What version did Jesus use?

Anything related to Biblical Greek that doesn't fit into the other forums.
kenjacobsen
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by kenjacobsen » September 7th, 2016, 10:29 pm

RandallButh wrote:Your question appears to present an incomplete paradigm.
If you are reading more and more in this area, you probably need to track down and study:

R. Buth and R.S. Notley, editors,
The Language Environment of First Century Judaea
Brill, 2014.

The book is expensive, so an interlibrary loan would be recommended.
The reading will open up doors to the languages of the period and their application to the gospel texts.

Thank you for the references, which were very helpful.

I did manage to read most of the two most relevant chapters from “The Linguistic Ethos of the Galilee in the First Century C.E.” (which is appallingly overpriced) online, along with quite a few other references.

The question of just how Greek vs how Hebrew Jesus’ Galilee in general, and Nazareth in particular, may have been seems from the readings to be a political football, kicked this way and that. So my question of just what version Jesus was likely to have read from in the synagogue of Nazareth, Greek or Hebrew, may be forever unresolved.

But it seems to me that some of the texts I’ve read leave out some important considerations. For example, the chapters in “Linguistic Ethos” describe Galilee as “strongly Jewish”. This is the way the authors see it, and it may even have been the way Galileans saw it, but it’s clearly not the way the gospels present the people of Judea as seeing it. When Nathaniel is told of Jesus of Nazareth, his first response is “Does anything good come out of Nazareth?” John’s point seems clear enough: Judeans see “Nazarenes” as particularly inferior. When Nicodemus dares to defend Christ before the ‘Council, their response, “Are you a Galilean too?” is clearly intended as an insult. When in Luke the religious leaders of Judea drag Jesus before Pilate, they make it clear that Galilee is alien territory; “He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἕως ὧδε Jesus himself uses a similar construction earlier in Luke ἀπὸ αἵματος Ἄβελ ἕως αἵματος Ζαχαρίου -as far from one to the other as the first biblical martyr is from the last.

More importantly there’s the prophecy about the Galilean birth of the Messiah from Isaiah 8:23/9:1 Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν both in the LXX and in the gospels –and ἐθνῶν is, of course, “goyim” in Hebrew.

As to the language, Josephus makes it clear that Greek was beneath members of the priestly elite like himself –it was the language of necessity for “commoners”, like tradesman (including, I assume, carpenters like Jesus) and servants:

“…our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations… because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them.” (Antiquities of Jews XX, XI)

Jesus clearly spoke Aramaic, as the gospels spell out by quoting him using Aramaic words. But the likelihood he also both spoke and read Greek seems quite high. A W Argyle puts it this way: “To suggest that a Jewish boy growing up in Galilee would not know Greek would be rather like suggesting that a Welsh boy brought up in Cardiff would not know English.” As for reading, in “Epigraphy and the Greek Language in Hellenistic Palestine,”, Walter Ameling writes, “Linguistic choice in epigraphy implies that not only the prevalent epigraphic culture was Greek, but that the language of this culture was understood (and read!) not only by the people erecting inscriptions, but by their intended public.”

It’s clear from both Philo and Josephus that Greek speaking Jews saw the LXX as the literal equivalent of the Hebrew without question. And as Thackeray put it in The Septuagint and Jewish Worship, “It was a people’s book designed, undoubtedly, for synagogue use.”

Finally, there’s the “Diatagma Kaisaros”, in which the Roman government assumes that the ordinary people of Nazareth in Jesus’ time could read Greek.

So from which version would the synagogue of Nazareth be most likely to read?
I vote LXX.

RandallButh
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by RandallButh » September 8th, 2016, 2:23 am

I did manage to read most of the two most relevant chapters
Great. I would recommend that you keep reading in order to find out if they were in fact the most relevant chapters.

You will find some interesting nuggets tucked away in unexpected places. Like the fact that parables, a genre for common people, were always recorded in Hebrew in bilingual Jewish literature.

Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » September 8th, 2016, 2:33 am

Yesterday there was an interesting post on Zondervan blog: http://zondervanacademic.com/blog/what- ... sus-speak/ (it doesn't open for me right now). Buth et al. wasn't mentioned, references seemed to be a bit older.

RandallButh
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by RandallButh » September 8th, 2016, 2:56 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Yesterday there was an interesting post on Zondervan blog: http://zondervanacademic.com/blog/what- ... sus-speak/ (it doesn't open for me right now). Buth et al. wasn't mentioned, references seemed to be a bit older.
A lot of people write on this topic who do not control the primary literature well, and maybe because of that they overlook some of the secondary literature that does deal with the primary literature. The article on EBRAISTI in Buth and Notley has some remarkable examples of scholarly misreads that have even been repeated and echoed in the secondary literature.

Maybe the blog isn't opening at the moment because someone flagged it internally so that they can update it. One can always hope.

Jason Hare
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by Jason Hare » September 10th, 2016, 11:05 am

RandallButh wrote:Maybe the blog isn't opening at the moment because someone flagged it internally so that they can update it. One can always hope.
The blog is opening now.

