Thursday, August 9, 2018

Abba

Alisa Childers writes of "3 Christian Urban Legends That Need to Die." The first:
1. "Abba" means "Daddy."

At some point in your Christian life, you've probably heard that when Jesus used the word, abba to address God the Father, He was using the Aramaic equivalent of the casual and child-like "Daddy," or "Papa" we find in English. It's a nice-sounding sentiment, but unfortunately, (don't shoot the messenger!) it's not true.

President of Wheaton College Philip Ryken wrote,
Abba does not mean ‘Daddy’....The best way to translate abba is “Dear Father,” or even “Dearest Father.” That phrase captures both the warm confidence and the deep reverence that we have for our Father in heaven. It expresses our intimacy with God, while preserving his dignity.
This particular legend can be traced back to a 1971 text by New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias. He wrote that abba was a "children's word" that was like "the chatter of a small child." Although he never used the exact words "Daddy" or "Papa," his idea that abba was a diminutive of "baby talk" form was repeated over and over despite being heavily criticized by other scholars.

The Apostle Paul even used abba twice in the New Testament. But ​have you ever wondered why the English translators didn't just translate abba as Daddy? It's because that isn't what it means. If Jesus or Paul would have wanted to express something along the lines of "Daddy" or "Papa" in reference to God, there are Greek diminutives of "father" available like pappas they could have used....but they didn't.

Bottom line. Abba may not be a children's word, but Jesus did refer to God as "Father," which was a revolutionary idea in the ancient world. God as my Father? It was unheard of! Jesus showed us that we can have a loving, intimate, and secure relationship with God as His sons and daughters, and that fact should never be devalued or diminished.