Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

New Testament was written in Greek. But Jesus lived in Israel and was supposed to be the next King of Israel. I think it is probably fair to assume that he and his twelve apostles spoke Hebrew. Then why would the new testament be written in Greek? I think at least the Gospels part should be written in Hebrew?

share|improve this question
letusreason.org/Biblexp177.htm –  SSumner Mar 29 '13 at 4:29
@SSumner That is a good synopsis. –  fredsbend Mar 29 '13 at 5:12
Think about Greek in the New Testament as the role the English language is playing today. It's understood by a lot of people in a lot of different cultures all around the world. This is why the language of this site is English, probably a lot of our readers don't speak English as their native language, but still English is the most practical language you can use today for a message to reach people all around the world. –  vsz Nov 29 '13 at 22:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

First, actually, it was very likely that Jesus and His followers spoke no fewer than these three languages: Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. What language did Jesus speak?

Aramaic was the primary language of the land, Greek was the language of business, education, and for communication with foreigners (because it was a wide-spread language), and Hebrew was the religious language of the Jews and was primarily reserved for prayers, religious teaching, and communication with other Jews.

But why did they choose Greek? Well, first, we don't have the originals of any of the texts, but it is likely that most were written in Greek, however, there is some debate over a few of the books, just for your information.

The primary reason would be portability. Greek was a very wide-spread language. Hebrew and Aramaic were not. Further, after Peter had an encounter with Gentiles that had him declare that the message of Christ's resurrection was for the Gentile too, it became an international matter that all hear the Good News.

48 So he ordered that they [Gentiles] be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 10:48

Greek was the language that made sense. It was wide-spread, it was for the foreigner, and the Jew knew it as well. Greek was the language that would affect the most people.

share|improve this answer
Many people believe that this is what the Bible means when it says in Galatians 4:4, that the fullness of time had come. The time and culture were properly set at that moment, and that moment only, to accept and spread the good news. –  David Morton Mar 29 '13 at 11:38
@DavidMorton I've heard that before, but that seems to miss the point. Was God constrained by technology or language? God was not "waiting around" for the Greeks to come along and build roads. He ordered the whole universe! Ask why He placed the Greeks at the time of His coming, not why He came at the time of the Greeks. We have absolutely no idea why God thought that was the right time. Likewise, I do not think this question is asking only about the practical aspects. –  Alypius Mar 29 '13 at 16:17
Good points, and of course, God isn't constrained by technology. I think it emphasises God's wisdom in that he put all the right people at all the right places at all the right times, all throughout history, distinctly for the purpose of preparing all things for Christ's coming. I agree 100% with your overall argument. God is no servant to history, instead history is God-ordained to serve His purposes. In other words, the fullness of time came, not with a God in waiting, but because He orchestrated it, including, but not limited to, technology & political and social climates. –  David Morton Mar 29 '13 at 16:34
@DavidMorton When talking about things like this I prefer to look at history as a symphony that God conducts. He orchestrates all the parts, signaling one after the other, following His own score to the very note. He has the violins start when they should, the trumpets sound on cue, and the cymbal clash at exactly the right moment. –  fredsbend Mar 29 '13 at 17:45
@fredsbend Exactly. That's the point I was trying to get across in both my original comment, and in my follow up. –  David Morton Mar 29 '13 at 18:04

"But Jesus lived in Israel and was supposed to be the next King of Israel. ... Then why would the new testament be written in Greek?"

There would be no special spiritual connection with Hebrew in particular; Christ did not come to reign over Israel. Christ is the King of Kings, and He rules over all the earth and heaven. He came for our salvation, to die a horrible death on the cross. His status as King of Israel was only "formally" recognized by Pilate, who had these words attached to the cross above Christ's head, in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek:

Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum
Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews John 19:19-20

The authors of the New Testament were not really trying to write scripture. St Paul's letters were exactly that: letters that he sent to other diocese. For the most part, the various authors were simply telling what they had heard, or what had been passed down to them. Later, these works came to be recognized as scripture.

Greek was the language everyone spoke at the time. Even the Jews spoke Greek, and most Jews could not actually read Hebrew. The Letter to the Hebrews, directed to Jewish Christians, has Greek that "is in many ways the best in the New Testament". Matthew might have originally been written in Aramaic. Muslims might have a problem with something like the Koran not being written in Arabic (it is supposed to be the literal word of God). But Christians do not see a problem with the New Testament not having been written in Hebrew. It is the Gospel, not the language, that matters.

So major parts of the New Testament were written in Greek and not Hebrew because:

  1. Hebrew was not considered a "Sacred Language"
  2. The authors were not trying to write scripture
  3. Greek was (only incidentally) the most popular language of the time, so it turned out to be the primary language the authors used
share|improve this answer
I don't think this deserves downvotes, but the last sentence seems to imply you are not answering the question, unless you read the whole answer –  SSumner Mar 29 '13 at 15:11
@SSumner Thank you. Perhaps people were only reading the last sentence. Hopefully this clarifies. –  Alypius Mar 29 '13 at 15:52
Actually, I would think it quite likely that the Jews of that time would call Hebrew a sacred language. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have preferred it over Greek if the Gospel was only for the Jew. –  fredsbend Mar 29 '13 at 17:50
The article illuminates many things, however, it makes no indication that the Jews of the time heavily used the Septuagint. Remember that the Jews in question are ones in Israel. The Greek speaking Jews that most refer to are the foreign, usually converted Jews. Also, considering the completion of Herod's Temple Hebrew was likely on the rise, in that area. This might have combine with Jewish nationalism, which was present, if it were not for Peter baptizing Gentiles. But now we are moving into hypothetical histories. Not too constructive. –  fredsbend Mar 29 '13 at 20:23

It must be noted that there can be different answers to this question.

Western Tradition believes that New Testament is written in Greek. But Many of Eastern Tradition believe that New Testament is written in Aramaic. I am from South India. Since I am from Eastern Christian Tradition, I believe that New Testament is written in Aramaic.

But let me provide the answer with historical evidences to point out why New Testament is written in Aramaic. Not in Greek or Hebrew. So it requires a long post to explain the originality of Aramaic New Testament.

Jewish Historian Josephus wrote:

"I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains." - Antiquities of Jews XX, XI

Jewish Wars (Book 1, Preface, Paragraph 1) - "I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians. Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work]."

We know that the language of First century Israel was Aramaic.

In Antiquities of Jews Book 3, Josephus points out that Hebrews called Pentecost "Asartha." Asartha is Aramaic, because Aramaic places the definite article at the end of the word, thus the 'tha' at the end of 'Asartha' is the Aramaic definite article on a feminine noun. This is the same thing with the Aramaic word Talitha (Mark 5:41).

Unlike Aramaic, the definite article of Hebrew is in the beginning of the word ("Ha"). If Josephus was writing Hebrew, then the word "Asartha" would have become "Ha Atzeret."

Like Hebrew, we use the definite article ("the") in the beginning of a word in English. For example, we say "the car" in English. We never say "car the."

Let me give you another example.

John 19:17 (KJV) - "And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:"

When they say "Hebrew", they are referring to their Hebrew tongue which was Aramaic in first century AD. Notice the word Golgotha. This is Aramaic, because "tha" in Golgotha is Aramaic definite article on a feminine noun. That is why NIV, ESV, and other bible versions write "Golgotha, Gabbatha, etc." as Aramaic instead of Hebrew.

John 19:17 (NIV) - "Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)."

If I write Aramaic word "Golgotha" in Hebrew, then the word will become "Ha Gulgoleth."

In first century AD, Jews called Aramaic "Hebrew", because that is the language of Hebrews. Jews are also called Hebrews, because they are the descendants of Abraham the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13, Philippians 3). Even today, Many Iraqi Jews call their Aramaic "Hebrew" ("Ibraith" in Aramaic), because it is the language of Hebrews. We call Deutsch "German", because it is the language of German People.

Another point that should be noted is Old Hebrew was preserved through scrolls in first century AD, because it is considered as the holy language among Jews. High Priests preserved Hebrew scrolls for religious purposes in temple of Jerusalem.

But the spoken language of Israel was Aramaic (Gabbatha, Golgotha, Asartha, etc.) in first century AD. Just like Jews preserved Old Hebrew for religious purposes in first century AD, many Hindus preserve Sanskrit in Kerala (a state of India) for religious purposes, because it is the holy language of Hindus. But the spoken language in Kerala is Malayalam.

Judean Aramaic was also known as Hebrew in order to differentiate the way Aramaic is spoken in Judea and Aramaic spoken in Galilee and Syrian regions.

