Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
LOL!! You guys are funny. 5 pages of posts in one day, and this (that I have highlighted) is the only one of the lot of them that had anything to do with what Christians or Muslims know about the Bible. The rest of it was all the perpetual conversation on this board regarding contrasting beliefs, descriptions, and definitions about God. 320,000 other threads to discuss that in and you ALL want to discuss it here in this one. We're a sad lot.
As to PurestAmbrosia's comment. I realize that there is some legitmate question about whether or not the Gospel of Matthew might have had an Aramaic forerunner, but beyond that particular book, there is no evidence that any of the rest of the New Testament was originally written in anything but Greek.
I know you are already aware that the New Testament is a collection of documents written by several different people over an extended period of time, my best guess about 40 years (50 AD - 90 AD).
1) Some of Paul's letters would have been the first of those documents that became part of the New Testament. As Paul was known as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", he was not writing to Aramaic speakers, but Greek speakers in Greek (and Roman) communities, not Jewish communities. Given that we also know his Jewish names was Saul, and he still wrote as Paul, his Greek name, it seems rather obvious that Paul wrote all of his letters in Greek, not in Aramaic.
2) The earliest of the gospels is the Gospel of Mark. Earliest church tradition is that it was written by Mark in Italy, perhaps even Rome and that it's intended audience were Gentile believers, probably those in Rome. There are both Latinisms and Aramaicisms within the book. If the presence of these Aramaicism is "proof" for its writing in Aramaic, then the presence of these Latinisms would be equal "proof" for its writing in Latin. Obviously both cannot be true at the same time. Another answer to why they are present is that Mark was communicating Jewish customs and experiences from the life and teachings of Jesus that would have been unfamiliar to his Roman-Gentile audience and explaining them for them.
Commentator A.E.J. Rawlinson likens Mark's rough, ungrammatical Greek to that spoken by the lower classes in Rome, especially those who might have come from Palesitne or Syria and spoke Aramaic as their mother tongue. So, I can see why one might see a strong Aramaic influence in the writing, just like my Spanish speaking friends see a strong American influence in my writing, even when I write them in Spanish. It's there, because even writing in Spanish, I still think American, (And I likewise can tell the difference between an English letter written by one of my Chilean friends and one of my Mexican friends.)
3) The Gospel of John, the letters of John, and the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) are all fairly late writings, around 90 AD, maybe even a little later for Revelation. John was the pastor of the church Paul founded at Ephesus and from there was exiled to the island of Patmos at the end of his life. It was during this period of his life that these various writings were all written. Again, just as was the case for Paul, these people are going to be Greek speakers (and readers). The language of the Gospel's prolouge (John 1:1-18) especially with its heavy emphasis of using the Greek idea of logos
to speak of Jesus and his direct allusion to the interest of visiting Greeks in meeting with Jesus (John 12:20-22) is another indication that the Gospel was probably written wit an eye on the Gentile world. Again, as with Mark, we see a great deal of explaining and translating Jewish practices and names, something that would be unnecessary if written to a Aramaic community, but very pertinent for a Gentile church outside of Palestine.
4) The letters of Peter have some problem with proving their authorship by Peter. Although the letters claim to have been written by Peter within the text, there are those who think that someone other author simply made that claim in writing them in order that they might be more generally accepted. Especially since it is not till 135 AD that we have undeniable proof that the early church is using these letters by quoting them in their own writings, this has to be given some consideration. But, one of the main arguments against Peter writing it is the quality of the Greek with which it is written, and many simply don't believe that a Jewish fisherman would have been that well versed in Greek. But this problem would not prove that they were written in Aramaic, but only that Peter was not the real author. Certainly it is possible that Peter (raised in a multilingual part of the country) could have been able to communicate in both Greek and Aramaic.. Even if Peter was the author and unable to speak good Greek, he simply could have dicated his letter to another who actually penned it to paper for him using proper grammar. Given that the intended audience of the first letter is "strangers in the world scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" (1:1), places in norther Asia Mino (modern day Turkey), Peter's audience too, like those before him, is Greek-speaking. We don't have as clear of an audience for the second letter, but the vices that Peter warns against were more typical of Gentiles than Jews, so again this argues for a Greek-speaking audience.
5) James. This letter is addressed to "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations". At last we have one intended for Jewish Christians. We also find Hebrew titles that while translated into Greek (in what I think are the Greek originals) they are not explained. Thus also indicated that the recipients have a good working knowledge of Hebrew. There is little doubt that the intended readers of this letter are Jews-Christians, and probably ones who understand Hebrew. (Not all Jews were able to speak Hebrew because of the Jewish diaspora, but these probably were, or at least the writer was able to.)
So, why do I still think that James was probably written in Greek and not Aramaic? First the letter is written to thosew ho are "scattered among the nations", and Jews who had scattered eventually took Hebrew as their second language not their native language. Jewish visitors to Jerusalem would speak another langauge as their first language. We have unintended testimony of this in the book of Acts when the miracle of Pentecost takes place:
5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language
And also recall that when Pilate had the sign made for Jesus' cross (or whoever you believe was on it) that he had the sign written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.
