Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Perry L. Stepp (
Date: Sat Mar 01 1997 - 03:06:54 EST

Hello, Jack.

> As a methodological approach to this exchangem however, just
> what will we be discussing? That Aramaic was or was not the lingua
> franca of Jesus? That he also knew Greek as a second language?

My questions hinge on whether or not there was a single lingua franca for
Jesus and people in his circle. I think Jesus and his audience probably
had roughly *equal* facility with Greek and Aramaic.

1.) I have been around a few truly bilingual cultures (I grew up among
Mexican-Americans in New Mexico and Texas). The Hispanic kids I grew up
with didn't have a first or second language--they simply had two languages,
both of which they grew up speaking and reading in and out of the home.
This is the type of culture Jesus grew up in.

2.) Greek was the language of the early church. Nowhere is there specific
evidence of any competition between Greek and Hebrew or Greek and Aramaic
(with the exception of Papias's cryptic assertion re. Mt and the LOGIA.)
If there is no early Christian lit that isn't in Greek, and if Greek
language and culture was as pervasive as Hengel argues, then how is one to
argue that Jesus and his audience couldn't have had great facility with

Perry L.. Stepp

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