“…will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?”
What languages did Jesus speak during His ministry on Earth? Of course He spoke Aramaic, since that was the common language of the people He taught. When He read from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth, He would have read it in Hebrew. But did Jesus also speak Greek?
Greek was in common use in Israel in the first century. Greek inscriptions are frequently found in Jewish graves from the period. This is evidence that many Jews knew the Greek language. Some scholars point to some of the terms in Jesus’ recorded sayings that have Greek origins; however, their arguments are not universally accepted.
But Jesus did grow up in Nazareth, which is in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” where Greek as well as Aramaic would have been spoken. Nazareth was only an hour’s walk from Sepphoris, where one would have to speak Greek to do business. As scholars point out, Jesus was educated and as a carpenter, He was a skilled artisan. He would have to speak Greek to deal with customers. At one point His disciples wondered whether He would go to teach the Gentiles, a task that would require Greek.
Language is a gift of God. It is through this gift that God gives us the greater gift of His saving Gospel which assures us of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
Thank You, Father, for the gift of language, for this is how You give us Your Word of salvation in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Biblical Archaeology Review, 9-10/92, pp. 58-63, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Did Jesus Speak Greek?” Photo: “Mona Lisa of the Galilee”, ancient mosaic in Sepphoris. Courtesy of Tomisti. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.