Lamsa, George (ca. 1891–1975) [Ch. of E.]
Bible translator. Lamsa came from the village of Marbishu in Turkey. He attended the English mission school in Urmia, later teaching in the school in Van. He came to the USA in 1916 or 1917 by way of Argentina, taking the name George at the port. He became an American citizen in 1923. He was associated with Episcopalian efforts to revive a mission to the Assyrians after World War I: see his co-authored book The Oldest Christian People (1926). His most characteristic publications began, however, with My Neighbor Jesus: in the Light of his own Language, People, and Time (1932). This established one of his themes, that the Bible could be illuminated by the customs and language of his own Aramaic-speaking community in the Middle East which was, he claimed, little changed since biblical times. He published a translation of the Four Gospels (1933) and then of the whole New Testament, entitled The New Testament according to the Eastern Text Translated from Original Aramaic Sources (1940) — the ‘eastern text’ being the Peshitta, which, being in ‘Aramaic’, was according to Lamsa the original form of the New Testament. A translation of the whole Peshitta Bible, The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts, appeared in 1957.
Lamsa’s books had an appeal in the Ch. of E. for a time. He was a member of Patr. Eshai Shemʿon ’s council, and represented the Church as an observer at the Vatican Council in 1964. His own religious thought was, however, broad and unorthodox, and his greatest influence has been among various small Christian and Christian-theosophical bodies in the U. S. A. who continue to reprint his works.
- ‘Lamsa, George M(amishisho)’, in Contemporary Authors 23–4 (1970), 246. (incl. a list of his writings)
- The life of Dr. George M. Lamsa (Aramaic Bible Society, 1966).
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
James F. Coakley, “Lamsa, George,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Lamsa-George.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Coakley, James F. “Lamsa, George.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Lamsa-George.
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