[b-hebrew] What language?

Yohanan bin-Dawidh yohanan.bin.dawidh at gmail.com
Sat Apr 14 15:17:17 EDT 2007


I would agree with Gary here, except for the idea that it was the lingua
franca of the day, for outside of the NT there is no evidence of such per
se. Actually, most honest Greek speakers would tell you that Koine is trash
talk, gutter language, i.e. not good Greek, and the reason why is that it is
as if a bunch of people who did not speak Greek took a dictionary, and tried
to translate from their language into Greek without knowing the language to
which were translating.

As to Matthew, I think most of the so-called church fathers attest to it
having been written in Hebrew originally, and not Greek, and they denote
that the Jerusalem community used the Hebrew version, and were pretty much

Although it was in the back of an anti-missionary work titled Evon Bochen,
written by Shem Tov bin-Shaprut, most scholars believe the Hebrew Matthew
there to be a copy of the original. The reason is that there are Hebraisms
which would not exist if it were a mere copy of the Greek. Also this text
differs from the Greek text in many instances.

Yohanan bin-Dawidh

On 4/14/07, Gary Hedrick <garyh at cjfm.org> wrote:
>        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??
> Shoshanna
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