Through Matthew 26:73 and Mark 14:70, Peter was exposed by his Galilean Aramaic speech among people. Judeans used Dead Scrolls Alphabet to write Aramaic while Syrians commonly used Estrangela Alphabet to write Aramaic in first century AD. The Galilean accent of Aramaic would have sounded to the Judean Aramaic somewhat like Cockney sounds to a British aristocrat. In Talmud, Galileans are also ridiculed for the way they spoke Aramaic.

Aramaic became known as Syriac, because First century Greek Historian and Geographer Strabo points out that Greeks called Arameans "Syrians" in his book "Geography." Unlike Jews in Judea, Arameans called Aramaic which became known as "Syriac" or "Suristi" in Greek.

Also note the names in English Bible of New Testament - "Bar"tholomew, "Bar"abbas, "Bar"nabbas, "Bar"sabbas, "Bar" Jesus, Simon "Bar" Jonah, "Bar" Timaeus, etc.

Aramaic word Bar means Son. In Hebrew, Ben means Son. Even Rabbis point out that "Bar" in Bar Mitzvah comes from Aramaic.

In Josephus' Jewish Wars, one of the leaders who fought against Romans was Simon Bar Giora. Bar Giora means "Son of a proselyte" in Aramaic. Peshitta Tanakh is first century Old Testament written in Aramaic.

Aramaic NT is known as Aramaic Peshitta which contains 22 books of New Testament (excludes Revelation, 2nd Peter, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Jude) and Crawford Aramaic Manuscript preserves the copy of Aramaic original of excluded books (Revelation, 2nd Peter, etc) in Peshitta.

           **Quotes from Bishops who support Aramaic Primacy**

With reference to the originality of the Peshitta text the Church "received the scriptures from the hands of the blessed Apostles themselves in the Aramaic original, the language spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself...which has come down from the Biblical times without any change or revision." - Mar Eshai Shimun, California, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, April 5, 1957.

"I have no reason to doubt that the Peshitta is superior to that of the Greek. It was handed down to us by the Apostles through the scribes and preserved to us in our very own generation. No other version written in any other language can claim such authenticity and antiquity." - Patriarch Mar Dalin I, China in the 1800's, Assembly of Jerusalem

"Undoubtedly the Peshitta, written in the Aramaic language of the East, contains the pure and untainted Word of the Messiah." - Mar Yokhanan Dalin III, Portugal in 1980, Assembly of Jerusalem

"We have in the Aramaic Peshitta the preserved word of Our Lord unchanged from the time of the Apostles." - HH Patriarch Mar Michai, Detroit in 1989, Assembly of Jerusalem.

"Christ, after all spoke in the language of His contemporaries. He offered the first sacrifice of the Eucharist in Aramaic, a language understood by all the people who heard Him. The Apostles and Disciples did the same and never in a language other than that of the gathered faithful." - Latin Patriarch Maximus, Vatican.

                                 **Aramaic Primacy**

There are "several" confusions in Greek NT manuscripts solved by Aramaic Peshitta, these confusions are seen to be errors in the Greek text resulting from translation from Aramaic.

1) 1 Corinthians 13:3

1 Corinthians 13:3 (KJV) says: “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.”

The ISV of 1 Corinthians 13:3 says: “Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it.” Versions that say burned or a variation thereof: ALT, AMP, ASV, BBE, CEV*, DARBY, Douay-Rheims, ESV*, Geneva, GodsWord, Holman, KJ21, KJV, LITV, MKJV, MSG, NASB*, NIV*, NIVUK, NKJV*, RSV, TEV, WE (Worldwide English), Webster, Weymouth, WYC (Wycliffe), YLT (Young’s Literal Translation).

The versions marked by an asterisk, *, have footnotes that mention that early mss (manuscripts) have boast or a variation thereof, rather than burn. It is noteworthy that the Alexandrian NU Text says boast also.

Versions that say boast or a variation thereof: ISV, NLT (New Living Translation), Rotherham.

The reading (kauchswmai, “I might boast”) is in Greek manuscripts like Ì46 Í A B 048 33 1739*.

The competing reading, (kauqhsomai, “I will burn”), is found in Greek manuscripts such as C D F G L 81 1175 1881* and a host of patristic writers. A few other Byzantine Greek readings include: (kauqhswmai) (“I might burn”) and καυθη∋ (“it might be burned”) read by 1505.

