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Language of Jesus' Ministry


02-08-2016, 04:27 PM #1
Artful Revealer
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This is a continuation from this topic.

Sunflower Wrote:supposing the original NT was written in Hebrew, as you may have been aware of, Hebrew language (and Arabic) does not have capital letters. So 'Son of God' would be written as 'son of god'.

(02-08-2016, 01:19 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, not Hebrew.

(02-08-2016, 01:43 PM)Sunflower Wrote:  
if you say that the NT was originally in Greek, that means the NT is not to be trusted since it was NOT from Jesus nor his real disciples.

(02-08-2016, 02:01 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
Greek was the common tongue during the time of Christ, Sunflower.

(02-08-2016, 02:09 PM)khadeejah Wrote:  
Common amongst whom?

(02-08-2016, 02:13 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
Among those who lived where Jesus lived and walked. Jesus spoke Aramaic and Greek. Where do you guys get the idea he spoke Hebrew? Or that the original NT was in Hebrew?

(02-08-2016, 02:12 PM)Sunflower Wrote:  
Why would a Jew (Jesus pbuh) who wanted to spread the message of God to his own people (Jews) would use the language of the occupier instead of their own mother tongue?

The likelihood of a Jew speaking Hebrew >>>>>>>>> the likelihood of a Jew speaking Greek.
(02-08-2016, 02:30 PM)khadeejah Wrote:  
Sunflower follows the opinion of Ibn Taymiyah and Ibnul Qayyim in that regard that Hebrew was their language.  If you can bring Unequivical proof that Jesus spoke in Greek, then by all means please do.

We should handle this in a separate thread, because the language of Jesus is a big deal. While I gather evidence / arguments that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Greek, not Hebrew, others are free to join in.

Faith receives, love gives. No one will be able to receive without faith. No one will be able to give without love. Because of this, in order that we may indeed receive, we believe, and in order that we may love, we give, since if one gives without love, he has no profit from what he has given. He who has received something other than the Lord is still a Hebrew. - Gospel of Philip

02-08-2016, 04:50 PM #2
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I was under the impression that Jesus(pbuh) and every one around him at the time spoke predominantly Aramaic.
This post was last modified: 02-08-2016, 04:53 PM by Kung Fu.

Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu alaihi wasalam) said:

"My similitude and that of the life of this world is that of a traveler who took a rest at mid-day under a shade of a tree and then left it."       (Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim)

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02-08-2016, 05:03 PM #3
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(02-08-2016, 04:50 PM)Kung Fu Wrote:  I was under the impression that Jesus(pbuh) and every one around him at the time spoke predominantly Aramaic.

Salaam Brother -

The following quote contains statements of our scholars with regards to the language of the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary:

Quote:Researchers and specialists in the study of religion and ancient history differ concerning the language spoken by the Messenger ‘Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary, peace be upon him).

Researchers are unanimously agreed that Palestine at the time of ‘Isa was a mosaic, and that its inhabitants were a mix from every nation and language, and they spoke, to varying degrees, Hebrew and Aramaic in different dialects, as well as Greek and Latin.

But differences arose among them when they tried to define the geographical borders of each of these languages, and when they wanted to find out the distinguishing features of these languages and determine to what extent they were influenced by one another.

When we read of the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the four Gospels, we find that he addressed different groups of people. He addressed the masses in various cities and desert areas, and he addressed the members of the supreme council (Sanhedrin) and the teachers of the Law, and those who were in charge of the Temple and running the religious affairs of the Jews. He also addressed the Roman governor of Palestine whose language was Latin. 

Among the Aramaic words attributed to the Messiah (peace be upon him) in the Gospels are: 
“ ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46) 
“He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’” (Mark 5:41) 
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).” (John 20:16)

It seems that the discussion was in their language, but because of these different reports there was a strong difference of opinion among the scholars and researchers as to the language of the Messiah (peace be upon him).

Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn al-Qayyim were of the view that he did not speak any language other than Hebrew. Ibn Taymiyah said in al-Jawab al-Saheeh:

The Messiah was a Hebrew and did not speak anything but Hebrew. End quote. 
And he said: The one who says that the language of the Messiah was Aramaic or Greek is mistaken. End quote.
 
Some of them were of the view that all the evidence shows that most of the speech of ‘Isa (peace be upon him) was in Aramaic, which was the most widely spoken language of the people. He also spoke Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, to a lesser degree, and it seems that he was educated in Latin and Greek.
   SOURCE


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02-08-2016, 05:33 PM #4
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Walaikum assalam,

Thank you for the information. So if I have this right, we simply don't know for a fact what language he actually spoke in?

