Thursday, March 30, 2017

George Lamsa Lecture and Radio Programs online

Over the last two days, I have been listening to lectures and radio broadcasts of George Lamsa, the Assyrian Bible translator.  John H. Boone, a social-media friend of mine, and the director of the Aramaic Bible Center of Southeast Texas, has painstakingly digitized reel-to-reel recordings of Dr. Lamsa and  posted them on Soundcloud. . I thank John for his devotion and hard work.

These lectures and broadcasts are very interesting and enjoyable.

Dr. George Lamsa was an Assyrian who was born in Iran, and was raised in the Nestorian Church and taught by their priests.  Lamsa translated the entire Bible from the Peshitta, the Aramaic Text. His translation is formally known as the Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text, and less formally as the LAMSA Bible. Lamsa also wrote several commentaries and devotional books.

The Lamsa Bible has been my favorite as of late, and my daily Reading Bible. The Peshitta is the standard Syriac Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronites, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.. These Christians claim the original Scriptures were written in Aramaic and given to the Church by the Apostles:.

"With reference to your letter concerning Lamsa's translation of the Aramaic Bible, and the originality of the Peshitta text, as the Patriarch and Head of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, we wish to state, that the Church of the East received the scriptures from the hands of the blessed Apostles themselves in the Aramaic original, the language spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and that the Peshitta is the text of the Church of the East which has come down from the Biblical times without any change or revision."   -  Mar Eshai Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East

Dr. Lamsa's devout personality is very evident in these broadcasts.

He elevates the words of Christ over the words of St. Paul, he says “Christ is my Savior,” and that Paul is “a man” and is wrong about some things (women in particular, he disagrees with Paul that women should “remain silent”).

He mentions that Unity Church is publishing some of his materials. He seems to have been popular in the Mind Science Churches.

He mentions certain discrepancies between the Aramaic text and the Masoretic texts. One I found very interesting is that God is not angry; Lamsa cites Psalm 7.11 from the Aramaic, “yea, He [God] is not angry every day,” vs the Masoretic text “God is angry with the wicked every day."

Dr. Lamsa seems to have a problem with faith alone, at least the way American Protestants express it. He goes on a tangent criticizing American Protestant understanding of believing in Christ. He says that all the Protestants tell him “you just believe in Christ, you don’t have to do anything,” and he says, “we have to act on our faith in Christ.” He seems to hear the Protestants as saying that we don’t do anything. I agree with Dr. Lamsa. I do not believe we can "earn" our salvation, but faith calls for commitment, for even the "devils believe, and tremble."

He praises the Anglicans and Episcopalians for his formal and Western education, both in Iran when he was a boy, where the Archbishop of Canterbury had a school, and later on at Virginia Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Lamsa is very much a mystic; he says instead of seminaries, we should have schools for prophets and mystics. He believes that Moses and Abraham really saw and spoke with God.

I have recently read Dr. Lamsa's biography and his book on the history of the Assyrian Christians. I greatly enjoy his translation of the Scriptures. He is a spiritual giant. 

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