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FOUNDATIONS  OF  THE   BIBLE

LANGUAGES  OF  THE  BIBLE

There are four links in the chain "from God to us":

1. Inspiration God gave the message to the prophets who received and recorded it.
2. Canonization The recognition and collection by man of  the prophetic writings.
3. Transmission The original writings were copied by scribes - these are called Manuscript Copies
4. Translation The Manuscript Copies were translated into other languages
     
METHODS  OF  COMMUNICATION  OTHER  THAN  LANGUAGE

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God could have chosen to continue to communicate with men as He did initially in biblical times.

Angels

Sometimes God spoke through angels.
In fact,  their very name means  "messenger."

Our written record of  their ministry to humanity began in Genesis (chaps. 18-19),  and continued through the very last chapter of the Bible (Rev. 22:8-9). 

Revelations 22:8-9
Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book."     (NKJV)

However,  the very nature of  their celestial intrusion into the terrestrial made it a special revelation that did not lend itself to permanence.  There were certain distinct limitations in having to call upon angels to convey everything that God wished to say to every man under every circumstance in every age. One could imagine quite an endless invasion from outer space in order to care for all the details of truth transmitted to billions of  people,  many of  which have short memories.

Visions and dreams

This was another means of communication that God occasionally chose to utilize (cf. Dan. 7:1; Gen. 41).

Daniel 7:1
In the first year of  Belshazzar king of Babylon,  Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed.  Then he wrote down the dream,  telling the main facts.     (NKJV)

Visions and dreams had more potential for universality and individuality than did angels. This is because it did not involve the mass of  heavenly traffic and it could even be worked into one's personal experience more readily. However,  this method also has serious three handicaps:

Visions and dreams tend to be subjective and personal rather than objective and universal.
They can easily be misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Even their ecstatic impact could wear off and be forgotten.

Urim & Thummim and the Lot

These methods were sometimes used to determine God's will (see Ex. 28;30; Prov. 16:33).

Exodus 28:30
And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the LORD. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.   (NKJV)

Ezra 2:63
And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.  (NKJV)

Proverbs 16:33
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.   (NKJV)

Acts 1:26
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.        (NKJV)

However, they were limited in the scope of the content of  truth they could convey.
Apparently,  all they could indicate was a yes or no answer to questions that men happened to direct toward God. Thus,  their scope was quite limited when compared with a detailed description of God 's declarations to men found in other media of transmission.

The moral law and creation

God has revealed Himself by the moral law "written in the heart"  (Rom. 2:15)  as well as through creation (Ps. 19;1 ff.) to all men.  But the amount of  truth available here is limited and subject to corruption.

1. Romans 1:18-19 Although the truth from creation is  "evident within them,"  men  "suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
2. Rom 2:15;
1 Tim 4:2
Their consciences also distort the moral law
3. Rom. 1:20
Heb 1:1;
Rom 10:9
Even though this general revelation is sufficient for man's condemnation, only through special revelation has salvation come to light.

Rom 1:18-19
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.   (NKJV)

Romans 2:15
...who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.    (NKJV)

1 Timothy 4:1-2
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.    (NKJV)

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.    (NKJV)

Hebrews 1:1-4
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.    (NKJV)

The audible voice and the direct miracle

These were also media of divine communication (see 1 Sam. 3 and Judges 6:40).

1 Samuel 3:10-12
Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"
And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."
Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.    (NKJV)

Judges 6:39-40
Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.    (NKJV)

But they suffered from the same intrinsic difficulties that other means had,  namely,  they were good ways for God to speak to one man on one occasion and for one specific purpose. 

This is not to say that all of these methods were not good;  they were in fact the ways by which God did speak to the prophets.


WHY  GOD  CHOSE  TO  USE  WRITTEN  LANGUAGES

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It was no doubt desirable to speak to the prophets "in divers manners,"  but apparently God determined that the best way to speak to the men of all ages through the prophets was to record the communication.  The time-tested superiority of a written record of truth was the one God chose to use in order to make permanent and immortalize His message to men.

There were several decided advantages to this medium of revelation.

Precision

One of the advantages of  language over the other media of  communication mentioned is the matter of precision.
It is a common experience that thoughts become more precise as they are expressed.  In this connection it may be said that a student can understand better with a pencil than with any other instrument;  because,  if a thought can be apprehended and expressed in writing,  it must have been clearly understood.

Another illustration of  the precision of  language is the difference between one's active and his passive vocabularies. It is possible to read and understand,  in a general way,  more words than one can use or write in a specific way. This is true because the accurate usage of words requires a more precise understanding of them, and precision is attained by expression.  It is understandable that God should choose to have His truth conveyed by books as precisely as is possible.

Propagation

There is another advantage to written revelation,  namely,  the matter of  propagation.
It is possible to make more precise copies of  a written medium than a spoken one.  No one will disagree that a written copy can be,  and usually is,  a much more accurate reproduction than an oral tradition.  No matter how careful the communication is made orally,  there is always a greater chance for change and corruption of  the original than with a written record.  A simple experiment used often as a party game will suffice to convince the skeptic:  the word-of-mouth story passed around a circle of  friends returns with amazing emendations in a few short minutes.

In fact,  it is astounding to note that Jesus' disciples misinterpreted and incorrectly transmitted a simple oral tradition that they thought they had heard Jesus say (John 21:23 - Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"  NKJV).

Thus,  in order to transmit revealed truth accurately,  written records were made and copied by hand,  until the invention of movable type in the printing process.

Once the movable type had been invented (in the fifteenth century),  the advantage of  the printed page,  and ability to reproduce it on a mass scale,  became most apparent.

Preservation

Another advantage of writing is the matter of preservation.
Failing memories are sometimes a blessing,  but they are a decided disadvantage in the retention of  the repertoire of revelation.  It is always better to  "make a note of it,"  or to  "put it on record."  As a matter of fact,  it is difficult to imagine the adjudication of  justice in a court without a record of testimony,  to say nothing of the vacillation of memory in other realms.

A written record has one additional advantage as well,  namely,  it can stimulate memory and conjure up within the individual's imagination a host of  personal implications that are latent within the given symbols or words of  that record.

Words,  then,  are not so wooden as to prevent a  "personal blessing"  for the individual reader,  particularly in light of  the fact that biblical words are the objective vehicle through which the Holy Spirit applies truth personally and subjectively to each reader individually (John 16:13).

John 16:13
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.   (NKJV)


OLD  TESTAMENT  LANGUAGES

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Having discussed why God chose to commit His truth to men by way of writing,  it is only natural to examine which languages He chose.  Ostensibly,  it could be expected that He who  "works all things after the counsel of His will"  (Eph. 1:11) and who brought forth Christ  "when the fullness of  time came" (Gal. 4:4),  would have chosen languages that were particularly suited to the purpose of His revelation.

Old Testament Languages - the Semitic Family

Two important language groups trace their origins to the descendants of  Noah:
1. Ham Hamitic Languages Essentially North African

Egyptian Called Coptic after the third century of the Christian era
Coptic is the language used in the liturgy of the early Christian church in Egypt.
Berber Dialects of North Africa
Cushitic Various dialects spoken along the upper Nile
Sudanese South of  the Sahara languages
Bantu South of  the Sahara languages
Hottentot (Bushman)  South of  the Sahara languages
2. Shem Semitic Languages Represents four divisions
Eastern Division
Akkadian It was called Assyrian in the periods of the oldest texts, and later it was called
Babylonian.  It was the common language of all Southwest Asia during the height of the Old Babylonian and Assyrian empires, a fact evidenced by the Amarna Letters, which were sent by petty kings in Syria and Palestine to the Pharaohs in Egypt around 1400-1360 B.C. These languages are not used in the Old Testament.
Southern Division
Arabic The most widely spoken Semitic language in the modern world, being spoken by large numbers of people over a vast area. In the sixteenth century Arabic became the official language of Egypt. .
Ethiopic Ethiopic was the language of  Ethiopia (Cush),  a country referred to in each section of  the Old Testament (cf. Gen. 10:7-8; Isa. 45:14; Ps. 68:31).
Neither of  those languages is used in the Old Testament.
Northern Division
Amorite The Amorites inhabited Palestine before and during Israel's occupation (cf. Gen. 10:16; 15:16; Deut. 7:1; Josh. 10:6; 2 Chron. 8:7), but their language was not used in the writing of the Old Testament.
Aramaic The common language of Jesus and the disciples, and the people of  Palestine in New Testament times.
Aramaic, the language of  the Syrians,  appears in all three sections of  the Old Testament either in writing or in place names (Gen. 10:22; 31:47;  2 Kings 18:26;  Ezra 4:7-6:1;  7:12-26;  Isa. 36:11; Jer. 10:11; Dan. 2:4-7:28).
This was the language spoken by the Israelites returning from captivity in Ezra's time.
Northwest Division
Ugaritic Not used in the Old Testament, but it has been instrumental in further study of the cognate Hebrew language of the Old Testament. It was the language of the Ras Shamra Tablets, discovered in Northern Syria since 1929, which provide another key to the Canaanite dialects.
Phoenician Although  not used in the Old Testament, Phoenicians are mentioned in all three sections (cf. Gen. 10:8-12; 1 Kings 5:6; Neh. 13:16; Ezek. 27:9; Zeph. 1:11).
The contribution of  the Phoenicians is a major one,  because it was they who introduced the alphabet to other languages,  thus making writing much less cumbersome than it was for the Akkadians.
Moabite Lot's descendants developed two dialects of Hebrew:
Moabite by way of his oldest daughter, and
Ammonite by way of the younger.
Neither of these languages were used in the Old Testament;  however,  their nations are referred to repeatedly in all three sections of  the Old Testament.
The Moabite Stone (c. 850 B.C.) is the first really long inscription in any Canaanite language that has been discovered (found in 1868 at Dibon) and is the account of the Moabite king, Mesha, concerning the revolt mentioned in 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27.
Hebrew By far the most important language of the Old Testament.
Most of the Old Testament is written in it, and it is called  "Judean"  (2 Kings 18:26, 28),  as well as  "the language of  Canaan" (Isa. 19:18).
Except for the portions mentioned above (cf. Aramaic in particular),  the Old Testament was written in Hebrew.
During its long history,  Hebrew has developed into five dialects:
Biblical
Mishnaic
Rabbinic
Medieval
Modern

The Hebrew Alphabet

The Hebrew alphabet consists of twenty-two letters, all of them consonants.
Obviously vowels were pronounced - speech would be virtually impossible otherwise- but the ancient Hebrews,  like many other Semites,  did not feel it necessary to write them.
However,  in early Christian times,  when the Hebrew language was no longer in general use,  the lack of  vowels became an occasion of embarrassment,  and after certain preliminary attempts the system of  vowel symbols now familiar in Hebrew Bibles was developed along with two others that did not attain comparable popularity. The direction of the writing was not yet established in the Sinaitic and certain other early inscriptions,  but otherwise the language has always been written from right to left,  in lines descending the column or  page.

In the Moabite Stone and the Siloam inscription the words are separated by a dot,  a practice followed also in the
Lachish letters,  although somewhat inconsistently.  Later it was abandoned,  and separation of  words was indicated only by spacing.

Since in crowded writing this might not always be apparent,  and because the letters of  a word were not joined together as in our cursive writing,  occasions could well arise when it was not clear whether a certain Consonant belonged to the preceding or following word - and Hebrew is of  such character that the shift of  one consonant can sometimes deeply alter the sense.

The Hebrew Bible: Writing, Text, and Manuscripts

From an early time Hebrew scribes were charged with the responsibility of  reproducing more or less considerable bodies of a growing  literature that was destined to be of extraordinary interest;  and from the fourth century B. C. onward they labored with the copying and multiplying of  manuscripts of  sacred collections that comprised in course of time the three great sections of the Hebrew Bible

The Law (Pentateuch)
The History
The Prophets

The dispersion of  the Jews,  more especially after the time of Alexander's conquests,  with the consequently growing demand for more and ever more copies of  the Scriptures for both private and synagogue use,  must have placed the copyists under a sense of  pressure that aggravated the inevitability of error.  In addition to the normal difficulties which the scribes faced,  the (ravages of war and persecution very greatly endangered these Hebrew rolls.

There were at least three events which threatened the very existence of the cherished records of the Jews.

