THE SEMITIC NEW TESTAMENT

THE PLOT TO REPLACE THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT

 

By Barbara Aho & Janet Moser

English-speaking Fundamental Christians have been led to believe that throughout the Church Age there have been two competing streams of Bible manuscripts: the Byzantine, which underlies the Textus Receptus and thus the King James Version, and the Alexandrian which originated from Egypt and forms the basis for most modern versions. However, there are not two but three families of manuscripts vying for recognition as being derived from the original text. Having contended earnestly for their respective Greek and Alexandrian Texts, in true dialectical fashion, Christians will soon be offered the synthesis -- a Semitic New Testament based on Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts.

Modern versions have already broadened the way for multitudes to accept counterfeit scriptures. Fundamentalists have been the last stronghold of orthodoxy, determined to resist the apostasy and persistently holding to the KJV based on the Received Text. However, now there is evidence that Fundamentalists, like many Evangelicals and Charismatics, are coming under the baleful influence of the Hebrew Roots Movement. With this new development, there lurks the prospect that the Bible version debate may be resolved via compromise.  The Judaising movement, which has infiltrated culture and religion across the board, promotes an Aramaic/Hebrew New Testament over the Greek.

The Hebrew Roots Movement is based upon the false premise that the original Gospels were written in Hebrew, or possibly Aramaic, and that the Greek New Testament is a mere translation of Hebrew or Aramaic originals. The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, which has influenced the Messianic ministries on a broad scale, is a major source of this error. The theory of Hebrew originals of the Gospel accounts was propounded in a book published by the JSSR titled The Difficult Words of Jesus. Authors David Bivin and Roy Blizzard first cast doubt upon the original inspiration of the Greek gospels:

"Why are the words of Jesus that we find in the Synoptic Gospels so difficult to understand? The answer is that the original gospel that formed the basis for the Synoptic Gospels was first communicated, not in Greek, but in the Hebrew language. In spite of this, today's modern translations are all based upon a Greek text, derived from a still earlier Greek text, which is itself a translation of an original Hebrew Life of Jesus. This means that we are reading an English translation of a text which is in itself a translation. Since the Synoptic Gospels are derived from an original Hebrew text, we are constantly bumping into Hebrew expressions or idioms which are often meaningless in Greek, or in translations from the Greek. 1.
"Our reasons for writing this book are not only to show that the original gospel was communicated in the Hebrew language; but to show that the entire New Testament can only be understood from a Hebrew perspective." 2.
The JSSR is a non-Christian, Jesus-Seminar type of institution which has connections with and sponsors seminars for various Messianic and Hebrew Roots ministries such as Moriel Ministries and Messengers of Messiah. It is not surprising, therefore, that Peter Michas of Messengers of Messiah takes the position of the JSSR with respect to the lack of originality of the Greek gospels, as he expressed in the Preface of his book, The Rod of An Almond Tree in God's Master Plan:
"I realized that there were errors in the English translations of the Bible...Like most Christians, I had been taught that the New Testament was originally written in Greek.. I wondered if the gospels were originally written in Judea (or possibly in Antioch, the largest Christian community of the earliest Church), by Jews, about a Jew in Jewish culture, could it be that the Greek was, in fact, attempting to express the Hebrew language and Jewish culture? This required further investigation... I ended up going into a place called Chabbad House which was run by the Lubovich, the ultra-orthodox rabbis. This was the beginning of my education in the Hebraic roots of the Bible." 3.
The Chabbad Lubavich is a Jewish mystical movement founded on the Kabbalah, which also forms the doctrinal basis of a vast network of esoteric societies, including Freemasonry. The term "Chabad" is an acronym for two of the Sefirot, Chokmah and Binah, in conjunction (Da'at): "The name 'Chabad' is a Hebrew acronym for the expression 'Chokmah,' 'Binah" and 'Da'at'--Wisdom, Intelligence and Knowledge. These Kabbalistic terms are central to the distinctive intellectual theology of the movement . . ." 4.

The result of Peter Michas' education under the Kabbalist sages of the Chabad Lubavitch was his rejection of the Greek New Testament and reliance upon the first five books of the Old Testament (Torah) and Rabbinic commentaries to determine Christian doctrine:

Is The New Testament Hebrew/Aramaic or Greek?
"In summation, since existing New Testament manuscripts are Greek, written to express Hebraic concepts, why be limited to the Greek or English translations when we have Hebrew, now a living language not very different than it was 2000 years ago. The New Testament is in the pattern of the Jewish traditional work of Torah, Mishnah, Haggadah, Halakah, Talmud and Midrash, but inspired by God Himself for the common people. These Hebraic works as well as the Inspired Scriptures were quoted from by Jesus and all the writers of the New Testament. But even now, to have full comprehension, we must read the scriptures in the proper Hebraic context."

Semitic New Testament Projects

James Trimm of The Society of Nazarene Judaism is a member of the of the Messianic Friends Network to which Messengers of Messiah belongs. 5. Mr. Trimm is in the process of translating a Semitic New Testament based on Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts which he believes to be source documents. These mss. are Semitic versions of New Testament books which Mr. Trimm maintains has been translated from an original Semitic text. James Trimm's new web site for the Semitic New Testament Project is the Hebrew/Aramaic New Testament Research Institute.

"'This website deals with the Hebrew and/or Aramaic Origin of the New Testament.'

"The work on the Semitic New Testament Project continues. This week I would like to answer those of you who have sent e-mail asking about what Hebrew and Aramaic source documents for the New Testament have survived.

"Several Semitic versions of New Testament books have come down to us which may have some claim to being descendants of the original Semitic text. These include the Shem Tob and Du Tillet Hebrew versions of Matthew; the Old Syriac Aramaic version of the four Gospels; The Peshitta Aramaic New Testament and the Crawford Aramaic version of Revelation..."

The Messianic Friends Network interconnects a large number of Messianic, Hebrew Roots and Nazarene organizations, such as Messengers of Messiah, which we assume have some measure of agreement on doctrinal issues. We may therefore expect that, upon completion of Mr. Trimm's Semitic New Testament, there will be considerable interest on the part of these ministries, which will promote the new bible as a preferable alternative to the Greek-based New Testament traditionally used by Christians.

A number of Aramaic Bible organizations also link to James Trimm's Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism. One of these is the Ancient Aramaic New Testament website of Victor Alexander, who is also engaged in a project to translate the Aramaic New Testament into English. Mr. Alexander defends the Aramaic New Testament as the original scriptures:

"...the Catholic Latin version was a translation of the Greek, which is itself, by definition, a translation of the words of Jesus Christ spoken in ancient Aramaic. In contrast the Church of the East at least had the original ancient Aramaic Scriptures, hand copied without any changes from the original tongue.