Why Aramaic? Because it was the local language, the language of Jesus. Why Latin? Because it was the language of the Romans, the people staging the execution.
Why Greek? Because Greek was the common language of the day, nearly everyone spoke Greek even if they did not speak the local language. So, when in doubt, write what you want people to understand in Greek.
As this last point applies to the sign Pilate had placed over the cross in the middle of Jerusalem, it applies even more when sending a letter to people "scattered among the nations".
6) Jude. Pretty much everything that has been said about James could be said for Jude.
7) Luke and Acts were written by the Gentile Christian Luke. They are so obviously Greek in nature that it is hardly worth discussing them unless you have specific questions.
8) Hebrews. This letter is officially titled "To the Hebrews". This title is in the oldest manuscripts, though there are some who say that it is not original. That may be true, but we have no other claim for another title for it. If the title is accurate it follows that it was written to a group of Jews. The material in the book presupposes intitmate knowledge of Jewish worship, witihout any explanation. However, the oldest manuscript copies we have of it are in Greek. So, either it was written to a Jewish community (either Jewish-Christians or as an evangelistic tool to try and convert Jews to Chrsitians) of the diaspora (and thus Greek-speaking Jews), or it was written to Aramaic-speaking Jews in Palestine and then translated to Greek with the original Aramaic version of the letter lost. The quality of the Greek in the oldest manuscripts is elegant. The Old Testament passages that are quoted appear to be quoted from the Septuagint. The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanakh. If the letter was originally written in Aramaic, then the Old Testament passage would have been written in Hebrew and the translator would have been translating from Hebrew to Greek. But what we see are quotes taken directly from the Septuagint, not translations from Hebrew Tanakh. Why do I make the distinction? Because our Jewish friends on this forum, repudiate the Septuagint as a good translation of the Hebrew Tanakh into Greek. They despise the way that the New Testament makes use of the Hebrew Tanakh scriptures. Whoever translated the letter so elegantly from Aramaic to Greek, could have done the same for translating the Hebrew Tanakh to Greek. But Jews don't like the rendering of the Old Testament passages in the letter anymore than they like the rendering of the Hebrew Tanakh to Greek in the Septuagint. So, it seems to me that this letter must have simply used the Septuagint for the Old Testament passages that it quotes. That only makes sense if the letter was written in Greek to begin with.
9) Matthew. Unquestionably, the best case for an original in Aramaic vs Greek can be made for this of all the writings of the New Testament. Yet some supposed "scholars" suggest there is an antipathy exhibited toward Jesus in the Gospel and an ignorance of Jewish life so deep that the writer must have been a Gentile Christian.
Probable location of composition is Antioch (in modern day Syria). Now, while Syriac and Aramaic are closely related and one might thing that this alone makes the case for it being written in Aramaic, Antioch was actually a Greek-speaking city in the first century. However, Jerome, writing in the 5th centure, and best known for translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew to Latin used a Greek edition of Matthew for his translation, but reports a belief that "it was first written in Hebrew (not Aramaic), but that who translated it into Greek is not known." Origen (a 2nd century church father) reports much the same thing, but only quotes it in Greek. Indeed, Matthew was the most quoted of all the Gospels by the early church, and not once is it quoted in Hebrew, only Greek. Now this could be because the early church fathers were all writing to Greek speaking audiences. It is also suggested that it was Matthew himself who having written an early version of his gospel in Hebrew (or Aramaic) then himself rewrote it in Greek. Personally, I am most likely to believe this. And the reason is simple, there are no Hebrew or Aramaic copies in existence. The closest that we can come to an Aramaic copy of Matthew (or any New Testament writing) are 4th-7th century Syriac translations. All of the older copies of manuscripts that we can put our hands on are in Greek. Accepting the rumor as true, if Matthew had oriignally written his Gospel in either Hebrew or Aramaic, I do not think the early church would have disposed of them unless Matthew himself had provided another version of the Gospel.
Now, there are those who will argue against some of the traditional authorship and dating that I have provided here. They will say that it wasn't really the disciples John or Matthew or Peter who wrote any of these items, that others did it in a later century. One just has to understand that if those arguments are true, then it really means that the NT could not have been written in Aramaic. The Jewish branches of the Christian church were pretty much decimated as a result of Rome's response to the Jewish revolt of 70 A.D. After that date, the church basically no longer existed in the land where it was born. Almost all subsequent addition to the Chrisitan community after the fall of Jerusalem was among Gentile converts. A late date for the writing of any NT document would presuppose not only that the documents were not written by the original band of Aramaic speaking disciples, but that there was no need to write in Aramaic, as there were few Aramaic speakers remaining in the church to either write or read it.
Lastly, there is the pattern of other Jewish writers of the time, Philo and Josephus. Both wrote in Greek. Also, today the examination of non-literary papyri, items that were of the nature of business or personal notes, the Greek of the home and the market place, are similar in construction to the Greek of the New Testament. These non-literary papyri written in Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament, are found even in Galilee, the region of Israel from which Jesus recruited his disciples and in which he spent most of his ministry. The Aramaicisms that are found in it are to be expected of people who would have been bilingual, just as in Texas today people speak a type of Spanglish.