Point : 35520
| Tuesday, 13 July 2010 |
"Was the “New” Testament originally written in Greek, or in Hebrew?
By Norman B. Willis
As a young Christian man I was taught that Yahushua haMashiach (”Jesus the Messiah”) came to do away with the Torah of Moshe (Moses), and that He did away with the Jews and Israel as YHUH’s chosen people. I was told that YHUH’s people are now the Greek-speaking gentiles, and that one of the most telling indications of this was that the “New Testament” was originally inspired in Greek, and not in Hebrew. Yet today we know that this is not true.
The church argues that the Nazarene Writings (often called the Brit Chadasha or the “New” Testament) were written in Greek. They give a number of reasons for this, chief among which is that Shaul (Paul) was given the mission to take the Good News to the gentiles. Since Paul spoke Greek, and since the language of the majority of the Roman Empire was Greek, they say that it only makes sense that Shaul would have written his epistles in Greek. I believed that for a long time, until I actually started thinking about it. Then some thing did not add up.
I first began to doubt that the Nazarene Writings were written in Greek after reading the preface to the ISR Scriptures. I began to wonder about some things. For example, why would a Hebrew write to the Hebrews in any other language than Hebrew? It just does not make any sense.
I mean, think about it. I was born an American, and my native tongue is English. In directing this letter to the Americans (and other English-speaking peoples worldwide) I naturally chose English as the language of expression. Though I do speak German and Spanish, and although many people in America and around the world speak German and Spanish, in addressing a letter to the Americans I unhesitatingly chose English, which is the native tongue of the land. That is what anybody would do, given a similar situation, in trying to communicate with a people is to write to them in the language that they know.
The language of the Jews was Hebrew, as it is to this day. For this reason, it only seems logical that the Hebrew Shaul must have written the Book of Hebrews for the Hebrews in Hebrew, and not in Greek. So if the book of Hebrews had obviously been translated from Hebrew in to Greek, then I began to wonder how many of the other books of the Nazarene Writings had been translated out of the Hebrew and in to Greek?
[Note: Since the time that this article was originally written, a copy of the Book of Hebrews has been found in the original Hebrew language.]
As I continued to study, I learned that the Book of Matthew was acknowledged by the early church fathers to have been written in Hebrew, and not in Greek. I obtained a copy of the original Hebrew manuscript. In it were quotes by several of the early church fathers: Papias, Ireneus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Isho’dad, all acknowledging that the Book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, and not in Greek, and I was holding a copy of it in my hands!
So now it seemed that the Book of Matthew and the Book of Hebrews had both been written in Hebrew, and not Greek. That being the case, I began to wonder what other books in the Nazarene Writings had been originally penned in Hebrew? Was it possible that the entire “New” Testament had originally been written in Hebrew, rather than Greek? Was the Textus Receptus a translation?
Then I learned that Shaul (Paul) had not actually been sent to the gentiles like we always think of gentiles, but that the “gentiles” of Scripture were in actual fact the physical blood-descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes! I learned that the Orthodox rabbis had ruled in the Babylonian Talmud (at Yebamot 17A) that the Northern Kingdom should no longer be called Israelites, but rather “gentiles,” because they no longer kept Torah, and no longer lived in the Land. Thus the Orthodox rabbis called them “gentiles,” as it is to this day.
Then I learned that the “Greeks” of Scripture were not the Nike-and-Zeus worshipping pagan “Greeks” that we think of at all, but rather were Hellenized Jews! The word “Greeks” meant “Greek-speaking Jews who grew up in a Greek culture.” This meant that when Shaul was ministering to the “Greeks,” he was not ministering to pagans at all, but that he was ministering to the scattered and lost children of Jacob (Israel) who were still out in the nations from the Diaspora and the Babylonian Exile!
When I looked through the Book of the Acts of the Nazarene Israeli Apostles, I began to notice something funny. It seemed that except for the time that he went to Mars Hill, Shaul always went in to the synagogues, to preach to the “gentiles” and the “Greeks” on the Sabbath day. But would true “gentiles” and “Greeks” even have been in the synagogues on the Sabbath day? No! Only Israelites and Hellenized Jews would have been in the synagogues on the Sabbath!
The “gentiles” and “Greeks” that we have always been told that Shaul was sent to minister to were in actual fact Diaspora Israelites of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the Lost Ten Tribes), and the Hellenized Jews of the Diaspora and the Babylonian Exile, respectively. They are not the same as what we in Christian culture think of as Greeks and gentiles at all.
The Greek-gentile story I was given as a child was not passing the reality-check, and neither was the story that the Nazarene Writings (the “New Testament”) was originally written in Greek. Consider the following:
If you were Shaul, writing an epistle to the people who were in the synagogues on the Sabbath, what language would you write to them in? Think carefully.
Go to any synagogue anywhere in the world, and the Jews that you find there will all be speaking Hebrew. It makes no difference what country they are in; India, Russia, Czechoslovakia, or whatever: All Jews the world over speak Hebrew in the synagogues. Thus what makes the most sense is that Shaul wrote his epistles to the synagogues throughout the Greek and Roman world in Hebrew!
