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  1. #1
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    Is there evidence to support an Aramaic origin to the New Testament writings?

    I wish to keep this as succinct as possible, and have decided to start with going through the Aramaic New Testament and locate split words (words with multiple meanings) and see how this explains the times in those particular verses where we find textual variants in the Greek manuscripts.

    To illustrate, let's say we look at two different Greek manuscripts, and in a particular verse, we find a one-word difference. One manuscript has "a", and the other has "b". Why the difference? The two differences change the meaning of the text. Then let's say you have a manuscript in another language, and that language is older than the first ones you were comparing, that has "c" for that word, and upon examination, you find out that the "c" has 2 meanings, one being "a" and the other being "b". What you can logically conclude is that the source for the "a" reading, and the "b" reading, is the "c" original. It does not matter how old the manuscript with the "c" reading is, it is the language we are concerned about that explains the reason for the variations. Now on to my two examples, of which I will be listing one or two at a time for easy checking and verification:

    1Pe 3:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? KJV

    1Pe 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? ESV


    Why do some manuscripts have the Greek for "followers" while others have the word for "zealous"? The Aramaic word טננא can mean both things.

    Here is the second example:

    1Co 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. KJV

    1Co 13:3 Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it. ISV


    Why do some manuscripts have the Greek word meaning "to boast" and others with the meaning "to burn?" The Aramaic word meaning "to boast" and "to burn" is the same Aramaic word. Again, it appears as though two different translators saw the Aramaic word דנאקד and one chose the meaning "to boast" while another chose the meaning "to burn."

    I will continue to list one or two examples at a time for consideration.

    Ron

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregoryfl View Post
    I wish to keep this as succinct as possible, and have decided to start with going through the Aramaic New Testament and locate split words (words with multiple meanings) and see how this explains the times in those particular verses where we find textual variants in the Greek manuscripts.

    To illustrate, let's say we look at two different Greek manuscripts, and in a particular verse, we find a one-word difference. One manuscript has "a", and the other has "b". Why the difference? The two differences change the meaning of the text. Then let's say you have a manuscript in another language, and that language is older than the first ones you were comparing, that has "c" for that word, and upon examination, you find out that the "c" has 2 meanings, one being "a" and the other being "b". What you can logically conclude is that the source for the "a" reading, and the "b" reading, is the "c" original. It does not matter how old the manuscript with the "c" reading is, it is the language we are concerned about that explains the reason for the variations. Now on to my two examples, of which I will be listing one or two at a time for easy checking and verification:

    1Pe 3:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? KJV

    1Pe 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? ESV


    Why do some manuscripts have the Greek for "followers" while others have the word for "zealous"? The Aramaic word טננא can mean both things.

    Here is the second example:

    1Co 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. KJV

    1Co 13:3 Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it. ISV


    Why do some manuscripts have the Greek word meaning "to boast" and others with the meaning "to burn?" The Aramaic word meaning "to boast" and "to burn" is the same Aramaic word. Again, it appears as though two different translators saw the Aramaic word דנאקד and one chose the meaning "to boast" while another chose the meaning "to burn."

    I will continue to list one or two examples at a time for consideration.

    Ron
    Excellent thread Ron!

    I love a careful study and analysis of the actual text of Scripture.

    I understand the methodology you suggest, but there is another important cause of variations to consider. Many of the variations are caused by Greek words that have very similar spelling. We see this in your second example from 1 Corinthians:

    καυθησωμαι burn
    καυχησωμαι boast

    As you can see, they differ only by a single letter. So which explanation best fits the facts in this case?

    1) A copyist erred on a single letter.

    2) Two independent translators "just happened" to choose almost identical Greek words from the list of possible meanings of an presumed Aramaic original?

    I tend towards Option 1 in this case. But it's just one example, and this solution does not work for 1 Peter 3:13 because the variants in that case are not at all similar in the Greek.

    I very much look forward to examining more evidence with you.

    Many blessings my scholastic friend!

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Excellent thread Ron!

    I love a careful study and analysis of the actual text of Scripture.

