[b-hebrew] Aramaic - Abba

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Jul 22 14:22:26 EDT 2005

Dear Peter,

>Well, there are several apparently Aramaic words recorded in
>transliteration in Mark's gospel, e.g. TALIQA in 5:41 and SABACQANI in
>15:34 (Q = theta, C = chi), and an apparently Hebrew one, ELWI = Elohi
>in 15:34 (W = omega). Translations into Greek are given for all of them,
>just as for "Abba". One interpretation is that Jesus was always speaking
>Aramaic. Another is that Jesus was normally speaking Hebrew which was
>translated into Greek, and the few Aramaic words preserved are preserved
>to show their distinctively Aramaic nature.

HH: Others think the ELWI in Mark 15:34 is more 
Aramaic than Hebrew. The lHebrew and Aramaic will 
not always come through in this quote:

Eli Eli lema sabachthani

Matthew 27:46

Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud 
voice, saying "Eli Eli lema sabachthani?" which 
is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Mark 15:34

And at the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud 
voice, "Eloi Eloi lema sabachthani?" which is 
translated, "My God, my God, for what have you 
forsaken me?"

This phrase, shouted by Jesus from the cross, is 
given to us in these two versions. The Matthean 
version of the phrase is transliterated in Greek 
as Eli Eli lema sabachthani. The Markan version 
is similar, but begins Eloi Eloi lema 

Jesus seems to be quoting the first line of Psalm 
22. However, he is not quoting the canonical 
Hebrew version (êlî êlî lâmâ `azabtonî), but is 
using an Aramaic translation of it (see targum).

In the following verse, in both accounts, some 
who hear Jesus' cry imagine that he is calling 
for help from Elijah (Eliyyâ). This is perhaps to 
underline the incomprehension of the bystanders 
about what is happening. Matthew's use of eli eli 
may indicate a more 'official' rendition of the 
psalm verse, more in line with the Hebrew. Mark's 
version probably represents the Aramaic 
colloquial better. The Aramaic behind Matthew is 
êlî êlî lmâ ”vaqtanî. Whereas Mark has elohî 

A few ancient Greek manuscripts show signs of 
trying to normalise this text. For instance, the 
peculiar Codex Bezae renders both versions with 
(êli êli lama zaphthani).

As the phrase is clearly translated into Greek in 
both instances there can be little doubt as to 
its meaning. However, a minority have speculated 
on different meanings, among them is George 
Lamsa, but his methodology has been shown to be 
seriously flawed. The Aramaic word ”vaqtanî is 
based on the verb ”vaq, 'to leave, forget', with 
the perfect tense ending -t (2nd person singular: 
'you'), and the object suffix -anî (1st person 
singular: 'me').

					Harold Holmyard

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