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Was the "NT" ordained by God to be written in Greek?

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  • Was the "NT" ordained by God to be written in Greek?

    Did Messiah, the apostles, and the 1st century C.E. Jews speak Greek?

    The 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 C.E.) testifies to the fact that Hebrew was the language of the 1st century Jews.
    Moreover, he testifies that Hebrew, and not Greek, was the language of his place and time.
    Josephus gives us the only first hand account of the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
    According to Josephus, in his "Wars (5:9:2) the Romans had to have him translate the call to the Jews to surrender into "their own language".

    Josephus gives us a point-blank statement regarding the language of his people during this time:

    I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I can not pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our Nation does not encourage thouse that learn the languages of many nations
    Josephus Ant. 20:11:2

    Thus Josephus makes it clear that 1st century Jews could not even speak or understand Greek, but spoke their own language.


    Also testifying to Hebrew being the language of the Jews then is the Bar Kokhba letters.
    These are letters between Simon Bar Kokhba and his army. They were written during the Jewish revolt of 132 C.E. and were discovered in 1961.
    These letters were written mainly in Hebrew and Aramaic,.
    2 of the letters were written in Greek, but both were written by men with Greek names to Simon Bar Kokhba.
    One of the 2 letters actually apologizes for writing to Bar Kokhba in Greek saying:
    the letter was writen in Greek , as we have no one who knows Hebrew here

  • #2
    The language most often spoken by Jesus was Aramaic, which was the most common language around Judea at the time. The primary language the Romans spoke was Latin, hence the need for the translation. A great number of people also spoke Greek, the language of Alexander's armies when they had conquered the area a few centuries earlier.

    The most common language of the Scriptures used in that day was Greek. In fact, the "Septuagint" was the most commonly circulated version of the Scriptures at that time. The "Septuagint" was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Throughout the New Testament, there are dozens of places where the apostles and other authors quote verses from the Old Testament. In the vast majority of cases, the actual quoting in the original language came from the Septuagint version of the Scriptures, not the Hebrew copy used by the priests.

    One thing that stands out about Greek that makes it important that God did indeed "ordain" it as the New Testament's language is that Greek contains more descriptive words concerning "love" than any other language. I think there are seven, if I recall correctly. They include "agape", "phileo", and "eros", among others. Each one is translated in English as merely "love", a tragically poor conveyance of the much richer intent behind the Greek words, each of which expresses different forms and shades of "love". In order for us to truly understand the "love" (agape) of God our Father, we have to be able to contrast it with the other forms of love that operate on a more human level. For the NT authors to have conveyed this concept in any other language than Greek would have been very difficult at best.

    It's just another indicator of how God is really in charge of history. He had just the right language as the most prevalent of the world at the time He needed it to get the New Testament's points across as clearly as possible.
    ----------------------------------------------
    When the plain sense of Scripture make sense, seek no other sense.

    Comment


    • #3
      Did Jesus speak Greek? Maybe a little. The apostles? Maybe a little. The general Jewish populace? Maybe a little, and probably more or less depending on where you went.

      However, Greek was the lingua franca of the time. It was very commonplace for people, including the Hebrews, to know Greek - they may not have all been masters linguists, but it's certain that a decent amount of the population probably knew at least enough Greek to perform trade and communicate with other peoples.

      Josephus doesn't seem to be, to me, saying the Jews never learned Greek... only that it wasn't something encouraged (compare to many modern European countries encouraging the learning of English, because English is the lingua franca of the modern day).

      Take into account that a majority of Paul's epistles were written to places outside of Judea, out into the Roman Empire, where Greek was more commonplace.

      However, we should take note that early Christian writers do make mention of a Hebrew gospel of Matthew circulating during at least the first few centuries AD.

      In relation to the letters of Simon Bar Kochba - he was part of an anti-Roman movement... is it possible that his letters did not use any Greek or Latin, and only Hebrew or Aramaic, was because he went out of his way to not use the language of the people he was revolting against? Not much different than the average American despising the German language during the years of WWII. Jesus and His followers were never anti-Roman, so what's wrong with them using Greek, if they should have happened to learn it? Morever, even if Josephus mentions that the first century Jews didn't encourage learning Greek, why do you use that to assume that the apostles never went on to learn it eventually?
      To This Day

      Comment


      • #4
        Evidence that Matthew was written in Hebrew

        Papias (150-170 C.E.)
        Matthew composed the words in Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able
        Quoted by Eusebius: Eccl. Hist. 3:39

        ................