"Judging by the thousands of idioms that only make complete sense in the Aramaic, there is no doubt as to the origin of the ancient Aramaic New Testament. The Church of the East ancient Aramaic New Testament is the original Gospel of Jesus Christ. All others are translations."

One rationale behind the Aramaic New Testament project is also a theme expressed by the Hebrew Roots ministries: i.e., the presumed anti-Semitism of the Gentile Church, in whose care has historically been entrusted the translation of the Scriptures:
"The project's relationship to larger themes or issues in the humanities is the renewed historical perspective this translation offers, an airing of the prejudicial considerations of the so-called 'Gentile' converts and the resulting jealousy and prejudice directed at the original Jewish Christians and their customs. Subsequently much of the alienation of the Jews in Europe owes to the continued emphasis on and the tangential interpretation of the Scriptures as God's gift to the "Gentiles," a totally erroneous concept if there ever was one. One need not go into all the ramifications of the constant repression against the Jews throughout history, based on strictly non-Scriptural misinterpretations of the European establishment, in order to see the humanitarian need for a non-prejudicial and therefore, by definition, authentic translation of the holy Scriptures."
Mr. Alexander intends to make a social statement through his Aramaic New Testament, which will mitigate the injustice suffered by Jewish people due to the alleged prejudices inherent in the Greek New Testament. Apparently he plans to document within his translation the "clear and systematic mistranslating" which has prejudiced Christians against Jews "from the very beginning."
"There is clear and systematic mistranslating that can be footnoted or presented in the final compilation of translator notes that will demonstrate the deliberate attempt committed by translators, that ended up destroying a significant bond that would have existed between the Jews and Christians from the very beginning, even if there was no meeting of the minds on theological matters to the very end."
Is it true that Christian Bibles have mistranslated the Scriptures so as to misrepresent the Jews? Peter Michas protests that the Christian Bible translations have erred by stating that the Jews demanded the death of Jesus Christ, when the real culprits were the Edomites. He quotes Malcolm Lowe's Understanding John's Gospel:

"At this point it is essential to clarify the meaning of the Greek words, hoi Ioudiaoi, translated 'the Jews.' According to Malcolm Lowe, a Christian writer, editor and lecturer residing in Jerusalem:

"'Sometimes hoi Ioudaioi means the Judean population in general, sometimes specifically their leaders...

"'Moreover, John's Gospel says that the people of Judea stopped opposing Jesus. After he raised Lazarus from the dead, most of the people changed to admiring him. When John 19 is read carefully, one finds that the people had no role in the death of Jesus. Even those who call for the freeing of Barabbas are not a crowd of people, but just the chief priests and their officers...'" 6.

These statements are hard to defend, for John 19, in conjunction with the record of Jesus' trial in Matthew 27, characterize the chief priests and the multitude as those whose Law included the uniquely Jewish Passover and prohibition of blasphemy:

John 19:7  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God...

19:12  And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out saying, If houlet this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

19:14  And it was preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

19:15  But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

Matt. 27:20  But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

27:21  And the governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said Barabbas.

27:22  Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

27:23  And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

27:24  When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multi-tude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

27:25  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Peter Michas pushes the envelope even further by proposing that the priesthood of Israel was composed of Edomites, rather than Jews:

"But who was the real power in the leadership at the time of Yeshua?

"The Herodian dynasty was founded by Herod the Great, whose father was an Edomite (Idumean) and whose mother was a Nabatean Arab. Recall that the Hasomonean dynasty which annexed Idumea compelled the Edomites to adopt Judaism. For this reason, Herod considered himself to be a Jew. However, the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of the people, and the Jewish people never accepted Herod and his descendants as legitimate rulers. In fact, Herod required assistance from Rome to become installed as King of the Jews.

"No only were the Edomites the actual political power at that time, but the religious leadership was totally under their control... The Herodian Edomites totally controlled the office [of High Priest] and filled it with illegitimate priests based solely on political considerations...

"At Passover, the people could choose to release one man condemned to die. Pilate offered Yeshua as that man but the corrupt religious leaders and their associates chose Barabbas. The people were not present and so no represented. Scripture clearly indicates that the Jewish people as a whole accepted Yeshua as a prophet from God, and that it was the chief priests (the religious leadership and the rulers (the Edomite leadership) who were responsible for condemning and crucifying Him..." 7.

No evidence is found in Scripture to warrant the statement that the high priest, Caiphas, was an Edomite or that the Levitical priesthood had been supplanted by descendants of Esau. Are the Christian translations of the Greek "anti-Semitic" or do they state the facts accurately so as to bring the Jews to repentance? While it is certain that the Jews were responsible for rejecting and crucifying their Messiah, every Christian well understands that the ultimate cause of Christ's death was the sinful condition of lost men, Jews and Gentiles alike. It is likely there were Jews in the multitude who later repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Having been born again as new creatures in Christ, they would thereby escape the wrath to come. Those who did not would suffer judgment: "His blood be on us, and on our children."

Yet even now, the 2000 JERUSALEM: COMING OF AGE IN THE MILLENNIUM event has composed an agenda which requires that the Christian Church absolve the Jews of all responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ:

"This continuing anti-semitism of the Christian Church incorrectly blaming the Jews for Jesus' death when it was by Rome himself that he was crucified leads directly to the mentality of the holocaust triggering the founding of the Jewish state and the unresolved tension in the Middle East today. A full apology is required for all the centuries, not too little too late." (The Rebirth of the Church and the Transfoliation of Life)
We know from prophecy that God has not cast off the Jews forever, and will yet fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant with the remnant of Israel. However, this will occur at the revelation of Jesus Christ to Israel, when the Jews will also repent:
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)
Until this glorious revelation of Jesus Christ to the remnant of Israel, the proper attitude of the Christian Church toward the Jews during the present dispensation is clearly stated in Scripture, as expounded in William R. Newell's commentary on Romans 11:

"In Acts 28, Paul officially shuts the door to national Israel. 'Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers,'-- quoting this Isaiah Six and declaring: "Be it known therefore unto you, that this salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles: they also will hear."

"Since this awful use of Isaiah 6, the gospel has no Jewish bounds or bonds whatever! And it is presumption and danger, now, to give the Jews any other place than that of common sinners! 'No distinction between Jew and Greek,' says God. Those that preach thus, have God's blessing. Those that would give any special place whatever to Jews, since that day, do so contrary to the gospel; and we fear, for private advantage. Tell Jews the truth! Their Messiah was offered to their nation, and rejected. And God is not offering a Messiah to Israel now, but has Himself rejected them: all except a 'remnant,' who leave Jewish earthly hopes, break down into sinners only, and receive a sinner's Savior, not a 'Jewish' one! Then they become 'partakers of a heavenly calling.'

