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Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132875 03/16/03 12:49 AM
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Gideon Offline OP
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Is the Septuagint a better translation of the Old Testament than the current Masoretic text and where does the Latin Bible fit into the mix?

Gideon


Abba Isidore the Priest:
When I was younger and remained in my cell I set no limit to prayer; the night was for me as much the time of prayer as the day.
(p. 97, Isidore 4)
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132876 03/16/03 01:50 AM
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Theosis Offline
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Glory to Jesus Christ!
Glory to Him Forever!

Dear Friends,

I was told that the Latin Vulgate had about 100,000 errors. I know this isn't true, but what response could I give the person who told me this? Thanks. smile

A sinner,

Adam


Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132877 03/16/03 04:35 PM
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Logos - Alexis Offline
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I believe the Vulgate was translated from the Septuagint by St. Jerome, and is about the closest thing we have to the authentic writings since most of them are no more.

Logos Teen

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132878 03/17/03 01:32 AM
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Originally posted by Teen Of The Incarnate Logos:
I believe the Vulgate was translated from the Septuagint by St. Jerome, and is about the closest thing we have to the authentic writings since most of them are no more.

Logos Teen
Actually St. Jerome did not rely solely on the Septuagint. This got him in trouble with those accustomed to the Septuagint and Old Vulage like St. Augustine (who lamb-basted him for his translation). smile See Psalm 39/40:7-9 for one example of not following the Septuagint as did St. Paul (see Hebrews 10:5-7). Most English translations, like St. Jerome's Vulgate, follow the Masoretic instead of the text used by St. Paul. Why? I have no clue.

Trusting In Christ's Light,
Wm. DerGhazarian
Armenian Catholic Christian
www.geocities.com/wmwolfe_48044/

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132879 03/17/03 04:07 AM
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Logos - Alexis Offline
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Jeesh I'm confused. I thought I knew what the Septuagint and Masora were, but it's all very cloudy now. I'm going to have to find me a webpage that explains it all.

Logos Teen

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132880 03/17/03 05:41 AM
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From what I've read recently, the Masoretic texts date from AD 8th/9th century while the Septuagint (aka LXX) comes to us from translations made in the 2nd century BC. St. Jerome, in all good faith, used as many Hebrew texts as he could to translate his Latin Vulgate, learning ancient Hebrew and Aramaic in the process. He became quite respected amongst the Jewish scholars of his day, so much so that rabbis came to him for interpretation of the Torah.

However, he did make mistakes, most notably his famous blunder in translating the Hebrew qaran, in the context meanig "shining" into the Latin cornuta, meaning "horned", in Exodus 34:29. Qaran is derived from a noun meaning "horn." Jerome took the basic meaning of the word and neglected its derived meaning of "to emit rays." Many times in Hebrew one must assign the meaning of a word based on its context. In Psalm 69:31 qaran is used to describe an ox or young bull. There the translation as "horn" is appropriate. But in Exodus 34:29 qaran is used in conjunction with the phrase "skin of his face." From the context of following versus the meaning as "horns" is not supported. The Apostle Paul understood this to mean "shone" and not "grew horns" as can be seen from 2 Corinthians 3:7-13. One can see just how far reaching this mistranslation is by viewing Michaelangelo's Moses, which shows a nice set of horns growing out of Moses' head.

One of the problems with the Masoretic texts is that before them, written Hebrew was bereft of vowels. At some point, scribes started adding vowels to the written texts, invariably and most likey innocently changing the meaning of certain words and phrases, giving Divine authority, in effect, to the interpretation of the scribes themselves. The LXX is, I feel, a more faithful translation of the the Old Testament, at least into the Greek. Far more often than not, the writers of the New Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit, used the LXX in quoting the Old Testament. Almost by default, if we believe, as we do, that the New Testament is inspired by God himself, the LXX is an "inspried translation". The Eastern Churches have always upheld the LXX as the ''proper'' Old Testament. Indeed, the Masoretic texts are, I think, the oldest extant texts of the Old Testament. The LXX is older by over 1000 years.

And we have the authority of the Fathers and the Church as well in giving the stamp of approval on the LXX since the inception of the Church itself.

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132881 03/17/03 05:44 AM
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Originally posted by Theosis:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Glory to Him Forever!

