Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Jack Kilmon (
Date: Wed Mar 05 1997 - 03:51:26 EST

Isidoros wrote:

> 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.

        What do you deem "fictitious historicising?"

> 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,

        I thought I made it clear I have no "favorite motifs" I believe
that Jesus' native tongue was Aramaic...that his audience were
You keep asking for proof and I believe I adequately cited the relevant
literature...then you return and ask for proof.

> 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,

        But you never clearly state what your own ideas are nor offer your
own "proof." I have given what I consider strong evidences for my
the Aramaic Targumin, for example. Pastor Stepp doesn't find the
as compelling as I...and that's fine.

 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
> theories.

        What are these more "viable" theories?
> 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!

        First of all, Is, there are NO "proofs!!" There is no real "proof"
beyond what was written by ancient historians, gospelers and historical
constructionists to the present day. I gave you these. The largest
of 2nd Temple writings ever found contain only a smattering of
this in itself is no real "proof" of the language of the Galilean am
I find it difficult to believe that a JEWISH prophet/teacher, speaking
JEWISH audiences on JEWISH eschatology would teach in a language with a
culturally foreign idiom. It would require an extensive Greek education
on the part of the speaker AND the audience to inculcate an equal
status for Greek alongside the native Semitic language. I have seen no
evidence for this and would be delighted to

> 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.

        And I have given academic citations ad nauseum. A challenge
presupposes an alternative. What's yours?

> 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
> out
> the issue and, please, no "historicizing". Documented facts, only. Thank you]
> If you did read that plea, you ignored it. Or, you forgot it.

        Nope! I gave you multiple "documentations"

> 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
> Fitzmyer.]
> 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
> reconstructions
> 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
> after
> 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"?!

        Hengel was indeed the proponent of the extensive usage and influence
of Greek in Graeco-Roman Judea...yet he concludes that Aramaic was the
everyday language of ordinary people in his major opus. Citing this was
perfectly appropriate to Pastor Stepp's interrogatory and in keeping
good academic exchange.

> 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
> adding
> >>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?

        Let me see if I can sort this out for you. Biblical scholarship
is rife with the confusions created by translational Greek in the
Septuagint compared with the MT. There are many cases where the Greek
idiom changed the meaning from the original Semitic idiom...the
controversy still continues. The archaeological record indicates a
"backlash" during the Herodian period from the forced Greek usage of
Antiochus IV. Aramaic ostraca, ossuaries and what I called "grocery
epigraphy" increased dramatically at this time. In addition to these
everyday writings, there is also the contemporary targums as found in
DSS such as 4QtgLevi. Targumim were translations of Hebrew scripture
to the populace. They are a strong "proof" of Aramaic as the
Show me a Greek Targum and we'll talk.

> 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?

        The appearance of Greek loan words in Aramaic inscriptions of this
would be strong evidence of an "equal status" for Greek as the
There aint any! Why is this not "proof?"

> 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.

        Academic references are not "in fashion" anymore?

> 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?!

        uh..maybe because Jews who lived in Palestine (slightly anachronistic
I know) spoke "Jewish" and Greeks spoke Greek. An indicator of the
use of Greek by Jews would be Greek "loan words" in Aramaic writing.
There are
few to none during the Herodian period and a buncha dem in the 2nd
according to the studies of these writings by scholars whose references
gave you and presumed you had read them since they are seminal to this

> 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"?!

        Sorry...but your "logic" here escapes me. The fact is that the
GREEK speaking authors of the GREEK NT place Aramaic in the mouth of

> >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.

        Then show me some Greek Targumim.

> >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.

        But there should be even higher use of Greek in the environs of
Hellenistic Jerusalem where even the signage of the Temple was in Greek.

> >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?

        Why are all these Greek-speakers talking about discourse with the
Jews "in their own language?" Josephus was not the only one.

> >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?

uh...glance up and look at the "subject."

> 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

        Consider this an official request for "all the evidence necessary"
for your alternative to my position which you challenge..presuming that
challenge implies you have an alternative.

> >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.

        I have provided substantiation for my assertions...not PROOF..there
is no such thing. Enter your thesis!

> 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:

> "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.

        Sorry...I use a Peshitta

> 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.

        Don't cite references?? hehehe If the literature base is irrelevant to
you, on what do you base your own conclusions and historical constructs?
Divine revelation?

 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.

OK....Ana qāLA dāqrAH bāmebeRAH :)

Jack Kilmon
Houston, TX

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