Now, it just so happens that the Aramaic root yqd can mean “to burn”, but can also mean “to boast”. It is clear that the disagreement in the Greek texts points to the Aramaic original.

Here is the verse from Aramaic Peshitta, translated by Aramaic scholar Paul Younan: “And if I give all my possessions to feed {the poor,} and if I surrender my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

2) Philippians 1:8

“I long for all of you in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” - (Byzantine Greek texts)

“I long for all of you in the love of Jesus Christ.” - (Alexandrian Greek texts)

The Aramaic root, “r-kh-m”, can mean “bowels” and also “love”.

In Semitic thought, the bowels are viewed as the seat of compassion (as the heart is the organ viewed as the seat of intellect and wisdom.)

3) Romans 8:24

“For if we see it, do we hope (elpis) for it? ” - (Byzantine Greek texts)

“For if we see it, do we wait (dechomai) for it? ” - (Alexandrian Greek texts)

The Aramaic root, “s-k-y”, can mean “hope” and also “wait”.

4) Mark 9:49

“And everything will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” (Translated from Greek NT)

Salted with fire?

Solution: Aramaic word “melakh” can mean “salt” or “destroy.”

In Aramaic, this also becomes a word-play on the dual meaning of “melakh.”

5) Simon the leper or potter/jar maker? – Matthew 26:6 / Mark 14:3

The KJV says (Matthew 26:6): “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,”

The KJV says (Mark 14:3): “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.”

The Greek reads ("Simônos tou leprou"), which literally means "Simon the Leper" or "Simon the Skin-Diseased" ("λεπρου" (leprou, or lepros in the nominative case) can stand for various skin diseases like it's Hebrew-Aramaic counterpart). This seems strange, because according to the Law laid down in Leviticus, Lepers are not allowed within the city:

Leviticus 13:45-46 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

Garibo' can easily be confused with Garobo' since Aramaic at that time was written without vowel markers.

Gariba' means POTTER or JAR MERCHANT where, Garoba' means LEPER or SKIN DISEASE

But both are spelled with the same consonants: Gomal - Reesh - Beyth – Alap

In addition, why was there no record of Jesus healing Simon? If he were a leper, it would be very dangerous for His disciples and other people in the house. Leprosy is a very contagious disease and not worth the risk of catching. Here the Aramaic sheds some light on a story whose host was a non sequitur of the circumstances.

Since Aramaic was written without vowels in first century AD, there was no distinction between the Aramaic words. Since in this story a woman pours oil from a jar it is apparent that Simon was a jar merchant or jar maker and not a leper.

Side note - While Aramaic words are identifical, they are not in Hebrew. The Hebrew for a potter is יוצר (yotser) while leper is צרוע (tsaru'a).

6) Luke 10:6

Luke 10:6 (KJV) - “And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.”

"Son of Peace" is also mentioned in Greek NT manuscripts.

Luke 10:6 (H.T Anderson translation of Greek manuscript Codex Sinaiticus) - "And if a son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; but if not, it shall return upon you."

The Aramaic "Bar Shlama" literally means "son of peace", but idiomatically this is an expression which means "harmony" or "agreement," in other words, the opposite of contention. But since the Greek literally translates "son of peace", this is evidence that it was translated from an Aramaic original. Greek translators rendered the phrase literally because he did not understand its idiomatic meaning.

7) Hate or Put aside? Luke 14:26

This is an awesome example, as it solves one of the biggest problems/contradictions of the Greek New Testament. The command to hate others and ourselves!

The KJV says: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Greek NT manuscripts say the same. Here is the verse from the translation of Fourth century Greek manuscript "Codex Sinaiticus."

Luke 14:26 (H T Anderson Translation of Codex Sinaiticus)- "If any one comes to me and hates not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

The argument goes, "How could one follow someone who claims that you need to hate your family and OUR SELF and only love him? Didn't he say to love your neighbor?"

The answer lies in the Aramaic word sone'.

Aramaic word sone' can mean to put aside or to hate. It depends on the context.

This also makes sense of 1 John 4:20

“If a man says, I love God, and yet hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

So with this in mind, the more correct translation of Luke 14:26:

"If any man comes to me, and doesn't put aside his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

This contradiction in Greek can also be seen in Romans 9:13.

Romans 9:13 (Below)

KJV - "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

NIV - “Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."”

This error is in all Greek NT manuscripts. But let me use an ancient Greek papyrus. In Greek Papyrus "P46"(dates around 175 AD - 200 AD), we see this error in Romans 9:13 -"As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

As I pointed out, the answer lies in the Aramaic word "sone". It can mean “to put aside” or “to hate.” It depends on the context.

Romans 9:13 (English translation of Peshitta): “As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I set aside.”

As this error is caused by a mistranslated word, it is an example of a semi-split word.

8) Romans 5:7-8 (Translated from Greek NT) - "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; though for the good man perhaps some one would even dare to die; but God renders his love for us conspicuous in this, that, we being yet sinners, Christ died for us." Notice the word "righteous." This is confusing, because righteous and good are synonyms.

I believe H T Anderson's English translation of Greek NT manuscript Codex Sinaiticus (4th century AD) is one of the easiest to access on Internet.

Here is Aramaic Peshitta translation of Romans 5:7-8.

Romans 5:7-8 (Etheridge Translation) - "for hardly for the wicked one dieth; for on account of the good one may perhaps dare to die. Nevertheless Aloha hath manifested his love for us, in that, when we were sinners, the Meshiha for us died."

Unlike Greek NT which says "righteous", Aramaic Peshitta says "Wicked." Why is that?

This error in Greek NT happened due to a horrible mistranslation from Aramaic Peshitta which is explained in the below 5 minute youtube video.


Through this video, you will find out that this error in Greek NT manuscripts can "only" come from misreading the Estrangela text in Aramaic Peshitta.

There are several errors and confusions like these in Greek NT manuscripts. So it is necessary to look into the subject rather than follow the quotes of so called Church Fathers and so called Scholars who claim New Testament is written in Greek.

             **Script Tampering and Additions in Greek**

1) Can’t you leave the old reading alone? – Hebrews 1:3

Although this doesn’t really support Aramaic Peshitta primacy that much, still it is noteworthy to see that there were script tampering in Greek manuscripts. Peshitta manuscripts are treated with far more respect than these Greek copies.

This is from Codex Vaticanus, Hebrews 1:3. The footnote (“sidenote” rather) reads:αμαθεστατε και κακε, αφες τον παλαιον, μη μεταποιει

Translation: “Fool and knave, can't you leave the old reading alone and not alter it!”

In case you were wondering, Hebrews 1:3 deals somewhat with the Divinity of Jesus. It seems that tampering with such verses was quite common in those days (cf. the Comma Johanneum)!”

2) Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11) – Woman caught in adultery

Unlike the later Greek manuscripts, this is not in Peshitta and earliest Greek NT manuscripts (that contains John) like Papyrus 66 (3rd Century AD), Papyrus 75 (3rd century AD), Codex Vaticanus (4th century AD), and Codex Sinaiticus (4th century AD).

3) Matthew 27:9-10 - "Jeremiah" not named in Peshitta.

In Greek NT manuscripts and English translations from Greek, Jeremiah is mentioned as the prophet.

Matthew 27:9-10 (H.T Anderson Translation of Greek Manuscript Codex Sinaiticus) -

"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him who had a price set upon him, on whom they of the sons of Israel set a price, and gave them for the potter‘s field, as the Lord commanded me."

The KJV says: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.”

The NIV says: “Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."”

Here is the problem for Greek primacists: The prophecy was actually by Zechariah.

Zechariah 11:13

KJV: “And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.”

NIV: “And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"-the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.”

Does Peshitta have this “contradiction”?

Matthew 27:9-10 (Etheridge Translation) – “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet, who said, And I took the thirty (pieces) of silver, the price of him who was precious, whom the sons of Isroel bargained for; and gave them for the field of the potter, as the Lord commanded me.”

Peshitta does not name the prophet, and thus does not share this contradiction with the Greek texts.

It may be that the Greek translators chose to name Jeremiah (being very liberal and adding to God’s Word I might add) as “the prophet”, because of similar prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s prophecies however are different than the NT quotation, as they do not mention “the potter” and seventeen pieces of silver are involved, instead of thirty. God told us not to add to His Word for a reason! This also strengthens Aramaic Primacists' belief of Gospel of Matthew being written in Aramaic.

