(beatitudes) , "makarios" is Greek translation of what Aramaic word ?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by salishan, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
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    been wondering something about the "beatitudes"
    (blessed are the meek , for they shall inherit the earth
    blessed are the merciful , for they shall be shown mercy

    et cetera)

    spoken by (or at least credited to) Jesus the Galilean
    the beatitudes have a similar rhetorical style to
    ancient songs of praise & ancient wisdom literature
    in their hortatory aspect & their two-part parallelism
    but (for their era) these beatitudes have a very strange twist to them
    (like setting up a question , pausing & reversing the answer
    offering a biting little surprise , unsupported by commonsense)

    supposedly arising from the (speculated) "Q-source"
    (a source alongside the Book of Mark) for gospel writers Matthew & Luke
    the beatitudes would have been spoken in Aramaic
    (the language Jesus the Galilean preached in , to his rural audiences)
    but (in these two gospels) the beatitudes have (of course) been recorded in Greek

    "makarios" is the Greek word which anchors the beatitudes
    it means "blessed" , but (a rich word)
    it also is a congratulatory word , a word which means happy or fortunate
    (happy are the poor in spirit , ...
    fortunate are u who weep , ...
    which makes the first half of these passages even stranger
    (people must have gasped & said "how can this be?"
    during the brief rhetorical pause , before
    the "answering" second half to each beatitude then becomes canted)

    but makarios is the Greek transcription of what Aramaic word ?
    (& what are the nuances of this Aramaic word ?
    what links to rural Levantine cultural life are inferred from this word ?)


    in the ancient (polytheistic) Temple religions
    the typical (perhaps sole) form of prayer
    is very public & very noisy
    remonstrations & incantations in praise of the local deity

    the deepest form of life's meaning to polytheistic peoples
    (testimony of prayer being answered) , is
    (being "blessed" by their favorite deity , & becoming rich
    ostentatiously well-off , nice clothes & nice home & exotic foods
    all the cosmopolitan comforts which donkey-caravans can bring)

    but (2500 years ago) during the Axial Age , (across the globe)
    this commonsense "meaning of life" begins to be questioned
    (considered pretty shallow , not nearly deep enough)

    "the rich" , who can offer the biggest "sacrifices" at the Temple
    get the most attention of the Temple priests , where "the poor"
    are shrugged off , are sent to minor temples of less-powerful gods

    & this is true in Judea , as well
    & is (at core) what got the "prophets" so fired up
    (shaming Judaism for becoming just another Temple religion)

    & Jesus the Galilean (centuries later) walks in this same prophetic line

    to him , genuine "prosperity" is not the "blessing" of economic prosperity
    but something more abstract , a "prosperity" at the core of u'r being

    proclaiming that prayer is not a noisy & public remonstration
    but a quiet & private thing , an inner thing
    & that the life-rewards are inner rewards , an inner prosperity

    (prosperous are u who are hungry , for u shall be satisfied)

    my guess is , that the Aramaic word which is
    translated in Greek as "makarios" (blessed or happy or fortunate)
    is , in its Aramaic original
    a word which means "prosperity"

    a word which has rich connotations in the ancient world
    regarding what is meaningful in life , a word which
    Jesus the Galilean so effectively undermines & reverses
    in the thought-processes of those to whom he is speaking

    saying (like the prophets) that
    the mark of being blessed comes , not from ostentatious wealth
    (not from a concrete "earthly" reward , but rather)

    the meaning of life comes from somewhere else entirely

  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Well qualified. I have no great faith in the 'Q' argument, other than a convenient and tidy fix for scholars.



    I would have thought much the same as the Hebrew equivalent barak? I would have though a Jewish Aramaic audience would know the word in its Hebrew biblical sense, of blessing?

    OK. But please note that they also struggled with the notion of why the good man suffered, and why the bad man prospered. So you can see a general consciousness of the fact that the simple notion that prosperity meant you were in good stead with your god did not match the reality of experience.

    Yes. A blessing.

    I don't think the notion of 'inner prosperity' is viable, as the term speaks of a person's individual wealth in goods, and interiorising the notion of 'goods' doesn't really work in a culture as spiritually sophisticated as Judaism.

    Hang on, aren't you saying that, 2,500 years ago, that notion became worn out and untenable? Yet you now claim that is the definition in mind, some 1,000 years after the axial change? Isn't that a case of anachronistic retro-fitting?

    I think the Jews were more theologically sophisticated than you allow. They do use the word 'prosperity' in Scripture, but had been considering the problem of theodicy in great depth/ The 'Wisdom Literature' of the Christian Bible (although not canonical to Judaism) grapples with just this problem. Their faith was in God, their hope was that He had not turned His back on them, even when the world looked to them as if He had.

    Well, are you saying that by then prosperity meant something more than material benefits? I would agree ... but then I also think they would find the word 'blessing' more appropriate in context.

    I think they heard someone speaking their experience, and telling them something they are longing to hear, that the world is full of injustice, but not through the will of God, and nor is God heedless of those who suffer in His name, that the prosperity of God is beyond any worldly measure.

    That's why He enjoyed 'grass-roots' popularity. If He was undermining or reversing the understanding of his audience, many would simply walk away scratching their heads, or worse (look at John 6).

    He did undermine the Pharisees, and they got particularly uppity about it. They'd have done for Him, if they could.

    And somewhere in us all, today, I think there is that tendency to look at heaven and say 'why me?' ... it's human.

    And, btw, the latest scientific evidence is that prosperity does not make you happy, generous, philanthropic, etc., etc. as the rich claim in defence of personal wealth. Quite the reverse is more often the case, it would seem. I think most religions clocked that point long, long ago.

    God bless,

  3. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Sep 4, 2003
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    good to hear the meek are getting something, because they've had a hell of a time. don't pick your nose!

    well, i'm no expert, but they certainly sound very similar in structure and style to, say, the books of proverbs and psalms and numerous passages in the prophets. i'd say it was a "high prophetic" sort of style, quite in keeping with the crowd it was addressed to - i am bound to say that i've always been struck at how the sermon on the mount would be completely par for the course in a modern synagogue pulpit - i mean, there's very little in it that anyone jewish could actually object to!

    now - "berikh": yes, it's the same root as "barukh", bet-resh-khaf, meaning bless, but also etymologically linked to "berekh", or knee - so it has connotations of bending at the knee, which indeed still happens on the word "barukh" during many points in jewish prayer. jesus is here blessing the poor actively, not saying how G!D will Bless them - he's actually intervening, as it were. i'm not aware of connotations of prosperity, but i can check in the mattityahu clark book, which is excellent for this stuff.

    precisely - in fact, it is one of the things that the prophets get really bent out of shape about.

    whilst i agree with you about "inner prosperity", the contemporary context would have been of the shift, made final and normative during the yavneh period, of Temple-based ritual to personal, private prayer. however, the notion of prayer as quiet and private would have been one perfectly valid position, although not one popular with the Temple hierarch - this of course is quite consistent with jesus' other views as far as i'm aware.


  4. conzeaf400

    conzeaf400 Interfaith Forums

    Sep 5, 2013
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  5. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Jun 13, 2012
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    Even in North Indian languages, 'barakat' means prosperity. We learned it from Arabs and Persians.

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