"We dare not believe in any of the modern reports of national Jewish 'turning to the Lord.' They will go into yet greater darkness (after the Rapture of the Church). There will be the former evil spirit of idolatry "taking with itself seven other spirits more wicked than itself," entering in and dwelling this present evil generation of Israel (Matt. 12.45). Do not be deceived. At our Lord's coming, and not until that beleaguered nation sees 'the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven' (Matt. 24.30),--which will be that 'looking upon Him whom they pierced' of Zechariah 12, will they have faith.

"...their fall was made the occasion of salvation to the Gentiles; and this again is to provoke them to jealousy'---that they may be saved. God's manifest blessing to Gentiles causes the careless, self-satisfied Jew to awake,--first to ridicule Gentile testimony; then,--seeing the reality of Divine visitation to the despised Gentile, to arouse to a deep jealousy.

"How amazingly different Paul's method of 'provoking the Jews to jealousy,' from that pursued by many Jewish mission workers today. The Jew must have a 'special' place as a Jew. In some quarters they are even organizing 'Jewish assemblies,' and in other quarters advocating 'the literary method of approaching Israel.' All this, we cannot but feel, is abominable kow-towing to Jewish flesh, and hinders their salvation. Jews now are common sinners, who have for the present been set aside nationally, and must come to rely, as individual sinners, hopelessly guilty and helpless, upon the shed blood of Christ, an upon Him risen from the dead. It is an awful thing to make present day 'Jewish' claims when God says Jews are, for the present, no different from Gentiles, before God: but are just--sinners!" 8.

The Christians of the early church were not anti-Semites; however, like Paul, they carefully guarded the New Covenant in Christ's blood.  Those Jews who intruded upon the newly planted churches in order to deprive believers of their liberty in Christ were justly rebuffed. Today, the Church finds itself in precisely the same predicament with a movement of unconverted or partially-converted Jews, having infiltrated it with the intent to redefine and thereby destroy the Christian faith. Those Christians who reject the Judaising movement do not hate the Jews, but rather they refuse to surrender the precious faith of Jesus Christ for a religious system which only prefigured Christ. Converted Jews must renounce their former religious traditions, as all sinners must come out of their respective religious systems. Every true convert will do so with joy upon conversion to the Saviour.
"And Jesus said unto them...No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." (Mt. 9:16,17)

The Syriac Peshitta

One of the presumed source documents for use in Semitic New Testaments, the Syriac Peshitta, is of particular interest for our report. James Trimm notes the original composition of this "source document" and its derivation from the Old Syriac, rather than the Greek text:

"The Peshitta New Testament is the Aramaic version of the New Testament which has been preserved by the Church of the East... It includes all of the books except 2Peter; 2John; 3John; Jude and Revelation. These books were not canonized by the Church of the East until 508 C. E. The Peshitta is not merely a translation from the Greek text, but rather a revision of the Old Syriac, as Arthur Voobus writes: "... the Peshitta is not a translation, but a revision of an Old Syriac version." (Studies in the History of the Gospel Text in Syriac; 1951; p. 46 see also pp. 54-55)." 11.
The Hypertext Webster's Dictionary defines the Syriac language as "more correctly rendered 'Aramaic,' including the Syriac and the Chaldee languages." Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary describes the Syriac Peshitta as a departure from the Greek New Testament in that Apocryphal books were included and books of the later canon were omitted:
"A Syriac version of the Old Testament, containing all the canonical books, along with some apocryphal books (called the Peshitto, i.e., simple translation, and not a paraphrase), was made early in the second century, and is therefore the first Christian translation of the Old Testament. It was made directly from the original, and not from the LXX Version. The New Testament was also translated from Greek into Syriac about the same time. It is noticeable that this version does not contain the Second and Third Epistles of John, 2 Peter, Jude and the Apocalypse. These were, however, translated subsequently and placed in the version."
The Biblical Literature website also indicates the growing importance placed on the Peshitta by the fact that a critical edition is now underway:
"There are many manuscripts of the Peshitta, of which the oldest bears the date 442. Only four complete codices are extant from between the 5th and 12th centuries. No critical edition yet exists, but one is being prepared by the Peshitta Commission of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament."

Strange Bedfellows

Although the Semitic and Aramaic New Testament Projects will draw upon other Semitic versions, the Syriac Peshitta has the distinction of being recognized by Fundamental Bible scholars as a legitimate translation.  Inexplicably, there is a unanimity of opinion among these scholars that the Peshitta follows the Textus Receptus. This is based on the assertion of their arch-rival, Dr. Fenton John Anthony Hort!

David Otis Fuller: "It is generally admitted that the Bible was translated from the original languages into Syrian about 150 A.D. This version is known as the Peshitto (the correct or simple). This Bible even today generally follows the Received Text [quoting F.J.A. Hort, Introduction, p. 143]. 12.

Dean John Burgon: "It is well known that the Peshitto is mainly in agreement with the traditional text. What therefore proves one, virtually proves the order. If, as Dr. Hort admits, the traditional text prevailed at Antioch from the middle of the fourth century, is it not more probable that it should have been made without a record of history, and that in a part of the world which has been always alien to change." 13.
D.A. Waite: "The Peshitta Syriac version, (150 A.D., the second century)... was based on the Received Text." 14.
Jack Moorman: "...the Peshitta...manuscripts (now numbering over 259) are in line with the Received Text. ...the Syrian version may have been written with direct access to the original autographs themselves (based on Ruckman)." 15.
Edward F. Hills: "The Peshitta Syriac version and the Gothic version also belong to the Traditional family of New Testament documents. And the New Testament quotations of Chrysostom and the other Fathers of Antioch in Asia Minor seem generally to agree with the Traditional Text."  16.
William P. Grady: "True to the meaning of its name (straight or rule), the Peshitta set the standard because of its early composition [A.D. 145] and strong agreement with the Greek Text underlying the King James Bible..." 17.
Peter Ruckman: "The orthodox view of Bible-believing scholars for 1700 years was that the Peshitta was written early in the second century. Since it agrees over and over again with the King James' readings..." 18.

Samuel Gipp: "The Universal [Received] Text is that which travels north from Jerusalem to Antioch, the 'gateway to Europe,' heading for England... From Antioch...the Universal Text...spread through Syria and Europe through its translation into the Syrian Peshitto version and the Old Latin Vulgate. There are still 350 copies of the Peshitto in existence today as a testimony to this widespread usage in the years since 150 A.D." 19.

Gail Riplinger: "...the Peshitta Syriac (now dated much earlier than the fifth century) agrees with the KJV." 20.

James H. Sightler: "There are essentially only two textual streams, and these have run parallel down the centuries. The received text was set down by 150 A.D. at Antioch in Syria as the Peshitta version... It was translated into Latin at a very early date, probably before 200 A.D. ... It was restored by the great Dutch scholar Erasmus in 1516..." 21.

