"New Testament Originally in Aramaic": Resources?

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Sean | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Jul 4 2021 8:24 PM

Not looking for a debate at all but for resources/articles:

Lately I've been encountering more and more, in both academic and popular works, the marginal theory that the New Testament, or at least parts of it, were originally written in Aramaic. Therefore, in order to best understand the text as it is before us, it is necessary to reconstruct an Aramaic original behind the Greek "translation" or use the Peshitta etc. The Lamsa Bible and Passion would the most famous work promoting this theory, but I've also started encountering mentions of it in some more mainstream academic works.

If you would be so kind, please point me to resources that deal with this issue from an academic perspective--its origins, basis, and the problems with it. I'm not necessarily interested in buying a monograph on the subject, if there are any. A few good articles in Bible surveys or dictionaries (I have many) would be sufficient. But I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to search for this in a way that doesn't draw a lot of irrelevant hits.

Thank you in advance.

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Damian McGrath | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 4 2021 9:31 PM

I just did a search of "everything" for "aramaic gospel" and got a good number of hits in my library.

Given that the theory is most often postulated with regard to Matthew and John, you could search your Matthew or John Commentaries for "aramaic" and see what comes up.

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 4 2021 9:47 PM

Sean:
A few good articles in Bible surveys or dictionaries (I have many) would be sufficient. But I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to search for this in a way that doesn't draw a lot of irrelevant hits.

Search suggestion is: (has mix of relevant & irrelevant results)

([field heading,largetext] Acts,Apocalypse,Epistle,Gospels,"New Testament",Revelation) BEFORE 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,([match exact] Hebrew))

Keep Smiling Smile

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Damian McGrath | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 4 2021 10:06 PM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):

Thanks for that - got rid of Acts,Apocalypse,Epistle, ... Revelation and there are some great articles, including Lexham Bible Dictionary "MATTHEW, GOSPEL OF, HEBREW VERSION OF"

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Sean | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 4 2021 10:29 PM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):

Thank you! That's a good start. I am really not that skilled at putting together more complicated searches like this.

One promising hit I got was this one in Semeia (hope I'm copying the Logos link right):

logosres:semeia55;ref=Page.p_41 

That one I'm bookmarking for later. Thanks again!

Other suggestions are also welcome.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 6:49 AM

Sean:

Thank you! That's a good start. I am really not that skilled at putting together more complicated searches like this.

One promising hit I got was this one in Semeia (hope I'm copying the Logos link right):

logosres:semeia55;ref=Page.p_41 

Thanks for sharing this. I've been reading my Greek New Testament this year and comparing the Passion Translation (personally I think it is more of a paraphrase) and have been highlighting the many occurrences where the author goes with the Aramaic over the Greek. I have also bookmarked this resource and am very interested in reading more on this topic.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 7:16 AM

Bruce Dunning:
where the author goes with the Aramaic over the Greek.

Not arguing, nor implying what you're not implying. But for clarification, there are no canon-ical gospels in aramaic (closest would be Thomas). Through the years, especially in the 1800s, there's been theoretical back-translating, in the same way there's been 'Q' volumes more recently (indeed theoretical-Q might come closest to an aramaic). And the 'hebrew' Matthew remains a lively speculation, with a little this and that from ancient authors.

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 9:13 AM

Damian McGrath:

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):

Thanks for that - got rid of Acts,Apocalypse,Epistle, ... Revelation and there are some great articles, including Lexham Bible Dictionary "MATTHEW, GOSPEL OF, HEBREW VERSION OF"

My search suggestion started with chapter 1 of Jesus by by R. Steven Notley; David Flusser (Orthodox Jewish Professor)

Flusser's sentence "These texts were originally written in Hebrew" became search terms => (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,Hebrew) with addition of Aramaic for thread discussion.

