Matthew’s Aramaic Glue

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Knowledge of the different ways of joining stories in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic can help us understand the history and relationships of the Synoptic Gospels.

מְתֻרְגְּמָן (me⋅tur⋅ge⋅MĀN) is Hebrew for “translator.” The articles in this series illustrate how a knowledge of the Gospels’ Semitic background can provide a deeper understanding of Jesus’ words and influence the translation process. For more articles in this series, click here.

A translator must understand and interpret all the linguistic signals in his source, and use those signals in a way that is both natural in the target language and congruent to the original text. Every language has particular ways of putting a story together, and the more a translator knows about each language’s construction system, the better translation he will provide.

In Hebrew events are joined together by -ְו (ve, “and”), while in English we generally prefer not to have a conjunction. Hebrew also carefully distinguishes word order to signal the structure of the story. This can be very significant for a translator, and for Gospel research.

Knowledge of the different ways of joining stories in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic can help us understand the history and relationships of the Synoptic Gospels. The three synoptic writers use different linguistic methods to glue their stories together. None of these is purely Greek, and all show Semitic influence. Matthew shows a specifically Aramaic influence, and in this article we will see how he uses an Aramaic conjunction as the glue to hold stories together.

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This article originally appeared in issue 28 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

Comments 3

  1. Shalom,

    I wanted to make you aware of two notable typos in the version of this article on the website here. The Hebrew word אָז appears twice here by mistake as עָז, and its transcription appears three times as ‘āz with ‘ for ע instead of ’ for א. After I noticed this here, I checked the original publication in the PDF, too, but it is correct there, so it looks like the error occurred when they were transferred from the print version to the electronic version.

    I always enjoy the content at Jerusalem Perspective and have learned a so much from it over the years. Looking forward to more all the time! Blessings.

    1. JP Staff Writer
  2. Pingback: Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves” | Online

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  • Randall Buth

    Randall Buth

    Randall Buth is director of the Biblical Language Center and a lecturer at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Home for Bible Translators. He is a member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research. Buth received his doctorate in…
    [Read more about author]

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