Shifting Scripts: From Pictos To Squares
One of the impacts of this period is that the form of Hebrew was permanently altered. After the return from exile, Ezra the Scribe shifted the written style of Hebrew from the earlier Paleo-Hebrew script to the refined Aramaic square script, though the earlier form remained in use through the 1st century on a limited basis. One wonders if he made this switch simply because he had been accustomed to it, or perhaps he recognized it as an improvement. Maybe it was an accommodation to literate Jewish readers who needed one less obstacle with which to have to deal. In any case, the shift happened, and the square script instituted by Ezra is still in use today, referred to as the Jewish script.
A more serious consequence of the Judean immersion in Babylonian culture was that by the close of the 1st century BC, Hebrew was essentially relegated to an academic and liturgical language. This means that well before the time of Christ, the language barrier had proven so strong, that the shift was non-reversible and the gap between the Aramaic speaking Jews and their Hebrew Bible had only continued to widen.
Could The Israelites Read What Moses Wrote At Mt Sinai
A key question that surfaced in the film, Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy was related to whether or not Moses could have written the Torah. Arguments were related to whether or not an alphabet even existed at the time of Moses, and whether or not there was a reading public for which he could have or would have produced such a document.
The simple answer was that Yes, an alphabet existed that had already been developed from Egyptian hieroglyphics, by a Semitic person. This individual was someone who was able to read ancient Egyptian and was simultaneously motivated to adapt its characters for use in an alphabet for his Semitic readership. This resolved one key objection to the Mosaic authorship of the Torah.
But what about the question of audience? Why would Moses write a Torah if there was no reading public? We have previously explored how this scenario gave rise to the development of delegated authority and to the role that the Torah played in the establishment of legal precedent. But there is more to the story.
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What Significance Does The New Testament Have For Christians
In the New Testament Gods revelation is completed. The four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the centerpiece of Sacred Scripture and the most precious treasure of the Church. In them the Son of God shows himself as he is and encounters us. In the Acts of the Apostles we learn about the beginnings of the Church and the working of the Holy Spirit. In the letters written by the apostles, all facets of human life are set in the light of Christ. In the Book of Revelation we foresee the end of the ages.
Jesus is everything that God would like to tell us. The entire Old Testament prepares for the Incarnation of Gods Son. All of Gods promises find their fulfillment in Jesus. To be a Christian means to unite oneself ever more deeply with the life of Christ. To do that, one must read and live the Gospels. Madeleine Delbrêl says, Through his Word God tells us what he is and what he wants he says it definitively and says it for each individual day. When we hold our Gospel book in our hands, we should reflect that in it dwells the Word that wants to become flesh in us, desires to take hold of us, so that we might begin his life anew in a new place, at a new time, in a new human setting.
The words of God, expressed in human language, are in every way like human speech, just as the word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the weak flesh of human beings, became like them.
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Hebrew: Language Of The Old Testament
Hebrew belongs to the Semitic language group, a family of ancient tongues in the Fertile Crescent that included Akkadian, the dialect of Nimrod in Genesis 10 Ugaritic, the language of the Canaanites and Aramaic, commonly used in the Persian empire.
Hebrew was written from right to left and consisted of 22 consonants. In its earliest form, all the letters ran together. Later, dots and pronunciation marks were added to make it easier to read. As the language progressed, vowels were included to clarify words that had become obscure.
Sentence construction in Hebrew might place the verb first, followed by the noun or pronoun and objects. Because this word order is so different, a Hebrew sentence cannot be translated word-for-word into English. Another complication is that a Hebrew word might substitute for a commonly used phrase, which had to be known to the reader.
Different Hebrew dialects introduced foreign words into the text. For example, Genesis contains some Egyptian expressions while Joshua, Judges, and Ruth include Canaanite terms. Some of the prophetic books use Babylonian words, influenced by the Exile.
List Of Bible Translations By Language
The United Bible Societies reported that the Bible, in whole or part, has been translated in more than 3,324 languages , including complete Old or New Testaments in 2,189 languages, and the complete text of the Bible in 804 languages.
According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, in October 2017, 3,312 languages had access to at least a book of the Bible, including 1,121 languages with a book or more, 1,521 language groups with access to the New Testament in their native language and 670 the full Bible. It is estimated by Wycliffe Bible Translators that translation may be required in 1,636 languages where no work is currently known to be in progress. They also estimate that there are currently around 2,584 languages which have active Bible translation projects .
