keeps both the Aramaic language and Lamsa’s
legacy alive. Errico has also written 20 books
that expand the Lamsa translations and explain
in detail what the scriptures say and what they
would have meant to people of the time.
What’s in a Word?
Each word in Aramaic has layers of meaning.
Errico looks first at the context. “Then you have
to know the culture too,” he explains. “Where was
this said, why was it said, to whom was it said,
Take the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.”
In the Aramaic language, shepherd is a verb.
Errico suggests recasting the psalmist’s first line
as an affirmation: “The Lord shepherds me, and I
Consider the first line from the Book of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God.” Standard
translations of John use the Greek logos, which
means “word,” but the Aramaic milta is “mind
energy.” So in Aramaic, Errico says, the line
would be, “Mind energy was always in existence,”
or “Mind energy was always before the reckoning
He further adds, “There’s no time in
consciousness. Consciousness isn’t born and
doesn’t die. Finding all those different meanings
is just wonderful.”
Lamsa’s and Errico’s work has not been without
controversy. They happily swim upstream against
biblical scholars who take as a given that the Old
Testament was first written in Hebrew and the
New Testament in Greek. There was never an
Aramaic original, scholars say.
Lamsa translated his Bible from the Peshitta
(pronounced p’SHEE-tah), a Syriac version used
by Christians in the Assyrian Church of the East,
the Bible he grew up with.
Most scholars say Syriac is a language derived
from Aramaic, but it developed a century or two
after Jesus, so it’s not the authentic original.
When asked about this, Errico sighs. “It’s
American scholars,” he notes. “Just like we call
it the Middle East when it should be Near East.”
Errico explains that Syriac and Aramaic are the
same language by different names, and for that
matter, Aramaic is the root of Hebrew too.
Regardless of whether the Aramaic Peshitta was
the original Bible or developed later, what Lamsa
and Errico have drawn from their translations
sheds new, sometimes stunning, light on the
nature of God and the teachings of Jesus.
Perhaps their work is best described by their
critics. Longtime televangelist John Ankerberg
wrote a detailed article for his website chronicling
their “heretical” beliefs, calling Lamsa’s
translation defective, complaining that he “played
fast and loose with the biblical text,” and calling
his views on Jesus disturbing.
“There’s no time
born and doesn’t die.”