Thursday, October 31, 2013

Commentary on the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 2

And on the third day there was a wedding feast in Qatneh, a city of Galeela. And the mother of Yeshua was there. And also Yeshua and his disciples were invited to it.  – John 2:1-2
    Cana was to the west of Bethsaida and Magdala, which were both on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

And running out was the wine, and his mother said to Yeshua, "They have no wine." Yeshua said to her, "What to you and to me, woman? Not yet has arrived by hour." – John 2:3-4

     This is commonly believed to be a disrespectful way to address a woman, much less your own mother. This, though, is us trying to bring the 1st century Messiah and His culture into the 21st century.  The Aramaic word for "woman" and "Mother” (Antta Ftn0) is actually a term of respect. Without the brackets (therefore a literal translation), Jesus’s response would be “What to Me and to you?” This means “What does this have to do with us?” or “What do we have in common?” George Lamsa suggests that sha’ati (Yt94) should be translated as “My turn” instead of “My hour”, as in “My turn to get more wine has not come!”

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do [it]." And there were there six jars of stone, each two measures or three. - John 2:5-6
   Mary (Aramaic: Maryam Myrm), as said in Luke 2:19, kept all the things she was told about her firstborn son in her heart. She knew her son had the power to give more wine. The word here for “waiters” can also be translated as “servants” or “slaves”. Also take notice of how the author explains Jewish custom for us. This is a sign that the audience of his Gospel were not Jewish.

Yeshua said to them, "Fill [with] water the jars." And they filled them up to the very top. And he said to them, "Draw [some] now and take [it] to the master of ceremonies." And they took it and when that master of ceremonies tasted that water that had become wine and did not know from where it was, but the servants did know because they had filled the water. The master of ceremonies called to the groom and he said to him, "Everyone first brings good wine, and when they are drunk, then that which is inferior. But you have kept the good wine until now." – John 2:7-10

The servants didn’t know what Jesus was going to do, but they clearly had faith that He would fulfill their needs. They did everything He told them and they got what they needed. And what they got was not just water turned into good wine, it was the best wine! When we ask Jesus to give us something and He answers with an affirmative, then He’ll not give us just the scraps that fell off of the table, He’ll give us the best that is possible.

This was the first sign that Yeshua did in Qatneh of Galeela, and he made known his glory and his disciples believed in him. – John 2:11

     This is the first of seven signs that John records. Each of these signs tell us something about Jesus. My personal opinion is that this shows us that Jesus will supply our every need. After this miracle was done, they knew that Jesus was the Messiah of God. The glory that He has as God’s only Son was revealed to them through this deed.

After this, he went down to Capurnakhum: he, his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples. And there they stayed a few days. And approaching was the Paskha of the Yehudeans, and Yeshua went up to Urishlim.– John 2:12-13
        Whether or not this is before or after Jesus moved to Capernaum, I have no clue. Aramaic for “Passover” is Paskha (0xcp), while in Hebrew it is Pesach. The Passover is a celebration of God’s delivering the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12). This is one of three Passovers recorded in John’s Gospel, so this is where we derive the belief that Jesus’s ministry lasted for three years. This also shows us more evidence of Jesus Christ being a Torah-observant Jew.

And he found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers who were sitting. And he made for himself a whip from cords and drove out all of them from the temple, even the sheep and oxen and moneychangers. And he poured out their exchange money and their tables he turned over. And to those who were selling doves he said, "Take these [away from] here and do not make the house of my Father a house of bartering." And remembered his disciples that it is written that, "The zeal of your house has devoured me." – John 2:14-17
Jesus’s anger here is a righteous anger, born out of a zeal for God and His house. The scripture referenced here is Psalm 69:9.

But the Yehudeans answered and said to him, "What sign do you show us [so] that you do these things?" Yeshua answered and said to them, "Tear down this temple, and after three days will I raise it." The Yehudeans said to him, "For forty and six years was built this temple, and you in three days will raise it?" But he was speaking concerning the temple of his body. And when he rose from the grave, his disciples remembered that this he had said. And they believed the scriptures, and the word that Yeshua had said.– John 2:18-22
    Jesus proved His unique authority and His Messianic claims through His resurrection from the dead. On Jesus’s resurrection, all Christianity stands or falls (I Corinthians 15:17). The disciples and the Jewish authorities both missed what Jesus was saying, but the disciples eventually came to understand what the Messiah was saying. The unbelieving people took Jesus’s saying here out of context and twisted His words during His trial (Mark 14:58).

And while Yeshua was in Urishlim at the Paskha during the feast, many believed in him when they saw the miracles that he did. But Yeshua did not entrust himself to them because he did understand every man, and he did not rely on men to testify to him concerning anyone, for he did know what was in man. – John 2:23-25

A lot of the people that followed Jesus were not following Him for the right reasons, and He knew that their hearts were not in the right place. We should not be following Jesus without our heart being in it. Only then can we be true disciples of the Messiah, when we take up the cross and follow Him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Commentary on the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 1

