Interpretation of eli eli lama sabachthani

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Dennis Davis | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Apr 2 2014 9:30 AM

Hi, 

I've been wracking my brain attempting to do some research on the controversial topic of the meaning of Christ's word in Matthew 27:45-46 (eli eli lama sabachthani).  My wife and I have been having a spirited debate with her falling on the side of the true meaning coming from the Lamsa Bible stating "for this I was kept."  However, nearly every other commentary and scholarly article that I've come across supports the popular view that the meaning is, "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?"  

I had always thought that those words spoken by Christ were in Aramaic, however, there is some research out there that indicates the words were a hybrid of Aramaic and Hebrew.  Also, since there are so few versions of an eastern interpretation of the Bible, Lamsa's version is taken as 100% accurate because he spoke Aramaic.  

So, having said all of that, I have two questions that I thought some of you had already pondered and could supply some good answers: 

1.  what is the true interpretation of the text

2.  what was the language of the original words Christ spoke

3.  is the Lamsa Bible an accurate version to include in my library

4.  are there any other versions of an eastern Bible that I can download/purchase (if not on Logos then elsewhere)? 

I apologize if this thread has already been discussed or if I put it in the wrong category (General) but I thank all of you in advance for your answers. 

God Bless

Dennis 

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William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 10:59 AM

Hi Dennis,

I'll let other help hone in finding particular resources covering this specific issue, but you will find a lot of help by putting the reference in your Passage Guide and looking through the materials (I believe various commentaries would address this topic copiously).

I'd like to provide one thought beyond that though, and that's the text itself. I think you can let Scripture interpret Scripture here:

The Death of Jesus Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (Matthew 27:45-50 ESV)

Matthew, Jesus' disciple and Apostle tells us that Jesus said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". Even at the time of the crucifixion, you see that others there may not have understood what he said (i.e. "This man is calling Elijah"). So I believe the best interpretation will be the Holy Spirit's (biblical inspiration presumed here) rather than man's.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 11:10 AM

Dennis Davis:

I've been wracking my brain attempting to do some research on the controversial topic of the meaning of Christ's word in Matthew 27:45-46 (eli eli lama sabachthani).  My wife and I have been having a spirited debate with her falling on the side of the true meaning coming from the Lamsa Bible stating "for this I was kept."  However, nearly every other commentary and scholarly article that I've come across supports the popular view that the meaning is, "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?"  

I had always thought that those words spoken by Christ were in Aramaic, however, there is some research out there that indicates the words were a hybrid of Aramaic and Hebrew.  Also, since there are so few versions of an eastern interpretation of the Bible, Lamsa's version is taken as 100% accurate because he spoke Aramaic.

We are discouraged from engaging in theological debates on these forums, so my response will be brief.

The priority of the Aramaic Bible and in particular the Lamsa Bible are generally not accepted by most of the Christian world. That Jesus spoke Aramaic on the cross at Matt. 27:46 is obvious, though Matthew differs from Mark 15:34, and has Jesus using Hebrew for "my God" (eli, vs. Aramaic eloi--at least in some manuscripts). That the Bible was originally written in Aramaic and mistranslated in to Greek is far from certain--very far. 

The question of what he said, whether quoting from Psalm 22, or making some other statement, is really a question of textual criticism (which texts are considered most reliable), in this case one textual tradition is set against another. I've not used textual criticism resources in Logos, so perhaps someone else can suggest some Logos titles for you.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 11:31 AM

I agree with William, let Scripture interpret Scripture.

Your wife's "interpretation" (the one she chooses to choose) is wrong for several common sense things: 1) The so called translation "For this I was kept" doesn't make sense! Why? Because Jesus didn't stuttered when He was on the cross.  His words would have to be translated, "For this, for this I was kept," instead of just one "for this I was kept." 2) Many scholars state that Jesus spoke a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, 3) You're already making the mistake of saying your wife is "falling on the side of the true meaning coming from the Lamsa Bible" - why do you call it true meaning? 4) Even if Jesus spoke the whole sentence in Aramaic, Matthew (who was inspired) gave you the meaning of the words and to question him would be questioning the Holy Spirit who guided him to write the "True translation and interpretation" if you would.

Now, you have 4 questions and not 2 like you said, but here's the simple truth/answer to them:

1.  what is the true interpretation of the text? The true interpretation is the one Matthew gave through the guidance of the Holy Spirit OR let me put it this way, the true interpretation is the one the Holy Spirit gave through Matthew.

2.  what was the language of the original words Christ spoke? The majority states it was a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic.

3.  is the Lamsa Bible an accurate version to include in my library? It may seem like a contradiction but all Bible translations have some discrepancies when it comes to translating the parent language; hence, there's not a 100% accurate Bible.

4.  are there any other versions of an eastern Bible that I can download/purchase (if not on Logos then elsewhere)? I don't know of any and why would you want one anyway if your wife claims the Lamsa Bible is 100% accurate...Stick out tongue

I have one other question to add and I'll give you the answer:

1. Is this a salvation issue? No, it is not a salvation issue.  So even if there was doubt concerning the translation Matthew provided, God does not expect you to know that 100% in order to make it to Heaven.  There are other far more important things God wants you to know so you can obey Him (e.g. The Gospel).