Now I will grant you that it is possible that Shaul maybe wrote some of his epistles in Greek. We don’t know. It is also possible that Shaul, being a learned man chosen of YHUH, perhaps wrote his epistles first in Hebrew, and then also copied them down in to Greek at the same time. Perhaps he even wrote to the assembly in Rome in Latin as well (triplicate?), since we are told that Shaul spoke Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. We don’t know for sure what he did.
Yet it does seem likely that at least the Book of Hebrews was written in Hebrew, and we know for a fact that the Book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, and then translated in to Greek, probably so as to establish greater currency throughout the Greek-speaking world. And if those two books were written in Hebrew (although we were always told that they were written in Greek) then how many other books in the Ketuvim Netzarim (the Nazarene Writings) were originally written in Hebrew, and only later translated in to Greek?
And there is more. The Explanatory notes at the back of the rendition of the Scriptures put out by the Institute for Scripture Research indicates certain textual criticisms in the Book of the Revelation which indicate that it was also written in Hebrew. Revelation 19:16 reads that Yahushua will return with the words “KING OF KINGS AND MASTER OF MASTERS,” written across his thigh. That cannot be right. The word “thigh” must have been a mistranslation of the word “banner.”
The problem with the word “thigh” is that if the words are written on Yahushua’s thigh, then they are speaking of a tattoo, but Leviticus 19:18 forbids us to make tattoos on our bodies. But we know that Yahushua would never get a tattoo, because Yahushua would never break Torah, because He tells us Himself in the Sermon on the Mount that He did not come to break the Torah or to do away with it (Matthew 5:17-20). He came to show us how to keep it better.
We know that sin is a transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4), so if Yahushua has a tattoo on his thigh, then He will be breaking the Law, which means He will be sinning. Yet we know that this cannot be, because Yahushua is without sin.
Further, we know that a person whose thigh is exposed is considered naked in Hebraic thought (Mark 14:51, see also Shemot/Exodus 28:42), and we know that Yahushua would never come immodestly dressed, since He is our Example. He would keep His thighs covered, especially in battle.
What makes more sense is to acknowledge that the Book of the Revelation must have been written in Hebrew. A particular letter in Hebrew that represents the “d” sound (called the “dalet”) has a small stub on the end of one of the pen strokes, while a very similar looking letter representing the “r” sound (called a “resh”) does not. It is easy for translators to mistake the two, especially when the scroll is old, damaged, or when the translators don’t know Hebrew that well. Constantine’s Catholic translators might easily have confused the dalet for a resh.
If a scribe translating the Book of the Revelation from Hebrew (or possibly Aramaic) in to Greek mistook the “d” for an “r”, then the word “dagel” (banner) becomes “ragel” (thigh), and you have Yahushua breaking Torah, wearing a tattoo on a naked thigh. Given the fact that Yahushua said that the Torah would not pass away until heaven and earth pass away, this is impossible. It would make Yahushua an immodest sinner with naked thighs!
When you understand that Yahushua came not to do away with the Law, but rather to show how best to keep it, the image of Yahushua galloping around with a tattoo on a naked thigh becomes ludicrous. Yet a Roman Catholic scribe translating in to the Greek would not have caught the mistake, because the Catholics teach (against Scripture) that Yahushua did away with the Law.
So once again we have to ask the question: “If the books of Matthew, Hebrews and Revelation were originally written in Hebrew, and those in the synagogues where Shaul ministered were Hebrews, probably speaking Hebrew in the synagogues, then how much of the Nazarene Writings were originally written in Hebrew? Was it all written in Hebrew?” Have we been told that the Brit Chadasha was originally penned in Greek for someone’s political reasons?
Then I learned something that convinces me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Nazarene Writings were originally written in Hebrew [or perhaps Aramaic, which was also spoken widely in the area where Yahushua and His disciples grew up, around Nazareth and the Galilee.]
In the Babylonian Talmud there is a section where the orthodox rabbis discuss how to destroy the Good News (the “Gospels”), which they term the “Gilyon.” This word “Gilyon” is the same word that is used in the Peshitta of the Eastern Orthodox Church, a set of Scriptures originally written in Aramaic, and carried forward in Aramaic to this day. [It is possible that Yahushua’s native tongue may have been Aramaic. Aramaic is to Hebrew like Scottish is to English. There is a strong accent, and some spellings differ, but it is essentially the same. Native speakers of each language have little difficulty in understanding one another.]
The Orthodox Jewish rabbis are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud at Shabbat 116A (and in the Jerusalem Talmud at Shabbat 15C, and the Tosefta Shabbat at 13:5) as discussing how to properly handle sacred Torah scrolls that need to be taken out of service. They go to great length to identify the proper procedure for retiring any scroll that contains the Divine Name, even if it has holes or blank spaces in it, perhaps due to age, or cracking of the parchment or skins.
In the Orthodox community, the custom is to bury old Torah scrolls, much the same as one would respectfully bury the dead. This was considered the reverent way to go about disposing of an old Torah scroll, even one with cracks, holes or tears in it. This custom (or tradition) continues to this day.
