Aram: An ancient word for Syria. The Arameans were a nomadic people who settled in Mesopotamia.
Aramaic: The language of the Arameans. This language became very widespread in ancient times and was used from Egypt to Persia and even beyond. Parts of the Old Testament are written in Aramaic. Large sections of Daniel and Ezra are written in Aramaic in the original text of the Old Testament. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Holy Gospels in the New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers.
Assyrian: The ancient Assyrians established an empire with its capital in Nineveh. The Modern Assyrians speak Aramaic as their native language. Most Assyrians are from northern Iraq and western Iran. Modern Aramaic is called Assyrian.
Carthage: Carthage was a city founded in North Africa by the Phoenicians.
Chaldean: Aramaic speaking Iraqi Christians who belong to the Roman Catholic Church call themselves Chaldeans.
Chaldee: Since Chaldean magicians are quoted speaking in Aramaic in the Book of Daniel, Aramaic has been known as "Chaldee" in the past. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance contains a Hebrew and "Chaldee" (meaning Aramaic) lexicon. This is a misnomer.
Dead Sea Scrolls: The "Dead Sea Scrolls" are the remains of an ancient library of texts that date from 200 BC until 70 AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain many manuscripts of the Bible but also contain extra-Biblical writings. Most of the scrolls are in Hebrew and Aramaic but some are in Greek. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain the oldest manuscripts we have of the Old Testament.
Diaspora: The "Diaspora" is the name given to the Jewish community that lives outside of the Holy Land
Hebraic: "Hebraic" Christians try to incorporate Hebrew and Jewish practices into their worship experience.
Hebrew: Hebrew is a Semitic language. The bulk of the Old Testament is written in Hebrew although some sections are written in Aramaic. Linguists classify Hebrew as part of the Canaanite branch of the Semitic language family and place it in the "northwest" Semitic languages subgroup. Hebrew is clearly related to other languages spoken in the Near East in ancient times.
Hebrew Primacist: Hebrew Primacists, or the Hebrew Only Sect, teaches that Jesus spoke only Hebrew and disparage the other Biblical languages, Aramaic and Greek. Hebrew Primacists teach that to be pleasing to God it is necessary to learn the Hebrew language.
Hellenistic: Hellenistic refers to the Greek civilization, the Greek language and Greek architecture and literature.
Josephus: Josephus was a first century Jewish historian. He fought against the Romans during the Jewish War but switched sides and assisted the Roman war effort against his own people. After the war he was able to compose a history of the Jewish people with Roman patronage. His writings contain very important historical information and are vital for studying Jewish history at the time of Christ.
Mandaean: Mandaeans are an Aramaic people whose homeland is the marshlands of Iraq and Iran. They are a baptizing sect and venerate John the Baptist. They are Gnostics. According to their scriptures, they fled the Holy Land before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD after being persecuted by the Jewish people. They settled in Mesopotamia.
Masorites: The Masorites were a group of Jewish scribes that lived in the Middle East who dedicated themselves to preserving and passing down the Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Old Testament. They are believed to have been active from about 600 until about 1000 AD.
Masoretic Text: The Masoretic Text is the standard version of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament. This text is the traditional Jewish version of the Old Testament. The earliest Masoretic text dates to the 900s AD.
Messianic: Messianics are Christians who embrace the Jewish background of Christianity. The Messianic Movement is very diverse and includes mainstream Christians but there are also radical and unorthodox groups who try to pass themselves off as being "Messianic."
Modern Aramaic: There are different spoken dialects of Aramaic. In the Western Aramaic there is the language of Maloula. Eastern Aramaic includes the modern Assyrian language, the Assyrian dialect spoken by Chaldeans and a Syrian Orthodox dialect known as Suryoyo. There are at least hundreds of thousands of Aramaic speakers. The language is in decline and faces an uncertain future.
Nestorian: Until recently, many Aramaic Christians were known as, and called themselves, Nestorians. Now, the term "Nestorian" is viewed as archaic and perhaps even pejorative. Nestorius was an early Archbishop of Constantinople. He taught that Jesus was both God and man but made a firm distinction between the human and divine natures of Jesus. His enemies distorted his teachings and arranged for him to be condemned as a heretic. The followers of Nestorius fled to the east and made a profound influence upon the Ancient Assyrian Church of the East, which came to be known as the "Nestorian" church, although it was not founded by Nestorius, but had already existed long before Nestorius was born. After the discovery of the auto-biography of Nestorius, which was preserved in Aramaic by Assyrian Christians, many theologians have decided that Nestorius was not a heretic but that his teachings had been distorted by his enemies. The Nestorian Church was also known as the Assyrian Church of the East since Aramaic Christians had founded churches in China, Mongolia, India and other distant lands. Due to persecution from Moslems only the churches in Iran, Iraq and southern India have survived.
Ossuary: An ossuary is a small stone box used to store the bones of ancestors. During the time of Jesus it was Jewish custom to bury the dead in caves and later after the bodies had decomposed the bones of the dead were often stored in ossuaries. The ossuaries were stored in the burial caves.
Pentateuch: This is a Greek term referring to the first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, which are also known as the Books of Moses.