Dear Friends,

I was told that the Latin Vulgate had about 100,000 errors. I know this isn't true, but what response could I give the person who told me this? Thanks. smile

A sinner,

Adam
That he doesn't know what he is talking about - would be good.

-ray


-ray
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132882 03/17/03 07:38 AM
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Originally posted by Mikey Stilts:
However, he did make mistakes, most notably his famous blunder in translating the Hebrew qaran, in the context meanig "shining" into the Latin cornuta, meaning "horned", in Exodus 34:29. Qaran
With all due respect to your apparent knowledge but I believe you are giving us what you read somewhere.

If the root of the word supports both “shining” and “horn” then it may be (and probably is) that both meanings may be true at the same time. As you say - it depends upon the context - but the context may also be a word-play.

The nuance or inflection of these plays are what make poetry resonate. As you say - the context does define the word but that only one meaning of the word must be chosen is a result of the habit of later languages and translators that have restricted the meanings of their words. Such a restricted language an English requires us to add words - string them out - to qualify the thought. With later languages words become less-wide, more concrete and restricted to one meaning. In the earlier languages such as Hebrew the words are multipurpose (if you will) and elastic.

To the ancient Hebrew a “horn” (physically the horn on some animals) was a sign of power. It is so used within the book of the Apocalypse to signify political power (7 or 10 horns on the beast, I forget the number). In its most material way it is a sign of power in the animal nature. The indication in the vision of Revelations is that the beast has power in “this world” or plainer said within or over physical or animal human nature.

Light is generally a sign of knowledge - enlightenment - and as such it is a often the sign of power in the spiritual nature.

The word-play indicates that Moses came down from the mountain with “power” and “enlightenment” and the implication is that this is due to the “face to face” encounter. In as much as the horns are light - it is leaning toward the indication it is “spiritual power” that Moses had received. As you can see it is impossible to maintain a simple story line in the translators language and keep all that which the Hebrew has. The translator must pay attention to the form of the language he is translating to - and make his best choices to maintain the outer story line. Something is bound to be lost as he tries to do a one to one word substitution. If we tried to say the full meaning in English it would be something like this “Moses descended the mountain and the appearance of animal horns which were, at the same time, rays of spiritual light and shone from his face ….” too much of that and you book is now far longer and very difficult and confusing to read.

Some of the best Jewish portraits of Moses coming down after speaking with God “face to face” and receiving the Law show the horns from his head not as hard cartilage (animal horns) but rays of light somewhat in the shape of horns. Satan is often portrayed with horns that are hard and devoid of spiritual light (power within this world).

Because of the difference in languages - it is impossible to do any translation with a word for word substitution… so it is the job of the good translator to know the culture and traditions, to be aware of the word-play and nuance - and then the translator must make a choice of how to render that.

As you yourself can see in the related Aramaic - Quran (Koran) is the name of the Muslim book and also means “enlightenment” which is also spiritual “power”.

While we can assume Paul used the Septuagint it is certain he was aware of the original Hebrew word-play (Paul was proficient in High Hebrew). Greek, of course, did not lend itself to that double-meaning word play. Right now I do not remember the context of the letter of Paul - but it is probable that he wrote in Hebrew (so we can not really be sure which inflection he selected) and when his letter was later translated into Greek or whatever - the translator made the selection. This would have especially been true if the letter was addressing Hebrew (he would surly have written it in Hebrew then).

It is apparent that Jerome (or we can assume) that having learned the Hebrew as well as traditions and customs and being trusted by the Rabbis so well - Jerome knew the entandra and selected to emphasized horns or “power”. The difference would be like this… if both meanings are called for (as they are in this case) one must select a primary meaning and the other meaning becomes secondary. The primary is usually the physical or literal meaning while the spiritual meaning is usually the secondary meaning. Some what like a parable is. It is usual to indicate the physical or literal meaning as primary for the sake of congruity of the story. The effect would be that Jerome chose to say “Power-spiritual” while someone else may chose to highlight the spiritual meaning “spiritual-power” by lifting it out of the physical story line and making that primary.

Jerome was certainly not wrong and whoever you read on the matter thought he knew better than Jerome yet he lacked the knowledge of the word-play.