Most would consider that it is improper ever to burn a Torah scroll, because burning with fire was the prescribed means of destroying what is heretical, and unclean. The rabbis felt that it was improper to burn the Torah scroll in the same manner as one might burn something unclean, because it would seem disrespectful. Therefore they normally buried their Torah scrolls even if the scroll was damaged, had holes or blank spaces, or if it was reduced to cracked fragments. The point was to respect YHUH’s Torah.
The conversation in the Talmud gets involved, but one rabbi writes of burning some scrolls that have holes (blank spaces) in them. Another rabbi asks him if he means Torah scrolls, or some other scrolls. The first rabbi responds that no, he is talking about burning some scrolls that belong to the Minim, a reference to the Nazarene Israelite “heretics.”
The Orthodox did their best to stamp out the Minim (the Nazarenes), and also to destroy all of their writings (the early Brit Chadasha) so as to keep other Jews from being “defiled” by belief in Yahushua. In the Babylonian Talmud at Shabbat 116A the rabbis argue about how to destroy scrolls that they consider heretical, yet which have the Divine Name of YHUH written on them.
One Orthodox rabbi in the Talmud wrote that the scrolls should be burned. Another rabbi dissented, saying that scrolls with the Divine Name written on them should never be burned. Another rabbi argues that the Gilyon (Nazarene scrolls) should have the Divine Name cut out of them on a day that is not a Sabbath day, and then whatever is left of the scrolls (with the holes cut out of them) should be burned. Another entry claims that the Gilyon (Nazarene scrolls) are such an abomination that they should be burned without even bothering to cut the Divine Name out of them, but just to burn the things, because they are so odious to him.
The point is that the Orthodox rabbis were admitting that the original writings of the Minim (the Nazarene Israelites) had the Divine Name of YHUH in them in Hebrew. These cannot be the same books that we read of today in the Greek Textus Receptus (“Received Text”), where the words “Theos” and “Kurios” are used. Why? Because we read in the Talmud that the original Nazarene Writings had the Divine Name of YHUH written on them! And we know that the Name was written in the Hebrew (YHUH/YHVH), because the Orthodox Rabbis would not have made such a fuss over any scroll with the Greek words “Theos” and “Kurios.” They would have just burned the scroll without further comment. It was only the fact that the Name was written in Hebrew that caused controversy at all.
As a boy I was taught that “God” and “Jesus” were the proper names for our heavenly Father YHUH, and His Son Yahushua. Yet in reading books like “Fossilized Customs” and “Come Out of Her, My People,” I have found out that “God” is actually a name of a Germanic sun-worship deity, and that “Jesus” may quite possibly be a derivative of Zeus. Satan would have tried to trick us to use these names in an effort to keep us from calling on the true Names. He would have given us a substitute, as a deception.
A more appropriate Anglicization of Yahushua’s Name would really be Joshua, son of Joseph, just as we speak of Joshua, son of Nun. The parallels between the two Joshua’s are striking: The name Joshua means “The Salvation of YHUH.” Both Joshua’s were given the mission of leading their people in to the Promised Land. Both saved their people. Yet instead of Joshua, we have been taught to use “Jesus,” which may be a derivative of “Zeus.”
We believers have been taught so many lies. First we were taught that the Torah is no longer important. Then we were taught that in order to receive salvation, all we need to do is to believe, get sprinkled, go to a building once a week, and give money to the clergy.
Now we are told that the names of sun worship (“God” and “Jesus”) are OK names to call upon, even though we know that Lucifer (“the Light Bringer”) wants us to worship the sun. We are taught that there is no other Name that men can call upon in order to be saved (Acts 4:12), but we are given the wrong name to call on, one that may be a derivative of sun worship!
Yahushua Himself told us that if He came in His own Name (Yahushua or Joshua), that men would not receive Him. Yet if another (Lucifer or Zeus) came in his own name, him the people would receive (John 5:43). Now we can understand that this solarized sun-substitute name may be a trick of Lucifer, who always works through deceptions. This error got its start under the Roman Emperor Constantine and his Roman Catholic Church, now carried onward by the hierarchical (and heretical) Protestant church system.
The more I read and the more I learn, the more convinced I become that the Scriptures must have been originally inspired in Hebrew, or perhaps in Aramaic, but definitely not in Greek. We can still learn what we need to learn with the Greek text, just so long as we understand that Messiah Yahushua was speaking and thinking in Hebrew or Aramaic, and not Greek.
As long as we get it in to our heads that Yahushua came not to replace Israel and the Torah, but to show people how better to keep the Torah, then we have a chance of getting it right. He came not to replace what He Himself handed down to Moses in the Wilderness, but to clarify it. Otherwise, when Yahushua, Moses and Elijah (Eliyahu) were all standing there together in the transfiguration on the Mount of Olives, talking amongst one another, why did Yahushua not rebuke them for teaching the wrong thing?
But He did not rebuke Moses and Elijah for teaching or doing the wrong thing, because the Son of Man did not come to do away with the Torah, the Hebrew language, or the Israeli people. He came, rather, to save that which was lost.
Love in the Master,
A servant of the Master
The Israelite sect of the Nazarenes
Re-establishing the faith once delivered to the saints
When YHUH our Elohim is with you,