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The Original Language of the New Testament Was Greek

(by Gary Mink)

A point-by-point refutation of the baseless claims made by Sacred Name movement teachers in
support of an original Hebrew New Testament text.

CHAPTER 1- Jesus Spoke Greek

Some years ago a jeweler whose given name was Harold, had a store in Nashville. He was one of
the early advertisers on television. He was also his own spokesperson. His advertisements usually
ended with this personal appeal to the public. "If you don't know diamonds, know your jeweler.
And if Harold says it's so, it's so."
I don't know whether Harold was an honest man or not, but his message was: I am honest. You
can believe what I tell you.
Can't the same be said of Jesus? He is honest. He is the faithful and true witness. We can believe
what he says. If Jesus says it is so, it is so. Jesus said he was the first and last letters of the Greek
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending...
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end...
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end...
Revelation 1:8, 11 & 21:6 & 22:13
When Jesus said of himself, "I am Alpha and Omega," he was speaking Greek. Alpha is the first
letter of the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last. He uses these Greek letters to make his point. "I
am the first and the last." "I am the beginning and the end." He graphically illustrates his point
with this figure of speech.
If Jesus said these words, then the New Testament was written in Greek. Conversely, if the New
Testament was not written in Greek, then Jesus did not say these words, he is not the Alpha and
the Omega, and we cannot trust him to be exactly who he says he is. It is best if we trust Jesus.
He is Alpha and Omega.
Don't be surprised when Jesus speaks Greek. He is the God of creation. He created all things.
That would include the Greek language. Since he created it, does it not seem eminently
reasonable that he should speak it?
But the question for us to address is this, could Jesus speak Greek while on earth? He lived and
ministered in a multilingual culture. This fact is easily seen from the sign Pilate posted on the

cross. It was in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. It is just possible some of the Greek spoken in that
area could have rubbed off on Jesus.
In Galilee, where Jesus grew up, the population was by no means wholly Jewish. Since the fall of
Israel, about 600 B.C., it had been under Jewish domination only during the rule of the
Maccabees. You see, when Jesus was a boy, Galilee had been under Jewish rule for only about a
century out of the past six hundred years.
When Jesus lived there, it was ruled by Rome not by Jews. Herod the tetrarch, who ruled Galilee
when Jesus was born, was not Jewish. He was an Idumaean, a descendant of Esau. Of course, he
ruled at the bidding of the Roman Emperor.
In the Scripture, you will recall, Galilee is called "Galilee of the Gentiles." It had a number of
non-Jewish cities and a large non-Jewish population. The sea of Galilee was surrounded by Greek
Not every city on the sea was Greek, but many were. Decapolis (This word is Greek for Ten
Cities.) bordering the sea to the east and south were Hellenistic cities. Tiberias, built to honor the
Roman emperor by that name, was on the southwestern shore. Sephoris, a thoroughly Greek city,
was not an hour's walk north of Nazareth. Galilee had a large Greek and other Gentile presence.
The culture of these people was Greek and they spoke the Greek language.
Jesus traveled to some of the Greek cities in the area. Once near Tyre and Sidon he had a
conversation with a Greek lady and healed her daughter. It is not unreasonable to believe that
Jesus spoke Greek to her. The Jews with whom Jesus had contact knew he could speak Greek.
They said he would be able to teach the Greeks. Remember their comments.

Where does this man intend to go that we

cannot find him? Will he go where our people
live scattered among the Greeks, and teach
the Greeks?
John 7:35 (N.I.V.)
You are able to see that Jesus lived and worked in an area with more than one language.2 He
spent much of his life in Galilee of the Gentiles. He traveled to Greek cities and talked with
Greek people. His native language may have been Aramaic, but without any doubt he also spoke
Jesus even said his name in Greek. Near the end of the book of the Revelation, here is what he

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you

these things in the churches.
Rev 22:16
He has just said, in Greek, "I am Alpha and Omega." Only a few words later in the same speech
he says, "I Jesus." This is also in Greek. Our Lord spoke his name in a language other than
Hebrew. He said, "egw Ihsouc. "Egw Ihsouc," being translated (from Greek into English), is "I
JESUS." His name in Greek is Ihsouc. This name transliterated into English is Iesous - thus Jesus.
By saying this, he made his name sacred in the Greek language. He used his name in Greek. We
can use his name in Greek or English or any other language. He is not and his name cannot be
confined only to the Hebrews or only to their language. His New Testament is most certainly not
in the Hebrew language.
Here is something else to consider. The book of the Revelation is written "to the seven churches
which are in Asia." All seven churches are in Greek cities.3 The Roman province of Asia is
today's Turkey. Before the Romans controlled that area, Greek people had lived there for
centuries. John received and likely wrote the Revelation while in exile on an island just off the
coast of Asia.
Patmos is a rocky little island in the Aegean sea. John was exiled on a Greek island. The people
to whom John wrote were Greek. There is no reason why John would have written in any
language other than Greek.
Furthermore, John wrote Jesus' words, "I am Alpha and Omega." That is Greek. You and I can
know by this that the New Testament was written in Greek. At least, we can ascertain this fact The Revelation was.
We can trust Jesus. He is honest. He is the faithful witness. I believe his testimony that he is the
Alpha and Omega. I also believe those words are Greek. Therefore, I am compelled to conclude
the New Testament was written in Greek.
1. Burton L. Mack, The Lost Gospel (San Francisco, Harper, 1993). In his forth chapter entitled
"Galilee Before The War", Mack says: "Three hundred years of hellenistic influence just before
the time of Jesus is an especially important factor. Hellenistic influence has been downplayed by
scholars in the interest of buttressing the picture of Jesus appearing in the midst of a thoroughly
Jewish culture. Unfortunately for this view, archeological evidence of hellenization in Galilee
continues to increase. Since language is such a basic index of cultural influence, it is significant
that southern Galilee was largely Greek speaking in the first century, though of course bilingual."
2. Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament its background, growth, and content (Nashville,
Abingdon, 1965). On page 32, Metzger says: "The Greek language, on the contrary, was widely
understood in Palestine, particularly in the north, which was commonly called "Galilee of the
3. J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans,1973), art. Asia.

Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Part II, The Life of Greece, (New York, Simon and
Schuster, 1966), See chapter VI, The Great Migration.

CHAPTER 2- John Wrote His Gospel to Non Hebrews

My brother spent almost thirty years in the United States Navy. He was in a number of countries.
Most of them were completely foreign to me. During this time, we communicated by letter, by
phone, and sometimes by tape recordings. I would tell him what was happening among the people
at home. He would tell me what was happening where he was.
In no communication I ever had with him did I refer to the people at home as "the Tennesseans"
or "the Americans." First, I am a Tennessean. Second, my brother, to whom I was writing, was a
Tennessean. Third, the people about whom I was writing were Tennesseans. There was no need
for me to explain to him whom I was writing about. We were all Tennesseans.
However, his letters to me were different. When he was in China, he wrote about "the Chinese"
eating habits and "the Chinese" dress. He wrote of "the Chinese" customs and "the Chinese"
You see, in his letters there was a need to explain who the people were about whom he was
writing. He was able to accomplish this by these constant references to their nationality. This was
made necessary only because the people about whom he wrote were of a different nation than the
people to whom he wrote.
The form of communication characterized by one writing to a person of another nation used by
my brother, is found often in the New Testament. There are about eighty references to "the Jews"
in Acts. Almost as many are in the Gospel of John. This proves beyond any doubt that we are
dealing with a non-Jewish book. It is fair of you to demand to know just how this proves
Let's check a few concrete examples so that you may see for yourself. There is one on the very
first page of John's Gospel.

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent

priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him,
Who art thou?
John 1:19
This is John's first reference to the Jewish people in his narrative. As soon as he introduces them
into his narrative, he calls them "the Jews." For him to refer to them in this way positively
identifies them as being of a different nation than his readers.

John understands this. His readers understand this. You and I understand this. We know, by the
way John referred to the people about whom he wrote, that the people to whom he wrote were of
a different nation. Otherwise, why would he have made any reference to their nationality?
John wrote his Gospel for non-Jewish people. He wrote it for Gentiles. He wrote it for Greeks.
Consider another example of the same sort from John's writings.

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he

was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only,
but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had
raised from the dead.
John 12:9
How could John make it any plainer that he is not writing to Jews? To his readers he says, "much
people of the Jews." He would not have said this if he had been writing to Jewish people. Such a
reference would have been altogether unnecessary.
Again, John shows us his book was not written to Jews. Neither would it have been in the
language of Jews. There can be no possible reason why John would have written in Hebrew to
these non-Jews. They could not have read it. His book was written in Greek.
In twenty-one chapters, John refers to "the Jews" about seventy times - 70 times! On average, that
is more than three times per chapter. John did not invent this way of distinguishing between the
people he is writing to and the people he is writing about.
Both he, and the Holy Spirit who held his hand as he wrote, wanted us to see this distinction. A
writer may choose to use this characteristic of communication. He may choose another way to
make the distinction. He may choose not to make any distinction at all. However, when this
communication device is used, we can be certain the writer is telling his readers that the people
he is writing about are different from them.
John tells what happened to Jesus near the little Samaritan town of Sychar. In his narrative, he
gives us three examples of how language is used to make a distinction between peoples.
The first is by the woman whom Jesus met at Jacob's Well while he rested there. She draws a
very clear line between individuals of different nations. Here is what she said.

How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me,

which am a woman of Samaria ?
John 4:9
This is such a common way of talking we pass over it without notice, unless someone focuses our

attention on it. However, now that I have asked you to focus on it, you can easily see what she
For a second example, check John's notice of what she said. He uses the same way of
communicating. He comments, parenthetically to his obviously non Jewish readers. He finds it
necessary to explain the Jewish reaction to the Samaritans for the readers.
For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
John 4:9
You see, he explains for his readers why she would say such a discourteous thing to Jesus. In
doing so, he also makes the difference of nationality distinctive and yet does it so easily it is
hardly noticeable.
In a third example, we have the words of Jesus. Without calling them by name, he tells the
woman that salvation is not of the Samaritans. This is what he said.

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we

worship; for salvation is of the Jews.
John 4:22

By saying "the Jews", Jesus makes an ethnic difference between the people he is speaking about
and the person he is speaking to. The people about whom he is talking are Jewish; the person to
whom he is talking is Samaritan.
He has no need to say "the Samaritans" to make the distinction between nations clear. The "ye,"
the "we," and "the Jews" does this well for him. Jesus, a Jew, calls his people the Jews when
speaking to a non-Jewish woman.
This is exactly what John, a Jew, did in his Gospel. He repeatedly called his own people, "the
Jews" when writing to non-Jewish people.
This rhetorical device is used by many people in many languages. We can be certain John's
seventy or so uses of it are by design. He uses it twelve times in one chapter. He intends the
distinction of nations to be clear. He is writing about "the Jews" to people who are not Jewish.
Therefore, his book would have been written in a language not Jewish, not Hebrew. The Gospel
of John could not have been written in Hebrew. It could only have been in Greek. There can be
no doubt about this.
It is interesting to read the account in Acts of a meeting between Jews and Gentiles. See what the
messengers from Caesarea told Peter about their master.

And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man,

and one that feareth God, and of good report
among all the nation of the Jews...
Acts 10:22
These are the words of the men whom Cornelius, a Gentile, sent to Peter, a Jew. There are three
individuals represented in these words.1 One is speaking. A second is being spoken to. The third
is being spoken about. When we see the use made of the term "the Jews," and know Peter is
Jewish, we then know the third party is not Jewish. It is as simple as that.
Notice Peter's words to Cornelius when he arrived at his house?

Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man

that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of
another nation...
Acts 10:28
By referring to himself as "a Jew", Peter makes a clear distinction between himself and any
person of another nation. Particularly here, he makes the difference between himself and
Cornelius, a non-Jew, clear. This distinction was clear to Peter. It was clear to Cornelius. It is
equally clear to us. Again, here are more of Peter's words to these Gentiles.

And we are witnesses of all things which he

did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem;
whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
Acts 10:39
It cannot help being clear to any candid reader of the New Testament that by use of the term "the
Jews" a distinction is made between Jews and non-Jews. When people of different nations are
involved in the speaking or writing, as first, second, or third person, the distinction of people can
be made in this way. In our examples, we know that someone, either the first, second, or third
person is not Jewish
We observed it in John's gospel. Now we are able to see it throughout the narrative book of Acts.
It is the reader who is not Jewish, always the reader. We know this for other reasons as well. We
clearly see it from the often used term "the Jews."
It is used in Acts about eighty times. With that many uses, how could any reasonable person even
imagine that this book was written to a Jewish person. It was, in fact, written to a Greek man
named Theophilus. It was also written in a language he could read, Greek.

1. Homer C. House and Susan Emolyn Harmman, Descriptive English Grammar rev. Susan E
Harman, 2nd. Ed. (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1950). This book has an especially informative
section on first, second, and third person, beginning on page 46.
CHAPTER 3- Luke Was a Greek Physician

H. M. Stanley set out in 1871 to find David Livingston, the English missionary and explorer of
Africa. His journey took him to many places. He was among many people of many languages.
From March till November he searched, finally finding Livingston in the town of Ujiji on Lake
Tanganyika. Stanley was the consummate Englishman. It is said his first words to Livingston
were, "Dr. Livingston, I presume?"
In 1872 he wrote a small book about the adventures of his search. The book is called "How I
Found Livingston". He wrote about events in foreign lands, among people of strange customs,
practices, and languages.
Since his book is written for Englishmen, it is not at all surprising that he wrote it in English.
With this in mind, let's look at Luke's books, Acts and the Gospel.
Luke was unique among New Testament writers. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the
Colossians (chapter 4 verses 10-14) that Luke was not Jewish. Neither was he a witness to the
ministry of Jesus. He was a physician who accompanied Paul on some of his journeys into
Gentile lands. Eventually he came with Paul to Rome.
Since Luke was a Gentile doctor in an empire of Greek speakers, there can be no doubt at all of
his fluency in the Greek language. He was very likely a Greek by birth. He most certainly was
Greek by language and education. He wrote his books, which he dedicated to Theophilus, in the
Greek style and in the Greek language.
The introduction in both Luke and Acts is a form long used among Greek writers. If this book
were originally pinned in Hebrew it would be strange indeed for it to have such an obvious Greek
introduction. A Hebrew book would not have such an introduction.
The Gospel and Acts are both addressed to Theophilus. The way Luke addressed him, "most
excellent Theophilus," is formal and perhaps indicate he was a man of some official position. At
least this is how Luke used the same form of address in other places in Acts. 1 His name is Greek.
It means beloved of God.
Look clearly at the situation of the writing of Luke and Acts. A doctor who is fluent in Greek is
writing to a Greek man. How can it even be imagined that these books were written in any
language but Greek? It cannot be imagined. Simply because both of them were written in Greek.
But then, the whole New Testament was written in Greek.

