Author Topic: Does anyone here have a decent understanding of written Aramaic/Syriac?  (Read 546 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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Does anyone here have a decent understanding of written Aramaic/Syriac?

We have had Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian Christians on the forum. Perhaps some of them might know it.

The issue came up because I was trying to understand the last verse of Ode 9 in the Odes of Solomon, which was written in Syriac. I was trying to see who "she" refers to in the verse.
The Syriac is here: https://syriaccorpus.org/152#

Two translations that I found for it run:
Quote
Charlesworth's translation
For their book is the reward of victory which is for you, and she sees you before her and wills that you shall be saved.

Harris' translation
13. For their book is victory which is yours. And she (Victory) sees you before her and wills that you shall be saved.
Normally in English, I would read "she" as being "their book". But in Hebrew, "book" is usually sefer, a masculine word, and I don't know what "book" is in this Aramaic verse. Plus, Harris put "Victory" in parenthesis, so that was his interpretation.
A decent reader of Syriac would be able to see in the Syriac text in the link what the term is.

Anyway, it would still be nice to know that someone on the forum was a Syriac/Aramaic speaker.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 12:29:50 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Samn!

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Here, book is masculine and victory is feminine.

Offline rakovsky

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That answers it. Good job, Samn. What is the Aramaic word there for book?
I tried registering for the Peshitta.org forum but they never sent me a Validation/Activation email.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 02:04:53 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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The first word means "their book." ܟܬܒܐ + the 3rd person plural pronominal suffix ܗܘܢ-.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 09:11:07 PM by MalpanaGiwargis »
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)

Offline rakovsky

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Good job. Another linguistic issue comes up in Ode 7 (around verse 11) when the narrator refers to God as the perfection of the ages/aeons/worlds:
https://syriaccorpus.org/154#
What Syriac word does the text use for the ages/world?

Later in Ode 12, the narrator uses the term ܥܠܡܐ, but I didn't see anything looking like that in Ode 7. According to Wiktionary, that term ܥܠܡܐ can mean age, people, generation, or world.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 09:49:47 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline sestir

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This link might work better: Ode 7.
And verse 11 has: .. ܫܘܡܠܝܐ ܕܥܠܡܐ ..

Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Good job. Another linguistic issue comes up in Ode 7 (around verse 11) when the narrator refers to God as the perfection of the ages/aeons/worlds:
https://syriaccorpus.org/154#
What Syriac word does the text use for the ages/world?

Later in Ode 12, the narrator uses the term ܥܠܡܐ, but I didn't see anything looking like that in Ode 7. According to Wiktionary, that term ܥܠܡܐ can mean age, people, generation, or world.

Verse 11 of Ode 7 has the same word in the plural second from last; it has the prefix (here meaning "of"), which might be obscuring it for you.
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)

Offline rakovsky

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Verse 11 of Ode 7 has the same word in the plural second from last; it has the prefix (here meaning "of"), which might be obscuring it for you.
Yes. Good job pointing that out.

I am working through the potential 1st century writings on Christianity and these Odes are one that some have speculated came from that period. My guess at this point is that they more likely came from the mid/late 2nd century and from a Gnostic or Gnostic-influenced composer like the Bardeisan of Edessa. Scholars are divided on whether the Odes are Gnostic, the topic of the aeons/worlds/ages in the Odes being one possible Gnostic sign. A big majority of the Odes have only been preserved in Syriac.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2020, 06:02:18 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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This link might work better: Ode 7.
And verse 11 has: .. ܫܘܡܠܝܐ ܕܥܠܡܐ ..
Sestir, I saw you on the Peshitta forum!
I don't know, since you are on the forum, if you can give the moderators there a heads-up that their registration's validation-by-email system is broken. I even filled out their Contact forum and got no response.
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Offline rakovsky

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After reading the literature on Ode 12 and analyzing it more carefully, it doesn't appear to particularly refer to the Gnostic concept of Aeons. It most apparently refers to "generations" in the sense of generations of people who have God's Word and speak it. But it could also refer to generations in a way comparable to Philo's concept of emanations or words, according to the scholar Marshall. This is not to rule out that other ideas or passages in the Odes are Gnostic.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2020, 11:42:54 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Which translation do you think agrees better with the Syriac for Ode 42:5?


ܡܺܝܬܘ ܟܽܠܗܽܘܢܿ ܪ̈ܳܕܽܘܦܰܝ܆
.ܘܰܒܥܰܐܘܽܢܝ ܗܳܢܽܘܢܿ ܕܰܣܒܰܪܘ ܥܠܰܝ ܡܶܛܽܠ ܕܚܰܝ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ

Charlesworth's translation runs:
"All my persecutors have died, and they sought me, they who declared against me, because I am living."

Harris' 1911 translation runs:
5. "All my persecutors are dead; and they sought after me who hoped in me, because I was alive:"

The difference is that in Charlesworth's translation, Christ's persecutors died and sought Christ, whereas in Harris' translation, Christ's persecutors died and those who hoped in Him sought Him.

Charlesworth's translation is more recent, so it seems more reliable. But Harris' interpretation seems more standard in terms of the Afterlife.

The broader issue is why were all the persecutors dead at this point? For instance, did the author mean that at the time of writing (eg. 185 AD), all of Christ's persecutors had died? Or eg. was the author saying that when Christ entered Hades to liberate the souls there, this occurred on a plane or dimension in which the persecutors had died?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 09:06:44 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Which translation do you think agrees better with the Syriac for Ode 42:5?


