which is the salt of the earth, rather than on Peter and the incident
of his initial effort.
1 Compare kn yevt&v iipxaluv in this same chapter, vs. 21.
1 It is of course to be borne in mind that a translator who follows his original rather
closely is more likely to make mistakes in translating Aramaic than in rendering Hebrew
or Arabic, because of the greater freedom in the order of words in the Aramaic sentence.
THE ARAMAIC SOURCE IN ACTS 23
4. OTHER EVIDENCE OF TRANSLATION IN THESE CHAPTERS
Aside from the instances of serious mistranslation, the following
passages containing further evidence may be pointed out.
1,1. Hparo is simply the usual rendering of Aram. n$, which
in the Palestinian dialect is used constantly in this almost redundant
way (see e.g. Dalman, Worte Jesu, 21 f.). It is very unlikely that
the word would have been used here in a Greek composition. 1 See
i, 2. The awkward position of 5td Tr^eu/zaros 07101; (Wellhausen,
Analyse, would cancel the phrase as a later addition) is another
result of translation. In the Aramaic, the words came at the end
of the sentence, just before the verb (a^eXi^^T/) . But in that posi-
tion it might refer to either one of the two phrases, " giving command-
ment to the Apostles " and " whom he had chosen." The only way
a cautious translator could preserve this ambiguity was to put the
words where they now stand.
i, 4. It is probable that the somewhat unusual word avvaKtfb-
Hvos is the (exact) rendering of Aramaic ntano , this ithpa'al mean-
ing primarily " eat salt in company with," and then simply " have
(table-) companionship with." The pe'al occurs in the Old Testa-
ment, Ezra 4, 14: " We have been guests (literally have eaten the salt)
of the palace." The ithpa'al happens to be known to us only in the
northern (Syriac) dialect, but it must have been in use in the Pal-
estinian speech. Typical examples in Syriac are the following. Ps.
140, 4 (Heb. 141, 4): "I will not break bread with them (wicked
men)," where Hebrew has the denominative Dr6x. St. Ephraemi
opera, ed. Overbeck, 300, 19: " Now let us be his guests at table " ;
said by Joseph's brethren, Gen. 43, 32-34. Ephr. Syr. opera, ed.
Benedictus, i, 474 A: "He (Jeroboam) consorted with a heathen
people"; where the context, which is concerned with idolatry,
shows that the author had in mind primarily sacrificial feasts. Ibid.,
534 c: " With sinners he (Jesus) consorted and ate "; the two verbs
being all but synonymous. Finally, the verb is used in the Har-
klean Syriac rendering of <rvva\i6ij,fvos in this passage.
1 For a conjecture as to the beginning of the Aramaic document, see below.
24 THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS
It is certainly easy, then, to regard the Greek word as a transla-
tion. As to the meaning of the original Aramaic here there could
be no doubt. The distinct character of the word, the use of the
corresponding form in Syriac, and the emphasis laid in the oldest
Christian tradition on the fact that the risen Jesus ate with his dis-
ciples (March 16, 14; Luke 24, 30, 40 ff.; Acts 10, 41; John 21,
9-13), all combine to show that eating with them was the meaning
intended. It is plain, moreover, that we have here in verses 3-8 a
series of allusions to the narrative in Luke 24, 36-49; see further
i, 4. The transition to direct discourse, in just this manner, is
the usual thing in Aramaic.
i, 5. For the redundant demonstrative (rauras) in Jewish Ara-
maic, see Dalman, Gramm* 1 13 f .
1,6. 01 ffvv\66vTes is of course " those who had come together,"
or better " those who were present." In Aramaic, iin pfctonD H .
i, 1 8. Note the possibility that irp-qv^s yv6fj.vos renders !>QJ , and
that in the original Aramaic the word meant " cast himself down."
The whole verse may well have read as follows: }p N^pn &op ^ fin
vitj^riN "niyp b) xyvp }p JttanNi $>Q:H HNCH n N^JK . " For he had
purchased a field with his ill-gotten gain; and having cast himself
down, he burst asunder in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out."
This is strikingly summary; it would seem that the narrator had no
relish for the tale of Judas' death, but made it as brief as he could.