Here are some points of Scripture, which continue to illustrate how we know Theophilus was a
Greek rather than a Jew.

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh,

which is called the Passover.
Luke 22:1
Before this point in Luke's Gospel, he has not mentioned the feast of unleavened bread, per se to
Theophilus. He mentions it a few verses later; but this is the first time. Therefore, he explains to
his friend what the Jews call the feast. It is called "the Passover."
Every Jewish person already knew that the feast of unleavened bread was called the Passover.
However, Theophilus did not know it. He needed to have it explained to him. Luke knew he was
not Jewish. By this, we are also able to know he was not Jewish. This shows any unbiased person
that the book of Acts was not, could not have been, written to a Jewish person. In this way Luke
demonstrates to us that his friend was not Jewish.
When Luke tells Theophilus about the burial of Jesus, he includes the city of Joseph. Joseph was
the wealthy member of the Jewish council who had not wanted to condemn Jesus. He went to
Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus and buried it in his own tomb. He was from Arimathea.
Luke, ever a stickler for details, gave Theophilus a bit more information about the city.
This is what he told him.
He was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews.
Luke 23:51
Luke would not have said, "the Jews" to a Jewish person. Nor would he have needed to tell a Jew
that Arimathea was a city of the Jews. He told it to Theophilus, proving forever that Theophilus
was not a Jew.
Luke has shown us Theophilus was not Jewish. He proceeds to show us Theophilus did not know
the language of the Jews. Luke tells us this each time he translates a simple Aramaic name into
Greek for him.
If Theophilus could have spoken Aramaic, Luke would not have insulted him by doing this. Let's
consider two names.

And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed

Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of

Acts 4:36
The first example is the word "Barnabas," which of course, is an Aramaic name. This was almost
certain that this was the native language spoken by Jesus, the Apostles, and most other Jews who
lived in the area around Jerusalem.
In Aramaic,2 Bar indicates son and son of. Any one who understood even the rudiments of
Aramaic, would have known this. Luke sees a necessity to translate Bar-nabas into Greek. In this
way, he makes it obvious to us that Theophilus understood no Aramaic.
The man to whom the book was written understood not even a small amount of this language.
Such is the down falling of any and every theory based on The Acts of the Apostles being written
in Aramaic.
To translate is to bring the meaning of a word or words from one language into another. Luke is
doing just that. He uses the word interpreted (translated) to describe what he is doing. He
translated the Aramaic word "Barnabas" into Greek. Then his friend Theophilus could understand
what it means.
Here is another Aramaic word Luke translated.
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named
Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcus...
Acts 9:36
Luke gives Theophilus the same courtesy again. He translates the simple Aramaic name
"Tabitha" into the Greek language as "Dorcus." I will also do you a courtesy by further
translating Dorcus into English. Being translated, it is Gazelle. Dorcus is a Greek word. I
translated it into English. Tabitha is an Aramaic word. Luke translated it into Greek. Because of
this, we can know without any doubt, Greek is the language of Theophilus. Just as we know
English is your language. Greek is the language in which Luke wrote his two books.
We are compelled to conclude that Luke wrote in Greek. Otherwise we are left with no solution
to the problem of why Luke translated these names for his friend. Translation is possible only
when two languages are involved. A word cannot be translated into the language of which it is a
part. Within a language a word is merely explained, not translated. When Luke used the word
"translated" to describe what he was doing, he forever doomed the theory that the New Testament
was written in Hebrew or Aramaic.
Of course, if we had rather not let God's Word speak to us, there is another solution to this
problem. We could follow the example of those who claim the New Testament was written in
Aramaic or Hebrew. After realizing that these examples from the Scriptures destroy the Hebrew
New Testament theory, they just deny that Luke wrote these parts.
It is a simple solution and it gets get rid of the problem. But only those who can countenance
denying the Bible are equipped to take this course. I, for one, am not so equipped.

Are you ready with scissors to cut out the parts of the Bible you don't like? Are we allowed to cut
and paste our own Bible?
Some of us are compelled to simply take what is written in the New Testament. We find this a
more prudent course than explaining it away or denying it should be there.
The book plainly declares itself to have been written in Greek.
1. Acts 23:26 "...most excellent governor Felix..." Acts 24:3 "...most noble Felix..." Acts 26:25
"...most noble Festus..." Luke 1:3 "...most excellent Theophilus..." Each is KRATISTOS in
2. In Hebrew the usual word for son is "Ben", as used in Ben-hadad, Ben-ammi, and others. See
Young's "Analytical Concordance to the Bible", entry: Son

CHAPTER 4- Those Aramaic and Hebrew Words and Phrases

On October 12, in the year 1492, a Spanish Jew called Christopher Columbus sighted and landed
on a small island somewhere near present day Cuba. Today no one knows for sure which island it
was. It certainly was a momentous event in our history.
When Columbus got home, he wrote a letter to Gabriel Sanchez,1 treasurer for the King of Spain.
He recounted for Sanchez, "everything done and discovered in this our voyage." The letter makes
interesting reading. Since it was sent to a Spanish official, we should not wonder that it was
written in Spanish. Later, it was translated into Latin and later still, English.
However, for our study, there is one very memorable sentence in Columbus' letter. He first tells
Sanchez that he has named the island on which he landed in honor of the Savior. (He named it
San Salvador, which translates as, Holy Savior.) Then he says, "But the Indians called it
By this sentence, Columbus makes a clear distinction between Spanish and the language of the
Indians. Without being told anything else about them, Sanchez knew the Indians spoke a
language other than Spanish. He knew this because he understood the distinction Columbus
made. He knew Guanahany was not a Spanish word. We can read the letter and know the same
thing. Those Indians did not speak Spanish.
Just as Columbus put an Indian word in his Spanish letter, we find Aramaic and Hebrew words in
the Greek New Testament. This all the more confirms to us that the book was written in Greek.
For if it had been written in Aramaic or Hebrew then translated into Greek, the Aramaic and
Hebrew words simply would have been translated along with the rest of the book. The New
Testament writers put these words and expressions in the New Testament. Then they translated
these words for their readers.
Why were these translations made? They would not have been made by someone writing in
Aramaic to someone who understood Aramaic. There can be only one reason. The writer is
writing in Greek. He simply transliterates a number of the names of people, places, and

expressions from Aramaic into Greek. Then he translates these words for his readers, knowing
they spoke no Aramaic. This tells us the writers knew that their readers did not know Aramaic.
Now, we begin to see the magnitude of proof from the book itself that the New Testament was
indeed written in Greek.
Let's focus on "Abba" for a moment. Paul put this Aramaic word in his letter to the Romans.

But ye have received the Spirit of adoption,

whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Romans 8:15
The Romans knew "Abba" was not a Greek word. They knew Paul was using a language other
than the one in which he was writing to them. Paul also knew Abba was an unfamiliar word for
the Romans. That is why he followed it with the Greek translation, "Father." Since Abba is an
Aramaic word for Father, we know the letter to the Romans was not written in Aramaic.
In the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament the Holy Spirit puts us on notice this
book is not originally in Aramaic or Hebrew. Matthew quotes Isaiah.

Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring

forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel
Matthew. 1:23
This is what Isaiah had written hundreds of years earlier. Matthew simply tells his readers what
Isaiah said. In doing so, he brings into his text the Hebrew word "Emmanuel."
One point Matthew makes here is that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of prophesy. A second
point he establishes is found within the meaning of the word Emmanuel. It is a point
Matthew cannot make unless his readers know what the word means.
Matthew is compelled to translate Emmanuel for his readers. When he does this, we can see that
he knew they would not understand Hebrew. It further shows us that he was not writing in
Which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew 1:23
Here at the very outset of the book, for every unbiased person, any notion of an original Hebrew
New Testament vanishes. The Bible is telling us the New Testament was not written in Hebrew.
At this point, all that needs to be done is believe the Bible.

Matthew would not have been thinking very clearly to translate this word if his readers were
conversant with Hebrew. Because he translates, we know he is dealing with two languages. We
also know the word Emmanuel is being translated from Hebrew into the language in which the
book is being written. Therefore, it is impossible for the book to have been written in Hebrew.
Greek was the language in which Matthew was writing.
What did Isaiah do when he wrote the same word in his book? Nothing. Remember, Isaiah wrote
in Hebrew and he wrote for Hebrew readers. Because of this, it was not necessary for him to
translate the word Immanuel.

Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and

shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14
Now, Isaiah was writing in Hebrew. He knew his readers understood what "Immanuel" means.
The language of Isaiah's readers and the language of which Immanuel is a part were the same. He
found no need to translate the word for them.
On the other hand, Matthew knew his readers would not understand what this word means. The
language of his readers and the language of which Immanuel is a part are different. Therefore he
translated for them.
I know this is basic. It is simple. It is also absolute proof that the New Testament was not written
in Hebrew. The only other way one can deal with this use of Emmanuel is deny that Matthew
wrote it. Such a thing we will not do. Matthew wrote his book in Greek.
Mark gives his readers one of the sayings of Jesus just as it sounded in Aramaic. Then he
translates it for them.

And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her,
Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, (I say unto thee,) arise.
Mark 5:41
Here Mark uses two Aramaic words. He transliterate these words into the text of his narrative,
then translated them for his readers. He proved to us by this translation, that his readers did not
understand even simple Aramaic words.
No one can fail to take these facts into account. "Little girl, get up" are words a child would
know. Simply because of Mark's translation, we realize his readers knew no Aramaic. They did
know Greek.

Another example of an Aramaic phrase which Mark saw a need to translate for his readers is the
cry of Jesus from the cross.

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,

saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why has
thou forsaken me?
Mark 15:33,34
Jesus is speaking Aramaic. Mark wanted his readers to hear the very words Jesus spoke. He also
wanted them to know the meaning of these words. But, knowing they would not understand the
Aramaic language, he translated the words into Greek. It is obvious these people knew no
Aramaic. They could read Greek. It is also quite obvious Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek.
At the beginning of his Gospel, John translated three everyday words for his readers. We need to
check them. First there is the word Rabbi.

They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being

interpreted, Master,) where dwelleth thou?
John 1:38
Rabbi is another Hebrew word. (John also translated the Aramaic, Rabboni in chapter 20.) It
means master, as in schoolmaster, a teacher. It is such a common Hebrew title, such an often used
word, anyone even vaguely familiar with Hebrew would have known it.
However, John's readers did not know it. Therefore, we know they did not speak Hebrew. They
were Greek speakers. John knew that. He took it into account as he translated this simple Hebrew
word into Greek for them.
John used the word Messias twice in his Gospel. It is found nowhere else in the New Testament.
He translated it for his readers each time.

He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith

unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
John 1:41
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias
commeth which is called Christ.
John 4:25

The word "Messias" was a staple in the language of the Jews. It is inconceivable that even one of
them would not have known it. But John had to translate it for his readers. This tells us
conclusively, he was not writing to Jewish people. The word he translated Messias to, "Christos,"
is an altogether Greek word. This further shows he was writing in Greek. Even in English the
word remains largely Greek.
John translated the Hebrew not just once, but both times he used it. It should be mentioned here
that Daniel also used Messiah twice in his book.2 Daniel, who is definitely writing for Jewish
readers, did not find a need to translate the word for them.
The reason is simple enough. Daniels's readers spoke Hebrew. John's, did not.
The surname which Jesus gave to Simon produces a third translation in John's first chapter.
And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art
Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas,
which is by interpretation, A stone.
John 1:42
Cephas is an Aramaic word. It's the kind of word children learn soon after they begin to walk
barefoot in the yard and step an small stones.
He translated it into Greek as Petros. Our English translators brought it further into our language
as a stone. Why did John translate it?
John was writing in a language other than the one of which the word Cephas is a part. John's
readers did not even know the Aramaic word for stone.
Therefore, we are able to tell they were not Aramaic speakers. It would have been impossible for
them to have read a complete book in Aramaic. Neither would John have written his Gospel for
them in that language. He knew they understood no Aramaic. Because the Bible tells us these
things, we know John was writing in Greek.
Another way of knowing John did not write in Hebrew is to study his use of the phrase, "the

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought

Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a
place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew,
John 19:13


And he bearing his cross went forth into a place

called the place of a skull, which is called in the
Hebrew Golgotha.
John 19:17
John is speaking here of the Hebrew language. He first gives his readers the words in Greek.
Then he tells them what the Jews, who lived there, called these places. It would have been
impossible for him to have done this unless he was involved with two languages. One was
Hebrew. One was something other than Hebrew.
Had he been writing in Hebrew, it would have been altogether unnecessary for him to have said,
"but in the Hebrew." Not only would it have been unnecessary, it would have been foolish for
him to have said it. Here again we are told by the Bible that John was not writing in Hebrew.
I could write to you about a favorite vacation spot is my home state. I might say my wife and I
went to a place called The Smoky Mountains. Since I am writing this for readers of English,
would I then need to say to you, "which being interpreted is The smoky Mountains"? You would
think me quite foolish. Would you not? John was not foolish.
John has translated both Hebrew and Aramaic words for his readers within the space of one
paragraph. He tells his readers what two places were called in the Hebrew language. Had he been
writing in Hebrew, he would have done neither.
Here is something we should take special note of. In all the Old Testament, which indeed was
written in Hebrew, there is not a single case of either, not even one. It is just more proof the New
Testament was written in Greek.
In his books, Luke also translated words for Theophilus. We have already considered examples of
this in our study of his books. There is another word in Luke's writings for us to examine.

And it was known unto all the dwellers at

Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called, in their
proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field
of blood.
Acts 1:19
It is the word Aceldama on which we will focus. It is an Aramaic word. This tells us Aramaic was
"the proper tongue" of "the dwellers at Jerusalem." This verse presents a special set of problems
for any person who wants to believe the New Testament was written in Aramaic.
Think about it. Who said the words, "that is to say, the field of blood"? If advocates of an
Aramaic New Testament suppose Peter said them, they are forced to conclude that Peter was not
even speaking Aramaic in the upper room.

