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FW: Hellenist Material in Thomas

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  • Ruairidh Boid
    Sorry for the confusion of names. There were messages from Frank McCoy and Ron McCann next to each other, and I must have got them mixed up. Some notes for the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2007
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      Sorry for the confusion of names. There were messages from Frank McCoy and Ron McCann next to each other, and I must have got them mixed up.

      Some notes for the sake of completeness and clarity, after which I will wait for responses before adding anything.

      (a) Aramaic was the language of Jews and others. Greek was the language of Jews and others. (b) Aramaic survived in Palestine till at least 1250 and in Lebanon (in pockets) till 1800. It must have had more speakers than Greek. (c) When Paul contrasts "the Greek" with "the Jew", he doesn't mean ethnic Greeks. This is obvious to everyone, but discussion is often coloured by a tendency to think that not Jewish or Samaritan means Greek. It can sometimes be useful to state the obvious. The Greeks that approached Philip asking to see Jesus could have been ethnic Syrians or anyhthing else, and might not necessarily have addressed Philip in Greek. (d) A person with a Greek name in a Greek text might well have a Hebrew or Aramaic name in an Aramaic text. The correspondence is often obvious, such as Tabitha=Dorcas, or Shlomtsiyon שלומציון = Salômê, but not always. Philôn=Yedidya=Shlomo. Alexandros=Eli'ezer, El'azar, Palestinian Aramaic Lazar (Common later on in the Palestinian Talmud). Lazar then goes back into Greek as Lazaros. It was common to have two official names, one for Greek and Latin circles and one for Hebrew and Aramaic. The word "official" is important here. (e) Most of those for whom the Epistle of James was intended would have spoken Aramaic. He would not have deprived them of an Aramaic version, whether an alternative original or a translation. Consider the couple of incomprehensible verses about faith and works in the Epistle of James where the editors of the Greek suspect a scribal error going back to the autograph, but where we know what he must have meant even though the words don't quite say that. [See the conjectures in the critical editions ad loc.]. The cause of the obscurity might not be an original scribal error, but over-literal translation. (f) We still have to look at the question of the survival in pockets of Hebrew =Canaanite amongst Jews and others in Palestine and the south of Lebanon, but that is for later. (g) I'm not trying to push my barrow. Greek is still important as a language secondary in numbers in Palestine at the time but functioning as the official administrative language.

      This is really enough from me for the moment. Comments would be welcomed.

      Ruairidh Bóid
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