Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Dr. Lamsa's Theology
I've heard a lot of misunderstandings about Lamsa's theology in some of my readings I've done. The most prevalent is the idea that Lamsa was Gnostic, but was not a Gnostic, he was a non-Trinitarian Nestorian. Certain camps of Gnosticism taught that Jesus was not born God, but became God at some point in His life (usually at the baptism) and other camps taught that Jesus was only a spirit that appeared to be human. Lamsa clearly believed in the humanity of Christ, and also clearly believed in the deity of Christ (I've heard people say that he didn't believe in Jesus' deity). I disagree with the Nestorian idea that the humanity and deity of Christ dwell separately/side-by-side rather than being completely united. Lamsa's theology did have it's strange points though of which I know. He didn't believe in demonic possession and possibly didn't believe in an afterlife. He also didn't believe Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body, but only appeared to the disciples in a vision (which clearly is contradicted by the Scriptures). Lamsa's disbelief in the popular Trinity doctrine would be considered strange by most people too. The only area of his translation I am certain was clearly effected by Lamsa's beliefs is his disbelief in demonic possession, instead translating "daywa" as "insane", "crazy", or "lunatic", and sometimes translating it correctly as "demons". There are other areas I suspect are too, but they could be textual variants (I doubt it though), such as II King 6:1-7 and Micah 5:2.

Summary of what I know (*=possibly effects it; **=definitely effects it):

1. Jesus is both God and man, but Jesus' humanity and deity are completely separate. Christ has existed from eternity, while Jesus came into existence when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.*

2. God is not three Persons and one God, but one God with three attributes.

3. Demonic possession is really just an ancient way of describing mental diseases.**

4. The devil is the opposition to the Christian believers, but not a personal being.

5. When Jesus comes back, we will not literally be taken into the air, but will simply be in a hurry to meet him.

6. Jesus did not rise physically, but rose as a spirit and the apostles only saw Him through a vision.

7. There is no afterlife, all of the rewards and punishments of God are given during this life.

what is wrong with Lamsa's translations of these verses (II King 6:1-7 and Micah 5:2) and how do you see they should read?
I will put the mentioned parts in bold type.

II Kings 6:1-6, The Holy Bible From the Ancient Eastern Text: "And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, Behold now, this place wherein we dwell with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and cut from there every man a beam, and let us make a place for us to dwell there. And he said, Go. And one of them answered and said, If you please, go with your servants. And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one of them was felling a beam, the axehead fell into the water; and he cried and said, I beseech you, my lord! It was borrowed by your servant. And the prophet of God said to him, Where did it fall? And he showed him the place. And he cut off a stick and thrust it in there; and it stuck in the hole of the axehead."

II Kings 6:1-6, Young's Literal Translation: "And sons of the prophet say unto Elisha,`Lo, we pray thee, the place where we are dwelling before thee is too strait for us; let us go, we pray thee, unto the Jordan, and we take thence each one beam, and we make for ourselves there a place to dwell there;' and he saith, `Go.' And the one saith, `Be pleased, I pray thee, and go with thy servants;' and he saith, `I -- I go.' And he goeth with them, and they come in to the Jordan, and cut down the trees, 5 and it cometh to pass, the one is felling the beam, and the iron hath fallen into the water, and he crieth and saith, `Alas! my lord, and it asked!' And the man of God saith, `Whither hath it fallen?' and he sheweth him the place, and he cutteth a stick, and casteth thither, and causeth the iron to swim..."

Micah 5:2, The Holy Bible From the Ancient Eastern Text: "And you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are little among the thousands of towns of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth a ruler to govern Israel; whose goings forth have been predicted from of old, from eternity."

Micah 5:2, Young's Literal Translation: " And thou, Beth-Lehem Ephratah, Little to be among the chiefs of Judah! From thee to Me he cometh forth -- to be ruler in Israel, And his comings forth [are] of old, From the days of antiquity."

I'm not sure if these are textual variances between the Peshitta Tanakh and the Masoretic Tanakh or not, but it is a little suspicious that none of these readings have ever been adopted by any other translation that I have ever seen (and I've read a lot). I also know Lamsa had a tendency to at times delve into interpretation. I used the Young's for comparison because it is probably the most literal translation of the Bible ever done, and also because I don't have access to another Peshitta Old Testament.

Quote:I disagree with the Nestorian idea that the humanity and deity of Christ dwell separately/side-by-side rather than being completely united.

