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Author Topic: What Language did Jesus Speak?  (Read 1941 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 18, 2012, 09:39:13 PM »

The topic sort of covers it, what language did Jesus speak during His incarnation on Earth? I've looked it up before and I only find varying opinions.
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 09:39:45 PM »

Most people say aramaic...
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 09:40:50 PM »

I think Aramaic was it, too. It's possible he learned Hebrew for the temple, and at least one other language such as Greek, since it was popular in the region at the time.
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 09:47:16 PM »

Church Slavonic obviously.
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 09:51:53 PM »

Ge'ez
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 09:55:49 PM »

Well, I dont know for sure because I wasnt living during His age  Wink Grin.
But we know that He spoke a dialect of Aramaic (this was the common language of the region and also a religious language to Jews), He also spoke Ancient Hebrew (during that time, EVERY Jew spoke Hebrew), He probably also understood a little Greek or Latin as well (those were the lingua franca languages of that time). He was/is God so He speeks all languages!  angel
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 09:59:01 PM »

It was undoubtedly Aramaic. Remember His words from Matthew 27 and Mark 15? "Eloi, Eloi lama sabatchthani?" (or 'Eli, Eli...') That's Aramaic.
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 09:59:46 PM »

It was undoubtedly Aramaic. Remember His words from Matthew 27 and Mark 15? "Eloi, Eloi lamma sabatchthani?" (or 'Eli, Eli...') That's Aramaic.

He spoke English the rest of the time?
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 10:00:17 PM »

He also spoke Ancient Hebrew (during that time, EVERY Jew spoke Hebrew),

I've heard some say that almost no one spoke Hebrew fluently at the time, excepting perhaps the upper echelon of priests/sadducees. Any idea where I can read more about this?
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 10:00:53 PM »

It was undoubtedly Aramaic. Remember His words from Matthew 27 and Mark 15? "Eloi, Eloi lamma sabatchthani?" (or 'Eli, Eli...') That's Aramaic.

He spoke English the rest of the time?
Olde English.
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 10:02:49 PM »

He also spoke Ancient Hebrew (during that time, EVERY Jew spoke Hebrew),

I've heard some say that almost no one spoke Hebrew fluently at the time, excepting perhaps the upper echelon of priests/sadducees. Any idea where I can read more about this?

I have no idea. But I agree.
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 10:08:07 PM »

Church Slavonic obviously.

I think the question refered to what He spoke on earth. Obviously it's Church Slavonic in heaven.
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 10:09:33 PM »

It was undoubtedly Aramaic. Remember His words from Matthew 27 and Mark 15? "Eloi, Eloi lamma sabatchthani?" (or 'Eli, Eli...') That's Aramaic.

He spoke English the rest of the time?

English wasn't invented yet.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 10:17:08 PM »

Jesus spoke in red letter.
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 10:21:28 PM »

I doubt he really knew Latin, I don't have much to back it up, but I seriously doubt his conversations with the Centurion and Pilate were in Latin, I'd say he probably knew a little Greek, especially spending his youth in Egypt (maybe even Alexandria among Hellenistic Jews).
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2012, 10:28:40 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

All of them?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2012, 11:09:19 PM »

Aramaic was probably his main conversational language, but he likely knew Hebrew very well also.
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2012, 11:26:40 PM »

So far as I understand the matter, the common language was Aramaic.

Nazereth was very near Caesarea, a Greco-Roman colony in which Greek was the common language. If Joseph as a carpenter then it is not unthinkable that he might have some clientele from Caesarea. So knowing a little Greek would have been wise if not necessary in any trade. So, it is not unreasonable that Christ grew up in proximity to Greek speakers and likely picked it up as well. 

Of course their country's overlords were Latin, and Latin was the language of law and of the administration of the empire. We know from the Gospels that Jesus spoke with Pontius Pilate. We are not told if they spoke Greek or Latin…but one or the other is a reasonable assumption. It is likely some Latin was known locally by the better educated, but just how much fluency Christ Himself had/demonstrated we don't know.

Hebrew: In the Gospels there is a passage where he reads from Isaiah then teaches from it. Given that 75 percent of Christ's and the Apostles references to the OT were to the Septuigent, it may have been the Greek text He spoke from. I don't though if Synygoges of the day made public use of the LXX in the synagogue or if they used a Hebrew text or if they had both.  If it was Hebrew and He read it then commented on it, then it's obvious He spoke/read Hebrew.  If not we may still infer it from the Tradition. His mother was raised in the Temple, and doubtless the language and services of the Temple relied upon the Hebrew, which the young Theotokos would have had daily exposure to for years, and which she could have taught Christ in His childhood…beside the leap from Aramaic to Hebrew is likely no greater than the jump from say Italian to Spanish…or maybe even Spanish to Portuguese….that is to say a lot of similarities of sound, grammar, and words (you say lot I said lut…sort of thing)
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2012, 11:34:13 PM »

He spoke Aramaic, but He might have known Hebrew (since He was Jewish), Greek (some say He and His disciples read from the Septuagint), and Latin (I'm just assuming this because it might have been helpful to know this language to communicate with the Romans).
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2012, 11:35:30 PM »

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« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2012, 11:43:01 PM »

Hebrew: In the Gospels there is a passage where he reads from Isaiah then teaches from it.

