In what language was the New Covenant originally written? I thought that the New Covenant was written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Written By:

As for the discoveries that I am aware of to date, from the second century onward, of the 6,000 New Testament manuscripts that have come down from antiquity none are in Hebrew.

I am aware of no New Testament documents from the first century–when the originals, not the copies, were actually written.

Thinking the Holy Book most certainly would have been written in the sacred language, some argue that all the original manuscripts were written in a Semitic tongue, but that all we have now are the Greek renditions. They posit that the Semitic originals were lost. This opinion doesn’t quite abide with me, however, despite my life long interest in connecting the New Testament word to the ancient Jewish world.

Speaking of the ancient world, Dr. Joseph Fitzmeyer studied Jewish funerary inscriptions in first century Judea, where Jewish people marked their passages to the Divine, and noted that the lion’s share were in Latin and in Greek–with only four percent of the grave markers written in Hebrew. This surprised me, quite frankly.

For his part, Professor Martin Hengel looked at Greco-Roman influences in first century Judea and, with others, observed how multi-cultural and multi-lingual Jews really were–much like today. Ancient Jews, even Pharisees, were much more comfortable with Greek than was previously supposed. 6,000 Greek loan words, for example, are found in the Talmud. Imagine that.

Impressed by the work of the aforementioned scholars, and others, as I am, I suspect the statement that all the manuscripts were written in Hebrew is overstated. There is some evidence, however, that Matthew’s gospel was originally penned in a Semitic tongue. Though we don’t have a manuscript of it, we do have attestation from ancient Christian writers attesting to it.

In sum, I argue for a preponderance of Greek texts. That said, I also argue that Hebraic thought processes underlie the teachings found in the New Testament, which were mostly written down in Greek.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *