A Rather Odd Translation of the Bible

The internet is a great place if you like conspiracy theories. If you dig around enough you can find all sorts of explanations for JFK’s death, the Apollo moon landings and what have you. Because I have automatic searches running that identify any sites that are talking about Bible translation, I’m forever running up against Bible translation conspiracy theories – yes such things exist. I normally don’t want to give these sites the oxygen of publicity but sometimes it is worth mentioning them for a couple of reasons; firstly, so that people are warned that these are not serious sites and secondly so that people more knowledgable than I can do a thorough job of demolishing their arguments.

Today I was alerted to the Aramaic Disciples New Testament (it probably isn’t worth following the link).  This site makes the following startling claim:

Jesus the Messiah spoke in the Galilean dialect of the Ancient Aramaic language. This is the language in which the disciples and the apostles preached the Gospel and the scribes recorded the Scriptures. The New Testament has been preserved in this sacred, scribal language since the Apostolic Age. The whole Bible was originated in this language. The translation that you find on this website is made from the original Ancient Aramaic Scriptures directly into English, bypassing the errors of translation introduced in the Greek Original, the Latin Vulgate and all the Western translations made from them. The Disciples New Testament is the best translation of the authentic and original Scriptures that the Apostles compiled.

To do the site justice, the first sentence is accurate, though it basically goes downhill from there! The disciples probably preached in Aramaic when they were in Israel, but the idea of Paul preaching to an Athenian crowd in anything other than Greek is just a joke. Likewise, why would the Greek speaking Paul have written to the Greek speaking Philippians or Corinthians in anything other than Greek? Just because the author of this website says that the Scriptures were written in Aramaic does not overthrow thousands of years of study and scholarship. Actually, the author underlines this himself when he talks about the ‘Greek Original’. If the Greek is the original, then the Aramaic certainly isn’t.

Despite my brief comments here, some people might find the talk about Aramaic scriptures persuasive, but the great thing about conspiracy theorists is that they can’t stop digging, even when they are in a hole.

I always wondered why the Western churches did not contact me regarding my translation, why the Bible publishers in the US and abroad did not ask to publish my translation, and why the scholars of the Bible did not offer to debate me on behalf of their versions of the Bibles and their esoteric theological doctrines. However, it is clear now why they did not. As the US has elected Obama President and officially abandoned Christianity, why would, for example, the US churches bother debating anyone regarding the authenticity of their religious beliefs?

So, the election of President Obama means that America (with its proud history of the seperation of Church and State) has no officially abandoned Christianity and this means that Bible publishers do not want to enter into a debate about the original language of Scripture! There are so many leaps of logic here that it is hard to follow.

This post has probably been longer than the subject deserves; but it has one main lesson. Just because someone says they know about the Bible, doesn’t mean they do. Check your sources!

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

9 thoughts on “A Rather Odd Translation of the Bible

  1. The Aramaic translation is, as I understand it, a re-translation of a back translation from Greek. I’m not a Bible translator, though I know few but that sounds a little like Chinese whispers. It’s a good marketing angle, though.

  2. Crisis of conscience here. Lamin Sanneh’s argument is now debunked. Must we all resign from WBT and start a mission to teach all believers Aramaic? I guess we could call it Alexander’s Teachers of Aramaic, or ATA. The sister organization could be called YISM, for Yearlong Institute of Sacred Monolinguism.

    I also notice he has a few Old Testament books on his site. Genesis 1:1 unambiguously teaches the Trinity “As the beginning, the Son of God creates the heavens and the earth.” and also unambiguously resolves the age of the universe question (creation in 7 eons, not 7 days).

  3. To be fair to these people, their position is more or less that of the long established Assyrian Church of the East, whose Patriarch has said:

    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.

    So the people you refer to may be misguided, but by holding not to a conspiracy theory but to an untenable tradition.

  4. I suspected you might know something more about this than I did, Peter. I still think that linking so much to the Obama election, this particular author is in the conspiracy theory realm, whatever his antecedants.

  5. No, Eddie, I am not endorsing what they said about Obama. Now if they had written the same about George W. Bush I might have taken them seriously!

