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#33b - 1Co 14:33-36 - What about the Lamsa Bible's insights?

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.

To understand the context of this question, please refer to, for which these questions are follow-ups.


Question/insight #33-B: "...George Lamsa once pointed out in Old Testament Light, regarding the wording of God's apparent agreement with the serpent in Genesis, that Adam and Eve had become as gods, that in that culture, such apparent agreement was a form of satire, and as such, a mock. I see Paul's preceding words as reflecting a similar manner of speaking. Lamsa came from a part of Asia Minor where the language (Aramaic) and culture are close to that of Palistine 2,000 years ago, having changed little since then. His own translation of the Bible is a personal favorite of mine."

BibleTexts Response #33-B:

...I don't want to 'rain on your parade' regarding the Lamsa Bible, but Dr. Metzger, in a seminar he conducted at the Foundation for Biblical Research, commented on the Lamsa Bible. I'll preface this by noting that he is a genuinely gentle and mild-mannered individual, but when he addressed the issue of the Lamsa Bible, he spoke with unequivocally - and, for him, uncharacteristically -- strong words.

As transcribed by me (with the Foundation's permission) from an audio recording of the seminar, Dr. Metzger's words were: "George Lamsa, the 1940s persuaded a reputable publisher of the Bible in Philadelphia, the Winston Publishing Company, to issue his absolute fraud, of 'the Bible translated from the original Aramaic.' Absolutely a money getter, and nothing else." (For more of Dr. Metzger's remarks on Lamsa's works and on the value of Aramaic resources, you can browse

Some years ago I had already questioned the value of the Lamsa Bible, when I observed that many of the same errors that appeared in the Textus Receptus were also in Lamsa Bible. These were errors that first appeared, anywhere in the world, in the 16th century, which is when Erasmus haphazardly prepared his first edition of what later become the Textus Receptus. It seems almost as if Lamsa began by translating the Textus Receptus (or the KJV?) or the Latin Vulgate into Aramaic and then translated his Aramaic translation back out to modern English.

Later when I heard Dr. Metzger's remarks, his comments really made sense. They were especially believable, since Metzger is arguably the world's foremost scholar on the subject of New Testament manuscripts and the Greek New Testament. And Metzger was already a recognized biblical scholar when Lamsa first published his Bible in the 1940s, so Metzger is speaking here on first-hand knowledge of the events of that time. What appears to be a lack of forthrightness in Lamsa's original representation of his "translation" unfortunately casts a shadow on his other works. (For more info on the history of the Textus Receptus - and references to some of Metzger's and others' works on the subject, you can browse: and

The above info on the Lamsa Bible is really only a relatively insignificant footnote. Your considerable contributions to the Ordination of Women dialog are yours, to the glory of God, with or without Lamsa's works.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer