Thinking Anglicans

opinion

George Day writes for and about Fulcrum: Where are we and where are we going?

Anglicans Online has published these two essays.
Steve Caruso Lost in Translation — Aramaic in the Context of Christ Looking at Gallilean Aramaic, the language Jesus actually spoke. It is almost extinct.
Pierre Whalon Surviving Death? Thinking about what it means to die.

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian that Showing that a story isn’t factually accurate doesn’t diminish its truth.

Tony Benn died yesterday. Some reactions:
Benny Hazlehurst Tony Benn – RIP
David Robertson Christian Today Tony Benn – Lessons for Christians, Politicians and Secular Humanists
Giles Fraser The Guardian RIP Tony Benn: he encouraged us

Christopher Howse has been to Cork for The Telegraph: The ugly duck’s loveliest creation.

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Tobias HallerJames Byrondavid rowettRichard AshbyMartin Reynolds Recent comment authors
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Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

There’s something wrong with Steve Caruso’s position, so let’s see if I can get at it in a way which makes sense. First of all I would disagree that the Greek NT is ‘a translation’. NT authors from Paul onwards all wrote in Greek and none of them (so far as we can know that) actually ‘knew’ Jesus or had been present when he spoke. NT writers are all to one degree or another ‘artists’. The Gospel writers, for example, presumably set down Jesus’ stories and teachings as he ‘might have, would have, should have, could have, probably/possibly’ said them,… Read more »

Gareth Hughes
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“It is almost extinct” is clearly wrong of Galilean Aramaic: it is extinct. Steve Caruso, who knows better, does not say “almost extinct” in his piece. What he does speak about are its fragmentary remains, which require some detective work to piece together.

rjb
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rjb

There may be excellent reasons for studying the Aramaic language – the fact that’s it’s just inherently interesting being one of them, the fact that much extra-canonical and Talmudic literature is written in Aramaic being another. But the idea that Christians should learn to read and speak Aramaic so we can back to the “real” words of Christ, as though there’s an historic core somewhere beneath the Greek veneer of the Gospels that just needs to be excavated – is bizarre and untenable. Not only is it implausible that the Greek of the New Testament can be reliably ‘translated back’… Read more »

Revd Laurie Roberts
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Revd Laurie Roberts

‘The only historical Jesus we have is the Jesus of the Gospels, and he speaks to us in Greek.’

So you have no ‘historical Jesus’ at all, in fact.

Why are christians so negative about the expressions of commitment and devotion to truth(s) of others ?

The admission that none of the NT writers ever met Jesus is pretty damning.

To my heart and mind, Jesus’ mother-tongue must be of great importance to anyone at all interested in his life and message. Why do churches so often oppose this ?

etseq
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etseq

The article in Christianity Today (UK version – not same as US evangelical paper) started off on the right path by showcasing the influences of religious dissent in his family that shaped strong democratic socialism. However, the writer shifts gears at the end by attacking “secular humanism” as a threat to western civilization since he fears it will lead to persecution of christians and a parade of horribles – homosexuality, pornography, sex before marriage, etc. He takes one sentence out of context to “prove” Benn was somehow in agreement with this diagnosis, which is absurd to anyone familiar with Benn’s… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“a pious wish to imitate Jesus in all things – even his language”

Or a literalist’s excitement at speaking the words Jesus “actually said.” As if they would have incantatory power….

david rowett
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david rowett

IIRC, the earliest reactions to the (re-)discovery of the Syriac NT were to hail the rediscovery of Jesus’ ipsissima verba, until it was pointed out that the peculiarities of the text revealed them to be largely representative of the Western Text tradition (Codex Bezæ and so on), ie a re-translation with one or two unnecessary phrases removed (eg the greek glosses on the remaining Aramaisms in the Gospel text). Seems peculiar to me that we’re revisiting this sort of thing a century and more on – though I’ve always been intrigued by the keenness with which some Christians approach the… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

In his book “Bedtime Stories” ABC broadcaster Phillip Adams quotes Tony Benn: ‘All political leaders, irrespective of party, political system, country or period in history come in one of three categories: straight men, fixers and maddies.’ Benn held that consummate players could be found in each category, but that the maddies were, for good or ill, the ones that changed history.
Vale Tony Benn.

