Another way looking at a language #7 Lingua Franca

Posted on November 23, 2011. Filed under: Bible Study and Bible Reading, Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ Jeshua the Messiah Jahushua | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Another way looking at a language

20. Aramaic or Greek Lingua Franca

All of Rav Shaul’s epistles (with the possible exception of Philemon since it was sent through a Roman contact, then to the assembly) were sent to Synagogues that contained Jewish and Gentile believers whose halakha (legal faith practices) were governed by Ya’akov HaTzadik (James the Just) head of the Jerusalem Assembly. This is why in Acts 9 and 15 James writes letters in Aramaic (about circumcision and other matters) for individuals like Rav Shaul to deliver. Once delivered, a meturgeman (targumist) would translate the letters into Greek for Greek speaking members. There is plenty of evidence indicating inconsistency of Greek translation quality of Paul’s original Aramaic letters. Galatians was a terrible translation disaster, but 1 Corinthians was reasonably well translated. But there is clear evidence that Rav Shaul was well aware that “wolves” were going to misconstrue everything he said to posture their own ideas, for example:

1)         1 Corinthians 16:22 has the Aramaic phrase Maran Atha (our Master [Y’shua] comes) but why would he write this to a Greek audience? Using Maran Atha indicates two things:

a)         This is a “distinguishing mark” that Rav Shaul refers to elsewhere as being in all his letters, a code word to authenticate his material from the many fakes that we know were circulating early,

See also 2 Thess. 3:17. Since the autographs are lost but the text is faithfully preserved in the Peshitta Aramaic traditions, it appears that Maran Atha appeared as some kind of seal or marking, but in 1 Cor. Rav Shaul chose to insert it in the body of the text.

b)         The expectation by this distinguishing mark indicates that at least one person at the synagogue would be able to translate that Aramaic phrase for a Greek audience. The NT shows elsewhere

Acts 10 that Hebrew synagogue services were translated into Greek for the benefit of people like Cornelius. There is no reason to assume given the similar letters that James has delivered to Jews and Gentiles that the exact same process did not happen from the Aramaic to Greek Epistles. By this method, everything Rav Shaul wrote, with the possible exception of Philemon can be easily shown to have been targummed from Aramaic into Greek at the assembly level.

2)         Paul states that he has a poor scribal hand/training in Galatians 6:11. He also admits in a variety of places that he has both co-writers and co-translators into Greek, as well as those who help him speak wherever he goes. We read in 2 Peter 3:15 and 16 where Peter states that Paul’s
letters are “difficult to understand” and those who are “ignorant and unstable pervert” what he writes as well as the “other scripture”. Paul’s letters were not considered as “Scripture.”

Scripture was and is the Torah, Prophets and Writings (Tanakh) and evidently the “theologians” that Peter talks about did not have a foundation in Tanakh; plus, they most likely bungled Paul’s writings because of it. However, we also see that both letters to the Thessalonians are from “Paul, Silas and Timothy.” That is also why the scribe Tertius writes his own name at the end of Romans (16:22) and why John Mark’s absence at Pamphylia results in Rav Shaul needing to travel with Luke and others instead. Put simply, Rav Shaul goes nowhere outside of Israel without a Greek translator like Barnabas, John-Mark, Luke etc..

A Tanach

3)         There are many examples indicating good and bad targumming from Aramaic and into Greek, dearly indicating that Paul’s writings or dictation was originally in Aramaic.

If Luke was a Gentile why then would he write in Aramaic rather than Greek?

Luke’s Greek is the best by far in the Renewed Covenant writings, but the First Century Jewish historian Josephus’ Greek is superior; and Josephus admits several times that he wrote his histories in Aramaic and that even after nearly 30 years of living in Rome he was still not proficient in Greek. What is true for Josephus must also be considered for both Luke and Paul. Rav Shaul was a Pharisee who studied under Rabbi Gamaliel but Josephus descended from both priests and kings and was a leading Pharisee of his day.

