I had thought that the Old Testament had two versions: Greek and Hebrew. Today, from this link I've found that before the Greek Bible, there was another version, the Aramaic Bible.

During Jesus time, did the Jews use versions of the Old Testament in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek? Did they use versions in other languages?

I'm sorry as I have misunderstood the link above. After searching the internet, I found another link :

The writings of the Old Testament of the Bible were preserved in three languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and have been passed on to us ...//cut

And this

The originality and the importance of Aramaic Old Testament (known as Peshitta Tanakh) can be seen through its consistency by solivng the contradiction between Septuagint and Hebrew Masoretic Text (Hebrew Old Testament written several centuries after Jesus Christ)

I'm unable to find out about on what year the Aramaic Old Testament began to be used or translated.

Today I search more about my question, and this link say :

Jesus was quoting Aramaic. Not Septuagint. Aramaic was the spoken language of first century Israel.

From the sentence above, then there were three version Bible language in that time. But it seems still not clear as in Wiki I found out :

  1. What Theodore of Mopsuestia says of the Old Testament is true of both: "These Scriptures were translated into the tongue of the Syriacs by someone indeed at some time, but who on earth this was has not been made known down to our day".
  2. F. Crawford Burkitt concluded that the translation of the Old Testament was probably the work of Jews, of whom there was a colony in Edessa about the commencement of the Christian era.
  3. The older view was that the translators were Christians, and that the work was done late in the 1st century or early in the 2nd.

Today I've also read this link which I get from this link

The Peshitta Tanakh is the ancient Scriptures translated into Lishana Aramaya (Aramaic language) from the original Hebrew text which pre-dated the Greek Septuagint text (LXX).

  • Thank you for the editing, Sondra.Kinsey
    – karma
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


It might be helpful for you to research the Septuagint, which is also referred to as LXX being the Roman numeral for seventy as it is traditionally believed that seventy Jewish elders performed the Hebrew to Greek translation in about 300 B.C.

Many Jews, in the days of Christ on earth, would have read this Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture. It is probable that both Jesus and his apostles are quoting from the Septuagint when we read their references to the Old Testament writings in the Greek New Testament writings of the first century.

I think you may have misunderstood the article in your link. It is referring only to Daniel and Ezra, which were written during the captivity, when Judah was carried off to Babylon, and parts of which are written in the Chaldee (Aramaic) dialect, not pure Hebrew. But there is not a huge amount of difference between Chaldee (Aramaic) and Hebrew.

My understanding is that Aramaic is not, exactly, Babylonian Chaldee. Upon the return to Israel, some Jews who had been influenced during the seventy years of captivity (particularly those growing up in Babylon) would have adapted Chaldee to Aramaic upon their return. They developed another dialect once they were back in their homeland, partly influenced by their exile in Babylon.

Scholars, scribes and Pharisees would have studied the scripture in the original Hebrew as the Jews carefully preserved what had been delivered to them by Moses and the prophets. But in parts of Israel, particularly Galilee in the north, both Aramaic and Greek were spoken.

No scripture was written in the Aramaic dialect, however. Daniel and Ezra were retained in their original form. There was an Aramaic translation (the Peshita, as is mentioned in your new link) and, later, there was Jerome's Latin Vulgate.

I would be very interested if anyone else were to post an answer containing more detail.

Like many things, there is some modern dispute about some of the details of the manuscripts available during that period.

During the days of Christ on earth there were two main scriptures being used in Israel, the pure Hebrew scripture (within the canon of which were Daniel and Ezra partly in Chaldee) and the Greek Septuagint. It was a time of great change and the Greek language had become the lingua franca of the Mediterranean region.

  • Nigel, yes ... you are correct. I'm sorry as I have misunderstood the link above. Thank you for telling my mistake Nigel. I've added another link about Aramaic Bible OT. I hope I'm not a mistake again :).
    – karma
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 9:39
  • 1
    Aramaic OT scriptures were known as "targum". Apparently targum originally referred to oral translation only. It is not clear when written targums were first produced.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:08
  • @disciple Is 'targum' the same as 'peshita' ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:48
  • 1
    No. I don't know about the distinction between OT Peshita, but I assume the whole Peshita was translated at (about) the same time. Estimates vary from 1st to about 6th Century. Targum is a term for interpretations which began as oral presentations. Peshita is a normal, presumably all-at-once translation. [citations needed]
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:57
  • 1
    @user12711 You could present your own answer to this question, I think. No need to confine yourself to a comment.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:45

The Hebrew Bible (as a whole) had only been translated into one language, Greek (Koine), by 30CE. This translation is known as the Greek Septuagint (Greek: "seventy"), or "LXX", the Roman numeral for "70". Hypothetically, if it had been translated into more languages than Greek, such as Aramaic, then we don't have any mention of this from ancient sources, so it would have been something not discussed in the ancient writings that we currently have access to.

The Priests in Jesus's day were an official "Class" that not just anyone could join. And it was monitored by the Roman authorities. They would have known Greek, to varying degrees. But they would speak Aramaic as their native tongue. "Greek" had been the international Language of the Hellenized World used by the educated within the Roman Empire to communicate from one native speaking land to different native speaking lands. This had been the case since Alexander the Great mixed Greek speaking people with Native speaking people throughout the regions his armies went, from Jerusalem, to Egypt, through Persia and India, all the way to the Indian Ocean.

