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The Message of Matthew : An Annotated Parallel Aramaic-English Gospel of Matthew [Paperback]

Rocco A. Errico


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1. The ancestral record of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful book; with some cautions re: representions of fact 3 Mar 2001
By K. P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've found this book useful and thought-provoking -- for what it is: Clearly a labor of love by an expert in the Syriac language, and yet a work of only quite modest scholarship, with perhaps more of a spiritual appeal. Nonetheless, it should serve as a good source (1) of raw data on the language of, and interesting textual variations found in, the Syriac Peshitta version of Matthew's gospel; and (2) of general insights into the kinds of relations that can exist between a Near Eastern language and its unique modes of thought, as they apply to the reading of a biblical text.
HOWEVER, this volume also has a strong tendency to represent the language of its text (the Syriac of the Peshitta Matthew) simply as "Aramaic", and in particular as the language of Jesus; and not only so, but also as so nearly a direct source of "original" words and phrases, as used by Jesus (and/or by the gospel's author), that it can therefore reasonably be drawn upon to gain unique, reliable insights into what Jesus (or the author of Matthew) _actually_meant_ -- namely, insights which could not be gained from examining any Greek text, or translation based on a Greek text. There's a persistent and palpable sense given throughout, that the text should not really be viewed in the way one would normally view a translation. These notions are, to say the least, controversial ones in the scholarly world, and really ought to be presented as such up front.
Syriac is not your typical dialect of Aramaic (hence the practice in scholarly literature of calling it by this separate name). Not only does it use its own separate trio of scripts (one of which you'll have to learn to read this text, even if you already know either Hebrew, or even some other brand of Aramaic, such as the Biblical, Jewish Palestinian, or Christian Palestinian variety); but it also manifests some real idiosyncrasies in pronunciation, syntax, and vocabulary. For these reasons, it is contrary to widely-used scholarly convention to refer to this language simply as Aramaic (or for that matter even as Syrian Aramaic).
There may be cultural and religious sensibilities involved in this choice of presentation, which one would by no means wish to offend; still, the potential buyer should be aware that outside of a certain religious tradition, it is highly unusual to lump Syriac together with other dialects of Aramaic. It is possibly for similar reasons that the Syriac of the Peshitta Bible is looked upon here as the language of Jesus. Again, while as a cherished belief (and one that is not entirely outside the realm of possibility) it should be respected, on the other hand the reader has the right to know that few scholars would find this plausible. While perhaps the greatest number of scholars -- in a field where there is much debate -- do accept that some form of Aramaic was most probably the native language of Jesus, few of them would regard the language of Christians living not in Palestine, but in Syria, and at a considerably later time, as the likely choice. This alone should raise concern, should one find oneself inclined to look here for the much sought-after _ipsissima_verba_ (exact words) of Jesus. But in fact, the Peshitta text of Matthew -- which is not the earliest Syriac version we have -- is in widespread scholarly opinion most likely to have originated in a very complex synthesis of translations from multiple _Greek_ texts (of Matthew and the other canonical gospels). (We cannot know if there may also have been some independent Western Aramaic tradition drawn upon in producing the Syriac versions; but what is almost certain is that known Greek texts have served as their principal sources.)
Hence, the lessons which one can learn, from the explanations Dr. Errico painstakingly provides for selected Syriac expressions, are of a very general type: Narrowly viewed, they introduce us to the interpretive approach of Syrian Christians toward their own unique biblical text; or perhaps, viewed more broadly, they illustrate the sort of pitfalls one who is inexperienced in Near Eastern thought may encounter in approaching a narrative which was born in a Semitic world, and in some sense exported from it into ours.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrong Aramaic 10 Jan 2014
By Elle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jesus spoke Northern or Galilean Aramaic.But there is also Eastern Aramaic and Western Aramaic. I really wish that they would have more books in Northern Aramaic the true language that Jesus spoke and spoke to his apostles
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 19 July 2014
By David d'Albany - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent product. I love it. I recommend it highly.
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