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So what difference does Aramaic primacy really make?
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

Messages In This Thread
Kudos to Christina - by Stephen Silver - 09-09-2008, 09:32 PM
Re: So what difference does Aramaic primacy really make? - by Andrew Gabriel Roth - 09-10-2008, 01:42 PM

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