my" and "me."
The New Testament writers never quote the Greek Old Testament. The problem is that the Greek Old Testament (translated in the third century before the Christian Era) was updated to match the way the verses read in the New Testament. I will give examples of this. Romans 3:10-18 says this: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God. They are all gone astray and they have been rejected; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-3) Their throats are like open sepulchers; (Ps. 5:9; 140:3) their tongues are deceitful; the venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. (Ps. 10:7) They are overquick to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. They have not known the path of peace. (Isa. 59:7-8) There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Ps. 36:1). The verses Paul quotes are not controversial and are still in the Hebrew Bible at their respective place. The editor of the Greek Old Testament adds these six extra sentences to Psalm 14: 1-3; he thought the Jews changed and deleted these extra verses in the Hebrew Bible. Also, it is important to know how the New Testament writers quoted scripture. For some books and letters, they likely made their own paraphrased translations. In other books they quoted from the Peshitta Old Testament, referred to by Paul as the "rolls (scrolls) of skins" or "parchments" (2 Tim. 4:13). Nevertheless, they didn’t always quote every word in a particular verse, just the words in the verse to get their message across. Sometimes they changed the order of the sentences in the verse. Sometimes they corrected the Aramaic Old Testament translation for what the original Hebrew said. And lastly, sometimes they used a synonym for a word or phrase in a verse for better clarification. In Chapter 3 of Romans, Paul used the word “righteous” for the words “that does good,” at the beginning of his quoting. The word “good” refers to being good at something as well as righteous. For example, in the Aramaic language, a lyer, stealer and murderer can still be called a “good” shepherd if he knew how to care and feed sheep. Paul wanted to clarify what “doing good” meant at Psalm 14. It is no doubt that the words “does good” is used in Psalm 14. The Hebrew Old Testament, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aramaic Old Testament all say those words. However, the Greek Old Testament has the word “righteous” in that verse and says exactly word for word what Paul said in Romans 3:10-18 in the Greek New Testament. It should be noted that not every Greek New Testament quotation matches exactly with what the Greek Old Testament says. Just some Old Testament verses were made to be copies of a Greek New Testament citation.
Another example of the updating of an Old Testament verse in the Greek Translation to match the Greek New Testament verse occurs at Hebrews 10:5, which says: “Sacrifice[s] and offering[s] Thou didst not desire, but a body Thou hast prepared me.” The word “but” is used as a contrast in the Aramaic language. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirms the Hebrew reading after offering[s] as: my ears You have opened (Ps. 40:6 NKJV). The Aramaic Old Testament says the same thing as the Hebrew with the exception of adding the word “but.” Dr. Lamsa translated that verse as: I now have understanding;” (Lamsa), which isn’t literal. The Greek Old Testament goes contrary to the three witnesses I just mentioned, and the verse at Psalm 40 reads the same as the New Testament quotation; with the words: “…but a body Thou hast prepared me.” Paul is only quoting the first part of Psalm 40; then he contrasts the idea of God not wanting either a sacrifice or an offering with Him sending the body of a human to do His will and be His human sacrifice. This is in accordance with the next verse (v.7), which states: Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book, it is written of me…”
1st Note: The Jews likely didn't have access to the Peshitta Old Testament in Judea (Yisrael) since they had the Targums (Aramaic translations of the Old Testament). However, The Peshitta Old Testament did exist and was translated around 1 B.C. The Jews in "The Kingdom of the House of Urhay (Orhai)," or known simply by it's capital city "Urhay" (Greek pronunciation: Edessa) had most of the Peshitta Tanach (Old Testament) in their possession. The Peshitta Old Testament at that time was written in the square Aramaic script and the yod instead of the nun was used to show the future tense. That same script was used in all of the places that spoke Aramaic; such as in Judea, Syria, Babylon, Asia Minor, etc.
The authors of the Gospels and other books likely made paraphrased translations when they quote the Old Testament. Later New Testament books could be quoting the Peshitta; though not exactly. All of the quotations in the New Testament match more closely to the Peshitta Old Testament translation versus the Targums. Contrarily, Greek Primacists will also have to hold this same position in regards to quotes made by New Testament authors. It's likely the Jews didn't have access to the Septuaginta (Greek Old Testament), which was made in Egypt. So from their position, the Apostles would have had to make their own translations when quoting the Old Testament for the Gospels and other books. Later books could have quotations from the Septuaginta from their viewpoint.
2nd Note: The Kingdom of the House of Urhay" is also known in Greek as "Osroene" and was located in upper Mesopotamia. It was apparently named after it's founder Osroes of Urhay around 136 B.C.; who was of Persian origin. Osroes (or Chosroes) are the Greek forms for the Persian name Khosrau. The city Urhay is now called Urfa in Turkey.
Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Preacher Mattai © 2016. All rights reserved.
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