A 1500 Year Old Bible Found And No One Is Interested?
Much has been made of the recent discovery, 1,500 years ago, of a Bible believed to be written in the Aramaic language in Turkey.
This was immediately pounced on by the Muslim media, as well as Western media outlets, alleging that this Bible includes verses attributed to Jesus Christ in which Christ predicts the coming of Muhammad. A facsimile of those verses has not been released by any media outlet.
This “Bible is written in gold letters on leather. The front cover image depicts inscriptions in Aramaic and a sketch of a cross.
The inscription is easily read for any native speaker of Modern Assyrian (also known as neo-Aramaic), and that would be your average Assyrian today. The inscription at the bottom, which is the most clearly visible from the photos released, says the following:
Transliteration: b-shimmit maran paish kteewa aha ktawa al idateh d-rabbaneh d-dera illaya b-ninweh b’sheeta d-alpa w-khamshamma d-maran
Translation: In the name of our Lord, this book is written on the hands of the monks of the high monastery in Nineveh, in the 1,500th year of our Lord.
Nineveh is the ancient Assyrian capital and is located in present-day north Iraq, near Mosul.
There are spelling errors that are immediately noticeable.
The first word, b’shimmit maran (“in the name of our Lord”), is erroneously spelled with a ‘t’ instead of a ‘d’. The ‘d’ in Assyrian is the genitive, and it prefixes the word that follows. It should read b-shimma d-maran, not b-shimmit maran (note, the last word of the sentence is correctly spelled d-maran (“of our Lord”)).
The first word also contains another spelling error. The correct spelling for “name” in Assyrian is ashma, with the initial ‘a’ being silent. Therefore, when correctly spelled, ‘in the name of our Lord” should be written as b-ashma d-maran.
The word idateh is misspelled, it should end with an ‘a’, idata. Also the phrase al idateh (“on the hands”) is incorrect, it should read b-idata (“by the hands”).
The bottom sentence uses the word ktawa (“book”) to refer to the book, but in Assyrian the Bible is never referred to as a “book.” One says awreta (Old Testament), khdatta (New Testament), or ktawa qaddeesha (holy book). Given this, since no one has seen the inside of this “Bible,” we cannot be sure if it is in fact a Bible.
Most significantly, this writing is in Modern Assyrian, which was standardized in the 1840s. The first bible in Modern Assyrian was produced in 1848. If this book were written in 1500 A.D. it should have been written in Classical Assyrian.
It is highly unlikely for monks to make such elementary mistakes. It remains to be seen whether this book is a forgery, or even what kind of book it is.
The bottom inscription also says the book was written in 1500 A.D.. If the book does contain verses predicting the coming of Muhammad, it is no great accomplishment to predict something 870 years after the fact, since Muhammad founded Islam in 630 A.D..
Most media outlets, as well as Muslim and Christian outlets, lead the story with headlines pronouncing “1500 year old Bible predicts the coming of Muhammad” — without any evidence to support this.
For Muslims, the implications of the headlines are desirable, that Jesus Christ is a Prophet, just like Muhammad, and not the Son of God. According to Al Bawaba, the Turkish culture and tourism minister, Ertugrul Gunay, said “In line with Islamic belief, the Gospel [this Bible] treats Jesus as a human being and not a God.
It rejects the ideas of the Holy Trinity and the Crucifixion and reveals that Jesus predicted the coming of the Prophet Mohammed.”