Ask Re’uben

Was the New Testament (Brit Chadashah)

written in Hebrew?


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Biblical Question:

Was the New Testament (Brit Chadashah) written in Hebrew?

Our Question:

Kevin from Cleveland asks:

Dear Pastor Reuben,

   I have heard that it is now thought that the New testament was written not only in Greek but, also Hebrew. Possibly Hebrew first.  Is this true?  

Pastor Reuben's Answer:

Dear Kevin, shalom,

   Many scholars in Israel are now convinced that the spoken and written language of the Jews in the Land of Israel at the time of Jesus was indeed Hebrew; and that the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) were derived from original Hebrew sources. 

   These scholars, fluent in both Greek and Hebrew, have proposed impressive solutions to major problems of New Testament interpretation.  Important discoveries which they have made serve to illuminate the very Hebrew style of speech used by Jesus and his first followers, and to make  possible a more accurate translation of the Gospels.  With a new understanding of the language  Jesus spoke, they are now able to correct numerous mistranslations in the English text of the New  Testament.

   Professor David Flusser of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the world's leading Jewish  authority on the New Testament and early Christianity, holds strongly to the view that the life of Jesus was originally composed in Hebrew.

   Dr. Moshe Bar-Asher, also of Hebrew University and their foremost Aramaic scholar, agrees.  He thinks the Synoptic Gospels go back to a Greek translation of an original Hebrew (not Aramaic!)  document.

   Outstanding scholars from outside Israel also have arrived at this conclusion.  Harris Birkeland, a Norwegian, states, "The Language of the common people in Palestine in the time of Jesus was Hebrew."  William Sanford LaSor, professor emeritus at Fuller theological Seminary
(an outstanding Semitic scholar) has said, "With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it now seems highly probable that the language Jesus spoke was Hebrew and not Aramaic."

   An impressive amount of evidence points to the use of Hebrew in first-century Israel: the testimony of the church fathers, the Dead Sea Scrolls, coins, and inscriptions from the first centuries B.C. - A.D., the writings of  Josephus, and Rabbinic Literature.

Further reference:

1. Jewish New Testament by David Stern ISBN 965-359-006-5
2. The Messiah in the New Testament in the light of Rabbinical Writings by Risto Santala ISBN 965-447-010-1

God bless your reading of His Word!

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