Sunday, December 8, 2013

Herb Jahn's Aramaic New Covenant

Herb Jahn's Aramaic New Covenant is a translation of the Western Peshitto, the (obviously) Western counterpart to the Eastern Peshitta. They are both very similar texts of the New Testament that are written in the Syrian dialect of Aramaic (Syriac), which is closely related to the Aramaic spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. This is probably the most literal translation of the Aramaic text, and is also the first translation of the Syriac New Testament since that of George M. Lamsa's famous Holy Bible From the Ancient Eastern Text (besides the Way International's outstanding Interlinear).

The Aramaic New Covenant is a "Sacred Name" New Testament, therefore the names are transliterated in a theologically biased manner. For example, Jesus Christ/Yeshua Meshikha becomes "Yah Shua the Meshiah" and John the Baptist/Yochanan the Immerser becomes "Yah Chanan the Baptizer". He also makes a distinction between the Aramaic words "Mar" (lord) and "MarYah" (Lord YHWH) by translating the former as "Lord" and the latter as "Yah Veh", but only when it applies to the Father. "MarYah" is applied to the Son, but it is simply translated incorrectly as "Lord".

Here is a sample passage of the Aramaic New Covenant, to show how it reads:

"And so be it, on one of those days when he is doctrinating, the people in the priestal precinct and evangelizing, the rabbi priests and the scribes with the elders, are standing over him and they are wording to him, Word to us by whose sultanship you work these and who gives you this sultanship? And Yah Shua answers, wording to them, I also ask you one word: and you word to m: The baptizing of Yah Chanan--be it of the heavens, or of the sons of humanity? And they are reckoning with their souls, wording, If we word, Of the heavens, he words, Because why trust you him not? and if we word, Of humanity, all the people stone us: for they are convinced that Yah Chanan is a prophet.--and they word to him, We know not whence he is. And Yah Shua words to them, Neither word I--I to you by whose sultanship I work these."- Luqa 20:1-8

As you can see in this little passage, Jahn sometimes goes beyond the English language by, not making up a false translation, but by making up an English word! To my knowledge "doctrinating" (Jahnish for "teaching") and "sultanship" (Jahnish for "authority") are not real words! This does make it a little fun to read. He also translates what is usually translated as "high priest" as "rabbi priest". These are just a few things that distinguish it from most translations. It is difficult and sometimes confusing to read, but it isn't impossible. The fact that it is such a literal translation aides in keeping theological bias out, but at the expense of readability. All in all, this is a very good and useful translation! - A video review I did on this translation.