His armies married into local native speaking peoples. This is known as Hellenization. "Hellen" is the Greek word for the peoples from the Grecian Peninsula and its islands. "Greek" is actually Latin word for those same peoples.

If you read Josephus (Pharisee-turned-Roman-Historian)[37-100CE], he recounts Alexander's approach to Jerusalem, in Greek. The city opens its gates to him, with their Priests meeting him in highly decorated dress, him being prophesied in the Book of Daniel, and he and the High Priest going into the Holy Temple together. After coming out, Alexander was celebrated as their "Great King", replacing their prior Great King Darius III. After that, many Jews departed with Alexander as he went into Egypt. The people of Egypt viewed Alexander as a liberator, and they proclaimed him Pharaoh without a fight. Alexander died in 332AD, leaving his general Ptolemy as Pharaoh of Egypt. He famously created the Great Library of Alexandria (named after Alexander). Ptolemy's son, Ptolemy Philidelphius, famously acquired 70 Jewish Scholars to translate the sacred Hebrew Scriptures, each of them translating it the same, signifying that it was a Holy Work. Its imagined, and argued by academic scholars, that the Hebrew Scriptures would have had various accounts and versions with many conflicting sources.

Compare this to Greek lore which developed without being codified or standardized, of the same era, which has many conflicting accounts and variations of each "theos" (Greek for an immortal, but not necessarily all-powerful). According to written lore, the 70 Scholars all translated the scriptures separately, and each came up with the same translation. This is imagined to be a standardization process, to remove conflicting versions, and to codify it with the acceptance of representatives from Jewish authorities across the Hellenized region, negotiating their theology and history, and to establish an official Canon of Books. For example, this may have been when the Book of Enoch was deemed, "non-holy" and therefore not included in today's Bible.

Since the Septuagint's canon had been established and codified, and an official International Version written up, the pain-staking process of making hand written copies would have then begun, and those copies would have been shipped out sacred, and Beyond Dispute, and Holy. It's imagined that the Roman Empire in 30CE, and their puppet Jewish Leaders and Priests, would have stuck to these official versions so that various conflicting cults and sects and theologies would not emerge. This also greatly strengthened the Jewish faith.

There may have also still been Hebrew versions around, and some of the books written during Jerusalem's Persian era may have Aramaic roots, but those versions, it's imagined, would have been kept more secretively, and specifically to avoid Roman eyes. Nevertheless, scholars have shown that the Apostle Paul, a Roman Citizen, quoted from the Greek Septuagint. His quotations differ where there are differences between the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew and Aramaic "Masoretic Text" which are of a later date, hundreds of years later, and may have been translated from the Greek Septuagint to suit Jewish desires to be theologically different from the now distinct Christian Religion.

Those later Masoretic Texts were compiled and copied by Masoretic Jews after the Roman Empire had became officially a Christian Empire, with two divisions, East and West, and after the total collapse of paganism (or almost total). By that time, the ethnic Jews, however, prided their Jewish heritage, and wanted a Hebrew Version of their Holy Scripture to stand alone from the Mandated Christian Religion, and without depending on a language other than the Chosen People's language (Sacred Hebrew). And also, by this time, in the 4th century CE, the Septuagint had evolved to include many versions, with many Canons, that now incorporated books including those of the Apostle Paul's letters, and the Gospels of Christ, and other books by Greek Jews before the era of Christ. And so it was these books that the Jews saw increasingly more and more tainted as the years went by. The Masoretic Jews wanted those books "weeded out". And so the other Greek books were removed, those without Hebrew origin, particularly after the Hellenization Period (the time of Alexander the Great). They kept only the books they deemed originals to their faith and Hebrew heritage.

Additionally, by the 4th century CE, the Greek Language was being pushed out of existence in the Western Half of the Roman Empire, and certainly by the time the Masoretic Jews compiled their versions of Scripture, the earliest extant versions being about 1000CE, but perhaps extinct versions having been around by the 6th century CE.

Greek was viewed as a pagan language, with writings of pagan lore. Pride in Hebrew lore and history supplanted Greek lore and history, which were illegal to be taught or worshiped. This is the beginning of the Medieval Period where works from Homer were lost, and the works of the great philosophers were lost, those of Plato and Aristotle for instance.

The Latin Vulgate would eventually become the Western Roman Empire's primary source. "vulgar" = native or "common": i.e. Vulgar Latin = Native Latin, but Classical Latin = "Legal" Latin used in Roman Law and Archives [the Vulgate being written in Native Latin for Common Folk to abide by]. After this period, during the Renaissance, Greek was rediscovered with the help of the language having been preserved in the Eastern Half of the Roman Empire. New Protestants would emerge, and they would evolve use the Masoretic Texts to define their Old Testament, while picking up with the Gospel of Jesus, and Paul's letters, while dropping everything in-between Christ's time and the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great.

Constantinople would remain Greek speaking, for instance, a thousand years after the western region abandoned it, and condemned it, along with the "Gnostics" who were knowledge of Greek lore, and worshiped many theos (immortals), including Christo (Jesus).

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