It is generally agreed by historians that Jesus and his disciples primarily spoke Aramaic (Jewish Palestinian Aramaic), the common language of Judea in the first century AD, most likely a Galilean dialect distinguishable from that of Jerusalem. The villages of Nazareth and Capernaum in Galilee, where Jesus spent most of his time, were Aramaic-speaking communities. It is also likely that Jesus knew enough Koine Greek to converse with those not native to Palestine, and it is also possible that Jesus knew some Hebrew for religious purposes.
Aramaic was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean during and after the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Achaemenid Empires (722-330 BC) and remained a common language of the region in the first century AD. In spite of the increasing importance of Greek, the use of Aramaic was also expanding, and it would eventually be dominant among Jews both in the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Middle East around 200 AD and would remain so until the Islamic conquests in the seventh century.
According to Dead Sea Scrolls archaeologist Yigael Yadin, Aramaic was the language of Hebrews until Simon Bar Kokhba's revolt (132 AD to 135 AD). Yadin noticed the shift from Aramaic to Hebrew in the documents he studied, which had been written during the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt. In his book, Bar Kokhba: The rediscovery of the legendary hero of the last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome, Yigael Yadin notes, "It is interesting that the earlier documents are written in Aramaic while the later ones are in Hebrew. Possibly the change was made by a special decree of Bar Kokhba who wanted to restore Hebrew as the official language of the state".
In another book by Sigalit Ben-Zion, Yadin said: "it seems that this change came as a result of the order that was given by Bar Kokhba, who wanted to revive the Hebrew language and make it the official language of the state." Yadin points out that Aramaic was the lingua franca at the time.
I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains.-- Antiquities of Jews XX, XI
Josephus chose to inform people from what are now Iran, Iraq, and remote parts of the Arabian Peninsula about the war of the Jews against the Romans through books he wrote "in the language of our country", prior to translating into Greek for the benefit of the Greeks and Romans:
I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work].-- Jewish Wars (Book 1, Preface, Paragraph 1)
I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it; but to suffer those Greeks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by my means, knew accurately both whence the war begun, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended.-- Jewish Wars (Book 1 Preface, Paragraph 2)
H. St. J. Thackeray (who translated Josephus' Jewish Wars from Greek into English) also points out, "We learn from the proem that the Greek text was not the first draft of the work. It had been preceded by a narrative written in Aramaic and addressed to "the barbarians in the interior", who are more precisely defined lower down as the natives of Parthia, Babylonia, and Arabia, the Jewish dispersion in Mesopotamia, and the inhabitants of Adiabene, a principality of which the reigning house, as was proudly remembered, were converts to Judaism (B. i, 3, 6). Of this Aramaic work the Greek is described as a "version" made for the benefit of the subjects of the Roman Empire, i.e. the Graeco-Roman world at large.
Josephus differentiated Hebrew from his language and that of first-century Israel. Josephus refers to Hebrew words as belonging to "the Hebrew tongue" but refers to Aramaic words as belonging to "our tongue" or "our language" or "the language of our country".
Josephus refers to a Hebrew word with the phrase "the Hebrew tongue": "But the affairs of the Canaanites were at this time in a flourishing condition, and they expected the Israelites with a great army at the city Bezek, having put the government into the hands of Adonibezek, which name denotes the Lord of Bezek, for Adoni in the Hebrew tongue signifies Lord."
In this example, Josephus refers to an Aramaic word as belonging to "our language": "This new-built part of the city was called 'Bezetha,' in our language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called 'the New City.'"
On several occasions in the New Testament, Aramaic words are called Hebrew. For example, in John 19:17 (KJV), the gospel-writer narrates that Jesus, "bearing his cross[,] went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha." The last word is, in fact, Aramaic. The word "Golgotha" is a transliteration of an Aramaic word, because -tha in Golgotha is the Aramaic definite article on a feminine noun in an emphatic state.
The Greek New Testament transliterates a few Semitic words. When the text itself refers to the language of such Semitic glosses, it uses words meaning "Hebrew"/"Jewish", but this term is often applied to unmistakably Aramaic words and phrases; for this reason, it is often interpreted as meaning "the (Aramaic) vernacular of the Jews" in recent translations. The "Semitisms" are mainly words attributed to Jesus by the Gospel of Mark, and perhaps had a special significance because of this.
