Category Archives: Uncategorized

In order to make way for the new lessons, I need to fiddle with the website theme a bit. The one I’m presently using, although it looks nice, interferes with a bit of code necessary for the new interactive lessons to work, so I must make alterations.

The site will be up and down over the course of the day, but in the end there will be a lot of fun stuff to enjoy. 🙂


Old Article by Yona Sabar in The Jewish Week

Back in 2009, Dr. Yona Sabar of UCLA wrote an article in The Jewish Week about his experiences as an Aramaic speaker. In recent light of the troubles facing Neo-Aramaic speakers in the Middle East it’s been circulating again, so I figured that I should re-share it.

“Burying My Mother Tongue”

Aramaic is my first language. I don’t get to speak it much with fellow native speakers in Los Angeles, where I live now. The number of Jewish Aramaic speakers has dwindled so much that we now quixotically call ourselves “The Worldwide Federation of Aramaic Speakers.” The group would fit in a small room.

Aramaic is considered the second holiest language after Hebrew. A language usually is not born holy. It becomes holy when it ceases being spoken and is mainly used as the language of scriptures, rituals and prayers. That is how Hebrew came to be called leshon ha-kodesh. After Hebrew faded as a spoken language around 200 BCE, myriads of Jews and Christians in Babylonia, Persia and the land of Israel picked up Aramaic, its Semitic sister. Two late books in the Bible, Daniel and Ezra, contain large sections in literary Aramaic. When Hebrew was waning as a spoken language, almost the entire Bible was translated into Aramaic for the benefit of the masses who couldn’t understand the original Hebrew. Aramaic became a part of the synagogue ritual for many centuries.

Read the rest here.


Considering a Merger…

So, I’m presently thinking long and hard about merging The Aramaic Blog and (The Aramaic New Testament) permanently.

Here at The Aramaic Blog, I get a heck of a lot of traffic, but I haven’t been doing much with it lately. The Aramaic New Testament, however, has a lot going for it, it’s on an up-to-date self-hosted WordPress install so I have much more control, it looks spiffier, it hosts all of my Aramaic courseware and translations, and it’s really where I wish to expand upon over the next year. Both often overlap in their purview so much that I’ve often found myself debating which blog to post something new to.

Historically they were separate because The Aramaic Blog had more of an academic focus where had more of a theological focus. However, when I re-designed it became much more academically centered with fewer personal theological elements. Since then, I only tend to expound theologically on my personal blog, so the need for two Aramaic “spots” is no longer an issue.

So, if a merger is to happen, I would be taking all of the articles here on The Aramaic Blog and adding them to The Aramaic New Testament and setting up the proper redirects so that when folks go looking for the old articles, they’ll land on the new pages.

What do you, dear readers, think?


You Won’t Believe These Unbelievable Aramaic Expressions!!

Over on Ralph The Sacred River, there is a neat discussion about recent Aramaic sightings in fiction (books & TV).:

I was surprised, though, to hear Aramaic used in the scripts of the series Spartacus on the Starz network. The series (now defunct, I understand) narrates the “lives and loves” of characters in an ancient gladiatorial training academy, and makes liberal use of cable TV’s license to display nudity and use profanity. Interestingly, beginning in the second season, a number of foreign gladiators enter the “ludus”: Ashur and Dagan, “a hulking Syrian.” The Romans speak English — the producers apparently unwilling to emulate Gibson and put Latin in their mouths — but not these new guys. They speak potty-mouthed Aramaic.

A couple of fun things about curious word choices when a translator comes up against a phrase they cannot translate very well… such as profanity. However, there is plenty of good Aramaic profanity floating around — given most of it doesn’t translate well into English without some explanation.

Ed also goes to show that not all Aramaic is equal, due to some vocabulary choices.

Anyways, click through to read the rest. 🙂