Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Isidoros (
Date: Tue Mar 04 1997 - 18:25:59 EST

>I will be glad to discuss this with you (again)
>and remind I did once before...that I do not tolerate
>the "con mucilatum" (with snottiness) style of argument.
>I give..and I demand in return...courtesy. (JK)

Well, thanks for the... courtesy, agaphte Jack.

I should have been rather sorry since my direct call in question of your
historicizing assertions have braught out such a spell of body liquids
as to momentarily dumpen the spirits of this learned body, but I am not.
One ought endure alot for the sake of "love", and then some more
for the "truth" of it. Yes, we have "met" before, but as you may recall
there, too, I refused to follow you down the slippery road, or the way of
the clouds. To your last post in our exchange I simply did not respond,
when I laid again down some simple, direct questions, and you came on
complaining in a style not too dissimilar from the above. And I did not
respond, not because I did not wish to do so - I consider it a basic
obligation of mine to respond to all comments addressed to me fairly,
even if in due time - I didn't respond because I concluded I could not
discuss matters, scientificly speaking, that were based on a fictitious
historicizing. I still cannot, and refuse, to walk on a field of quick-sand.

Of such a nature I perceived again your claims. And, yet, this time I
honored them - not them, actually, so much as You - being rather in
sympathy of your zeal to parlay again your favorite motifs, detecting a
need in you to be so challenged so that you might finally be convinced, and
so engaged you - yet, beyond your personal, I did so in the hope of having
my own ideas in the process thus challenged, and reconfirmed, or denied,
- by you, as well as by the martyrs and fellow workers to the truth that
the members of this list - and then replaced by a more viable set of

When I wrote to you this time it had become evident to me that
Pastor Stepp's kind request might not had been stated in a manner that
would bring out a straight responce, as it didn't, and so I decided to
phrase the questions in a way that was direct and pointed, not easily
construed and, so, I asked for proof (nay, PROOF, I put UP the sign) and
cited the very own words you used, phrase by asserted phrase, so as to
unmistakenly and precisely understand what was expected.
I can't say you didn't; yet, again, and inspite of the words, you chose not
to, or, if you would prefer, you were not capable to, provide the requested
evidence, evading or ignoring (but for a side-tracking oppening) almost the
whole lot of them, sending me instead to some peripherally related to the
*points* questioned references, and then issueing some more assertions,
instead - as, too, some personal hubreis!

I am sorry, I can understand your "suncusis". And I would ordinarily again
had said to myself, "enough! let go of this," but for the personal
sympathy, as I said, and, importantly, the willingness to be a member
of an important forum as this - which, however, I expect to be functioning
on principles that are strictly academic, scientific, with no room for
matters of conjecture or faith, which in actual practice means that any
position stated if challenged must be substantiated and reasonably be
proven, or be withdrawn.

There are questions discussed here of enormous significance, and of actual
everyday importance to millions of people's lives, and one cannot say
just anything that bears upon these lives! and then offer some general and
soft hypothesis as gratuitous response. We need facts. (And do not you say
I did not serve you "notice" to stay close on track - for you surely
remember my apostrophe to you in a Feb. 10 post on the thread by the
same name when - while commenting on Professor Hobbs' recommendation
of a book by Meier, on the same topic - I said, "[Dear Jack: facts;
factual, docummented attestations only, if you are prone-- am not--to argue
the issue and, please, no "historicizing". Documented facts, only. Thank you]
If you did read that plea, you ignored it. Or, you forgot it.

But, let me show you, if you plesase, what I mean by your chosing, again,
not to provide with the substantive proof required.

On "answering" to Pastor Stepp's initial request for proof you said

>>>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.

To which I asked:

>>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?!

where you responded,

> 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." [citing further J. N. Sevenster, J. Emerton, and Joseph

But that is not in meeting with the import of these (or Perry Stepp's)
original thesis that (in Stepp's words) "All the historical
show... that the use of Greek was more pervasive than you believe, even
amid the middle/lower class",

and I had not asked the above questions but rhetorically, prefacing them by
"Is that to be taken seriously...", and accompanying them with more "??",
and "?!" and "..." and, finally "Is that so?!!" and, after all that, and
I precisely questioned your Hengel being "a Greek Maximalist" and thought
it prejudicing the issue of you to say that "Aramaic was the language of
the am ha-aretz", "proving" the *autoapodeikton*, and side-stepping the
issue, you resorted to your familiar... "con mucilatum"?!

Further, when I questioned the proper usage here of whsat you called
"grocery list" epigraphy" (?!) in the

>> > ... very few Greek loan words appear in the Hebrew
>> >and Aramaic "grocery list" type of epigraphy of this period


>>And, absolutely nothing to do with our case!

you responded by

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

No, I am not sure I do - and not so much in that the "grocery list" does not
quite settle so well with me when it comes to "epigraphy" (though
"everyday..." I do understand better) but because, I ask: What does the
finding of some epigraphic tablets in Hebrew or Aramaic have to do with
the asserted case? which remains, if I am not mistaken, that Greek could
not have been the principal language of Christ, as - in particular - Christ
was of the underclass of Galilee, who did not speak Greek?

Or, what does it prove, indeed, the conjoined argument that "... very few
Greek loan words appear..." in such epigraphic tablets? Noone is denying
the existance of Aramaic in the area, or that there would be ordinary
epigraphs also produced in those dialects. Or that there would be "loan"
words in them. And what does that prove, or indicate - as COMPARED to
the number of ordinary Greek epigraphic evidence found in Galille?!!
a fact which is here silenced!! Or, do you have no idea of the percentage,
and of the ratio, of ordinary, as well as of religious for that matter,
Greek epigraphic evidence in the area, in northern, in particular, Palestine,
in that era, as compared to Hebrew or Aramaic?!! Or should all Greek be
dismissed as being of the educated, and the rich, while Aramaic of the
pro-lettariat, even if comparing only "grocery" inscriptions, and since
all such are written by "equal employment" "grocers", be they Aramaic,
Greek or Hebrew!

But, even that is not at the heart of the matter here, for as I went on
to ask 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?

he did not provide, but offered instead a general reference

>... on the appearance of Greek "loan words" in Aramaic, see Fitzmyer's
>"The Languages of Palestine in the 1st century AD" SBLMS 25.

that bears little relation to the main question (and favorably, at that, to
the Greek) and it/he did not deal at all with the question of

*Why* is Greek thought of as a "loan" in the area?? Why?!

Yet, this, I think, is enough, on the priliminaries. We must now address
the substantive particulars. For, while it is with the commentary of the
previously non-answered intros that Mr. Kilmon saw it fit to be here
present, he avoided to directly provide for any reasonable proof not only
to the above but on his topics re-set before him, volunteering instead,

>Some indicators that Aramaic was the vernacular

as if that was the principal question here, and if one were not be
willing to grant gladly that Aramaic was _a_ vernacular in the general
area (and of the eastern side of Galilee), a fact, which, however,
evidences, of itself, and re the main issue, next to nothing.

Even so, lets have a look atthese "indicators".

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

Commented above.

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

So? That it may be said to have anthologized his Greek (!!) by few Aramaic
phrases, what other does that mean?! Parishioners in Catholicism often
implore (!?) "Kyrie Eleison!," while in Russian Orthodoxy "Christos
Anesth!"!! among other Greek phrases. But does that mean they speak
Greek? Or even if they do, that Greek is their "language"?!

>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.

Pastor Stepp dealt with this, and one could say on it a great deal more.
As an aside, I will note a couple more things. "This period" holds alot
of water; there would be need to define also the "place", the area - for
the way the above is written confuses Galille and Judea, a matter which is
significant. But, even if, for our purposes, one were to examine both of
theses, the evidence is almost equally strong that Greek was the
predominant language in the 100 BCE to 100 CE era in both areas -- one
proof for Judea being that, after the tragic uprooting past 70 CE, the
language of the Jewish diaspora was Greek!! And that, that was the case,
too, for the Galilee, there is ample literary, historical and, of recent,
archaeological evidence.

>4. 20% of DSS corpus in Aramaic;

Of itself, totally meaningless and irrelevant; besides, we are talking,
re that general question (re the/a vernacular) about the Galille - not for
Judea, and the Jewish practices, near where Qumran.

>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

Perry Stepp put it very well. And what could an intentional, periphrastic
attestation by a person in need to apologize for his seeming abandonement
of faith and language in the Roman courts have to contribute to this case?

>6. The preservation of the Galilean idiosyncrasy of dropping gutturals
>in the name of ALAZAR [...]

I won't comment now on this; not avoiding, but not going to get into a
highly technical matter that conjoins linguistical morphology and semantics.

> What are YOUR indicators that Y'shua spoke primarily Greek?

Who said we are talking of "Y'shua"?? Or, don't you think you are
prejudicing the issue here again Mr. Kilmon?

And, are "(MY) indicators" here the issue? No, I am afraid you are, again,
mistaken. I was not the one who maintained anything on Jesus', or Y'shua's,
language. If I do think of proposing any such thesis I will provide along
with it, and subsequently upon request, all the evidence necessary.
And do not you think that by utterly uncharacteristic comments such as this

>Give me facts instead of snottiness and I will reply courteously.

you are going to draw me into any... apologia. In dealing with the above
I said aplenty, none of them to be misconstrued however as my positions.
Assertions were made, that were merely questioned. Not repudiated. But,
I will say one thing. If you do honor your own words fully, and do
provingly substantiate the assertions you have made, or if you do admit to
inability to so do, essentially withdrawing them from the scene as mere
conjecture, then I will consider your having done your part properly and
fairly, and I will then enter a thesis for further discussion, and as per
your request.

Till then, the burden of reasonable evidence and of proof lies still with
you, re all you said in the post discuussed, and starting with the question
I raised in the preliminaries:

Why do you think Greek as a "loan" word (and language) in this area?!

And, then, the "ignored":

>(...) Aramaic was (...) the lingua franca of Jesus

>(...) he also knew Greek as a second language

>Jesus spent the majority of his mainly unchronicled life as one of
>the sons of a "builder" [...] in Galilee... [even if side-tracking us,
>again, from the question of "language"]

>Greek was the language of commerce- a "de-meaningly" meant half-truth,
to be properly addressed by answering, also, to the intended to be perceive
in contra-distinction re "Why was Greek NOT the lang of ordinary life,
in Galille?" As also of "the religious life"!

> Almost certainly, he had a working grasp of Greek

 - proving, as presumed, that he had merely "a working grasp of Greek.
   Or that he did not speak Greek fluently, not to say.... Masterfully!!

> He is recorded reading the scriptures (in Hebrew)

And, if I may clarify this, proof was requested here not merely in that he
read scriptures, but that he did NOT do so in Greek, as the exclussivity of
the parentetic clause leads one to believe.

> His sermons to the "common folk" among whom he moved and spoke
>would have been in Aramaic....

>as 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

And, finally, I 'd like to say, re your

> Your unstated position is that Y'shua spoke Greek as his "native
>tongue. Mine is that he spoke Aramaic, a position held by the
>overwhelming majority of scholars.

"thanks," for that "unstated", you qualified at leat here. Again, I recognize
no "Y'shua" in the Christian tradition, if that is what we are talking
about. In reading the Christian scriptures past, say, 60 CE, the only
name I come essentially accross is IHSOUS, and in Greek. But, if you
think of a Y'shua, no wonder you have him speak Aramaic. And, as to the
"overwhelming _majority_ of scholars", with due respect to all the
workers of the "letters", let me repeat the gnomic, I think you know well,
that "might (and in this respect migh-jority!) does not make right." So held
originally Socrates - and, don't you pull "authority" anymore on me,
please, or cite references. Or next to Socrates I'll point to that other
Just One, that, finally, stood Alone. If you can say something now please
say it.


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