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So what difference does Aramaic primacy really make?
shlomo Paul,

I also vote for Christina! <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
and I like your idea on a "Why the Peshitta?" section.

Maybe it should be divided into sections with a good introduction section, and some of the Gems that have been found over the years.

aloho mbarekh,
Don't know about the rest of you but I can definitely feel the Rukha moving here tonight (well for me its almost bedtime). Mari is on its way, and akhan Paul seems to be getting his old spark back. I think that next year is gonna be very promising for the advancement of Peshitta primacy. Have faith, and keep blasting those shofars. <!-- s:biggrin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/biggrin.gif" alt=":biggrin:" title="Big Grin" /><!-- s:biggrin: -->
Speaking of the Rukha, how many here were reconciled to God through the Messiah before you ever read or heard read the Aramaic New Testament either in English translation or in the original language?

I will raise my hand 1st. <!-- s:bigups: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bigups.gif" alt=":bigups:" title="Big Ups" /><!-- s:bigups: -->
Dear Fr. John,

"Does it matter that much that we need to teach Aramaic at theology schools instead of Greek? In what way? What other impacts should it all have??"

I'm not an expert in designing theology courses but I believe learning Greek (or Latin) has its merits, so I wouldn't scrap it if I was redesigning programmes. But I understand your question is a hyperbole (oh, which happens to be a word of .. Greek origin).

I was asking myself a similar question - does it really matter if NT was written in Greek or Aramaic? Does it matter for an average Christian or a "prospect Christian"? If he/she doesn't read a translation of a translation with understanding, if at all? Isn't Aramaic/Greek primacy just a hair splitting? The Gospel is very simple and can be conveyed in any language. But the answer to your question is for me - yes, it matters, because the truth matters. But when I speak to my brothers and sisters I very rarely converse with them about Aramaic primacy of the NT. Simply because I cannot expect a coherent conversation on a sensible level (the same would apply to Greek). Biblical knowledge of many of my friends is based on whatever they hear from their pastors once a week or read in the Times or hear on TV, it is basically based on fables. And no desire to learn, sacrifice time (either studies on Saturdays or golf with friends, tough decision huh?). Instead of talking about Aramaic, I ask them what have they been reading recently (in English most likely) and what have they learned. You probably have similar reflections in your pastoral work. What I'm trying to say is that I believe that having the issue of Aramaic origin of the NT sorted out is important but in many situations "righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost" is much more important. Just looking at the discussions on this forum might give someone a false impression that most of us have an Aramaic obsession. Because the discussions are focused on one issue it may look as we miss the whole perspective.

Your question brings many other questions - does it really matter if Yeshu' had blood brothers? If so, what implications? Does it really matter how we exactly understand the Spirit, is it The Third Person? Does it really matter if G*d died on the cross? My gut feeling is that - yes, the answers to those questions do matter, at least for me. Not to the extent that I would shout "off with their heads" about those who dare to differ in opinion, but for me those questions and answers are important. And I wish that they were important to those who teach in the church.

Somewhere above is my answer to your question, and some other thoughts as well. Looks like it will be a long night, I will go back to doing my Aramaic homework.

Quote:I don't have a PhD............................................ But I love Mari, His Holy Word and His Body (the Church)

Shlama Khati Christina:
Perfect!! You can fill in the blank as you go!!

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Christina Wrote:No London, UK.

Akhay, I'm feel really honored to be nominated for PR manager, but I must confess that I'm really a nobody. I don't have a PhD, I'm not fluent in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. But I love Mari, His Holy Word and His Body (the Church).

Oh, these are great credentials!

London, UK? Oh, you mean the parish in Hanwell, I was always to shy to visit it ...
Ok, now we're getting somewhere with some good answers :-) And I'm looking forward to what Paul and others will add.

I'll list/summarise what has been suggested, and respond. Maybe it will help the new PR manager :-)
Q. So what difference does Aramaic primacy really make?