4) Whenever a "Heathen", or "Aramean" or "Arameans" is mentioned in Aramaic Peshitta, it is replaced by "Greek" or "Greeks" in Greek NT manuscripts. Here are some examples.

A) Mark 7:26 (Greek NT and NIV Translation of Greek NT) - "The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.”

But in Mark 7:26 of Aramaic Peshitta says this - "But the woman was a heathen, from Phoenicia in Syria; and she besought him to cast out the demon from her daughter.”

B) Acts 16:1 (Below) - In Greek NT manuscripts and English translation of Greek manuscripts say that Timothy's father was Greek.

Acts 16:1 (H.T Anderson translaton of Greek manuscript Codex Sinaiticus) - "And he came down to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a disciple was there named Timothy, son of a believing Jewess, but of a Grecian father:"

Acts 16:1 (KJV) - "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:"

What does Peshitta say?

Acts 16:1 (Etheridge Translation) - But a certain disciple was there whose name was Timotheus, the son of a certain Jihudoytha, a believer, and his father an Aramoya." Jihudoytha is Aramaic term for Jewess and Aramoya is Aramaic term for "Aramean." Peshitta says that Timothy's father was an Aramean.

C) Galatians 2:3

Galatians 2:3 (Translated from Greek NT) - "But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised;"

Galatians 2:3 (NIV) - "Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek."

In Greek NT manuscripts and English Translations of Greek NT manuscripts, it say Titus was a Greek.

What does Peshitta say?

Galatians 2:3 (Peshitta Translation by Etheridge in English) - "Titos also who was with me, who was an Aramoya, was not constrained to be circumcised."

Peshitta says that Titus was an Aramean. Not Greek. Aramean is an Aramaic speaking Gentile. Whenever Aramean or Arameans is mentioned in Peshitta, it is replaced with Greek or Greeks in Greek New Testament. In Aramaic, the word for Greek is "Iavanoya."

In his book "Geography", Greek Historian and Philosopher Strabo (64 BC - 23 AD) points out that Greeks called Arameans "Syrians." The term "Aramaic" were known as "Suristi" among Greeks and translated as "Syriac" in English.

Whenever Arameans or Aramaic is mentioned, Greeks replaced them with Greeks.

Here are other examples.

1) 1 Corinthians 10:32 (NIV) - "Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God--"

What does Aramaic Peshitta say?

1 Corinthians 10:32 (Etheridge Translation in English) - "Give no offence to Jihudoyee, or to Aramoyee, or to the church of Aloha."

2) 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV) - "Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (KJV) - "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

Let's look at Peshitta.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (Etheridge Translation of Peshitta in English) - "For the Jihudoyee demand signs, and the Aramoyee require wisdom; but we preach the Meshiha crucified, a scandal to the Jihudoyee, and to the Aramoyee foolishness; but to them who are called, Jihudoyee and Aramoyee, the Meshiha is the power of Aloha, and the wisdom of Aloha."

Sidenote - "Aloha" means God.

Apostle Paul was preaching to Jews and Arameans (Aramaic speaking Gentiles) who lived in Greek regions and Roman regions. From Acts 16 to Acts 18, we read that Paul was preaching to Jews at synagogues in Greek regions like Ephesus, Berea, Corinth, Thessalonica, Athens. In Acts 18, we read that Claudius Caesar ordered Jews to leave Rome. So we know that there were Jews living in Rome during that time.

There are several occasions where Arameans are replaced by Greeks in Greek NT manuscripts.

Let me point out an example from Ephesians 1:18

3) Ephesians 1:18

The NIV says: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”

The KJV says: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”

Versions that say heart or a variation thereof: ALT, AMP, ASV, BBE, CEV, DARBY, Douay-Rheims, ESV, Holman, ISV, NASB, NIV, NIV-UK, NLT, Rotherham, RSV, Wycliffe.

Versions that say understanding or a variation thereof: Geneva, MKJV, KJ21, KJV, NKJV, Webster, Weymouth, YLT.

Now, it just so happens that the Aramaic phrase "ayna d Lebwatkon" is an idiom, and as such, can have a literal translation, and a meaningful translation.

In Semitic culture, the heart is the idiomatic organ of understanding and knowledge.

In Ephesians 1:18, Paul uses this Semiticism: "Ayna d'Lebwatkon" - "the eye of your hearts."

