The Multilingualism of Ancient Palestine and the Multilingual Jesus

Within this public ministry, Jesus seems to have used Aramaic most often in more private settings with his disciples, and Greek almost always in more public settings, especially when there are crowds present.

See Also: The Multilingual Jesus and the Sociolinguistic World of the New Testament (Brill, 2015).

By Hughson T. Ong
McMaster Divinity College
Hamilton, ON, Canada
March 2016

Click here for article.

Comments (1)

The emergent Christians claimed that theirs was the valid interpretation of the 'Old Testament' and made it intrinsic and essential to their claims that their original foundation was due to a great prophet and Son of God who had operated in the Aramaic--speaking world, where the OT was (in various versions) well known, and who would surely have had Aramaic-speaking followers. Yet there is just no Christian Aramaic documentation and people devote what may utterly wasted energy to retro-engineering it. Well, there is the Syriac NT - but does Syriac fit the bill for Palestinian Aramaic at the time?
All this seems to cast severe doubt on the claims that the Christians made about their origins, making it look as if a micro-movement in Palestine had been worked up in the wider world where Greek was spoken and Moses and Plato were discussed together, maybe with very little hard information about the Founder.
It would comfort me, highly sceptical believer that I am, if your portrait, in which the Public Jesus was to all intents and purposes a Greek speaker, were to be accepted. But even then there is the question of the Intimate Jesus and why his friends so totally forgot the language of their intimate conversations.

#1 - Martin Hughes - 03/28/2016 - 09:44


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