My initial search was ([field heading,largetext] Greek,Gospels,sources) WITHIN 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,Hebrew)

Tried search of ([field heading,largetext] Greek,Gospels,sources) WITHIN 1111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,Hebrew) that did not find Flusser's Jesus (while did find 775 articles in my Logos library)

Greek articles about original Hebrew included Septuagint along with Gospel of Matthew. Looking at many articles found various New Testament and Apocryphal articles so expanded search to: ([field heading,largetext] Acts,Apocalypse,Epistle,Gospels,"New Covenant","New Testament",Revelation) WITHIN 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,Hebrew)

Search results with Match All Word Forms checked found a number of articles about the Epistle to the Hebrews so refined search to exclude Hebrews: ([field heading,largetext] Acts,Apocalypse,Epistle,Gospels,"New Covenant","New Testament",Revelation) BEFORE 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,([match exact] Hebrew))

Checking search results found "New Covenant" did not find any articles while Apocalypse and Revelation found some articles: ([field heading,largetext] Apocalypse,"New Covenant",Revelation) BEFORE 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,([match exact] Hebrew))

Refined search ([field heading,largetext] Acts,Epistle,Gospels,"New Testament",Revelation) BEFORE 111 WORDS (original) WITHIN 7 WORDS (Aramaic,([match exact] Hebrew))

Semeia 55 article: “The Sayings Gospel Q and the Quest for Aramaic Sources: Rethinking Christian Origins,” was published in 1992.

In 2008, The Three Gospels: New Testament History Introduced by the Synoptic Problem by Martin Mosse was published:

Keep Smiling Smile

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 10:30 AM

Sean:
But I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to search for this in a way that doesn't draw a lot of irrelevant hits.

"Gospel of Matthew" NEAR Hebrew,Aramaic gets a lot of relevant hits for me without, seemingly, a lot irrelevant ones. "Gospel of Matthew" NEAR Papias is also helpful.

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 10:37 AM

Sean:
Other suggestions are also welcome.

Lenski, in his commentary on Matthew, has a thorough and rather interesting discussion of this possibility on pages 10-18

https://ref.ly/logosres/lenski01?ref=Page.p+10 

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 10:52 AM

DMB:

Bruce Dunning:
where the author goes with the Aramaic over the Greek.

Not arguing, nor implying what you're not implying. But for clarification, there are no canon-ical gospels in aramaic (closest would be Thomas). Through the years, especially in the 1800s, there's been theoretical back-translating, in the same way there's been 'Q' volumes more recently (indeed theoretical-Q might come closest to an aramaic). And the 'hebrew' Matthew remains a lively speculation, with a little this and that from ancient authors.

I appreciate your clarification. Just to clarify what I was saying is that the author is saying that he is choosing to translate based on Aramaic (and Hebrew). Here is an example from Matthew 12. Note the pop-up in the screenshot says "As translated from the Aramaic."

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 1:16 PM

As Denise mentioned, we only have Greek language texts of the NT. One of the arguments put forward for original Hebrew or Aramaic autograph texts is the presence in our Greek texts of obvious Hebraisms and Aramaisms. Yes, it is true that there are Hebraisms/Aramaisms found in the Greek texts, but those DO NOT require prerequisite texts written in either Hebrew or Aramaic. They only indicate that the Greek is translating language that was spoken in Hebrew or Aramaic.

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 1:24 PM

Somewhere in my Logos library, I read something by Stanley Porter that pretty much explained why this is all utterly implausible and I've since found other things confirming it. There is still a truckload of Hebraisms and a storehouse of Semitic stuff in the NT. It's just not tied to something not verifiable. Pulling truth from what you do have is much more trustworthy. 

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 1:29 PM

mab:
Somewhere in my Logos library, I read something by Stanley Porter that pretty much explained why this is all utterly implausible

Could you clarify what you are referring to as "this"? Thanks.

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GregW | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 1:31 PM

Bruce Dunning:
Note the pop-up in the screenshot says "As translated from the Aramaic."

This is an extremely controversial claim by Brian Simmons and there is huge controversy over the legitimacy of these claims. You probably won't find much in your library as most of it is still not in academic journals, but there was a very helpful article in Themelios a while ago - see https://ref.ly/logosres/themelios43-1?ref=Page.p+57&off=1094 which does deal with his claim about translating from Aramaic (albeit relating to Psalms).

I won't enter the debate further here, but if you put "What's wrong with the Passion Translation?" into a search engine you will find quite a bit from reputable scholars (as well as some hysterical dross), most of it in YouTube videos. 