There was a great book I read several years ago, I can't remember the name right now, that said that, Jesus(pbuh), most likely spoke Aramaic and that it was possible that he spoke Hebrew as well seeing as documents started surfacing in Hebrew and, therefore, people would have to know how to speak Hebrew if they wanted to understand the documents surfacing at the time. However, Greek was most likely not spoken at all within the 1st century AD and was actually quite rare, if spoken at all.
This post was last modified: 02-08-2016, 05:36 PM by Kung Fu.

Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu alaihi wasalam) said:

"My similitude and that of the life of this world is that of a traveler who took a rest at mid-day under a shade of a tree and then left it."       (Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim)

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02-08-2016, 05:49 PM #5
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(02-08-2016, 05:33 PM)Kung Fu Wrote:  Walaikum assalam,

Thank you for the information. So if I have this right, we simply don't know for a fact what language he actually spoke in?

Welcome and precisely. 

We know from Quran that Jesus was sent as a messenger and prophet to the children of Israel.   It is also mentioned in Gospels according to ... that Jesus said he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. 

So because his ministry was to the Israelites, it would then stand to reason that he spoke to them in their language.


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02-09-2016, 01:19 AM #6
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(02-08-2016, 04:27 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  This is a continuation from this topic.

Sunflower Wrote:supposing the original NT was written in Hebrew, as you may have been aware of, Hebrew language (and Arabic) does not have capital letters. So 'Son of God' would be written as 'son of god'.

(02-08-2016, 01:19 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, not Hebrew.

(02-08-2016, 01:43 PM)Sunflower Wrote:  
if you say that the NT was originally in Greek, that means the NT is not to be trusted since it was NOT from Jesus nor his real disciples.

(02-08-2016, 02:01 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
Greek was the common tongue during the time of Christ, Sunflower.

(02-08-2016, 02:09 PM)khadeejah Wrote:  
Common amongst whom?

(02-08-2016, 02:13 PM)Artful Revealer Wrote:  
Among those who lived where Jesus lived and walked. Jesus spoke Aramaic and Greek. Where do you guys get the idea he spoke Hebrew? Or that the original NT was in Hebrew?

(02-08-2016, 02:12 PM)Sunflower Wrote:  
Why would a Jew (Jesus pbuh) who wanted to spread the message of God to his own people (Jews) would use the language of the occupier instead of their own mother tongue?

The likelihood of a Jew speaking Hebrew >>>>>>>>> the likelihood of a Jew speaking Greek.
(02-08-2016, 02:30 PM)khadeejah Wrote:  
Sunflower follows the opinion of Ibn Taymiyah and Ibnul Qayyim in that regard that Hebrew was their language.  If you can bring Unequivical proof that Jesus spoke in Greek, then by all means please do.

We should handle this in a separate thread, because the language of Jesus is a big deal. While I gather evidence / arguments that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Greek, not Hebrew, others are free to join in.

While I personally agree Jesus spoke Aramaic and Greek, I think the proof of Him speaking Greek is circumstantial (i.e. I've never come across a source explicitly stating "Jesus spoke Greek").

Some brief arguments in support of Greek:
  • The New Testament was written in Greek, indicating many of Jesus' early followers spoke the language and used it often.
  • Greek was the lingua franca of the eastern portion of the Roman Empire, used extensively in government, commerce, academia etc.
  • There are several sayings and wordplays in the New Testament that work in Greek but not Aramaic or Hebrew. For example, in John 4 (esp. 10-11), when Jesus says "living water" (ὕδωρ ζῶν) and the woman understands the Greek meaning of that phrase as "running water". Another example is John 3:3, where Jesus says "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again". The Greek words used for "born again" are "γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν", and "ἄνωθεν" means both "again" and "above", creating a wordplay that is impossible to exist in Aramaic or Hebrew. Jesus repeats this wordplay again in John 3:7. I've hyperlinked this sentence so anyone who wants to can explore the original Greek text of the Bible and word meanings etc.
  • In Matthew 27 and John 18, during Jesus' conversation with Pontius Pilate prior to His crucifixion, I am almost certain Greek was used during this exchange. Pilate would not have spoken Aramaic and I doubt he'd use Latin in that region. So reasonably, Jesus and Pilate would have had to have been speaking Greek. Another possibility is the use of an unmentioned translator, but it appears they are talking directly to each other.
  • "The linguistic environment of Roman Palestine during the first century was much more complex, and allows for the possibility that Jesus himself may well have spoken Greek" - Stanley E. Porter in Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research.
This post was last modified: 02-09-2016, 07:33 AM by Fides et Ratio.

"Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12)
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02-09-2016, 07:47 AM #7
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(02-08-2016, 05:33 PM)Kung Fu Wrote:  There was a great book I read several years ago, I can't remember the name right now, that said that, Jesus(pbuh), most likely spoke Aramaic and that it was possible that he spoke Hebrew as well seeing as documents started surfacing in Hebrew and, therefore, people would have to know how to speak Hebrew if they wanted to understand the documents surfacing at the time. However, Greek was most likely not spoken at all within the 1st century AD and was actually quite rare, if spoken at all.

