The Aramaic Deception -- Matthew 28:1
Elsewhere on this site, it is proven that Matthew 28:1 is correctly translated, “And on the late one of the Sabbaths, at the dawning on the first of the Sabbaths, Miryam of Magdala and the other Miryam came to see the tomb.” The point of this article will be to expose the deception in the Aramaic Peshitta concerning the resurrection day. This includes all Old Syriac texts.
Exposing the Aramaic error is necessary inasmuch as many erring teachers (some ignorant, some heretical and ignorant) have leveled false accusations against the original Greek texts of the Apostolic Writings (a.k.a) New Testament, and have sought to replace the authority of the Greek with their supposed Hebrew original (really Aramaic). This error has the practical effect of undermining the trust of innocent followers of Yeshua in the best source we have: the Greek texts. It also removes the tools by which the average person can verify any claims about the text. Rightly so, the available tools are keyed to the Greek and Hebrew originals, and not to the Aramaic Peshitta. This puts Aramaic teachers who can convince their students that Greek is worthless in the position of being authorities who have to be trusted just because they say the text means something. Any appeal to the Greek text, Greek dictionaries, or Greek grammar, is met with the charge that the Greek cannot be trusted.
Furthermore, inasmuch as Semitic language (Hebrew, Aramaic) is the first and original source of written divine revelation, as well as the oral teachings of Messiah, it follows that we must understand Hebrew in order to fully explain the Scripture and be found fit teachers. However, we must not overlook the fact that all heresies in Yisrael go back to false teachers who spoke and taught in Hebrew! And these false teachers led Yisrael into idolatry. Hebrew is not so sacro-sanct that it cannot be corrupted in the mouths of evil men. And this corruption goes on to this very day as the Rabbis seek to presume to know enough Hebrew to say that Yeshua is not the Messiah.
We must therefore understand the method of Satan in deceiving the world. Yahweh revealed the Scriptures in Hebrew. Therefore Satan learned Hebrew and set about deceiving the world. Then Yahweh decided that too many in Yisrael were following the snake. He therefore exiled Yisrael to the nations were they forgot Hebrew. He then chose a new language to communicate in: Greek. Therefore, Satan had to start all over again and learn Greek, or at the very least he had to teach it to his false human prophets. And now that the Devil has had plenty of time, he is able to confuse the meaning of the Greek as well as the Hebrew.
The world is now full of heretics, liars, and the innocently erring, who have fallen into the trap of listening to humanist experts in Hebrew and Greek. These experts are often atheists and deniers of Messiah. They rule in the schools. They say that Mosheh did not write the Torah. They carve up the Torah and Apostolic Writings to deceive because they all have a humanist evolutionary world view. So just because someone speaks Hebrew or Aramaic, then do not be deceived. Knowledge of languages is no credential. Here is the correct credential. Put your trusting faithfulness in Messiah Yeshua that he is Yahweh Elohim, wherein through his sacrifice your sins may be forgiven, and then ask the Ruakh Elohim to guide you, and do not depend on the AUTHORITY of man. Good teachers will show you how to know the truth WITHOUT depending on their authority or the authority of any other sinful person. Good teachers will show you how to verify for yourself.
With that said, let us now get to the issue at hand, and that is the claim that the Aramaic Peshitta, or Old Syriac, has a higher claim than the Greek Texts we have. Firstly, a word about the Greek. The Greek is full of Semitic idioms, and the Greek readily may be translated into Hebrew. This has already been done four times over by Franz Delitzsch, Salkinson-Ginsburg, Margoulioth, and the Israel Bible Society. Also there are illegitimate translations of the Greek into Hebrew, such as the Shem-Tov version of Matthew included in a Rabbinical polemic against the Church. This version is also heavily pushed by false teachers as the original Hebrew. It is no such thing. Those teachers are liars. The errors in these versions, wherever they occur, are simply because the Greek was not translated into Hebrew accurately reflecting the text. The problem with the Peshitta texts is exactly the same. The Aramaic translators started from the Greek texts and translated them into Aramaic. And then Aramaic to English translators rendered the Aramaic in English and largely botched the job of correctly rendering the Semitic idiom of the Aramaic, e.g. they render בּהַימָנֻותָא דּיֵשֻׁוע (πίστεως Ἰησου) as "faith in Jesus/Yeshua" rather than correctly, "by the faithfulness of Yeshua." This is because the Aramaic translators are following a tradition of late Syriac lexical meanings for Aramaic words, as defined by the Syriac Church. This is known as Palestinian Aramaic. The meanings, therefore, are not truly according to the primitive Hebrew sense used in the Torah.
