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What language did Jesus speak?

August 7, 2012

In my top 10 reasons why you need the Septuagint I conclude with the #1 reason being that the Gospel writers record Jesus’ words as occasionally matching the Old Greek of the Hebrew Bible against the Hebrew. This has become a new research interest of mine, and there is no lack of scholarly opinion on the issue! It’s hard to tell if there’s scholarly consensus. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Jesus spoke Aramaic and read from and recited Hebrew scrolls, but that’s certainly not a universal view, from what I can tell. For example, Stanley E. Porter suggests:

… Jesus not only had sufficient linguistic competence to converse with others in Greek but also even to teach in Greek during his ministry. 

I believe that, first, it can be firmly established that Jesus did speak Greek and that we do indeed have some of his actual words. 

Porter explores the question “Did Jesus Ever Teach in Greek?” here (pdf). Thanks to the LXX Yahoo! group for the link.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2012 3:22 pm

    It seems as though I’ve found a kindred spirit. Thanks for the link. If you are going to be in Chicago in November, we will have to get together for coffee.

    • August 7, 2012 3:58 pm

      Oh, man… I would so love to be able to attend. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s in the works for me this year, but hopefully future years! Coffee sound great, though–hopefully we can do that before long.

      Have you found any good books/Websites to pass along that deal with what language(s) Jesus spoke, or to what extent he might have had access to and used Greek scrolls?


  1. Words on the Word | How Jesus Used the Bible

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