On the other hand, if they concede that Luke put them in as he wrote (which is exactly what
happened), then they must concede that Luke did not write in Aramaic.
Such a dilemma is not made necessary by so simple a problem. The obvious solution is that the
book was originally written in Greek.
So far, we have seen that each writer of the five narrative history books of the New Testament
translates Hebrew or Aramaic words for his readers. The cumulative evidence is overwhelming.
They all did it. They were all writing in Greek.
Of course we could just deny these translations were part of the original New Testament. This is
what advocates of an Aramaic original do. Here is what C. C. Torrey says regarding Matthew's
translation of Emmanuel.3
The Greek adds, 'which means God is with us.'
You see, he claims Matthew did not write "which being interpreted is, God with us." He thinks
some uninspired person added these words years later. He says the same for Mark's translation of
"Talitha cumi," for John's translation of "Rabbi", and for all the others. He is compelled to say
this because if the writers used the word "translated," his Aramaic New Testament theory is
I cannot say such a thing. I am bound by the conviction that God's Word does not belong to me. It
belongs to God. If I take something from God's Word, then I am well taking something
from God's Word. This is not mine to do.
It seems to me that I should change what I believe to fit God's Word, rather than change God's
Word to fit what I believe. Is a person allowed to throw out part of the Word just because it does
not agree with his pet theory? If so, then another person can throw out something else. Before you
know it, the Bible has been shredded.
I am also bound by the only conclusion a reasonable person can make: the New Testament was
written in Greek by its original writers.
1. M. Lincoln Schuster, A Treasury of the World's Great Letters (New York, Simon and Schuster,
1940), pp. 61-68
2. Daniel 9:25,26.
3. Charles Cutler Torrey, The Four Gospels, a new translation (New York, Harper, 1933), pp. 4,
64, 74, 80, and etc.

CHAPTER 5- Sha'ul Knew Greeks. He Also Knew Greek.

Twice each month I receive a newsletter from a company in Colorado. I usually read almost
everything it says. It is written with a purpose. Its stated purpose is to bring the best information
on a variety of subjects to people who are very busy. It is to select and generate that information

completely free of advertisements. Also, it is to get that information to these people quickly,
accurately, and efficiently.
Knowing the purpose, and knowing I speak English, you will of necessity, conclude that this
newsletter is written in English?
The reason for such a conclusion is simple. The writers speak English. I speak English. The
writers read and write English. I also read and write English. It is my native language. It can
certainly go without saying; I want information in English.
While the newsletter I receive is not the New Testament, the purposes of the two are not so
different. Both want to get information to people. Surely the prime rule for disseminating
information is to do so in the language of those addressed. Otherwise, as Paul so bluntly put it,
"he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me." This is such a basic principal of communication,
we might assume everyone already knows it. But for the sake of clarity, we are digging out and
explaining the most minute and elementary details.
Think about Paul. He was one of the great communicators of the New Testament. Paul sent more
letters to more people than all the other writers combined. He was a Jew. He spoke the language
of the Jews.
He learned the Mosaic law under the instruction of Gamaliel. He said he had been a Pharisee. He
was born in Tarsus, a city in the Roman province of Cilicia.
Cilicia was part of Asia, which had been conquered by Alexander the Great about 300 years
before Paul was born. The whole area was thoroughly Greek, both in culture and in language. The
Romans took control of it about 100 B.C. Paul was born a Roman citizen and probably knew
Greek from childhood. Regardless of when he learned it, he was fluent in it. From these facts, we
realize the diverse abilities of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
The one fact that overarches this section of our study is Paul's ability to communicate in the
Greek language. He was sent by the Lord to the very people he had grown up among and whose
language he knew.
To whom did this great man write his letters? If to Greek speakers, then he would have written in
Greek. Shall we check? Look at a list of his letters.
Corinthians (2)
Thessalonians (2)

Timothy (2)
These are fourteen letters in all, written to eleven groups and individuals. Nine of them were
written to churches in specific cities. Every city was Gentile, most were Greek. These are the
people to whom Paul was sent.
Of the individuals, we know Timothy, whose mother was a Jew and his father a Greek, had not
been circumcised by the time he was a young adult. Though he had learned the Old Testament
from childhood, he could not have been raised strictly according to the religion of the Jews. The
Law required circumcision on the eighth day of life or at conversion.
He grew up in a Greek speaking area. His name is Greek. He traveled with Paul to Greece to
minister to Greek speakers. Paul once asked him to remain in Ephesus to work among Greek
Christians there.
That he spoke Greek, just like Paul, cannot be doubted. If he could not speak Greek, he could not
have performed his duties in assisting Paul's work for the Lord.
About Titus, we know he was a Greek. From Paul's letter to him, we also know at least part of his
work was on the Greek Island of Crete.
Of Philemon we know little. His name is Greek. He was very likely a Gentile of the church at
Paul would have written to these men in their own language. There can be no reason to doubt that
they spoke Greek.
Now look at the churches to whom Paul wrote. With the exception of Hebrews, they are Gentile,
every one. The book of Hebrews comes in question only because we are considering Paul's work,
based on what the Bible says. First, the Bible does not say Hebrews was written by Paul. He does
not put his name on it anywhere. Second, the letter itself does not say it was written to Hebrew
people. Paul, in every other letter, gave his name when he wrote. He also addressed his letters to
someone (or the saints at some place) by name.
We will accept two very ancient traditions here. One: Paul wrote this book. Two: it was written to
Jewish Christians. Only one point will I make then. Paul quotes numerous times from the Old
Testament. These quotations come largely from the Greek Old Testament.1 This indicates that the
Jews to whom Paul wrote were familiar with that version of the Bible.2 If they had read the Old
Testament in Greek, they could speak Greek.


Many Jewish Christians whom Paul won to the Lord were Greek speakers. Even before Paul's
conversion, there were numerous Greek speaking Jewish Christians in the church at Jerusalem.
The New Testament calls them Grecians. This letter, Hebrews, was written to Greek speaking
Jewish Christians, Grecians.
All the other letters of Paul are the direct result of his work among the Gentiles, the non-Jews.
These non-Jews spoke Greek. Greek was the language of the Roman empire.
Corinth was in the country of Greece. It was only a few miles from Athens, where Paul also
preached. Philippi was in Macedonia, as was Thessalonica. Macedonia was the first kingdom of
Alexander the Great. Need I say it was Greek.
The use of Greek was widespread during that time. It was as English today. Much of the world
spoke it as a first language. It was the second language of many other people.
The gospel is to people in their own language. See what the prophecy says.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven,

having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them
that dwell on the earth, to every nation, and
kindred, and tongue, and people.
Rev. 14:6
The gospel is to be preached in every tongue, every language. If the gospel was to the Greeks,
then it was to them in their language. Paul once said, "I am made all things to all men, that I
might by all means save some." When Paul preached the gospel among the Greeks, he preached
in their language. When he needed to write to them, he wrote to them in their language.
Would all those Gentiles to whom Paul preached in those many countries have known Hebrew or
Aramaic? They wouldn't have. They could not have. In those areas, many of the Jews did not
even know these languages. They also spoke Greek.
Over the years, a few scholars have made some efforts toward proving that one New Testament
book or another was written in Aramaic. Only one or two of these have been able to push
common sense and logic out of the way long enough to suppose Paul wrote letters to Greek
churches in the Aramaic or Hebrew language. Paul's letters, like the rest of the New Testament,
were written in Greek.
1. Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, Broadman,
1932). IV, 327-451.
2. Robertson, IV, 330. Dr. James Moffatt reasoned that because of the extensive quotations from
the Greek Old Testament by the writer of Hebrews, the book was not written to Jews at all, but to
Gentile Christians.

CHAPTER 6- The Writers Keep Explaining Things for Their Readers

A few months ago I bought a little book entitled, Facts About Israel.1 It is filled with hundreds of
bits of information about Israel and the Jewish people. It makes for enjoyable, informative
browsing. In the chapter on communities, there is a statement that you may find interesting.

Since Israel is the state of the Jewish people, Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and Jewish festivals
are official holidays...

While it is a true statement and necessary in this book, it also tells us three facts that every Israeli
already knows.
1. Israel is the state of the Jewish people.
2. Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath.
3. The Sabbath and Jewish festivals are holidays in Israel.

While Jewish people certainly published this little book, the common, everyday customs and
practices it explains and defines makes us know, if we do not already, that it is written for people
who are not Jewish. (What need would there have been to explain for Jews that Saturday is the
Jewish Sabbath?) It is written for people who know little or nothing about things Jewish. For this
reason alone, one would know it is not written in Hebrew.
Are there such bits of information in the New Testament? Do we find everyday customs
explained? Are common practices defined in such a way as to tell us, here is a book that was not
written to Jewish people?
The New Testament was not a publication of The Information Division of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs in Jerusalem. It was, however, written by Jews (except for Luke). Just as certainly, it was
written for non-Hebrew speaking people. This can be found out by just reading the book.
Most of the events described in the five narrative history books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and
Acts, took place in Jewish lands among Jewish people.
Still, the conclusion that the book was written to people who were not Jews is forced upon us.
Yes, it thunders at us from every nook and cranny of the book. The conclusion is inescapable.
There are explanations of such simple Jewish customs they could have been written only to
people who are not Jews.
This completely concurs with what we have studied in previous chapters. Definitions of Jewish
practices, clarifications of Jewish holy days, and explanations of Jewish customs are made
repeatedly. This would need to be done only if the New Testament writers knew their readers
would not understand these Jewish things.

Consider what Mark said about the Passover.

And the first day of unleavened bread, when
they killed the Passover...
Mark 14:12
Every Jew knew the Passover lamb was killed on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread.2
They celebrated the feast every year, had done so for centuries. All the Jews knew the order in
which these things were done.
Why does Mark judge it necessary to explain this to his readers? If he was writing to Jews, his
explanations show a low opinion of their intelligence. No, Mark would not have made such an
insulting statement to Jewish people.
However, it is all too obvious he realized his readers would not know this fact about the feast.
Therefore, he makes it clear to them. At the same time, he makes it very clear to you and me that
his gospel is not written to Jewish people.
What are you and I to understand from this? It once was said, "All roads led to Rome." Every
road you and I have taken leads to one destination as well. The New Testament was not written to
Jewish people. Mark's readers are not Jewish. The language of Mark's Gospel is not Jewish. Like
the rest of the New Testament, it was not written in Hebrew or Aramaic, but in Greek.
Such explanations are not uncommon in the New Testament. It is a book that was written across
cultures. Often one culture needed to be enlightened to the ways of the other. Here is what John
said about the same feast.
And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
John 6:4
John, like Luke, sees the need to clarify for his readers just what the Passover is. Would not every
Jewish person have known the Passover was "a feast of the Jews"? John cannot be writing to
Jews. He would not have said such a thing to Jewish people.
Put it in its simplest form, here is how it looks.
A. All Jews knew the Passover was a feast of the Jews.
B. The people to whom John wrote did not know the Passover is a feast of the Jews.
C. Therefore the people to whom John wrote were not Jews.
It is the only conclusion possible. John wrote to Gentiles. He would not have written to them in
the language of the Jews. Greek was the common language of the Gentiles of John's day. Since
we know he did not write in Hebrew or Aramaic, we can say with certainty he wrote in Greek.
You may not have considered it before, but Jesus turning water into wine has something to do
with the New Testament language. Have you ever thought of what the Bible says about it?

And there were set there six water pots of stone,

after the manner of the purifying of the Jews...
John 2:6
John tells his readers why the pots of water were there. It was the Jewish manner (custom) at a
wedding. Again, we see a writer explaining a Jewish tradition for the benefit of his readers. He
did this only because they were not Jewish. Had they been Jewish they would have known why
the water pots were there. He is writing to Gentiles. He is writing in the language of Gentiles,
Paul defines his former beliefs for the non-Jewish Galatians. He writes of his Judaism in a way he
would only have done when addressing non-Jews. Here is what he said.
For ye have heard of my conversation in times past
in the Jew's religion, how that beyond measure I
persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and
profited in the Jew's religion above many my
equals in my own nation...
Galatians 1:13,14
You can judge for yourself. Would he have written in this manner to Jews? Would he have said
"the Jews religion" if he had been talking to Jews? He would not have done so. Neither would he
have made reference to, "mine own nation" unless he was writing to people not of his own nation.
Perhaps it is becoming a little tiresome to multiply examples and repeatedly reach the same
conclusion. Surely by now, it is plainly seen by every reader of the New Testament that the book
was not written to Jews. Therefore we know it was not written in Hebrew or Aramaic.
Nevertheless, before we conclude this chapter, let's consider just one more explanation of a
Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in
linen clothes with spices, as the manner of the Jews
is to bury.
John 19:40

John told his readers how they wrapped Jesus' body in linen, along with spices. Then, realizing
his readers were not familiar with this custom, he explained, "as the manner of the Jews is to
bury." It was necessary for John to define this burial practice as Jewish. Had his readers been
Jewish, it would not have been necessary.

The Bible speaks to us. By giving us case after case after case, the New Testament declares itself
to have been written in a language other than the one Jewish people spoke. The Jews in and
around Jerusalem, in New Testament times, spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. We know the New
Testament was not written in either of those languages. This book was written in the common
language of the Gentiles.
1. Facts about Israel, (Jerusalem, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Division, 1985), p. 90.
2. Exodus 12: 6, 18 Deuteronomy 16: 4

CHAPTER 7- The Greek Old Testament Quoted

There is a copy of the Koran on one of my book shelves. It is in English. George Sale translated
and first published it in 1734. My copy is only a little more than a hundred years old. The Koran
was originally written in Arabic. Many Moslems believe translations of it are sacrilege. To them,
if it is translated, it is not the Koran.
Our Old Testament was originally written (with the exception of a few chapters) in Hebrew. After
their dispersion into Gentile countries, many Jews of later generations could not read Hebrew.
They had grown up and were educated knowing the language of the place where they lived. This
was the time when numerous Jews learned Aramaic. Under a large and growing Greek influence,
many of them knew only the Greek language.
During the first quarter of the third century B.C., Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt
began the translation of the Old Testament into Greek. Seventy (or perhaps seventy-two)
translators worked at the behest of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.).1 At first, this version
comprised only the five books of The Law. The rest of the books were finished over a period of
about one hundred years. The Greek Old Testament is often called the Septuagint. (Which being
translated, means "seventy". My translation of this Latin word proves I am not writing in Latin.
But that was already obvious, wasn't it?) Sometimes it is referred to simply as The LXX.
Many rabbis are said to have wept when the Greek translation was made. They proclaimed a sad
state of affairs in Israel. Some believed the sky was darkened because of God's displeasure with
such a perverted book. They, like the Moslems, were convinced the Holy Writings must be read
only in the original language. (If this were true, would you or I be serving God?)
However, not all Jews believed as those rabbis. The people of the New Testament did not. They
commended the Greek Old Testament by reading from it. They studied it. They quoted it. They
preached from it. They went so far as to include much of it in the New Testament. This cannot be
thought of as unusual; they are both Greek books.
What are the sources of the information in the New Testament? Have you ever thought about it?
In the main, the writers of the historical books just wrote what happened. Three of them had seen

much of it. Luke, who had not been an eye-witness to the life of Jesus, got his information from
The New Testament letters arose out of the need for the churches and individuals to be taught and
directed. As the Holy Spirit moved these men, they wrote the books.
Their own accounts and the eyewitness accounts of others were not the only sources used by New
Testament writers. As the Holy Spirit motivated these holy men, much of what they wrote is
quoted from the Old Testament. These quotations from the Old Testament make up a significant
part of the New
Testament. There are numerous uses of single words and phrases. Direct quotations also abound.
It is absolutely amazing that most of these quotations are from the Greek Old Testament.
The New Testament writers had access to both the Hebrew and Greek Old Testaments. They
chose to quote many times from the Greek. The book of Hebrews is filled with quotations from
the Septuagint. (This argues against it having been written to Hebrew speakers.) Paul and the
other writers were well acquainted with the Greek Old Testament. They used it often. Why don't
we review a few cases in point?
A government official from Ethiopian has been to Jerusalem to worship. He is on his way home.
On the road near Gaza, he is setting in his chariot with a scroll unrolled before him. He is reading
in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Let's read along with him.

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;

And like a lamb dumb before his shearer,
So opened he not his mouth:
In his humiliation his judgment was taken away:
Who shall declare his generation?
For his life is taken from the earth.
Acts 8:32,33
He was reading the Greek Old Testament.2 Remember, he was an Ethiopian. Ethiopia is a
neighbor country to Egypt, where the Old Testament was translated into Greek. An Ethiopian Jew
whom the Queen trusted to care for her finances, this man served God in the religion of his
fathers. Still, he possessed the Scriptures in the Greek language.
God's Spirit led Philip to approach the Ethiopian. Rather than condemn the version of the Holy
Scriptures he was reading, Philip used the very verses he was reading to teach him about Jesus.
Philip put his approval on the Greek Old Testament by preaching from it. Luke further endorses it
by quoting its words as he writes the book of Acts. Neither Philip nor Luke offers a single word
of correction to the Ethiopian or to us about this Greek version. God sanctioned the Greek
translation by moving the man to salvation as he heard the Word.
Ultimately, you and I can see from all this how Luke, when he wrote Acts, would not have quoted
from the Greek Old Testament if he had been writing in Hebrew. He had the Hebrew Old

Testament available to him. He could have quoted it. It was certainly still in use among many
Jews. So why would Luke have translated the Greek words back into Hebrew, when he could
have simply quoted the Hebrew to begin with? He would not have. He was not writing in
Paul quotes many times from the Greek Old Testament. (At least one scholar believes every Old
Testament quotation Paul makes is from the Greek.)3 A striking example of this is found in
Romans where Paul quotes from the prophet Joel.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the

Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13

The Masoretic text of the Hebrew Old Testament says, "delivered". The Greek says, "saved". The
Greek speaking Paul is writing to the Greek speaking Romans. It is not surprising that he quotes
from the Greek Old Testament. It is the one they can read. This is just a bit more of the abundant
evidence that the New Testament was written in Greek, by writers of Greek, to readers of Greek.
Shall we find a quotation in the New Testament and compare it with both the Hebrew and Greek
Old Testaments? The quotation in Luke 4:18 is from Isaiah 61:1 and the comparison is easily

A. The New Testament:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,..."
B. The Greek (Septuagint) Old Testament:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,..."
C. The Hebrew (Masoretic) Old Testament:
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,..."
Note the word GOD is absent from both the Greek Old Testament and the New Testament. This
comparison shows everyone who is unbiased that Luke is quoting from the Greek. How could
anyone conclude he is quoting the Hebrew Old Testament? He is not. Because of this, we know
he is not writing in Hebrew.
Other comparisons are equally easy to find. Look at Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14.
A. The New Testament:
"Behold a virgin shall be with child..."

B. The Greek (Septuagint) Old Testament:

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive..."
C. The Hebrew (Masoretic) Old Testament
"Behold the young woman shall conceive..."
The Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. They think he was born just like
any other man. The Old Testament in their language (which they translated to English) has the
prophet say young woman, not virgin. But the Greek Old Testament has virgin, just like the New
Testament. Matthew was not quoting the Hebrew; he was quoting the Greek. Like other New
Testament writers, he knew and quoted the Greek Old Testament to his readers.


Many Old Testament facts are narrated by Stephen in his speech before the Jewish council. That
he had read and studied the Old Testament in its Greek version is evident form comparing his
words with both versions of the Old Testament. Stephen's count of the number of Joseph's
kindred who went down into Egypt agrees with the Septuagint at seventy-five.4 The Masoretic
(Hebrew) text has seventy.5
Is it just a coincidence that Stephen and the LXX agree? It is not. The Greek Old Testament is
obviously the book he had read. The Holy Spirit is telling us something, if we will hear it: Luke
wrote this book in Greek. Isn't it amazing. The people who wrote the New Testament quoted the
Greek Old Testament as they wrote. The Greek Old Testament is a translation from the Hebrew.
The Greek New Testament is the original. It was never in Hebrew. It is a Greek book.
1. Charles Thompson, The Septuagint Bible, trans. (Colorado, Falcon's Wing Press, 1960), pp.
2. Robertson, III, 111.
3. C. H. Wright, Bible Reader's Encyclopedia and Concordance, rev. W. M. Clow (London,
Collins, nd.).
4. Charles Thompson, trans. See Gen. 46:27.
5. The Holy Scriptures, According to the Masoretic Text (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication
Society of America, 1955), See Gen. 46:27.

CHAPTER 8- New Testament Manuscripts in Greek

Among my books, there are a number that are written using the Hebrew alphabet. Two of these
are of particular interest for our study. The first is a Yiddish New Testament. Of course, Yiddish
is not Hebrew. (Just like Aramaic is not Hebrew, in spite of the fact they both use the same
alphabet.) Yiddish is to some extent a hybrid language. It has borrowings from German as well as
Hebrew. Eastern European Jews and many of their descendants around the world speak and write

this language. This New Testament is in the native language of millions of Jews. Still, we are
compelled to recognize it as a translation. It was made from Greek manuscripts.
The other book related to our study is a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew. It is in the
language of the nation of Israel. Large numbers of Jewish people world-wide speak this language.
It is also taught to thousands of Jews immigrating to Israel each year. Many of whom speak little
or no Hebrew. Simply because a person is Jewish is not an indication of the language he or she
may speak. You may find it amazing that more Jews live in American than in Israel.
This particular New Testament is in the official language of the nation of the Jews. But, it was not
copied from an original Hebrew manuscript. It had to be translated from Greek manuscripts.
Isn't that an interesting fact? Think about it. If the New Testament was originally written in
Hebrew, why did this Hebrew edition have to be translated from Greek? There is one very simple
answer to this question. There are no ancient Hebrew copies of manuscripts of the New
Testament. All the early manuscripts are in Greek.
Very ancient manuscripts of Old Testament books exist both in Hebrew and Aramaic. But when
we want to examine a manuscript of the New Testament in either of these languages, we are
unable to find one. Not even one exists. This presents a very large and difficult problem for
advocates of an original Hebrew New Testament. It leaves them without a single piece of
empirical evidence to back their case.
Aren't mysterious things fascinating? Are you familiar with the Loch Ness Monster? It is
supposed, by some people, to be a large water creature that lives in a lake (loch) in Scotland. The
best evidence for its existence is a picture taken some years ago. The man who took the picture
died recently. On his death bed he confessed the picture is a fake.
Then, there is Big Foot. That's the man-like creature believed to roam the woodlands of the
western United States. It is surprising how many people believe he exists. They hunt diligently
for him. Some claim to have seen him. There are pictures, but there is no Big Foot.
How can I know there is no Loch Ness Monster? Why am I sure Big Foot does not exist?
Because there is not a single piece of empirical evidence for their existence. Where is something
for me to put my hands on? Where is something for me to look at? Capture a Big Foot and bring
him home. Corner the water creature in one end of the lake. No one has done this. No one is
going to. Why? It is simple. There is no Loch Ness Monster. There is no Big Foot. It is the same
with an ancient Hebrew manuscript of the New Testament. It is very mysterious, not unlike those
Super Market Tabloid mysteries. So far no one has brought one home.
There are hand-written copies of the New Testament in Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, and even
Hebrew. Every manuscript in each of these languages is, like my Hebrew New Testament, a
translation from Greek. Greek manuscripts do exist. They can be examined. That is empirical
evidence. There is something to put your hands on. There is something to see.
Either whole or in part, there are over five thousand manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. 1
These are not translations; they are copies. This number is not approached by any other ancient

book. Manuscripts of the works of Josephus, a Jewish historian born about A.D. 37, number only
a handful. Other ancient writers cannot be found in as large a number as that. But, of the New
Testament there are five thousand plus manuscripts, all in Greek. This is an impressive amount of
Many ancient writers are known only because other writers quoted them. No manuscripts of their
work exist. Papias, a contemporary of the Apostle John, is an example of these. No copies of his
works are extant. He is quoted in the works of Irenaeus and Eusebius. Because of these
quotations we know some of what he wrote.
Most of the works of Origen, a third century writer, are lost. One of these is his Hexapla. This
was a Hebrew and Greek version of the Old Testament arranged in six columns. Thanks to
quotations of his writings by other men, we can know at least some of his works.
The Greek New Testament is the most often quoted ancient book. Many, many, many ancient
writers quote from it. These quotations verify its authenticity repeatedly. The Greek New
Testament is quoted over 10,000 times by ancient writers.
To the five thousand plus Greek manuscripts, we add more than ten thousand quotations by
ancient writers.2 That is a staggering sum of witnesses to the Greek New Testament. It is
especially impressive because advocates of a Hebrew/Aramaic New Testament can find exactly
zero evidence of manuscripts to support their theory. If you were setting about to prove
something, think of how you would feel if you had exactly no evidence.
What is the Score?
Original Greek New Testament ...........15,000 +
Original Hebrew New Testament..................0
The people of one sacred name group, with which I am personally acquainted, have been told by
their leader to pray for God to bring to light a manuscript of a Hebrew New Testament. They
think one may be hidden in the Vatican Library. They also hope more scrolls will be found in the
caves around Israel. Their prayer is for a Hebrew scroll of the New Testament to be found among
Of course, you can see that such an action amounts to an admission there is no evidence for a
Hebrew New Testament. Such an admission is correct. There is no evidence. The reason there is
no evidence: there is not now nor was there ever such a New Testament. When a thing has not
happened, it leaves no evidence.
A very weighty piece of evidence lies in the John Ryland Library in Manchester England. It is a
fragment of the eighteenth chapter of John's Gospel. It is commonly called the Ryland Fragment

and is numbered p52. It was found in Egypt in 1934. While it is not the original Gospel written in
John's own handwriting, it is likely a copy made directly from the original. Manuscript specialists
date it in the first quarter of the second century. Some set the date as early as A.D. 100.3 An
interesting note on the contents of this small piece of John's writing: it has the name of Jesus in
Greek. The same Greek in which John wrote the original.
You see how all the physical evidence points in one direction. Since its writing, the New
Testament has been translated into hundreds of languages. One of these is Hebrew. Without
exception, the evidence that can be seen or touched, proves our Book was originally written in

1. J. D. Douglas, ed., The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids,
Zondervan, 1974). p.628.
2. James Hastings, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible (New York, Scribner's 1903), IV, 735. In the
article, Text of the New Testament, written by Eberhard Nestle, we have these words: "from
Augustine alone D. de Lagarde collected 29,540 quotations from the N. T.'' Our use of the 10,000
figure is conservative indeed.
3. G. S. Wegener, 6000 Years of the Bible (New York, Harper, 1963).

CHAPTER 9- The Dead Sea Scrolls

Sometime around A.D. 1000, Eric the Red, Leif Ericsson, and other Norse men discovered
Greenland and Vinland (North America). An Icelander, Thorfinn Karlesefin, made an expedition
with three ships in 1003. His intention was to establish a settlement in Vinland. He returned after
three years, complaining of the hostile natives. Still, it is thought by historians that perhaps a
colony of these Vikings may have survived on the North American continent.
If a permanent settlement existed, American archaeologists believe physical evidence of it
eventually will be found. In the mean time, the few pieces of promising evidence that have been
found have not supported the "Permanent Settlement Hypothesis".
There are both historians and archeologists who would like to unearth confirmation of this theory.
It would ensure a degree of fame for the person making such a discovery. Over the years, a
number of scholars have worked toward this end. A Danish student of ancient artifacts, Karl
Rafn, saw a Viking house in the ruins of a circular stone building in New England. It turned out
to have been only a more recent windmill. It had never been a Viking house. Very often men will
see whatever they want to find. Other men have seen Scandinavian Runic writings in the rock
drawings of Native Americans. Runic writings have been imagined into all sorts of naturally
made scratches on stones.


So, is there no evidence of a permanent Viking presence? The best evidence is "The Kinsington
Stone." It was found (?) in 1898 by Olof Ohman, a farmer of Norwegian descent, who lived near
Kinsington, Minnesota. The stone is about sixteen inches wide, about thirty-three inches tall, and
is inscribed with Runic letters. Translated into English, this message says:

Eight Goths and twenty-two Norwegians on an

Expedition from Vinland to the west. Our camp
was on a rocky island a day's march from this
stone. One day we went out fishing and when we
returned found ten men covered in blood and dead,
AVM (Ave Maria) deliver us from evil. Ten men
watched by the sea for our ships fourteen days'
march away from the island. 1363.
This is an astonishing piece of evidence. Except for one problem, it proves the Norsemen were in
the very heart of America over one hundred years before Columbus sailed. The one problem with
the Kinsington Stone is that it is a fake.1 There is no evidence of a permanent Viking settlement
in North America. Regardless of how much such evidence may be desired, wishing for it will not
make it appear. Imagining evidence and contriving evidence, will serve only to confirm its nonexistence.
Some have purported to believe Hebrew New Testaments were found among the Dead Sea
Scrolls. When such New Testaments cannot be found in the scroll inventory, we are told that onsite Catholic scholars secreted them away to the Vatican Library. You see how an over-active
imagination can work to provide whatever a person wants to believe. Wishing for evidence will
not bring it into existence. Such contriving just further confirms that the evidence does not exist
at all.
The first scrolls discovered near the Dead Sea were of the book of Isaiah. One was almost
complete; the other partial. They were found in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy named
Muhammed-Ah-Dhib (Mohammed the Wolf).2 He was hunting for a lost goat among the rocks
and crags a few hundred yards from the Dead Sea. While resting, he happened to throw a rock
into an opening in the cliff. He heard the sound of breaking pottery and was curious enough to
investigate. He and a friend later found his rock had gone into a cave just above the Wadi (Dry
Creek) Qumran. They explored the cave and found clay jars in which were stored tightly rolled
During the next few years, eleven caves were found near Qumran. In these caves, there were
thousands of manuscript pieces. A number of whole and almost whole scrolls were also found.
Most of the writings were in Hebrew and Aramaic. However, some were in Greek.
For about fifty years now, lively interest has continued concerning the scrolls. What is their
origin? What do they mean? What is their true importance for both Jews and Christians? What
effect do they have on our understanding of and belief in the Bible?