My hat is tipped to you in view of what research and study it is obvious you have done. Not many people dig deeper than the English shell as you have.


-ray


-ray
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132883 03/17/03 08:53 AM
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Originally posted by Mikey Stilts:
One of the problems with the Masoretic texts is that before them, written Hebrew was bereft of vowels. At some point, scribes started adding vowels to the written texts, invariably and most likey innocently changing the meaning of certain words and phrases, giving Divine authority, in effect, to the interpretation of the scribes themselves. The LXX is, I feel, a more faithful translation of the the Old Testament, at least into the Greek.
The Hebrew Masorite is to be trusted more than the Greek Septuagint. All the apostle wrote in Hebrew (not Aramaic) and these things were later translated to Greek for dispersion among the gentile churches where Greek was the common denominator. Who ever translated from the Hebrew to the Greek would have also substituted the Septuagint phrasing as Greek readers would be more familiar with that. Luke is the only one who wrote in Greek because he was writing to a Greek … “My Dear Theopolis…”

The Christian communities that the some of the Letters went out to began within the Jewish communities located in gentile areas. It was not until much later that there was need to translate them into Greek. When you read most of the Letters you can see they are talking to Jews in Jewish communities. The apostles and early disciples did not think of themselves as anything else but Jews would return the religion of Moses back to its original roots. When Paul says that he went out to so-and-so church to speak or preach - he went to the synogouge to speak to the Jews there. The Jews would leave synagogue and repeat what was said and Greeks became interested and joined. Originally - these Greek converts they were thought of as converting to be a Jew - until it dawned on Paul that they didn’t need to. Now - became the need for official church documents to be in Greek also.

Also, the Marorite was codified, became Hebrew cannon (in a way) while what the Alexandrian Rabbis used a variety of Hebrew texts that were fairly loose.

Jerome was right in preferring Masorite variations (the Jewish cannon) over Septuagint variation.

I know, so many authorities proclaim that Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic - that is incorrect - but the perpetuation of that wrong assumption will go on forever because it just keeps getting passed on and on and on and on… Look how long they thought it was “Jehovah“! just because the authority they learned from said it was.

Christian scholars claim it was Aramaic (because it is closely related to Aramaic and they did not trust or like the Jews) Hebrew scholars claim there was never a break in Hebrew. There are existent Hebrew documents before - and after - and during Jerusalem of Jesus. I think the Jewish scholars would know - after all it is their language. Saying that the Jews spoke Aramaic in Jerusalem is like saying that although the offcial and legal language of America is English - they speak French in Washington DC.

I do not mean to correct you or prove you in error. I admire the research efforts you have obviously done. I offer you just a bit of a course correction so you might get even closer to the target.

This is my opinion and not guaranteed.


-ray
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132884 03/18/03 01:24 PM
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Originally posted by RayK:
I know, so many authorities proclaim that Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic - that is incorrect - but the perpetuation of that wrong assumption will go on forever because it just keeps getting passed on and on and on and on ... Christian scholars claim it was Aramaic (because it is closely related to Aramaic and they did not trust or like the Jews) Hebrew scholars claim there was never a break in Hebrew. There are existent Hebrew documents before - and after - and during Jerusalem of Jesus. I think the Jewish scholars would know - after all it is their language. Saying that the Jews spoke Aramaic in Jerusalem is like saying that although the offcial and legal language of America is English - they speak French in Washington DC.
Dear RayK,

From the Catholic Encyclopedia website at this URL:
http://www.newadvent.org/almanac/thisrock94.htm

*** *** *** ***

Were any of the Gospels written in Aramaic, since Christ and the Apostles spoke that language? Was Hebrew only spoken by the priests in the Temple? Did Pilate use an interpreter when he spoke to Christ?

We do not know for certain whether any of the Gospels were written in Aramaic. An early Christian writer named Papias wrote (c. A.D. 120), that Matthew wrote the oracles of Christ "in the Hebrew tongue." This is ambiguous because "the Hebrew tongue" could refer to the language known as Hebrew or to Aramaic, which was the tongue commonly spoken by Jews at that time.