1. The destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar,  in 586 B. C.,
though at this time it is probable that some portions of the Old Testament had been carried to Babylonia by the exiles eleven years before.
2. When Antiochus Epiphanes (in 167 B.C.) ordered all the copies of the law to be destroyed
(1 Macc. 1:56,57),  his decree did not reach to Babylonia,  where Ezekiel and Ezra had been busy in earlier centuries instructing their people,  and where doubtless copies of the Old Testament books were again preserved from the disaster that swept Palestine.  Nor did it reach to Egypt,  where,  about one hundred years before,  translators had busied themselves to put into Greek some at least of  the sacred books of the Jews."
The fact that Antiochus Epiphanes made it a capital crime to possess copies of  the sacred books reveals as in a sudden flash of  illumination something of the adventure and danger of  those days when the Jews chose to give up their own lives rather than their religion or their Scriptures.
3. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70
According to the Babylonian Talmud,  Titus destroyed copies of the law.  Josephus (Wars 5:5, 7)  states that one single copy of  the law occupied a prominent place in the victory of  Vespasian.  This is the earliest mentioned manuscript of  the Old Testament.  This document was later deposited in the royal library at Rome, and later,  in A.D. 220,  was handed over to the synagogue of  Severus,  probably by the emperor,  who was a good friend to the Jews.

Vowel Points

The Masoretes created a system of vowel sounds  (also referred to as vowel points)  and accentual marks which they inserted into their manuscripts, above or below, and to a less extent into the body of the consonants of  the traditional  text.  It was pointed out above that the Hebrew alphabet, in common with most Semitic alphabets, consists of consonants alone.  This was a reasonably satisfactory method of writing so long as Hebrew continued to be the common language of the people.  But by early Christian times Aramaic had made heavy inroads into the prevalence of Hebrew.   Jewish scholars, apparently about A.D. 700, found it desirable to undertake a system of written vowels. 

In Palestine, a group of symbols was evolved that is similar to the vowel signs found in a few Samaritan manuscripts.   This vowel system is knows as Palestinian.

Punctuation

Early manuscripts were not punctuated and letters were not separated into words by spaces.
As a result, HEISNOWHERE could either mean

HE IS NOWHERE
         or
HE IS NOW HERE

Another example is, DIDYOUEVERSEEABANDANCEONTHETABLE - could either mean

DID YOU EVER SEE ABUNDANCE ON THE TABLE
                               or
DID YOU EVER SEE A BUN DANCE ON THE TABLE

According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia:
As early as the Moabite and Siloam inscriptions,  the dot was used to separate words, and the vertical stroke for the end of a sentence.
Very soon after Ezra's day, and before the Septuagint translation, the matter of writing the Biblical books had become one of very great care, the stipulations and the rules for careful correction by the authorized text being very strict (Blau, 185-87).  The manuscripts (called Synagogue Rolls) were written in columns (doors), and a space between columns, books, etc., was prescribed, as also the width of the column.
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)


NEW  TESTAMENT  LANGUAGES

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The Semitic Family

This is represented by both Hebrew and Aramaic (Syriac).
Most of the Hebrew influence is seen in the Greek translation of the Aramaic idiom.
This may be seen in the use of the expression  "and it came to pass,"  the use of two nouns rather than an adjective and a noun  (I Thessalonians. 1:3),

1 Thessalonians 1:3
Remembering without ceasing your work of  faithlabor of  love,  and patience of  hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.     (NKJV)
and calling someone a child or son of  a given quality if he has that quality (Luke 10:6; Eph. 2:3)
Luke 10:6
And if a son of  peace is there,  your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.     (NKJV)
Ephesians 2:3
...and were by nature children of  wrath, just as the others.     (NKJV)

Aramaic was no doubt the spoken language of  the Lord and His disciples.
It was the source of  such words as

Cephas,  Matthew,  Abba (Aramaic for "father")  (Mark 14:36)
Mark 14:36
And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."     (NKJV)
Maranatha   (cursed)  (I Cor 16:22)
1 Corinthians 16:22
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.   (KJV)
1 Corinthians 16:22
 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!     (NKJV)

It is also noteworthy that in the very hour of  His agony on the cross,  Jesus cried out in His native Aramaic tongue,  " 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is,  'My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?' " (Matt. 27:46).

