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gregoryfl
02-05-2010, 07:12 AM
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

Richard Amiel McGough
02-05-2010, 10:20 AM
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! :thumb:

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

Richard Amiel McGough
02-05-2010, 11:05 AM
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

gregoryfl
02-05-2010, 01:00 PM
Excellent thread Ron! :thumb:

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!

RichardYou 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

gregoryfl
02-05-2010, 01:10 PM
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

gregoryfl
02-05-2010, 01:15 PM
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

Richard Amiel McGough
02-05-2010, 01:48 PM
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! :clap2:

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 (http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/) 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! :sunny:

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
02-05-2010, 01:51 PM
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

gregoryfl
02-06-2010, 10:00 AM
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?
RichardIt 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

gregoryfl
02-06-2010, 11:03 AM
I will attempt to address your concern about the word "tanana", but just need some time to research and think on it first.

Thanks,

Ron

gregoryfl
02-08-2010, 10:29 AM
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.

RichardIn 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

Richard Amiel McGough
02-08-2010, 10:40 AM
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."

Thanks for that correction! :thumb:

I read the verse too quickly. It says "lusteth to envy" - I mistook "lusteth" for the word "envy."



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.

I'm sorry for the confusion. I thought that I was clear that I was talking about no example outside of 1 Peter 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.

Ron
Yes, I understand your method and think it has merit. But I am not sure that this particular case is the best example because if tanana was translated in mimetai then it would be the one and only example of this translation in the NT, and it would be inconsistent with the normal use of mimetai which in all other cases corresponds to tdmy.

I do not rule out the possibility that you are correct in this case. It's just not sufficiently clear to be very convincing to me.

Talk more soon,

Richard

gregoryfl
02-08-2010, 10:51 AM
I'm sorry for the confusion. I thought that I was clear that I was talking about no example outside of 1 Peter 3:13.

Ah, I guess I missed the "outside of" part. Thank you for the clarification. :)



Yes, I understand your method and think it has merit. But I am not sure that this particular case is the best example because if tanana was translated in mimetai then it would be the one and only example of this translation in the NT, and it would be inconsistent with the normal use of mimetai which in all other cases corresponds to tdmy.

RichardI agree that whoever chose the Greek word there was being inconsistent, especially if he had been translating other parts of the NT which contained the word Tanana as well. I am only guessing that he honestly thought that Peter was writing about being an imitator of good, instead of zealous for good. Why I guess we will never know.

Good to chat again as well :)

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
02-08-2010, 11:25 AM
I agree that whoever chose the Greek word there was being inconsistent, especially if he had been translating other parts of the NT which contained the word Tanana as well. I am only guessing that he honestly thought that Peter was writing about being an imitator of good, instead of zealous for good. Why I guess we will never know.

Good to chat again as well :)

Ron
I admit your argument has merit. It makes sense that a translator could use either imitator or zealous in that verse. But I also agree that we will probably never know for sure.

In general, I see this method as offering some evidence for an Aramaic original. But the evidence is indirect. What is the earliest existing Aramaic fragment of the NT? I know that we have Greek fragments from the first century. If there are no Aramaic fragments of similar age, it would suggest that the Greek came first. It seems that the direct evidence points to Greek originals.

This method of analysis involves evaluating a wide variety of independent sources of the variations. The primary source of textual variations seems to be simply scribal errors in copying. And sometimes it seems that the scribes might have tried to harmonize verses. Metzger used this explanation for the difference between "children" and "works" in Matthew 11:19:
The Committee regarded the reading te,knwn (widely supported by B2 C D K L X D Q P and most minuscules) as having originated in scribal harmonization with the Lukan parallel
Given the fact that the evidence is both indirect and mixed with other sources of variation, it becomes very difficult to believe that this one method would be sufficient to settle the case.

And this brings up another question - since we don't have the Aramaic originals, or even a broad class of early copies to compare and analyze like we do in the Greek, how does the question of Aramaic originals impact our study of Scripture?

And I still have the nagging feeling that the truth of the Aramaic hypothesis would indicate that God has largely left us in the dark with regards to His Word. Why did he give us this mountain of Greek manuscripts as the representative of His inspired Word if in fact it was originally inspired in Aramaic? In what sense is the Greek inspired if it is only a translation, and a fallible one at that?

And what about the evidence of the holographs that show passages of the Greek NT were designed letter-for-letter by God and integrated with the alphanumeric structure of the OT?

And what about the fundamental principle that the central message of the NT was to all the nations? That's why God wrote it in Greek. The OT was in Hebrew and to the Hebrews. The NT was in Greek and for all nations (including the Hebrews, of course).

I hope I haven't asked too many questions. I don't want to overwhelm you. I very much look forward to examining other examples you have, but I also want to mix in these other high level hermeneutical questions about "what it all means" and "how it impacts our understanding of Scripture" etc.

Many blessings my friend! This is an excellent conversation.

Richard

gregoryfl
02-09-2010, 07:41 AM
In general, I see this method as offering some evidence for an Aramaic original. But the evidence is indirect. What is the earliest existing Aramaic fragment of the NT? I know that we have Greek fragments from the first century. If there are no Aramaic fragments of similar age, it would suggest that the Greek came first. It seems that the direct evidence points to Greek originals.I agree that the Greek copies do indeed precede the Aramaic. There are 2 copies of papyri dated to the 2nd century (the earliest known) while the earliest known copies in Aramaic are dated to the 4th century. If we were to base the origin solely on which language were found first, and nothing else, then I would be compelled to agree with you. However, I do not believe that we should look solely at that, for the following reason:

Imagine we are in 1940, 60 years ago. The oldest Hebrew copy of the OT we knew of back then was the Masoretic text, dated to the 10th century. However, the earliest copy of the OT in existence back then was the Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus of the 4th century, and these were in the Greek language. Using the same thinking, that the earliest language used for a manuscript is most likely the original language, and no other indirect evidence, I would have to conclude that the original language of the OT was Greek as well. At that time, the reason no one did was because there was quite a bit of indirect evidence, from the Bible itself, as well as other writings, testifying to the fact that Hebrew was indeed the originating language of the OT.

We know of course, of the wonderful explosion of discovery starting in 1947, but think about the fact the for centuries upon centuries, with no direct manuscript evidence of either an original Hebrew writing, nor of any even remotely known to exist anytime near the 1st century or before, we had to rely on and trust the indirect evidence that told us that Hebrew was the original language of the OT.

