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While I find polesemy, wordplay, poetry and the mistranslations to be strong evidence of an Aramaic original behind the Greek New Testament, I don't see why Semitic syntax used in the Greek New Testament shows that there is an Aramaic original behind the Greek. It just doesn't seem like a great argument to me. The Septuagint is good evidence for this argument, as it has a very Semitic flavor to its Greek (much like that of the Greek New Testament), but a Greek primacist could simply say that the Greek grammar of the Septuagint influenced the authors of the New Testament. Can anyone offer to me an explanation as to why the Aramaic syntax used in the Greek New Testament is evidence for Aramaic primacy?
If somebody restores an ancient painting, but the painting has had a lot of repairs, they still can determine the style of each painter and the Original.
In short, it leaves behind unique characteristics, that you cannot ignore and especially not using the Septuagint, which was translated from Hebrew mainly, not from Aramaic.

One point mentioned here is the Greek variant being Talita kum, and Talita kumi. The first was the correct pronouncement, the other was the way of writing. This is 100% evidence of an Aramaic Original.

Another one is the way Aramaic (Arabic as well) tends to accentuate emotion, by a double verb or double noun. This syntax is very common in the Peshitta, but in Greek it is a a few places. These are clearly left-overs of an erased (by a translator) Aramaic syntax, which needs not to be in Greek as in Acts 5:28.
I am not a Greek scholar, but I bet this is very ungreek.
ScorpioSniper2 Wrote:Can anyone offer to me an explanation as to why the Aramaic syntax used in the Greek New Testament is evidence for Aramaic primacy?

Shlama Akhi,

A quick question: How successful do you suppose Joseph Smith would have been in convincing people of the truth of Mormonism, if the scrolls he had revealed were written in Ebonics ?

If the Apostles meant to evangelize Greek-speaking areas of the world, why would they spread their message in a non-standard and uneducated Greek ?

+Shamasha
To play the other hand, most folk in that time weren't particularly standard, nor were they formally educated. :-)

However, I am one who does see the merit in the syntax argument, as it betrays an underlying layer -- if only that layer is a "generic" Semitic one rather than a Greek one. Pointing to those layers (solely under the context of this argument) can't even resolve definitively on its own whether the original text in any pericope was an Aramaic language or Hebrew (as their structures are similar enough). However, text read in translation is noticeable and of a different "texture" than text by a native speaker, and the Greek New Testament has swaths of both.

So yes, it is evidence, but not "smoking gun" evidence. It's evidence that needs to be factored in with other context. It's a pointer, or marker that greatly strengthens other arguments pertaining to Aramaic under-workings.
Shlama Akhan Steven,

But, the Hebrew of the OT is excellent, is it not? The Arabic of the Quran is excellent, is it not?

Aren't both of these collections considered to be primary sources in their respective linguistics circles?

Even outside of "Abrahamic" traditions, consider the works of other major world faiths. Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Mormonism, etc. Are any of these traditions rooted in an uneducated and rough language?

I'm trying to answer the question: is there another "religion", like (western) Christianity, that has a (for the lack of a better term) Creole-text as its sacred text?

+Shamasha
Paul Younan Wrote:Shlama Akhan Steven,

But, the Hebrew of the OT is excellent, is it not? The Arabic of the Quran is excellent, is it not?

Aren't both of these collections considered to be primary sources in their respective linguistics circles?


"Excellent" is a bit of a misnomer. There are portions of the Hebrew Bible, for example, that number of scholars believe could have been translations of prior traditions along with a great number of loan words, there are distinct dialectical differences (readily differentiated by shibboleths) between northern Israelite and southern Judahite Hebrew that in places mingle in odd ways, and don't forget the portions of Daniel and Ezra that flip-flop between Hebrew and Aramaic (which is more a function of how old they are in the volume; pre-exile vs post).

The Qur'an is believed to have some Syriac influences (granted not nearly as extensive as "Luxembourg"'s hypotheses), and these are apparently more obvious in older pre-standardization copies of the Qur'an (but that is beyond my working knowledge to discuss in-depth).

The Eddas and Sagas of Norse tradition swap between dialects and are primarily prose, rather than formal speech. The bulk of Buddhist texts are made up of a large assortment of languages in various forms of formality. Within Hinduism, there is a huge divide between Vedic Sanskrit (when it was a spoken language) and Classical Sanskrit (when it became a liturgical language) with expected differences within the Hindu scriptures written in them (one being more "natural" where the other is more translational, albeit formalized).

There really are few religious volumes that are homogeneous, and very few languages that aren't "vulgar" in some way. "Uneducated" here becomes a squiffy term, as prior to the modern era, being able to *write* meant you had some learning. Koine is far from a creole, strictly speaking. The only great examples of "uneducated" inscriptions I can point to from Biblical times are some scribbles on ossuaries as well as graffiti on walls such as what was found in Pompeii. :-)
SteveCaruso Wrote:Aren't both of these collections considered to be primary sources in their respective linguistics circles?


Hi Steve,

Sorry for this public msg, but I've PM-ed you twice. Probably you have not seen my questions?
<!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
distazo Wrote:Hi Steve,

Sorry for this public msg, but I've PM-ed you twice. Probably you have not seen my questions?
<!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

Apparently either the forum software doesn't like me, or I simply didn't notice the "X new messages" message at the top of the page from my casual browsing. :-)

(Er... probably it's the latter. Let's see now...)
SteveCaruso Wrote:Apparently either the forum software doesn't like me, or I simply didn't notice the "X new messages" message at the top of the page from my casual browsing. :-)

(Er... probably it's the latter. Let's see now...)

No Prob!
Thanks for the reply!
Shlama Akhi Steve,

I think you are avoiding my question, or perhaps I'm not phrasing it correctly. Just a simple question really.

When you study Hebrew in a university setting, is not the standard Biblical Hebrew? Likewise, isn't Classical Arabic taught with the Quran being one of the primary texts? Aren't both of these collections considered to be the examples of the foundations of those classical tongues?

Is the Greek of the New Testament versions considered to be a primary source in any linguistics, other than in a western Christian theological setting?

Pointing to the argument that "this is one of the primary text of koine greek" doesn't really answer the essence of my inquiry.

The Hebrew of the OT and the Arabic of the Quran aren't "koine" in any sense of the term. So that is what I'm asking. Is any other scripture that you are aware of, written in something like a "koine"?

A cognate would be if, for example, a Hindu text was written in a dialect of Sanskrit that was heavily influence by Chinese syntax. Or, alternatively, if a Taoist text was written in a Chinese dialect that was heavily influenced by Sanskrit (Indo-European) syntax.

The above is the type of thing I'd look for as a cognate to the Semitic substratum of the Greek of the NT.

+Shamasha
Akhi Paul,

I think I better understand what you're trying to ask, so bear with me. :-)

Paul Younan Wrote:When you study Hebrew in a university setting, is not the standard Biblical Hebrew? Likewise, isn't Classical Arabic taught with the Quran being one of the primary texts? Aren't both of these collections considered to be the examples of the foundations of those classical tongues?

Is the Greek of the New Testament versions considered to be a primary source in any linguistics, other than in a western Christian theological setting?

Pointing to the argument that "this is one of the primary text of koine greek" doesn't really answer the essence of my inquiry.

The Hebrew of the OT and the Arabic of the Quran aren't "koine" in any sense of the term. So that is what I'm asking. Is any other scripture that you are aware of, written in something like a "koine"?

A cognate would be if, for example, a Hindu text was written in a dialect of Sanskrit that was heavily influence by Chinese syntax. Or, alternatively, if a Taoist text was written in a Chinese dialect that was heavily influenced by Sanskrit (Indo-European) syntax.

The above is the type of thing I'd look for as a cognate to the Semitic substratum of the Greek of the NT.

+Shamasha

You're, in essence, asking for examples of translational phenomena in other religious texts (which, strictly speaking isn't a "koine" either). There are some good examples in a number of works in Classical Sanskrit that have a large amount of prakrit ("coloquialism"). Another closely related case is in the Edicts of Ashoka, where we can see similar things in Classical Sanskrit, Greek, AND Aramaic, multi-lingual inscriptions. Even portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls can show similar phenomena, as in places the scribes may be writing in Hebrew, but they are writing in-Aramaic-in-Hebrew with borrowings from grammar, vocabulary, and idiom.

When it comes to defining a language, however, it's a chicken vs egg scenario. For example, the corpus of what we call "Biblical Hebrew" and "Classical Arabic" is defined primarily by the sum total of language in the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an respectively. However, within that corpus there is plenty of variation. Once they assumed the status of Liturgical languages, we see a lot more examples of colloquialisms in later dialects that tried to hang on to the syntax and style of the classical language, but were written by people who did not speak them. I'm sure there are others, but I'd have to look to find them.

With Koine Greek, on the other hand, there are a large number of underlying features from different languages and dialects, many times of which would show through depending upon the speaker or context, if you get what I mean. What makes it a koine is its breadth, spread, and adaptation as a common tongue over a large geographical area, and where there is unity in its form as Greek, the range of expression and idiom is quite wide.

So all of that in mind, yes there are other religious texts that have the texture you're asking about. It's not "unique" to the Greek New Testament.

Did I hit upon the thrust of what you were after more appropriately this time?
Shlama Akhi Steven,

If aware are you, am asking I, of texts holy, that in like this substratum Aramaic are, yet in English written are ?

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+Shamasha

Ps. Commas added for clarity and proper flow of thought. Something not present in the GNT.
Nice post, this is Master Yoda. Witty it is!
ScorpioSniper2 Wrote:Nice post, this is Master Yoda. Witty it is!

Akhi, Jews (and Assyrians) have lived in Greece for over two thousand years. No one speaks Greek like this. They speak and write and read Greek as well as native Greeks. My grandparents lived there for over 20 years in Athens. When they spoke to Greeks here in the United States, no on could tell they weren't Greeks. They looked and spoke the part.

What you have read above in English, is how the GNT reads. That's not koine Greek. That's translational Greek. And the LXX reads the same way.

What you will not find is Indo-European syntax in the Hebrew of the OT. You will not find Indo-European syntax in the Arabic of the Quran. You will not find Indo-European syntax in the Aramaic of the Peshitta. You will not find Turkic syntax in Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. You will not find Dravidian syntax in Chinese texts of Taoism.

But you *will* find Semitic grammatical features in the LXX and the GNT. And for the same reason. They are both translational Greek, and they both have Hebrew and Aramaic sources.

+Shamasha
I definitely agree with you, Brother. I actually thought you were partially doing an Aramaic "interlinear". I was only making a joke. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> You already knew this I'm sure, but sometimes you reply in such a way that I get the impression that you think I'm misunderstanding you or trying to argue against something when I actually agree.

I view you as an authority on the Aramaic language, the history of the Church of the East, and Peshitta scholarship, Akhi. As a young man who is trying to learn the ropes of Peshitta and Aramaic scholarship, I have grown to admire you and the other scholars on here quite a lot. Your work is greatly and will bear fruit. I would not argue with you about Aramaic linguistics for one very good reason: YOU'RE A NATIVE SPEAKER! One thing a preacher I know said is, "You can make arguments about something, but you can't argue against experience." I think this holds very true in the field of linguistics also.
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