I’ve recently had the privilege of being able to edit Robert Courtney’s article on the day when Christ died. This is a huge topic in apologetics. Mark and Luke record Jesus’ tomb being empty on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1) and Matthew records Jesus saying:
People often assume that John and Peter were a couple of uneducated rednecks. Part of the reason is that they were fisherman. Today, rednecks like to fish, therefore Peter was a redneck… We should be careful in projecting modern American culture onto Peter, though. The skills that it would take to navigate the water with ancient technology may have taken more skill than we give him credit for. But, then again, the Bible does say Peter cursed and cursing is a skill that modern seafarers master without peer, sooo…
Have you ever noticed how every now and then, New Testament authors will throw in an Aramaic phrase?
Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (Mark 5:41 ESV)
And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” (Mark 7:34 ESV)
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34 ESV)
In these three verses, the Aramaic is complicated, so Mark follows Jesus’ quotes with translations. Consider the word, ephphatha. This would not have been a common saying. I mean, how many times have you told something, “be opened!” The readers probably didn’t know the word, ephphatha, so it makes sense that Mark notes that ephphatha means “be opened.” The same goes with sabachthani (literally, “you have forsaken me”). The average Greek-speaking Christian in the first century wouldn’t know these words, so Mark translates them.
I have recently received a Qur’an in the mail along with a couple of booklets with some basic information about Islam. The booklet made an incorrect claim that stood out to me. It isn’t a fundamental doctrine to Islam, and I’m sure the author was not intentionally trying to mislead people, but he wrote:
Allah is the One and Only True God’s personal name […] It is interesting to note that Allah is also used for God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, peace be upon him […]1
Arabic and Aramaic (along with Hebrew and a bunch of other languages) are Semitic languages, and have lots of similarities. One similarity that pops up across Semitics languages is their words for “god.” There tends to be “el” or “il” somehow related to the word for god in Semitic languages; some examples include ʾil in Ugaritic, ʾl in Phoenician, and ilu in Akkadian.