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 1:34 PM

mab:
Somewhere in my Logos library, I read something by Stanley Porter that pretty much explained why this is all utterly implausible and I've since found other things confirming it. There is still a truckload of Hebraisms and a storehouse of Semitic stuff in the NT. It's just not tied to something not verifiable. Pulling truth from what you do have is much more trustworthy. 

Can you

Sean:
point me to resources that deal with this issue from an academic perspective--its origins, basis, and the problems with it.

rather than articulating one side of the debate, bearing in mind

Sean:
Not looking for a debate at all

and the Forum Guidelines?

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 2:07 PM

GregW:

Bruce Dunning:
Note the pop-up in the screenshot says "As translated from the Aramaic."

This is an extremely controversial claim by Brian Simmons and there is huge controversy over the legitimacy of these claims. You probably won't find much in your library as most of it is still not in academic journals, but there was a very helpful article in Themelios a while ago - see https://ref.ly/logosres/themelios43-1?ref=Page.p+57&off=1094 which does deal with his claim about translating from Aramaic (albeit relating to Psalms).

I won't enter the debate further here, but if you put "What's wrong with the Passion Translation?" into a search engine you will find quite a bit from reputable scholars (as well as some hysterical dross), most of it in YouTube videos. 

Thanks Greg. I appreciate that link and I will look at it later. I too don't want a debate over the Passion Translation and I have watched and read a number of reviews. My personal goal is to find out for myself and so that's why I decided to read my Greek NT this year with the Passion Translation beside it and highlight concerns as well as things that I appreciate about it too. I think that much of my concerns would be diminished if they would simply self-identify it as a paraphrase and not a translation.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 2:52 PM

Somehow, I managed to miss this resource for a least 3 years (got it yesterday):

https://www.logos.com/product/137138/a-dictionary-of-early-christian-beliefs 

Basically, it lists quotes in estimated chronologogical order from the Church Fathers series, plus some extras since then ... by subject.  And really quite good.

I know Sean said no specific resources, but indeed it had two articles (Hebrew Mathew and Gospels) listing out the available quotes ... quite lengthy too.

Sometimes, the early logic can be quite cutting:

"If anyone should lend credence to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, where the Savior Himself says, “My mother, the Holy Spirit, took me just now by one of my hairs and carried me off to the great Mount Tabor,” he will have to face the difficulty of explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ." Origen (c. 228, E), 9.329.

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Ken Thompsen | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 2:58 PM

Sean:

Not looking for a debate at all but for resources/articles:

Lately I've been encountering more and more, in both academic and popular works, the marginal theory that the New Testament, or at least parts of it, were originally written in Aramaic. Therefore, in order to best understand the text as it is before us, it is necessary to reconstruct an Aramaic original behind the Greek "translation" or use the Peshitta etc. The Lamsa Bible and Passion would the most famous work promoting this theory, but I've also started encountering mentions of it in some more mainstream academic works.

If you would be so kind, please point me to resources that deal with this issue from an academic perspective--its origins, basis, and the problems with it. I'm not necessarily interested in buying a monograph on the subject, if there are any. A few good articles in Bible surveys or dictionaries (I have many) would be sufficient. But I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to search for this in a way that doesn't draw a lot of irrelevant hits.

Thank you in advance.

I think Matthew is the only writing with an argument in favor of this. Or at least a "proto-Matthew", which could have been later rewritten in Greek. Or maybe even the supposed "Q" source itself (which in my opinion is just Matthew). Either way, Matthew may have already been known to the writers of the Didache, as it echos Matthew in points. And that apparently from an early Jewish heavy community in Syria, who would have easily been Aramaic speaking. Some (even critical scholars) have dated the Didache as early as the 50s AD, which puts a huge dent in the otherwise critical dating of Gospels at much later dates. This would have been the ideal time we would have seen more Aramaic speaking communities. As for actually getting to these Aramaic sources, good luck on that!

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 5 2021 3:04 PM

David Paul:

Could you clarify what you are referring to as "this"? Thanks.

The whole idea that the NT was originally in Aramaic. 

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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