Most churches do a passion Play this time that year, re-enacting the final moments of Jesus up to and also including the crucifixion. Many of these enthusiasm Plays often tend to incorporate Jesus’ final words as tape-recorded in Matthew and Luke which show up in most Bibles transliterated as:

“Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?”

“How the heck carry out you express *that*?” i am asked often enough. “Eh-loy eh-loy llama sab-ach!-thane-y?”

And mine answer is: You don’t.

You are watching: Eloi eloi lama sabachthani pronunciation audio

In truth, this phrase has been subject to a video game of telephone, which started in Aramaic and twisted its way through Greek, and also some German assignment conventions, before landing in English.

This phrase is an Aramaic translation of the beginning of Psalm 22, “My God, mine God, why hast you forsaken me? Why art thou so much from helping me, from the native of mine groaning?”

As we deserve to see indigenous extant translations in other Aramaic dialects, in Jesus’ indigenous Galilean Aramaic, that was many likelyrendered:

אלהי אלהי למה שבקתניəlahí əlahí ləmáh šəvaqtáni

(The funny upside-down e signifies a shewa, a vowel sort of like the a in “above.”)

When the Gospel authors were translate into their work in Greek, castle ran right into some interesting problems. Greatly thatthe Greek writing system had no means to express few of these sounds. It finished up v this (or something favor it, together there is some variation indigenous manuscript come manuscript):

ελοι ελοι λαμα σαβαχθανιelü elü lama saḇaḥṯani

e-loo e-loo lema savakhthani

In Greek, over there was not a enough 1 come 1 relationship with Aramaic vowels. Galilean’s ə (shewa) and its open vowel a (patah) were under numerous circumstances identified solely by emphasis and also were slightly colored depending on what sounds fell nearby. In make the efforts to approximate them, the Greek scribe chose what sounded the closestly based ~ above Greek vocalization.The Greek alphabet has actually no means to suggest an “h” sound in the middle of a word, only at the beginning. For this reason the “h” sounds in əlahi disappeared, and also there was an unintended consequence: The two letters ο (omicron) and ι (iota) when placed together created a diphthong, comparable to the nasalized eu in French. In truth, if the diphthong were broken and also the two vowels spoken separately v an “h” in the middle, they are very an excellent approximations to the original.There was additionally no way to to express an sh sound (above š) so the was changed with what was closest: σ (sigma, an “s” sound).There was no “q” sound, which in Aramaic is a guttural “k” in the very back of the throat. The was changed with χ (chi, a sound favor clearing your throat).And finally, the details quality of the t to be closer to their θ (theta) than to your τ (tau), so the was changed with the former, softer sound.

Now as soon as the holy bible was interpreted into English, that went with yet anothertransliteration… yet this time from the Greek. It looked (for the many part) favor this:

Eloi, Eloi! Lama sabachthani?

How did we arrive at this from the Greek? Greek transliteration right into English made usage of the adhering to conventions:

Again, Greek vowels aren’t in ~ all 1:1 through English vowels — lock represented various sounds — but your cognates in transliteration were an extremely well established.ε and also η → e, ο and also ω→o, ι→i,α→a, υ→y or u, etc. The usage of these transliterations actually broke up the οι diphthong in reading — so the was a step back in the appropriate direction.The letter χ (ḥ, chi) is, prefer in German transliteration or Scottish, rendered as “ch,” as that digraph ch in makes a comparable sound.The letter θ (theta) is transliterated together “th” together that’s the the next sound in English, back the high quality of that is not practically as breathy.

So there you have actually it.


Jack Kilmon says:

I won’t ascendancy out that Jesus intended Elijah to ring in the unavoidable “Kingdom that God” he, as the bar nasha, preached. Perhaps, v swollen lips and tongue and also with blood and fluid pour it until it is full his lungs he did certainly cry out Eliya, eliya lama shevawktany “Elijah, Elijah why have actually you deserted me” fairly than calling come God as in Psalm 22 Elohy, elohy lama shevawktany however this is a second position come my belief that the Aramaic cry from the cross meant exactly what that says and Jesus didn’t screw the up, Matthew did!

I think mark was correct in his transliteration since the west Aramaic(Judean) would have actually a qamets qatan instead of qamets gadhol because that the lamed in alaha. Easterm (Syriac) would certainly be alef (pattah)-lamed (qamets gadhol)-heh (hiriq qatan)-yod, therefore aLAhy. West (Judean) would be alef-lamed (qamets qatan)-heh (hiriq qatan)-yod, for this reason aLOhy, for this reason Mark’s transliteration together ELWI. Judean Aramaic aLOhy, aLOhy LAma shevawqTAny? “God of me, God that me, why have actually forsaken you me?”

Is there a difficulty with the absence of a smooth breathing for the transliterated ELWI? i don’t think so. There to be no such thing in the an initial century and also the initial Markan autograph would have had an uncial ELWI.

Polytonic minuscule walk not begin to appear in the papyri until the second century CE yet the aspirant to be disappearing in renowned koine and also in Egyptian Greek by the first century. The exact dates of these phonetic changes are more than likely uncertain however the aspirant appears to have actually disappeared in some intake by the late Roman and also Early oriental period. It was being preserved in “learned Greek” (pre-Koine Attic) yet I think we both agree that the first Gospel is no learned Greek.


Stephen Morton

It might be interesting to take into consideration how Dr. George Lamsa looks at this passage. He would actually translate it as, “My God, my God, for this ns was kept.” He suggested that had the intention been to quote the Psalm 22 passage in Aramaic, Jesus would have actually uttered “nashatani” rather of “sabachthani” to use his voice spelling. Point out the book: “Idioms In The bible Explained and also A crucial To The original Gospels”, George M Lamsa. HarperCollins Publishers, NYC, (c) 1985, Pp. 102-104.

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Steve Caruso (MLIS) has translated Aramaic language professionally because that over 15 years v a emphasis upon the Galilean language – the language talked by Jesus of Nazareth. That is presently the routine Coordinator because that Interface design & Web development at Raritan Valley ar College. Below on "The Aramaic brand-new Testament," though, that keeps monitor of Aramaic in media and scholarship at huge and proceeds his job-related on miscellaneous Aramaic-related grants and also projects.