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Was Jesus Forsaken On The Cross? (Part 2)
A Letter to Albion...........

Here is the direct quote from a personal letter from The Very Reverend Michael Birnie, Chorepiscopus, from St. Thomas the Apostle Church of the East in Seattle, Washington, dated Dec. 4th, 1990, to yours truly.

I was asking about this same quote from one of Rocco Errico's (who was /is Lamsa's student) books.

Here's Father Birnie's answer to me, MINUS ALL OF THE SYRIAC QUOTES.

"In regard to the Scripture you asked about, it really should not be a matter of dispute. (eil, eil lmana shbaqtan[i]?") can only have one meaning: El (the typical form of address for God [Elleh, the equivalent in Aramaic being "Allaha"], El, for what, or "why?" (l'mana is an interrogative, and what follows must be framed as a question,) have you left me (or, abandoned me, or forgotten me, etc.)? The following is the authorative Payne-Smith "Syriac-English Dictionary" definition for the neuter interrogative pronoun "man, mana": "What? Why? Wherefore?" with the prepositional prefix "l" added: "to what end? Why? Wherefore?" It is grammatically unacceptable to turn the interrogative into a declarative or expostulatory statement.

To understand this even more clearly, one should substitute Mr. Errico's translation for the opening sentence of Psalm 22 (which Jesus was quoting). The Syriac sentence reads, "Allah[i] allah[i] l'manashbaqtan[i]," or, "My God, my God, why have you left me," and goes on, "warkheqt men[i] porqan[i] b melle dsaklwath[i]," or, "and remove from my salvation through [in, because of] the words of my folly?"

The second verse goes on to reinforce the sense of loss and abandonment: "Allah[i] eqreikh bimama la tenein[i]? Wablelya ola t'khattar li?" or, "My God, my God, I will cry to you in the day--will you not answer me?--and in the night--will you not remain with me[stand by me]?" One might ask oneself the question: How would "O sustainer to what a purpose you have left me! and removed from me... etc." sound in the context of the psalm. David is expressing an agonizing sense of loss, loneliness, and fear. Christ's identification of himself with this same sense of loss, etc., is the point of the quotation. The Christological issue,developed at length by the theologians and scholars of later generations, is that the manhood of Christ bore the full measure of grief and suffering in the crucifixion, from the sweating of drops of blood--"if it be possible, let this cup pass from me"--to the ultimate death throes. It was in his manhood that the priestly role was carried out. His Godhead was in him and with him in a quiescent or passive sense, but did not suffer or die in its nature as his bodily substance did in giving up His spirit. ["Sh'baq rokheh]," or, "his spirit departed [went away, took leave, went out, etc.]" In his manhood, he suffered the full range of human emotion associated with such a predicament (though without sin), and to suggest that he did not is to rob the crucifixion of is its power and impact and meaning.

I would suggest a great deal of care be taken--I sense that you already do this--in approaching the teachings of such as Mr. Errico. Those teachings are not subject to the discipline or correction of the Church or of recognized scholarship. There are many with a private agenda who utilize the P'shitta (which is generally unknown and inaccessible to the public) to build carreers--sometimes quite comfortable ones--and who mold the text to fit the agenda. I do not know if this applies to Mr. Errico, I do not know him and have not seen his work. Wariness is called for becuase Christology is at issue and Christology is the Great Tradition upon which orthodoxy stands or falls. ("Who do men say that I am?")

The Payne-Smith Dictionary is the authoritative Syriac-English dictionary. It is published by Oxford (the latest edition I ordered cost $130). Probably any book dealer can order it for you. I suppose that I should warn you that the entries are in the West Syrian script, which would necessitate you learning that alphabet. It is exactly the same as the classical East Syrian alphabet, but the characters are modified and the pointing is with modified Greek letters positioned in the place of the points. Insofar as speaking the language is concerned, you will not find anyone to speak it back. Modern "Assyrian" is a much later development on classical Syriac (in which the P'shitta was written) which itself is a devleopment on Aramaic, much like Spanish and Italian are developments on Latin."

(Albion again) This is all very intense and scholarly, read it two or three times to digest it all. I believe that Father Birnie is probably CORRECT in *everything* that he said here to me.

Shlama, Albion

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Re: Was Jesus Forsaken On The Cross? (Part 2) - by *Albion* - 11-24-2007, 04:11 AM

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