Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Proofs-Section II
Part 3 of Section II-- Proof that very few Israelites in the time of Christ understood Greek...

Prof. Neubauer says, with reference to 1 Cor. xvi. 22, written to Greeks, "Is not the watchword, Moran etho, {our Lord has come}, which passed to Greek-speaking populations, a sufficient proof that the speech of the first Christians was Aramaic," (p. 54.) A still more decisive proof that it was so, occurs in a remark made by Luke. He, guided by God's Spirit, said that the word Akeldama, (in the Peshito Khekal-demo), the field of blood, was part of the language commonly used in Jerusalem. There is no such word as Khekal, field, in Ancient Hebrew. The only languages in which Castle, in his Lexicon of the six related languages:--- Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Samaritan, Aethiopic, and Arabic, says it occurs, are Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. It does not occur in Gesenius's Lexicon of ancient Hebrew. When therefore Luke says--"And it became known to all the dwellers in Jerusalem, insomuch that in their language that field is called Akel-dama, that is, the field of blood," (Acts i. 19), we have infallible proof that the Syriac language was the language of Jerusalem.
Josephus is a witness of very great importance on this subject also. He was so perfectly familiar with the state of things in Palestine, in the first century, and took such care to give correct information, that his testimony has great weight. At the end of his "Antiquities, (written in Greek,) he said, "I am bold to say that no other person, whether a Jew, or of another race, would have been able, had he wished, to produce this work for Greeks, so accurately; for I am admitted by my own countrymen to excel them far in the learning of our country, and I have applied myself with diligence to obtain a knowledge of Greek literature......For among us those are not esteemed who learn the languages of many nations;.......but testimony for wisdom is given to those only who understand well our laws, and are able to explain the meaning of the sacred writings. For this reason, out of the many who have toiled at this endeavour, scarcely some two or three have succeeded well." This testimony of the most learned and reliable of unconverted Jews, is proof how few Jews had much knowledge of the Greek language.
Another proof of this, is what he relates of the time when he was a captive in the Roman army on the outside of Jerusalem. In defending himself against Apion (Book I.), he says that he presented his Greek history of the Jewish war "to the chief commanders Vespasian and Titus, and to many Romans who were in the war," and that these all bore testimony to his truthfulness. They all therefore knew Greek, and would have understood what those Jews who came out of the city, and surrendered themselves, said, if these could have spoken only a few words of Greek. But Josephus says,--"The things told by those who surrendered themselves, only I understood." It is impossible therefore that the Jews of Palestine and Jerusalem could have understood either the Redeemer or his apostles, if they had spoken to them in Greek, or in any other language but that which Josephus calls the language of his own country at that time--a dialect of the widely spread Syriac language.
The conclusion to which such a concurrence of evidence leads is that Syriac was unquestionably the language commonly spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, and that very few Jews had a good knowledge of Greek.
This conclusion leads almost of necessity to another; namely, that there must have been some provision in writing, made by the apostles for the use of that large body of Christians who knew no language well but Syriac. Whatever was revealed as the will of God, whether written at first in Syriac or in Greek, was to be taught, not to the Jews only, nor to the Gentiles only, but to all disciples every where; that all might know it, and all be guided by it. Peter, writing to Hebrews, said (2 Epistle i. 15), "Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." This could only be done by writing. The apostles knew well, and must have remembered as Peter did, that what they had taught by voice would soon be unknown to most, unless the disciples were well supplied with it in writing. They must all, of necessity, have had Peter's desire. They must have wished to make provision that what they taught by revelation to some one church might be known to all churches, not only while they lived, but after they were dead. Paul, who was willing to be made a curse, with view to the salvation of the Hebrews, must have desired that what was revealed to him for the guidance of Greeks, should be known also to Hebrews; and that it was known to Hebrews in his life time, appears from the remark of Peter, who laboured chiefly among Hebrews, and who, when writing to Hebrews, speaks of "all" Paul's letters as well-known writings. In his 2 Epistle iii. 16, he says of Paul, "As also in all his letters, speaking of them in these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which those who are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures to their own destruction." His words imply that all Paul's letters had been extensively read by Hebrew Christians, and that they were treated with the same supreme regard as "the other Scriptures." They cannot have been read by more than a few of the Hebrews in Greek; it seems almost certain that there must have been some Syriac translation. Such considerations as these prepare us to receive readily whatever proof may exist, that Greek was not the only language in which the apostles left written records of God's will.
Tremellius, a Christian Jew, who was a Professor in the University of Heidelberg, and who published, in 1569, an edition of the New Covenant Peshito, contended that unless God loved foreigners more than Jews he must have provided these, as well as the Greeks, with the inspired writings in their own tongue. He said that it seemed to be "wholly in accord with truth, that at the very beginning of the Church of Christ, the Syriac version was made either by the Apostles themselves, or by their disciples; unless indeed we prefer to suspect that, in writing, they intended to have regard for foreigners
; and to have either no regard, or certainly very little, for those of their own nation," (Gutbier's Peshito, p. 29.) We know that the apostles, instead of showing less regard for the Jews than for the Gentiles, always went to the Jews first, and showed a surpassing regard for their welfare. It seems to be extremely probable that Paul himself took care that most of his epistles should be written in Syriac as well as in Greek, so as to inform his own countrymen everywhere of whatever was revealed to him for the guidance of all Christians throughout the world.

Messages In This Thread
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

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)