Thomas said, "O Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου" (koine Greek), "My Lord and my God" (English). What would he have said in Aramaic (Hebrew?) in John 20:28? Would it relate to Adonai and Yahweh?
How do you say "My Lord and my God" in Aramaic or Hebrew?
In Aramaic it is Mar Walah ("My Lord and my God").
I have a few CDs in learning Aramaic, but occasionally I go to YouTube to help me out.
Aramaic will never completely disappear. In fact the Maronite Catholic Rite to this very day say mass in Aramaic! My wife and myself have attended this Rite in Portland, Oregon (St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church). Heaven on earth is how I see this experience. The words of consecration in the language Jesus spoke at the last supper is very moving.
Fr. Joseph J. Palackal teaches children a simple chant My Lord and My God in a dialect of Aramaic!
A simple melody in a call-response style of singing that Sunday School children can use to celebrate the words of their Father in faith, St. Thomas the Apostle. The teaching of Syriac to the younger generation can start with this simple but profound phrase which is a succinct proclamation of the divinity and humanity of Jesus. - Aramaic Project-158. Mar Walah ("My Lord and my God"), melody for Sunday School children
Aramaic is slowly making inroads.
The Syriac heritage of the Syro Malabar Church is an essential component of the cultural fabric of India. The St. Thomas Christians had the privilege of receiving the faith directly from the Aramaic-speaking Thomas. Probably, the early converts learned the original version of the Lord’s Prayer, which, in effect, is the entire Gospel in a nutshell, in the Galilean Aramaic from the Apostle. The exuberant outburst of the Apostle --- Mār walāh (“My Lord and my God”)--- would have been enough for a functioning Creed. All these happened before the Christian Aramaic (i.e., Syriac) bifurcated into two different traditions --- East Syriac (Chaldean) and West Syriac (Antiochene)--- by about the sixth century A.D. Due to particular historical trajectories, the St. Thomas Christians continued the East Syriac tradition until the early eighteenth century. Two of the eight independent churches among the St. St. Thomas Christians , the Syro Malabar Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, continued the liturgy in East Syriac until the middle of the twentieth century. As a result of the vernacularization of the liturgy, the sound the East Syriac language is gradually fading from the memories of the Syro Malabar Catholics. Ironically, the Syriac language continues to be a marker of identity in the name of the “Syro” (i. e., Syriac) Malabar Church. Due to the sheer negligence of the so-called Syro Malabar Catholics, the intangible cultural heritage of the world is being lost to humanity under our watch.
It is in this context that Fr. Joseph Palackal, CMI, stepped forward with the idea of the Aramaic Project, an internet-based library and archive, to preserve and propagate the sound, melodies, and memories of the Syriac language. Three years after the launch of the website, the CNN research team working on the Hollywood-style production of “Doubting Thomas” (the final episode of Finding Jesus: Faith, Facts, and Forgery) discovered Fr. Joseph Palackal and invited him to make a guest appearance in the program. He was the only resource person from Kerala to appear on the show. Last year, the American Library of Congress took note of the mission of Fr. Joseph Palackal and invited him to deliver the Benjamin Botkin Lecture 2018. The Library also documented an interview with Fr. Joseph Palackal.
In the recent past, Fr. Joseph Palackal has initiated an international discourse on the Syriac heritage of the Syro Malabar Church and the Christian dimension of India through his scholarly presentations at such esteemed academic institutions as Oxford, London (SOAS), Harvard, and Columbia Universities. He also presented several papers on related topics at the annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology in the USA. The critically acclaimed book, “Music and World Christianities” (Oxford University Press, 2016), includes a chapter on the music of the Syro Malabar Church that Fr. Palackal wrote. - Reclaiming Syriac Chants to Reaffirm Identity: An American Story
The following my interest some:
- Seeking sources for learning Aramaic
- Which modern day dialect of Aramaic is the closest one to the dialect that Jesus of Nazareth spoke in Palestine some 2000 years ago?
