Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Textual analysis and scholarship supporting an original Aramaic New TestamentThe Aramaic Origin of the New Testament
The first century Judahite historian Flavius Josephus (37-c.100 C.E.) testifies to the fact that Aramaic was the language of first century Judahites. Moreover, he testifies that Aramaic, and not Greek, was the language of his place and time. Josephus gives us the only first hand account of the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. According to Josephus, the Romans had to have him translate the call to the Judahites to surrender into “their own language”. Josephus makes it clear that first century Judahites could not even speak or understand Greek, but spoke “their own language.”
by HOIM Staff
We of Hope of Israel Ministries consider the Old Testament (Tanakh) to be the inspired word of YEHOVAH God. The New Testament of the Bible, in its current Greek original form and nowhere stated to be inspired, we believe to be useful as long as it conforms to and does not disagree with the inspired Old Testament. This, however, does not mean that the original books of the New Testament (from which we will show in this article were originally penned in the lingua franca of the time, Aramaic) were not inspired. We simply do not have these at our disposal. We generally follow the King James translation because many reference works are based upon that version.
We do not accept, however, the substituted names and common titles of our heavenly Father and His Son. We also object to the Hellenized names give to the Hebrew worthies in the New Testament, such Hezekiah appearing as "Ezekias" (Matthew 1:9), and Judah (Yahudah) as "Judas" (Matthew 1:2).
Beyond just names, churchianity itself is tainted with Greek thinking, Hellenized creeds, and unscriptural practices derived from Greco-Roman infusions through a Greek-translated New Testament.
Scholarship is increasingly validating the case for an Aramaic original New Testament. We include some of their documentation in this short article.
Examining all the evidence, we conclude that the New Testament was inspired in Aramaic and then later translated into Greek. The testimony to this is voluminous and logical. One needs only to consider that the writers were themselves Hebrews, and "while the language is Greek, the thoughts and idioms are Hebrew" (Companion Bible, appendix 94).
In this article is a list of scholars and their treatises supporting an original Aramaic New Testament. This list is by no means comprehensive. Other enlightened experts have come to the same realization that the New Testament was originally a collection of Aramaic works. The Bible's Aramaic writers were led by the holy spirit to write in their native Aramaic language, just as Paul was spoken to from On High in the Aramaic tongue, Acts 26:14.
New Testament Based on Old
The inquiring Bible student soon realizes that the New Testament is undeniably Aramaic in grammar, idiom, and thinking. This opens up a whole new understanding of the essence of truth for the New Testament believer. If the New Testament is rooted in the Aramaic Language, then its teachings also derive from the Hebrew (Aramaic) culture and are embedded in the Hebrew -- and not pagan Greek -- view of truth.
Those who would object to this reality must be asked the question, does arguing for a Greek New Testament bring one closer to the truth, or take one further from it, knowing that the Old Testament is a thoroughly Hebrew work? Is the New Testament a complete replacement of Old Testament teachings, with entirely new truth flavored with Hellenistic thought, practice, and understanding?
Not according to the apostle Paul. He wrote that the New Testament is built on the foundation of the Old Testament prophets as well as the apostles, Ephesians 2:20. Yeshua the Messiah gave the directive to "search the Scriptures," John 5:39. The only "scriptures" extant at that time were those of the Old Testament. The New Testament writings were not yet finished and compiled.
In his parable of Lazarus, the Messiah again advised the unknowing to listen to "Moses and the prophets," meaning the Old Testament, Luke 16:29. It was these same Old Testament Scriptures that the "noble Bereans" used to establish truth in Acts 17:11, and the very ones Paul told Timothy would make one perfect, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Aside from approaching truth from the right scriptural foundation, there is another important reason for coming to grips with the original language of the New Testament.
One of the arguments advanced against the verity of the sacred Names is that the Names would appear as "God" (Theos) and "Jesus" in the New Testament Greek text. The logic goes, if such titles and names are in the "original" text, then who are we to change them to something else?
Apart from this argument's erroneous premise ("God" is not the same word as the Greek Theos: "Jesus" is only partly a Greek term), we must ask, is it legitimate to change someone's name simply because you are writing about him in some other language? Names are transliterated, not translated.
If a book about the president of the United States were written in or translated into Russian, would the author or translators look for a Russian equivalent name for "Barak Obama"? Of course not. His name would still appear as Barak Obama.
By the same token, the Father's and Son's Names are the same in every language. Therefore we must call on them by their names revealed through the Hebrew tongue. There is no more a Russian equivalent name for "Barak Obama" than there is a Greek or English equivalent of the Hebrew "YEHOVAH" and "Yeshua." "LORD" and "Jesus" are not equivalents, they are replacements.
Aramaic Words Out of Place?
A peculiar discrepancy within the New Testament is this: if the New Testament were originally composed in Greek, why does it contain many un-translated Aramaic words? Why did the writers go to all the trouble of preserving Aramaic terms in their Greek writings?
The only valid explanation is that the Greek language had no equivalent words for these uniquely Aramaic terms taken from an original Aramaic text and translated into Greek.
These Aramaic survivals attest to an Aramaic original -- and a Greek (and English) translation that brought them across unchanged from the Aramaic.
The following ARAMAIC words are included in the King James New Testament, as taken from the Greek translation (some are Hebrew).
Abba ("dearest father"); Messiah ("Anointed one"); Rabbi ("my teacher"); hosanna ("Save! We beseech"); Amen (suggests trust, faithfulness); talitha cumi ("maid arise"); ephphatha ("be opened"); corban ("a dedicated gift"); Sabbath ("repose", "desist" from exertion); Satan ("adversary"); mammon ("riches"); raca ("to spit in one's face"); cummin (herb); Maranatha ("Master, I pray you overthrow"); Passover ("pass over"); Emmanuel (title meaning "El with us"); Eli lama Sabachthani ("my El, why have you forsaken me?")
Even more compelling evidence for a New Testament originally composed in Aramaic is found in the clear Aramaic word order extant in the New Testament. Many sentences contain the verb-noun reversal common to Aramaic and Semitic languages.
Scholars also have long recognized that the grammar of the New Testament does not befit good Greek, but does reflect excellent Aramaic grammar.
In addition, many Aramaic idioms and expressions are scattered throughout the New Testament. Had the original been composed in Greek, these sayings would have been put into Greek form and expression.
For example, what did the Messiah and others mean by statements that don't make good sense in Greek (or English) but are powerful in the Aramaic? Such expressions include: "If your eye is evil" (Matthew 6:23); "let the dead bury the dead" (Matthew 8:22); "for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry" (Luke 23:31), and "thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head" (Paul in Romans 12:20).
Numerous examples of Semitic poetry and reverse couplets (chiasmus) are dead giveaways to the original Aramaic of these books. Aramaic and Hebrew are also distinct for their colorful descriptions of simple, common acts.
For example, a beautiful expression in classical Hebrew is found in Luke 16:23: "...he lift up his eyes...and saw..." Other sayings peculiar to Hebrew and found in the Evangels include: "Lay these sayings in your years," "Cast out your name as evil," "He set his face to go," and "The appearance of his countenance was altered."
Whole sentences or paragraphs in the New Testament can be retranslated word for word back into the Aramaic. Luke 10:5-6 is just one example: "And into whatsoever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again." This passage is a synthesis of vivid Aramaic idioms unknown in the Greek.
A good example proving an original Aramaic text is found in Matthew 6:19-24:
"Do not store up for yourselves wealth here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves wealth in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in or steal. For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also. 'The eye is the lamp of the body.' So if you have a 'good eye' your whole body will be full of light; but if you have an 'evil eye' your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can't be a slave to both God and money."
In these verses we have the Messiah talking about money, and not placing it above YEHOVAH God in importance. You will note that he begins by speaking about money, then says something about a "good eye" and then something about an "evil eye" -- then finishes his statement by talking about money again. If this were originally penned in Greek, you would have to ask, "Why these odd verses about a "good eye" and an "evil eye" in the midst of a money topic?" It seems to make no sense at all. However, if you happen to know that having a "good eye" is an Aramaic idiom of that time for "being generous with your money" and an "evil eye" is an idiom for "being stingy with your money" then, a) the passage makes sense, and b) you realize that it had to have been written in Aramaic first, then whoever translated it into Greek (unaware of the idiom) simply took it word-for-word from the Aramaic into the Greek.
There are many New Testament verses that are very difficult, if not impossible, to understand without knowledge of the deeper teachings of the Judaism of that day and the idioms of the Aramaic language.
Another example is found in Mark 5:41, which says:
"And they jeered at him. But he put them all outside, took the child's father and mother and those with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand, he said to her, 'Talita, kumi!' (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). At once the girl got up and began walking around; she was twelve years old. Everybody was utterly amazed."
Now "Talita kumi" is an Aramaic word that means "Little girl, rise up!" What is interesting is that the original Aramaic manuscripts would have just said, "Talita kumi." They would not have said "which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'" The Greek manuscripts say, "'Talita, kumi!' (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'" Now if one version just has "Talita, kumi!" and another has "which means..." -- which do you think is the original? Sometimes all you have to do is use a little logic!
It is important to realize that the New Testament letters were originally intended to be read by Israelite leaders in the Messianic community who were well versed in the Judaism of the first century and its understanding of Torah. (We see evidence of this in Peter's concerns about Paul's letters being difficult to understand and often twisted about by "lawless" people -- "lawless" meaning not knowing or respecting Torah, the "Law").
Let's look, now, at another passage in Mark --
"They brought him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment and asked Yeshua to lay his hand on him. Taking him off alone, away from the crowd, Yeshua put his fingers into the man's ears, spat, and touched his tongue; then, looking up to heaven, he gave a deep groan and said to him, 'Hippatach!' (that is, 'Be opened!'). His ears were opened, his tongue was freed, and he began speaking clearly" (Mark 7:32-35, JNT).
Again, "Hippatach" is an Aramaic word being translated in the Greek ("Be opened") -- once again telling you what it's being translated from.
John 1:41 is an important and interesting verse -- notice!
"He [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which is translated, the Christ)."
Now in this passage the word "Christ" is purely Greek and NOT found in the Aramaic. Similarly, the word "Messiah" is purely Aramaic and NOT found in the Greek! Therefore, in the primary source this passage would have read, "He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah'." In the Aramaic original there was no "which is translated, the Christ." Clearly, then, the primary source must have been Aramaic. If the primary source was Greek there would be no reason whatsoever to add, "which is translated, the Christ."
Now let's go to Matthew 19. This is the narrative of Yeshua and the rich man. The rich man asks the Messiah, "What do I need to get into the Kingdom of Heaven," and the Messiah tells him to keep the commandments. The rich man replies by saying, "I've done that -- what else do I need to do?" What does Yeshua tell him to do? He tells him to sell everything that he has and to give alms and then follow the Messiah. And then -- what does the rich man say?
"But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was wealthy. Then Yeshua said to his talmidim [disciples], 'Yes. I tell you that it will be very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Furthermore, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:22-24, JNT).
Now what does this mean? How can a camel go through an eye of a needle? There was an ancient rumor that went around Jerusalem that the "needle's eye" may be referring to the protective narrow passage at the entrance to a walled city, and some tour guides will promote this idea. However, it's one of those urban legends that cannot be proved. Any good tour guide will tell you that it is not true. So what does this enigmatic phrase mean?
The key to the puzzle lies in the Aramaic. The word for "camel" in Aramaic (and also in the Hebrew) is "gamla." However, the word for "rope" in the Aramaic is "gamala" -- an identical word when you don't supply the vowels. You have the same letters -- gimel, mem and lamed. So the translator, when he came across this word, translated it into the Greek as "camel" when it should have been "rope."
Why does "rope" make so much more sense? While you can't pass a heavy rope through the eye of a needle because it has too many strands, you can if you take the rope apart and pass each strand through the needle one at a time! This is actually an Aramaic idiom where the Messiah is telling the rich man he can get into the Kingdom of God if he is poor by the time he dies. A rope with many strands can't fit through the needle, but it can if you feed it through one strand at a time; if the rich man gives up his possessions he can get through the narrow gate! This is an Aramaic idiom that was clearly understood by those speaking the language in the first century. When the translators tried to render this passage into the Greek it made no sense -- especially when using the word "camel"! Clearly, the primary source was Aramaic, not Greek.
Nothing in the New Testament was ever meant to be read out of context by people from another culture ignorant of the Aramaic meaning to the words and the concepts behind them -- and replacing this with their own personal meaning. Also, and this is important, none of the New Testament books were ever meant to stand on their own. They were meant to be interpreted in the context of the Torah (Old Testament -- YEHOVAH God's direct revelation/instruction) which, of course, came first.
The next example is interesting and seems to indicate that the Messiah was disobeying his Father's law! Notice Matthew 26:6-7:
"And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table."
Do you notice a problem with this passage? Why on earth would the Messiah go into the house of a leper in disobedience to his Father's Law? Notice what Leviticus 13:45-46 says:
"Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his habitation shall be outside the camp."
There is absolutely no way the Messiah would enter the house of a man who couldn't own property, who couldn't live in Jerusalem (had to be "outside the camp"), who couldn't employ servants, who couldn't have expensive jars of perfume, and who couldn't have feasts that were legal for Judahites to attend! It makes no sense. But what does make sense is when we realize that the Aramaic word for "leper" is "garba" and the Aramaic word for jar-maker is "garaba." So, once again, without the vowel pointing these words are the same -- gimel, resh, beth. It's the same lettering, and the person who translated this passage from the Aramaic into the Greek wrote down "leper" instead of "jar-maker"! It makes perfect sense that the Messiah went to the house of Simon the jar-maker and there the woman poured the expensive oil on his head. You would expect to find a jar of fragrant oil in a jar-maker's house -- not in a leper's house!
If you were to place the two manuscripts side-by-side, and looking at the translation mistakes that were made, you could clearly tell which manuscript came first. Obviously, it was the Aramaic.
Here's another interesting example --
Matthew 7:6: "Don't give to dogs what is holy, and don't throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you" (JNT).
This is another verse that doesn't make much sense -- why would you say, "Don't give to dogs what is holy"? Why would you be equating giving holy things to the dogs and throwing your pearls to the pigs? Here again we find that it is an Aramaic type of idiomatic phraseology, and also a double mistranslation. The word "give" in the Aramaic is "telon," and the word "hang" is "tiflon" -- almost the exact same word. And the word for "holy" in Aramaic is "kushda" (like "kodesh" in the Hebrew) but the word for earring is "kudesha" -- very similar without the vowel pointing. Without the mistranslations, this verse should read as follows:
"Don't hang earrings on dogs, and don't throw your pearls to the pigs..."
So the Messiah is equating hanging earrings on a dogs and throwing pearls to the pigs. In the idiomatic Aramaic he is equating something valuable in both cases. An earring and a pearl are valuable. Bringing either to dogs or to the pigs makes much more sense than giving that which is holy to dogs, and shows that mistranslations took place when the translator went from the Aramaic to the Greek. This is further proof of an Aramaic primary source.
Let's take a look at several examples where in the Aramaic a word can mean two different things and in the Greek it was translated in different ways depending on the translator. So what does this tell you -- which had to have come first? Notice 1 Corinthians 13:3:
Jewish New Testament: "I may give away everything that I own, I may even hand over my body to be burned; but if I lack love, I gain nothing."
King James Bible: "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
Douay-Rheims Bible: "And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
Darby Bible Translation: "And if I shall dole out all my goods in food, and if I deliver up my body that I may be burned, but have not love, I profit nothing."
Now look at these translations --
New International Version: "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
Berean Literal Bible: "And if I may give away all my possessions, and I may deliver up my body that I may boast, but have not love, I am profited nothing."
New Heart English Bible: "If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."
New Living Translation: "If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing."
As we can see, some versions have "burned" and some versions have "boast." But in the Aramaic the word can mean either "burn" or "boast." What this is clearly showing is that the Aramaic had to be the primary source, and when the Greek translators came to this word some translated it as "burned" and some translated it as "boast".
The same thing occurred in 1 Peter 3:13 -- notice!
Berean Study Bible: "Who will harm you if you are zealous for what is good?"
New American Standard Bible: "Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?"
Douay-Rheims Bible: "And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good?"
Now take a look at these versions --
Darby Bible Translation: "And who shall injure you if ye have become imitators of that which [is] good?"
World English Bible: "Now who is he who will harm you, if you become imitators of that which is good?"
Young's Literal Translation: "...and who is he who will be doing you evil, if of Him who is good ye may become imitators?"
Is it "zealous" or is it "imitators"? It could be either. The word in the Aramaic could be either "zealous" or "imitators." So once again, some Greek translators rendered the word one way while other translators rendered it another way. This clearly shows which manuscript was the primary source because if the word meant just "zealous", then why would other Greek translations have "imitators"? Therefore, the primary source, once again, would have to have been the Aramaic!
While there are many, many more such examples, these we have just covered argue convincingly for an Aramaic original of the Greek New Testament.