Regarding this, some have put forward the idea that he read an (aramaic) targum version, though there is some dispute about when the practice of writing these began.
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« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2012, 11:54:52 PM »

He spoke Aramaic, but He might have known Hebrew (since He was Jewish), Greek (some say He and His disciples read from the Septuagint), and Latin (I'm just assuming this because it might have been helpful to know this language to communicate with the Romans).

They probably spoke to the Romans in Greek.  St. Paul spoke to the Centurion in Greek.
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2012, 12:07:11 AM »

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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2012, 12:16:23 AM »

King James English.  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2012, 01:18:39 AM »

Byzantine. Or for really pedantic Orthodox: Eastern Latin.
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« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2012, 03:26:35 AM »

during His incarnation on Earth
It's still going on
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« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2012, 04:58:44 AM »

Aramaic (lingua franca of the Middle East), greek (lingua franca of the eastern part of the Roman Empire), and hebrew (hard to distinguish between aramaic and hebrew at that moment, though). Rather no chance for Him to know latin.
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« Reply #27 on: October 19, 2012, 08:59:14 AM »

He also spoke Ancient Hebrew (during that time, EVERY Jew spoke Hebrew),

I've heard some say that almost no one spoke Hebrew fluently at the time, excepting perhaps the upper echelon of priests/sadducees. Any idea where I can read more about this?

Hebrew was considered the holiest language to Jews (even today, most Orthodox Jews [no matter what sect they might be and no matter what country they come from] speak some form of Hebrew), the Jewish liturgy was in 90% Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Hebrew was the only language (besides a little Aramaic) used in prayers, rites and Torah chanting. With Hebrew being used so much, I suspect they would have been fluent (yeshivas didnt exist back then but Im sure that there was some sort of religious school were children would learn to speak Hebrew fluently).

Btw, I found this video of Yemenite Jewish chant, which I think would be close to what the Hebrew and Aramaic would have sounded like during the time of Our Lord:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzOVNoSl6RM&feature=related
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« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2012, 09:17:04 AM »

According to the Qur'an, Jesus spoke Arabic. So did His mother and apostles.  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2012, 09:25:58 AM »

According to the Qur'an, Jesus spoke Arabic. So did His mother and apostles.  Grin

 Roll Eyes  laugh
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« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2012, 10:09:32 AM »

He also spoke Ancient Hebrew (during that time, EVERY Jew spoke Hebrew),

I've heard some say that almost no one spoke Hebrew fluently at the time, excepting perhaps the upper echelon of priests/sadducees. Any idea where I can read more about this?

Hebrew was considered the holiest language to Jews (even today, most Orthodox Jews [no matter what sect they might be and no matter what country they come from] speak some form of Hebrew), the Jewish liturgy was in 90% Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Hebrew was the only language (besides a little Aramaic) used in prayers, rites and Torah chanting. With Hebrew being used so much, I suspect they would have been fluent (yeshivas didnt exist back then but Im sure that there was some sort of religious school were children would learn to speak Hebrew fluently).


But... where can I read more about this?  Cool
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« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2012, 10:48:52 AM »

Someone go find Isa.. Where is he when we really need him?
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« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2012, 10:57:35 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Someone go find Isa.. Where is he when we really need him?

Let me pinch hit here



stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2012, 12:55:47 PM »

This may have been said before but:

"The Syriac language is the Aramaic language itself, and the Arameans are the Syrians themselves. He who has made a distinction between them has erred."

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« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2012, 01:08:32 PM »

It was undoubtedly Aramaic. Remember His words from Matthew 27 and Mark 15? "Eloi, Eloi lamma sabatchthani?" (or 'Eli, Eli...') That's Aramaic.

He spoke English the rest of the time?

And also the native American languages, according to the Mormons... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2012, 01:58:00 PM »

Aramaic as first language and Greek as multicultural language for sure.