        Irenus (170 C.E.)
        Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect
        Irenaeus: Against Heresies 3:1

        ...................

        Origen (210 C.E.)
        The first Gospel is written according to Matthew, the same that once was a tax collector, but afterwards an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, who having published it it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew
        Quoted by Eusebius: Eccl. Hist. 6:25

        ........................

        Eusebius (315 C.E.)
        Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to the other nations, commited it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings
        Eusebius: Eccl. Hist. 3:24

        Pantaenus... penetrated as far as India, where it was reported that he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had been delivered before his arrival to some who had the knowledge of Messiah, to whom Bartholomew, one of the emisaries, as it said, had proclaimed, and left them the writings of Matthew in Hebrew letters
        Eusebius: Eccl. Hist. 5:10

        ........................

        Epiphanius (370 C.E.)
        They [the Nazarines] have the Gospel according to Mtthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters
        Epiphanius: Panarion 29:9:4

        ........................

        Jerome (382 C.E.)
        Matthew, who is also a Levi, and from a tax collector came to be an emisarry first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Messiah in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circucision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently asertained.
        Futhermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed to by the Nazarines who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist.... makes use of the testimonies of the old Scripture, he does not follow the the authority of the 70 trasnlations [the Greek Septuagint], but that of the Hebrew
        Jerome: Of Illustrious Men 3

        Shows Matthew did NOT accept the authority of the Greek TRANSLATED Septuagint.

        Pantaeus found that Bartholomew, one of the 12 emissaries, had there [in India] preached the advent of our Lord Yeshua the Messia according to the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Hebrew letters, and which, on returning to Alexandria, he brought with him
        Jerome: De Vir 3:36

        ..........................

        Isho'dad (850 C.E.)
        His [Matthew's] book was in existance in Caesarea of Palestine, and everyone acknowledges that he wrote it with his hand in Hebrew

        Comment


        • #5
          Jesus may have known some Greek since he talked with the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman(?). He crossed the Lake of Galilee over to Gentile inhabited lands (judging from the pig farmers) and may have spoke Greek to Legion. I'm unsure if these are definite instances that Jesus had to have spoken Greek because I don't how far north and east of Galilee Aramaic was used. Alexander is to be thanked for this contribution. I always marveled at how he splashed Greek culture over the east in such a short time then died. It was as if that was all he was born to do.
          "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
          And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
          Isaiah 6:8

          Comment


          • #6
            Evidence Paul wrote in Hebrew

            Clement of Alexandria (150-212 C.E.)
            In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up the matter breifly he [Clement of Alexandria] has given us abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures - the epistle to the Hebrews he asserts was writen by Paul, to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks
            Clement of Alexandria: Hypotyposes; refered to by Eusebius in: Eccl. Hist. 6:14:12

            ..........................................

            Eusebius (315 C.E.)
            For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews in the language of his country; some say Luke, others thatClement, translated the epistle.
            Eusebiue: Eccel Hist; 3:38:2-3

            .................................................. .....

            Jerome (382 C.E.)
            He [Paul] being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew, that is, his own tongue and most fluently while things were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek

            Comment


            • #7
              A couple of things here...

              Greek was the lingua franca of the day...no matter where one went in the Roman empire...or even outside the limits of the empire...one would find Greek spoken. One may thank Alexander the Great for establishing a common language throughout the entire world...paving the way for the distribution of the Gospels...which were (you guessed it) in Greek.

              In those days it was common practice to dictate a letter, while a scribe wrote it down...numerous examples exist in secular writings of the time...so with the intent of telling the story of Jesus...why wouldn't Matthew, Mark, and John (Luke spoke Greek) dictate to a Greek/Aramaic scribe who would then write it down? That would be the rule rather than the exception.

              If there were no Greek speaking Jews...Then why were deacons appointed? Hellenistic Jews were those Jews who had come out of the dispersion and had forgotten the Hebrew tongue...they spoke Greek. This is why Paul refers to himself as a "Hebrew of the Hebrews". An idiom of the time indicating that he (Paul) was a Hebrew-speaking Jew.

              Paul also spoke Greek...Kinda hard to dispute with the Greek philosophers on Mars hill if he didn't...also check out Acts 21:37-40. It's safe to say he also spoke Aramaic.

              All things considered...it's kinda like arguing over "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" as to the Inspiration of the Gospels...they are theopneustos in any language.
              Ιησούς Χριστός ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου



              ****When the Lord opens a door, don't walk through it....run full speed; if it's the wrong one He'll let ya know...sometimes He just wants to see if you'll move at all!****


              A Minister of God Ministry - Support and understanding for a Christian serving in the military

              Comment


              • #8
                Eagle,
                I'm not sure I understand what point you are trying to make.
                You have given ample evidence that Hebrew was used for portions of the Bible. But that does mean God ordained any particular language per se. Neither Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, or Latin can make an "ordained claim"
                The original scrolls have been lost.
                Please help me understand more of you thoughts.
                Thanks
                DF1
                Dragonfighter1
                Vivo est Ministro

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dragonfighter1 View Post
                  Eagle,
                  I'm not sure I understand what point you are trying to make.
                  You have given ample evidence that Hebrew was used for portions of the Bible. But that does mean God ordained any particular language per se. Neither Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, or Latin can make an "ordained claim"
                  The original scrolls have been lost.
                  Please help me understand more of you thoughts.
                  Thanks
                  DF1
                  In a previous thread about the name of Yahweh/Yahwah (which for some unexplained reason was removed ) someone made the statement that the "NT" was ordained by God to be written in Greek.
                  I told them there was ample evidence to disprove this, they asked to see it.

                  I've had many pastors make the statement that the entire "NT" was written in Greek - which I have learned was not true.

                  There is also evidence that Revelation was written originally in Hebrew.

                  Of course there are many out there that will reject any concept of Hebrew "NT" Scripture, holding on to their traditional thinking.
                  Can't break their nice orderly religious mold.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mcgyver View Post

                    In those days it was common practice to dictate a letter, while a scribe wrote it down...numerous examples exist in secular writings of the time...so with the intent of telling the story of Jesus...why wouldn't Matthew, Mark, and John (Luke spoke Greek) dictate to a Greek/Aramaic scribe who would then write it down? That would be the rule rather than the exception.
                    Well the evidence shows that Matthew wrote it in Hebrew with his own hand.
                    Is that so strange of a concept?

                    Why were "deacons" appointed?
                    How do we know that the original term wasn't a Hebrew one that was translated into Greek?
                    Seems perfectly logical and probable to me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Eaglenester View Post
                      In a previous thread about the name of Yahweh/Yahwah (which for some unexplained reason was removed ) someone made the statement that the "NT" was ordained by God to be written in Greek.
                      I told them there was ample evidence to disprove this, they asked to see it.

                      I've had many pastors make the statement that the entire "NT" was written in Greek - which I have learned was not true.

                      There is also evidence that Revelation was written originally in Hebrew.

                      Of course there are many out there that will reject any concept of Hebrew "NT" Scripture, holding on to their traditional thinking.
                      Can't break their nice orderly religious mold.
                      Well then. I suggest you keep banging away. Ignorant thinkers need to wake up. It is very hard to learn. More so if you think you already know. You and I too must beware, but, yes, I think your point here is valid and truth must be pressed forward....Politely of course....
                      Dragonfighter1
                      Vivo est Ministro

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Josephus a Jew raised and who lived in Jerusalem did not have much need to learn Greek. Since most there would know Aramic or Hebrew they would not have much use with Greek as others have pointed out they would know enough to get by.

                        But not all Jews lived in Jerusalem or around Jerusalem. Many were still in the Diaspora living in different parts of the Roman Empire. In these places almost no one spoke Hebrew or Aramic. The language they spoke was Greek. Since Paul and the other Apostles were going out to these places it would logically follow that they would learn more Greek or have translators travel with them. It is not like Greek is that hard of a language to learn.

                        But all your evidence from the church fathers is good but history shows us another story. There has never been any evidence from history other than the accounts of the fathers that Matthew or any other NT writing was in Hebrew. In fact in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew that we have they are still in Greek and it seeems that all the quotes of the OT from Matthew have come from the LXX not from Hebrew manuscripts. In other words it does not look like some one translated the Hebrew from the OT into Greek but went with the LXX. Why would someone do this if they were translating a work from Hebrew to Greek? Why when a Scripture passage came up would they look to some other source instead of translating it themselves?

                        The same thing goes for Paul, all of this quotes from the OT Scriptures come from the LXX. We know that he knew the Hebrew Scriptures so why would he look to this other translation? For the same reason that most scholars who know Greek and Hebrew, if they are teaching a Sunday school class or will usually use a modern translation because most of the people in the class will be more familar with that translation and because it is a lot easier. I know Greek and Hebrew I could translate the Scriptures when I do studies but it is a lot easier and more effective if I just use a modern translation.

                        As for deacon it comes from the Greek word for slave. Can't remember it off the top of my head and don't have access to my Greek dictionaries.

                        As for the ruroms of a Hebrew copy of Revelation that is news to me.

                        The thing is until the ancient Hebrew copies of these works are found many scholars will doubt that they ever excisted. Because the evidence is so strong that the originals and the first copies were written in Greek.

                        I don't think God "ordained" the NT to be written in Greek or Hebrew I think that the language with the largest base was used. Like if some new movement started and became as popular as Christianity then the founders of the movement even if English was not their orginal language they would most likely use it once they went out talking to people around the world because of it's large base. When they wrote their stuff, whatever it might be, it would most likely be written in English because it would get the largest audience.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Uriel View Post
                          Josephus a Jew raised and who lived in Jerusalem did not have much need to learn Greek. Since most there would know Aramic or Hebrew they would not have much use with Greek as others have pointed out they would know enough to get by.

                          But not all Jews lived in Jerusalem or around Jerusalem. Many were still in the Diaspora living in different parts of the Roman Empire. In these places almost no one spoke Hebrew or Aramic. The language they spoke was Greek. Since Paul and the other Apostles were going out to these places it would logically follow that they would learn more Greek or have translators travel with them. It is not like Greek is that hard of a language to learn.

                          But all your evidence from the church fathers is good but history shows us another story. There has never been any evidence from history other than the accounts of the fathers that Matthew or any other NT writing was in Hebrew. In fact in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew that we have they are still in Greek and it seeems that all the quotes of the OT from Matthew have come from the LXX not from Hebrew manuscripts. In other words it does not look like some one translated the Hebrew from the OT into Greek but went with the LXX. Why would someone do this if they were translating a work from Hebrew to Greek? Why when a Scripture passage came up would they look to some other source instead of translating it themselves?

                          The same thing goes for Paul, all of this quotes from the OT Scriptures come from the LXX. We know that he knew the Hebrew Scriptures so why would he look to this other translation? For the same reason that most scholars who know Greek and Hebrew, if they are teaching a Sunday school class or will usually use a modern translation because most of the people in the class will be more familar with that translation and because it is a lot easier. I know Greek and Hebrew I could translate the Scriptures when I do studies but it is a lot easier and more effective if I just use a modern translation.

                          As for deacon it comes from the Greek word for slave. Can't remember it off the top of my head and don't have access to my Greek dictionaries.

                          As for the ruroms of a Hebrew copy of Revelation that is news to me.

                          The thing is until the ancient Hebrew copies of these works are found many scholars will doubt that they ever excisted. Because the evidence is so strong that the originals and the first copies were written in Greek.

                          I don't think God "ordained" the NT to be written in Greek or Hebrew I think that the language with the largest base was used. Like if some new movement started and became as popular as Christianity then the founders of the movement even if English was not their orginal language they would most likely use it once they went out talking to people around the world because of it's large base. When they wrote their stuff, whatever it might be, it would most likely be written in English because it would get the largest audience.
                          The OP question was clarified in post #9. That his issue is the claim by some that the scriptures were "ORDAINED" in any particular language not so much that Hebrew was the real one, or that greek was the real one, or than polabantu was the real one. Just than no language can claim to be the ordained one!

                          (except of course the king James!)
                          WARNING RAISE SHIELDS FIRE FIGHT IMMENANT!
                          Dragonfighter1
                          Vivo est Ministro

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Were the scrolls in the Qumram caves all OT??
                            What was the language they were written in ??

                            Sorri, I am just thinking out loud here and have not done any research on this yet.....
                            The LORD is my Miracle

                            G_d was gracious He has shown favor


                            Hope is a seed
                            God plants in our hearts
                            to remind us
                            there are better things ahead.
                            -Holley Gerth

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dragonfighter1 View Post
                              T... Just than no language can claim to be the ordained one!
                              Except the OT Hebrew ....
                              The LORD is my Miracle

                              G_d was gracious He has shown favor


                              Hope is a seed
                              God plants in our hearts
                              to remind us
                              there are better things ahead.
                              -Holley Gerth

                              Comment

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