The language Jesus spoke

From: Adrian Popa (
Date: Wed Feb 26 1997 - 05:48:58 EST

This topic came up a little while ago, and reference was made to an article by Stanley
E. Porter in _NovT_ or _NTS_ (my memory doesn't serve me well). But the reference which,
I think, the respondent had in mind was:

"Did Jesus ever teach in Greek?," _TynBul_ 44.2 (1993) 199-235.

To quote the abstract, for the benefit of those who cannot check it up,

        This paper argues -- against the general scholarly
        consensus -- that Jesus not only had sufficient
        linguistic competence to converse with others in Greek
        but also even to teach in Greek during his ministry.
        After an introduction to the possible languages of Jesus
        (Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek), the evidence for the
        widespread use of Greek, especially in Galilee, is
        examined: the role of Greek as the lingua franca of the
        Graeco-Roman world; the geographic and epigraphic-literary
        evidence for Greek in the Lower Galilee and Palestine;
        and Jesus' use of Greek according to the New Testament.
        Several significan New Testament passages are examined,
        including Jesus' trial before Pilate and Jesus discussion
        with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, along with several
        others (p. 199).

There is much meat in this article, and the secondary literature cited is breath-taking.
(Porter has also touched on some of these issues in his thesis).

Adrian Popa

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