In the beginning was the Miltha, and that Miltha was with God, and God was that Miltha. This was in the Beginning with God. - John 1:1-2
     John’s opens his Gospel in a way like no other. He does not open with a genealogy, with the Virgin Birth, or with John the Baptist preaching. John starts back in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth. John opens his Gospel with the same Aramaic word that Moses used when beginning the Book of Genesis: b’reshit (“In the beginning” or “In the origin”). This doesn’t mean that the Miltha had a beginning, but that He was around before the beginning.
    The key word in this verse is Miltha, which is translated in the Greek manuscripts as logos and here as “Word”. Miltha is a word of such great depth that it cannot be adequately put into English. Native Aramaic speaker and scholar Paul Younan states, “Miltha has no direct English equivalent. It can mean ‘Word’, ‘Manifestation’, ‘Instance’, or ‘Substance’ among other things. In this context, it may best be left untranslated.” Another Aramaic speaker, Victor Alexander, frequently translates Miltha as “manifestation”. All of these definitions (especially “word”, “manifestation”, and “substance”) fit what John was trying to tell us.
            The Miltha is obviously Jesus the Messiah (Yeshua Meshikha) before the incarnation. Notice He is not referred to as the Son of God, but the Miltha of God, as the title “Son of God” relates to the incarnation (Luke 1:35). Jesus existed from eternity as the manifestation, word, and substance of YHWH God, the Father of all creation. These are not distinct or separate persons, but a poetic way of describing Jesus’s state of existence before the incarnation. The Miltha is the very God. Another bit of evidence for John describing the deity of Christ is the fact that the Targumim, which are Aramaic paraphrases of the Tanakh (Old Testament), always replaces the Tetragrammaton with Memra, which means “word”. The Word is God!

Everything through His hands existed, and without Him not even one [thing] existed [of] the things which have existed. – John 1:3

            John is again taking us back to Genesis by telling us that this Miltha is the Creator. Nothing could have possibly been brought into existence without Him. Through this Miltha, God created all things. If you read the creation account in Genesis, you will notice that Moses tells us that God spoke things into existence. This is the first appearance of the Miltha. Again, the Miltha is clearly not a separate Person from God if you understand this verse in its proper context.

In Him life was, and the life was the light of men. And that light in the darkness shines, and the darkness did not overtake it. - John 1:4-5

            Life here is plural (khaye), therefore describing eternal life, not merely the natural life of which even the unredeemed get to take part of. When describing spiritual things, Semitic people usually use plural nouns (such as the Hebrew Elohim, which is a plural noun being used to describe a singular being, which is evidenced by the fact that this word always occurs with singular verbs and such when referring to YHWH). Aramaic for “light” is nohra. In Jewish though, “light” is anything that brings spiritual revelation and guidance. The temple is also referred to as the light of the world by Jewish people and in rabbinical literature. Several times in this Gospel, Jesus refers to Himself as the Light of the world. Jesus reveals to us God the Father, and He brings us the Truth that brings eternal life to those who believe in His name. 

There was a man who was sent from God, [whose] name was Yukhanan. This [man] came for a witness that he might testify concerning the light, that all might believe through his hand.– John 1:6-8
This is John the Baptist, not the apostle and author of this Gospel. John the Baptist was not the Messiah, but he came to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and vice-verse (Malachi 4:6). He came to prepare the people for the coming Messiah.

For the light of truth, that which shines on all who come into the world. In the world He was, and the world by His hand existed, and the world did not know Him. To His own He came, and His own did not receive Him. But those who did receive Him, He gave to them authority that they might be the sons of God, those who have believed in His name. Those who neither by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of a man, rather by God were begotten.  – John 1:9-13
“Light of truth” in Aramaic is nohra d’shrara. This can also be translated as "the true light". Jesus of Nazareth is contrasted with John the Baptist, who many thought to be the Messiah, and with all the other Messiah claimants. Jesus is the true light, but all who came before Him were thieves and robbers (John 10:8). Jesus is stated of have come into the world (become flesh) and rejected by his own creation (this is what the first “own” is referring to). The second “own”, refers to His own people (the Jewish people). Those who did receive Him as the Messiah and Son of God were blessed and given that right (authority) to become God’s children. We are begotten spiritually of God through the new birth. This salvation is obtained through faith in Jesus the Messiah and Him alone, it isn't our heritage or by our own will and power that we become God’s children, but by faith in Christ so that none of us can boast (Ephesians 2:9).

And the Miltha became flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw His glory, the glory as the Only-Begotten who is from the Father, who is full of grace and truth.  – John 1:14
If there was any doubt in your mind that the Miltha d’Alaha (Word/Manifestation/Instance/Substance of God) is the Messiah Jesus, then I hope this put your doubt to rest. The Miltha is again showing that He is the manifestation of God in the flesh. He is glorious, being the unique Son of God. Aramaic for “only begotten” is ekhadaya (Aramaic cognate of the Hebrew yachid, which is a term for uniqueness). Paul Younan tells us that it literally means “THE ONE”. I would personally prefer to translate is simply as "the one" or "the only" instead of "only begotten". 

Yukhanan witnessed concerning him and cried out, and said, "This is he whom I said after me would come and yet be before me, because he was earlier than me."– John 1:15
John clearly directed the attention off of himself and toward the Messiah who was coming after him. When Mary received news that she was going to give birth to Jesus as a virgin, Elizabeth (John’s mother) was already six months pregnant (Luke 1:26). Jesus, according to the flesh, was not before or prior to John. This is more proof of the full deity of Jesus Christ.

And from his fullness we all have received grace on account of grace. Because the Law through Moshe was given, but truth and grace was through Yeshua the Messiah. – John 1:16-17
 John is telling us that Jesus has plenty of grace to give to all who will take hold of it. There is a distinction made here between Moses and Jesus, and Jesus is shown to be the superior. What the Law (Aramaic: Namusa, an Aramaic loanword from the Greek nomos) could not do (give grace, or divine ability to resist sin, and the truth that could bring salvation) was done by Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the Law.

