Many of us have “Red Letter Edition” Bibles. These editions have all the words of Jesus printed in red. The idea is that, even though all of scripture is important, we need to pay particular attention to what Jesus had to say.
I think that it is more important than ever for us to reemphasize the words of Jesus in our Christian lives. He gave us pretty clear teaching on how we should live our lives — more about who we should be and what we should do than what we must believe. Most of the heavy doctrinal burdens and issues that we bear today did not originate with the Savior. They were added later by various church leaders.
I found two interesting blogs that focus on this perspective:
I plan to read through the gospels again, using my red letter edition Bible this time. I will also look at some of the accounts of Jesus’ sayings that were not accepted into our Bibles (the New Testament apocrypha) to see what they have to add. And finally, I plan to augment my reading with the Aramaic New Testament (see https://churchofourfathers.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/the-peshitta-aramaic-new-testament/). Since it is almost certain that Jesus spoke to his Jewish followers in Aramaic (not the Greek from which our English translations have been derived), this should provide an improved rendering of the words that Jesus actually said.
I have been reminded that we call ourselves Christians, not “Paulians” or “Peterians” or “Augustinians”. The teachings of Christ himself must certainly receive our primary attention.
I also touch on some of these topics in my other blog at http://pathsofchristianity.com/.
My previous post made mention of an Aramaic New Testament. This has turned out to be an interesting side trip in my studies. The assertion I mentioned is that the original gospels were written in Aramaic rather than Greek. However, regardless of whether Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote in Greek, it is important to note that the actual verbal sayings of Jesus to his disciples were almost certainly in Aramaic. So the “original Greek texts” that we refer to so often in modern times can only be translations at best. It seems to me that reading a transliteration of the New Testament in Aramaic would be the closest we English speakers can get to receiving the actual words of Christ.
Some years ago I was given a copy of the The Peshitta on CD ROM. The Peshitta is the official Bible of the Church of the East. The name Peshitta in Aramaic means “Straight”, in other words, the original and pure New Testament. The Church of the East believes that the Peshitta is the only authentic and pure text which contains the books in the New Testament that were written in Aramaic, the Language of Mshikha (the Messiah) and His Disciples.
In reference to the originality of the Peshitta, the words of His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East, are summarized as follows:
“With reference to….the originality of the Peshitta text, as the Patriarch and Head of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East, we wish to state, that the Church of the East received the scriptures from the hands of the blessed Apostles themselves in the Aramaic original, the language spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and that the Peshitta is the text of the Church of the East which has come down from the Biblical times without any change or revision.”
The above information is from an excellent web site: http://www.peshitta.org/. This website includes the full Aramaic text of the four gospels plus Acts, along with an interlinear English translation. I keep finding new things to study much more rapidly than I can keep up!