Aramaic Bible Translation Pt. III
Did you know that in approximately ten years, we will have a new Assyrian (modern Aramaic) translation of the Bible available to us? The Aramaic Bible Translation project has been working on it since the early 1990s. Read our previous posts to learn more about the history of Assyrian Bible translation, and the history of how the Aramaic Bible Translation project first got started.
Officially founded in 1993, the Aramaic Bible Translation (ABT) project attempts to translate the Bible into several modern dialects of Aramaic. The project first began in the late 1980s with the Chaldean dialect of Aramaic, which is primarily spoken by those who adhere to the Chaldean Catholic Church. Soon afterwards, ABT added the Assyrian dialect to its translation project, which is mainly spoken by those who adhere to the Assyrian Church of the East. Eventually, the Suryoyo dialect, spoken by those adhering to the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Mardini dialect were added to the project. Although Mardini is technically an Arabic dialect spoken in the city of Mardin in Turkey, and not an Aramaic dialect, it was added to the project because most of the people who speak it are historically descended from Aramaic speakers. The final dialect added to the project was Ma’luli, which is only spoken in a small section of modern Syria today. Unlike the other dialects, which are all a form of Eastern Aramaic, Ma’luli is a Western Aramaic language. Western Aramaic derives from the Judaean and Galilean dialects of Middle Aramaic, meaning that it is closer to the version of Aramaic that Jesus and his disciples spoke compared to all of the other modern Aramaic dialects that are a part of ABT.
Each dialect that ABT is working on has its own translation team, which includes both native Aramaic speakers as well as non-native Biblical scholars. The two primary native speakers on the Assyrian translation team are Demsin Lachin and Atour Bejan, who are both linguistic scholars. The two primary non-native speakers are Dr. Joel Harlow and Dr. Patrick Bennett, who both have PhDs and a love for Biblical languages. ABT has been blessed to have many talented people on its team both in the past and present.
ABT ultimately took 15 years to translate the New Testament into Assyrian, and an additional three years to translate the Psalms. These translations are now published and publically available. The team has been working on the Old Testament for the past 14 years now, and expects to finish in another ten years. The following Old Testament books have been translated so far: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Jonah. ABT hopes that by the end of its fiscal year, on September 30th, the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and either 1 Chronicles or Daniel will be completed.
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.
Aramaic Bible Translation. https://www.aramaicbible.org/ (accessed February 16, 2021).