WAS THE NEW TESTAMENT REALLY WRITTEN IN GREEK?
The oldest manuscripts we have from the Christian New Testament are all in Greek language, and none of them are copies directly from their original authors.
The oldest manuscripts we have of the New Testament written in Koine Greek are 5,800, apart from thousands more written in Latin and other later translations; however, Greek has always been considered, according to the dating data, to be the basic texts from which all other translations emanate.
The problem arises, when we considered that regardless of the age and language of the translations, the original authors of the NT texts were humble people, except probably Matthew, Luke, and Paul. Most of the other apostles and disciples were common fishermen and tradesmen, and the language they spoke was Aramaic.
At the time, Judea was a middle ground of Hellenistic, Latin, Jewish, African, and Arab cultures, including their languages. The narrative of the NT let us see the high probability that Lord Jesus himself, understood and spoke not only Aramaic, his mother tongue, but also Latin (Jn 19:10-11) and Greek (Jn 12:20-23). In the same way, it is assumed the Apostles also had an average knowledge of those languages acquired through their business dealings with people of the area, but probably not to the level of proficiently writing in a foreign language, and specially by using sophisticated terminology, and other names of later introduction (Acts 21:7 calls a city known in apostolic times as Acu, the Greek name Ptolemais, which was given decades later in History).
Besides the legends that have been built around the origin of the Bible and how it was collected, there is a high probability that all the writings of the New Testament, with the exception of the gospel of Luke, Acts, the letters of Paul and Revelation; all may have been written in Aramaic, and the later copies in modern Greek are all later copies that survived from the times when Christianity became Gentile.
If this is the case, maybe the hypothetical source “Q”, which is a valid theory, that it said to be the basic source of all Gospels, with the exception probably of John, it may not be illusory at all, and indeed it may be more than a ‘lose collection’ of Lord Jesus sayings, but a whole complete version of the life of Jesus written in Aramaic by one or more of the apostles themselves, which in turn served as a reliable source for the formatting and confectioning of the Greek copies we have today.
Today, we have versions in Aramaic, like the Peshita canonical version of the Church of the East, that have been revised and edited by modern scholars; but they were edited from the original Eastern canon of the Church of the East, which it is said it received copies of the original NT version in Aramaic (1), from which the Greek versions were later designed in the West; however, since the oldest material copies we have do not pre-date the oldest copies in Greek in existence, this cannot be proven beyond doubt.
THERE ARE indeed many things yet to discover about the historical source and origins of our New Testament, but we can rest assure that this diversity, in dates, languages, geography and numbers are really a living testimony of the power of God over the Church of Jesus Christ.
The difference between these manuscripts, may they be in Greek, Aramaic or Latin, is incredibly little and furthermore, it does not change a point in doctrine between one and the other, regardless of the interpretations we may give to the written message which is equal to all.
But also, we must always remember, but when theologians study the Scripture, they study all the versions in existence, that way a wholesome conclusion can be drawn about any topic.
(1) Mar Eshai Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East. April 5, 1957.
Post a Comment