God has not man seen ever. The Only-Begotten [of] God, He who is in the bosom of His Father, He has declared Him. – John 1:18

   This reading shows the antiquity of the Peshitta. Many manuscripts read “the only begotten Son”, but the older reading is “the only God” (Aramaic: Ekhadaya Alaha). This could also be translated as “the only God” or “the unique God”. While Paul Younan translates as "Only-Begotten [of] God", I think "the only God" is better both theologically and linguistically. What John means when he says “No man hath ever seen God”, is that no human being has laid on God in His spiritual essence (John 4:24 tells us that God is Spirit, therefore invisible). Jesus Christ (the Manifestation of the one true God) reveals God to us because He is Himself God. He is the exact representation of YHWH (Colossians 1:15). Jesus Christ is a true human being (like us in every way except for sin; Hebrews 2:17 and II Corinthians 5:21), and like all mankind, He needs and desires a relationship with God. Because Jesus is God’s only Son, He has a relationship with God like no other human being can have or has ever had. Therefore Jesus, being God Himself as to His deity, and in close communion with God as to His humanity, is the only one with the qualifications to reveal God to us adequately.

And this is the witness of Yukhanan when the Yehudeans sent to him from Urishlim priests and Levites to inquire of him, "Who are you?" And he confessed and did not deny, and declared, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him again, "Who therefore? [Are] you Eliyah?" And he said, "I am not." "[Are] you the Prophet?" And he said, "No." And they said to him, "And who then [are] you, that we might give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say concerning yourself?"  – John 1:19-28
Luke 3:15 tells us that some Jews wondered if John was the Messiah. All of the Gospels tells us that John confessed that he was not the Messiah, but that the Messiah would come after him. John was so humble that he didn’t see the need to take the spotlight from the Son of God. When the Jews asked him if he was Elijah, they wondered if he was literally the prophet Elijah (who was prophesied to come before the Messiah in Malachi 4:5). John is said to have come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), so he did fulfill the prophecy (Matthew 11:13-14), but the real Elijah is still to come in the end-times to bring the literal fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. John is not denying to have come in the spirit and power of Elijah, but to be the real Elijah who was carried up into heaven.
       The Greek mistranslates the Aramaic word newiya as “a prophet” instead of “the prophet”. The “a” at the end of the word signifies the Aramaic letter Alap, which shows that this is in the emphatic state. The Jewish authorities were asking if John was the prophet that Moses prophesied about in Deuteronomy 18:15, but this prophet that Moses spoke of is actually Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-26). The Jewish authorities were apparently unaware of this, as they distinguished “the prophet” from the Messiah.
     John’s reply is a quote from Isaiah 40:3 (translation from Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible): “A voice of one crying!—In the desert, prepare ye the way of Yahweh,—Make smooth, in the waste plain, a highway for our God…” The Aramaic word that John uses for “Lord” here, when quoting the verse, is the Aramaic cognate of YHWH, MarYa (Mar=Lord, Ya=Yah/YHWH; Lord YHWH). This word is used of Jesus several times in the Peshitta (such as in this particular verse) and is a clear testimony of His divinity that is completely missed in the Greek New Testament.

            The Greek New Testament manuscripts are divided as to whether these things occurred in “Bethabara” and “Bethany”. The Aramaic Peshitta shows itself to be the source of these readings. This reading is likely the result of a scribe’s eyes accidentally skipping over Anya (as in Beth-Anya, or Bethany) and reaching the word b’ebra (“at the crossing”), resulting in the word Beth-Ebra  (Bethabara).

And on the day that followed saw Yukhanan Yeshua, who was coming towards him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God! He who takes [away] the sins of the world. This is he concerning whom I spoke that after me will come a man, yet he was  before me because earlier he [is] than me. And I did not know him, except that he be made known [first] to Yisrael. Because of this I have come, that with water I might baptize," and Yukhanan bore witness and said, "I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove and it rested upon him. And I did not know HIm, but He who sent me to baptize with water, He saw to me that, 'The one whom you see the Spirit descend and rest upon him, he will baptize with the Holy Spirit,' and I saw and I testified that he is the Son of God."– John 1:29-34
    John is referencing the sacrificial lamb used for atonement under the Levitical priesthood (Leviticus 1:10). Jesus is that final sin offering, and He offered Himself of His own free will to save us. There is no greater love than the love that Christ showed us on the cross. John and Jesus were related (Luke 1:36), but it is very likely that they never met each other in person (as John grew up in Judea, while Jesus grew up in Galilee). Another possibility is that John means that he didn’t know Him in the sense that he didn’t realize that Jesus was the Messiah before the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and anointed Him for ministry. John also tells us that his baptism with water is inferior to the Holy Spirit baptism that Jesus gives us.

And on another day, Yukhanan and two of his disciples were standing and he stared at Yeshua while walking. And he said, "Behold! The Lamb of God!" And both of his disciples heard when he spoke and they went after Yeshua. – John 1:35-37

The two disciples that were standing with John are Andrew (Aramaic: Andreos, a name of Greek origin), the brother of Simon Peter (Aramaic: Shimon Kepha; John 1:40) and John, son of Zebedee (Aramaic: Yochanan bar Zawdee), the author of this Gospel. I believe that John was telling them to go follow Jesus, as John’s time was ending while Jesus’ ministry was just beginning.

And Yeshua turned and saw those who were coming after him and he said to them, "What do you want?" They said to him, "Our Master, where are you?" He said to them, "Come and you will see." And they came and saw where he was and with him remained that day, and it was about the tenth hour. - John 1:38-39
   The Aramaic word that Murdock translates as “Our Rabbi” is rabban, which would more accurately be translated as “Our Rab” or “Our great one”. Rabbi is Aramaic for “my great one”. It has been traditionally translated as “Rabbi” or “Teacher”. When they asked Jesus where He was staying, they said, “Rabban, aica hwe ant?” which is translated literally as “Our Great One, where are You?” The tenth hour in Jewish time reckoning would be around 4 PM, as the Jews reckoned the daytime as twelve hours long. They stayed with him at least until 6 PM or possibly the whole night (which is divided into “watches” instead of “hours”). Jesus didn’t live in Judah (or Judea) where John was baptizing at that time, but was still living in Nazareth. He was most likely just lodging in some temporary place before heading back to Galilee, after which He moved to Capernaum (Matthew 4:13).

And one of them who had heard from Yukhanan and went after Yeshua was Andraus, the brother of Shimon. This [one] saw first Shimon his brother and said to him, "I have found the Messiah!" And he brought him to Yeshua, and Yeshua gazed at him and said, "You are Shimon, the son of Yonah. You will be called Keepa."- John 1:40-42
   The Aramaic word for “Messiah” or “Christ” is Meshikha. While most people know this is false, some people think that “Christ” was a last name to our Lord. This was simply a title that meant “the Anointed One”. Jesus is the one man to whom God gave an unlimited anointing for the ministry (John 3:34). Jesus is God, but He relinquished His divine prerogatives when He became flesh (Philippians 2:6-8), this humbled state of existence (referred to as the Kenosis, which is the Greek word for “emptied” in Philippians 2:7, which is inaccurately translated in the King James Version as “made himself of no reputation”), Jesus relied upon God for strength. Jesus healed people, raised the dead, and cast out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) and not by His own divine power. Because of this humbled state, Jesus can be spoken of as distinct from God. The Father cannot be said to be the Son and in vice-versa, as these are two distinct modes of existence in which God subsists (not two distinct and co-eternal, co-equal, Persons). The term “Father” (Aramaic: Abba) refers to God’s existence beyond the incarnation in relation to His incarnate mode of existence (the Son of God, or Breh d’Alaha).
    In his book Idioms in the Bible Explained with A Key to the Original Gospel, native Aramaic-speaking scholar and Bible translator Dr. George M. Lamsa tells us that Keepa is not a name that any native Aramaic speaker would want to have. It means “rock”. Lamsa theorizes that Jesus called him by this affectionate nickname out of sympathy for him while he was being called “stone-headed”. I think Jesus saw that Peter (the English version of Keepa, which comes from the Greek Petros) would eventually become “steady as a rock” in the faith.

And on another day, Yeshua wanted to depart to Galeela and found Peleepos, and said to him, "Come after me." Now Peleepos was from Beth-Saida, fromt he city of Andraus and of Shimon. And Peleepos found Nathaniel and said to him, "He whom concerning Moshe wrote in the law and the prophets, we have found him. Yeshua he is, the son of Yosip of Nasrath. Said to him Nathaniel, "Is it possible that [anything] that is good to be from Nasrath?" And said to him Peleepos, "Come and you will see." - John 1:43-46
    Jewish rabbis frequently recruited their disciples in the manner in which Jesus did with Phillip (Aramaic: Pilippos). Bethsaida was very close to Capernaum, where Jesus officially recruited Andrew, Peter, John, and James (Aramaic: Yacob). I always found it interesting that Phillip witnessed to the skeptical Nathaniel (who is likely the same person as Bar-Tolmay, or Bartholomew). He referred to Jesus as the son of Joseph (Aramaic: Bar Yoseph) because he was unaware of the Virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23), like most of the public. Nathaniel also makes it clear that Nazareth has a bad reputation (why he was so indignant about the idea of the Messiah coming from Nazareth, I don’t know), but he went ahead and went with Phillip out of curiosity.

And Yeshua saw [him], Nathaniel, while coming toward him and said concerning him, "Behold! Truly a son of Yisrael in whom there is no guile!" Said to him Nathaniel, "From where do you know me?" Said to him Yeshua, "While you were under the fig tree I saw you." Answered Nathaniel and said to him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Yisrael!" Said to him Yeshua, "Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree have you believed? For even greater than these things you will see.  Truly, truly, say I to you: that from now [on] you will see the heavens that are opened, and the angels of God while ascending and descending to the Son of man. - John 1:47-51

  Jesus was likely doing some wordplay on Israel’s birth name Ya’akov (Jacob), which means “supplanter” or “trickster”, which carries the implication of dishonesty. I don’t know if Jesus saw Nathaniel in a vision or simply passing by, I personally think the latter based on Jesus being surprised at Nathaniel being so willing to believe just because Jesus saw him under a fig tree. Jesus clearly knew what he was thinking about though, as he references Jacob again, more specifically when Jacob saw angels ascending and descending to God (Genesis 28:10-19). Jesus was saying here that He is the mediator between God and man. It is also interesting that He said “Ascending and descending unto the Son of man”, as this is more proof-text for the deity of Christ, showing that He is God in heaven and the Son of man (Aramaic: Breh d'Nasha) on earth.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Did God the Father Forsake Jesus On the Cross?

The words, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" have troubled many Christians. This is one of the most well-known sayings of Jesus (recorded in two Gospels: Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34). Was Jesus literally forsaken by God? I personally don't think so. 

The Aramaic New Testament uses the phrase, "Eil, Eil, lamana shwaqthani?". Jesus was clearly quoting Psalms 22, which opens with these words. In Hebrew it says, "Eli, Eli, lamah, azbatani?" The Psalm opens with the despair of King David and his cry to God for help, but the Psalm ends on a totally different note. The Psalm ends with David praising God for His deliverance. Psalms 22 is not only similar to Jesus' crucifixion in this respect, but also in the fact that it describes the crucifixion in great detail before this instrument of torture and execution was devised (verses 14-17). 

This establishes the fact that Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm, prophetic of the suffering of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Psalm 22 was also a very well-known Psalm around the time of the crucifixion (and still is now, for obvious reasons). So when Jesus quoted the first verse, those who could understand Him (many thought He was crying for Elijah, which is Aramaic is Eliya and in Hebrew is Eliyahu, as you can see in Matthew 27:47), probably would have connected the dots and came to see that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. 

