[b-hebrew] What language?

Gary Hedrick garyh at cjfm.org
Sat Apr 14 14:44:17 EDT 2007

	Shoshanna, the short answer is koine ("common") Greek, which was the
lingua franca of the day.  The Jewish writers of the NT were no doubt
wanting to disseminate their message (the "Good News") to as wide an
audience as possible, so using Greek as the vehicle was certainly a good
choice.  It was, in many ways, strategic.
	The longer answer would have to take into account the fact that many
of the source documents and oral traditions that came into play in the
composition of the Gospels, for instance, were in Aramaic/Hebrew.  Even in
the Greek NT, direct quotations of Jesus (Yeshua) are in Aramaic (expressed
phonetically using Greek characters).  The Gospel of Matthew exhibits a lot
of Hebrew expression and syntax which has led advocates of Semitic/Aramaic
primacy to suggest that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic.
And there is some attestation to this from the early church fathers, as
well.  But advocates of Greek primacy, who are in the vast majority and
include yours truly, point out that the Semitic vocabulary, expressions, and
sentence structure can also be explained by the fact that these were
Aramaic-speaking Jews who were writing the NT in Greek.  It's like when you
read something in English, you can usually tell if the person's first
language is, say, Spanish.  It's because they're thinking in Spanish while
writing in English.  Likewise, these Jewish writers were thinking in Semitic
terms while writing in Greek.
	But this is probably more than you wanted or needed to know.  You
might want to check out the Wikipedia articles on "Aramaic Primacy" and "The
Aramaic of Jesus" (http://en.wikipedia.org).  Hope this helps,

Gary Hedrick
San Antonio, Texas USA

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Shoshanna Walker
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 6:08 PM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] What language?

What language was the New Testament written in??

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