All CAPITAL letter words are mine, for emphasis (Keith Hunt)
THE ARAMAIC PESHITTA TEXT
The term Peshitta means STRAIGHT, SIMPLE, SINCERE and TRUE,
that is, the ORIGINAL. This name was given to this ancient and
authoritative text to DISTINGUISH it from other Bible revisions
and translations which were introduced into SOME of the Churches
of the East (Monophysites) after the division at Ephesus and
Chalcedon in 431 and 451 A.D. respectively.
This ancient Peshitta is STILL the ONLY AUTHORITATIVE text
of the OT and NT of all Eastern Christians in the Near East and
India, the Church of the East, the Roman Catholic Church in the
East, the Monophysites, and Indian Christians (well, so it was
when Lamsa wrote this in 1957, not sure about this fact being
true today as I compile this in 2003 - Keith Hunt).
This is because this text was in USE for 400 years BEFORE
the Christian Church was DIVIDED into SEVERAL sects.
The Peshitta OT contains what is known as the Books of the
Apocrypha......they are looked upon as sacred literature, even
though they are not as commonly used as the others (this is
probably why the Roman Catholic Church also at one time, maybe
still do, claimed the so-called Apocrypha books as part of the
canon of OT Scriptures - Keith Hunt).
Moreover this ancient NT OMITS the story of the woman taken
in adultery, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. (But
these books ARE INCLUDED in LATER Aramaic texts). The Peshitta
canon was SET BEFORE the DISCOVERY of these books.
Amid persecution, the ancient Church of the East, through
God's HELP and PROTECTION, was able to KEEP these sacred writings
of the Old and New Testaments in the Biblical lands in Persia and
India......Christianity also owes a debt to Jewish people who
PRESERVED the Word of God amid persecution and suffering.
Therefore, Peshitta should NOT be confused with the 5th
century revisions in Aramaic and new versions which were made
from the Greek. None of these new revisions and versions made by
the Monophysite bishops in the 5th century has ever been ACCEPTED
by the Church of the EAST.......since all Christians, even
Moslems, in the Middle East ACCEPT and REVERE the Peshitta text,
it proves BEYOND A DOUBT that it was in USE MANY CENTURIES BEFORE
the division of the Church.
The ORIGINALITY of the Peshitta text is STRONGLY supported
by EARLY evidence. Aphraates quoted it. St. Ephraim wrote a
commentary on it and the doctrine of Addi placed it at the
According to the Peshitta text the Semitic names of people
and towns and localities, in BOTH the New and Old Testaments,
AGREE......In the Peshitta text, Barnabas is Barnba, Abbas is
Abba, Peter is Kepa. Then again, some of the names of
localities are different but OLDER than those in other texts.....
The late Mar-Yacob (Jacob) Eurene Manna, Chaldean Roman
Catholic Metropolitan of Armenia, a distinguished Aramaic scholar
whose writings are in Aramaic, says that the text which is called
Peshitta is WITHOUT DISPUTE even EARLIER than the writings which
came down from the works of Bar-Dasan, who was living in the
latter part of the SECOND century.
He also states that the Aramaic speech in Mesopotamian was
RICHER and PURER than the Aramaic speech of other religions. It
was the RICHNESS and the BEAUTY of this language which was used
as the lingua franca by the THREE great empires in the Near East
and Middle East which ENRICHED the English language. The Greek
and Latin translators made LITERAL translations of the
Scriptures, keeping the Semitic RHYTHM and SENTENCE
The STYLE of Shakespeare, Milton, and Browning, could not
have been what it is WITHOUT the BEAUTY of the King James
translation which was INHERITED from Semitic language......
The SEPTUAGINT is BASED on EARLY Hebrew MSS and NOT on the
LATER ones known as the Massoretic, which were made in the 6th
and the 9th centuries. In other words, there are many
SIMILARITIES between the Septuagint and the Peshitta text BUT the
FORMER contains inevitable MISTRANSLATION which were due to
DIFFICULTIES in translating Hebrew and Aramaic thought and
mannerisms of speech into a TOTALLY ALIEN tongue like Greek (the
"Introduction" to the copy of the Septuagint that I have is also
very revealing about the errors, and revisions, and corruptions,
that came into the Septuagint down through its history - Keith
But as has been said, such was not the case between Biblical
Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew which are of the SAME ORIGIN.
