Aramaic or Greek?

The evidence from funerary inscriptions needs to be handled with great care.
One good place to look at some of the evidence is in a book by Meyers and
Strange - I am sorry if doing this from memoryI may not have the details
quite right.  They quote a high proportion of Greek.  But you might like
to bear in mind some pointsin my review of that book:  the high proportion
relates to the use of Greek in the Byzantine period (!) the prevalence of
Greek in the villages and towns of Galilee in Jesus' time may well have been
less.  Secondly the people who get good tombs with nice inscriptions tend to
be the people who live well and die well i.e. those with more money and
status.  One would also expect these people to know (and to wish to be seen
to be associated with) the official regime and its language.  Further if even
inthe Jewish catacombs in Rome there is a lot of inscription which is not
Greek and some pretty barbaric Greek when there is Greek we need to be
careful in assuming fluency in the villages and towns of Galilee.  Another
factor is the prevalence of Aramaic and Hebrew in many of the writings which
have come down to us - Hebrew of ben Sirach, Scrolls, letters of Bar K.
etc. etc.   Again if Greek was the regular language rather than Aramaic how
do people explain the need for the Targums?  The same people who wish to
argue for Jesus knowing Greek also tend to want to date the Targums this

If Jesus had regularly used Greek and endorsed a mission to Gentiles we have
to explain why some of his followers understood him in the way that Mat.10.5
does (I bet Sterling knew my tongue was in my cheek).  The reality seems to
be that in order to argue for the innovation of theGentile mission 
appeal had to be made to those few exceptions where Jesus helped centurions,
Syrophoenicians and the like.

David M.
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