Re: Aramaic

Dr. GALEN CURRAH                      currah@iclnet93.iclnet.org
Western Seminary               Division of Intercultural Studies
5511 S.E. Hawthorne, Portland OR 97215 USA     Tel. 503-233-8561
Fax 503-234-1639 or 503-239-4216             Amateur radio N7SBB

On 25 Mar 1994, D Mealand wrote:
> I don't for one moment believe that all the villagers
> in Galilee in 31CE spoke Greek to one another all the time
> but I am curious to know how those who think Greek was quite so prevalent
> explain the Aramaic literature that has survived.  What kind of people do
> they think produced it and do they think that when they weren't composing
> Aramaic texts they reverted to Greek?
> David M.
> **************************1994**********************************************
> David L. Mealand            *    E-mail: David.Mealand%uk.ac.ed@ukacrl
> University of Edinburgh     *    Office Fax: (+44)-31-650-6579
> Scotland, U.K.  EH1 2LX     *    Office tel.:(+44)-31-650-8917 or 8921
For most of a decade, I lived and worked among a people called the Wolof
in West Africa.  Wolof is the dominant tribal and vehicular language of
the region where French is the official tongue introduced by the colonial
lords a century ago.  Certainly hundreds of thousands speak both languages
admirably well, and large number can write both.  Wolof, when written, is
usually inscribed in Arabic characters, French in Roman.  People there
seem to know when to use which language and which of the available alpha-
bets.  I myself learned to speak and write in the available systems.
Whilst it may be grossly achronistic to extrapolate the West African
experience into the ancient Middle East, there may be some heuristic 
value in looking at apparently analagous situations.  Fluent French 
speakers use that language in economics, government, education, and in
dealing with all foreigners.  The same persons use Wolof in their home,
with their intimates, and in religion.  Nearly all religious literature
meant for local consumption is produced in Arabic or in Wolof using an
Arabic script.  Since most children attend Koranic school for a time
they are able to pronounce the Arabic and to understand the Wolof.  
The international team that produced the Wolof New Testament from
Greek (and the few NT Aramaic words) are now poised to generate it
anew in an Arabic form, the portions of which sell well and are
favorably commented by those who would repudiate the same if diffused
in French or in Romanized Wolof.  While Wolof is used more extensively
than ever, more of the populaiton also learn French, even the illiter-
ate who do not learn their languages in schools.  Jesus, I imagine,
spoke both Greek and Aramaic, well knowing when and to use each each
for the personal and social impact he desired.