I am continuing with my investigation of Brian Simmons’ claims to be translating from the Aramaic in certain verses of his so-called ‘Passion Translation’. My current intention is to look at the first ten such claims in Letters from Heaven, and then take stock. For more on my purpose and methodology see here and here.
ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν, ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν. [NA 28]
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. [ESV]
Endnote t most probably refers especially to ‘the kingdom realm’, which immediately precedes it, and is a startling departure from ‘the promise’. But Simmons’ version differs greatly from the original text in other major respects. First, in the original, the gift of the promise comes out of (ἐκ) faith in Jesus Christ (or possibly out of the faith of Jesus Christ). This is lost in Simmons’ rendering. Further, it seems to be me to be implied in the scripture that the promise is given by the Father, whereas Simmons has ‘the kingdom realm’ being brought by Jesus. Altogether, this amounts to a wholesale revision of the original text.
What does the Aramaic say, from which Simmons claims to be translating? Here is the Western UBS Peshitta text from dukrhana.com with transliteration and three English translations by Etheridge (green), Murdock (navy), and Lamsa (purple):
It can be seen immediately that all three translations are along the same lines as normal renderings of the Greek text. The word ܕ݁ܡܽܘܠܟ݁ܳܢܳܐ (dəmūlkānā), lexeme ܡܘܠܟܢܐ, is translated with ‘that the promise’ in all three. The dalath (ܕ) before ܡܘܠܟܢܐ is serving (I think) as the final conjunction ‘that’, translating ἵνα. Jennings gives ‘promise’ as the sole meaning of ܡܘܠܟܢܐ,:
Payne Smith adds the idea of possessions in lands and property, presumably from the idea of things that have been promised to heirs and beneficiaries of bequests:
Conceivably, Simmons is developing this idea further, and is thinking that ‘the kingdom realm’ is that which has been promised to believers. But this would certainly be by way of interpretation, not of translation.