What I am saying here, is that Jesus is making another claim to the Messianic office during His crucifixion, which was clearly prophesied of by King David in Psalm 22 and the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53. This though, is not the only explanation for this difficult verse.

Apostolic theologian Jason Dulle suggests that Jesus is merely expressing His anguish by quoting the 22nd Psalm. David felt forsaken but clearly knew that God hadn't (read the whole Psalm and you'll see what I mean). In the same way, Jesus felt forsaken, but He knew God hadn't abandoned Him. 

Another explanation that is brought forth by Aramaic speaking scholars is that "shwaqthani" (commonly transliterated as "sabachthani"), is mistranslated and misunderstood. George M. Lamsa, a native Aramaic-speaking scholar, translates Matthew 27:46 as, "And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, Eli, Eli, lmana shabachthani! which means, My God, my God, for this I was spared!" 

"Shwaq" is the root of "shwaqthani" and it can be translated as follows: "forgive", "leave", or "allow". The problem with Lamsa's translation is that the Aramaic word "lamana" is used for questions. Paul Younan, another native Aramaic speaker, translates it this way, "And about the ninth hour, Yeshua cried out with a load voice and said, My God! My God! Why have you spared me?" Younan has explained this as Jesus, who had been suffering for six hours, saying "Why must this go on? Let's get this over with!" People who believe "shwaq" should be translated as "spared", cite John 16:32 as evidence that Jesus could not have been forsaken by God. The Peshitta Old Testament translation of Psalms 22:1 uses the same words as that of Jesus on the cross. The word "azbatani" that is used in the original Hebrew can only mean "forsaken" or "left", while "shwaq" can mean "forgive", "leave", or "allow" (as stated previously).

I personally think that "forsaken" or "left" best fits the context of the crucifixion. Matthew records the people mocking Jesus, using the same phrases used in the 22nd Psalm (compare Psalm 22:8 with Matthew 27:43). But I believe that Jesus merely felt forsaken, and was expressing His feelings of abandonment by quoting David's words. Jesus was not saying that God had forsaken Him, but that He felt alone. Jesus was also showing us another example of how the Tanakh (Old Testament) Scriptures point to Him as ha-Mashiyach (the Messiah or the Christ, the Anointed One).

UPDATE: I was wrong to state that the Hebrew "azbathani" only means "forsaken". Native Aramaic speaker Paul Younan told me the following: 'The blog assertion that a-z-b in Hebrew cannot mean "spared", "forgiven" or "reserved" is incorrect. It indeed does have those shades of meaning in Hebrew, Arabic and in the Akkadian root from which both are drawn.' I confirmed this by using my new Young's Concordance, and Robert Young confirms that "help" is a possible, but not exact, translation of "azbathani". After I asked him about the Assyrian Church of the East's traditional teaching on this, Brother Paul Younan also told me, 'The concept of God having "forsaken" Himself, or the concept of the Messiah having uttered such a thing as the English implies with the implication of that term, is a completely foreign concept in the understanding and patristic history of the CoE [Church of the East].'

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Name of the Messiah in the Tanakh

Did any of you know that the name of the Messiah is given in the Tanakh (Old Testament)? "...and hast spoken unto him, saying: Thus spake Jehovah of Hosts, saying: Lo, a man! A Shoot- [is] his name, And from this place he doth shoot up, And he hath built the temple of Jehovah." (Zechariah 6:12, Young's Literal Translation) This prophecy is a double fulfillment, concerning Joshua (Yehoshua) the high priest, but it also refers to the coming Joshua (Yeshua), who we know as Jesus. "Yeshua" is simply a shortened form of "Yehoshua". Both of them mean "Yahweh is salvation". This name is really significant when referring to Jesus. The angel of Yahweh spoke and said in Matthew 1:21, New English Translation), "She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Jesus/Yeshua, describes who the Messiah is (Yahweh) and what He came to do (bring salvation). The Old Testament even uses "Yeshua" as a verb for salvation and deliverance. Before Moses stretched his rod over the Red Sea during the exodus Israel out of Egypt, he said in Exodus 14:13, "Fear not, station yourselves, and see the salvation [yeshua] of Jehovah..." David, in Psalm 3:8, said "Of Jehovah is this salvation [yeshua]..." Jesus is the salvation of our heavenly Father Yahweh...come to Him for deliverance, salvation, and freedom. To know Jesus Christ is to know the very God (John 14:9). Thank God for becoming Emmanuel (God with us) when He, the Logos, became flesh to be our Yeshua. Blessed be the name of Yahweh. HalleluYah!

The Lord's Prayer in Syriac Aramaic

Slotha d'Maran Eshoa Meshikha b'leshana d' Aramaya d' Mattai (The Prayer of our Lord Jesus the Messiah in the Aramaic Language from Matthew):

ܐܒܘܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܢܬܩܕܫ ܫܡܟ

ܬܐܬܐ ܡܠܟܘܬܟ ܢܗܘܐ ܨܒܝܢܟ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܐܦ ܒܐܪܥܐ

ܗܒܠܢ ܠܚܡܐ ܕܣܘܢܩܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ

ܘܫܒܘܩ ܠܢ ܚܘܒܝܢ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܚܢܢ ܫܒܩܢ ܠܚܝܒܝܢ

ܘܠܐ ܬܥܠܢ ܠܢܣܝܘܢܐ ܐܠܐ ܦܨܢ ܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܕܝܠܟ ܗܝ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܘܚܝܠܐ ܘܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ

Awun d'w'shamaya netkadash shmak.

Titeh malkutak nehweh tzewianak aikana d'w'shamaya aph b'araa.

Haw lan l'akhma d'suwnkanan yawmana.

W'ashawuk kab khawbain aikana d'aph khanan w'wakan l'khayawin.

