IS THE BIBLE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY?
A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
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Note: I believe the Aramaic translator made a mistake in his translation of Psalm 83:6. He used the Aramaic word Gid-ra-ye "Gederites" for his translation of "Hagarites (the descendants of Hagar);" possibly by mistake due to the similar letters. The three letter root of "Hagarites" is [H-G-R]. Two of the three letters of "Hagar" are found in the word "Geder" [G-D-R]. Who knows what the translator saw but maybe he missed the "H" and saw G-D-R some how. The "R" and the "D" are also written similarly in Hebrew. Maybe the "H" and "G" were reversed in the scroll the scribe was reading and he interpreted the "H" for a "D." "Hagarites" or Hagarenoi (LXX) is clearly the word used in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Masoretic Hebrew text and the Greek Old Testament at Psalm 83:6. The Aramaic Old Testament doesn't identify the "Hagarites" with the "Gederites" anywhere else so I don't think they refer to the same people or area that they lived in. The word "Hagarites" was translated as "Arabians" in 1 Chronicles 5:10. And at 1 Chronicles 5:19, "Hagarites" was translated as "dwellers in tents [Lit. sackcloth];" but was left out in the following verse (i.e. v. 20). Though the "dwellers in tents" are implied by the pronoun "they" when verse 20 reads: "and they [dwellers in tents] were delivered up into their hands." The singular word "Hagarite" was transliterated as "Ḥagarite" at 1 Chronicles 27:31. The Hebrew letter he was replaced with a khet (or ḥeth) for the transliteration. The Aramaic Language sometimes calls different races by a different name than is understood by Hebrew, Greek or English speakers. "Ishmaelites" are also called "Arabians" in the Peshitta Old Testament.
"But Yudah Scariota, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests so that he shall deliver Yeshua up to them." (Mk. 14:10). Yudah (Judas) had the surname Scariota (Socrates or Iscariot [KJV]). The Greek name "Socrates" is Scaryota or Scariota in Aramaic. Taking away the vowels, which aren't present, the name Scariota consists of the consonants [SCRYOTA] or [SCRIOTA]. Aramaic nouns & names end in an "a." So the Greek ending of "es" in the name Socrates would have been just deleted and substituted with an "a" for the Aramaic transliteration. Also, sometimes the "o" vowel in Greek names gets pushed further down, along with the adding of a yoḏ (y or i sound) before it, when the Aramaic language adopts the name (example: klo-pas became qal-yo-pa [John 19:25]). So deleting the "y," moving the "o" vowel up, putting the "a" vowel after the "R" and adding the "es" ending, SCaRIOTa becomes "SOCRaTes. Scariota became Iscariotes into Greek. It probably looked odd for there not to be a vowel between the (SC) of the name "Scariota," or even before just the (S) in the Greek language; so the "I' vowel was added before the "S." The Gospel writers also probably didn't want to taint "Socrates" name; so they transliterated the Aramaic pronunciation into the Greek language to distinguish the person. Otherwise they just transliterated the Aramaic pronunciation of "Socrates" into Greek like the other names in the Greek NT that have the Aramaic pronunciation versus the established Greek pronunciation of the Septuaginta. Sometimes Judas is called "THE Iscariotes" (Mk. 14:10; Jn. 14:22). That doesn't mean that Greek people at that time understood "ho Iscariotes" to mean "the man of Kerioth (Qeriyoth - the cities)." The Greek language often has the word "the" before personal names. There are statements in the Bible such as: "THE John had his clothing made from camel's hair ..." (Matt. 3:4,14) and "THE Jesus arrived" or "THE Jesus was answering ..." (Matt. 3:13,15). The "the" before person names just isn't translated into our English Bible. Judas Iscariot is of course also called "THE Judas" at (Mk. 14:10; Jn. 18:3). There were three Yudahs among the twelve Apostles. There was Yudah Toma [Thomas] (Addai 5:7-8 ) who was also called Didymus [Didymos] “the Twin” (Josh. 8:29; Song 4:5; 7:3 ). Then there was Yudah Labbi Taddai (Judas Lebbaeus Thaddeus) or the more accurate Greek transliteration: “Yudas Lebbaios Thaddaios.” Finally there was Yudah Scaryota (Judas Iscariot [Iskariotes]).” The surname helped to distinguish which person was being spoken of. The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist this question “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” (John 1:21 NKJV). Many Christians think that the idea of the Messiah being a prophet comes from what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy. However, notice that the priests and Levites didn’t ask John the Baptist if he was the Prophet “spoken of by Moses.” Their idea of the Messiah being a prophet may have came from Isaiah 11:1-2: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, …” (NKJV). The phrase, “the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” is indicating that this person will be a prophet; we see this here: When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied … - the people said to one another, "… …Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Sam. 10:10-11 (NKJV). The Masoretic Hebrew text and Jonathan Targum both say "they came" here. However, the Aramaic Peshitta and Greek texts of this verse both say “he came.” So the correct pronoun is uncertain.