(Answers from Stephen- thanks)
1. "knowing and teaching the truth"
2. (a better alternative/antidote [my words]) to the problem of "western Protestant Christianity have fragmented over various doctrinal issues"
3. "the overall confidence that Aramaic primacists have as to the TRUTH of the Word of God."

As a former protestant missionary and bible college lecturer and perfectionist I resonate strongly with these. Anything that helps is good. There's certainly a big loss of confidence. That's one of the factors that started me investigating Orthodoxy and led to my eventual conversion. So at the personal level that is great. But impact for many others- sadly I doubt it. I wish i was wrong but my experience of prot leaders not to mention laypeople, is that when confronted with the truths of church history they just didn't want to know in 99% of cases. Hey, given that I was very well known in Evangelical circles and was even acting Principal of a very large Australian bible college, you'd think that when i became Orthodox people would wonder why... but sadly, facts are not allowed to get in the road of prejudice :-( And even within Orthodoxy, frankly, its hard enough to get people to read *any* Bible, let alone a true one !!

So, these are good points and may on a good day amount to IMHO a 1% impact on the sad state of Christianity, compared to a good kick up the rear-end, lightening from heaven or something! Every bit counts i suppose.

Judge added:

4. Many contradictions will vanish, including some which might make the NT appear to have been written by men far removed from the incidents it descibes.

5. An original Aramaic must mean that it is earlier than now thought.

Also good points that will interest not just theologians but hopefully laypeople, and is important for mission.

and...(its hard to condense this to one line, its good)
6. "The western Institutional churches (mainly "protestant" ones) lame brained insistence on greek originals has created many problems for it as it has tried to insist upon the integrity of the texts. many today doubt the integrity of the texts and with fair reason.
Personally I think it will be a good thing if the credibility of the institutional church is brought further into question by this issue but at the same time the integrity of the documents is strengthened.
Hopefully the crisis in textual criticism that must ensue will be concurrent witha time when the man in the street is open to having a fresh look at the texts and asking "what do these really say?"."

Well said!!! As long as we recognise that the integrity of the texts will not in and of itself convince people then that's fine. If Jesus walked down the street and said hello most people would still not believe! But yes this adds another good push.

7. The church will have to face the semitic-culture truth (this is a very interpretive summary of Otto's answer)

I think this is part of what I expected when first came to this site. Yes there are good examples, but as i said above, they are not earth-shattering, so i don't think this is very convincing/weighty.

Just to clarify, I agree with Otto that much of the church is seeking to be "more comfortable" and is "hiding" from truth. This in itself is a good reason to promote Aramaic primacy :-) What i have been questioning is whether there are points of much worse church comfort and hiding to confront. To put it another way, we only have 168 hours per week, so ...

Q. In the grand scale of things, when compared to the problem that most Christians don't read their bible at all, are addicted to mammon, avoid any discomfort etc etc, on what scale is Aramaic primacy?

Christina added:

8. The Peshitta does make a difference when it comes to faith, especially when it comes to the most important issue - defending the Faith.

Yepp, agreed.

9. The Greek NT has contributed hugely to Church division, we have so many different Greek texts so we shouldn't be surprised that we have so many different denominations, the connection is unmistakable.

Umm, I doubt that "hugely" is true, but I'm open to facts. I'm a church history lecturer and this is news to me. Do you have any evidence?

Christina wrote:
"Do we value our comfort zones more than the great commission?"
Sadly I'd say as a pastor "yes". Personally i've had knives and guns pointed at my chest for the sake of Christ's mission, and lived with our family including a 3 month old, in the slums of india (which i consider nothing compared to the saints), but when i challenge others to come with us very few are interested :-(. They won't even witness at work here in safe Australia. Most Christians "can't afford" a new Aramaic-based Bible rather than a slab of coke! Personally, I'd love an Aramaic translation that has nice chiastic structured text and cultural footnotes. But to get even one seminary to add an Aramaic department or a single course will be like re-floating the titanic, unless I'm being too negative??

