What Language Did Jesus Speak?

ZA Blog on September 7th, 2016. Tagged under ,,,.

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Have you ever wondered what language Jesus spoke?

Let’s take a closer look.

What Languages Were Spoken in First-century Palestine?

Before we can identify which languages Jesus spoke, we need to know what languages were spoken in first-century Palestine.

Here are the three languages:

  1. Aramaic had been widely spoken since the Babylonian exile.
  2. Since the invasion of Alexander the Great, Greek had been spoken in many communities.
  3. The Hebrew Bible—the Scriptures of Jesus’s day—was written and studied in Hebrew (as the name implies).

Each language had its own function. Some were used only for writing, while others were used for speaking in ordinary conversation. If you were conducting business transactions or international trade, you would likely use still other languages.

What about Jesus?

To discover the language Jesus spoke, we need to examine the three most common languages found in first-century Palestine: Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. We’ll look for clues about who spoke each language—and see which languages Jesus knew.


Who Spoke Greek?

Greek had been spoken in Palestine for centuries prior to the time of Jesus.

In fact, there were Greeks in Israel as early as the eighth century BC, and Greek pottery has been found dating to the sixth century BC.1

Still, pockets of Greek influence remained well into the first century. In Galilee, the area where Jesus spent much of his life and ministry, Greek was spoken in Beit She’an (Scythopolis) and the other cities of the Decapolis. It was also spoken in Sepphoris, a city near Nazareth.

Even in areas in Galilee where Greek culture did not dominate—like Capernaum—Greek influence was still felt. This is because the region of Galilee lay on trade routes to Damascus and elsewhere. Greek, as a language of international commerce and trade, was spoken by individuals traveling through the area.

Additionally, even though most Jews in Galilee fiercely resisted the influence of Hellenism, Greek was still spoken by select Jewish communities, especially in the south, in the areas around Jerusalem and Judea.

Greek was spoken more frequently in these areas because returning Jewish diaspora from Greek-speaking areas brought the language with them to Jerusalem. Many of them came from Alexandria, in Egypt, a region also conquered by the Greeks and still heavily influenced by Hellenism.2

The same was true for other regions around the Roman Empire. As these Jews returned to their homeland, they brought with them their language—no longer Hebrew, but Greek. In fact, it’s possible that as much as 20% of the Jewish population in Jerusalem spoke Greek.3

Evidence from the Bible

You’ll find evidence for this in the New Testament. The strongest evidence is found in Pilate’s speech (Mark 15:2–5; Matt 27:11-14; Luke 23:2-5; John 18:29-38). Here is Matthew’s account:

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

Here’s how we know Pilate was speaking in Greek. His first language was Latin. We know this because he was a Roman official. However, the people mentioned in this verse—the chief priests, the elders, and the crowd listening in—would not have spoken Latin. If Pilate was speaking with them, he obviously wasn’t speaking Latin.

Of the languages they might have known—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—Pilate wouldn’t have been able to speak Hebrew, and he likely would have known Greek far better than Aramaic. Greek, then, is the most likely candidate for the language he spoke in this speech to the non-Roman audience.

Evidence from Josephus

There is also a significant piece of evidence that shows Greek, although well-known as a secondary language, was not the primary or most-understood language of Jesus’s time. This evidence comes from Josephus, a well-educated Jew and a priest.

In his writings, Josephus frequently indicates that Greek wasn’t his original language. For example, although he translated his works into Greek and required help to do so. In The Wars of the Jews, he writes:

I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; I Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth an Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work]. 4

And in Antiquities, he also writes:

For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed them in the learning belonging to the Jews. I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness . . . 5

Harold Hoehner notes that even “Josephus, who had the educational opportunities, wrote his Bellum Judaicum in Aramaic and later translated it into Greek for the benefit of those under Roman rule; this he did with the help of assistants because his knowledge of Greek was inadequate.”6

From this, we can conclude that Greek wasn’t the first language of most first-century Jews. It would have been spoken only among the diaspora in Jerusalem; among those involved in international trade and commerce; and among the upper class and educated—such as Josephus. And of those who did understand Greek—again, like Josephus—it was often only as a second language.

Did Jesus Speak Greek?

