The Hebrew New Testament?

The Hebrew New Testament? (By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg)

It is my opinion that the entire original text of the document we have come to know as the New Testament was written by Christ-following Jews (in the ancient sense of the word) in a language that can be best described not simply as Koine or Common Greek, but as “Koine Judeo-Greek”. Some authors who could afford a very good, professional scribe (like was the case with Paul and, possibly with Luke as well) had an excellent command of the language, while others like the authors of Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation naturally wrote on a much simpler level. Just like in English someone can write in an elegant style or express their thoughts in the same language, but in a much simpler fashion (much like myself).

But first of all what is Koine Greek?

Koine Greek (which is different from Classical Greek) was the common multi-regional form of Greek spoken and written during Hellenistic and Roman antiquity. New Testament collection was authored during this historic period.

Now… I do not think that the kind of Greek we see in the New Testament can be best described ONLY as Koine Greek. There is another component to this Koine Greek – a significant Jewish and Hebrew connection. For this reason I prefer to call it – Koine Judeo-Greek.

What in the world is Judeo-Greek?

Well… Judeo Greek, like the well-known Judeo-German (Yiddish), Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and the less familiar Judeo-Farsi, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, and Judean-Georgian languages, is simply a form of Greek used by Jews to communicate. This language retained many words, phrases, grammatical structures, and patterns of thought characteristic of the Hebrew language.

So is Judeo-Greek really Greek? Yes, it is, but it is Greek that inherited the patterns of Semitic thought and expression. In this way, it is different from the types of Greek used by other people groups.

So, I disagree that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. Instead, I think it was written in Greek by people that thought Jewishly and what is, perhaps, more important multi-lingually. You see… the speakers of variety of languages manage to also think in variety of languages. When they do speak, however, they always import into one language something that comes from another. It is never a question of “if”, but only of “how much”.

The main point made by Christians who believe that parts of the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew is that the New Testament is full of Hebraisms. (Hebraism is a characteristic feature of Hebrew occurring in another language.)

Actually, this is a very important point. It shows that serious students of the New Testament must not limit themselves to the study of Greek. They must also study Hebrew. With knowledge of Biblical Hebrew they would be able to read the Koine Judeo-Greek text of the New Testament much more accurately.

So, I suggest, that one does not need to imagine a Hebrew textual base of the New Testament to explain the presence of the Hebraisms in the text. Though possible, this theory simply lacks additional and desperately-needed support.

Think with me on this a little further. Other than a multilingual competency of the New Testament authors their most trusted (and rightly so) source for the Hebrew Bible quotations was the Septuagint (LXX).

LXXNow… we must remember that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek by leading Jewish scholars of the day. Legend has it that the 70 individual Jewish sages made separate translations of the Hebrew Bible and when they were done, all of it matched perfectly. As I said “it is a legend”. The number 70 is likely symbolic of the 70 nations of the world in ancient Judaism. This translation was not only meant for Greek-speaking Jews, but also for non-Jews so that they too could have access to the Hebrew Bible. You can imagine how many Hebraic words, phrases, and patterns of thoughts are present on every page of the Septuagint. (Click here to see the oldest version of the LXX).

So, other than the authors of the New Testament thinking Jewishly and Hebraicly, we also have the main source of their Old Testament quotations coming from another Jewish-authored document – the Septuagint. So is it surprising that New Testament is full of Hebraic forms expressed in Greek?!

As a side note, the use of the Septuagint by New Testament writers is actually a very exciting concept.

The Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible used today is the Masoretic Text (MT for short). When the Dead Sea Scrolls were finally examined, it turned out that there was not one, but three different families of Biblical traditions in the time of Jesus. One of them closely matched the Masoretic Text, one closely matched the Septuagint and one seems to have connections with the Samaritan Torah.

Among other things, this of course shows that the Septuagint quoted by the New Testament has great value since it was based upon a Hebrew text that was at least as old as the base Hebrew text of what will one day become – the Masoretic Text.

As I already stated, I believe that the entire New Testament was written in Koine Judeo-Greek. Please allow me to address one very important point.  In several places in the writings of the early church fathers, there is mention of a gospel in Hebrew.

The most important and earliest reference is that of the early Christian writer, Papias of Hierapolis (125 CE-150 CE). He wrote: “Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew dialect and interpreted each one of them as best he could.” So… we do have a very early Christian testimony about Matthew’s document in Hebrew.

Was this a reference to the Gospel of Matthew in its Hebrew original? Perhaps. Was it a reference to a document that Matthew composed, but that is different from the Gospel of Mathew? Possibly.

This whole discussion is complicated by the fact that all the Gospels are anonymous and do not contain unequivocal references to a particular author (though some are attested very early). The Gospel of Mathew is no exception. We do not know if Mathew (the disciple of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels) was in fact the author of the gospel that we call the “The Gospel according to Matthew.”

Moreover, the phraseology, “he interpreted each one of them as best he could,” used by Papias of Hierapolis is far less than inspiring. One does not leave with a feeling that the majestic Gospel of Matthew that features such key texts as the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission is in fact in view. It is possible that Papias was referring to something less grandiose. Namely, that he had heard that Mathew had collected Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew, piecing them together as best he could. There is no reason to deny that such a document once existed, but neither is there particularly strong reason to identify it with the Gospel of Matthew.

Later Church Fathers also mention that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew dialect, but their information is 1) most-likely based on Papias’ statement and 2) guided by Christian theology to show that Jews were witnessed to sufficiently.

Archeological discoveries have shown that Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and even Latin were all used by the people of the Holy Land during the first century of the Common Era. But the New Testament itself, as best we can tell, was in fact written by Christ-following Jews in Koine Judeo-Greek. This is the simplest and most factually accurate possibility. This view readily explains the amount of underlying Hebraic patterns of thought, reasoning, grammar, and vocabulary that make the New Testament a thoroughly Jewish collection.

Reconstructing history is a little bit like putting a puzzle with many missing pieces together. The more pieces of the puzzle you have, the better you can see the contours of the image! The more you know about the historical background of the New Testament and the more familiar you are with the languages intricately connected with it (especially Hebrew and Greek); the better you are able to interpret it accurately for yourself and others.

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

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  1. Bob Gander

    Carefully consider the implications of Acts 21:37-22:2 and tell me how those facts fit these assumptions.

  2. kay carr

    Dr. Eli,

    I am very interested in the Hebrew Roots Movement. Are you a supporter of this movement? If so, why? If not, why. I would really appreciate your answer to determine the credibility or “noncredibility” of this movement. I believe many of your readers would also like to know where you stand on this.

    Thank you so much,

    Kay

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think that the main thing that is really good in this movement is the rediscovering the Jewishness of Jesus and his apostles. Where I differ (though respectfully) is in what I perceive to be almost total lack of grasp of what Jewish Saul Paul wrote to the Christ-followers from among the Nations. But this is a long story and can’t be explain through this kind of intersection. You can read Mark Nanos who I am think is right about Paul and then compare it to what you see in mainstream Hebrew Roots movement – http://www.marknanos.com/Paul-Shema-10-27-08.pdf

      So, I am a great friend of the movement, but not its follower (if this makes any sense) 🙂

  3. Tan Hong Boon

    CADANGAN MEROBOH DAN MEMBINA SEMULASATU UNIT RUMAH SESEBUAH 2 TINGKAT DI ATAS PT 62348 , KG BARU SG CHUA, BANDAR KAJANG, DAERAH HULU LANGAT, SELANGOR D E UNTUK MDM WAN TONG LOY info? a possibility.
    The Hebrew Matthew has this to say:
    Ely Ely lamah SaKachtani. ( Full stop )…no explanationn given.
    This differs from the Aramaic text…by a Kaf …..instead of a Beyt….
    So, it could be possible that the translators of Aramaic text, saw the ‘obscure handwriting” of “Kaf” and mistook it for “Beyt”, after all both looks like and inverted C.
    so, from here we can see that the Hebraic text stand authoritatively above the others..
    Hence, i am more convince that the original NT is Hebrew writing. Shalom.

  4. Ibrahim Noonan

    Dr Eli ,

    I just want to say really enjoyed your article and found it very informative .

    kind regards

    Ibrahim

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Ibrahim, welcome to the blog!

  5. Stanley Loper

    I would respectfully take things one step further.

    I think we must keep in mind that certain key concepts in Hebrew, such as Nephesh, and Sheol are very different from that classically, of the Greek Psyche and Hades. Since those words were chosen as translations of the Hebrew words, I submit that the Jewish population used those Greek words in the sense of the Hebrew words instead of the Greek and should be understood that way in the NT.

    I know that leads to a question about gentiles with no prior knowledge of Hebrew, they would’ve learned what they needed as they were taught the full Gospel.

    Sadly, Dr. Eli, I can’t afford the language classes due to my own economic circumstances, I’m disabled. So I study the Bible’s languages on my own. However, I figured out that the Bible is entirely a Semitic book a long time ago and cannot be properly understood through a lens of Greek Philosophy, the bedrock of Western thought. I appreciate your efforts to freely give gentiles insight into Jewish thought, especially on the linguistic level.

    I might also add that I fellowship within the Bible Student Movement, which probably explains how i got where I am and why what you have to aid my studies has brought me here.

    1. jane z. mazzola

      Dear Mr. Loper,

      I do not want to embarrass you or this program; however, I read your comment re: “disabled” & “economic circumstances”. I think it is very sad that you would like to take the Hebrew course & my just reading your post, imagine that you would really profit from & contribute to your learning through these eHebrew courses, but can’t. Have you contacted anyone to see if financial aid or sliding scale tuition exists? I know from my own many yrs’ financial aid counseling exp @ 2 major high ed institutions in USA how possible assistance may be. Of course, internationally may be a very different story; but do check into the possibility…even a connection between a US institution & Hebrew U, depending on logistics of administration& finding the right connection. Maybe even a “restricted scholarship” from private sources is possible.

      Blessings to you, sir,
      Jane Z. Mazzola

  6. Mary Ann Eiler

    Dr. Lizokin,

    This article is on target. Thank you.

    Fr. Frank Gignac, SJ, of Catholic University of America, may have written on this subject. He certainly held this same opinion when I took a course from him at Fordham University in 1967 on the Greek of the ancient (Greek) papyri and the New Testament (based on research for his already completed D Phil Oxon). Among other things, he spoke at length of the concept of bi-lingual interference–the speaker’s preference for using grammatical structures in his second language that were close to. or identical with, those of his native language. Thus an Aramaic-speaking Jew, who knew a little Greek would use more Aramaisms than one who knew a great deal of Greek (e.g. Mark vs Paul). And in similar fashion. one could discern the competence of Egyptian writers in handling Greek. Coptic speakers from the countryside would evidence greater interference/borrowing from Coptic that those writing and living in Alexandria. Native Greek speakers in the Alexandrian period evidenced a purer Greek than their descendants in Alexandria at the time Egypt was lost to the Roman Empire (there was greater and greater integration of the two groups in everyday life over that nearly 1000 year period).

    Put another way, in the same way most native English speakers can discern whether a person’s native language is Italian or Chinese from the speaker’s accent and grammar, one can discern whether a New Testament writer is a native Semitic speaker or not. from the way his Greek reads.

    Of course there is also the work of Max Zerwick, SJ.and others on related aspects of the same question.

    From the sublime to the nearly ridiculous–there was a charming popular song in the ’50s in the States about a Pennsylvanian Dutch (German) mother telling her son to throw a kiss to her from the train as he left his hometown to go off into the wider wourld. It was entitled: “Throw Mama from the Train a Kiss.” The lady, of course, was not asking to be defenestrated from the moving train, but was struggling with a language she used infrequently but which would soon be her son’s primary language. Her struggle was a touching display of her love.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you so much for thoughtful feedback.

  7. Lori Kovac

    This makes perfect sense. In the modern world we may compare this to the various and varied dialects of English. Since the days of Imperial England, the language has spread to every corner of the world. However, an East Indian and a Jamaican, though speaking the same language, and even understanding each other’s spoken words, express themselves differently.

    Some of the concepts expressed may be completely alien to each other, while others are universal.

    In the ancient world, without modern communication systems, two villages only a few kilometers apart might have had slightly different dialects of the same language, based on diverse terrain and experiences. The greater the distance, the greater the diversity of expression.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks for the feedback. Shalom.

  8. tan hong boon

    i have been reading and making comparative studies on the greek codexes, peshita, khabouri codex, and the Hebrew Mathew as well. putting them all side by side, i do see some differences in the readings. but i see it as pointing to originality towards Hebrew…eg Hebrew Matthew reads a lingo of its own, Peshitta comes second, bc it does explain some hebraic terms as well. The third are the Greek codex which has lots of explanantion of the hebrew terms.
    so, i beg to differ on this….i see the NT as more of Hebrew origin, translated into other languages..
    Most of the writers are Hebrews except for Luke.
    Paul himself was a very strict Pharisee before conversion, having been deeply schooled under Gamaliel. He was an ultra orthodox of his time.
    John ws very much into Breshit..same goes for Revelation , and it closely explains and associates with Hebrew alphabets…explaining one by one…..eg Aliph Taw…

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      All good points and should not be taken for granted but still do not prove anything. Its Ok to disagree. I welcome that. I want to be convinced, but so far remain in my corner. Philo loved the Torah and wrote commentaries on it in Greek. Josephus was born a Pharisee of Hasmonian priestly decent. He knew Torah perfectly in Hebrew but wrote in very good Greek in the first century for the Romans. Why is it so unbelievable that Jews were multilingual as many are today and could rite in various languages even in Greek? I wish there was concrete physical evidence, but there isn’t

  9. Francisco Orantes

    What about the Peshitta text?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      The Peshitta text is not as ancient as Greek manuscripts. Helpful for interpretation though as LXX of Torah passages.

  10. yetilived

    Language that is “eaten” seems very different than a language used to communicate.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, that is the point. Jews are multilingual today and always have been. The conceptual world in not Greek.

      1. yetilived

        Would this make a Hebraism a “path” to language development.

  11. Dr. Mary Yeh

    Since I have been studying biblical Hebrew and the modern language (I am taking 2 classes) through a private teacher till I become more proficient at reading it and gaining thorough comprehension (I have never been exposed to Hebrew till these later days in my life other than Strong’s and Young’s Concordances) and am taking Koine Greek where I am seeing how important it is from seeing the Septuagint and New Testament in Greek as Koine Judeo Greek as indicated in this article. Greek is close to English, so it is not as difficult for me. But the more I study the Hebrew, it is amazing the Hebraisms I am starting to pick up and how English translations I have been reading have missed the Jewishness of the Old and New Testaments for me. It is more interpretation than direct translation where it seems the truth is being hidden from us.

    I am so excited these days as if a veil is being taken away and I am beholding Jesus, the Eternal Abba Father in the enlightening of the Spirit of Christ Jesus! I just cannot study enough to pull it all together, but from my constant and diligent work with the languages of Hebrew and Greek, I find a whole new heavenly realm that is absolutely terrific and it is paying off with love for handling the languages! And thanks to the courses at eteacherbiblical, I am so glad to be able to participate and learn more of Yehovah and Jesus, the Captain of my faith! This article is my experience. I praise the LORD for His GREAT wisdom and foresight having His Chosen People, the Jews, as the vessel to show His move among man as the foundation for the salvation and redemption of the Gentiles, the nations through the ἐκκλησία and hopefully soon, through the ultimate salvation of Israel for all the nations. If it were any other way, the confusion would be intensified. The shows what a God of beautiful meticulous order He is. This is something we can never thank and praise Him enough!

  12. Hal Miner

    In general, I would agree with most in “Tom’s” note re Papias et al. I would love to know what Tom refers to re: “28 mss. of Hebrew Matt…”?! Tom, if you read this, can you give specifics on that? I very much disagree with the comment that “…Hebraisms” are not relevant – for any of us who have worked on translations, we know how nearly impossible it is to trans an “ism” from any language to another!! SO, I say that the presence of numerous Hebraisms is a significant factor. I should have thought that your teachings of the “Jewish-N.T.” would have convinced you of that as well.
    HalM

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Of course Hebraisms are important. My point is simply that the presence of hebraisms in and of themselves does not prove that the original text was in Hebrew. I use “spanishisms” today like “that’s loco” or “I need a siesta”. This does not mean that my primary communication is in Spanish. Simply another culture and language has influenced my language, so my language is not pure. No doubt Hebrew was an important language for the writers of the NT, but hebraisms do not prove the language of the original no more then my “spanishism” prove I can speak Spanish.

  13. Yvette Benjamin

    Very interesting and eye opening article. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this subject.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You are welcome, thanks for reading.

  14. askjill977

    What do you think about the George Lamsa translation of the New Testament? He claims that Jesus spoke in Aramaic. Have you read it? He says some passages are seriously mistranslated, like “For this G’d you have set me apart” instead of “My G’d my G’d, why have you forsaken me.”

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, I am familiar with the translation and see its value. Hebrew and Aramaic we very much intermixed in the 1st century and it can be helpful in interpreting the context. The opinion that the NT was originally written in Aramaic or that Jesus spoke his teachings in Aramaic does not make much sense to me, since Jesus knew Hebrew and the source of his teachings (the Torah) was read and studied in Hebrew in his time. Would you teach out of the translation if people know the original text by heart? Just a thought…

  15. marc mercury

    Ramon Antonio top of the day young Man,

    Yes my email is ma mercury @yahoo.com. Thats with no spaces in between ma mercury and yahoo.com. Email me your email because there is very little room here to elaborate on much. Sincerely marc mercury

  16. Kat

    Jerry S, Yes they did split me in half (Torah/NT), but what put me back together wasn’t scriptures it was my mindset. I had two mindsets (reached twice once Torah later NT ), the first one was the reason I accepted and followed Christ.

  17. RamonAntonio

    Marc. The name Pontius Pilate. It was a typo by the Android keyboard of my G5.
    Interesting your comment. If you make available that study you mention it would be my honor to study it. I am devoting some of my attention to study that trial. I hope to get the book I mentioned by the Spaniards but it us proving elusive for me.
    I may concurr with your observation about the trial a joke but in a very serious manner. More like a Greek Tragedy as I said for they included sarcasm and satire to a tragic end. In my view, Jesus used a lot of “staging” in His approach to situations in a manner of control of the situation. I think only the Temple outburst and the Vigil at Passion week we’re not.

  18. marc mercury

    Hello Ramon
    could you please explain what the TE on the end of P Pila. te being separated ment as I’m not that great a student of Hebrew just know a few things or if that really applies?

    Yes, the trial of Jesus was a joke and broke about 20 different laws that were written as dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum my mentor pointed it out in a study I did several years back. All in all it was God’s well or by grace we have not been saved through faith thank you Jesus amen

  19. RamonAntonio

    Marc. Your remark on the name of Barrabas is right on target. But there’s more. His name was Jesus Bar Abba so, in fact, Pontius Pila te was in fact trying to confuse the crowd and get Jesus free albeit quite a punishment so a te ing that the crowd would be pleased and the leaders would loose their hold on them. That’s why they cried louder to prevent the trick. There is a book by a Spanish Magistrate that studies in detail that trial. There’s more to that event than we even think about.
    For me, Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate played a Greek tragedy in that trial based on Roman Law and they both knew that the trial was in fact an execution by the Jewish authorities of a renegade.

  20. marc mercury

    Something of interest to Jesus lovers. For those of you who know Barabbas was the thief that was let go and Jesus took his place. Well here is written in Hebrew helps. Barabbas translates as Son of the Father. So the guilty Son of the Father was let go and the real Son of the Father was crucified. Paradoxical, Wow. Thank you Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum and for bringing that one to my attention..
    Another one? on me Messiah could do the three message in a miracles as field Hebrew school of thought was. Jesus performed all three in front of the religious hierarchy.what were those miracles?

    what was the unpardonable sin that the nation of Israel in that time frame only was guilty of?

    1. Sheila Dale

      I wonder if anyone has made a comparison to the good Son of the Father and the guilty Son of the Father possibly representing the lamb and the goat used in the Pesach sacrifice in the Temple….the lamb was slain and the goat was let go. Anyone care to comment?

  21. Todd Maloney

    I would like to reply to Jerry S. and I concur that the body of Christ has not been taught everything they should have known BUT that is changing praise G-d! Believers all over are beginning to awaken to a desire to learn their Hebrew roots. HaShem is bringing the church full circle back to its origin in completion of His plan, one new man, Jew and Gentile worshiping the one true G-d. We learned some of it in seminary but now my seminary has a diploma program in Messianic ministry! The seminary is one of the finest the Southern Baptist Convention has, NOBTS.

    1. Jerry S.

      Baruch Adonai ha’mevorach le-olam va’ed.
      Praised be Adonai, to whom our praise is due, now and forever!
      J.

    2. Sheila Dale

      Todd Maloney Your comment Oct. 28, 2014: Would that Southern Baptist Convention seminary be located in Ft Worth, TX? I have a Messianic friend who is currently enrolled in the seminary and finds good acceptance of his research and opinions as relates to Messianic beliefs and teachings.

  22. Jerry S.

    Kat,

    By faulty translations and misapplied interpretations a false theology, “Replacement Theology” plagues us today. Again, simply put; the Church replaces Israel in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacobs plan for mankind, either for all time or a period of time. The separation of scripture into new and old (Torah), ours and theirs (Torah), grace and works (Torah), is what I believe the reason why Mr. Chambers “do(es)n’t know how it was accomplished.” And that is a shame, because he really should understand how we are “Justifi(ed) by Faith”.

    J.

    1. Kat

      Jerry S,
      I am just a pest in this site, but… :) What I have questioned is why when I hear “testimonies” at church the church, program, or whatever gets credit instead of God. My conclusion has to do with the word “saved” vs. the “work of God”. The word “saved” happens immediately. All of the words that show salvation as a process seem to have disappeared in translation. I see my faith as God’s work. I turned to God not because I got caught doing wrong, but because I needed God. This turning made me conscious of sin (thus the sorrow). In a nutshell I refused to renounce the Commandments in a hard spot thus my faith in God budded. Exodus 32:16 John 6:29

      1. Jerry S.

        Pest? absolutely not! It appears by the questions you’re on “The Way”. Follow Messiahs lead and I’m sure many on this site willing to help out a sister toward the Hebrew Roots of her faith. This blog leans toward the academic, but Dr. Eli and other contributors seem to “Always put the cookies on the bottom shelf so the kiddos can get them.” –Dr. Harry Ironside. There are many Hebrew Roots web sites, perhaps too many, books and articles to help also. I’m sure you’ll meet new friends and lose old friends along your journey.
        J.
        P.s. here’s a question for your study group; is Jesus Christian or Jewish? Be careful though it can be like “putting the cat amongst the pigeons” 😉

        1. Jerry S.

          Here’s one my wife and I frequent; http://messianiccovenant.com/resources/torah-commentaries. We especially enjoy Julie Parker.
          J.

        2. Kat

          Jerry S, Pest!… this group has been most helpful and patient. Jesus has definitely been Christian in my circle. I didn’t even know what Judaism really was except bad. I saw Exodus 19:8 as a child and commitment to keeping the Ten Commandments. I had know idea it was a form of Judaism. I have been split down the middle much like the Torah and NT until I found this site 🙂

          1. Jerry S.

            Kat, My life verse; Heb 4:11-13 (Gen 15) just happens to produce the same state separation you find yourself in now.

            Hollisa Alewine’s study The Creation Gospel, http://thecreationgospel.com/ teaches a wonderful Law of First Mention lesson about separation, the 1-2-1 principle found in Gen 1; one, separated into two, made into one.
            J.

        3. Charles van den Berg

          You’d better ask: how many of the Jewish Jesus is present in the life of the Jew or in the life of the Christian?
          So: what’s in a name?

          1. Jerry S.

            Much. Those two particular names carry an historical significance of the kind not often brought up in many circles of friends. And let’s not forget Islam.
            J.

    2. Donald

      Unfortunately, “replacement theology” is nothing new. The roots of it are within the early church fathers and, in keeping with the political will of the first and second centuries CE, a lot of church practices and doctrine was explicitly anti-Jewish. Why is the date for Easter (or should I refer to the pagan festival of Estre) calculated to avoid Pesach,(at least most of the time)? Why was a mid-winter pagan festival chosen for Christmas?
      Even today, we hear phrases like “the G_d of the Old Testament”, as if he has ever changed.

      If you take out of the Brit Hadasah every passage with a reference or hint of the TaNaK, what do you have left? Nothing.

  23. Jerry S.

    Kat,

    Not knowing how it is accomplished is what I call one of those “gaps” of understanding in my past Christian knowledge of scripture. But now, understanding Torah and how it fits my Faith I do know how it was accomplished and those gaps are being filled in. To try and describe as simply as writing space allows, Messiah “accomplished” all that is required of mankind from the Creator of all things in Torah. And was Himself the “innocent” sacrifice, as animals are innocent sacrifices, from Torah. This satisfies the requirement and brings mankind “justification” before HIM. TBC

    J.

  24. Jerry S.

    Kat,

    Allow me to join in with yet another believing gentile perspective and I pray the Ruach HaKodesh helps you as He did me if this is information overload.

    I read, among other things, a daily devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” – Chambers, a Christian man who was blessed with insight. In today’s 10/28/2014 passage titled “Justification by Faith”, the last sentence of the first paragraph caught my attention, he writes “The Spirit of God brings justification with a shattering, radiant light, and I know that I am saved, [even though I don’t know how it was accomplished.]” TBC

    J.

  25. Ramon Sanchez

    I think there is an overwelming need to devote a reflection on your part, Dr. Eli, on the state of translations and the current state of the art on its practice. That is, how are translations NOW being made, revised and, lets say, used. Right now, there is a lot of material in most denominations that is written by influencing pastors (including those FAD ones) whose sole knowledge of Bible, even taking into account their Divinity doctorates, is on READING THE RVKJ BIBBLE. That is, they have never made a single cross comparison of meaning of the translation or reflection on that. This situation has led to the prevalent FUNDAMENTALISTIC approach to Bible studies. Please enlighten us.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think any attempt to interpret Revelation (for example) outside of the natural Jewish, Apocalyptic, Poetic, Parabolic contest would we misleading. I do not wish to disrespect people traditions, but new traditions deserve to be born. Otherwise there is no new life. We propose – study Judaism, not just the Bible. Then revise the familiar text in newly gained perspective. This is a long path, but most fruitful.

      1. Sheila Dale

        Thank you Dr. Eli….you have articulated exactly what I have thought for many years but have not been able to verbalize concisely. Todah Rabah…..!!!! I thoroughly enjoy and have gained so much clarity already from your eHebrew courses.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Sheila, this is wonderful to hear.

  26. Kat

    Could Hebraisms be translated improperly because of an anti-Judaism bias? I see a pattern of problematic interpretations that seem to miss the connection from Judaism to Christ.

    1. Eric de Jesús Rodríguez Mendoza

      BS”D

      Shalom Kat!

      of course, that is possible… anti-semitism is hard..

      1. Kat

        I see that now and am determined to change that where I can. My Good Gospel rather New Testament study group ask me about Jesus and I started with Exodus 19:8 and the Ten 🙂

    2. Donald

      Kat,
      It is not just errors introduced into a translation that are the problem. There is the further issue of interpretation and exposition of passages which can completely distort a passage.
      On Sunday, for instance, the passage we had in church was Acts ch 3. Expounding Peter’s speech to the crowd (v12 ff) totally failed to explain that v12-16 was spoken to the “Men of Israel” – i.e. to the leaders of the Jewish nation – and hence the strong condemnation regarding the killing of the prince of life was quite valid, whereas verses 17 – 26 was spoken to the “people of the land” – i.e. the common people – and offered them salvation if they repented.
      This is the true message of the prophets.

      1. Kat

        Donald, agreed. I see in Acts the word ignorance instead of the word warning. Is a person accountable if they have not been warned? I also see the word repentance and in church that typical means “sinner” gone wild. I don’t believe I have seen a word study on repentance, but I question its traditional meaning. I wonder if Gen 32:24-28 could also be a picture of repentance? We seem to interchange the word repentance with the word confession of sin—not sure we should.

        1. Donald

          Perhaps the prophecy of the watchman in Ezekiel is significant here. Chapter 33 explains about our responsibilities (v8), G_d’s loving kindness (v11), G_d’s justice (v13), repentance of the sinner (v14-15) and G_d’s grace (v19).
          The culmination of all things is described in chapter 34, with the great shepherd (v12-16) caring for His sheep. “Who is the great shepherd?” you ask. This is answered in verses 23 – 31.

          Just to put the cat amongst the pigeons – I have never found any teaching in the Brit Hadashah (NT) that is not already clearly presented in the TaNaK (OT) [Torah (Law), Nephihim (prophets) & Khatuvim (writings)]. It is not a new covenant, but rather a renewed covenant.

    3. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You are not the first person who suggested this. I think there is some truth in that. Some mistranslations are done in ignorance, some deliberate.

  27. Marc Mercury

    30
    SEP
    2014
    The Jewish N.T. by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
    TorahThe Jewish New Testament

    Was the New Test. written in Heb …,
    Dr Eli,
    Thanks for your above article on Jewish Hebraeisms. Maybe i have it wrong but the one phrase i like Jesus uses: For not one Jot (Yod) or tittle shall pass away: Til the law is fulfilled, But in Gal:3 6-9 say all who have faith in Christ are sons of Abraham and we r justified thru faith. Vs 10-13 no one can be justified by the law..from the curse of the law. Gal: 3: vs 24 says the law was our schoolmaster to point us in the direction of Christ…, then we r Abrahams seed according the promise. Me & U. Jesus ,TheWord, is waiting 4 YOU. His death is 4 U

  28. John Farmer

    I understand your point about Hebraeisms in the Greek.
    Can you give an example?
    I’ll be looking for them now.
    I appreciate your point.

  29. John Farmer

    Dear Sir:
    There is a statement that the early Christians were ignorant and unlearned med. It has always puzzled me how the apostles learned enough Greek to write the Gospels. I personally know Greek, Latin and basic Hebrew, and a lot of study went into learning them.
    Since Biblical Hebrew had drifted into Arameic, they would have also had to learn Hebrew.
    Although Greek was used in the sophisticated Alexandrian culture, wouldn’t Latin have been more logical to write the Gospels in since it was Latin that had blanketed the word?
    Did Jesus speak with Pilet in Latin?
    Were these Biblical people masters of 4 languages?
    I wish I knew the answer to this one.

  30. Bob Smith

    Dr. Eli,
    My first course on Judaism (San Francisco, 1965) was team-taught by two rabbis, who made it abundantly clear that Jesus’ halakic teachings were fully Talmudic, that is Pharisaic.

    “A Jewish take on Jesus: Amy-Jill Levine talks the gospels,” U. S. Catholic, 77/10 (Oct 2012):18-22, online at http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2012/09/jewish-take-jesus-amy-jill-levine-talks-gospels .
    “Jesus was smack in the middle of the Jewish tradition of his time. Remembering that can make you a better Christian,”

    “The only Pharisee from whom we have written records is Paul of Tarsus. The first person in history ever called rabbi in a literary text is Jesus of Nazareth.”
    I have also met Prof Levine.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Bob,

      There is ABSOLUTLY NO question that overwhelming majority of what Jesus argued and HOW HE DID SO was very much within one or another section of Jewish tradition with his day. I trust this is not what we arguing about here at all. Perhaps, you are misunderstanding my point. You seem to be confusing Talmudic logic with Jewish logic (because the first is a subset of the second; it is a version of the second that won the day another 5-7 centuries later). This is the problem with your anachronistic thinking that we talking about :-).
      Your first course lecturers were certainly wrong (let me clarify… they were not wrong in their direction… there were right there. They were wrong in the nuance or the lack thereof). In 1965 the discussion about Jesus and “the Rabbis” was just beginning. We are now in 2014 and lots has transpired already within the last 49 years of research. What we should keep in mind about Amy-Jill is that while she is a Jewish scholar (that talks to other Jewish scholars) she is a Jewish scholar for Christians mostly (no fault in this of course). After all she is teaching at Christian Divinity School! Both quotes you are giving (if their hers) are addressed to Christians like yourself and usually not to Christ-following Jews like myself. Do keep this in mind.
      St. Paul is the perfect example. All the letters of this particular Pharisee are ALL addressed to non-Jews, but we read it as if he is talking to both! (anyways I am hoping that you will hear me a little on this).
      Jesus at times agreed with Essene Halachah against Pharisees, other times the other way around. His views were ALL under Jewish halachic umbrella of course, but JEWISH must not be equated with PHARISAIC (as if all Jews were Pharisees) and incidentally PHARISAIC IS NOT THE SAME THING as Talmudic (another mistake you are making). There is a connection to be sure. But the relationship between the Pharisees and rabbis of Talmud are now under study.
      I do honor your obviously very long years-wise commitment to study this issue. I admire you and once again welcome to this forum. I hope in some way you will benefit from it and we will I am sure as well.

  31. Kat

    Dr. Eli, is Hebraism pointing forward (to Christ) or backwards? I ask because Western Evangelism sometimes assumes that words like “warning” or “invitation” (Hebrew features) are no longer applicable to the Christian mindset. (I consider myself to have been warned and invited prior to hearing the gospel. )

  32. RamonAntonio

    Mess Smith
    Although your comment is very illuminating I feel compelled to make a note. It’s not a certainty that Jesus and the apostles were familiar with “rabbinic interpretation” as you suggest simply because there was no rabbinic in nte prettiness whatsoever in Jesus time. In fact, Jesus is the first person in history called rabbi in Israel.
    What we term rabbinic interpretation started after Jesus. Please check parallel comments jn other posts by Dr Eli and other contributors stressing this issue. Also check important Jewish investigators such as Frank Moore Cross on diverse and parallel extants.
    Your original Aramaic suggestion is Greta on its own.

    1. Bob Smith

      RamonAntonio,
      Most scholars see Jesus as a Pharisaic rabbi in the tradition of his contemporary, Rabbi Hillel. You might want to have a look at the following:

      J. H. Charlesworth and L. L. Johns, eds., Hillel and Jesus: Comparisons of Two Major Religious Leaders (Minneapolis: Augsburg-Fortress, 1997).

      Hermann L. Strack, and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, 6 vols. in 7 (Munich: Beck, 1922-1961).

      David Instone-Brewer, Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament, 6 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, 2009, in process). TRENT

      Paul the Apostle was also a Pharisaic rabbi, trained by the great Gamaliel (Acts 5:34, 22:3, 23:6)

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Dear Bob, to use “Rabbi” for Jesus in the early centuries is indeed anachronistic (I agree with Ramon and so do most people now days). He was NOT a Rabbi in today’s sense of the word. He was of course called that in the NT but in the New Testaments the role/office of the rabbis was not yet the role that it will one day become. People like David Instone-Brewer (which I like very much) are not using it correctly :-). Though their arguments about other things are solid indeed. About Charlesworth… I was one of his students at Princeton. Try to read more broadly that what you are referencing. The correct way to refer to the people you mean to signifying is proton-rabbinic. This way you are showing their connection with the later Rabbis, but showing also that you are aware that calling them Rabbis is not justified. Welcome to our forum, Bob. Its good to have you with us. We are learning a lot of things together and you will be an important addition to us!

        1. Bob Smith

          Dr. Eli,
          I realize that modern rabbis are trained in formal seminaries and then “ordained,” and that Rabbi Jesus (the title of Bruce Chilton’s book) was more of a Galilean Wunderrebbe — like Honi the Circle Maker. As Jacob Neusner has observed many times, Judaism of that time is in so many respects different from modern rabbinic Judaism.
          Still, comparison of the ethical and moral teachings of Jesus with those of the Talmud reveal him as a typical Pharisaic rabbi of Beth Hillel. Indeed, the consensus in modern studies of Christianity is that one must understand the Judaism or Judaisms of the NT period in order to understand Jesus and Christianity; Ask Amy-Jill Levine, or Marc Zvi Brettler

          1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            Dear Bob,

            we can agree to disagree. Once again welcome to the forum. I would only encourage you to understand that only because something makes into the book form it does not constitute verifiable truth.

            Amy-Jill if you do ask her will agree with me (we spend some time together talking about these things a while back actually) that it is anachronistic to call Jesus a pharisaic rabbi. I think you should stop dropping the big names on us and argue you case instead :-). Hope you take this well.

            Eli

  33. Bob Smith

    John 12:41 Jesus quoting from a tradition found in targum Isaiah 6:1 “I saw the glory of the Lord”

    Not only does this tell us that Jesus likely delivered all his comments and homilies in Aramaic, but that he and his disciples were intimately familiar with rabbinic interpretation, and frequently read the Hebrew Bible accordingly. If we take the view of Matthew Black’s Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, we might thus see many Aramaisms in the New Testament text.

  34. Bob Smith

    Mark 12:1-9 Jesus alludes to a tradition of “sanctuary” and “altar” found in targum Isaiah 5:1-7
    Luke 6:36 (Q), Matt 5:48 Jesus used a midrashic expansion of a tradition found in targum Pseudo-Jonathan Lev 22:28
    Luke 10:9 Jesus follows a tradition found in targum Pseudo-Jonathan Deut 34:6 – man & woman joined together by God
    Luke 10:24, Matt 13:17 Jesus follows a tradition found in targum Isa 48:6
    Luke 10:25-28 Jesus follows traditions found in midrash Sipra Lev §193; Damascus Document A, 3:15-20; and targums Onqelos and Pseudo-Jonathan Lev 18:5
    John 1:1,3 John here following a tradition found in targum Neofiti Gen 1:1
    [to be continued]

  35. Bob Smith

    Matt 5:12, 23:37, Luke 6:23,13:34 Jesus follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Isaiah 28:11
    Matt 13:17, Luke 10:24 Jesus follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Isaiah 48:6
    Matt 26:52 Jesus follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Isaiah 50:11
    Mark 1:15, Matt 4:17 Jesus follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Isa 52:7
    Mark 4:11-12 Jesus here follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Isa 6:9-10
    Mark 8:31 Jesus follows a tradition found in the targumic version of Hosea 6:2
    Mark 9:47-48 Jesus alludes to a tradition of “Gehenna” found in targum Isaiah 66:24
    [to be continued]

  36. Bob Smith

    Dear Dr. Eli,
    I greatly enjoyed this essay by you. However, what about the “the tradition of the elders” (Matt 15:2) which form what the Rabbis saw as the Oral Law handed down from the time of Moses. Some of that vaunted “tradition of the elders” inhabits passages of the Aramaic targumim, the translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Aramaic, departing from both the Massoretic (MT) and Septuagint (LXX) traditions. Indeed, Craig Evans has supplied us with a nice sampling of just such likely textual sources used by Jesus, which I will display in my next comment:

  37. Dei Sylvester

    The antiquities of the Jews was written in what language by Josephus

  38. Marcia New

    As usual, Dr. Eli, your explanation of the language the NT is written in is very clear and compelling. Thank you for such expertise as you gladly share with all of us. God bless!

    We’re all still waiting to hear when your new book will be released!!

  39. Todd Maloney

    Great article. Excellent scholarship (as usual). I agree wholeheartedly with Doctor Eli.

  40. Petri Huovila

    Shalom
    Thank You for this enlightening article. I just got one “big” thought one day: Could Paul avoid writing an own and “only for Jews-directed letter” to his own people? His heart was tearing apart for his own kinsmen, as we can read in Rom 9 and 10, in the beginning of both these chapters. And always in every city he first went to his kinsmen with the Gospel. As I can understand, I regard it quite sure that he really must have written also to his own people, to God’s own people, even if we don’t have that writing preserved (if not Hebrews). I’m sure he wanted to use all available means to win them for Jeshua. So, if he wrote to the Jews, it is for me 100 % clear that he wrote in Hebrew.

  41. Dr. Stefano Giliberti

    Wonderful analysis, Dr. Eli! Congratulations!!!

    Just one remark: you are too mild when you say that “the holocaust made the Church consider elements… in its theology that may have contributed to the European Jewish holocaust.”, as in reality the Catholic Church not only contribuited to holocaust through its theology, but also supported it and took no position to stop it… Only some Catholic and Protestant cristians took position against the shame and atrocity of holocaust, putting in danger their own lives…

    Best regards,
    Stefano

  42. Ed Lindgren

    Thank you Eli for your very accurate article “The Jewish New Testament”. May I suggest when translating it is good to have a Lexicon and the early Gospel writers in writing the Gospels translations in Greek mostly from Jewish oral tradition used the Septuagint as their main Lexicon.

  43. Jerry S.

    Just came across this site and will be visiting more often.
    I did not read all the comments, so this might be redundant.
    FYI and enjoyment, “Copernicus and the Jews” – Gruber
    J.

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  45. Joshua Egbagbe

    Thanks Dr. Eli & others on the Jewish Roots of Yeshua ha Mashiach, Jesus the Christ. I do sincerely believe it is a most useful exercise. Nevertheless, the key issue, to my mind is the “JEWISH SPIRITUAL MINDSET”, at the time the New Testament was written! Who is “GOD”? Is He a Mystery GOD? Who is “Ha Mashiach”? Is he the High Priest or GOD? Selah!

  46. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing problems with your site.

    It appears as though some of the written text on your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening
    to them too? This may be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this
    happen previously. Kudos

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      We 20,000 people visit it last 2 days perhaps it was overloaded. Try it now, if the problem persists, try another browser.

  47. José Hélder Saraiva Bacurau

    Shalom! para mim o Novo Testamento, foi escrito em grego por homens que pensavam em Hebraico.
    Escrita grega,mente hebraica.

  48. Dr. Kathleen Oden

    Thank you Dr. Eli, this information was so informative and educational. I am so looking forward to your lectures on the Jewish Background of the New Testament.

    http://www.christianhebrewusergroup.com/

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Great! See you in class.

  49. RamonAntonio

    Just for clarification. I have re consulted a book I have in Spanish tittled: How did the Bible reach our hands?, a compilation by PEdro Puigvert, Editorial Clie 1999 Spain Biblical Union. This book contains a collection of excellent articles by specialists. Among them a very illuminating one by Pablo E Le Moré, a belgian historian residing in Spain.
    To summarize his excellent work, he explains that the first evidence of Spanish (or what he calls Romance language) biblical materila dates back to 1240 CE. It was a Salterium by HErman the Genrman a direct version of the 69 Psalms of David.. Circa 1250 a Salterium in Catalan by Fray Romeu.
    Then we go to a complete translation of the whole Bible which he deems Castellian Bible PRe Alphonsine (1250-60) which seems to have been a complete rendition based on the Vulgate and before the one by Alphonse X the Wise.
    After that the “Gran e General Estoria in 1280 a paraphrased version of the Vulgate by order of Alphonse X improperly called “Alphonsine Bible”.
    In 1290 the Castelian bible ordered by Alphonse II of Aragon to Jaume de Montjuich. IT contains the 4 Gospels called “Coedz del Palau” published in 1910.
    In the XIV and XV century numerous versions continue to appear. There exist at least 4 versions in the Escorial library. Almost all of them unpublished.
    THis exposition continues so I will make a small article and send it in some days to be completely honest to the reference. I fail to note the influence of Baal Shem Tov that some of you mention although I would need some additional light on this claim.
    However. Inquisition is a Spanish condiment of Catholic Church history concocted mainly in Spain circa 1500 CE originally against own “unauthorized versions” of the Bible itself(mainly Spanish or Romance versions) and then against almost whatever an Inquisitor determined that shouldn’t be whatever it was. SO to speak of influence of Baal in terms of Spanish “publications” of the Bible has to be a very cautious claim for almost anything not orthodox perished under fire.
    THis opens a whole area of investigation for Drs. Eli and Van der berg and the rest of us. The funny thing is if we really want to know the unknown…

    1. Eric Rodríguez

      BS”D

      Shalom!

      The problem with translations in many cases is the voluntary or decided ignorance about the historic context and cosmovision of a culture; in the same way are the pre-conceptions and into all these things, the institutionality of religions or human interests; it’s something alike the Media in our days.

