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Hello All!

I am an Aramaic primacist. I was recently referred by a Christian to read the book by Douglas Hamp called, "Discovering the language of Jesus" (you can check some reviews at The author seems to say that he can prove through textual analysis and historical evidences that Jesus spoke Hebrew and not Aramaic. I was thinking about getting the book just so I can see what so called evidences he is talking about but I would like to check with you guys here at first to see if any of you have read this book. And more importantly any refutations regarding Hamp's so called proofs.

I would appreciate any help in this matter!

For His Truth,
Hello John,

I have not read the book, or should I rather say a booklet, in its entirety, just had a quick browse through what is available via google books preview. The idea is not new. The book itself - while interesting at places seems like the author has never heard about Pshitta let alone used it in his comparisons. He focuses on Greek, NIV and the likes, starts with several assumptions and establishes his point very quickly on the first thirty (small) pages. Disputes with Mathew Black as the Aramaic expert. The evidence presented was not convincing to me at all, you can see his list of arguments from book's toc. Some statements in the book are general and with no proper backing evidence. So ... if you need to read it then by all means get it, but I am not sure if it is worth to buy just to satisfy your fellow Christian. I suggest you go through google books preview first.
Hope the above is of some help to you.

[added in edit] Do not get me wrong, although the book is too simplistic to my standards (not enough references, detail and depth) it is probably a worthwhile reading for many, as one of the reviewers wrote on the amazon review "The book challenged me to think". But this was a pastor who wrote "I had always believed that Jesus spoke Greek" - I do not think you fall into this category. So, it is like an exhibition in a museum, something to provoke, present authors view, with limited exhaustiveness and not necessarily something you would agree with.

Shlama all--

I think it is important to make a distinction here. Y'shua DID SPEAK HEBREW liturgically. When he is reading the Isaiah scroll in Luke 3,that is IN HEBREW. The question is not if Y'shua spoke Hebrew at all but what language did he communicate in the most, and that is nearly universally acknowledged by the full spectrum of schoars to be ARAMAIC. So, if I am this author, the first thing I would do is try to "prove" Hebrew exclusive structures AGAINST Aramaic. But such cannot be done.

There are some important distinctions between Hebrew and Aramaic when it comes to issues like the number of proclitics, the use or lack of use of a definite article, and the list is relatively robust. If this person doesn't know the Peshitta text and he doesn't know the differences between the dialects of say Tanak and the Peshitta NT, then he is simply coming from a place that enetertains Semitic patterns from within the Greek, to which I say, "BIg deal?" Even Greek primacists acknowledge that fact quite easily. They simply suggest a "Jewish influenced Greek" as their explanation for the Semitic sub stratum.

To see an excellent refutation of this from exclusive Aramaic structures, I recommend this work that I mentioned before, by CF Burney: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... =&as_brr=1</a><!-- m -->

I will wager anyone that this writer can't possibly stand up to Burney's argumentation. He simply is too methodical in his critical apparatus breaking down even the Greek to a degree that is astonishing.
Thank you both Andrew and Jerzy. Your comments have been most helpful <!-- s:bigups: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bigups.gif" alt=":bigups:" title="Big Ups" /><!-- s:bigups: -->