Doug Chaplin
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It’s a bit bizarre to see Sara MacVane saying “Aramaic probably wasn’t a written language” when parts of Daniel and Ezra are written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew.

It doesn’t help me listen to anyone’s opinion when they aren’t even aware of basic facts.

Pluralist
Guest

We don’t really understand the messianic and supernatural thought forms of the New Testament, never mind Jesus – it needs a time-travelling social anthropologist to embed for years and then write a long essay to Westerners. As for language, so what – and any chance he spoke the common Greek? Koine was a second language of Jews and others dispersed beyond localities, it was a means to conduct business over a wider area, Jesus as a builder might well have had to take instructions in Greek from Gentiles/ Romans. Did Jesus speak directly to the Roman centurian (unlikely to be… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Surprisingly, I met Mr. Benn when he gave a sermon at my church in Cincinnati. He said something along the lines that people didn’t listen to God as they ought. On the tube to London’s financial center, all the guys seemed to be on their phones, taking their orders from a Welshman named Dow Jones!

He was a great spirit and his politics resonated wonderfully with our liberal parish. I had no idea he was so important. In the US, no one that witty, smart, and left wing becomes important…

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

Apologies then to Doug and all. I still think it odd to try to translate the Greek text of any of the books of the NT into some form of Aramaic in order to find the words Jesus ‘really said’. Just my opinion of course. In my corrected version I still might wonder how close the language used in Daniel and Ezra is to the spoken language in Galilee of 1 cen CE and however we coud know that and even if we did what purpose it might serve. To each his/her own.

John
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John

Many scholars think Jesus spoke some Greek. There are some interesting arguments, including complicated bilingual puns. And Andrew and Philip are of course Greek names.

Many, perhaps most, scholars think the Gospel according to John derives pretty directly from a disciple of Jesus (hence the anxiety over his death at the end of the Gospel).

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I interviewed Tony Benn three times for BBC radio and his mother, Margaret, twice. One of the interviews followed the death of his mother in the 90’s and ran over our allotted time by 30 minutes- he was in Westminster and I was in Cardiff. The resulting programme was about how his mother’s faith impacted on him and how much of what he believed came from her deep theological understanding and reflection. Viscountess Stansgate was the first woman to head a religious denomination in the UK (he was very proud to say that) and she too thought her son’s thinking… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Re the original language of the Bible – ‘If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it’ good enough for me’.

Tobias Haller
Guest

I’m for a Greek-speaking (bilingual) Jesus. There’s plenty of warrant for the idea, particularly among the people engaged in commerce and trades, in a part of the country where contact with large Gentile populations were common, including the Roman occupation. The few Aramaic words do seem to have an incantatory quality as part of miraculous action: Ephphatha and Talitha cumi, for instance.
But the lingua franca for much else…

david rowett
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david rowett

Interesting thought, Tobias, and I’d agree that the Aramaisms are included in part because of their incantatory quality. But there are odd Aramaisms here and there, ‘Marana tha’ (?an early credal statement?), for example, and the repeated references to ‘Cephas’ which suggest a Church in which Aramaic plays a role, and the ‘eli, eli’ cry on the cross wouldn’t quite fit the ‘word of power’ pattern. All good fun….

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Aramaic can be of great use when studying the gospels — Maurice Casey used it to search for Aramaic roots to Greek phrases, which may point to teaching authentic to the historical Jesus. So long as its limits are recognized, it’s a valuable tool. This points to the split between modernists, who seek the reality behind the text, however imperfect the reconstruction, and post-modernists, who often view the text as a free-floating artifact. Bizarrely, by casting the text free of its historical moorings, the po-mo approach has landed up helping conservatives who use the Bible as an authoritarian weapon, be… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Indeed so, David R. Living in the Bronx, in a multicultural parish, I’m exposed to what is sometimes called “Spanglish” — which is Spanish spoken with many English words inserted (a bit like New York Yiddish, which is quite different to the Yiddish of the shtetl.) There is also the opposite, English filled with Hispanicisms. My point is that the Gospel text we have is indicative of this sort of multicultural world. The other issue has to do with the influence of the LXX and the Targumim — both seem to play a part in the “conversation.” I also wonder… Read more »