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Can anyone tell me when the Apocalypse, and the other NT books which are not in the Peshitta canon, were accepted into the canon? Is it the case that the Eastern Aramaic scriptures don't include these but the Western Aramaic scriptures do?

Does anyone know how to obtain an Aramaic Apocalypse? Also, why did Lamsa include it if he is of the Eastern Aramaic tradition?

Shlama Akhi Lector,

The disputed books, what I have long called "the Western 5", were not rendered into Aramaic (at least in terms of the surviving mss record; evidence of Semitic primacy in the Western 5 Greek texts is another story) until the early 6th century. In the year 508, Philoxenius of Madbug translated the Greek versions of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation into Aramaic. By all acccounts the guy did a horrible job and his stuff was left to rot by the Syrian Orthodox Church, who commissioned the work originally as a way to align their texts with their new masters, the Roman Catholic Church. Then, in 616, Thomas of Harkel did a revison of these works and the traditional 22, and this is the offical bible of the SOC today.

And so, for the original Eastern Peshitta collection as preserved by the Church of the East, it is true that NONE of their mss contain these works. What's more, even if a first century copy of these books could be found it is unlikely that the COE would accept them because they received all the other books from the hands of the apostles or at least apostolic associates from that time. As a result, without living witnesses anymore, no other works can be accepted.

Now, as for the Aramaic Revelation, John Gwynn published a book on one of these, the so-called Crawford mss at the end of the 19th century. You The other, the Western Peshitto Revelation, was translated by Lamsa and is rendered in Hebrew script in "the Aramaic New Covenant Peshitta Text with Hebrew Translation". It is also available in swadaya script in what we call "the blue book". All of thhese works are available from the <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w --> bookstore.

Finally you asked about Lamsa. I think (I can't be sure since he has been dead for 30 years) that his motivation was primarily pleasing his KJV centered Protestant audience. IT was surely the motivation of his publisher. When Lamsa submitted his first draft for the NT, his publisher insisted that all of Lamsa's footnotes showing the radically different readings between the Peshitta and the King James Version be omitted. In 1998, Lamsa's estate restored the notes for "The Modern New Testament from the Aramaic". In any case, it makes sense to me that if Lamsa did not (or could not) point to major differences between the Peshitta and the KJV he surely is NOT going to deny that same audience translation of 5 books that they deem sacred. In fact, Lamsa even sugarcoats the issue on purpose. He says something to the effect that believers "should not worry" because "these books are simply in later Aramaic manuscripts" and thus sidesteps the entire controversy.

Incidentally, it is my opinion that both Crawford Revelation and the Peshitto version are obvious translations from the Greek. I say that because there are some out there who pervert the truth for their own ends who try to suggest Crawford is radically different than the Peshitto REv ( it is not ) and that it is very ancient, when the Rylands Institute clearly proved that it is 11th century. However, all versions of Revelation bow doen to a lost Semitic master, what I call "Nazarene Revelation", but ironically the best vessel for Nazarene Revelation's original thoughts is probably from the Greek!

Hope this helps!
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
May 7, 2005

Although Lamsa was an Aramaic speaking Assyrian, he was educated in Turkey in Anglican schools, and learned English through the KJV of the Bible. In the U.S. he maintained his Anglican links by attending the Bible-centered Episcopal Virginia Theological Seminary. I spent an evening with him in Albuquerque in 1969 discuaaing his translation and related issues.

It is important to remember that what Lamsa did was create a modern English Bible translation merging the Aramaic Peshitta and the KJV. His may have been the first 20th Century modern English Bible. If the Aramaic reading did not markedly differ, he essentially copied the KJV wording while appropriately modernizing it! In addition, he felt is was important to decipher Aramaic idioms, such as demon-possessed really means a lunatic.

I believe that Lamsa's intention was to provide an improved version of the KJV using the original Aramaic sources. As he wrote, "No part of the New Testament was originally written in Greek or any other foreign language!" He found the Aramaic versions of the 5 missing New Testament, books that he believed to be reliable.

Thanks for this info, it is fine indeed.

So to confirm, from where is the apocalypse/revelation + the other omitted books from? What is that source?
May 9, 2005

Here is what Lamsa wrote in the Introduction to The New Testament: concerning the manuscripts that he used for his translation: "Sir Frederick Kenyon, Curator of the British Museum, in his book, Textual Criticism of the New Testament, speaks highly of the accuracy and antiquity of the Peshitta MSS. This translation is made from ancient MSS., facsimile pages of which are reproduced in this volume. The story of the woman caught in adultery, II Peter, II and III John, Jude, and the Book of Revelation were translated from printed texts. Aramaic MSS. were used for these printed texts and they contain these portions of the scriptures which are not found in the ancient Pesjitta texts."

In his book, New Testament Commentary, Lamsa states his belief that Revelation was originally written by John or his scribe in Aramaic and later translated into Greek. Lamsa wrote: "The book of Reveation appeared later and conserquently was rejected by Christians in the East until the fifth Century. It was not included in the Peshitta or the authorized New Testament text which is still used by the churches of the East. However, it is included in later Aramaic texts."

This may not be much help, but I suspect that Lamsa used the text found in the Peshitto for the five extra books, but was unwilling to directly acknowledge in writing even the existence of the Peshitto.

I think that there is a high probability that Lamsa got the five extra NT books from the Syriac New Testament published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1905, since he refers to a printed source. Lamsa did his New Testament translation work during the 1930's.

An online copy the 1905 Syriac New Testament is found at <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->

What about the one at though? <!-- s:dontgetit: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/dontgetit.gif" alt=":dontgetit:" title="Dont Get It" /><!-- s:dontgetit: -->
I don't know how they compare.


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