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Aramaic Primacy in the East
(04-03-2022, 10:17 PM)TruthFinder Wrote: I have come to the conclusion with no education in this field but common sense and much reading that there is/was no Aramaic Primacy. There were Greek Scriptures which were taken into Syriac lands and communities and these Greek Scriptures were revised to meet the needs of these communities due to their culture and language. There is nothng wrong with that approach at that time.  After much searching on the Internet and money spent trying to find the legitimacy of this ongoing argument it has come to an end. Most of all I have to thank the Introduction in the Syriac Peshitta Bible with English Translation of Mark put out by Gorgias Press which put the finality on this for me.

Good-bye to everyone here on this forum and thank you to everyone who helped me with their many questions and insights posted here. Do take care.

TruthFinder, over and out.

It would be awesome if you could at least share some of the many reasons you found to discard the Peshitta as the archetype of the NT as we find it in many ancient languages, even the mother of the Greek and early Armenian texts.

Personally I found the arguments put forth by the Experts frequently working with Gorgias Press lacking, and incongruent with the facts. It is well-known these Syriac Experts are vastly from the western Syriac churches which use the western Peshitta. While pretty much all forms of christian Orthodoxy (including Catholicism) show dogmatic and religious stances on these issues, the eastern Peshitta is indeed very different, and its existence also presents a problem to the opinions of those who argue from the western Syriac mindset.

The reason you and many others may find these western Syriac orthodox opinions convincing is no different from the predominant views on the origin ("RCC") and date ("4th c.") of the NT canon: They align with what secular experts would assume. They make sense if things went as they mostly do.

But in this specific forum, we all know that the classical theories on the Canon cannot really be correct (as it cannot possibly explain the existence of the eastern Peshitta NT), and David Trobisch showed many reasons for this in his book "The first edition of the New Testament" (2001), where he argues for a Canon in the mid 2nd c. based on the Greek text only. So now the predominant secular view is refuted by facts (others have done this as well), and we are left with the impression that maybe it is not a good idea to trust the feelings of experts - but it is not. Congruent with popular academic perception the western Syriacs also seem to dogmatically argue that to the Apostles, the NT writings were not yet considered "scripture", and therefore the word "scripture" does not or cannot refer to the NT in passages such as 2 Tim. 3:16; a position that blatantly ignores passages such as 1 Cor. 15:1-3 (ref. to the Gospels), 1 Tim. 5:18 (cf. Lk. 10:7), 2 Pet. 3:15-16 (ref. to the paulines); in other words, there is an endemic tendency of scholarly opinion to agree with orthodoxy where it appeases to their critical and discarding stance.

Problems I see with the views put forth by western Syriac orthodoxy are simple. First there is the problem of the transmission of knowledge about the text caused by the great persecution under Shapur, where the leaders of the churches in most of the area where the western Peshitta was used were murdered, until none were left, for about 80 years. This effectively destroys knowledge of earlier traditions, which explains how even the syriac churches themselves may be wrong about their text. It is entirely plausible their complete NT texts predate these persecutions.

This results to the incongruent argument that the Philoxenian recession was a retranslation of the Greek Bible, which is simply not believable, as it agrees to the text of the eastern Peshitta. For one, that would mean we have a Peshitta dated in its colophon to only 26 years after the original (534AD), then we have some without such a date that are considered significantly older, then we have the Khabouris manuscript that was copied from an original that dated to the great persecution (340 – 401), which would also have been copied from an earlier text. Consider that the great persecution was really so great that is not plausible anyone could set up institutions and distributions to introduce an entirely new text.

Then there is the problem of Rabbula, who is believed to be the creator of the Peshitta, which is entirely impossible. Rabbula created the "separated Gospels" in 411-435, which is the express title of the "Old Syriac" text. So the Old Syriac was created by Rabulla, not the Peshitta. The Peshitta predates Rabbula, as e.g. the aforementioned colophon shows. Therefore, it is also false to the point of nonsensical that the Peshitta derived from the Old Syriac.

Next is the problem of the two distinct forms of orthodoxy presented in the eastern and western churches. It seems unlikely, even impossible, that the eastern churches would take a text from the western church, and then even remove some writings for no reason without saying a word, and declare that they received this altered text from an apostle in the 1st century. The theologians who caused the factions to split and oppose each other already had biblical texts available in the early 400s when the schism occured. It simply makes no sense to assume they took their biblical texts from opposing book burning dogmatists like Rabulla. The eastern Peshitta predates the Old Syriac, Rabulla, and the Philoxenian version. 

In addition, there is the issue of the Diatessaron, which witnesses to aramaic NT texts in the 2nd c. We know that the Diatessaron was mostly destroyed by Rabbula, and yet the best copy we have (in Arab) is a clear witness to the text of the Peshitta, which again makes little sense in the secular / western Syriac view. Why would the people who use the Diatessaron in Arab adjust it to a text supposedly created by Rabulla who was the single greatest enemy of the text?

To offer some perspective, it seems quite obvious from the manuscript record that the Peshitta must be at least from the 3rd c., possibly earlier, e.g. as the template of the Diatessaron in the 2nd c., or from the 1st c. as the original text of the NT. The common western text we have is what we know as the Harklean version. The Philoxenian version is mostly lost, but I am convinced the facts point out Philoxenus did not translate, he only revised. These revisions may have corrupted a near perfect text, but if so, there is a text which may reconcile all the differences.