  6. Once upon a time I would have agreed wholeheartedly with this article. I heard all the suggestions that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic, and then translated into Greek. I just laughed at those ideas. Didn’t ‘everyone’ know that the NT was written in Greek. But one day I decided to look into it for myself. I started with a book called “Was the NT Really Written In Greek?” I thought it would be a few pages of ranting about the Aramaic, but far from it. It was about 300 pages of carefully worded arguments, with hundreds of examples, showing the evidence that the Greek was translated from the Aramaic, not the other way round. So my advice is – rather than just assuming the Nt was written in Greek, investigate that claim. I suggest all the evidence is that the Aramaic came first. Everyone in the East believes this. It is only in the West that this idea is new. It is only new because Greek is the dominant language in Western Christianity.

  7. I like your writing and what caught my eye was that you watch for conspiracy theories. I’m trying to tell others about a new bible discovery I’ve been researching for 10 years and didn’t want to come up on your conspiracy theory list so I thought I would let you know in advance. As impossible as it sounds, and seemingly contrary to what history tells us, there is a 10 part pattern behind every verse in the Bible and all of the numbers in the Bible are associated with consistent themes associated with each part of the pattern. Are you ready…this includes, book, chapter and verse numbers. How is this possible–I suspect while Stephen Langton was assigning chapter and verses to scripture back in the 1200’s the Holy Spirit was busy seeing they were put in all the right places. I know…you wonder if I’m some well intentioned nut case. I would too.

    God did what he did. You can find more details on my website http://www.amazingword.com but ponder these couple of evidences for a few moments.

    #1 The 595th and exact middle chapter of 1189 total in the Bible
    Psa 117:1 Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! Psa 117:2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!
    Do you believe this shortest and only two verse chapter declaring Praise the Lord twice, accidently found its way to this exact middle location? Why a chapter with only two verses?

    #2 The 24,000th verse—
    Matt 24:42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
    … happens to be in the 24th chapter focused on the “day” of the Lord as well as verse 42 (reverse of 24) which is the key verse also specifically mentioning to be on the alert for this coming “day”. Five different alignments to the number 24 in a one-of-a-kind verse location that fits with uncanny perfection. How does this very pivotal and well known verse happen to find itself in this one of a kind location? It’s as if God highlighted the verse for us with numbers.

    #3 The 1,000th chapter – John chapter 3
    Home of John 3:16 and a chapter thought by some to be the most key chapter in the Bible. Josephus said one-thousand is God’s number of perfection. Another happenstance?

    Three evidences that are easily verifiable facts and are associated with three key bible locations. Considering each one–if you think they are not likely a coincidence, what do you do with the facts?

    So far, the people I tell this to are stuck on what they believe they “know” about the “Bible” and reject this idea before they investigate for themselves. I like sending out little emails like this to those who say they study scripture closely. Take a look at my website. If you think it’s a conspiracy or just off the mark, let me know since you will be hearing more about this. If not, and you would like a copy of my book “The Bible’s Redemption Pattern and Numeric Map”, let me know and I’ll send a complimentary copy your way.

    Hope this did not sound harsh. I’m not the greatest at my email writing.

    Blessings,
    Norm Patriquin
    Riverside, CA

  8. AS sometimes happens, I think a thin pudding is being slightly over-egged and encouraged to stand up here. Is there not some evidence that people of gospels all spoke Greek anyway, like many Europeans today speak English as a foreign language? For a more sober and probably accurate approach I recommend Matthew Black’s An Aramaic approach to the Gospels and Acts and Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. I am very struck by Philip Jenkins Lost History of Christianity, as an introduction to Eastern Churches. The conspiracy stuff sounds like it begins with a kernel of interesting truth, but the structure built on is fairly barmy.

  9. You beat me to it Bishop Alan. After much procrastinating, I’d planned to say something similar myself. Both Black and Bailey are well worth a read on this subject and the Jenkins books is positively startling.

    Norm, I have a little problem with your analysis. The chapter and verse numbering which we use in English is not universal. Reading in other languages, as I have to, I often find that I have cited a verse wrongly (the Psalms are especially troublesome) because the other language differs by a little. For your intriguing thesis to stand up, it would need to work in all languages, not just English. We may speak the most common language in the modern world, but in God’s economy English is just one among many and not deserving of the special status that we would like to give to it.

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