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Do we know which one is which?

David is a Jew.

Moses is a Jew (not sure whether he wrote the Torah or not).

Matthew is a Jew. Not sure about Mark or Luke. John seems Jewish too.

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I suppose you would like the answer to assume that the traditional authors are indeed the actual authors? –  fredsbend May 14 '13 at 4:06
Could you perhaps give us a reason why this matters to make this suitable to this site? Otherwise I'm inclined to move this over to the hermeneutics site. –  wax eagle May 14 '13 at 15:11
The Biblical authors span far too large a time span for clear definitions or Jewish/Greek/Other to have consistent meanings across the whole time period. In order to make this an answerable question you need to show why this matters to you and hence what definitions you are using. There are 40 some authors including some unknowns. What are you trying to learn here an why? –  Caleb May 14 '13 at 19:32
Some claims that bible is originally written in hebrew. Some says new testaments are written in greek. I want to know which one is which. –  Jim Thio May 15 '13 at 1:30
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closed as not a real question by wax eagle May 14 '13 at 15:18

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

So, the Bible was written in three languages - Hebrew, Koine Greek, and Aramaic.

Of the extant manuscripts, only Daniel - and there only a few chapters of Daniel (2 - 9 if I remember correctly) are written directly in Aramaic.

With the exception of those chapters of Daniel, the entire Old Testament was written in some time period of Hebrew - though some of the Hebrew is in stranger dialects than others. (Good luck reading Ecclesiastes!)

After the nation of Israel was conquered by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, the Hebrew itself was basically assimiliated, and the Assyrian language that replaced and merged with it was called Aramaic. That is the language that John the Baptist, Jesus, and all the residents of the Holy Land would have been speaking for the last 300 or 400 years BC. Some of the New Testament works may have even been written first in Aramaic, but we have no manuscripts to prove this point.

Rather, the educated language - and the lingua franca of the time - was Koine Greek. All of the earliest manuscripts we have of every book of the New Testament are written in this language. Much in the same way that even though India has 30 languages but English is the most common trade language, for example, so too Koine Greek was the dominant language of culture.

Paul, in particular, spoke Greek (Acts 21:37), and most likely composed all of his books in Greek. His travelling companion Luke also would have composed in Greek, as would John the Revelator - especially since his books (like Paul) were written to churches in the Greek speaking parts of Turkey. There would be no reason to choose another language.

Of the Gospels (and the whole NT for that matter), the only two that might have been written in Aramaic and then translated would be Matthew and Mark. Mark, probably the earlier of the two, was written extensively with Peter's help. Peter, being a native Aramaic speaker, may have even conversed with Mark in Aramaic. That said, the earliest manuscripts we have are all in Greek. (If Mark was Peter's emmaneusis, it would have been customary to write it in Greek in any case.) Matthew, as well, was targeted to a Hebrew audience, and thus might have been Aramaic.

So to summarize - # of books by language, considering extant manuscripts of the Protestant Canon only:

  • Hebrew: 38.5 (All Old Testament)
  • Aramaic: 0.5 (Daniel)
  • Greek: 27 (All New Testament)

Possible Candidates for original Aramaic construction: 2 (Matthew, Mark)

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The question is whether the authors are jew, greek, etc. This answers what language they were written in. –  fredsbend May 14 '13 at 22:04
All of them are Jews. Some of them spoke Aramaic and Greek - but everyone of them lived in the same region as the historical kingdom of Israel and had Hebrew blood. Jewish is technically the religion of the Hebrews, from which all Christians derive. –  Affable Geek May 15 '13 at 16:16
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