[b-hebrew] What language?

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Sat Apr 14 15:51:24 EDT 2007

On 14/04/2007 20:17, Yohanan bin-Dawidh wrote:
> Shoshanna,
> 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.
Dictionary? I doubt it! Koine was not good literary Greek, but it was 
what most people spoke. Think of it as like street language today, or 
how people with little education write letters.

> 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
> Jewish.
> 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.
Well, I can argue that this is relevant to this biblical Hebrew forum in 
that according to Dr James Tabor "Shem-Tov's text is basically BH (Vav 
Consecutive predominates) with a mixture of MH and later rabbinic 
vocabulary and idiom." 
(http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/jdtabor/shemtovweb.html) This 
certainly seems to be an interesting work. But I suspect that the 
following (from http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/96-11/0405.html) 
is a more accurate reflection of how it is understood by the scholarly 
> The Hebrew version of Matthew that George Howard published is the
> one found in Shem-Tov ben-Isaac ben-Shaprut's 14th century polemical
> treatise, the Even Bohan, written in Spain. Howard has convincingly
> demonstrated that the Hebrew text was not a medieval Jewish translation
> for polemical purposes, but pre-dates Shem-Tov. However, no one knows
> by how much and at any rate the text has suffered corruptions and
> vulgatizations.

See also http://shemtov.org/, where you can see the text of this, but 
note that it says:
> Please note that the text of the Shem Tov version of the Gospel of 
> Matthew is NOT the original Hebrew of the Gospel of Matthew but has 
> been copied from an earlier text, and modified by Shem Tov to suit his 
> purposes.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://www.qaya.org/blog/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list