"The Pain of the World to Come"-SYRIAC version?


From Hanson’s Aion-Aionios we find this (it seems to me) highly relevant statement:

"Prof. Tayler Lewis(73) in the course of learned disquisitions on the meaning of the Olamic and Aionian words of the Bible, refers to the oldest version of the New Testament, the Syriac, or the Peshito, and tells us how these words are rendered in this first form of the New Testament: “So is it ever in the old Syriac version where the one rendering is still more unmistakably clear. These shall go into the pain of the Olam (aión) (the world to come), and these to the life of the Olam (aión) (the world to come).” He refers to Matt. xix:16; Mark x:17; Luke xviii:18; John iii:15; Acts xiii:46; 1 Tim. vi:12, in which aiónios is rendered belonging to the olam, or world to come.Eternal life, in our version, the words in Matt. xxv:46, are rendered in the Peshito “the life of the world to come.”

We quote this not to endorse, but to show that one of the best of modern critics testifies that the earliest New Testament version did not employ endless as the meaning of the word. Of Prof. Lewis Dr. Beecher writes,(74) “We are not to suppose that so eminent an Orthodox divine says these things in support of Universalism, a system which he decidedly and earnestly rejects.”"

Does anyone here have the Syriac New Testament? Is this true?


peshitta.org/ is an interesting site.

It was finding that in the LXX “Aionian” was used to translate Olam from the Hebrew to the Greek. And Olam is a word that is often used to speak of the age/world to come, and specifically the Messianic age/world to come. It’s a means of speaking of what is to come, what is on/over the horizon, beyond site and beyond understanding. So it would not surprise me at all to find that Aionian was translated back into Olam in the Syriac Peshitta.


There’s a lot more discussion of the Peshitta translations in 18th and 19th century UR works (Hanson is writing and summarizing at the end of the 19th). It is certainly true that they used olam where the Greek uses eonian (just as vice versa for the Septuagint.)

As noted, one does not have to be a universalist to accept the interpretation Hanson is reporting. It’s also worth noting that this interpretation requires having already established that the terms olam and eonian are being used in the text as shorthand for “the age to come”, which is quite another thing to do!–as that’s hardly their immediately obvious meaning.

I am not entirely sold on that preceding interpretative scheme myself, but I think it does have some respectable strength.

(Incidentally, I also recommend taking the claim that the Peshitta is the original NT text with a grain of salt. This is how the Church of the East, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox which was Greek, has always marketed it of course; but generally text critical experts accept that the Peshitta is a translation of Greek into Syriac, although they treat the Peshitta with great respect including as a valuable comparative source for trying to get back to the probable Aramaic thought–and in some cases maybe even composition–underlying the Greek.)

This is a decent resource for Peshitta/Peshitto/Old Syriac New Testament studies: aramaicpeshitta.com/

It also provides a book-length argument in favor of the thesis that the Peshitta is the original text of the NT (not just representative of the mother language from which the authors translated into Greek when originally composing the NT texts).

(Edited to add: I’d say it has more info handy than the site Sherman linked to, too, having just looked that over. There are numerous truly excellent NT Peshitto translations. The a/o difference refers to the question of texts the Church of the East considered dubious such as RevJohn. The Peshitto has them, the Peshitta doesn’t.)


So it isn’t accurate to say that the actual words “pain of the world to come” are in the Peshitta? Right there, word for word?


No, it isn’t accurate as to the actual wording. They’re working from a previously developed interpretive model, so their application here will only be as good as the previous development of that model.