A reader asks a follow-up question on the Latest Real Jesus

He writes concerning the fake New Age Our Father we discussed yesterday:

Obviously, this is not a translation at all. However, I have heard some decent scholarly arguments that the Gospel of Matthew may have been written in Aramaic. Can you point me to the evidence we have it was penned in Greek first?

Papias remarks that Matthew was originally in “Hebrew”

Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.

This can mean something rather like saying the American tongue is “English”. That is, it could be referring to Aramaic. So there is a basis in the tradition for this speculation, as well as wordplays that work in Aramaic but not in Greek that suggest an Aramaic basis for a lost text. Of course a lot of the recorded sayings were first spoken in Aramaic since that was Jesus’ workaday language. However, the odds are extremely good that Jesus was, like most citizens of “Galilee of the Gentiles”, a polyglot, which is why he can conduct conversations with people like Pilate, the Samaritan Woman, Roman centurions, and Syro-Phoenician women. My point, however, is that the extant gospels we have are all in Greek. Certain Aramaicisms remain here and there–“Talitha Koum” (“Little girl, I say to you, arise” said to Jairus’ dead daughter), “Ephphatha” (“Be opened” spoken in healing to a deaf mute), “Cephas” (which is itself a Greek transliteration of “Kefa”) instead of “Peter” and so forth. But we don’t have any originals in Aramaic. This highly dubious retrofitting of the Greek into Aramaic and then further into 21st century New Age twaddle is not a “translation” but pure wishful thinking.

Recommended reading:


One Response

  1. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

    While it is certainly plausible that three of the Gospels MAY have originally been written in Aramaic, it is an undisputed fact that we have NO such manuscripts. The oldest and most originalist manuscripts we have are all in Greek. If you see anyone claiming to have restranslated anything in the Gospels from “the original Aramaic,” it’s a pretty good sign that the person doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Leave a Reply

Follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook

Get updates by email