Peshitta: The Syriac Aramaic version of the Bible is known as the Peshitta version. The Old Testament of the Peshitta has been dated to the late first and early second century AD by scholars. The Peshitta Old Testament is a Targum that was translated by Christian Jews. The Peshitta New Testament is a translation of the New Testament from Greek into Aramaic. The Peshitta and other Aramaic New Testaments such as the Old Syriac and "Palestinian Syriac" versions are important early witnesses to the text of the New Testament and are useful tools in reconstructing the words of Jesus back into Aramaic but the Peshitta New Testament is a translation of the Bible from Greek into Aramaic. The Peshitta is not the original text of the New Testament. This fact does not minimize its importance or value.
Petro-dollars: Gulf Arab states' oil wealth that is used to finance terrorism, for Islamic propaganda and for financing Islamic special interest groups.
Phoenician: The Phoenicians were Canaanites who lived in what is today Lebanon. They were great traders and traveled far. The Phoenicians were sometimes allied with the Jews and they helped King Solomon build the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The Phoenician language was very similar to Hebrew as was the dialect of Phoenician spoken in Carthage, which was known as Punic.
Proto-Semitic: A prehistoric language from which modern Semitic languages, including Hebrew, descended. The earliest attested Semitic language is Akkadian, the extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians.
Samaritan: The Samaritans are the descendants of the Israelites who lived in the north of Israel who had Samaria as their capital city. They were viewed by the Jews as being a mixed race. Jesus often spoke highly of and ministered to the Samaritans although they were viewed as pagans. The Samaritans accepted only the Torah and rejected the rest of the Bible. They built their own Temple of Yahweh upon Mount Gerizem. To the Jews they were religious renegades and there was a strong hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. There are now less than one thousand Samaritans alive today. They live in Nablus in the Palestinian Territories and in Tel Aviv in Israel. They use a very primitive form of Hebrew and possess an ancient scroll of the Pentateuch. They call themselves the "Israelite Samaritans" and view Jews as the "Israelite Jews."
Semitic: The word "Semitic" derives from Shem, the firstborn son of Noah. An early linguist used this term because he noticed that the languages spoken by the descendents of Shem, such as Aram, Asshur, and the Hebrews and Arabs, are all closely related. In prehistoric times there was a "Proto-Semitic" language that all Semitic languages developed out of. Modern Semitic languages include the various Arabic languages, Maltese, Assyrian, Hebrew and languages spoken in Ethiopia which includes Tigrean and Amharic. The most widely spoken modern Semitic language is Arabic. There are different forms of Arabic and they are not all mutually intelligible. Hebrew and Arabic are closely related languages. Many words in Hebrew and Arabic are very similar. Aramaic is closer in relation to Hebrew than it is to Arabic but all these languages are Semitic and belong to the same language family. Modern linguists classify Semitic languages as "Afro-Asiatic" languages.
Septuagint: Since Greek became the dominant language in the Roman East outside of the Holy Land and because most Jews lived outside of the Holy Land and these Jews spoke Greek and not Hebrew or Aramaic, it became necessary to have a Greek translation of the Old Testament so that these Diaspora Jews could read, hear and understand the Holy Bible. (The Jews who lived in the Holy Land spoke Aramaic and Hebrew and very little Greek.) This translation of the Old Testament into Greek was translated from the Hebrew sometime over 150 years before the birth of Jesus. It is known as the Septuagint Bible. Most often, when the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament, we find it is a quotation from the Septuagint Version. Christians canonized the Septuagint version of the Old Testament as Scripture. Since the Septuagint is much older than the Masoretic text, it may preserve authentic readings from ancient Hebrew manuscripts. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical texts matched with the Septuagint rendering and not the traditional Masoretic text. The Septuagint is an important early witness to the text of the Old Testament and should be consulted by the serious Bible scholar.
Syriac: Syriac is the form of Aramaic used by Aramaic Christians. It is an eastern form of Aramaic and is very similar to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus although, strictly speaking, it is a different Aramaic dialect from the Aramaic Christ used. It is used in liturgy and in writings of various church fathers, historians and theologians. After Greek and Latin, Syriac is an important language of the early church. Syriac is now only used for liturgical and other church purposes. Modern forms of Aramaic were influenced by, but not direct descendents of, Syriac. The Syriac Peshitta is the official Aramaic Christian version of the Holy Bible.
Syrian: Syrian can mean "Aramaic" or "Aramean." In a modern context it means a person from the nation of Syria.
Talmud: The Talmuds are two multi-volume collections of rabbinical commentaries on the Jewish oral law and many other aspects of Jewish tradition. The two Talmuds are the Babylonian Talmud, which is the most dominant Talmud, and the Jerusalem Talmud, which is also known as the Palestinian Talmud.
Targum (Plural is "Targumim"): Since Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the common language for most Jewish people various translations of the Old Testament into Aramaic were made. These are the Targum or Targumim. The Targums were interpretive translations, or paraphrases, and they help us understand how the Bible was interpreted and understood in the past. Bible translators often consult the Targum when translating the Old Testament.
Torah: In Hebrew "Torah" means "Instruction." This is the Law of Moses and the term used for the first five books of the Old Testament in Hebrew.
Transliteration: Another language written out phonetically in English letters
Qumran: Is the name of the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Arabs in the mid-1940s.