There is no such thing as a "Nestorian" idea. The Apostolic teaching has always been, that in The Messiah His Deity and Humanity are not one and the same, but are indeed separate...they are in a close union, but not mixed so that they are indistinguishable from each other. He is both God and Man, in one Person of The Messiah, The Word of God/The Son of God. Both born of God His Father, and His Human Mother.

Quote:1. Jesus is both God and man, but Jesus' humanity and deity are completely separate. Christ has existed from eternity, while Jesus came into existence when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.*

The Messiah has existed from before time as The Word of God, who was brought forth from The Father from eternity...who has always been revealing and executing The Father's will, which in and through and for whom, He created the Universe... In the fullness of time, The Word of God/The Son of God...The Messiah came and tabernacled/pitched His tent among us...when He was incarnated for our redemption. Jesus, as to His humanity came to being in the same way as all Human do from their Mother's, yet, His Divine Nature is from God, His Father, through the Holy Spirit. Thus He is both Divine and Human as to His origination, both born in time=Flesh, and unborn from Eternity=Spirit.

I'm not certain how exactly Mr. Lamsa taught on this subject, or if his understanding of it effects his translation one way or the other. Can you point us to a verse in his translation?

ScorpioSniper2 Wrote:I disagree with the Nestorian idea that the humanity and deity of Christ dwell separately/side-by-side rather than being completely united.

Nestorius was accused of holding the belief that Christ was 2 people - 1 human and 1 divine. I personally have no opinion on the "Nestorian controversy" as it's very much a "he said she said" scenario.

The CoE teaches that Christ's human and divine natures are united in 1 person without blending together to form something else, this is perfectly orthodox. If the natures are "completely united" in the sense that they are blended together to form some new nature that is Eutichian heresy which was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon.

Well, we do have his book to read, which details his beliefs, and his letters to Cyril as well. It was all more political than Doctrinal though.

Nestorius was a Greek Orthodox Church leader, but he held to the correct teaching that was passed down from Antioch from the time of The Apostles...the Alexandrian teachers had altered the original teaching to some degree through the 2nd-4th centuries, to what later became the Monophysitism heresy, which was condemned by the whole Church in 541 A.D. and it's adherents were the ones who rejected the Council of Chalcedon's correction of Cyril?s false interpretations. Bishop Nestorius never taught what he was falsely accused of by Cyril and the later Monopysites, which even to this day is falsely ascribed to him. And because The Church of the East took in the persecuted Christians who fled their persecutors in the 5th-6th century, they were labeled "Nestorian" by many in the West...they are Orthodox, and so was Bishop Nestorius.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->

The place where I'm wondering if his Nestorianism effected his translation is Micah 5:2. Can someone please answer my question if these two mentioned verses are variants between the Peshitta or not? The list is not my beliefs by the way, that is what I understand Lamsa to have believed.

Anyway, I ascribe to a Chalcedonian Christology. Here is a summary of my beliefs: while I believe there is a distinction between the divine and human natures of Jesus, they are so united that Jesus functions 100% as one being. The divine Person who is incarnated in Christ, became a man. Jesus does not have a split personality (He is duel-natured, but does not have a divine "side" and human "side"). Jesus didn't play different roles, like Jesus did not forgive sins as God and He didn't sleep as a man. He forgave sins because of His deity and He slept because of His humanity. Jesus' deity and humanity are not blended into a new substance, they are still distinct but very united. Jesus' deity is also not overcome by His humanity, nor is His humanity overcome by His deity. You can't say that Jesus' deity spoke at times and that His humanity was speaking sometimes, because natures do not speak: persons do. Whatever can be said about Jesus' humanity cannot be said about His deity, and in vice versa, but whatever can be said about one nature can be applied to Christ's singular personality. As a theologian once put it, "Everything Jesus did, He did as God manifest in the flesh (Son of God)." That's all we're going to say. We're talking about George Lamsa's theology and not mine.
Lamsa graduated from an Anglican University in Turkey. studied at an Episcopal Bible College in Virginia for one year, and served for a time as a representative of the Episcopal Church in international meetings.

In promoting Aramaic primacy he lectured in various and many different churches and did not want to detract from promoting Aramaic primacy and the value of his translation of the Bible using Aramaic sources.

Lamsa's Christian views were orthodox but his work emphasized the Aramaic issues rather than theology..

Thanks for the input, Otto. Do you think you could possibly go into more detail with you encounter with Lamsa?

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)