James: Hebrew or Aramaic?

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Dec 24 10:23:13 EST 2002


>===== Original Message From Sergio Saavedra <sesamox at hotmail.com> =====
>The Watchtower literature endorses the hypothesis that in the first
>century, Jews spoke Hebrew instead of Aramaic.

They're not the only ones. There is quite a bit of debate regarding the 
language of first-century Jewish speakers.

>Recently, the ossuary belonging to Jesus's brother, James, has come out to
>light. It's been stated in the media that there is an Aramaic inscription
>on it. Is it true?

It's true that the inscription is Aramaic. I'm not going to touch the question 
of the inscription's authenticity :-)

>If so, how does it affect the hypothesis of Hebrew
>speaking Jews?

If it's authentically first-c., I think you would have to say that it shows at 
least limited use of Aramaic. In this respect, it doesn't contribute much to 
our knowledge, since we already had similar inscriptions in Aramaic from that 
period. One common theory is that Hebrew was more common in Judea and Aramaic 
in Galilee, which I suppose would fit with Jesus's brother.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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