[B-Greek] How many languages in Acts 21-22?

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Wed Aug 18 15:37:35 EDT 2010

On Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 9:21 PM, George F Somsel <gfsomsel at yahoo.com> wrote:
> In War 6.96 it is not evident beyond cavil that by ἑβραί̈ζων hEBRAIZWN it
> intends Hebrew rather than the currently used dialect of Aramaic.  In War
> 5.268-274 it is questionable that Josephus understood Hebrew.

I think you're mixing up Josephus with Philo.

> The call at
> the launching of a stone which is translated into Greek as ὁ υἱὸς
> ἔρχεται hO hUIOS ERXETAI could only be attributable to being originally
> stated in Hebrew rather than Aramaic.  This raises the question regarding
> why Josephus would translate it into Greek as "son" rather than "stone."  It
> would appear that he actually had no understanding of Hebrew or he would
> have translated it as ὁ λίθος ἔρεχεται hO LIQOS ERXETAI.  In order to
> assume that Josephus understood Hebrew we would need to assume that, when he
> translated the phrase, he was being too cute by half since he fails to
> explain the "inside joke" to his Greek readers.  Moreover, Josephus tips us
> off to the thought that he didn't understand Hebrew when he states τῇ
> πατρίῳ γλώσσῃ βοῶντες THi PATRIWi GLWSSHi BOWNTES.  He notably does not
> use the term ἑβραϊστί hEBRAISTI which supposedly references Hebrew in War
> 6.96.
> george
> gfsomsel
> … search for truth, hear truth,
> learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
> defend the truth till death.
> - Jan Hus
> _________
> ________________________________
> From: Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>
> To: B Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Wed, August 18, 2010 9:52:19 AM
> Subject: [B-Greek] How many languages in Acts 21-22?
> The following deals with sociolinguistics of Greek in Jerusalem,
> at least relating to a vocab item illustrating EBRAISTI
> and SYRISTI. I don't remember the full sequence being discussed
> on the list.
> In Acts 21:30-22:23 we have
> a. 30-31 a near riot in the temple, presumably with speech
> b. 33-34 a first enquiry, presumably including Paul and the Romans,
> c. 37      a Greek conversation, as a surprise to the Roman chiliarch
> d. 40-22:2      a Ebraisti speech, presumably in a different language
>                   than when they were dealing with him as a mob.
> e. 22:24 now the chiliarch wants to know what was being said in the
>               speech
> 'C' would point to 'a' and 'b' not being in Greek. Many/(most?) Romans
> soldiers, after all, in the Eastern provinces would be able to speak
> Aramaic.
> Then in 'd', the very mention of the language and of getting quieter
> would seem to point to the language being different from the language
> of 'a' and 'b' above.
> 'E' then implies that communication during the speech was not as
> clear as in 'a' and 'b'.
> Can this Ebraisti in this context be anything else than Hebrew?
> Counting the languages in the passage:
> 'a-b' Aramaic,
> 'c' Greek,
> 'd' Hebrew.
> 'e' Unspecified, perhaps Greek, as things become more official
> within the Roman legal process.
> Comments? Problems?
> If there is no problem with the above, there may be a problem in
> BDAG and most common discussions on the situation.
> (Josephus War 5.268-274 records warning speech based on a
> Hebrew wordplay and a special Hebrew speech by Josephus,
> who distinguished Aramaic and Hebrew in his writings, in 6:96.
> I mention these not to displace any language but to include the
> third language that seems to disappear in NT discussions outside
> circles comfortable with Mishnaic Hebrew.)
> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
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Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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