Was the New Testament Originally Written in Greek?
In an effort to deny the importance of YEHOVAH’s great Name, there are those who mistakenly contend that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. They assume that because the sources from which our New Testament is translated are Greek, that the names YHVH and Yeshua (as revealed in the Hebrew) are missing in the New Testament and therefore unnecessary. Is this true? Here are some facts revealing why the Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament are not extant -- though clearly evident -- and why worship today has strayed from the “faith once delivered.”
by HOIM Staff
Those who maintain that the original New Testament text was in Greek believe they have the right to call YHVH (the Tetragrammaton) by the titles “LORD” (from Old English meaning keeper of the loaf) or the noun “God” (Old English, from Anglo-Saxon/German) -- or perhaps call Him “Eternal,” as does James Moffatt in his translation.Yet, the Name YHVH is the only Name YHVH Himself has given us by which He wishes to be remembered:
“And YHVH said moreover unto Moses, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, YHVH, The Almighty One of your fathers, The Almighty One of Abraham, The Almighty One of Isaac, and The Almighty One of Jacob, has sent me unto you: this [is] my name for ever, and this [is] my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:15).
Interestingly, Moffatt apologizes for substituting “The Eternal” for YHVH’s Name in his translation. Note his candor:
“Strictly speaking, this ought to be rendered ‘YHWH,’ which is familiar to modern readers in the erroneous form of ‘Jehovah.’ [The correct form incorporates the Tetragrammaton YHVH -- and is correctly rendered YEHOVAH when the vowels are added -- Ed.] Were this version intended for students of the original, there would be no hesitation whatever in printing ‘YHWH.’ But almost at the last moment I have decided with some reluctance to follow the practice of the French scholars and of Matthew Arnold (though not exactly for his reasons), who translate this name by ‘the Eternal,’ except in an enigmatic title like ‘the Lord of hosts.’ There is a distinct loss in this, I fully admit, to drop the racial, archaic term is to miss something of what it meant for the Hebrew nation…”
Moffatt implies that those who insist on substituting the Tetragrammaton with “the Eternal” are not really interested in being deep students of the Bible, but are content to accept human substitute titles instead of calling on the very Name YHVH has Himself selected as His memorial Name to be remembered by all generations.
Moffatt agrees that students of the true or original texts know and call Him by His correct Name YHVH. Those referring to YHVH as the “Eternal” grudgingly concede that the titles “God” or “the LORD” are incorrect. Humble reverence directs His people to call Him by the Name He chose for Himself…YHVH -- YEHOVAH!
The all-powerful Creator tells His creation what we must call Him. We cannot decide what is appropriate to call Him. We as His creation can no more name our Creator than children can name their parents!
YHVH’s Name is the same the world over. He revealed it to those who understood and spoke Hebrew. Names are transliterated into other languages. That is, the sound is brought over into another language, using its alphabet to produce the same sound.
Devout Hebrews Writing Greek?
Every book written in the New Testament was written by Israelites whose native language was Hebrew or Aramaic (with the possible exception of Luke). This raises the question, were any of the 27 New Testament books first penned in Greek? Some critics try to tell us that in spite of the preponderance of Israelite authors, the entirety of the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language!
A number of competent scholars, however, contend that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew (or Aramaic, a sister language), basing their assertion on valid grounds:
“The writers were Hebrews; and thus, while the language is Greek, the thoughts and idioms are Hebrew…If the Greek of the New Testament be regarded as an inspired translation from Hebrew or Aramaic originals, most of the various readings would be accounted for and understood” (Dr. E. W. Bullinger, Companion Bible app. 94).
“…we must not forget that Christianity grew out of Judaism…The Pauline epistles were letters written by Paul to small [Messianic] congregations in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. These early [believers] were mostly Jews of the dispersion, men and women of Hebrew origin…The Epistles were translated into Greek for the use of converts who spoke Greek” (Holy Bible from the Peshitta, George Lamsa, p. xi).
We read that Peter and John were untaught, unschooled, illiterate, ordinary men. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with [Yeshua]" (Acts 4:13).
Impetuous Peter was, along with James and John, a fisherman. Peter and the others who became fishers of men hardly would be expected to write their epistles in a second language, but would logically write in Hebrew, their native tongue. Greek might be more prevalent in cosmopolitan trading and business centers such as Caesarea than in Galilee, but it was neither the language of the Apostles nor of the Temple.
Greek is a very precise language, while Hebrew is picturesque and poetic, using similes, metaphors, and allegories. (The Hebrew Bible contains only 8,198 different words -- by contrast the English language includes more than 550,000 words). Renowned Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote that although he far exceeded those of his own nation in Jewish learning, he could not pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness, and that “our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations…”
Furthermore Josephus reveals, “The Greeks called old nations by names of their own," Antiq. I, v, "and put the Hebrew names into their own form," c. vi. This explains why some Hebrew names end up in English texts in a Grecianized form.
Because the Greek language adds suffixes in its declension of nouns, such as ending with s in the nominative, masculine singular, vestiges of Greek influence appear in our King James Bible not only in the Latinized name of the Savior “Jesus,” but many other Hebrew names ending in the Greek s, such as: Judah = Judas, Isaiah = Esaias, Eliyah = Eliseus, Uriah = Urias, Hezekiah = Ezekias, Jechoniah = Jechonias.
Pagan Customs and the Greek Language
Some contend that since Greek is a very exact language, this is the prime reason that YEHOVAH has preserved both the Old and New Testaments in the Greek. At the time of the Messiah, Koine Greek language was the international language. The Hebrew Old Testament had already been translated into Greek, known as the “Septuagint,” from the Latin Septuaginta meaning “70” and often represented by the Roman numerals LXX. It is said that 72 Jewish translators sent from Jerusalem produced the version for Ptolemy II for his library in Alexandria, Egypt, in the third century BCE. Does this make sense? While the Hebrew scriptures were certainly translated into Greek and became known as the Septuagint or LXX, the Hebrew scriptures have come down to us primarily in the Masoretic Text. What about the New Testament, or what is known as the Greek scriptures? Let us examine the history of Greek influence upon the Middle East and our civilization today.
The importance and influence of the Greek language and culture has its roots with Alexander the son of Philip of Macedonia. Time-Life’s book Empires Ascendant on page 31 states:
“Few men changed the world so profoundly. In his brief reign -- scarcely 13 years -- Alexander conquered more territory than any other warrior before or since. In his epic march across Asia, he pulled a vast tide of humanity in his wake, not only soldiers but a massive influx of traders, administrators, and ordinary settlers. He vastly broadened the ancient world’s horizons, mixing races and cultures, carrying civilization into a new more cosmopolitan age.”
After Alexander’s death at Babylon, his kingdom was divided among four generals. This is alluded to in Daniel 8:5-7, 21-22. Verse 8 refers to Alexander’s untimely death as the he-goat’s horn, which is broken, and his kingdom divided into four. Greek culture and influence (known as Hellenism) continued among these sprawling kingdoms. To emphasize this concept, we quote the following:
“Most cities welcomed Hellenism, however, because of it, educated men throughout the ancient world, spoke one language -- a common Greek known as Koine. Business was conducted in Koine, laws were passed in it, and books written in it, including all the New Testament and much of the Old Testament…The mystery religions of Thrace and Asia Minor had long been popular among Greeks. Now the Persian god Mithra, with his firm insistence on unswerving duty, gained favor among army officials. His cult which employed secret rites of baptism and rebirth long before Christianity began, would eventually be carried through the Roman soldiers. Another pervasive faith was the Egyptian belief in Isis and Horus, holy mother and tender babe, and in the father Osiris, resurrected from the dead. It, too, was to spread throughout the Mediterranean world. The Hellenistic kingdoms survived for well over a century, tied together by common bonds of language, culture, and trade” (ibid.).
If Greek culture was so infused with pagan religious concepts -- WHY would YEHOVAH God use the Greek language to preserve the Old Testament and the New Testament in particular? WHERE are we told that the New Testament was to be preserved in the Greek? Answer -- NOWHERE! The only reference found in the scriptures that have come down to us is in Romans 3:1-2, notice!
"What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? MUCH in every way! CHIEFLY BECAUSE TO THEM [THE JEWS] WERE COMMITTED THE ORACLES OF GOD!"
And what, exactly, are "the oracles of God"? We find the answer in Acts 7:38-39:
"This is he [Moses] who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one [Moses] who received THE LIVING ORACLES to give to us, whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected."
"The earliest Christians," writes Bart D. Ehrman, "were followers of Jesus who accepted the books of the Jewish Bible as their own scripture. For the writers of the New Testament, including our earliest author, Paul, the 'scriptures' ['oracles'] referred to the Jewish Bible, the collection of books that God had given His people [at Mount Sinai] and that predicted the coming of the Messiah, Jesus" (Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, N.Y., 2005, p. 30).
The preservation of YEHOVAH's laws and commandments, His way of life and His prophecies -- that comprises what is now known as the Old Testament -- was given to the Jews, the descendants of Jacob's son, Judah -- NOT to the Greeks or the Persians or the other pagan nations surrounding Judea!
John 19:19-20 reveals that Hebrew, Latin, and Greek were the languages spoken in Palestine at the time the Messiah was impaled. Not all understood Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. When the Messiah was teaching his disciples on this earth, the Koine Greek continued as the international language, but was relatively unknown or not understood in the rural towns nor by the Apostles, according to French archaeologist Ernest Renan.
Impact of Growing Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism played a big part in the Gentile Believers’ rejecting the study of Hebrew and rejecting the Old Testament. Men want to accept the Hebrew Savior, but reject his message and the Old Testament verification of his Messiahship. This is true even today.
The number of Gentile converts soon surpassed those converted from Judaism. This is evident by the seven deacons of Acts 6:5, considered to be of Hellenistic persuasion.
The Old Testament Septuagint (written in Greek) was used by early Catholic scholars because of their disdain for the Jews and because of their ignorance of the Hebrew language, according to Adam Clarke. At first it is claimed that the Jews lauded the LXX (Septuagint) as a masterful accomplishment, but when it was later appropriated by the Gentiles who spurned the Hebrew Old Testament texts, the Jews rejected the LXX as not being a faithful rendition.
McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia shows that the Jews lamented the perversion of the Septuagint translation and its use by Catholic scholars:
“But now the Jews saw to their grief that their Scriptures [LXX] were made the instruments for teaching the principles of a religion [Catholicism] which they regarded as nothing less than an apostasy from Moses” (p. 988, “Greek Versions”).
"Jewish Christians" Keep the Truth
Interesting comments are given from the perspective of an Islamic author, critically observing three groups that had evolved from the Israelite religion. Author Shlomo Pines classifies them as Jews, Christians and what he terms “Jewish Christians.” The “Catholics” are viewed as gentiles who, because of their pagan Greek background, rejected truth found in the Old Testament and abandoned the religion Yeshua the Messiah lived and taught. The “Jewish-Christians” on the other hand, continued obeying the Old Testament. Pines’ appraisal is very revealing:
“The Jewish Christians…are not vegetarians and they do not reject certain portions of the Old Testament…they are, as far as the observance of commandments is concerned, orthodox Jews…They thus carried on the old tradition of the first Christian community of Jerusalem” (The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source, p. 39).
The break between “Gentile Catholicism” and “Jewish Christianity” came when the “al-Rum” (Roman or Byzantine Christians) complained to the Roman governors about the Jews. They were told by the Roman rulers that if they would separate themselves from the Jews, praying as the Romans do (while facing east), eating things Romans eat, regarding as permissible such as Romans do, then the Romans would extend special favor to the Gentile Christian body, according to Pines.
When the Gentile Catholics reported this offer to their fellow companions (Hebrew Christians), they were rebuffed. The Romans should have no part in determining the religion of the Messiah, contended the Hebrew Christians. They refused to surrender their New Testaments, but gathered them and fled. The Gentile Catholics reported this to the Romans, who accordingly made a search for them, capturing some who were burned or killed and destroying their New Testament manuscripts (ibid., page 15).
"Gentile Catholics" Drift from the Faith
Author Pines discusses how the Gentile Catholics took counsel to replace the New Testament Evangel, seeing that the true and original was lost to them. What was the "true and original" New Testament that the Romans went out of their way to destroy? Notice what Bart D. Ehrman has to say --
"Ebionite [early] Christians, however, did not have our New Testament and understood Jesus differently. For them, Jesus was the Son of God not because of his divine nature or virgin birth but because of his 'adoption' by God to be his son....the Ebionites believed that Jesus was a real flesh-and-blood human like the rest of us, born as the eldest son of the sexual union of his parents, Joseph and Mary. What set Jesus apart from all other people was that he kept God's law perfectly and so was the most righteous man on earth. As such, God chose him to be his son and assigned to him a special mission, to sacrifice himself for the sake of others....
"To what Scriptures did these Ebionites appeal in support of their views? What books did they revere and study and read as part of their services of worship? Obviously they retained the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) as the Scripture par excellence....The Ebionites did have other 'Christian' texts as part of their canon, however. Not surprisingly, they appear to have accepted the Gospel of Matthew as their principal scriptural authority. Their own version of Matthew, however, may have been...[in] Aramaic. Jesus himself spoke Aramaic in Palestine, as did his earliest followers. It would make sense that a group of Jewish followers of Jesus that originated in Palestine would continue to cite his words, and stories about him, in his native tongue. It appears likely that this Aramaic Matthew was somewhat different from the Matthew now in the canon. In particular, the Matthew used by Ebionite Christians would have LACKED the first two chapters, which narrate Jesus' birth to a virgin -- a notion that the Ebionite [early] Christians REJECTED. There were doubtless other differences from our own version of Matthew's Gospel as well" (Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 101-102).
It is apparent the main part of the Ebionite Christians also had the letters of Paul -- while a schism of the movement rejected Paul's teachings.
The Gentile Catholics constructed their own New Testament in Greek. A great part of what was contained in the original was missing in their version, and whole passages that were not in the original -- such as the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke -- were added! Acquaintances among the Gentile Christians were those who remembered much of the true Evangel, but because they were attempting to establish a following, the Gentile Catholics refrained from communicating with them. Quoting from author Pines concerning the Gentile Christians:
“Then there is not among these a Gospel written in the language of [Messiah], which was spoken by Him and His companions, namely the Hebrew language, which is that of Abraham, the Friend of [YHVH] and of the other prophets, the language which was spoken by them and in which the Books of [YHVH] were revealed to them and to the other Children of Israel, and which [YHVH] addressed them. They have abandoned this language.
“Thus there is no Christian among them who in observing a religious obligation recites these Gospels in the Hebrew language: he does not do so out of ruse using a stratagem, in order to avoid public shame” (The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source, pp. 16-17).
Pines goes on to show the reason they declined to use the Hebrew language was that “the people of the Book” who spoke Hebrew quickly recognized the error and deception of the Gentiles Catholic’s gospel, such as quotations from counterfeit authorities. Thus, they employed a language other than Hebrew so the men of knowledge would not grasp their teaching.
When the new faith went forth to conquer the pagan world for the Messiah, the "pious" Greek fathers and priests of the burgeoning Catholic Church felt the need of something more up-to-date than the Old Testament texts; they needed something concrete out of the New Dispensation to "show" to the superstitious pagans to win them over to the Messiah and his church: something tangible, visible -- compellingly authentic proofs. "Like arms of proof for the holy warfare," writes Joseph Wheless, "the invincible weapons of truth -- 'the whole armour of God' -- they FORGED OUTRIGHT for the conquest of the unbeliever....Armed with LYING credentials and 'proofs' of the fictitious persons and performances for which credence must be won among the credulous pagans, the priests and Vicars of God propagated their STUPENDOUS 'LIES to the glory of God' and the exaltation of the [Catholic] Church" (Forgery in Christianity: A Documented Record of the Foundations of the Christian Religion, Kessinger Publishing Co., Montana, pp. 100-101).
Pines notes regarding the Gentile Catholics, “Accordingly, they gave up Hebrew and took up numerous other languages which had not been spoken by [Messiah] and His companions” (The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source, page 17).
Language Used to Bypass Truth
“…Jewish Christian authors…also deplored the fact that the [Gentile] Christians…no longer read the Gospels in Hebrew, the language of [Yeshua], and all the prophets. Quite clearly, these Jewish Christians believed that they preserved and continued (perhaps clandestinely) the traditions of the first not yet corrupted Christian community of Jerusalem founded by the immediate disciples of [Yeshua] who professed his religion, i.e.…observed the Mosaic Commandments” (ibid., page 65).
Pines goes on to recount how those denouncing the Hebrew Evangel were triumphant in their use of foreign languages to convert many nations. This gave them the opportunity to bypass the Hebrew Scriptures which were numerous among the Jews. Thus, the Hebrew language and the Old Testament were set aside and Israelite laws ignored as more and more pagans took up corrupt Greek New Testament “Christianity.”
When Catholicism became the state religion of Rome, the position of the Hebrew Christians worsened. They were the minority, and their beliefs became the heresy of the Romanized Christian world. The Hebrew Christians found it easier to gather with the Jews at the synagogue (as did Paul), for both groups observed the Old Testament laws. Paganism, however, was baptized by the church and had become the state religion.
After reading Pines’ work, it is quite understandable that when Titus and his Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., and Hadrian put down the revolt of Bar Kochba in 135 C.E., that the Jews became fair game because of their insurrection. Along with the Jews, however, were the converts to the Messiah who continued to worship in the synagogue and Temple rather than take up the pagan celebrations of Gentile Catholicism.
“The land was desecrated and stripped; Jews were tortured, murdered, and sold as slaves on the open market; and the site of the Temple was plowed under. From this time on Jerusalem increasingly became a Gentile city” (the Bible Almanac, p. 509).
The Importance of Hebrew
"There is simply no getting around the fact," writes Nancy L. Kuehl, "that Jesus was a Jewish man who lived in a Jewish (albeit somewhat Hellenized) culture and was certainly influenced by the Judaic religion as it existed during the first century. Judaism, too, was multifaceted, laden with its own contemporary traditions, practices, and belief structures. All these things affected the way Jesus thought. To step backward from the Christian-Hellenic world into the world of Jesus requires a transition to a foreign culture which many individuals are either unaware of or are unwilling to make. Unless this step is taken, however, it is impossible to learn even a scintilla of truth. Not only have our present translations with their vague Greek definitions deluded the Gentile population, they have, in effect, turned the Jewish world against Jesus. It is, therefore, imperative that terminology should play a part in the unfolding of the truth" (A Book of Evidence: The Trials and Execution of Jesus. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2013, p. xxii).
Kuehl goes on to say --
"In order to understand the meanings of certain words, we must define them from the perspective of what they would have meant to Jews living during that period of time. We must also consider that while Hebrew is a specific language, often using a single word to describe a definite set of terms, in Greek and/or English those words are ambiguous. These languages often have only one vague and inadequate term to serve in translation....If such precision is required in the spoken language, it is easy to determine that much is lost in written translation from Hebrew to Greek, and from Greek to Latin, and even more when the Greek and Latin are translated into English. This is just one reason our translations of the New Covenant are somewhat vague and misunderstood" (ibid., pp. xxii-xxiii).
It is not only suspected but well-known among Biblical scholars that the original books of the New Testament were written in both Hebrew and Aramaic for a Hebrew-Nazaraean audience. It is believed that the so-called Gospel of the Hebrews -- not to be confused with Paul's epistle to the Hebrews in our present New Testament -- was the original text of the later Greek Matthew.
According to Harry Emerson Fosdick, "Papias says that Matthew, the disciple, 'put together the oracles of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could'" (The Man from Nazareth As His Contemporaries Saw Him. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949, p. 36).
"In other words," explains Kuehl, "since the 'oracles' were written in the Hebrew language for a Hebrew audience, the Gentiles had to interpret them, not in the Hebrew sense in which they were intended, but as their own culture and society dictated. Gentiles reading the gospel could not have known the CONTEXT in which the traditions were intended. Since the Hebrew race was monotheistic and quite distinct from its surrounding neighbors, few of their laws and customs would have been understood by the Gentiles, who were polytheistic and cosmopolitan in both their religions and their societies" (A Book of Evidence, p. xxv).
Anybody with an in-depth knowledge of the New Testament will realize that it contains thousands of mistranslations -- many of them "willful falsifications" by the universal (Catholic) church. The Codex Sinaiticus, a Greek manuscript written in the 4th century and discovered at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mount Sinai, had over 14,500 alterations made to it by the time of Eusebius' death! "This particular manuscript is thought to have been none other than one of the 50 Bibles prepared on vellum and ordered by Constantine himself" (ibid., p. xxv). It is readily apparent that the early Catholic church fathers held the original Aramaic-Hebrew Gospels in contempt -- more than likely because these texts did NOT deify the Messiah. However, there is absolutely NO DOUBT that the original Semitic texts did NOT claim the Messiah to be divine (as the Gentiles understood that term) until AFTER his resurrection. The authors of the original Aramaic and Hebrew Gospels fully believed that the Messiah was a MAN in every sense of the word -- divinely inspired but NOT "divine" in the pagan sense.
"As a result of early Greek mistranslations we have texts that no longer bear the stamp of original intent borne by their writers. The chronicle of events in the gospels, already condensed and abbreviated, is now only confounded by errors in translation and both supposed and determined lengthy interpolations" (A Book of Evidence, p. xxvi).
By the time the Gentile universal (Catholic) church had taken over and supplanted the early ecclesia of the disciples and apostles the gospels and other New Testament texts had become objective documents -- having lost much in translation. "It is a fact that few Gentiles would have thought of them in Hebrew terms because they had little concept of Hebrew culture and laws" (ibid., p. xxvii).
Romans Destroy Hebrew Manuscripts
Following the Bar Kochba revolt, an angry Hadrian determined to destroy Jerusalem -- vowing there would never be a city there. The Hebrew Scriptures had been misinterpreted by the Jews, assuming Ezekiel was referring to Rome as the enemy that would be overcome. Hebrew Scriptures were blamed for the Jewish insurrection. The Romans took vengeance upon the Jews, not recognizing converts to the Messiah. Unaware of a Hebrew New Testament, the Romans destroyed all Hebrew texts, including Hebrew scrolls of the Hebrew-Christian New Testament as well. Rome did not differentiate between Old and New Testament Hebrew writings nor between Jews and Hebrew Christians.
Later came a division between the religion of the Jews and the New Testament believers in the Messiah. Not only were the Romans responsible for eradicating many Hebrew New Testaments, but the Jews themselves took part in such activity.
Pines makes a point that the Jews and certain “Jewish Christians” worshiped together;
“After Him [Yeshua] His disciples were with the Jews and the Children of Israel in the latter’s synagogues and observed the prayers and the feasts of (the Jews) in the same place as the latter. However, there was a disagreement between them and the Jews with regard to [Messiah]” (The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source).
Pines goes on to quote the Toldot Yeshu, detailing the great war and slaughter, cases of confusion, killings, and loss of money. “Everyone was killing his relatives without pity. And yet they did not abandon the Torah of Israel. And the Jews could not enter the Temple because of the reprobates.”
Eventually, there came a parting of the ways between the Jews and those who believed in the Messiah and kept the Commandments. These True Believers were persecuted by both the Jews and the pagan Christians down through history. Little is heard of them as the Romanized Catholicism gained the ascendancy and ruled in consort with the emperors of Europe.
Perhaps the recent discovery and publishing of the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls will help shed more light on this era of history. The lack of any Hebrew New Testament continued.
Truth and Manuscripts Under Attack
The young Greek conqueror Alexander the Great, tried his utmost to respect local customs, to revere local deities, to administer captured lands through existing hierarchies, and to win the populace to his side, page 26.
“Most cities, welcomed Hellenism, however. Because of it, educated men throughout the ancient world spoke one language -- a common Greek known as Koine. Business was conducted in Koine; laws were passed in it, and books written in it, including all the New Testament and much of the Old Testament. Greek architects, sculptors, artisans and goldsmiths left their imprint from the Apennines to Himalayas. Greek-style jewelry was worn in Siberia, and on the Indian subcontinent some statues of the Buddha wore Greek clothing and posed with and elegant Aegean grace…The Hellenistic kingdoms survived for well over a century, tied together by common bonds of language, culture, and trade” (ibid., page 36).
The condemnation of books was carried out from the burning of the Arian writings by Constantine to the burning of the Talmud by Justinian. The Inquisitors could not take proceedings against Jews as such. The Jews might profess their religion and observe its rites without being in a state of heresy; they were only heretic when they attacked the Christian faith or community, made proselytes, or returned to Judaism after being converted.
Later came the Crusades, which were religious wars from the close of the 11th to the end of the 13th century. It was Christian Europe against the Mohammedans for the conquest of the Holy Land. Conquered by Arabs in the 7th century, Palestine soon fell to Seljuk Turks in 1078, with their cruel ways and heavy taxes upon Christians living in Palestine.
The first of the seven Crusades began with the cry “Deus Vult,” (God Wills It!). Made up of a rabble from France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine, every member wore a cross. They ravaged the countryside, especially afflicting the Jews whom they murdered, then confiscated their property, burning their possessions and looting the country. These “Crusaders” did not differentiate between Jews and Hebrew Christians (those Messianic converts who continued obeying Israelite laws). Those rejecting the cross were considered Jews and fair game. The victims were either burned or strangled -- so there would be no shedding of blood!
The Middle Ages witnessed the Inquisitions, which were against heretics and all persons guilty of any offense against Roman Catholic orthodoxy. From Valentinian I and Theodosius onward heretics were subject to exile or confiscation, disqualified from inheriting property and under condemnation of death.
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain under Queen Isabella, the attacks centered on Catholic converts descended from infidels (Jews). Note the following account:
“As late as 1715 a secret association was discovered at Madrid, consisting of 20 families, having a rabbi and a synagogue. A great number of people were denounced, sent to the gallows, or burnt, for having returned to their ancestral religion, on the flimsiest of evidence, such as making ablutions during the day time, abstaining from swine’s flesh or wine, using henna, singing Moorish songs, or possessing Arabic manuscripts” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Ed., p. 596, “Inquisition”).
Possessing “Arabic manuscripts” soon included the Hebrew scrolls, whether Old Testament or New Testament sections of the Bible. Resentment and arrogance play a big part even today among those who reject anything “Jewish.”
Seminaries continue to teach Koine Greek and Hebrew. The Hebrew of the Bible is Sephardic or Temple Hebrew, while the language spoken today in Israel is Ashkenazi Hebrew, a Germanic dialect. In His wisdom YEHOVAH allowed the Old Testament to be preserved by scribes of the tribe of Judah. However, why is it that only the Greek copies of the New Testament have survived? There is no known “original” Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament existing. Why did YEHOVAH not see to it that the original Hebrew or Aramaic books of the New Testament were preserved for us today? Because the Old Testament is complete in itself and is all that we need for salvation! When Peter preached to the masses on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. (Acts 2:1-39), the ONLY scriptures available to the people were the books of the Hebrew Bible -- and this was sufficient (along with repentance and baptism) as Peter clearly pointed out in verse 38.
All of the authors of the New Testament, with one possible exception, were practicing Jews. The Old Testament -- which most Christians revere as the inscripturated Word of YEHOVAH God -- is a distinctly Jewish writing. If this is the case, and YEHOVAH God never changes (Malachi 3:6), then the plan of salvation found in the Old Testament, which reestablishes fellowship between sinful man and YEHOVAH God, SHOULD BE EXACTLY THE SAME!
Since YEHOVAH is immutable, His method of redemption NEVER changes. Believers today are redeemed through EXACTLY THE SAME SYSTEM that was given to Israel in the past -- a substitutionary blood sacrifice using the exchanged life principle. The plan of salvation was formulated even before the creation of the material universe -- I Peter 1:20:
"He [the Lamb of YEHOVAH God, the Messiah] was FOREKNOWN before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake."
While the manifestation was not given to those of Old Testament times, the principle, meaning and efficacy of the plan of salvation were CLEARLY KNOWN.
The Bible declares that perfect knowledge comes to us through the Old Testament and IS the Old Testament itself. The Old Testament perfects the believer. When the Old Testament was finished, then was the revelation of true knowledge completed. Notice II Timothy 3:15-17:
"And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures [the Old Testament], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture [the Old Testament] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be COMPLETE, thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work."
Note, also, Romans 16:25-26:
"Now to Him [YEHOVAH God] who is able to establish you according to my gospel [good news] and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery [of the plan of salvation] kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures [the Old Testament] has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith."
Paul continues along these lines in the book of Ephesians --
"Having made known to us the mystery of His [YEHOVAH's] will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself....In Him [YEHOVAH] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel [good news] of your salvation [the Old Testament]; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the holy spirit of promise, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His [YEHOVAH's] glory" (Ephesians 1:9, 13-14).
2 Timothy (and other verses) clearly state that the Old Testament is sufficient in itself to bring a true believer to salvation. As one commentary puts it, "If one disagrees, on the finished delivery of the full Gospel in the form of the Old Testament, it would ironically be on the grounds of one's own understanding of Scripture"!
This, however, does not mean that we should throw the New Testament in the trash, but we should handle it with great care being diligent in comparing it to the Old Testament -- which is the STANDARD against which all other scripture must be assessed. If a New Testament doctrine, or a historical or prophetic comment does not tally with what the Old Testament states, then we MUST adhere to what the Old Testament tells us. Look upon the Greek New Testament (as corrupted as it may be) as icing on the cake -- not necessary for the enjoyment of the cake itself but as something to enhance our understanding of the life and times of the prophesied Messiah and as proof of the promise of our future resurrection from the dead.
Today English is the world language. America probably actively promotes the Bible around the world more than all other countries combined. It behooves us to do all we can to promote YEHOVAH’s Name and His truth in every way we can.
Although there is no original Hebrew New Testament available today, history shows there was indeed an original, which contained the Name of YHVH and His Son Yeshua. And we can now understand better how we have a corrupted Greek New Testament and why the sacred Name was changed in the Greek and then in the English.
YEHOVAH says that “YHVH” is His Name for eternity and is not to be changed. “This is my Name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations,” Exodus 3:15. Not even a language can change that.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
Hope of Israel Ministries
|Scan with your