Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Three Prime Languages of the Sacred Scriptures

"There was also an inscription which was written over him, in Greek and Roman and Hebrew, [Aramaic, the language of the Jews.] THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." - Luke 23.38.

The picture above features three of my favorite Bible versions/editions, the Orthodox Study Bible, the Lamsa translation of the Peshitta (my daily reading Bible as of late), and the Confraternity version New Testament (the 1941 modern revision of the Rheims N.T., translated from the Latin).

They represent three main languages the ancient Scriptures were dispersed in: Aramaic (represented by my Lamsa Bible), Greek (represented by my Orthodox Study Bible), and Latin (represented by my Confraternity Bible). The Eastern Churches- the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syrian and Indian Orthodox Churches, the Chaldean and Maronite Catholic Churches, all have the Peshitta (Aramaic for true, and straight) as their traditional Bible text. The Greek-speaking Churches have the Byzantine or Traditional Greek text for the New Testament, and the Septuagint Greek text for the Older Testament. The Western Catholic Church’s traditional text is the Latin Vulgate, as translated by Saint Jerome.

My Preference

I think it is very significant that Mar Eshoo Mashikkah (Our LORD  Jesus Christ), had posted in writing by Pilate on His cross, “King of the Jews” in these three languages. For He is the Living Word of God, He is the Torah and the Scriptures embodied.

Lately my daily reading Bible has been Lamsa’s translation of the Peshitta. Aramaic is the the language of Our LORD. The Churches of the East received the Scriptures primarily through the Aramaic translation, the Peshitta:

"With reference to....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
by Grace, Catholicos Patriarch of the East
April 5, 1957

Bede Griffiths, the great mystic, theologian, and abbot, and one of my spiritual heroes, has this to say on the primacy of the Aramaic for the Gospels:"the first Gospels themselves are translations into Greek from the original Aramaic, interpreting the original message in the light of a new situation, yet always remaining faithful to the original mystery." - Return to the Centre, page 73.

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