Winter Driving Best Books of the Month Men's Leather Watches Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon The Suffers Explore Home Audio All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Valentine's Day Cards Bring a little greenery into your home Amazon Gift Card Offer girls2 girls2 girls2  Amazon Echo All-New Fire Kindle Paperwhite Shop Now SnS
Customer Discussions > Religion forum

How do we know that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and not Greek?


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-25 of 159 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 4, 2009 10:57:05 AM PDT
'probabilist says:
How do we know that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and not Greek?

Thanks,

P

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 10:59:05 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 18, 2009 3:22:40 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 11:04:48 AM PDT
'probabilist says:
How do you know that, then?

P

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 11:07:02 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 18, 2009 3:30:44 PM PST]

Posted on Jun 4, 2009 11:16:39 AM PDT
In a lot of "Biblical circles", it is assumed that Jesus spoke a form of Galilean Aramaic. However, on the cross Jesus cried out "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani" which has Hebrew origins. I would say that based on that information, Jesus spoke Hebrew. Hope that helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 11:37:46 AM PDT
'probabilist says:
> he even taught at a synagogue.
> kind of sure that they read and speak hebrew there

Hadn't the Septuagint already been translated into Greek before then, for the benefit of those in the Diaspora who didn't read Hebrew?

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, did he preach in Hebrew? Aramaic? Greek? Wouldn't he have needed to use a spoken language the audience could understand?

P

Posted on Jun 4, 2009 11:43:23 AM PDT
Iain says:
Dear 'prob,

It's an interesting question, seriously. Surely, if Jesus really was divine he could have spoken any language he wanted to.

Iain

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 11:45:32 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 18, 2009 3:30:44 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 2:13:59 PM PDT
AR says:
Iain,

Would the answer be in the "Rock"?

"kepha" - Aramaic -

"petra" & "petros" - Greek -

?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 4:50:58 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
Cephas?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 5:11:38 PM PDT
AR says:
'prob,

Hi, hope your day is going well?

The two examples are given in Aramaic and Greek because it is my understanding that in ancient usage they mean two different things.

Saint Peter was known as Cephas/Rock. If this was his name, (or how he was 'known'), then it would show an original placement of the story in Aramaic, not Greek. His "name" was not known as "Petros", but instead, later on, the play on the word comes through in Greek, as the Rock of the Church. This is more obvious when I look at the two words themselves. [Again, this is only in my understanding, I could be wrong] - "Kepha" is used to mean 'big rock'; like the stone hewn to make a cornerstone, while the word Petra/Petros is commonly a rock, such as you or I would say, "Pick up a rock and throw it." Again, the logic just doesn't seem to jive in the reverse as far as a play on words.

I don't know any of the scholars' opinions on this, [outside my interests I'm sorry to say], but it just seems logical.

We do know the ancient authors' love for word-play, so this again seems reasonable to me. I don't have the exact verse, but it is in Matthew I am almost sure. I can look it up in Young's Literal if you like?

Also, have you ever seen that in Hebrew, he was known as Ben-Yonah/Bar-Yonah, which, when we accept the "J" for the "Y", we have Jonah? Hmmm. Interesting, no?

Good to see you, take care.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 5:30:33 PM PDT
Sarah says:
Charles B Wise: In a lot of "Biblical circles", it is assumed that Jesus spoke a form of Galilean Aramaic. However, on the cross Jesus cried out "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani" which has Hebrew origins. I would say that based on that information, Jesus spoke Hebrew. Hope that helps.

Sarah: In Hebrew, that line looks as if it comes closest to meaning, "My God, My God, why have you sacrificed me?" Or maybe, "My God, My God, why have you interwoven me?" Want to explain what you make of that?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 5:37:25 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jan 18, 2010 9:10:04 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 5:38:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2009 5:39:15 PM PDT
Sarah says:
Prob: Hadn't the Septuagint already been translated into Greek before then, for the benefit of those in the Diaspora who didn't read Hebrew?

Sarah: Just the Torah and not for use in the synagogue. Jews who didn't read Hebrew heard simultaneous Aramaic translations in the synagogue. But there were no publicly accessible synagogues in the Holy Land in the first third of the First Century. Of course, the NT authors, Gentiles in other countries, had no way of knowing that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:06:23 PM PDT
Iain says:
Dear Sarah,

I am so happy to "see" you in print here again, so very bloody happy.

Anyway, who actually says that the Hebrew texts were translated into Greek for the benefit of Jews who couldn't read the original? Ptolemy's overall purpose was to translate everything he thought worth preserving, which was just about any text he could get his hands on, into Greek so that Greeks could read them and also because he was a Greek, or a Greek speaking Macedonian, who felt that any other language was a barbarian tongue, a belief in line with the general Greek notion that anything not Greek was second class, at best.

Also, the idea that the Jews in Alexandria at the time couldn't read Hebrew is a bit far fetched; we're talking about the second century BCE here.

