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Shavout or Pentecost? - ograabe - 05-04-2008

May 3, 2008

If the Book of Acts was originally written in Aramaic, why does Acts 2:1 use the word Pentecost rather than Shavuot for the Hebrew festival of weeks?

Otto


Re: Shavout or Pentecost? - Andrew Gabriel Roth - 05-04-2008

Shlama Akhi Otto,

The simple answer is this: PENTECOST is a targum that is meant to shed light on how to keep Shavuot. 2000 years ago there were two competing visions as to how to do this. The Pharisaic (and later Rabbinic) model was the majority view by far (confirmed by Josephus even and Y'shua who followed Pharisaic timing), said that the weeks had to be complete from 16 Nisan (the morrow after the [Annual] Shabbat that is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Nisan 15). They interpret Shavuot as COMPLETE WEEKS, the omer count then ending exactly 50 days later. In order to aid the faithful, especially Gentile converts, translations of Tanakh such as the LXX began using PENTECOST--meaning "50 days"--to let their readership know the 50-day model was the correct interpretation.

The competing model of course was that of Sauduccees and later the Karaites. They insisted that it was SHABBATS, not WEEKS, that were counted, and that the count was keyed from the next WEEKLY Shabbat, not the Annual. By this model, Shavuot would always have to fall on a Sunday, but in the year of Y'shua's crucifixion BOTH models got us to Sunday Shavuot.

For me, again, Y'shua's decision here is the deciding factor. And yes, this is a loan word too from the Greek, but also a clarifying targumic term to help the Gentile believers, including the person Luke is writing to, Theophilus (aka Tawpeela). Because his Gospel and Acts are initially written to one Gentile person, Luke shows the opposite trending of say Matti, who wrote for the Jews. That is also why Luke, for example, uses EUCAHRISTA, which indicates any bread--leavened or unleavened--that is used in connection with sacred service or thanksgiving.

So all the reasons we usually give for loan words apply here--reflecting linguistic exchanges between conquering Rome and subjugated Israel and so on--but there are additional mechanisms in this case also at work.

Hope this helps!

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth


Re: Shavout or Pentecost? - ograabe - 05-04-2008

May 4, 2008

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for the excellent reply and helpful information. I was mostly concerned that Pentecost is of Greek origin (from the Greek word Pentekoste) rather than of semitic origin. Therefore, someoene might argue that its use suggests that Acts was originally written in Greek and later translated into Aramaic. Do you have anymore comments on that issue?

Sincerely,

Otto


Re: Shavout or Pentecost? - Andrew Gabriel Roth - 05-04-2008

Shlama Akhi Otto,

Loan words is a topic we have dealt with quite often at peshitta.org. If the Peshitta did not have loan words, if it did not reflect the reality of Hebrews under Roman occupation, then it would be fraud.

There are other complexities to this matter that have to be dealt with before going to the overly simplfied solution of "it had to be in Greek". For example, take KRISTIANAY in Acts and in Peter's writings. In that case the Peshitta is simply recording the sound the writers heard in Antioch as people called the disciples by a term in their language of Greek. They would not have called the disciples MISKHANEE. But it is important to note the disciples never called themselves KRISTANAY.

I really don't think much of "scholars" who reach for such sweeping conclusions by the misapplication of such small data points.

I think this brief summary from Paul Younan in 2004 says it best:

Report this postReply with quote Why are there Greek words in the Aramaic NT?
by Paul Younan on Sat Apr 10, 2004 1:35 am

The same reason why there are Aramaic words in the Greek NT (i.e., Sikera, Luke 1:15 among many others), Persian words in the Hebrew OT (i.e., Tirshatha, Ezra 2:63, Neh. 8:9 among many others), Egyptian words in the Hebrew OT (i.e., hartummim, Genesis 41:8 among many others).....and, for that matter, Spanish words in English (and vice-versa.)

They are called loan-words, and all languages have them. Every language borrows from every other language it comes into contact with.

If you study the Aramaic text of the Elephantine Papyri (5th-c. B.C. -Egypt), you will notice many Greek loan-words.

See viewtopic.php?t=97 for more Aramaic loan-words in the Greek versions of the NT.Paul Younan
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Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth


Re: Shavout or Pentecost? - ograabe - 05-04-2008

May 4, 2008

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for your detailed explanations. They are clearly stated and very much appreciated.

Blessings...

Otto