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sean
2011-08-04, 02:16
Did Jesus Speak Hebrew?



Did Jesus Speak Hebrew?
Disputing Aramaic Primacy
by John J. Parsons

Every so often I get asked the question of whether Jesus (Yeshua) really spoke Hebrew (rather than Aramaic, Greek, or even Latin). After all, there seems to be some Aramaic words in the New Testament, and the text itself is written in Koine Greek.

First it must be stressed that this is not an "either Hebrew or Aramaic (or Greek)" question. It must be remembered that the region in which Jesus grew up was multicultural and multilingual. Under the Roman Empire, many Greek-speaking Gentiles lived around Nazareth, especially in the large city of Sepphoris. Jesus was able to speak with the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5-13) and later with Pontius Pilate (John 18:28-38), but since it's unlikely that either of these Gentiles understood Aramaic, the conversation would mostly likely be held using Koine Greek (or perhaps Latin). So it's likely Jesus spoke Greek and even Latin.

And Jesus surely would have understood Aramaic, an ancient Syrian language that goes back to Aram (Gen. 10:23). Indeed, the descendants of Abraham's brother Nachor are called Arameans (Gen. 22:21) from whom Laban came. In Genesis 31:47 Jacob and Laban use different languages to describe a stone heap of witness (Laban used Aramaic but Jacob used Hebrew). Aramaic later became the language of the neighboring Assyria and was later adopted by many Jews during the time of the Babylonian Exile. Ezra the Scribe (4th century BC) wrote in Aramaic (as did the prophet Daniel), and later the Men of the Great Assembly established Aramaic script to be standardized for writing purposes. After the return of the exiles, Nehemiah later complained that assimilated Jews could no longer speak the Jew's native language -- i.e., Hebrew (Neh. 13:23-24).

Despite the encroachment of Aramaic, however, it must be remembered that Hebrew was regarded as Lashon Ha-Kodesh, the sacred language of the Jewish people, and the words of the Torah were sacrosanct. Hebrew was therefore regularly studied and preserved in the words of the Torah and various commentaries. And while it is true that Ezra standardized the Aramaic-style script for the Torah, the language itself was entirely Hebrew, and the script change was intended to separate the returning Jewish people from the Samaritan's who earlier had co-opted the Jewish Torah by means of Assyrian relocation policies. Ezra therefore established Torah reading (in Hebrew) every Sabbath for all synagogues and required Hebrew to be used in all Jewish rituals. He also established the Hebrew recitation of the Amidah (standing prayer) and other Jewish standards of practice. These policies were established hundreds of years before Jesus was born in Bet Lechem of the Galil (בֵּית לֶחֶם הַגְּלִילִית‎), and independent linguistic evidence indicates that Hebrew was used as a common language during the late second Temple period. For example, J.T. Milik wrote "Mishnaic [Hebrew] … was at that time the spoken dialect of the inhabitants of Judaea" (Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea).

Undoubtedly Jesus was given a good Jewish education as a boy, even though he was born into a modest household. His family was devoutly Jewish, as indicated by their adherence to the Torah (Luke 2:39-42). He learned to read the Hebrew texts of the Bible and was adept at reasoning with the Torah sages of his day. At age 12, for example, we find him sitting in the Temple discussing the finer points of the Torah with the religious leaders of his day (Luke 2:39-52). Such a discussion undoubtedly occurred in Hebrew, not Aramaic (much less Greek or Latin).

During his public ministry, Jesus read the Hebrew Torah and Haftarah in synagogue "as was his custom" (Luke 4:16). Jesus also spoke about yod v'kotz shel yod - the Yod and it's stroke (i.e., "jots and tittles"), indicating the meticulous attention he gave to the written Hebrew Torah text (Matt. 5:18).


Jesus' first disciples were essentially uneducated men who spoke with a distinctive Galilean accent -- noted disparagingly in other literature as a corruption of the purer form of Hebrew spoken in Judea. Nonetheless, they attended synagogue with Jesus and lived Torah observant lifestyles.

Additional textual evidence that Jesus spoke Hebrew includes the fact that he spoke easily with the Samaritan woman at the well (the Samaritans preserved and spoke Hebrew, not Aramaic; John 4:4-26). The title over Jesus' cross was written "in Hebrew" (῾Εβραϊστί) not Aramaic as is sometimes erroneously translated (John 19:20). Jesus later spoke to the Apostle Paul in Hebrew (τῇ ῾Εβραΐδι διαλέκτω) on the Road to Damascus (Acts 26:14), and Paul gained the silence of the Jerusalem crowd by addressing them "in the Hebrew tongue" (Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2).

Unquestionably the Apostle Paul was fluent in Hebrew, since he was educated as a Pharisee in Jerusalem under the Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), the grandson of the renowned Jewish sage Hillel the Elder. Paul described himself as circumcised on the eighth day, a Pharisee, and a "Hebrew of Hebrews" (Phil. 3:5). Rabbi Sha'ul (as he would have been called) was well-established in the Jewish leadership of his day, and even had a relationship with the Sanhedrin and High Priest of Israel (Acts 9:1-2). But even after his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-21), he still identified himself a Jew. In Acts 23:6 he confessed, "I am (not "was") a Pharisee." Paul also regularly attended synagogue: "He came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2).

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) of Qumran, known to date from the same general period, reveal an overwhelming preponderance of Hebrew texts. These include everything from commentaries to correspondence, from documents to daily rules. Scholars have discovered that all commentaries on the Scriptures were written in Hebrew -- none in Aramaic. The texts found at Herod's stronghold of Masada are written in Hebrew as well. The Talmud regularly distinguishes between Hebrew and other languages, especially Aramaic. For example, Tracate Sotah 49b states that either Hebrew or Greek should be used in Israel, but not Aramaic (the Zohar later picked this up and called Aramaic the "language of the evil force"). Sotah 33a and Shabbat 12b both state that "angels do not understand Aramaic." The historian Josephus also makes the distinction between Hebrew and Aramaic in his writings. And nearly all of the extant coins that date from the 4th century BC until the Bar Kochba Revolt (AD 135) are embossed in Hebrew (not Aramaic). Inscriptions on pottery vessels, tombs, and other items likewise attest that Hebrew was the spoken and written language of the common people. Simply put, Hebrew has always been the nationalistic language of the Jewish people.

In addition, many of the early "church fathers" also acknowledged that the statements of Jesus recorded in the gospels were in Hebrew. For example, Papias, a second century Church father, is quoted by the historian Eusebius: "Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could" (Ecclesiastical History, III,39,1), and Iraneus (c. 200 AD) wrote: "Matthew issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect." Later, the famous translator Jerome wrote about a Hebrew Gospel he used to translate the Scriptures into Latin (De vir. ill., II). More recent scholarship by Dr. Robert Lindsey and others now indicates a Hebrew structure to the basic Greek New Testament (i.e., Hebrew syntax embedded within the Greek text). The thought patterns behind the New Testament are Hebraic -- not Aramaic or Greek. The scattered Aramaic words found in the New Testament are either loan words or are simply poorly transliterated Hebrew words and phrases rendered into Greek.

Jesus is called the very Word of God in John 1:1, a verse that mirrors the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1. It is unthinkable that the promised Messiah, the King of the Jews in the lineage of Moses, King David and the Hebrew prophets, would have spoken His words of life using a foreign language to the Jewish people. As the King of the Jews, He would have spoken the language of the Jews.




The late Dr. David Flusser, Professor of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, states:


The spoken languages among the Jews of that period [at the time of Jesus] were Hebrew, Aramaic, and to an extent Greek. Until recently, it was believed by numerous scholars that the language spoken by Jesus' disciples was Aramaic. It is possible that Jesus did, from time to time, make use of the Aramaic language. But during that period Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study. The Gospel of Mark contains a few Aramaic words, and this was what misled scholars. Today, after the discovery of the Hebrew Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus), of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and of the Bar Kochba Letters, and in light of more profound studies of the language of the Jewish Sages, it is accepted that most people were fluent in Hebrew. The Pentateuch was translated into Aramaic for the benefit of the lower strata of the population. The parables in the Rabbinic literature, on the other hand, were delivered in Hebrew in all periods. There is thus no ground for assuming that Jesus did not speak Hebrew; and when we are told (Acts 21:40) that Paul spoke Hebrew, we should take this piece of information at face value.