The Alexandrian manuscripts (including Tischendorf, Westcott & Hort and Nestle-Aland) tend to "literally" retain this Aramaic idiom, while the Byzantine texts give a "meaningful" translation.

Why would Apostle Paul write to people who live in Greece in Aramaic idioms? This is because Apostle Paul was writing to Aramaic speaking People.

I am an South Indian who lives in America. If I write a letter to a South Indian friend of mine who lives in America, then I write to him in my South Indian Language - Malayalam. Not English.

Also here are couple of Aramaic words found in Greek NT manuscripts - Satana (Luke 10:18), Mammona (Luke 16:9), Khqel Dama (transliterated as Akel dama in Greek in Acts 1:19), Maran Atha (1 Corinthians 16:22), Golgotha (John 19:17), Talitha (Mark 5:41), and Lebontha (Matthew 2:11)." So we even see Aramaic words in Greek NT manuscripts.

Below is how we write above Aramaic words in Hebrew.

Satana (Luke 10:18) - In Hebrew, the word "Satana" will become "Ha Satan." Mammona (Luke 16:9) - In Hebrew, the word will become "Ha Mammon." Khqel Dama (poorly transliterated as Akel dama in Greek) - In Hebrew, "Sh'deh Hadam." Maran Atha (1 Corinthians 16:22) - In Hebrew, "Adonainu Atha." Golgotha (John 19:17) - In Hebrew, "Ha Gulgoleth." Talitha (Mark 5:41) - In Hebrew, "Ha Yaldah." Lebontha (Matthew 2:11) - In Hebrew, "Ha Lebonah."

Many translators attempted to make it look it New Testament was written in Greek by replacing Arameans with Greek and also Aramaic with Greek in Greek NT manuscripts. It is believed among some aramaic primacists that "once the translation from Aramaic into Greek was done, Greek translators destroyed the early Aramaic NT manuscripts." Let me take a famous historical example - In South India, Archbishop Menezies succeeded in destroying Aramaic Peshitta Manuscript that was preserved for centuries.

I want to write more information. But the post is too long already.

share|improve this answer
Welcome to the site. We are happy to have you here and participate. Please see the faq for a good idea of what we expect in answers and questions. This was too long for me to read right now, but the start looks like it is very good. I will surely read it later. I did not know there was this opinion. –  fredsbend Apr 10 '13 at 6:48
This would benefit greatly from either a trim down to size or at least a summary of your main argument. I love that you've written a lot, but I think sometimes that can hurt your attempt at answering. –  wax eagle Apr 10 '13 at 10:11
The problem is there can be multiple answers to this question. For Example, one person might agree that New testament is written in Greek. But other person might say that New Testament is written in Hebrew, because words like Golgotha, Gabbatha, etc. is written as Hebrew in KJV. But a person like me believes New Testament is written in Aramaic. Not Greek or Hebrew. So in order to answer this, I must show the importance of Aramaic and at the same time I also must show that New Testament is not written in Greek and Hebrew. So that's why its a long answer. –  konwayk Apr 10 '13 at 19:03
@konwayk There may be multiple answers to this question, but without any basic formatting such as blockquotes for quoted sources, either numbered or bulleted lists for multiple points relating to the same issue, headings, section breaks, etc ... it's almost impossible to make out what those answers would be and what your main point is here. –  Caleb Apr 11 '13 at 8:28
The longest I have ever seen :-) –  Mawia Jun 14 '13 at 12:07

I agree the New Testament was written in Hebrew?Aramaic first then it was translated into Greek. The NT has Hebrew literature not Greek. Yes, some people spoke Greek in the time of Jesus, but they were the upper-class, the Sadducees, and Pharisees. Poor people were the ones who followed Jesus. I am sure Jesus spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. another thing is that the Apostles went to Turkey or Asia Minor first before reaching Greece. Hebrew was is / will be a sacred language thing that Christians don't understand or appreciate. Reading the NT from the Jewish point of view makes more sense than reading from the Greek point of view because the Greek language has too much mythology. Ruth

share|improve this answer
Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. Unfortunately, this just sounds like a forum post, as opposed to a researched answer. There is debate over Aramaic primacy which should be acknowledged. There is no sourcing for the assertion that Jesus spoke Latin. Hebrew is not a sacred language - there are many assertions that I don't think will stand the scrutiny of research. –  Affable Geek Apr 2 at 13:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.