For any person to conclude the language that Jesus used to speak, one must know which languages were spoken largely in Israel during Jesus’s time. In ancient Israel, Hebrew was the most famous language. However, in 586 B.C. Israelites were enslaved in Babylon, which caused them to assimilate into the Babylonian language, the Aramaic language, gradually. Aramaic language has similarities with Hebrew, and they are close to each other. As Jesus was born, Greek became an internal language, and the people of Israel used it. With all the possible ancient languages in Israel, people ask, did Jesus speak Hebrew?
There is a high probability that Jesus spoke Hebrew alongside other languages the Israelites used. Some parts of the Bible are written in Greek, contributing to the idea that Jesus taught the word in Greek. Also, it is believed that Aramaic was the most used language in day-to-day communication during his time, according to scholars.
So, Did Jesus ever speak Hebrew? What languages did Jesus speak? Does the Bible have any evidence of the language Jesus spoke?
Did Jesus ever speak Hebrew?
It is believed that Jesus might have ever spoken Hebrew because he preached at the Synagogue. During His time, the Pharisees and the educated people used Mishnaic Hebrew. Jesus spoke with the Pharisees and educated them about the true meaning of the laws in the Synagogue. This implies that Jesus, too, used Mishnaic Hebrew to communicate. Although it is argued that Jesus used Aramaic, and then it was translated to Hebrew, some scholars refute the idea.
A close analysis of Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic determines that the teachings of Jesus at the Synagogue were done in Hebrew. Aramaic language borrows a large vocabulary from Mishnaic Hebrew. On the other hand, many vocabularies of Mishnaic Hebrew cannot be translated into Aramaic. Therefore, to say that Jesus taught in the Synagogue in Aramaic and it was translated to Hebrew is misleading. However, it can be concluded that in formal settings like teaching the word, Jesus used more Hebrew than Aramaic. On the other hand, in His day-to-day life, Jesus most likely used more Aramaic language.
What languages did Jesus speak?
Apart from Hebrew, it is believed that Jesus spoke other languages, including Aramaic and Greek. According to the argument between the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel, Jesus most likely used Aramaic for his day-to-day communication. Aramaic had become popular among the people of Israel after being enslaved in Babylon.
It is said that Aramaic was born from the mixing of the Babylonian language and the Hebrew language of Israel. It is the reason Aramaic has some vocabulary from Hebrew. Pope argues that Jesus understood Hebrew because it shared some vocabulary with Aramaic. However, Jesus used more of Aramaic in His everyday life because it was popular.
During Jesus’s time, Greek gad also becomes an international language. In His area of residence, Greek was used for official purposes. Jesus knew Greek well enough to communicate using the language, but he needed to improve at Greek as he was good at Aramaic.
Jesus probably had to learn Greek from a tender age after being taught to speak in Aramaic. His choice to learn and speak Greek was highly motivated by the fact that most educated people used Greek, and His mission was to preach the gospel to them. Therefore his choice of speaking Greek at any time depended on His audience and the context of the discussion.
Does the Bible have any evidence of the language Jesus spoke?
A few verses in the Bible can act as evidence of the languages that Jesus used to communicate. The first two gospels prove that Jesus used Aramaic language. On the other hand, Luke 4:16-17 says, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the Synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read, and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,”
The book of Isaiah was written in Hebrew, and if Jesus could open it and read it in the Synagogue, it means that He could speak Hebrew and understand it.
The Bible also hints at Jesus speaking Greek when it talks of instances when Jesus spoke to people who would only understand Greek. These Greek Speaking people include Pilate and the Centurion. Also, In John:12, Jesus communicated with people who would only use Greek to communicate.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.