Now we are faced with the claim by Aramaic promoters that the Aramaic texts were not translated from Greek, and that they are the original writings of the Apostles. So now let us look at our slide at point #1. The Greek word δὲ is the key to disproving the Aramaic Primacy argument. Why is this? It happens to be that the Aramaic translators were so slavish in their translation that they imitated the Greek conjunction. Lingusits call this a calque. A calque is a surefire way to tell that a word has its source in another language. The Greek word δὲ occurs 2841 times in the Apostolic Writings. The Aramaic Peshitta copied it some 1830 times. The Peshitta spells it ܕܿܝܢ. In Hebrew letters: דֵּין. See point #2, and point #3. No other Aramaic, except Aramaic slavishly translated from Greek has the feature of calquing the Greek word δὲ. Proper Aramaic attaches the waw (וַ) "and" to a verb or noun, just as it is done in Rabbinic Aramaic, and in Talmudic Aramaic. Imperial Aramaic does not calque δὲ nor any other form of Aramaic. Only TRANSLATION ARAMAIC transliterates the Greek. We call this Aramaic CPA (Christian Palestinian Aramaic) or Syriac.
The Peshitta did not just calque δὲ. It also copied the Greek syntax by placing the word at the second position on the sentence after the leading noun or verb. Yes, Greek is backwards from Hebrew and all ordinary Aramaic. Ordinary Hebrew puts the “And” (וְ, wɘ) or “Then” (וַ, wa) first. But in Greek the “and” is put second. Wierd I know, but if you are a Greek scholar you get used to it. Well guess what? CPA (Christian Palestinian Aramaic) copied not only δὲ, they copied the syntax (word order) of the Greek. They did it over a thousand times in the NT. The word δὲ is like a bomb tagent in the Peshitta. It tells you the source of the Aramaic translation. Aramaic Primacists cannot invoke the “loan word” arugment, because δὲ, i.e. ܕܝܢ = דין is not used in ordinary Aramaic, written or otherwise. It is exactly like me translating the Greek literally above, "Later yet of Sabbaths," whereas idiomatic English requires, “Now the later of the Sabbaths.” See how I have put “yet” after the leading word...that’s evidence of a Greek source. (Yes, I can already anticipate all the rescuing arguments that will be proposed to save their erring theory of Aramaic Primacy, however let us say for now that Aramaic Primacy contradicts Scriptural chronology concerning Messiah's death and resurrection.)
Now that we know that the Peshitta is holding up a confession card saying all over “I was translated from the Greek,” let us see what kind of job they did of correctly translating Matthew 28:1. To the right of point #2 and #3 the Peshitta translates “later” as “evening” (ܪܡܫܐ, רַמשָׁא), and to the left of point #4 and #6 it translates “dawning” (ܕܢܓܗ, דְנַָגַה).
Here is how Murdock’s translates the Peshitta here: “And in the close of the sabbath, as the first [day] of the week began to dawn, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, to view the sepulchre.” Do you see the problem? Dawn is not the same time as the evening of the Sabbath! Yet people want to believe this error because they didn’t want to believe that Matthew meant “later of the Sabbaths.” Matthew’s phrase puts the resurrection on the Sabbath, no if’s ands or buts. The way the Sunday crowd escaped was to say that "late" meant "evening", and so ensued a contradiction with "dawning," which then they escape by saying that the Sabbath dawns at sunset. But the chronology does not work, because Mark 16:2 says the women came “at the rising of the sun” (ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου) which is surely the same time as Matthew 28:1. The “evening” interpretation of “later” also found its way into the Latin texts with the same contradiction with dawn. To escape even further, the proposal was made that “rising of the Sun” meant Messiah and not the literal sun. After a while translators simply gave up and translated “After the Sabbath” blotting out the sense of “late” completely. That’s what happened when the Gentiles started following false Jewish teachers and their own heresies instead of the truly Jewish men who wrote the Apostolic Writings for us.
What happened was that the word “late” was exploited. It has three uses in Greek. 1. adjective, “The late man missed the door prize.” 2. adverb, “The man came late.” 3. noun substantive, “The late one of the men.” English uses “first” the same way. 1. The first man. 2. The man came first, and 3. The first of the men. The substantive use is signaled by a plural genitive after it. Hence, “late of the Sabbaths” means a Sabbath that came later than an earlier Sabbath. To avoid this sense “late” was construed to mean late in the day, i.e. evening. And so the contradiction with dawning was created. To avoid this later translators decided to translate late as after. Now they have a situation where late does not mean late, plural does not mean plural, and sabbath does not mean sabbath. With the Peshitta we can see the evolution of the deception in a transitional phase, in which the contradiction is still plain to see. Late (evening) is not dawning.
