> >>Glenn Wooden
> >>Surely there is a major difference between these situations!!! Jews
> >>in Russia will have to learn the langage of the "natives", but for
> >>cultural reasons will want to retain their language of heritage. But
> >>Jews in their homeland of 2BCE-1BCE palestine would surely use their
> >>mother tongue for the vast majority of communication, both verbal and
> >>written. They have no need to adapt because the vast majority of
> >>life's business would be done with their fellows, except
> >>to communicate with any outsiders with whom they would have to deal
> >>on a limited basis.
> On the surface, perhaps, but the actual situation has some good analogies.
> Plus, there are others - why are there Canadians whose native language is
> English who produce French literature?
There are English Canadians who write in French because Canada has
two founding peoples and the French population is 1/4 of the
population of Canada. If you want to communicate with "Canada"
facility in both languages is important. The situations are not
> Russian Jews in the Pale lived in a situation very similar to an occupied
> territory. Much of their daily business would be done with each other (Yiddish
> or Hebrew) but enough would have to be done with the "outsiders" to make it
> necessary to have a working knowledge of Russian. Intellectuals (i.e. those who
> write books) would be more likely to be able to work in both idioms and to have
> an interest in writing both ways. In particular, anyone who wanted to become
> involved in anything involving trade or politics would find that useful.
> None of these things is definitive of itself, but in the aggregate and given
> the multi-cultural environment that we know existed, I can't see any
I would still disagree. To be an oppressed minority in a
foreign land is NOT the same as being the majority under occupation.
Only some Jews would have had to have dealings with the "outsiders",
and at that, they would only be in the major centres of population.
Yes, those who want to conduct trade with the "outsiders" had to know
the rudiments of the language, but, that is a very long way from
Jesus speaking to the crowds, the point of this whole discussion if I
remember correctly. Jesus was a native, and to the natives he would
have spoken the common language, which would not be the language of
the oppressor or "outsider". That the Gospels are in Greek tells us
more about their intended audience than the language in which their
central figure would have spoken whatever you accept that he spoke!
If it could be shown that Galileans and Judeans could not communicate
because their dialects were so different as to be incomprehensible to
one another, then you might have a case for Jesus speaking Greek when
he was in Jerusalem.
There is no denying that some Jews knew Greek both to speak and to
write. But only the very educated who bought into Hellenistic
culture would have spoken it among themselves. Jesus speaking to the
crowds could hardly qualify for this.
Acadia Divinity College
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada