Jump to content
Kingdom of Adventistan
Gail

Hell-fire and other Aramaic idioms

Recommended Posts

Gail

I am reading the book, Idioms in the Bible Explained and a Key to the Gospels by George Lamsa. Lamsa is the man who translated the Peshitta, or Aramaic Bible, to English.

Aramaic is his mother tongue and in his introduction to his translation he gives a fascinating explanation of the history of the Bible of the Eastern Orthodox churches. He maintains that those clergy believe that their manuscripts, the Aramaic ones, pre-date the Greek ones because Aramaic was the language of the common people of Jesus' time and region. He does say that the two branches of Scripture are very much alike. But there is a difficulty for English and non-Aramaic translators to "get" some of the idioms found in Scripture. 

Those who have studied languages know this, that it is the idioms that flavor a language. A person not knowing a saying's meaning will try to understand the words literally. Of course, unless you are Amelia Bedelia, you won't get far living that way. People will laugh at your ignorance.

Lamsa claims that because the area where Aramaeans lived was isolated for a long time, many of the ancient idioms kept their meanings. You will see the sense of some of the expressions when you read them. Some will still seem like Greek to us. But they are interesting, notwithstanding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you find some value to this community, please help out with a few dollars per month.

Gail

Hell fire (Matthew 5:22)

Translation: mental suffering; torment

When I hear tell of an evangelical's view of everlasting hell fire, I don't think of mental anguish but of physical torture lasting forever. 'This true that Adventists shorten the physical duration but they do emphasize that there will be a emotional aspect to hell, that of the separation from their Maker and the feeling of impending doom.

Much of what I have picked up from these idioms is that the Eastern viewpoint often works true for the temporal where we in the West would apply the statement only to, say, the earth made new or some other intangible time frame. If "out of sight, out of mind" applies, we end up missing passages or relegating some that others may consider more contemporary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

If thy right eye offend thee pluck it out- Matthew 5:29

The Eastern believer will understand this thus: If you have a habit of envying, cut it out. Stop it.

Doesn't that make more sense than poking out your eye?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gregory Matthews

I would not want to discourage anyone from reading the Bible and/or seeking to understand it better.  I believe that the Holy Spirit can speak to one through any Bible.  But, Bibles are a combination of the human and the divine.  It is that human element that make them imperfect and those who study them in need of the help of the Holy Spirit.

George Lamsa is an interesting person who ideas have been questioned, at lest in part, by some.  For  more on this I suggest reading: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lamsa

 

Also, plug "Lamsa Bible" into Wikipedia.

 

In any case, Gail has brought to our attention some interesting ideas that may bring a blessing to us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

I like to compare cultures... It helps me understand better how others may have gotten to where they are. Even if 100 people had the KJV they likely wouldn't agree theologically. But unifying people and growing them spiritually while keeping a certain diversity is the task of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

I did read the Wiki article, and agree with much of what is there according to what information I've read so far. I had to chuckle at the statement that Lamsa appears to be a friend of Evangelical Christianity BUT...  I don't know if Seventh-Day Adventism is a friend to Evangelical Christianity, either.

But the book is an interesting read. There is much in the idiom explanations that do agree with our understanding. Some are way different, though, for instance in Isaiah 65:25 where it says that "the wolf and the lamb will feed together." He defines it as meaning, "A dictatorship and a meek nation trading and living together in peace." So the understanding is earthly, not other-worldly as we take it to mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

Hell (Sheol-Lamsa clarifies) Matt. 16:6- a resting place for the departed.

I don't know if he means a literal place such as some believe or just a name for the state of the dead. In any case it is a RESTING place, not one of continual torment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

When talking about demonic possession, he speaks of it as mental diseases. For example, "Devils besought him" in Matt. 8:31 becomes, "The insane men besought him," and, "cast devil out of her daughter," in Mark 7:26 is, "He restored her daughter to sanity."

I have heard and read some views where mental maladies were attributed to devils, necessitating the need for an exorcism. Lamsa's translation is that the problem is more human-based than supernatural.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

Mark 16:18, where it says, "Take up a serpent," is designated, "Handle an enemy; overcome opposition." It doesn't mean that you will be literally able to pick up rattlers such as is done in some congregations. Or maybe it means both...  

I can see why the Evangelicals do not agree with him. Personally, I believe that we Adventists have much more in common with his understanding. Not in everything, but in some places that count such as the understanding of Sheol presented above. Interesting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gregory Matthews

There are many good books that make good devotional reading and help us to grow spiritually.

When it comes to the Bible the issue is more of what is a good translation.

This will include the selection of texts from which the translation is made, the approach of the translator (dynamic or formal), lack of internal bias (never 100%), and understanding the language in which the texts were written (Biblical language as opposed to a modern language is a factor.).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gail

Regarding divorce:

Quote

"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is 'shvikta' (undivorced) does commit adultery." Matt. 19:9, literal translation from the Aramaic.

The Aramaic word "shvikta" means "an undivorced woman."  A woman whose husband has not given her divorce papers. The Aramaic for divorced is "shrita," which means the one on whom the sacred bond has loosened.

The law of Moses permitted divorces on moral and criminal grounds. Nevertheless as the statutes of women in the East are inferior to those of men, men often tire of their wives and let them go but do not bother to obtain decrees of divorce. In this case, Jesus only condemned those who took advantage of the laxity of the law. He only attacked those who married women who were not actually divorced by law. p.98

This makes a difference to the understanding of remarriage as it relates to today, doesn't it? I have read that some people will not permit a divorcee to remarry, based on the traditional KJV translation. But personally I know many who are married for the second time whose marriages are a blessing. I could not understand why these second marriages would be condemned as unBiblical when they are obviously a blessing. Perhaps this explanation sheds some light on that and is helpful. Perhaps it would also heal some of the stigma there is toward divorced persons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×