Table of Contents
The Old Testament – Written Language
Moses was commanded by God to write down the first biblical record. The Lord said, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27). So, Moses wrote these books in his native language, called Hebrew. This is one of a group of languages known as the Semitic languages, which were spoken throughout that part of the world, then called Mesopotamia. Their alphabet consisted of 22 letters, all consonants.
During the thousand years of its composition, almost the entire Old Testament was written in Hebrew. But a few chapters in the prophecies of Ezra and Daniel and one verse in Jeremiah were written in a language called Aramaic. This language became very popular in the ancient world and actually displaced many other languages. Aramaic even became the common language spoken in Israel in Jesus’ time, and it was likely the language He spoke day by day. Some Aramaic words were even used by the Gospel writers in the New Testament.
The New Testament – Written Language
The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the language of scholarship. The composition of the New Testament took place from 50 to 100 AD. Many Jews could not even read Hebrew anymore. So, around 300 BC a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek was undertaken, and it was completed around 200 BC. Gradually this Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, was widely accepted and was even used in many synagogues.
The books of the Christian New Testament are widely agreed to have originally been written in Koine Greek, even though some authors often included translations from Hebrew and Aramaic texts. Koine Greek was the popular form of Greek which emerged in post-classical antiquity (c.300 BC – AD 300), and marks the third period in the history of the Greek language.
In His service,