JOSEPHUS (the Jewish Pharisee priest historian of the first
century A.D. - Keith Hunt) used Aramaic and Hebrew words
INDISCRIMINATELY. Thus, the term "translating" from Hebrew into
Aramaic or vice versa is INCORRECT. It would be like one stating
as having translated the United States Constitution from the
Pennsylvania language into the English language or from lover
German to higher German. Even BEFORE the captivity of 721 B.C.,
Jewish kings, scribes, and learned men UNDERSTOOD Aramaic. 2
Kings 18: 26.
The Israelites never wrote their sacred literature into any
language but Aramaic and Hebrew, which are SISTER languages.
The Septuagint was made in the 3rd century B.C., for the
Alexandrian Jews. This version was never OFFICIALLY read by the
Jews in Palestine who spoke Aramaic and read Hebrew. Instead, the
Jewish authorities CONDEMNED the work and declared a period of
MOURNING because of the DEFECTS in the version.
Evidently Jesus and His disciples used a text which came
from an OLDER Hebrew ORIGINAL. This is apparent because Jesus'
quotation from the Old Testament AGREE with the Peshitta text but
DO NOT agree with the Greek text. For example, in John 12: 40,
the Peshitta OT and the NT AGREE. This is not ALL. Jesus and His
disciples not only could not converse in Greek but they NEVER
HEARD it SPOKEN (as Lamsa pointed out in the first of the three
parts of his "Introduction" to the Peshitta in English, as I have
divided it, Greek was not spoken in Palestine, especially by the
Jews - Keith Hunt).
We believe that the Scriptures were conceived and inspired
by the Holy Spirit and written by Hebrew prophets who spoke and
wrote, as the Holy Spirit moved them, to the people in their
days, using IDIOMS, SIMILES, PARABLES and METAPHORS in order to
convey their message. Moreover, these men of God, SACRIFICED
THEIR LIVES, that the word of God might LIVE. The Jewish race
TREASURES these sacred writings as a PRICELESS POSSESSION.
Writing was prevalent from the EARLIEST days. The Israelites
made more EXTENSIVE use of instrument of writing than neighboring
nations such as the Ammonites, Moabites, and other kindred people
around about them.......
This is also true of the Gospels. They were written a few
years after the resurrection and some of the portions were
written by Matthew while Jesus was preaching. They were NOT
handed down ORALLY and then written after the Pauline Epistles,
as some western scholars say; they were written MANY YEARS BEFORE
those Epistles. Other CONTEMPORARY Jewish literature was
PRODUCED at the SAME TIME the Gospels were in circulation. The
Gospels, as well as the Epistles, were written in Aramaic, the
language of the Jewish people, both in Palestine and in the
Greek was never the language of Palestine. Josephus' book on
the Jewish Wars was written in Aramaic. Josephus states that even
though a number of Jews had TRIED to LEARN the language of the
Greeks, hardly ANY of them succeeded.
Josephus wrote (42 A.D.): "I have also taken a great deal of
pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the
elements of the Greek language; although I have so accustomed
myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek
with sufficient exactness. For our nation does NOT ENCOURAGE
those that learn the language of many nations. On this account,
as there have been many who have done their endeavors, with great
patience, to obtain this Greek learning, there have yet hardly
been two or three that have succeeded herein, who were
immediately rewarded for their pains" (Antiquities XX, X1 : 2).
Indeed the teaching of Greek was FORBIDDEN by Jewish
rabbis. It was said that it was better for a man to give his
child meat of swine than to teach him the language of the Greek.
When the King James translation was made, western scholars
had no access to the East as we have today......the Scriptures in
Aramaic were UNKNOWN in Europe. The only recourse scholars had
was to Latin and to a few....Greek MSS. This is clearly seem
from the works of Erasmus.....besides.....the Christians were
just emerging from the DARK AGES.
Many people have asked why the King James' translators did
NOT USE the Peshitta text from Aramaic or the Scriptures used in
the EAST. The answer is: there were NO CONTACT between the East
and West until AFTER the CONQUEST of India by Great Britain, and
the rise of the imperial power of Britain in the Near East,
Middle East, and the Far East.
IT IS A MIRACLE THAT THE KING JAMES' TRANSLATORS WERE ABLE
TO PRODUCE SUCH A REMARKABLE TRANSLATION FROM SOURCES AVAILABLE
IN THIS DARK PERIOD OF EUROPEAN HISTORY.
END OF QUOTE
We shall continue with the last part of what Lamsa had to say in
1957, in part three of this series - Keith Hunt.