Greek Unpopular in Palestine
The Middle East, through all of its political turmoil, has in fact been dominated by a single master from the earliest ages until the present day. The Semitic tongue has been that single master. Aramaic dominated the three great Empires, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian. It endured until the seventh century, when under the Islamic nation it was displaced by a cognate Semitic language, Arabic. Even today some few Syrians, Assyrians and Chaldeans speak Aramaic as their native tongue, including three villages north of Damascus. Hebrew, a Semitic tongue closely related to Aramaic, served as the language of the Israelites until the great dispersion when a cognate language, Aramaic, began to replace it. Hebrew, however continued to be used for religious literature, and a modern version of it is today the spoken language in the State of Israel.
Some scholars have proposed that the Judahites lost their Hebrew language, replacing it with Aramaic during the Babylonian captivity. The error of this position becomes obvious. The Israelite people had spent 400 years in captivity in Egypt yet they did not stop speaking Hebrew and begin speaking Egyptian. Why, then, should they exchange Hebrew for Aramaic after only seventy years in Babylonian captivity? Upon return from the Babylonian captivity it was realized that a small minority could not speak "the language of Judah" so drastic measures were taken to abolish these marriages and maintain the purity of the Judahite people and language. One final evidence rests in the fact that the post-captivity books (Zechariah, Hagggai, Malachi, Nehehemiah, Ezra, and Ester) are written in Hebrew rather than Aramaic.
Many linguists and historians now attest that the Evangels, the Acts, and the Book of Revelation were composed in Aramaic (see listing of these scholars included herein). Early "church fathers" validate that the Book of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic (see Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 3:39; Irenaeus' Against Heresies 3:1; Epiphanius' Panarion 20:9:4; Jerome's Lives of Illustrious Men 3 and De Vir. 3:36).
Aramaic was the language of Judah and Galilee in the first century. Its sister language, Hebrew, remained the liturgical tongue and the language of the Temple. Judahites in this area were not Greek-speaking. Their revulsion to the Greeks and the Greek language derives from the fact that the Maccabees had just defeated the Greeks and driven them and their pagan defilement from the Temple and Palestine.
The first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-c.100 C.E.) testifies to the fact that Aramaic was the language of first century Judahites, and admitted that he could not speak Greek fluently and that the Judahites frowned on any Judahite who did. Moreover, he testifies that Aramaic, and not Greek, was the language of his place and time. Josephus gives us the only first hand account of the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. According to Josephus, the Romans had to have him translate the call to the Judahites to surrender into "their own language". Josephus gives us a point-blank statement regarding the language of his people during his time:
"I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations."
Thus, Josephus makes it clear that first century Judahites could not even speak or understand Greek, but spoke "their own language." If this illustrious scholar was unable to speak Greek sufficiently, how could the uneducated disciples write their books in Greek? From what we've learned, why would they even want to do so?
A Hebrew Writing to Hebrews
The common perception is that Paul was a Hellenist Judahite from Tarsus who wrote his letters to Greek-speaking assemblies in Asia minor, Rome and Greece.
Notes Daniel McConaughy:
"The Jewish [Israelite] element in the early Church all over the world was massive. Our knowledge of the early Church after Acts indicated that it, too, was very Jewish [Israelitish] in outlook, even in Rome. Hellenization was a very thin, urban veneer, serving only the upper classes in the government, military, financial and academic circles. Hellenism was not all-pervasive. When necessary, Paul may have spoken Greek from a knowledge of the language he had picked up after his conversion. But he certainly would not have written the New Testament documents which he and the other apostles considered so vital and important in a language with which he was not totally fluent and comfortable" ("The Aramaic Origin of the New Testament." The Way Magazine, May-June 1985, p. 18).
McConaughy goes on to say --
"We can clearly see concerning the Apostle Paul's life (about which we know the most) that he would have written in Aramaic. (The only record in the whole Word of God that mentions the language in which a revelation was given is Acts, which clearly states that Paul received revelation in Aramaic. See Acts 26:14). Yet, the majority of scholars do not even consider the thought of an Aramaic original for the Pauline epistles because of their relative lack of Semitism, compared to the Gospels. Somehow they do not see that Paul's arguments more often followed Jewish [Israelite] rather than Greek style. (Olmstead, p. 46) Though the Book of Hebrews is an example of the finest style of Greek in the New Testament, most scholars do not recognize its Hebraic thought, and none take Clement of Alexandria's testimony seriously (ibid.).
Paul (Heb. "Shaul") was first and foremost a Pharisee -- a Judahite sect opposed to Hellenization. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and a "Hebrew of Hebrews," Philippians 3:5. A note in the NIV Study Bible says the expression "Hebrew of Hebrews" means "in language, attitudes and life-style."
Paul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, a great doctor of Hebrew law, Acts 22:3. Although he was born in Tarsus (a city speaking mainly Aramaic), Paul grew up in Jerusalem, the center of Pharisaic Judaism, Acts 22:3.
The epistles Paul wrote were to various assemblies of the Israelite Dispersion. While each assembly was no doubt conversant in the language of the country they were living in, they also retained a knowledge of Aramaic which was the lingua franca of the Middle East at that time. There was, therefore, no reason for the apostle to write his epistles in any other language aside from the Aramaic. Typically Paul went first to the synagogue when he traveled to contact these and other assemblies (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1; 17:10, 18:4, 19:8). The language of the second Temple and synagogues at this time was Hebrew and Aramaic -- not Greek.
His letters in Aramaic to these Israelites of the various assemblies would reflect his mission to take the Good News to "the Jew [Judahite] first and then to the Greek [Israelites of the Dispersion]," Romans 1:16.
As an example, Paul specifically addressed Israelites of the Corinthian assembly: "Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Corinthian 10:1-2).
Truth from Greek or Aramaic?
Understanding basic truth is to know that YEHOVAH God chose the Hebrew peoples with whom to make a Covenant and to whom to bring the truth and the offer of salvation.
