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The English translation of Matthew 14:27 https://biblehub.com/aramaic-plain-english/matthew/14.htm says "I am the Living God". Is this a valid translation and is the Aramaic Bible correct to use this statement in comparison to the original Greek manuscripts?

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  • Matthew 14:27 : ευθεως δε ελαλησεν αυτοις ο ιησους λεγων θαρσειτε εγω ειμι μη φοβεισθε [TR] But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. [KJV]. There is no justification for the Aramaic translation quoted above. εγω ειμι means 'I am' or 'It is I' and no more.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 14, 2020 at 8:26
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    The Syriac Peshitta, like the Greek texts, doesn't have, "Living God."
    – Perry Webb
    Oct 14, 2020 at 8:52
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    There is an asterisk following that statement; unfortunately, the accompanying footnote is not present within the linked text. Furthermore, other translations of the same Aramaic text do not render it as such.
    – Lucian
    Oct 14, 2020 at 15:46

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In Matt 14:27 the Greek reads:

εὐθὺς δὲ ἐλάλησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς αὐτοῖς λέγων Θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ εἰμι· μὴ φοβεῖσθε.

Here is my literal translation of this verse:

But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Take courage! I am. Fear not."

There is no mention of "Living God" nor any hint of it here Grammatically. However, the stand-alone "I am" statement uttered by Jesus is significant and could be construed as Jesus' claim to be the "I Am" of the OT (Ex 3:14-17). See my comments here: >> What is so special about "ego eimi"?

If true, the the Aramaic is an interpretive translation.

We should also note that there is more than one Aramaic text. For example, the George M Lamsa translation of the "Eastern text" has a different result:

Matt 14:27 - But Jesus spoke to them at once and said, Have courage; it is I; do not be afraid.

This is almost identical to the Greek text but different from the Peshitta text on Bible Hub.

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  • Or . . . . 'Take courage. It is I. Fear not.' It is a matter of idiom, both Greek and English.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 14, 2020 at 18:16
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It is accurate translation for I am is God name and God said to Moses do not be afraid so Jesus speaking same words the father spoke to Moses 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I am what I am.” וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם and the strange the answers in the comments forgotten that John himself was translating when he spoke in Greek language and the accurate bis what Jesus said in the Aramaic meaning back to original.

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    Mar 28, 2022 at 1:03
  • How does this answer the question? You have not mentioned the words, "living God" as asked in the question?
    – Dottard
    Mar 28, 2022 at 10:13
  • How many times "I am"has been said by others in the NT and OT, do you know that? The question is about aramaic translation anyway.
    – Michael16
    Mar 28, 2022 at 14:36
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Jesus could be asked to render a better interpretation of what He said but the context of this text has been sidestepped. Why? Logical and rational reasoning into this text is rendering it variant and merely dogmatic. Jesus, whether in this text or not, says I am the First and the Last. Who has claimed this? God. Jesus said, I am. Who has said this before? God. Jesus said if you have seen me, you have seen the son. Who has said this in the reverse before? God. Our misunderstanding of this text is rather because of Choice. We choose to believe or not to believe. 'To be or not to be', says Shakespeare.

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    – agarza
    Oct 16, 2023 at 13:20
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Your question is concerning the validity of the Syriac text in comparison to the Greek NT.

The Greek reads:

“ἐγώ εἰμι” (Μαθθαῖον 14·27 THGNT-T)

These words are notoriously difficult to translate. Some see these words as a direct reference to the Tetragrammaton (God's divine name in the OT), especially as it's used in the Gospel according to John. Others see this as an emphatic way of Jesus speaking about himself without a direct connection to the Tetragrammaton. How did the those who translated the words from the Greek to the Syriac render the words?

  • ”ܐܶܢܳܐ ܐ݈ܢܳܐ ܠܳܐ ܬ݁ܶܕ݂ܚܠܽܘܢ“ (Matthew 14:27 PESHNT-T)
  • "ܐܢܐ ܐܢܐ ܠܐ ܬܕܚܠܘܢ." (Matthew 14:27 SYRIAC-C)
  • ”ܐܢܐ ܐܢܐ ܠܐ ܬܕܚܠܘܢ“ (Matthew 14:27 SYRIAC-S)

All three versions of the most reliable early Syriac witnesses (Peshitta, Curetonian, & Sinaitic) translate "ἐγώ εἰμι" in a very Semitic "I, I!". So, here, in this instance at least, the Syriac tradition does not try at all to connect the greek to the Hebrew Tetragrammaton.

Validity

The question of validity moves us away from text criticism and exegesis into translation theory. The Syriac is a "middle of the road" translation. Sometimes it goes more formal (bringing the Greek words into the Syriac). Sometimes it is more functional (bringing the Greek thoughts into Syriac words.). Here one can make the argument that it's being more functional. Instead of saying, "I am the one who is here", it just says, "I, I!" The only thing, from a Semitic standpoint we'd be missing is the "hineh!" at the front of it.

How do we then get the Syriac into English? My English translation of the Syriac reads: “Have courage: it is I; be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:27 PESHNT-E). That sticks closer to the Greek than to the Syriac (as to the words). But, functionally, (keeping the ideas), it keeps the thoughts intact Greek --> Syriac --> English. The version you cite goes very, very functional, in a way that merges into the paraphrastic.

So, for my own part, the English translation of the Syriac that you cite goes way beyond what the text would be able to bear. It certainly is not valid in carrying over the words (formal translation theory). It also (arguably) goes beyond the thoughts too (functional translation theory). If I were you, I'd buy the Syriac NT Peshitta Diglot from Gorgias. If this example is a sampling of the rest of the version you cite, the version from Gorgias seems much more faithful to standard, accepted translation practices.

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