Re: Jesus Words: Aramaic or Greek?

From: Jack Kilmon (
Date: Thu Sep 03 1998 - 18:52:44 EDT

Paul K wrote:

> -
> >
> >
> > wrote:
> > My method is that when I am looking for what the NT author
> >was trying to say, I look to the Greek. If I am looking for what
> >Jesus was trying to say, I look to the Aramaic.
> >
> >Jack
> But are you not reading a translation from Greek to Aramaic?
> It would seem that the correctness of the Aramaic was dependant
> on the Greek so how would you know what Jesus was trying to say?
> Paul

In many cases, the translational Greek imbedded in the largely
compositional Greek of the Gospel is evident. One indicator
is when an idiom in Aramaic does not have a Greek equivalent
and the sense of the saying is lost. Let me give you an example:


In Greek OFEILEMATA/OFEILETAIS is "debts/debtors."

Is the Matthean Scribe telling us Jesus subscribes to getting us
off the hook for our Master Card balance? (g)

but in Aramaic:

w$bwq ln xwbyn
w'shevok lan hoyween

)ykn) d)p xnn $bqn lxybyn
aykeno dup heneen shevkon l'hoyween

In Aramaic hoyween/l'hoyween can be translated to
debts/debtors but xwbyn is an Aramaic idiom for "sin."

In the Aramaic, therefore, it makes sense. There are many
cases where enigmatic Greek sayings suddenly make sense
in Aramaic. Additionally, the Aramaic often reveals word
plays lost in the Greek.

Having said this, I will agree that mere retroversion to Aramaic
is not often useful unless it is associated with clarifications in
the idiom or syntax. Quite frankly, all of the "sayings" of
Jesus in the NT are not Yeshuine...some were "interpolated"
or even invented by the Greek speaking NT author, editor,
copyist. So where Aramaic is valuable in many instances in
understanding the specific saying, it must be applied with
great caution.


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