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Aramaic Thoughts Archives
  • There is currently a project underway to produce an English translation of the Peshitta. Some readers will recognize that there is already an English version of the Peshitta available, that is, the version produced by George Lamsa under…
    April 18, 2014
  • The topic of the origin and development of the Septuagint is a complex one. For the reader who wants a thorough introduction, I would suggest that they take the time to work through the first part of Invitation to the Septuagin…
    April 11, 2014
  • At the time the Samaritan Pentateuch originated, there was not yet a “Masoretic text.” The Masoretic text is the text (or rather family of texts) that was provided with a written vowel system, hence indicating the pronunciation of the words. This Masoretic system was not developed until the early Middle Ages. The Hebrew text from which the Samaritan text was presumably derived was written with consonants only, as was…
    April 4, 2014
  • Following the discussion of what labor is or is not permitted on the Sabbath, the Talmud moves on to discuss quantities of food and drink that may be carried about on the Sabbath. According to the Midrash, from which the Talmudic discussion springs, the liquids discussed are wine, honey, oil, milk and water. The quantities…
    March 28, 2014
  • It is not until Chapter 7 that the Talmud deals with “THE GENERAL RULE CONCERNING THE PRINCIPAL ACTS OF LABOR ON SABBATH.” The preceding chapters are as follows: Chapter 1, as we saw last week, deals with the transfer of objects from one person to another or from one place to another. Chapter 2 treats of the…
    March 21, 2014
  • “The basic purpose of the Talmud was to provide the Jewish people with a body of teaching which should be more than a creed, but also a guide of life in every phase.” F1 Given the status of the Sabbath in Judaism, it makes perfect sense that the first tractate of the Talmud should concern the Sabbath. Furthermore,…
    March 14, 2014
  • The Sabbath is alien territory to most American Christians certainly and probably to most Christians throughout the world. Most modern Christians (and perhaps most Christians throughout history) have thought of the Sabbath as a uniquely Jewish institution. In most Christian theology, the Sabbath is considered to be a part…
    March 7, 2014
  • The list of restrictions imposed regarding Sabbath observance is extensive, as indicated in last week’s column. One set of instructions may be used for illustrative purposes. “There are two acts of transferring objects (from one domain to another), and these are enlarged to four as affecting the inside (of…
    February 28, 2014
  • I thought it would be fun to take a week or two and talk about something timely, though not necessarily relevant. That is, the date for Easter, and Easter’s relationship to Passover. Apparently, according to the gospel accounts, the Passover meal took place on Thursday. Passover marks the beginning of the Feast of…
    February 21, 2014
  • Of the two Talmuds, the Babylonian and the Jerusalem, the Babylonian has been more influential, in part because it is more complete than the Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Talmud lacks all of the fifth order and most of the sixth order of the Mishnah, while the Babylonian Talmud contains even those Mishnah tractates for which…
    February 14, 2014
  • The Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) is, in a sense, the heart of the Midrash, because the Midrash expounds on, expands on, and explains issues and questions arising from the Torah. In a similar sense, the Mishnah is the heart of the Talmud. The entire Talmud is made up of two parts, the Mishnah, and the Gemara.…
    February 7, 2014
  • Part of the discussion of Yadaim has to do with when the Scriptures render the hands unclean. The idea seems to be that the extreme holiness of the Scriptures is such that touching them makes the hands unclean, and they must then be washed before continuing with other tasks. Section 4.5 says, “The [Aramaic]…
    January 31, 2014
  • Following Niddah is Makshirin (predisposers). Predisposers is defined as “means which render foodstuffs susceptible to uncleanness” (Danby p. 758, n. 1). This comes from the statement of Lev 11:38: “but if water is put on the seed and any part of their carcass falls on it, it is unclean to…
    January 24, 2014
  • Following Mikwaoth is the treatise Niddah (the menstruant). As one might suspect this treatise deals with the determination of the precise times of uncleanness for a woman relative to her menstrual periods. Four particular kinds of women are deemed to be unclean only during their menstrual period: a virgin…
    January 17, 2014
  • To begin with a follow-up to last week’s column, there are two books that are both informative and entertaining regarding the Black Plague. The first is Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror. It is a history of the fourteenth century, and as such contains a fair amount of discussion concerning the outbreaks…
    January 10, 2014

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