Note: Dr. Lamsa didn’t update the KJV text to reflect what the Aramaic text says in his translation (i.e. he failed to update “they” for “he” at this verse). Otherwise, “the Testament of Binyamin (Benjamin),” among “the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” speaks of the coming Prophet. The other Testaments of the Patriarchs also prophesy about that Prophet. Maybe the priests and Levites got the idea of the Messiaḥ being a Prophet from those books. - (Testament of Binyamin 9:2) says: “But in your allotted place will be the temple of God, and the latter temple will exceed the former in glory. The twelve tribes shall be gathered there and all the nations, until such time as the Most High shall send forth His salvation through the ministration of the unique Prophet.” - Compare further prophecy about Yeshua at (Test. of Binyamin 11:2-5) & in the other Testaments of the Patriarchs.
Later, “Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, We have found that Jesus, the son of Joseph, of Nazareth, is the one concerning whom Moses wrote in the law and [who is written about in] the prophets.” (Jn. 1:45 Lamsa). Philip realized that Jesus was the Messiah (see vs. 41-45) and stated that Jesus was written about by Moses and the prophets. Just because Philip mentions Moses first as writing about Jesus doesn’t mean that Jesus is first called the Messiah (Anointed One) by Moses, because that’s not true. The first prophecy calling Jesus the Messiah is written by the prophet David in the Book of Psalms (Ps. 2:2). Philip used a common Jewish expression referring to Scripture. Jesus used the threefold designation for Scripture (the Law of Moses, Prophets and Psalms) at (Luke 24:44) when he explained prophecies concerning himself to his disciples. The writings of Moses that pertain to Jesus being the Messiah are in type. This is how Jesus and his disciples understood them. For example, Jesus said this: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man is ready to be lifted up; So that every man who believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:14-15 Lamsa) (see also Gen. 3:15; 49:10).
I disagree with Dr. Lamsa’s translation of this verse, which he translated as “.. Are you a prophet?..” (John 1:21 Lamsa). The words at this verse; nwi-ya (the prophet) at (you?) literally translate as: “Are you the prophet?” The way to say “Are you a prophet” in Aramaic is: L’ma (Are) nwi-ya (prophet) at (you?). L’ma is an interrogative particle and translates as “are,” “is,” and “will” into English. L’ma is used to ask a question. John wore the clothing of a prophet (Matt. 3:4), so he clearly knew he was a prophet. He would not have told the priests and Levites that he wasn’t a prophet. So Dr. Lamsa’s translation is clearly incorrect. Jesus said John the Baptist was a prophet (Lucas [Luke] 7:28). Some nouns in the Aramaic language don’t have an indefinite form, like the words “the prophet,” “the messiah,” et cetera. They don’t lose the final “a” sound to show when they are indefinite. A way to make these words indefinite is to have the noun precede the verb in the sentence. In Aramaic grammar, the verb with the attached singular or plural pronoun has to precede the definite noun to let the reader know if the noun is singular or plural. For the most part, singular and plural nouns are spelled the same way in Aramaic. The attached pronoun lets the reader pronounce the following noun either singular or plural. However, if the noun precedes the verb in a sentence, then the noun is both singular and indefinite plus it retains the full (or definite) spelling. In the Book of Acts, chapter 3, the word “prophet” is actually indefinite because it precedes the verb. Simon Peter said this: “For Moses said, The Lord shall raise up a prophet like me for you from among your brethren; listen to him in all that he shall say to you. And it shall come to pass that every person who will not listen to that prophet shall be lost (perish) from his people.” (Acts 3:22-23 Lamsa). In the previous verse, Peter said that heaven should receive Jesus until all the things which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets should be fulfilled (Acts 3:21). Petros was saying that those successive prophets were each "a prophet" according to the quote in the next verse. The normal way for God to teach and warn His people was to send a prophet; that is why Peter afterwards says “.. The LORD shall raise up a prophet …” (Acts 3:23). At verse 24, Peter said that: And all the prophets from Samuel and those who were after him, had spoken and had preached about these days (P'shitta). All Peter was saying is that the prophets in their Scripture (the Tanach) spoke of Jesus and the then current days. He was saying that they had better listen to him & his message b/c He sent him & will be blessing them if they turn away from their EVILS [evil deeds] (Acts 3:26 P’shitta). Otherwise God will destroy them for not listening to him & the other prophets. That is the judgement (punishment) for not listening to God’s prophet, which is recorded at Deuteronomy 18:15,18-19. So again, Peter was not making a prophecy out of those verses in Deuteronomy.
