Is it reasonable to reject the Gospels as eyewitness accounts? Part 4

This is part four of a 6 part series.  PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 5, PART 6

Objection: The Gospels are not written in the native tongue of those who lived it or saw it.

It is generally accepted that the Gospel accounts were written in Greek (save for possibly Matthew’s which is believed by some to have originally been written in Hebrew) and not the native Hebrew or Aramaic language for the region in which they first surfaced.

This particular objection doesn’t hold any weight for me, at least, since Greek was the language of commerce at the time.  Why then should we be surprised if we see written documents composed in the language which is most likely to be understood by the widest range of people given their purported importance?  We shouldn’t.

First, Greek was the native tongue of business and commerce, just like English is today. Even in many foreign countries today, business is conducted in English, not the nation’s native language. It is my understanding that Latin and Greek was the commercial language of the day and most people — even if they were unable to write — could speak at a minimum two languages. If the Gospel writers were intent on getting their message out, a message they deemed of the utmost importance, it seems reasonable that it would have been written in a language that the largest audience could be reached. The majority of those in the Asian/European region of Rome and Athens weren’t Hebrew or Aramaic speakers. Therefore, if the Gospel authors believed their message to be true, it doesn’t make sense to pen them in a language which few could read, or even care to learn.

For this reason, I do not think it’s reasonable to reject the Gospel accounts because they were not written in the native language of the region.  If by being written in Greek, the Gospel message would reach the most people from the most diverse areas, then it is reasonable to believe that — given the Gospel’s importance — they would be written in Greek and should not be a hurdle to accepting the Gospels.

Comments

  1. makes perfect sense to me. Of course the most sensible thing would be to write them in multiple languages, if they really cared to maximize the opportunity for understanding, but not being in the native tongue is no great hurdle.

  2. It’s a well-documented fact that the Roman Empire persecuted Christians as early as a few years after the death of Jesus Christ. So you have to wonder why these people would risk their lives, risk being thrown into the lions den, for something that amounted to nothing but a myth?

    I’m not only talking about The Apostles, but other early Christians that were alive to witness the life of Jesus Christ. Why would they risk their lives for a myth?

  3. I ran across something interesting about this topic recently. Matthew 23:24 refers to pharisees who “who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel”. This is a bit of an odd saying, but we get its meaning. Here’s the interesting part: In Aramaic, the world for gnat (qalma) is very similar to the word for camel (qamla). This was clearly a play on words that is lost both in english AND the original greek! This strongly supports some sort of underlying Aramaic tradition for the sayings of Jesus. If Matthew was just “inventing” this material, why would he inadvertently utilize an Aramaic word-play?

  4. @Terrance

    People have dies for less. and sacrificed their own life and family for even weirder and crazier things

  5. M. Rodriguez,

    I’m not only talking about The Apostles. There were hundreds of Christians alive during the time of Jesus that were tortured and killed by Romans for refusing to give up their faith. They didn’t just sacrifice their lives, Rodriguez, they suffered unimaginable torture.

    These people had no particular connection to one another, aside from a faith in Jesus Christ. Why would so many sacrifice themselves and endure such pain for something that never happened? And I’m not talking about people who simply believed these things happened, but people alive to witness these things happen.

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