Jesus probably knew enough Greek to understand it. But he wouldn’t have spoken it as his first language. He also wouldn’t have used it in his daily conversation or taught the crowds in Greek.

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What about Hebrew?

Hebrew was certainly spoken in first-century Palestine. The key questions are: 1) by whom, and 2) how much?

We know that most religious documents were written in Hebrew in the centuries after the Babylonian exile. Most of the documents from the Qumran community—including nearly all of the Dead Sea Scrolls—are written in Hebrew. Much deutero-canonical literature is also in Hebrew, including 1 Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus. Shmuel Safrai has noted that “all of the inscriptions found in the temple” are written in Hebrew.7

This alone doesn’t tell us Hebrew was spoken. It only tells us it was written.

However, several documents from the Bar-Kokhba revolt show some evidence of slang terms, abbreviations, and “other characteristics of everyday speech.”8 So it seems Hebrew was spoken as well.

Additional evidence pointing to Hebrew as a living, spoken language comes, again, from Josephus. In AD 69, with the Romans approaching Jerusalem, Titus asked Josephus to deliver a message to John of Giscala, who had previously captured the city. Josephus delivered this message in Hebrew.

We’ve already seen that Josephus was a priest, so it’s no surprise he knew Hebrew. But his choice to use Hebrew in this public way is telling. Josephus writes (in the third person):

Upon this, Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language.9

It appears that, a generation after Jesus, Hebrew was still widely enough understood that not only could Josephus speak it, but he could do so knowing a large crowd would understand him.

Hebrew in Galilee

We have seen that Hebrew was understood among the Qumran community and by many in Jerusalem. What about in Galilee?

Extrabiblical rabbinic literature testifies to a Galilean dialect. Safrai notes:

There is a statement in rabbinic literature that the Judeans retained the teachings of the Torah scholars because they were careful in the use of their language, while the Galileans, who were not so careful with their speech, did not retain their learning (b. Eruv. 53a–b; y Ber. 4d, et. al.). While this saying is sometimes considered to be evidence for the dominance of Aramaic over Hebrew . . . it actually only refers to the Judeans’ feeling that Galileans mispronounced the guttural letters ח and צ and dropped the weak letters א and ה. 10

Was this a distinct Aramaic-Galilean dialect, or a Hebrew-Galilean dialect? We can't be sure, but the dialect is noted twice in the Gospels:

  1. The first account of the distinct Galilean Hebrew dialect is found in the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. As Peter sits in the courtyard of the high priest in Jerusalem, bystanders detect similarities in the accent between Jesus and Peter. Matthew’s account tells us that “those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’” (Matthew 26:73). In Mark and Luke, the bystanders say “surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean” (Mark 14:70).
  2. The second account is found in Acts 2:7, when, at Pentecost, Jesus’s followers were identified as Galileans by their accent: “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’”

If this was a Hebrew dialect, it wasn’t common, and it wasn’t the dialect spoken in Jerusalem.

Whatever the case, it's likely Jesus did speak Hebrew, but, like Greek, not as his first language.

We’ll discover more about how and when he may have spoken Hebrew in a moment. But first, let’s examine the third language of first-century Palestine, Aramaic.


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By signing up for the Biblical Languages Certificate Program, you’ll learn the basics of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—everything you need to begin working with the text of the Bible in the original languages.


Did Jesus Speak Aramaic?

There is wide consensus among scholars that Aramaic was the primary language spoken by the Jews of first century Palestine.

The vast majority of Jews spoke it. Jesus spoke it.

This has been the commonly accepted view since 1845, when Abraham Geiger, a German rabbi, showed that even Jewish rabbis from the first century would have spoken Aramaic. He convincingly argued that the Hebrew from the first century (Mishnaic Hebrew) only functioned as a written language, not as a living, spoken language.

Although Geiger’s thesis has been challenged, modified, and softened over the years, his general argument remains widely accepted. Most Jews living in the heartland spoke Aramaic; almost nobody spoke Hebrew.

There are two reasons most scholars believe Aramaic was the primary language of Jesus’s time—and the language Jesus spoke:

  1. The overwhelming majority of documents and inscriptions recovered from the era are in Aramaic. Although documents do exist in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and other languages, they are a minority. And even though many religious texts are in Hebrew (for example, of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 15% are in Aramaic, 3% are in Greek, and the rest in Hebrew), most nonreligious texts—contracts, invoices, ownership claims, and other kinds of ordinary communication—are in Aramaic. Moreover, of the Hebrew inscriptions found, almost all have been found in and around Jerusalem and the Judean wilderness—and virtually none have been found in Galilee. If Hebrew was spoken regularly in ordinary conversation, there is little written evidence to support it.
  2. The second, and perhaps most convincing evidence of Aramaic primacy is that the Hebrew Scriptures were being translated into Aramaic. There may be many reasons why the Scriptures were being translated, but the most likely one is the simplest: most ordinary people could no longer understand the Scriptures in Hebrew.

This doesn’t mean Hebrew wasn’t spoken. We’ve seen above that it was.

It simply means the instances where Hebrew was spoken were the exception, not the rule.

John Poirier notes that the “contexts in which Hebrew continued to be spoken” were “localized, either geographically (i.e. in the hills of Judea), professionally (i.e. among the priests and sages), or along sectarian lines (i.e. among the Qumranites).”11

The Decline of Hebrew

How did the status of Hebrew evolve from its use as the dominant language of Israel in the sixth-century BC to a highly localized language written and spoken in only very specific contexts in the first-century AD? How did Aramaic come to replace it?

After the Babylonian exile, the Hebrew language “began to be ideaologized, so that its use was no longer a matter of indifference, but came to acquire symbolic weight and social importance.’” It became “the language whose representation symbolized Jewish nationhood.”12

This transition intensified after the destruction of the temple in AD 70 when “the Hebrew language had lost its political importance, but it maintained its significance as a symbol of Jewishness.”13

As Hebrew was displaced by Aramaic, it transitioned from a living, spoken language into a language used first in the context of religion and liturgy and second for its symbolic importance—but it was not used by most people in common, everyday life for ordinary conversation.

But what about Jesus?

We’ve learned that he probably spoke it, but we don’t know how much. Was he nearly bilingual, speaking Aramaic and Hebrew interchangeably? Or, like others of his time, was his use of Hebrew infrequent and localized?

To answer this, we need to know two things:

  1. Jesus’s education. If he was educated and literate, then he likely knew Hebrew well and perhaps spoke it.
  2. His listeners’ level of comprehension. Even if Jesus knew Hebrew, he wouldn’t have spoken it if it meant others—disciples, Pharisees, the crowds he taught—could not understand him.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at education and literacy in first-century Galilee.

How Educated Was Jesus?

We don’t know for sure, but we can make a good guess by understanding his Galilean context.

We know that Galilee contained a comparatively high proportion of literate, educated scholars. Galilean Jews knew the law well. They read it, debated it, and discussed it.

Shmuel Safrai lists the Jewish sages who came from Galilee prior to A.D. 70:

Before he came to Jerusalem, R. Johanan ben Zakkai lived in Araba (= Gabara) in lower Galilee, and had in his school R. Hanina ben Dosa, who was also a native of that city. Just before and after the destruction of the Temple we hear of Galilean sages such as Abba Jose Holikufri of Tibeon and R. Zadok from the same place. R. Halaphta and R. Hananiah ben Teradyon had magnificent law courts, the former in Sepphoris and the latter in Siknin. Also the social and religious movements in Galilee and their customs which were praised in the tradition, are doubtlessly connected with Galilean midrash schools in one form or another.14

How did Jesus fit in with this tradition of learning? David Flusser writes:

Josephus identifies Jesus with the Jewish Sages. The Greek word for ‘wise’ has a common root with the Greek term ‘sophist’, a term that did not then possess the negative connotation it has today. Elsewhere Josephus refers to two outstanding Jewish Sages as sophists, and this title was used regularly by him to designate prominent Jewish Sages. The Greek author, Lucian from Samosata (born ca. 120 and died after 190 A.D.) similarly refers to Jesus as ‘the crucified sophist’. . . Josephus’ reference to Jesus as ‘a wise man’ challenges the recent tendency to view Jesus as merely a simple peasant.15

We also know Jesus read the scroll in his hometown (Luke 4:16–30), and this scroll likely would have been written in Hebrew.

