Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May Aramaic Herald Newsletter

Aramaic Trivia: “Aramaic in Popular Culture”

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is coming out in theatres at the end of this month. Interestingly, Aramaic is used in the Indiana Jones movies. In the first Indiana Jones film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at the end of the movie Rene Belloq, a Nazi agent opens the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant is of course mentioned in the Holy Bible. Moses had it built to contain the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. However, on the top of the Ark rested a decorative throne called the “Mercy Seat.” What the Ark looked like was a type of palanquin or sedan (which in a sense it was). The most accurate reconstruction of the Ark of the Covenant can be seen at an (agnostic) website called http://www.bibleorigins.net/. Now, I don’t agree with everything on this website, but his reconstruction of the Ark of the Covenant is very accurate, for the most part. Steven Speilburg and George Lucas used paintings of the Ark of the Covenant by James Tissot for their designs. James Tissot was a French artist who spent much of his career in England. He died at about 1905, I believe. After a “Born-again” experience he decided to devote himself to painting the Bible. He decided to travel to the Holy Land and study Judaism to gain a better understanding of the New Testament. He began with the life of Christ. He completed the “Life of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” project but unfortunately, he died when he had only completed about half of the Old Testament. His students used his sketches and drawings to complete the Old Testament project. In the “Raiders” movie, Belloq dresses up in the sacred garments that the Jewish High Priest was to wear and chants this prayer in Aramaic:
Not in Man do I trust
And not on any Child of God do I rely,
In him whose God is true-
And whose Torah is true-
In him I will trust and to his Holy
Precious praise.

After reciting this, in the movie, Belloq looks into the Ark of the Covenant and is smitten dead by God.

The “Harry Potter” films also contain Aramaic. The word Abracadabra is of uncertain origin. Now it is often used by stage magicians. However, it used to be considered a very powerful incantation. It is first mentioned by Romans in the second century AD. No one knows its source with certainty. It may have been just gibberish or a made up word. However, some have theorized that it is Aramaic, either Avra Kedabra (or Avada K’Davarah”) meaning “Creating is speaking” or “”I will create as I speak” or avada kedavra “what I speak is destroyed.” This is how it is used in Harry Potter-as the “Killing Curse.” As a curse, it could also be translated “perish like the word” or “transgress as I speak.” In the Harry Potter novels it is used as the curse. Most of the spells in these “Harry Potter” novels are in Latin, with the exception of avada kedavra, which is Aramaic. I have serious reservations about the Harry Potter novels because they may cause young people to be interested in the occult. What really disturbs me is J.K. Rawlings revelation that one of the central characters, Dumbledore, is meant to be a homosexual and is intended to normalize homosexual behavior to children. On the other hand there are medieval Christian symbols that are used in Harry Potter, including those taken from the Grail legends and the story of the “Fisher King.” In the final book, Harry Potter becomes a type of “Christ-figure” himself, sacrificing himself and (seeming to) die and rise again.

Barnabas the Facilitator

Questions about Barnabas:
Who was Barnabas?
With whom was he most closely associated?
Who was his near relative?
Of what place is he associated with?