This text is Crawford MS [Please note I cannot review the text of Crawford MS except in the "western five" and have to work with second hand information usually not found in peer reviewed publications; any information or correction on it is welcome]. While many will say it's not a great copy with some unclear writing, and some western variants, I find it plausible that the passages in Acts 20:28 and Hebrews 2:9 were actually altered in the eastern Peshitta version due to their nestorian theology, which would mean Crawford MS is neither eastern nor western in nature, but was copied from a common ancestor of both, void of the changes in either. This means it belongs to no dogmatic camp. Although I know this does not agree with the general sentiments on this forum, I would kindly ask any of the experts among us to verify the claims made in this paragraph, as I cannot see the text itself.

Of course, many have offered a theory they find more believable due to their particular form of orthodoxy or secularism, i.e. that the Crawford MS must be irrelevant, and at best may be the Philoxenian text though to be lost (where the western five are simply the translations Philoxenus created); while I can entertain this idea, I do find it speculative and unlikely to explain the precise agreement between the eastern Peshitta and the Crawford MS in so many places (except two, which we can pin on nestorian theology). Even I who do not believe Philoxenus translated much, but only revised earlier Aramaic texts based on the common Greek text, find that agreement odd for what is considered a revision.

Then, given the number of differences between the western Peshitta text and Crawford MS in the "western five", it appears unlikely this version was only revised by Harkel, who generally made only moderate changes. In other words, the number and kind of differences between the 22 NT writings as found in the eastern and western Peshitta suggest the differences between the western Peshitta and Crawford MS in the western five corresponds to two revisions (Philoxenian and Harklean), not one. So it appears the text of the Crawford MS makes most sense as the archetype of the Philoxenian version, i.e. the western Peshitta before any revisions. This text, then, may not be in the best hand or condition, but to me is the closest to the archetype of all NT versions. Again, I cannot analyze it in detail, and I feel it is ignored as it does not agree to any dogmatic camp, not among Christians, nor among secular views.

Apart of these facts about the Peshitta, we have to deal with the translations of Aramaic in the Greek text (which are not found in the Peshitta), the variants in the Greek text (polysemy, multiple Greek words representing one Aramaic term), the fragments of Syriac Aramaic left in the NT (Maranatha etc.), the Aramaic grammar found in the NT (mostly Revelation), the aramaic poetry found in the Pehshitta (despite being such a literal representation of the text), the predictions of scholars who attempted to reconstruct an original Aramaic NT and guessed the Peshitta text correctly (e.g. Matthew Black), the fact that an Aramaic original for the paulines, Hebrews and Matthew was common knowledge among ancient Christians, the fact that 2nd c. Christians like Hegesippus were reported to use the NT in Aramaic, and much more.

This means the perspectives congruent with secular scholarship also found in western Syriac orthodoxy do not usually hold up to scrutiny. We went through all this without even looking at the details of the most convincing argument, the text of the Peshitta itself, and how it relates to the other ancient NT versions. Feel free to tell me more about your own views, so we all can learn.
Jesus is the one true God of the Bible.
Just no longer use the wording: "Aramaic primacy". This theory is not holdable. Peshitta is not the original. Though, I believe closer to the original than the Greek. Peshitta is clearly harmonized using the Syriac dialect.
Many of Jesus proverbs, only work in either Hebrew or in Galilean wording. And are lost (wordplays e.g.) when we use a Syriac lexicon.
(09-25-2022, 08:58 PM)distazo Wrote: Just no longer use the wording: "Aramaic primacy". This theory is not holdable. Peshitta is not the original. Though, I believe closer to the original than the Greek. Peshitta is clearly harmonized using the Syriac dialect.
Many of Jesus proverbs, only work in either Hebrew or in Galilean wording. And are lost (wordplays e.g.) when we use a Syriac lexicon.

I never believed that the Peshitta always preserves the words in their original dialect and language, but it makes a lot of sense that the NT would be written in Syriac, which would have been a very modern and poetic version of Aramaic that could be understood by an international audience including the many Jews in the Diaspora, but also the non-semitic Aramaic speakers. Even if Jesus spoke Galilean at all times, which I would doubt, the NT would still make a lot more sense as an Aramaic document. Jesus' proverbs are lost in the Greek just as much, if not more so. This does not mean that this helps us determine the original language of the NT.

If we look at the narrative, even the words based on the Greek text that sought to establish the Aramaic even guessed the text of the Peshitta. The dialect is quite close to the Jewish Aramaic dialects as well. To me Syriac seems to be more of a "high society" dialect, but they adapted it because it simply fits well.

And the Aramaic fragments in the NT usually fit well into the Syriac dialect (e.g. Maranatha). Plus, the Greek variants we see as split words also fit to the Peshitta. Even Latin and Greek tradition in my view testifies to the Aramaic originals of Paul and Matthew. The Peshitta is a majority text that has variants from all textual families and as such explains the mans versions very well. We also know that Syriac was the common Aramaic liturgical language in Israel at least a few centuries later, but before Islam destroyed the region. Why would they use Syriac in Israel, the jewish and christian heartland, if that was not an ancient tradition?

A Hebrew original seems quite unlikely, except maybe for Matthew, and would not have yielded a Greek counterpart as easily. Since I have never been a dogmatic and always assumed that Aramaic, Latin and Greek texts were produced in the 1st century, I never saw any reason to abandon my conviction of the Peshitta text as the most original NT. Personally I do assume that Acts 20:28 and Heb. 2:9 were changed in the eastern version, but these details are not really the problem.

Where exactly do you know of a text in the Peshitta that cannot have been from the 1st century? Is theology the real problem? Because I don't see what you believe the Peshitta lacks.
Jesus is the one true God of the Bible.
So you have no response to me refuting your illogical pointless claims. Y'all have no critical thinking skills, obviously. I mean, I can see you are slowly moving towards what I have said all the time, i.e. that both Greek and Aramaic were produced by the Apostles in the 1st century. But, in the end, you are obviously creating convoluted theories to support specific dogmas.
Jesus is the one true God of the Bible.

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