That is why I believe it is a mistake to say that based on manuscript evidence alone, that Greek must be the original language for the entire NT. There is much plausible, indirect evidence pointing to a Semitic origin, and it is that evidence that I am trying to convey here for consideration.
Possibly one of the reasons why there are so few copies is what is revealed in the Babylonian Talmud and Tosefta, where the Rabbis debated how to destroy the NT writings, because they contained the actual name of God, something forbidden to them. (t.Shab. 13:5; b.Shab. 116a; j.Shab. 15c) It is possible that most manuscripts were destroyed, explaining the reason for so few. Just something to consider.
One final point. Concerning Matthew, of which we have several witnesses claiming he composed his gospel in Hebrew. Do we disregard this as true because we have no copy of it? Why would they lie about this, and about it quickly being translated quickly into other languages? That at least gives me pause to consider that maybe other books, if not the entire NT, was written first in Aramaic (what they called Hebrew). There are a few witnesses claiming that Paul wrote Hebrews in the Hebrew tongue as well, so that is why I feel it should at least be taken into consideration, even if indirectly. We do that with many, many other things right? I believe that the Ten Commandments existed on tablets of stone, even though it has never been found. There is enough indirect evidence to convince me that it did indeed exist.


And this brings up another question - since we don't have the Aramaic originals, or even a broad class of early copies to compare and analyze like we do in the Greek, how does the question of Aramaic originals impact our study of Scripture?To date, while we do not have thousands of copies, as we do in Greek and Latin, there are around 360 known copies in Aramaic to compare and analyze. I believe it has value to be considered ALONG WITH the Greek and Latin copies, because the more witnesses you have, especially those witnesses which might explain at least some of the textual variations, it all goes toward helping us arrive at a more accurate text.
Also, I would liken it to studying the OT only in Greek. You would miss so much of the Semitic flavor and understanding that only the source language can provide. I believe it is the same in the NT. Just as one example:
This does affect doctrine at all, but when you read the NT in Aramaic, you will find many, many instances of poetry, and wordplays, that you simply cannot find by reading it in the Greek. Again, this is not of life and death importance, but you can get a greater sense of connections and contrasts and such. As with any translation, you always lose something in the translation. Again, I am not suggesting ditching the Greek altogether, but using it alongside the Aramaic. It certainly can't hurt, and we might find ourselves pleasantly surprised by embarking on such an endeavor. :)


And I still have the nagging feeling that the truth of the Aramaic hypothesis would indicate that God has largely left us in the dark with regards to His Word. Why did he give us this mountain of Greek manuscripts as the representative of His inspired Word if in fact it was originally inspired in Aramaic? In what sense is the Greek inspired if it is only a translation, and a fallible one at that?That is something I simply cannot agree with at all, brother. For one thing, I do not believe we need originals, nor necessarily even copies very close to the time of writing, in order to understand the text. I think the scholars throughout the centuries have, for the most part, done admirably in transmitting the Hebrew text, for example, and giving much understanding, despite not having anything in Hebrew closer than the 10th century to consider during that time. I believe that the Septuagint, although a mere translation, has so much to offer in helping us understand what the original text is likely to have said. It is very invaluable. And remember that most of that mountain of evidence we have now is a product of less than 100 years ago, so are we to conclude that God left previous generations in the dark?
Personally, I wish there were originals. Personally, I wish that there were no differences in the manuscripts which people use to say the Bible can't possibly be inspired. As far as the Aramaic copies go, from what I understand, from what tradition says, the church of the East copied the Aramaic bible painstakingly similar to the way the scribes did the OT. While it is just their claim, they say that they have kept the text intact throughout the centuries. At one time, the Church in the East was the largest group of Christians, even though after the Muslim invasions and such, they are very much in the minority now. I had not even heard of them personally until coming across the Peshitta in my studies. So I believe that God has indeed kept the witness intact, not only with regard to the Greek and Latin languages, but also with the Aramaic. Just as with my understanding that the Lord has come, I do not need to see it for myself to believe it. There is enough indirect evidence to convince me that it is true. I just know for me personally that taking the Aramaic into account, along with the Greek I use, has given me insights into the mind of the writers I would not have otherwise had.


And what about the evidence of the holographs that show passages of the Greek NT were designed letter-for-letter by God and integrated with the alphanumeric structure of the OT?I have really no understanding of that. Could you direct me to where I could read up on that more to try to understand it?


And what about the fundamental principle that the central message of the NT was to all the nations? That's why God wrote it in Greek. The OT was in Hebrew and to the Hebrews. The NT was in Greek and for all nations (including the Hebrews, of course).Depending on one's understanding of the phrase "To the Jew first, and also to the Greek", I agree that it was to be for all the nations. Coming from the Hebrew people, it would make sense to me that they would have rendered it in the language they knew, then quickly translated into Greek for those who did not know Hebrew, or Aramaic, and afterward also into other languages, including ours today. I do indeed agree that God directed it to be rendered in Greek for the benefit of those who needed it in their own language. I just don't see that as a reason not to believe it to have been rendered originally in Aramaic.


I hope I haven't asked too many questions. I don't want to overwhelm you. I very much look forward to examining other examples you have, but I also want to mix in these other high level hermeneutical questions about "what it all means" and "how it impacts our understanding of Scripture" etc.).Not at all. Questions are necessary to gain understanding. I will stay on track as far as providing what I believe to be direct evidence so that at the very least, you have more to consider together with what you already have, but will try to answer any questions you may have along the way.

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
02-09-2010, 06:10 PM
I agree that the Greek copies do indeed precede the Aramaic. There are 2 copies of papyri dated to the 2nd century (the earliest known) while the earliest known copies in Aramaic are dated to the 4th century. If we were to base the origin solely on which language were found first, and nothing else, then I would be compelled to agree with you. However, I do not believe that we should look solely at that, for the following reason:

Imagine we are in 1940, 60 years ago. The oldest Hebrew copy of the OT we knew of back then was the Masoretic text, dated to the 10th century. However, the earliest copy of the OT in existence back then was the Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus of the 4th century, and these were in the Greek language. Using the same thinking, that the earliest language used for a manuscript is most likely the original language, and no other indirect evidence, I would have to conclude that the original language of the OT was Greek as well. At that time, the reason no one did was because there was quite a bit of indirect evidence, from the Bible itself, as well as other writings, testifying to the fact that Hebrew was indeed the originating language of the OT.