Enarxe wrote:

10. having the issue of Aramaic origin of the NT sorted out is important but in many situations "righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost" is much more important.

Yes, that's my point too.

11. "it matters, because the truth matters"

I agree but am still not convinced that this is a first order truth like the Trinity or deity of Christ etc. Its probably not even 2nd order like church government forms or getting people to read ANY bible. Its IMHO and I'm open to more facts, 3rd order. Its certainly much more than 4th order (like how many days you fast or on what days.) Oh, if it helps reconciliation between EO and CoE then its probably 2nd order :-) ... not sure, that's part of what I've been asking.

enarxe wondered whether my comments about Aramaic courses was a hyperbole- no it wasn't! This is very real for me, as a college principal, organising courses! I've been almost able to get one course in Aramaic happening. What an effort. And frankly I wonder whther my time would have been better spent teaching people to just read any Bible at all.

To summarise, If we are serious about Aramaic primacy, then it must have implications. I didn't see many on this site, so i asked. Now we do have a few more, and they are of sufficient weight together to make a difference, however small. I'm still trying to see their scale visavis other pressing matters.
Thanks all for the helpful points. For me persoanlly Aramaic primacy does matter quite a bit. i'm just still unsure what it means in the real world...

Any more clarity on scale of impact and kinds of impact still welcomed. It'll give more work for Christina :-)

I'm looking forawrd to abudar2000's reply too. Keefa.

in Christ,
Fr. John D'Alton
Shlama (peace) to you Fr. John,

I have been reading your questions with great interest wondering how to answer. On the one hand, as I recently mentioned, I do not as a Nazarene Jewish person engage in mass evangelism. I am an apologist for the text but not necessarily for my view of the text unless I am asked. What I mean to say is that my reasons promoting the Peshitta will have nothing to do with your faith situation, at least not directly.

On the other hand, the Peshitta has saved MY FAITH and literally made the difference between my believing in Messiah and staying a conventional Jew. As a minister of the Gospel then, I would think that aspect might be one of interest to you and therefore that is what I wanted to comment on.

Now how did the Peshitta save me, you may ask? Very simple. I was what you might term an anti-missionary, a Jewish scholar not unlike a certain man of Tarsus charged with keeping my brethren from converting, although our methods of course were not the same. I was proud of my abilities and success in keeping the faith so to speak when, in 1986, I was confronted with the reality of Messiah and his resurrection. How that happened is kind of personal--I don't really touch on it that much--but I do explain the intellectual and emotional journey I went on in my other books.

In any case, my point to you is that the Greek NT almost made me reject my faith in Y'shua, because it was in the Greek that I found errors that no Torah observant Jew could look at and not laugh their behinds off at. I found it hysterical, for example, that in Matthew 26:6-7 lepers were having dinner parties that Jews were attending 2 miles away from Jerusalem, which I knew was impossible per Lev 13:45-46. The same thing with Acts 8:27 with "eunuchs" worshipping in the Temple--I don't think so (Deut 23:1).

Now, while such examples are very much in vogue now in Jewish-Christian debate, this was not the case 20 years ago. I can tell you these and other NT quotes were part of an underground debating movement by Jews and for Jews. We didn't tip our hands to the churches but laughed behind their backs that they didn't see the most basic problems, like John's Gospel having the Pharisees claim they were never slaves as if Moses never existed. From a Jewish view that Christians NEVER saw, there were either two possibilities: Either the Gospels in Greek were frauds good for little than comedic effect or we were looking in the wrong place.