It was well known to all those for whom he was writing; on the
other hand, not every one of them knew the origin of the local name
" H*qel-d a md" and it was chiefly in order to put this on record that
he introduced here the parenthesis (vss. 18, 19). For the ambiguity
of *?&}, cf. especially the Lewis Syr. rendering of Matt. 4, 6: /SdXe
ffeavrbv KCLTU, pel men hdmekkd; also John 21, 7: Peter girt his coat
about him, and cast himself (ef3a\ej> eavrov, n'phat) into the sea. 1
This ambiguity could easily account for the Greek of Acts i, 18.
The local tradition was unquestionably this, that Judas committed
1 Cf . further the Syriac renderings of Matt. 3, 10 (Lew., Pesh.) ; 5, 29 (Pesh.) ; 21,21
(Lew., Cur., Pesh.); Mark n, 20 (Lew., Pesh.); Luke 3, 9 (Lew., Cur., Pesh.), in all of
which /3dXXr0oi, passive, is rendered simply by ?BJ .
THE ARAMAIC SOURCE IN ACTS 25
suicide. The translation irpyvris yevoptvos left room for this, as the
use of TriwTeiv would not have done. The Greek is not difficult,
cf. Kara yfjv yevonevos, 2 Mace. 9, 8, in the story of the death of
Antiochus Epiphanes. It is hardly necessary to insist that irprjvris
does not mean, and could not mean, "swollen"! The fanciful
expansion of the story found in Papias was the source of the Arme-
nian translation in this passage, as well as of the Armenian and Latin
(-n-pijvfts rendered inflates) in Wisd. 4, ig. 1 The account of the death
of Judas in Acts is not derived from the passage in Wisdom (Preu-
schen, p. 8); it is not surprising, on the other hand, that after Acts
1-15 had been translated into Greek many should have been reminded
by it of the words prj^ei . . . irprjveis in the older passage though
the resemblance is not in any way remarkable. Nor does it seem to
be the case that Matt, follows another tradition (" einer vollig
abweichenden Ueberlief erung," Preuschen, ibid.) . The author of the
First Gospel starts from the same popular belief regarding the
" Field of Blood," z but makes out of it his own story, more suo, on
the basis of Zech. n, 12 f. There is nothing improbable in the
supposition that Judas owned a piece of land, and committed suicide
on it; nor that the " Field of Blood " actually received its name in
1,22. " During all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out
among us, dp^djuepos OLTTO roO ^3a7rri(rjuaro$ 'luavov os rrjs fifttpas 175
avt\rifj,(f>d'r] a<f>' Tj/iaW This is an Aramaic idiom: "from (j fcos?) 3
. . . unto (*TJj)." Similarly Matt. 20, 8, dpdjui>os OLTTO TU>V ta-xa-tuv
e'cos T&v Trp&Tw; Luke 23, 5, 8i8a<TK<i)i> KaO' 0X775 rrjs 'lovdaias, nai
dp^djuevos ct7r6 TT^S FaXiXaias e'cos co5e. This is passable Greek,
though not classical (Blass 74, 2) ; but the verb, or participle,
1 Acute disease of the bowels, in one form or another, is a strikingly common feature
of oriental popular accounts of " the most miserable death of the wicked." Aside from
the story in 2 Mace. 9, that of the death of Herod the Great in Jos., Anil, xvii, 6, 5,
Bell. Jud. i, 33, 5, and of Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12, 23, compare the accounts of
abdomens bursting, bowels consumed by fire, or by worms, and the like, in the ancient
Life of Simeon Stylites (Journal of the Am. Or. Soc., 36, pp. 49, 56, 57, 69, 70; cf.
2 Whether the i.-jHij^aro, " hanged himself," of Matt. 27, 5 belonged to the tradition,
or was merely Matthew's inexact term for the mode of suicide, may be questioned.
, or N"ie> H3 , might equally well be used.