Certainly fluent in Aramaic, as his first language, very probably knowledgeable in Hebrew (a Jewish friend even claims that He was probably a singer in proto-synagogal services due to the way addressed Him), and to which degree He spoke Greek is open to speculation. Clearly enough to hold basic conversation with the Roman authorities. That Greek was important even in His ministery on Earth can be seen from the fact that the Septuaginta was the most quoted version of the Scriptures. On may assume He spoke other languages with different degrees of evidence from none (arabic) to some (Latin), but besides Aramaic and Greek is really just speculation.
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« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2012, 10:40:11 PM »

So when Jesus stood up to read from isaiah In the synagogue was he reading the Septuagint which was in Greek ? Aramaic ? Or Hebrew ?.
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« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2012, 07:39:00 AM »

So when Jesus stood up to read from isaiah In the synagogue was he reading the Septuagint which was in Greek ? Aramaic ? Or Hebrew ?.

We do not know and cannot know exactly. Yet the text quoted in Luke comes from the Septuagint. Check this website: http://www.oodegr.com/english/ag_grafi/NT_septuagint_quotes.htm Wink
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« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2012, 08:34:19 AM »

So when Jesus stood up to read from isaiah In the synagogue was he reading the Septuagint which was in Greek ? Aramaic ? Or Hebrew ?.

Probably. It wasn't translated into Aramaic back then and common folk could not understand Hebrew any better than Russians can understand Old Slavonic, probably worse.

We must keep in mind that Jews were already everywhere, and most spoke the language of the land as their first language, much like today. Aramaic was a local obscure language even to the Jews and Hebrew was already a dead language.

The Septuagint was commissioned precisely because it was noticed that although most Jews could no longer understand Hebrew, and despite the fact they had different languages as their first language since they were spread all over the Mediterranean world, they all could speak some Greek, the international language of the day. Many spoke it as a first language for living in Hellenized places and most spoke it as a second language to deal both with the Romans and to do commerce. Also it was far easier to learn Greek then any other language, since there was so much cultural and economic support for it.
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« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2012, 03:06:15 PM »

I wonder what the differences between the Judaean and Galilean dialects were?
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« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2012, 03:22:01 PM »

So when Jesus stood up to read from isaiah In the synagogue was he reading the Septuagint which was in Greek ? Aramaic ? Or Hebrew ?.

Probably. It wasn't translated into Aramaic back then and common folk could not understand Hebrew any better than Russians can understand Old Slavonic, probably worse.

We must keep in mind that Jews were already everywhere, and most spoke the language of the land as their first language, much like today. Aramaic was a local obscure language even to the Jews and Hebrew was already a dead language.

The Septuagint was commissioned precisely because it was noticed that although most Jews could no longer understand Hebrew, and despite the fact they had different languages as their first language since they were spread all over the Mediterranean world, they all could speak some Greek, the international language of the day. Many spoke it as a first language for living in Hellenized places and most spoke it as a second language to deal both with the Romans and to do commerce. Also it was far easier to learn Greek then any other language, since there was so much cultural and economic support for it.

I dunno, I doubt he was reading from the Septuagint in Greek. There were version of the Old Testament in Hebrew at the time, and I really doubt they would have read the OT in Greek in Palestine. They certainly were Hellenized and probably spoke a little Greek, but I would bet it was read in Hebrew.
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« Reply #41 on: October 30, 2012, 04:08:19 PM »

We may infer from modern similar experiences that some synagogues were more hellenized and some were more "conservative" and kept the Hebrew. The ones that read in Hebrew certainly did not understand it, just like those parishes which hold liturgies in old languages. But, as we see now, that wouldn't avoid the possibility it happened.

But since the question is what Jesus did, we have two strong evidence that *He* used the Septuaginta: 1) the vast majority of what His disciples and follower wrote was in Greek. They were probably following His lead in this. Had Jesus used Hebrew, we would hardly see His followers who were also Jews resorting to Greek to write anything; 2) Most of the quotes are from the Septuaginta, yet some Hebrew words are used now and then. What this shows is that if Jesus had used the Hebrew text, the followers would not be ashamed of quoting Hebrew sources if necessary. That they used the Greek source suggests they were probably trying to quote as precisely as possible, that is, using the same text He used.


I dunno, I doubt he was reading from the Septuagint in Greek. There were version of the Old Testament in Hebrew at the time, and I really doubt they would have read the OT in Greek in Palestine. They certainly were Hellenized and probably spoke a little Greek, but I would bet it was read in Hebrew.

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« Reply #42 on: October 30, 2012, 06:39:19 PM »

We may infer from modern similar experiences that some synagogues were more hellenized and some were more "conservative" and kept the Hebrew. The ones that read in Hebrew certainly did not understand it, just like those parishes which hold liturgies in old languages. But, as we see now, that wouldn't avoid the possibility it happened.

But since the question is what Jesus did, we have two strong evidence that *He* used the Septuaginta: 1) the vast majority of what His disciples and follower wrote was in Greek. They were probably following His lead in this. Had Jesus used Hebrew, we would hardly see His followers who were also Jews resorting to Greek to write anything; 2) Most of the quotes are from the Septuaginta, yet some Hebrew words are used now and then. What this shows is that if Jesus had used the Hebrew text, the followers would not be ashamed of quoting Hebrew sources if necessary. That they used the Greek source suggests they were probably trying to quote as precisely as possible, that is, using the same text He used.


