Galliean Aramaic: The Earthly Language of Jesus


(Charles Edward Miller) #1

There is some difference of opinion concerning the origin the Aramaic and its relation to Biblical Hebrew. Some linguists and ministers would say that Aramaic of Palestine aka Israel was an advanced dialect of Hebrew. Others say it was a sister language to Hebrew. Would anyone like to express his or her opinion?

Deacon Charles Edward Miller, BA, Old Dominion University; MAR in Theology, Liberty University School of Divinity


(Kenneth Turner) #2

Can you provide sources for the former? It used to be thought that Aramaic arose relatively later and thus took over as the lingua franca. This then was used to date portions of the OT based on “Aramaisms.” But then we came across (centuries) earlier documents in Aramaic. The latest consensus I’m aware of (from my PhD days in 1999-2005, especially under Septuagint scholar Peter Gentry) is that Aramaic is more of a sister/cousin of Hebrew. Then again, Hebrew itself has evolved as all languages do (with Arabic as a relative exception, though there’s some development there too). I doubt Moses and Jeremiah could’ve had a conversation. Llike us and Chaucer (let alone the days of Beowulf). Even the Greek of the Septuagint (Iattic, though it’s more complicated than that) is different from the NT (Koine).

I’m not an expert on this, though I can read Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Does your question bear on the notion of some that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic? Or of what languages Jesus knew and used? Is there any bearing to Peaceful Science?


(Mark M Moore) #3

It doesn’t sound like you can help but my question on this issue would be "what word did Jesus actually use when He kept calling Himself “the Son of Man”? Was it like the Hebrew word “enosh” or “Adam”?


(Kenneth Turner) #4

Dan 7:13 is part of the Aramaic section, so it reads bar 'enash (rather than ben 'adam). I suspect Jesus used the Aramaic for this phrase. (“son of man” elsewhere, e.g., Ezekiel, doesn’t have the messianic overtones of Daniel)


(Mark M Moore) #5

@deuteroKJ Well the more I look the more complicated it gets. Bible Hub also points out the bar enash in chapter seven but then refers to Daniel himself as ben Adam in 8:17. The chapter notes at the bottom of chapter eight say of “ben Adam” almost the same thing you say of “bar enash” in chapter seven. To wit: 1. Daniel 8:17 The Hebrew phrase ben adam means human being . The phrase son of man is retained as a form of address here because of its possible association with “Son of Man” in the New Testament." I tend to agree with you over the commentators that the figure from chapter 7 is more to be identified with Christ than even Daniel. But the change in language throws me, along with the use of both terms. Why jump from Aramaic back to Hebrew?

There is even a third term used for man in that section that appears to be a loan word.


(Kenneth Turner) #6

The Aramaic section is chs. 2-7. Why the switch back and forth? No one really knows, but it at least gives the effect of reading chs. 2-7 together (which makes sense when you see the chiastic patter of 2//7, 3//6, and 4//5), then chs. 8-12 follow off of the vision in ch. 7. So, yes, the phrase in Dan 8:17 is as expected, and the same form of address repeatedly used for Ezekiel (a prophet contemporary to Daniel). I disagree with the note that this one is related to Jesus’ use of it, but I’m not surprised there are other opinions. The other term for “man” is geber, (8:15) often focusing on a young, strong man.


(Charles Edward Miller) #7

I know that Aramaic had become a lingua franca just as English has done. English is a mixture of languages; however, it is an advanced form of Old Frieslaendisch in North Germany and Holland. I have heard both stories about Aramaic.

  1. Aramaic was an advanced form of Hebrew. That is why the Gospel of either Mark or Luke states that on the sign over Jesus’ head was in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (Aramaic).
  2. The second story I have read in history books about Aramaic being a sister language to Hebrew.

Linguistics is a science too and has much to do with Christian, Jewish speech evolution; therefore, it has a right to appear hear too. The bearing here is that linguistics and the study of language development is connected to the brain and you are right it belongs here too. I was done research on the development of language since I became a linguistics forty years ago. Does anyone agree with more words? Oh, my words do not come from ill-will; therefore, I hope you do not take it that way.

@Patrick, @jongarvey


(Kenneth Turner) #8

Mine were honest questions, not subtle accusations


(Charles Edward Miller) #9

You have totally misunderstood me. I was not trying to start an argument. In any case Professor Turner, let’s just forget everything. Perhaps this was a misunderstanding on both sides.