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Possible Primacy Proof
Shlama kulkun,

I think I may have found a significant Aramaic primacy proof. Recently, I was looking through a book entitled ???The Unvarnished Gospels??? by Andy Gaus which claims to be a literal translation that lets ???the Greek speak for itself.??? In addition to the conjunctions and other features talked about here on which indicate translation from a Semitic original, one feature that caught my eye was the frequent and seeming random flipping between the past and present tense, in both the episodes (periscopes) and the authors narrative. This is especially noticeable in Mark, and all the more peculiar since it only seems to occur with third person singular verbs, like /he said/ - /he says/.

The last point caught my attention because it happens to mirror a feature of the Aramaic verbal system. One of the oddities of Aramaic is that it only has inflection forms for the past and future tenses of the verb. To communicate other tenses Aramaic has to use compound words in specific sentence structures.

In the case of the present habitual tense, this is achieved by using the active participle of the desired verb in conjunction with the appropriate enclitic pronoun. The one exception to this pattern is with the third person singular forms. In these last forms the enclitic pronoun is usually dropped.

In spoken Aramaic, or in writing with vowels, the dropping of the enclitic pronoun in the third person singular is not a problem because the remaining active participle has a unique vowel pattern which distinguishes it from the third person past tense verb. But in consonant only writing, the past tense third person singular verb, and the present tense third person singular verb look identical.

I will illustrate this with the verbs /he said/ - /he says/. Both forms are built upon the three letter root, /Amr/ (Alap, meem, and resh). The past tense form /he said/ is /Aemar/. The present tense form /he says/ is /A??mer/ (?? = sq??p??, a = pth??H??).. The consonant only clause /Amr lhwn/ could therefore be translated either /he said to them/, or /he says to them/. Without vowels, only through the context in which it is used can one determine which is more appropriate, and sometimes the context is ambiguous.

Now, if my observation that the Greek text only flips the tense between third person singular past tense and present tense verbs is true, this could only have happened through the translation of a written Aramaic original vowelless document. Had the Greek writer received his source from a spoken Aramaic transmission as Greek Biblical scholars allege, he couldn???t have made this mistake. (The usual explanation for this tense flipping is that the writer was uneducated, but that is not scientific evidence at all, merely class prejudice.)

The caveat is that I can???t read Greek (beyond the alphabet), and don???t have spiffy new Greek Bible research software, like akhan Rob; so I don???t know if my observation of Gaus??? translation is really true of the actual Greek text. Can anyone here confirm that this tense flipping is really confined to third person singular verbs in the Greek original?

John Marucci
Shlama Akhi John,

I've been looking for an example of what you're referring to but all that I've found so far is a tidbit in Matthew 6:12.
The Textus receptus has " also we forgive (‡f??emen) our debtors;" ‡f??kamen -- 'have forgiven' is the word in the editions of Lachmannn, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott & Hort, and Nestle-Aland. With reference to the SEDRA lexicon they went from Masculine 2nd person singular to Common gender 1st person plural ?!? Anyway... I'll look a little more. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

In your example of 'he said' / 'he says', the only example I've seen is where ??g™nnjsen - begat - gets translated as gennŽ - begets - in a few places in Matthew chap. 1 in Alford's edition.

Here's a couple of examples of 'says' versus 'said' and the two Greek words don't look anything alike!! In Matthew 4, verses 6 & 9 . 'Says' is l™gei - (Textus Receptus) and 'said' is e??pen - ( Lachmann, etc.)

Shlama w'Burkate, Larry Kelsey
Have you seen the download for the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Majority Text at They've also got the Textus Receptus and Westcott & Hort's texts where the Strong's definitions pop up without even having to click on the numbers beside the words in the text. Also the parsing letters and numbers are right in there with the text also so there's no flipping back and forth. The GNT-V download shows variants.

Blessings, Larry
Shlama akhi Larry,

The Gospel of Mark chapter 2 is a good example of the way Gaus translates, and what I???m talking about.

1. Verse 5. Everything in this and the previous four verses up to where Jesus is about to speak to the paralytic is in the past tense, but Gaus translates ???And Jesus, seeing their faith, says to the paralyzed man.??? The Peshitta here has said.

2. Verse 8. Here again where the Peshitta has ???he said to them,??? Gaus has ???says to them.???

3. Verse 14. Again all the narrative between this and the last citation is in the past tense, but when Jesus sees Levi, Gaus translates: ???and he says to him,??? while the Peshitta has ???he said to him."

4. Verse 17. Again, the intervening narrative is in the past tense, but when Jesus is about to speak, Gaus writes ???says to them,??? where the Peshitta again has ???said to them.???

These are just a few of the many instances where Gaus interrupts the flow of a past tense narrative with ???he says,??? instead of the ???he said??? in the Peshitta. Is Gaus making this up? Or is there at least one version of the Greek New Testament that also does this?

John Marucci
I've gotta rush off to the factory (I'm on 2-10 afternoon shift), but I'll leave you with 3 links that might help you.

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Shlama Akhi John,

Check out any chapter in the interlinear here and you will see that I, too, struggled with this when translating into English. I think you make a very valid point.

I think many scholars have made this connection, and they call the phenomenon in Aramaic the "Historical Present".

In Mark alone, this occurs 151 times. In Matthew, 93 times.
+Shamasha Paul bar-Shimun de'Beth-Younan
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Shlama kulkun,

Akhi Larry, thanks for the links.

Akhi Paul, I got excited about this because, if true of the Greek readings, it is one Aramaic proof which can???t be dismissed with the usual ???Semitic Greek dialect,??? or ???they were thinking in Aramaic??? excuses that the Greek primacists usually give. Second, it is pervasive enough that it can???t be dismissed as an isolated scribal error.

John Marucci
Shlama kulkun,

Well, I???ve confirmed that the types of tense shifting I described are really there in the Greek New Testament. See the Analytical-Literal Translation at: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->. Unfortunately, it seems to be a bit more complicated than my simple explanation allows for, and will require some more thought and research.

John Marucci

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