Aramaic Bible Study

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The Aramaic Bible Study (ABS) program is intended as a tool for both individuals and communities to improve their knowledge of the Bible and to open up avenues of discussion about the historical background and cultural context of Yeshue and His disciples, including information about their unique Galilean dialect, how and when the scriptures were written, etc.

What is the Bible?

The English word Bible comes from the Latin word biblia, which comes from the Greek word βίβλος (Pronounced: biblos). This word comes from the same root as the French word "Bibliotheque" and the Castilian word "Biblioteca", and means "Library". Thus the Bible was regarded not as a single book, but as a collection of books. In the early church it was common for local bishops to choose the canon of scripture to be read within their own dioceses. This rule was eventually superceded with denominations each picking and choosing which books to include and which to reject, based on their own predetermined cultural and theological preferences.

The first person to commission a βίβλος in the Greek language was the Emperor Constantine, who at the Council of Nicæa, ordered that fifty Bibles be made for the churches of Constantinople in the Kioné Greek language. This is a very strange Greek dialect, and there are many theories behind its existence, and more specifically behind why it was used for the translation of the New Testament. The most reasonable theory is that it is exactly the type of badly garbled Greek one would expect when translating from a Semitic language into a European language.

It is widely believed that the 4th Century Codex Sinaiticus, is one one of the Fifty Bibles which was commissioned by the Emperor Constantine for his churches in Constantinople. This manuscript includes the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas, which are both now generally excluded from modern editions, such as the Byzantine Majority Text (2005), which counts the number of divergences in the most ancient Greek manuscripts and then gives the ‘majority reading’ for each verse.

What language was the Bible written in?

A little more than a hundred years ago, the British began to build a temple to their own honor, in the form of a grand edifice composed of scholarly works, military conquest, and a sublime understanding of their own moral and biological superiority. The sheer number of scholars producing written works during the Victorian Era is mind boggling. However appreciable their effort may have been, much if not all of it has since been shown to be misled.

One of the great crowning jewels of this effort to express their intellectual dominance was their idea of Kioné primacy. or the idea that the Biblical books were originally composed in a badly written form of Greek, rather than in Aramaic. But this idea, like so much other rubbish from their time, is now falling into ruin as the Internet provides regular people with greater and greater access to information and ideas.

Take for instance the fact that Yeshue's parables rhyme, and have rhythm and meter in Aramaic, but not in Greek. The poetry of the original Aramaic is also undeniable - whereas the "original" Greek was so bad that they had to give it a new name, "κοινὴ" (Pronounced: 'kione', to make up for the fact that it sounds as if it were not originally Greek, but instead translated from a Semitic language. Also there are questions regarding Split Words.

They translated ܐܬܠܡ ("miltha") which means "substance" in Aramaic to the "Logos", which is a construct of the Greek philosophers, meaning "Logic", which was then transformed again into "Word" in English. In Aramaic there is no Word of God, or Logos, but only "substance of God", i.e. "incarnation", "occurrence" and "instance".

Their desire to make the Nazarani faith more palpable to Greek converts, meant that they adopted pagan philosophical concepts that are completely foreign to the Semitic thought and spirituality of the earliest of the Messiah's apostles.

Is the Bible really the “Word of God”?

If you believe that the Bible is true, then you must agree that the Bible cannot be the "Word of God", because the Bible itself says that the Word of God is Jesus the Messiah:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.[1]
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.[2].

Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel answers this question by asking,

Do you mean the 1825 English language edition of the Protestant Bible which omitted the apocrypha? Or Martin Luther’s German language Bible, missing a number of other books, like Esther and Revelation? Or maybe the slightly older Latin Vulgate Bible of the Roman Catholics which was translated from the Greek by Saint Jerome? Or possibly the Byzantine Bible, fifty copies of which were commissioned by the Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. and written for the first time in Greek? Or the twenty-two book version of the Peshitta that preceded the Byzantine Bible? Or possibly the Diatessaron, which had only one book combining the four Gospels, which was quoted by a large number of early church fathers and liturgical manuscripts? Maybe you mean the eighty-eight book Bible of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which has been in use since the early 4th Century and has manuscripts which are older than any other known New Testament manuscripts? Or do you mean some something else entirely? Maybe the King James? Or the Malayalam Bible used in south India?[3]

Who Decided On the Canon?

The term ‘canon’ refers to those books which are accepted as part of the Bible. Although most people believe that the canon of scripture is settled, a cursory examination shows us that which books are included and which books are excluded is in no way a settled issue. Generally the denominational groupings of Yeshue's followers can agree internally about what books should be in the Bible, but these groupings don’t agree with each other. Protestants, Catholics and some Orthodox all include different numbers of books in what they call the ‘canon of scripture’ for their particular denomination. Most denominations have a ‘canon’ which they accept as ‘scripture’, but few of these are anything more than merely preferential choices, based on preformulated theologies, which may or may not apply to other people who believe differently.

The biblical canon of the Orthodox Churches remains essentially settled in practice, but not necessarily in fact. According to Constantinou, "The most unusual aspect of the canon of Scripture among the Orthodox is that no official canon exists at all and the canon remains somewhat loose" (Constantinou, page 1), and has "never conclusively defined a canon of Scripture in an authoritative statement such as those ultimately pronounced in the West." (Constantinou, page 3) This is in part because the "Apostolic writings were not immediately recognized as Scripture when they were penned during the first century. Although the earliest Christians knew of apostolic writings, the life and teachings of Christ were primarily passed along orally for many generations. Christians even considered oral tradition superior to writing because one always knew and had confidence in the trustworthiness of one’s teacher. Books, however, were copied by hand, and one could never be certain that any book was a faithful copy of what the author had actually written, or even whether the book had in fact been composed by that author." [4]

What are the Oldest Biblical Manuscripts?

There are quite a number of manuscripts of the Bible and the Peshitta surviving, as well as at least a few of the Diatessaron. From these it is easy to develop a simple theory to explain how one text led to the other, by tracking the numerous errors in each. Right now, the oldest surviving Biblical manuscripts are of the Peshitta, and date from the early 3rd Century. The word “Peshitta” means “straight”, as in the ‘straight path’ the ‘straight and narrow’, et cetera.

It is likely however that the Old Syriac was translated from the Codex Bezæ Cantabrigensis (See Ruach Qadim, page 96) which was authored by Bishop Rabbula in the 6th Century. At the very least it can be said that both the Old Syriac and the Codex Bezæ are from the same Greek source. Rabbula was a fanatic, who burned enormous piles of books, including every copy he could find of the Diatessaron, the single Gospel, which had been compiled during the 2nd Century. Bezæ is a codex of the New Testament written in both Greek and Latin. It measures 21.5x26cm, and dates from the early 5th century. It contains the four Gospels, written down in a single column per page; with the Greek text on the left and Latin on the right facing pages.

Most people understand that Christianity came out of Judaism, but from whence did Judaism come? Answering this question takes us on a journey to another place and time with which few are familiar.

A number of the stories in the five books of Moses (i.e. the “Torah”) were copied from ancient Babylonian legends.

Aramaic is a Semitic language just like the newer languages Modern Hebrew and Arabic which came from it. But Aramaic itself came from the Sumerian language. Sumerian is at present the oldest written language for which we have any evidence.

Aramaic writing was originally pictographic.

Bibliography

References

  1. John 1:1-5 NIV
  2. John 1:14 NIV
  3. Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel Is the Bible the Infallible Word of God?"
  4. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, The Canon of Scripture in the Orthodox Church, in Vahan S. Hovhanessian's "The Canon of the Bible and the Apocrypha in the Churches of the East, Bible in Orthodox Tradition”, Volume 2, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4331-1035-1 , page 5