Note: The words have been moved around in our English translation to accommodate English expression; which is fine. The Aramaic literally says: “.. a prophet [acc. noun], shall raise up [subject verb], for you, the LORD [subject] ..;” That translates as: “… the LORD shall raise up a prophet for you (ܢܒ̣ܝ̣ܳܐ ܢܩܝ̣ܡ ܠܟ̣ܘ̇ܢ ܡܳܪܝ̣ܳܐ) ..” If the direct object [accusative noun] (prophet) was definite, then it would follow the subject noun (LORD) and literally read: “.. the LORD shall raise up the prophet for you (ܢܩܝ̣ܡ ܠܟ̣ܘ̇ܢ ܡܳܪܝ̣ܳܐ ܢܒ̣ܝ̣ܳܐ) ..”
The Greek New Testament translated the words “Jesus the Messiah (Mshi-ḥa)” as Jesus Christ in a lot of places; leaving out the definite article. In some places, the Greek text does say “Jesus the Christ.” However, the words Jesus Christ sound like a person’s first and last name. The Greek New Testament is incorrect because “Christ” is a title and should have the definite article every time. The Aramaic New Testament text always says: “Jesus the Anointed.” Messiah and Christ both mean “Anointed.” I can see how “Jesus the Messiah” got translated as “Jesus Christ” because the Greek translation doesn’t always translate the word “the” into the translation. This is because the Greek language along with Hebrew and English don’t always say “the” before a noun because it may not sound right or the definite noun may need to be interpreted indefinite to sound right in the particular language. ‘Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).’ (John 1:42 NKJV). Read this verse again and again until you get it. The Greek NT is indicating that it is a translation of the Aramaic original. The Aramaic NT doesn’t have the last part of: (which is translated, A Stone). John does that repeatedly to indicate that his Greek Gospel is a translation of the source Aramaic Gospel (see Jn. 1:38, 41-42). Cephas is from the Aramaic word Cepa (Chaldean & Assyrian pronunciation) or Cepha (Syriac pronunciation). An “s” was added at the end because Greek words commonly end in -os, -as, -s, etc. Cepa means: “rock (rock foundation, bedrock, rock-mass).” The translator wanted to give the meaning of Cepa, the surname given by Yeshua, because at (Matt. 16:18 P’shitta) Yeshua said: “I am saying to you also that you are Cepa, and on this rock (ce-pa) I will build by church, and the gates of Sheol (Hell) will not prevail over (subdue) it.” The Greek NT translation has the name Pet-ros (Peter); which is from the Greek word pet-ra [FS] “rock” there. The “-a” at the end indicates that pet-ra is a feminine word. Since “Peter” is a male, his name was given the masculine -os ending instead. Catholics often twist the meaning of this verse in their favor. However, Yeshua was probably looking at a hewn or unhewn ROCK that would be used under the foundation(s) of a future or newly built church in Palestine (Yisrael). Similarly, Yeshua also spoke a parable about a wise man who built his house on the rock where its foundation or foundations were literally placed on the rock (Matt. 7:24-25; Lk. 6:48). There may be a couple other valid interpretations of this verse. The word “rock” can also refer to something that is “hard (hard as a rock, firm, strong)” - such as a truth, which is so firm, hard and strong that it can’t be changed or altered. When Petros said to Yeshua: “You are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God;” then Yeshua said: “… upon this rock [truth?] I will build My Church; …” Dr. Lamsa interpreted that confession of Petros as the rock or truth spoken of by Yeshua. However, I’m not fully convinced of that due to the additional words in-between. - Yeshua is also called “a Rock” (Rom. 9:33; 1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:8). Maybe He pointed to Himself and said: “on this Rock [i.e. on Myself] I will build My Church; …” “According to tradition, the bishopric of Antioch was [also] established by Saint Peter [Petros] in the 1st century AD and was later elevated to the status of patriarchate by the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The church first underwent schism after the deposition of Eustathius in 330 over the issue of the Arian controversy and persisted until its resolution in 414. After the Council of Chalcedon of 451, the church suffered division until the deposition of Patriarch Severus of Antioch in 518 resulted in a permanent schism from which two separate lines of patriarchs emerged. The Non-Chalcedonian supporters of Severus went on to form what is now known as the Syriac Orthodox Church, whilst the Chalcedonians developed the church now known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.” [List of patriarchs of Antioch - en.wikipedia.org].