Most students of the scrolls believe they originated with the Essenes, a Jewish religious sect.
There are ruins of buildings on the hill above the caves. It is believed an Essene commune
occupied these buildings from about 160 B.C. until the war with Rome in A.D. 68-70.
The Essenes are spoken of in the writings of the historians Josephus, Philo, and Pliny the elder.
There is nothing in the writings of these men, nor in the ruins, nor even in the scrolls, which
directly connect the caves, the ruins, and the Essenes. Some scholars believe the buildings were a
fort and no Essene commune at all. There will always be some doubt as to the origin of the
Regardless of their origin, many of the scrolls are of scriptural books. Some are of rules for a
religious community to live by. Others are apocalyptic in scope and doubtful in meaning. One is
an account of many caches of gold and silver hidden in and around Israel. The writings are on
rolls of parchment and papyrus, with the exception of one. It is a roll of copper.
Every Old Testament book was found, at least in fragmentary form, except the book of Esther.
Were any books of the New Testament found? Here is how one scholar answers that question.3
The claim that New Testament manuscripts were found at Qumran can be dealt with in a
sentence. None was found - for a very good reason: New Testament texts are later than the
Qumran texts.
However, other scholars differ about the New Testament. Jose O'Callaghan, a Bible language
scholar, believes he has found remnants of New Testament books. In 1972, while poring over tiny
fragments of manuscripts found in cave seven, he believes he matched one with the book of
Mark. Later, O'Callaghan would write these words about his theory.4

My proposition that purports to identify fragments from cave seven with Mark 6:52,53 has been
around now for several years.
O'Callaghan also believes at least eight other Qumran fragments are from the New Testament. He
identifies three from Mark and one each from I Timothy, James, Acts, II Peter, and Romans. All
these fragments are from cave seven. It is astonishing that every one of them is written in Greek.
There is not even a single Hebrew word on any of the nine fragments O'Callaghan has identified
as belonging to the New Testament. There is another fascinating note on fragment number seven.
O'Callaghan identifies it with Mark 12:17. This verse contains the name of Jesus.

And Jesus said unto them, render to Caesar the

things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that
are God's.


In their book, "The First New Testament" two other scholars comment on whether fragment
seven has the name of Jesus.5
Fragment 7 appears to do exactly that by containing both the name of Jesus and the title Caesar.
That these nine fragments are in Greek, is a puzzle for an original Hebrew New Testament
advocates. Further, the name of Jesus in a Greek manuscript dated A.D. 50 or earlier, is quite a
vexatious problem for these people. If this is indeed a fragment of Mark's Gospel, it may be
Mark's own handwriting.
O'Callaghan does not stand alone in his assessment of at least part of these fragments. In recent
years, other scholars have accepted his theory and argued forcefully for it. Notable among them is
German scholar Carsten Peter Thiede. His book "The Earliest Gospel Manuscript?" is a well
thought out approach to this question.6 Still, the majority of Bible language scholars, both
Hebrew and Greek, think O'Callaghan's findings to be doubtful at best.
Each student of the Bible can make his or her own decision. Or a decision can be withheld until
more information is available. From all this, at least one thing is clear. If New Testament
manuscripts were found at Qumran, they were every one written in Greek.
Moreover, it is idle speculation, it is mere imagination, to believe Hebrew New Testaments were
found in any of the caves at Qumran. That is imagining evidence to be where there is none.
As elsewhere, so also among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the original Hebrew New Testament
advocates are left without any evidence for their theory. There is an obvious reason for this. The
New Testament was originally written in Greek.
1. Adolf Rieth, Archaeological Fakes, trans. Diana Imber (New York, Praeger, 1967), pp. 160168.
2. Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (New York, Weathervane Books,
John Allegro, Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed (New York, Gramercy, 1981).
3. Hershel Shanks, ed., Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, Random House, 1993),
p. 49.
4. David Estrada amd William White, Jr., The First New Testament (Nashville, Nelson, 1978), p.
5. Estrada and White, p. 114.
6. Carsten Peter Thiede, The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? (Great Britain, Paternoster, 1992)
CHAPTER 10- A Few References

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers

brought forth on this continent a new nation

conceived in liberty and dedicated to the

proposition that all men are created equal.
You may remember this statement. It is the first sentence of one of the most recognizable
speeches ever given. Like me, you may have memorized the complete speech when you were in
school. Of course, it is President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The main speaker at
Gettysburg spoke for over two hours. Mr. Lincoln had been asked to speak afterward. He spoke
less than three minutes. His simplicity of expression and elevated sentiment make the speech one
that perhaps will never be forgotten.
Our history teachers and our history books taught us this speech was given by President Lincoln
at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was given at the dedication of a memorial to the soldiers who died
in a civil war battle near that city. Not many, if any, people doubt this historical fact. I believed it
when I was taught it. I believe it now. There is not even a shred of evidence to prove otherwise.
All the evidence that I have ever found simply confirms my conviction that this speech was given
by President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Not an encyclopedia I consult, not a history book I
open, even hints otherwise. I have never found any information anywhere which contradicts this
fact. It is what happened.
It is also a historical fact that the New Testament was written in Greek. We know the Old
Testament was written in Hebrew. Just as surely, we also know the New Testament was written
in Greek. First, we shall consult the historians. It is not a fact because historians say it. Historians
say it, because it is a fact. Have you ever just looked up "New Testament" in a reference book?
Have we checked it for ourselves? What do the historians say about the New Testament? What
language did the writers use?
Will Durant is one of the most popular historians of this century. His eleven volume history, The
Story of Civilization may be the most widely read history in existence. He gives his view of the
language of the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.1
They were written in the Greek Koine of popular
speech, and were no models of grammar or literary
Professor Michael Grant is the author of many books on the ancient world. He is an eminent
historian who has written extensively of the Roman Empire, In his History of Rome, he
comments on both the Apostle Paul and the city of his birth.2
Tarsus was a center of advanced Hellenic culture,
so that Paul was familiar with Greek and wrote in
that language.

Though he was a scholar of a former century, the voice of Edward Gibbon is not at all silent. As
his biographer James C. Morrison put it, "His word is still one of the weightiest that can be

In his minutely detailed, voluminously written, and often reprinted work The Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire, Gibbon tells about the Gospels in his fifteenth charter.4

The authentic histories of the actions of Christ were

composed in the Greek language, at a considerable
distance from Jerusalem, and after the gentile
converts were grown extremely numerous.

Ecclesiastical historian Henry Hart Milman addresses our subject in his History of Christianity.
He refers to the language of the first Christian literature in his fourth book.5

The Greek already possessed the foundation of this

literature in the Septuagint version of the old, and
in the original of the New Testament.

It should be said that the word of many more historians can be given. We will count it sufficient
to quote only one other. Dr. James Harvey Robinson has been called "one of the greatest of
American teachers of history."6 In a very large measure he fathered the methods of the study of
history at the turn of the twentieth century. Among his better known, and more widely used text
books is An Introduction to the History of Western Europe. While explaining the influence of the
Greek culture and language on the Roman Empire, Dr. Robinson makes note of the rise of
Christianity and of Christianity's book.7

It had its origin in Palestine and was set forth in a

Greek book, the New Testament.

Are we to believe the witness of history and its writers? Or will we simply reject the facts and
revise history to suit ourselves?
Another academic discipline open to our investigation is translation. Bible translators, of all
people, should know the original language of the book. The fifty-four men of the committee to
whom King James commended the work of translating the Authorized Version were Bible
language scholars every one. In their high sounding way, they speak of "The Original Sacred
Tongues" in the epistle dedicatory. Here is what the title page of their translation of the New
Testament says.8


The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus

Christ translated out of the original Greek: and with
the former translations diligently compared and

Scottish scholar Dr. Robert Young, while best known for his monumental work, The Analytical
Concordance to the Bible, also translated the Bible. In the preface to the first edition of his Literal
Translation of the Holy Bible, we find these words.9

This work, in its present form, is not to be

considered as intended to come into competition
with the ordinary use of the commonly received
English Version of the Holy Scriptures, but simply
as a strictly literal and idiomatic rendering of the
Original Hebrew and Greek Texts.

Perhaps the best known translator of the entire Bible was James Moffatt. He was expert in both
Hebrew and Greek. In his introduction to the final edition of his translation, he said the

The authors of the New Testament all wrote in

Hellenistic Greek, which was understood far and
wide throughout the Roman Empire.

Charles C. Torrey, a noted Semitic language professor, published The Four Gospels, a New
Translation in the early part of this century. He was the most outspoken proponent of Aramaic
originals of some New Testament books. Yet, even he found no grounds to deny that Paul wrote
in Greek. He was convinced that only the Gospels, the Revelation, and half of Acts were
translated from Aramaic originals. However, he believed the Gospel of Luke to have been
translated by Luke himself, but from Aramaic sources. This is what he said in the preface of his
book, Our Translated Gospels.11

Lk. made in Palestine, very likely during the

two years of Paul's imprisonment at Caesarea
(Acts 24:27), a collection of Semitic documents
relating to the life and work of Jesus, arranged
them very skillfully, and rendered the whole into
Grk. which is our Third Gospel.

Edgar J. Goodspeed was one of the most vocal opponents of Torrey's theory. While Goodspeed
was a prolific writer on subjects biblical, he is principally remembered for his translation of the
New Testament side of The Complete Bible, an American Translation. Here is what he says about
the original language of the New Testament.12

It would seem to be an obvious fact that the New

Testament was written in Greek.

The Jewish New Testament has garnered mild interest since its publication in 1989. Its translator,
David H. Stern, who calls himself a Messianic Jew, wishes "to restore the Jewishness of the New
Testament." His efforts are diligent toward that end. In spite of his enthusiasm for Hebrew, he is
compelled to state that Paul wrote in Greek. Hear what he says.13

Moreover, Sha'ul, whose letters were composed in

Greek, clearly drew on his native Jewish and
Hebraic thought-forms when he wrote.

You see then, there are one or two translators who believe a few New Testament books were
originally Aramaic. When we check closely, we find even they do not believe the complete New
Testament was Aramaic. They confess that most of the New Testament was originally Greek.

The original language of the New Testament is the
common vernacular Greek that was widely used at
the time of Jesus.
All of the books [of the New Testament] were
originally written in Greek.
They [New Testament writings] were all written
originally in Greek.
In this language [Koine Greek] the New Testament
was written, and thousands upon thousands of
papyri, contemporary with the New Testament, and

discovered only in the last few decades, have

contributed to give us a clear conception of this
wide spread lingua franca, that was found
wherever Greeks and Greek civilization penetrated.
The second part, called the New Testament, was
composed in Greek and records the story of Jesus
and the beginnings of Christianity.
The New Testament Greek, for example, is a
representative of Hellenistic Greek written in the
first century AD. Some Aramaic influences have
been discerned in parts of the New Testament that
have a Palestinian setting, but not to a point where
scholars are obliged to conclude that some books
were originally composed in Aramaic.

The Greek of the New Testament is the Koine of
the first two centuries A.D. It is now generally
agreed by New Testament scholars that the books
as we have them were written in Greek.
The New Testament was written the universal
language of the empire.
But however far we may go... in allowing that
Aramaic writings are to be detected beneath and
behind our gospels, it cannot be held that any of
these gospels, or any other New Testament books,
are translations from that language.
All the New Testament was originally written in
The New Testament books were all written in


The Old Testament is written mostly in Hebrew; the
New Testament wholly in Greek.

In this tenth study we have seen a cross section of authorities represented. Each is knowledgeable
about our subject. They know what they are talking about. They would be called "Expert
Witnesses" in court. If it would serve any useful purpose, the number could be multiplied.
We have already studied our subject in the Scriptures and reached the only possible conclusion.
In this chapter, we are able to see the best scholars in the world agreeing with what we have
learned from the Bible.
You might ask, with good reason, if there is not at least one scholar who believes the complete
New Testament was written in Aramaic or Hebrew. The answer is a very emphatic no!
We have already studied C.C. Torrey. He led an early twentieth century charge for original
Aramaic Gospels. A few men joined him. But the evidence for that position was too meager. It
fell far short of proving their hypothesis. None of these men ever advocated the plainly false
notion that the whole New Testament was originally written in Aramaic.
The pseudo scholars of the Sacred Name Movement are forced to advocate a complete Aramaic
or Hebrew original New Testament. The only reason they do so, is because they first decided
Jesus must be called by a Hebrew name. That was when they clearly saw the original Greek New
Testament crushed such a teaching. It was then that they discovered the New Testament had to
have been written in Aramaic or Hebrew.
The New Testament was originally written in Greek. Our study has proven this over and over.
Hebrew is not a sacred language. The apostles wrote the name of Jesus in Greek, "Iesous." (The
first letter, iota, is pronounced as our E.) You and I are free to call him by that same name. Or we
may call him by the anglicized form, Jesus. (Our J is just an I used as an initial letter.) If we speak
Spanish, we may call him Jesus. (The J is pronounced as our H.) Germans call him Jesu. (The J is
pronounced as our Y.) Other people pronounce his name in their language, but it is still his name.
The Gospel, which includes the name of our Savior, is to every person, in every language. But the
New Testament, by its original writers, was written in Greek.
1. Will Durrant, The Story of Civilization: Part III, Caesar and Christ (New York, Simon and
Schuster, 1944), p. 555.
2. Michael Grant, History of Rome, (New York, Scribner, 1978). p. 342.
3. James Cotter Morison, Gibbon, English Men of Letters, ed. John Morley (New York, Harper,
1902) p. 133-134.
4. Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (Boston, Phillips,
1865), I, 574.
5. Henry Hart Milman, The History of Christianity, (New York, Armstrong), III, 357.

6. James Harvey Robinson, An Introduction to the History of Western Europe, rev. James T.
Shotwell, 1902; rev. Goston, Ginn, 1946), I, vi.
7. Robinson, p. 26.
8. The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version (New York, Harper) p. 873.
9. Robert Young, trans. Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, (1862, rpt. Grand Rapids,
Baker, nd.), p. iv.
10. James Moffatt, trans. A New Translation of the Bible (New York, Harper, 1954), p. xxxvi.
11. Charles Cutler Torrey. Our Translated Gospels, Some of the Evidence (New York, Harper,
1936) p. ix.
12. Edgar J. Goodspeed, New Chapters in New Testament Study (New York, Macmillan, 1937),
p. 128.
13. David H. Stern, trans. The Jewish New Testament (Jerusalem, Jewish New Testament
Publications, 1989), p. ix.
14. "New Testament," World Book Encyclopedia, 1987, xiv, 19.
15. "Bible," Compton's Encyclopedia, 1986, III, 183.
16. "New Testament Literature," New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967. x. 390.
17. "Greek Language," Encyclopedia Americana, 1948, xii, 397.
18. "Bible," The Academic American Encyclopedia (Electronic Version). 1993.
19. "Biblical Literature," Encyclopedia Britannica, 1987, xiv, 849.
20. "Greek Language," Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, II, 485.
21. "Greek," Holman Bible Dictionary, 1991, p. 584.
22. "Bible," Dictionary of the Bible, 1944, p. 97.
23. "New Testament," Harper's Bible Dictionary, 1985, p. 699.
24. "Bible," The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, 1988, p. 169.

Concerning the Language Spoken Among the Jews of the Diaspora

The following is excerpted from Hans Lietzmanns monumental four volume work:
A History of the Early Church, Vol. I, The Beginnings of the Christian Church, (Translated by
Bertram Lee Woolf), pg. 87-91, The World Publishing Company, New York, 1967

"In spite of all the close connections maintained with Jerusalem and all the common feeling, the
Judaism of the Diaspora had, in the course of time, come to differ in character from that of the
people of the native land. The most striking instance was the fact that they had forgotten the
language of Palestine, and accepted the Greek of everyday use. The change was due to the history
of the Jewish people, who had long abandoned their mother-tongue even in Palestine. When the
exiles returned from Babylon, they brought with them the current Aramaic language, and retained
it for a millennium. Hebrew remained the sacred language of scholars for religious usage, and the
discussions in the Mishna were written down in Hebrew even in the second century A.D. But the
Talmuds of the fourth and fifth centuries, being in Aramaic, show that Hebrew was obsolete even
in the theological schools.


"Valuable documents of the fifth century B.C. belonging to the Egyptian Diaspora and written in
Aramaic have been found in Elephantine. An interpolation in the text of Isaiah (19: 18) mentions
five Egyptian towns in which the language of Canaan was spoken.
"In the Ptolemaic period we still find traces of Aramaic in upper Egypt and in Alexandria; but
about this time, Greek began to be used by Jews, both as the language of the administration, and
in everyday life. In the latest period of the Ptolemies, the Jews of Onias not only wrote Greek
epitaphs for their dead, but also bewailed the loss of the departed in elegiac poems formed on
Hellenistic models and mentioning Hades as well as Moira. In the entire remainder of the
Mediterranean world, the memorial tablets of the Jewish Diaspora are almost exclusively in
Greek. Here and there is a Hebrew phrase, e.g. shalom=peace, or shalom al Israel=peace be to
Israel, upon a gravestone, but inscriptions genuinely composed in Hebrew or Aramaic are very
rare. The common opinion that the adjective, Hebrew, points to communities speaking Hebrew
or Aramaic, is mistaken. The door-post of a synagogue has been found at Corinth bearing the
name of the congregation: Synagogue of the Hebrews. But these Hebrews did not speak
Hebrew, for the inscription is in Greek! Outside Palestine, only the Rabbis knew any Hebrew but no one knows how many they were, nor how much they knew. The remote region of the
Crimea is alone in preserving Hebrew inscriptions of the first to the fourth century A.D.
"This change of language, both at home and in the Diaspora, was not without far-reaching effects
upon public worship. The ancient custom of reading the Hebrew Scriptures in the synagogue
necessitated a translation into the Aramaic which the people understood, the original text and the
translation followed one another verse for verse. Dubious passages were not translated, but read
only in Hebrew. Originally the translations were extemporaneous, but naturally they soon
assumed forms fixed by tradition. Out of these forms grew the Aramaic Targums, which were at
last put into writing in the Talmudic era, i.e. about the fifth century. Moreover the liturgical
prayers, which Jewish prayer books even to-day preserve in their original Hebrew form, were
said by the people in the vernacular. The Mishna expressly permitted it, and a shrewd Rabbi
rightly told an objector that it was better to do so than that the people should not pray at a1l.
Nevertheless, this reply seems rather to evade the real point, and Charlemagne gave a better
reason for using German in the Lords Prayer.
"An Aramaic targum was current in Palestine, side by side with the original Hebrew, and a Greek
translation in the Diaspora for public worship in the synagogue. Known and preserved as the
Septuagint, or LXX, the latter originated in Alexandria. The first part to be translated was the
most important, and it took premier place also in public worship. This was the Pentateuch, the
Greek version of which was current as early as the end of the third century B.C. The prophets and
the other books followed gradually and by various translators. Soon after 116 B.C., a grandson of
Jesus Sirach was familiar with the whole of the Old Testament in Greek. At the time of the early
Roman empire, as is shown by the use made of it by Philo and Paul, the LXX was the universally
recognized Bible of the Diaspora, even for the purposes of divine worship.
"In Alexandria, an annual festival was held on the Pharos island, when the people gave thanks for
this translation. There seem to have been several translations of isolated books current at the same
time, but they disappeared early almost without trace. It was the rivalry of the Christian Church
which had made the LXX equally its own, that gave rise, after the second century, to newer and
more literal translations for Jewish use. In the nature of the case, it is doubtful whether the
original Hebrew was read alongside the translation; possibly custom varied. By the time of the

emperor Justinian, greater emphasis was placed on the reading of the original in public worship,
and the question was discussed whether any translation at all could be read aloud along with it.
These facts show that the influence of the Judaism of the Talmud had grown, but do not prove
what was the custom elsewhere in the Empire centuries earlier.
"Not only were the Scriptures read in Greek, but also the same language was used for the prayers
and the confession of faith, i.e. the Shema, in the public worship of the synagogue. The sources
testify to this fact in regard to Caesarea, the quasi-gentile capital of Palestine, and naturally the
same holds good for the Diaspora in general. Only just recently have scholars traced out a little
Greek prayer-book of the Jewish synagogues that dates from the second century A.D., and that is
enshrined in a Christian liturgy of the fourth century. This discovery is very suggestive. It is only
a drop out of the ocean, but it makes quite clear how little is really known about worship in the
synagogues of the Greek Diaspora. We may take it for granted that this worship, not only
changed in the course of centuries, but also differed in different places; and moreover that there
were many different degrees of Hellenization.
"Besides reading and prayer there were exegesis and preaching, of course in Greek. The
collective term, deuterosis, was given to the traditional elements here. The term is a liberal
translation of the Hebrew Mishna, i.e. repetition, and it included everything deduced from, or
built on the Law or the historical records of the sacred text: hence the Halakha or specialized
legal casuistic, and the Haggada, the Biblical legends. Even Augustine testified that this
deuterosis was passed on only by word of mouth, not written down - showing that the Diaspora
followed the example of Palestine. It follows that there was a Greek Halakha and a Greek
Haggada; or, to put it otherwise, the Diaspora possessed a Greek Midrash and a Greek Talmud.
Traces of both often occur in Paul, Philo, Josephus, and the Apocryphabut no actual
documents, and it is scarcely probable that much was written down. Indeed, everything of this
kind disappeared when the Judaism of the Greek Diaspora ceased to be.
"Very little evidence has survived affording a true idea of the cultural life of the Hellenistic
Diaspora. Most information refers to Egypt. The LXX translation was made here, and it was here
that Pseudo-Aristeas was at home. III Maccabees, perhaps IV Maccabees, and the Wisdom of
Solomon were written in Egypt, and here Philo labored. Other regions afford little information
about Judaism, whereas, in regard to the contemporary beginnings of Christianity, it is precisely
Egypt that is quite blank. Nevertheless Alexandria distributed its Greek Bible throughout the
whole of Judaism, and, except Jerusalem, was apparently the only spiritually productive centre of
Israel. This fact makes it possible, within bounds, to generalize the phenomena obtaining there."

The following is excerpted from page 314 of

The Blackwell Companion to Jewish Culture:
The Blackwell Companion to Jewish Culture
From the Eighteenth Century to the Present
Ed. Glenda Abramson


Pub. Blackwell References, Cambridge, Mass. 1989

We can reconstruct the full sound of biblical Hebrew only by assumptions based upon Canaanite
words written in the Babylonian script in the Tell-Amarna tablets, c.1400 BCE, writing of proper
names in Assyrian and Babylonian texts and in the Greek translations (the Septuagint, third
century BCE), as well as remnants of a complete transliteration into Greek letters about 300 CE.
The present Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) indicates the vowels by signs added to the letters, the
so-called pointing, which represent the pronunciation used at Tiberius c 900 CE. These signs
were read differently in different countries. The way it is read in academic circles is based upon
the Sephardic pronunciation of Jews of Spanish origin, as is also the Israeli Hebrew of our own
day. Pg. 314

Further Quotations from Blackwell's with comments

and probably a large part of the Jews of Palestine spoke Aramaic or Greek. Pg. 314
Editor's Note: The Bible student has observed that Jews of the Diaspora spoke the local
languages, as the phrase "our own language wherein we were born" would indicate. (See Acts
chapter 2)
some scholars still consider it [Mishnaic Hebrew] to be an unsuccessful attempt of Aramaic
speaking Jews to write Hebrew. Pg. 314
Editor's Note: It would seem that if the Jews of the First Century in Palestine spoke and wrote
Hebrew, it would have been Mishnaic Hebrew not Biblical (Old Testament) Hebrew.

The Greek Inscriptions of the Sardis Synagogue

"...the Synagogue is exceptional also for the more than eighty inscriptions recovered from its
interior. With the exception of six fragments in Hebrew, the inscriptions are in Greek..."
Excerpted from the:
Harvard Theological Review
Jan, 2001
The Greek Inscriptions of the Sardis Synagogue.
Author: John H. Kroll
Since its discovery and excavation in the 1960s, the Synagogue at Sardis has taken its place as the
most significant monument of diaspora Judaism in Roman Asia Minor. Notable for its size,
richness, basilical form, and prominent location within the city, the Synagogue is exceptional also
for the more than eighty inscriptions recovered from its interior. With the exception of six
fragments in Hebrew, the inscriptions are in Greek* and for the most part commemorate members

of the congregation who contributed the many elements of interior decoration: the mosaics on the
floor, the marbling of the walls, and a number of architectural and ritual furnishings.
The late Louis Robert of the College de France, with the assistance of Jeanne Robert and John G.
Pedley, then epigraphical recorder of the excavations, began study of the inscriptions in 1962, the
year of the Synagogue's discovery. Robert promptly published twenty of the more significant
texts and fragments with commentary in Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardes I, (Robert 1964) part
iii: "Inscriptions de la synagogue," which remains the fundamental treatment of the Sardis
documents in the wider context of Greco-Jewish epigraphy. Excavations in subsequent years
yielded much additional material, and in 1966 the task of assembling a full epigraphical
catalogue, including as many texts as could be reconstituted from the hundreds of small inscribed
marble wall revetment fragments, was assigned to me. A few of these additional inscriptions have
been mentioned and illustrated in the 1966 annual Sardis report (Hanfmann 1967) and in the
Synagogue chapter in Sardis from Prehistoric to Roman Times, the 1983 excavation overview
edited by George Hanfmann (Seager and Kraabel 1983). In the mid 1970s I expanded the
preliminary catalogue into a chapter on the Greek inscriptions for the proposed final publication
on the Synagogue; but owing to unforeseen delays in assembling the latter, my typescript,
updated in 1994, has been waiting on file in the Sardis publications office in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Aware of its existence and having requested permission to consult it, several
scholars have cited it in their work. But this was clearly not a satisfactory situation for interested
scholars at large, and I am indebted to the Sardis Publications Committee and to Marianne Bonz,
former Managing Editor of the Harvard Theological Review, for this opportunity to get the
corpus of Sardis Synagogue inscriptions finally into print. Since eventually the corpus will be
published again in the final Synagogue volume, it is my hope that readers of the present version
will bring corrections and suggested improvements to my attention for incorporation in the final
The Sardis Synagogue occupies a long, rectangular space that originally enclosed three lateral
rooms within the great Sardis public Bath-Gymnasium complex of the first and second centuries
CE. In the late second or early third century this space was opened up into a long basilical hall.
To judge from the earliest firm evidence for the conversion of the structure into a synagogue--two
coins of ca. 270 from the bedding of the earliest Synagogue mosaic --the Jewish community of
Sardis probably acquired it for use as a house of worship soon after middle of the third century.
This late third-century Synagogue was entered from the east and extended to an apse with a
synthronon of curved stepped seats at the west end. A shallow Porch faced onto the north--south
colonnaded street in front of the building. The building was later remodeled by partitioning off
the eastern end of the hall and installing a peristyle Forecourt with central fountain behind the
Porch. Two pedimented, aedicular shrines, both assumed to be shrines for housing the Torah,
were constructed on either side of the central door in the new east wall of the now-shortened
Main Hall. Coins beneath the apse mosaic imply that this final remodeling was architecturally
completed ca. 320. The structure was still serving as a synagogue when it was destroyed during
the Sassanian devastation of Sardis in 616. In general, the inscriptions belong to this final, fourth-sixth century phase of the Synagogue's history, the only sure exception being the donor text 3,
which is part of the earlier, aforementioned Main Hall mosaic of the 270s.


As A Member Of The Sacred Name Movement You Have Denied The Authority Of The
New Testament
A letter to a friend

You might be aware that there are about 5,000 existent Greek manuscripts today and no two are
exactly alike. There are major differences in the wording of many chapters and verses. Some
manuscripts of the Greek leave out whole chapters and verses that others include and there are
multitudes of various changes from manuscript to manuscript. The differences in most all the
various English versions is in the NT, whereas the O.T. is basically the same in all versions. If
you are basing the foundation of your faith on the Greek NT I will have to say that is a very
flimsy foundation. (Tony)

Hello Tony,
Our last few exchanges have brought about a focus on the underlying differences between us. The
most recent exchange has pushed to the fore the most basic of these differences. I intend you no
personal offense, but I believe you have now expressed the real difference between a bible
believer and a sacred name believer.
When you express your rejection, albeit an ambivalent one, of the authority of the Greek New
Testament, you are speaking the heart of all sacred name people. From the forthright words you
use, it is obvious that the position you have taken is not a conclusion newly reached by you. Your
words show that you have given this matter of the Greek NT a lot of thought and careful
Whatever your reasoning may be, whatever rational you may have used, whatever research you
may have used to gain the required ends, a rejection of the NT is thrust upon you by the very
nature of the doctrine. In other words, rejection of the NT is inherent in the doctrine of the
Hebrew only sacred name.
If one receives not his words, one rejects Jesus also. Where will we base our faith, if the New
Testament as we now have it is unworthy of our confidence? The New Testament is the only
book containing the words of Jesus. To reject the book containing his words is to reject his
words. It is these very words that shall be our judge in the last day.
Frankly, it astonishes me that anyone claiming to be a believer in Jesus, by whatever name one
calls him, should reject the only book by which that person learned of him and his message.
I think of you as an earnest and sincere person. I am sure you have written nothing but what you
believe to be true based on the principals of your doctrines. While I may be astonished at your
expression of these beliefs, I am not surprised. I expected that if you and I corresponded long
enough, you would reach the very teaching you have come to.
Permit me to comment on some of your positions.
1. You disparage the New Testament.

