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I am an Italian gentile believer in HaShem, who engages in the observance of the noahide precepts, as commanded by the Creator in the Torah.

In the numerous debates I have with my catholic christian friends, a definite contrast emerged on whether Jesus the Nazarene was seen also by his first followers as the incarnation of the Creator. I pointed out to them that the first Hebrew disciples of Jesus called him "Maràn", as attested in the expression, also present in the New Testament, "Maranatha", which can be read Marana tha ("come, our Mar") or Maràn atha ("Our Mar has come.) Now, Christian exegesis translates Maran with" Our Lord”, and believes that this is a divine title, in which the" Lord "we are talking about is HaShem; this interpretation is conditioned by the fact that the Divine Tetragrammaton YH ** has been rendered, in the Greek translation of the Tanakh known as "The Seventy", with the Greek expression "o κύριος", which means "The Lord", confirming the Hebrew use of substituting, in the recitation, the predicted (and forbidden) pronunciation of YH ** with the word "Adonai".

My christian friends are fully convinced of the correctness of this interpretation of "Maràn", but I have countered by referring to the millennial Jewish tradition, in which Maràn has the meaning of "Our Master", and indicates an honorary title attributed to rabbis of particular authority, such as the case of Rabbi Yosef Karo, the editor of Shulchan Arukh, and as is still the practice today in the Haredi community (see the example of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef). Moreover, if it is true that the Aramaic mar also means lord, it is also true that, as in all the languages of the world, even in Aramaic and Hebrew the word lord is also used for human beings endowed with particular authority, not only for the Creator, and this is amply attested by the sources.

Therefore, I told my friends that It does not seem illogical to think that the first followers of Jesus, who according to the same Christian sources were all Jews and observed the Torah, at least the written one, saw in the Nazarene the Messiah announced by the scriptures but NOT the incarnation of HaShem, attributing to their guide the epithet of "Our Master", and that the divinization of Jesus happened because of the pagan-Hellenistic influences brought by the apostate of Torah Paul of Tarsus and his followers of gentile origin. My Christian friends have very attached to my opinion, but patience ...

Is my approach correct, or are there examples in Jewish sources of a use of the Maran title to refer to HaShem?

  • The Peshitta Old Testament (which is usually thought to have been translated by Jews) routinely uses ܡܪܝܐ marya for the Tetragrammaton (like Hebrew אדני or Greek kyrios), but Jewish Aramaic Targumim always leave the Tetragrammaton untranslated (יי or similar) – b a Dec 17 '17 at 19:09
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The word can be used to refer to God, see e.g. Daniel (5:23):

וְעַ֣ל מָרֵֽא־שְׁמַיָּ֣א ׀ הִתְרוֹמַ֡מְתָּ

You exalted yourself against the Lord of Heaven

However, the term mar, and related words, do not imply divinity. It is also used in Scripture as an honourific for humans, e.g. in Daniel (4:16):

וְאָמַ֔ר מראי [מָרִ֕י] חֶלְמָ֥א לשנאיך [לְשָֽׂנְאָ֖ךְ] וּפִשְׁרֵ֥הּ לעריך [לְעָרָֽךְ׃]

Belteshazzar replied [to Daniel], “My lord, would that the dream were for your enemy and its meaning for your foe!

And in Daniel (4:21):

דִּ֥י מְטָ֖ת עַל־מראי [מָרִ֥י] מַלְכָּֽא

Which has overtaken my lord the king [Belteshazzar].

  • In other words, Mar in Aramaic is equivalent to Adon in Hebrew - sometimes refers to G-d, sometimes is a respectful way to refer to a very human being, and occasionally is used to refer to angels. – DonielF Dec 17 '17 at 20:01
  • @donielf. Yeah. Or to any other honourific – mevaqesh Dec 17 '17 at 20:06
  • Thank you.Do you agree that is better to translate Maran as "Our master" and not "Our Lord"? – Amos74 Dec 17 '17 at 20:33
  • @Amos74 The terms are synonymous. The latter has a particularly Christian ring to it, so that would be an advantage to the former, but I see nothing inherently wrong with the latter. After all, the term is frequently used to refer to humans with no divine implications. – mevaqesh Dec 17 '17 at 21:05
  • @Amos74 You are very welcome! – mevaqesh Dec 17 '17 at 21:08
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Hashem is referred to as Maran in a number of Aramaic prayers, such as מרן די בשמיא לך מתחננן, found in Selichos, and brought in Seder Rav Amram (Seder Selichos/Ashmoros Page 41). Another example is the use of the term מרן די בשמיא in יקום פורקן.

These show that in Jewish tradition there are examples that show that Maran by itself (meaning "our Master") refers to Hashem. Based on a quick text search, it seems that in Tanach, "Mar" only refers to Hashem is when He is referred to as מרא שמיא, or "Master of Heaven" (Daniel 5:23) as opposed to "our Master in Heaven", which would be the translation of the words in the above prayers.

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