Would the True Worshiper who bathed in Scriptures first delivered to Hebrew patriarchs, Hebrew prophets, Hebrew apostles and lived by a Savior from the human lineage of King David read of the events leading up to the death of the Messiah and beyond in a foreign language such as Greek? Paul was no champion of the non-Israelite cause. He was the champion of a Hebrew Messiah and scriptures given in a Hebrew Old Testament. These were what he taught in his epistles. Note:
"But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets" (Acts 24:14).
"Law and prophets" refers to the Old Testament Scriptures.
Which culture, world-view, and mentality should prevail among True Worshipers today? A Greek-gentile heritage? Or the birthright of the promised of Israel established by the Heavenly Father YEHOVAH Himself?
Paul wrote to the assembly at Rome, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises" (Romans 9:4).
If Christianity were honest with itself, it would openly acknowledge that it derives its faith from Hebrew and not Greco-Roman Scriptures. That its salvation comes from a Savior who came as a Hebrew not to establish a new religion but to build on what went before. Yeshua the Messiah and the Scriptures are Hebrew.
If this one pivotal truth were taught today, real understanding of the Scriptures would break out everywhere, and the Bible would at last be revealed.
Scholars Who Support an Aramaic Original New Testament
Following is a listing of some linguistic and Biblical authorities who maintain or support a belief in an Aramaic origin of the New Testament:
● Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, third edition, entirety.
● D. Bivin and R. B. Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, entirety.
● E. W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible, Appendix 95.
● Dr. F. C. Burkitt, The Earliest Sources for the Life of Jesus, pp. 25, 29.
● Prof. C. F. Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel, entirety.
● H. J. Cadbury, "The Hellenists," The Acts of the Apostles: Additional Notes to the Commentary, vol. 5 of The Beginners of Christianity. Part 1, ed. by Kirsopp Lake and Henry J. Cadbury (reprint; Grand Rapids: 1979), p. 62.
● Epiphanius, Panarion 29:9:4 on Matthew.
● Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III 24:6 and 39:18; V8:2; VI 25:4.
● Edward Gibbon, History of Christianity, two footnotes on p. 185.
● Dr. Frederick C. Grant, Roman Hellenism and the New Testament, p. 14.
● Dr. George Howard, "The Tetragram and the New Testament" in Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 96/1 (1977), 63-83. Also, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, entirety.
● Dr. George Lamsa, The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts, Introduction, pp. IX- XII.
● Dr. Alfred F. Loisy, The Birth of the Christian Religion and The Origin of the New Testament, pp. 66, 68.
● Karen Masterson, "An Aramaic Approach to the Church Episles," The Way Magazine (March/April 1984), pp. 17-20.
● Dr. Isaac Rabinowitz, "Ephphata"...in Journal of Semitic Studies vol. XVI (1971), pp. 151-156.
● Ernest Renan, The Life of Jesus, pp. 90, 92.
● Hugh J. Schonfield, An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's Gospel, (1927) p. 7.
● Dr. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, p. 275.
● R. B. Y. Scott, The Original Language of the Apocalypse, entirety.
● Prof. Charles C. Torrey, Documents of the Primitive Church, entirety. Also, Our Translated Gospels, entirety.
● Dr. James Scott Trimm, The Semitic Origin of the New Testament, entirety.
● Max Wiolcox, The Semitism of Acts (1965), entirety.
● F. Zimmerman, The Aramaic Origin of the Four Gospels, entirety
Writes Dr. J. S. Trimm, "Some scholars have also suggested that under the Hellene Empire the Judahites lost their Semitic language and in their rush to hellenize, began speaking Greek. The books of the Maccabees do record an attempt by Antiochus Epiphanes to forcibly Hellenize the Judahite people. In response, the Judahites formed an army led by Judas Maccabee. This army defeated the Greeks and eradicated Hellenism. This military victory is still celebrated today as Chanukkah, the feast of the dedication of the Temple a holiday that even Yeshua seems to have observed at the Temple at Jerusalem in the first century. Those who claim that the Judahites were Hellenized and began speaking Greek at this time seem to deny the historical fact of the Maccabean success. During the first century, Aramaic remained the language of the Judahites living in Judah and to a lesser extent in Benjamite Galilee" (Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament, p. 2).
Continuing, Dr. Trimm says:
"Aramaic remained a secondary language and the language of commerce. Judahites at this time did not speak Greek, in fact one tradition had it that it was better to feed ones children swine than to teach them the Greek language. It was only with the permission of authorities that a young official could learn Greek, and then, solely for the purpose of political discourse on the National level. The Greek language was completely inaccessible and undesirable to the vast majority of Judahites in Israel in the 1st century. Any gauge of Greek language outside of Israel cannot, nor can any evidence hundreds of years removed from the 1st century, alter the fact that the Judahites of Israel in the 1st century did not know Greek" (ibid.).
Dr. Trimm also notes that "confirmation of Josephus's claims has been found by Archaeologists. The Bar Kokhba coins are one example. These coins were struck by Jews during the Bar Kokhba revolt (c. 132 C.E.). All of these coins bear only [Paleo-] Hebrew inscriptions. Countless other inscriptions found at excavations of the Temple Mount, Masada and various Judahite tombs, have revealed first century Hebrew inscriptions. Even more profound evidence that Hebrew was a living language during the first century may be found in ancient documents from about that time, which have been discovered in Israel.
