Why isn't the New Testament based off of Aramaic?


#1

I'm currently answering some questions my Muslim coworker has posed to me and I don't know how to respond to one of them:

If Jesus and his disciples spoke in Aramaic, why isn't the New Testament scripture based off of written Aramaic as opposed to Greek?

My coworker is asserting that since we base it off Greek instead of Aramaic, there is some meaning that is lost in what is said thus rendering the New Testament less reliable. Anyone an expert on this?


#2

The main reason would be that because all of the New Testament books were composed in Greek. (Perhaps there is an early version of Matthew that was written in Aramaic, but that has never been found.) The reason it was originally written in Greek was primarily because that was the language of the Roman Empire, particularly in the East. If you wanted to be able to communicate with the vast majority of people in that day, you would do so using Greek. It would be of no use for Paul to write to Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae, or any of the other early Christian communities in a language like Aramaic, which no one would have understood. Christ commissioned the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, teaching them all that he had commanded. That could only be done through using the langauge which most would understand, Greek.


#3

[quote="vman24601, post:1, topic:315573"]
I'm currently answering some questions my Muslim coworker has posed to me and I don't know how to respond to one of them:

If Jesus and his disciples spoke in Aramaic, why isn't the New Testament scripture based off of written Aramaic as opposed to Greek?

My coworker is asserting that since we base it off Greek instead of Aramaic, there is some meaning that is lost in what is said thus rendering the New Testament less reliable. Anyone an expert on this?

[/quote]

Probably because there were two legitimate sources of the Tanakh given to us by the Jewish scribes. The Hebrew Tanakh and the Septuagint (in Greek). As the apostle Paul said, *For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. *

Since the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and most of the Gentile world spoke Greek, the Septuagint was the preferred version of the Tanakh, and Greek was the preferred language to convey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, there is some meaning lost without the Aramaic. This is probably why the Jewish disciples had a better grasp of the gospel, and why we should look to Jewish/Christian roots of our faith for better understanding.

God's peace

micah


#4

If only Christ had left a living interpreter of the Scriptures on Earth to make sure that His message was accurately and fully transmitted to each generation and every land....

Oh, wait.


#5

[quote="aemcpa, post:4, topic:315573"]
If only Christ had left a living interpreter of the Scriptures on Earth to make sure that His message was accurately and fully transmitted to each generation and every land....

Oh, wait.

[/quote]

i just LOL'ed, quite robustly, at work at a very inappropriate time. THANKS! hahaha


#6

Not an expert. This must be examined on principle. The Gospel according to Matthew was the only NT scripture that is believed to have originated in Aramaic. Greek was the common language of the holy land and of the areas into which Christianity expanded in the Gospel age. There is no original of any scripture still existing. The originals are long gone. What we have left has been copied from copies of copies of copies of copies. The only way that we can place faith in the NT is because of the guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Tradition that has been handed on to us. What we have received has been preserved by each succeeding generation as part of the sacred deposit of faith.

The Muslim is trying the old "Islam is completely true only in Arabic" angle that Islam uses. I must point out that if the Quran is true only in Arabic, then Islam is not a world religion, but one that is intended only for that fraction of the world that speaks Arabic. As well, the Quran has been revised over the ages, by using a simpler writing style, as the language is quite laborious to copy in its original form. Thus, many of those subtle nuances that Arabic is famous for have vanished over time.

Since the Quran has been simplified, and since the subtle nuances that reportedly make Islam truest only in Arabic have been lost via the ancient copyist's switch to simpler writing styles, how can the modern Muslim know that what they possess is true to the original? This is vitally important in light of the fact that they have no Apostolic Tradition which preserves the meaning and intent of the words as written.


#7

Interesting question. I'd say the choice of language for the New Testament does not affect the level of support for anything contained within it. The robustness of the ideas and evidence within the New Testament stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of whether it is written in Aramaic or Greek. The authors of the New Testament put their pens to paper several-to-many decades after the death of Jesus, so there is no reason to expect the authors (who may or may not have met Jesus) to speak and write in his language.

I suppose the question does arise, how do we know the message of the New Testament was faithfully conveyed from the time of Jesus to the time it was written down, but I think that concern exists independent of the language used in the New Testament. More concerning to someone worried about the faithfulness of the message would be the increasing magnificence and detail incorporated into the descriptions of Jesus' life with each new Gospel over a span of decades. Embellishment should certainly be a concern, although I imagine the Catholic Church has addressed this? The alternative to embellishment seems to be to accept that the author of the earliest-written Gospel knew less about the miraculous details of Jesus' life than the authors who came decades after him.


#8

Paul was educated in Greek and fully fluent in the language of the people. He also was writing to Greek audiences in most cases. Luke was a Greek so there is no reason he would have written in any other language. Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome for a Greek-speaking audience and John wrote his in Ephesus for the same. Both of them were young enough that adding Greek would not have been difficult.

All that remains are Matthew, Peter, James, and Jude. As noted by others, Matthew is suspected as having been written in Aramaic or Hebrew, translated into Greek and the original lost (alternately, that is was re-composed in Greek from memory after the original was lost). The other two synoptics, which were written in Greek to Greek-speaking audiences are in agreement with the present content of Matthew, so the that version is indeed reliable.

Peter, James, and Jude addressed their letters to all Christians, so it makes the most sense that they would use Greek to reach the widest possible audience.


#9

[quote="aemcpa, post:4, topic:315573"]
If only Christ had left a living interpreter of the Scriptures on Earth to make sure that His message was accurately and fully transmitted to each generation and every land....

Oh, wait.

