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Proofs-Section II
Shlama Akhay,

Here's a portion of Section II of Norton's book--
Proof that very few Israelites in the time of Christ understood Greek...

Some have supposed that the language of Palestine in the time of Christ was either wholly, or in part, Greek. Professor A. Neubauer, Reader in Rabbinical Hebrew in Oxford University, published in "Studia Biblica, 1885," an essay "On the dialects spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ." He says that Isaac Voss, who died in 1689, was the first who supposed that "Greek was the only language spoken in Palestine after Alexander," the Great; that Diodati in 1767, closely followed Voss, and sought to prove that "Greek was the mother language of the Jews in the time of Jesus;" that Professor Paulus of Jena, in 1803, held that an Aramaic dialect was then the current language of the Jews in Palestine, but that Jesus and his disciples had no difficulty in using Greek in their public speeches when they found it convenient to do so; that Dr. Alexander Roberts, Professor of Humanity in St. Andrew's University, and a Member of the Company of Revisers of the N. C. {New Covenant <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> } Scriptures, published in 1881 contends that "Christ spoke for the most part in Greek, and only now and then in Aramaic," (pp. 39-41). Dr. Roberts published in 1859 a work in which he discussed the question relating to "The language of Palestine in the time of Christ." At page 62, he said that he thought he had "proved that Greek, and not Hebrew, was the common language of religious address in Palestine in the days of Christ and his apostles." He said, at p. 63, "Christ spoke in Greek, and his disciples did the same, when they reported what he said. Their inspiration consisted, not, as some have deemed, in being enabled to give perfect translations, either of discourses delivered, or of documents written in the Aramaic language, but in being led, under infallible guidance, to transfer to paper, for the benefit of all coming ages, those words of the Great Teacher which they had heard from his lips in the Greek tongue." Few at present are of Dr. Roberts' opinion. The question does not affect the inspiration of the Greek text, but it has a very important bearing on the value of the Peshito-Syriac books of the New Covenant.
Professor Neubauer's familiarity with the Jewish writings of that time, enables him to discuss the subject with much fulness and force. He gives the following probabilities as the result of his own examination of the subject:--That in the time of Christ, the Galileans understood their own Syriac dialect only, together with a few current expressions in ancient Hebrew; that in Jerusalem a modernised Hebrew, and a purer Syriac dialect than that of Galilee, were in use among the majority of the Jews; and that the small Jewish-Greek colony there, and a few privileged persons, spoke a Judeo-Greek jargon, (p. 50.) He says that the Syriac dialect of Galilee was "the popular language;" and that it is the language which is called in the New Covenant, "Hebrew," (John v. 2); and is called by Josephus, and in the Apocrypha, the language of the country; that "it was in this dialect that Josephus at first wrote his historical work" on the war; that the Syriac words which are recorded in the Greek New Covenant Scriptures, prove that this was "a distinct dialect in some respects" from the Syriac of the Syrians, and yet was so like it, that "Josephus says the Jews could understand the Syrians," (p. 53.)
Prof. Neubauer has no doubt that the language used by Jesus was the popular Galilean Syriac dialect, and that in the Greek text we have only a Greek translation of the words which he uttered.
He says, "Jesus, as is now generally admitted, addressed himself to his disciples and to his audience in the popular dialect. This appears, not only from the Aramaic words left in the gospels by the Greek translators, but more especially from his last words on the cross, which were spoken under circumstances of exhaustion and pain, when a person would naturally make use of his mother tongue; and from the fact that it is mentioned that he spoke to Paul in Hebrew, Acts xxvi. 14," (pp. 53, 54.) "The Jews so little knew Greek and so much less cared to know it, that Paul, in order to gain a hearing, was obliged to speak to them in their Aramaic dialects." "How could the Medes, Elamites, and Arabians have understood Peter at Pentecost, if he had spoken Greek to the 'men of Judea, and all who dwelt in Jerusalem.'" (p. 54.)
Prof. Neubauer gives many reasons for his "belief that few Jews in Palestine had a substantial knowledge of Greek." One of them is, that no events had occurred which could have made "Greek prominent in Palestine," (p. 62); that no nation ever makes so great a change in its language as to adopt "a totally different" one, unless the conqueror transports the greater part of the inhabitants, and introduces foreign colonists who are far more numerous than the remaining inhabitants; and that the Greeks had never this superiority of numbers in Palestine. (p. 64.) He says that few Greek words occur in the Jewish writings such as the Mishnah, the Targums, and the Talmud of Jerusalem; that "no apocryphal book, as far as our knowledge goes, was composed in Greek by a Palestinian Jew," (p. 65); that "so far as he can judge, all that the Jews in Palestine learned of Greek was at most a few sentences, sufficient to enable them to carry on trade, and to hold intercourse with the lower officials; and that even this minimum certainly ceased after the Maccabean victory over Antiochus Epiphanes; because it was the interest of the Asmonean Princes to keep the Jews aloof from the influence of the neighbouring dialects," (p. 66.)

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Proofs-Section II - by Larry Kelsey - 02-22-2004, 04:14 AM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 02-22-2004, 05:18 AM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 02-23-2004, 08:01 AM

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