[B-Greek] Paul writing in Latin or Hebrew/Aramaic?

Barry H. nebarry at verizon.net
Mon Aug 23 07:56:00 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jeffrey T. Requadt" <jeffreyrequadt_list at hotmail.com>
To: "'Mark Lightman'" <lightmanmark at yahoo.com>; "'David McKay'" 
<davidmckay52 at gmail.com>; "'BG'" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 12:39 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Paul writing in Latin or Hebrew/Aramaic?

> Does anyone know of any more recent (as in, since 1970) research that
> addresses this issue? Any Greek inscriptions in Rome? Have they uncovered
> any manuscripts from Pompeii in Greek? Any official Roman documents in 
> Latin
> AND Greek? Any syntheses of early church documents in Greek that would 
> have
> otherwise been in Latin? What about early Roman church leaders? I'm 
> terrible
> at history from that period, but I have this fleeting idea that Clement 
> was
> from Rome, and didn't he write in Greek?  My understanding is that 
> Alexander
> did a lot more to spread language/culture and the Romans did more with
> administration. But this is based on what I read in high school, over 10
> years ago (crazily).


When people learn for the first time that the NT was originally written in 
Greek, if they know anything about the ancient world, they ask "Even the 
Epistle to the Romans?" We then teach them something about Greek as a lingua 
franca and the cosmopolitan nature of 1st century A.D. Rome, where more of 
the underclasses spoke Greek than Latin, since there had been a great influx 
of Greek speaking folks from the East. What's interesting is to hear the 
ancients themselves comment on this, such as Cicero, Pro Archia 23:

Nam si quis minorem gloriae fructum putat ex Graecis versibus percipi quam 
ex Latinis, vehementer errat: propterea quod Graeca leguntur in omnibus fere 
gentibus, Latina suis finibus, exiguis sane, continentur.

If anyone thinks that less fruit of glory may be gotten from the study of 
Greek literature(1) than from Latin, he errs egregiously, since Greek is 
read in nearly all nations, but Latin is restricted to its own quite narrow 

(1) Versibus, lit. "verses, poetry," but it's clear that Cicero does not 
intend to restrict the idea simply to poetry: he emphasizes it because he is 
defending the "poet" Archias. Note also that Graeca is neuter plural, so 
that he is extending his thought to refer to "Greek things" in general.


Romans does not read to me like tanslation literature, at least not like the 
LXX or Jerome.  It reads like a typical, Koine document written by someone 
educated, and with a fair amount of facility with the language, but not 
concerned with Atticizing literary conventions...

N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Classics and Bible Instructor, TAA
(2010 Savatori Excellence in Education Winner)
V-P of Academic Affairs, TNARS


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