What Languages did Jesus Speak

Religious records indicate that Jesus lived in Judea during the first century A.D. To have a clue on the language that Jesus used to express himself with during those times we only need to look at the dominant language spoken in Judea in the first century A.D.

This subject was a point of contention in a forum where both the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis of the Catholic Church were present. This was during a visit by the Pope to Israel in 2014; in his welcoming speech the Prime minister said to the pope,” Jesus was here in this land, He spoke Hebrew” to which the pope replied “He spoke “Armaic.” The prime minister Netanyahu then said, “He spoke Aramaic but also knew Hebrew” This back and forth between The Pope and the Israeli Prime Minister made headlines in major news outlets across the world. But as it turned out, both Pope Francis and The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were speaking of the same thing. Both languages are closely related as both are North-West Semitic and also bear similar words with the only differences said to be grammatical and lexical as well. They are thus perceived to have originated from the same family.

Aramaic is an ancient Semitic dialect spoken by the Aramean people. There are sources which indicate that Aramaic was the common language spoken in Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia from 700BC to 700AD. The Greek New Testament points out that Judeans of Christ’s time spoke Aramaic. The word Aramaic is mentioned seven times in the Acts and Gospels to show the dialect spoken by both Israelites and its inhabitants. In the book of Acts 22:37, it is indicated that the Apostle Paul knew some Greek but a few verses later he is expressing himself to the Jews in Aramaic. Paul was from Tarsus of Cilicia, said to be a centre of Greek learning in the Eastern world which implies expressing himself in Greek would have been automatic to him, yet he chose to express himself in Aramaic which is another way to say that the Jews of Israel during g that time, including Jesus, expressed themselves in Aramaic as their native language. It is indicated that Jesus would have most likely spoken in Aramaic as opposed to Hebrew because Hebrew at that time was a reserve of the few spoken as formal language by religious scholars and their ilk; but to the common man Aramaic language was the lingua franca.

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