Friday, March 18, 2005

The last words of Jesus

Right before he died, Jesus, after having been on the cross for about nine hours, is reported to have cried out with a loud voice, saying (in Aramaic), "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani!" (Matthew 27:46)

The translation of Jesus' final words in the Gospel of Matthew is... "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

The Gospel of Matthew's account is similar to the one found in the Gospel of Mark 15:34... "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

The translation of the final words in Mark is... "My God, my God, for what have you forsaken me?"

The slight difference between the accounts of Matthew and Mark are probably due to dialect. Matthew's version seems to have been more influenced byHebrew, while Mark's is perhaps more colloquial.

The Aramaic phrase is Êlî Êlî (or Elohî Elohî) lmâ švaqtanî.

A limited number of scholars have asserted this alternate translation of Matthew 27:46:

Matthew 27:46 (Lamsa translation)- ηλι ηλι λαμανα σαβαχθανι (/eli eli lamana sabachthani/, later Aramaic "E-lee e-lee l-maa-naa saa-baach-taa-nee?")

Researchers from this vein attribute the current wording of this verse to errors in the original transcription and claim that "Eli, Eli, lemana shabakthani" ("My God, my God, for this [purpose] I was spared!" or "...for such a purpose have you kept me!") is more correct. The leading purporters of this theory have been Rocco A. Errico and George M. Lamsa.

The accounts in the Gospel of Luke and Gospel of John are substantially different than Matthew and Mark.

Luke 23:46 reads... "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John 19:30 reads... "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

It is interesting to see the diversity here. But what I found more interesting is the similarity between the Matthew/Mark accounts and Psalm 22:1 in the Hebrew Scriptures... "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?"

It is generally accepted that in Matthew 27:46 Jesus was quoting Psalm 22:1.

No comments: