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I’ve always found Jesus’ rebuke of his disciples in the Mark 4 passage a bit harsh when considering that that same word also occurs in Revelation 21:8 —

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Really!? But then I looked into the Aramaic which I seldom do and found something interesting. Assuming Jesus spoke Aramaic, two different words are used in that dialect in the Mark 4 and Revelation 21 verses. Brown, Driver, Briggs, in the Aramaic portion of their lexicon does contain the Aramaic דחﬥ for fear (p. 1087) in the Mark passage but I'm stumped in finding the Aramaic for the word in Revelation 21:8. The Aramaic is קנוטתּנא (w/o the prep. ﬥ), but I haven’t been able to find the root for this Aramaic noun form. I’ve sliced and diced this word trying to find a root with no success. Any light shed into this would be helpful.

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  • I am not sure what you are asking - the original text of the NT is Greek - the Aramaic translation came about 300 years later. Further, several Aramaic translations are available - which to you want to examine? The Greek word is an adjective, not a noun. It occurs in Matt 8:26, Mark 4:40, Heb 12:28, Rev 21:8. Only four times.
    – Dottard
    Jun 25, 2023 at 21:45
  • I used the following I found online though probably not a very scholarly approach admittedly and my bad on the part of speech — archive.org/details/150276553AramaicBible1/page/n721/mode/…. I'm just trying to figure out why the greek would have been translated by two different Aramaic words. Exegetically, what was the underlying reason for choosing the Aramaic in the Revelation passage as opposed to the Evangelists' choice in his gospel.
    – ed huff
    Jun 25, 2023 at 22:09
  • I am not sure the Aramaic has anything to do with the answer. The word simply has a variety of meanings is per 1st century Koine Greek usage. It means "cowardly, timid, fearful". Most words have a spectrum of meaning, eg, the English word "sale", "compass", etc. Greek is no different.
    – Dottard
    Jun 25, 2023 at 22:13
  • Got it. Thanks! Something to chew on.
    – ed huff
    Jun 25, 2023 at 22:17
  • ܩܢܘܛܬܢܐ, ܩܰܢܽܘܛܬ݂ܴܢܳܐ Adjective. Gloss: fearful. Morphology: Pael. Root: ܩܢܛ. Inflected form marked as Lexeme: ܩܰܢܽܘܛܬ݂ܴܢܳܐ. Index of Inflected Forms: ܩܢܘܛܬܢܐ. Kiraz, G. A. (2003). In Analytical lexicon of the Syriac New Testament: based on the SEDRA 3 Database of George Anton Kiraz. Logos Bible Software.
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 25, 2023 at 23:49

1 Answer 1

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The Aramaic root is "ܕܚܠ " for timid, fearful. Aramiac ID 2:4202 - Source: Peshitta from the Peshitta New Testament, The Aramaic Scriptures here

Jesus linked "fearful" with "no faith" in Mark 4:40-41.

"40 and he said to them, `Why are ye so fearful? how have ye not faith?'" (YLT)

Rev. 21:8 is translated as

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable,..." (ESV)

"But cowards, those ·who refuse to believe [without faith], ..." (EXB)

"But cowardly, unfaithful, and detestable..." (GW)

"But people who are cowardly, unfaithful, detestable..." (ISV)

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable..." (KJV)

"But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, ..." (NASB)

"But as for the cowards, unbelievers, detestable..." (NET)

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless..." (RSV)

Jesus equated the fearful with unbelievers, those without faith. Unbelievers do not obey the commands of our Lord. Those without faith do not obey the commands of our Lord. Therefore those fearful do not obey the commands of our Lord because fear stops them from doing what they are supposed to do. This is the same message as the parable of the talents where the one who feared did not obey the command.

The sense in Mark 4 is that the disciples' fear drove them to be critical of Jesus as He slept through the storm. Look at their question again.

"...and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (KJV)

Instead, with faith believing Him to be the Master of all, they might better have asked "Master, will you take care of this little problem for us and stop this storm?"

Is it any wonder that the fearful are the first on the list to be condemned to the second death?

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  • Thanks for making that distinction. My thinking, however flawed, was that a different Aramaic word was used in the Revelation passage in order to distance the disciples from such a severe condemnation.
    – ed huff
    Jun 26, 2023 at 13:01
  • @edhuff - I could not find the Aramaic Lexicon that includes Revelation, but the English translation of the Aramaic text by George M Lamsa translates Rev. 21:8 as "fearful". So, I think it is the same Aramaic word in both places.
    – Gina
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:54
  • @edhuff - Actually, the link provided to the Peshitta text will also allow you to look up the verses in Rev. It is translated as "fearful" in Rev. 21:8.
    – Gina
    Jun 26, 2023 at 16:00
  • Thank you Gina. I'll check out that translation.
    – ed huff
    Jun 26, 2023 at 18:40

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