The Neglected Biblical Language

That is how Miles Van Pelt describes Aramaic. He continues,

It does not enjoy the status of a classical language like Greek, nor can it boast of being the language of approximately 75 percent of the Christian Bible, as Hebrew does. But we must not allow either status or statistics to preclude our commitment to teach and study this biblical language in Bible colleges and seminaries as a regular part of training candidates for the ministry of God’s word. Faithfulness in the littlest thing is no little thing (Luke 16:10a).

These comparisons are particularly motivating:

There are, in fact, 269 verses in the Old Testament that contain Aramaic… It is true this corpus of material constitutes less than two percent of the Old Testament. Consider, however, that 269 verses are equivalent to Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Psalm 1. Compared to the New Testament, the Aramaic material of the Old Testament would be equivalent to 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Certainly none of us would want to be without the required skills to faithfully interpret these portions of the biblical text.

I might add, getting a grasp on Aramaic opens the door to a wealth of other exegetically important material (e.g. the Targums).

So, I press on.


The quotations are from Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Aramaic: Complete Grammar, Lexicon, and Annotated Text (Zondervan, 2011), x.