Luke may have been a Gentile, but he was likely a Semitic Gentile. Although he worked in Troas, Asia Minor, he was born and raised in, “Antioch boomeus en” or “The famous Antioch “ meaning the one in Syria, not Pisdia. Syrian Antioch had a huge native Aramaic speaking population and it is from “Syria” that we get Syriac, a synonym for Aramaic. Aramaic speaking Jews and pagans have been living there for millennia. On the other hand, Antioch was also the seat of Roman power from at least 65 BCE (the Seleucids 100 years earlier, also Greek speakers) “and the” other half of the city was fully Hellenized as well. It was a center of tremendous Greco-Roman learning eclipsed perhaps only by Alexandria Egypt and her great library there.

There was perhaps no city on earth at that time more capable of producing the most sophisticated bi-lingual scholars than was the city of Luke’s birth. Therefore, his Greek mastery should be no surprise or unexplainable within the Aramaic primacist model. But even if Luke’s Greek is superior to the rest of the NT, this is not saying it is at par with wider classical standards, but only in comparison to the other targumists. From the reality of the Roman occupation there was no such thing as “KOINE Greek,” only good and bad classical Greek. The Alexandrian dialect of Classical Greek was likely similar to the way Americans mangle the English language and yet it is still understood by British folks even though they might wince at the different accents and expressions.

Frequently what we see in the NT Greek are attempts to retain Semitic word order which is opposite from the Classical or retain other Semitisms like casus pendens (and it happened while in the doing…). The tendency for Semitisms in NT Greek (things like NOT FEAR instead of FEAR NOT) were so great that some scholars in the 19th century posited a “Jewish Greek” dialect. The Western theological posturing of Greek lingua franca among the original followers of Y’shua versus tribal Hebrew and Aramaic vernacular is extremely far fetched when we understand that the original followers of Y’shua relied on the Hebrew Tanakh to prove or disprove Y’shua being Mashiyach. The highest authority of Scripture and ideas from which to make your best arguments come from the Tanakh. When evangelizing both Jews and Gentiles it was and is imperative to teach from the Tanakh to establish context and history. When sharing ideas, values terms and definitions that pertain to the Kingdom of Elohim and are as important as life itself, every individual prefers their vernacular language, most certainly not a vehicular language.

– From The Aramaic English New Testament
Peshitta English Aramaic Critical Edition
A Compilation, annotation and translation of the Eastern original Aramaic New Testament Peshitta text
Andrew Gabriel Yitzkhak bar Raphael
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Netzari Press


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Another way looking at a language #5 Aramic, Hebrew and Greek

Posted on November 20, 2011. Filed under: Bible Study and Bible Reading, Christendom and Christianity, Christendom en Christenheid, Jehovah יהוה YHWH JHVH God Elohim Yahweh Jahweh, Jesus Christ Jeshua the Messiah Jahushua, Naam van God | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Another way looking at a language

Ancient Hebrew inscriptions - Jewish Encyclopedia

13. Aramaic

Aramaic is to believed to be originated in what is modern-day Syria. Between 1000 and 600 BCE it became extremely widespread, spoken from the Mediterranean coast to the borders of India. Its script, derived from Phoenician and first attested during the 9th century BCE, also became extremely popular and was adopted by many people, both with or without any previous writing system. Despite Hellenistic influences, especially in the cities, that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Aramaic remained the vernacular of the conquered peoples in the Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia and the adjacent countries. It ceded only to Arabic in the ninth century A.D., two full centuries after the Islamic conquests of Damascus in 633, and Jerusalem in 635. Aramaic has never been totally supplanted by Arabic. Aramaic had been adopted by the deported Israelites of Transjordan, exiled from Bashan and Gilead in 732 B.C. by Tiglath-Pileser III, the tribes of the Northern Kingdom by Sargon II who took Samaria in 721, and the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Judah who were taken into captivity to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 587. Hence, the Jews who returned from the Babylonian Captivity brought Aramaic back with them to the Holy Land, and this continued to be their native tongue throughout the lifetime of Eshoo Mshikha.