The Indo-European Family

Even more prominent are Latin and Greek.
Although Latin was used in the Eastern Roman Empire mostly by the legions,  it made its influence felt in the Rabbinical Hebrew,  spoken Aramaic,  and Greek writings.  Its influence in the New Testament is found mainly in loanwords,   for example,

centurion (Mark 15:39,44-45)
Mark 15:39
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him,  saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last,  he said,  "Truly this Man was the Son of God!"     (NKJV)
tribute (Matt. 17:25; Mark 12:14, KJV)
Matthew 17:24
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?   (KJV)
Matthew 17:24
When they had come to Capernaum,  those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said,  "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"     (NKJV)
legion (Matt. 26:53)
Matthew 26:53-54
Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?      (NKJV)

In addition to that,  the inscription on the cross was written in Latin,  Hebrew,  and Greek.

The Greek of the New Testament has been quite problematic through the centuries.
The basic language of  the New Testament,  it has gone through a series of changes similar to Latin,  Hebrew,  and English.  There are five basic periods of Greek: Homeric, Attic, Koine, Byzantine, and Modern.  Until the late nineteenth century,  the language of the New Testament (Koine) was considered a sort of special  "Holy Ghost"  language because it was not specifically identifiable with any of the other four periods,  and the vocabulary was somewhat different.

However,  with the discovery in the late nineteenth century of first-century letters and other documents in Egypt,  that view began to give way to the current view,  that the New Testament was written in the language of the common people.  Why?  Because our Creator wants to communicate with His creation!

It should be pointed out that Koine, or Hellenistic Greek,  is not confined to the vernacular speech.  There was a flourishing koine literature in the centuries before and after the time of Christ.  It was this language that was most widely known throughout the world:

Its alphabet was derived from the Phoenicians
Its language and culture were not limited to a given geographical area
It became the official language of the empires into which Alexander's conquests were divided
Even the Romans used Greek in their literature as fluently as they did Latin

Koine was not a special  "Holy Ghost"  language,  but its appearance was certainly providentially directed,  as Paul implied in his statement  "When the fullness of the time came,  God sent forth His Son"  (Gal. 4:4).


WHY  GOD  CHOSE  THESE  LANGUAGES

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Now that the background and development of the biblical languages have been traced,  it remains to examine how they fit God's purpose of revelation.  What was it that made these languages,  above others,  particularly appropriate channels for God's truth?  In theorizing about this point, it would be imprudent to overlook a very practical purpose for God 's choice of  both major and minor languages,  namely,  they were the primary languages of  the times and the people to whom God was speaking

Minor Languages

1. Aramaic
This language,  which shows influence in both vocabulary and form in the New Testament,  was the local language of the land of  Palestine and much of  Syria when Jesus and the apostles lived and ministered.  It was no doubt the language that Jesus used in day-to-day conversation.

Aramaic had been the lingua franc a of the Near East in the sixth through fourth centuries B.C.,  until the conquests of Alexander the Great.  This was the language of the documents,  mostly papyri,  left by the Jewish colony at Elephantine (near modern Aswan, Egypt) during the fifth century B.C.

2. Latin
On the other hand,  Latin,  which made its influence felt in the New Testament,  was the military and political language of the Roman Empire. The Empire included Herod's Palestine;  and it was only natural that the New Testament would include the use of  Latin and Latinisms to some degree.

Major Languages

It would be too much to suppose that Hebrew and Greek,  the major biblical languages,  were chosen by God because they just happened to be the ones available when He decided to speak to man.
The Christian theist who believes in special as well as general providence will expect that God planned the very languages to fit the message and that God planned the very age to which the message was addressed.

1. Hebrew - Its biographical suitability
The Old Testament is primarily the biography of  a people and God's dealings with them.  Hebrew was the primary language in which the Old Testament was written,  and it was particularly suited for this kind of biographical expression for at least two reasons.

It is a Pictorial Language
Speaking with vivid, bold metaphors that challenge and dramatize the story.
The Hebrew language possesses a facility to present  "pictures"  of  the events narrated.
The Hebrews thought in pictures,  and consequently the nouns are concrete and vivid.
The language shows "vast powers of association and, therefore, of imagination."
Some of this is lost in the English translation,  but even so,  much of  the vivid, concrete,  and forthright character of our English Old Testament is really a carrying over into English of something of the genius of the Hebrew tongue.
As a pictorial language,  Hebrew presents a vivid picture of the acts of  God among a people who became examples or illustrations for  future generations (1 Cor. 10:11).