W'la talan l'nesiuna ela patzan men bisha metul d'dilak hi malkuta w'khayla w'teshbuwkhta l'alam almin.

"Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. As in heaven so on earth.

Give us the bread of our need this day.

And forgive us our offenses as we also have forgiven those who have offended us.

And not bring us into trial, but deliver us from the evil one, for Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever."- Matthew 6:9-13, Aramaic English New Testament

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Aramaic Primacy

            What I am writing about today is the ancient Eastern text that I believe to be the best New Testament text available to the Christian church: the Aramaic Peshitta. It has been preserved and revered for 2,000 years by Assyrian Christians in the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Church. According to them, it was delivered to them by the apostles themselves and their associates. This ancient version's great antiquity is supported by the fact that it is missing five books (II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, Revelation), which are often referred to as "The Western Five". Another reason why the Peshitta is important is the fact that it is written in an Aramaic dialect very similar to the Galilean dialect of Jesus: Syriac.
            The Peshitta cannot be traced back to any Greek text, rather, the Greek texts can be traced back to the Peshitta. Many differences between Greek texts can be traced back to a misreading of an Aramaic word that looks similar to another. For example:
Matthew 11:19- "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her CHILDREN." (King James Version, following the Byzantine text)
Matthew 11:19- '“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her ACTIONS."' (New International Version, following the Alexandrian text)
This contradicts both texts renditions of Luke 7:35: “But wisdom is justified of all her CHILDREN.”
            The Peshitta reads "actions". The contradiction arose from the word ܒܢܝܗ, which can mean "children" or "actions". It can be proven that it says "actions", because Matthew in Aramaic uses the more specific  ܥܒܕܝܗ, which can only mean "actions". Here is George M. Lamsa's translation of the Peshitta's rendition of these verses:
 "The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and they said, Behold, a glutton and a wine-bibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners. And yet wisdom is justified by its works."- Matthew 11:19
"And yet wisdom is justified by all its works."- Luke 7:35
            There are also places where the Greek New Testament completely mistranslates and Aramaic word (again, because it looks like another). The main example that I can think of is in Romans 5:7. The Greek text, following the King James Version, reads, "For scarcely for a RIGHTEOUS man will one die: yet peradventure for a GOOD man some would even dare to die."
The Peshitta (following the Lamsa translation), reads this way, "Hardly would any man die for the sake of the WICKED: but for the sake of the GOOD, one might be willing to die."
            This mistake in the Greek rose from the misreading of ܪܫܝܥܐ (wicked) as ܪܫܝܢܐ (blameless).
            The Peshitta also contains wordplay and puns that are completely missed in the Greek. The Lord's Prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 (translated by native Aramaic speaker Paul Younan):
Awon d'washmayya (our Father in Heaven)
nith-Qaddash Shmakh (holy be your Name)
Teh-teh Malkothakh (your Kingdom come)
Nehweh sow-ya-nakh (your Will be done)
Aykanna d'washmaya (as it is in heaven)
ap b'ar-aa (also on earth)
Haw-lan lakh-ma (give us the bread)
d'son-qa-nan yo-ma-na (of our need this day)
w'ashwooq lan khaw-beyn (and forgive us our offences)
aykanna d'ap akhanan shwaqan l'khay-ya-weyn (as we have forgiven those who have offended us)
w'la taa-lan l'nis-yo-na (and do not lead us into trial)
ella passan min bee-sha (but deliver us from the evil one)
mottol de-lakh he mal-ko-tha (for yours is the kingdom)
w'khayla (and the power)
w'tishbokhta (and the glory)
l'alam, almen, amen. (forever and ever, amen)
            The fact that the Greek completely lacks this poetry, shows that there was an Aramaic original behind the commonly used Greek New Testament. There is also another form of poetry used called a "Janus Paralellism", which exploits multiple definitions of one word in one sentence. Matthew 13:31-32
ܐܚܪܢܐ ܡܬܠܐ ܐܡܬܠ ܠܗܘܢ ܘܐܡܪ ܕܡܝܐ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܫܡܝܐ ܠܦܪܕܬܐ ܕܚܪܕܠܐ ܕܢܣܒ ܓܒܪܐ ܙܪܥܗ ܒܩܪܝܬܗ
 "He related another parable to them, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field."- Lamsa
ܘܗܝ ܙܥܘܪܝܐ ܗܝ ܡܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܙܪܥܘܢܐ ܡܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܪܒܬ ܪܒܐ ܗܝ ܡܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܝܪܩܘܢܐ ܘܗܘܝܐ ܐܝܠܢܐ ܐܝܟ ܕܬܐܬܐ ܦܪܚܬܐ ܕܫܡܝܐ ܬܩܢ ܒܣܘܟܝܗ
"It is the smallest of all SEEDS; but when it is GROWN, it is larger than all of the herbs; and it becomes a tree, so that the FOWLS of the sky come and nest in its branches."- Lamsa
            The Aramaic word for "fowls" can also mean "flowers" or "grows", as well as "seeds". This is a very beautiful form of poetry that is also used in the Hebrew Old Testament, which no scholar will say was written in any other language besides Hebrew. This poetry cannot be replicated in the Greek language of the New Testament, and it isn't.
            The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that few Jews in Israel knew Greek also:
 "...I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations...." — Antiquities of the Jews 20,11.2
            The Greek used in the Greek New Testament is very Semitic in flavor, very similar to that used in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament. Some scholars have even referred to the Greek grammar of Revelation as "grammatical anarchy". The fact that the Greek New Testament and the Greek Old Testament share the same kind of Grammar seems to show that the Greek New Testament, like the Septuagint, is a translation of a Semitic document. Josephus says that he wrote his book "The Wars of the Jews" in his native tongue (which would be Aramaic) and later translated it into Greek. The books of the New Testament that are said to have the best Greek grammar are Luke, Acts, and Hebrews.
