I’ve come across another potential pun within Aramaic contemporary to Jesus… but this time (of all places) as a saying within Romans. Where Romans discusses there being “no shame in the Gospel” (Romans 1:16) the sentiment may have originally come from an Aramaic play on words similar to the English phrase “You must be ‘whole‘ to be ‘holy.'”
One common root in contemporry dialects to Paul for “to shame” is בסר /b’sar/, where the most likely original word employed for “Gospel” comes from the root בשׂר /b’śar/ (“message, good news, tidings”). This would most likely be the word בשׂרתה /b’sartha/ or בשׂורתה /b’sortha/. This is unlike the later Christian Aramaic loan from Greek word εὐαγγέλιον /euangelion/ that is found in Syriac as, ܐܘܢܓܠܝܘܢ /ewanglion/ (with which this potential wordplay does not work).
The two roots בסר and בשׂר are pronounced the same, and yet are spelled differently. In later dialects, very often the שׂ (śin) was written with ס (samek) so there was no spelling difference at all.
Other juxtapositions of “shame” and “the Gospel” are also found in 2nd Timothy 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 4:14-15. I must ask myself, why do they occur in strongly Greek texts? At this time I am not sure. All I know is that a plain translation into contemporary Aramaic is rather compelling as it would be too unlikely for such a platitude like this to house a pun like this by chance. No examples are found in the Gospels or Acts which do have very strong Aramaic under-layers, but I cannot think of any context in their narratives where such a phrase would ‘naturally’ crop up.
Nothing conclusive yet, but an article will be up on AramaicNT.org expounding upon this soon.
I would like to invite comments.