This question of the spoken language is especially important for understanding the doctrines of Jesus. There are sayings of Jesus which can be rendered both in Hebrew and Aramaic; but there are some which can only be rendered into Hebrew, and none of them can be rendered only in Aramaic. One can thus demonstrate the Hebrew origins of the Gospels by retranslating them into Hebrew.

It appears that the earliest documents concerning Jesus were written works, taken down by his disciples after his death. Their language was early Rabbinic Hebrew with strong undercurrents of Biblical Hebrew. Even in [those books] of the New Testament which were originally composed in Greek, such as the Pauline Epistles, there are clear traces of the Hebrew language; and the terminology in those books of the New Testament which were composed in Greek is often intelligible only when we know the original Hebrew terms. In these books, we can trace the influence of the Greek translation of the Bible side by side with the influence of the Hebrew original. (Jewish Sources in Early Christianity, Adama Books)

ethioboy
2011-08-04, 04:18
definately aramaic and Im sure he knew hebrew as a second language.

Dave
2011-08-04, 05:05
well high Greek was spoken in all of the areas he lived as a lengua franca by upper class people, so he may have spoken it.

Boots
2011-08-04, 07:00
he also grew up and lived in Egypt, so he had to have spoke Egyptian also and if nothing else he was the author of all languages and could undoubtedly speak any of them just like the apostles are recorded as doing...
so I voted for Aramaic but I suspect He may have spoke all of the languages at some point in his life. even if just in his prayers and in his private time , prayers for a certain people or certain things or certain events .
I don't think he was limited for any reasons by any language.

EclectYummination
2011-08-04, 07:21
I've heard what Ethioboy said and was thinking what Dave said about the Greek language in the region.

Acquisitorz
2011-08-04, 07:48
the questions should be more like "did Jesus exist?" and if yes then "what personality disorder did he have?".
Modern psychiatrists agree based on his speeches from the bible that he must have suffered from a severe form of narcissistic personality disorder.

Dave
2011-08-04, 07:58
well, if you say "I am am the son of god and what I say is correct." obviously one might say he is self obsessed lol what smart observations

Humanist
2011-08-04, 08:07
A bit before Meshikha's time, but still interesting:

When the Assyrians at Jerusalem in 701 BCE were trying to persuade its
people to surrender peacefully, the Assyrian rab shakeh, literally ‘the cupbearer’,
a very high ranking officer and courtier, addressed the people in
Hebrew. This upset the Judaeans who were negotiating on their behalf,
and they pleaded with the rab shakeh to speak in Aramaic. Aramaic was
the lingua franca of the day, but presumably was less familiar to many
citizens than their native Hebrew language. Commentators have admitted
that they cannot think of a convincing way to explain why that Assyrian
high official knew Hebrew. This reminds us of the royal inscription of
Tiglath-pileser III (c. 732), whose scribes surprisingly wrote the Hebrew
form of Azariah’s name Azari-yau, rather than the Aramaic form Idri-yau.
How did it happen that top Assyrians were conversant with Hebrew during
the reigns of at least four Assyrian kings?

[JSOT 28.4 (2004) 387-401]
ISSN 0309-0892

Recent Evidence from Assyrian Sources for Judaean History from Uzziah to Manasseh
Stephanie Dalley
Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE

ageladakos
2011-08-04, 08:27
well, imo it doesn't really mater what language jesus spoke, because his message was above languages.

now about the arguement itself, i think its a bad arguement, because it uses lies as well as on purpose used wrong information, even if they are right, these texts look cheap, more as if they are trying to convince the average reader by using tons of brackets and refferences, than justifying an oppinion.
the second text sean quoted is from a jew, a proffesor of "early christianity and judaism" of the "hebrew university of jerusalem".
what else could he be writing?


