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An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts [Paperback]

By Matthew Black (Author)
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Item Number 119706  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   359
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.15"
Weight:   1.02 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2002
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
ISBN  1565630866  
EAN  9781565630864  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The New Testament was preserved in Greek, but the events narrated in the Gospels and part of Acts took place in a largely Aramaic-speaking environment. Matthew Black therefore begins with the hypothesis that the material contained in these books was spoken or written in Aramaic. Black surveys the New Testament for Aramaic grammatical features (syntax, grammar, and vocabulary), poetic features (parallelism, alliteration), and other linguistic evidence that the New Testament text was translated from Aramaic. He uses this approach to shed light on difficult passages from the Gospels and Acts. Black's foundational work, which continues to be the starting point for any study of Aramaic and the New Testament, is enhanced by a new introduction from Craig A. Evans. Evans places Black's work in the context of related scholarly studies, provides extensive resources for further study of Aramaic and its significance for New Testament studies, and discusses the criteria best used when consulting the Targumim in New Testament interpretation.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Words of the Jesus of History  Nov 7, 2008
In the mid 1980s this reviewer was fortunate enough to study under the late Matthew Black who was then a Professor Emeritus at St Mary's College in the University of St Andrews. His contribution and influence within the field of New Testament studies was vast in general and is still considerable.

More particularly, however, the late Professor Black was evangelical about the Aramaic subtext which may well underpin the very 'verba Christi', but he also worked closely on establishing the form of the original (or oldest extant, to be more exacting) form of the Greek New Testament text; this he did in close collaboration with other scholars of international repute, most notably Bruce M. Metzger and Kurt Aland with whom he established the United Bible Societies New Greek New Testament of 1966. This text is still considered by a number of New Testament scholars to be the 'standard' edition and is consulted on a day to day basis by many more. Black had also undertaken the colossal task of editing the famous Peake's Bible Commentary in 1961 and edited The Scrolls and
Christianity: Historical and Theological Significance (1969), his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls actually being detectable as early as 1953.

This writer would agree with another of his mentors from St Andrews, Professor William McKane, in stating that Black's `Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts was his "most original book". The work was originally tendered as a Ph.D thesis to Glasgow University in 1944 and published soon thereafter by the Clarendon Press in 1946. Black's treatment of the `verba Christi' is by no means exhaustive - fuller treatment of the richly Semitic `kensos' or `poll-tax question' (found in Mark 12:13-17 and parallels) could have been essayed - but the work is in many ways iconic and definitive. The present writer would disagree slightly with McKane about the degree Black was influenced by Gustaf Dalman's earlier work (translated into English in 1902 by Prof David Kay of St Andrews), `The Words of Jesus'. It seems clear that whilst both detected an Aramaic subtext - beneath what is clearly translation Greek in many instances - Black shows both a more intuitive and, at times, a more rigorously linguistic and systematic approach. Besides, an earlier German work proposing an Aramaic origin of the `verba Christ' known to English-speaking scholars was 'Die Synoptischeen Evangleien: Ihr Ursprung und geschichtlicher Charakter' by H.J. Holtzmann - and which dates from 1863 - was also known to English-speaking scholars, although it was primitive with respect to Markan primacy (as Maurice Casey points out in his extremely readable `Aramaic Origins of Q' No. 122 in the SNTS Monograph series).

This is not a book for the general religious or even the general New Testament reader. It wrestles with idiomatic, syntactical, phraseological and semantic characteristics of Aramaic, Koine Greek, Classical and Mishnaic Hebrew (in a few instances) and even, albeit indirectly, of Latin. As a book studied methodically and seriously over a period of time, however, it can undoubtedly edge us closer to reconstructing the very words of Yeshua-bar-Yosef himself.

Michael Calum Jacques, author of 1st Century Radical: the shadowy origins of the man who became known as Jesus Christ.
The standard  Jul 26, 2003
Black's "Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts" (referenced as AAGA) is the standard work to summarize the scholarship of this topic up 'til 1966, though I think the field has not shifted significantly since then. Black points out that much of the late 19th and early 20th century theorizing about the language of Jesus and the early disciples was rather loose and rife with speculative excess. Adhering to stricter terms of acceptance, Black's survey of the state of the whole field (including unpublished research) gives credence where it is deserved and cancels it where not.

What is surprising, therefore, is how much is left. A truly broad picture emerges (at least from the synoptic gospels) of the speech of Jesus via credible remnants of Aramaic grammar, words, phrases and poetic forms. Along the way, a number of tantalizing glimpses of interpretive possibilities are noted, for example in the resolution of famous synoptic variants or the unraveling of theological knots (e.g. does a plausible Aramaic version of Mark 4:12 connote something less harsh than the Greek seems to?).

If you are interesting in the language and "ipsa verba" of Jesus, this book is indispenable.


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