Teachings By Jesus

Cultural Limitation

Language Issues

One understandable and unavoidable problem that we face in trying to understand the teachings of Jesus is that Jesus spoke Aramaic, while the Bible version used in creating this website is in English. In order to take us from the words that Jesus spoke, the words that He spoke were first translated from Aramaic into Greek and Latin in ancient times, and then more recently they were translated from Greek into English. Every Bible that everyone using this website ever has read has been through such a two-step translation process. And naturally, it would seem to us that a direct translation from Aramaic into English would be a much better idea, right?

Aramaic is now a nearly dead language, but there are pockets of native speakers of Aramaic in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, so attempts at direct translations of the Biblical Gospels from Aramaic into English have naturally been made. And it is remarkable to see that in this case at least, the traditional two-step translation is far the better option! Anyone who wants to look into this matter more closely is welcome to do it, but the reason why we hold to two-step translations of the Bible seems to be that Aramaic is a loose and airy language by its very nature, and an initial translation into Greek by an expert first tightens it up and aligns it with English and with other modern languages. I don’t know, but it simply seems to work far better. My personal notion is that Jesus has Himself overseen the translation process; but for whatever reason, we have made our peace with using two-step translations of the Biblical Gospels.

Incidentally, the Bible version used on teachingsbyJesus.com is the New American Standard Bible®, both because of the reliability of its translations and because of its more liberal use policies.

The text of the New American Standard Bible® may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of one thousand (1,000) verses without express written permission of The Lockman Foundation, providing the verses do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for more than 50% of the total work in which they are quoted.

“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)