Throughout Church history the accepted opinion has been that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, but since the last century the view has become common that he wrote in Greek instead. Recently there has been a number of scholars returning to the earlier opinion that he wrote in Hebrew or Aramaic. Some have suggested that Mark and Luke were also written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Two books by scholars advocating a non-Greek origin for some of the Gospels are The Birth of the Synoptics by Jean Carmignac and The Hebrew Christ by Claude Tresmontant.

In Jesus' day Hebrew was not spoken by only the priests in the Temple. It was also used in the synagogue liturgy, and it was the language in which Scripture was read. Many Jews had at least some understanding of Hebrew, even though it was not their primary language.

This fact has apologetic implications for Catholics. The next time someone attacks the Church for having used the "dead language" of Latin in Church services and older editions of Scripture, point out that Jesus worshipped in synagogues where the "dead language" of Hebrew was used.

We do not know whether Pilate used a translator in his conversations with Christ. As a Roman governor, Pilate would have known Latin (his native language) and Greek (the international language). He might also have known some Aramaic, since he was governor of an Aramaic-speaking territory. Even if he did not know Aramaic, many Jews would have no problem conversing with him; Greek was the language of commerce, and many Jews knew it from their business dealings. Thus Jesus' conversations with Pilate might have been conducted in Greek.

*** *** *** ***

I want to highlight these verses:

"Aramaic, which was the tongue commonly spoken by Jews at that time."

"Many Jews had at least some understanding of Hebrew, even though it was not their primary language."

"This fact has apologetic implications for Catholics. The next time someone attacks the Church for having used the "dead language" of Latin in Church services and older editions of Scripture, point out that Jesus worshipped in synagogues where the "dead language" of Hebrew was used."

"Pilate would have known Latin (his native language) and Greek (the international language). He might also have known some Aramaic, since he was governor of an Aramaic-speaking territory."

These sentences refute what you wrote "I know, so many authorities proclaim that Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic - that is incorrect - but the perpetuation of that wrong assumption will go on forever."

Can you support this claim with some backup?

Thanks...

BradM

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132885 03/21/03 08:48 AM
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RayK Offline
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Originally posted by BradM:

Can you support this claim with some backup?

Thanks...

BradM
Not is such a short space as this. I can only give short answers.

Many Israel scholars have come to the conclusion that Jesus spoke Hebrew and the original gospels were in Hebrew. Simply put he was a Jew and it is their language - they should know.

I found this for you but this guy was not my reference.
http://www.menorah.com/askpr3.html

Now - let us look at it simply and with an eye to human nature.

First - the Hebrew language (like all languages) evolves and develops. The Hebrew of Moses would sound very little like the Hebrew of today. But the fact remains they are both Hebrew for the simply reason that this is what Hebrews speak as their language. A short comparison would be the that the English spoke in America during the Revolutionary war and the English spoken in America today. I dare say that someone of English of today listen to someone of 200 years ago would have a difficult time understanding what was being said. The language evolves and develops by absorbing words from other languages, new words, shifting of pronunciation etc… but the fact remains that whatever the Hebrew selected to speak was the language of the Hebrews and therefore it was Hebrew. This is simple.

The very original Hebrew language - was Egyptian - the common language these wandering tribes learned in Egypt so they could be employed as migrant worker (which is what the name ‘Hebrew‘ means) - but when the Hebrews became a nation - whatever they spoke then became Hebrew for the simple reasons it was the language of the Hebrew people.

Second - Hebrew scholars claim that the only time in history in which the Hebrew language was in dander of being lost was around WWII when the seat of Jewish education was in Europe. Great effort had to be given to restore it to its roots by the time Israel became a modern nation. They claim there are Hebrew documents written in Hebrew - that prove Hebrew was spoken and written in Jerusalem in the years just before Christ - during Christ and after Christ (after the Temple was destroyed).

Third - Hebrew was the national and official language of the Hebrew nation. This is simple. As such, it was (as you note) the language of its religion and it laws (religion and government being the same). Temple services were conducted in the Holy Language, acts of Law were done in the Holy Language (the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin) and Temple scribes copied sacred literature in its Hebrew.

Fourth - the Greek translations of the NT (the only extant copies the original Hebrew having been lost and probably burned in the conflagrations of 70AD) definite display they are translated from the Hebrew idiom and not original Greek. In other words there is a difference between what is originally composed in Greek and what is a Greek translation of a Hebrew document when the translator tires to make a literal copy instead of allowing himself the freedom to paraphrase into an easier conversational flow. It is evident in many spots where the Greek words are awkward that the translators is doing his best to display a Hebrew word that is a play on words or double-entndra.

Fifth - There has always existed High Hebrew and Common Hebrew. In as much that same way as there is proper American English (taught in academics) and regional English (region accents and slang).

Sixth - The Pharisees who were in power during Jesus’ time were taught High Hebrew as a reading and conversational language (just like people who go to college today are taught proper English). Paul (being a Pharisee taught by the famous Rabbi Gamelan<sp> ) was certainly taught High Hebrew for everyday speech as all other Pharisees were. Christian tradition relates that when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus - Jesus spoke High Hebrew to him (“Saul - why do you persecute me?”). The Pharisees were fundamentalists who believed that straying from the letter of the Law was the cause of Israelis troubles - the Galileans (a Jewish town in the north which was heavily influenced by Greek culture) spoke common Hebrew with a Greek accent this was akin to heresy to the Jews in Jerusalem and was how the servant girl recognized Peter as a Galilean (around the fire after the arrest).

Seventh - all males had to read and memorize Torah in proper Hebrew in order to become a man (mar-mitzvah) and be questioned by Temple Masters - by the age of 13.

Eight - the apostles thought of themselves a real Jews send to restore the religion of Moses to its roots and did not think of themselves as anything other then Jews spreading the gospel to other Jews. The Septuagint was not used in synagogue or Temple services in Jerusalem - far away Jewish communities which did use the Greek (Alexandria where the Septuagint originated) were seen as the very cause Israel was being punished by God by staying from the Law. In as much as the apostles did not preach outside of Jerusalem for a long time - it makes no senses that they (as Jews who spoke Hebrew as their natural tongue) would write letters to other Jews (who spoke Hebrew as their natural tongue) in Aramaic (a Semitic relative of Hebrew). You (assuming you are American) would not write to your wife by using current UK English would you? It is not natural to either you or her.

And lastly - at the time of the founding of the first catechetical school in Alexandria Egypt - the educated Alexandrian Jews still knew academic Hebrew (High Hebrew) and if knowledge and use of it existed in this large Jewish community - then it surely existed and was used in the most holy city of the Jews - Jerusalem right up to its demise as the national capital - center of learning - temple and Law.

--------
I do not know the exact conditions that came to the assumption of older Christian scholars and translators that Jesus spoke Aramaic - or the foolish thought that if they spoke Aramaic what they would write the gospels and their letters in Greek(??!!) in Greek instead of Aramaic. My guess would be that at the time - they simply did not bother to consult the Jews regarding the language and instead used its close relative (Aramaic) with considerable success in translating documents of the time of Jesus.

In any event - it is a myth that refuses to die because it is still part of academia for your doctorate. The same is true for the J&P sources theory (that Genesis is a compilation from different sources) which is poppy-cock but you can not get your doctorate without believing it and the academic community is not interested in any proof to any other conclusion.

After 2000 years we should be able to have four small gospels figured out - but we don’t. There are some basic assumptions that are misguided (as regards translation).

-ray


-ray
Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132886 03/21/03 03:18 PM
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Jerome was certainly not wrong and whoever you read on the matter thought he knew better than Jerome yet he lacked the knowledge of the word-play.
Ray,

My only concern with this is that the idiom does NOT translate into Latin like it does in Hebrew. Cornu, means animal horn and only animal horn; it does not have the subtle dynamic as qaran does. There are a number of words Jerome could have used to describe the face of Moses, the most direct being micans, which carries the connotation of "shining, twinkling, and sparkling", certainly carrying with it the image of "horns of light" as the Hebrew qaran carries.

To translate qaran into cornuta does a disservice to the Word of God, a disservice that is not found in the Septuagint, which used older (and presumably more reliable) texts of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

And let us not forget that by the time Jerome translated the Vulgate, the Jewish leaders had already removed books from their Scriptual canon. If the Septuagint was good enough for the Fathers, it's good enough for me.

And I would like to point out that I mean no disrespect to the great St. Jerome. I have a great devotion to him, he being the patron saint of librarians. However, it's not a blind devotion; he was, like us all, a fallible man.