Suffice to say I was relieved to discover the latter was the case. In the Aramaic I found authentic answers to these problems, and in all these years since not a single credible error- NOT ONE--has ever surfaced in the Peshitta text in my opinion. And trust me, I looked. To my mind the Peshitta became the answer for conventional Jews and Messianics--and it was ours after all--written by our ancestors in our sacred language as Tanakh was. If we just looked at words with multiple meanings and other clear grammatical factors, all of my NT problems disappeared overnight. What is even more critical to me, and perhaps not to the wider Christian world, was that the sacred names for Father and Son were preserved in the text, albeit in simplified forms, but it was better than KURIOS which to my mind was a defiled term used for Zeus.

Growing up Jewish, I was always interested in the Hebrew language and liturgy. Along the way I learned a little bit about Aramaic in parts of Esther and Daniel, and fully in Talmud, Zohar and prayers like Kaddish and Amidah. I then became fascinated that most Jews had no idea they even knew Aramaic because they thought they were speaking Hebrew. My mother would feel my KEPPIE when I was ill and not know that was Aramaic (Heb for "head" is resheh), or if we were doing a pure Hebrew term it would be a BEN not a BAR MITZVAH, and on and on. So when I found the Peshitta NT, it was literally the missing piece, and the answer to the single greatest spiritual crisis I had ever faced.

More astonishing than that, I could not believe that 10+ years ago almost no one had heard of this text in the Nazarene community, and the few rabbis that did had totally wrong ideas or said it was a "Gentile fraud". But the fully Gentile-pagan Greek NT, hey, that was okay???? I found most Nazarene leaders grasping at straw-texts like fraudulent Hebrew Matthews that almost anyone could tell were written late Middle Ages, and these were followed by fantastic "Hebrew reconstructions" from non-existent sources, or translations into Hebrew from the Greek. To my mind, that was silly. Why do that when an ancient Semitic version existed in Hebrew's sister lanaguage, at least for 22 of the 27 books??? From that time on, I knew it was my task to take the Peshitta into the Nazarene world, and now, I think it is safe to say, they are not ignoring it anymore. But for myself again, the Peshitta has made the difference between faith and doubt and between eternal life and destruction.

For many others, any version of the NT is fine and John 3:16 will save in any language. But for me, only the Aramaic Peshitta kept me saved. That is what it has done for me.

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
Shlama all,

I accept your kind offer to be PR manager of, if you'll still have me. So where do I begin?
Brother Andrew,

Many thanks for sharing your personal perspective concerning the Peshitta.

Although I read similar comments in your excellent book, RAUCH QADIM, your recent posting provides the best reasons given yet for Aramaic primacy, which include spiritual, cultural, and linguistic authenticity.


I second that! Only Alaha knows how many potential Jewish converts have been lost thanks to the Greek texts. Also the Gowra scenario of Mattai 1 does bring up theology issues. How can we know that Yeshua was the son of Dawid, if Maryam wasn't a descendant of Dawid, Yosip wasn't Yeshua's natural father so he couldn't count. But do we have it in us to deal with these implications?
Shlama Fr. John,

Quote:Christina wrote:

Only Alaha knows how many potential Jewish converts have been lost thanks to the Greek texts.

Or for that matter, how many non-Jewish almost-converts. Or, even converts for that matter! Like Andrew, the Peshitta has had a profound effect on me. Please see Raphel Lataster's website, Homepage:

**What's the point of all this? The Aramaic Peshitta saves faiths**

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See, there really ARE believers who sincerely care about reading their bibles - ANY kind of Bible (version). And some of those readers get to thinking: what's this numberless amount of translations really all about? And when they find out the answer, it can literally destroy faith ITSELF.

Quote:Christina wrote:
"Do we value our comfort zones more than the great commission?"

(You responded):
Sadly I'd say as a pastor "yes".

And AMEN to this most unfortunate truth. But for those who do choose to enter the narrow Gate, they are entering with purpose and determination. They want to know, whether it be Greek or Aramaic, or for that matter Coptic or Spanish, WHAT language their God has spoken to them in. THIS is all that SHOULD matter. God has spoken. What did His Voice say, plenary? Not what conceptually came out (translatable into any tongue), but what ACTUALLY came out, phonetically. The Language He chose for tangible manifestation, reveals His phonemic Mind itself! What festered in the Divine Mind emically, and then made its way out through His breath etically? Does this matter? Yes, but only to the believer.