    I understand the methodology you suggest, but there is another important cause of variations to consider. Many of the variations are caused by Greek words that have very similar spelling. We see this in your second example from 1 Corinthians:

    καυθησωμαι burn
    καυχησωμαι boast

    As you can see, they differ only by a single letter. So which explanation best fits the facts in this case?

    1) A copyist erred on a single letter.

    2) Two independent translators "just happened" to choose almost identical Greek words from the list of possible meanings of an presumed Aramaic original?

    I tend towards Option 1 in this case. But it's just one example, and this solution does not work for 1 Peter 3:13 because the variants in that case are not at all similar in the Greek.

    I very much look forward to examining more evidence with you.

    Many blessings my scholastic friend!

    Richard
    You are most certainly correct in pointing out the other probable reason for some of the textual variants, mistaking one word for another. The example you provided is a wonderful one, not only in the case of the 2 Greek words you brought out, but also with regard to 2 Aramaic words that are similar as well. Let me put the 4 examples together:

    דנאקר =to boast
    דנאקד =to burn, or boast

    καυθησωμαι burn
    καυχησωμαι boast


    If the difference is due to an error in reading the word, which is more likely to be confused?

    ר ד

    or

    θ χ

    The evidence would point much more toward the dalet, which is in the peshitta reading, being confused with the resh.

    Wonderful to be able to go over this with you brother

    Ron

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregoryfl View Post
    Now on to my two examples, of which I will be listing one or two at a time for easy checking and verification:

    1Pe 3:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? KJV

    1Pe 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? ESV


    Why do some manuscripts have the Greek for "followers" while others have the word for "zealous"? The Aramaic word טננא can mean both things.
    I checked the Peshitta, and the word טננא (tanana) occurs in 15 verses. In every case but one, it corresponds to some form of the Greek zeletos (whence zealous). In one case it corresponds to the Greek epipotheo which means "desire, long for." In no verse in the Bible does it correspond to the word "follower" (except in the variation you cited, of course).

    This makes the solution you suggest seem rather unlikely. Of my fifteen Biblical witnesses, I have none that support the translation of tanana as "follower."

    Where did you get the definition of tanana? I don't have an Aramaic dictionary. I have BibleWorks 7 - do you know if there is an addon for it?

    Great chatting bro,

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    I checked the Peshitta, and the word טננא (tanana) occurs in 15 verses. In every case but one, it corresponds to some form of the Greek zeletos (whence zealous). In one case it corresponds to the Greek epipotheo which means "desire, long for." In no verse in the Bible does it correspond to the word "follower" (except in the variation you cited, of course).

    This makes the solution you suggest seem rather unlikely. Of my fifteen Biblical witnesses, I have none that support the translation of tanana as "follower."

    Where did you get the definition of tanana? I don't have an Aramaic dictionary. I have BibleWorks 7 - do you know if there is an addon for it?

    Great chatting bro,

    Richard
    You can use the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, here is the link:

    http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/

    Yes, you are correct. I was trying to pick a translation that had a different rendering than zealous and should have searched for one that displayed a more accurate meaning. The translator apparently is understanding "follower" to be synonymous with "imitator." Here is a list of the various shades of meaning for the root of the word:

    Tnn N Tnn)
    1 Syr zeal
    2 Syr envy

    Tnn V
    021 JLAGal to moisten
    Tnn#2 V
    011 Syr to be aroused
    012 Syr to be zealous
    013 Syr %b% to envy
    014 Syr %b% to imitate
    041 Syr to come to envy
    021 Syr to arouse someone's zeal
    051 Syr to suffer from zeal
    031 Syr to arouse someone's envy
    032 Syr to make to emulate

    Tnn A
    1 Syr zealous
    2 Syr champion
    3 Syr emulator
    4 Syr envious

    That's why you have Greek variants that don't look anything alike except for the '-tai' ending. “mimetai” is juxtapositioned with “zelotai”, resulting in the English “imitators” with “zealous”.

    Thanks for pointing out that mistake on my part. I will be more careful in my choosing of translations so as not to bring confusion into the mix.

