Why you cannot learn the language of Jesus Christ.

In a few words ,because it is an obscure dialect, very poorly attested.

There are articles,posts,videos all over the internet with pompous titles about 'the language of Jesus Christ' ,the 'Lord's Prayer in Galilean Aramaic'- the dialect Jesus spoke-,'Jesus Christ's Aramaic lives on'  and many other titles of the like.

But such claims are an overstatement out of place and out of time. I will try to explain some facts about the Aramaic language, Jesus's native Galilean Aramaic dialect.

Aramaic -not one but hundreds of dialects.

First off Aramaic in not one monolithic language unchanged through time. Every language undergoes many  changes from the moment it appears. In time it changes in vocabulary,grammar, pronunciation ,it breaks up into dialects and so forth.

The same goes for Aramaic. It has changed a lot since it first appeared in the ancient kingdom of Aram around the city of Edessa. It broke up in two major dialectal branches ,Eastern and Western from which in turn broke off many dialects/languages.

You cannot expect that Aramaic has remained one and the same from the 11nth century BCE since it is thought to first appear among the Arameans til modern days. 

So,when you hear about Aramaic you need to ask yourself what Aramaic? what dialect? what time?

What language did Jesus speak?

It is agreed by linguists and historians that Yeshua Mshiha, Jesus Christ spoke Aramaic as his mother tongue.

His dialect was Galilean Aramaic spoken in the region of Galilea.

Galilean Aramaic was different from the dialect spoken in Jerusalem.

It belonged to the Western Aramaic branch while Jerusalem Aramaic belonged to the Eastern Aramaic branch.

Galilean had many differences from Jerusalem Aramaic.

It was heavily influenced by Greek -a language of prestige at the time- to the point that even  its phonology had changed having Greek like features like the loss of of guttural and ejective sounds unlike its Jerusalem relative. That indicates that speakers of Galilean Aramaic were bilingual in Aramaic and Greek. A Galilean speaker would stick out in Jerusalem. His accent would immediately give him away.

The original Lord's Prayer in Aramaic.

There is no such thing as the Lord's Prayer in Galilean Aramaic.

The 'original' Lord's Prayer in Aramaic most of the time is in Syriac Aramaic. There is no such thing as the Lord's Prayer in Galilean. Not in it's original form anyway. Even the Syriac version is not the original since it's a translation from Greek.

There are though reconstructions of the Lord's Prayer in Galilean Aramaic but these are subject to future modifications since they are a reconstruction.

Why you cannot learn the language of Jesus Christ.

Because Galilean is an obscure, very poorly attested dialect. It is in the process of being reconstructed by linguists during the last 50 years by comparison with changes in other Aramaic dialects, living or dead.

It's closest living relative is the Aramaic of the Syrian village of Maaloula.But there is a huge time span since Galilean Aramaic was spoken and the language of Maaloula in modern-day Syria.

These two have distant similarity both belonging to the Western branch. Maalula Aramaic is a rare specimen of a surviving member of the Western Branch.

Nevertheless studying the Maalula dialect, comparing it with Galilean can help linguists see which changes occurred in phonology, grammar, vocabulary and reconstruct some attributes of Galilean.


Furthermore...


Jesus did not speak Syriac Aramaic. 
Syriac belongs to the Eastern branch and it became the vehicle of Syriac Christianity in the Middle East.

Most Modern Aramaic languages like Assyrian Neo-Aramaic or Turoyo the mountain Aramaic,the two most widely spoken Neo-Aramaic languages, are descendants of Syriac.

So,which Aramaic should one learn?
That depends. Maybe you want to go for a modern spoken dialect of Aramaic. There is a huge variety of Neo-Aramaic languages differing from region to region ,from city to city,from village to village.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is the most spoken modern Aramaic dialect with about 1 million speakers.

If you choose an ancient dialect it would be wise to go for a well-documented one like the Imperial Aramaic of the Persian Empire or Classical Syriac to get a thorough grounding in an Aramaic language. Once you got one of these well under your belt you can branch off to obscure dialects
like Galilean Aramaic.

Share:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add comnent

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Categories

Follow by Email

stcnt

Did you find this site useful?Consider making a donation to help keep the site running.

fb

Recent comments

Recent post

Evening in Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.

  Evening is noospa in Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.  Chaldean is considered a sister language of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. Linguistically these two are...

Labels

Recent Posts