Refutação para as 10 Principais Razões Para Crer que o Novo Testamento Foi Escrito em Grego



1. The oldest manuscripts are Greek.  


Yes it is true that our oldest Hebrew copies of Matthew and Hebrews (the only NT books we have in Hebrew) only date back to the middle ages. And it is true that our oldest Aramaic copies of New Testament books date back to the 4th century C.E..  

However there are some important facts that those making the above argument fail to account for.  

To begin with, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 our oldest Hebrew copies of any Tanak ("Old Testament") books dated back only to the Middle Ages. And our oldest copies of any Tanak books were Greek LXX copies from the fourth century. Yet no one would have argued that this pointed to a Greek origin for the Tanak.  

Since no copies of Ester were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, our oldest copies of Ester are still Greek LXX copies from the 4th century. And our oldest copies of Ester in Hebrew only date back to the Middle Ages. Yet this does not in any way indicate that the original language of Ester was Greek.  

The time-lapse from the time of the composition of the Book of Ester to our oldest Hebrew copies of Ester is about 1,500 years. This is about the same as the time lapse from the composition of Matthew to our oldest Hebrew copies of Matthew. So the fact that our oldest Hebrew copy of Matthew dates to about 1,500 years after the initial composition of Matthew does NOT negate the Hebrew from being the original.  

Although there have been no Papyri fragments of Hebrew Matthew found among the Christian Papyri fragments there have also been no Papyri fragments of Hebrew Isaiah or of the Hebrew of any of the other "Old Testament" books found among them. The only Hebrew Papyri fragments of Tanak books have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and not among any discoveries of Christian Papyri fragments. Why should we expect Hebrew Matthew (or any Hebrew or Aramaic NT books) to have been better preserved than the Hebrew Tanak? Whoever were the owners of the NT Papyri fragments we have found clearly had no copies of ANY Hebrew books of the Bible at all even from the "Old Testament" books which we know were composed in Hebrew. So the fact that we have found no Hebrew or Aramaic copies of NT books among them is no more significant than the fact that we find no Hebrew copies of "Old Testament" books among them.  

The oldest Greek Papyri fragment of any NT book is P52 which is a fragment of a few verses of John. The word order of this fragment agrees with the Greek Western Type of text which has close agreement with the Aramaic Old Syriac text.  

Our oldest **complete** Greek manuscripts of NT books date to the fourth century and that is also the age of our oldest coplete Aramaic manuscripts of NT books.  

The Hebrew and Aramaic origin of the New Testament cannot be dismissed or disproven by the existence of Greek papyri fragments that predate the oldest Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts.  

2. The NT quotes the Greek LXX "Old Testament".  

RESPONSE: 1) Actually this is mainly a tendency of the Greek NT. The Hebrew and Aramaic mss. tend to find agreement with the Masoretic Text and the Peshitta Aramaic Tanak. 2) Agreements with the LXX do not prove the LXX is being quoted. Hebrew copies of Tanak books have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls that agree with the LXX. Such agreements may be the result of these types of Hebrew manuscripts rather than any dependence on the Greek LXX.  

3. Testimonials "Such-and-such scholar said so".  

RESPONSE: These do not prove anything. In fact once can also quote various scholars which have declared that parts or all of the NT were written in Hebrew or Aramaic.  

4. Luke was a Greek who would have written in Greek.  

RESPONSE: Actually Luke was a Syrian of Antioch (Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 3:4) so his native language would have been Syriac, an Aramaic dialect.  

5. Luke and Acts were written to a Greek named "Theophilus".  

RESPONSE: Actually Theophilus was a Jew who had been High Priest from 37-41 CE (Josephus; Ant. 18:5:3). A Syrian convert to Judaism such as Luke would likely have written the High Priest in Aramaic.  

6. Greek was the common language of Jews at the time.  


The first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-c.100 C.E.) testifies to the fact that Hebrew was the language of first century Jews. Moreover, he testifies that Hebrew, and not Greek, was the language of his place and time. Josephus gives us the only first hand account of the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. According to Josephus, the Romans had to have him translate the call to the Jews to surrender into "their own language" (Wars 5:9:2) . Josephus gives us a point-blank statement regarding the language of his people during his time:  

I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations. (Ant. 20:11:2)  

Thus, Josephus makes it clear that first century Jews could not even speak or understand Greek, but spoke "their own language."  

Confirmation of Josephus's claims has been found by Archaeologists. The Bar Kokhba coins are one example. These coins were struck by Jews during the Bar Kokhba revolt (c. 132 C.E.). All of these coins bear only Hebrew inscriptions. Countless other inscriptions found at excavations of the Temple Mount, Masada and various Jewish tombs, have revealed first century Hebrew inscriptions Even more profound evidence that Hebrew was a living language during the first century may be found in ancient Documents from about that time, which have been discovered in Israel. These include the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Bar Kokhba letters.  

The Dead Sea Scolls consist of over 40,000 fragments of more than 500 scrolls dating from 250 B.C.E . to 70 C.E.. Theses Scrolls are primarily in Hebrew and Aramaic. A large number of the "secular scrolls" (those which are not Bible manuscripts) are in Hebrew. The Bar Kokhba letters are letters beteween Simon Bar Kokhba and his army, written during the Jewish revolt of 132 C.E.. These letters were discovered by Yigdale Yadin in 1961 and are almost all written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Two of the letters are written in Greek, both were written by men with Greek names to Bar Kokhba. One of the two Greek letters actually apologizes for writing to Bar Kokhba in Greek, saying "the letter is written in Greek, as we have no one who knows Hebrew here."  

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kokhba letters not only include first and second century Hebrew documents, but give an even more significant evidence in the dialect of that Hebrew. The dialect of these documents was not the Biblical Hebrew of the Tenach (Old Testament), nor was it the Mishnaic Hebrew of the Mishna (c. 220 C.E.). The Hebrew of these documents is coloquial, it is a fluid living language in a state of flux somewhere in the evolutionary process from Biblical to Mishnaic Hebrew. Moreover, the Hebrew of the Bar Kokhba letters represents Galilean Hebrew (Bar Kokhba was a Galilean) , while the Dead Sea Scrolls give us an example of Judean Hebrew. Comparing the documents shows a living distinction of geographic dialect as well, a sure sign that Hebrew was not a dead language.  

Final evidence that first century Jews conversed in Hebrew and Aramaic can be found in other documents of the period, and even later. These include: the Roll Concerning Fasts in Aramaic (66-70 C.E.), The Letter of Gamaliel in Aramaic (c. 30 - 110 C.E.), Wars of the Jews by Josephus in Hebrew (c. 75 C.E.), the Mishna in Hebrew (c. 220 C.E.) and the Gemara in Aramaic (c. 500 C.E.)  

But regarding Paul's letters to the diaporia, Aramaic is the issue.  

It is known that Aramaic remained a language of Jews living in the diasporia, and in fact Jewish Aramaic inscriptions have been found at Rome, Pompei and even England.  

(see Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology "Note on a Bilingual Inscription in Latin and Aramaic Recently Found at South Shields"; A. Lowy' Dec. 3, 1878; pp. 11-12; "Five Transliterated Aramaic Inscriptions" The American Journal of Archaeology; W.R. Newbold; 1926; Vol. 30; pp. 288ff)  

7. Paul was a helenist and would have written in Greek.  


In addressing the issue of the Pauline Epistles, we must first examine the background of Tarsus. Was Tarsus a Greek speaking city? Would Paul have learned Greek there? Tarsus probably began as a Hittite city-state. Around 850 B.C.E. Tarsus became part of the great Assyrian Empire. When the Assyrian Empire was conqured by the Babylonian Empire around 605 B.C.E. Tarsus became a part of that Empire as well. Then, in 540 B.C.E. The Babylonian Empire, including Tarsus, was incorporated into the Persian Empire. Aramaic was the chief language of all three of these great Empires. By the first century Aramaic remained a primary language of Tarsus. Coins struck at Tarsus and recovered by archaeologists have Aramaic inscriptions on them .  

