Originally Posted by Fi_Sabilillah
Thank you for the high praise. I try to be truthful. And though I know I am biased in my opinion regarding what is truth and what is error, I hope not to be too overly biased in the sharing of the basic information of the faith. It really humbles me that you might see that in my responses.
Christians would not say that Jesus' (pbuh) message was a revelation in the same way that Muslims speak of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) receiving the Qu'ran. That is because for us Jesus is much more than a prophet bringing a message from God. Remember, Jesus is God manifesting himself to and among us. Thus, from a Christian persepctive, it is Jesus' disciples more than Jesus who should be equated with the prophet, for they (the disciples) are the ones who are passing along the message they have received from God. And that message is not just a message about how we human should live (though it contains that), but is primarliy a message about the transcendent God, creator of the universe, who broke into our world and interacted with us in person.
So, the Quran is a message about a topic, how people are to live life in submission to God. The gospel is not so much a message about a topic, but about God himself. Of course, Jesus' sermons do contain these messages of how to live, but the focus of the gospels is not on Jesus' messages, but on Jesus.
Sorry to take so long to get to your question, but I think understanding that background will help better understand my answer to your question now.
So, when the disciples shared the message that they shared, they were not just trying to pass along what Jesus had said, they were passing along that and much more about Jesus. And the people they were sharing it with lived in a world where few spoke Aramaic. Thus, if they wanted to tell about Jesus, rather than to pass along just his words in the language in which Jesus had spoken them, they passed along the larger story in the language understood by the people. Greek was the "lingua franca" (I'm trusting you know that phrase) of its day. Thus, they wrote in that lanuage.
In fact the name of the particular form of Greek they used tells you all you need to know about why they choose it. They wrote in Koine Greek. Koine
, from which we get our English word "coin", means "common". What the authors of the gospels wrote in was the common tongue, the language of the common man, and was common to people all over the Roman empire. Their native tongue might be one of literally hunderds of different languages or dialects. But they would speak it AND they would also speak Koine Greek.
Why do we write on this Islamic board in English, and not Arabic, especially if we are going to talk about the Qu'ran? Well, some do choose to use Arabic. But to communicate with the majority of the people we write in English, even if the Qu'ran was given in Arabic. Same thing, with regard to the New Testament.
Your second question, "are there any remenants of the original Aramaic bible remaining?", presupposes that the bible was originally written in Aramaic. I don't believe it was.
The first of the books written that eventually were compiled into our New Testament where letters address by Paul to churches in Greek speaking portions of the world. Since he was just writing advice for that particular church, and not quoting the words of Jesus, it makes sense that these would have been composed in Greek from the beginning. By the time the gospels were written, the Romans had squelched the Jewish revolt and it no longer existed as a country. There was a large diaspora of Jews (both Christians Jews and non-Christian Jews) from the region of Palestine to other parts of the world. Further, because of the success of Paul's and others' missionary journeys, the church was becoming more and more a church composed of Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) who would not be familiar with the Tanakh, nor speak Aramaic. Again, to pass along the story of Jesus to the greatest number of people, one would have written in Greek. So, though there is much Jewish background to the New Testament, and one can see the influence of Jewish beliefs and both the Aramaic and Hebrew languages in the writings, I believe that they were composed in Greek.
Does this mean that nothing was ever written in Aramaic? No, it does not mean that.
There is evidence that Matthew in particular, the most Jewish of the gospels in character, probably used some other documents to aid him in writing his gospel. And Luke probably did as well. We do not today have a copy of what that document was, there is a big question as to what was actually in it, but most scholars believe that such a document did at one time exist. Whether this was a collection of Jesus's sayings, some other less well preserved gospel, or exactly what is a big, unanswerable question. And so this unknown, possible source document is called by many the Q document (coming from the German word "Quelle
", meaning "source").
What language was Q, if Q even ever existed, written in? Well, scholars still debate this. When first hypothesized it was suspected to also be in Greek. Others now suggest that it might have been in Aramaic. Whether it was or wasn't we will probably never know. One thing is certain, that though the Bible was composed in Greek, it was written by people who themselves also spoke either Aramaic or Hebrew (and some probably Latin as well). And some of these words have been preserved in the writting of these Greek documents, just like I used the phrase "lingua franca" earilier in our discussion or many people use the Latin "etcetera
" because those terms, even though not English, have become a part of our common language. The Hebrew word "Amen
" is perhaps the best example. Though sometimes spelled differently, it was universally recognized around known world then, and around the globe today.
Another thing is certain. The Bible was early on translated into many other languages, among them Syriac, closely related to Aramaic. The most ancient copies of it in Syriac are from the 4th century, but that makes some of these copies among the oldest copies for some parts of the Bible. These were well preserved by both the Syrian, Armenean and Coptic churches. There are older copies in Greek of course, but these syriac documents would still be considered valuable assests in the work of textual criticism - i.e. determining the most likely form of the original text for a given passage when variant readings appear among latter copies of the Bible.