[b-hebrew] Hebrew as a Spoken Language vs. Aramaic

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Fri Oct 26 15:39:27 EDT 2007

Dear Dave,

K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, Chapter 7, "Principles of
Linguistic Studies," III: (c), "The Question of Aramaisms," pp. 145-146. See
also page 108, footnote 84.

In this section of the book he cites or quotes the following: Eissfeldt, R.D.
Wilson, BASOR 89 (1943), C.H. Gordon, C. Viirolleaud, E.J. Young, J.
Aistleitner, M. Dahood, A. Dupont-Sommer, Wiseman, W.F. Albright, E. Forrer, E.
Ebeling, B. Meissner, etc. just to list a few. He further uses the Amarna
Letters and Assyrian texts from Tiglath-Pileser I of the prove the point.

What I think is happening is that when Aramaic became the official language of
most of the Levant Hebrew was still spoken and used through to the Rabbinic
period by the people. The references to "Hebrew" in the New Testament is
commonly understood to refer to Aramaic. I think this is wrong. The
interpretation of the Aramaic phrases are  mentioned. The references to Hebrew
being spoken, e.g., Paul in the Temple precincts during his arrest, is actually
Hebrew. The Sanhedrin meeting for Jesus' trial would have used Hebrew. An
example of one language being used but another used at the same time would be
Koine Greek during the ascendancy of the Roman Empire from roughly 200 BC to 200
AD. Greek was the official language of the Roman Empire, while Latin was still
used. By 200 AD, if not earlier, the situation reversing itself, at least in the
West, while Greek was still used by the Byzantine Greek East. From a closer time
period, after the Battle of Hastings, Norman French was used in England by the
nobility, but it was the Saxon English that was used by the common people.
Eventually, although Latin was still used in churches, official decrees, etc.,
it was English that was understood by almost everyone. Thus, I can still see
very much of Hebrew being understood by all classes of people through the
Rabbinic period especially considering that Latin, Greek, Hebrew was used on the
indictment of Jesus.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <dwashbur at nyx.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hebrew as a Spoken Language vs. Aramaic

> On 26 Oct 2007 at 6:12, Yishmor wrote:
> > A few (I don't mention Shim`own Bar Kokba', for example) and abbreviated
> > list of examples that support Hebrew being the common spoken tongue in
> > the first century.
> >
> > *=== Via the Rabbinic Talmudiym*
> Okay, let me try again.  I have said all along that Hebrew at this time was a
> tongue, used by the religious leaders and used for religious rites.  How does
a religious
> compendium like the Talmud disprove that?
> > *=== Via Josephus*
> > Josephus makes a very clear distinction between Hebrew and Aramaic,
> > making it clear that when he refers to Hebrew, he is speaking of the
> > everyday language of the Jews distinct from the "peculiar Syrian"
> > (Aramaic) writing even though they may sound and look similar.
> Citation?
> > *=== Via Kenneth Kitchen*
> > Kenneth Kitchen observed that "some 'Aramaisms' are actually Hebraisms
> > in Aramaic."
> Citation?
> > *=== Via the Christian Texts*
> > Aramaic is not mentioned in the Christian new testament (unless you are
> > reading an English translation of the Greek words for Hebrew), however
> > references to the Hebrew language are made several times.
> >    a) On the title of Yeshuwa`'s cross -- John 19:20
> >    b) to descriptions of places names -- John 5:2; 19:13, 17; Rev. 9:11;
> > 16:16
> >    c) Paul addressing people in the Hebrew tongue -- Acts 21:40; 22:2
> >    d) Yeshuwa` calling out to Paul, on the Damascus road -- Acts 26:14
> It is widely accepted that "Hebrew" in these passages refers to Aramaic.  See
> commentaries.  Also, Jesus' cry on the cross was clearly Aramaic.
> > *=== Moses Segal*
> > Moses Segal, Hebrew lexicographer, winner of the Isra'el Prize for
> > Jewish Studies, and co-translator of the Talmud concluded purely on
> > linguistic analysis:
> >    In earlier Mishnaic [rabbinic] literature no distinction is
> >    drawn between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew.
> >    The two idioms are known as Leshon Hagadesh, the
> >    Holy Tongue, as contrasted with other languages ...
> >    *What was the language of ordinary life* of educated
> >    native Jews in Jerusalem and Judaea in the period
> >    from 400BCE to 150CE?  The evidence presented
> >    by Mishnaic Hebrew and its literature leaves no
> >    doubt that *that language was Mishnaic Hebrew*.
> Once again, a citation would  be nice, but I would also suggest that this
conclusion has not
> been widely accepted by the scholarly community.
> > *=== Via the Dead Sea Scrolls*
> > About 80% of the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are in Hebrew. Greek and
> > Aramaic make up most of the remainder. If one says that Hebrew remained
> > a religious language and so the DSS don't count because they are
> > religious text, you would be ignoring the many non-religious texts
> > contained in the DSS that are written in Hebrew.
> Already addressed, and exactly what "non-religious texts" do you refer to?
The commonly
> seen statement is that there are none.  The Serek texts, MMT, and all the
rest, deal with
> religious topics.  If you know of something else, please cite it.
> Dave Washburn
> Why do it right when you can do it again?
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