Aramaic was destined to become Israel’s vernacular tongue; but before this could come about it was necessary that the national independence should be destroyed and the people removed from their own home. These events prepared the way for that great change by which the Jewish nation parted with its national tongue and replaced it, in some districts entirely by Aramaic, in others by the adoption of Aramaized-Hebrew forms.

The oldest literary monument of the Aramaization of Israel would be the Tarcum, the Aramaic version of the Scriptures, were it not that this received its final revision in a somewhat later age. The Targum, as an institution, reaches back to the earliest centuries of the Second Temple. Ezra may not have been, as tradition alleges, the inaugurator of the Targum; but it could not have been much after his day that the necessity made itself felt for the supplementing of the public reading of the Hebrew text of Scripture in the synagogue by a translation of it into the Aramaic vernacular. The tannaitic Halakah speaks of the Targum as an institution closely connected with the public Bible-reading, and one of long-established standing. But, just as the translation of the Scripture lesson for the benefit of the assembled people in the synagogue had to be in Aramaic, so all addresses and homilies hinging upon the Scripture had to be in the same language. Thus Jesus and his nearest disciples spoke Aramaic and taught in it (see Dalman, “Die Worte Jesu”). (Jewish Encyclopedia)

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in those remains of the library of a Jewish sect from around the turn of the Era, many compositions in Aramaic also provided the best evidence for Palestinian Aramaic of the sort used by Jesus and his disciples. They preached the Gospel and the scribes recorded the Scriptures. The New Testamenthas been preserved in this sacred, scribal language since the Apostolic Age. The whole Bible was originated in this language and therefore it is best to look also at these sources because they lay at the base.

11th century Hebrew Bible with targum, perhaps...

MS in Hebrew and Aramaic on vellum, Iraq, first half of 11th c., 8 ff., 39x33 cm, 2 columns, (25x25 cm), 23 lines in a large Hebrew square book script, by a scribe perhaps originating from the Maghreb (North Africa probably Tunisia). - Image via Wikipedia

Vast compilations in Aramaic (in Western and Eastern Aramaic dialects) could be found in synagogues and where used in the Judaic academies by the rabbis. Jewish law was transmitted, commented, and debated in the Jewish academies by the rabbis and their disciples. The records of their deliberations constitute the two Talmuds: that of the land of Israel and the much larger Babylonian Talmud.

The Old Aramaic Jesus used is considered dead because it ceased to be used as a literary language in the 13th Century. The old form exists only as a liturgical language but there are still people who speak more modern forms of it. The Peshitta Text of the Holy Scriptures is in the dialect of northwest Mesopotamia as it evolved and was highly perfected in Orhai, once a city-kingdom, later called Edessa by the Greeks, and now called Urfa in Turkey. The large colony of Orhai Jews, and the Jewish colonies in Assyria in the kingdom of Adiabene whose royal house had converted to Judaism, possessed most of the Bible in this dialect, the Peshitta Tenakh.

Modern Aramaic, in its various dialects, is spoken in modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and the various Western countries to which the native speakers have emigrated, including Russia, Europe, Australia and the United States.

14. Greek

Greek was only spoken by a few in and around Jerusalem at the time of Jesus so it was more important to get the Words from God and the teachings from Christ Jesus been spread in a language most people understood in the by necessity a multi-lingual land. Names of persons, clearly of Aramaic origin, composed of the word bar which means son were transcribed into the later Greek writings giving names as Bariona, Barabba. In both Syriac and Hebrew the spellings between Abiud and Abiur are so close that during translation into Greek the second name could have been dropped mistakenly.