26 THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS
of " beginning " is one which is often used loosely in Palestinian
Aramaic, even to the point of redundance (see the note on i, i),
and it seems plain that what we have here is a form of this local
peculiarity. In several other passages (see below) the Greek par-
ticiple dpd/zfos is used in this same way; and from a comparison
of all the occurrences, with especial regard to the structure of the
sentence in each case, it becomes increasingly probable that a
peculiar idiomatic use of ineto is the source of our Greek. In Ara-
maic the word is an accusative of state or condition, 1 sometimes
rather loosely connected, so that a faithful Greek rendering is likely
to be awkward. Even in Luke 23, 5 (just cited) the clause sounds
decidedly better when turned into Aramaic. 2 In Luke 24, 27 we
seem to have an example of the looser use of the native idiom:
" And then (ap^a^evos) from Moses and all the prophets he inter-
preted to them," etc. In two other passages with dp^djuepos we see
exemplified in a very striking way Luke's cautious faithfulness,
leading him into translation- Greek of the stiffest type. The first
of these is Luke 24, 47: " It is written . . . that repentance and
remission of sins should be preached (KrjpvxSfjvai) in his name unto
all the nations (els iravTa TO, Wv-rj), dp^d/ze^oi cnro 'ItpoixraX^/i. i/jeis
judprupes TOVTUV." The Aramaic could have precisely this participial
construction, the participle being in the accusative of condition,
though without case-ending or other sign to show how it should be
connected: }p fneto sg W pxtpn rwpa^ navn ap^a nation ni
p^K n PL!? flnJK tbvh^ . Here, the participle " beginning " should
be connected with " the nations "; it might, however, by a loose
construction, be referred to the disciples', and since the next follow-
ing words are " ye are witnesses," while the very next verse (49)
commands the disciples to remain in the city for the present (cf.
Acts i, 4, 8, etc.), and they did in fact begin preaching to the
Gentiles in Jerusalem, it is probable that any good translator of that
1 A favorite construction with the participle in the Semitic languages; cf. e. g.,
Ezr. 7, 16 ra*Wn , Targ. Is. 53, 7 ^ J in Hebrew, i Ki. 14, 6 HK3 , Hag. i, 3
D^BD ; and with prefixed 1, 2 Sam. 13, 20 riDDlKh , Hab. 2, 10 NOini . Examples
could be multiplied to any extent.
2 Cod. D gives the Greek a more natural sound by omitting the nai, whose use is not
justified by the context. In Aramaic the 1 is entirely idiomatic, see above.
THE ARAMAIC SOURCE IN ACTS 27
time would have chosen apj-a/jicvot rather than dp^djuepa. The Greek
was bound to be bad in either case, and the masculine made better
The other passage is Acts 10, 37: v/zets oidare rd yevbuevov pfj^a
Kad' 6X775 TTJS 'lovdalas, dp^d/iews biro rrjs FaXtXatas /icrd r6 (3a.Tr-
Ttcr/ja 6 tKr)pv$;v 'IcodvT/s, 'lyaovv rbv curb Na"ap&7, a>s fXP iffev
O.VTOV 6 deds irvevfjiaTi, a7tCfj /cat dwd/m, 6s di,fj\Qev evepyeT&v /c.r.X.
This case very closely resembles the other. There was the same
Aramaic particple, &OK>D , in the same construction: jinjx pjrv
Of course the obvious connection of the participle is with
(p?7jua, "thing"); yet in view of Acts i, 22, 'Irjo-ovs dp^d/iews airo
TOV fia.TTTio'iJLa.Tos 'luavov, and Luke 23, 5, /cat dp^d/iews axo TT/S
FaXtXaias (!), the translator must have felt it important to leave
open the possibility that here also, as in the two parallel pas-
sages, it was Jesus who " began." The only way in which he could
do this, while keeping close to his original, was to use the masculine
nominative case, dp^d/zews. It is a very common translator's de-
vice, illustrated in the Greek O.T. as well as in the Book of Revela-
tion in the N.T. 1
Blass, 31,6 (end), thought that dp^d/^os airo rfjs FaXiXaias in
Acts 10, 37 might have been interpolated from Luke 23, 5. From
what source, then, was dpdjuei>ot airb 'lepovcraX-fifj, in Luke 24, 47 in-
terpolated ? The two cases explain and support each other unmis-
takably; in both the correct text has been preserved along with
later attempts at improvement. The twofold barbarism is not due
to a twofold accident, it is simply a well-known feature of transla-
tion Greek. The man who composed Luke 1,1-4 (and, as I believe,
also Acts 16-28) knew the Greek language, had ideas regarding
literary style, and was capable of expressing himself clearly in a
way that was not intolerably clumsy. But the ancient translator
1 Compare also with both these passages such cases as i Ki. 5, 14: nal dir<TTeiX
ainovs l$ T&V ALftavov, 8&ca x i ^ l( i5 & T<? M*?^ aXXa<r<r<5/t>oi- nrjva fitrav kv T(3 .\[email protected]
K.T.X. Here the participle is masculine, not feminine, because TYlS vH refers rather to
the suffix prounoun (= avrovi) than to D^BpN ; and nominative because of the liberty
which the translator enjoys (observe that in the original the case is the same suspended
accusative of condition which we have in our &p&nei>os passages).
28 THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS
was under a compulsion stronger than that of style. From the point
of view of his time, there was no way of solving this particular prob-
lem of interpretation more satisfactory than the one which he chose.
2, i. An interesting and characteristic specimen of translation.
" When the day of Pentecost arrived" but neither avuirK-qpovaBou.
nor any Semitic equivalent can mean this. Moreover, "Pentecost,"
77 i7/xepa Tr}s 7rvrr?/cocrr^s, is a Hellenistic coinage. Obviously, the
original was: NjynK' D^^rai , "and when the Weeks were fulfilled,"
i.e. , the seven weeks intervening before the Feast. It was customary
to refer to the interval in just this way, see e.g. Num. 28, 26. Luke,
always faithful and always Hellenistic, rendered the infinitive
exactly (the same translation in Luke 9, 51), but employed the
technical terminology which his readers would understand.
2, 7. Ovxl i&w reproduces xn t6 . The Aramaic interjection is
inserted very often for emphasis where run or jn would not be used in
Hebrew. This use in interrogation (nonne) is known to us mainly
from classical Syriac; cf. the Peshitta in Matt. 24, 2, etc. It is also
2, 22. " Designated by (airo) God." p is very frequently used
with a passive verb to denote the agent; 4, 36, and 15, 33 are similar
cases. Cf. also Luke 6, 18; 7, 35!
2, 24. It has long been recognized that this verse contains an
ancient mistranslation, inasmuch as the LXX's udlves Oavarov in
Ps. 17, 5; 144, 3 is a false rendering of mo ^nn, " bands of death."
But scholars have failed to draw the necessary conclusion from
Xixras, which, as many have observed, suits only the " bands," not
the " pains." No writer composing his own Greek would ever have
chosen this unsuitable word, and there is nothing in the Old Testa-
ment that could have led him to employ it. The appeal sometimes
made to Job 39, 2 (LXX) is not justified, for that grotesquely con-
fused passage is as far removed as possible from the ideas with which
the author of Acts is here dealing. Three verbs in succession
e$i>Xaas ehvaas e^aTroo-reXeis) l are there used in the same way with
ci>5ipas, the meaning being clear in no case; there can thus be no
question of a phrase becoming current. Luke had before him the
1 The second and third of these are variant renderings of njr6tJTl in vs. 3.
THE ARAMAIC SOURCE IN ACTS 29
words Kroo n x^nn jot?, "loosing the bands of death." The quota-
tion from Ps. was obvious, and he followed the LXX, as usual.
The NIP he of course rendered literally.
2, 33. We do not speak of " pouring out " a miracle, but rather of
"performing" it. We may suppose that the Aramaic was KM FDStf
finyJDtjh prvm Jirox H , the formal equivalent of our Greek, but differ-
ently intended. The feminine suffix joined to the verb did not refer
to the following, as it might naturally appear to, but to the word
" spirit " (nn , Trpefyuaros) just preceding. The writer is returning
to the prophecy of Joel, quoted in vs. 17. The translation should
have been: " hath poured it out, as ye have seen and heard." 1
3, 20 f. The plural in /ccupoi and XPOVOJV indicates duration, as in
the original Aramaic, airo 7rpo<rco7rou is presumably D"jj? jp , wherever
it occurs. In this case it is merely " from," equivalent to Hebrew
DXD . aTTOKaraffraffis should mean here " establishment " in the
sense of "fulfilment." dTroKafltoTTj/zt is used in Job 8, 6 to render
D^, a verb which would not be out of place in this passage. But the
translation here is probably still closer; the verb rendered was in all
likelihood a form (presumably the haf'el) of Dip, cf. Dan. 9, 12
w*?y nan IB>K inn nx D>i , "and he established his words, which he
spoke against us." This is exactly what the present passage re-
quires, since it is speaking of the fulfilment of prophecy. We may
suppose that the Aramaic was: 'DI sr6s hhfo n N;b i?n ^;ny ^
This niopn certainly meant "fulfilment"; but as it is a word
capable of the meaning " restoration " in this context, 2 Luke ren-
dered, as in other similar cases, by a Greek word which came as near
as possible to leaving both interpretations open, while agreeing in
etymology with the Aramaic original. This is perhaps as characteris-
tic an example of his cautious exactitude as could be found.
3, 24. Kcu iravres 8k ol irpo<f>rJTai, airo Sct/zov^A /cat TUV Kadeffi
o<TOL f\a\r]ffav KO.I Karrjyyi\av rds -rinipas rauras. This can hardly
pass as Greek. The nal before KaTriyjei^av is redundant; the phrase
1 For Aramaic " that which," equivalent to " as," *aB6, etc., cf. the note on 4, 22 ff.,
1 It should be observed that this of' el in the northern (Syriac) dialect is very often
thus used. Notice, for example, how in the Syriac Hex. it renders inroKoBlffnuju. in
i Esdr. 5, 2; Job 33, 25; Is. i, 26 (Sym., Theod.); Am. 5, 15 (Aq., Sym., Theod.).
30 THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS
dro . . . Kadeffi is not idiomatic. Turned word for word into Ara-
maic it reads: J^NH jwoi 1 ttnam ko n pnra ni ta3# IP KJJM bi.
" and all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel onward through his
successors, announced these days." The Aramaic is entirely idio-
matic; even the conjunction in iP"prn is not strange in Jewish Ara-
maic, introducing the apodosis in the Hebrew manner. It is per-
haps worthy of notice, however, that this \ might very easily be a
dittograph from the preceding, seeing that the two juxtaposed
verbs would appear to be coordinate.
4, 12. AedofjLevov iv avdp&irois is too literal. The Aramaic was
XKOX rm 3VV, "put among men"; nrr is very often the equivalent
of && , in all the Aramaic dialects, and is most commonly construed
with 3 . Characteristic examples are: " I put my bow in the cloud,"
Gen. 9, 13, Targ. Onkelos, Pesh.; " The royal crown which is put
on (3) his head," Esth. 6, 8, both Targums; " He found that he had
been (put) in the tomb ('3 3Tp) four days already," John n, 17,
Palest. Syr. ; " [These things] they put in the midst of this sanctu-
ary," Nabataean inscription from Puteoli (Cooke, N. Sem. Inscrs.,
p. 256). x In Old Testament usage, God "puts" his name in one
place or another.
The article rb is put before the word SeSojueVop in this clause just
in order to preserve the Aramaic order of words, and at the same
time to separate df8o^vov from ovpav6vl
4, 16. TVWTOV is Aramaic JPT, "notable, remarkable," which
is what the context requires. " Manifest " will not do at all, in
view of <f>avfpov at the end of the clause.
4, 36. M6epnr)Vv6iJ.evov means, I think, " interpreted euphemisti-
cally." The very fact that a name is interpreted without apparent
reason might lead us to suspect that something is wrong with it.
Bar-Nebo (Nebo was a TB>, devil) was not, for church historians, a
desirable name for such a saint as this unless by means of inter-
pretation the reproach could be removed. That the interpretation
was far-fetched made no difference; whoever heard it was freed
from the possibility of future embarrassment because of the name.
1 Cf . further Luke 1 2, 50, " Think ye that I came to put (Bovvai) peace in the earth ? "
also 15, 22, " Put (S6rt) a ring on (is) his hand."
THE ARAMAIC SOURCE IN ACTS 31
A somewhat similar case is 13, 6-8. Here the narrative intro-
duces a certain " false prophet " and " sorcerer " whose name was
Bar- Jesus (so the original and therefore, of necessity, the Greek
translation). But at the next mention of the man, his name is
" interpreted " (jueflepjui^euerai) into 'EAivias. 1 This is merely a
euphemistic substitution; there is no need to suppose nor is it
probable that the Greek name which was selected stood in any
sort of relation to the Semitic name. An unfortunate nomen atque
omen was replaced by one that was harmless, that is all. From that
time on, it was certain that the false prophet would be known as
" Elymas the Sorcerer," not " ~Rzx-Jesus the Sorcerer." We have
abundant evidence of the strong aversion felt to such collocations,
and the euphemistic substitution, called in late Hebrew and Jewish
Aramaic ^33 (eTri/cXT/o-is), was a common thing. 2
In both passages it seems plain that the " interpretation " belongs
to the translator, not to the Aramaic document. Only because of
Luke's fidelity to his original was the true name preserved in 13, 6.
5, 7. This would be, in Aramaic: 'DI rinnJN r&jn py# r6na mm.
..... -i . i : r T ; T-;-
The rendering is typical translation-Greek, as exact as it could be
made. The 5td<rr?7/iia is presumably Luke's own, but it is implied in
the Aramaic, which is precisely: " and there was the likeness (as
to space) of three hours, and his wife entered," etc. Cf. Luke 5, i,
12; 9, 28; 22, 59.
5, 13. Qv8ds T6\Aia KoXkaadai aurots, " no one dared join him-
self to them," is immediately and flatly contradicted by vs. 14,
" more were added to them, . . . multitudes both of men and
women " ! It is plain that we have here a mistranslation; what the
writer must have intended to say is: "no one dared to contend with
1 The attempt, made by many scholars, to connect the reading of D, Erot/*os, with
the "A.TOfj.of (?) of Jos., Antt. xx, 7, 2 seems to me mistaken for several reasons. Copy-
ists very often miswrite X as T, and vice versa; while as for the replacing of u by ot, so
frequent in Greek MSS., Codex D is even capable of writing /) icai trd k rijs TaXt-
Xaas el; in John 7, 52! D therefore gives us no real variant here. The reading of
Niese's edition is pretty certainly wrong, moreover, since cnnov and O.TIMV are practi-
cally identical in old Greek cursive script, and Simon is by far the more probable name.
1 Observe that in the Peshitta version the name E&r-Jesus was not even permitted
to stand in vs. 6, but Bar-SAwwa was substituted for it!
32 THE COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS
them." More than one Aramaic root could supply forms capable of
both of these meanings; :np, for example, is a very good possibility.
In Syriac, the ethpa'al might have either meaning. The Hebrew
hif'il means " join "; the corresponding Syriac stem means " con-
tend." Perhaps even more likely is nr6. The phrase would then
have been finpj? non^nn!? , the infinitive being used exactly as is the
same form in late Hebrew, Dr6nn, "contend." But in the northern
(Syrian) dialect the words would have meant "to be united with
them"; cf. the passage cited in Payne Smith: ir6nN NBJJ ina ,
" they were united into one people," and the root-meaning (ibid.)
of Dr6 , consociavit.
5, 17. Preuschen: " avaarfa ist im Zusammenhang unmoglich."
Wellhausen, Analyse, 10: " avaa-ras ist sachlich unmoglich. Man
erhebt sich um zu reden oder irgend etwas anderes zu tun, aber
nicht um voll Leidenschaft zu werden. Glanzend hat Blass das
sinnlose Wort in *Awas verbessert." See also his Noten, p. 21.
Blass had proposed this emendation, introducing the name of the
High Priest Annas, in the Studien u. Kritiken, 1896, p. 459. But
the text is right as it stands; it is merely the omnipresent Dj?, which
is hardly more than " thereupon, straightway," used in much the
same way as the unnecessary ntj>, r/p^aro. 1 It does not represent
action antecedent in time to that of the following verb, the two are
rather coincident: " Then they started up, full of zeal, and laid
then: hands on the apostles." The insertion of a parenthetical (cir-
cumstantial) clause, n8Mp p Vim, literally "and they were filled with
zeal," would be entirely idiomatic; compare e.g. Margolis, Aramaic
Language of the Babylonian Talmud, 69, b: mm &ny srix maa
rryntjn NS^I xo^y ^ TIB, "in the evening a poor man came, while
everyone was busy, and there was none to hear him," etc. Such a
clause would have been rendered here in just the words which we
have, Tr\r]ff6r)crav 17X01;, the D[? having been translated by the parti-
ciple, as usual in such cases.