Re: Camel or Rope?

David L. Moore (
Wed, 02 Oct 1996 11:34:55 -0400

Mike Phillips wrote:
> > From: "David L. Moore" <>, on 10/1/96 1:30 PM:
> > Luke's use, however, of a different word meaning "needle" does
> > indicate that attestation for this interpretatation is very ancient; and
> > Bl-DeB is probably correct in considering the v. l. in Matthew of KAMILOS
> > for KAMHLOS a "later artificial rationalization" (Bl-DeB, #24).
> George M. Lamsa's translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta <book>
> Holy Bible From the Ancient Eastern Text</> translates Mat 19:24 with rope /
> needle based upon his native understanding of Aramaic and idiom. It may be the
> 'Greek problem' is a reflection of an Aramaic original, which is correctly
> captured in the Peshitta. Or perhaps not.

Yes, I supposed that Kevin's question somehow traced to Lamsa's
translation of the Aramaic NT. Nevertheless, the replacement of "elephant" for
"camel" in a similar expression in the Babylonian Talmud, as mentioned in a recent
post, tends to indicate the following: that such expressions were used for
purposes of hyperbole, and that the very point of the expression lies in the
absolutely humanly impossible nature of the action described.

Of course, Lamsa's thesis, as I understand it is that the Aramaic NT has a
greater claim to acuracy and to preserving the original readings than does the
Greek (at least in the Gospels) since all the dialog recorded was originally
spoken in Aramaic. He also postulates an Aramaic original for the majority of the
Gospel tradition, does he not?

In terms of the attestation for KAMHLOS in the Greek text, one couldn't
really say that there is any problem. The only MSS, besides the Armenian
tradition, that are listed in Nestle 27th ed. for the variant KAMILOS are
third-category miniscules. Metzger's _Textual Commentary_ also cites MS 59, which
is also a miniscule, lectionary 183, and the Georgian. The Peshitta isn't
mentioned in any of these, but if Lamsa's translation reflects the standard
Pessitta rendering, that would have to be included. Such testimony, even when
taken together would be seen as negligible by most textual critics in comparison
to the 4th-Century uncial MSS Aleph and B, coroborated by the 5th-Century MSS C
and D along with many other uncials. Only pleading a special status for the
Aramaic tradition might tip the balance the other way, but that doesn't seem to be

David L. Moore                             Director
Miami, Florida, USA                        Department of Education                     Southeastern Spanish District            of the Assemblies of God