Time: Wed Sep 10 10:14:50 1997
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	Wed, 10 Sep 1997 09:47:51 -0700 (MST)
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 09:47:44 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Biblical languages: a brief exegesis

Dear Friends,

I am sharing this detailed message
from my friend Frank, who is a lay
biblical scholar, and has much to
share with us.  I know he will be
happy to know that I have forwarded
this brief exegesis to all of you.

Do enjoy!

/s/ Paul Mitchell

copy:  Frank Stamos

>Dear Paul,
>Hi, hope everything is well with you.  Have some time now and rather than
>typing off the top of my head decided to cite excerpts from some material I
>have on the subject of Biblical language:
>"LANGUAGES.  The first language spoken by the invading Israelitish tribes
>in Palestine was Hebrew, a Semitic tongue related to Phenician to the
>Canaanitish dialects of the tribes they dispossessed, and to the speech of
>Moab.  The tell-el-Amarna letters, and the inscription of Mesha are
>evidence of this.  Hebrew, over the first centuries of the occupation of
>Palestine, was both the literary and colloquial language.  It remained the
>literary language permanently.  In colloquial use it was replace by
>Aramaic.  The date of the change is difficult to determine with precision. 
>Eliakim's request to the Rabshakeh (II Kings 18:26) to speak 'in the Syrian
>language,' which as a common eastern language of deplomacy, the leaders
>understood, and not "in the Jews" language shows that Hebrew was still the
>Jewish vernacular in 713 B.C.  Such was still the case as late as Nehemiah,
>two centuries later.
>The next evidence is from the NT where phrases quoted in the Palestinian
>vernacular (e.g. talitha cumi, and the cry from the Cross) are undoubtedly
>Aramaic.  Before Aramaic replaced Hebrew thus, it had, of course
>infiltrated its vocabulary.  The other colloquial dialect of NT times was
>Greek, which also provided the literary language for the NT writings.  It
>is the common dialect of Greek which is thus represented, that simplified
>and basic form which descended from Attic and became an alternative
>language in most of the Mediterranean basin, and especially in the kingdoms
>of Alexander's successors.  Christ spoke Aramaic, but undoubtedly
>understood Greek, and read the Scriptures in classical Hebrew.  Paul knew
>all three languages, and used them with equal facility, with the addition
>of Latin."  (Taken from "The Zondervan Bible Dictionary" Zondervan
>Publishing House, Thirteenth printing, 1972)
>"TEXTS AND VERSIONS (NEW TESTAMENT). .....In the beginning, of course,
>there was no 'New Testament' as a single volume.  The individual books were
>written over a period of years and afterwards were gradually brought
>together.  What did a book of the NT look like when it was first written? 
>Its language was Greek.  There doubless were both written and oral records,
>probably both in Aramaic and in Greek, which lay behind our Gospels.  Proof
>is lacking, however that any of the NT books as such were originally
>written in Aramaic."  (Ibid) 
>"Languages.  The ancient Biblical world was thoroughly polyglot.  Important
>was Sumerian, non-Semitic pictograph and sign language current in southern
>Babylonia previous to 3000 B.C.  The Semitic Babylonians brought in
>Akkadian, written in cunciform characters.  The great family of Semitc
>languages included its Eastern branch, Assyrian-Babylonian (Akkad.); N.W.
>Semitic. Aramaic, Ugaritic, Hebrew and Phoenician; S. Semitic, Arabic,
>Ethiopic and Amharic.  The language of the Philistines still remains
>obscure.  The Moabites spoke a dialect very similar to Hebrew, as shown by
>the Moabite Stone discovered in 1868.  The Gezer Calendar (c. 925 B.C.),
>the Siloam Inscription (c. 702 B.C. and the Lachish Letters (c. 589 B.C.)
>give us epigraphic evidence of the development of Hebrew.  The Ugaritic
>Tablets from Ras Shamra (1929-1937) have greatliy illuminated Canaanite
>dialects, and being closely associated with Hebrew, have shed much light on
>the language of the OT.  As a cultural bridge between the great Nile Empire
>and the empires on the Halys in Asia Minor and on the Tigris-Euphrates in
>Mesopotamia, the ancient Hebrews came constantly in contact with various
>languages.  Now well known are Hittite, Hurrian and Semitc dialects spoken
>in antiquity.  Excavations at Boghaz-Keui, Mari on the middle
>Euiphrates....and at Nusu in the Tiogris country have yielded a whole vast
>cuneiform literature in Hittite and Hurrian.  At the end of the OT period
>(c400 B.C.) Hebrew began to fade out and Aramaic became the lingua francia
>of S.W. Asia as Akkadian had been in the Armana Period (c. 1400 B.C.).  By
>the time of Jesus, Aramaic was the common vernacular in Palestine with
>koine Greek a universal language since Alexander's conquests in the fourth
>century B.C.  The Latin of the Roman Empire also became a kind of linqua
>francia.  The superscription on the cross was hence written in Greek, Latin
>and Hebrew (Aramaic) (Luke 23:38)."  (Taken from the "Ungers's Bible
>Dictionary" Moody Press, Seventeenth Printing, 1971).  End of quotes.
>Actually, Paul, this subject can go on and on, much the same as legal
>research; one cite leads to another and another and soon you have several
>books open.  I inserted the texts of "Ungers" in response to a mail I
>received from Ray Earnest regarding this subject (sending him a copy of
>this mail).  Really wish I had a scanner at my disposal as  there are many
>books available with photgraphs of ancient texts and graphics showing the
>time of various translations.  Saturday I had a photo taken of the
>Pantocrator, Christ in the dome of our Church, I will send you a copy of it
>via E-mail just as soon as I can.  After reading your mail to me thought
>you would appreciate our Lord God Savior's pleased eyes as He now looks
>upon you.  I believe, Paul,  that He has always looked upon you with
>pleasing eyes as He has always known what you were preparing yourself to
>do.  I enjoyed giving the tours this last week-end, it is really satisfying
>to serve in this way.
>May we always remain agents of the Most High regardless of our location or
>condition.  Take care of yourself and may God continue to Bless you.      
>Warmest Regards, Frank

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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