from Lost in translation? James Gordon digs deep into Matthew’s Gospel: James Gordon The Friend, 26th August:
I have checked over twenty different translations of these passages into English (easy to do these days with the internet), and in every case the words διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς (dia tous eklektous) are translated ‘for the sake of the [elect/chosen]’. Wycliffe has ‘for the chosen’, and the Latin Vulgate, which Catholics rely on to this day, has ‘propter electos’, where the preposition means ‘because of’. We need to be clear. Jerome (author of the Vulgate in the fourth century CE) was using the Greek that we have, which is the nearest we have to an original (scholars think Matthew and possibly Mark may go back to Aramaic originals but, if so, they are lost).
Letter to The Friend, 10th September, 2021
Lost in translation?
In his article James Gordon (27 August) says that the Aramaic originals of the gospels are lost.
Not so lost! In fact found through the work of a Quaker scholar along with others, in ancient Syriac text; a text often used by Western Aramaic speakers.
J Rendel Harris, later to become the first director of studies at Woodbrooke, was in the habit of taking his vacations exploring for ancient documents in Egypt. He made several major discoveries at the Orthodox monastery on Mount Sinai. He advised the twin sisters, Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, of the existence of many other ancient documents at the monastery and provided them with letters of introduction. During their stay at the monastery they discovered what is known as the Sinaitic Palimpsest of Saint Catherine’s Monastery, the oldest known version of the Gospels. The following year, Rendel Harris accompanied the sisters and others to Mount Sinai to painstakingly copy the retrieved texts.
Shockingly this earliest version of the Gospel of Mark – itself believed to be the oldest of the gospels – was shorter than the versions we have now, ending with the discovery of the empty grave, rather than with the resurrection and ascension.
As Rendel Harris himself put it: ‘There is no suggestion nor fragment of evidence that we might, by excavating a thousand years, unearth an ecclesiastical Christ. He, at all events, is the dream and creation of a later age.’