The Language of the Bible


Okay, the question that we have now is
what language did Jesus speak and then we have other questions. What language
was the New Testament written in and what language was the Old Testament written
in? So, all of these are important questions in the history of Christianity
and for Christians today and for other people too. So, well at the time of Jesus
the common language in the Roman Empire, and Palestine was part of the Roman
Empire, was actually Greek. There was Latin in the background, the language
of the state and of the legal system was Latin but then the language
spoken by the people in the marketplace, the language of education was
Greek because when the Romans conquered the Greek-speaking world of the east of
the side of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, which had been Hellenized by
Alexander the Great, they were actually Hellenized themselves
because they brought the Greek educated man into their homes to teach their
children and so the Greek education in the Greek language, Greek philosophy, the
sciences and all of those things that were common for the Greek-speaking world of the time were brought into the homes of the Romans and eventually the
Romans spoke Greek everywhere. So, the question is what language did Jesus
speak. Did he speak Greek? We’re not sure but the common language
perhaps of the people in Palestine was Aramaic. Why wasn’t it Hebrew, that’s a
good question. It’s because Hebrew had discontinued to be used for a long time
by now, by the time of Jesus. In fact Hebrew stopped being used
officially and the people, the Jewish people that were scattered around the
area, even in Palestine didn’t really use Hebrew, they spoke Greek
mostly or Aramaic or the local languages where they were to the point that — about
150 years before Christ — in Alexandria Egypt which was a Greek speaking city
and a third of the population was Jewish, we have the Jewish community wanting the Bible, the Old Testament in their language that they speak. So they get
together seventy scholars who translated all the Hebrew books of the
Old Testament into Greek. Greek was the language that they used in worship
and it was the language that they read the scriptures in. So this is the
Jewish people now even 150 years before Christ is born. So at the time of Christ,
the common text of the Old Testament used by Jews around the Roman Empire was actually that Greek text which the seventy scholars of Alexandria Egypt produced
which we call it today the Septuagint, the text of the seventy scholars, the
Jewish scholars. So in the Orthodox Church we still use that as the
official text of the Old Testament and in the Greek Orthodox Church we
still read the Psalms in that and we recite a lot of the Psalms and also the
readings of the Old Testament in that particular version of the Septuagint.
So, did Jesus be Greek, were not sure. He probably used Aramaic but he
probably also spoke Greek. Of course, He’s God and He can speak all
the languages but that’s another story. But the Apostles spread the
gospel in Greek. So what language was the New Testament written in is another question and the answer is Greek, all of the New Testament was written in Greek and it
was all of the books of the New Testament were written in the first
century before the Year 100. Scholars today have figured out and they kind of
they can point out exactly when everything was put together and when
everything was published in that way and we know a lot of things about
the dating of the texts and all of those things and there are all the New
Testament texts are from the first century. They were all in Greek. There
is a theory that there was one … the Gospel of Matthew was probably also written in Aramaic but we don’t have a text and therefore we cannot claim
that there is an Aramaic text. So, another point that I make in this
particular, when I’m asked this question about the language of the Bible is that
we know for example that Greek was used everywhere because when Saint Paul wrote to the Romans he wrote to them in Greek, not in Latin but in Greek because Greek
was the official language that they used everywhere
especially among the educated people who were able to read and write at that time.

18 Replies to “The Language of the Bible

  1. W a u :
    ""common, official language of 1st centary was greek ;
    for ex. , Saint Paul wrote his letters in greek.""
    – who is the Agios, next to shepherd Panayiotis ?

  2. Your videos Fr. Have been very helpful to both learn and to keep my mind occupied in a healthy way. I am a catechuman in Orthodoxy.

  3. As a Jewish convert to Greek Orthodoxy, this seems obvious to me. Unfortunately, since Jews and most Protestants use the Masoretic based version of the Old Testament, which leaves out the books of Maccabees, this is not so obvious to most. I still have my Hebrew Chumash (Torah with commentary). Beside the Hebrew text it has the English and the Aramaic translation written by Onkelos.

    I really love my Orthodox Study Bible. The commentaries pick up from and complement the Jewish oral tradition in a logical fashion.

    Since Our Lord, Christ spent His early childhood in Cairo, I think it is fair to assume that His daily language there was Greek and He was probably called by His Greek name. In the synagogue, He would have been called by His Hebrew name to read the scriptures in Hebrew.

  4. Hmmm, modern day Eastern Orthodox Christians of the Levant speak Arabic with noticeable influence of Aramaic — not Greek. Yes they do use Koine Greek in their liturgy but there is no noticeable influence of the Greek language on their dialect. My point is that Greek was the main language but only in Metropolitan areas but Aramaic was the main language everywhere else. In other words, the majority spoke Aramaic — not Greek.
    No question that Jesus native tongue was Aramaic. I am unsure why this fact is even being questioned. As we know, there are three Aramaic quotes from Jesus in the New Testaments written phonetically!! Why wouldn't the New Testament Authors take pride to mention that Jesus spoke their language? Why would they quote him phonetically in Aramaic?

  5. Very informative and fascinating! I love your video teachings. I am new to Eastern Orthodox, and there is no church where I live. So these videos are a very precious source of education, comfort, and inspiration. Could you share a teaching on the "prayers for healing" in the Orthodox church? With gratitude and thankfulness beyond words.

  6. Many Orthodox churches, which one is the right one? Greek?
    Why RC chose Latin then?You Orthodox people must know that I'm sure so I'm asking here.
    Why Orthodox Church for so many years accepted one Peter chair over all faith but later in time it was no of importance? I'm not attacking just wondering.
    Isn't that true that recently Orthodox Church came into union with RC Church under Francis the pope??
    I am looking closer into Orthodox Church simply because I am hungry for the truth.

  7. The music is too loud, it's distracting from the words I want to hear! Could you lower it so it's just like way background. Love your presentation.

  8. Nonononononononono the language of the Eastern Roman's was Greek. That's why there are no more Romance Languages east of Italy (minus Romanian) this does not change the video much bit I just wanted to clear it up

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