Let us now look at points 4 and 5 and 6 and 7. At points 4 and 6, SHABTA (ܫܒܬܐ, שׁבתא) is spelled with a "T" (tav)(ܬ, ת). At points 5 and 7 it is spelled without the "T" (ܫܒܐ, שׁבא). This is because the translator sought to confuse the reader by using the Aramaic word for seven, shava: ܫܒܐ. Compare Hebrew Sheva at point 8: שׁבע. He was conflating the root SHBT with the root SHVA (spelled with ayin in Hebrew, and alef in some Aramaic dialects). This is closely related to the origin of the Sabbath = week corruption, which finds its earliest origins at the time of the second Jewish revolt (AD 140-150), and this is just the time the Greek was put into Aramaic. If the word Shabbat truly meant week, then there would be no need to drop the "T". Dropping the "T" is essentially admission that appeal is to be made to SHEVA, and not SHBT for the sense "week", because in the living Aramaic at the time, there was no usage of SHABTA to mean "week", just SHVA which meant "seven" or to say "one in the seven days." The Aramaic, therefore, has a confession to make: SHABBAT does not mean "week", only "Sheva" does, and we had to deliberately ignore the second use of Shabbat in Matthew 28:1 to do it. (Over in Luke 18:12, the Peshitta includes the "T"). Again this is a confession because the text now reads "I fast twice on the Sabbath." Why did the Greek "sabbath" here fail to get translated "seven" (SHEVA)?? Because the word was still regarded as meaning Sabbath there, and it was no threat to their resurrection theories.
The Peshitta also calques Greek words like NOMOS (Law) and DIATHEKE (covenant), putting Namusa (ܢܡܘܣܐ, נמוסא) and Diatheke (ܕܝܬܩܐ, דיתקא). What happened to TORAH and BRIT? Torah is the Hebrew that Mosheh spoke, and he knew nothing of namusa. Namusa is Greek as confessed by the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon. It was borrowed into Aramaic from Greek. The Peshitta is therefore heavily influenced by Greek, and cannot claim un-Greek purity. Let us look at the Aramaic word for Law in Jastrow:
Now the word namusa truly entered into Aramaic as a loan word, such that it was used in everyday speech, and can be seen in the Peshitta version at Exodus 12:49, and in business documents. However, the Peshitta version of the Torah and Prophets does not use the δὲ calque. Rather it uses waw. What this says is that the OT Peshitta was translated from Hebrew and not Greek, and the NT Peshitta was translated from Greek and not Hebrew.
Before closing out this page, I should answer the split word argument of Aramaic Primacy defenders. The argument goes like this. The Greek manuscripts of the NT sometimes have variations on some words wherein one text has one word and another has a different word. However the words are not completely different. the words are usually synonyms. The argument goes that because the Greek was translating from Aramaic that he chose one meaning of the Aramaic word, and then when another Greek was translating he chose another Greek word. Then the claim is made that they were translating from Aramaic because only the Aramaic can explain both meanings.
There are two answers to this deception. First if two Greeks were making two independent translations from Aramaic in Greek, then the Greek version shows too little variation. It would mean that the Greek translators were constantly comparing notes to translate 99% of the text exactly the same and that they decided not to agree on the other 1% and to produce two different versions reflecting the disagreement. The Greek texts are too similar for the theory that independent translations were made from Aramaic. They would show a lot more variation of word choice than they few places that can be found.
Then what if one Greek scribe makes a translation from Aramaic and then another simply edits his work correcting words? The problem here is that a Greek can “correct” an original Greek text that he thinks needs improving, and no Aramaic original is required. And this is what happend to texts in the 2nd to 3rd centuries. Greek scribes thought they could improve the text and thus put in synonyms. Textual criticism has repaired most of this damage by now.
Here is an example that I think everyone can understand. Someone says, “I saw a star falling” in a story. Then a second story teller says, “I perceived a star falling” when retelling the same story. Then someone comes along and says that the original story must be in language X (other than English) because “saw” and “perceived” are contained in the meaning of one word in language X. Do you see the foul play here? Look up “see” in an English dictionary, and there you will see “perceive” to define it. Look up “perceive” and there you will find “see” used in some of the definitions. In other words English is sufficent to explain the English variation. Likewise, Greek is sufficient to explain the Greek variation. No need for language X = Aramaic. What the Aramaic Primacists are banking on is that those they lead astray do not suspect that the Greek scribes simply used synonyms and did not stick strictly the text they were copying all the time. And what is synonymous in one language can very well be synonymous in another, especially with Greek and Aramaic and their long side by side history.