With some changes to our internal tooling we're starting to see major differences between Aramaic and Hebrew. These are important. Read on for more.
In all our years of hanging around Church circles, and then off on our own, we have never heard anyone suggesting the entirety of the Hebrew Old Testament might not be the original inspired language.
Even the few who are looking at the alternatives have no framework for suggesting the Hebrew might be wrong. Hebrew is taken as a given just like the Greek New Testament is also taken as a given.
Of course what frame of reasoning would show Hebrew to be the wrong textual base?
Several weeks ago we brought up a new internal tool for looking at verses. We care simply because we want to be able to study the text, and needed a cleaner, more modern app.
Part of that work involved integrating the Aramaic/Syriac OT files we downloaded last year at Tabernacles. If you have been following this blog you may remember. The terms Aramaic and Syriac are generally used interchangeably. Aramaic being the earlier name, named after an earlier empire in the same general geography east of the Jordan.
Like Hebrew, we convert each inbound letter to Paleo so we only need deal with 1 alphabet. And, since it is treated just like any other version, Aramaic/Syriac versions now show up in our tooling whenever we want to look at a verse.
What Ryan and I have both noticed, though, are some fundamental differences in the stories. Differences that suggest Aramaic is more likely to be correct most of the time. Here's why.
As a review, our belief, as taught to us in a Hebrew class we took many years ago, is that the spelling of words provides the dictionary definition of those words.
This is why, for example, there are no dictionaries in the dead sea scrolls. Dictionaries are not needed because the ancients knew how to spell, and what that really means.
So if word spelling is radically different, between the Aramaic and the Hebrew, then something strange is going on. Either the Aramaic is mostly wrong, or the Hebrew is mostly wrong.
For those who have tuned in, you know we are doing a live stream on Saturday mornings. The purpose is to read various slices of the Testimony. Those slices hang on Paleo letters and on various of the commandments. These are the most high value words in the entire book because they are so central to the organization of the text, to salvation and to Joshua's overall work on earth.
So we've been looking closely at the commandments themselves, mostly for added words. With the Aramaic in our system, finally, we've noticed something else. Most of the key words in the commandments are not spelled the same between Hebrew and Aramaic. This means the fundamental concepts behind each of the key words in the commandments is not the same between these very different languages.
Whatever happened in ancient times, someone did not want to keep the inspired spelling, most likely because they intentionally wanted the meaning lost to their readers.
Even more interesting, the word definitions that the Aramaic spelling suggests, are usually much more evident and easy to understand in the Aramaic, but not in the Hebrew. This has been a surprise and in some ways a disappointment because we have used the Hebrew for so long. The BRB is mostly audited against Hebrew, not Aramaic, especially across the OT.
If I was to go through the text's story of the lost parts of the text I could show how it wants the repair mostly from Aramaic, and a little from Hebrew. So the Aramaic alone is not enough, but it is the bulk of the solution.
With this understanding, and about a year and a half from the last time I tried, I am now turning again to the tooling for manuscript repair. Many of the basic assumptions in that last try were wrong. So it was never possible to succeed at scale. Only fragments of Hebrew could ever have worked. So, I will be trying again here soon, Joshua willing. This time with the Aramaic/Syriac as the primary text.
Ryan is doing Sabbath Reads this week. The time for the stream is 10:00 AM, Pacific. Check out the front of the app, cr.paleo.in, for the exact time in your area. This week Qu, Don't Kill.