[/quote]

:rotfl: :thumbsup:


#10

[quote="vman24601, post:1, topic:315573"]
I'm currently answering some questions my Muslim coworker has posed to me and I don't know how to respond to one of them:

If Jesus and his disciples spoke in Aramaic, why isn't the New Testament scripture based off of written Aramaic as opposed to Greek?

My coworker is asserting that since we base it off Greek instead of Aramaic, there is some meaning that is lost in what is said thus rendering the New Testament less reliable. Anyone an expert on this?

[/quote]

First of all we are NOT a Bible based Church. The Church existed for 300 years before She assembled the New Testament. So the Church is whom Jesus entrusted his teachings. For 300 years they witnessed mainly by Oral Tradition 2 Thessalonians 2:15 " Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter ours."

2nd Timothy 1:13 "Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us."

1st Timothy 3:15 "...the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." The Church is the foundation & support of the truth which Jesus Christ taught us. The Church is entrusted with the interpretation of the Oral, and written word of God. 2 Peter 1:20 It is NOT a matter of private interpretation.

How did they accurately recall, and pass on these Sacred truths? * "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."* John 14:26

The Holy Spirit Guides, reminds, and teaches the One Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church! ** "..you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it..." The Church will survive until the end! "*I will build **my Church"* Who's Church? JESUS CHRIST'S!

The Bible didn't just fall from heaven. Jesus Christ gave it to HIS Catholic Church. Jesus didn't come to earth only to die for our sins. He also came to establish HIS One Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is our inheritance! :dancing: :extrahappy: :amen:


#11

The title question is very complicated and is treated by Christianity historian Yaroslav Pelikan in his book Whose Bible is It?

Pelikan, who is so respected that he received over 40 honorary doctorates, asserts the primacy of history, that the Septuagint (greek) was the reference text for the New Testament – period.

He delves into some questions of this type, i.e. the role of the Aramaic, but he does not ignore the philosophical questions, either.


#12

[quote="sirach2v4, post:11, topic:315573"]
The title question is very complicated and is treated by Christianity historian Yaroslav Pelikan in his book Whose Bible is It?

Pelikan, who is so respected that he received over 40 honorary doctorates, asserts the primacy of history, that the Septuagint (greek) was the reference text for the New Testament -- period.

He delves into some questions of this type, i.e. the role of the Aramaic, but he does not ignore the philosophical questions, either.

[/quote]

Didn't St. Jerome, himself a Hebrew and Aramaic scholar, find some problems with the Greek translations?


#13

[quote="vman24601, post:1, topic:315573"]
I'm currently answering some questions my Muslim coworker has posed to me and I don't know how to respond to one of them:

If Jesus and his disciples spoke in Aramaic, why isn't the New Testament scripture based off of written Aramaic as opposed to Greek?

My coworker is asserting that since we base it off Greek instead of Aramaic, there is some meaning that is lost in what is said thus rendering the New Testament less reliable. Anyone an expert on this?

[/quote]

Because the writers of the NT, except for Paul, were of the Diaspora and was not familiar with either Hebrew or Aramaic as they were Greek speaking Jews.


#14

Was Matthew's Gospel first written in Aramaic or Hebrew?

Around 180 Irenaeus of Lyons wrote that
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. (Against Heresies 3:1:1)
Fifty years earlier Papias, bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor, wrote, "Matthew compiled the sayings [of the Lord] in the Aramaic language, and everyone translated them as well as he could" (Explanation of the Sayings of the Lord [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 3:39]).
Sometime after 244 the Scripture scholar Origen wrote, "Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language" (*Commentaries on Matthew
[cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25]).
Eusebius himself declared that "Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue [Aramaic], so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote" (*History of the Church
3:24 [inter 300-325]).


#15

Regina Love;10378597]

The Bible didn't just fall from heaven. Jesus Christ gave it to HIS Catholic Church. Jesus didn't come to earth only to die for our sins. He also came to establish HIS One Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is our inheritance! :dancing: :extrahappy: :amen:

Hi Regina Love, I don't think that the OP is casting doubt upon the authority of the Roman Catholic Church as such. I believe that the question is,

"Why isn't the New Testament based off of Aramaic?"

That question has been very ably answered by the other posters.

Protector.


#16

I think that not all of the writings are available in their original Aramaic.


#17

[quote="OxygenMan, post:16, topic:315573"]
I think that not all of the writings are available in their original Aramaic.

[/quote]

That would be my understanding too. We don't know Christ's exact words were, even in the Aramaic.


#18

[quote="ProVobis, post:12, topic:315573"]
Didn't St. Jerome, himself a Hebrew and Aramaic scholar, find some problems with the Greek translations?

[/quote]

St. Jerome was an advocate of Hebraica veritas. So obviously he would think that the Hebrew text of his day was more better than the Greek translation. ;)

(P.S. Jerome was not too proficient in 'Chaldean' as he was in Hebrew; in translating Tobit and Judith - of which he found Aramaic versions - he needed someone to translate them in Hebrew frst.)


#19

[quote="ProVobis, post:17, topic:315573"]
That would be my understanding too. We don't know Christ's exact words were, even in the Aramaic.

[/quote]

There are a few phrases. The gospels that were specifically written in Greek included transliterations of Aramaic/Hebrew and the Greek translation.

For example:
Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani


#20

[quote="Protector, post:15, topic:315573"]
Hi Regina Love, I don't think that the OP is casting doubt upon the authority of the Roman Catholic Church as such. I believe that the question is,

That question has been very ably answered by the other posters.

Protector.

[/quote]

When you doubt the original documents, and Bible translations which the Church has asserted to be true for centuries, then you are doubting the ability, and authority of the Church to handle such things, and to accurately represent the truth!


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