Aramaic Bible Translation Pt. I

Sep. 03

Did you know that there is currently a team working on creating a new Assyrian (modern Aramaic dialect) translation of the Bible?  Although an Assyrian translation of the Bible does already exist, the Aramaic Bible Translation team is trying to create one that is easier to read, is formatted in a clearer way, and is more accurate. 

 

Prior to the nineteenth century, the Syriac Peshitta was the only Bible available to Assyrians.  However, since that Bible was completed in the second-century A.D., its vocabulary and meaning became more difficult to understand as the centuries passed.  Therefore, when missionaries from the Presbyterian Church in the United States came to Urmia, Iran in the nineteenth century, they decided to create a modern Assyrian translation of the Bible.  In 1852, they completed their translation.  They used the original Hebrew text to translate the Old Testament into Assyrian, and used the Syriac Peshitta to translate the New Testament.  However, since the original New Testament was written in Greek, not Syriac, they revised their translation in 1893, making it more accurate to the original Greek text.  Since then, most Assyrians have been using this missionary Bible translation for their everyday reading. 

 

Although the American missionaries did a decent job with their Assyrian Bible translation, the Aramaic Bible Translation (ABT) team believes that Assyrians need a new translation.  The missionaries used many non-Assyrian words in their translation, such as Turkish or Persian words.  Additionally, the translation is over 100-years-old now, meaning that it uses outdated language.  Finally, because the missionaries created their translation in Urmia, Iran, their translation strongly reflects the dialect of Assyrians from Urmia.  ABT wants to make sure that its new translation does not favor a certain Assyrian dialect, but is more standardized. 

 

ABT has published the New Testament and the Psalms so far, but is still working on translating the Old Testament.  Since the Old Testament is nearly four times larger than the New Testament, the team does not project its completion until another ten years.  The Ashurbanipal Library in Chicago has the New Testament publication from 2002 as well as the combined New Testament and Psalms publication from 2014. 

 

Stay tuned, next week, to learn more about how the Aramaic Bible Translation project first began.  In the meantime, we wanted to let you know that ACF has been a major funder and supporter of the modern Assyrian Bible translation project.  ABT desires this project to be a team effort among Assyrians from throughout the world, so you are welcome to support this project too.  Your support does not have to be financial, but can be as simple as reading what has been translated so far, and providing your feedback to the team.  ABT is also seeking additional board members who have a heart for the Word of God in Assyrian.  Click here to learn more information about the project and how to contact ABT. 

 

By Esther Lang 

I want to give a special thanks to the Assyrian Bible translator, Demsin Lachin, for providing me with the information that I needed to write this post. 

 

Bibliography 

Aramaic Bible Translation. https://www.aramaicbible.org/ (accessed February 16, 2021).