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
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.