Spiritual matters are discerned spiritually. Spirit understands spirit; the flesh cannot. So, carnal and worldly people could care less. Aramaic Primacy is really an evangelistic cause towards the BELIEVER. And if the believer cannot care, then that believer has obviously 'valued their comfort zone more than the Great Commission'. It's sad. It's disheartening. But it's their choice, and we are still left with OURS. What shall WE choose? "Choose this day whom ye shall serve".

The practical application really finds its way THROUGH the believer. If a single believer can be transformed by the purer Truth found in the Aramaic, to a greater degree than previously through the Greek, then God Himself has achieved a grander scale of His own desire in conforming us to His Truth, and towards His Image. Thus is efficacious in directly impacting non-believers and uninformed believers, and even 'comfortable' believers alike, through this Divinely energized individual who decides to care and has received a greater amount of faith by the Peshitta (faith cometh by hearing; hearing the Word of Elohim). If Elohim has spoken, then let His Voice be recorded. If we need a translation at first light to grasp the essential emic thought, then this is perfectly understandable. But for the true disciple, the one who chooses to follow after Him, recorded (etic) text is imperative and fundamental to our being disciplined by His own mode of expression. It can only serve to taper off denominationalism in the end (if fallen into the right hands), and strike our collective hearts and mind back towards the One who originally shared it with us.

Quote:Enarxe wrote:

Having the issue of Aramaic origin of the NT sorted out is important but in many situations "righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost" is much more important.

And where does all righteousness and peace and joy stem from? The Truth. And the Truth sets free. And Elohim is the Truth. And Yeshua is Elohim: the Way, the Truth, and also the Life, yes Life. We cannot forget that Life itself is found in the Truth, and is the Truth, and if the Truth was given by diction in Aramaic, then it must certainly be sought out. To do so is wisdom. Solomon the great admonished us proverbially to above all, seek wisdom. Find her. Cherish her. She shall save you, and will keep you. Elohim is Wisdom. When He speaks, every word is wisdom. If Greek grammar butchers what He spoke, then wisdom is butchered. Life is butchered. Truth itself is suspended, and wields potential harm. The levels can vary. But what is worth bantoring over, when the Text in its original Language exists? With extant Truth (or at least that which is claimed by those not part of the mainstream Greek Primacy tradition), what is left, really, is motivation. One cannot motivate a fool to care. Just as one cannot dissuade a disciple from caring. It's the parable of the scattering of seeds. The truest question is, what does it matter to me?

Quote:Does it matter that much that we need to teach Aramaic at theology schools instead of Greek?

This would certainly expose many more people to the true language of the New Testament, for sure. Scattering of seed - doubtless. But getting courses to be offered by accredited academia? Hah! You possess the greater voice in this matter, as you've already shared the burden of attempting such a thing. Harvard, Princeton and Yale all started out as reading rooms for the believer, but fell to secular hands in no time at all because of "comfortable christians". It's just the way things are. Yet ironically through time, it seems that secularists themselves get bored enough to even open up their own classrooms to a sterilized curricula of religious topics, even Biblical languages. I can now look more to such places as the University of Wisconsin or Michigan for better Hebrew and Semitic languages courses, than practically any theological seminary in the entire nation! Ironic.

Quote:I'd love an Aramaic translation that has nice chiastic structured text and cultural footnotes. But to get even one seminary to add an Aramaic department or a single course will be like re-floating the titanic, unless I'm being too negative??

Amen, and Amen. Andrew's forthcoming translation of the Eastern Peshitta should probably suit your desire. And no, I don't think you're being too negative. Simply realistic, and observant. That's but one reason this forum exists - as pretty much the only (and digital) global classroom about the Aramaic Peshitta (outside of the COE).