A very small minority believes that most or all of the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. However, such theories are rejected by mainstream Biblical scholarship. Traditionally, parts of the Church of the East (Nestorian church) have also claimed originality for the Aramaic New Testament, but it is considered by scholars to be a translation from Greek. Instead, the consensus among mainstream academia is that although it is possible that there may be Aramaic source materials that underpin some portions of the New Testament, the New Testament was compiled and redacted in the Greek language. Scholars are also in agreement that there was at one time an early Aramaic/Hebrew version of a Jewish-Christian gospel, but its relation to the Greek gospels is not completely clear because of a lack of sources.
This verse gives an Aramaic phrase, attributed to Jesus bringing the girl back to life, with a transliteration into Greek, as ?. A few Greek manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus) of Mark's Gospel have this form of the text, but others (Codex Alexandrinus, the text-type known as the Majority Text, and also the Latin Vulgate) write (koumi, cumi) instead. The latter is in the Textus Receptus and is the version which appears in the KJV.
The Aramaic is ?l?th? q?m. The word ?l?th? is the feminine form of the word ?l?, meaning "young". Q?m is the Aramaic verb 'to rise, stand, get up'. In the feminine singular imperative, it was originally q?m?. However, there is evidence that in speech, the final -? was dropped so the imperative did not distinguish between masculine and feminine genders. The older manuscripts, therefore, used a Greek spelling that reflected pronunciation whereas the addition of an '?' was perhaps due to a bookish copyist.
In square script Aramaic, it could be ? or ? ?.
Once again, the Aramaic word is given with the transliteration, only this time, the word to be transliterated is more complicated. In Greek, the Aramaic is written . This could be from the Aramaic ethptha?, the passive imperative of the verb ptha?, 'to open', since the th could assimilate in western Aramaic. The pharyngeal ? was often omitted in Greek transcriptions in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) and was also softened in Galilean speech.
Abba, an originally Aramaic form borrowed into the Greek Old Testament as a name (2Chr 29:1) [though a feminine one, standing for the Hebrew Abijah (?)], common in Mishnaic Hebrew and still used in Modern Hebrew (written ?[?] in Greek, and 'abb? in Aramaic), is immediately followed by the Greek equivalent () with no explicit mention of it being a translation. The phrase Abba, Father is repeated in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. In Aramaic, it would be .
Raca, or Raka, in the Aramaic and Hebrew of the Talmud, means empty one, fool, empty head.
In Aramaic, it could be ? or ?.
Gospel of Matthew 6:24
In Aramaic, it could be ? (or, in the typical Aramaic "emphatic" state suggested by the Greek ending, ). This is usually considered to be an originally Aramaic word borrowed into Rabbinic Hebrew, but its occurrence in late Biblical Hebrew and, reportedly, in 4th century Punic may indicate that it had a more general "common Semitic background".
In the New Testament, the word ? Mammon, is declined like a Greek word whereas many of the other Aramaic and Hebrew words are treated as indeclinable foreign words.
Also in Mark 10:51. Hebrew form rabbi used as title of Jesus in Matthew 26:25,49; Mark 9:5, 11:21, 14:45; John 1:38, 1:49, 4:31, 6:25, 9:2, 11:8.
In Aramaic, it would have been .
Didache 10 (Prayer after Communion)
1 Corinthians 16:22
Depending on how one selects to split the single Greek expression of the early manuscripts into Aramaic, it could be either ? (marana tha, "Lord, come!") or (maran atha, "Our Lord has come").
This phrase, among the Sayings of Jesus on the cross, is given in these two versions. The Matthean version of the phrase is transliterated in Greek as , , ? . The Markan version is ?, ?, ? (el?i rather than ?li and lama rather than lema).