"These include the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Bar Kokhba Letters. The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of over 40,000 fragments of more than 500 scrolls dating from 250 B.C.E . to 70 C.E.. These Scrolls are primarily in Hebrew and Aramaic. A large number of the 'secular scrolls' (those which are not Bible manuscripts) are in Hebrew. The Bar Kokhba Letters are letters between Simon Bar Kokhba and his army, written during the Judahite revolt of 132 C.E.. These letters were discovered by Yigdale Yadin in 1961 and are almost all written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Two of the letters are written in Greek, both were written by men with Greek names TO Bar Kokhba. One of the two Greek letters actually apologizes for writing to Bar Kokhba in Greek, saying 'the letter is written in Greek, as we have no one who knows Hebrew here.' The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kokhba Letters not only include first and second century Hebrew documents, but give an even more significant evidence in the dialect of that Hebrew. The dialect of these documents was not the Biblical Hebrew of the Tenach (Old Testament), nor was it the Mishnaic Hebrew of the Mishna (c. 220 C.E.).
"The Hebrew of these documents is colloquial, it is a fluid living language in a state of flux somewhere in the evolutionary process from Biblical to Mishnaic Hebrew. Moreover, the Hebrew of the Bar Kokhba Letters represents Galilean Hebrew (Bar Kokhba was a Galilean), while the Dead Sea Scrolls give us an example of Judean Hebrew. Comparing the documents shows a living distinction of geographic dialect as well, a sure sign that Hebrew was not a dead language. Final evidence that first century Judahites conversed in Hebrew and Aramaic can be found in other documents of the period, and even later. These include:
"(a) The Roll Concerning Fasts in Aramaic (66-70 C.E.).
"(b) The Letter of Gamaliel in Aramaic (c. 30 - 110 C.E.).
"(c) Wars of the Jews by Josephus in Hebrew (c. 75 C.E.).
"(d) The Mishna in Hebrew (c. 220 C.E.)
"(e) The Gemara in Aramaic (c. 500 C.E.)."
(Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament, pp. 3-4).
Scholars on the Language of the New Testament
Having thus demonstrated that Hebrew and Aramaic were languages of Judahites living in Israel in the first century, we shall now go on to demonstrate that the New Testament was first written in these languages. A number of noted scholars have argued that at least portions of the New Testament were originally penned in a Semitic tongue. This argument has been asserted of the four Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. The following is just some of what these scholars have written on the topic:
(1) "When we turn to the New Testament we find that there are reasons for suspecting a Hebrew or Aramaic original for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, John and for the apocalypse" (Hugh J. Schonfield; An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's Gospel; 1927; p. vii).
(2) "The material of our Four Gospels is all Palestinian, and the language in which it was originally written is Aramaic, then the principle language of the land..." (C. C. Torrey; Our Translated Gospels; 1936 p. ix).
(3) "The pioneer in this study of Aramaic and Greek relationships was Charles Cutler Torrey (1863-1956),...His work however fell short of completeness; as a pioneering effort, in the nature of the case, some of his work has to be revised and supplemented. His main contention of translation, however, is undeniably correct....
"The translation into Greek from Aramaic must have been made from a written record, including the Fourth Gospel. The language was Eastern Aramaic, as the material itself revealed, most strikingly through a comparison of parallel passages....One group [of scholars], which originated in the nineteenth century and persists to the present day , contends that the Gospels were written in Greek...
"Another group of scholars, among them C. C. Torrey...comes out flatly with the proposition that the Four Gospels...including Acts up to 15:35 are translated directly from Aramaic and from a written Aramaic text....
"My own researches have led me to consider Torrey's position valid and convincing that the Gospels as a whole were translated from Aramaic into Greek" (Frank Zimmerman; The Aramaic Origin of the Four Gospels; KTAV; 1979).
(4) "Thus it was that the writer turned seriously to tackle the question of the original language of the Fourth Gospel; and quickly convincing himself that the theory of an original Aramaic document was no chimera, but a fact which was capable of the fullest verification..." (Charles Fox Burney; The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel; 1922; p. 3).
(5) "...this [Old Syriac] Gospel of St. Matthew appears at least to be built upon the original Aramaic text which was the work of the Apostle himself" (William Cureton; Remains of a Very Ancient Recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac; 1858; p. vi).
(6) "...the Book of Revelation was written in a Semitic language, and that the Greek translation... is a remarkably close rendering of the original" (C. C. Torrey; Documents of the Primitive Church 1941; p. 160).
(7) "We come to the conclusion, therefore that the Apocalypse as a whole is a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic..." (RBY Scott; The Original Language of the Apocalypse 1928; p. 6).
(8) "God's Word itself does not explicitly identify the language in which the New Testament was written, but it does provide information that indicates what the original language was. This information can be further augmented by historical facts known about Israel and its culture during the Testament era, as well as by the earliest non-Biblical writings about the early Church. Both the Biblical evidence, which is primary, and the church historical evidence strongly indicate that the original language of the New Testament was Aramaic" (Daniel L. McConaughy; The Aramaic Origin of the New Testament; 1985; p. 17).
The question of the Luke/Acts tradition holds particular interest to us. This is because the common wisdom has been to portray Luke as a Greek speaking, Greek writing Gentile who wrote his account to the Gentiles. The reality of the matter is (whether Luke himself knew Greek or not) that Luke was most certainly written in a Semitic language. as Charles Cutler Torrey states:
"In regard to Lk. it remains to be said, that of all the Four Gospels it is the one which gives by far the plainest and most constant evidence of being a translation" (C.C. Torrey; Our Translated Gospels p. lix).
The Testimony of the "Church Fathers"
All of the "Church Fathers", both East and West, testified to the Semitic origin of at least the Book of Matthew, as the following quotes demonstrate:
(1) Papias (150-170 C.E.): "Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able."
(2) Ireneus (170 C.E.): "Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect."
(3) Origen (c. 210 C.E.): "The first [Gospel] is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, who having published it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew."
(4) Eusebius (c. 315 C.E.): "Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to the other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings. Pantaenus...penetrated as far as India, where it is reported that he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had been delivered before his arrival to some who had the knowledge of Messiah, to whom Bartholomew, one of the emissaries, as it is said, had proclaimed, and left them the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters."
(5) Epiphanius (370 C.E.): "They [the Nazarenes] have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters."