We know of course, of the wonderful explosion of discovery starting in 1947, but think about the fact the for centuries upon centuries, with no direct manuscript evidence of either an original Hebrew writing, nor of any even remotely known to exist anytime near the 1st century or before, we had to rely on and trust the indirect evidence that told us that Hebrew was the original language of the OT.

Hey there bro! :yo:

You made some good points, but I think that the situation with the Greek NT is entirely different than that of the Hebrew OT. We had an overwhelming mountain of evidence for Hebrew originals before the discovery at Qumran. We had the prima facie evidence of the universal testimony of the Jewish tradition, going back to the Talmud and earlier. We had the 2nd century BC testimonies of the Wisdom of Sirach and the Letter of Aristeas that the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek. We had Origin's hexapla which had the Hebrew text aligned with various versions of the Greek, indicating that he had access to the Hebrew text in the 2nd century AD. And Jerome translated from the Hebrew in the 5th century AD. There is nothing like this kind of evidence for an Aramaic original NT. The only direct testimony we have concerns Matthew and Hebrews. I know of no early testimony that suggests Paul's other epistles were written in Aramaic, and there is reason to presume they were written in Greek because his audience was primarily Gentiles who knew no Aramaic.

We should also discuss the citations from the LXX. Lee Martin McDonald says that 94 percent of the NT quotations from the OT are from the LXX. This would be very unlikely if the originals were Aramaic.



That is why I believe it is a mistake to say that based on manuscript evidence alone, that Greek must be the original language for the entire NT. There is much plausible, indirect evidence pointing to a Semitic origin, and it is that evidence that I am trying to convey here for consideration.
I think the case goes well beyond mere manuscript evidence. As pointed out above, there is very little "primary evidence" that would initially prompt us to think there was an Aramaic original. McDonald classes the Peshitta along with all the other early translations of the Greek NT. And according to him. the Peshitta had only 22 books. It is missing 2 Peter, 2,3 John, Jude, and Revelation. These are the books that were still being disputed in the 4th-5th century when the Peshitta was (according to scholars) translated from the Greek. This seems like more evidence that the Peshitta was not the original. If it were, why is it missing books, and where did the Greek NT get those books?



Possibly one of the reasons why there are so few copies is what is revealed in the Babylonian Talmud and Tosefta, where the Rabbis debated how to destroy the NT writings, because they contained the actual name of God, something forbidden to them. (t.Shab. 13:5; b.Shab. 116a; j.Shab. 15c) It is possible that most manuscripts were destroyed, explaining the reason for so few. Just something to consider.

This seems unlikely because the Jews had no power to destroy Christian books after the first century.



One final point. Concerning Matthew, of which we have several witnesses claiming he composed his gospel in Hebrew.

Do we have several independent witnesses, or several witnesses who simply copied one original witness?


One final point. Concerning Matthew, of which we have several witnesses claiming he composed his gospel in Hebrew.
Do we disregard this as true because we have no copy of it? Why would they lie about this, and about it quickly being translated quickly into other languages?

There is no need to reject this claim. It could be a record of one of the steps God used in the process of bringing us the inspired Greek NT. The Bible was a "work in progress" for a long time. There was a time when it existed as an unordered collection of books. Then after many centuries, it was finally published in the 66-book complete form which exhibits the supernatural structure of the Bible Wheel. God works "behind the scenes" in ways that most folks don't even imagine. The Jews wanted a 22 book canon to fit their alphabet, and here we are millennia later, and we see that God fulfilled their desire in a way they never could have imagined.



That at least gives me pause to consider that maybe other books, if not the entire NT, was written first in Aramaic (what they called Hebrew). There are a few witnesses claiming that Paul wrote Hebrews in the Hebrew tongue as well, so that is why I feel it should at least be taken into consideration, even if indirectly. We do that with many, many other things right? I believe that the Ten Commandments existed on tablets of stone, even though it has never been found. There is enough indirect evidence to convince me that it did indeed exist.

I admit the evidence for Matthew and Hebrews. But I see nothing that would suggest the entire NT was written in Aramaic. We have no tradition that says that, and we have the vast majority of OT quotes coming from the LXX. And Paul had reason to write his letter to the Hebrews in Hebrew and his letters to the Greeks in Greek.



To date, while we do not have thousands of copies, as we do in Greek and Latin, there are around 360 known copies in Aramaic to compare and analyze. I believe it has value to be considered ALONG WITH the Greek and Latin copies, because the more witnesses you have, especially those witnesses which might explain at least some of the textual variations, it all goes toward helping us arrive at a more accurate text.

I agree completely. In a serious study of Scripture, more manuscripts means better study. For example, there are times when the LXX seems to preserve a tradition lost in the Masorettic text.



Also, I would liken it to studying the OT only in Greek. You would miss so much of the Semitic flavor and understanding that only the source language can provide. I believe it is the same in the NT. Just as one example:

This does affect doctrine at all, but when you read the NT in Aramaic, you will find many, many instances of poetry, and wordplays, that you simply cannot find by reading it in the Greek. Again, this is not of life and death importance, but you can get a greater sense of connections and contrasts and such. As with any translation, you always lose something in the translation. Again, I am not suggesting ditching the Greek altogether, but using it alongside the Aramaic. It certainly can't hurt, and we might find ourselves pleasantly surprised by embarking on such an endeavor. :)

Yes, that is exactly correct. I very much agree. The most obvious example is the play on ebenim (stones) and benim (sons) in Matthew 3. It is obviously a play on Semitic words, regardless of the language that God used to transmit it to us.




And I still have the nagging feeling that the truth of the Aramaic hypothesis would indicate that God has largely left us in the dark with regards to His Word. Why did he give us this mountain of Greek manuscripts as the representative of His inspired Word if in fact it was originally inspired in Aramaic? In what sense is the Greek inspired if it is only a translation, and a fallible one at that?
That is something I simply cannot agree with at all, brother. For one thing, I do not believe we need originals, nor necessarily even copies very close to the time of writing, in order to understand the text. I think the scholars throughout the centuries have, for the most part, done admirably in transmitting the Hebrew text, for example, and giving much understanding, despite not having anything in Hebrew closer than the 10th century to consider during that time. I believe that the Septuagint, although a mere translation, has so much to offer in helping us understand what the original text is likely to have said. It is very invaluable. And remember that most of that mountain of evidence we have now is a product of less than 100 years ago, so are we to conclude that God left previous generations in the dark?
They were not "left in the dark" for the very reason you stated - God had preserved the Hebrew text.

I think you missed my point. I didn't say that we need the "originals." All we need are well preserved and transmitted copies of the divine revelation in its original language. We don't have that if the originals were Aramaic. All we have then are well-preserved Greek translations with relatively few poorly attested originals. And if that is the case, then yes, God most certainly has "left us in the dark" because I have little or no access to His Words in the language in which He inspired them. Mere translations are not sufficient for the kind of study to which I am accustomed.

I've got more to say, but this post is already getting too long!

Richard

gregoryfl
02-10-2010, 07:14 AM
Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, he that hath power over fire; and he called with a great voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

Byzantine texts have the phrase κραυγη, meaning cry, or shout.
Alexandrian texts have the phrase φωνη, meaning voice.

The message is the same, but the meanings are different. And κραυγη looks nothing like φωνη.

The Aramaic word בקלא means voice and also cry. Once again, the indirect evidence seems to point to an Aramaic original that one translator translated the meaning as shout, while the other translated it as voice.

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
02-10-2010, 09:14 AM
Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, he that hath power over fire; and he called with a great voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

Byzantine texts have the phrase κραυγη, meaning cry, or shout.
Alexandrian texts have the phrase φωνη, meaning voice.

The message is the same, but the meanings are different. And κραυγη looks nothing like φωνη.

The Aramaic word בקלא means voice and also cry. Once again, the indirect evidence seems to point to an Aramaic original that one translator translated the meaning as shout, while the other translated it as voice.

Ron
This is a very interesting interesting case. The phrase used is wq[a bqla rba which literally reads "and cried with voice great." This precise phrase appears three times in Revelation, with one occurrence being found just three verses earlier:

Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice [kreizen en phone megale] to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

I checked all my textual criticism resources and did not find any relevant variations in the Greek words used in this case. This means that the translator of the Byzantine text would have been inconsistent within the space of three verses! Why would a transator use phone in vs. 15 and krauge in vs. 18 for the same Aramaic word used in the same Aramaic phrase in the space of just three verses?

We are confronted with two fundamental problems when trying to sort this out. According to Lee Martin McDonald, the original Peshitta did not contain Revelation. So what is the source of this Aramaic text that we are using? What is its date? And how many copies of the Aramaic version of Revelation do we have? How do we know there was not a strange textual variation in the Aramaic "original" that is the basis of this strange variation in the Greek?

I also think that your basic assertion in this case is flawed. The Aramaic phrase in question uses two words: q[a (cry) and qla (voice) - I can not think of a logical reason that a translator would have translated both using the word "cry" - especially since the correct words were used for each just three verses earlier. It seems to me that there probably is another explanation for this variation.

Great chatting!

Richard

PS: Are you finding these variations yourself, or are you getting them from some other source?

Richard Amiel McGough
02-10-2010, 10:47 AM
Romans 5:7 For one would hardly die for a righteous δικαιος (dikaios; righteous, upright, lawful, or just) man; though perhaps for the good αγαθος (agathos) man someone would dare even to die.
One of the most popular examples of evidence for an Aramaic original is the Peshitta reading of this verse (here's a discussion (http://www.aramaicnt.org/2007/04/29/wicked-or-righteous/) from the Aramaic New Testament blog):

Romans 5:7 Nor one would hardly die for a wicked רשעיא man; though perhaps for a good טבא (tâbâ’; good) man someone would dare even to die.
The Peshitta makes much more sense to me, especially when read in context:

6 For while we were yet weak, at the right time the Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a wicked man. Yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The blog argues that the error crept in by a misreading of reshe-ya (wicked) as reshnaya (righteous). At first glance this is an appealing solution because the difference is based on a single misreading of a Nun for an Ayin. But there is a big problem with this suggestion. I have not been able to find any example of reshnaya (righteous) anywhere in the Peshitta, and every instance of dikiaos (righteous) corresponds to the Aramaic tzadiq. This means that the suggestion of misreading reshe-ya as reshnaya fails on two fundamental points: it is not used anywhere in the Peshitta, and dikaios always corresponds to tzadiq.

There is another solution that seems much more likely to be true. The difference between righteous (dikiaos) and unrighteous (adikaios) rests upon a single letter in the Greek. We have a perfect solution to the problem if we assume that the letter alpha has been dropped from the Greek text.

Romans 5:7 For one would hardly die for an unrighteous αδικαιος (adikaios; unrighteous) man; though perhaps for the good αγαθος (agathos) man someone would dare even to die.
I like this solution for two reasons. 1) It is a simple and believable explanation. 2) There is an aliteralism between adikaios and agathos. But there is a fundamental problem with this solution too. As far as I know, there is not a single Greek text that has any textual variation of this verse! If every manuscript has "dikaios" then it is pretty hard to argue that it is an error under any scenario. It is particularly difficult to imagine that it is a misreading of the Aramaic original because that would mean that every translation into Greek made the same error! Highly unlikely indeed.

It seems therefore that dikaios is the original reading. The odd ring of the statement that "one would hardly die for a righteous man" doe not necessarily mean the text is wrong. It could be that we just don't understand what it would have meant to the first century audience. On the other hand, I am drawn to the idea that Paul intended an alpha that he (or his scibe) simply failed to transcribe and that the correct original reading would have been adikaios. Perhaps the alpha in the original autograph got smudged so that all copies are flawed.

Richard

gregoryfl
02-10-2010, 12:02 PM
Thanks for providing an example of your own from Romans. :) You may notice that I am not trying to defend against the points you are bringing out, as my only purpose is to provide examples for you to consider, nothing more.

You asked a very good question about 2nd Peter, 2nd, 3rd John, Jude, and Revelation not being in the Eastern Peshitta. Even today those books are not there. That has indeed stumped me personally, and the only reason I can think of as to why they are not there is the same reason that some scribes fit Ruth with Judges and Lamentations with Jeremiah, in order to have a 22 book count, corresponding to the Hebrew Alephbet.

Regarding Revelation, the Crawford manuscript is one I have in my possession. It is dated to around 1100 AD roughly.

Oh, and by the way, when I made the statement that we do not need Aramaic originals, I was not attributing that statement to you. I was merely making that observation myself.

You also asked if the witnesses concerning Matthew being written in Hebrew were independent witnesses, or merely repetitions of an original witness. Of that I cannot be certain, although Ephiphanius, of around 370 CE writes:

They have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters. Panarion 29:9:4

And Jerome, of around 382 CE similarly writes:

Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. Of Illustrious Men 3

Now, one could say that this was a mere translation into Hebrew from Greek, and unfortunately due to the library being destroyed with the contents in it, whatever copy was preserved is lost, as far as we know, but since those very people claim to have preserved and transcribed from the original, and that the semitic source was seen even into the late 300's, can we not at least see that Matthew was originally a semitic document, and not Greek?

I do understand the contention that the other writings do not have a similar witness, but I am merely suggesting that if Matthew, and possibly Hebrews, can make a case for a semitic original, even without any living copies of such, then it is at least possible that the other books have the same origin, as seen in comparing the Aramaic we DO have access to with the Greek.

Ron

gregoryfl
02-10-2010, 12:18 PM
This seems unlikely because the Jews had no power to destroy Christian books after the first century.

Here is some further evidence as to that situation:

Foremost scholar, James Parkes, in his book, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, comments on this issue with added details: “...the rabbis show a knowledge of the New Testament and of the details of the life of Jesus. The gospels are known as ‘Aven-gillayon’ by Rabbis Meir of Jabne and Jochanan. The word is an offensive pun [in Hebrew] meaning ‘revelation of sin’ or ‘falsehood of blank paper’. There is a discussion reported as to what shall be done with ‘external books’....Rabbi Meir says that they are not to be saved from the fire, but to be burned at once, even with the names of God in them. Rabbi Jose says that on a week-day the name of God ought to be cut out and hidden away. Rabbi Tarphon invoked a curse on himself if he did not burn the books, names of God and all.

Scholar F. F. Bruce also adds interesting comments in his book, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament: “...the minim in question appear to be Jewish Christians....we are dealing with the controversies between Jewish Christians and the representatives of what was now main-stream Judaism in the period after A.D. 70, when Jewish Christians were excluded from the synagogue. Discussions sometimes arise about the status of ‘the books of the minim’....Derogatory puns on evangelion, the Greek word for ‘Gospel’, are ascribed to rabbis of the Tannaitic period: They called it ‘awen-gillayon or ‘awon-gillayon, which means something like ‘falsehood of the scroll’ or ‘perversion of the scroll’. Any claim that such works should be granted canonical recognition was decisively rejected. Some rabbis thought they might well be burnt; others suggested that the occurrences of the name of God which they contained should be cut out first.”

Bruce further elaborates on this little-known subject of the rabbis’ abuse and intolerance of the New Testament, in his book, New Testament History: “It is only after A.D. 70 that we can begin to talk about normative Judaism and of deviations from the norm; in the days of the Second Temple there was a much greater variety of Jewish religious life and practice, and no one form could claim to represent the standard by which others were to be judged.
When the rabbis of Jamnia discussed the recognition of canonical books and the rejection of others, one group to which they paid attention was ‘the books of the minim’. These contained the name of God, and yet their contents were unacceptable....it is unlikely that the idea of extending canonical recognition to the Christian books was seriously entertained: they were mentioned only to be condemned. ‘The gilyonim and the books of the minim are not sacred scripture’ [Talmud, Tosefta, Yadaim 2:13].[29] Some leading rabbis, like Yohanan ben Zakkai and Aqiba’s pupil Me’ir, made derogatory puns
on the word evangelion, altering the vowels to ‘awen-gillayon or
awon- gillayon’ (‘iniquity of the margin’). But ‘the vehemence with which the leading rabbis of the first generation of the second century express their hostility to the gospel and other books of the heretics, and to their conventicles, is the best evidence that they were growing in numbers and influence; some even among the teachers of the Law were suspected of leanings towards the new doctrine.’

The widely respected Jewish scholar, G. Alon, quotes the Talmud and other sources as he tells us: “Blank writing surfaces (gilyonim) and books of the Minim are not to be rescued (on the Sabbath) but should be allowed to burn right where they are, along with their azkarot [the explicit names of God, y´h'/hy]. Rabbi Jose of Galilee says: On a week-day, one should cut out the azkarot and bury them, then burn the rest. Said Rabbi Tarphon: May I lose my sons if I would not burn any such books that fell into my hands, azkarot and all! Indeed, if I were fleeing from a deadly pursuer, I had rather take refuge in a house of heathen worship than enter into the house [Messianic synagogue of the Nazarenes] of such as these. For the heathen do not know Him and (so) deny Him; but these do know Him, and (yet) deny Him....The same question is the subject of a disagreement between Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba in Sifre on Numbers: Rabbi Ishmael says: The way to deal with books of the Minim is this: one cuts out the azkarot and burns the rest. Rabbi Akiba says: One burns the whole thing, because it was not written in holiness.”

