[b-greek] Re: Aramaic Version Of the NT?!?!?

From: Ken Smith (kens@180solutions.com)
Date: Thu Aug 16 2001 - 16:59:09 EDT

I fully agree with Mark's assessment, but you might be interested in a
bit more detail.

> ----
> Could anyone tell me if it would be worthwhile
> >to study the NT Aramaic translations?
> ----
> No. Don't give it a second thought.
> Mark Wilson

There are a few folks out there who think that parts of (or in some of
the weirder versions, nearly all of) the NT were written in Aramaic.
It's certainly clear that many of the characters in the NT spoke Aramaic
as a first language, probably including Jesus. The Gospels and even
epistles record various Aramaic words ("talitha koum", "maranatha",
"abba"). Depending on who you ask, some of Jesus' sayings, if you
back-translate them, may reveal Aramaic word-plays. And several books
of the NT seem to have sentence structures that are more like those
found in semitic writings than in literary Greek texts (Mark and
Revelation, for instance). Oddly enough, Matthew, which is usually the
Gospel most referenced in this respect (due to a quote from Papias about
Matthew having written in "the Hebrew dialect"), doesn't seem to be
nearly as strongly influenced in this way: he's not as polished as, say,
Luke, but his Greek is far more idiomatic than, say, Revelation is.

But that's about as far as the evidence goes. There are no Aramaic
versions of any NT books which are known to be from before the middle
ages. (There are a couple different Aramaic versions of Matthew
floating around, but they each differ from each other, and were probably
back-translated to Aramaic from Greek centuries if not millennia later.)
What evidence there is can be best explained by acknowledging that (a)
Greek was not the first language of many of the writers, and (b) that
some of the materials they used -- written and oral -- were perhaps
originally spoken or composed in a semitic language. But there's no
convincing evidence that ANY of the NT books were originally written
down by their authors in Aramaic.

Ken Smith

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