Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Enlightenment in 2008

The steady theme of the inspirational and brilliant orator Jesus of Nazareth was the Reign of God. In God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky I avoid using the term “Kingdom” because of that word’s misleading connotation. Now I find affirmation of my interpretation in The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz.

Studying an Aramaic translation of the gospels called the Peshitta, Klotz uncovers meaning that the Aramaic speaker Jesus would have conveyed to his Aramaic listeners. The earliest manuscript of the Peshitta is from the fourth century and its language reveals aspects of Jesus’ message hidden from Western minds by Western translations.

Usually translated “Kingdom” in English, the Aramaic word malkuta, the Hebrew mamlaka, and the Greek basileia all are feminine-gendered nouns. “Queendom” would be a more accurate translation, “quite apart from any considerations of political correctness,” writes Klotz. “As we now know from archeological records, queens historically preceded kings in the Middle East, as in many other parts of the world.”

By delving into the root meanings of the word, Klotz’s alternative translations of Jesus’ sayings often use the word “empowerment” along with “vision.” The most telling Jesus saying, I believe, appears in Luke 17:20 to 21 and the Gospel of Thomas 113:
"You cannot tell by careful watching when the reign of God will come. . . . The reign of God is already in your midst.”
Translating the Aramaic, Klotz writes,
“The reign of empowerment you look for does not come from watching outside, from waiting for it to happen . . . The `I Can' of Oneness that will free you comes from inside out."

In my own translation, I wish for readers in 2008 the vision-empowerment that Jesus of Nazareth promoted as the Reign of God, that is, I wish for you enlightenment.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Jeanette, for an informative blog. We missed out by not getting the Aramaic translations and you've help us understand how important such language differences make.

Your wishes for enlightenment are very much appreciated and I wish you all the best in 2008.
Kathleen