(6) Jerome (382 C.E.): "Matthew, who is also Levi, and from a tax collector came to be an emissary first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Messiah in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist...makes use of the testimonies of the Old Scripture, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators [the Greek Septuagint], but that of the Hebrew.
"Pantaenus found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve emissaries, had there [India] preached the advent of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah according to the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Hebrew letters, and which, on returning to Alexandria, he brought with him."
(7) Isho'dad (850 C.E.): "His [Matthew's] book was in existence in Caesarea of Palestine, and everyone acknowledges that he wrote it with his hands in Hebrew..."
Other "church fathers" have testified to the Semitic origin of at least one of Paul's epistles. These "church fathers" claim that Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews was translated into Greek from a Hebrew original, as the following quotes demonstrate:
(a) Clement of Alexandria (150-212 C.E.): "In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up the matter briefly he [Clement of Alexandria] has given us abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures,...the Epistle to the Hebrews he asserts was written by Paul, to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks."
(b) Eusebius (315 C.E.): "For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews in the language of his country; some say that the evangelist Luke, others that Clement, translated the epistle."
(c) Jerome (382): "He (Paul) being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew, that is, his own tongue and most fluently while things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek."
It should be noted that these church fathers did not always agree that the other books of the New Testament were written in Hebrew. Epiphanius for example, believed "that only Matthew put the setting forth of the preaching of the Gospel into the New Testament in the Hebrew language and letters." Epiphanius does, however, tell us that the Judahite believers would disagree with him, and point out the existence of Hebrew copies of John and Acts in a "Gaza" or "treasury" [Genizah?] in Tiberias, Israel. Epiphanius believed these versions to be mere "translations" but admitted that the Judahite believers would disagree with him. The truth in this matter is clear, if Greek had replaced Hebrew as the language of Judahites as early as the first century, then why would fourth century Judahites have any need for Hebrew translations. The very existence of Hebrew manuscripts of these books in fourth century Israel testifies to their originality, not to mention the fact that the Judahite believers regarded them as authentic.
The Testimony of the Talmudic Rabbis
In addition to the statements made by the early Christian church fathers, the ancient Judahite Rabbis also hint of a Hebrew original for the Gospels. Both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds and the Tosefta relate a debate among Rabbinic Judahites over the method of destruction of manuscripts of New Testament books. Specifically mentioned is a book called by them as HEBREW FONT OMITTED (or "Gospels"). The question which arose was how to handle the destruction of these manuscripts since they contained the actual name of YEHOVAH God. It is of course, well known that the Greek New Testament manuscripts do not contain the Name but use the Greek titles "God" and "Lord" as substitutes. This is because the Name is not traditionally translated into other languages, but instead is (unfortunately) translated "LORD", just as we have it in most English Bibles today, and just as we find in our late manuscripts of the Septuagint. The manuscripts these Rabbi's were discussing must have represented the original Hebrew text from which the Greek was translated.
History of the Movement
That the New Testament, like the Old Testament, was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic is further verified by the history of the early believers in Yeshua as the Messiah. The first believers in Yeshua were a Jewish sect known as "Nazarenes". Sometime later the first Gentile believers in Yeshua called "Christians" appeared. This first congregation of Gentile Christians formed in Antioch, the capital of Syria, where some of the people spoke Greek and almost all spoke Aramaic, which is also called "Syriac". Then in 70 C.E., there was a mass exodus of the Nazarenes from their center at Jerusalem to Pella. Eventually, they established communities in Beroea, Decapolis and Bashanitis. These Nazarenes used Hebrew Scriptures and in the fourth century Jerome traveled to Borea to copy their Hebrew Matthew. As a result, while at least the book of Matthew was first written in Hebrew, very early on Aramaic and Greek New Testament books were needed.
The Eastward Spread
In addition to these factors we must also consider the Eastern spread of Christianity. We have heard much about the so called "Westward spread of Christianity" but little is written of the equally profound Eastward movement. While Paul made missionary journeys from his headquarters in Antioch Syria, into the Western world, most of the emissaries (apostles) traveled eastward. Bartholomew traveled eastward through Assyria into Armenia, then back down through Assyria, Babylon, Parthia (Persia) and down into India where he was flayed alive with knives. Thaddeus taught in Edessa (a city of northern Syria) Assyria and Persia, dying a martyr by arrows either in Persia or at Ararat. Thomas taught in Parthia, Persia and India. He was martyred with a spear at Mt. St. Thomas near Madras in India. To this very day a group of Christians in India are called "St. Thomas Christians. Finally Kefa (Peter) traveled to Babylon and even wrote one of his letters from there. That the emissaries brought Semitic New Testament Scriptures eastward with them is affirmed to us by the Church fathers. Eusebius writes:
"Pantaenus...penetrated as far as India, where it is reported that he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had been delivered before his arrival to some who had the knowledge of Messiah, to whom Bartholomew one of the emissaries, as it is said, had preached, and left them the writing of Matthew in Hebrew letters."
And as Jerome writes:
"Pantaenus found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve emissaries, had there [in India] preached the advent of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah according to the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Hebrew letters..."
This entire region of the Near East stretching from Israel through Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia (Parthia) and down into India, became known as the "Church of the East." At its high point the Church of the East stretched as far east as China! Today, the Syrian and Assyrian Christians have been split into various groups: Nestorians, Jacobites, Chaldean Roman Catholics, and Maronites. All of whom continue to use an Aramaic New Testament text.
When the Roman Catholic Portuguese invaded India in 1498 they encountered over a hundred churches belonging to the St. Thomas Christians along the coast of Malabar. These St. Thomas Christians, according to tradition, had been there since the first century. They had married clergymen, did not adore images or pray to or through saints, nor did they believe in purgatory. Most importantly they maintained use of the Aramaic New Testament which they claimed had been in use at Antioch.