Iain

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:12:18 PM PDT
ColdShot says:
Didn't He speak to the woman at the well in her own tongue, which was Aramaic!?

Why are you asking?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:16:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2009 6:16:53 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
ColdShot asked:

> Why are you asking?

Unquenchable curiosity.

,.-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:16:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2009 6:18:15 PM PDT
ColdShot says:
But don't confuse that synagogue with a modern one...

Not the same at all. In fact what He was teaching was foreign to those people, who were already going in their own direction since before the captivity. That's why they did not understand Him!

Anyways, I'm sure he could speak any tongue, you should have surmised that already, no?

And curiosity is a good thing...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:21:53 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
Iain wrote:

> just about any text he could get his hands on

I remember reading somewhere that Ptolemy had a standing order for the Alexandria port authorities to confiscate all books on any ships that entered the port, turn the books over to the library, and have a copy of each book made. The originals stayed in the library, and each ship got the copies of the books it had entered port with.

Your thoughts?

P

P.S. It's great to see you posting here.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 6:34:58 PM PDT
Iain says:
Dear 'prob,

Re the confiscation of books from ships:

There are several references in ancient texts to the "ship books" in the library, and yes, I've read the same thing, most recently in Nicastro's "Circumference" on Eratosthenes. Nicastro also tells the story of one of the Ptolemies, I forget which, putting down a deposit in Athens of millions in gold to borrow originals of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, or it may even have been just Euripides, copying them, and then sending back the copies and just forfeiting the money.

Of course, he wasn't a poor man.

Iain

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 9:28:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2009 3:22:21 AM PDT
We don't for sure. He could have spoken both. Greek being one of the 'koine' or lingua franca of that time and place. But standard historical linguistics says that the common spoken language of the 'natives' of classical Palestine spoke forms of W. Aramaic. Hebrew would have exerted a strong lexical influence on Aramaic, both in the Levant and in Mesopotamia. I also wouldn't deny the possibility that Hebrew still existed as a spoken native language, although its days were numbered.
I suppose it could be conjectured that Jesus might have been tri-lingual--a speaker of some form of Hebrew still existing in the 'early Christian era', a widely shared form of Aramaic, and a form of Greek.

Aramaic and ancient Hebrew are/were very closely related languages.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2009 9:29:36 PM PDT
I believe as a man with a preaching mission, he would have spoken the languages that most people understood. W. Aramaic and Greek. However, if he wanted to appear learned in discussing his native religion, he also needed Hebrew as well.

Posted on Jun 5, 2009 3:24:49 AM PDT
http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:ru5fLuvNOiUJ:www.skupinbooks.com/books/Language_Landscape.doc+when+did+hebrew+become+extinct&cd=11&hl=en&ct=clnk

There can be little question that the most ubiquitous language of first-century Jerusalem was Aramaic. Levine gives several types of evidence that he considers decisive in according Aramaic primacy among the languages used in the city. The first was the use of Aramaic translations of the Scriptures in this period - in synagogue settings, at the very least.

This custom is well known from rabbinic literature of the second century C.E., but it probably existed beforehand as well...The fact that [such] translations existed and played a central role in the synagogue liturgy of the time indicates the degree to which the populace at large did not understand Hebrew and thus required an Aramaic translation. (Levine 82)

Levine also cites literary and numismatic evidence, and quotes several "to whom it may concern" letters addressed to the Jewish community at large, whose language is Aramaic. (Levine 83)

Hebrew, the fourth strand of the language status quo, was a language that was doomed:

After the Bar-Kokheba revolt (132-135 C.E.), the population of Judaea was decimated, and the rabbis and their disciples moved to Galilee, bringing with them the... literature written in Middle Hebrew. Here they quickly became assimilated to the Aramaic-speaking environment, and in one to two generations spoken Middle Hebrew became extinct (perhaps with the exception of dispersed and culturally rather unimportant settlements in Judaea). (Paper 4)

During the life of Jesus, however, Hebrew was still widely spoken, although it was a language on the decline, if not on the defensive. Those in power "tagged" themselves with Latin; those who were debonair and fashionable "tagged" themselves with Greek; Hebrew became the "tag" for nostalgia: the good old days, the ancient virtues, nationalist as opposed to cosmopolitan.

Since Jerusalem was the center of this cosmopolitan culture, it would follow that Hebrew would be of marginal importance there.

Other than funerary inscriptions, we have little evidence for the use of this language among the population in general. (Levine 74)

It would also follow that the opposite would be true in the more traditional parts of the country.