I agree with you that Jesus most certainly did speak Aramaic as it was the native language of most. Barely no one, not even ordinary Jews, spoke Hebrew. The only people who spoke Hebrew were the people Christ referred to as "hypocrites", "blind guides" and "blind fools" (see Matthew 23). 

On the other hand, "Currently, 1,600 Jewish epitaphs (funerary inscriptions) are extant from ancient Palestine dating from 300 BC to AD 500. Approximately 70 percent are in Greek, about 12 percent are in Latin and only 18 percent are in Hebrew or Aramaic. In Jerusalem itself, about 40 percent of the Jewish inscriptions from the first century period are in Greek. We may assume that most Jerusalemites who saw the inscriptions in situ were able to read them" - Pieter W. Van Der Horst in the Biblical Archaeology Review. From this alone we can deduce that at least a sizable proportion of people in that region spoke and understood Greek. Think of the situation like Sweden today, where the entire population can speak their native language (Swedish), but ~90% also speak English.
This post was last modified: 02-09-2016, 08:00 AM by Fides et Ratio.

"Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12)
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02-09-2016, 09:34 AM #8
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Fides beat me with some evidence already. Thumbs up.

In addition to the quote of Van Der Horst:
"These figures are even more instructive if we break them down between Palestine and the Diaspora. Naturally in Palestine we would expect more Hebrew and Aramaic and less Greek. This is true, but not to any great extent. Even in Palestine approximately TWO-THIRDS of these inscriptions are in GREEK."


Hebrew had become a lithurgic language comparable to Latin in the 20th century, where it was only applied in the Synagogue, as Latin nowadays is only applied in Church or by the Pope. Synagogue is a Greek word by the way. So is evangelion. Try finding a Hebrew word for "the good news" as implied in evangelion and gospel. Other than that, Hebrew was restricted to small Jewish communities.


Considering Jerusalem hosted a multifold of people coming from all over Hellas, including Jewish Greek-speaking foreigners, the common tongue used between them and in commerce was Greek as much as the common tongue between an American, a Frenchman and a Japanese would be English.

Aramaic had already overtaken Hebrew as the lingua franca during the Neo-Assyrian Empire starting the 8th century BC, and continued during the Persian period spreading its linguistic dominion from Egypt to Pakistan. By the time of Christ, Palestinians spoke Aramaic first, Greek after. Hellenization of Palestine already started more than 300 years BC and kept intensifying under the kings of Egypt, Seleucid and Herod. They sparked the rise of Greek cities in Palestine and the expansion of towns into poleis. The Decapolis (Gr: ten cities) is mentioned in all the synoptic gospels where Jesus performed his ministry. The common tongue of its people was Greek. 

Jesus spoke with Pontius Pilates. Pilates spoke Latin and Greek. He could've been acquainted with Aramaic, but did not speak Hebrew. Greek was also common among Romans. All contemporary inscriptions attest to that.

In 1871 they found a Temple Warning inscription from the Second Temple of Jerusalem (516 BC - 70 AD). The inscription said: "No stranger is to enter within the balustrade round the temple and enclosure. Whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue" ... written in Koine Greek. (Nice inscription by the way).

More to come later.
This post was last modified: 02-09-2016, 01:14 PM by Artful Revealer. Edit Reason: spelling

Faith receives, love gives. No one will be able to receive without faith. No one will be able to give without love. Because of this, in order that we may indeed receive, we believe, and in order that we may love, we give, since if one gives without love, he has no profit from what he has given. He who has received something other than the Lord is still a Hebrew. - Gospel of Philip
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02-09-2016, 09:37 AM #9
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AR, I don't have time to provide a lengthy post at this time. I will just leave this link for you to peruse.
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Article...ebrew.html

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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02-09-2016, 09:46 AM #10
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I don't know what language Messiah Yeshua most likely spoke on a daily basis, but I can't believe he could not speak Hebrew.  Someone mentioned that only the Scribes and Pharisees would have spoke Hebrew.  Is that not because the scrolls in the synagogues would have been in Hebrew?  The gospel's record that Yeshua read from the scrolls in the synagogue, so I am guessing he would have been able to read and speak Hebrew.  I have a hard time believing a Christian, who believes Jesus was the Son of God, thinks he could not speak the language of Yehovah and the language of the Covenant that he came to fulfill.  Miracles left and right, but could not speak the language of his heavenly Father?  Okay....

Then shall the king say to those on his right hand, Come ye, the blessed of my Father, inherit the reign that hath been prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

And the king answering, shall say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did to one of these my brethren -- the least -- to me ye did
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