Add to these superlative recommendations of the Syriac Peshitta the repudiation of the Greek New Testament by leading textual scholar, Gordon Fee, whose book, How To Read the Bible for All It's Worth, is required reading in some Christian colleges:
"Jesus' primary tongue was Aramaic; his teachings come to us only in a Greek translation...to some this reality can be threatening..." 22.
A 1995 article in Christianity Today also cites 'leading text-critical scholar' Gordon Fee as doubtful of the reference in I Timothy 3:16 that "God was manifest in the flesh."
"Given the nature of the debate of the deity of Jesus Christ that took place during the third and fourth centuries, would that the early manuscripts had read "God"! The debate about Christ's deity would have been resolved like a gavel to the bench. As [leading text-critical scholar Gordon D.] Fee suggests, 'The argument from silence in this case is an extremely telling one.'" 23.
"And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."  (II Tim. 3:16 KJV)
Gordon Fee's reference to the Greek New Testament as a translation points to an original in Aramaic. The early mss. which omit the word "God" in II Timothy 3:16 appear to be references to the Syriac Peshitta and the Old Syriac.  The Peshitta reads "He who" rather than "'God' was manifest in the flesh."

Having laid this foundation of trust in the Peshitta, and doubt upon the Greek New Testament, can it be only a matter of time before Fundamental Bible scholars are prevailed upon by the Hebraisers to admit the unthinkable -- that perhaps the Old Syriac, of which the Peshitta was a revision, was the ORIGINAL text upon which the Greek texts were based?

Considering the agreement among Fundamentalist scholars regarding the pedigree of the Peshitta and the incongruity of its acceptance by two groups of scholars which are fundamentally opposed to one another on essential doctrines such as the Trinity and divine inspiration of Scripture, we thought the Aramaic Text in question warranted an inspection. Our investigation commenced with the following questions in mind:

What religious groups currently use the Syriac Peshitta?
What is the origin and history of the Peshitta?
What religious groups have historically used the Peshitta?
Are there textual variations between the Syriac Peshitta and the Textus Receptus?
If there are significant variations, do they affect essential doctrine?

  The Church of Antioch

Last December, the Religious News Service reported on the growing number of Maronite and other Catholic denominations whose liturgies are written in Aramaic and whose New Testament is the Syriac Peshitta. Those who are familiar with the Hebrew Roots rationale for turning to the Semitic languages will recognize the arguments for a Semitic original, which I have emphasized in bold letters:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - To many, it may seem as dead as Latin, but Aramaic - the language Jesus spoke - is alive every weekend at St. Elias Maronite Church here and in communities across the nation from San Diego, Calif., to Yonkers, N.Y.
"It's as close as we can get to the words Jesus spoke," said the Rev. Richard Saad, pastor of St. Elias, a Lebanese Christian congregation. "It's a holy language, it's a liturgical language, it's the language Jesus spoke." And because Jesus taught and told his often-puzzling parables in Aramaic, the language also holds the key to interpreting passages that have long been misunderstood by Westerners, said Aramaic scholar Roco Erricco, author of "Treasures From the Language of Jesus."
"In biblical scholarship and translation, its becoming more important," said Erricco, president of the Noohra Foundation in Santa Fe, N.M. "It helps clarify passages that are obscure. Especially since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940's, the importance of Aramaic - a general term that includes a group of closely related Semitic dialects - has grown in offering clues to biblical scholars. When they run into difficulty, they turn to Aramaic," Erricco said.

3 key biblical languages

"The three languages that are crucial for biblical scholarship are Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic," he added. "When the New Testament went west, it was in Greek. When it went eastward, it was in Aramaic."
The current interest in Aramaic crosses denominational boundaries and puts Aramaic speakers and translators like Erricco in great demand. I can hardly keep up with it," he said, "People are really interested in it. What I'm doing is showing the Bible through the eyes of the Middle East, the Semitic languages of Aramaic and Hebrew, the ancient culture, psychology, idioms and symbolism of the ancient Near East."
At the same time, Aramaic is not just a "dead," scholarly language, like Latin. Many people from the Middle East who have migrated to other parts of the world have kept Aramaic as their primary language, Errico said. Indeed, there are communities of Aramaic speakers as large as 3,000 in San Diego, Calif., Chicago, and Yonkers, N.Y. Other Middle Eastern Christians who migrated to Australia and Russia also speak it, he said...

Aramaic spoken here

At the 3,000-member St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, Calif., "they still speak Aramaic in their community" and continue to use it in the liturgy, Erricco said. "The people preserved it and kept it. Today the Aramaic language is still alive. The liturgy is still alive in the services, In Iraq and Kurdistan, thousands still speak Aramaic."
At St. Elias, a church of Lebanese immigrants, "it's definitely part of our spiritual culture," Saad said. Throughout the Mass, prayers and Scripture are recited in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. When Saad holds up a communion wafer during the consecration of the Eucharist, he recites a Gospel account of the Last Supper in Syriac. In the church library, there is a Syriac manuscript of Holy Week services handwritten by monks and copies of the Peshitta, a Syriac translation of the Bible. Above the front door, the name of the Church is written in Syriac.
The liturgy dates back to a time before Muslims conquered most of the Middle East, beginning in the seventh century, when Arabic became the dominant language of the region. "It put Aramaic on the back shelf," Saad said. Aramaic is a Semitic language, closely related to both Hebrew and Arabic. It is written right to left and uses the same alphabet, syntax and grammar.

Gospels in Greek

The earliest existing copies of the Gospels were written in Greek but maintained 46 words of Aramaic, which some scholars feel point back to an Aramaic original before Greek, Erricco said... 24.
The Maronites were a Gnostic sect that was excommunicated in the 7th century [when the Muslims invaded the Middle East] for holding to the doctrine of Monotheletism, the heretical belief that Christ had one will (Divine) as opposed to orthodox doctrine which maintained that Christ has both Divine and human wills. The heresy of Monotheletism eventuated in a great schism in Christianity from about 640-681, at which time the Council of Constantinople [680-681] condemned Monotheletism.

[Previously, the Council of Chalcedon in 452 had condemned Monophysitism, an advanced type of Alexandrian theology, which ensued in the fatal defection of Syria and Egypt. Nearly the entire Eastern Church had apostacized from Roman orthodoxy with the signing of the Monophysite Henotican in 482 by the Eastern bishops.]