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, El, El, l’ma-na shwaq-tan? which is (or means), My God, my God, why have you left me?” (Mark 15:34 Peshitta). The word El (God) is not the normal word for God in the Peshitta Bible. El (God) occurs in a minority of times in the Aramaic Old Testament and could be construed as a name for God by an Aramaic speaker (see Gen. 33:20). For the translation, Mark uses the word a-la-ha (God). Mark likely wanted his readers to know that Jesus called for "God" and not "Elijah." There is a final yoḏ after the n in shwaq-tan in written form. It is many times transliterated as i in individual words but it isn't pronounced when it stands for "me or my [singular]" in the Classical Aramaic of the Bible. Shwaqt is “you [have] left.” Shwaq-tan is “you [have] left me.” The Greek text Hebrewnized this pronunciation plus the word El here as Eloi and Eli (Matt. 27:46). The Greek diphthong oi has two traditional pronunciations. It can be pronounced “oi” as in “oil” or “i” as in “marine.” Thus “Eloi” can also be pronounced “Eli.” I believe that was the writer’s intention. It’s a Greek tactic to give a second transliteration for a word or name spelled with a diphthong [oi, ei] so the reader knows that the diphthong should be pronounced “i.” The Koine Greek OT often uses the diphthong “ei” for one transliteration of a certain name while its second alternate transliteration is spelled with only the letter “i” instead for Hebrew names with the letter “i” in them [ex. Βααλειμ / var. Βααλιμ (2 Chron. 24:7); Σειραχ; etc.]. Again, the two spellings are to let the reader know that the Greek diphthong ei has an “i” pronunciation [ex. Χειραμ / Χιραμ, ‘Ανανει / ‘Ανανι, etc. - see Chronicles]. That’s because ei can have a long “ā” sound as in the word “eight” or “i” as in “sing.” So again, the additional transliteration lets the reader know how to pronounce the foreign name. - Rah-wo-na is another Aramaic word in the New Testament that was Hebrewnized into the Greek NT as ar-rab-on (Eph. 1:14) and Ar-rab-on-a (2Cor. 1:22; 5:5). Rah-wo-na is the Aramaic equivalent to the Hebrew word Ara-von (Ara-ḅon).
Note: I know it may seem weird to you that "me" and "my" aren't pronounced in Aramaic because Hebrew pronounces the yod for "my" or "me." However it's not hard to tell when the word "my" is meant when Classical Aramaic is spoken. Aramaic nouns usually end in "a," so by not pronouncing the a, the hearer knows the speaker is saying "my something." Example: mal-ca (king) and malc (my king). In Modern Aramaic (i.e. Chaldean), the yoḏ is pronounced i for "my" and "me."
The New Testament writers never quote the Greek Old Testament. The problem is that the Greek Old Testament (translated in the third century before the Christian Era) was updated to match the way the verses read in the New Testament. I will give examples of this. Romans 3:10-18 says this: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God. They are all gone astray and they have been rejected; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-3) Their throats are like open sepulchers; (Ps. 5:9; 140:3) their tongues are deceitful; the venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. (Ps. 10:7) They are overquick to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. They have not known the path of peace. (Isa. 59:7-8) There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Ps. 36:1). The verses Paul quotes are not controversial and are still in the Hebrew Bible at their respective place. The editor of the Greek Old Testament adds these six extra sentences to Psalm 14: 1-3; he thought the Jews changed and deleted these extra verses in the Hebrew Bible. Also, it is important to know how the New Testament writers quoted scripture. For some books and letters, they likely made their own paraphrased translations. They didn’t always quote every word in a particular verse; just the words in the verse to get their message across. Sometimes they changed the order of the sentences in the verse. And lastly, sometimes they used a synonym for a word or phrase in a verse for better clarification. In Chapter 3 of Romans, Paul used the word “righteous” for the words “that does good,” at the beginning of his quoting. The word “good” refers to being good at something as well as righteous. For example, in the Aramaic language, a lyer, stealer and murderer can still be called a “good” shepherd if he knew how to care and feed sheep. Paul wanted to clarify what “doing good” meant at Psalm 14. It is no doubt that the words “does good” is used in Psalm 14. The Hebrew Old Testament, Dead Sea Scrolls, Ps. 14:1 Targum and the Aramaic Old Testament all say those words. However, the Greek Old Testament has the word “righteous” in that verse and says exactly word for word what Paul said in Romans 3:10-18 in the Greek New Testament. It should be noted that not every Greek New Testament quotation matches exactly with what the Greek Old Testament says. Just some Old Testament verses were made to be copies of a Greek New Testament citation. Another example of the updating of an Old Testament verse in the Greek Translation to match the Greek New Testament verse occurs at Psalm 40:6 , which says: “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, BUT (δε) a body You have prepared for me. And whole burnt offerings for sin You have not asked for [delighted in - GrkNT].” (Cf: Heb. 10:5-6). The word δε / ܕܹܝܢ “but” is sometimes used for a contrast in the Greek and Aramaic languages (Heḅ. 1:8, 12-13; etc.). Yeshua's prepared body was in accordance with the next verse quoted by Paulus - i.e. (Ps. 40:7 ), which states: Then I said, “Behold, I came; in the roll of the scroll (book) it was written about me. I have desired to do Your will, O my God; ...” However, the Masoretic Hebrew Text reading after You have not desired is: my ears You have pierced [opened] (Ps. 40:6  Heb.; NKJV) or: “[the] ears You have opened for me.” The Aramaic Old Testament says the same thing as the Hebrew with the exception of adding the word “but (ܕܹܝܢ)” in between the statements. Dr. Lamsa translated that middle part of the Psalm verse as: BUT as for me, I now have understanding;” (Lamsa), which isn’t literal. There is also a later Greek variant reading with ωτια “ears” versus σωμα “body.” ωτια o-ti-a is the actual correct translation of אֹזנַיִם “ears” here in the Masoretic Hebrew Text. Nevertheless, the standard Greek Old Testament goes contrary to the three witnesses I just mentioned, and the verse at Psalm 40:6  reads the same as the New Testament quotation; with the words: “…but (δε) a body You have prepared for me.” Paulus is only quoting the first part of (Psalm 40:6 ). Then he uses the word δε “but (however)” to give the contrasted meaning for what God wanted instead [i.e. BUT a body You have prepared for me] (GrkNT). The Aramaic Text says: “… BUT (ܕܹܝܢ) a body You have caused me to be clothed with (clothed me with).” God's Law was in Yeshua’s heart (Ps. 40:8 ) and he wasn’t sinning; so there was no need for a burnt offering or sin offering (Cf: 1 Sam. 15:22). Moreover, Yeshua's human body would be the offering (sacrifice) to put an end to the yearly sacrifices for others. See Paulus' commentary at (Heb. 10:8-10).
1st Note: The "rolls (scrolls) of skins" or "parchments" (2 Tim. 4:13) that Paul mentions are referring to the "Hebrew" scrolls; which he used for his translations in his letters (books). Some of the words Paul used don't match the respective Aramaic Targum but they are a better (or good) translation of the original Hebrew text. Paul and the other authors of the Scriptures (Gospels & Letters) weren't quoting the P'shitta Old Testament. The Targums had already mostly provided the Old Testament for the 1st century Christians. So the Apostles only had to work on the New Testament during the 1st century. During the Church Age, Christians' made their own 2nd century AD Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament versus using the Jewish Targums. That is why all of the quotations in the Aramaic New Testament match more closely to the Peshitta Old Testament translation versus the Targums. The same words in New Testament quotes were used in the Aramaic Old Testament Translation. Nevertheless, sometimes the Greek Old Testament reading was rendered for a Hebrew word if the translator didn't know what the Hebrew said. The Translator(s) also used the word MARIA "the LORD" throughout the Old Testament when the Jews were either spelling the Divine Name out but not pronouncing it, or writing it with annotations, or pronouncing it as Adonai, etc. 2nd Note: The Doctrine of Addai implies that the Jews had most of their Scriptures translated into Aramaic. The Targums had 22 (out of the 24) / [i.e. 36 out of the 39) Books of the Tanach translated. The missing books were Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel. Greek Primacists will also have to hold this same position in regards to quotes made by New Testament authors. It's likely the Jews didn't have access to the Septuaginta (Greek Old Testament), which was made in Egypt. So from their position, the Apostles would have had to make their own translations when quoting the Old Testament for the Gospels and other books. Later books could have quotations from the Septuaginta from their viewpoint.
2nd Note: The capital city "Urhay" is short for "The Kingdom of the House of Urhay (Orhai)." It was also known in Greek as "Osroene" and was located in upper Mesopotamia. It was apparently named after its founder Osroes of Urhay around 136 B.C.; who was of Persian origin. Osroes (or Chosroes) are the Greek forms for the Persian name Khosrau. The city Urhay is now called Urfa in Turkey. Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Preacher Mattai © (Ɔ) 2016. All rights reserved.