I am examining those instances in Brian Simmons’ book ‘Letters from Heaven’ (part of the so-called ‘Passion Translation’) where he claims to be translating from the Aramaic. I am leaving aside for now the question of why he would prefer to translate Paul’s letters from an Aramaic translation rather than the original Greek, and confining myself to asking whether he is really translating from the Aramaic when he says he is. Galatians 3.1 raises this question in stark form as I will endeavour to show.
Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος; [NA 28]
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. [ESV]
By referring to ‘this very unusual sentence’, Simmons clearly marks his endnote as applying to the last sentence of his rendering of Galatians 3.1:
Wasn’t he revealed to you as the Manifestation of Wisdom?
He says equally clearly that it:
is translated from the Aramaic text.
Is it? Here is the Western UBS Peshitta text from dukrhana.com with transliteration and three English translations by Etheridge (green), Murdock (navy), and Lamsa (purple):
The interested reader can click on the analysis tool here, and see that these English translations, which hardly differ at all from normal English translations of the Greek text, are faithful translations of the Syriac text (Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic). The verb ܚܣܡ which is given the English glosses ‘envy’ and [be] ‘jealous’ in this analysis tool, also means to ‘bewitch’, as shown in Jennings:
There is absolutely nothing in the Syriac text which has anything to do with Jesus Christ being revealed as the ‘Manifestation of Wisdom’ as Simmons has it. Where does he get this from? I have checked the Eastern UBS text and the Khabouris text and they are exactly the same:
Western UBS: ܐܘ ܚܣܝܪܝ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܓܠܛܝܐ ܡܢܘ ܚܣܡ ܒܟܘܢ ܕܗܐ ܐܝܟ ܗܘ ܕܡܨܪ ܨܝܪ ܗܘܐ ܩܕܡ ܥܝܢܝܟܘܢ ܝܫܘܥ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܟܕ ܨܠܝܒ
Eastern UBS: ܐܘ ܚܣܝܪܝ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܓܠܛܝܐ ܡܢܘ ܚܣܡ ܒܟܘܢ ܕܗܐ ܐܝܟ ܗܘ ܕܡܨܪ ܨܝܪ ܗܘܐ ܩܕܡ ܥܝܢܝܟܘܢ ܝܫܘܥ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܟܕ ܨܠܝܒ
Khabouris : ܐܘ ܚܣܝܪܝ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܓܠܛܝܐ ܡܢܘ ܚܣܡ ܒܟܘܢ ܕܗܐ ܐܝܟ ܗܘ ܕܡܨܪ ܨܝܪ ܗܘܐ ܩܕܡ ܥܝܢܝܟܘܢ ܝܫܘܥ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܟܕ ܨܠܝܒ
Having received no reply so far to my emails of last week I have now tried asking Simmons on Twitter.