Barnabas was a facilitator or an enabler. Church tradition, and certain scholars, believe him to have been on of the 70 disciples mentioned in Luke chapter 10. (In “Rabbi Jesus” Bruce Chilton, an Aramaic scholar, argues that Joseph Barnabas was the host of the “Last Supper.”) In the Bible he is described as a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). He is introduced in Acts 4:36 as a Levite, which is a Jewish priest. In Acts 6:7 it is recorded that “many priests came to the faith.”
In Acts 4:36 the Aramaic name “Barnabas” is translated as “Son of Encouragement.” It is described as an Aramaic nick-name given to him by the apostles. The word “Nabi” in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic means “prophet.” In 1 Corinthians 14:3 Paul (Saul Paulus of Tarsus) says, “he who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
(Barnabas was a wealthy benefactor of the church. After Barnabas gave a generous offering, later Annanias and Saphira attempted to copy his example but to lie and to claim that they gave more that they actually had. God smote Ananias and Saphira dead for this sin.)
After Saul/Paul’s history of persecuting Christians, the Twelve Apostles didn’t trust him. However, Barnabas sought him out and introduced him to the apostles (Acts 9:26-30). However, Paul was exiled back to his home city of Tarsus for several years. Barnabas was instrumental in the first conversions of gentiles to Christianity (Acts 11:20 and 22). After success among the Gentiles, Barnabas sought out Paul and brought him to Antioch in Syria to help out with the new Gentile (non-Jewish) church (Acts 11:25). Later, Barnabas and Saul were sent to collect money for starving people in Israel. (Notice, often Barnabas’s name is listed first. In Acts 13:2 it is recorded that Barnabas and Saul were sent by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in foreign lands. They started in Cyrpus, because Barnabas was a Cypriot. (Today, Moslems have invaded taken over and now rule half of the Island of Cyprus. Of course, the world tolerates this act of Islamic aggression.) After great successes Barnabas and Saul had a falling out over John Mark and “certain men from James” (Acts 15:36-41 and Galatians 2:11-13). In Colossians 4:10, it is mentioned that Mark was the nephew of Barnabas. What had happened was that Mark had abandoned Barnabas and Paul in the middle of the first missionary tour. This proved to Paul that Mark was unfit for the work of a missionary and evangelist. However, near the end of Paul’s life, Paul instructs Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
So, how was Barnabas an important “enabler”? Well, first his generous financial contributions helped sustain the church and help get it off of the ground. Secondly, he personally initiated evangelism to the non-Jews. Without his help, no one would have even heard of Paul the Apostle. He introduced Paul to the Apostles and later searched out and found Paul and put him to work in evangelizing non-Jews. Despite their later falling out, Barnabas made Paul’s ministry possible. Barnabas was wise not to give up on John Mark. Due to Barnabas’s influence, Mark continued to work in Christian ministry and wrote the first Gospel of Mark. (This is the first Gospel written in Greek. Matthew wrote in Aramaic and his writings may have focused more on the teachings rather than the life of Jesus. Many of the deeds of Jesus were later incorporated into the Gospel of Matthew from the Gospel of Mark.) Barnabas returned to Cyprus, where he is still highly regarded and is the “Patron Saint” of Cyprus. Of course, the Moslems have been allowed to vandalize and destroy places in Cyprus associated with Barnabas. Barnabas’s greatest success was in the inspiration and support he gave to other people-his work as “the son of encouragement.” Barnabas didn’t seek glory or greatness for himself-he worked to inspire it in others. He wasn’t interested in self-promotion, but in promoting the work of Christ. There is an important ancient writing called “The Epistle of Barnabas,” while it is very ancient, it most likely wasn’t written by the Joseph Barnabas of the New Testament.
An early apostle.
Mark the Evangelist
The Isle of Cyprus. Barnabas was a Cypriot.

Once again, I want to mention the work of the Barnabas Fund in helping persecuted Christians. See: http://www.barnabasfund.org/

The Titulus

This quotation is taken from “the Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible” (1967 edition) and explains the illustration on the cover of this month’s newsletter:
In the time of Jesus the language mostly spoken by the Jews in Palestine-and to some extent used also in the written texts-was a Judean variant of Aramaic known as Judaeo-Aramaic; this is the language referred to in the Gospels as “Hebrew” (John 5:2, Acts 21:40 ect.). The rabbis continued to use Hebrew proper as a written language, and it was also spoken to some extent by the educated classes even in later periods. Aramaic would naturally have been used in the inscription set up over the cross specifying the crime for which the condemned man had suffered, because it was the one language understood by all of the population on whom the punishment was intended to make an impression. The second language would be Greek which became the language of cultured people throughout the Eastern Mediterranean in Hellenistic times, and remained so under the Romans. It was the language understood by most of the Jews in the Diaspora, who thronged Jerusalem at Passover; the Temple inscriptions warning Gentiles against entering the Inner Temple [these inscriptions have survived] were written mainly in Greek; and so were the Gospel themselves. The third language mentioned here is Latin, the language of the Roman army and administration. It may be presumed, however, that the actual order of the languages written on the inscription over the cross would have been different from that set out here: Latin, as the language of Rome, would have taken first place, followed by Greek and Aramaic. When Pilate is said to have “written” the inscription this does not necessarily mean that he wrote it with his own hand; probably it was dictated to a scribe. The scripts shown in the reconstruction [on the cover] are the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the current Greek and Latin script found in public notices painted on the walls of Pompeii and elsewhere.

Summer Projects

Hopefully, this summer I will be able to complete three projects: the publishing of “Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth,” the completion and publishing of my Jabez Prayer project and completing my “Chronicles: Facts from the Bible” comic project. My main focus, I believe will be the Jabez Prayer project-which is mainly about the Kenite hypothesis. Well, what is the Kenite hypothesis? The Kenite hypothesis states that knowledge of the name of God, YHWH, was transmitted to the Israelites by an Arab tribe called the Kenites. Recent archeological evidence confirms this and it is also clearly stated as being true in the Bible. The earliest appearance of the name of God, YHWH, is in an ancient Egyptian temple. The YHWH inscription is describing an Arabic tribe worshiping Yahweh outside of the territory of the Egyptians. These primitive “Yahwoh” worshipers were neither Israelites, Hebrews nor Jews-they were Arabic Kenites. These discoveries also help us to understand the accurate pronunciation of the name YHWH-probably Yahoo, Yahu or Yahwoh, and not “Yahweh.”

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