            The author of Luke and Acts (Luke, of course) is said by church history to have come from Antioch in Syria, which contained large populations of Greek and Aramaic speakers. He is also stated not to be Greek, but Syrian. This means likely that Luke was a bilingual person, speaking both Greek and Aramaic fluently. It is very likely that he wrote his Gospel and the Book of Acts in Aramaic and translated them himself into Greek. Some historians also state that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by Paul, but translated by Luke into Greek. Some have noted that the Aramaic grammar used in Paul's letters (Romans-Philemon) is remarkable similar to the Aramaic used in Hebrews. The Greek grammar in the Greek versions of these letters differ (between Romans-Philemon and Hebrews, I mean). While Luke's grammar is believed to be the best Greek of the New Testament, Josephus' is agreed to be superior.
            Jewish synagogues would also not allow anything to be read in the synagogue but Hebrew and Aramaic. The Septuagint was also not widely used among Jews in the Holy Land, the Talmud speaks of a day of mourning when the translation of the New Testament into Greek was completed. They also said that it was better to feed your children the meat of swine than to teach them Greek (and/or Greek wisdom). A Pharisee like Paul (who referred to himself as a Hebrew of the Hebrews in Philippians 3:5, or "As Jewish as you can get!"), would be very much against Hellenism. Through these facts, we can be very certain that the Greek Septuagint was not used commonly by Israeli Jews, but by Hellenistic and Alexandrian Jews. Jesus and the apostles (including Paul), most likely spoke enough Greek to get by, but not enough to speak it publicly. It is noteworthy that Paul and Peter never seemed to go anywhere without a translator (like Mark or Luke).
            The Epistles of Paul are usually believed to have been written to congregations of Greek ethnicity, but this is not an accurate reflection of history. Most early Christians were Assyrians (supported by the fact that the largest Christian denomination for a long time was the Assyrian Church of the East) and Jews, with some Greeks mixed in. The Peshitta (showing another sign of indepence from the Greek) refers to Titus and Timothy both as Arameans (another word for Assyrians). The early church leaders were most likely Jews. Jews took Aramaic wherever they went, so the leaders probably read the Epistles in Aramaic and translated them immediately into Greek for the benefit of the non-Aramaic speaking Christians. This kind of tactic was used for reading the Tanakh (Jewish name for the Old Testament), which would be read in Hebrew and then translated into the language of the country.
            The oldest complete Greek New Testament manuscripts (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) are from the 4th century. The oldest Peshitta manuscript we have is from the 4th century, but there is a Medival manuscript of the Peshitta called the Khabouris Codex, which is copied from a manuscript from AD 165, which would be the 2nd century. Dr. J.S. Asseman alsio mentions seeing an Aramaic manuscript of the four Gospels from AD 78 (1st century). The oldest Greek fragment is from AD 125 and is from the Gospel of John. Scholar Daniel Wallace mentioned that a 1st century Greek fragment of the Gospel of Mark has been discovered. The Arabic translation of the Diatessaron (a harmony of the Gospels by Tatian, a student of Justin Martyr, written at around AD 175), which was originally written in Aramaic, matches the Peshitta against other Aramaic versions (including the Curetonian Gospels and Sinaitic Palimpsest, also called "The Old Syriac Gospels").
            This shows that the New Testament was in Aramaic and Greek at the same time. What most people don't think about is that when Paul was going to the West with the Word of God, Peter was going to the East (whose first and possibly second Epistles were written from Babylon, as I Peter 5:13 states). Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews, who would have most likely spoken Aramaic among themselves. The Epistle of James was also written to the scattered tribes of Israel (James 1:1).
            The Aramaic Peshitta also has other important factors that support an important traditional Christian doctrine: the deity of Jesus Christ (Eshoa Meshikha in Aramaic). Several verses refer to Him as “MarYa”. MarYa is the Aramaic cognate of YHWH (YHWH, the name of God revealed in the Tanakh). MarYa is best translated as “Lord YHWH”. Here are some New Testament verses in which the Peshitta reveals Messiah to be YHWH (English quotations from the Aramaic English New Testament unless stated otherwise):
En hacil Dawid kare leh MarYa aicana Bre huw?
“Therefore, if Dawid calls him Master YHWH, how is he his son?”- Matthew 22:45
Etiled l’cun ger yawmana paruka ditawhi MarYa Meshikha bamdinteh d’Dawid.
“For born to you all today (is the) Savior that is Master YHWH the Mashiyach, in the city of Dawid.”- Luke 2:11
Sharirait hacil neda culheh bit aisrel d’MarYa w’Meshikha avdeh Alaha l’hana Eshoa d’antun zakaphtun.
“Let therefore the whole house of Israel know truly, God has made this Yeshua, LORD JEHOVAH and The Messiah, whom you had crucified.”- Acts 2:36, The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English
Amar l’hun Shimon tuvu w’amadu anash anash mencun bashme d’MarYa Eshoa l’shuvkan khatahe datkablun maqhavta d’Rukha d’Qudsha.
‘Shimon said to them, “Repent and be immersed each of you in the name of Master YHWH-Y’shua for the forgiveness of sins, that you may receive the gift of the Ruach haKodesh.”’- Acts 2:38
