I've read that Jesus' cry in Matthew 27:46 on the cross is actually an Aramaic idiom meaning something like "..for this I was spared." This is, of course, quite different in meaning from the literal translation of the Aramaic. This has been dismissed by most scholars, as far as my study has shown, but they seem to dismiss it because of one George Lamsa, who allegorized much of the Bible in his Aramaic translation. Another translator asserts the same and is more faithful to the meaning of the text, and claims to have translated the actual Aramaic text, not the Syriac text, as Lamsa did (see www.v-a.com). What I'm wondering is whether "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" contains an Aramaic idiom different in meaning to what is found in the various translations. -- Kirk Stevens

No, this seems farfetched. Just for reference, Eli, Eli (Matthew 27:46) is Hebrew. (The NAS and NRS get it right, while the NIV errs, trying to accommodate the text to Mark and also the Hebrew of Psalm 22.) Eloi, Eloi (Mark 15:34) is Aramaic. Psalm 22, which is written in Hebrew, reads Eli, Eli, lamah 'azavtani? In Aramaic, this becomes Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? It seems Jesus was crying out his last words in Aramaic.

I should probably also tell you that I do not read Aramaic, although I am familiar with the work of Lamsa, and a small coterie of similarly-minded individuals. Certainly in reading translations of the Greek NT, we are at one remove from the original tongue spoken by Jesus. (That is, when he was speaking Aramaic and not Greek!) Galilee, where so much of his ministry was concentrated, was bilingual -- which makes it even harder to know for sure the exact blend of Greek and Aramaic Jesus used in his teaching ministry.

In short, I doubt very much that all our Greek NTs have been mistranslated! Lamsa has not been particularly influential.

You can trust your English Bible. "Eloi, Eloi'' is a cry of dereliction. (Yet also of hope. See how Psalm 22 continues -- the abandoned man fully expects to be vindicated.)

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