- Shlom Lech Maryam (Hail Mary) in Aramaic with Arabic, and English script YouTube
- Our Father Sung in Aramaic - the Language spoken by Jesus Christ
- Abwoon D'Bashmaya - The Lords Prayer in Aramaic
The Aramaic Targumim were not translated from the Greek NT. They were only translated from the Hebrew OT into Aramaic. So we only have two options to work with:
- Trying to reconstruct the Aramaic from the NT Greek (“Ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου.” (Ἰωάννην 20·28 THGNT-T)) This isn't too helpful to get us back to the source.
- The closest we can possibly (?) get is the Syriac Peshitta: ”ܘܰܥܢܳܐ ܬ݁ܳܐܘܡܰܐ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܠܶܗ ܡܳܪܝ ܘܰܐܠܳܗܝ“ (John 20:28 PESHNT-T) "Thomas answered and said to him, 'My Lord and my God.' "
We really don't know exactly what Thomas would have said. But, to answer your questions about "Yahweh", the Peshitta has the consistent pattern of translating the Tetragrammaton as "ܡܳܪܝܳܐ" ("Lord", like ⲕⲩⲣⲓⲟⲥ in Greek). In the OT, the Targumim were very inconsistent. Sometimes they would translate the Tetragrammaton as "מָר" (Lord). Sometimes they would contract the four letters down to the two letter form we are used to seeing in the Poetic sections of the Hebrew OT ("yah"). Sometimes they did something else entirely in the Aramaic.
For all of the reasons listed above, it's difficult (most likely impossible) to reconstruct what Thomas said in the Aramaic.
The simple answer is we don't know, as it appears that John was written originally in ancient Greek.
In Hebrew or Aramaic you have a few options, and those would actually clear up some of the ambiguity in Greek. If Hebrew, the 'Lord' could be Adonai (= LORD in OT, referring to God Almighty) or Adoni (= Lord in OT, referring to a human or angel). Aramaic has equivalents. 'God' could be Yahweh (= God) or Elohim (= God or a human).
As Jeff Deuble says in Christ Before Creeds (p. 157)
Even though John penned these words in Greek when he wrote the Gospel, we need to remember that it is highly unlikely they were spoken in Greek by Thomas. He would have been far more likely to express them in his native tongue (by virtue of typical human nature, and by what is implied in the text itself, where it mentions the use of common native speech. See John 19:13, 17, 20; 20:16).
If Thomas spoke these words in Hebrew, he could have said either "My LORD and my God" (Adonai and Yahweh), saying Jesus was Almighty God, or he could have said, "My Messiah and Majesty" (Adoni and Elohim) declaring Jesus to be the (human) Messiah and king of the Jews. If Thomas spoke in Aramaic, both options are still possibilities - marya, "Lord God" or mari, "my human Lord."
Which of these two options is the more likely? The context is key in answering that question. Just prior to Thomas' statement, we have Jesus' words to Mary after she recognized him in the garden:
"Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)
Jesus refers to God as his Father and ours, and fully identifies with us in the nature of our relationship to him. Then, immediately after Thomas' interaction with Jesus, John goes on the state his purpose for his Gospel, including his own understanding of Jesus' nature:
"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
Given the immediate context of John's account and the wider context and convention of the designation "God" in the New Testament, it seems highly improbable that Thomas is conferring deity upon Jesus. It is far more likely that Thomas was affirming and declaring Jesus as the "Messiah, the Son of God," the appointed king and victorious Lord in God's kingdom - as now conclusively demonstrated by his resurrection."
I don't agree with everything Deuble says here, but it gives a decent lay of the land. The Greek is ambiguous between alternatives in Hebrew or Aramaic, knowing this would clarify to some degree what Thomas meant, and the immediate context suggests the takeaway isn't that Thomas was claiming Jesus was God, which supports 'Adoni' for 'Lord' if spoken in Hebrew.