Re: Synonyms in John 21 etc.

From: David B. Gowler (
Date: Sat Jun 22 1996 - 20:36:15 EDT

> Eric Weiss wrote:
> > I don't think ANY
> >serious scholar doubts that Jesus primarily (and perhaps entirely) spoke to
> >the apostles in Aramaic and/or Hebrew.

>To which Carl Conrad replied:
> Well, I never claimed to be a serious scholar, but I confess that I have
> serious doubts that Jesus addressed his disciples in HEBREW, but I have
> never been able to understand why, in 1st-century Galilee, it should have
> been such an extraordinary thing for an intelligent and itinerant native to
> know and speak Greek when he had the occasion.

I seriously (!) agree with Carl here. Although I think Porter and
others may press the evidence too far, they have made a good case
that Jesus spoke (at least some) Greek. Douglas Oakman's work
concerning the social setting (economics, in particular) also should
be considered (i.e., about carpenters from Nazareth probably working
in Sepphoris, etc.).

And the work of Robert Funk, Brandon Scott,and Charles Hedrick (about
the construction of Greek "sounds" in the parables) cannot be brushed
aside easily, I think -- even though I still consider Aramaic to be
the primarily language of Jesus. I do, however, have reservations
about the work of Flusser, Young, et al. who argue for Hebrew.

Finally, I also note that Eric put some limitations on his initial
statement about Jesus' language -- especially the words "to the
apostles," as well as the use of "primarily."


David B. Gowler
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Associate Professor of Religion
Chowan College

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