Why have men such as Frank Moore Cross or Bart Ehrman devoted so much time from their lives to studying and understanding the ancient texts? To grow closer to God? Unfortunately, no. So, what an indictment upon every believer who cannot care enough to at least max out their personal levels of interest in the God that they DO believe in! Well, this is where Peshitta entered my life anyways. Hope this contributes some constructive thought on the topic.

~Brother Ryan
Ahki Ryan,
thank you for your post ...
all that you have said, is also in the heart of others.
the content of your post certainly resignates deeply with myself, and I want to thank you for saying so eloquently, that which I am unable.
I encourage you my brother ... YHWH richly bless you.
shlom lokh abun John D'Alton,

Your main question was ???In what way does Aramaic primacy have "*significant* impact on lived theology"????

As you already know the Church that I belong to is the Antiochan Syriac Maronite Church. The official language of this Church is Syriac-Aramaic and the official Bible is the Peshitto.

All our original Church teachings were done in Syriac-Aramaic, and have been preserved in the actual text themselves that are used during the different prayers and liturgies.

Our Church faced both issues related to Latinization and Arabisian. Latinization introduced Western theology into our Church and Arabisian made the teachings of our Church completely foreign to some of its children.

We debated the relevance of the Syriac-Aramaic in our 2005 Synod, and from there we decided that Syriac-Aramaic was crucial to the understanding of the Church's theology and positions. The Synod encouraged the children of the Maronite Church to learn Syriac-Aramaic once more and to make every effort to learn about our history.
The Syriac-Aramaic language was seen as a way to maintain our distinction and unity in a hostile area of the world.

I think the words of St Hardini, were probably still resonating in their ears. St Hardini had told his students that only in learning theology in the Syriac-Aramaic language will you understand.

Our Patriarch has taken measures in Lebanon to make it easier for the common man to learn Syriac-Aramaic.
(Ex: The classes that the Maronite Antonian Order are doing in Syriac-Aramaic and the Qurbono that they are celebrating in Syriac-Aramaic rises to this challenge.
The Maronite Order has recently translated the Peshitto (both OT and NT) into Arabic, to help the lay people have a better Bible than had been previously available to them in Arabic (i.e. for those that can???t read Syriac-Aramaic.))

I can tell you personally that when I hear a priest explain a Bible verse based on what he has learned from the Western schools, as opposed to the Eastern schools based on Syriac, then I run for the Peshitto (just to preserve my sanity. (i.e. this is obviously not the case in all cases.))

In the case of the Maronite Church we are still struggling with implementing the 2005 Synod as many of the Bishops and Priests who had objected to the Synod are now doing all they can to make it as hard as possible for the Church to implement the 2005 Synod.

So to answer your question; in the case of the Maronite Church it has played a huge role in both the theology that priests are taught and that the people are taught. The use of foreign languages has caused great confusion in regards to our authentic theology and has lead many people away from our Church.
The gradual loss of the Syriac-Aramaic language in the Maronite Church is only 60 years old and it has caused this much trouble, now just imagine what would happen to the teachings of our Lord after almost 2000 years (and yes I understand that the early Church fathers helped us understand all these points of confusion through their works and commentaries, but did we have to go through all the problems linked to the different Greek translations. Luckily for the Maronite Church we had the Peshitto which maintained our unity and prevented us from fracturing.)

We believe that between us and the Western Church, there are no issues on the dogmatic front, but there are differences on how we explain these dogmas. We believe that maintaining the language that our Lord spoke, that our ancestors spoke, and that our Church fathers spoke is crucial to the very continuance and existence of our Syriac Maronite Church.

This question is harder to answer than I expected, because we recently relived the debate and as such I???m more focused on what it means for the everyday Maronite than on a grand scale.

push bashlomo,

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