Pronunciation of Aramaic Words
Periodically, there is a comment left on
about the pronunciation of the words in the
Aramaic Lord's Prayer.
The below comments from Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz speak to this.
As I have described in many workshops and talks, the various branches of the Aramaic Christians absolutely do not agree on their pronunciation of their own language. This has to do with historical differences and divisions over political alliances more than with any theological differences. For instance, a half million Aramaic Christians died in the same tragedy or genocide (depending on one's view) that took place a hundred years ago, which also claimed the lives of a million or so Armenians. The long history of Aramaic Christianity in all its forms is well presented in the video
"The Last Assyrians,"
produced in France, which I show at some workshops and which you can find on the internet. The historical differences are so deeply ingrained that in many, if not most cases, I have found that Aramaic Christians of one "clan" will not recognize the Aramaic pronunciation of any other "clan."
While no one can say exactly how Yeshua pronounced his first century CE Palestinian Aramaic, the pronunciation I use is the result of extensive research and combines those of the major contemporary Aramaic Christian churches along with a touch of late ancient Hebrew, which likely still had some influence at Jesus' time.
Every year, I receive newspaper clippings from friends or readers of my books describing the small villages in Syria where "people still speak the language of Jesus." While these stories are true, and help bring a very small awareness to the continued existence of Aramaic Christians, the reports also have the overall effect of sentimentalizing and trivializing the larger contemporary issues facing Aramaic Christians in the Middle East and around the world.
As the video
"The Last Assyrians"
well describes, Aramaic Christians are, today, fighting for their survival in the north of Iraq, in the area around Mosul (near the site of ancient Ninevah). There Aramaic is still taught in schools, Aramaic Christians have their own living cultural and political institutions, and they are under armed threat from both Kurdish and Muslim Sunni groups. The entire situation has been subject to a news blackout by Western media. You can, however, read about what is going on at the website of the
Assyrian International News Agency.
It is really here, in what most Aramaic-speakers consider the heartland of old Assyria, that the media needs to direct its attention.
Yours in peace,
Neil Douglas-Klotz (Saadi)
Copyright © 2009 by Neil Douglas-Klotz. All rights reserved.
Neil Douglas-Klotz, Ph.D. is an international author in religious studies and somatic psychology. He is a senior teacher in a Western branch of Sufism and founder of the International Network of the Dances of Universal Peace. For over ten years, he taught on the faculty of Matthew Fox's Institute for Culture and Creation Centered Spirituality. Currently residing in Edinburgh, Scotland, he co-directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning. He has authored
Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus
The Hidden Gospel
The Genesis Meditations: A Shared Practice of Peace for Christians, Jews, and Muslims
The Sufi Book of Life: Meditations for the Modern Dervish
He collaborated with Rev. Elizabeth A. Reed, Ph.D. in the development of the online course
A Healing Journey with the Aramaic Lord's Prayer: Reclaiming the Mysticism of Jesus through His Native Language
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