A “Greek Jesus or Hebrew Yeshua”?
A Reader Writes:
I watched this [Internet video on a “Greek Jesus or Hebrew Yeshua”] and found it fascinating…The man giving the seminar believes strictly in the text of the Old Testament (does not believe Jesus is the Messiah), but because he is a Hebrew scholar, he is able to shed light on some interesting aspects of the New Testament. Turns out much of the New Testament may have been written first in Hebrew, translated into Aramaic, and then into Greek. Very convincing evidence of this. Hope you can watch….
These other arguments some have tried to influence you with such as the New Testament being written in Hebrew, etc. are unsubstantiated and the cause of propagating such notions is generally the domain of pseudo-scholarly charlatans.
There is but one historic reference in the Patristic literature that Matthew’s Gospel, according to Heggisippus/Papias, was originally written in Hebrew, but that may simply have been the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic (similar to something called the Peshita text). Even the earliest Syriac texts of the New Testament we have on record are translated from Greek. The body of Gospel narrative fragments, megilot (scrolls), and codices number about 10,000 (some dating to the 1st Century), and the total number of New Testament source copies is about 20,000. By comparison there are only for instance 420 of Ceaser’s Conquests. With such a massive volume of manuscript material (far outweighing anything other from the ancient world), it is unthinkable that there is not a single Hebrew manuscript anywhere if the original authorship were indeed in Hebrew.
While Semitic languages and thought do underlie the Greek texts, there is no definite way to say that the underlying Semitic language is Hebrew and not a Hebrew form of Aramaic. In fact, the internal evidence of the pericopes containing Aramaic sentences spoken by Jesus tend to support Aramaic.
The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research (Dr. Joe Francovic, Dr. Roy Blizzard, Dr. Ray Bevan supported by late Professor David Flusser) attempted a scholarly reconstruction of source manuscripts by forensic linguistics, but after many years they can prove nothing and have no manuscript or archaeological proof of these theories. These at least are the more serious academics examining this proposition. Most of the others are frankly “know-nothing” charlatans and not even truly qualified ancient Near Eastern linguists or manuscript historians. Do not even bother paying any attention to such ridiculous people.
The overwhelming mass of hard evidence supports a largely Greek authorship of the New Testament in the original autographs which mainly quote the Septuagint (not Hebrew texts), and most of the evidence supports the liklihood of Yeshua and His Apostles having spoken mainly a Hebrewized (and probably Galilean) dialect of Aramaic. All manuscripts moreover, call the Messiah “Jesus”.
This is a massive and complex area of study that we cannot delve into at length by email, and frankly anyone who is not literate in Koina and Attic Greek, Biblical Hebrew, and Syriac should not even get involved in such endeavours. Even those experts who are so qualified (both believers and non-believers) are often divided in their summations and interpretation of complicated details, linguistic nuances, etc.
There are frauds of every description from Gail Riplinger to the cultic “Sacred Name” movement, to hyper-messianic extremists who are misleading many sincere but undiscerning Christians with what amounts to pure, ultra-speculative unadulterated rubbish. Recognize that religious hype-artists and con-artists run around all the time claiming erroneously to have discovered something “new” or rediscovered some “secret” knowlege that is old. Some of these people are mere connivers; others among them are deluded by their ignorance, blinded by spiritual pride and border on Gnosticism. Moreover, pseudo-scholars are, quite honestly, “a dime a dozen”.
No authentic ancient copy of Matthew’s Gospel exists. It was translated a century ago into Hebrew from Greek by Franz Delitzche, a Jewish believer in Jesus and an amazing scholar.
We are not the top experts in the world by any means, but although she is a mathamatician by profession, my wife has an Israeli degree in biblical Hebrew and Aramaic where Dr. David Flusser himself was one of her professors at Hebrew University. I am fluent in Hebrew, read Greek, etc. and I studied under the best at London School of Theology (LBC) and at Cambridge. Among others, I do conferences with Dr. Randolph Price of the Qumran archaeological commission, I have met Professor Larry Fischman of The Dead Sea Scrolls Commission, and I work closely with Dr. Siam Bhayro – probably the leading saved Evangelical Ancient Near Eastern linguist and language scholar in the world. None of these take such nonsense as the “Greek Jesus, or Hebrew Yeshua” garbage seriously and neither should you.
A nice Jewish girl like yourself who believes in Yeshua as her Messiah should get into a good solid fellowship with good doctrine and avoid the kooks whose abundant ranks appear to be almost everywhere.
Every Blessing In Messiah,