ܡܺܝܬܘ ܟܽܠܗܽܘܢܿ ܪ̈ܳܕܽܘܦܰܝ܆
.ܘܰܒܥܰܐܘܽܢܝ ܗܳܢܽܘܢܿ ܕܰܣܒܰܪܘ ܥܠܰܝ ܡܶܛܽܠ ܕܚܰܝ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ

Charlesworth's translation runs:
"All my persecutors have died, and they sought me, they who declared against me, because I am living."

Harris' 1911 translation runs:
5. "All my persecutors are dead; and they sought after me who hoped in me, because I was alive:"

The difference is that in Charlesworth's translation, Christ's persecutors died and sought Christ, whereas in Harris' translation, Christ's persecutors died and those who hoped in Him sought Him.

Charlesworth's translation is more recent, so it seems more reliable. But Harris' interpretation seems more standard in terms of the Afterlife.

The broader issue is why were all the persecutors dead at this point? For instance, did the author mean that at the time of writing (eg. 185 AD), all of Christ's persecutors had died? Or eg. was the author saying that when Christ entered Hades to liberate the souls there, this occurred on a plane or dimension in which the persecutors had died?

Do we know if the vowels are original?  ܕܰܣܒܰܪܘ is the "who declared/who hoped" in question. If the vowels are correct, and this is in the peal conjugation, then neither one really sounds right; peal is usually "think, be convinced, hold as true, etc." whereas the pael (the 'a' vowel on the ܣ instead of the prefix ) could easily mean "declare." "Hope" would usually take its object with the preposition . As it stands, it reads to me more like "...they sought after me who thought about me" or "...who considered/acknowledged me."

That said, this root often gives me headaches.
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)

Offline Samn!

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The manuscript probably wasn't voweled, but I don't think ܣܒܪ ܥܠ can mean "hoped in me". Looking for parallels, we have Ishodad of Merv saying "ܓܒܪܝܐܝܠ ܡܠܐܟܐ ܣܒܪ ܥܠ ܝܠܕܗ" with the sense "the Angel Gabriel brought tidings of His birth". In one of Ephrem's hymns on Nisibis, he says ܘܐܢ ܐܢܫ ܣܒܪ ܥܠ ܝܫܘܥ ܕܢܘܟܪܝܐ ܗܘ ܠܝ ܓܘܕܦܐ ܗܘ which I would take to mean "If someone declares that Jesus is a stranger, it is blasphemy to me."

So the line should probably be understood to mean "Those who brought tidings of me sought me, for I am alive."

Offline rakovsky

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Thanks for your replies, Malpana and Samn. It sounds like based on your replies, the best answer is the kind of thing that Harris took the verse to mean, not Charlesworth's idea that the persecutors died and they sought Christ, ie. "they who declared AGAINST" Christ.

To answer your question, Malpana, you can read Harris' 1911 publication of the Syriac text, which has two dots in the word that could mean declare. The first dot is under the first backwards r. The word doesn't have the pointy cones on top though.
https://books.google.com/books?id=TRxVAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR9&dq=odes+of+solomon+harris&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiLxK-K3fjqAhVOn-AKHTYGDO0Q6AEIMDAB#v=onepage&q=Ode%2042&f=false
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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Thanks for your replies, Malpana and Samn. It sounds like based on your replies, the best answer is the kind of thing that Harris took the verse to mean, not Charlesworth's idea that the persecutors died and they sought Christ, ie. "they who declared AGAINST" Christ.

To answer your question, Malpana, you can read Harris' 1911 publication of the Syriac text, which has two dots in the word that could mean declare. The first dot is under the first backwards r. The word doesn't have the pointy cones on top though.
https://books.google.com/books?id=TRxVAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR9&dq=odes+of+solomon+harris&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiLxK-K3fjqAhVOn-AKHTYGDO0Q6AEIMDAB#v=onepage&q=Ode%2042&f=false

No, I don't think it means "hoped"; it needs a different preposition for that meaning. Probably either "brought tidings of me" or "acknowledged me" or something like it.
Woe is me, that I have read the commandments,
   and have become learned in the Scriptures,
and have been instructed in Your glories,
   and yet I have become occupied in shameful things!

(Giwargis Warda, On Compunction of Soul)

Offline rakovsky

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Malpana and Samn,
You gave very good answers clearing up the translation. Does Harris correctly translate Ode 42 as being in the past tense, or could it be in the future tense? I know that Hebrew sometimes is ambiguous as to whether something is past or future tense.
Here is Harris' 1911 translation: https://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe236.htm
Here is the Syriac: https://syriaccorpus.org/185

The main reason that I ask about this is that I am trying to understand why the author says that all the persecutors died. The context is Christ's freeing of the righteous dead from Hades. So I am trying to see if this means that (A) the narrator was talking about Christ entering another dimension or plane like Hades in relation to which all the persecutors had died; (B) the narrator meant that Christ's persecutors had already died, since the Odes were written around the 2nd Century AD; or (C) the author is referring to an apocalyptic future End Times event, and the persecutors would have died before that event.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 10:23:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: Does anyone here have a decent understanding of written Aramaic/Syriac?
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2020, 03:18:31 AM »
I think that it means C, the narrator is describing an apocalyptic future moment when His persecutors have died and He freed the righteous from death, reenlivening them. This is because Ode 23 seems to have an apocalyptic prediction about Christ gaining His inheritance and His persecutors becoming extinct. It seems that Ode 42 is describing the fulfillment of that prediction. Plus, Ode 42 is the last Ode, making it a candidate for an End Times ode. And in the 2nd Century persecutors of Christians were still around, so it must have been predicting a time later than when it was authored.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20