The most telling evidence for the widespread use of Hebrew in Jewish circles of the first century comes from outside Jerusalem. The written material found in the Judaean Desert, relating to both Qumran and Bar Kokhba, attests to the use of Hebrew not only as a literary language but also, in the case of the latter, as a living tongue used in letters and documents. However, the relevance of this data to the question of languages spoken in Jerusalem is unclear. (Levine 75)

It must remain unclear because of Hebrew's role as a religious language. Catch-phrases may be employed by a speaker with no real competence in a language of prestige, the way a modern American with no Latin may refer to "an ad hoc committee." Hebrew exists in first-century Jerusalem in funerary inscriptions; Latin exists in modern America in funerary inscriptions, but in neither case can that be taken as evidence for vernacular use. Relevant to our subject,

Let us look at Qumran. Scriptural texts, canonical and apocryphal, have been found there in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Was the community, then, trilingual? Or was what we stumbled upon at Qumran a kind of geniza where exemplars of the Septuagint, for instance, were identified as Scripture and so preserved as an act of reverence and piety, even though no one could read what was written there? (Paper 162)

Whether anyone in the cloisters of Qumran could read them or not does not change the fact that each language had its role in Israel at that time: Greek and Aramaic were cosmopolitan, Hebrew was home-grown. Since the cosmopolitan elements dominated urban society, however, Hebrew was also the language of the powerless, the aggrieved, and of those who dreamed of setting things right. This identification had begun at least two centuries before the life of Christ, and

had obvious theological and political overtones since it was first raised by Ben Sira and then, in a more violent and radical form, by the Maccabees. (Paper 159)

The radicalness would not stop with the Maccabees, however, as the Dead Sea Scrolls would reveal. This literature was radical in two senses. First, it was "retro."

Its very calendar was Davidic in inspiration.

The new evidence would seem to indicate that the Qumran community, whose self-appellation was the "Sons of Zadok," was divided into subgroups bearing the names of David's priestly courses. (Wacholder xi)

Second, it was militant. Messianic literature was not unique to the Judaean wilderness; it is a topic in the writings of the contemporary Alexandrian philosopher Philo. (Collins 134ff) Philo also writes approvingly of ascetic Jewish sects in Egypt. (Feldman 522ff) What distinguishes the Qumran community is the fierceness of its nationalism and the otherworldliness of its utopianism.

It is for these reasons that we felt it more appropriate to refer to the movement we have before us as the `Messianic' one, and its literature as the literature of `the Messianic Movement' in Palestine... In fact, what one seems to have reflected in this Qumran literature is a Messianic élite retreating or `separating' into the wilderness... The militancy of this spirit will be unfamiliar to many readers - although those with a knowledge of militant Puritanism of seventeenth-century England - particularly under Cromwell - and thereafter in America will recognize it. It is a militancy that is still very much part of the Islamic spirituality as well. It is this kind of spirit which shines through the texts as we have them... (Eisenman 11-12)

This militancy would lead to disaster, the extiction of Hebrew and the survival of Latin, Greek and Aramaic. It is an irony of history that the twenty-first century would find these latter "big three" on the wane, and Hebrew reborn as the national language of modern Israel.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2009 1:39:19 PM PDT
'probabilist says:
Very helpful. Thanks!

P

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2009 2:38:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2009 2:39:24 PM PDT
Lee Freeman says:
Jesus probably spoke both Hebrew AND Greek. Since Judea had been Hellenized during the Greek conquest 3 centuries before Jesus, and since the Hebrew OT had been translated into Greek (the LXX trans.), and was read, not only by Diaspora Jews, but even Jews in Judaea, and since Judaea was a part of the Roman Empire, of which Koine Greek was the common lanugage of trade and commerce, its almost inconceivable that he wouldn't know at least a little Greek; most Jews, certainly in the larger towns of the Empire, would speak Greek. And Nazareth was just a day's walk southeast of the large Greek city Sepphoris.

Pax.

Lee.
‹ Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next ›
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in
 


Recent discussions in the Religion forum

  Discussion Replies Latest Post
Announcement
Amazon Discussions Feedback Forum
1525 14 days ago
Today in Muslim History 4615 16 seconds ago
What would Christ say about Trump: evangelical hero, crackpot, or psychopath? 839 1 minute ago
Fear of Death 1275 15 minutes ago
Amy Hall claims: There is no Jesus, no thorny crown, and he was a mere man, just like you. There is no deity. 427 17 minutes ago
The wonderful message of atheism 6171 36 minutes ago
keep one change one started 10 October 2014 4190 37 minutes ago
Pope Francis is NOT the Legitimate Pope & Satan Has Taken Over the Throne 444 38 minutes ago
Doc's holistic Sunday School 297 52 minutes ago
Future Science, Time Travel Edition - Knowledge vs Faith 4 54 minutes ago
How can you prove that life is not an illusion/dream 397 1 hour ago
Thiest, Atheist, and... 2574 1 hour ago
 

This discussion

Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  34
Total posts:  159
Initial post:  Jun 4, 2009
Latest post:  Jan 19, 2013

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.
Tracked by 1 customer

Search Customer Discussions