Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Jack Kilmon (
Date: Mon Mar 03 1997 - 12:14:25 EST

Isidoros wrote:
> Perry L. Stepp wrote:
> >> Hello, Jack. I request that you provide argument/proof for the following
> >> statements, rather than QED assertions.
> To which Jack Kilmon "answered" (by adding even more to his..."QED
> assertions", as for example) that:
> >Actually, I DO believe that Greek was more pervasive than most opine,
> >however, even the Greek Maximalist Hengel concedes that Aramaic was the
> >everyday language of the am ha-aretz.

        First, you will note that I said "I DO believe." That this is my
opinion is all the QED required. I will be glad to discuss this with
(again) and remind I did once before...that I do not tolerate
"con mucilatum" (with snottiness) style of argument. I give..and I
in return...courtesy.

> Is that all meant to be taken seriously, as an argument, or proof? And then,
> Hengel a Greek Maximalist?? who... conceds?! that... it was "the language
> of the am ha-aretz?!! Is that so?!

        Yes, that is so. Martin Hengel states, in "Hellenization:"
"..Aramaic was the vernacular of ordinary people, and Hebrew the sacred
language of religious worship and scribal discussion, Greek had largely
become established as the linguistic medium for TRADE, COMMERCE and
administration." I would also suggest J. N. Sevenster "Do You Know
Greek? How Much Greek could the FIRST Jewish Christians Have Known?:
Novum Testamentum Sup 19, Brill, Leiden, 1968. Also see J. Emerton,
J. Theol. St.24, 1973, pp 1-23; Joseph Fitzmyer's Soc Bib Lit Monograph
Series 25, 1979.

> And what would that prove? Like....
> conceding that, since Puertorican was the language of those streets
> of New York in which lived the hypothetical heroes of West Side Story
> in the '60's, the language of the "people" of NYC was... Portorican?)

Well, non sequitur argument is at least preferred to "con mucilatum."

> > Salient to me is that very few Greek loan words appear in the Hebrew
> >and 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.
> ..."grocery list" epigraphy?! (Ti peirasmos!!)

        C'mon know what I mean when I say "grocery list" epigraphy
as some of the EVERYDAY Aramaic inscriptions as found in the caves of
Wadi Murabba'at.

> And, absolutely nothing to do with our case.

sure it does.

> Or, would you care to explain, Mr. Kilmon: Why do you think Greek as
> a "loan" word (and language) in this area, in the first place?!
> May we have some PROOF of this?

        For more information on the appearance of Greek "loan words"
in Aramaic, see Fitzmyer's "The Languages of Palestine in the 1st

> >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?
> First of all, Pastor Stepp did not ask you to "discuss" (that's an
> appropriate word when there are issues upon which one shares
> opinion and energy). He asked for "proof", and altogether appropriately,
> since you have been perceived to have been making a series of
> unsubstantiated assertions in the form of dicta, expecting the good
> people of this list to accept them on pure faith.

        I have received Pastor Stepp's courteous and thoughtful reply
and we will continue to discuss the issue, hopefully to our mutual

unsubstantiated? Your unstated position is that Y'shua spoke Greek as
his "native
tongue. Mine is that he spoke Aramaic, a position held by the
majority of scholars. Your position did have a proponent in R.O.P.
in Expository Times 56 (1944). His flawed arguments received a fair
in that journal for over a decade.

Some indicators that Aramaic was the vernacular are:

1. Very few Greek loan words in Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the period.
See Fitzmyer,
   op. cit.

2. 24 Aramaic phrases attributed to Jesus in the NT; (see Jeremias, J.,
New Testament

3. Aramaic Targumim of the first century, represented in the DSS. The
use of
   Aramaic targumim to Hebrew books is the strongest evidence that
Aramaic was
   the ordinary language of ordinary Jews of this period.

4. 20% of DSS corpus in Aramaic;

5. Josephus, a Jerusalem intellect, wrote in Greek for years yet still
admitted his discomfort with it and spoke in Aramaic on his return to
the area in 70CE. Ant. 20.12.1

6. The preservation of the Galilean idiosyncrasy of dropping gutturals
in the name of ALAZAR, whose Aramaic `LAZAR was Latinized to
Lazarus...also of the name of Yeshua in what was probably a polemical
preservation of the Aramaic pronounciation as YESHU in Talmudic
references...and the NT "Peter's accent" reference.

        What are YOUR indicators that Y'shua spoke primarily Greek?
Give me facts instead of snottiness and I will consider them and reply
courteously. I told you once before, I have my well considered
constructs but none of them are "sacred cows." I am always ready to
alter my position given reasoned challenge.....that's the stuff of
I have no sacred cows to kill, no ego to bruise, no cause celebre to
defend...only a lotta stuff to learn.

I say to you in ARAMAIC

sheLAMa omKON v'tayBUTHa min aLAha aBOON v'min maRAN y'SHUa meSHEEcha


Jack Kilmon
Houston, Tx

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