Overall, both versions appear to be Aramaic rather than Hebrew because of the verb (?bq) "abandon", which is originally Aramaic. The "pure" Biblical Hebrew counterpart to this word, ('zb) is seen in the first line of Psalm 22, which the saying appears to quote. Thus, Jesus is not quoting the canonical Hebrew version (?l? ?l? l?m? 'azabt?n?) attributed in some Jewish interpretations to King David cited as Jesus' ancestor in Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus if the Eli, Eli version of Jesus' outcry is taken; he may be quoting the version given in an Aramaic Targum (surviving Aramaic Targums do use ?bq in their translations of the Psalm 22 ).
The Markan word for "my god", ?, definitely corresponds to the Aramaic form ?, el?h?. The Matthean one, , fits in better with the of the original Hebrew Psalm, as has been pointed out in the literature; however, it may also be Aramaic because this form is attested abundantly in Aramaic as well.
In the next verse, in both accounts, some who hear Jesus' cry imagine that he is calling for help from Elijah (?l?y? in Aramaic).
Almost all ancient Greek manuscripts show signs of trying to normalize this text. For instance, the peculiar Codex Bezae renders both versions with ? ? (?li ?li lama zaphthani). The Alexandrian, Western and Caesarean textual families all reflect harmonization of the texts between Matthew and Mark. Only the Byzantine textual tradition preserves a distinction.
The Aramaic word form aqtan? is based on the verb aq/aq, 'to allow, to permit, to forgive, and to forsake', with the perfect tense ending -t (2nd person singular: 'you'), and the object suffix -an? (1st person singular: 'me').
In Hebrew, the saying would be " , ", the Aramaic phrase would be "? ? " or "? ? ".
The quotation uses them as an example of extremely minor details. In the Greek text translated as English jot and tittle is found iota and keraia. Iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet (?), but since only capitals were used at the time the Greek New Testament was written (?) and because the Torah was written in Hebrew, it probably represents the Hebrew yodh (?) which is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Keraia is a hook or serif.
In Aramaic () it refers to the treasury in the Temple in Jerusalem, derived from the Hebrew Korban (?), found in Mark 7:11 and the Septuagint (in Greek transliteration), meaning religious gift or offering.
The Greek is declined as a Greek noun, much like other examples.
This word is derived from ? . It is generally considered to be a quote from Psalms 118:25 "O Lord, save (us)", but the original Biblical Hebrew form was . The shortened form ? could be either Aramaic or Hebrew.
Personal names in the New Testament come from a number of languages; Hebrew and Greek are most common. However, there are a few Aramaic names as well. The most prominent feature in Aramaic names is bar (Greek transliteration , Aramaic bar), meaning 'son of', a common patronym prefix. Its Hebrew equivalent, ben, is conspicuous by its absence. Some examples are:
There has been much speculation about this name. Given the Greek translation that comes with it ('Sons of Thunder'), it seems that the first element of the name is bn?, 'sons of' (the plural of 'bar'), Aramaic (). This is represented by (boan?), giving two vowels in the first syllable where one would be sufficient. It could be inferred from this that the Greek transliteration may not be a good one. The second part of the name is often reckoned to be r?a? ('tumult') Aramaic (?), or r?az ('anger') Aramaic (). Maurice Casey, however, argues that it is a simple misreading of the word for thunder, r'am (due to the similarity of s to the final m). This is supported by one Syriac translation of the name as bnay ra'mâ. The Peshitta reads ? bnay r?e?y, which would fit with a later composition for it, based on a Byzantine reading of the original Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:12
In these passages, 'Cephas' is given as the nickname of the apostle better known as Simon Peter. The Greek word is transliterated (K?phâs).
The apostle's given name appears to be Simon, and he is given the Aramaic nickname, k?p?, meaning 'rock' or 'stone'. The final sigma (?) is added in Greek to make the name masculine rather than feminine. That the meaning of the name was more important than the name itself is evidenced by the universal acceptance of the Greek translation, (Petros). It is not known why Paul uses the Aramaic name rather than the Greek name for Simon Peter when he writes to the churches in Galatia and Corinth. He may have been writing at a time before Cephas came to be popularly known as Peter. According to Clement of Alexandria, there were two people named Cephas: one was Apostle Simon Peter, and the other was one of Jesus' Seventy Apostles. Clement goes further to say it was Cephas of the Seventy who was condemned by Paul in Galatians 2 for not eating with the Gentiles, though this is perhaps Clement's way of deflecting the condemnation from Simon Peter. In any case the relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism (which this involves) is still disputed.
