Thursday, March 01, 2012

More on that Turkish Aramaic "Bible"

THE STORY OF THE ANCIENT ARAMAIC APOCRYPHAL GOSPEL supposedly recovered from smugglers in Turkey is taken up and taken apart by Peter BetBasoo and Ashur Giwargis in AINA, based on their knowledge of Modern Assyrian (Syriac):
The 1,500 Year Old 'Bible' and Muslim Propaganda

Posted GMT 2-29-2012 22:56:9

(AINA) -- Much has been made of the recent discovery in Turkey of a Bible purported to be written in the Aramaic language, 1,500 years ago. The Muslim media, as well as Western media outlets, quickly pounced on this, claiming this Bible contains verses attributed to Jesus Christ, in which Christ predicts the coming of Muhammad. No media outlet has published a facsimile of these verses.

This "Bible" is written on leather in gold letters. The picture of the front cover show inscriptions in Aramaic and a picture of a cross.

For any native speaker of Modern Assyrian (also known as neo-Aramaic), and that would be your average Assyrian today, the inscription is easily read. The bottom inscription, which is the most clearly visible from the published photos, says the following:

Transliteration: b-shimmit maran paish kteewa aha ktawa al idateh d-rabbaneh d-dera illaya b-ninweh b'sheeta d-alpa w-khamshamma d-maran

Translation: In the name of our Lord, this book is written on the hands of the monks of the high monastery in Nineveh, in the 1,500th year of our Lord.

Nineveh is the ancient Assyrian capital and is located in present-day north Iraq, near Mosul.

There are spelling errors that are immediately noticeable.
Specific follow.
Most significantly, this writing is in Modern Assyrian, which was standardized in the 1840s. The first bible in Modern Assyrian was produced in 1848. If this book were written in 1500 A.D. it should have been written in Classical Assyrian.

It is highly unlikely for monks to make such elementary mistakes. It remains to be seen whether this book is a forgery, or even what kind of book it is.

As noted earlier, Peter Williams says the final page contains the end of the Peshitta of the Gospel of Matthew.

So instead of being a pre-Islamic copy of The Gospel of Barnabas with predictions of Muhammad in the mouth of Jesus, the manuscript dates itself to 1500; it appears to contain a canonical Gospel; it is suspiciously poorly copied; and paleographic concerns indicate it may be much later than even 1500.

The weird thing is that the manuscript itself does not seem to be promoting the narrative being circulated about it. If it is a forgery, it's a forgery of a 600-year-old manuscript of a canonical book, not of an an ancient copy of an apocryphal one. What is going on?

I look forward to all the updates and corrections that I'm sure the mainstream (and other) media who have been spreading this story will publish.

Background here and links.