Now, a fair warning: Remember that Eve was the one who was easily deceived into believing lies and then Adam followed.  The lesson here - "Don't be an Adam!" LOL (I hope my LOL clarifies that this "fair warning" was a joke).

Anyway, if you want to study the issue more, do so, but I would stick with what The Holy Spirit said through Matthew.

Blessings!

DAL

 

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Dennis Davis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 11:50 AM

Thanks for the replies thus far.  To clarify some points that Dal brought up: 

Yes, I did state two then changed to 4 questions so my apologies.  Also, I had no intention to imply that the Lamsa version was accurate or the true meaning but to state that that is her position.  Finally, I completely concur that this issue is most definitely not a point of salvation but more of a theological (and friendly) debate.  However, having said that, it would be great to be able to dig into it as much as possible with the final end result still being that what the Holy Spirit has inspired is the final word of truth. 

Also, for any forum administrators, my apologies for asking a theological question on the forum.  For all that have and will reply, again many thanks. 

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 12:15 PM

Dennis Davis:
 

Also, for any forum administrators, my apologies for asking a theological question on the forum.  

Personally, I don't think the question was a theological question, but more of a "Textual Criticism" question (i.e. how something should be translated based on the manuscript evidence).  Jesus' words raise a lot of theological debates (e.g. Did God really forsake Jesus? Was Jesus complaining to God or just quoting Psalm 22, etc.).  So I wouldn't worry about it if I were you Smile

DAL

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 12:22 PM

Dennis Davis:
4.  are there any other versions of an eastern Bible that I can download/purchase (if not on Logos then elsewhere)? 

There are at least 4 other translations most from the Aramaic-original point of view. A google search will find them. I've not seen them to evaluate them.

Dennis Davis:
 is the Lamsa Bible an accurate version to include in my library

Lamsa is less than perfect but it is a readily available standard you should have for comparison.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 12:49 PM

First, let's understand the 'Aramaic Bible' (since we are on Logos.com) is the english translation of the Targums with critical notes. It only relates to the OT by virtue of the notes and the italicized Targum text. And it informs relative to the NT potentially by pure coincidence.

Secondly, Lamsa is referenced periodically in various scholarly discussions.  But it's translation-specific, meaning you have to look at each instance.  Most Christians are reluctant to go with Lamsa since of course it's not from the Holy Ghost language (greek), but does tend to track the KJV (offsetting its non-greek flavor).

And third, I'd go with your wife but not for the arguments you're referencing.  If you go into the Syriac versions, you'll notice quite a bit of twisting that 'could' relate to an arabic or aramaic base; certainly not the greek amalgam you see today. Thus Lamsa.  Which is correct? You'd need to discuss with the original writer (who of course is anonymous and dead).

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 12:57 PM

Denise:
First, let's understand the 'Aramaic Bible' (since we are on Logos.com) is the english translation of the Targums with critical notes

Devil <--- he made me post this

I've not seen the NT Targums. Will they be included in the Liturgical Press series? Big Smile

Okay I know that Lamsa is Targums + Peshitta but ....

Devil <--- he made me post this

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 1:03 PM

OK MJ.  Through the years you've been right pretty much 100% of the time (along with fgh).

But Lamsa is NOT the Targums plus the NT. From what I understand, he edited the KJV making adjustments as needed.  I 'wish' indeed he had given an english version of the Peshitta.

Now so no one will be bedeviled (!), the Targums (OT) have quite a bit of language that shows up on Jesus' lips.  But given the Targums are dated almost the same as the MT (800-1000 years after the Messiah arrived), coincidence is the best one can do.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 2 2014 1:08 PM

I think you are that he worked from the KJV.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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John Dudash | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 6 2020 5:14 PM

Hi Dennis, I’ll start out with Hebrews 12:2, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...Also John 8:29 And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. Was Jesus Christ pleasing His Father hanging on that cross? I’ll let you read Romans 8: 38-39, I’ve been taught that El Eli Lama Sabachthani means,my God my God for this purpose was I spared or kept as Llamsa puts it, It was a cry of victory of triumph, your salvation and mine was accomplished in that moment, sins and sicknesses placed upon the Lamb of God,innocent blood, also we don’t know what revelation the Father may have been showing Jesus at that moment of extreme suffering, as a side note Llamsa used to say if they changed the translation to “kept“ they wouldn’t have been able to sell as many Bibles in the western culture. As you know tradition seems to trump truth. I have never researched the words Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani, which I will do at some point but I am just sharing the truth of the Scripture as I Know. Also as a side note, those words are only found in Matthew (Jesus Christ as King) and in Mark (Jesus Christ as God’s servant) not in Luke ( Jesus Christ as God’s man) or John ( Jesus Christ God’s Son).... Jesus Christ’s kingship and servanthood declaring victory in the spiritual and physical realm shaking the adversary’s realm as well. Thank God Jesus Christ did what He did for your salvation and mine! God Bless you!

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