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Thursday, 17 May 2012 11:23

Aramaic English NT

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The Aramaic English NT by AG Roth is the new craze amongst Messianic believers. The translation looks spurious. I read a portion of 1 Peter from it - a bit dicey. As far as I know, no Aramaic copies of the NT have been authenticated. Please advise.

Jacob's Reply:

Thank you for your question.

The earliest Syriac / Aramaic New Testament texts we have are translated from Greek. There are no existing Aramaic originals.

If there were they were burned by the Moslems in Lebanon when they torched the Christian libraries in the 8th century

The closest text we have to the Aramaic (Hebrew dialect of Chaldee) spoken by Jesus would be the Peshita text which is not a New Testament.

There is however an academic value in the scholarly sense of comparing the oldest Syriac manuscript copies we have from various scriptoriums with both the Greek NT text and the Hebrew NT text of Franz Delitzche. This however is a scholarly pursuit in the domain of a rather select group of academics and requires a very high level competence of the ancient languages and even in this realm of expertise, the experts themselves are not infrequently divided.

We have around 20,000 NT fragments and codexes and nearly all are in Greek, not Aramaic. Despite the unsubstantiated and often hyper speculative and conjectured claims of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research (JSSR) of David Bivin, Joe Frankovick, Roy Blizzard etc., except for a historical reference from Heggispus in the patristic era claiming Matthew's gospel was originally composed in Hebrew (which may have meant  Hebrewised Aramaic), the overwhelming bulk of manuscript, historical, and linguistic evidence supports the New Testament as having been written mainly in Koine Greek.

One book you may wish to consider in this regard is "The Reliability of The New Testament Manuscripts" by FF Bruce. While I myself no longer value him much as a theologian, some excellent work was in the past done in this area by Craig Blohmberg. This is a massive and complex area of scholarship, but much of what is being bantered about these days is often not even scholarly. Hyper Messianic crackpots and charlatans abound. I am not however sufficiently familiar to comment on the work of AG Roth.

I trust this helps.


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