In all of our years as students of Bible truth, we have to a firm hold on this idea: you can’t truly understand the details of the Bible unless you are WILLING to understand the meanings of the original language. In other words, you can get the best sense or understanding of what are often very important nuances in the actual language of the Bible writer when you aren’t a slave to Bible translations. We generally prefer translating from the oldest text available, or at least to reference it within our personal study. One of the problems with ancient texts is that despite the amazing similarities of around 95%, you have differences, what are often referred to as variants. (1 Timothy 4:7; “Heavenly Father Has a Name“) The same problem exists in the ever increasing number of Bible translations, especially in English. A ‘perfect’ version of scripture simply doesn’t exist. You might think that this corruption would be an issue. You shouldn’t be discouraged! This is when your own personal knowledge and being set apart through the Holy Spirit that the Messiah promised makes all the difference. That is why it is useful to get to know YHWH’s Word through scripture yourself, to build your own trust. In this way, you learn what is in overall context and can tell when the Bible is being misused. This isn’t all about your brilliant brainpower, but when you are Spirit-filled, your discernment increases. (“Holy Spirit 101“; “The Holy Spirit (Ruach ha’Qodesh)“; “Listening to the Holy Spirit“) That is part of what this ministry is about.
Being deceived is easy enough when you don’t have the skills or knowledge necessary. Bible Vision aims to help you to change that. YHWH’s people can perish for a lack of knowledge or through delusion, (2 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 4:15; Hosea 4:6) so careful discernment is always required. That is what we are hear to help you provide, as spiritual watchmen seeking truth instead of deception. (“Discernment 101: Learning to be Discerning“; “Discernment: Having an Ear to Deeper Understanding“; “What Is Washing By The Word?“; “Leaven of the Pharisees; Leaven of the World“; “The Antichrist & the War on Reality“)
Recently, a movement has been afoot that has promised to shed light on old Bible understandings, despite plenty of information that is already available. This claim is made through new understandings in Aramaic. The truth is that much of this is not new information. Unhappily, what is new is that a number of so-called authorities are mixing new age and antichrist-antimessiah (counterfeit) teaching with their information, so discernment is required! To make matters worse, accurate and detailed information on the Aramaic language is often less than easy to obtain. This is changing somewhat, but to secure usable references is usually quite pricey, when it is possible. The truth is, that as far as our ministry studies have been able to determine, Aramaic translation cannot be a threat to the ‘divinity of scripture’, nor does it have a substantial yield to promote significant change in Bible text unless mistranslation or corruption have already occurred. (“Discernment the World Doesn’t Have“)
In the original introduction to the King James ‘Authorized’ Version of 1611 entitled “The Translators to the Reader”, the translators noted that they had consulted the Syriac or Aramaic version of the New Testament, although they did not translate directly from it. Many translators of scripture, including modern ones, have carefully incorporated antichrist agendas of the world or kosmos of mankind. For example, the original translators of the King James Version opted to change the use of ‘congregation’ to the pagan word ‘church’ per the order of the king. In other cases, the distortion of the concept of gehenna and death has been considerable. Political and religious influence has sought to corrupt or ‘flavor’ certain passages of the Bible to the advantage of certain organizations or bodies of people. In most cases of known errors, the power of the Holy Spirit has moved men and women to find and correct mistranslations and the misrepresentation of Elohim’s [YHWH] Word. However, as seekers of truth, we cannot depend on English translations for the final word in any matter of scripture. The earliest available or original language text is the best source for direct understanding. (“Understanding Sin“; “Delusion & the Tightening Noose of the Beast System“; “Disciples of Messiah & the Authority of Man“)
Language was likely an additional source of tension in first century Judea, as many of the Romans soldiers did not speak the local language, which they reportedly regarded with disdain. While Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah was likely able to speak in Greek, this did not necessarily meet with His primary purpose at the time, which was ministry to the Jews. Reality dictates that Yahshua [Jesus] could likely speak any language that He pleased. However, we must not forget that the mission of the Master was to the Jewish people before His teaching and deliverance was fully opened to the world of gentiles because of the rebellion of the Jews. When Yahshua [Jesus] was accosted by the centurion that needed healing for his servant, this centurion as a leader was probably able to speak the native language to deal with his personal crisis. (Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8:5-13) As an early source, the testimony of Josephus as a first century scholar is quite clear on the point of Greek not being a language of Israel in the first century. Josephus was not fluent in Greek, by his own admission. He had to apply himself to learn Greek because Greek was not the native tongue of the Jews. There were few Jews that learned Greek well and they were not encouraged to do so. (“Tribulation of Israel: The Great Escape“; “What is Evil? The Jealousy of Nations & Skeptics“; “Trust YHWH, Not World Leaders“)
“I have taken great pains to obtain the Greek learning and understand the elements of the Greek language.”
“Our nation does not encourage those that learn the language of many nations”
“I have so accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness?”
Based on this early testimony, it is doubtful that Greek should be under consideration as a language for early followers of Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah.
Based on this indication, Aramaic study may have the ability to increase understanding based on nuances of meaning in the text, especially where the Greek is less than clear. You would only know this by making an honest appraisal of the earliest Greek text available as an interested seeker of truth. Meanwhile, whether the Aramaic text is the original is still hotly disputed or ignored wholesale by many.
There are some notable differences where idioms of the time are concerned. In some cases, Greek translations are not smoothly translated (some letters accredited to the apostle Paul are often the most difficult to translate in certain scriptures), indicating that the Greek was likely translated from Aramaic. Whatever the case, this enlightenment does not threaten the Bible or Bible prophecy, only the ‘perfect world’ mindset of perfectionism and legalism that so many religious people have learned through fear. Deeper understanding of Bible truth is not something to fear, but to examine and take to heart. In the meantime, some of the details of professed enlightenment regarding Aramaic amount to nitpicking and self-glorification, even suggesting an attempt to profiteer by some secular translators to benefit their standing in the world of scholarship. Yet the likely primacy of the Aramaic language in some Bible books cannot be ignored. These findings can add interesting nuances of understanding to certain scriptures.
Hebrew and Christian Scripture in the original language, notably the Torah (Penteteuch) and the Prophets, remains inspired and correct, even if many attitudes and religious ideas are not. What the ‘world of scholarship’ does need is the sincere desire to share and explore scriptural truth, including how this knowledge is uncovered, instead of seeking or pretending to harbor secrets. More studies will be made public and more Aramaic and original Hebrew resources will come into being that make study and understanding easier. In the meantime, texts are available that will largely satisfy the need to accurately understand the Word of scripture.
The purpose of this ministry is to seek Bible truth, including what the Holy Spirit (Ruah ha’Qodesh) reveals to those that are willing to listen. Since the end of 2009, Bible Vision has used and cited scripture from the New King James Version, NKJV. We have been in the search for better sources that use that original names of the Father and Son, and as a result, we have began to change many of the scriptural quotations, including direct translation whenever beneficial. It is a big job, but accuracy and truth is what we are committed to. We are have searched for and are seeking to provide better sources that are publicly available and more easily referenceable.
Peace to all in Messiah as you seek Bible truthin scripture instead of traditions of men,
John and Ruth Greene
As we have said previously, to those that are serious about knowledge of Bible truth, a study of original languages is especially important and beneficial.
Hebrew literature has had a life of about 3000 years, from the earliest inscriptions of paleo Hebrew, through Babylon and through scriptural texts right down to the latest edition of the Yediot Ahronot or Ha’aretz newspapers. Ezra supervised the transcription of the ancient Hebrew writings into Babylonian Hebrew script that most scholars and Hebrew teachers use. It was this form that generations of Jewish scribes have copied and preserved for last two thousand years. The language of the nebi’im and talmidim (prophets and disciples) of the Dead Sea Scrolls, since their discovery in 1947, have shed further light on a convulsive period in Jewish history in the late second temple period.
Aramaic in both spoken and written forms also has a long history. It became the official language of the Persian Empire in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, and was widely used in Palestine during the period of the Second Temple. An extensive literature was produced in the Christian dialect of Aramaic known as Syriac (generally the third through eighth centuries AD/CE). Aramaic is still spoken today by Jews and Christians in the form of numerous vernacular dialects, most of which are highly endangered.
Syriac literature, which was highly affected by Greek influence, developed and grew in influence between the third and eighth centuries CE. In fact, it was through Syriac that Greek learning and thought were passed on to the Islamic or Arabic world. Syriac scholars translated the late Greek science texts from Syriac into Arabic.
Also helpful for understanding ancient Hebrew times are:
Phoenician has survived in the form of numerous inscriptions, most of which are datable to the first millennium BCE. The Phoenicians originated in the Levant but settled in trading communities throughout the Mediterranean area. The alphabet used by the Phoenicians to write their language was the source of the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets and also, ultimately, that of the alphabets used by the Greeks and Romans.
Ugaritic was the language of ancient Ugaritic in northern Syria. It has survived in numerous texts written in a cuneiform alphabet datable to the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE. These are of both a literary and documentary nature.