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132887 03/21/03 04:31 PM
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I do not know the exact conditions that came to the assumption of older Christian scholars and translators that Jesus spoke Aramaic - or the foolish thought that if they spoke Aramaic what they would write the gospels and their letters in Greek(??!!) in Greek instead of Aramaic.
Eli, Eli, Lmana Sabachthani (Matt 27:45-47)

Ephphatha! (Mark 7:32)

Talitha cum (Mark 5:41)

Jesus' own words, in Aramaic.


As for the Gospels being in Greek, Matthew is obviously geared towards the Jewish community, hence the current speculation that it was originally in Aramaic (or Hebrew). You do make the excellent point that Hebrew was probably used by the High Priests, the Pharisees, and other Jewish leaders. But you forget that Christ was not from Jerusalem; he was from Galilee, particularly Nazareth. Nazareth was a backwater town. It would be akin to him growing up in high Appalachia, but with a little more education. Certainly he knew Hebrew; after all, the Torah was written in Hebrew and he most certainly could read it, otherwise Joseph and Mary would not have found him discussing the Law with the elders in the Temple nor would he have been run out of his own town by his angry neighbors when he said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:21)

However, his everyday parlance was in Aramaic, the language still spoken by people in that neck of the woods. The difference between Aramaic and Hebrew are much like the difference between Italian, Spanish and French and Latin; there are cognates galore, but the Romance languages are what business was conducted in, what people used when teaching their children, what the homilies in Old Europe were spoken in, while the rest of the liturgy was in Latin.

We also have to remember that it was Paul's mission to preach to the Gentiles. The Jews had their chance, so to speak, and by Paul's conversion, it was time to "let the goyim in on this whole salvation business," so to speak. :p By the time of Christ, there was a very significant population of Jews in the Diaspora who did NOT speak Hebrew: the LXX was their Torah, the only Torah they knew. The entire Mediterranean spoke Greek as the lingua franca, thanks to Alexander the Great's conquests 400 years before.

Luke's Gospel was certainly geared towards the Gentiles. He wasn't even a Jew, but a Gentile!

John's was definitely geared towards a Greek speaking audience, its pages fraught with dualistic imagery that really shines in the Koine Greek of the time. Writing from Patmos after living in Antioch for years, the Apostle spoke Greek every day for over half his life.

Mark was also geared towards a Greek audience; it was written (probably in Rome) during the Neroean persecutions and its goal was to strengthen the faith of those Christians throughout the Mediterranean, most of whom spoke, you guessed it, Greek.

Matthew is the only one of the Four whose audience is primarily Jewish and hence it was most likely first written in Aramaic or, if you like, Hebrew. Personally, I highly doubt it was in Hebrew given the political situations of the time and the simple fact that Hebrew was the language of the Priests and of the Temple, while Aramaic was the language of the people.

And now we get to Paul's letters. Are you really suggesting that Paul was writing letters to non-Hebrew speakers in Corinth and Galatia in Hebrew? Galatia is in the middle of Anatolia, where Hebrew was most definitely NOT spoken; it was a Greek speaking region through and through.

My point is that, aside from Matthew, the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (James possibly excluded) were geared towards a GREEK speaking community, hence their authorship in GREEK. After the death of James around AD 62, Christianity became primarily a Gentile phenomenon. And Gentile means Greek speaker.

(And while we are on the subject of James, the famous ossuary that was discovered had its inscription written in...Aramaic. Now, regardless of whether or not you think that this is the grave of James, the brother of our Lord, it is still evidence that Aramaic was the living language of the period.)

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132888 03/22/03 02:52 AM
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Many Israel scholars have come to the conclusion that Jesus spoke Hebrew and the original gospels were in Hebrew. Simply put he was a Jew and it is their language - they should know.
For what it's worth, I just spoke with a very knowledgeable Jew who said that Christ and his peers probably spoke Aramaic and not Hebrew.

Logos Teen

Re: Septuagint vs Masoretic text #132889 03/23/03 04:27 AM
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Dear Mikey...

I believe that you will find that Aramaic is a root language (from Aram the fifth son of Noah) which came from Assyria (Mesopotamia - modern Iraq) and it was the root of all Semitic languages developed as later variants (including Hebrew and Arabic).