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The Translations Of The Bible
The many translations are necessary for spreading the word of God without any obstacles in communication. However, this should not diminish the significance of the original languages of the Bible, the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, and the language of the era when the books of the Scriptures were written. The study of the original languages is imperative for the correct understanding of the meaning of the Bible. The knowledge of the original languages is also imperative in order to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular. The knowledge of the original language is especially necessary for the doctrinal teaching of the Bible.
The individual Christian is urged to read the Bible in his own language for his spiritual enrichment, but not to use the translation in arriving at personal conclusions. One should read the Bible against the background of the interpretation given it by the Church as a whole, not on ones own interpretation. It is profitable, however, for one who studies the Bible to use short commentaries of the Church and to leave the dogmatic and systematic teaching to the Church, which is the authoritative and infallible body. Taking a Biblical verse out of context often is misleading and is the basic cause of the Christian Church being separated into many parts, each interpreting according to their own opinions and thoughts.
The Need to Know the Original Languages
The Translation of the Bible into English
The Languages And Translations Of The Bible
MEMORY TEXT:“And I saw another angel flyin the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto themthat dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, andpeople”.
KEY THOUGHT: Since the Tower of Babelthere has been an astounding increase of various languages and dialects.Languages also are in a constant process of change. This presents an enormouschallenge if we are to fulfill the commission to provide the Word of Godin every tongue.
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The Lingering Effects Of A Painful Sojourn
Once the Babylonian captivity was over, after decades spent in a foreign land that used a foreign language, many of the returned exiles were not even able to understand spoken Hebrew. This means that at the time of Exodus 2.0, literacy for reading the Torah was not the primary issue. Rather, many people were not even able to understand the language of the Torah.
Earlier, Moses had warned the Israelites that if they were disobedient, God would raise up a rod of chastening for them. He explained,
The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand. Deut. 28:49
Now, however, the language that they were unable to understand was not some foreign language. It was their own native tongue the one that recorded the laws and statutes that they were to obey. At this juncture, the situation might appear hopeless, and its easy to understand why Ezra resorted to pulling his hair out, while Nehemiah resorted to pulling out the hair of some of the people !
In Which Languages Were The Scriptures Of The Holy Bible Originally Written
Proto-Sinaitic script was used in the Sinai Peninsula from 1850-1200 B.C., plus or minus a few hundred years, and it coexisting with Egyptian hieroglyphics. People eventually began to assign phonetic values or sounds to the hieroglyphs, which lead to the development of the first alphabet. Each hieroglyph represented an entire word, so the initial sound of the hieroglyph became the first letter of its word. Since there were roughly 22 spoken sounds, 22 hieroglyphs were chosen to represent the alphabet of the spoken language. The Proto-Sinaitic script and Egyptian hieroglyphics lead to the development of the Phoenician alphabet in 1200 B.C., plus or minus a few hundred years.
Moses lived from approximately 1393-1273 B.C., plus or minus a hundred years. According to tradition, the Torah was dictated to Moses by God , except for the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe the death of Moses. This belief is derived from what is recorded in the Mishnah, and it is also derived from Deuteronomy 31:24-26. Moses would have likely recorded the Torah in clay with the Phoenician alphabet because clay was often used as a writing tablet during this time in history. However, Moses recorded many commandments on large stones that were coated with plaster .
The New Testament is a compilation of many scriptures that seem to have been originally written in several different languages, which include Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
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Cyrus And The Persian Era
In 538 BC, Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and established the Achaemenid Empire , which at the time was the largest empire the world had ever seen. However, this had no effect on the language of the Hebrews. Cyrus quickly issued the Edict of Restoration , which allowed the repatriation of various peoples conquered by the Babylonians to return home .
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Should I Read The Bible In Its Original Languages
Nowadays, many people around the world profit from Bible translations in languages they can understand clearly. Thats a wonderful way to get access to Gods Word! It is still valuable to learn Hebrew and Greek if you want to delve deeper and study the Bible in its original languages, but a good translation is just as much Gods Word as the original Hebrew scrolls or Greek manuscripts are. You do not need to learn Hebrew and Greek in order to know God or in order to be saved.
The fact that Jesus quoted the Septuagint and that the New Testament Bible books were written in Greek instead of Hebrew, makes clear that God does not favor one human language over another. He does not require people to learn a new or holy language in order to read the Bible, but had His Word written down in languages that were best known to the original audiences. Actually, this is not very surprising when we realize that God took the enormous step to express His eternal, universal truths in human language in the first place. Compared to this, translating the Bible from one human language into another is only a minor step!
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Is King James The Most Accurate Bible
That venerable old standard the King James Version also shows up very high on the list of most accurate Bibles. The KJV was made before some of the best texts were found like the Textus Siniaticus. But in spite of the outdated language- the KJV remains the most popular Bible in the English-speaking world.
