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On Considering The Tanakh When Reading The P'shitta
After reading Dave Bauscher's post in the 'Was Jesus Forsaken On The Cross' thread, I'd like to say here what I've learned from Stephen Silver (<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->) about considering the Tanakh, or "The Old Testament", while reading the P'shitta NT.

If we go to the 22nd Psalm and read in a GOOD translation I like 'The Jerusalem Bible--Koren Edition' (<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... 000&sr=1-6</a><!-- m -->), which I consider an exceptionally good Jewish translation of the Tanakh.

Now, you know, I already knew to consider the Tanakh before Stephen Silver told me this, but I think his bringing this home to me again, helped to solidify my thinking that we need to SEARCH the Tanakh, especially when considering a quote in the P'shitta NT.

And especially when considering a quote so powerful and important as "My God, My God why have You forsaken me?"

Here's what Victor Alexander said about this Tanakh quote in a footnote in his 'Disciples New Testament':

Victor Alexander said in a footnote about Matthew 27:46:

"Original ancient Aramaic retained...'I AM, I AM, wherefore have you left me?" "EIL" is a title of God, "IS." It has not been translated in English as such, therefore, I have used the more acceptable designation "I AM." Idiomatically, "wherefore" implies destiny. "Sh' wik-thani" is the only correct transliteration, and it means "left me" in the sense of the purpose for which Jesus was left on the cross. It absolutely does NOT mean "forsaken" in this usage.

Now, Victor speaks Syriac, and I do NOT. He's also a member of The Church of the East, a Church that use's Aramaic (Syriac) extensively in their liturgy.

But his footnotes are THE ONLY PLACE that I've ever seen this quote: "I AM, I AM, wherefore have you left me?".

What would Akhan Paul (Younan) have to say about Victor's quote here?

Or Akhan Andrew Gabriel Roth, what might you have to say about Victor Alexander's quote here, in the light of the 22nd Psalm?

I'm really VERY INTERESTED in hearing Paul's and Andrew's answer's to this question.

How does "I was spared" hold up in the light of Psalm 22?

Shlama all, Albion
Shlama Akhi Albion,

In terms of what Victor says about shwakthani, I think my position is very well established. I agree with Victor, Paul Younan and George Lamsa that the word does not mean "forsake" in Matthew 27:46. I also believe that, even though I think azbatani DOES MEAN FORSAKE in Psalm 22:1, that this word is also well-established as having other meanings also along the lines of "reserve, keep, spare". I maintian vigorously that when YHWH commands the Israelites to leave the stubble in the back of their fields intact for the poor, that this is NOT "forsake" as we understand the term, but clearly RESERVING/SPARING for the poor. Having documented this extensively before, I see no reason to do so again. I agree to disagree in all respect and peace with those who think otherwise and do not wish to enter into a fresh debate on this matter.

As for the rest, I am willing to defer to Paul Younan here completely but offer my opinion that VIctor is wrong about the AYL meaning "God is". I think Victor is confusing AYL with perhaps YAHWEH meaning "Yah, He is", YHWH being the third person version of Ehyeh Asher Eyheh, I am that I am.

The only way I could even see Victor being remotely correct is if he can make a case that AYL contains within it hayah (to be), and somehow the "ah" is aspirated from the Y??? My previous review of the Qorbana and Marganitha shows no overt usage of AYL as "God is" but I am willing to be corrected here as I freely admit not having gone looking for that term specifically but going on general memory.

The word AYL only appears here and in the Markan recension of the same phrase. It is never used elsewhere in the Peshitta text as far as I am aware. As a result this complicates the issue and makes it hard to pin down contextually. I think though the greatest disadvantage to Victor's position is that Mark himself translates AYL as ALAHI and ALAHI is the cognate of ELI. For me, that's really the end of the story.
As it stands though I see only two possibilities in the absence of more specific info from Paul Younan:

1) It is a scribal error and was meant to reflect the Greek's ELI all along--something I am EXTREMELY RELUCTANT TO ACCEPT. OR--

2) It is a case of sound preservation in one version as opposed to spelling preservation in another, something which we have seen before. Basically I have noted a few occasions where the Greek preserves the SOUNDS of the word but the Aramaic has its correct spelling, or vice versa.

I am inclined towards this second scenario especially given the unique circumstances of Y'shua being on the cross and having his fatigue and pain perhaps slur his speech. In this same passage I have looked at, I noted with interest how Hebrew speakers thought he was calling on Elijah. If Y'shua said (per the Greek now) "ELI-AHH", the AHH being a scream of pain, it is easy to see how he was misheard. Similarly, as the breath began to go out of him, another ocurrence of this phrase (there is no reason he could not repeated it at the end), might have resulted in AYL and a trailing end syllable that was not heard. As a result, both Greek and Aramaic MAY be preserving the sounds of this phrase, uttered once in Matthew and once in Mark.

It is also worth noting that such confusion is EXACTLY why Mark 15:34 interprets FROM ARAMAIC TO ARAMAIC AYL as ALAHI, which to my mind supports the slurred speech hypothesis. Mark wanted to retain the exact sounds of his Master while still explaining to his Aramaic speaking readership exactly what Y'shua meant. This is ONLY time that Mark ever needs to use phrases like "which in interpreted"--the other being interpreting the multiple meaning rasgshee as reama in 3:17 or when there is the odd Hebrew place name called something else in his Aramaic vernacular. Otherwise Mark expects his readers to know what Aramaic terms mean and leaves of "which is interpreted" in places where the Greek does not (e.g. Mark 5:41).

The other interesting intepretive wrinkle is that Matthew does NOT translate AYL into ALAHI but Mark does. Now why is this important? Simple: We currently have Eastern tradition saying Matthew wrote first vs western scholarship that says Matthew adapted Mark independently from Luke. However, on the Aramaic side at least, this is EXACTLY the kind of recension we would expect MARK TO DO IF HE WERE WRITING AFTER AND CONSULTING MATTHEW'S GOSPEL. I think this is crystal clear personally: Questions must have arisen on this and other issues after Matthew published his Gospel but before Mark substantially finished his Gospel when he was martyred in Alexandria in the year 62!

That's the best I can do. Hope this helps a little!

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
I agree with Andrew here....occasionally, Victor's translation of a passage does an eyebrow raise.....

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