The Myth of an Aramaic Original New Testament

I get questions about whether the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Some really aren’t questions; they are (I presume) well-meaning people trying to inform me of the “fact” of Aramaic primacy. In light of those sorts of emails, it was nice to come across a well-written summary of why this is a myth (by a professional Aramaic translator no less) It is an even-handed discussion that goes beyond the way I try to disabuse people of the myth in a shorter, less elegant way.

I would only add that this discussion makes zero sense for the two-thirds of the New Testament written to Gentile churches. It’s really about gospel originals (and Luke must then be excluded). And there are no (as in zero) manuscripts of the New Testament that compete with the earliest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament for chronological primacy, either. Aramaic New Testaments from antiquity are all translations made a couple centuries or so after the New Testament was written in Greek.

I periodically am asked about the Lamsa translation of the Bible, which is an attempt to produce an English translation on the basis of Aramaic (Syriac) manuscripts, there is a review here. It speaks for itself (Lamsa’s translation wasn’t exactly hailed by Aramaic specialists).

 

 

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