A good comparison would be that Spanish is the root language of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Portuguese. Some one knowing either particular variant would have only a bit of difficulty with any of the other variants because the core is the same.

In the Jewish view - their national variant was the Holy Language. It was taught to all (Bar-mizvah) and was the official national language of Jewish government and Temple. It was the official language of the capital city Jerusalem (the seat of Temple and government) and no Rabbi was allowed to preach in the Temple in any other language (Acts 20:40 Paul addresses the Temple crowd in Hebrew). There is no doubt that when Rabbi Jesus taught in the Temple - he spoke in Temple Hebrew - it was required.

To the Jew - common Hebrew - was a corruption or watering down of national Hebrew - by a falling away from the particular variant of Temple Hebrew to the influences of the other Aramaic variants swirling about Palestine.

To say that, at the time of Jesus, Palestine spoke Aramaic - is to name the root of many like variants. Just like we can say that Americans and British both speak English.


As regards the gospels whose authors were Jewish Hebrews…
All we know for sure is - we have Greek translations from somewhere down the line which origin was originally X - but we know for sure the authors were Jews writing about a Jew (Jesus) of Jewish things to other Jews nearby and scattered in the Diaspora with the purpose to re-new the Jewish religion. We also know that the gospel originally spread through synagogues. The most natural conclusion is that we do not have the originals in our hands and the originals were in the natural language of the authors (Hebrew-Aramaic) and the directly intended readers (other Jews). Rather than thinking they were starting a new church the apostles thought they were revitalizing the current Jewish religion. Yes - than changed later.

Certainly they did not wait to old age to write their experiences with Jesus for the reason that if they died no one would have them around to tell the stories anymore - rather it was an immediate way that others could know about the life of Christ without the apostle being right there telling it and a way for local believers to re-visit the life of Christ between visits by the apostles. If you went to a meeting where someone was speaking on this great event - would you not wish it recorded so you could hear it at home again and again? Would you not want something to read or listen to - to aide your meditation especially if this persons very life events - were the gospel?

There is a good paper written by Dr. Robert Lindsay (a Baptist I believe) who was one of the first to suggest that the gospels were originally in Aramaic-Hebrew. Phd - knowing Greek and Aramaic-Hebrew - he wondered at sections which displayed awkward Greek sentence structure. On a whim - he transliterated from the Greek to Hebrew and found that the Hebrew structure was perfect. Leading him to the conclusion that the Greek in his hands was actually a transliteration from Hebrew.

There is some old evidence that Mark brought a Hebrew version of the gospel with him to Alexandria. Do you think he brought a copy or the original from which he could make more copies? If copies had to be done by hand - which would you bring? A copy or the original?

That the portions you quoted as Jesus speaking Aramaic - these are places where the writer wished to re-produce the exact sound - phonetically - the Aramaic does in a most universal way (due to it being the root of many variants). This would also indicate that the original was Aramaic-Hebrew and that the actual words spoken were - either common Hebrew or High Hebrew (I think you would have to see who he was addressing or who was within hearing). To say that the words spoken were Aramaic as opposed to Hebrew not to recognise that Hebrew is an Aramaic.
How did I do? Does it sound like I know what I am talking about?
Don’t let me fool you - I am giving you my best guesses.

I myself - am convinced (even before I found that a group of scholars already surmised) in as much as my area of research has been the culture of Old Testament times - and I see clearly the gospels follow exactly the traditional Hebrew form for a book and that in many places it is obvious to me that the Greek writer had difficulty expressing what is pure Hebrew in origin.

One must give great credence to natural human nature. Let us imagine that the Jesus event took place today. If I (an American) wanted to tell all about Jesus because I has been with him in New York for three years - I would first write my tale in my native language. That would certainly be my fullest and most expressive way especially if my goal was to tell other Americans about him. Knowing German as a second language - I might also write it in German but what I would do is essentially use my original English text as the starting point. If someone else took my English work and wanted to translate it to German I am sure they would try to transliterate rather than allowing themselves the freedom of a loser translation (wanting my words as exact as possible).

All evidence points to the gospels (Luke excluded) being originally written in Hebrew or common Hebrew (what some call generic Aramaic).


-ray
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