In addition to the forms of the words borrowed from the Greek, it is also important to determine their meanings; for some of these borrowed terms acquired in the mouth of the Jews a deeper religious and moral sense; e.g., γεωμετρία, a certain norm for the interpretation of Scripture (but compare GemaṬria); βῆλον, Latin velum, “heaven”; σχολαστικός, “teacher of the Law”; στρατμγός, “soldier” in general; σύβολον, “covenant” and “wedding present”; τόμος, “book of the Law.” The Jewish usage is sometimes supported by the Septuagint and by the New Testament; e.g., κατήγωρ, “Satan”; πάνδοκος, “whore”; βλασφημία, “blasphemy.” These semasiological differences justify one in speaking of a rabbinic Greek. (Jewish Encyclopedia)

Some treat “split words” as a distinctive subsection of mistranslations. Sometimes it appears that a word in Aramaic with two (or more) distinct and different meanings appears to have been interpreted in the wrong sense, or even translated both ways in different documents.

Aramean funeral stele Louvre AO3026

A sheolstone in Aramaic. Basalt funeral stele bearing an Aramaic inscription, ca. 7th century BC. Found in Neirab or Tell Afis (Syria).

Capharnaum translated, although with some difficulty, from the form Kafar Nahum, the Village of Nahum, or also the name Aceldama, as found in the Book of Acts 1:19, which unites two words Haquel dema, which is “Camp of Blood.” We also find the names of the women transferred: Marta (Luke 10:38), and Tabita/Tabitha (Acts 9:36) which mean respectively: Madame (or Woman), and Gazelle. (These were well-known and frequently used names in the times of Jesus, taken from Aramaic.) The name of Peter — Cefa — corresponds to the Aramaic form of Kefa which means Rock. The name Golgata (Matthew 27:33), and Gabbata (John 19:13) recalling the accounts of the Passion, are derived from two words with the sense of “(place of) the skull” and “the elevated place.” Some names indicating situations or actions where later in their translation understood as certain places sometimes away from this earth, as e.g. sheol or hell which was a place where the death were burned and is now considered by many Christians as a place of torment by fire.

Other words of interest in Greek translations from Aramaic origin are: Effeta or Effata (to open), Talita Qum (Arise little child), Abba (אבא), (Papa/Father). Also the Aramaic last words of Jesus dying at the stake “Eloi Eloi lema sabactani” were in fact the beginning of Psalm 22, spoken by Jesus in Aramaic, and faithfully written down by the Evangelists in Greek. It is possible that the Evangelists wished to preserve and hand down through their writings some words certainly spoken by Jesus, words which the Early Christians (since they spoke Aramaic) faithfully remembered.

We should be alert when somebody or something is jumping the shark and be on the lookout for those who like to make from the Bible a television show or an entertainment form. 63 percent, from the questioned people for the survey, believe the language should be simple for anyone to understand while 14 percent say the language should be meant more for people who have a lot of experience with the Bible. 40 percent prefer more formal language while 26 percent say should be more informal. 22 percent want language more for casual reading while 44 percent say it should be designed more for in-depth study.

Having a new translation is always some tricky thing because than words have to be chosen to be understood according what they mean. Therefore translators try to find the most accurate form though sometimes there does not exist a singular word for the term. the translators are also confronted with more than one neologism ( /nˈɒləɪzəm/; from the Greek νέο-, néo-, “new”, and λόγος, lógos, “speech”, “utterance”) and should be wondering either to use that new word or newly coined term, or phrase, that may sometimes still be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. For such up-to-date hype translations like the Bikers Bible, Hikers Bible or Prisoners bible we always do have to be very careful, and we even would advice not to use them.

As translators try to cross the globe and two millennia, fully accomplishing word-for-word translations that are easy to understand, is not always possible. It is also a pity that within the years several words were taken into one word so that slight differences disappeared. From many bible translations it is not clear any more if there is spoken of an ordinary pupil or a special (chosen) pupil, a direct pupil of Jesus, a pupil (disciple) Jesus and of other pupils, a send messenger or an ordinary apostle (MalakiYA (Messenger of YA, sn- Apostle), a set apart (kadosh), a sent one (Shlichim) or one of the seventies. For this it is very interesting to go back to the Hebrew and Aramaic because there we can find the different words which in itself give a clear indication about whom it is.