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.   (NKJV)

Because the Old Testament was intended as a biographical book for believers,  it was fitting for those truths to be presented graphically in a   "picture-language."
It is a Personal Language
It addresses itself to the heart and emotions rather than merely to the mind or reason.
Sometimes even nations are given personalities (Mal. 1:2-3).
Malachi 1:2-4
"I have loved you," says the LORD.  "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?'
Was not Esau Jacob's brother?"  Says the LORD.  "Yet Jacob I have loved;  but Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness."
Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished,  but we will return and build the desolate places."   (NKJV)
Always the appeal is to the person in the concrete realities of  life and not to the abstract or theoretical.
Hebrew is a language through which the message is felt rather than thought.
As such, the language was highly qualified to convey to the individual believer as well as to the worshiping community the personal revelation of the living God in the events of  the Jewish nation.

F. F. Bruce sums up these characteristics well:
Biblical Hebrew does not deal with abstractions but with the facts of experience.  It is the right sort of language for the record of the self-revelation of  a God who does not make Himself  known by philosophical propositions but by controlling and intervening in the course of  human history.  Hebrew is not afraid to use daring anthropomorphisms when speaking of God.  If God imparts to men the knowledge of  Himself,  He chooses to do so most effectively in terms of human life and human language.

2. Greek - Its Evangelistic Suitability
The foundation of  God's revelation of  Christ was laid in the biography of the Old Testament.
The interpretation of the revelation of  Christ was made in the theological language of  the New Testament.  New Testament Greek was appropriately adapted to the end of  propositionalizing  and propagating the truth about Christ for two basic reasons.

It is an Intellectual Language
It was more a language of  the mind than of the heart,  a fact to which the great Greek philosophers gave abundant evidence.
Greek was more suited to codifying a communication or reflecting on a revelation of God in order to put it into simple communicable form.
It was a language that could more easily render the credible into the intelligible than could Hebrew.
It was for this reason that New Testament Greek was a most useful medium for expressing the propositional truth of the New Testament,  as Hebrew was for expressing the biographical truth of the Old Testament.
Because Greek possessed a technical precision not found in Hebrew,  the theological truths that were more generally expressed in the Hebrew of  the Old Testament were more precisely formulated in the Greek of the New Testament.
It was a nearly Universal Language
The truth of God in the Old Testament, which was initially revealed to one nation (Israel),  was appropriately recorded in the language of  that nation (Hebrew).  But the fuller revelation given by God in the New Testament was not restricted in that way.  In the words of  Luke's gospel,  the message of Christ was to "be proclaimed in His name to all nations" (Luke 24:47).
Luke 24:46-47
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,   and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.   (NKJV)
The language most appropriate for the propagation of  that message was naturally the one that was most widely spoken throughout the world.
Such was the common (Koine) Greek,  a thoroughly international language of the first-century Mediterranean world.

It may be concluded, then, that God chose the very languages to communicate His truth which had,  in His providence,  been prepared to express most effectively the kind of truth He desired at that particular time,  in the unfolding of  His overall plan.

Hebrew With its pictorial and personal vividness,  expressed well the biographical truth of  the Old Testament.
It is a language well fitted to depict God's deeds in the biography of  the Old Testament.
Greek With its intellectual and universal potentialities,  served well for the doctrinal and evangelistic demands of  the New Testament.
It is particularly suited to the expression and propagation of  the doctrines of  the New Testament.

Summary and Conclusion

The written word,  with all of  its limitations,  was by far the most adequate means of  conveying the truth of  God because it could be

more precisely presented,
more easily preserved from corruption,  and
more effectively propagated.

Therefore,  when God - who spoke to the prophets by visions, dreams or angels - desired to speak through the prophets to succeeding generations,  He chose to have them write their revelation.  In the providence of  God the Hebrew and Greek languages were prepared to express most appropriately the kind of revelation God desired for their particular days.

In other words:  What God wanted all along, was to communicate with mankind!



  
 

Bibliography

 


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