You will notice, though, a glaring typo in a quote from Shmuel Safrai. The quote reads:
There is a statement in rabbinic literature that the Judeans retained the teachings of the Torah scholars because they were careful in the use of their language, while the Galileans, who were not so careful with their speech, did not retain their learning (b. Eruv. 53a–b; y Ber. 4d, et. al.). While this saying is sometimes considered to be evidence for the dominance of Aramaic over Hebrew . . . it actually only refers to the Judeans’ feeling that Galileans mispronounced the guttural letters ח and צ and dropped the weak letters א and ה.
You will notice that צ (tsadi) is not a guttural letter. I think the original read ע (ayin) rather than צ. I remember someone saying that the name ישוע (Yeshua) was probably pronounced as ישו (Yeshu) in Galilee because of the lack of ע in their pronunciation. The form ישו הנוצרי (Yeshu ha-Notsri) is preserved in the Talmud, although we see ישוע הנוצרי (Yeshua ha-Notsri) in Maimonides' discussions of Jesus.

Not exactly relevant to the question of which language was spoken or which Bible read by Jesus, but interesting nonetheless.
Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

RandallButh
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by RandallButh » September 10th, 2016, 12:03 pm

so I posted a reply on the site:

"You might want to update this with the articles from Buth and Notley, eds. The Language Environment in First Century Judaia, Brill, 2014.

"For example, Geiger was long ago refuted, not softened.
A basic consideration can often help the non-specialist in Mishnaic Hebrew understand this. Hebrew divided into a high register (written, formal) and a low, colloquial register during the Second Temple. Such dual registers of language use occur when a language is being commonly spoken (like Latin and Vulgar Latin, Swish German spoken and written, Arabic literary and colloquial, etc.
Another major consideration: although Jewish literature from 1st century and following is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, ALL rabbinic parables are recorded in low register HEBREW.
Interaction with the cited articles would prove interesting."

As I have probably mentioned or implied here from time to time, most who write on this subject in English are not specialists in Mishnaic Hebrew (and in many cases are not even aware of the consensus that has been achieved in mishnaic Hebrew studies).

.

kenjacobsen
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by kenjacobsen » September 15th, 2016, 10:42 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Yesterday there was an interesting post on Zondervan blog: http://zondervanacademic.com/blog/what- ... sus-speak/ (it doesn't open for me right now). Buth et al. wasn't mentioned, references seemed to be a bit older.
Thank you for the reference.
For what it's worth, I responded to it as follows:


Some notes about this article:

Harold Hoehner’s note that Josephus “had the educational opportunities”, misses, it seems to me, just what was and what wasn’t important to the education of someone of Josephus’ social position in the Judea of his time. Learning Greek was not one.

Josephus explains that himself quite clearly in the following:

“…our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations… because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them.

But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning…”

— Antiquities of Jews XX, XI

“Greek wasn’t the first language of most first-century Jews” leaves out the massive Diaspora of Jews throughout the Roman Empire who certainly spoke Greek as their first language. And, keep in mind, the Septuagint originated in Alexandria to serve the Greek speaking Jews there, who alone numbered more than all the Jews in Judea, Samaria and Galilee put together.

Keep in mind too, that when these huge numbers of Greek speaking Jews converged on Jerusalem for important religious holidays, it was necessary that the “free-men” and “servants” who provided their housing and food be able to speak Greek in order to accommodate them. The members of Josephus’ class didn’t need to bother communicating with these unwashed outsiders.

The contention that the average Judean could speak Hebrew is not necessarily supported by the two instances mentioned. First, the Bar Kokhba revolt was a fundamentalist rejection of all things Greek and employed Hebrew (“low” Hebrew) in an attempt to prove supposed religious purity, as others have pointed out. Second, the translation that I have of Josephus’ statement that he spoke in “Hebrew” describes it as, “The same that in the New Testament is always so called, and was then the common language of the Jews in Judea, which was the Syriac dialect” –i.e. Aramaic, as the word Ἑβραϊστὶ is translated in most New Testaments.

RandallButh
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by RandallButh » September 16th, 2016, 12:32 am

Several items here are not correct.
First, evraisti means Hebrew, syristi means Aramaic.
Evraistii never meant Aramaic. See the article in the Brill volume. It is surprising,maybe shocking, to see the mistaken conclusions that are passed off as data. It is good to cite primary sources not secondary assumptions no matter how widely echoed.
As for Bar Kochba they rejected Rome not Greek. They used all three languages and those writing Hebrew were using a spoken low register not a book language. This is not debated by Mishnaic specialists, just outsiders quoting outsiders.

RandallButh
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by RandallButh » September 16th, 2016, 12:36 am

PS. During holidays many languages were used for pilgrims, including Greek and Aramaic.

kenjacobsen
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Re: What version did Jesus use?

Post by kenjacobsen » October 5th, 2016, 1:02 am

RandallButh wrote:Several items here are not correct.
First, evraisti means Hebrew, syristi means Aramaic.
Evraistii never meant Aramaic. See the article in the Brill volume. It is surprising,maybe shocking, to see the mistaken conclusions that are passed off as data. It is good to cite primary sources not secondary assumptions no matter how widely echoed.
As for Bar Kochba they rejected Rome not Greek. They used all three languages and those writing Hebrew were using a spoken low register not a book language. This is not debated by Mishnaic specialists, just outsiders quoting outsiders.

Where in the entire NT does anyone speak “syristi”?
I think I’m quite safe in answering that: nowhere.
And it’s perfectly clear from the throughout the NT that what we now call “Aramaic” words were called “Hebrew” then. Do I really need to provide quotes?

Philo does exactly the same thing, calling what we now call Aramaic “Hebrew”. In fact, when he’s referring to the original biblical Hebrew, he doesn’t call it “evraisti” he repeatedly calls it “Chaldean”, Χαλδαϊκὴν.

“This great man [Ptolemy], having conceived an ardent affection for our laws, determined to have the Chaldean translated into Greek…”

It’s also quite clear that when Philo quotes the Bible, he’s using the LXX.

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