The Westward Spread
Now while many of the emissaries were spreading the Messianic movement eastward, Paul was taking the movement into the Western world -- even to the islands of Britain. From his headquarters at Antioch, the capitol of Syria, Paul conducted several missionary journeys into Europe. At this time there came a need for Greek versions of New Testament books. As time progressed several events occurred which resulted in a great rise of anti-Semitism in the West. This began when the Judahites revolted against the Roman Empire in 70 C.E. A second revolt by Judahites in Egypt occured in 116 C.E. Things were further complicated by the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 C.E. In the Roman Empire anti-Semitism became very popular, and even patriotic. In the West, Gentile Christianity sought to distance itself from Judaism and Judahite customs. The Greek text began to be favored over the Semitic text and many Semitic writings were subsequently destroyed.
Writes Daniel McConaughy: "What happened to the Jewish Aramaic manuscripts? The adversary [Satan], in attempting to obscure the Word of God, did his best to destroy all manuscripts, especially those that most closely represented and resembled the Jewish [Israelite] Aramaic originals. C. C. Torrey wrote that Palestinian Aramaic came into disuse as the Christians were assimilated into the Greek, Latin and Syriac cultures after the decimation of Jerusalem and the ensuing very severe persecution by the Pharisees" (The Aramaic Origin of the New Testament, p.19).
"By the end of the first century," continues McConaughy, "the original Aramaic documents of the nascent Church had practically disappeared. A large proportion doubtless, had perished in the catastrophe of the year 70. Those which remained were condemned to be destroyed on sight in every orthodox Jewish community, by virtue of the year 80 under Gamaliel II. The Greek-speaking Jewish Christians would have no conflict with their Gentile brethren on the important matter of the scriptural authority, but of course adopted the Greek translations and did do away with the Semitic texts. It is easy to see why the latter, banned by both church and synagogue, vanished soon and completely. From this time on, the language of the New Revelation to Israel, which had been Aramaic, was Greek" (ibid.).
By 325 C.E. anti-Semitism and the priority given in the West to the Greek Scriptures had solidified. Constantine invaded Rome, making himself emperor. Constantine proclaimed Christianity to be the Catholic (universal) religion, thus making Christianity the enforced state religion of the Roman Empire. Before this occurred one could be killed for being a Christian, afterwards one could be killed for not being a "Christian." Constantine, who was an anti-Semite, called the council of Nicea in 325 C.E. to standardize Christianity. Judahites were excluded from the meeting. Judahite practices were officially banned and the Greek translations officially replaced the original Semitic Scriptures.
Having alienated the Judahite Nazarenes in 325 at the Council of Nicea, subsequent councils alienated the Assyrians and Syrians over Christological debates. The Nestorian Assyrians were alienated in 431 C.E. at the Council of Ephesus while the Jacobite Syrians were alienated in 451 C.E. at the Council of Chalcedon. The division between the Semitic peoples of the Near East, and the Roman Catholic Church grew ever steeper. With the rise of Islam in the Near East the Near Eastern Christians were even further separated from their European counterparts in the West. Relations between the Christian West and the Islamic Near East were non-existent.
As time progressed, in the West the Roman Catholic Church began to suppress the Scriptures in Europe. Those who would try to make the Scriptures available to the common man were often burned alive. Such suppression was impossible in the Near East, where the Scriptures were already in Aramaic, the common language of the people. When the Protestant reformation emerged, claiming the Greek New Testament as the original, it was a time when most Europeans were not even aware that an Aramaic version existed.
In was in this atmosphere, in 1516 that the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament was published in Europe. This edition, published by Erasmus, would become known as the Textus Receptus, and serve as the standard Greek text until the 19th Century. The first edition of this work was based solely on six manuscripts, while later editions used only ten. None of these manuscripts were complete, and only one was even particularly old, dating to the tenth century. Since none of his manuscripts were complete, Erasmus was forced to invent many of his Greek portions of Revelation by translating from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. It was this poor edition which served as the evidence by which the West would embrace the Greek as the original. This edition would later serve as the basis for the King James Version.
So why have so many New Testament scholars of the last few centuries clung to the idea that the New Testament books were originally written in Greek? Daniel McConaughy gives us the answer:
"First, being traditionally oriented to Greek, they are generally ignorant of Semitic languages and culture. They favor Greek because Greek was the language of the early Western Hellenistic church. Consequently, the mass of Western manuscripts is Greek, or Latin translated from Greek. Furthermore, the early leadership in the church was centered in the great Hellenistic urban centers of the Roman world. Those urban centers were virtually the sole location for governmental, financial, and academic leadership. Therefore, they became the centers of ecclesiastical leadership as well.
"These urban centers used the language of the dominating governmental, financial, and academic world -- Greek and Latin. From this it follows that almost all the literature produced in this period would be Greek or Latin. Subsequently there was an ecclesiastical and Hellenistic sifting process which naturally toiiok place, thereby removing all traces of any literature other than that which the dominating Hellenistic ecclesiastical body wanted preserved.
"This was due to two factors: (1) purposeful censoring or alteration and (in case of Aramaic) (2) disuse, as a result, most scholars have been bound by unproven and unsubstantiated Western tradition maintaining that the New Testament was originally written in Greek" (The Aramaic Origin of the New Testament, p. 2).
As for today, it boils down to peer pressure and scholastic ego!
"The New Testament status quo in seminaries, universities, and denominations holds that the original documents were written in Greek. If this status were shaken, it would upset the vested interest in these institutions. On the other hand, many other equally qualified scholars in the Semitic languages an the Old Testament, without vested interests in Greek, find the hypothesis of an Aramaic original very plausible. They understand the Eastern culture and language and see this reflected in the Greek New Testament writings. These scholars have approached the problem from a primary philological point of view" (ibid.).
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