Regardless of the language of Tarsus, there is also great question as to if Paul was actually brought up in Tarsus or just incidentally born there. The key text in question is Acts 22:3:  

I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father's Torah. and was zealous toward God as you all are today.  

Paul sees his birth at Tarsus as irrelevant and points to his being "brought up" in Jerusalem. Much argument has been given by scholars to this term "brought up" as it appears here. Some have argued that it refers only to Paul's adolescent years. A key, however, to the usage of the term may be found in a somewhat parrallel passage in Acts 7:20-23:  

At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. And when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians...  

Note the sequence; "born" (Greek = gennao; Aramaic = ityiled); "brought up" (Greek = anatrepho; Aramaic = itrabi); "learned/taught" (Greek = paideuo; Aramaic = itr'di). Through this parallel sequence which presumably was idiomatic in the language, we can see that Paul was born at Tarsus, raised in Jerusalem, and then taught. Paul's entire context is that his being raised in Jerusalem is his primary upbringing, and that he was merely born at Tarsus.  

The claim that Paul was a Hellenist is also a misunderstanding that should be dealt with. As we have already seen, Paul was born at Tarsus, a city where Aramaic was spoken. Whatever Hellenist influences may have been at Tarsus, Paul seems to have left there at a very early age and been "brought up" in Jerusalem. Paul describes himself as a "Hebrew" (2Cor. 11:2) and a "Hebrew of Hebrews" (Phil. 3:5), and "of the tribe of Benjamin" (Rom. 11:1). It is important to realize how the term "Hebrew" was used in the first century. The term Hebrew was not used as a geneological term, but as a cultural/linguistic term. An example of this can be found in Acts 6:1 were a dispute arises between the "Hebrews" and the "Hellenists." Most scholars agree that the "Hellenists" here are Hellenist Jews. No evangelistic efforts had yet been made toward non- Jews (Acts 11:19) much less Greeks (see Acts 16:6-10). In Acts 6:1 a clear contrast is made between Hellenists and Hebrews which are clearly non-Hellenists. Hellenists were not called Hebrews, a term reserved for non-Hellenist Jews. When Paul calls himself a "Hebrew" he is claiming to be a non-Hellenist, and when he calls himself a "Hebrew of Hebrews" he is claiming to be strongly non-Hellenist. This would explain why Paul disputed against the Hellenists and why they attempted to kill him (Acts. 9:29) and why he escaped to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). If there was no non-Hellenist Jewish population in Tarsus, this would have been a very bad move.  

Paul's Pharisee background gives us further reason to doubt that he was in any way a Hellenist. Paul claimed to be a "Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6) meaning that he was at least a second generation Pharisee. The Aramaic text, as well as some Greek mss. have "Pharisee the son of Pharisees," a Semitic idiomatic expresion meaning a third generation Pharisee. If Paul were a second or third generation Pharisee, it would be difficult to accept that he had been raised up as a Hellenist. Pharisees were staunchly opposed to Hellenism. Paul's claim to be a second or third generation Pharisee is further amplified by his claim to have been a student of Gamliel (Acts 22:3). Gamliel was the grandson of Hillel and the head of the school of Hillel. He was so well respected that the Mishna states that upon his death "the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and modesty died." The truth of Paul's claim to have studied under Gamliel is witnessed by Paul's constant use of Hillelian Hermaneutics. Paul makes extensive use, for example, of the first rule of Hillel. It is an unlikely proposition that a Hellenist would have studied under Gamliel at the school of Hillel, then the center of Pharisaic Judaism.  