The thought patterns behind the New Testament are Hebraic -- not Aramaic or Greek.




This question of the spoken language is especially important for understanding the doctrines of Jesus. There are sayings of Jesus which can be rendered both in Hebrew and Aramaic; but there are some which can only be rendered into Hebrew, and none of them can be rendered only in Aramaic. One can thus demonstrate the Hebrew origins of the Gospels by retranslating them into Hebrew.


the terminology in those books of the New Testament which were composed in Greek is often intelligible only when we know the original Hebrew terms.


More recent scholarship by Dr. Robert Lindsey and others now indicates a Hebrew structure to the basic Greek New Testament (i.e., Hebrew syntax embedded within the Greek text).

thats bullshit, as a greek i had no problem with "thought paterns", structure or anything even if i was reading a 2000 year old text.


Paul described himself as circumcised on the eighth day, a Pharisee, and a "Hebrew of Hebrews" (Phil. 3:5). Rabbi Sha'ul (as he would have been called) was well-established in the Jewish leadership of his day, and even had a relationship with the Sanhedrin and High Priest of Israel (Acts 9:1-2). But even after his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-21), he still identified himself a Jew. In Acts 23:6 he confessed, "I am (not "was") a Pharisee." Paul also regularly attended synagogue: "He came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2).

that is even more bullshit lol


νοὺς δὲ ὁ Παῦλος ὅτι τὸ ἓν μέρος ἐστὶ Σαδδουκαίων, τὸ δὲ ἕτερον Φαρισαίων, ἔκραξεν ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ· Ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, ἐγὼ Φαρισαῖός εἰμι, υἱὸς Φαρισαίου· περὶ ἐλπίδος καὶ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν ἐγὼ κρίνομαι. 7 τοῦτο δὲ αὐτοῦ λαλήσαντος ἐγένετο στάσις τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῶν Σαδδουκαίων, καὶ ἐσχίσθη τὸ πλῆθος.

"paul knew (thought, had in mind) that a part of these people were saddukei, and the other part pharisei, so he told them: 'men brothers, i am a phariseos, a son of a phariseou, about hope and the resurection of the dead i am judged. and after he had said this, there has been a stop between the pharisei and saddukei and the crowd was "cut in two" (ripped).

my poor fast translation agrees with most of the english translations (ofc its much worst in the way it sounds)

http://bible.cc/acts/23-6.htm
http://bible.cc/acts/23-7.htm


But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

either university proffesors in israel are total retards who can't even read, or they use cheap gypsy tactics to pass on their propaganda.

i believe it is the second.

Surreal
2011-08-04, 16:17
the questions should be more like "did Jesus exist?" and if yes then "what personality disorder did he have?".
Modern psychiatrists agree based on his speeches from the bible that he must have suffered from a severe form of narcissistic personality disorder.

i was gonna say the same :lol:

Acquisitorz
2011-08-04, 22:20
well, if you say "I am am the son of god and what I say is correct." obviously one might say he is self obsessed lol what smart observations

its more than that, psychiatrists who read the bible said that its full of typical narcissistic statements made by Jesus, really full of it.

Danielion
2011-08-04, 22:29
He spoke Aramaic as his mother tongue. Not sure which other languages he knew. He probably was also fluent in Greek.

sean
2011-08-04, 22:36
its more than that, psychiatrists who read the bible said that its full of typical narcissistic statements made by Jesus, really full of it.

There are thousands of Biblical characters with narcissist tendencies, Joshua was very narcissist and King David sent to kill his best friend to take his wife that is a demonstration of lack of empathy.

phoibOS
2011-08-05, 00:12
its more than that, psychiatrists who read the bible said that its full of typical narcissistic statements made by Jesus, really full of it.

Its obvious that the tone of those quotes were influenced by the abstract thinking of the "divinely inspired" writers themselves. and its more than likely that their central message had nothing to with the "narcissism" the psychiatrists latch onto.