Your statement is, there are about 5000 existent Greek manuscripts today and no two are exactly
alike. There are major differences in the wording of many chapters and verses.
Your statement is at least partially true. There are more than five thousand New Testament mss.
in Greek. Each of them was hand copied. Copying by hand was the manner of book publishing
before the printing press and mistakes were not uncommon. Because of this, no two are exactly
However, no two copies of any ancient work, the NT included, are exactly alike. Only a very few
of these differences in the New Testament can be called major.
The information you advance is partially true. The use you make of it is altogether invalid. You
are using this information to cast aspersions on the authority of the New Testament. You have
concluded that because no two copies are exactly alike, the New Testament is untrustworthy; it is
not a sound document; it is not a foundational spiritual source book. These conclusions being
true, it cannot be God's word.
Because the word of God is alive, incorruptible, and abides forever, the opposite conclusion is the
true one. It is the conclusion you should have reached. These very differences in the Greek New
Testament show that no one or more reprobate groups have controlled the New Testament and
thereby been enabled to falsify it.
A book of contradistinction for you to consider is the Latin Vulgate. It has been controlled, even
owned, by one church for centuries. It has none of these differences major or minor you have
found in Greek New Testament mss.
These peculiarities of NT manuscripts contradict the claim made by almost all sacred name
teachers that the New Testament has been controlled and falsified. Because of this claim, they
have produced numbers of sacred name bible revisions aimed at correcting some one or another
of these imagined falsifications.
In light of the five thousand NT mss in Greek you have mentioned (In truth, the number is five
thousand plus.) a question comes to mind. How many ancient mss of the New Testament in
Hebrew can be found? Let me hasten to answer that there are exactly zero Hebrew New
Testament mss. to which you can refer. The Hebrew New Testament mss in existence are like the
Hebrew New Testament on my book shelf. They were all translated from Greek.
Were I a believer in an original Hebrew New Testament, knowing that I come up short in the
mss. area, I would have done just as you and said nothing about any Hebrew New Testament mss.
Let me postulate here that no two copies of Old Testament manuscripts are exactly alike. Some
have major differences. One Dead Sea Scroll mss has Goliath at a bit over six feet tall. Yet you
seem not the least hampered by this fact. You fail even to take notice of it. Perhaps your research
has not taken you far enough to have ascertained this fact.
You base your faith on only the Old Testament. Yet, the same logic you use concerning the NT
would warrant a like conclusion on your part that the Old Testament is a flimsy foundation of
your faith?
Your statement is a forthright and blatant denial of the validity of the New Testament as a
document having authority in spiritual matters.

Once, when friends, family, even fellow congregation members were converting, I gave earnest
consideration to becoming a sacred name believer. Early in my investigation of the doctrine I was
able to see that by accepting the doctrine of the sacred name, I was being induced to reject the
authority of the New Testament.
Therefore, I decided that rather than casting off the New Testament, I would cast off the sacred
name doctrine. I rejected it for what it is, a false teaching. This action has cost me a great deal. I
have regretted neither the decision, the action stemming from it, nor the cost.
2. You reject the New Testament.
You have certainly qualified this rejection as specifically a degrading of the Greek NT by these
words: If you are basing the foundation of your faith on the Greek NT I will have to say that is a
very flimsy foundation.
You believe that the only extant New Testament is a very flimsy foundation of faith. How can
one take this as anything less than a repudiation of the book?
While you make claims for an original Hebrew New Testament, you cannot point to a single one.
As Hebrew versions of the NT are translations from Greek, there is no real Hebrew New
Testament. Therefore, you reject the only New Testament available to you.
It is interesting how you candidly discard the only document by which you have the knowledge
of salvation? My studies of the sacred name doctrine and the Movement prohibit me from
viewing this rejection of the NT as amazing. It is not even unusual. All sacred name people have
done just as you or they have not thoroughly thought out their beliefs.
There is little common ground between us. Every New Testament scripture I refer to, you will
disregard as from the Greek NT. The names, phrases, and other corrections you put in as being
from the Hebrew, I reject as the speculative imaginations of men without authority.
How can we discuss the scriptures in any productive way? We do not regard the same writings as
being sacred.
3. You still quote the New Testament.
In one breath, you reject the New Testament as a flimsy foundation of faith. In the next, you have
the unmitigated audacity to quote a number of passages from it as a source of your beliefs. This
seems to indicate that you believe it has some value as a foundation in matters of faith. At this
point you seem to think of this very flimsy book as having some intrinsic spiritual significance.
One is left wondering what you really think about the NT.
Were it not for the Greek NT you would have few, perhaps none, of the numerous beliefs you
hold dear.
You say, ... I believe that what Yahshua spoke was far more important than what was recorded
in Greek. Are you truly unable to see that such a statement shows a gross inconsistency in the
rudimentary teaching of sacred name teachers, you self-included? Outside the Greek NT you
know nothing Jesus spoke. You are denigrating, and in so doing, denying the only document by
which you know anything about the gospel. You have placed your personal knowledge and
wisdom in a place superior to the only New Testament you have.

4. You advance the theory, then offer proof, of an original Hebrew New Testament.
You have concluded the New Testament was written in Hebrew from the study of the works of
scholars. You say, "There are many renowned Bible scholars who uphold an original Hebrew
You quote from two of the men you have studied.
To you Dr. E. W. Bullingers Companion Bible is authoritative about the matter of a Hebrew
original NT. Yet the very quote you give, has Bullinger saying the language of the New
Testament is Greek. He is of no help to you in your quest for a Hebrew NT original.
You call forth Dr. George Lamsa to sustain your position on an original Hebrew NT. His research
and translation is of little value to anyone for any cause. Lamsas bible is little more than a
reworked KJV. It is particularly worthless to you regarding what you are attempting to prove.
He attempts to prove one thing. You attempt to prove quite another.
First: Lamsa claims an original Aramaic New Testament. You claim a Hebrew one. You are
making the common sacred name teacher ploy of conveniently confusing the Hebrew and
Aramaic languages.
Remember, it was you who lectured me, very painstakingly explaining to me, that Hebrew is not
Aramaic and Aramaic is not Hebrew. Jesus spoke Hebrew, you said. He did not speak Aramaic,
you said.
Second: Despite Lamsas claims of this original Aramaic NT, he is forced to translate his bible
from the Peshitta. This, of course, is a rendering of the NT into Aramaic from the Greek text. Let
me quote the Encyclopedia Britannica on this. The Peshitta ...was based on the Greek text which
was at that time in current use at Antioch. [eleventh ed., handy volume issue, Vol. 3, pg. 882]
The very book Lamsa translates was itself a translation of a Greek New Testament mss.
Third: Adding insult to injury, Lamsa fails to produce for us a single manuscript copy of an
Aramaic NT written in the Aramaic in use during the time of Jesus. Those he shows in his
introduction are every one in the Persian script. See photo copies on pages xvii and xviii of his
You might want to read J. E. Goodspeed about the position for an Aramaic New Testament, if
you have opportunity.
Fourth: Lamsa says Jesus spoke Aramaic. You say he spoke Hebrew. Lamsa thinks the name of
the Savior in Aramaic would have been pronounced as Eshoo. See page xix of his introduction.
You are certain his name was pronounced Yahshua.
Dr. Lamsa does not sustain your position. Quite the contrary is true; Lamsa destroys your
Fifth, you inform me that all learned Jews spoke Hebrew. Then you claim the disciples Peter
and John were not learned and offer this as proof that at least these men could only have written
their New Testament writings in Hebrew. I hope you will not mind me saying this kind of
reasoning is a bit hard to follow.

It is worth noting that Peter and John were not educated in the rabbinical schools of Jerusalem.
They had been, however, commercial fishermen doing business in a mixed cultural area.
Generally, intelligent men who are employed in multilingual areas and make any effort in that
direction, acquire at least a working knowledge of the second language.
You can impugn their abilities because the priests in Jerusalem saw them as ignorant men if you
like. I do not. You may use the priests opinion to impose on them a lack of knowledge of the
Greek language. I do not. The priests also saw them, among other things, as trouble makers. I do
not. To use the rebellious priests' opinion to ascribe such lack of knowledge to these two great
men is to reach an unwarranted, an unnecessary, and surely an unworthy conclusion about them.
Why must the supposed ignorance of Peter and John come up in every discussion with a sacred
name person about the language of the New Testament? Was Paul ignorant, was Luke, even
according to the judgment of the priests in Jerusalem?
5. You believe one and perhaps more New Testament books were written in Greek.
In the face of all this, you still are willing to say, ...I think it seems likely that some of the NT
books were originally written in Greek... In consideration of this belief, how can you say the
Greek New Testament is a "flimsy foundation"? Do you not believe that at least these books were
inspired by God and therefore authoritative?
On this point you have once again put yourself at odds with yourself. By believing even a single
New Testament book could have been written in Greek, you necessitate the conclusion upon
yourself that the writer put the Savior's name into that book in a language other than Hebrew. Do
you perhaps believe that the original writers transliterated the Savior's name into Greek. This is,
of course, exactly what did happen. The New Testament writers, every one transliterated the
name as Ihsouc - Jesus.
The obvious action resulting from such a conclusion is that since God saw fit to put the Savior's
name in the New Testament in a language other than Hebrew, we can write and speak that name
in our own language, also not Hebrew.
One way for you to extricate yourself from this dilemma is to take the position some others take.
That is, that the NT in its original was not an inspired document. Some sacred name people take
the position that all of Paul's writings were never in line with what God intended. Surely you do
not take this position?
This solution is found to be convenient for a number of sacred name teachers. The Greek New
Testament is a heavy weight of evidence against the use of a Hebrew sacred name, either the
tetragrammaton or the Savior's name. Therefore, its denial is essential to the sacred name
doctrine. Some teachers who agree with your position, deny the NT as a whole, some simply
deny all of Paul's writings which to them were obviously written in Greek.
6. You put a new twist on the transliteration of the Savior's name into Greek.
You say, The Hebrew Name Yahshua can be directly transliterated in Greek as Iasua, and it is in
various Greek manuscripts and documents.
As I doubt the veracity of your comments, will you point me to some of the various Greek
documents in which the Savior's name is transliterated iota, alpha, sigma, upsilon, alpha - Iasua?

I know you will be able to quote other sacred name writers who have stated this supposed
transliteration as a fact. However, my reading of these men leads me to conclude that they have
no documentation for such a statement. At least, I have yet to see one give such documentation. I
hope you are more able and/or willing to produce this evidence.
The evidence I have been able to uncover in my own research has been contrary to your
statement. I will advance a few points from this research.
First: The Jewish rabbis, who translated the Septuagint were consistent in their transliteration of
the name of that hero of Israel, Joshua, as Ihsouc - Jesus.
Second: The Jewish translator of the apocryphal book originally written in Hebrew and
commonly known as Ecclesiasticus transliterated his grandfather's name into Greek as Iesous.
Third: In a letter written c. A. D. 132 by/for a Jewish lady named Babatha concerning the care
and welfare of her son, Jesus. The name is transliterated iota, eta, sigma, omicron, upsilon, sigma
- Ihsouc. This document contains the letter, written in Greek, an Aramaic translation, and a Greek
summary of the letter. [Document: 5/6 HevBa]
It is worth noting here that the first language of this document is Greek. This is in spite of the fact
that this letter was written by or for a Jewish lady. Not everyone in Judea spoke Hebrew or
Aramaic. All business in the Jerusalem area was not done in Hebrew or Aramaic.
Fourth: When the NT writers set about to transliterate the Savior's name into Greek one should
not be surprised that they used the commonly accepted transliteration of the name. Quite frankly,
this transliteration by the inspired NT writers is the only that matters. It was always Ihsouc Jesus.
Of course there are three renderings of the Hebrew name of Joshua in the O.T. It could not be
thought unusual for there to be more than one transliteration of this name into Greek. While
remembering there is only one such transliteration in the New Testament, I will await your
documentation on this point.
You, like the Bereans of old, are noble to search the scriptures. I hope you will continue to do so.
I can only pray that you will come to acknowledge that we have scriptures the Bereans did not

Comments on an open letter disagreeing with this book from J. T.

JT from Texas has written an open letter in which he takes umbrage at the conclusions reached in
the web book, The Original Language of the New Testament was Greek. Not only did JT take
offense at the information presented and promoted in the book, he personally attacked me as a
promoter of false and misleading information. In his impudence he insists that I do what he calls
the right thing and remove this false and misleading paper from the web site.

