Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Jack Kilmon (
Date: Sun Mar 02 1997 - 11:56:03 EST

Perry L. Stepp wrote:
> Hello, Jack. I request that you provide argument/proof for the following
> statements, rather than QED assertions.
> All the *historical* (as opposed to polemical) reconstructions I'm aware of
> (Hengel et. al.) show that the use of Greek was more pervasive than you
> believe, even among the middle/lower class.

        Actually, I DO believe that Greek was more pervasive than most opine,
however, even the Greek Maximalist Hengel concedes that Aramaic was the
language of the am ha-aretz. (The Hellenization of Judea in the 1ct
after Christ, Trinity, London, 1989).

> [speaking of Jesus]
> > He is recorded reading the scriptures (in Hebrew) and certainly is
> > familiar with scriptural and pseudepigraphal writings.
> > His sermons to the "common folk" among whom he moved and spoke
> > would have been in would his interchange with his family
> > and
> > friends. In short, I would pose that he was trilingual but at home in
> > his native Middle Aramaic which also was probably ornamented with Greek
> > "loan words."

 Salient to me is that very few Greek loan words appear in the Hebrew
Aramaic "grocery list" type of epigraphy of this period (see G.
Mussies, 1976, Greek in Palestine and the Diaspora, CRINT) and that the
usage of Greek loan words increased up to the 2nd century CE as Greek
became more prevalent. I would think, however, that two centuries of
Greek usage up to the time of Christ had installed a few.

        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?


Jack Kilmon
> Perry L. Stepp
> ************************************************************
> Pastor, DeSoto Christian Church, DeSoto TX
> Ph.D. candidate in New Testament, Baylor University
> "A system of morality which is based on relative
> emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar
> conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing
> true."
> Phaedo 69b
> ************************************************************

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