IS THE BIBLE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY?
A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
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"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). 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 probably 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).
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. 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…” In verse 24, Peter said that all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after him…were speaking…and had preached of these days (Peshitta). All Peter was saying is that the prophets in their Scripture (the Tanakh) spoke of Jesus and the then current days. He was saying that they had better listen to them or God will destroy them. This is all in accordance with their office as a prophet as recorded at Deuteronomy 18:15,18-19. 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, the LORD shall raise up..;” though I have put the verb (shall raise up) after the noun (LORD) here for teaching. This translates as: “…the LORD shall raise up a prophet..” If the direct object (prophet) was definite, then it would follow the subject noun (LORD) and literally read: “..the LORD shall raise up the prophet..”
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 saying it is a translation of the Aramaic original. The Aramaic NT doesn’t have the last part of: (which is translated, A Stone).
“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). Rah-wo-na is another Aramaic word in the New Testament that was Hebrewnized into the Greek NT as ar-rab-on (Eph. 1:22) and Ar-rab-on-a (2Cor. 1:22; 5:5). Rah-wo-na is the Aramaic equivalent to the Hebrew word Ara-von.
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. In other books they quoted from the Peshitta Old Testament, referred to by Paul as the "rolls (scrolls) of skins" or "parchments" (2 Tim. 4:13). Nevertheless, 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. Sometimes they corrected the Aramaic Old Testament translation for what the original Hebrew said. 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 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 Hebrews 10:5, which says: “Sacrifice[s] and offering[s] Thou didst not desire, but a body Thou hast prepared me.” The word “but” is used as a contrast in the Aramaic language. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirms the Hebrew reading after offering[s] as: my ears You have opened (Ps. 40:6 NKJV). The Aramaic Old Testament says the same thing as the Hebrew with the exception of adding the word “but.” Dr. Lamsa translated that verse as: I now have understanding;” (Lamsa), which isn’t literal. The Greek Old Testament goes contrary to the three witnesses I just mentioned, and the verse at Psalm 40 reads the same as the New Testament quotation; with the words: “…but a body Thou hast prepared me.” Paul is only quoting the first part of Psalm 40; then he contrasts the idea of God not wanting either a sacrifice or an offering with Him sending the body of a human to do His will and be His human sacrifice. This is in accordance with the next verse (v.7), which states: Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book, it is written of me…”
1st Note: The Jews likely didn't have access to the Peshitta Old Testament in Judea (Yisrael) since they had the Targums (Aramaic translations of the Old Testament). However, The Peshitta Old Testament did exist and was translated around 1 B.C. The Jews in "The Kingdom of the House of Urhay (Orhai)," or known simply by it's capital city "Urhay" (Greek pronunciation: Edessa) had most of the Peshitta Tanach (Old Testament) in their possession. The Peshitta Old Testament at that time was written in the cursive Aramaic script of Mesopotamia (including Urhay and Babylon) and Syria. The yoḏ instead of the nun was used to show the future tense initially. Then later, the nun was used to show the future tense in that cursive Estrangela script. Judea and possibly Asia Minor, etc. used the block Aramaic script from what I can piece together. The authors of the Gospels and other books likely made paraphrased translations when they quote the Old Testament. The Church of the East holds that the Gospels were written before the other books. Later New Testament books could be quoting the Peshitta; though not exactly. All of the quotations in the New Testament match more closely to the Peshitta Old Testament translation versus the Targums. Contrarily, 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 Kingdom of the House of Urhay" is 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 © 2016. All rights reserved.