      The importance of hebrew and aramaic in this case over Greek, Jewish-Greek, Koiné, etc., consists in the theological and hermeneutical options which can be reached only in these languages since play of words, till technical termology.

      I have noticed how a hebrew word needs two/three words in Greek to be exposed/explained aproximately, but never with the same possibilities of connection with the rest of Bible, so that I believe The Language of the Gospel (which contains the innovation of the covenant Chidush Habrit) is Hebrew and aramaic (for theological purposes).

      Eric.

    2. Guillermo Del Solar

      Thank you Ramon

  50. Guillermo Del Solar

    Hi Dr. Eli enjoying very much your posts.
    Based on my own experience though , I would have to disagree on Christians interest on the Jewish background or historic setting of the New Testament or the jewishness of Jesus.
    Now, maybe is because you get in touch with lots of people who specifically call you to learn Hebrew and your perception might be a bit skewed that way, but I was raised catholic and (although I have to admit that I haven’t had any relation with the faith in many years), because of the part of the world I was raised in ( Latin America) and the city I live in ( Miami), I am surrounded by catholics and christians in general all the time and frankly, no one seems interested in learning about the historic setting of the New Testament or the Jewishness of Jesus.
    And I think that is a pity by the way , as they will learn much from it and understand much better their religion. I wish it was the way you say , but I don’t think the interest is there.
    Now , you might say, well, that is your circle of friends only who think like that , but it is the same when I discuss or chat about these same subjects in blogs or in news comments online with random strangers. Christians, and particularly Catholics, seem to believe that Jesus was a Christian. Even if they consciously admit he was jewish, they would still feel as if he was a Christian.
    it is like a “dirty little secret” that no one wants to talk about that Jesus (and all his students by the way) was Jewish. That he was RABBI YESHUA and not Jesus.
    I think the church also does not do any effort to analyze the context of the New testament and the Jewishness of jesus and I think that is on purpose. Because who want to draw water to another’s mill right ?

    Your comments please

    Thanks again.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Guillermo, shalom.
      There was a man who said to another: What?! You don’t know who Einstein is? Don’t tell me that you also never heard of his theory of relativity?! “No”, the other man said. “But can you please explain this to me?”, he added. Well… its like this. If you have 3 hairs in your soup is this a lot or little? THREE HAIRS IN ONE PLATE OF SOUP?! THAT IS A LOT!!!!” he exclaimed. That’s right (the other said), but what if you have only 3 hairs on the top of your head is it a lot or a little? THREE HAIRS ON THE ENTIRE HEAD????? Obviously that is too little. His friend looked at him and said “well… this is in a nutshell the theory of relativity”. The other looked at him and said: “Just as I thought it is no big deal”.

      I think 🙂 what we are talking about is here is that I am comparing to what it was before, hence our disagreement 🙂

      BUT also you have a location limitation. Miami is very particular city and your experience there may be different, although I am sure that there would be many others that would also agree that Christians display not nearly enought interest in Jesus Jewishness. There is a fantastic joke about two Jewish guys overlooking Maimi beach and talking about the percentages of people in the world who are Jewish, but that is perhaps for another time :-). Once one had someone made an interesting observation. “The great thing about Maimi is that it is very close to the United States.” 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Guillermo Del Solar

        Dr. Eli, I am glad to be wrong….I advocate for unity and not separation, particularly between the cousins Christianity and Judaism…

    2. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      Dear Guillermo, Yes, I think “it is your small circle.”
      In the condition of active bible teacher in the church, I know that the greatest part of Christianity is thinking otherwise than you in this topic. I would like to advise you: 1) ask Jesus Himself ( the Leader of the church) and not the leaders of the church. 2) Let be the Bible authoritative and not the church. I think Jesus should say: here is more than the church. Perhaps He would give you more than you have now. I wish you that from my heart.

      1. Guillermo Del Solar

        By all means Dr van den Berg , don’t get me wrong . I am not opposing the Jewishness of jesus. I support it 100%. I would be glad to be wrong and judging by your response and others here , looks like I am….which is great. To me, that is going in the right direction
        And yes, I do agree that the Church should not be the only authority. But also , if by the Bible, you include also the NT, I am not sure that is authoritative either regarding the teachings of Jesus ( with all due respect) . Whatever your faith or beliefs, it is a historic fact that :
        1) there were many other Gospels that told different stories circulating before and during the time the Cannon was put together, that had different versions of Jesus’ teachings. From what I have read in several books by researchers on this subject ( full disclosure here, I am not a researcher or involved in academia ), those Gospels were just as popular as the Four and many Christian groups regarded them as authentic.
        2) Even if one says that the Four Gospels are the only “true gospels”, it is also clear that the divinity of jesus and other dogmas of Christianity were more and more emphasized as you progress in time from one gospel to another. Also, during history , things were edited and added to reflect the evolving beliefs of the nascent religion Ex: the appearance of Jesus to his disciples was added AFTER to the Gospel of Mark, the first one and used as a base for the other synoptic Gospels
        3) There were many, many NT editions and translation mistakes along the way in history

        So to me, after 2000 years of changes, mistakes and editions, and considering these Four might paint a picture that served the interest of only one or a few groups at the time, is hard for me to regard this as an authentic source for the teachings of Jesus.

        Again, I say this with the utmost respect, I hope I am not offending you or anyone, by saying this and If I do, I will refrain from commenting on this subject on this blog again.

        Thanks for your comment.

        1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

          Dear Guillermo, no you are not offending m. , I was responding on the fact that you did disagree with Christian’s interest on the Jewish background or historic setting of the New Testament or the Jewishness of Jesus. That’s all. And I didn’t say that the voice of the Church is unimportant. But I was in disagreement with the claim of authority of the Catholic Church and his leaders that dedicated the believers how they had to understand the Scriptures for centuries. I seemed you had the same thoughts when you said “I think the church also does not do any effort to analyze the context of the New Testament and the Jewishness of Jesus and I think that is on purpose.” But it could me I misunderstood you there. Now it seems you changed your opinion in some things. To be clear : I was not in war with you.

          1. Guillermo Del Solar

            of course not, I did not think so. It is just that this subject is very sensitive and to me is more important to not offend someone than to be right.
            Wish you the best

    3. Luis R. Santos

      Interesting you say this, …. I have in my possession a NT Spanish translation with my understanding that Mathew translation was highly influenced by Shem Tov. This was done by a Cuban from Miami.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Do you mean that the translation was influenced by Baal Shem Tov (for those who don’t know he is the founder of modern hassidism) or was Baal Shem Tov influenced by Matthew? (Both are possible to my mind).

        1. Luis R. Santos

          I was not validating the translation but trying to make the point to Guillermo that there those in Miami that are interested in the Jewish Jesus/Yeshua. Interestingly enough a major growth in Messianic/Hebrew roots movements is in Latin America as Hispanics are realizing and identifying with their Sephardic roots.

          1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            I c. Sorry 🙂

          2. Guillermo Del Solar

            Luis, I am so glad to be proven wrong then. I sincerely hope this interest takes root in Christianity.
            Funny you mention sephardic roots, as I was just researching this recently…., do you know how can I research my possible Sephardic roots? my mother’s last name showed up in a couple of searches in Jewish Ancestry.com., but that is as far as I could go….Do you know of another website / organization I can tap into?

          3. Drs. Charles van den Berg

            Your funny.

        2. Guillermo Del Solar

          The holy Baal Shem Tov was also one of the greatest kabbalists in history

      2. Guillermo Del Solar

        Luis this definitely piqued my interest ..can you expand ? is it something you can share?
        I am not sure I follow ..are you saying that at some point in time ( obviously during last part or after the XVIII century) someone translated the Gospel of Matthew Gospel to Spanish , based on teachings of the Baal Shem Tov? That must have been something special dedicated to a particular audience right ?

        1. Luis R. Santos

          I have to dig out the book out of storage. it may take a while,. to anser your other post here is a site for you to investigate: http://sephardim.com/

          There is a also a congregation in Israel of Jewish Believers in Jesus/Yeshua who are doing out reaches to Crypto Spanish Jews you might want to contact. http://www.netivyah.org/resources/

          Also modern scholarship out of Hebrew University in Israel debunks your assumptions about the reliability of the new testament. Just saying…..Shalom my friend.

        2. Luis R. Santos

          Guillermo,

          Here is another link and a book you should buy.

          http://cryptojews.com/

          http://www.amazon.com/The-Mezuzah-Madonnas-Foot-Discovers/dp/0060603402

          1. Guillermo Del Solar

            Luis thank you so much for all this information. I have contacted those groups.
            Shalom and G_d bless

  51. […] To read about Koine Judeo-Greek click HERE. […]

  52. RamonAntonio

    As this discussion grows I become more convinced that we are entering more and more the field of cognitions per se even though from a linguistic perception. The excellent book Surfaces and Essences by Hofstader and Sander delves deep in this and proposes that analogies are the root of cathegorization and thus key to the formulation of concepts and ideas. I find their argument very compelling.
    I am not able to expand in the nuances of greek, aramaic or hebrew but I would suggest to those capable to take a look at grammar and analogic analysis of each language and check if the structure of any idea proposition differs. For example, in the book, the word “play” in English is used to mean play as such in playing children, play an instrument, play a sport, play a music composition, play as in starting an electronic device to commence “playing” its use, etc. However, an Italian, a Chinesse or a Russian will never use a single word for all those activities for they probably have different words be it nouns or verbs to express the activity in relation to a human “player” using a musical instrument or so.
    This, then, is not a language issue per se but a knowledge construct or a mindframe created by the rules of reasoning of the language and culture. Thus, the variations in meaning correspond also to the language structure of perception, categorization and ideology. We should look then to the family tree of each language or its recension. In here, the great F Moore Cross work still is forelooking and crucial.
    As a high learned Hebrew trained at the feet of the great Gamaliel and also a Greek citizen commanding its citizenship when needed, Paul was fluent in Hebrew and probably in Aramaic but also in Greek. He chose to write in Greek or the alternative Koine Judeo Greek (or whatever Mambo Jambo was actually talked) that he deemed useful to convey the correct meaning to his audience for he was a trained speaker in Greek usage as evidenced in his letters and the exhortations contained in the letters.
    Paul knew that he was talking about Jesus who was probably the first rabbi an recently category of teacher probably invented by Jesus himself in Jewish customs but a teacher who also performed signs and wonders as no one even compared to the legendary Elijah or Elisha of the Prophets. Someone who expelled demons and spirits by his own command publicly and was able to raise the dead. Someone who ended crucified only to resurrect himself again as witnessed by many and commanded his followers to preach the Kingdom of God simply because HE was the Son of God. Many of His followers, including Paul himself were also able to perform the same wonders, healings and even raising the dead. How then to give meaning to these accounts as an objective reality to the audience who were diverse and had different mindframes and not being taken for a story teller or a performing artist-entertainer-magician as in Athens he actually was received?
    Well, I think his tactic was to use the closest rendition of language available for the audience in order to convey to them the clear message that Jesus was a real person and the real God Incarnate, that the Holy Spirit that Jesus dispensed to His followers was God’s Living Force capable of causing supernatural gifts in people and that everything he spoke about was literally true. And that language, whatever form it was, was the original language of each document. As time went by, the collection of the documents into a single library rendered the present form.

