Schaff's Bible Dictionary
Definitions in Biblical History
What was the Original Language of the Bible?
THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF THE BIBLE
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Both testaments were written almost entirely by Jewish writers.
1. The O. T. is written in Hebrew, a Shemitic tongue, differing in most respects very widely from the Japhetic or Aryan languages, to which family ours belongs. The difference is not simply in vocabulary, but in grammatical structure, and also in the manner of writing, which is from right to left, giving rise to the common saying that Hebrew books begin at the last page. It is triliteral -- i. e. its words are built up according to certain rules from roots formed of three consonants. The verb has only two tenses, the perfect and the imperfect. There is no proper declension of nouns, and only two genders, masculine and feminine. There are three numbers, singular, dual, and plural. There are no compounds, in our sense of the term; the article, conjunction, and preposition, expressed each by a single consonant, are attached directly to the word. Pronouns undergo a similar treatment, "whether they are the subject or object of verbs or dependent upon other forms of speech. Thus the Hebrew 'and from his land' is written as one word, though it embraces a conjunction, preposition, noun, and pronoun; but this is a mere aggregate, in which each element retains its separate force unchanged, not a compound, in which the several constituents combine in the expression of one idea." -- Prof. W. H. Green. Hebrew is highly figurative -- pre-eminently fitted for devotion, but by lack of precision singularly unfitted for philosophy. It was therefore just the requisite medium for an introductory revelation. The O. T. does not argue against or analyze or defend any religion in set phrase, but it fills the mind with the knowledge of the true God and inspires the heart in his service.
1. The N. T. was written in Greek, which had, since the Macedonian conquest of Alexander the Great, supplanted Hebrew in common use among the Jews who dwelt in the Roman provinces, and was the medium of communication between all parts of the civilized world. The ancient Greek literature is a perennial source of inspiration and knowledge. The language is at once vigorous and flexible, profound and clear, remarkably well suited to express every variety of thought. It is equally adapted to the concise, the critical, and the commonplace. In short, every order of mind can use it appropriately. It was in that day a better channel than the Hebrew for a divine revelation, and that of the highest kind. Hebrew no longer met the wants of culture. By nature it was hampered. It was the language of monotheism, but not of developed trinitarianism. The N. T. Greek is the Macedonian, and more particularly the Hellenistic, dialect, more or less mixed with Hebraisms, arising from the fact that the writers were Jews. In some books this tinge is very strong, especially in Matthew, Mark, and Revelation. On the contrary, the Greek of James and Luke, particularly in the preface of Luke's Gospel and in the latter part of the Acts, is good and forcible. Paul has a style of his own; broken and involved, interminable at times, as his sentences are, they are bold, pregnant, and lively. But whether with classical finish or unadorned simplicity, in this language the apostles addressed their own countrymen and the Gentiles upon the momentous truths and facts of the everlasting gospel.
The Text of the Bible
The Hebrew Bible
The Greek New Testament
The Original Language of the Bible
The Original Language of the Old Testament
The Original Language of the New Testament
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'original language of the bible' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". bible-history.com - Schaff'sCopyright Information
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