Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Isidoros (
Date: Wed Feb 12 1997 - 22:57:12 EST

Did not originally intend to actively engage in this, inspite of the
voice of D. McKay... "What language...?" which I felt almost as plea, and
to which I responed in my last post monosylabicly: Hellenic. Yet,
deciding at least to fend off, to warn, I did get fina;y into the hussle,
as said by questioning a line of what seemed to me (still does, Stephen
Carlson) undue commentary that amounted, inadvertently I am sure, into
endorsing. I meant not any disrespect of course toward Professor Hobbs,
but did want to say "Watch it!," felt intellectually and morally,
compelled to so do. Being member of this communitity, for as long as
I am, where there is developing dialogue, I feel I have certain
priviledges as well as responsibilities. And excercised aspects of both.

I thank Stephen for his response, as well as Ken Litwak. That's their own
dutybound right, as they perceive it. I certaintly won't argue with the
stated fact we all depend on everyone else's well meant opinion and advice
to find, sort our way through and so advance. In this, as I said it,
did not question anyone's intentions; only a momentary judgement and way
of reference. As I did not do so, even though he pointed, first, to the stated
work, Jim Oxford. In fact, and in spite of my rhetorical "No special thanks
to Mr. Oxford..." I really meant thanks to him (by the "no special...") while
did express, too, appreciation for the reference that was given in a manner
which was scholastic. Had it been a same case on a different matter I
would had probably kept sinent, but for the language of Christ.

All that said, I would like to address, if only briefly, the substance of
the talked about but circumvented topic over which broke this flurry--
by addressing to my knowledgeable conversants, and everyone indeed round
the table who should like to engage us, a few basic questions; for, the
answer, my answer, to David's original query, I have already given,
in a previous communication: 'Elliinika.

Of course, Mr. Hobbs seemed to think otherwise, as did student Michael
Burer. Here is a chance to state why, introducing briefly the appropriate
factual evidence. As is also for Ken a chance to "challenge" this
"various reader(s)" thesis ("reader-response criticism lives"! remember?
while assuring, anybody interested, that this one reader did not "take
Dr. Hobbs post on the subject a little" but _a lot_ "differently.").
In accordance with that famous professor's dictum, pitty the best of
Mr. Meier, Ke, as against that of Stanley Porter, and that of anyone else's,
not excluding mine, theses--even ifthat last one may, admittedly, be not
necessarily the "best", or at least the most popular.

Of course, this is not a request for the assumption of some academic
excercise. Nor is it a calling for any "original research". Merely check
the references and state the facts. As far as I am concerned, I just
responded to the calling of David McKay, and for the benefit of everyone
for whom the question has importance. It is a basic one, for this forum,
and though I should agree that it may not be answered on this, or any other,
list, easily, I think it does merit a brief engagement and a response,
if tentative.

David McKay wrote:

>However, my arguments have not been accepted by my adversary in
>theological debate.
>One of my arguments was that Jesus and Peter were probably speaking
>Aramaic anyway,

But, why? What is the factual evidence for that? Accept no circumstancial
propositions, but nly documents and facts. For "probably" is not, in
scientific, probabilistic terms, probable enough.

Why did you say the above? Have you, is there any _hard_ evidence
for it? Is *Jesus* met in text to _speak_ originally any other
language--than the Hellenic? Would you not think that if he were Jewish,
there would be Hebraic textual records? Gospels in the Hebraic? And then,
if spoke, taught, primarily, as said, in Aramaic, would there not be an
equal, at least, number of Aramaic gospels? (Of course, *I* know, the
matter is COMPLEX, but today I feel one must respond and participate at
the level in which the discussion has been engaged.)

>and so the words used may be John's and not their ipsissima verba.

I should doubt it. You have tons of corraborating _direct_ evidence
to the contrary. Do you have any, such as of the said Aramaic--to
really back, scientifically, any such (albeit widely pressumed) claim?
And, why do you think that John may had translated the words? Do you
have any evidence for that? Did he say so? Would he not had done so
properly? Would not, also, the other euangelists? Would they all keep
silent about the fact, as if in conspiracy? Would they not had
normally said, "Hey, this is a translation. The words were spoken
in Hebrew, or in Aramaic"? Is there any evidence for that?

>Can anyone help me? What language(s) did Jesus and his disciples
>converse in?

Perhaps others can help you more. Today I could offer this much.

PS. Ken, if you would kindly tell: what did you mean by
"Jesus' fellow-Jews? (in, "Porter argued quite ably I think
that the use of Greek among Jesus' fellow-Jews is
underestimated") Why did you say that? based on what
specific evidence?

The Ionic Centre, Athens

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