From this evidence, we know the sages from Galilee were educated, and, among them, Jesus was exceptional.

This means, by virtue of his education, Jesus knew Hebrew and certainly could speak it.

But conversing in Hebrew requires both a speaker and a listener. Would Jesus’s listeners have understood Hebrew?

How Educated Were Jesus's Listeners?

Most scholars propose literacy rates ranging from 10 per-cent on the high end (William Harris) to less than 3 per-cent on the low end (Meir Bar-Ilan).16 Even if these figures are low estimates, it’s still likely a majority of people could not read and write, and thus did not know Hebrew.

How much Hebrew did Jesus speak?

Although Jesus knew Hebrew and could speak it, in reality, he probably only spoke it in the synagogue or while discussing the Torah with his peers. Outside of these contexts, it’s unlikely anyone would have understood him.

Jesus’s first language—the language he used in ordinary conversation, the language he used to teach the crowds—was Aramaic.

If you were to ask Jesus what language he spoke, he very likely would have answered: Aramaic.

Learn more about the cultural background of the Bible

Get started with a free online course taught by John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.

By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at yourprivacy@harpercollins.com.


  1. Aaron Tresham, “The Languages Spoken by Jesus,” The Masters Seminary Journal, Spring, 2009, 86.
  2. Shmuel Safrai, “Spoken and Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” S. Notley, M. Turnage, and B. Becker, Jesus’ Last Week, (Brill, 2006), 226 (first published in Jerusalem Perspective 30, 31 (1991).
  3. David A. Fiensy, “The Composition of the Jerusalem Church,” in Richard Bauckham, The Book of Acts in Its Palestinian Setting (Eerdmans, 1995), 231, cf. Martin Hengel, The Hellenization of Judaea in the First Century after Christ (SCM, 1989), 8–12.
  4. Josephus, Jewish Wars, 1.1.
  5. Josephus, Antiquities, 20.11.
  6. Harold Hoehner, Herod Antipas, (Cambridge University Press, 1972), 62.
  7. Shmuel Safrai, “Spoken and Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” S. Notley, M. Turnage, and B. Becker, Jesus’ Last Week, (Brill, 2006), 227 (first published in Jerusalem Perspective 30, 31 (1991).
  8. Ibid., 229
  9. Josephus, Jewish Wars, 6.96.
  10. Shmuel Safrai, “Spoken and Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” S. Notley, M. Turnage, and B. Becker, Jesus’ Last Week, (Brill, 2006), 231–232 (first published in Jerusalem Perspective 30, 31 (1991).
  11. John C. Poirier, “The Linguistic Situation in Jewish Palestine in Late Antiquity,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 4 (2007), 66.
  12. Catherine Hezser, Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, (Mohr Siebeck, 2001), 229.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Shmuel Safrai and M. Stern, “Education and the Study of the Torah,” The Jewish People in the First Century, 962.
  15. David Flusser, Jesus, (Magnes Press, 1998), 30–32; discussed in John C. Poirier, “The Linguistic Situation in Jewish Palestine in Late Antiquity,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 4 (2007), 131.
  16. Chris Keith, Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee, 73–75.

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Photo credit: POP via Flickr; original here.

  • Norman Andresen 3 years ago

    An interesting discourse. As a Christian and a scientist I wondered what language(s) Jesus potentially spoke. It appeares to be a given that Aramic was his native language. In Luke we find the youth Jesus in the temple discussing the law with the elders and they were amazed at his knowledge. Hence Hebrew was a language he could communicate in. His ‘father’ was a carpenter and rightly or wrongly I leaned from this site that Nazareth was on the road between major cities. A carpenter would repair vehicles and would have to communicate with the travelers, speaking Latin, Greek and Aramic. Hence I think Jesus could speak several languages, maybe not fluently but well enough to communicate.