    Ron
    Last edited by gregoryfl; 02-05-2010 at 12:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    One thing I do want to clarify is that I am not trying to bash the Greek. I have a Greek interlinear Septuagint/Majority text Bible that I use all the time, even when our church. It is very valuable as well, especially in it's ability to be so precise, much more than Hebrew and Aramaic are.

    I just believe that the Aramaic deserves to be seriously considered along with the Greek in our understanding of what the Bible says, as there can be valuable insights from BOTH.

    Ron

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregoryfl View Post
    One thing I do want to clarify is that I am not trying to bash the Greek. I have a Greek interlinear Septuagint/Majority text Bible that I use all the time, even when our church. It is very valuable as well, especially in it's ability to be so precise, much more than Hebrew and Aramaic are.

    I just believe that the Aramaic deserves to be seriously considered along with the Greek in our understanding of what the Bible says, as there can be valuable insights from BOTH.

    Ron
    No worries there Ron. I agree absolutely that the study of Aramaic will be extremely valuable. After all, it was one of the languages of the time and place that Jesus lived!

    But there are some pretty significant issues raised by the idea that the Aramaic came first and the Greek was "just a translation." But I'm not worried about that point right now. I'd rather keep an open mind for now and study the examples you give and see what insights we gain before even thinking of the "conclusion."

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    I had found the online dictionary and was composing a post using the definitions you shared. I was having a little trouble though because the lexicon omits the final Aleph. It has Tnn rather than Tnn). Do you know why that is?
    Richard
    It only traces the root word, as far as I have been able to tell. For example, if you put in the Aramaic word for father-Abba, you will find no entry. However, if you put in the root-Ab, it will show up.

    Now on to a couple more examples, using this concordance, which you might find better suited to our study: http://www.peshitta.org/lexicon/

    Mat 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. KJV
    Luk 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children. KJV

    Mat 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! And wisdom is justified by her works. ASV
    Luk 7:35 And wisdom is justified of all her children. ASV


    The word found in Luke's account, בניה, comes from the root word (#23860) בנא, which means "to build". This word was confused with #3231, בני, which means "son, children, offspring." It appears as though the translator thought that the ה at the end of the word indicated possession, which accounts for the reading "children [בני] of him [ה]. The root is actually בנא where the א is dropped and replaced with the יה indicating possession. Thus the "works" or "deeds" reading is the correct one.

    In other words, בניה can mean:
    1. Her works, deeds, etc., or
    2. Her children.

    We can confirm that the reading "her works" is correct by comparison with the account in Matthew, wherein a more specific word for "work" is used, עבדיה, the root being עבד, meaning "works" with the possessive suffix, יה added to it, meaning "her works."

    Example number 2:

    Luk 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

    Luk 13:24 Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.


    The Aramaic word #23078 תרעא can mean both "door" and "gate". Evidently again, one took the word to mean "door" and used the Greek word θυρας , while another took it to mean "gate" and rendered it πυλης . The Aramaic can account for both readings, but the Greek cannot.

    Ron

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregoryfl View Post
    You can use the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, here is the link:

    http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/

    Yes, you are correct. I was trying to pick a translation that had a different rendering than zealous and should have searched for one that displayed a more accurate meaning. The translator apparently is understanding "follower" to be synonymous with "imitator." Here is a list of the various shades of meaning for the root of the word:

    Tnn N Tnn)
    1 Syr zeal
    2 Syr envy

    Tnn V
    021 JLAGal to moisten
    Tnn#2 V
    011 Syr to be aroused
    012 Syr to be zealous
    013 Syr %b% to envy
    014 Syr %b% to imitate
    041 Syr to come to envy
    021 Syr to arouse someone's zeal
    051 Syr to suffer from zeal
    031 Syr to arouse someone's envy
    032 Syr to make to emulate

    Tnn A
    1 Syr zealous
    2 Syr champion
    3 Syr emulator
    4 Syr envious

    That's why you have Greek variants that don't look anything alike except for the '-tai' ending. 'mimetai' is juxtapositioned with 'zelotai', resulting in the English 'imitators' with 'zealous'.