D. S. Russell, author of The Method & Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, informs us: “L. Ginzberg has pointed out that in the entire rabbinic literature of the first six centuries there is not a single quotation from the extant apocalyptic literature; because of this it has sometimes been too readily assumed that rabbinic Judaism would have nothing whatever to do with the teaching and ideals contained in these books. C. C. Torrey, for example, affirms that from AD 70 onwards, so great was the devotion of the Jewish leaders to the Law and the sacred Scriptures, the decision was taken to destroy as undesirable all the Semitic originals of the ‘outside books’, including the apocalyptic writings, and so effect ‘the sudden and complete abandonment by the Jews of their popular literature’. Thus, this once-popular literature was discontinued and the ideas which it perpetuated were rejected as dangerous and heretical.”54
Russell goes on to say: “...the very fanaticism of the
apocalyptists would in itself be a warning to the rabbis of the dangers inherent in such teachings....Thus, they were a challenge both to rabbinic authority and to the safety of the State. Another, and perhaps decisive, factor in the decline of apocalyptic would be the rapid growth of Christianity and the adoption and adaptation by the Church of many Jewish apocalyptic writings whose messianic and eschatological teachings were eminently suitable for the purpose of Christian propaganda....With the return of more peaceful times the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts would be no longer in existence. Such books as survived would owe their survival to the fact that they had already been translated into other languages, and such apocalyptic ideas as persisted within rabbinic Judaism would be the result of oral transmission. This attempted solution is only a guess and cannot be proven; but it underlines the fact that, for whatever reason, the apocalyptic books were perpetuated not in the original Hebrew and Aramaic tongues but in Greek and in the many other languages of the Dispersion. By reason of the antipathy of many rabbis to them and because they were no longer available for study in their original texts, it was inevitable that they should at last fall out of use [among Jews].”55
Several of these apocalyptic writings included commentaries on the Bible by ancient rabbis whose originals were written in Hebrew. There is an extensive list in the back of Raphael Patai’s book, The Messiah Texts, in his section, “Abbreviations and Annotated Biography.” W. Bousset, in his book, Antichrist Legend, A Chapter in Christian and Jewish Folklore, quotes from many translated apocalyptic writings.

To conclude our comments regarding all of the attempts to destroy and cover up certain original apocalyptic writings dealing with predicted future events,56 we would like to ask you a question. Could all the talk about the burning of the New Testament by rabbis such as Me’ir, Akiva, Jose and Tarphon, have been connected with the destruction of these writings? If the New Testament was hunted down and destroyed in its original Hebrew editions, could this be the reason why we have been unable (as of yet) to discover the original57 Hebrew New Testament, which is the question of the century?
Fragments of an original document have been found and many wait for the original Hebrew New Testament to reappear from archaeological excavations in Israel. Such a find would impress a new openness to Jesus upon many Israeli rabbis’ eyes (see our appendix 1, “It’s All Hebrew to Me”)! We urge all true believers to pray that we soon discover the “Hebrew New”!

The entire article can be found here: http://www.ramsheadpress.com/messiah/ch08.html

The reason I bring this up is that if they didn't have any power to burn these books, then why meet to discuss how to do it, and then write it in their Talmud?

Richard Amiel McGough
02-10-2010, 12:52 PM
Here is some further evidence as to that situation:

Foremost scholar, James Parkes, in his book, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, comments on this issue with added details: '...the rabbis show a knowledge of the New Testament and of the details of the life of Jesus. The gospels are known as ‘Aven-gillayon’ by Rabbis Meir of Jabne and Jochanan. The word is an offensive pun [in Hebrew] meaning ‘revelation of sin’ or ‘falsehood of blank paper’. There is a discussion reported as to what shall be done with ‘external books’....Rabbi Meir says that they are not to be saved from the fire, but to be burned at once, even with the names of God in them. Rabbi Jose says that on a week-day the name of God ought to be cut out and hidden away. Rabbi Tarphon invoked a curse on himself if he did not burn the books, names of God and all.

I find it extremely interesting that the Aramaic NT texts included the "name of God." I wonder if that means they included YHWH. I searched my Peshitta in Bible Works and it doesn't have YHWH. So I am guessing the "names of God" the Rabbis worried about were just Elha and similar words corresponding to Elohim in Hebrew. If it had YHWH it would impact questions of the early understanding of the divinity of Jesus.

But as for the original question - I doubt that the Rabbis had sufficient power over Jewish Christians after 70 AD to influence the propagation of the Aramaic copies, so I don't think this is a good explanation for the lack of copies.



Scholar F. F. Bruce also adds interesting comments in his book, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament: '...the minim in question appear to be Jewish Christians....we are dealing with the controversies between Jewish Christians and the representatives of what was now main-stream Judaism in the period after A.D. 70, when Jewish Christians were excluded from the synagogue. Discussions sometimes arise about the status of ‘the books of the minim’....Derogatory puns on evangelion, the Greek word for ‘Gospel’, are ascribed to rabbis of the Tannaitic period: They called it ‘awen-gillayon or ‘awon-gillayon, which means something like ‘falsehood of the scroll’ or ‘perversion of the scroll’. Any claim that such works should be granted canonical recognition was decisively rejected. Some rabbis thought they might well be burnt; others suggested that the occurrences of the name of God which they contained should be cut out first.'

I really find their perversion of evangellion into the Aramaic pun hilarious and so so typical of folks who are frustrated with an argument that they can not win and that will never end. Human nature never changes.



Bruce further elaborates on this little-known subject of the rabbis’ abuse and intolerance of the New Testament, in his book, New Testament History: 'It is only after A.D. 70 that we can begin to talk about normative Judaism and of deviations from the norm; in the days of the Second Temple there was a much greater variety of Jewish religious life and practice, and no one form could claim to represent the standard by which others were to be judged.

When the rabbis of Jamnia discussed the recognition of canonical books and the rejection of others, one group to which they paid attention was ‘the books of the minim’. These contained the name of God, and yet their contents were unacceptable....it is unlikely that the idea of extending canonical recognition to the Christian books was seriously entertained: they were mentioned only to be condemned. ‘The gilyonim and the books of the minim are not sacred scripture’ [Talmud, Tosefta, Yadaim 2:13].[29] Some leading rabbis, like Yohanan ben Zakkai and Aqiba’s pupil Me’ir, made derogatory puns on the word evangelion, altering the vowels to ‘awen-gillayon or awon- gillayon’ (‘iniquity of the margin’). But ‘the vehemence with which the leading rabbis of the first generation of the second century express their hostility to the gospel and other books of the heretics, and to their conventicles, is the best evidence that they were growing in numbers and influence; some even among the teachers of the Law were suspected of leanings towards the new doctrine.’

This is extremely fascinating! It just so happens I have had a copy of Bruce's book on my shelf for a couple decades, but never dug into it! I'm going to read it this afternoon. Thanks!

:signthankspin:

The reason I bring this up is that if they didn't have any power to burn these books, then why meet to discuss how to do it, and then write it in their Talmud?
You misunderstood my point. They had all they power they needed over books in their own possession. But after 70 AD, I doubt they had power to go out and confiscate books from Jewish believers that they had already excluded from their synagogues. And it seems rather unlikely that the Jewish believers would have handed over their sacred NT Scriptures. So this does not seem to be a likely answer to why the early copies are missing. It seems more likely that they are missing because they never existed. But there is another possibility too. It's the same explanation we have for the dearth of Hebrew OT mss. They were treated like a person and buried when worn out. So maybe that's what happened to the early copies of the Peshitta.