  • George Gunn 3 years ago

    I think the (unnamed) author’s argument is a bit thin. Using Josephus as a standard on which to base the knowledge of all 1st century Judeans involves quite a few unproved (and unprovable) assumptions. I also noticed that this author used the anachronistic expression, “first century Palestine” a number of times. This sheds some suspicion on the scholarship of the author. Of course, there was no “Palestine” in the first century. This was only a designation from the time of Hadrian (second century). The land was known as Judea, Samaria and Galilee in the first century. This author also assumes that one’s native (or “first”) language would be known considerably better than a “second” language. This shows a bias that is typical of those coming out of a monolingual culture like ours. But those who live in multilingual cultures (such as any number of European, African, and Asian countries today) frequently know several languages quite fluently, and there is no doubt that such was the case in first century Judea, Samaria and Galilee as well. Yes, Josephus may have needed some help composing a literary work of history, but that does not mean that he struggled or had any difficulty carrying on a meaningful and sophisticated dialog in Koine Greek. Even English speaking authors today frequently employ the help of an editor in composing a work of literature for publication. Regarding Jesus, arguments based on his deity put aside, I have no doubt that Jesus could speak Greek quite fluently, as could His disciples. In fact, the Galileans most likely had greater opportunities to use Greek in their every day lives than the Judeans.

  • Randall Buth 3 years ago

    You might want to update this with the articles from Buth and Notley, eds. The Language Environment in First Century Judaia, Brill, 2014.

    For example, Geiger was long ago refuted, not softened.
    A basic consideration can often help the non-specialist in Mishnaic Hebrew understand this. Hebrew divided into a high register (written, formal) and a low, colloquial register during the Second Temple. Such dual registers of language use occur when a language is being commonly spoken (like Latin and Vulgar Latin, Swish German spoken and written, Arabic literary and colloquial, etc.
    Another major consideration: although Jewish literature from 1st century and following is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, ALL rabbinic parables are recorded in low register HEBREW.
    Interaction with the cited articles would prove interesting.

  • Randall Buth 3 years ago

    PS: I note one other misdirection in the article above: “perhaps most convincing evidence of Aramaic primacy is that the Hebrew Scriptures were being translated into Aramaic.” Unfortunately, that assumes evidence that we don’t have, and the evidence that we do have points in the opposite direction, to not using or having an Aramaic Bible. The Aramaic Bible is virtually missing at Qumran. The only Aramaic scripture at Qumran are the book of Job. (The scrap of Leviticus 16 may have been a Yom ha-Kippurim reading for pilgrims.) Job was used around the Middle East in Aramaic as the LXX testifies (Greek Job 42:17ff) and is noted in rabbinic sources as commonly used in translation. The Hebrew to Job is strange. Finally, the Qumran long text of Aramaic Job is an import. It came from the East, a non-Hebrew area far away. Qumran Job testifies that an Aramaic translation was being done in Mesopotamia and that cannot be used for sweeping deductions about Israel, especially without corroboration. What Qumran shows is that Jews used Hebrew Bible in the Land of Israel, not Aramaic. There does not appear to have been a local Aramaic translation in the Land in Jesus’ day or during the Second Temple, contrary to the article’s bold assertion. And mishnaic Hebrew was simply not understood in the article.

  • Ken Jacobsen 3 years ago

    Some notes about this article:

    Harold Hoehner’s note that Josephus “had the educational opportunities”, misses, it seems to me, just what was and what wasn’t important to the education of someone of Josephus’ social position in the Judea of his time. Learning Greek was not one.

    Josephus explains that himself quite clearly in the following:

    “…our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations… because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them.

    But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning…”

    — Antiquities of Jews XX, XI

    “Greek wasn’t the first language of most first-century Jews” leaves out the massive Diaspora of Jews throughout the Roman Empire who certainly spoke Greek as their first language. And, keep in mind, the Septuagint originated in Alexandria to serve the Greek speaking Jews there, who alone numbered more than all the Jews in Judea, Samaria and Galilee put together.

    Keep in mind too, that when these huge numbers of Greek speaking Jews converged on Jerusalem for important religious holidays, it was necessary that the “free-men” and “servants” who provided their housing and food be able to speak Greek in order to accommodate them. The members of Josephus’ class didn’t need to bother communicating with these unwashed outsiders.

    The contention that the average Judean could speak Hebrew is not necessarily supported by the two instances mentioned. First, the Bar Kokhba revolt was a fundamentalist rejection of all things Greek and employed Hebrew (“low” Hebrew) in an attempt to prove supposed religious purity, as others have pointed out. Second, the translation that I have of Josephus’ statement that he spoke in “Hebrew” describes it as, “The same that in the New Testament is always so called, and was then the common language of the Jews in Judea, which was the Syriac dialect” –i.e. Aramaic, as the word Ἑβραϊστὶ is translated in most New Testaments.

  • Mark Kennicott 3 years ago

    It is interesting to see how much evidence continues to be ignored, when we have ample evidence to affirm that Hebrew was, in fact, the predominant language of Jesus, especially in rabbinic teaching and discourse. Yes, he spoke Greek and Aramaic, but when he taught, he would have done so in Hebrew, and all evidence points to the people being well able to understand him in the land of Israel. Which brings me to another point of contention; why does Zondervan (and practically every other academic institution) insist on speaking of first century “Palestine” when such a place did not exist? It wasn’t ancient “Palestine,” it was ancient Canaan. It wasn’t first century “Palestine,” it was first century Israel. This romance with Palestine, especially in the Christian academic community, is ridiculous, unwarranted, and more than a little telling.

  • Bryant Williams III 3 years ago

    I would add that Luke 4 and the reading of Isaiah 61:1-2 would also indicate that Hebrew was still being used both written and spoken in the synagogue; unless Jesus was speaking from the OG/LXX which is within the realm of possibility but unlikely since the OG/LXX was the primary text of the Diaspora. Whether or not that would spill over to outside the synagogue is a different matter altogether as you indicate above.

  • Mark Davis 2 years ago

    Besides the elites, most Jews rejected Greek and other languages. Only the Sadducees pushed for Hellenization and they were the sect of the elites. The Pharisees held the beliefs of most of the common people and rejected Greek. Since we have nothing written during the time of Christ and even Josephus’ works were heavily edited, there is little we know about the period. The gospels all came during and after the Jewish Roman War. None of the authors are known. The other letters and books are also pseudonymous. Most think Paul wrote 7 of the 13 letters.

  • Sally Deppe 2 years ago

    On our tour of Galilee, our three Jewish, well educated, guides informed us for the reason the gospels read “you have HEARD it said”, vs. “you have READ it” is because the people in Galilee could not read they were not educated. A fact exactly the opposite of what this author has stated. Our guides pointed out “you have read it” is directed in the Jerusalem area where the people were educated and could read the old scriptures.

  • 10 Oldest Written Languages in The World | Oldest.org 1 year ago

    […] it is commonly referred to as the Biblical language, and scholars believe that this is the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples. There are still villages out there today that speak the same language, though it […]

  • Marie Bruneau 1 year ago

    Excellent insights! I have been searching, trying to understand in what language did Yahshuah preach, conversse with His disciples and the crowd. To further understand the New Testament Bible, enabling me to have a profound knowledge of the sayings of Yahshuah, I purchased an Aramaic English New Testament and Targum Testament Revisited: Aramaic Paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible. The former is excellent,; however, after reading this Article on the Web, it really clarifies many other significant points for me.
    Thank you

  • Eugen Heppler 1 year ago

    What Sally Deppe writes sounds interesting, but if one looks at the verses which actually speak about “heard” and “read” it is obvious, that it is not related to the level of education, but to the people addressed. The ones Jesus addresses when speaks of “read” are the Pharisees” which he points to the scriptures and the ones he addresses regarding “heard” are the people taught by the scribes who taught their rabbinic teachings, which most likely weren’t available in written form anyways.

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  • Joseph Kostelnik, Ph.D. 1 year ago

    I strongly suggest anyone interested in this subject consult a masterpiece of scholarship written by the great UK scholar, Dr. Alexander Roberts (translator of the Anti-Nicene Fathers, etc.), titled, “Greek, the Language of Christ and His Apostles.” He proves Jesus & the disciples were bi-lingual, speaking Aramaic & Greek, but used Greek predominantly. For me his arguments are unanswerable.
    This book, thank God, is a free download from Google.

    It is faith-building to realize we have the actual words of Christ in our NT. A handful of Aramaic
    sentences, and the vast majority of His conversations and teaching in Greek.

    I hope this information helps many in the Body of Christ and helps grant them a deeper faith in
    our NT.

    Kind regards,

  • Tim Elliott 1 year ago

    Interesting discussion yet the NT is in Greek. How would the translation been impacted? For instance,the dialogue between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection plays off the two Greek words agapao and phileo. Would the Aramaic (or Hebrew) have made the same distinction?

  • Sheryl 1 year ago

    Great article! As a muslim, Jesus is a very important person. So I needed to know a little bit more about him and I was curious to know how did Jesus pronounce the word “God”. Now that I know his language I will look it up and keep understanding about his life! Thanks God bless you.

  • Vernon Cook 11 months ago

    I find the information very interesting. However I find that there is something missing that should be rather important and that is who Jesus was/is. The Bible itself tells us in John 1 that He is God. In John 5:18 He said His Father which was interpreted by the Jews as Jesus making Himself equal with God. Then again in Philippians 2:6 Jesus is again considered equal with God.
    If we keep in mind who He really is I would think the logical conclusion would be that He could quite easily and fluently speak any language He chose to speak, after all that would be a pale and small miracle in light of all of the other miracles He performed.

  • Gary Hammond 10 months ago

    I would need to see Aramaic writing of that day. Can anyone show me Aramaic written letters and words. Also, I need to see what many writers are calling Hebrew, these Hebrew written letters and words then lets compare or contrast the differences.
    When Ezra translated the original what I call “Sacred Hebrew” or what many others call Paleo-Hebrew, those original sacred Hebrew letters and words ( those God used and Moses used to write the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament law) are very different looking than what Ezra used in his translation in about 516BC when the Jewish captives returned from God’s seventy year judgment in Babylion. Those letters and words that we still have today in the Old Testament was what written Language? Was it not Aramaic written letters and words or we can say Chaldee words from gentile Bablylion? So, how did Ezra pronounce those words written in this other language? Did he not pronounce them using the original ancient Sacred Hebrew prounounciation? If not then then what language did he speak and teach the new Old Testament he translated to Israel who where now back in the land? I propose that Ezra wrote the original sacred Hebrew into Aramaic script and pronounced it with original Hebrew sounds. ( This site needs a spell checker)
    Jesus spoke Aramaic words from the cross which sound totally different than Biblical Hebrew sounding words today when you take Hebrew courses as I have. We need to see comparison writings of Aramaic and Hebrew as so many refer to today and contrast them.

  • Carlos Manuel Chapa 9 months ago

    Jesús spoke all language because He is God. I understand all the historical arguments mafe here, but faith is more important than intellectual reasoning. I used to wonder how come there are so many discrepancies with regard to theological interpretation of the Bible, but reading this article and its comments written from a purely historical perspective help me to understand the reason behind the existence of so many religions and denominations today.

  • Stanley Loper 9 months ago

    Missing is a discussion of the home Jesus was born into and grew up in. Joseph was from Bethlehem and of the Royal Jewish descent. Hebrew would’ve been his first language. We do not have information on where Mary was born, though she is presented as a Galilean, meaning she would’ve been raised with that dialect. It was noted that Josephus did note the resistance of Galilean to Hellenizing influences, the implication would likely include the foreign Aramaic as well given their insistence on rejecting outside influences. There is also the matter they knew they had a special son on their hands who had to be kept from certain influences as shown by the speed with which they whisked him away from the sages in the temple when he was 13. These all argue for both the Judean and Galilean Hebrew dialects of Hebrew being his primary language at home.

    Because he was also of superior abilities and noted as such, he was likely a genuine polyglot having learned Sahidic Coptic, Aramaic, Greek and Latin on the streets in the places he lived as a child and grew up learning the trade of a “Master Builder” from his Father since they would’ve helped in the family business. My contention online was that he used whatever language best fit the audience when he spoke which would explain Pilate’s surprise at his speech since he probably spoke to him in either Latin or Attic Greek, whichever had been the language of Pilate’s cradle. I think his abilities get highly underestimated by scholars and others because they can’t comprehend the breadth of his genius.

    I’ve been pilloried online before for my opinion, so it doesn’t bother me. Those of you who think he was both God and man might want to look at what I wrote with that in mind. My fellow modern Arianists might also want to consider it from our POV as well. There isn’t much I can say to Atheists beyond the acknowledged fact that Jesus was a genius of a high order which does not place what I write beyond the bounds of possibility.