In Aramaic, it could be ?.
Thomas () is listed among the disciples of Jesus in all four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. However, it is only in John's Gospel that more information is given. In three places (John 11:16, 20:24 and 21:2), he is given the name Didymus (?), the Greek word for a twin. In fact, "the Twin" is not just a surname, it is a translation of "Thomas". The Greek --Th?mâs--comes from the Aramaic t?m?, "twin". Therefore, rather than two personal names, Thomas Didymus, there is a single nickname, the Twin. Christian tradition gives him the personal name Judas, and he was perhaps named Thomas to distinguish him from others of the same name.
In Aramaic, it could be .
The disciple's name is given both in Aramaic () and Greek (). The Aramaic name is a transliteration of th?, the female form of ? (?a?y?). Both names mean 'gazelle'.
In Aramaic, it could be .
The place where Jesus takes his disciples to pray before his arrest is given the Greek transliteration (Geths?man?). It represents the Aramaic Gath-?m?n?, meaning 'the oil press' or 'oil vat' (referring to olive oil).
In Aramaic, it could be . This place name is more properly an Aramaized version of an original Hebrew place name. Gath is a normal word for press in Hebrew, generally used for a wine press not an olive press though; and shemanei ? is the Hebrew word shemanim meaning "oils", the plural form of the word shemen , the primary Hebrew word for oil, just in an Aramaic plural form (-ei instead of the Hebrew plural suffix -im). The word in Aramaic for "oil" is more properly mia (?), as also attested in Jewish writings in Aramaic from the Galilee (see Caspar Levias, A Grammar of Galilean Aramaic, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1986).
Gag?lt? Aramaic, means 'skull'. The name appears in all of the gospels except Luke, which calls the place simply Kranion (?) 'the Skull' in Greek, with no Semitic counterpart. The name 'Calvary' is taken from the Latin Vulgate translation, Calvaria.
In Aramaic, it could be . Though this word has the Aramaic final form -ta / -tha, it is otherwise also closer to the Hebrew word for skull, gulgolet ?, than to the Aramaic form.
The place name appears to be Aramaic. According to Josephus, War, V.ii.1, #51, the word Gabath means high place, or elevated place, so perhaps a raised flat area near the temple. The final "?" could then represent the emphatic state of the noun.
In Aramaic, it could be .
The place of Judas Iscariot's death is clearly named Field of Blood in Greek. However, the manuscript tradition gives a number of different spellings of the Aramaic. The Majority Text reads (Akeldama); other manuscript versions give (Acheldamach), (Hakeldama), (Hacheldama) and (Hakeldamach). Despite these variant spellings the Aramaic is most probably ?q?l dm?, 'field of blood'. While the seemingly gratuitous Greek sound of kh [x] at the end of the word is difficult to explain, the Septuagint similarly adds this sound to the end of the Semitic name Ben Sira to form the Greek name for the Book of Sirakh (Latin: Sirach). The sound may be a dialectic feature of either the Greek speakers or the original Semitic language speakers.
In Aramaic, it could be .
Bethesda was originally the name of a pool in Jerusalem, on the path of the Beth Zeta Valley, and is also known as the Sheep Pool. Its name in Aramaic means "House of Grace". It is associated with healing. In John 5, Jesus was reported healing a man at the pool.
In Aramaic, "Bethesda" could be spelled ?.
It is generally agreed that Aramaic was the common language of Palestine in the first century AD. Jesus and his disciples spoke the Galilean dialect, which was distinguished from that of Jerusalem (Matt. 26:73)
There is general agreement that two main periods of RH (Rabbinical Hebrew) can be distinguished. The first, which lasted until the close of the Tannaitic era (around 200 CE), is characterized by RH as a spoken language gradually developing into a literary medium in which the Mishnah, Tosefta, baraitot and Tannaitic midrashim would be composed. The second stage begins with the Amoraim, and sees RH being replaced by Aramaic as the spoken vernacular, surviving only as a literary language. Then it continued to be used in later rabbinic writings until the tenth century in, for example, the Hebrew portions of the two Talmuds and in midrashic and haggadic literature