Miltha ger d’shadar lavnai Israelw’sabar enun shlama w’shaina b’yad Eshoa Meshikha hanaw MarYa d’cul.
“(This is) the Word that he sent for to the sons of Yisrael to give hope and peace and tranquility to them through Y’shua the Mashiyach. He is Master YHWH of all!”- Acts 10:36
Ela dilan khad huw Alaha Abba d’cul meneh wakhanan beh w’khad MarYa Eshoa Meshikha d’cul bideh waph khnan bideh.
“Yet to us, on our part, there is one Elohim, the Father from whom are all things, and we in him; and one Master YHWH-Y’shua, the Mashiyach, by whom are all things, and we also by him.”- I Corinthians 8:6
Aina hacil dacul men lakhmeh d’MarYa w’shate men caseh w’la shawe leh mkhayav huw ladmeh d’MarYa walphagreh.
“He therefore, who eats of the bread of Master YHWH and drinks of His cup and is not worthy of it, is guilty of the blood of Master YHWH and of His body.”- I Corinthians 11:27
Man dacel gir w’shate meneh cad la shawe khuyaba huw l’naphshe acel w’shate d’la presh pagreh d’MarYa.
“For, whoever eats and drinks of it, while he is unworthy, eats and drinks condemnation on himself by not discerning the body of Master YHWH.”- I Corinthians 11:29
Metul hana mawda ana l’cun d’lit anash d’b’Rukha d’Alaha mamalel w’amar dakhrem huw Eshoa w’aphla anash meshcakh l’mimar d’MarYa hu Eshoa ela en b’Rukha d’Qudsha.
“I therefore explain to you, that there is no man that speaks by the Spirit of Elohim, who says that Y’shua is accursed: neither can a man say that Master YHWH is Y’shua, except by the Ruach haKodesh.”- I Corinthians 12:3
Barnasha kadmaya aphrana d’men ara barnasha datren MarYa men shamaya.
“The first man was of dust from the earth; the second man was Master YHWH from heaven.”- I Corinthians 15:47
W’cul leshan nawde d’MarYa huw Eshoa Meshikha l’shuvkha d’Alaha Abbuhi.
“And that every tongue should confess that Master YHWH is Y’shua Mashiyach to the glory of Elohim his Father.”- Philippians 2:11
W’daw d’men Maran makablitun purana b’yartuta l’MarYa ger Meshikha palkhitun.
“And know you that from out Master (Y’shua) you will receive a recompense as the inheritans; for you serve Master YHWH, the Mashiyach.”- Colossians 3:24
Ela kadeshaw b’lebawtcun l’MarYa Meshikha w’hwaitun mataibin l’mapac b’Rukha l’cul d’tava l’cun miltha al savra d’haimanutcun b’macicuta w’v’dekhlata.
“But sanctify Master YHWH the Mashiyach, in your hearts. And be you ready for a vindication before everyone who demans of you an account of the hope of your faith.”- I Peter 3:15
Ena alaph w’taw amar MarYa Alaha haw ditawhi witawhi hwa wate haw d’akhid cul.
‘”I am Alap, also Taw,” says Master YHWH, Elohim; who is, and was, and is to come, (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh) the omnipotent.”- Revelation 1:8
Amar cad masahed halen in ate na bagal ta MarYa Eshoa.
‘And when he testified these things, he said, “Yes, I am coming soon.” “Come, LORD JEHOVAH Yeshua.’- Revelation 22:20, The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English
            These might not be all of the clear and undeniable places in the Peshitta in which Jesus is referred to as YHWH. Another clear reference to Jesus’ deity (without using MarYa), is found in Romans 9:5, which reads in the Aramaic as:
W’avahata w’menhun etkhzi Meshikha b’vsar d’itawhi Alaha d’al cul d’leh teshbkhan w’vurcan l’alam almin amin.
“And from among whom Mashiyach appeared in the flesh, who is Elohim over all; to whom be praises and benediction, forever and ever; Amen.”- Romans 9:5, Aramaic English New Testament
            Unlike the Aramaic, the Greek reading of this verse is ambiguous, translated either as:
“Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”- King James Version
“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”- New International Version
            Another interesting thing is the Aramaic cognate of logos (word), used in John (Yochanan) 1:1.
B’reshit aytohi hwa miltha w’huw miltha aytohi hwa l’wat Alaha w’Alaha aytohi hwa huw miltha.
“In the beginning was the Miltha. And that Miltha was with Elohim. And Elohim was that Miltha.”- John 1:1, Aramaic English New Testament
            Aramaic speaker Paul Younan tells us that the Aramaic word miltha not only means “word”, but also “manifestation”, “instance”, or “substance”. Victor Alexander, a native Aramaic speaker who translated the Peshitta, frequently translates miltha as “manifestation”. I think the words “word”, “manifestation”, or “substance” all fit into what John was telling us in the first verse of His Gospel, as Jesus is the Word, the Manifestation, and the Substance of God. Jesus Christ is MarYa Alaha (Lord Yahweh God) and the Father of all.
            I feel that I have shown thoroughly why I believe the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic, and the importance of studying the New Testament through the Aramaic language. There are many translations of the New Testament available for study. Here is a list:
John Wesley Etheridge’s Translation of the Peshitta New Testament-
James Murdock’s Translation of the Peshitta New Testament-
William Norton’s Translation of the Peshitta Epistles: -Hebrews, I John, I Peter, James
The Lamsa Bible by George M. Lamsa
Aramaic-English Interlinear Gospels by Paul Younan:
The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English by David Bauscher:
The Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament by David Bauscher:
The Testimony of Yeshua by Lonnie Martin:

            Many other translations are available from the Way International (3 volume Interlinear and translation), Andrew Gabriel Roth, Victor Alexander (a native Aramaic speaker), Janet Magiera (who also has a 3 volume Interlinear), Rocco Errico (only The Gospel of Matthew), James Scott Trimm, Herb Jahn, A. Frances Werner, and Joseph Pashka (only the Gospels and Acts with a companion volume that has the Aramaic text transliterated into English letters without vowels). Each of these translations have issues, but all of them have something valuable to offer. Here are websites that have really good information on the Aramaic Peshitta: