Why is the New Testament written in Greek?


Jesus spoke in one of the varieties of the Aramaic language, which was a species of the genus of the Semitic languages, to which Hebrew and Arabic also belonged.

Aramaic was originally spoken by peoples who, in the 12th century BC, began to inhabit the territories currently occupied by Syria, Armenia and Turkey. Then these peoples spread to the banks of the Tigris, which was one of the boundaries of the ancient region of Mesopotamia.

Portions of Old Testament books, such as Daniel and Ezra, were written in Aramaic. This language, called “neo-Aramaic”, is still spoken today.

In Jesus’ day, these varieties of Aramaic were primarily spoken: Old Judeo, spoken primarily in Jerusalem and Judea; Galilee, spoken precisely in the region of Galilee; Eastern Jordanian; Damascene and Orontes. Jesus spoke Aramaic from Galilee. He also spoke Hebrew.

The 27 books that make up the New Testament were written in the Greek language. Why weren’t they written in Aramaic? After the exile of the Hebrew people to Babylon, in the year 586 before the Christian era, Aramaic, and not Hebrew, was the ordinary language of the Jews.

Or why weren’t they written in Hebrew? This language, although not the ordinary language, was the “cultivated” language, used to deliberate on theological matters, or used by Jews who wanted maximum submission to the Torah or the Law.

In the Middle East, in which was the region that the Hebrew people themselves called “Land of Israel” (which included Judea, Galilee and Samaria), the spread of Greek had begun at the end of the 4th century. before the Christian era. when the empire expands Fruit salad, which was a city-state of Greece. This expansion was the work of the Emperor Alexander; and his successors, or diadochi, spread Greek and, in general, Greek culture.

By the time of Jesus, Greek had become the most widely spoken language in the Roman Empire; and the “Land of Israel” was under the rule of a Roman province: Syria. Greek, not Latin, was the common language in the very capital of the Roman Empire, that is, Rome. Speaking and writing Greek was necessary in ordinary communications and trade. Assuming it was essential that as many Jews as possible knew the gospel of Jesus, Greek was the most effective language.

However, this Greek was a common Greek named “koine”. In the 19th century, the New Testament was shown to have been written, not in the Greek used by philosophers, historians, writers, orators, or scientists, but in that common Greek. This demonstration was possible because ordinary documents of daily life written in Greek, from the time of the evangelists, were discovered and published; and the Greek of these documents and the Greek of the New Testament were remarkably similar. Contributed to this discovery, the German theologian Adolf Deismann.

Was the New Testament originally written in Aramaic or Hebrew, and translated into Greek? David Maas addressed this question. He is an assistant professor at the Liberty University, of Wheaton, Illinois, United States of America, and specializes in biblical languages, biblical history, rabbinical literature, Dead Sea documents and the New Testament. His thesis is that there is no evidence of such original writing in Aramaic or Hebrew. Here are some of their arguments, presented in an excessively summarized way:

First. Every manuscript text found of the New Testament is in Greek. And all the old translations of the New Testament come from the Greek. And the early Christian church fathers did not quote the Aramaic or Hebrew portions of the New Testament.

Second. The very text, in Greek, of the New Testament, does not suggest to be a translation, but translates itself, into Greek, words from Aramaic or Hebrew. For example, we read in the Gospel of Saint Mark: “46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Elí, Elí, lama sabactani? It’s: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Third. Apparently, the Gospel of Saint Matthew was originally written in Hebrew; because the father of the church Papias of Hierapolis, in the year 130 of the Christian era, declares: “Matthew… compiled the oracles in a Hebrew dialect, and each one translated them as best as he could. This claim does not constitute proof, as it was only cited by Eusebio, author of the “Church History” nearly 200 years later; and he did not mention the source of the statement.

post Scriptum. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, authors of “The Text of the New Testament.” An Introduction to Critical Editions and the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism,” they state, “The whole New Testament was written in Greek; which is conclusively demonstrated by the fact that his quotations from the Old Testament are quotations from the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and not quotations translated from the original Hebrew text.

Free expression of thought.

Read more from the author:

Leave a Comment