Richard

gregoryfl
02-10-2010, 01:21 PM
I find it extremely interesting that the Aramaic NT texts included the "name of God." I wonder if that means they included YHWH. I searched my Peshitta in Bible Works and it doesn't have YHWH. So I am guessing the "names of God" the Rabbis worried about were just Elha and similar words corresponding to Elohim in Hebrew. If it had YHWH it would impact questions of the early understanding of the divinity of Jesus.Yes, you will not find YHWH, but you will find an equivalent that is used, that came out of Daniel's time, MarYah, only applied to the true God and to Jesus. I am not sure if this is the name that the Rabbis had issue with. I highly doubt they had an issue with El though.


You misunderstood my point. They had all they power they needed over books in their own possession. But after 70 AD, I doubt they had power to go out and confiscate books from Jewish believers that they had already excluded from their synagogues. And it seems rather unlikely that the Jewish believers would have handed over their sacred NT Scriptures. So this does not seem to be a likely answer to why the early copies are missing. It seems more likely that they are missing because they never existed. But there is another possibility too. It's the same explanation we have for the dearth of Hebrew OT mss. They were treated like a person and buried when worn out. So maybe that's what happened to the early copies of the Peshitta.

RichardI am only pointing out that they at the very least spoke of it, of burning them and cutting out the divine name so as not to be burnt along with it. Whether they actually did or not I have no idea, but just wanted to share that they did discuss it. Just seems odd that they would discuss something they could not actually at least attempt to do.

I was going to suggest the burial of the texts also as a possibility but figured you might not find that plausible, so am pleasantly surprised to see you mentioning it as a possibility. The scribes who transcribed the Aramaic texts are said to have done that very thing.

Richard Amiel McGough
02-10-2010, 03:37 PM
This is a very curious case. Isa 7:14 (MT) uses "almah" which can mean "virgin" but most generally means "young maiden." The Hebrew for a strict "virgin" is batula. This has caused a lot of dispute about the Greek NT which follows Isa 7:14 (LXX) and uses parthenos (virgin) in Matt 1:23.

So I checked the Peshitta and it uses batula (virgin).

Why would the Peshitta use batula when the Hebrew text being quoted uses almah? Aramaic has the word almah in its Lexicon.

It seems that the Peshitta used batula because it is a translation of the Greek parthenos of Matt 1:23 which came from Isa 7:14 in the LXX.

gregoryfl
02-15-2010, 12:07 PM
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Jas 5:16 Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.

Some texts have αμαρτιας, while others have παραπτωματα. They are synonymous words, but again, some chose one word, and others chose the other word, which look nothing alike. They appear to find their source in an Aramaic word which happens to mean both things, סכלותא

gregoryfl
02-15-2010, 12:23 PM
Here is one that actually has 7 variants:

Mat 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Since most English Bibles use the major manuscripts, we have to look at the actual copies of the Greek manuscripts themselves to see these variants listed, as follows:

akrasia – intemperate, lack of self control, excess
Mss.: ℵ B D Θ f1 f13

akaqarsia – unclean
Mss.: O Σ

adikia – unjust
Mss.: 28 579 700

akrasia adikia – 'unjust intemperance'.
Mss.: W

pleonexia – covetousness
Mss.: M

ponhria – wickedness
Mss.: Rare manuscripts, attested to in the much revered 'Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible'.

iniquitate – iniquity
Mss.: Rare manuscripts, attested to in the much revered 'Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible'.
Perhaps it is from a rare Latin manuscript, translated from a Greek manuscript that said 'iniquity'.
Curiously, the Latin Vulgata says 'immunditia' (uncleanness).

Taken from "Was the New Testament Really Written In Greek?" pg. 45,46.

The one Aramaic word which happens to convey all of these meaning is what is found in the Peshitta, עולא

Of these variants, the 2 main readings are: akrasian, (excess, lack of self control) and adiikiiav (iniquity, unrighteousness)

Not sure why my fonts aren't working. :confused: Oh well.

Ron

gregoryfl
02-15-2010, 12:49 PM
This is a very curious case. Isa 7:14 (MT) uses "almah" which can mean "virgin" but most generally means "young maiden." The Hebrew for a strict "virgin" is batula. This has caused a lot of dispute about the Greek NT which follows Isa 7:14 (LXX) and uses parthenos (virgin) in Matt 1:23.

So I checked the Peshitta and it uses batula (virgin).

Why would the Peshitta use batula when the Hebrew text being quoted uses almah? Aramaic has the word almah in its Lexicon.

It seems that the Peshitta used batula because it is a translation of the Greek parthenos of Matt 1:23 which came from Isa 7:14 in the LXX.

I agree that that is a possibility. But there are also many readings in the Peshitta OT which go against the LXX and are in line with the Masoretic text, which would seem to speak against it being a sole translation of the LXX alone, if at all. Perhaps there were manuscripts we know nothing about that contained betulah, and both the LXX and Aramaic Peshitta might have used those manuscripts for their renderings. We do know that the manuscripts used in the LXX are different from the Masoretic text.

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
02-15-2010, 05:30 PM
I agree that that is a possibility. But there are also many readings in the Peshitta OT which go against the LXX and are in line with the Masoretic text, which would seem to speak against it being a sole translation of the LXX alone, if at all. Perhaps there were manuscripts we know nothing about that contained betulah, and both the LXX and Aramaic Peshitta might have used those manuscripts for their renderings. We do know that the manuscripts used in the LXX are different from the Masoretic text.

Ron
Yes, that idea occurred to me too. I could imagine that the Scribes changed batulah to almah in reaction against Christian "abuse" of that text as proof of Christ as messiah. But I have never seen any textual evidence for this idea, and it seems unlikely only because I have been told how they would never do any such thing. (Reverence of the text and all that.) Then again, I've seen politics and religion turn saints into demons and it got pretty hot between Christians and Jews in the first century so it seems not unlikely that at least one or two not so scrupulous scribes would have at least been tempted to tamper with the text.

It would be good to focus on how the Peshitta compares with the verses in the Greek NT that cohere with the LXX. That should shed some interesting light on this topic.