    Thus, Dr. Eli’s proposition of the Koine Judeo Greek makes a lot of sense for it encompasses the intention of the New Testament authors which was to present a story as close to the objective reality of the audience as possible (ie. in their own mindframes) in order to speak to them about the transcendent realities that Jesus proclaimed as Paul himself always declared. Realities not of this world but from God Himself.

  53. Donald

    Shalom, Dr Eli and Judith.
    I have always considered the issue of the ‘original’ language of the Brit Haddasah (NT) to be either Hebrew or Greek. However, you have now introduced a third option of Judeao-Greek. This is a very plausible alternative to the fundamental issue of the many hebraic phrases with the BH.
    However, having been told of the existence of only ‘classical’ and ‘koine’ greek you seem to imply a third variant. If the Greek of the BH is the ‘koine Greek’ I have been told about, then there should be many examples of another ‘koine Greek’ which is not Judeo-Hebraic. in origin and is regularly used in the non-religious context.
    Is this the situation with the many written artifacts that archeologist have discovered?
    Is there a ‘koine’ Greek which differs sufficiently from the biblical Greek to be a true dialect of the language?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Donald, hi. You can start here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koine_Greek for very general info about this.

    2. judith green

      Yes indeed, Donald – what is called “koine” was the Greek spoken and written all over the Mediterranean and Near Eastern world from the time of the conquests of Alexander the Greet (last quarter of 4th c.) until the Battle of Actium (31 BC), when the Romans vanquished the last of the Hellenistic monarchs. It is a continuation of the Attic dialect of the 5th c. As it was so widespread, it naturally showed the influence of many local languages and there was considerable regional diversity, including that which Eli calls the Judaeo-Greek of the Septuagint and the NT.

  54. RamonAntonio

    One of the central ideas in The Origin of Stories by Boyd, is that art is a precursor to religion function of social cohesion. Once some kind of art is available, religion beliefs take use of art for the expression of art inherent capacity to gain “collective awe” we may say, or plural awareness. And the tool used by religion to use art is none other than liturgy…!
    So I think, Dr. van der Berg, that your suggestion of “keep aloof from our personal ideas and interpretations…” may really be more than 50% to stop the powerful control that Liturgy exerts on us for Liturgy encompasses kerygma, dogma and beliefs interweaved in the art expression of any religion. And that is the ultimate mindframe.
    It is not to reject liturgy or dogma what you suggest, I think. I totally agree that in order to better appreciate the true meaning of Scripture, its uniqueness and Oneness, we must be aware of the mindframes we all have which focus our understanding of events present or past for this mindframe is deeply rooted in us. In fact, this mindframe constitutes a lot of what we think we are. The extreme example I can give, and one very personal to many of us in its inscrutable cruelty, is that of Alzheimer disease on a loved one. As we suffer the deterioration of the person in front of us and the progressive erasing of their capacity to interact, what remains in the person in front of us…?
    As the great Canadian entertainer Robert Goulet sang: “… An empty shell, a lonely cell
    In which an empty heart must dwell?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RVXky09adA
    So our mindframe is not the answer but a tool we must use and evolve and enrich to become more able to seek the Face of God…

    1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      It is not to reject that is the ultimate mind frame.
      It is not to reject liturgy or dogma, but it is to reject our own made liturgies and dogma’s that’s a product of our own mind frames. That instead of trying to understand the liturgy and dogmas that are a product of God’s mind frames, as we found in the Scriptures. Expressions of art are indeed the tools for liturgy. I think the greatest expressions of God’s art are the universe and the tabernacle. God speakers His message’s trough this art ( Rom. 1:19-20; Psalm 19:1-5). The tabernacle is a compact model of whole. His revelation. And the tabernacle and his by works must be the work of an artist , be led by the artists Bezalel and Aholiab (Ex. 31:1-6; 35:30-35) I think the Scriptures themselves can be seen as a form of art, but that’smy opinion. personal opinion.

    2. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      REVISE:
      It is not to reject liturgy or dogma, but it is to reject our own made liturgies and dogma’s that’s a product of our own mind frames. That instead of trying to understand the liturgy and dogmas that are a product of God’s mind frames, as we found in the Scriptures. Expressions of art are indeed the tools for liturgy. I think the greatest expressions of God’s art are the universe and the tabernacle. God speaks His message’s trough this art ( Rom. 1:19-20; Psalm 19:1-5). The tabernacle is a compact model of whole. His revelation. And the tabernacle and his by works must be the work of an artist , be led by the artists Bezalel and Aholiab (Ex. 31:1-6; 35:30-35) I think the Scriptures themselves can be seen as a form of art, but that’s my opinion. personal opinion.

  55. Ildiko

    Laila tov, Dr Eli

    Your article is a highway to a best understanding the Holy Scripture. Because our faith is Scripture-based, and Gospel-based, we need to understand the very real message. If we don’t, if we misunderstand this, our faith will take a wrong way. I clearly understand whereof wrote Drs Charles van den Berg at February 10, the replacement theology is one of the mistaken what the church made, when did not try to recognize the real meaning of Gospels.
    If we want one healthy spiritual live, and one faith what will be appreciated by God, we must to verily hear what He “verily, verily say”
    Thank you Dr Eli for your valued help.

  56. Tami

    Dr. Eli and Judith,
    Thanks for the links you provided.

  57. RamonAntonio

    Excellent article Dr. Eli. I enjoyed it very much.
    I have just finished some books that only have in common the fact that I bought them but surprisingly, even to me as a buyer, they reach parallel conclusions:The origin of stories by Brian Boyd, The First Word by Christine Kenneally, Information by James Gleick, and Strategy by Lawrence Freedman. The common and parallel thread is that of stories as a central concept of language use and storytelling. Another parallel theme is that of liturgy as pertaining that art has been used by religion as a way of attaining social cohesion and liturgy seems to have been a form of using and fixing art as social adhesive.
    All this takes us to the central theme of the original language of the New Testament and the framing that such a language, whatever it was, effects on the product and ultimately on the reader. My take is that the original language “frames” the imagery of the religion and culture and then becomes the adhesive that sets the structure of the religion. I think that Dr. van der Berg considerations revolve around this ideas, although I am not in a position to clearly say they do. However, being similar or not his ideas to what I understand, the obvious result is one direction and that is achieved by your attractive article… that by studying the original language of the texts and asumming one proposition of which language it was, we should be able to organize a midframe for the resulting textual rendition and that by studying this mindframe we may have a particularly useful way of interpreting the meaning of the text.
    And meaning is the central thesis of information, as masterfully explained by Gleick in his book. MEaning is the ultimate goal of Information be it conch marking or quantum states. Meaning resides in the mind of the reader and it is not an accumulation of signs, a sequence of bits or the conclusion of an algorithm. Meaning is is the connection of the original encriptor and its ultimate destinatary. Meaning is the message, the rest is noise.
    Your article helps us reduce the noise inherent in the mother of all messages,the Holy Scriptures and by that, we end being closer to the truth, the ultimate message and the ultimate meaning we all seek.
    Thanks for getting us closer.

    1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      Thanks RamanAntonio for your additional thoughts . The common and parrallel concepts in the original languages, and in the central themes of Scriptures, and the involved way of thinking, are like a structural living frame that shows us the consistence and oneness of Scripture. It is like the bones of Yeshua HaMachiach: they could not be broken (Ps.34:20; Joh. 19:36).
      The Hebraism in the Koine-Judeo-Greek, Dr. Eli is speaking about, is an important part of this structural living frame of consistence and oneness between TeNach and Briet Chadasja . However, in order to see and understand that frame, we have to keep aloof from, our personal ideas and interpretations of these things, born from our own (also: church) traditions.

  58. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

    Folks, it is wonderful that all of you kept this important conversation going. Let us keep on thinking together about this and many other worthy subjects. Dr. Eli

  59. trudy

    thank you for sharing i love to know the truth!

    we agree in all languages ‘the people’ are us.

  60. Rafael

    Although the presence of Hebraisms is indeed one of the main reasons cited (as you stated) by those who reason that the original text was not Greek, it is not the only reason. But I think you glossed over some other significant reasons (aside mention of early references to a Hebrew gospel).

    I was on a website a couple of years ago which made some compelling arguments that the original documents of the NT were actually Aramaic, the Peshitta to be precise. Some of the reasons which compelled me the most were demonstrations of how some of the copying errors are easy to make in Aramaic, but difficult to make in Greek. These reasons compel me more than the Hebraisms (which are much easier to explain, as you just did).

    I’ve heard similar compelling arguments for Hebrew being the language of the originals.

    Parts of the OT being in Aramaic, particularly Daniel, prove that the true author of the scriptures is not locked into just one language. He seems to favor the common language of His people.

    I know not what was the original language of the text. I favor the notion that it was Hebrew, only because that is what I’m hoping. But I remain unconvinced of any of them being THE original. Yet I believe that it must have been one of three, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek,,, or possibly even some mixture (like Daniel and the Psalms).

  61. Lida Hill

    Shalom Dr Eli!
    I grew up in the Philippines where many languages and dialects are spoken under one roof. Growing up with 2 grandmothers who spoke different dialects, my brain was trained to switch from one dialect to another when talking to them. When I leave the house to go to school, my brain gets ready to think in a different language, which is English. Can you imagine me writing a letter to one of my siblings? That letter will contain at least 3 languages but it’s flavor is very Filipino since that is my nationality, culture & value. I’d call that letter Tagalog- Spanish-English (TagSpaLish) version. Nowadays, young people in the Philippines speak straight Taglish, (Tagalog-English). Very few of them can actually speak & write in pure Tagalog and for that I am very sad. On the other hand, I can still write and speak very fluently in my mother tongue of which I am proud. For this reason, I think I agree with you that the B’rit HaChadasha was written in Koine Judaeo Greek.
    Todah Rabah. יברכך יי וישמרך

    Lida

  62. James DeFrancisco

    Dr. Eli,

    Once again you have presented an excellent article and stimulated profound discussion on NT language. Most of what I would say has already been commented on but I would like to present just a brief comment and a few questions:

    Papias’ quote on Mattai may have referred to Hebrew in the context of Hebrew letters, i.e. Ktav Ashuri which are really Assyrian/Aramaic. Looking at the letters, Aramaic and Hebrew may look alike but when reading the words there is a vast difference as you know. The original Mattai may have been a much smaller composition than the latter Greek Matthew. As was pointed out by other replies, much of the substratum of the Koine Greek are Aramaisms as well as Hebraisms and sometimes they may match closely.

    A few questions:

    1. Are there any other examples of the Koine Judeo-Greek that have been uncovered in Israel, e.g. DSS manuscripts, etc.?

    2. Is any of your doctoral work on the interaction of Syriac Church fathers with the sages of Talmud that lived nearby and related Peshitta issues available for our study?

    I continue to really appreciate your approach as well as that of each of the readers who have replied from a wide range of interesting perspectives.

    Thank you.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Dr. DeFrancisco, shalom. It has been a while since we touched base. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Koine Greek has been widely used. My emphasizing that this Koine Greek has characteristics of Hebrew is simply the matter of definition. There are many Greek Jewish documents around. About dissertations my work was on just that Syriac Church father Aphrahat in interaction with the Talmudic sages. But there are also others we can look into into dissertation databases. Eli

  63. Dominic St Pierre

    Hello Dr. Eli!
    What a great little article! very refreshing indeed!