This sort of occurrence is not unusual. Both mail and email are received that attack the essays in a
greater or lesser degree than JTs attack. Assailments of idiot, liar, false teacher,
"deceiver," you know you are not telling the truth, "God says, 'Don't mess with me or my
people! You will not go unpunished!' "and other such invectives are just normal fare served up by
sacred name people.
These verbal assaults are generally short and to the point. Many of these, like JT, are hoping I
will remove some one essay or another and perhaps the whole web site from the Internet.
It seems obvious that some of the people involved in these offensives are motivated by sincerity.
Others seem only to be goaded on by anger and other base emotions. If you have read the
personal story of what my family went through to stand for the truth when we rejected the sacred
name doctrine, you realize that we found out something of what anger and hate can cause
religious people to do.
However, JTs letter was unusual in some respects. First, JT is more verbose than other
respondents. His email letter came in two installments, one of twelve pages, the other fourteen
pages long. It was the longest single letter we have ever received. Besides which, it was an open
letter that JT had posted on numerous Internet forums. It would appear that JT owns and/or is a
member of a number of such forums. To add to the interest awakened by this letter, it has been
made know to us that JT claims to possess a Doctorate in Semitic Studies. Further still, JT says he
is the translator a New Testament.
On top of this, in apparent result of his posting this open letter on various Internet forums, a
couple of JTs followers have written, excoriating me for not dealing with his attack. One of them
wonders why a scholar of JTs standing is stooping so low as to deal with my book that according
to her exhibits such a shallow level of scholarship. The other wonders why I have not dealt with
his letter and when I am going to do so. Both display a there-we-got-you and an our-guy-isbetter-than- your-guy attitude commonly seen in people who believe the sacred name teaching.
I had no reason to doubt JTs scholarship or his claim to a degree. That is not until, as JTs letter
recommended, I went to his web site that promotes and sells his New Testament translation.
On that web site, JT promotes his translation in this way: Unlike previous Messianic translations
the [JTs book] is translated from ancient Hebrew and Aramaic New Testament manuscripts
rather than the Greek.
For JT to state that there even exists ancient Hebrew New Testament manuscripts and to
further claim his New Testament is translated from these, is a red flag calling attention to his
scholarship or perhaps the lack thereof. Certainly it calls in question his objectivity and
truthfulness. Making a statement of this kind causes doubt to arise as to his scholarly ability. It
also initiates due consideration of his scholarship in view of any religious biases he might have.
JT is president of a Jewish Messianic organization that promotes Old Testament Judaism and the
First Century Jewishness of Christianity. Though, I do not think JT would claim to himself the
name Christian.
In general it may be said that such groups as the one JT heads are attempting the restoration of
Judaism to Christianity. In performing this so-called restoration, the Judaism restored usually

overshadows the Christianity and the groups often become merely Old Covenant law keeping
Jewish wannabees.
The group JT heads is not exceptional in this regard. They believe in keeping Torah, all 613
laws. I am sure JT would not agree with my assessment of his group when I say that in my
opinion, they believe Jesus established just another sect of Judaism.
JT promotes circumcision as a means of conversion, but not of salvation. This would seem to
institute circumcision as a means of conversion to Judaism. Would such a teaching not put
circumcision as conversion to Judaism before one can be saved? If so, this issue was settled by
the apostles long ago in the council at Jerusalem.
Then too, JT is a Cabalist. He believes the Cabbala as it exists today can be divorced from its
association with and participation in the occult practices of both Jewish secular magic and
mystical worship. He thinks the Cabbala can be used to great spiritual advantage. Because of his
cabalistic leanings JT manifests a belief in both the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.
Then to complicate matters still further, JT teaches that "...the anti-Messiah, the 'Jesus Christ' of
Christendom teaches against Torah." JT thinks Jesus whom I serve is the antichrist of which John
With these few of his religious preconceptions in mind, we can move on to examine JTs
scholarship with respect to his attack on the book, The Original Language of the New Testament
was Greek. At least we are able to proceed knowing the launch pad from which his missiles of
attack were hurled at us.
His doctrinal predisposition is for the New Testament and the religion it establishes to be as
Jewish as he can make it. For JT, such a stance demands that the New Testament have been
originally written in either Hebrew or Aramaic or both, but not any of it in Greek. Therefore, the
conflict with our web book.
JT spends a great deal time declaring that the Jews of first century Israel "did not know Greek."
That part of his presentation glides to its conclusion ignoring most of the basic facts of history
concerning this matter. If JT is saying that no Jews in Israel in the First Century knew Greek,
both the historical facts and I certainly take issue with him.
However, his disregard of the scriptures will not be passed over here without notice. By making
the sophistical claim that "the Jews of Israel in the 1st century did not know Greek," JT entirely
sidesteps the real issue. By so doing, he happily gives no attention to the fact that the web book
he is criticizing does not focus on "the Jews of Israel" but on a few Jews from Galilee, one Jew of
the Diaspora, and one non-Jew.
[JT's objection, of course, is nothing but a debater's trick. If one cannot answer or simply does
not want to answer the point raised, he simple answers a slightly different point in the hope that
no one will notice. All of which is just filler for his fans and brings no substantive focus to the
JT disdains to deal with the commonly accepted phrase for Galilee during these times. It was
called "Galilee of the Gentiles." Showing that the area wasn't so Jewish as JT would have us

believe. He neglects to notice the biblical information of ten Greek towns on the east of the Sea of
Galilee and the Roman city of Tiberius, built and named in honor of the emperor, on the west. He
ignores the historical facts that the area of Galilee had been under Greek domination and
influence for more than three centuries by the time Jesus was born. Perhaps JT's stance would be
that the Gentile people in this area where Jesus and his apostles grew up and earned a living also
Luke being a non-Jew has JT perturbed. He is only able to resort to what has become an almost
standard sacred-name-advocate action. He pulls out his anti-Semitic piston and shoots me with it.
He calls me "anti-Semitic" for agreeing with the scriptural information that Luke was not a Jew.
He labels me anti-Semitic because Luke wrote his books in the Greek language. I didn't have
Luke write his books in Greek. God did that. I only pointed it out as a fact.
It was Paul in the Colossian letter who excluded Luke's name from his list of those of "the
circumcision." Perhaps JT thinks Paul was anti-Semitic? Luke was obviously educated in the
Greek language. His are some of the best writings, secular or sacred, ever written in that
language. Both of his books are written in the Greek style to a man with a Greek name whom he
addresses with a Greek title.
In the eyes of JT, my stating these facts somehow makes me anti-Semitic. Of course, this
accusation is only a silly ploy. JT is playing to his gallery. Such tactics are meant to appeal to JT's
associates and/or converts, not to me or to any other person unbiased by the sacred name
Taken together, JT's antics cause me to speculate that this open letter was not written to me at all,
but to his own people. It seems likely JT is having trouble keeping them convinced that his
original Aramaic and Hebrew New Testament theory is the truth. I can see how difficult it would
JT unsuccessfully makes labored effort to obscure the fact that Saul of Tarsus spoke Greek. This
he does in the face of a bit of scriptural information stating that Paul did indeed speak Greek.
JT gives a further demonstration of how his doctrinal biases override any scholarly objectivity he
may possess. Knowing that Paul calls himself "the Apostle to the Gentiles," JT still is able to
claim that Paul would have written to core groups of Jewish converts in the congregations he
established. JT then proffers that since Paul's epistles were sent to these core groups of Jews they
were therefore written in Hebrew.
JT's brand of sloppy logic, his convoluted thinking, and his healthy disregard for facts have all
come about as the result of his preconceived needs. While it is certain that his needs in the
direction of his doctrines are great, the resulting morass is unworthy of any scholar or of someone
else who claims unto himself the title Doctor - i.e. teacher.
JT quotes a Catholic historian or two saying Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews in the Hebrew
language. This is somehow supposed to convince us that Paul wrote to the Gentile churches in

It is going to be difficult for JT to convince history that the Jews of the Diaspora spoke Hebrew.
Many of them didn't even speak Aramaic. Many of them spoke Greek as a first or second
language. The diversity of languages among them is noted by Luke in Acts chapter two. [Please
read the excerpt from Hans Leitzmann's work.]
Professor Hans Leitzmann notes the ruins of a synagogue in Corinth having an inscription of the
congregation's name, "Synagogue of the Hebrews." It complicates JT's problem that the
inscription was in neither Aramaic nor Hebrew. It was in Greek. It was a Greek speaking
Then, to make matters even worse for JT's position, archeologists have dug up the remains of a
synagogue in Israel which has a nice long inscription. This inscription also is written in Greek.
Realizing he is drowning in the difficulty of these waters, JT promises to go deeper into these
matters "in future installments" of this letter. [In actuality JT has sent me portions of and excerpts
from something he has written in the past, probably to his constituents. From these he has cut and
pasted together a tirade and sent it out as an open letter to me. He has carelessly overlooked the
part about "future installments" and failed to clip it out. He also carelessly duplicated a quotation
or two in his letter, another sign of a cut and paste job.]
The crux of the matter is this. The Bible says Paul could speak Greek. I have chosen to believe
what that Book says. JT and all who follow him may choose to reject its message and hold to
their doctrinal inclinations. However, JT is telling us one certain thing; he is no scholar, biblical
In his zeal to restore Jewishness to the New Testament, JT has become overzealous and claims
the book was originally written in Hebrew and/or Aramaic. He thus assigns the book more
Jewishness than it ever had. This over-abundance of zeal is manifested in his hyperbole [read,
"lie"] about ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament.
When examination is made of the manuscripts JT says he used in his translation efforts, it will
immediately appear that he used no ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament. In truth
there are no ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament.
The ancient Hebrew manuscripts JT used for his New Testament translation are late medieval
manuscripts of only [with emphasis on ONLY] the Gospel of Matthew. These are just some
Sixteenth Century manuscripts. They are hardly older that the King James Version of the Bible.
One of these ancient manuscripts is incorporated within the work of a Jewish rabbi who was
using it in an attempt to denounce and defame Christianity. JT does not even hint at the
possibility, likelihood even, that this rabbi changed the manuscript for his own ends. Its text has
been manipulated and corrupted by someone. Surely it was the rabbi himself who corrupted it
with his biased handling.

No scholar who is free to investigate without his religious preconceptions clouding his
conclusions would think of this manuscript of Matthew as carrying any authority, much less
speak of it in the same sentence with the words ancient or "original." Quite well known is the
fact that it is a translation from Latin.
The manuscript is a product of its time. There are a number of such texts of New Testament
books in a variety of languages dating from the later Middle Ages. JT, in his zeal to put
Jewishness where it never was, has grabbed two or three Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew and
claimed for them the heritage of the original New Testament which he has managed to
convince himself was written in Hebrew. The whole she-bang is driven by his doctrinal need, his
imagination, and his lack of any kind of scholarly ethics.
JT's nonsense has no credibility at all except in the imaginings of those who have his doctrinal
distortions and need a scholar of "his stature" to quote. He impresses upon himself the idea that
these manuscripts are much older than they are. He then tells the world, by way of the Internet,
that they are ancient Hebrew manuscripts. He wants it to be so; therefore his desire has
overridden his ability to view facts as facts. He also wants to sell copies of his NT translation.
Pardon me, but a sixteenth century manuscript is not an ancient manuscript.
For his translation, JT claims to have used other "ancient" manuscripts. He says he made use of
the Peshitta, an Aramaic version of the scriptures.
While JT says the Peshitta is very old, we are left to wonder what text of the Peshitta he used.
There are a number of Aramaic texts of various dates which exist here and there in the world, but
does not bother to divulge which of these if any, he may have used in his translation. Perhaps he
thought it a minor detail? A real translator would not have overlooked a detail of such
importance. It is certain JT did not overlook it.
A common and readily available Aramaic text is published by The Way International. The
founder of The Way International, Paul Wierwelle, had close connections with George Lamsa.
Lamsa translated his Bible from such a text. Perhaps JT used this Aramaic interlinear as the basis
for his book. It is likely he did.
In case he did, it should be clearly stated that this Aramaic text of the Bible is written neither in
the Aramaic script usually called square Hebrew nor in the Paleo-Hebrew script. It is not written
in the Aramaic script used in first century Galilee or Israel.
Not a single one of the apostles of our Lord could have read a word from this Peshitta version of
the New Testament. It is written in the Estrangelo script. The Jews of first century Israel knew no
Estrangelo Aramaic. This could not possibly be a copy of anything the apostles might have
JT claims the Peshitta dates from the earliest times, as early even as the Greek manuscripts of the
New Testament. But the oldest extant manuscripts of this work date only from the Fifth Century.
This is not quite as early as the date of the Ryland Fragment [p52] of Johns Gospel that is dated
from early in the Second Century. It is in Greek. The nearly four hundred intervening years
allowed time for the Peshitta to be translated from the Greek New Testament. This is exactly
what the Peshitta is a translation from the Greek into Aramaic.

JT confirms the existence of The Old Syriac Gospels. These were discovered by William Cureton
in the mid Nineteenth Century. He quotes Cureton as saying the Old Syriac Gospel of Matthew is
"...built upon the original Aramaic text which was the work of the Apostle himself."
JT has forgotten that only a few paragraphs earlier he has given quotes of scholars proving (?) the
Hebrew Gospel of Matthew to have been the original work of the apostle and the Greek to have
been based upon it?
He can't have it both ways. He needs to adopt a little consistency. Did Matthew originally write in
Aramaic or in Hebrew? He should make up his mind. Hebrew is not Aramaic. Aramaic is not
Hebrew. A doctor of Semitic Studies knows this. So, is this another debater's trick? If so, it is not
a very clever one. First he proves that Matthew wrote in Hebrew. Then he offers proof that
Matthew wrote in Aramaic. He has, therefore, contradicted himself and proven nothing at all. It
seems likely that JT is simply relying on the fact that his constituents will fail to make any
distinction between Hebrew and Aramaic.
Over the past two centuries, a number of scholars have searched and researched the possibility of
the New Testament having been originally written in Aramaic. [None of them have even
imagined it might have been originally written in Hebrew.] They have, one and all, returned from
this quest empty handed.
Dr. Charles C. Torrey was the leader of a charge toward such an end in the first half of the
Twentieth Century. His professorship of Semitic Languages at Yale University speaks to his
ample qualification and background for such an attempt. Yet Professor Torrey was not willing to
claim the complete New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. His theory, long ago
debunked by Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed, could only advance that some parts of the New Testament
were originally written in Aramaic. Torrey believed most New Testament books were written in
The extreme positions JT takes calls in question his scholarship. The web site used to promote his
New Testament translation informs us that he is qualified for the duties of translator in that his
doctorate is in the area of Semitic Studies and his degree is from St. John Chrysostom
Theologcal (sic) Seminary.
Perhaps it is just the nagging suspicion of a skeptic, but as I scratch the back of my neck I wonder
about this seminary. Where is its campus? When did JT attend classes there? Let me state for the
record: I do not believe there exists a St. John Chrysostom Theological Seminary campus
anywhere in the world. If such a place exists, in light of his attack upon my work I insist that JT
tell us where its campus is located. I also insist that he tell us what years he attended classes there.
It has long been our contention that the scholarship manifesting itself at the vanguard of the
sacred name movement is not real scholarship at all, but only pseudo scholarship. In other words,


Within the last few years, JT has surfaced as the patron saint of scholarship for many within the
movement. Now he too has shown himself to be just another pseudo scholar and no real scholar
at all. So has the movement's scholars been in the past, so are they in the present, and so shall
they be in the future.
In summary, JTs attack failed to overthrow the fact of the original Greek New Testament. It also
came up far short of showing an original Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament. Do not
misunderstand; I would be quite overjoyed if the original New Testament were written in
Hebrew. But such is just not the case.
The collection of books and letters we call the New Testament was written in Greek by the
authors. The evidence, both external and internal, overwhelmingly proves an original Greek New
Testament. We investigate much of the internal evidence in the web book JT doesn't like.
Should I follow JT's example and suggest that he remove his "false and misleading" translation of
the New Testament from the market?
1. NOTE: Neither JT's name nor the name of his bible translation have been used in this response.
JT widely promotes his translation of the New Testament on the internet. Every post of his on any
forum we have visited has some promotion of his book or of the web site where the book can be
purchased. This book would seem to be a major source of his income. It is not our desire to aid
him in such promotion. It is our belief that the sole reason he sent on open letter to this web site
and posted it on numerous forums was to stir up controversy and thereby increase book sales.
2. NOTE: After making numerous attempts to send a copy of this open response to JT and having
each attempt returned undeliverable because the email address on his letters to Sacred Name
Movement Errors web site was invalid, we finally were able to obtain a different email address
for JT and a copy of this response delivered. After many months, JT has not followed up by
responding to our answer to his open letter.