8. Paul wrote to groups in their own languages.  


Paul's audience is another element which must be considered when tracing the origins of his Epistles. Paul's Epistles were addressed to various congregations in the diasporia. These congregations were mixed groups made up of a core group of Jews and a complimentary group of Gentiles. The Thessalonian congregation was just such an assembly (Acts 17:1-4) as were the Corinthians. Certain passages in the Corinthian Epistles are clearly aimed exclusively at Jews (1Cor. 10:1-2 for example.) Paul was writing first and foremost to the Jewish leadership of mixed congregations.  

If Paul wrote his Epistle's in Aramaic to a core group of Jews at each congregation who then passed the message on to their Gentile counterparts then this might give some added dimension to Paul's phrase "to the Jew first and then to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16; 2:9- 10). It would also shed more light on the passage which Paul writes:  

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! To them first, were committed the Words of God. - Rom. 3:1-2  

One final issue which must be discussed regarding the origin of Paul's Epistles, is their intended purpose. It appears that Paul intended the purpose of his Epistles to be:  

1) To be read in the Congregations (Col. 4:16; 1Thes. 5:27)  

2) To have doctrinal authority (1Cor. 14:37)  

All Synagogue liturgy during the Second Temple era, was in Hebrew and Aramaic (see The Words of Jesus By Gustaf Dalman; Edinburg, England; 1909) Paul would not have written material which he intended to be read in the congregations in any other language. Moreover all religious writings of Jews which claimed halachic (doctrinal) authority, were written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Paul could not have expected that his Epistles would be accepted as having the authority he claimed for them, without having written them in Hebrew or Aramaic.  

9. There are built in explainations of Hebrew and Aramaic words in the NT and there would not be if it had been written in Hebrew and/or Aramaic.  

RESPONSES: These "expanations" are an added feature to the Greek translations and are not a feature of the Hebrew and Aramaic texts.  

10. The NT was written for use by Gentiles and Gentiles of the time spoke Greek.  

RESPONSE: The original believers in Yeshua were Jews. The first gentile "Christians" were centered at Antioch in SYRIA (Acts 11:26). Syrians spoke Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. These "first" groups would have had a need for Scriptures in Hebrew and Aramaic. Even *IF* parts of the NT were intended for gentiles, this does not mean they were initially Greek speaking Gentiles. To the contrary the ealiest Gentile believers were Aramaic speaking Syrians and Assyrians.  

MATTHEW - Written according to Origen "for the Jewish believers... in Hebrew" (Origen quoted by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 6:25) and according to Jerome "in Hebrew... for the benifit of those of the circumcision who had believed" (Jerome; Of Illustrius Men 3). This book may have been addressed to Pharisees.  

MARK - Mark probably wrote his Gospel for use by Gentile Assyrians he encountered while in Babylon with Kefa (Peter) (1Kefa 5:13).  

LUKE/ACTS - Luke a Syrian (Eccl. Hist. 3:4) wrote his Gospel to Theophilus who had been the Jewish High Priest from 37-41 CE (Josephus; Ant. 18:5:3).  

YOCHANAN - To the "chosen lady" (2Jn. 1:1) a euphamism for Israel. Yochanan (John) probably wrote his "mystical" Gospel to the "mystical" Essene sect of Jews.  

JAKOV (JAMES) - "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (James 1:1)  

KEFA (Peter) - "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, the Chosen..." (1Pt. 1:1-2) I.E. The scattered Chosen people, Israel.  

Y'HUDAH (Jude) - Probably written to the Jews.  

PAULINE EPISTLES (Except Hebrews) - Written to core groups of Jewish leaders in mixxed congregations throughout the world. For example 1Corinthians is written to a group whose "fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1Cor. 10:1-2) These would be Jewish Corinthians not native Corinthians.  

Hebrews - Obviously written to Jews.  

James Trimm

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