15. Adonai, Lord

The meaning of an entire verse can easily be altered by a translation, for example; the Greek “Kurios” also at times spelled kyrios or kuros, Greek κύριος is often rendered as the Latin Dominus or “Lord“, however there is both “LORD” (the Father) and “Lord” (the Son), which the translator must choose and Kurios. The Kurios would be either the father, or if he was dead, brothers an uncle or relative would be the Kurios. However the God the Father (YahuwhahYHWHJehovah) often substituted with Adonai (my Lord) and the Son of God (Yahushua/ YehsuaJeshua) are clearly distinguished in Aramaic, there is no confusion about the speaker or who is being addressed. The Kurios or Curios was he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding. As a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence it was also given to people who were above somebody else, or the title used by servants to greet their master.

You should have a look in the preface of your “church bibles” and see if they even admit to substituting the Hebrew (from right to left) “hwhy” or “YHWH” (from left to right) YAHUWAH‘s Name with “the LORD” or “God”. Now read what happens to those who so arrogantly change His Word in Revelation 22:18-19. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19 NIV) We being part of every man that can hear the words of the prophecy of the book of John his revelations and of all the other Books brought together in what we call the Book of books, the Bible. We should take the warning for, adding to these things or for taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy serious. We would not want to see God adding to him the plagues that are written in this book, or having God taken away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

“AHleleuYAH” means “Praise be to YAH.” See how “Israel” could never be “El YAH’s chosen people” because the blaspheme His Sacred Eternal Name daily by hiding it!

"I am YHWH (YAHUWAH) your Almighty Loving El YA..Have no foreign gods before your face!" Shemoth / Ex 20:2-3

Even if your pastor does not fear taking away Gods Name or fears speaking out the Most Holy Name, you yourself may not be afraid to use Gods Name regularly. When you got to know the Name of the Most High you should use him. Be careful not intentionally to ‘forget’ him or not using the Name. Don’t lose your eternal life over intentionally doing of this great sin of blasphemy and destruction! So either use Jehovah or Yahweh/Jahwe or both, but use the Name people can take as the Name of the Only One God. In case we are not sure about the pronunciation of Yahuwah or Jehovah (the three syllables) it is always better to use the two syllable name, which may come from the expression that Jehovah may have everything “Ya Have”, using a shortened version of YHWH’s full Name, like Yah in HalleuYah e.g.. So if you do not like to use the full Name perhaps you still can like to use one of the shortened ones “YaHave” (Yahweh”) or “Yah” instead none. Some Richards also like to be called Bill, or Rogers do not mind to be called Bob. We can only do hope God would not mind calling Him such or so, because we are not sure how it is pronounced or because in our mother tongue or native language we use such or such sounds. so much of our way of saying a name or pronouncing a name shall depend on the region and custom. But we do have to be careful not holding strong to an institution or usage because of tradition. As soon as we know better we should adapt to the new found truth or new insight. All our life we shall have to learn and sometimes we do have to change practice. Though people are often in a rut, believers should try not to get set in one’s way but to be open for adaption to the teachings from the Word of God, the Bible, and should overcome habits and compete for the Truth. We should strive not to thingummy or keep to a “whatchacallit”. For the One who Created everything is not a “what’s-his-name”. He has given His Name for His People to use it, therefore we should use it and prefer to put the title of the heathen name “Lord” (Baal) aside.


YAHUWAH (the 7 English letters are also representative of eternal meanings). We may not “vanatize” YAHUWAH’Holy Name with the blasphemous “cover over” of the word “LORD”, “God”, “Lord God!”

