Aramaic and pronouns


#1

Hey,

I heard that Aramaic has no pronouns. The effect of this is they do not have “you”. So when Nicodemus came to Jesus in the middle of the night, and He said, “unless a man be…” it was like saying “unless you be…” . Is this true. And if so what implications does it have when Jesus is saying things like “You will see the Son of Man…” during the trial, or when he says to his disciples “The Son of Man will be handed over.”

I always wondered why/thought it was odd Jesus was referring to himself in the third person (at least in the New Amer. Bible)

So I guess my discussion starter/question is, when Jesus talks in the third person, is that because of the limitations of Aramaic not having pronouns. But then my second question is, if the New Testament was written in Greek, why did it keep the awkward third person wording?

God Bless


#2

Aramaic does have pronouns; I could catch them on the Aramaic soundtrack of The Passion, based on the fact that I speak sister languages Arabic and Hebrew (a little). The masculine “thou,” I believe, was atta, same as Hebrew, which means the feminine “thou” was probably at. I didn’t catch the plural forms. Those are the stand-alone forms; possessives and direct objects were suffixes starting, I believe, with -kh-: -kha, -khi, -khum for masculine singular, feminine singular, and masculine plural, respectively. I’m going to have to go back and listen again.

DaveBj


#3

[quote=Josip]Hey,

I heard that Aramaic has no pronouns.

[/quote]

I don’t speak Aramaic, but I do know enough Hebrew to get out of trouble sometimes. If Aramaic is anything like Hebrew, which I hear it is, then …

Hebrew (and I would think Aramaic) does indeed have pronouns; it simply doesn’t use them in all the verb forms. It’s a lot like Spanish, which has pronouns (“yo” = “I”, “tu” = “you (singular)”, “usted” = “you (singular respectful)”, etc.) but doesn’t put them in its verbs (“como” = “I eat”, “comes” = “you eat”). In Hebrew, “I learn” is “ani lomed” but “I learned” is “lamadti.” “You (masculine singular) learn” is “ata lomed” while “you (masculine singular) learned” is “lamadta.” The verb forms that don’t have separate pronouns have distinct prefixes or suffixes that specify the person who is doing the action.

Making things more confusing is that direct object pronouns are also sometimes tacked onto the verb. One of Jesus’ words from the cross was “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani”. “El” is a name for God; “Elohim” (in Hebrew) is another name for God. The “i” at the end of the “Elo” is “my”–the possessive pronoun, first person singular. The word “lama” is the straight interrogative pronoun “why.” The verb “abandoned” is “sabach”; the “tha” is the transliteration from Hebrew/Aramaic through Greek to English (three, maybe four alphabets) of the second person masculine singular suffix “ta.” Finally the “ni” is the suffix for the first person singular direct object pronoun “me.”

If Nehama Berson is reading these lists, she should be proud of me; I took the modern Hebrew class in 1983. She was my teacher; she should also be proud of herself.

  • Liberian

#4

cool thanks,

but howcome Jesus refers to himself in the third person so much. Ie, paraphrased, at the trial, “are you the messiah”, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man coming…"
or other times when he predicts his death, “the Son of Man will be handed over…”

God Bless


#5

and actually as a second question, this referring to oneself in the third person, was this a normal way of speaking, and in the context of how it was used it was clear to everyone that he was saying, “I, the Son of Man, will be handed over…”


#6

[quote=Josip]and actually as a second question, this referring to oneself in the third person, was this a normal way of speaking, and in the context of how it was used it was clear to everyone that he was saying, “I, the Son of Man, will be handed over…”
[/quote]

Josip,

Sorry, I can’t help you with the two follow-up questions. I jsut plain don’t know.

  • Liberian

#7

I don’t know if it matters or not, but it sometimes seems to help if you consider the context where Jesus speaks in the third person. For instance when he calls himself the “Son of Man” there is an obvious reference to the Book of Daniel.

It would be like a Police Officer saying that a Cop must uphold the law, even though he is refering to himself. The reference reminds us of the duties or obligations of the possition to which even the speaking individual is bound.

For Christ the same would be true, he is reminding the disciples what is required of the “Son of Man” even though He is the “Son of Man”

It is a thought anyway.


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.