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Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani

ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI (ā'lē, ā'lē, lă'mă sabăch'thănē). The English transliteration of a Greek phrase (Matt.27.46; Mark.15.34), which in turn is a transliteration of either the Hebrew or an Aramaic version of Ps.22.1. The phrase as it appears in the best text of Matthew is closer to Aramaic; in Mark it is closer to Hebrew. The words are the central of the seven cries of Jesus from the cross, as gathered from all four Gospels. The fact that in both instances the words are first transliterated shows the deep impression they made on some of the hearers. Both evangelists then translated them for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with either Hebrew or Aramaic, and their translation is authoritative as to what Jesus meant when he uttered them, since during his resurrection ministry he explained to them the meaning of all that concerned his death (Luke.24.45-Luke.24.46). Conjecture connects sabachthani with an Aramaic verb meaning “deliverer,” which would permit a rendering, “for this hast thou spared me,” which is inconsistent with the evangelists' translation. Christ was forsaken by the Father when he bore our sins.——ER

The statement is of great theological significance in the comprehension of the selfrevelation of Jesus. The meaning of the phrase is abundantly clear, as both evangelists immediately gloss the Aram. transliteration with the meaning, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34). The true comprehension of the momentous meaning of the text is involved with the fact that it is quoted from a Messianic Psalm. The rabbinical commentators and the Talmud itself assumed Psalm 22 to be an expression of suffering and a plea for mercy greater than David’s alone. The cry of the dying Messiah in the passion narratives refers to the mystery of Christ’s two natures—the Divine co-eternal Lord-Christ was judging the human Messiah-Jesus upon the cross, and in this hour of agony when redemption was accomplished, the suffering servant cried out to the just and angry covenant God. In view of this moment, many churches have added over the centuries the phrase “he descended into Hell” to the statement regarding Christ’s passion in the Apostles’ Creed. At this point in the narrative of redemption, the insight is far beyond the realm of analysis and only confession is valid.

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