    Tell me, do you know of any evidence of some type of Greek letters being used to write Hebrew words?
    I’ve heard of other alphabets like Arabic or Aramaic being used at times to express Hebrew thoughts and words. I’m curious if you are aware of any such example of Greek.

    Also, do you have any recommendations of resources where we can read the scriptures translated from both a Greek ‘old testament’ and ‘new testament’?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think Judith Green our Greek specialist is in better position to answer these questions. Judith, can you help?

    2. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I recommend this site for those interested to take a closer look at the LXX – http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

    3. judith green

      Dear Dominic – yes, there is a website where you can see translations from the Greek and from the Masoretic text side by side:
      http://ecmarsh.com/lxx-kjv/genesis/gen_017.htm
      This is a very helpful and clear site, rather than having to compare one translation to the other on your own.
      There is another kind of Judaeo-Greek which falls into the category you mention. It was the language of the Romaniote Jews in the former Ottoman empire, especially in northern Greece. Cff. http://www.jewish-languages.org/judeo-greek.html
      also,
      Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages , edited by Joshua Fishman.
      but I think Eli is trying to use the term in a particular way of relating to the language in the NT texts, not making a historical-linguistic argument about the Greek language.
      Hope this answers your inquiry,
      Judith Green

    4. Eric de Jesús Rodríguez Mendoza

      BS”D

      I can suggest you to get the Excellent work of Redpath-Hatch: A concordance to the septuagint and the other Greek versions of the Old Testament, including the apocryphal books. In volume II, there is an appendix containing how hebrew words were writen in Greek:
      For example:
      Ααβ = אחאב
      Ααζ = אחז
      Άλακ = חלק

  64. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    No Eli, you are not ruining MINE party.
    Because I agree complete with you.
    I did not proclaim that there ‘s a Jewish vs Greek way of thinking idea in the Scriptures.
    I was in mention of a WRONG way of thinking, based on interpretation and misunderstanding of the real Greek thinking of the Septuagint and the Briet Chadasja.
    I was in mention o an in that way supposed kind of Greek thinking, often used by translations of the Bible in the West, like in The Netherlands.
    It is called Greek thinking, but it is only what they think Greek thinking is. This kind af of (interpret ) Greek thinking is vs. Jewish thinking and in conflict with the real Greek thinking of The Septuagint and the Briet Cahdasja.
    This kind of supposed Greek thinking is the score of the party you speak about( for example, from Thorleif Boman – read his book: Das Hebraische denken im vergleich mit dem Grieschischen – from R.K. sources, ( I disagree with it).
    You emphasize that there are different ideas about the Greek thinking of the Scriptures by your own, by recalling Koine Greek by Judeo Greek. I was in mention of the same problem on another level.
    So, I enjoy your party in a great way as the mine. Love you. Charles

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Same here :-). Blessings and much peace, Eli

  65. Kat Hobaugh

    Your articles are incredible. The benefits of learning Biblical Hebrew are clearly obvious . My question to you is what is the plan to get Biblical Hebrew from one social circle to a different social circle?

  66. Eric Rodríguez

    BS”D

    Shalom to you all my friends!

    The first thing must be remembered, is the co-existence of hebrew and aramaic in the Holy Land at the time of Jesus. It’s known, that coins from the first and second century (Bar Kochba times, I mean) have inscriptions in ancient hebrew alphabet (Maybe the “Big letters” mentioned by Sha’ul/Paul).
    Secondly, jewish scholars, come from Babylon, since the times of ‘Ezra’-Nehemiyah, spoke aramaic, or almost employed it as a theological language.
    Thirdly, in the New Testament persists the distinction between Έβραϊστι Chevraisti (aramaic, John 19:17), and έβραϊδι διαλεκτο Chevraidi dialekto (hebrew, Acts 26:14).
    The followings, are the Aramaic words reminded in the New Testament.
    Κηφας Këfas כיפא Keypá’ – Peter John 1:42 (‘éven, Séla, Tzor, in hebrew)
    Πάσχα Pásja פסחא Pisjá’ – Passover John 2:13 (Pésaj in hebew)
    Βηθεσδα Bëthesda בית חסדא Béyt Jisdá’ – Bethesda John 5:2 (Béyt Jésed in hebew)
    Θωμάς Thomás תומא Tomá’ – Thomas John 11:16 (Te’om, in hebrew)
    Γολγοθά golgothá גלגלתא Gulgaltá’ – Gólgota, John 19:17 (Gulgólet in hebrew)
    Ραβουνί Rabûní רבוני Riboní – My Máster John 20:16 (‘Adoní, in Hebrew)

    Ταλιθά κουμι Talithá Kûmi טליתא קומי Talyetá’ Qumi Girl, arise! Mk 5:41 Qumi yaldah (in hebrew)
    Δαλμανουθά Dalmanûthá אלמנותא ‘Almenutá’ Mk 8:10 (shel ‘Almanut)
    Ελωι Ελωι λεμα σαβαχθανι Eloi Eloi lema sabajthani אלי אלי למה שבקתני ‘Elí, ‘Elí Lemáh Shvaqtáni Mk 15:34. (‘Eli, ‘Eli, lamah ‘azavtani, in hebrew).

    So, I still though the N.T (the innovation of the Convenance), was writen in hebrew with parts in aramaic, for there are some theological connections in some expressions.

    By example, hitherto, גולגלתא Gulgaltá’ (in the Chassidic Theology), remais as the name of the Divine attribute of self-nullification, the first of seven, found between the עתיק יומין ‘atiq yomin (The “Elder of days” this is, the Deep Science of the Highest, in the book of Daniel), and אריך אנפין ‘Arich ‘Anpin (The “great face”, or the revealed wisdom of God).
    Thus, being Gulgaltá’ the attribute of Self-nullification of God, this is, His capacity of renouncement to Himself as the King of the Universe (taking the words of Psalm 113:6) it’s exciting that this was the name of the place where Yehoshúa’ self-nullified and gave His Life for us, just, Gulgaltá’.

    So, I still defend the hebrew-aramaic as the original languages of the NT.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Eric, thank you so much for your feedback. We I think should agree to disagree on how we interpret the data available to us. Let us keep on thinking together. Dr. Eli

  67. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    In addition to the study of the grammar of the Biblical Hebrew and Greek, the study of the Hebrew thinking in compare with the Greek thinking is a matter of high importance. Greek thinking was basically shaping our modern western thinking and the theology of the westernized church. With the entry of the replacement theology, where Israel was replaced by the church, the theology became ultimately more formed by the Greek thinking, than the Hebrew thinking. And more powered from the Greek culture, then from the culture of the Bible, that ‘s culture of Israel.
    When thinking about the history of the emergence of the Bible, and by our efforts to understand his language and message, our point of view has to be from its original setting, in history, culture and thinking. It is WRONG to do that from a western setting of culture, history and thinking that’s often quite strange of Bible’s origins. The replacement theology goes further than Israel to be replaced by the church. For example, they had replaced its culture too , they had replaced its way of thinking too, etc . And that’s the core of all problems.
    .

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I never understood (nor did I accepted) the Jewish vs. Greek (alleged) way of thinking idea. I can assure you that the two worlds intermingled to the point that it was not longer possible to tell a huge difference between the two. Perhaps, one of emphasis only. I hope I am not ruining anyone’s party :-).

      1. Luis R. Santos

        ** You are such a party pooper! 🙂

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          🙂 sorry someone had to do it! 🙂

          1. Lois

            Dr Eli,

            In relation to the comment about Hebrew and Greek dichotomy of mindset being inaccurate, do you have a comment about the Pauline saying that to Jews, Jesus is a stumbling block and to Greeks, foolishness? Is he not referring to a difference in mindset?
            respectfully,

            Lois

  68. Marie-Ange Desrosiers

    The more I study the Jewish culture and the Jewish way of thinking of the Bible times, the more I understand the Bible. The Torah class and Arnold Fructenbaum books have also helped me. Thank you for you input, Dr. Eli.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you so much for your comment. Dr. Eli

  69. Claudell County

    Dr. Eli

    The Hebrew at the time was Aramaic, wasn’t it. If the Judeo-Koine Greek was the written language and thinking style of the day, wouldn’t Aramaic have been in the equation and what about the Peshitta which claims the original text was written in Aramaic. I have seen the work of Lamsa and Rocco Ericco and their use of Aramaic to understand the scripture is very intriguing – though scholars usually write if off.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Shalom, Claudell. Welcome to our study group. I did my phd in interaction of Syriac Church fathers with the sages of Talmud that lived nearby, so I am aware of the Peshitta issues involved and they are fascinating indeed.

      Hebrew at the time of Jesus was Hebrew and Aramaic was Aramaic. It has been to my mind conclusively shown that both were in circulation. About Peshitta NT claiming something… I don’t think so. I think that Peshitta (or some) interpreters making this claims, but not actually Peshitta itself. Peshitta is important and needs to be studied more, however.

      1. Samuel Chacko

        Dear Dr Eli

        Thank you for the article and the various answers to the questions posed.

        I have two questions:-

        1. What is the difference between Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac? Could I trouble you to explain how each is different from the other and when and where each were in use;
        2. Would you recommend students undertaking the present course to also take up the study of Hebrew contemporaneously or can that wait till after the completion of the present course.

        Thank you

        Sam

  70. Birdie Cutair

    Dear Dr. Eli,
    Excellent article. That has been one of my questions since I couldn’t really understand how the Hebraisms got into a Greek text. However, you have explained it very well. Thank you.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Glad you liked it, make sure to pass it on!

  71. Malcolm F. Lowe

    Dr. Eli has deliberately posed the question in a provocative way. It is, of course, absurd to suppose that Paul’s epistles were originally written in Hebrew (although he may be assumed to have been fluent in Hebrew). The correct question is: Were PARTS OF the New Testament originally written in Greek? The answer of the late Prof. David Flusser and his friends and pupils, including myself, is that much of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke is derived from a Hebrew source or sources. We have variously published numerous studies to show this. On the more general linguistic question, see my article on the New Testament in the revised Encyclopedia Judaica. (The article was put online here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0015_0_14801.html)
    The main point is that the Greek of the NT is not one but many: I wrote: ‘There is indeed great variation in the language of the NT, reflecting the origins and genres of the various books. Thus in Matthew and Luke (to a lesser extent in Mark) and in the early chapters of Acts, much of the language has affinities to the “translation Greek” characteristic of the Septuagint as well as containing Hebraisms recognizable from rabbinic literature. By contrast, the introductions to Luke and Acts, the later chapters of Acts, and the Epistle to the Hebrews consist of elegant Hellenistic prose. Paul’s writings addressed to communities are composed in a brilliant epistolary style that evoked the admiration of Wilamowitz, the leading 20th-century authority on Greek literature. Only one book, Revelation, contains plain grammatical errors. The anonymous writer of the Gospel of John, however, writes in a Hellenistic Greek that is both very simple and very correct.’

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Malcolm is right. The more accurate way to ask the question is whether or not parts of NT were authored in Hebrew and I did verse the question more broadly on purpose.

      Now as everyone in their right mind I think that late Prof. Flusser was a wonderful scholar and cutting-edge Jesus researcher (who for those of you who don’t know was a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and devout Orthodox Jew).

      However, I think his explanation of the presence of Hebraisms in NT is unnecessary. I think that the idea of Koine Judeo-Greek that I summarized in this post explains simpler and better the same issues that Flusser sought to explain as well.

      About the variations in Greek – that is given, but the variation concerns only the good and better style/command of Koine Judeo-Greek even when it more elegant (Paul) and less grammatically correct (Revelation). After all unless I am mistaken Koine Greek and Hellenistic Greek is one and the same thing, being simply an Alexandrian dialect of Greek. People in our group who really do know what you are talking about – do help us out! 🙂

      1. Alex Fisher

        Simply put, Koine Greek is a simplified form of classical Attic Greek (the dialect spoken in Athens), The equivalent in English would be the difference between the form used in courts and legislation (Classical) and the language used in a casual conversation or a popular novel. Koine has a slightly less complex grammar, and a more restricted vocabulary.

        The Koine form also has various “loan words” and neologisms, and some words have changed their meaning, sometimes quite dramatically (the preposition/prefix “anti” is a good example; in Classical form is meant they teh thing it modified was put in place of something, whereas in Koine it carried the connotation of active opposition. The closest Latin word to the original meaning is “vicarius”.

  72. Stephen Lockwood

    Dr. Eli: Thank you for this article, it really clears up some of the questions I have had about the basic source of the phraseology used in the New Testament. Though I would like to think that the writers wrote originally in Hebrew, that would be just wishful thinking in a poly-linguistic society. Even Jesus Himself, coming from Nazareth (a community between the coast and Sea of Galilee) with Roman fortifications in the area. Not only did the Roman officers speak Latin, they would also speak Greek, and what other languages they had picked up along the way. Though Hebrewisms could be pointed out as a source of Hebrew thought, Judeo-Greek covers that point nicely.

    Again, Thank you!
    SRL

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Great to hear!

  73. Clancie Speck

    Dr. Eli,
    Thank you very much for this informative and interesting article and also for the others you make available each week. As a Christian in her sixties, who only within the past year has encountered Bible studies emphasizing the Hebrew context and especially the Jewishness of Jesus, I am enthralled with the information I am learning. And, yes, these are great enticements to studying Biblical Hebrew. I plan to do so soon.

  74. Rode Scheel

    Ich bin Ihnen erneut SO DANKBAR dass Sie mich kontaktiert haben, Adoni Dr.Eli und f. all das was ich dank Ihrem Wissen, Ihrer Leidenschaft für das Wort Gottes erfahren, lernen darf !

  75. Tami

    I would appreciate your opinion. What language would you recommend learning first, Biblical Hebrew, or Greek?

    Thank you for the teaching you provide, may God continue to bless and keep you.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I would start with Hebrew. It is simpler than Greek and most of the Bible is in Hebrew. So to me it makes sense.

      1. Alex Fisher

        As one who has done some studies in both Hebrew and Greek (not just Koine Greek, but also Classical Greek), I can say from my experiences that you should start with Hebrew. There are several reasons for this recommendation.

        the main reason is that the grammar of Hebrew is quite different. The basic concepts that have led to the grammatical structure of Hebrew are very different from the Indo-European group of languages, which includes Greek, Latin and English. The mode of expressing ownership, as an example, is almost totally opposite to Greek, and the structure of the verb is radically different.

        If one starts with Greek, one becomes used to one set of concepts and constructions, which, because they are so close to English structures, makes it more difficult to adjust one’s thinking, I might actually say “mindset”, the the Semitic forms.

        Grappling with theses different concepts and structures will actually make learning the Greek easier in the future, or at least that seems to be the way it works for most students (which makes me wonder why theological seminaries still teach Greek first).

        It is not easy, but learning both these languages will dramatically improve one’s understanding to the Scriptures.

        I’d also recommend studying some Classical Greek, after having developed some competence in the Koine form. Learning only Koine is rather like studying English without ever reading Shakespeare or Chaucer. While it is not the dialect spoken, knowing at least some Attic and Ionian increases ones appreciation of the Koine forms, and in my experience enhances the understanding of the text.

        1. Tami

          Thanks for your helpful reply, Alex.
          Best, Tami

          1. David

            Thanks to Dr. Eli and Alex for their recommendations. My little experience also confirm what they have stated.

    2. judith green

      Dear Tami – I think it is wonderful that you are contemplating studying both languages! They both require serious work, but it is very rewarding work. Of course, Greek is more closely related to English and other European languages, both in vocabulary and conceptual thought. However, you should just follow your heart as to which texts are more important to you to read in their original tongue – and then continue to the next!

      1. Tami

        Thanks for your kind and helpful reply, Judith.

        Hebrew is my “heart’s call.”

        1. Lea

          I am in my second level of Biblical Hebrew at E-Teacher. I highly recommend them. I learned Modern Hebrew first in Israel, so it has been a bit of a challenge to learn biblical Hebrew, but I do love it. Perhaps after I have completed all 5 courses, I will begin with Greek!

  76. David Neuhaus

    Dear Dr. Eli,
    I loved your article and think that you have phrased things very well. The Scriptures of Israel in Greek indeed form not only the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of the writers of the New Testament but also their understanding of God, of the world and of themselves. The play of intertextuality sheds light on the meaning of both the New Testament and the Old. It is for this reason that both Hebrew and Greek are so important if we are to really penetrate the words used in order to express the message of both Testaments. WE need much more study of the Septuagint and its relationship with the Masoretic and other Hebrew texts.
    Best wishes,
    Rev. David Neuhaus SJ

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Father David,

      Thank you very much for your encouraging comment.

      Dr. Eli

    2. judith green

      Dear David and Eli – I want to mention, given your encouragement for the study of both Greek and Hebrew, that the Biblical Greek course I wrote for eTeacher is the first online course, as far as I know, that integrates texts from both the Septuagint and the NT, emphasizing the theological content and the language used in both traditions. Learning both idioms allows you to look backward, toward Hellenistic (Koine) and even Classical Greek, and forwards to the language of the Church Fathers.

  77. Abera Milkano

    Thank you so much for such an eye opening document . With agape

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Abera, thank you for your kind words and welcome to the forum. Dr. Eli

  78. Alex Fisher

    Dr. Eli, I note that one of the things mentioned in relation to Matthew is that he “… collected the oracles in the Hebrew dialect … “. I’d point out that these snippets (which were in all probability a collection of sayings along the lines of the gospel of Thomas) were almost certainly in Aramaic, not Hebrew as such, Aramaic being the common spoken language of the Palestinian Jews.

    I also like your characterisation of NT Greek as a “Koine Judaeo-Greek”, although I personally would probably have phrased it “Judaic Koine Greek).

    I personally have often considered whether at least some of he Gospels may have been written in Aramaic, and later translated (or paraphrased) in Greek. If that were to have been the case, then the Syriac versions might actually be closer to the original that the equivalent Greel passages, since Syriac is closely related to Aramaic.

    The truth is, we will never know with any certainty, and can only surmise based on the factors covered in your article.

    I intend to continue studying Hebrew, most likely through Avondale College in Australia. It will probably be next semester before I do, in the meantime I’ll continue following your posts with interest.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Alex, hi. Thanks for your note. I do think that Pipias ought to be trusted on the Hebrew vs. Aramaic. I think many times when NT says that someone spoke Hebrew our translators (who think that Hebrew was not spoken at that time) say that it was Aramaic, but we know have actual evidence that Hebrew was not dead, but rather alive at the time of Jesus.

    2. Lynda Janzen

      From what I understand, Aramaic was the spoken dialect, but the written language was Koine Greek or as Dr. Eli specifies, Judeo-Koine Greek. … Much as Yiddish is a spoken language and not many people will write books in Yiddish.

  79. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

    Friends, I invite you to make comments and ask questions about this post.

    1. Zelda

      Hi Dr. Eli,
      I enjoyed my first reading and it has piqued my interest. I noted with interest from the passage that the individuals attributed as the authors of the Gospels may not have been that at all. It makes me now wonder about what else is a misconception, and therefore, I am looking forward to the studies.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Perhaps, a clarification is in order. Several of the Gospels authorship (traditional) is well attested. The Gospel themselves are unanimous I think in keeping in with general biblical scriptural tradition.

    2. Dana Klein

      Dr. Eli what of the claims that the New Testament was written originally in Syriac? The manuscripts I am wondering about are the Crawford and Khabouris manuscripts?
      Shalom,
      Dana

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Syriac is an Christian Aramaic translation of the Koine Judeo-Greek translation. There is no serious reason to think that it was first written in Aramaic and only then translated to my knowledge. Dr. Eli

    3. Tom

      I think there is a lot of evidence to the contrary that is many times overlooked. Eusebius quoted Papias stated “Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able (Eccl. Hist 3:39). Other similar quotes by church fathers; Iraneus, Origen, Epiphanius, Jerome all state testimonial evidence of the Hebrew Matthew. I have read the Shem Tob’s Hebrew Mathew. The last count was 28 manuscripts of the original Hebrew Matthew and other linguistic evidence. The most telling evidence is the Hebrew culture. Its closed society and protected culture, and language. According to Jewish tradition (1st C) they are not even suppose to eat a meal with non-hebrews. etc..

    4. Donald Ashton

      Dr Eli,
      I would like to ask what seems like a silly question on scrolls., particularly since you have shown an image of the LXX translation of the Tanakh.
      We are all aware that Greek is written left to right and Hebrew is written right to left.
      We also know that a scroll is written in pages, as is clearly illustrated in your image of the LXX.
      However, how are the pages arranged?
      In a Greek scroll are sequential pages positioned left to right and a Hebrew scroll right to left?

    5. Michael J Contos

      http://contoveros.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/the-gospel-according-to-michael-the-lesser/

      I am a student as well as a Catholic who wants to spread the word of Jesus and his Jewishness from the perspective that your forum is providing me.

      I believe i can do it best in a novel with a little light humor by being the “side-kick” of the Christ while on a visit to the Far East upon the death of Joseph, Jesus’ earth-bound father, and his obedience to the will directing Jesus to study under the sages of the old Greek world and the Far East.

      Did wills exist at the time of Jesus? could Joseph had left money to his son? This Greek slave would like to know. Thank you.

      Michael J Contos,
      aka Contoveros

    6. Peter Kamaleshwar

      Dear Dr. Eli,
      The article is completely new for people like me, living in Nepal, who have no idea of difference between Hebrew and Greek thought patterns. It is full of information and very interesting. Thanks for bringing enrichment, God bless.

      Peter K.

    7. Jennifer Badani

      The Xtian part of the Bible was written in Aramaic.
      The early Xtians spokes Aramaic.
      The kurdish Xtians speak Aramaic.

    8. Lynda Janzen

      Dr. Eli … First, forgive me for shortening the address to your first name … Then … This is wonderfully interesting. I am studying Biblical Hebrew and am finding a richness in the text I never knew was there. It is truly as though this language is G-d Himself speaking directly to each one of us. Glory to Him forever!