Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lamsa's Camel

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."  -Mark 10:23-25

The Lamsa translation of the Bible is a 1933 translation that relies heavily on Aramaic texts and current Aramaic idioms and colloquialisms.  Aramaic was the language of the common man in Israel during the time of Christ.  One reason to consider the Lamsa translation is that some of Jesus's sermons may have had nuances that were lost or diminished by translation into Greek then other languages.

One of the primary examples of this is Lamsa's camel.  According to Lamsa, "camel" is an Aramaic idiom for a large cable.  If this were a common idiom for camel during the time of Christ, the then those in the audience during Jesus's Rich man-camel-eye of needle sermon would have an association.

A large rope can be passed through the eye of a needle by un-twisting it and passing....or testing....each fiber.  Those fibers that cannot pass the test must be rejected. 

The fibers that pass can be retwisted into a cable, albeit a smaller one.

This metaphor would have been crystal clear to the audience if "camel" also meant "large rope" in the language of the times.

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