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Lord Or Yhvh Jesus Or Yeshua Sunday Or Sabbath Church Or Synagogue Gentile Or Israel Clean Or Unclean Law Or Grace 2000 Years After The Messiah Wherever We Live Whether Its Sri Lanka Or Any Other Part Of The World All Of Us Require To Learn How To Do Bible Things In Bible Ways
A common fact that is taught to all Christians is that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was written in Greek. There is consensus among all Biblical Scholars that the Old Testament was indeed written in Hebrew. But not all scholars agree on the point that the New Testament was written in Greek. Even though most of the remaining Manuscripts of the New Testament are all in Greek, there is evidence that parts of the New Testament would have indeed been written in Hebrew and subsequently translated to Aramaic, Greek and any other languages of the day.
Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel, in Hebrew
One of the best pieces of evidence that exists to prove that the New Testament may have originally been written in Hebrew, is The Gospel of Matthew. This Gospel account which is regarded as the earliest out of the 4 Gospels contained in our Bibles, come from Matthew who was surnamed Levi and who was a Tax Collector previously. He was a Hebrew speaking man just like all of the other Disciples of Christ. There are quite a few historical witnesses who have spoken how Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel in Hebrew.
Furthermore, Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer from the 16th Century had this to say about Hebrew and the New Testament
_________UPDATEFollowing is an important piece of information which was missing from this post, but was added because of Brother Hubert Krause who posted an important question.
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What Language Was The Old Testament Written In
One of the oldest and most studied texts, the Old Testament remains a source of profound wisdom, inspiration, and guidance. The overarching narrative of Gods love and care for His chosen people reveals the character of our Creator and invites us to define ourselves out of our relationship with Him.
But while the Old Testament continues to engage and challenge us, we rarely read this portion of scripture in its original form. Most of us necessarily rely on Bible translations, thoughtfully interpreted and presented to help modern readers draw close to ancient sources . Today, we turn our attention to the language in which the first major section of the Bible was originally written and reflect on the texts context and history.
Greek Opened The New Testament To Gentiles
When the Bible writers began to pen the gospels and epistles, they abandoned Hebrew and turned to the popular language of their time, koine or common Greek. Greek was a unifying tongue, spread during the conquests of Alexander the Great, whose desire was to Hellenize or spread Greek culture throughout the world. Alexanderâs empire covered the Mediterranean, northern Africa, and parts of India, so the use of Greek became predominant.
Greek was easier to speak and write than Hebrew because it used a complete alphabet, including vowels. It also had a rich vocabulary, allowing for precise shades of meaning. An example is Greekâs four different words for love used in the Bible.
An added benefit was that Greek opened the New Testament to Gentiles, or non-Jews. This was extremely important in evangelism because Greek allowed Gentiles to read and understand the gospels and epistles for themselves.
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What Was The Language Of The Old Testament
Ancient Hebrew was the tongue of the ancient Israelites and the language in which most of the Old Testament was penned. Isaiah 19:18 calls it the language of Canaan, while other verses label it Judean and language of the Jews .
Ancient Hebrew is a Semitic language that dates back past 1500 B.C. Its alphabet consists of 22 characters, all consonants , and is written from right to left.
While Hebrew remained the sacred tongue of the Jews, its use as a common spoken language declined after the Jews return from exile . Despite a revival of the language during the Maccabean era, it was eventually all but replaced in everyday usage by Aramaic. Modern Hebrew can trace its ancestry to Biblical Hebrew, but has incorporated many other influences as well.
How Do You Understand Gods Word When Its Written In A Foreign Language
In reality, though, this question is never far away. In fact its very likely that if you are reading this, you are someone who reads the Bible primarily in English, as opposed to its original languages. This illustrates the point literacy and linguistic shifts are realities that biblical educators have always had to navigate. The situation after the return from Babylon forced the Jewish leadership to develop new models of religious instruction. Perhaps this creates some questions for you?
For example, what languages were originally involved in the production of the Bible? What is the connection between Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek anyway? What about the language spoken by Jesus and the Apostles? Did they preach in the same language in which they read the Torah, or in the language of the hearing audience? And what language was that? Perhaps you have wondered, Why did the Jewish authors of the New Testament produce it in Greek? Or, Since the Roman Empire was in control of Judea during the time of Christ, was Latin a factor? These are questions that will be addressed below, as well as in Part 2 next week.
Along the way, well see how the problem of the language barrier was addressed during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. In turn, that will inform us as to the connection between Moses, the Torah, and instructional models for an illiterate public. But first, lets consider the question of what were the original language of the Bible.
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