Languages in Roman-era Judaea: Let’s Stay on the Topic!


Larry Hurtado's Blog

Comments to my previous posting illustrate the occasional frustration in blogging:  You raise an issue/topic, and commenters then take the discussion into other topics/issues.  My previous posting wasn’t about the comparative usage of Hebrew and Aramaic, for example, or about how scribes rendered the Tetragram, but about the usage of Greek alongside Semitic languages and in the Jerusalem church.  The point (which I, ah, thought should have been pretty clear) was therefore, that older notions that anything Greek must be secondary/later are dubious.  So, to reiterate relevant points and try to steer us back onto the topic:

  • The evidence shows Greek being used in Jewish Palestine from at least the 3rd century BCE onward.  It was one of the languages of Jewish Palestine of the earliest period of the Jesus-movement.
  • Textual evidence (e.g., Acts) posits a Jerusalem church comprised of Jewish believers whose first language was a Semitic one (I think…

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