The Columbia Encyclopedia entry for "Maronites" identifies the headquarters of the Maronite community as Antioch:

"Maronites, a Christian community of Arabs in communion with the Pope. By emigration they have spread to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, South America and the United States and now number about 1 million. Their liturgy (said mainly in liturgical Syriac) is of the Antiochian type, with innovations taken from the Latin rite. Their ecclesiastical head, under the Pope, is called Patriarch of Antioch; he lives in Lebanon... The Maronites have been a distinct community since the 7th cent., when they separated in the doctrinal dispute over Monotheletism; they returned to communion with the Pope in the 12th cent. In the 19th cent., massacres of Maronites by the Druses brought French intervention; this gave France its modern hold in Lebanon and Syria. Besides the Maronites, there are two other groups in Syria in communion with the Pope - the Melkites and the Syrian Catholics." 25.
The newspaper article arrested our attention, as we recalled that Peter Michas' Preface to The Rod of an Almond Tree in God's Master Plan advanced the possibility that "the Gospels were originally written... in Antioch (the largest Christian community of the earliest Church)..."   Antioch, the capital of Syria, is also identified in Acts 11:26 as the city where the disciples were first called Christians.  In Which Bible? David Otis Fuller also quoted Dr. F.J.A. Hort on the importance of the church at Antioch and the translation of the Greek New Testament into the Syrian language (not vice versa):
"It was at Antioch, capital of Syria, that the believers were first called Christians. And as time rolled on, the Syrian-speaking Christians could be numbered by the thousands. It is generally admitted that the Bible was translated from the original languages into Syrian about 150 A.D. This version is known as the Peshitto (the correct or simple)." 26.
The Interpreter's Bible Dictionary confirms that the Peshitta was missing various New Testament books for a prolonged period of time.
"The canon of the Peshitta does not included II Peter, II and III John, Jude, and the Apocalypse, and so represents the ancient canon used in the Patriarchate of Antioch in the fourth century." 27.
The Britannica Online states that these books were not considered canonical by the Syrian Church:
"Of the vernacular versions of the Bible, the Old Testament Peshitta is second only to the Greek Septuagint in antiquity, dating from probably the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The earliest parts in Old Syriac are thought to have been translated from Hebrew or Aramaic texts by Jewish Christians at Edessa, although the Old Testament Peshitta was later revised according to Greek textual principles. The earliest extant versions of the New Testament Peshitta date to the 5th century AD and exclude The Second Letter of Peter, The Second Letter of John, the Third Letter of John, The Letter of Jude, and The Revelation to John, which were not canonical in the Syrian church." 28.
The Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics mentions use of the Peshitta at the School of Antioch:
"In their canon of Scripture [the Antiochian School] followed the tradition of the Antiochian and Syrian Churches (which is also represented in the Peshitta or Vulgate Syriac version), and did not included in the N.T. Canon the Apocalypse, II Peter, II and III John, or Jude. Theodore, on subjective grounds, also rejected the epistle of St. James." 29.
The Encyclopedia Britannica indicates that non-believers were predominantly involved in its translation, and notes the Jewish influences found in the Peshitta:
Syriac Versions
"The Bible of the Syriac Churches is known as the Peshitta ("simple" translation). Though neither the reason for the title nor the origins of the versions are known, the earliest translations most likely served the needs of the Jewish communities in the region of Adiabene (in Mesopotamia), which are known to have existed as early as the 1st century CE. This probably explains the archaic stratum unquestionably present in the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Psalms of the Peshitta, as well as the undoubtedly Jewish influences generally, though Jewish-Christians also may have been involved in the rendering."
The Encyclopedia Britannica also confirms that the Syriac Peshitta was the accepted bible of the Syrian Churches from the third century onward:
"(Syriac: "simple," or "common"), Syriac version of the Bible, the accepted Bible of Syrian Christian churches from the end of the 3rd century AD. The name Peshitta was first employed by Moses bar Kepha in the 9th century to suggest (as does the name of the Latin Vulgate) that the text was in common use. The name also may have been employed in contradistinction to the more complex Syro-Hexaplar version.
The apostle Paul indicated that corruption of the New Testament began during the apostolic period: "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God. Respected Bible scholars of the nineteenth century confirm this interpretation of II Cor, 2:17a. Dr. Frederick H.A. Scrivener served on the Committee for the English Revised Version and alone opposed the Westcott-Hort agenda to replace the Textus Receptus with a New Greek Text. Dean John Burgon vigorously defended the Textus Receptus and refuted the Westcott-Hort theory.  Their statements on early corruption are quoted by D.A. Waite and David Otis Fuller:
"Dr. Scrivener and Dean Burgon both agree, that during the first 100 years after the New Testament was written, the greatest corruptions took place to the Received Text by the early church." 30.
"Prebendary Scrivener, another great scholar, is quoted by Burgon as follows: 'It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected originated within one hundred years after it was composed -- that Irenaeus and the African fathers and the whole western with a portion of the Syriac church used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica or Erasmus or Stevens thirteen centuries later when molding the Textus Receptus.' 'Therefore, [Burgon] antiquity alone affords no security that the manuscript in our hands is not infected with the corruption which sprang up largely in the first and second centuries.'" 31.

Early Heresies in Antioch

Antioch seems to have been the source of much heresy of the early church period. The Secret Book of the Egyptian Gnostics informs us that the false doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which was addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation, originated from Antioch:

"Nicolas had been one of the first deacons ordained by the Apostles. He came originally from Antioch. It is against his doctrine that the Johanine Apocalypse (II:6 and 15,16) warns the churches of Ephesus and Pergamos." 32.
The Church at Antioch may also be recalled as the point of origin of the Judaising movement which is documented in Acts 15.

14:26  And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
14:27  And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
14:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
15:1   And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

15:2   When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to, Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question...

15:4   And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

15:5   But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

15:6  And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter...

Acts 15:19-21 records the decision of the Council of Jerusalem not to bring the Gentile churches under bondage to the law of Moses. Subsequently, the apostles sent to Antioch a company with letters which expressed the decision of the Council. Acts 15:31-33 records the joyful reaction of the Church of Antioch:

15:30   So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:

15:31   Which when they read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

15:32   And Judas and Silas, being prophets, also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

It is believed that Paul's second missionary journey was motivated by his desire to take a copy of this ruling to all the Christian communities which he founded. The decision at the Council of Jerusalem (A.D. 49) did not put an end to the controversy, however. Proponents of the view that one must keep Jewish customs to follow Christ attended Paul's journeys, stirring up opposition against him. This band, referred to the book of Galatians as the Judaisers, eventually become known as the Ebionites whose heresy continued to exist for another two centuries.

Ignatius, who was the bishop of Antioch subsequent to the Jerusalem Council, had to deal with the Judaising heresy in the late first century until his martyrdom in Rome c. 110 A.D. The Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Ignatius of Antioch states that "Ignatius apparently fought two groups of heretics: (1) Judaisers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament and clung to such Jewish practices as observing the Sabbath, and (2) the Docetists..."

Encyclopedia Britannica Online
"IGNATIUS THEOPHOROS (Greek: "God Bearer") (d. c. 110, Rome), bishop of Antioch, Syria, known mainly from seven highly regarded letters that he wrote during a trip to Rome, as a prisoner condemned to be executed for his beliefs. He was apparently eager to counteract the teachings of two groups--the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament, and the Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were apparent but not real. The letters have often been cited as a source of knowledge of the Christian church at the beginning of the 2nd century. Ignatius represented the Christian religion in transition from its Jewish origins to its assimilation in the Greco-Roman world."
[The trademark of Judaisers, who have come into prominence at various times in church history, is their devaluation or total rejection of the Greek New Testament. The Watch Unto Prayer series of reports on The Hebrew Roots Movement examines the premise, propositions and resources used by the current Judaizing movement to supplant the Greek New Testament.]

Continuing the profile of Ignatius of Antioch and the heresies he opposed:

"The Docetists believed that the spiritual Christ entered the human Jesus at His baptism, and left before the crucifixion. For Scriptural support, Docetists appealed to St. Paul's reference to a "spiritual" body in 1 Corinthians 15. 42-50. This view denied that the suffering of Jesus was attributed to a divine person, and thus the redemption would be finite. The incarnation also would be an illusion. In a letter prior to his pending martyrdom, Ignatius of Antioch wrote of their error:
"But if, as some atheists, that is unbelievers, claim, His suffering was only a make- believe, when really they themselves are make-believes: why am I in chains? Why do I even want to fight with the beasts? Then I die in vain. My testimony is only a lie about the Lord." 33.
Later Heresies in Antioch

"For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not received, or another, ye might well bear with him." - II Cor. 11:4

"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." - II Cor. 2:17

Following Ignatius' controversy with the Judaisers and subsequent martyrdom at Rome, Antioch would become notorious for heresy, succumbing successively to Docetism, Modalism, Arianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism. After 451, it became increasingly Monophysite. It fell to the Persians in 538 and to the Arab Moslems in 637. Only after a millennium, many bishops of Antioch and a third of the people submitted to Rome in 1724. These were known as the Melkites.

During the 4th century, as the Holy Roman Empire was forming, the church fathers, aware that the churches in the East had become the source of much false doctrine, called a series of ecumenical councils to address these issues. Pertinent to our discussion are certain men of Antioch who promoted doctrines that were declared heretical:

1. ARIUS (c. 250-336)

Arius was a famous presbyter at Alexandria, Egypt when he introduced his belief that the Son or Logos, was not of the same substance as the Father, but was created for the purpose of creating the world.  Arius was greatly influenced by Lucian of Antioch, who had laid great stress on the Judaic monotheistic origins of Christianity. 34.

The following entry on the Arian controversy in the Encyclopedia of Religion reveals the dynamic impact of this heresy on Eastern Christendom:

"Three distinct streams of influence merged in the sea of doctrinal upheaval of Christianity in the fourth century: (1) the theological system developed by Arius himself, which was his private and pastoral accomplishment; (2) the moderate and conservative Origenism of the majority of Eastern bishops who found themselves in consonance with Arius's own Origenian background; and (3) the political initiatives of these bishops against Alexander of Alexandria.  The complex state of church affairs arising from the confluence of these three streams has become known as the Arian controversy."
Like the Kabbalists, Arian stressed the absolute unity of God, who was incommunicable:
"In Arius's thought, certain trends of Alexandrian theology, formulated by Origen a few generations earlier, reached their ultimate consequences. Arius's concept of the Christian godhead was monarchic, that is, it held that the first and unique absolute principle of divinity is the Father. Consequently, any other divine reality was considered by him as secondary to the Father. He applied this view of all to the Logos, the Word of God, the Son who becomes the instrument of the divine plan of creation and salvation. The Son, being bound to the decision of the Father in the very process of his how generation as the Son, is not eternal in the same sense as the Father is eternal; more important, he is not eternal because only the Father is ungenerated. On the other hand, being the instrument of the fulfillment of the Father's will, the Son is by nature linked with the divine creation. He is, so to speak, the first transcendent creature, the principle of all things." 35.
Historical sources agree that the influence of Lucian at the School of Antioch led Arius and others into controversy with the Bishop of Alexandria and departure from sound doctrine.
Prolegomena. The Life & Writings of Eusebius of C'sarea
"About the year 318, while Alexander was bishop of Alexandria, the Arian controversy broke out in that city, and the whole Eastern Church was soon involved in the strife. We cannot enter here into a discussion of Arius' views; but in order to understand the rapidity with which the Arian party grew, and the strong hold which it possessed from the very start in Syria and Asia Minor, we must remember that Arius was not himself the author of that system which we know as Arianism, but that he learned the essentials of it from his instructor Lucian. The latter was one of the most learned men of his age in the Oriental Church, and rounded an exegetico-theological school in Antioch, which for a number of years stood outside of the communion of the orthodox Church in that city, but shortly before the martyrdom of Lucian himself (which took place in 311 or 312) made its peace with the Church, and was recognized by it. He was held in the highest reverence by his disciples, and exerted a great influence over them even after his death. Among them were such men as Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Asterius, and others who were afterward known as staunch Arianists."
A Chronology of the Arian Controversy demonstrates the spiritual truth that a little leaven leavens the whole lump:
318 or 319 CE: Egypt - In an informal discussion on the Trinity between Bishop Alexander and his presbyters, Arius accuses Alexander of Sabellianism. He goes on to frame his adoptionist views following the theology of Lucian of Antioch. Afterwards, Alexander of Alexandria convenes a council that condemns and exiles Arius. Arius then writes his Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia in which he complains of being unjustly persecuted. The letter mentions that Eusebius of Caesarea and many other Eastern bishops have also been condemned. Arius then travels to Nicomedia at the invitation of Eusebius, after which Eusebius advances a letter writing campaign to the bishops of Asia Minor in support of Arius. Due to his rigorous support of Arius, Eusebius "transform[s] what might have remained an Egyptian dispute into an ecumenical controversy" (Quasten III, 191).
The Council of Nicea, in which Athanasius was prominent in the debate, decreed the divinity of Christ as set forth in the Nicene Creed. "But the eastern Bishops at a Council in Antioch (for dedication of a new basilica, called first in 341) did not disapprove of Arius, and was noncommittal about the nature of the unity of the Son with the Father."

2. DIODORUS (c. 330-390)

Information from various sources describe the sequence of heresies which followed Arianism and were unique to the School of Antioch. Apollinaris had valiantly debated with Athanasius against Arianism, but denied that Christ had a human rational soul. From this heresy there arose another:
"In his anxiety to vindicate the significance of the human element in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures... in controversy with Apollinaris, Diodorus had put forth a theory of the relation of the two natures of Christ which seemed to dissolve the one divine-human Person into two. According to the fragments still preserved of the work called into question ("Against the Synusiasts" and "On the Holy Spirit"), he apparently distinguished between the Logos and the Son of David, one the Son of God by nature, the other by grace." 36.
3. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407)

Among Diodorus' students at the School of Antioch were John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia. The various encyclopedias agree that Chrysostom's view of sin was unscriptural:

"[Chrysostom's] conception of the Divine image in man, which he regards as consisting in his dominion over creation recalls Diodorus and Theodore. He regards the Fall as resulting in a privation of gifts which were not a part of man's natural constitution. He does not teach a complete loss of the Divine image. He agrees with Theodore in insisting on free will and denying original sin... He denies that mortality is the cause of sin." 37.
"[Chrysostom] expressly controverts the view...that sin is an integral part of our nature." 38.
The Chrysostom Society is a group of neo-Gnostics founded and led by Richard Foster. Members include Madeline L'Engle of the New Age St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York, Karen Mains, Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, and similar false prophets who have sought to mainstream the esoteric as Christianity. Foster noted Chrysostom's agreement with the theology of the famous Gnostic of the School of Alexandria: "In his later life, Chrysostom was much maligned for his agreement with much of Origen's theology..." 39.

4. THEODORUS (350-428)

Diodorus seems to have inculcated in his students other views at variance with Scripture:
On election according to grace:
"...Both Theodore and Chrysostom...reject the idea of an absolute predestination in favor of a conditional predestination. God's purpose, says Theodore, is dependent on man's free will." 40.
On salvation:
"From Ephesians 1:10, Theodore drew the conclusion that all men and all rational creatures will finally look to Christ and attain perfect harmony. The eschatological teaching of Diodorus and Theodore is one of the few points of agreement between them and Origen... The hope that, though the wicked will suffer just punishment for their sins, this punishment will not be everlasting." 41.
On the atonement:
"Theodorus['s] views upon human nature and sin led him to find the central significance of Christ's work not so much in his death as in His Resurrection. The purpose of the Incarnation was the perfection rather than the restitution of humanity. Christ is the new creation, who exhibits God's plan in its final completeness. In Him, there is set forth that image of God which man was meant to attain, but which he failed to attain...The deliverance which He has won for men is already potentially theirs, though it is only in the future that it fully takes effect. The omissions are significant. The conceptions of guilt and responsibility, and the idea of Christ's death as an atonement are absent. Death is but a necessary stage, through which Christ passes to the Resurrection and inaugurates the higher and final stage of man's development. The necessity of the Incarnation is not based on the Fall, but on the general conception of the Divine purpose for man, which required that he should be delivered from his present state of mortality." 42.
A Christian Israel Identity web site, Stone Kingdom Ministries, asserts that the school of Antioch taught Universal Salvation:
Later, because some Christians disagreed with the methods of interpretation used by the Alexandrian and Caesarian schools, the school of Antioch was founded. Although the teachings of the Antiochian school were somewhat at variance with the teachings of the two earlier schools, they too taught Universal Reconciliation.
Seeking support for the concept of Universal Salvation, proponents must resort to citing as "Church Fathers" the Gnostic worthies, eg., Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Chrysostom:
Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine Of The Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years
It is shown in this volume [Lecky's Rationalism in Europe, I] that not only were Diodore, Theodore, and others of the Antiochan school Universalists but that for centuries four theological schools taught the doctrine.

Neander says: "... The Antiochan school were led to this doctrine, not by Origen but by their own thinkings and examinations of the Scripture. They regarded the two-fold division of the development of the creature as a general law of the universe. This led to the final result of universal participation in the unchangeable divine life."

Dr. Beecher pays this remarkable testimony: "I do not know an unworthy, low, or mean character in any prominent, open, and avowed Restorationist of that age of freedom of inquiry which was inaugurated by the Alexandrine school, and defended by Origen. But besides this it is true that these ancient believers in final restoration lived and toiled and suffered, in an atmosphere of joy and hope, and were not loaded with a painful and crushing burden of sorrow in view of the endless misery of innumerable multitudes. It may not be true that these results were owing mainly to the doctrine of universal restoration. It may be that their views of Christ and the Gospel, which were decidedly Orthodox, exerted the main power to produce these results. But one thing is true: the doctrine of universal restoration did not hinder them. If not, then the inquiry will arise, Why should it now?"

It was not without reason that the Antioch School refused to canonize the books of II Peter, II and III John, Jude and Revelation. The doctrine of the Universal Salvation could be easily refuted by these five books which contained so many verses on eternal judgment as to render them irrepressible:
II Peter 2:4-9 - For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly...The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:..."
II Peter 3:7 - But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Jude 5-7 - I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Revelation 20:11-15 - And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Hebrew Roots leader, Peter Michas, also flirts with the concept of Universal Salvation in numerous (18) references to the "salvation of humankind" or similar phrases in his book, The Rod of an Almond Tree. On page 129 he openly states:
"Many have been fascinated by the search for the Ark of the Covenant. Even more fascinating is to trace the rod of God and search out its essential role in the universal redemption of mankind."
Theodorus was finally condemned at the second general Council at Constantinople in 381 for teaching that Jesus was a sinful man who, nevertheless, became perfect:
"The second general Council, at Constantinople in 381, condemned impious Theodore of Mopsuestia who said that the Logos of God is one, Christ was another, suffering molestations from passions of soul and desires of the flesh, and gradually leaving the worse things, becoming better with advance in [good] works and becoming immaculate by living, was baptized as a mere man in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and by Baptism received the grace of the Holy Spirit and merited to become a son." (DS 434). We notice: "1) The clear implication of two persons, one who was morally inferior, gradually became better, was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - implying that the Son [the Logos] was one person, and Christ was another person, as the opening line had said. 'mere man.' [psilon anthropon] and merited to become a son. 2) He said Jesus was subject to disorderly passions - like the infamous movie, 'The Last Temptation.'" 43.
5. NESTORIUS (c 381-451)

That an evil tree cannot produce good fruit was tragically demonstrated as the School of Antioch turned out more and greater heresy. Nestorius studied under Theodore at the School of Antioch and would end up teaching that Christ was actually two distinct persons.

Columbia Encyclopedia: "...Nestorius directly derived his views, considered heretical from Theodore." 44.
Encyclopedia Britannica: "[Nestorius] received his education at Antioch, probably under Theodore of Mopsuestia. As a monk in the neighboring monastery of Euprepius, and afterwards as presbyter, he became celebrated in the diocese for his asceticism, his orthodoxy and his eloquence." 45.
David Otis Fuller: "Nestorius denied the union of the two natures of God and man in the one person of Christ. He was accused of teaching that there were two distinct persons, the Person of God the Son and the Person of the man Christ Jesus. This teaching was condemned by the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 at which Cyril of Alexandria presided." 46.
Condemnation of this heresy at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. would signal the demise of the School of Antioch, which had left a grievous legacy for the churches of the East:
Encyclopedia Britannica: "The [Nestorian] church traced its doctrines to Theodore of Mopsuestia rather than to Nestorius, whose name they first repudiated not regarding themselves as having been proselytized to any new teaching." 47.
Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics: "The condemnation of Nestorianism by the Church in AD 431, was fatal to the development to the school of Antioch and to the reputation of its great representatives. Marius Mercator about 431 maintained that Theodore was the real author of Pelagianism, and later on called attention to the Nestorian tendency of his teaching." 48.
The Hastings Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics provides further evidence of the apostasy of the Church of Antioch:
"...The Antiochenes...regarded the purpose of the Incarnation as the accomplishment of man's destiny rather than the deliverance of him from the consequence of sin." 49.
"The Antiochenes held LXX [Septuagint] in the highest reverence..." 50.
Respected nineteenth century textual scholar, Dean Burgon, identified in his volume on the Traditional Text those heretical sects that still use the Peshitta:
"One authority tells us this -- 'The Peshitto in our days is found in use amongst the Nestorians, who have always kept it, by the Monophysites on the plains of Syria, the Christians of St. Thomas in Malabar, and by the Maronites, on the mountain terraces of Lebanon." 51.
Fundamentalists seriously misrepresent the Antioch Church as a center of orthodoxy, which instead was the source of the major heresies. Furthering the misconception, Jack Moorman presents a misleading image of the Church of Antioch as the source of the Textus Receptus:
"One view of the origin of the Old Latin is that it was translated in Antioch, Syria, by missionaries of the West. Support for this view is demonstrated by the strong Syrian and Aramaic tendencies in the existing manuscripts. If this is the case then the Old Latin is associated with that city which was not only the missionary center in the book of Acts, but also the place that history accords as the fountainhead of the Received Text." 52.
The truth seems more available in secular histories, which catalog the famous heretics indigenous to Syria, as well as Egypt.  The Secret Book Of The Egyptian Gnostics by Jean Doresse declares Syria, with special mention of Antioch, to be the origin of Gnosticism, whence the leadership of this pernicious heresy removed to Alexandria:
"Gnosticism appeared originally in Syria. It is in Samaria and the Valley of the Lycos that we trace it for the first time. Simon [the sorcerer] is a man of Gitta and Samaria; Menander is originally of Capparetia - again in Samaria; Satornel is of Antioch; Cerdon is a Syrian; Cerinthus comes from Asia Minor;...In the time of Hadrian (A.D. 110-38), Gnosticism passes over from Syria into Egypt: it is in Alexandria that the greatest doctors of the heresy are flourishing - Bacilides, Carpocrates, and Valentinus. Then it reaches Rome; and this is the moment when the Christian doctors realize the importance of heresies which, in the East, had been incubating for a considerable time... Marcion was in Rome from 140, and thence expelled by the Church in 144, being by excommunicated by his own father, the Bishop of Sinope." 53.
THE BYZANTINE TEXT

The Lord's condemnation in Revelation 2:15 of Nicolas of Antioch, whose doctrine distinguished between the perfect and the non-perfect, seems indicative of the Gnostic leavening in Antioch and therefore the Holy Spirit's departure from this early center of Gnosticism. By 95 A.D., God had moved on to other churches -- those in Asia Minor whom the Lord Jesus Christ specifically addressed in Revelation 2 and 3.

"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne." (Rev. 1:4)

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." (Rev. 1:10,11)

As pastor of the Church of Ephesus, Timothy had been entrusted with the "parchments" of Paul, the true Word of God (II Timothy 4:13).
"The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time." 54.
The Book of the Revelation was committed to the seven Churches of Asia Minor, not Antioch. Upon the latter it seems that God had declared ICHABOD - 'the glory has departed'. The Providential Preservation of the Greek Text of the New Testament, by Rev. W. MacLean, documents that it was the Greek Orthodox priests who fled Constantinople circa 1450 who took the Greek texts with them to Europe.
"For many centuries before the Reformation," writes the Rev. T.H. Brown, "Greek Scholarship was virtually non-existent in Western Europe. In 1453 Constantinople, the eastern capital of the eastern part of the Empire and the centre of the Eastern Church, fell to the Moslem invaders. One far-reaching result of this calamity was that Christian scholars with a knowledge of Greek, and with Greek copies of the Holy Scriptures in their possession, fled to Western Europe where their influence gave a new impetus to the study of the Greek language. It has been said of this period that 'Greece rose from the grave with the New Testament in her hand.'"
Rev. MacLean further explains how the Textus Receptus was compiled from Greek manuscripts which were not corrupted with the Antiochan heresies:
"Among the next generation of Greek scholars was Erasmus of Rotterdam, who prepared an edition of the Greek New Testament from five manuscripts in repute at that time. This edition was printed in 1516 and was followed by four later editions. At Alcala (Complutum) University, in 1502, Cardinal Ximenses gathered manuscripts and men under the direction of Stunica, who published the 'Complutensian Polyglot' in 1522, again from comparatively few manuscripts. Robert Stephens, relying largely upon Erasmus and Stunica, and with a possible sixteenth manuscripts at this disposal, produced editions of the Greek text in 1546, 1550, 1551 and 1559. In 1552 he withdrew to Geneva and joined the Protestant cause. Theodore Beza produced five editions of the Greek between 1559 and 1598. These followed Stephens fairly closely, although Beza had some ancient manuscripts not available to Stephens. The Elzevir Brothers' 1624 edition printed at Leyden has much in common with those of Stephens and Beza. The Elzevir edition of 1624 has had this title on the Continent."
John Cereghin's In Defense of Erasmus outlines the development of the Textus Receptus in the early 16th century via the scholarship of Erasmus, who rejected the Vaticanus B manuscript upon which Jerome had based the Roman Catholic Vulgate. Erasmus' biographer, Roland Bainton, wrote: "Erasmus felt that the Vulgate was in a number of respects inaccurate. Jerome, for all his learning, made mistakes, and a new translation was in order." 55.

Nor did Erasmus use the Syriac Peshitta for his Greek New Testament. Robert Sargent's seminary textbook, Landmarks of English Bible: Manuscript Evidence, states: "In fact he used only two manuscripts for the bulk of his work, with another two for comparison, and a fifth for the book of The Revelation. These were all manuscripts from the 11th to the 15th century A.D. He used the following miniscule mss.:

1 -- 11th Cent. -- Gospels-Acts-Epistles.
2 -- 15th Cent. -- Gospels.
2ap -- 12th/14th Cent. -- Acts-Epistles.
4ap -- 15th Cent. -- Acts-Epistles.
1r -- 12th Cent. -- Revelation.
Miniscules 2 and 2ap were the basis of Erasmus' text. But this is only part of the story.
a. Erasmus had access to and knowledge of many other manuscripts. Through his travels and earlier studies he became well acquainted with a vast array of manuscript evidence.

b. Erasmus had knowledge of and evidently access to the text of the Codex Vaticanus (which was listed in the Vatican library in 1481 A.D.), for he divided all the known manuscripts into 2 groups -- those which agreed with the text of B, and those which were of the Byzantine text." 56.
 

The Semitic New Testament - Part II