16. God His son

So also for the son of God we should try to use his proper name. We should go back returning to “believing upon His Name” (John-YAHUWcanon 1:12), that is YAHUW-husha, which means “YAHUW, He who will save”! and not referring to Zeus by using “Hail Zeus” or Iesou, in English Jesus or in Dutch Jesus and/or Jezus. Mashiyach or in Hebrew Mashiach and in Greek Christos is rendered in the King James as “Anointed” in Psalms 2:2, and as “Messias” in Daniel 9:25-26. It is the Sacred Name for the Son of YHVH or YHWH. Messiah or Mashiyach and Chaciyd which is used in Psalms 16:10 or only titles and not names for the Son of God. The word Christos was far more acceptable to the pagans who were worshiping Chreston and Chrestos. According to The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, the word Christos was easily confused with the common Greek proper name Chrestos, meaning “good.” According to a French theological dictionary, it is absolutely beyond doubt that Christus and Chrestus, and Christiani and Chrestiani were used indifferently by the profane and Christian authors of the first two centuries A.D. The word Christianos is a Latinism, being contributed neither by the Jews nor by the Christians themselves. The word was introduced from one of three origins: the Roman police, the Roman populace, or an unspecified pagan origin. Its infrequent use in the New Testament suggests a pagan origin.

According to Realencyclopaedie, the inscription Chrestos is to be seen on a Mithras relief in the Vatican. According to Christianity and Mythology, Osiris, the sun-deity of Egypt, was reverenced as Chrestos. In the Synagogue of the Marcionites on Mount Hermon, built in the third century A.D., the Messiah’s title is spelled Chrestos. According to Tertullian and Lactantius, the common people usually called Christ Chrestos.

17. Lord

In older versions of the King James Version of the Old Testament we still can find the name Jehovah, but in later versions more and more the Name became exchanged with three different Hebrew words as lord; however, it does so with a careful use of upper case letters to let the reader know which word is in the original texts. When the King James Version translates the Hebrew word for Jehovah as lord, it uses LORD in all capitals. When the King James Version translates the a special Hebrew word for supreme lord, adownai, as lord, it uses Lord with only the “L” in the upper case. Lastly, when the King James Versions translation of the general Hebrew word for lord, adown, as lord, it does so without any use a capital letter at all. A few years ago several translations just placed “lord” so that nobody could get the difference. Aware of the fault of letting the Name of God out of the Bible a few years ago we got the Restored Name King James Bible; Proper Name Version of the King James Bible and Sacred Name King James Version where again we could find the Name of God on most places.
When the decision was made to undertake the task of editing the King James Version, the fact that it was not a unique work was taken into account. The main sources that were used for editing the most recent version were: The Holy Name Bible, by the Scripture Research Association; The Scriptures, by the Institute for Scripture Research; The ExeGesis, by Herb Jahn; and the New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance, by George V. Wigram.


Please do find more:

The only Chair of both Hebrew and Aramaic world-wide is at Leiden University’s Department of Hebrew and Aramaic. Bachelor in Hebrew and Aramaic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies (with Hebrew) or a related study (see + MA in Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Culture > Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Cultures

In the Aramaic Languages and Cultures specialisation, you will explore various Aramaic languages and literatures, including Syriac, Targumic Aramaic and Imperial Aramaic. You have the possibility to study various Aramaic languages, both individually and against the background of their 3000-year history.
+ a.o.: The historical grammar of Hebrew and the development of the Tiberian tradition, which also lies at the heart of Modern Hebrew

With effect from September 2012, this programme will be offered as a specialisation within the Classics and Ancient Civilisations programme.


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Restored Name King James Bible on line


You can find the inspirational articles:

Accuracy, Word-for-Word Translation Preferred by most Bible Readers

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Don’t Quote Me—But I Think Jesus Is Pissed!

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Related articles:

Idol Worship (Jewish Encyclopedia)
All idolatrous cults are condemned by the Biblical insistence on worship of Yhwh only. The Decalogue begins with the command to reverence the one true God and to recognize no other deities. On this theme the Pentateuch dilates from every point of view, and the efforts of the Prophets were chiefly directed against idolatry and against the immorality connected with it. To recognize the true God meant also to act according to His will, and consequently to live a moral life. The thunderings of the Prophets against idolatry show, however, that the cults of other deities were deeply rooted in the heart of the Israelitish people, and they do not appear to have been thoroughly suppressed until after the return from the Babylonian exile. There is, therefore, no doubt that Jewish monotheism was preceded by a period of idolatry; the only problem is that which concerns the nature of the cults (comp. the articles Adrammelech; Anammelech; Asherah; Ass-Worship; Astarte Worship Among the Hebrews; Atargatis; ba-al-and-ba-al-worship” href=”” target=”_blank”>Ba’al and Ba’al-Worship; Baal-peor; Baal-zebub; Baal-zephon; Bamah; Calf, Golden; Calf-Worship; Chemosh; Dagon; High Place; Moloch; Star-Worship; Stone and Stone-Worship; Tammuz; Teraphim; and Witchcraft).

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Another way looking at a language #4 Ancient times

Posted on November 18, 2011. Filed under: Bible Study and Bible Reading, Jesus Christ Jeshua the Messiah Jahushua | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Another way looking at a language

11. Misreading in early times

Already in early centuries of our current time we got some misreadings in the most ancient Greek manuscripts (Second and Third Centuries of the Common Era) could only have happened by misunderstanding a Peshitta-exclusive reading.

How careful translators and readers of translations have to be can be seen in, for illustration purposes, Matthew 26:6-7, where the Greek NT states that Jeshua or Jesus was dining in the house of a man called “Simon the Leper.” In the narrative a servant girl brings Jeshua an alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint him. The impossibility of this reading is evident when one understands that in Jeshua’s day, lepers could not own property, or jars of perfume, or have servant girls, let alone entertain Jewish guests in the near vicinity of Jerusalem (Leviticus 13:45-50).

Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by k...

Bilingual (Greek and Aramaic) inscriptions by king Ashoka at Kandahar (Shar-i-kuna). (3rd century BCE). Preserved at Kabul Museum. Today disappeared. Two-dimensional inscription. - Image via Wikipedia

In response to the facts, some Greek NT advocates suggest that Simon “used to be a leper” and maybe he was celebrating his healing from Jeshua in much the same way that the above mentioned Elazar/ Eliezar or did in John’s or Yochanan’s Gospel. However, there are at least three huge problems with this kind of posturing. First and foremost, Matthew doesn’t record this and John does, so is it fair to overthrow one Gospel writer by another, as if one was somehow less careful in his information? In fact, when theologians venture outside the plain reading of the text (using a completely separate scenario disconnected from internal evidence), it can’t be considered as an honest, scholarly contribution.

The second problem (and a very acute one) is that Torah (Hebrew, ; Aramaic, ; Greek, Νόμος) clearly instructs that lepers must not be referred to as lepers after they are healed (Leviticus 13:1-44). Third and finally, if Simon let people refer to him as “the Leper” (against Torah) it would also greatly inhibit his ability to do business in Israel and he would be well within his legal rights to sue for damages.

Thankfully, Aramaic provides the obvious solution within the text itself. Since Hebrew and Aramaic have no vowels, two words spelled the same, but pronounced differently can have two totally different meanings. In this case, the word in question is spelled gimel-resh-beyt-aleph (GRBA). Pronounced as “gar-bah” the word is “leper” whereas with “gar-ah-bah” (same letters) means jar maker”! Furthermore, since these two words are also pronounced differently, the mistake would most likely happen when copying from an ancient written document that does not offer modern vowel pointing.

12. Ancient codices and modern translation

There are hundreds of examples that attest to Peshitta (The oldest Syriac translation of both the Old and New Testaments) pre-dating the Greek texts, putting it within solid striking distance of the very original writings of the Shlichim. It is this level of accuracy, as expressed both in ancient codices and the most up-to-date modem scholarship being represented in the translations we are going to use this coming year.

Inscription of Abraham son of Sarah from Mtskheta, Georgia. 4th-6th cc CE.

