The language of the Bible

The biblical writers were inspired by God, but they wrote in a human language.  What language?  Although many believe that the English translation of the King James Version of Bible is inspired, the actual God inspired words of the Bible were written in Hebrew and Greek.  Why those languages?  The Vulgate Latin translation of St. Jerome in the fourth century remained the dominant normative translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts for over a thousand years during the European Middle Ages.  In fact, Jerome relied on the Greek Septuagint rather than the Hebrew version of the Bible.  You may have heard of the sacred Hebrew language.  Not many people call Greek a sacred language, but it certainly was for the early Christians.  There are two major parts of the Christian Bible called the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The so-called Old Testament is the Bible for Jewish people, written in Hebrew, before the birth of Jesus Christ.  Often, people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of what we call the Christian Bible actually existed before the time of Christ, since it described the words and actions of God with his promised chosen people, the Hebrews, the Israelites, or the Jews.  The Bible is the record of the Hebrew people and the early Christians.  In fact, a number of Jewish people living in Alexandria, Egypt, a couple of centuries before Jesus Christ, translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, so that Jewish people outside of Israel could understand it.  The Christians, who wrote in Greek, used this Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint.  The New Testament books quite often made references to the Old Testament books or used them as sources from this Greek Septuagint translation rather than the original Hebrew.  These Jewish and Christian human authors worked under the influence of God’s Spirit.  Yet at the same time, they were under the influence of their community and culture.  Why these stories and words?  Christians believe that the biblical phrases are God’s words in human terms in content and message.  These human writers believed what they were writing.  The Old Testament took hundreds of years to complete.  The New Testament took thirty to sixty years to finish.  Very few people could write, so that the oral tradition dominated during this period of time, some two to three thousand years ago.  The texts themselves were rewritten, so that we say that the texts we have with all its corrections are the ones that God wants us to have.  Jesus did not write anything because he lived in a predominant oral society.  He probably spoke Aramaic.  The apostles of Jesus followed suit and transmitted the living oral tradition to their disciples and the new followers of Jesus the Christ.  The apostles did not need to write anything, since they could explain everything.  However, once Christianity moved out of Jerusalem there was a need to write things down in a more permanent form.  The early Pauline letters to the new Christian Church communities show how Christianity spread.  Increasing space and distance from the place of Jerusalem and the historical time of Jesus developed.  In order to prevent heresy or diverse views as well as encourage the early Christians in the face of persecution, the need for a written record became evident.  Do you speak another language besides English?


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