Aramaic teachings, resources, connections, and more
"If and when Yeshua [Jesus] said anything attributed to him in the Gospels, he said it in his native language of Aramaic."
-- Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz
ARAMAIC WORD OF THE WEEK:
Aramaic ("air-uh-MAY-ick") is one of a family of ancient languages known as "Semitic." The Semitic language family also includes Hebrew and Arabic -- as well as Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and others dating back as far as 5,000 years. Although these languages share common roots, a rich history, and a family resemblance, each one is separate and distinct from the others, just as French, Italian, and Portuguese -- all languages in the Romance family -- are separate and distinct from each other.
For centuries the language of great kings and prophets, Aramaic had by Ishua's time become the common spoken language of the Jewish people in the Middle East. Hebrew had all but died out as a spoken language as much as 400 years before and was used almost exclusively by priests and rabbis in their own studies and high religious ceremonies.
Aramaic served as the language of day-to-day conversation and commerce for the people of Jesus's world. Yet, in common with other Semitic languages, Aramaic also has some unique characteristics that make it an especially rich vehicle for expressing spiritual wisdom and a mystic vision.
In Aramaic, many words can be understood to carry not just a single literal meaning, but multiple meanings and interpretive shadings all at the same time. So while Aramaic speakers would certainly hear and understand the literal or external meanings when shopping, for instance, or gossiping about the news of the day, the many imbedded or expanded meanings and shadings would serve to enrich and deepen a message whose content is spiritual, visionary, or mystical in nature.
"Those who have ears to hear," in other words, not only would have heard the literal meaning of Jesus's words, but would also have understood and responded to the many rich additional nuances and shadings that were enfolded into them.
Aramaic is a living but endangered language. Today, the greatly diminished numbers of native Aramaic speakers are scattered in communities around the world; fewer than one-third still live in or near their millennia-old homeland in the Middle East. The threat of Aramaic disappearing entirely as a living language is so grave that on Oct. 28, 2007, the Foundation for Endangered Languages at its international conference in Kuala Lumpur adopted a resolution to name Aramaic as a "World Heritage Language," in an effort to garner global support to protect it from extinction. Two excellent writings on the subject of preserving Aramaic as a living language are:
Links to additional background on the Aramaic language: