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Peshitta in the News

27th July 2006

It must be a slow news day if the Peshitta makes the headlines!

The CBS11 News webpage has an article on the Peshitta, the ancient Syriac translation of the Bible (see my post on the Early Versions of the Hebrew Bible). The news article presents the views of a Dr. Rocco Errico who appears to hold the view that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Aramaic-English Bible Translation Draws Criticism

Maria Arita
When asked why Errico would translate the bible from Aramaic to English instead of Greek or Hebrew, he said, “Neither Jesus, nor his immediate disciples, who were illiterate fishermen, nor his Galilean Followers, knew or spoke Greek. [Aramaic] was the language of Jesus and there are 12,000 differences [by translating from Greek and Hebrew].”

One example of these misinterpretations would be The Lord’s Prayer in the KJV, which reads “lead us not into temptation,� Enrrico points out.

Translated from the Aramaic, this reads very differently as, “do not let us enter into temptation.” The difference, says Errico, is that God does not “lead us into temptationâ€? but that one could ask for his guidance not to “enterâ€? into temptation.

Errico disputes this [the view that the apostles wrote in Greek] saying why would they translate from Greek when they had Aramaic and why did the New Testament include many Aramaic phraseology if the apostles weren’t speaking (and writing) in their native tongue?

This article appears to be a platform for Errico to promulgate the views of the Noohra Foundation, an organization which he founded. It is not clear from his bio whether or not Errico has any earned advanced degrees, but his views are not held by any Aramaic or Syriac scholar I am aware of. The huge majority of scholars hold that the New Testament was originally written in Greek (there are some who think that the Gospel of Matthew was perhaps written in Hebrew, though they are also a minority). While the origins of the Peshitta NT are obscure, most scholars see it as a 5th century CE revision of the Old Syriac text in order to bring it more in line with the Byzantine Greek New Testament.

The translation that the article is talking about is the English translation of the Peshitta by George Mamishisho Lamsa: The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts: Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated from the Peshitta, The Authorized Bible of the Church of the East (HarperCollins, 1990; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com). It is also available online here.
UPDATE: Targuman has noted a few other errors in the article; Paleojudaica has also just noted the article here.


One Response to “Peshitta in the News”

  1. Robert Howard Says:

    There is a lot of interesting information about the Peshitta at:

    http://www.peshitta.org