I dunno, I doubt he was reading from the Septuagint in Greek. There were version of the Old Testament in Hebrew at the time, and I really doubt they would have read the OT in Greek in Palestine. They certainly were Hellenized and probably spoke a little Greek, but I would bet it was read in Hebrew.



I don't really think the argument you've presented is very strong at all. Jesus was not speaking to Jews of the diaspora. He was speaking to Jews of the holy land who weren't as strongly hellenized as the Jews of diaspora. The Apostles, on the other hand, were almost entirely writing to Jews of the diaspora. Jews in Greece, Anatolia & Rome. These Jews would have known Greek very well and their access to the scriptures would have been to the Septuagint.

However, as mentioned, Jesus was not part of the diaspora (except for his time in Egypt) and the Jews he was speaking to were not members of the diaspora.

The fact that the Apostles quote from the Septuagint isn't strong evidence for Christ using it. Remember that Christ was reading the scriptures in a synagogue. The Apostles did not have access to synagogues at the time of their writing/dictating the Epistles because they had been thrown out. Therefore they quoted from the Septuagint because they: 1. Were living in and preaching to the diaspora, 2. They didn't have any access to the synagogues, especially the scriptures contained in the synagogues.
Christ may have quoted from or read from the Hebrew versions of the scriptures, but that doesn't mean if he did, the Apostles would have quoted from the Hebrew texts. As I said, the Hebrew texts probably were confined to the synagogues, which the Apostles didn't have access to.

Now I should clarify, that while I'm arguing that Jesus was probably reading the text in Hebrew, that Hebrew text in the synagogue(s) was derived from the Greek Septuagint. So Fabio, you are essentially correct that he was using the Septuagint, but not that he was reading it in Greek, as I would argue it was probably a Hebrew translation from the Septuagint.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 06:41:06 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #43 on: October 30, 2012, 07:08:15 PM »

Jesus' mother tongue was Aramaic and He would've used this language most of the time. Because Paul conversed with the Centurion in Greek, I'd say it's much more likely that Jesus conversed with Pilate in Greek rather than Latin. I don't see any need for Jesus to use Latin at the time.

As for Hebrew, the practice of the synagogues was to chant the Hebrew and vocally paraphrase it in the local language, and this continues to this day. Jesus definitely read from Isaiah in Hebrew as far as I'm concerned. Also Jesus was able to enter into theological debates with the Rabbis so His knowledge of Hebrew was as good as their's.

Languages I believe Jesus knew:

Aramaic - both written and spoken
Hebrew - written only
Greek - spoken only
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 07:11:22 PM by Randa » Logged
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« Reply #44 on: October 30, 2012, 07:51:57 PM »

We may infer from modern similar experiences that some synagogues were more hellenized and some were more "conservative" and kept the Hebrew. The ones that read in Hebrew certainly did not understand it, just like those parishes which hold liturgies in old languages. But, as we see now, that wouldn't avoid the possibility it happened.

But since the question is what Jesus did, we have two strong evidence that *He* used the Septuaginta: 1) the vast majority of what His disciples and follower wrote was in Greek. They were probably following His lead in this. Had Jesus used Hebrew, we would hardly see His followers who were also Jews resorting to Greek to write anything; 2) Most of the quotes are from the Septuaginta, yet some Hebrew words are used now and then. What this shows is that if Jesus had used the Hebrew text, the followers would not be ashamed of quoting Hebrew sources if necessary. That they used the Greek source suggests they were probably trying to quote as precisely as possible, that is, using the same text He used.


I dunno, I doubt he was reading from the Septuagint in Greek. There were version of the Old Testament in Hebrew at the time, and I really doubt they would have read the OT in Greek in Palestine. They certainly were Hellenized and probably spoke a little Greek, but I would bet it was read in Hebrew.
The Dead Sea Scrolls agree with the Septuagint in many readings, so that can't tell us anything about Christ's language.

He quotes the Psalms on the Cross from Aramaic or Hebrew-laying aside the argument of which, it wasn't Greek.  The quoting of the Psalm in Matthew 21 depends on a Hebrew/Aramaic pun on the words for "stone" and "son", and the Targum paraphrase of the Psalm which makes the Messianic prophecy clear.

Only the vast majority of what survives is in Greek.  The Gospel of Matthew, for instance, tradition tells us was written originally in Hebrew/Aramaic, but only the Greek translation survives.

I don't know what biblical quote with "some Hebrew words are used now and then" is referring to.

We can surmise that Christ spoke Coptic in His childhood, spent in Egypt.
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