    Thanks for pointing out that mistake on my part. I will be more careful in my choosing of translations so as not to bring confusion into the mix.

    Ron
    Excellent!

    I had found the online dictionary and was composing a post using the definitions you shared. I was having a little trouble though because the lexicon omits the final Aleph. It has Tnn rather than Tnn). Do you know why that is?

    I did a little more research and all the verses I checked that contain "followers" use the Aramaic root tdmy which the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexion defines simply as "similar form." This word appears to be cognate with the Hebrew dmut which means "form." Thus, a follower is one who walks in a similar form (heykal tdamy). It generally corresponds to the Greek mimetai.

    Now as I mentioned in the last post, the word tanana is used 15 times in the Peshitta, always in the sense of zeal - never in the sense of "follower." Therefore, it seems that the translator from Aramaic to Greek would have been completely inconsistent on this one verse (1Pe 3:13) if your suggestion is correct. Everywhere else he used mimetai to render tdmy and zeloo to render tanana. Those two Aramaic words have no letters in common. So why would he make a sudden break in this verse and render tanana as mimetai?

    It is also very interesting to take a closer look at why tanana acquired the meaning "to imitate." It seems clear that its primary meaning is along the lines of "zeal" - it appears to have acquired the meaning of "imitate" from the imitation that zeal would inspire. We see this acquired meaning in Romans 11:14:

    Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation [parazeloso] them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

    The red words are based on the root zeloo which is generally corresponds to tanana.

    Conclusion - it does not seem that the variation in 1Pe 3:13 is well explained by different translators choosing different meanings of tanana. We have no example of tanana translated as mimetai in the NT and every occurrence of mimetai in the NT (that I checked) corresponds to tdmy.

    But don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this disproves your thesis. We've only looked at two examples.

    I'm loving this study bro!

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    I checked the Peshitta, and the word טננא (tanana) occurs in 15 verses. In every case but one, it corresponds to some form of the Greek zeletos (whence zealous). In one case it corresponds to the Greek epipotheo which means "desire, long for." In no verse in the Bible does it correspond to the word "follower" (except in the variation you cited, of course).

    This makes the solution you suggest seem rather unlikely. Of my fifteen Biblical witnesses, I have none that support the translation of tanana as "follower."

    We have no example of tanana translated as mimetai in the NT and every occurrence of mimetai in the NT (that I checked) corresponds to tdmy.

    Richard
    In those 15 cases of the Peshitta, the same Aramaic word is used "tanana." In the single case you cited, Jas 4:5, it actually does not correspond to epipotheo, but to phthonos, meaning "jealousy, envy." We know this because the Greek pros phthonos is the Greek phrase for the word d'batana in Aramaic. Epipotheo is equivalent to ragaa in Aramaic "desire, lust."

    I agree that there is no case where it could have the meaning of "imitator," except in 1Pe 3:13. There it could make sense, which appears to be the reason why, when a Greek translator looked at the original Aramaic word Peter used, Tanana, looked at the context, and thinking that Peter meant imitator, chose the word mimitai in his translation. This meaning got passed down into the texts we have today with this reading, the 1550 Stephens Textus Receptus, the 1894 Scrivener Textus Receptus, and the Byzantine Majority Text. That is why I do not understand your assertion that there is no example of Tanana translated as mimetai in the NT. These 3 families of manuscripts provide us with that exact example in 1Pe 3:13.

    The Aramaic Tanana, with those 2 meanings, easily explains the reason for the two Greek words used, mimetai and zelotai. That is what I am trying to establish, is that when you have 2 totally different words from the Greek in a series of manuscripts, and there happens to be a word in Aramaic which has both of those meanings, then we can deduce that the Greek was the translation from the original Aramaic word, with different translators choosing different meanings for the original Aramaic word. That is not the only explanation, but it does at least deserve to be considered.

    I will await any response you may have for either this post, or post 9, before moving on.

    Thanks brother,

    Ron
    Last edited by gregoryfl; 02-08-2010 at 09:44 AM.

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