A schematic drawing of the Judeo-Aramaic inscription on a gold plaque found in Mtskheta, Georgia in 1992. It is apparently an amulet, mentioning its owner Abraham, son of Sarah. Date from 4th century until 6th century

This time we do look at two different translations at once, having the Aramaic on one side of the page and English or Dutch on a facing page. Also because for one translation does only exist with the full New Testament and only a few parts in the Old Testament (The Torah). This is the Aramaic English New Testament translated also into an Aramaic-English-Dutch New Testament in the most recent edition of 2011 (AENT and the AEDNT). For Dutch we also shall compare it to ‘De Heilige Boeken van het Nieuwe Testament -De Peshitta”, the Messianic Peshitta translation by E. Nierop (2009, 2010) (NL)

The other translation shall be based on the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures and is also based on the same basic effort as the version we are going to use the year after this one. So we shall be able to compare the evolution of two different Bible Translations based on the work of the South African Chris Koster, namely this academic year “The Scriptures” (“De Geschriften”) and afterwards “The HalleluYah Scriptures”.

We choose those Bible Translations especially because they go back to the language of the man who we want to follow as our example. Jeshua, to most Christians known as Jesus spoke Galilean dialect of the Ancient Aramaic language at home and with friends. His mother-tongue belongs to the Semitic languages of the Northern Central or North-western group or to the Afro-asiatic language phylum. It was the international trade language of the ancient Middle East and therefore also understood by many who originally spoke another tongue. Speaking Aramaic Jesus easily could be understood by those who spoke another dialect or other language. It is particularly closely related to Hebrew, and was written in a variety of alphabetic scripts. (What is usually called “Hebrew” script is actually an Aramaic script.) Aramaic displaced Hebrew for many purposes among the Jews, a fact reflected in the Bible, where portions of Ezra and Daniel are in Aramaic. Some of the best known stories in biblical literature, including that of Belshazzar’s feast with the famous “handwriting on the wall” are in Aramaic. It remained a dominant language for Jewish worship, scholarship, and everyday life for centuries in both the land of Israel and in the Diaspora, especially in Babylon.



Previous: Another way looking at a language #3 Abraham



  1. Why believing the Bible
  2. Hebrew, Aramaic and Bibletranslation
  3. Spelling Yahshuah (יהשע) vs Hebrew using Yehoshuah (יהושע)
  4. Some Restored Name Versions
  5. HalleluYah Scriptures
  6. HalleluYah Scriptures Corrections
  7. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua

In Dutch:

  • Evidence from History and the Gospels that Jesus Spoke Greek (A)- “Ελήλυθεν η ώρα ίνα δοξασθή ο υιός του ανθρώπου” (
    The evidence is as yet inconclusive as to what language Jesus would have normally spoken to the Jewish crowds or to his disciples. However, for nearly the last century, “it has become practically a generally accepted tradition that the mother tongue of Jesus, the language he knew best and therefore usually spoke, was Aramaic.”1 This is mainly due to the conclusions of Dalman,2 “who stated that, though Jesus may have known Hebrew, and probably spoke Greek, he certainly taught in Aramaic.”3 Some New Testament scholars have even gone as far as to say that “Jesus only spoke in Aramaic.”4
  • Could Computer Analysis Help Date the Gospels? (
    Back in 1998 Maurice Casey, a New Testament scholar at University of Nottingham, wrote a book called Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel. Casey had studied the Dead Sea Scrolls extensively, and drew upon them to make the case that most of Mark was written originally in Aramaic.

    How? Weren’t the Gospels, as we have them, written in Greek by Greek Christians many decades after the events they purported to describe?
    Throughout the first century of critical scholarship, the use of Aramaic was beset with such severe problems that most scholars might well feel that it was a specialized area of dubious value….The use of Aramaic of different times and places, the use of only one word at a time, the elevation of supposed puns to the level of  a major tool when they could not be properly verified, all this was enough to keep Aramaic as a specialized area.

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