In spite of some people’s belief to the contrary,
the books of the Bible (any one of the three or more) were not written
in English. Old
English did not come into existence until after the 5th
century CE, whereas all of the books of the Bible were written at least
by the 2nd century CE. What
languages did the writers use?
Without English at their disposal for recording
their words, the authors of the books of the Bible had to use other
languages. It is only
natural to think that they would have used their “native” languages.
The facts do not support this idea, however, unless one includes
in “native” the lingua franca of the 4th century
BCE through the 1st century CE—i.e., Greek.
Because descendants of Abraham were the primary
authors of the books of the Bible (the only certain exception being the
author of the books of Luke and Acts in the New Testament), one would
assume that all of the books would have been written in Hebrew.
That is certainly a logical conclusion, and it is true of the
Tanakh (Old Testament), with very few exceptions.
The exceptions were written in Aramaic,
the daily language of the Jews.
The Jewish authors of the books of the New
Testament, along with the books written by the Gentile physician, Luke,
were written in Greek. One
can justifiably ask why these books were written in Greek when the
recipients of many of these books were or included other Jews.
There are two historical facts that provide some evidence for an
answer to this question.
monarchy of Solomon was divided into two kingdoms after his
the northern kingdom (10 tribes)
the southern kingdom (2 tribes)
destroyed the northern kingdom in 722/721 BCE and deported the majority
of the populace into other areas of the Assyrian Empire.
These deportees, who are referred to as the 10 lost tribes of
Israel, adjusted to their new environments, learned the native languages
of their respective locales, and eventually learned Greek as the common
language of that part of the world.
In this process, they forgot their Hebrew.
the Great became King of Macedonia in 336 BCE and conquered all
the tribes and nations between Greece and India.
Because of his exploits, Greek became the language of choice for
communication among the many different languages spoken by the conquered
people. Greek continued as
the common language even after Rome became the dominant power during the
3rd century BCE through the 1st century CE.
Therefore, the Jewish writers of the books of the
New Testament, even when writing to or for other Jews, used Greek as the
common language for communication.