Facets of Faith: Service to feature ancient language of Jesus

At 6 pm. Saturday, the Unity Church of Christianity, 15255 Old Jefferson Highway, will host an Aramaic Healing Service.

Wyming P. Sun will lead the service, which will feature him reciting The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.

Aramaic was the language spoken during Jesus’ time and in his region. Sun said the service will be “very quiet and meditative” and starts with the Aramaic prayer.

After a Bible story about healing and some simple hymns in English, he will walk around the circle to lay hands for healing. The service will ends with another hymn.

Spoken since 2000 B.C., Aramaic became more popular as everyday speech than many other ancient languages. Sun said it was the “language of commerce” until the followers of Muhammad forced many to switch to Arabic. Aramaic is related to Hebrew, and parts of the Bible books Jeremiah, Ezra and Daniel were written in Aramaic.

Several New Testament phrases that Jesus spoke were saved in Aramaic, and sometimes English versions of the Bible use the Aramaic phrase. One such phrase many people have heard is “Eloi, Eloi, lema sbachthani,” spoken by Jesus from the cross. Found in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46, it means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

The language is still spoken in some Syrian villages and in communities in U.S. cities. A Smithsonian magazine article said that tens of thousands of speakers live north of Chicago.

Sun, who lived in Baton Rouge as an older child and attended LSU, said, “All my life, I was a spiritual adventurer.”

His father was Chinese and was stuck in the United States after upheaval in China. His mother was American of Irish descent.

Sun said that while his parents were “methodical in teaching” him, they also found fun in teaching him and were not doctrinal in their religious teaching.

He grew up being read Bible stories by his mother and being taught Tai Chi and meditation by his father.

As a teen, he was bothered by hearing people say that their church was the “one,” so he prayed about it.

A week later, he heard Rocco Errico, an expert on Aramaic who taught at LSU.

Errico became a longtime teacher for Sun.

Sun said another way his interests turned to Aramiac was from his father.

Other children would question him about Chinese things, and he would go home to ask his father.

His father’s response was often “I didn’t know Confucius said that!”

His father would then look it up in Chinese and translate it.

“It was easy to understand,” Sun said. “I saw the same with Aramaic.”

Sun will also lead this service at 6:30 p.m. July 30, at The Red Shoes, 2303 Government St. It costs $20.

Watch and listen

To hear what Aramaic sounds like, visit these sites:

  • Sun recites The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic:
  • This page lists many videos about Aramaic:

Sources: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, http://www.theredshoes.org/, press release; www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2268204/Race-save-language-Jesus-Aramaic-danger-extinct-number-speakers-ancient-tongue-plummets.html; www.smithsonianmag.com/ideas-innovations/How-to-Save-a-Dying-Language-187947061.html, drdebkern.com/ancient-healing-wisdom-from-the-aramaic-lords-prayer/; interview

Contact Leila Pitchford-English at lenglish@theadvocate.com or P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.