June 3, 2009

Did Jesus Speak Greek?

Hopefully, I'm about to make a fairly obvious point. For some reason, I just feel like making it extremely clear before going ahead with a new post thread I have in mind.

Common sense suggests most people in the Roman East were at least semi-fluent in greek. It's probably safe to assume places like Bethlehem and Nazareth heard less greek spoken than Jerusalem, which probably spoke less greek than Caesarea, but there's no question it was prudent for most folks in all places to know at least a few words in the "lingua franca" of their time. So... what about Jesus?

If Joseph and Mary chose Alexandria for their 2+ years in Egypt, Jesus definitely heard Jews speaking greek, probably from before he was able to talk. But did he speak it? Probably a better question is, how much did he speak it? Assuming the "red letters" of scripture are historically accurate renderings (verbatim quality being a whole separate issue), it would be as extreme to suppose they were all spoken in greek as that none of them were. More likely, if Jesus knew some greek, he probably used it only sometimes.

For instance, when large crowds followed Him from Syria and the Decapolis, someone could have translated as Jesus spoke, but he could have spoken some in greek also. When Jesus spoke at the Nazarene Synagogue? Probably Aramaic. When Jesus responded to Pilate? Probably Greek. Of course we can't say for sure, but my point is merely that the admittedly open question is not a singular one. There are separate considerations for any particular occasion.

Again, this should be an obvious point. I'm aware it's been made elsewhere. But now I feel more comfortable plowing forward into the post I really wanted to write... which will probably post here some time tomorrow:

Did Jesus Speak Greek at the fish fry in John 21?


gmc4jesus said...

This is a good question and your logic is reasonable.

God has always made the Bible available in the common language of the people. Jesus would likewise have spoken the common language of those to whom He was speaking. To most of the Jews, that would likely have been Greek or possibly Aramaic as you have said. He gave Simon Peter a Greek name (Peter). That would indicate that He had at least some knowledge of the Greek language.

Watch for Getting To Know Jesus - Volume 01 coming to a bookstore near you in early July, 2009. This is the first volume of a complete study of every event in the life and teachings of Jesus from the four Gospels.

Bill Heroman said...

Thanks, Glen. I'll look forward to that.

Recent Posts
Recent Posts Widget
"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton