This blog introduces Glenn Bauscher's Aramaic Interlinear. This is a fundamental and important work for understanding the problems with the Greek NT. This is a free resource, you probably need a copy for your library.
Way back in 1998 when I was working on the earliest versions of the Bible Time work, I chose the name 'Bible Time' to have an echo to the Bible Code work, which was popular at the time.
Bible Codes, for those who may not know, arrange the letters of the Hebrew Old Testament into grids. Then the cross direction is read off for phrases that might have prophetic meaning.
Bible Codes is fundamentally thought to be a process of finding prophetic in the text in a novel way. So I echoed it with the name Bible Time.
The normal software and approach used in Bible Codes generally does not work in the Greek NT. As a Protestant this implies something is wrong. What, exactly, might be wrong is unclear.
Hebrew is particularly adept at this because of its relatively short word structure. It needs about 1/2 of the letters as English to express any given idea.
So the odds of finding stuff in a random field of Hebrew will always be much higher than in other languages. This is because interesting stuff coming out of the Bible Code process is always shorter than in any other language. So the odds of seeing something interesting are always higher.
I don't know the exact density of Greek, but it looks a little less dense than English. So finding Bible Codes in the Greek NT will not be as naturally easy to do as in Hebrew. This just by the nature of the language itself.
To be fair, a fellow by the name of Panin actually did this to some extent using Greek. It turns out he was changing the Greek spelling to make it go. He could rationalize this because there are so many Greek fragments with different variations. "Panin's Panic" was the refutation of this approach in Greek, and it refutes the approach in Hebrew too.
Panin's work was refuted by using the fictional work of "Moby Dick" as the source text for a Bible Code style analysis using English alone. Moby Dick works for finding English Bible Codes because Moby Dick is simply a huge body of English writing.
In a big enough field of random stuff you can eventually find whatever you are looking for. This is a fundamental taught in any good introductory statistics class. This is the fundamental nature of probabilities. Nobody thinks of Moby Dick as divinely inspired, so Bible Codes as a strategy were shown to be an artifact of the searching technique, and not a marker for inspiration.
In any case, when I was new to this, it was a curiosity to me that there was no such codes in the normal text of the NT. Then I stumbled upon an article by Glenn Bauscher, the subject of this blog, where he found some Bible Codes in the New Testament.
I was very intrigued and had to learn more. It turns out Bauscher was using the Aramaic version of the New Testament and not the Greek.
Bauscher's writing about his Bible Code find in the Aramaic New Testament was where I first ever learned about the existence of the Aramaic New Testament.
Bauscher heard about Christian refugees from Iraq. There was an earlier wave in the 1990s and then a much larger wave after 2002. Those refugees were writing online about the Peshitta as the inspired NT. Bauscher would become a contributor to some of those early sites, like aramaicnt.com and peshitta.org.
Bauscher had access to the Bible Code software and he had access to the Aramaic NT formatted for use in that tool. It may be different now, but in those days the Aramaic NT was not released for use in the Bible Codes tooling.
I believe the Aramaic was not released with the Bible Code tooling because the Bible Code crew were using it to defend the Hebrew Bible, and their religion. They did not want to deal with the entire Bible, because codes found in the New Testament would refute their belief in Hebrew and refute their beliefs surrounding the Old Testament.
In any case, Bauscher started messing around with the tool to see what sort of Bible Codes he could find in the Aramaic New Testament.
The nature of what Bauscher found is rather strange. In particular he eventually found an entire sentence. This was not just the simple phrases normally found in the Bible Codes work when it is applied to Hebrew.
The statistical arguments against the Bible Code technique do not apply as the inbound field of letters get smaller and as the resultant string gets longer. Indeed the statistics start to shift in favor of the code not being random.
Bauscher had been a pastor since 1976. He was fluent in New Testament Greek. He knew the problem of manuscript fragments, and how there is no single Greek New Testament text.
He also heard the testimony of the refugees from Iraq. They claimed to have a monastic heritage that had copied the Aramaic texts since ancient times. This included the use of audit techniques, like counting letter occurrences in copies to ensure they matched originals. This is like the testimony of Jewish scribes who did the same for the Hebrew Old Testament.
Bauscher decided he needed to learn Aramaic for himself so that he could think more about the Aramaic New Testament that he was now using.
Once he could read Aramaic he set out on a Bible Study to compare every single verse in the Gospels against the Greek version of the Gospels that he had used professionally since the mid 1970s.
The result was his own Aramaic to English interlinear. It was first published around 2006, and last updated around 2011. Here is the link to the product page.
Volume 1 is the 4 Gospels. It does not look like Bauscher ever finished the rest of the New Testament, which would have been his planned Volume 2, though I might be missing the link.
When we first found this work, maybe around 2006, it was sold as an ebook for over $50. We purchased a copy and still have it in our library. When I was chasing down this link as a cite for a new article on ezekielsbones.org I found this ebook was updated in 2011, and now the price is $0.00. Read that again, his most important Gospel interlinear with notes is now free.
I know many readers of this blog face the problem of convincing others about how the Greek New Testament is not inspired. I regularly deal with readers here who are dealing with this class of problem. Sometimes fellow students are trouble. Pastors are always trouble. Professors are trouble. Many websites with online Bible studies are trouble. The Christian radio station that we play in the shop is often trouble. Spouses are especially trouble.
Nobody in the Church world wants to listen to the arguments about why Greek is not inspired. The rest of us do not make the argument very well. We do not have the credentials of being retired pastors, nor are we fluent in Greek and Aramaic, so we are not taken seriously.
Bauscher takes his time across 345 pages. Each page is 8.5x11" so you can get a feel for the amount of material. He smashes this problem to smithereens. With lots of explanatory notes, he takes every single Aramaic word in the Gospels and deals with them. First he gives a basic English translation. Then, every word where the Aramaic differs in a meaningful way from the Greek, Bauscher stops and explains.
In every case Bauscher shows how the Greek is a translation from the Aramaic and he shows how the reverse could not be true. He shows this using extensive translator notes that he has written to deal with every single example.
345 pages is big. The bulk of that size is mostly just Aramaic and English. Let me explain what he has done so you can read through those 345 pages and can more quickly see his arguments.
The first thing that is important to note is Bauscher is a Protestant Pastor. He never diverges from strict Protestant Orthodoxy.
So anyone reading his work will never need to deal with divergent theology. He is never picking this fight, so his work will never be rejected if you are in some sort of fundamentalist Christian group somewhere.
We, of course, do diverge in some ways from Protestantism. But we do not fault him for his position. Do not conflate the fights we are in and those that Bauscher himself chose to fight. He is making a manuscript fight, that is all.
The start of the book includes an extensive introduction. You can read more details about his background. You can also read the Bible Code work that started the rest of this project.
I hold off judgment on the sentence that he ended up finding. It certainly did spur him on to more work. His work inspired ours.
Bauscher also cites sources for the general argument as to why Greek was not used in Israel in the first century by anyone trained in Hebrew. This is an incomplete argument, but good enough for his purposes.
Use of Hebrew Letters
Aramaic is written in an Aramaic script. In English we might say Aramaic script is similar to cursive. Outside of letter forms, Aramaic is a 1-to-1 letter map to Hebrew. You could say it has a severe change in font.
To make Bauscher's work more approachable to similarly trained Protestant Pastors he chose to use Hebrew letters instead of Aramaic letters in this book. This means that anyone who knows the Hebrew alphabet will be able to read the spelling of any Aramaic word used in this interlinear.
Don't let this scare you. You don't really need to know either alphabet to get much out of Bauscher's work. There is always an English word near those letters.
Beware that Aramaic is a different language. Though it often spells words the same, and it has a similar Semitic language structure, it is not Hebrew. So do not mistakenly take his Hebrew letters as Hebrew language.
At times the Greek errors are based on problems when the translator mis-read the Aramaic script itself. Bauscher always illustrates these cases with inserted graphics of actual manuscript fragments so we as readers can see the mistake made by the Greek Translator. You will begin to see Paleo letter forms in those fragments.
Aramaic is also a right-to-left language, and Bauscher has a convention he uses to manage the bi-directional nature of the Aramaic to English interlinear problem. Read his notes for more details.
The way Bauscher flat out changed from Aramaic to Hebrew letters is where we learned this could be done. The letters themselves devolved across history. So an inspired form will need letters replaced by the witness from history.
Aramaic is actually older, it sits after the Paleo of Solomon and before the Hebrew of Daniel. Bauscher is not going backwards in time to a better form, but to a well known form that his readers could be expected to know.
The heart of this work are Bauscher's extensive set of inline notes. Sometimes his notes are 1 liners stuck between verses. Sometimes multiple paragraphs are needed to explain the problem and the likely mistake made in translation.
These notes are what you really want to read as you go through this work.
I suggest that you set aside some time to go through it from top to bottom. If you are already familiar with the 4 Gospels in English, then you do not need to read every verse in his interlinear.
What you need to do instead is scan for his notes. Then get familiar with where you are in the Gospels. Then stop and read what Bauscher has to say.
Those notes are the heart of the argument.
By the end of reading those notes you should never want to touch a Greek based NT translation again.
If you ever run into someone who refuses to listen to your argument, tell them to get a copy like I have told you here today. Tell them their burden of proof is to take each of Bauscher's notes and explain why he has it wrong. They must reverse all of these notes in order to then explain why Aramaic was translated from Greek, which Bauscher is proving here to be wrong.
Any valid Greek Primacy camp needs a proof at least as good as Bauscher's but in the other direction.
Anyone who thinks the New Testament was written in Hebrew must answer for why there was never a scribal community that kept the source for a supposed Hebrew NT. This was done for the Aramaic NT. Remember, Aramaic is older than Hebrew.
Even without our Paleo work, Aramaic trumps Hebrew. This is why the BRB has long been audited against the Aramaic NT. The BRB is now also audited against the Aramaic OT.