Richard Amiel McGough
02-15-2010, 10:30 PM
I found this article called The Influence of the Septuagint on the Greek NT (http://www.upper-register.com/papers/influence-of-LXX-on-GNT.pdf). Here is the concluding paragraph:

J. Ross Wagner writes: My own close examination of the wording of Paul’s quotations and allusions to Isaiah in Romans supports the consensus view that Paul cites a Greek text (or texts) of this prophetic book. In most cases, Paul’s Vorlage seems to have been nearly identical with the Septuagint version of Isaiah; at times, Paul’s interpretation of a verse clearly depends on the form of the text distinctive to LXX Isaiah. In some cases, however, it appears that Paul has drawn his citation from a Greek text that reflects efforts to revise LXX Isaiah toward a Hebrew exemplar. Although I have given full consideration to textual evidence provided by MT, the Qumran finds (biblical MSS, pesharim, and quotations in other documents), the Targum, and the Peshitta, at no point has it been necessary to suppose that Paul has relied on a Hebrew or Aramaic text of Isaiah. This does not prove that Paul could not read these languages, nor does it show that he knew the book of Isaiah only in Greek. It does suggest, however, that Paul was intimately acquainted with a Greek version of Isaiah much like the LXX and that he apparently did not hunt down and exploit the textual variants in other languages as he interpreted the book.
The next stage is to compare the Peshitta rendering of the Greek texts in Romans that are quotes from Isaiah. It should be very enlightening.

Richard

gregoryfl
02-16-2010, 07:14 AM
Sounds good. Now, are we seeking to establish whether the Peshitta NT, (for the moment looking at it from your view) when quoting from the OT, translated from the LXX?

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
02-16-2010, 11:59 AM
Sounds good. Now, are we seeking to establish whether the Peshitta NT, (for the moment looking at it from your view) when quoting from the OT, translated from the LXX?

Ron
I think we are doing a general study to look at all the facts:

1) Does the Peshitta show any direct dependence on the LXX?

2) Does the Greek NT show any direct dependence on the Peshitta?

And your original question:

3) Are the textual variations in the Greek NT best explained as arising from the variety of Greek words that can be used to translate the Aramaic original?

I think we need to review all the evidence for these three questions to answer the big question which is the title of this thread:

4) Is there evidence to support an Aramaic origin of the New Testament writings?

Richard

gregoryfl
02-17-2010, 06:35 AM
Okie, as there are quite a few quotes in Romans, I will pick out some that I think are relevant to the discussion, starting with this one:

11. According to what is written: "As I live, says THE LORD JEHOVAH, every knee shall bow to me and to me every tongue shall swear." Peshitta

That to me shall bow, every knee and every tongue shall swear. DSS

Rom 14:11 For it is written, " 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.' " WEB

that to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear by God, LXX

The Greek adds, “to God”, following The LXX version of Isaiah 45:23. However, The Hebrew and Peshitta OT agree with the Peshitta reading here in the NT. Even the Dead Sea Great Isaiah Scroll (100 B.C.) agrees with the Peshitta reading, and with The Masoretic text of Isaiah generally throughout its 66 chapters.

You can read the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah in it's entirety here. You can also obtain it on CD from the same author, Fred Miller.

http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qa-tran.htm

alec cotton
03-02-2010, 11:49 AM
I have tried to follow this convoluted arguuement wth little success. I get the impression that some seem to think that the New Testament was written in Arabic or Hebrew or a mixture. Have you lost sight of the fact that the Holy spirit set his seal on his word? The new testamen must have been written in Greek or the pattern would not be there. The same applies to the septuagent. The Law and the prophets were written in hebrew and sealed by the creator himself . I have failed to find his signature in the LXX.
Alec

Richard Amiel McGough
03-02-2010, 12:39 PM
I have tried to follow this convoluted arguuement wth little success. I get the impression that some seem to think that the New Testament was written in Arabic or Hebrew or a mixture. Have you lost sight of the fact that the Holy spirit set his seal on his word? The new testamen must have been written in Greek or the pattern would not be there. The same applies to the septuagent. The Law and the prophets were written in hebrew and sealed by the creator himself . I have failed to find his signature in the LXX.
Alec
Hey there my friend!

I agree completely. The patterns in the Greek NT clearly indicate that it was "sealed by God." And besides that, it makes perfect sense that the NT, which is for the whole world, should be written in the language of the Gentiles rather than the Hebrew. Also, the nature of the languages are very different. Greek is like scientific laser light compared to the poetic vagueness of the Hebrew. It's like the left/right brain - Logic vs. Intuition, or Law vs. Wisdom (which sections are symmetrically placed on the left/right of the Bible Wheel, just like the human brain).

I think the evidence is overwhelming for an original Greek NT, but I don't think our discussion has been "convoluted." We've been exploring the evidence from all angles. It seems to be a very good thing to do.

All the very best!

Richard

gregoryfl
03-03-2010, 02:02 PM
I understand how you would see what I am sharing as convoluted. To me it is not. It truly depends on ones viewpoint. What appears as plain appears so because one considers it so. Now, that does not make it right by any means, but does help me sympathize with how you see it differently than I.

Ron

gregoryfl
03-03-2010, 02:08 PM
Since the early church quoted more often than not either from the LXX directly, opposed to the Hebrew texts we have today, or perhaps from the Hebrew texts that the LXX was translated from, of which we possess no copies, while it may not have God's signature, however you define that, it does appear to have God's direction at the very least in our having a more accurate understanding of what the original texts would have said.

Ron

Richard Amiel McGough
03-03-2010, 02:09 PM
I understand how you would see what I am sharing as convoluted. To me it is not. It truly depends on ones viewpoint. What appears as plain appears so because one considers it so. Now, that does not make it right by any means, but does help me sympathize with how you see it differently than I.

Ron
Hey Ron,

I hope you notice that I said "I don't think our discussion has been 'convoluted.' We've been exploring the evidence from all angles. It seems to be a very good thing to do."

I very much enjoy the various rabbit trails we hopped down, and I hope it continues. Of course, it seems to me that the evidence continues to mount for a Greek original NT except perhaps Matthew and Hebrews, but even if those are translations into Greek, I would assert that those are two cases of inspired translations! It's difficult for me to accept a semi-inspired NT.

Richard